Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fast forward to New Year's Eve

Where did the week go? I blinked and it was over. It seems like it was Christmas Eve just yesterday. But it's been a week, there's no getting around it.

It was mostly a quiet week; the last week of the year is generally one I spend in contemplation, thinking about the year that is ending, and the things I want to do differently in the coming year.

This year, I want to laugh more; I want to let go of things that make me sad, and focus on happy things. It should be a very easy thing to do, but for some reason that I don't really understand, it's harder than it should be. Some of the sad things have acquired such importance; letting go of them is scary.

But let go, I will. I intend to enjoy this next year; I intend to laugh, love, and let go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Christmas Eve

I'm slowly finishing up the last of my Christmas Eve preparations; the gifts are all wrapped and under the tree, the sil (pickled herring) has been transferred to a pretty bowl, and next I will put the homemade candies on the dessert tray.

Then it will be time for me to get as beautiful as I get; I love to get ready slowly on Christmas Eve. I will indulge myself with scrubs and lotions, leave behind my jeans and tank top uniform for an actual (gasp!) dress, and put on a pretty pin, handmade by a friend of mine, the artist behind McLain Jewelry.

You may wonder why I buy jewelry when I make it myself; I buy it because I love having things that my friends have made. The pieces I buy are special to me; when I wear them, I feel especially close to the friend who made it. Handmade items are like that; they carry a little bit of the maker wherever they go.

I hope that wherever you are, you are with friends; in spirit, if not in the flesh.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wanting

The other day I posted a resolution:
Today, I resolve to let go of the things I cannot change; to let go of the things I want to change; to live with things as they are, without waiting for them to change.

To live with them without wanting them to change
.

and I came face to face with the fact that the word "want," has quite a range of meaning. It can express desire from a whim to an aching void; it can be used in the context of an order of french fries or a heart's desire.

For a very long time, I have been in want of something that is out of my ability to achieve. It has been a deep hole in my life; an aching emptiness that I am unable to fill. My wanting has not made it happen; my wanting has only made me sad. I haven't wanted to give up that wanting; I wanted to hold on to it. Although it has made me miserable, I did not want to let go.

And then, suddenly, I knew I must. Why now? Nothing changed; my want is neither nearer nor further away than it has ever been; it is still something I would prefer, but it is no longer a deep, aching, empty lacking. I don't want it that way any more; I want peace and happiness more, so I have let go of it.

We don't always get what we want.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A walk on the beach

My husband and I took a lovely walk on the beach this morning. We stopped at a little outdoor cafe for muffins, juice and coffee; and, after snarfing down our muffins, we sipped our beverages and meandered along the coast.

I know, I know; there's a blizzard on the opposite coast; a couple of years ago, we would have been there, all bundled up and shoveling snow, instead of walking by the shore wearing nothing more than jeans and T-shirts.

How lucky we are to live in an age where transportation makes the world accessible. I feel so much richer for having lived in so many different places; I am able to appreciate things on so many different levels.

It feels so good to set down my burden of stress and pick up gratitude instead.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

I'll admit it; I've had a hard time getting in the spirit this year. The last four years have been rough ones, and I finally realized that, oddly enough, I've gotten so used to being under stress that I think of it as a normal condition. I need to re-learn how to live!

And what better time than now?

Today, I resolve to let go of the things I cannot change; to let go of the things I want to change; to live with things as they are, without waiting for them to change.

To live with them without wanting them to change.

It's a tough resolution; I expect to have problems keeping it. But I need to reduce the stress I've been living under and find my happy happy joy joy. I need to focus on what is good and let go of what isn't.

It's time for a rebirth.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Champagne, anyone?

I'm pouring tonight!! I found out today that I won the "Design of Distinction" award in the Use the Muse III contest.

I've been pouring over the gorgeous gallery of entries, and I'm amazed and humbled by all the wonderful ways that people used the muse. It's going to take me at least a month to take it all in; there are so very many beautiful entries.

If you want to see some gorgeous eye candy, stop on by!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A better life through beading

On her blog at The Beader's Muse, Scarlett posed an interesting question today:
How has expressing your creativity through beading enriched your life?

Number one for me, is all the friends I've made, both in person, and on-line. Beaders are, for the most part, good people; most of them are generous to a fault, sharing their experience, and their beads, with friends, students, and strangers they meet on a train. I've had some of the best times of my life sharing ideas and techniques with other beaders!

On a more personal, solitary level, beading fills my need to do intricate, delicate work. I love pretty things, and I love to make pretty things. I've done all sorts of hand work, from embroidery to making lace; from quilting to dressmaking, but I always come back to the beads. I've been beading for nearly 45 years!

For me, the joy has always been in the details, and beading allows me an almost infinite number of choices; I can choose from so many colors, sizes and shapes. I love beading; I joke that it is my therapy of choice. In truth, it probably is. My life is richer for having spent my time playing with beads.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The best part about the Use the Muse Contest

This contest always seems to kick my beading up to a new level. I don't know why, but it does! Maybe it's the challenge of working with beads that were selected by someone else, or maybe it's something more subtle than that.

After completing my first Use the Muse contest, I developed my bead filigree technique. And after entering Use the Muse III, I'm off to the races with beaded lace; taking the idea of a hand flower bracelet to a new place.

It's amazing how this contest kicks up my creativity; it's the last thing I expected. I thought the first time it was probably a fluke, but now I'm two for two!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, it's about time!

I got the Christmas spirit this morning. The Nativity is up, the winter scene with the characters from the Wizard of Oz is up, and the main Christmas tree is in the front hall.

Tomorrow, well put the lights on the tree and decorate it.

And then, I might just put out a few more decorations. I haven't hung the stockings yet!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not gonna make it in time

I started my lace piece in response to a challenge on one of the beading forums I frequent; the challenge was to make something that would be at home in a Tolkien novel.

I think you can already see the elfin nature of it, or at least I hope you can; and as I get more done, I think you'll see that it fits the costume style of the epic movies.

But the challenge entries are due tomorrow. I won't be ready; not even close. I did as much as I could today, and I realized that, in order to do what I want to do with it, I've got at least another week of work ahead of me.

I'll miss submitting it with the rest of the group, but as a personal challenge, it has been a success.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creation or evolution?

Nope, not going to have a theological or scientific debate; this is strictly about beadwork. It struck me odd today, as my lace project went off in a direction that I had not anticipated: while I like to think of myself as creative, most of the time I would balk at the word, "creator."

I don't tend to create my pieces; they tend to evolve, suggesting (okay, demanding) that I take them down roads I hadn't planned to travel. Take this piece, for example. Just the other day, someone asked me if I had considered making the flowers 3-dimensional, and I answered quickly and firmly, "No."

It was not something I was considering; not at all.

But I'll be switched if those flowers didn't just want to pop petals out today; I went to do what I'd intended to do, and instead of lying flat, the petals curved enticingly. It's better than what I'd intended to do.

Sometimes it's best to just leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's working. Maybe.

The jury's still out on the background I'm adding to my lace motifs, but I think it's going to work. I need to do more before I'm sure; I'm not ready to photograph it and share. I want to live with it overnight before I decide.

Strictly speaking, it's not a background at all. It does serve the same purpose, to connect the motifs and make a fabric of beads; but it isn't groundwork in any sense of the word. It's bold. It needs embellishment, but that's good, because I want to embellish it.

It's not what I thought I would do, but I think I'm going to keep it.

Maybe.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is it jewelry, or is it lace?

Well, of course, it's both. Or at least it will be. Right now, it's still in process, and isn't really either.

What you see here is the foundation. The motifs have been woven of beads and basted to a needlelace pad; next I will link them together and embellish the flowers.

If this were strictly lace, I'd weave a very fine net for the background, but it isn't strictly lace. It's going to be a piece of jewelry. And even the smallest beads are not fine enough to make a ground for motifs this delicate.

So I think I will put on my jewelers hat and make a firm ground of bars in a very contrasting color. I'll find out tomorrow if this is a good idea; I found out today that netting was definitely not a good idea. Of course, if the bars don't work, I could always revert to lace making and make a fine ground with thread, but I'd rather use beads if I can.

It is meant to be jewelry, you know.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hijacked by mimosas

I did a little bit on my beaded lace today, and then my husband and I went out to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners sure have changed in the past 20 years; they have features that I would never need, and parts that I have no clue what they do.

But I digress.

After buying the vacuum cleaner, we decided to go out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant around the corner from our house. They were still serving brunch; they had an all-you-can-eat buffet that included a choice of mimosas or champagne. I chose mimosas because I'm a bit of a champagne snob; when I don't know the quality of the wine, I prefer to have it mixed with something else.

Our waitress was very vigilant about keeping our glasses full, and we were equally committed to eating as much as possible. By the time we all conceded defeat, I knew that weaving tiny beads into lace was over for the day.

Can't say I'm sorry, though!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Making lace again

I've started a new beaded lace project and I'm really excited about it. It is going to be something rather different for me; much more delicate than anything I've ever done before.

Of course, it is going to take awhile. But that's good; I'm back to looking forward to long-term projects. Whew. I had myself worried for awhile there! But I'm back to being me again, and back to enjoying a nice, long, fiddly project.

