Friday, August 27, 2010

Was there ever any doubt?

Of course I'm going ahead with it. How could not? I've heard it said that a little bit of ugliness is what changes prettiness to great beauty; I'm hoping that's true. Haute Couture certainly has its own bits of ugliness, and the photo I've chosen is no exception.

But that's not what has convinced me to move ahead; oh, no, that's just the justification for it. I'm moving ahead because of my own innate tendency towards contrariness; it tickles my fancy to use something so very ugly in this way.

Is that how the designers feel? