Gemstones and Wire-Wrapping – or What I’ve I Been Up To Lately!!!

I’ve been reading, doing a little writing (revisions on The Gemstone Chronicles and a new work-in-progress) and I haven’t done a post about gemstones in quite a while. So, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been up to with my gemstone collection (which keeps growing!). Because I have so many rocks now, I decided to take up wire-wrapping. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share pictures of a few tumbled stones that I really like. I believe three of the rocks shown below are obsidian, but the fourth one is a smoky quartz. I would love to show you the light shining through it, but the picture just wouldn’t work.

Round Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Round Tumbled Obsidian

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz Wire

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz

In the picture above, the smoky quartz is in the upper right and looks similar to the other stones. However, when the light shines on it, you can see through the stone.

Those are just a few of the stones from my tumblers (which run 24/7). Having all these tumbled stones led me to try my hand at wire-wrapping as I mentioned above. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I watch a lot of videos about different types of wrapping. I try to keep mine fairly simple, since I am still learning. Below are a few examples of my efforts.

Onyx Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Onyx

Quartz Pendant Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Pencil Quartz Pendant

The quartz stone below were drilled using my Dremel drill press stand. It did a great job and made a clean smooth hole in the center of the stone. Perfect for wire wrapping! Here is a picture of my setup

Dremel Gemstones Wire

Dremel Drill press

Drilled and Wrapped Quartz Gemstones Wire

Center Drilled and Wrapped Quartz

Aventurine Gemstones Wire

Wrapped Aventurine

I know I have a lot of work to do and much more practice to go before the techniques are learned and the results acceptable, but I’m having fun!

Because I need some thinner pieces (and you can’t count on finding those in a natural state), I’m going to start using my tile saw to slab some of my larger rocks. I’ll do a post on that soon. After cutting the slabs, I’ll use my templates to get rough shapes and then throw the stones in the tumbler to polish them and get them ready to  wire wrap. I won’t make perfect shapes, but that’s fine by me. I prefer a more organic look anyway!

So, there you have what I’ve been up to with my gemstones. Like them? Leave me a comment and let me know or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss any of my posts, consider subscribing to the blog. Lastly, if you are on the socials and want to connect, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’m always looking to meet new friends!

 

My Collection – Gemstones and More Gemstones!!

After digging through a box the other day, I decided I finally needed to organize my collection of rocks garnered from my many trips to the North Georgia Mountains. I was surprised and excited when I went through my plastic bags and grouped the stones together. I didn’t realize all the cool stones I had!

Let’s start with hematite. If you recall a previous post on hematite, this stone looks like a dark gray lump, but, once tumbled, turns into a beautiful silver color. The cool thing about hematite is that when rubbed against sandpaper, it leaves a red streak (hence the name hematite, which comes from the Greek root word for blood). Hematite is one of my favorite stones!

Hematite Collection

Hematite Collection

Quartz is a great stone, too! It comes in many colors and I haven’t found one I didn’t like. In my collection, I have clear, rose, lemon (yellow), smoky, and the cool pencil quartz. I had clear quartz cut into round brilliant cut stones and they are gorgeous!

Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

Round Brilliant Cut 3 Carats

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz Pair

The stones below are quartz as I found them. I will start with the pencil quartz. It is a misleading name, as some of the crystals are much larger than a pencil!

Pencil-quartz-Jan-2016

Pencil Quartz Collection

I think some of these would look great just hanging from a chain, but a couple of them are too big for anything except maybe a paperweight! Below is a picture of one of the large crystals.

Large-Pencil-Quartz-Jan-2016

Large Pencil Quartz

 

Clear and lemon quartz are beautiful stones, too. I think I might send my gem cutter a couple of the lemon quartz to see what he can do with them. I expect they will be gorgeous! Here are some of each.

Clear-Quartz-Jan-2016

Clear Quartz Collection

 

Lemon Quartz Collection

Lemon Quartz Collection

Aventurine is another quartz stone and usually has bits of mica or other minerals that give it a shimmering appearance. Here is my collection of aventurine.