Isn't it funny what makes me happy?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why I make asymmetrical necklaces

I know that I should make both sides at the same time, doing a row on one side, then repeating it on the other, if I want to make a necklace with symmetrical neck straps; but it's hard not to get caught up in the fever of designing.

I have a tendency to want to keep going as long as the ideas are coming; making notes, and believing that I will remember whatever I don't write down. You'd think I'd know by now: by the time the first side is done, my notes turn out to be cryptic at best, and I remember nothing.

It's embarrassing, but I'm reverse-engineering my own work.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's coming back

The excitement, that is. I've been in a very blah mood lately; for several months I had a really hard time even picking up my beads. I wasn't happy with anything I was doing; I felt dull and unproductive. The ideas weren't there. I wasn't getting the flashes of inspiration that keep me enthralled . . . everything felt flat and tedious.

The odd thing is that I'm in the middle of a rotten cold; I'm not up to doing much but wandering from couch to computer, drinking endless cups of herbal tea. What an odd time for inspiration to strike, eh? But there it is. Not fully formed, not engineered as yet, but one of those lovely flashes of inspiration has struck; one of my favorite sorts, where I suddenly see something, fully formed, in my mind.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to make it.

Yes, Virginia, that's the fun part!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pots and pans

Traditions are found in odd places, sometimes. For most of our children's lives, we lived on the other side of the country from the rest of our extended families. We built up our own holiday traditions; because they were entirely within our own home, they soon became set in stone.

A little over a year ago, we moved cross-country and things changed. We're sharing our holidays. But sometimes, we're discovering, we need to keep our own traditions, too.

So this year, we're giving thanks twice. Once in our own home, just like we did for so many years, and once with the rest of our extended family. We're having our traditional meal today, with everything cooked in the same pots and pans that they've always been cooked in. That's where I began this post; I just put the stuffing and the yams into the oven; the stuffing in the big round one, and the yams in the oval one. The turkey is in the smoker, and the veggies are on the stove, waiting their turn to boil.

I changed the dessert, though. I'll take my pumpkin pies to the family dinner tomorrow; I made a pumpkin cheesecake for tonight.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To share or not to share

Nope, there really isn't any question about it for me. The more I share, the better I feel. About the only thing I find it hard to share is lampwork. I really, really have to love someone and trust them before I will let them have a lampwork bead from my vast collection; I do not easily share my lampwork beads.

In fact, I'm Gollum-like in my lampwork hoarding; I'm not above caressing them and murmuring, "My preciousssss..."

But really, that's my main selfish spot. I'll hand over just about anything else.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Beading, beading, beading

It's a semi-big project, and I'm half-way done. It sure feels good to be beading again; I was not a happy camper when both of my beading boards were full, I had several projects stacked on trays, and I just couldn't face looking into my cupboard under the stairs.

My desk is still semi-covered with lampwork, but it's inspiring, not irritating.

It has taken me awhile, but I'm really starting to get into mixing lampwork with seed beads; I'm coming up with lots of ideas. Now to find the time to implement them!

Too bad I didn't clean up my cupboard a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Overwhelmed

Yup, I did it to myself again! For the past couple of months, I've been acting oddly. Instead of ripping projects out and putting the beads away when I no longer felt like finishing something, I started stacking my unfinished projects. You see, I start and abandon as many projects as anyone else, but I've learned over the years to burn the evidence.

Some projects just aren't worth finishing; when I get that blah feeling about something, I'm not going back. It can be a perfectly good whatever it is, but suddenly, there is something about it that isn't working for me. Half the time I don't even know why I'm losing interest, but there it is. I just suddenly know that I don't want to finish it.

Rip, rip, rip, sort, sort, sort; and it's gone. Just like that.

Except suddenly I wasn't ripping anything out, I was setting it aside. And not only was I setting the project aside, but most of the time all the beads I'd pulled out to go with it were set aside, too. Sometimes, not even in the same location. The stack was in danger of toppling, and I wasn't at all interested in any of it, but for some reason, I was letting it pile up, and I didn't even realize what I was doing.

Today, it all clicked. I have a project that I have wanted to start for the past week, but every time I walked over to my bead closet, a horrid feeling of dread swept over me, and I couldn't even open the door. "Maybe later," I'd tell myself, and I'd do something else. "Maybe I just need to take a break."

Nope. I needed to get rid of all the false starts and put all of my beads away; as soon as I did, all my energy and joy came flooding back. The needle feels good in my hand again.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The end of an era

My minivan has met the end of its useful life in our family. It was a sad decision; I loved that car. My children went from car seats to ipods in it; we went around town and across the country in that van.

Part of me wishes that the childhoods it saw could go on forever; part of me knows that it's time to move on to the next phase in our lives. With our youngest approaching 18, my days of driving a van full of kids is over. No more daily trips to Karate, play dates, drama, music, or sports; it's been awhile, actually, but the minivan and I remember what it feels like to have kids kicking the seat backs.

It was a good car; it was a good part of my life. But it's important to know when it's time to move forward, and it is most definitely time. A brand new Hyundai Elantra is sitting in our garage; we picked it up yesterday in a town about 100 miles north of us, and I drove it home. It's a dark blue sedan; it's small and cute, and, compared to a minivan, it's a little bit sporty. It turns on a dime, has pretty good acceleration for its size, and goes a long way on a little bit of gas.

I think I'm going to like this next phase of my life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

For the record

I just ate half a pomegranate.

Some people can't stand fiddly foods; and pomegranates are probably one of the fiddliest. Even if you can coerce someone else into peeling it and separating the juice-covered seeds for you, you still have to suck the juice off and spit out the seeds yourself. Pomegranates are definitely not for people who want to take big bites out of life, chew it up quickly and swallow it.

Nope, pomegranates are for those of us who like fiddly work. Non-fiddly people may enjoy pomegranate juice, jam or cookies; but you can bet that they will lose interest in the fruit itself very quickly.

I also love artichokes.

Yup, I'm definitely a fiddly-food person.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The last of the Terra

As y'all know, I love lampwork beads. Perhaps it would be closer to the truth to say that I am obsessed with them; I have passed well beyond being a collector, and have joined the ranks of hoarders. I could probably use a 10-step program, but this is an addiction that I don't want to break.

If you had been a fly on the wall for the past couple of years, you would notice a pattern in my bead acquisitions; you would see that I have done my level best to buy up every bead featuring Terra Glass that came from the flame of Melissa Vess.

Go ahead, click on her name and go to her shop; you won't see any beads made with Terra in there. It's all gone. I bought the last of them a few weeks ago, and I've just made them up into a bracelet and a pendant set. It's not the last of my Terra stash, you understand; it's the last of hers. I still have quite a few in my collection.

But these are special.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When love needs neglect

It's a hard concept; I'm used to caring for things. But I've just bought some new plants, California natives all, and all the research I've done says that they must not be put on the drip irrigation system. As any gardener knows, watering a plant is considered crucial. It's how we plant-mothers show our love; our babies are never allowed to dry out. They might shrivel up and die, and we'd feel horrible about that.

Enter the irrigation system; I love my irrigation system. It remembers, even when I forget. It doesn't get all caught up in something else and wake up, days later, to realize that there is no milk in the refrigerator and the plants haven't been watered; nope, it turns itself on and off, and all I have to do is check on things every now and again, adjusting times and making repairs when called for.

But now these plants are gumming up the works. They're not supposed to get supplemental watering; and, in particular, they are said to hate being dripped upon. It makes sense; they grow naturally here, and we only get rain in the winter. No one goes up in the hills with a hosepipe in the summer to attend to their needs; obviously, they have come to terms with the concept of not getting any water for months on end.

I, sadly, have not. I feel terrible about not providing them with a drip. I will watch them carefully, at least when I remember to do so; I can't promise that I won't wave a hose at them occasionally, at least during their first year in my garden. It's one thing to read something; it's quite another to accept it as true.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's who I am

Most of the people who know me would say roses when asked to think of my gardens; and yes, roses have always been plentiful, even in New York, in a shady garden where they didn't want to grow.

But for me, it's daffodils that define my gardens; I put down roots with every bulb I plant. I have planted several thousand bulbs over the years that I have gardened; in each one, I have planted at least a hundred every year, until there are daffodils in every spot that they will grow. 

This is my first daffodil-planting season in this garden; we moved too late last year to put in even a few, they were completely gone from the stores. I'm making up for it this year; I planted 40 daffodil bulbs today, and have 100 more for next week. When those are gone, I might just pick up a few more on clearance.

But daffodils aren't the only spring color; I've also planted an already forgotten number of tulips, freesia and ranunculus in the raised bed under the living room windows. I will have a colorful spring.

Even though they bloom only once a year, and don't last but a few weeks, daffodils mark my years. I can't imagine my world without them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You know you're old when . . .

. . . Your idea of a booty call is popping over to Trader Joe's for Mediterranean Hummus and Tortilla Chips with an Identity Crisis.

Yup, my hubby is out of town today, and I'm partying down with chick peas.

Pretty scary, eh?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ho ho ho

Yup, it's time for crafters to start thinking about the holidays! I've added a holiday treat in my Etsy store; anyone who buys five tutorials will get a sixth one for free. Pop on over to my Etsy Store for details.

