I absolutely love making leather bracelets!!  I don't know what it is about it, but something about combining metal and leather really gets my creative juices flowing.  In fact, I could fill my shop and sell nothing but leather bracelets and be completely happy.  But, people do fancy things other than leather bracelets, so I do branch out from my "playtime" to create other lil' tidbits too:.)

I buy most of my leather as "scrap leather" from vendors who make leather coats, shoes and handbags.  For my uses, I only need small pieces so their scraps work out perfectly for me.  Currently, I have 5 shoe box size plastic tubs of leather pieces and scraps, but I'm always on Etsy looking at new colors and patterns (with my mouth watering).

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I took a little overnight trip to Nicaragua and on the way back decided to go through a little town named Rivas -- the next "city" across the border from Costa Rica.  It's a very small town consisting of a typical Central American outdoor market selling everything from fruits and vegetables to women's underthings.  Lots of pedestrians, taxis, pick-up trucks and bike taxis.

Nicaragua is much less expensive than Costa Rica so we hopped on a bike taxi to take a lil' tour of the town to see what we might be able to pick up before heading back.  Noticing that there were lots of handmade leather sandals and bags being sold at the stands, I asked our taxi "pedaler" if there was someplace in Rivas to buy leather.  And what luck!  He pedaled up and around a dirt and stone road to the back side of town, dodging chickens and oxes crossing the road, and stopped in front of a little hole in the wall vendor stall.  (I wanted to take a photo, but the place looked like it might be a bit dodgy to break out my expensive "looking" inexpensive camera.)

It was a supply place that sold shoelaces, metal grommets, shoe soles and belt buckles.  Also, they had stacks and stacks of leather pieces.  YIPPEE!!  As with all things in Nicaragua, the price couldn't be beat.  Unfortunately I didn't have a ton of cash on me and they definitely didn't accept plastic, so I wasn't able to get everything that caught my eye, but I did get some large pieces of lush leather.

I love to find vendors like this, little mom 'n' pop holes in the wall.  The couple who owned the place were extremely interested to know what I planned to use all the leather for.  I had on one of my cuffs and showed it to them as an example.  They ohhhh'ed and awwww'd.  Cute.  I'll probably head back to Nicaragua again in the next few months and will definitely go back by, cash in hand.


Kids Jewelry Class

There is a non-profit organization here named CEPIA that does all sorts of community projects.  I had been thinking about doing some volunteer work for them so it was an ideal opportunity when a friend of mine Janet (who volunteers for CEPIA) asked if I'd be interested in doing some jewelry making with the CEPIA kids during their summer camp program.  

I had just done a huge clean up of the tons and tons of beads and jewelry making supplies that I was never going to use (lots of stuff I bought when I first started making jewelry) and was trying to decide what to do with it all.  This camp idea seemed like an ideal place to put those supplies so I packed it all up and went to CEPIA for the day. 

As I started unloading all the supplies onto the tables, the kids crammed around the table trying to grab this bead or that as "theirs".  I had to calm them all down, assuring them there was plenty of everything for everyone.  They were so excited, which made me excited!  I finally got everyone calmed down and seated, gave some basic pointers and then let them start making their own things.

Janet helping the kids with measuring and beading.

I was really surprised at the level of interest from the boys.  I really didn't anticipate that they'd be all that into it, but they were just as interested as the girls.  They made things for their moms, and even bracelets and necklaces for themselves.

At the end of the day, I got lots of hugs and thank yous.  I haven't been back to CEPIA, but I definitely would like to go and work with the kids again.


Photo Studio

I love my lil' shop.  In the early afternoon, the natural light coming in the front of the store is ideal for setting up my super-duper pro-fessional photo studio! (wink wink)

Plus I have my trusty side kick outside the door miro-managing the whole production.


Is That A Snake In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

One of the best parts of having my boutique in a tourist destination is hearing travelers' stories from their Costa Rica vacation. 

Arenal is a really popular destination that 8 out of 10 people that come through my shop have either already been to or are heading to at some point in their vacation.  It's up in the mountains, lush, green, undeveloped and has an active volcano and a gorgeous lake.  There are lots of mineral rich natural hot springs with water heated by the underground lava.  Several of resorts build themselves into the jungle pools with paths to walk through from pool to pool.  You really are one with nature.  One resort even has a swim up bar centered in a pool for those who want to sip cocktails while soaking. 

The day that I arrived in Costa Rica to move here, I had the worst flu of my life.  What a "fun" flight experience that was.  From the airport, an avid Costa Rica traveler friend of mine picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to Arenal.  He was my own personal Indiana Jones who seemed to know every off the beaten path, unexplored place in Costa Rica and took me to some truly natural pools a short hike into the jungle.  Surrounded by hanging vines, lush jungle trees and hot flowing mineral water, I soaked in the sounds of the moving water and life around me.  After a little over an hour in the spring, I emerged a completely well person.  My flu was gone.  I am now a strong believer in their healing qualities. 

So when a recently passing family told me of their experience in the commercialized springs, I had nightmares of the "what could have been" of my own soaking experience.  While visiting one of the better known springs in Arenal, apparently a large boa snake was found inside one of the pools by a client!!  They quickly evacuated the entire area and roped it off with yellow police tape. 

What an incredible vacation story this person had, huh?  Interestingly, as amazing as this story is - it wasn't on the news.  I'm sure the PR person for this resort was busy keeping everything very hush, hush.  I think even the most adventurous traveler draws the line a being strangled by a boa at the hot springs!