Aventurine Collection

Aventurine Collection

 

Amethysts and citrines are other forms of quartz. I have a nice collection of each and I have some large amethysts. Which are your favorites?

Amethyst Collection

Amethyst Collection

 

The two large amethysts are shown on the scale below. Using the conversion of 5 carats per gram, the first stone is 630 carats and the second is 575 carats!

Collection 630 Carat Amethyst

630 Carat Amethyst

 

Collection 575 Carat

575 Carat Amethyst

Both of these stones are too fractured to cut into gemstones, but I love the deep purple color of them.

The citrines are a golden version of amethyst. I like the lighter color ones, but the darker ones (second picture) are the ones I might send to the gem cutter to see if he can get anything out of them.

Citrine Collection

Citrine Collection

 

Collection Citrine Dark Tips

Citrine Dark Tips

I have a large number of emeralds, too. One of my all-time favorite stones, these are rough and ready to tumble. I might have a few that are suitable for gem cutting.

Emerald Collection

Emerald Collection

Collection Emeralds to Facet

Emeralds to Facet?

If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Laura used a moonstone to turn her friends and family invisible during a battle. Now, I haven’t tried invisibility with these moonstones, but I like them!

Moonstone Collection

Moonstone Collection

I find lots of garnets. The garnets are a deep red and its hard to show the color in a photo. I did manage to capture one, though. What do you think of them?

Garnet Collection

Garnet Collection

 

Collection Garnet Red

Garnet

Lastly, I wanted to share my collection of rubies and sapphires. Now, I don’t believe any of these are gem quality stones, but I like them anyway. I think when I start cabbing (making cabochons) in the near future, I will do a few of these just to see how they turn out. Stay tuned for them!

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

Rubies and Sapphires Collection

 

Collection Rubies and Sapphires 2

Rubies and Sapphires

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I have more, but these are the favorites of my collection. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to the blog, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com, or connect with me on social media. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or Tumblr!

The Augusta Literary Festival – Postscript!!

On March 7, 2015, I had the privilege to attend the 4th Annual Augusta Literary Festival in Augusta, Georgia. Before I talk about the Festival, I want to talk about Augusta itself. According to Wikipedia, Augusta is the second oldest city in Georgia (only Savannah is older) and was established at the direction of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the British colony Georgia. Oglethorpe sent troops to build at the head of the navigable section of the Savannah River and named to town Augusta (after the wife of the Frederick, Prince of Wales).

Other interesting facts about Augusta:

  • Augusta served as the capital of Georgia twice during the American Revolution
  • Prior to the Civil War, Augusta was a leader in the production of textiles, gunpowder, and paper
  • in 1845, Augusta was the site of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention
  • Augusta is the home of the Medical College of Georgia
  • Georgia Pacific was founded in Augusta
  • James Brown (the Godfather of Soul) grew up in Augusta in the 1930’s and 40’s
  • The Savannah River Site is located near Augusta (and is the source for tritium for nuclear weapons)
  • EZ – Go and Club Car (the world’s largest golf cart manufacturers) are located in Augusta
  • The Masters Golf Tournament held annually at Augusta National Golf Club

There you have a quick list of facts about Augusta. Interesting place and one I am going to have to take some time to learn more about. But, now on to the Augusta Literary Festival and my experiences there!

We (the lovely and adorable Lana accompanied me – see the picture below), arrived Friday afternoon for the Festival. We wanted to attend the Author’s Reception at the Library and see who won the Yerby Award (Amanda Kyle Williams won for her book Don’t Talk to Strangers) and be ready for Saturday’s events!

Augusta Literary Festival Lana and Bill

The event started at 10 am and there were visitors aplenty! One of the giveaways we did was to include a tumbled and polished gemstone with each book purchased. For Book One: The Carnelian, we gave away carnelians and for Book Two: The Amethyst, we gave away amethysts. Not a bad bonus for buying a book!