I've been working on developing a snowflake bracelet; I think it's getting me in a winter frame of mind, although it's still very warm outside. We won't see snow here in Central California, but I do remember it! We had many snowy winters when we lived in New York.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do for the holidays, I wish you all the best.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Be fruitful and multiply

Last spring we bought a dozen little strawberry plants, and tucked them into one end of one of the raised beds. They didn't fruit much; I think we had three or four berries, but then we didn't expect much from such young plants, so we weren't upset about it. We figured they'd take a year to settle in.

Well, they may have been too young to be fruitful, but they certainly got the message on multiplying. The new strawberry bed is finished; today I set up the irrigation for it, and hauled in a good load of manure and compost. The new bed is 42' by 3' and I figured I'd have plenty of room for the strawberries that were currently crammed into a 6' x 3' area. They looked very crowded, sure, but the new bed is seven times as big, so surely they'd spread out quite nicely. I even thought that I might have to buy a few more to sort of round things out.

*Pause for hysterical laughter.*

I began teasing out and cutting apart daughter plants; I stopped counting after the first hundred. I teased, cut and planted for hours, and I'm not done. The new bed is nearly full. The old bed still has plants in it. If they are as successful with fruitful next year as they were this year with multiply, we're going to be eating a lot of berries.

Shortcake, anyone?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Teaser

I've entered the Use the Muse contest again; this time I wanted to make something very different. Not that I don't enjoy making necklaces, but almost all the entries in previous Use the Muse contests have been necklaces, and I wanted mine to stand out from the crowd.

The handflower style bracelet has been teasing me for awhile now, and I thought that this contest might be the perfect time to make one. I can't show you all of the piece, because the Muse must remain a secret until after the judging is finished; but I couldn't keep it hidden that long, I just had to show off at least a little bit of it.

It is designed to be worn on the left hand; it is anchored on two fingers, covers the back of my hand, and goes up my wrist quite a ways. It's a very dramatic and fun piece. I love the color scheme; I can't take credit for it, of course, but I did expand it a bit. It reminds me of fall in the wine country.

Come to think of it, we'll be going to some winery harvest events in our town this weekend, I think I'll wear it. If you see me, be sure to say hello, but don't tell anyone what the muse is, okay?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reality based

That's me. Mired in reality. Some people are able to take a flying leap into midair, certain of flight; I am not one of them. I am always aware of the pull of gravity; I look, then look again, and almost never leap.

I believe in learning, studying, and hard work. I like to practice; I expect to fail many times before I get something right. Failure doesn't surprise me; success does. I don't tend to believe in it. People who expect to succeed quickly find me difficult to be around. Don't ask for my opinion; I'll always come down on the side of hard work and time. Lots of hard work, and lots and lots of time.

I know a young woman with a beautiful voice and perfect pitch. She asked me if I thought that she should try out for American Idol this year; I told her that I thought she should take voice lessons and learn to use her voice first. I also told her I thought she had one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard; she does, but it could be so much better if she knew how to use it. I would love to be able to sing the way she does.

It wasn't what she wanted to hear. Should I have told her to give it a go? Perhaps. But I couldn't. As pretty as her voice is, I don't think she'd make it without training. With training, she might. She's that good. But she has stars in her eyes; she wants to sing right now, she doesn't want to work.

Me, I work. I can't sing, but I can work.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Playing with fire

I picked up my torch today; it's been a long time. Nothing major, just a little pendant with a 3mm amethyst; it's been even longer since I've set gemstones. It showed. I've lost my touch, and I very nearly lost a very nice little amethyst in the process. Luckily, I found it when it went shooting out form under my fingers, and I managed to get it set . . . eventually.

I've been working on a contest piece with my beads; it's a fun piece, but it has been taking quite a lot of my time. I may have finished it this morning; I like it, but I'll reserve judgement until I've slept on it. I may photograph it tomorrow and see what the camera shows.

To celebrate, I hammered some wire, fired up my torch, and finished a pendant in one afternoon. After spending countless hours weaving beads into a fabric, it was fun to make something so quickly.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who can resist a sale?

Not me! A local nursery put its shrub roses on sale; $12 each, or, if you buy three or more, $10 each. Of course I bought more than three; I bought seven.

But the best part? Six out of my seven roses were David Austin roses. These aren't ordinary roses; they have the form and fragrance of the old roses that I adore, but they are remontant. That's a fancy word that means that they bloom again. And again. And again and again, all through spring, summer and fall in this part of the world.

I had old roses in my New York garden; they were the only roses that the deer didn't gobble up, and even the Japanese Beetles didn't find them attractive. They were glorious for a couple of weeks in June; they were worth it for that. But I missed having a long season of roses; they were finished far too quickly.

Now I've got the best of both worlds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sinfully good

I made the Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings today, and my oh my oh my. Dangerous stuff. Totally, completely, decadent. Evil, even.

We ate them before dinner.

We might eat them again after dinner.

Let me explain: I popped them in the oven, fully intending to start cooking dinner while they baked. But my hubby was in the middle of something, and wanted to postpone dinner for a little while. No problem, I thought. What I didn't reckon on, however, was the way those dumplings smelled as they cooked. My house started to fill with the scent of buttery, buttery, sweet caramel apples.

I could not make real food while they cooked; I just wanted to inhale that delicious scent.

And when they were done . . . we just wanted to inhale them. All of us. So we did. Dinner came afterward, and the dumplings just might have to make another appearance before we go to bed tonight.

Yup, they're that good.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Making a garden

This is the fastest garden I've ever made. It's also the first garden I've had help making. This is my fourth garden; the first one really doesn't count, because it was so tiny; it didn't take very long, either, but it was only about 2 feet by 12 feet. It wasn't expected to take very long.

My second and third gardens took about ten years each to make. The second one was a small city lot; less than a quarter acre, including the house. It took awhile because I didn't have much to spend; it was also fairly grown in, and I was a bit tentative about changing things for quite awhile.

My third garden evolved over time. It had once been a nice garden, but it had been allowed to run wild; I started at one end of the half acre lot and gradually went around in a large circle. Because of the heat, humidity, and voracious mosquitos in that part of New York, I really never quite kept up with that garden; every season I started with good intentions, but August did me in. By the time the ground froze I was ready to concede defeat. Every spring I started in again with renewed vigor and hope, but the weeds always won when the heat and humidity drove me indoors.

So now we come to my fourth garden. As I have previously mentioned, this one was a three-quarter acre field when we moved in, almost one year ago. Now it's a garden. I spent the first winter and spring digging out flower beds and planting fruit trees, and my husband built raised beds for our veggies. We hired a wonderful young man to install an irrigation system, then we had him build a retaining wall, and he's just finished putting in quite a lot of concrete, giving us room to barbeque, sit out, and eat out, once it has cured enough to use.

In the meantime, I'm still digging out flower beds; the concrete dictated a change in the shape of the lawn. It's a rather sad looking lawn, so it will have to be reseeded and babied a bit this fall. My husband is building a terraced planter on the hillside for our strawberries, and we're planning to put in more fruit and nut trees this winter.

Of course, there's more to do; gardens are never completely finished, but it's no longer a field. It's definitely a garden.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A very nice day

We spent the afternoon today eating delicious food, drinking good wines that cost more than we usually spend on a bottle of wine, and looking at gemstones.

It just doesn't get much better than that!

Our town held a food and wine festival today; many of the restaurants and wineries around the park were participating. We were given a map, and a card with the participant's names on it, and we walked around downtown, stopping in at the places that appealed to us. Some were offering just a bite, others offered a good bit more. Some of the wineries offered a choice; others had a designated tasting wine. The participating restaurants and wineries were located in an area about eight block square; just enough space to spread things out and keep it from being crowded.

We arrived early, and walked about half of it, eating and drinking, until we'd had enough. Then we drove over to the gem and mineral show on the other side of town, and walked all over that. I fell in love with a 29.5 carat faceted ametrine; it was the deepest purple and yellow I've ever seen. The seller wanted $7/carat, a mere $204 . . . it was stunning, but SO not in my budget. He also had a gorgeous faceted black opal, with brilliant purple and orange fire. I did NOT even ASK the price on that one after he told me it was the best stone he had. Yup, I went right for it. I didn't buy anything, I have too many gems already, but it was fun to look, and it was a good way to walk off some of the food and wine.

By the time we'd cruised all the booths at the rock show, we were hungry again. So we drove back to the festival and hit the rest of the restaurants. We skipped most of the wineries; there were 16 of them participating!!!! I think we tasted at 4. That was plenty! We also tasted a guava mojito; now there's a drink that goes down easy. We agreed that it would be far too easy to drink too many of them without noticing.

I hope wherever you are that your day was just as fine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chili and Beads

It's been a busy day today. This morning I realized that I simply must pick my peppers; they were ready. And so I started picking; I went back in the house to dump my bucket, and then picked another bucket full. I ended up with a paper grocery sack filled with peppers.

Even for me, that's too many peppers.

But I've used a bunch today; I'm making a few gallons of chili sauce. Putting peppers through the juicer is exciting, let me tell you! Sort of like being sprayed with a low dose of pepper spray. I got rather choked up over it, to tell the truth. Luckily I could alternate peppers with tomatoes to clear the air.

I put the juice (less a liter of tomato juice that will be used for Bloody Marys tonight), the pulp, and some sliced peppers into a very large pot and it's simmering on the stove. While it's simmering, I'm beading. When I need a break from beading, I'll put the sauce in jars and seal them.

