Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stop and plant the roses

The bare root roses I ordered from David Austin's English roses arrived today; of course, it's raining, so I can't plant them yet! But at least this week it isn't supposed to rain all week; in fact, tomorrow it is supposed to clear up. So tomorrow I will go to the garden center and stock up on manure and compost; then I can plant.

Right now, they are reposing in the laundry room sink; loosely wrapped in a plastic bag that has a bit of water in the bottom of it. I want to keep their roots cool and moist until I can get them into the ground. They are lovely big plants, with well-developed roots, and I'm expecting big things from them this year.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A day at the beach

We took a day off today and headed to the beach to enjoy the sunshine after nearly a week of solid rain. Here in California, we tend to take the sun for granted; it's amazing how quickly that changes after a few  wet days.  We had cabin fever; we couldn't get outside fast enough once the clouds blew away.

It wasn't warm enough to swim, of course; it was sweatshirt weather, but the sun felt good, and it was so nice to be outside again. We stopped at a favorite sea food stand and ate fried clams and chips; the weather was pleasant enough to sit outside. After that, we walked off the calories on the boardwalk.

Yup, this is the life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bead Dreaming

So I put on my big girl panties today and entered Bead Dreams. Just entering is a victory for me; I've wanted to enter, but been too scared to do more than read the directions for several years now.

But today, I did it. I'm proud of me! I overcame my fears and did something that was completely outside my comfort zone.

That's one of my themes for this year; this year I want to try things that I've wanted to do, but been too scared to do. It doesn't matter if I'm a finalist or not (though wouldn't that be something if I were?) because my goal was to enter, and I did.

I can't promise to be brave enough to tell you if nothing comes of it . . . but you can sure bet I will if it does!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


It's an interesting fact: the less invested I am in the outcome of a piece, the better it turns out. I've known that about my craft for many years; whenever I start with a concrete plan, I'm disappointed. If I begin with a clean slate and no expectations, I'm usually very happy with where I end up.

Oddly enough, I've been very resistant to applying that logic to other areas of my life.

I tend to make detailed plans; I tend to want things to turn out a certain way, and I'm not above doing everything I can to try and make things happen the way I want them to happen. The fact that I'm invariably disappointed with the outcome hasn't stopped me; no, I try to stick with the plan regardless of how badly it's going.

Recently I had a glimpse of how foolish that is; recently I realized that my will isn't always going to overcome someone else's won't. And so, I'm dropping a plan that I've been fighting to implement for many years; I'm metaphorically ripping it up and scattering it to the four winds.

I'm happiest when I pay attention to the road I'm on; I'm most successful when I make my decisions based on what is happening right now. Looking too far ahead, or trying to make things fit, doesn't work for me; I don't know what will happen next, and I really don't need to.

It's enough to know that I am here, right now, today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Disco, disco (duck!)

I've been having a grand time playing with a new tutorial written by my friend Cindy at Bead Origami. It's her Disco Ball beaded bead, and after making one where I actually followed the directions, I quickly began branching out and trying new ideas. Before I knew it, I had seven beads in the same color scheme that needed a home, and another pair in a different color scheme that became earrings.

But this story is not about the earrings; they're jewelry already. Nope, this story is about the seven different olive and bronze beaded beads that have been rolling around my beading board. They needed to be together in some sort of necklace; since I've been wanting to make a netted lariat for quite awhile now, I decided to get right on it.

After several false starts, I settled on a 3-bead spiral netting stitch with size 15° beads. It makes a sturdy, but flexible, tube about 5mm across; it's a good size for the beaded beads, which range in size from about 15-20mm in diameter. I'm too lazy to go look for my calipers right now, so that's probably off a bit, but you get the idea. The beaded beads will be at the ends of the ropes; four little ones on one side, and three larger ones on the other. There might be some additional ornamentation involved; there usually is.

However . . . after netting for two days, I've begun to realize that this is going to take awhile. I've got about 14 inches done, and I need about 48 inches.

Or not.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It's not nearly as much fun as decorating. But it must be done, and this is the week.

I started with the biggest, and most difficult task: the Tree. We have so much fun decorating it; we all have our favorite ornaments, and there is a lot of exclaiming and showing everyone when we find them. The perfect spot on the tree must be found, and when we're done, we turn on the lights and ooh and ah. Unfortunately, it's not quite as much fun to take them off the tree and put them back in their boxes.

That task falls to me.

It's done, now; the tree is waiting in the hall to be hauled off to recycling tomorrow.

That task falls to my husband and son.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Should it stay or should it go?

When I'm experimenting, that's the question of the day. Today I've been playing around with a pattern from Bead Origami. It's her Disco Ball pattern, and in a stunning display of New Year's contrariness, I actually made an entire beaded bead, following the directions exactly.

Okay, in the interests of honesty, not quite exactly. I got off track a couple of times, and ended up exiting the wrong bead; instead of ripping it out, I compensated. I know the stitches well enough to get back on track without starting over. But the important part is that the bead came out looking exactly like the one in her picture.

I can follow directions!

So, flushed with success, and full of resolution, I began another one. Alas, this time I got to the end and realized that I didn't like my color choices. The white pearls completely overwhelmed the earthy green and bronze seed beads I was using; the beaded bead looked like a field of daisies.

Now that's not all bad; just not what I wanted. I just finished a floral piece, and I don't want to do another one right now. So now I have to choose: rip it all out, or embellish it. I chose to embellish it, thereby making my direction-following experience a solitary one.

Ah, well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The tutorial that took forever!

Okay, so it wasn't forever. But it sure seemed like it! 39 diagrams later, it's finally done and listed in my Etsy Store.

I really didn't think it would be such a big tutorial; I was amazed at how many different steps there were, once I started writing them down. It's funny, but it takes a lot less time to do each step with beads than it takes to draw each step in Photoshop.

I'm trying to keep a good balance between beginning and more advanced projects in my store, but I have to admit that the beginning tutorials are a lot easier and faster to write! Well, yes, that's a big "doh!" moment; of course they are. But, even though the more advanced ones take longer, I want to keep doing them. It's a fun challenge for me to come up with more advanced projects.

Since it's a new year, I thought I'd ask you what sort of projects you'd like to see! Feel free to post a comment here, email me, or PM me on any of the forums I frequent. I can't promise to make your suggestion, but if I do, I'll give you a free copy of the tutorial!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

And depending on how you reckon it, this is either the beginning of a new decade, or the ending of the old one. I'm not going to take sides; it's a transition year for me.

Ten years ago today, my children were 20, 9, and 7; I was caught up in homeschooling the younger two. Now, of course, they are 30, 19, and 17, and homeschooling is a distant memory. Both transitioned back to high school as teenagers. For most of the decade, we lived in New York; we moved back to California a year and a half ago. This past decade was devoted to child rearing on my part; the next one won't be. For better or for worse, they're reared; it's on them what sort of adults they will be.

I'm excited about this new phase in my life. My daughter is planning to move out on her own this summer, and I will get her room. It has a northern exposure, and yup, I'm already mentally arranging it. I want a big work table under the windows; the rest is negotiable. Guess I'd better stop buying so many beads and let my PayPal balance grow so that I can afford to fix that room up to my taste.

Over the next decade I intend to focus on developing my own interests; beading, of course, but writing, too. As the decade progresses and our trees grow, we'll be producing quite a lot of our own food; I intend to dry, juice and freeze our fruits and veggies; I love gardening and I love eating.

I feel very lucky; I have a lot to look forward to.