Augusta Literary Festival Carnelians

Carnelians

 

Augusta Literary Festival Amethysts

Amethysts

 

I also had the chance to participate as a panelist for a discussion about self publishing. My fellow panelists were Alicia Michaels, a writer of fantasy, and Hasheem Francis, a bestselling author and businessman. We spoke about the self publishing process and our own lessons learned during our independent author journey. About 40 people attended our session, so I hope we gave some useful advice! Who knows, we might have spoken to a future Yerby Award winner!

By the end of the day, we sold some books, met some really great people and some outstanding authors, and generally had a wonderful experience. I’ll Look for my invitation to next year’s Augusta Literary Festival!

Did you attend the Augusta Literary Festival? What about book festivals in your area (if you don’t live in or near Augusta)? Do you enjoy interacting with the authors and finding new books? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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If you want to connect with me, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or just drop me a line at bill@williamlstuart.com! Stop by and say hi!

Faceted Gemstones – Newest Additions!!

Regular readers of my blog (or my books) know that I’m a big fan of gemstones. I love faceted gemstones, cabochons, and tumbled stones. My books, The Gemstone Chronicles series, use the magical and mystical properties of gemstones as the basis of the magic the characters discover. I frequently go gemstone hunting at my favorite spot in the North Georgia Mountains, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’, in Cleveland, GA. My two rock tumblers run almost all of the time, smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the stones I’ve found to a brilliant luster. Occasionally, though, I find a special stone that can be cut and faceted. Shown below is the first stone I ever had cut (an emerald)!

 

Faceted Gemstones Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald

 

A 2.25 carat stone, it appraised nicely, and is still loose. Lana hasn’t decided on a setting yet. The stone is gorgeous, and since it was my first find, it is extra special!

My brother John found the peridot shown in the photo below. I had it cut for Lana. It weighed in at about 2.5 carats and I had it set in a sterling silver ring for her birthday. Beautiful!!

 

Faceted Gemstones

Lana’s peridot ring

 

Now, I have two new additions to the faceted gemstones family! I was hunting and found this rough ruby and sent it over to my faceting friend and he worked his magic. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the rough.

After cutting and polishing, here is the final faceted stone. Not huge by any means, but still weighing in at 1.3 carats, it is a great little stone!

 

Faceted Gemstones Ruby

Faceted Ruby

 

Note the description in the picture says sapphire, which is true. Recall that red sapphires are rubies! Gene cut the stone in a Cushion Cut, and it turned out beautifully!

I also sent over a piece of clear quartz that was stunning as a rough piece. Gene cut me two round brilliant cut stones about 1.25 carats each. I wanted to see how the quartz would turn out in a traditional diamond cut. I think they turned out great! What do you think?

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

What do you think about my faceted gemstones! I have some garnets that might facet well, but I have to get them cleaned up and see what they look like. A nice sapphire (blue not red) or a piece of aquamarine to have cut might be nice, but no such luck yet. I guess I just have to keep on looking!

Which of my faceted gemstones is your favorite? What setting would you use for the emerald or the ruby? Do you think the quartz brilliant cuts look like diamonds? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Back in the Creek!! Gemstone Hunting June 29, 2014

I finally got back in the creek and went gemstone hunting today! I recently visited the Hogg Mountain Mine in LaGrange, GA and had a great time, but I truly enjoy putting my camp chair in the creek, and sifting through trays of dirt!

For those who don’t know, our favorite gem hunting spot is in Cleveland, GA, at Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’. Besides being a fun place to hunt for gemstones at the creek, this was also the place that led me to write The Gemstone Chronicles.

Today, though, it was just brother John and me and we had a great time and had a pretty good haul of gemstones.

Total haul from Back in the Creek!