Chili and cornbread this winter!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beading madly

I'm under a deadline, and I'm beading like a madwoman. I've entered the Use the Muse contest again; it's a great way to jump start creativity, and I felt like I needed a good jump start. One of my design teachers (back in the Stone Age, when I was in college) used to say that creativity thrives in a small box, and she was right. A contest like this, with specific parameters and an object that must be used, is an excellent way to rediscover creativity. The only part I don't like is the deadline.

You've got to understand something about me and deadlines; I must finish early. I'm no good under pressure. If things really come down to the wire, I'm just no fun to live with. We're talking major meltdown, here. So I put all my steam into the early days of a project; I will no doubt bead until my eyes cross for the next two to three weeks. My contest entry isn't due until October 19th, but I'll want to have it done by the 12th. A week early is my target; I'm comfortable when I'm done a week early. If I have to work on it during the last week, I'll get progressively nuttier.

This is a semi-realistic deadline; I'll have to bead for about six to eight hours a day to make it. I'm working on the structure of the piece right now; once that is done, I'll begin the embellishing. That's always negotiable; things can have more or less embellishments, depending on time. I don't get too crazy if I'm embellishing at the last minute, but the structure will have to be firmly in place by the end of next week.

Aren't you glad you're not me?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hopes and expectations

We all have them; sometimes they are satisfied, and sometimes they aren't. Sometimes they are realistic, and sometimes we expect too much. Sometimes they blend together, and we begin to expect what we probably shouldn't even dare to hope.

I know, I know: you're waiting for me to get specific. Surely something must have prompted this burst of philosophy. Well, yes. Recently I had a bad experience with someone whose expectations I didn't meet. She bought my button clasp tutorial and was unhappy with it. She felt it wasn't innovative enough; she told me in no uncertain terms that she'd expected more from me.

It's a simple clasp; there isn't a lot to it. But it's one of my favorite go-to clasps when I want something decorative and easy. It always gets compliments. I can make it in about five or ten minutes, and I've made it many, many times. After getting this complaint, I thought long and hard about it; it really shook me up. Should I continue to offer a tutorial for such a simple clasp?

My first reaction was pretty extreme; I wanted to close up my shop, take my blogs down, and not offer tutorials anymore; to run away, hide and bead privately. It's my joy, and I don't want to lose that. Obviously, I reconsidered. Instead of quitting, I took a good hard look at the concept of expectations. I didn't measure up to hers, and I'm sorry that she was disappointed. But, even though I'm not as clever as she wanted me to be, I do still have things to offer.

Not everything I do is complex; not everything is innovative or new. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing. I'm sure that a great many people have looked at this particular clasp and figured out how to do it on their own. It's that easy. But, for those who want to know how I did it, it's there in my store. It's a little thing, but it's something I like, it's something I use a lot, and something that I will always use.

In fact, I like it so much that I'm using it for the clasp on my entry for Use the Muse III. I just got my kit yesterday, and the muse is ideal for my simple button clasp, even though it isn't technically a button. No, my piece isn't ready for a clasp yet, I've tons and tons of work to do before I attach the clasp; but I made it this morning, and it's there, waiting for me. I can't show it to you now; the muse must remain hidden until the big reveal, sometime in November.

It meets my expectations. I hope I continue to meet yours.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Landscaping

We're having more work done; the hardscaping this time. We're putting concrete in two areas of the backyard so that we will have a place for grilling, eating, and general sitting about. In order to make the new patios slope properly for drainage they had to move quite a bit of dirt; they've used the excess to make the upper side of our yard a bit wider.

It's made a huge difference. The proportions are so much better; I feel like Capability Brown on a very small scale. Earth sculpting is magical! We now have a sensed of journey to the back and left of the property. I want to plant the edge of our new ridge with a curving line of small trees, perhaps pistachios. I just have to check where the shade will lie; it wouldn't do to shade the vegetable beds. They've been magnificent producers, and I think being in full sun is one of the reasons why they've done so well.

Of course, this means that the irrigation system will have to be expanded.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beading again

Whew. It's been awhile since I felt up to committing to a really big beading project; I've been starting and abandoning things, and making quick little things, but I just haven't been able to sustain anything.

I don't know why, but this start feels different. The other projects felt forced; I was working just to work. I'm excited about this project.

It feels so good to be back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One more hurdle

If you've been reading my blog, you know I have teenagers. If you have your own teenagers, you know that things don't always run smoothly. Things have not been running smoothly around here for quite awhile; sometimes I'm not sure I remember what smooth sailing feels like.

Today was another rough one, but we made it through. One more hurdle passed, and with luck, it will be a growth experience for all of us. Or some of us. But it has passed, and that has to count for something.

Growing up isn't easy; being responsible parents is hard. But I'm banking on my belief that it is worth the work and the pain; that, as Henry David Thoreau said, it is true that if you "Live your beliefs, and you can turn the world around."

Monday, September 7, 2009

I get by . . .

. . . with a little help from my friends.

I have some really, really great friends. Y'all know who you are; I love you guys! Recently, I had a very upsetting experience; it wasn't life-shattering, but it was a blow that could have really done some damage to my trust in human nature and my self-esteem.

I am not a very self-confident person; it takes very little to rattle my cage and make me doubt myself. That's a trait I've been working on for most of my 51 years; the only subject I ever failed was, "Meets new situations with confidence," in kindergarten. It's a family joke, but it's still true; although I am now able to force myself to meet new situations, I continue to do it without any confidence whatsoever.

I met this particular situation in my now-usual way: with a strong face in public, and many tears in private. But the tears didn't last long; my friends rallied around me and made me feel whole again.

I am truly blessed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Serendipity

The Tree Man in Paso Robles is one of my favorite places to shop.

It's a huge nursery and garden center run by people who love plants and gardens; they stock all sorts of things, so much, in fact, that it is often nearly impossible for me to make up my mind when I'm there.

I just keep looking, and looking, knowing that there is no way that I will actually see everything. It covers four acres of ground, and I doubt I've seen more than one acre of it so far.

But I digress.

Today I found what I wanted nearly immediately; I fell in love with a birdbath. Yes, I actually went there wanting a birdbath, and I walked out with one. That doesn't usually happen; quite often I go in there with one thing in mind, and wind up with something totally different. Of course, it's actually best to go there with nothing in mind; it's the perfect place to bring an open mind and a charge card.

This is a photo of my garden; on the right you can see my new birdbath. Yes, it's a bunch of giant mushrooms. Crazy, eh? But there is something so whimsical and magical about it; I dutifully wandered around and looked at many other birdbaths, but I somehow knew I was meant to have this one.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ouch.

My arms hurt. We had five cubic yards of mulch delivered this morning, and my son and I moved most of it. On the plus side, our yard looks wonderful; we covered up the areas the gophers had disturbed, mulched around the trees, finished off the much-maligned side yard, and refreshed the mulch in the front yard.

I used the wheelbarrow to get to the hard to get places, and my son filled up the tractor cart and went wherever the tractor fit. Fortunately, most of our paths are very wide, and the tractor fits nicely almost everywhere. I had to repair the gopher damage in the flower beds, of course, and I was the good mulch fairy in the front yard, dancing around, sprinkling a thin layer on top of the existing mulch.

Well, okay, I wasn't really dancing.

It was hot, and for this area, fairly humid. Nothing by New York standards, of course, but even we had to admit, yup, it's hot and humid today. I think we've got just enough mulch remaining to fill in the areas that haven't been finished yet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A quiet day

I took a mental health day today; no canning, no weeding, no blanching and freezing. I did a little beading, a lot of reading, and some shopping. It was nice.

Tomorrow, though, I'll need to get back at it; we're having 5 yards of mulch delivered.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Branching out

The freezer, which once seemed so large, is getting full. I'm not going to be able to get very many more bags of veggies in there.

So I'm branching out, and taking up dehydrating and canning. Canning isn't new to me, I've done it before. But this time around, I'm using a pressure cooker. I've got a pot of tomato basil spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove right now, and the jars are being sterilized in the dishwasher while the sauce boils down and thickens. It smells so good, I think I'm going to have to save some out for dinner tonight.

My next canning project is a two-fer. I'm drying yellow and red tomatoes in the dehydrator, and I'm going to layer them with basil in olive oil.

Won't that be pretty?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Larry and Bob go to Mexico

For those of you who have raised, or are raising, your children on Veggie Tales, that title will mean something. If you're not, just call it a spicy tomato and cucumber salad.

Larry and Bob go to Mexico:
Grape tomatoes
Cucumbers
Salsa

Cut enough cucumbers into bite-sized pieces to half-fill your serving bowl. Add enough grape tomatoes to fill the bowl. Add enough salsa to coat the tomatoes and cucumbers and stir. Refrigerate for at least an hour to blend the flavors. The cucumbers will release juice; stir well before serving.

This makes a great side dish on its own; it is also delicious as part of a salad. And if your garden is producing too many cucumbers and tomatoes right now (as mine is!) it's a great way to use up some of them.

And, by the way, when the salad is done, the leftover juice can be added to tomato juice to make a wonderfully spicy Bloody Mary.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's too darn hot

I'm staying inside today; we've had a run of a several hot days, and I've had enough. I'm hiding out. Or in, if I'm to be precise! I didn't even go out this morning to pick my veggies. Nope, today is an inside day for me.

I've been spending a lot of time outside in the garden; when I've been in, I've been in the kitchen, dealing with the produce from the garden. I've been very garden-centered lately. This morning I realized that I could no longer see the surface of my coffee table, and my desk wasn't in much better shape. Things had been stacking up in here, and the stacks were threatening to fall over.

So that's where I started; sorting through all the things I'd set aside to deal with later. A good ninety percent of the paper I'd been saving went straight out to recycling; I don't know why they hadn't gone there in the first place. I guess there is a part of me that would like to be the sort of person who reads the ads and gets the best prices; the truth is, by the time I've gotten around to reading them, the sale is over.

I guess I just like to keep that possibility open.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stop and smell the roses

And the lavender. And, just for good measure, lemon verbena.

It's a delicious mix, and it's sitting on my desk. Two Intrigue roses, with their spicy scent, a sprig of lemon verbena, seven stems of a particularly large lavender whose name I have forgotten, and a delphinium stalk for my eyes, not my nose.

It's a perfume I'd love to bottle. I've always loved the mix of rose and lavender, but the lemon verbena adds a wonderful high note. I should make some potpourri with this combination, but my potpourri bowl is filled with beads.

I had another at one time, but I'm not sure that it made the journey to California. I gave away so many things to friends before we left; I wanted to simplify and they liked them. Of course, it may still be in a box; we still have a few boxes that didn't get unpacked from our last move.

Isn't that always the case? Who among us has not dragged boxes with unknown contents from house to house? I tried to avoid that when we moved cross-country, but a few snuck in anyway and surprised me when we got here.

It is amazing how persistent some things can be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The traveling shed

Last summer, we bought a shed; installed it in the backyard, and then realized that it was not in a good spot. It cut off the view from the living room; it blocked the garage door, and was generally too large and ungainly for the spot it was in. But there it stayed, and it gradually filled up with the things that end up in a shed.

We talked about new places for it, but none of them were quite right. The shed stayed in its original location until I cleared the weeds from the side yard. Bingo. We moved it today, and the backyard is better for it. It does show from the window in the entry way, but I can place a trellis next to it and plant a couple of vines to mask it.

In a year or so it will be a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Produce

This isn't the post I planned to write. I've been chopping, slicing, blanching, freezing and juicing all morning. I entertained myself during all this by composing a wonderful post about my empty vegetable bin. I wanted to congratulate myself soundly for processing every last bit of produce that I've picked this week; I'd even planned to take a photo.

Nope, no photo.

Unbelievably, just as I was wiping the last dirty dish dry, I found another basket full of tomatoes on my counter that I'd picked yesterday. Not only had it not fit into the vegetable bin, but I hadn't even been able to carve out room for it in the refrigerator. I'd left it in an out of the way spot on the counter, quite sure that I'd remember to collect it when I began processing this morning.

Nope, I didn't remember.

But I did use some of those tomatoes in a cucumber salad; sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes are now marinating in fresh salsa that my son made at the neighbor's house. And I will have more, lots more, when I pick tonight, so it would have been a temporary victory at best. But, cofound it all, I wanted a clean slate.

Guess I'll have to write without one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harvest time

I thought it was time to post a photo of my veggies; these are the ones I picked today.

As you can see, the peppers are going crazy; I picked 115 of them this morning! The squash is slowing down (thank goodness!) and I've been picking 2-3 quarts of beans pretty much every day this week.

I've given up on trying to use baskets; the wheelbarrow is the only realistic way to handle the abundance.

We're keeping up with the cantaloupe, but getting behind on the tomatoes and cucumbers. This afternoon we bought a juicer; yet another way to deal with the overabundance of produce. Tomorrow, I'll start juicing and freezing veggies for winter soups. I juiced a few tomatoes today, and they made the best tomato juice I've ever had. I think I'll add some peppers and cucumbers to the next batch.

Bloody Mary, anyone?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Working things out

I've just had too much on my mind lately; too many things I'm trying to sort out. I'm getting there, though; it just takes time and effort. I wish it could be done more quickly and, yes, painlessly; but it can't, so I'm doing my best to deal with it one hour at a time.

In between periods of rumination, I've been working in the garden, harvesting and weeding; and working in the kitchen, preparing and freezing the excess produce. Today I made up a couple hundred appetizers which are now packed into the freezer; I have to admit that I am getting quite a lot of satisfaction in filling up that freezer.

No matter what else happens, we'll eat well this winter.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flibbertigibbet

That's been me lately. I've been starting projects and setting them aside with wild abandon. I've got bits of beading on every available surface in my cupboard under the stairs; both bead boards are in service, as well as every tray I own.

Some of them will not be finished; I'll take them to bits when I have nothing better to do. Some of them require more time than I want to give them just now; they'll wait. And, hopefully, at least one or two will actually be picked up again and finished before I spin off and start something else . . .

But then again, how likely is that?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going solar update

Our raised solar array is going up!  They've been working hard, priming all the wood, and construction has begun.  This photo shows them putting up the outside beam on the posts.  It's going to change the look of the house quite a lot; I can't wait to see how far they get today!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Well, that was interesting

Yesterday, Google thought that one of our home computers was doing something it shouldn't have been doing, and we were locked out. We ran all the diagnostic software, but we never did find the culprit; eventually, we were let back in and all was (apparently) taken care of and forgiven.

Whew. I really didn't want to go away; Google made me do it.

So; today is the last day that my daughter will be 16. Of course, we went shopping. We hit all our favorite stores, including thrift stores. I found a yummy linen pantsuit for $7.95, and a set of seven huge red wine glasses for $7.25. They are gorgeous glasses that look like great big soap bubbles. They reminded me instantly of my grandmother's champagne glasses which I have loves since childhood and now own; I had to buy them.

They make me feel good.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Artichokes

Yup, that was today's harvest. I picked six; two nice-sized ones, two smallish ones, and two downright tiny ones. They were all ready to be picked, but not all were primary buds. I cooked them up and made my favorite artichoke dip with them; it's purely artichoke, butter, garlic and cream cheese.

Fat on a cracker.

But the taste . . . ah, the taste. A little bit of heaven.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More squash stories

The squash is still producing madly; as are the hot peppers. This morning I prepared and froze a gallon bag full of Hungarian peppers, as well as three more gallon bags filled with sliced squash. I am slowly, but surely, filling up the new freezer.

It's funny; I'm not exactly a Martha, but putting up vegetables for the winter makes me happy, and gives me a very real sense of satisfaction. I like seeing those bags of yellow and green veggies in there; I like adding to them, and I'm sure I will enjoy pulling them out and using them to feed my family this winter.

The tomatoes and beans are just beginning to ripen; they'll be the next to deal with. Then the melons, and lastly, the carrots and pumpkins. I plan to puree a lot of the pumpkin; I love pumpkin pie, and curried pumpkin soup is a wonderful winter meal.

It's August, but I'm imagining sitting in front of the fire this winter, snug and warm, with a tummy full of summer produce.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going Solar

Our solar installation broke ground today! We are putting a raised solar array in our backyard; it is supposed to make enough energy to meet our needs, and perhaps even a little bit more. We went slightly higher than our current usage, because we want to add a hot tub in the back yard, and, eventually, an electric car.

This photo shows the holes for the footings that will hold the array up; on the other side, it will be anchored to the house. In addition to making electricity, the array should provide some passive cooling for the house by shading the windows on the south side.

One thing we have in abundance out here is sunshine. Our backyard faces dead south, and the array will have direct sun pretty much all day. I can't wait to see how much electricity we generate; it's going to be very cool to watch the meter go backwards!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meet me at the fair

Yesterday we went to the fair; it was so much fun. We looked at all the fabulous entries from so many talented people; we admired the animals, and went to the rodeo. Those cowboys sure can ride and rope. We were very proud of our local contestants; they did very well.

We ate our way from one end of the fair to the other; fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea, garlic fries, corn dogs, turkey legs, nachos, and funnel cakes. A perfectly balanced junk food diet! We also admired all the new gadgets and handmade items for sale; according to the pitchmen we missed out on quite a lot of fabulous deals.

We finished the day at the pig races; you haven't lived until you've seen a pig race. It's hilarious. I hooted and hollered and cheered for "my pigs" but they didn't really seem to get it. I think every one of mine came in dead last. But it was loads of fun, anyway.

Sometimes you just have to let go, eat badly, and root for your favorite pig.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Christmas in August

I know, I know, it's just too weird.

But I got an idea for a beaded Christmas ornament, and even the fact that my local crafts shop hasn't stocked the Christmas balls yet didn't deter me. This morning, after much resisting and swearing that I wouldn't, I went out to the garage and had a rummage through my Christmas boxes.

One red glass ball in hand, I returned back to my beading board and began.

I'm certifiable.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Where did the day go?

I honestly don't know.

It went somewhere; but I don't have much to show for it. I did start the tutorial for my little beaded rings; I didn't get as far on it as I would have liked, but I did get several diagrams drawn.

And that's about it. The rest of the day went here and there, but to nothing I can name or even particularly remember.

Weird. But some days are just like that.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back to the beads

I found something to do with my 2mm crystals. Surprised? I doubt it! I suspect that if you know me at all, you knew I wouldn't rest until I did.