I know you can’t see the details in the picture above, so I will tell you that there are citrine, quartz crystal, hematite, garnets, emeralds, topaz, a couple of sapphires, one ruby, and one really purple amethyst! I have some better pictures of some of the stones.

Citrines from Back in the Creek!

Citrines from the trip! I wish I could have gotten a closer picture to show the points on the stones, but they were very well defined.

Garnets and topaz from Back in the Creek!

In this picture, there are a few garnets (note the deep red on the tip of one of the garnets), a couple of topaz, and a small emerald.

Clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

I think this is one of the best finds of the day! It is a clear quartz crystal that has a few surface flaws, but the interior looks pretty clean. I might have to take this one to my friend who cuts facets for me and let him see what he can do with it. Maybe Lana gets a new pair of earrings!! Below is another picture of the same crystal.

Second view of the clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

Lastly, I have a picture of a deep purple amethyst. This was the only deep colored amethyst I found. I found another one, but it was very pale, more of a blush of amethyst than the deep purple that I like, so I didn’t include a photo of that stone.

Amethyst from Back in the CreekSo that’s it. The results of four hours of sifting through tray after tray of dirt in the creek. Pretty good day to be back in the creek!!

Have you done any collecting recently? Antiques, stamps, coins, or anything other collectible (like maybe the four books of The Gemstone Chronicles)? If you have, please leave me a comment and let me know what treasure you found! I’d like to see it!

 

 

Hogg Mountain Mine – The Hunt for Aquamarines!!

A couple of weeks ago, my brother John and I ventured over to LaGrange, Georgia to check out the Hogg Mountain Mine and hunt for aquamarines. Despite the fact that we didn’t find any of the blue-green gemstones, we had a great time, met some interesting people, and are planning a return trip when it is a bit cooler!

This isn’t hard rock mining, but we were certainly working in the pit! This first picture is the entrance to the mine pit.

Hogg Mountain Mine Pit

We moved a little deeper into the mine and made it to the main pit. As you can see from the bright blue skies, it was a sunny day, and it got hot later in the afternoon!

Hogg Mountain Mine Main Pit Wall

I know you are probably wondering what the picture above is. Well, it’s part of the wall of the main pit. The white is almost like talc – very soft and easy to dig in. The dark splotches are tourmaline. Tourmaline is a very brittle stone and breaks away easily. The idea is to dig into the wall and try to find aquamarine that may be hidden in the wall. Of course, there are other stones to dig around and to find. Lots of clear quartz crystals (with very sharp edges, so wear gloves!), and some beautiful rose quartz.

The picture below is another view of the wall. Note the rusty-red streak going down the wall. Lots of iron in the soil, so you do get rust!

Hogg Mountain Mine main Pit 2

You’ve seen the mine and the wall we dug in, so what did we find?

Partial haul from Hogg Mountain Mine

This is a small sampling of what I brought home. There are clear and rose quartz crystals, a chunk of darker quartz at the bottom right of the picture, three pieces of black tourmaline, and my purchased aquamarine on the left. Not bad for a day’s work. I can see the rock tumbler will be busy!!

Black Tourmaline from hogg Mountain Mine

The tourmaline (shown above) is in the walls of the pit. Luckily, there was another section of the mine where it was simply on the ground for easy pickup.

What we went to try to find, though, was aquamarine. We dug for the entire day and didn’t find any. That’s the nature of the gem hunting game, though. You never know what you might find and you might not find anything. The owner of the mine, though, had some specimens available for purchase, so I bought myself a small aquamarine rough stone. I like it and will tumble it soon to see how it turns out!

Hogg Mountain Mine Aquamarine

I love the blue-green color and it’s my birthstone. If you remember from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, Beebop used his aquamarine to help defeat the kelpie, and the stone is one of the gemstones in the Elven Sword, so this stone has a lot of meaning for me!

I hope you will go out exploring the area in which you live and see what kind of gemstones you can find! if you do, drop me a note and let me know what you find. Who knows, I might have to make a trip to see if I can find something cool in your area, too!!