Rings. Cute little rings. Fun little rings. The 2mm crystals look like little diamonds between the gemstones, pearls and crystals I've used; yup. I made half a dozen of them today. I'll write up the pattern tomorrow; these are fun and easy to make, and I hope that others will like them, too.

The 2mm crystals aren't the only unusual thing I used in these rings, however; I set aside my beloved round seedies and have been using cylinder beads instead. I don't usually use cylinder beads; they're too perfect for my taste. Made up, they look like scales to me, and, in general, I don't like their lack of texture.

But for rings, they can't be beat. They're smaller than regular seeds, giving the rings a lower profile. Bead rings tend to stick out more than I'd like; they're not always comfortable. Cylinders solve that problem.

And after working with them all day, the smooth texture is growing on me. I just might have to rethink my prejudice against them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Squash and beads

The missing beads turned up; they were in the garage. Of course, I had replaced some of them, but that's okay, now I have lots. I spent last evening sorting them out and putting them away. Those little 2mm crystals are so tiny; I still don't know what I'll do with them, but now at least I now know where they are should inspiration strike.

The box of beads was discovered as we were moving our new deep freeze into the garage. We'd wanted one for a long time, and with the amount of squash we've been harvesting, now seemed like a good time to just go ahead and get it. We figure it will pay for itself in no time, just in squash alone. Of course, we'll also be able to buy other things on sale and stash them in there, too. I'm sure that having quick and easy meals in there will cut down on the "we're going out for dinner because everyone is too tired to cook" days. Frozen pizza and lasagna are wonderful things to have on hand.

But I digress. I sliced, blanched, and froze squash this morning. I cut the five monster ones in half and scooped out the seeds so that they'd be ready to stuff. I sliced the normal sized ones into rounds, and laid them out on cookie sheets so that they would freeze individually. My cookie sheets are huge, and I got two layers of squash on each one. Later this afternoon, when they're frozen solid, I'll pop them into gallon bags.

It's a good feeling to put food away for the winter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ya caught me

Yup, I've been gone again. Too much going on, too much on my mind. But I can sum it up in one word:
Teenagers
I've got two of them. Sometimes things run fairly smoothly around here, and sometimes, well, they just don't. Lately it's been very much on the bumpy side. I've been planning to write, but you know what they say about good intentions. However, I just got a very nice reminder that I'm read, and missed when I don't write, so I decided to just do it, right now.

Our garden continues to grow; we're talking about getting a freezer just to keep ahead of the squash. If I freeze the excess, we'll be able to eat squash all winter long. And still have plenty to give away. The cantaloupes are continuing to grow, and I cut two more artichokes today. The tomatoes are just beginning to ripen; that will be the next deluge. Last night we made pesto with our fresh basil; tonight I think I will stuff some of the squash that got away.

It's nice to stop and think about the things that are going well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yup, definitely the sorcerer's apprentice

I just made my rounds of the vegetable garden; I picked a bushel basket full of yellow squash. I'd quite forgotten how well squash produce when they don't die young.
Note to self: forget the seed packet next year; a six pack from the garden center will more than suffice.
I also thinned out the carrots again; this time I got actual carrots out of the thinning. They smell divine. The lemon cucumbers are beginning to ripen; I picked two of them, and a few cherry peppers, hungarian peppers and bell peppers. The beans are in full flower; I suspect they will be the next deluge.

And the pumpkins and melons are getting larger by the minute.

The lettuces and collards are also monsters; yesterday I cut the first two artichokes. Anyone have any good veggie recipes to share?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feeling like the sorcerer's apprentice

A little back story, first. When we lived in New York, we had a vegetable garden every year. We didn't get a lot of vegetables, but we had a garden. Our tomatoes and lettuces produced enough for salads, the squash got mildew and died before producing even a flower, and the beans gave us half a dozen dinners.

Erm, we're in California now.

The squash didn't get the gunge and die; rather it is producing. Madly. We're picking every day, and still it is getting away from us! Tonight I found two giant ones that had been hiding under leaves; I think stuffed squash is in our very near future. The tomatoes have hundreds of little green globes on them, and the beans are just coming into flower.

The melons and pumpkins and cukes have left their raised beds and are sprawling on the ground. I swear, I can actually see them growing. It's amazing how quickly it happened; it feels as if we just planted the seeds the other day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where has the week gone?

I can't believe how quickly this week has gone!

And I'm not entirely sure what I've done with it. Certainly not everything I'd hoped to do with it; but then, that's hardly as surprise. Most weeks I have more that I'd like to do than is really possible to do.

Looking at my bead board, I discover that I made three variations of a bracelet (the tutorial is in the process of being written) and a handful of beaded beads that may or may not end up in a contest entry. The contest is the Haute Couture Contest - Inspired Wearable Bead Art, and my current inspiration is drawn from this piece.

I say current, because I may well change my mind and start over with another one before the due date.

Told you I tend to plan more than is reasonable.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Need for speed

I just upgraded my Mac from 512 megabytes of RAM to 2 gigabytes. We're blazing now! And then I spent the past hour clicking on things just to see how fast they'd load. Colossal waste of time, I know, but I'll make it up when doing real work.

I've been messing with computers for most of my life; I remember keypunching. I did my own keypunching when I first started programming, and I dropped my fair share of decks back when a deck was a box full of cards, and not a Power Point presentation. Slides were something you squinted at, or put in a projector; usually upside down or backwards.

Sometimes it strikes me how much the world has changed in the past 50 years. I don't feel all that much different; sure I'm a bit more creaky, and the outside package isn't as nice to look at as it was 30 years ago, but on the inside, I'm still the same.

Do wish I could replace the RAM in time; I'd slow it down. I like my computer to go fast, but I'd very much like my life to go a bit slower.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I've learned a new skill . . .

. . . installing drip irrigation.

Okay, so it's not rocket science, but it's a very useful skill. Especially in our backyard. We're living in a field, remember? Not a bit of landscaping was here when we bought the place. It's a lot less bare now, but I was feeling at the mercy of our landscaping guru; I really didn't want to buy plants, put them in, and then have to hand water until he could fit us in and install more drip lines.

But then we found two really nice looking fruit trees at a bargain basement price yesterday, and we couldn't resist. We decided to buy them to replace the bare root trees that didn't make it. Of course, our new drip irrigation system didn't have emitters for the trees that weren't there; so today I looked at it and thought, "How hard can it be?"

Luckily for me, not hard at all!

After only two trips to the hardware store, I had everything I needed in the size I needed it in. There are two types of main line; thick wall and thin wall, and the thin wall fittings will not fit over the thick wall tubing. Guess how I know?

Once I had the right fittings, it was a piece of cake to hook up some more line. I then popped on a couple of small lines, added little sprinklers to them, and turned it on. Amazingly, it worked! Our new trees have water. So, I guess that means I can resume planting in the rest of the garden; the only thing holding me back was irrigation.

I've got that sussed!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I think it's done

But, because I never really know if something it done, or I'm just feeling done with it, I'll wait until tomorrow to decide for sure.

I ended up having 13 beaded beads in it; 12 from Bead Origami's tutorial, and one of mine. I'd made my bead for the challenge early on, but then had no clue what to do with it. It's funny how sometimes learning something new can make all the difference!

Only one of the beads actually follows the tutorial; the rest are variations. Most of the variations just use different beads; a couple are actually verging on being individuals. It's a fun necklace; if I still feel that it's done tomorrow, I'll take photos and share it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wild thing

. . . I think I love you (strum strum) but I wanna know for sure!

Okay, I'm sleep deprived. And I'm getting very silly. I do that.

In between napping, I've been working on my beaded bead Rock pool necklace. I'm still not sure I'll get it done before the deadline, but I'm working on it. It's one of my wild ones; my interpretation of a rock pool included a lot of grassy underwater growth undulating everywhere.

It's a good beading project for a not-quite-there mind; it's pretty random. No counting.

The beads are geometrical, but the rest of it isn't.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beading beaded beads

The marathon is winding down. I am now weaving all the beaded beads I've made into a collar. I may make a few more for this collar, or I may not.

I will certainly make more beaded beads for other projects.

I'm hooked.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A walk on the boardwalk

We decided to take a day off on our day off; we went to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, and we walked out to the end of the pier to see the surfers and the fishermen. No one was catching anything; the fish weren't biting and the waves were very small.

But the pelicans were out in force; they are very handsome birds, and quite unafraid of people for the most part. They flew about, landing on the railings, staring rather disdainfully at the people passing by. They posed for photographs, and put up with all sorts of nonsense before finally flying off and settling back down again in a new spot.

As much as I love my beads, it's always nice to get out and do something completely different. I did sneak in a trip to my favorite LBS on the way, of course . . . I picked up a bunch of Czech drops to work into beaded beads.

Tomorrow.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beaded beads


I figured you might like to see what I've been going on about. These are the beaded beads I made yesterday; I've made a couple more since then, but today I've spent most of the day working on the rope that will serve as the base for the necklace.

These beads are a lot of fun; as you can see, they lend themselves to a lot of variations. I'm having a grand time playing with them! I'm not sure that I will be able to finish this one in time, but that's okay. What matters is challenging myself, and I'm very pleased with how this one is going. It's a fun piece; it's been fun to make, and I think it will be equally fun to wear.

Okay, back to it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fun and games

I've been playing with beads today. In between other things, of course; laundry and housework had to be done, but most of the day was playtime.

What's the difference between beadwork and bead play, you ask?

For me, it's jettisoning the need to document. I did not take a single note today, did not sketch any diagrams, did not put anything down on paper so that I would remember what I had done. I simply picked up beads and put thread through them in whatever way seemed like a good idea at the time.

I can get away with that, because I was doing variations on someone else's theme. Eventually, my play will take me so far away from her pattern that even she would have no idea that was where I started, and then the process of beadwork will resume; but that will take lots and lots of playing.

Tough job, eh?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Left turn!

I do seem to take a lot of those.

I've had a challenge piece simmering for over a month now . . . not heating up, not cooling off, just sitting there tantalizing me. The deadline is rapidly approaching, and I'd all but given up on it. Instead, I've been making lace, and that's gone rather well, so I can't complain, really; but that going-nowhere-fast challenge piece was bugging me.

Then today, I saw a fabulous beaded bead tutorial by Bead Origami called Double Bubble Jacks Beaded Bead and my own challenge pot started to boil.

How fast can you say "ordered it?"

I've already made one, and this is EXACTLY what I needed to meet this challenge! The time is very short, though; I may not get it done. But you know me; that matters far less than finding the way the project wants to go.

That's the cool part.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's getting serious

My black size 15° beads have gone missing.

No doubt they are with the other missing beads; somewhere in this house there is a box of beads, and I have no idea where it might be.

It's odd, I tell you: I don't have a lot of stuff, and I really though that I knew where things were. But somewhere there's got to be a box that didn't get unpacked. Perhaps in the garage? Or accidentally delivered into one of the children's rooms? If that's the case, it could be years before it's discovered.

First the 2mm crystals, then the beads with the Czech finishes, and now my black 15°s.

What's next?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mini-vacation

We just got back from a mini-vacation to Monterey and Carmel; in Monterey we spent the day at the aquarium. Can you guess what my favorite exhibit was? Yup, I think I could have watched the jellyfish for hours. They are such beautiful things; I love the way they float through the water, undulating, tangling, and untangling with each other. They put me into a very relaxed state.

In Carmel, we wandered around the galleries; it's a lovely town, and we saw some fabulous artwork. We drove home along the coast, through Big Sur, and stopped at Nepenthe for an early supper. Much closer to home, we stopped to take a look at the elephant seals on the beach at San Simeon; it's amazing how many of them there are! We enjoyed watching them; it was the perfect end to a fun little getaway.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The earth shook . . .

. . . and I told my son to go back to bed.

Having grown up in California, and weathered more than my share of earthquakes, I tend to take them a bit more easily than the rest of my family. We had a rule when I was a kid: if nothing falls off the shelves, get over it. It wasn't big enough to talk about. If things fall off the shelves, go out in the driveway and sit in the car for awhile. Talk about it. Then get over it.

Not much drama was allowed around earthquakes when I was growing up.

So when we had a small earthquake in the wee hours of the morning the other day, I was ready to roll over and go back to sleep. I thought perhaps my kids had even slept right through it. But then I heard my New York born-and-raised son saying, in a less than manly-man voice, "Mom? Dad? was that an EARTHQUAKE?"

"Yup." I said, "But it was a little one. Go back to bed."

I'm a Mean Mommy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day . . .

. . .to all the dads out there. This is the first Father's Day that I've been able to be with my Dad in a long time; it was fun.

It's good to be home again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lace

I've always been fascinated by it. Over the years, I've learned many different lace making techniques; crochet, macrame, tatting, darning, netting, bobbin lace and needle lace. I've embroidered and re-embroidered lace; I've woven it, knotted it, and braided it.

And, most recently, I've become fascinated with the idea of making lace with beads. I've just finished creating a new pattern; I think it is my favorite one yet. I've made it up into a bracelet, and I have to admit that I keep turning away from what I am doing to admire it.

I'll share it after I photograph it and type up the pattern; right now, it's quite selfishly all mine.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No matter what I do . . .

. . . my teenage daughter is going to take it wrong.

I need to accept that as a given and let it go. Again. It's the age, or so they tell me. It will pass; that's what they say. Don't take it personally; it's not about me, it's about her. I know, I know, but it still hurts. When will we get past it? Will she ever remember than I'm not the bad guy?

I liked age 5 much better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bead weaver . . .

Yup, that's me today. All day with the beads; I had an idea for a new weave and I could not stop until I figured it out. Along the way, I wrote a tutorial for a bracelet that uses my new weave, and I attached my button clasp to it.

It's such a nice, soft, weave; it feels good on my wrist. It's one of those that I just can't stop petting. Beads are so tactile; they are smooth, but a little bit bumpy, and I think I like to touch them as much as I like to look at them.

A friend of mine calls this need to fondle beadwork the, "Beader's handshake." It's hard to resist reaching out to a piece of beadwork; it's one of those things that just wants to be touched.

Monday, June 15, 2009

YAY for Sprinklers!

Our last raised bed is now on the irrigation system. It's a good thing; watering by hand gets old very fast. Our veggies are growing by leaps and bounds; the seeds I planted last week have gone from sprouts to plants with true leaves. It looks like pretty much everything is coming up; we've got beans and squash from seed, and loads of other things put in as transplants.

We harvested our first strawberry yesterday; we rushed it a little bit, it was not at its peak of sweetness, but we wanted to eat something from our own ground, and it was good. My Hungarian peppers are starting to turn yellow; they will be ready to pick very soon. We have many little green tomatoes; it is such fun to watch them grow.

In other news, the retaining wall is proceeding apace. When they dug the foundation out, they bisected a gopher hole (of course!) and the gopher spent some time watching them. It was quite funny; the gopher looking at the masons who were looking right back. Mr. Gopher got the last laugh, though; he pushed out quite a mountain of dirt onto the new footings for the wall.

The masons removed his little mountain and built part of the wall today; it will be interesting to see if Mr. Gopher has any more tricks up his sleeve.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maybe . . .

. . . my new steampunk necklace is done.

It feels done tonight, but I'll take another look at it tomorrow and decide. I'm wearing it right now, actually; for some reason, I find that's the best way to get to know it.

While I'm working on a piece of jewelry, it is more a part of me than something in its own right. I know, that sounds really rather odd; but take my word for it, they don't seem quite real to me. Perhaps that's because I do so much taking apart; if I thought of my pieces as entities in their own right, I'd probably feel badly about ripping things to shreds.

Until I wear them for awhile, they're just possibilities. After I've worn them, they become real.

Friday, June 12, 2009

S-l-o-w-i-n-g down . . .

Yesterday I reached the point in my necklace were I wanted to finish it right now, and the race was on. This morning I had some reminders that it isn't always about what I want! It was time to slow down.

I found a spot where the Nymo broke; that's not unusual, I often have to fix things mid-stream. I tend to pull on my work a bit, sometimes, and I often break a thread or two. So I quickly fixed it up and went on. Wouldn't you know, it broke in the same spot again? Nothing daunted, I fixed it up again.

Can you guess what happened?

Yup, same spot. Figuring that there was just to much stress there for Nymo, I reached for the Fireline 8lb test. And broke it in the exact same spot. Fireline never breaks! One of the beads there must have a sharp spot, that's all I can say. So I took it slowly, knotting after every stitch, and managed (knock wood!) to fix it.

I'm not in a rush any more.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The magic moment

There's a moment when making a piece of jewelry where I can suddenly see what it will look like when it's done.  For a long time, it's all open; it could go any of several different ways, and I have no real idea how it will turn out.  Then, suddenly, it finds its way.

It knows what it will be when it grows up, and it's impatient to get there.   All at once, I'm in a race to finish it.

The necklace I'm working on hit that point today.  It's still got a good bit of work in it, but it's found its form.  Its character has developed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beads and pink shoes

That's all it took today to turn me from a sourpuss to a happy camper. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a pair of pink sandals and fell in love. I bought the black ones, because black goes with everything, but I couldn't get the pink ones out of my head.

Don't get me wrong, I love my black sandals. They are super comfy, and yes, they go with everything.

But they're not pink.

Today I woke up feeling rather blah and out of sorts; not miserable, but not really happy, either. And those pink shoes were still on my mind. So I went into town and I bought them. They're a gorgeous; a totally fun shade of hot pink, and I love them. I'm going to wear them with all of my bright tank tops; pink and pink, pink and orange, pink and yellow, pink and lime green; yup, that's me coming down the street, bright as a new penny.

When I got home, my bead order was here. Life just doesn't get any better than that!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A beadiful day

Yup, it was me and my beads today; I'm working on the next chapter of my Steampunk saga, and I devoted the whole day to working on the necklace. It's been in process awhile now; it has been a slow moving project.

Sometimes ideas come fast, and I can hardly keep up with them. Other times, the ideas meander in, visit awhile, and go somewhere else. This one has been that sort of project; it comes a little bit at a time. It's almost as if it were a bit shy.

It's a much softer piece than the first one; perhaps that's why it is more elusive. This is the first time it has stayed with me all day; I'd like to think we're becoming friends.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Godzilla of the Gophers

Yup, that's me! Yesterday, we spent the whole day working in the garden; I nearly finished digging out the main part of where we'll be planting our mixed border. Along the way, I found more than a few gopher tunnels; I remorselessly dug them out.