 

 

 

 

Sodalite!! Can You Talk to Animals????

Do you remember Dr. Doolittle? The guy who could talk to the animals? While not the same as the good doctor, in The Gemstone Chronicles books, Maggie is able to communicate with different animals using the magical powers of the sodalite!

What is sodalite? From a mineralogical viewpoint, according to our friends over at Wikipedia, sodalite is a royal blue widely enjoyed as a gemstone. The stone has characteristic white streaks in it and its poor cleavage planes can show up as cracks in the surface. Originally discovered in Greenland, a vast deposit found in Canada made it accessible for ornamental purposes.

What does sodalite look like? Below is a picture of the rough (stone in its natural form).

Sodalite Rough

You can see the gorgeous blue color of the stone with the white streaks.

Use polished stones in a number of ways. Cabochons are common, as are beads. I included a picture of some sodalite beads.

Sodalite beads

Translucent sodalite, when faceted makes a beautiful jewel!

Faceted Sodalite

I know you must be wondering how these beautiful rocks allow someone to talk to animals. While researching the gemstones I would use in the books, I came across the idea that sodalite is a communication stone – and one that fosters calmness, serenity, and helps unify efforts. It is also considered a truth stone, much like the lapis lazuli. Since Maggie had to communicate first with the white stag, and then with a unicorn, it seemed a great stone to use.

I have found sodalites on some of our rock hunting trips. I tumbled some and they are gorgeous! One of them is my lovely and adorable bride’s favorite of all my tumbled stones.

If you want to know how Maggie used the sodalite and talked to the white stag and the unicorn, check out Book Two: The Amethyst or Book Three: The Emerald. When you do, leave me a comment or leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords!

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MOONSTONE – AND I’M INVISIBLE!?!?!?!

In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, Aidan and Maggie’s mother, Laura joins them for the return to Celahir. Keeper presents Laura with a gift of moonstone – the ancient birthstone for June. Among moonstone’s many magical properties is one that Laura and her friends and family found lifesaving – invisibility!!

Before we talk about the invisibility, let’s explore what moonstone is. According to our oft-cited friends at Wikipedia, there are two varieties. The first and most common is the adularia. The second type is a feldspar with a pearly and opalescent luster.

Because two feldspar species compose moonstone, the stone forms in layers. This makes the stone a great candidate for cabochons and for tumbling. Below is a picture of moonstone rough that I found during one of my many trips to Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’. You can clearly see the layers of the stone.

Moonstone rough

Here is a great picture of tumbled stone. Again, you can clearly see the layers within the stones.

Tumbled moonstone

Moonstone also makes gorgeous jewelry! I added a couple of pictures of cabochons. the first is from Africa and has an amazing color.

African Moonstone

The last photo is of a cabochon ring. I think it’s beautiful!

Moonstone ring

I know you must be wondering where the invisibility comes into the picture. Moonstone has many properties associated with it. The Romans believed that the stone was made from solidified rays of the moon. The stone was believed to keep travelers safe, provide protection to swimmers, and make the wearer invisible!

In The Amethyst, thugs attack Laura and our intrepid group of adventurers on a pier. As the attack commenced, Laura wished for her group to just disappear – and they did! She drew upon the power of the moonstone and poof – invisibility! This turned the tide of the battle and they escaped to face Brendon the Giant!

Moonstone played a small but crucial part in The Gemstone Chronicles! Beautiful, lustrous, and full of legendary magical properties, it’s a favorite stone of mine and one that will be in tumbler soon. And who know, maybe I can turn invisible, too!

Do you think that gemstones have magical properties? Do you use moonstone for protection while traveling? What about other gemstones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Connect with me on social media, too! I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. You can also email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or subscribe to the blog!

 

 

 

Hematite – Gray, Silver, or Red?

Hematite!