I would really appreciate it if the gophers would move on, and I'm doing what I can to encourage that. I have sprinkled the areas I want to plant with some stuff that they are supposed to find offensive; I'd really rather not kill them. I'd just like to use part of my yard for planting. They can have the rest.

Sigh.

That is totally unrealistic, I know; they want it all. We'll probably have to resort to sterner measures to convince them to move on, but I'd like to think that putting out stinky stuff and cutting off their tunnels will keep them in their part of the yard.

Friday, June 5, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night

Oh, wait, that's a different story.

But this one is nearly as trite; I'm still trying to solve the mystery of the 2mm crystals that went missing when we moved. Today I realized that they have company; the beads I used in making my mother's Christmas gift are also missing. Now, I didn't post that one to my blog until after we'd moved . . . and I'm fairly certain I didn't finish it until after we'd moved . . . but I'm not sure. I know I worked on it here, but that may have been while I was waiting on workmen to get things finished. Anyway, those beads are missing, too.

I've looked in all the places that I usually put beads, but no luck.

It's a mystery, all right.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Easier than what?

A young woman of my acquaintance asked, "Does it get any easier to get everything done?" and my reply was one word, "Nope."

I'm a fast writer, I always have been. Writer's block has rarely been a problem for me; I sit down, I write. I edit. I rewrite. I edit some more. Rewrite some more. Do a little more editing. Sooner or later, I'm done. It's as good as I'm going to make it. Sometimes I'm simply out of time, other times I'm actually satisfied.

For now.

I've been known to rewrite and edit days, and even years, later. But is it getting any easier? Nope. It's the same, actually. Not easier, not harder. It takes the same amount of time and effort that it always has.

I'm writing three blogs now, and my tutorials. Two of the blogs are intended to be updated daily, and one is updated whenever I finish a piece of jewelry. On one of the blogs I'm accepting articles from others and acting as editor, publisher and writer; the other two are mine alone.

It isn't the largest volume of writing I've ever done, but it's daily. And no, it doesn't get any easier; but it doesn't get any harder, either.

I might have a point here, but I'll be switched if I know what it is. For now, that's good enough.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bling ring

After my fast and furious spate of tutorial writing a week or two ago, I entered something of a dry spell.

No ideas, nothing much happening; the beads were still and silent. So I headed for the garden.

That's not a bad thing; there's plenty to do out there, and it's nice to get out into the sunshine from time to time. But yesterday it all came pouring back. I was making a clasp for my long-term project, and the idea for this ring popped into my head. I made a first stab at it last night, then woke up this morning with the whole thing in my head, as neat and tidy as you please.

So I pulled out the wire, set up my camera, and put it together, taking photos at every turn. There's a new tut in my Etsy tonight! I could not stop until I finished it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Garden notes

Today, my garden suddenly began to look like a garden. We've done just enough to make it look cultivated; we are beginning to impose order on it. Today is the first day that I wanted to take a photo; unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. It was one of those rare June days when the fog didn't lift; in fact, the fog turned out to be clouds and we had a little bit of rain.

Not a lot; this is California, and it is June. But it was coming down hard enough to drive me back in the house, and it kept me from taking out my camera. Perhaps tomorrow!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Running around

Town, that is. I had some errands to run today, but I ended up not getting to most of them. My first stop was a local hardware store, where they had thoughtfully put a wooden chaise longue in their outdoor display area. We'd been talking about acquiring some outdoor furniture, and this one was exactly what we'd been looking for.

At a very good price.

So I went in and ordered two; found some very nice pads, and even remembered to get what I'd actually come for. A very good start, right?

But when I went around to the pick up area, the boxes were too big to fit in the jeep. "Never mind," I said, "I'll just run home and come back with the van." Which I did.

I got the boxes home, and discovered that one of the chairs was broken. So back I went; they took it away and loaded up another one. By then, of course, I had just enough time to get to my daughter's school to pick her up.

Oh, well, I'll just have to go out tomorrow for the soap and the air pump. Life's an adventure.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lavender blue

Dilly, dilly; lavender green . . .

Has been running through my head all day. I have lost count of how many different lavenders I have planted in this garden; I don't keep the tags anymore. I am not running a botanical garden; I don't have to know their names.

That was a very freeing decision; I used to carefully insert the little plastic sticks next to each plant and try to memorize their names, both latin and common. I've backed off on that, it's lavender, plain and simple, from here on out.

I've cut a huge bouquet of it for my desk, and it smells heavenly.

Life is good.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back in the garden, again

We have an irrigation system! Woooo hooooo!!! It was finished last night, and this morning was its first run, all by itself. It performed magnificently. I was so inspired, I hauled a bunch of mulch this afternoon, and bought the flower bed a couple of adorable solar powered lights that look like astrolabes.

I have a horrible weakness for garden ornamentation. Not of the cute statuary variety, but I do love wrought iron; birdbaths, candle holders, arches and trellises; yup, I have decorated my gardens with all manner of such ornaments. I do miss a darling birdbath I had in New York; I meant to take it with me, but I forgot.

I'm sure I'll find another, though; it's only a matter of time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's here!

Hop on over to the SATeam blog and check out the deals!  We've got freebies and discounts on all sorts of goodies: jewelry, beads, and tutorials. Yup, including mine. I've got a really sweet freebie for you!

Have you been thinking about buying some goodies? Now is the time! Some of these items are one of a kind, and when they're gone, they're gone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What a sale!

I've been working all day on getting the announcement for the SATeam Weekend Super Sale set up; bright and early tomorrow morning, I'll release it.  You are not going to believe the wonderful freebies and discounts being offered; in fact, you might find that I've snapped up a few of them myself!

You'll find fabulous jewelry, free earrings, free beads, and yes, I'm offering a freebie myself!  But you're going to have to go over to the SATeam Blog tomorrow morning to find out what it is, and how to get it.

Of course, you're welcome to go over there right now and see all the fun things that are happening on the Starving Artists Forum; that's today's topic!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Never volunteer, right?

I seem to remember that bit of advice from somewhere, but I am constitutionally unable to follow it! So yes -- I've volunteered myself again, and for a rather big job, at that.

But I think it will be fun. (Famous last words.) No, seriously! Y'all know that I love to write, and I've taken on the SATeam Blog as my new project. SATeam is an Etsy team that I belong to; it's a great bunch of people from all over the world who love to make and sell jewelry on Etsy.

It's a fairly new team, but we're really coming together. The level of enthusiasm, help, and hand-holding can't be beat. We've been working really hard to get everyone's shop open and ready for sales. That's mostly done . . . and now it's time to blog about it!

That's where I come in. I don't know a lot about selling, but I can surely write. Lots. I'll be posting pictures, information, gossip, news of special promotions and sales, and all sorts of other things over there on a daily basis.

Shhhhh, here's a heads up: we've got a wonderful freebie and discount promotion starting on Friday. Get over there and check it out, but don't tell anyone I spilled the beans!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big Job, little job

I seem to be settling in to a rhythm with my beading; I like to have a big job going, but sometimes I need to set it down for a bit and do some smaller things. I like the feeling of finishing too much to only do big projects; but I also like the complexity of doing a big project. This method of "beading through" seems to be working for me.

So what is my big project this time, you ask? It's another Steampunk piece. More ladylike than the other one; more delicate, with lots of crystals and pearls in it. I've got most of one strap made, and today I'm working on the focal part. It's going to be fun; it didn't work out the way I'd planned, but I like what the beads did better than I like what I wanted them to do!

It's a good thing I'm not the head designer in my process.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Random thoughts

It's been a very pleasant weekend; nothing major or momentous going on, but nice. Relaxing. Pleasant is the operative word here. The weather has been delightful; sunny, a bit on the cool side, but not cool enough to make me reach for a sweater during the day. During the evenings we're bundling up a bit, but when the sun shines, it's lovely.

I've been writing a lot of tutorials lately; take a look on the right side of my blog, and you'll see most of them. Not all; I decided that the "shop window" is about as large as it needs to be. You'll just have to go over there if you want to see the rest of it! I'm really enjoying writing tutorials; it makes me feel a bit less self-indulgent about all the beading I do! You see, I don't wear nearly as much as I make, so sometimes I feel guilty about making more. But not now! Nope, I have to make stuff in order to write tutorials!

Circular logic, I know it is; but it's better than no logic at all.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art and Inspiration

Our town is having an art show in the park this weekend, and we got out first thing this morning to see it. It was such fun; the weather was cooperative, and there were so many talented local artists showing their work. There is something so rejuvenating about seeing a lot of art, all at once; it reminds me how much beauty and creativity there is in this world.

I saw so many things that I enjoyed; yes, it would be fun to be terribly rich and be able to own them, but seeing them is wonderful enough.

Not for the artists, though. Sorry, guys -- I would love to support you, with more than just my appreciation; maybe some day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

Yup, today is my birthday, and it's been a lovely day. My hubby took me out to lunch for my favorite -- Mexican food -- and he got me a new crock pot to replace my 30 year old, definitely seen better days, slow cooker. So I'm cooking a corned beef for dinner; you know I couldn't wait until tomorrow to use it!!!!