Hematite is an enigma to me. When you find the stone in its natural form, it’s a dark gray color and can have lots of sharp edges. When you polish it, it turns a lustrous silver color, but, if you rub it across dark sandpaper, it leaves a red streak behind. See what I mean about an enigma? Below the one of my hematite pieces in its raw form.

 

 

What exactly is hematite? Our friends over at Wikipedia say that it is an iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3). The colors vary from black to silver-gray to brown to reddish-brown, to red. Hematite is from the Greek word for blood and has been used as a pigment for centuries. Enough of the dry mineralogical stuff. Now to the cool stuff that was found in The Gemstone Chronicles books!

When I was researching gemstones to be used as stones in the books, I wanted to find unusual mystical or magical properties associated with the various rocks. I hit upon hematite as a stone used by Native Americans to make war paint. The warriors believed the war paint made from the stone made them invincible in battle. In Book Three: The Emerald, our heroes add hematite to their gemstone collection to help them in battle. They also stop the dwarves from mining the mineral for Naesse’s army so that the Drow wouldn’t have the same battle advantage.

Other magical and mystical properties include scrying in the reflective polished surface, curing blood disorders, and protecting the wearer from negativity or others.

As I mentioned above, the polished stone becomes a very lustrous silvery color and has an almost mirror-like quality. See how the lights reflects off the polished surface?

 

 

The Red Streak:

Finally, I have a picture of the rough stone and some black sandpaper. I rubbed the stone across the sandpaper and left the red streaks behind. The Egyptians called it a bloodstone since the water used to clean the stone would turn red like blood. As you can see from the sandpaper, it wasn’t such a stretch!

 

If you want to be invincible in battle (maybe), or just want a cool looking silvery stone, find yourself some polished hematite! And, if you happen to see some dwarves digging for it, STOP THEM! We can’t have the Dark Elves becoming unstoppable!!

What are your thoughts on hematite? Do you think it is as cool as I do? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Gemstone Hunting – Back in the Creek Again!!

If you recall, I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how I was ready to go gemstone hunting again after a long wait. Despite an iffy weather forecast, brother John and I made it to our favorite spot today! Yep, gemstone hunting – back in the creek again!

We were very fortunate today as the hunting was good! The dirt piles we filled our buckets from was fairly fresh, and were lots of nice stones. Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, topaz, amethysts, and many more were dug out during our visit.

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles will recognize many of the stones listed above, since they played such a big part in the series. The only stone I didn’t find today was a carnelian (the stone from the first book).

The second book has an amethyst as a key component. Here are some of the amethysts I found today!

Amethysts Back in the Creek

 

 

Not a bad haul for four hours of work! Below are the pictures of my two favorite amethysts of the day.

Large Amethyst Creek

 

Although it may not show up very well in the picture, the purple tip is very dark and has some great faces!

Small Amethyst Creek

 

I love this little stone. The color is only a spot and if you rotate the stone, you can see exactly where the purple begins, Very cool!

To celebrate Book Three: The Emerald, I found a few emeralds today. I don’t think any of them are faceting quality, so I will either try to make cabochons with them, or tumble them in my rock tumblers.

Emeralds Creek

 

It was not a great day for rubies, but I did find a couple. Rough rubies aren’t faceted like the one in Book Four: The Ruby that we all love, but I like the way the look when I find them.

Rubies Creek

 

Finally, my absolute favorite stone of the day is a double-terminated quartz! Aidan used that type of stone often in the books to enhance the powers he drew from the gemstones. I often find pencil quartz, but this is my first double-terminated stone. Simply awesome!!

Double-terminated QuartzCreek

 

I did find a lot of other stones today and John found a large sapphire among his many gemstones. We will be going back to the creek again soon, so stay tuned for more! I also am going to be trying my hand at making cabochons, so I will post about that, too.

Of all the stones I showed today, what is your favorite? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you haven’t read The Gemstone Chronicles, why not pick up the first one and give it a try. I would love to know what you think!!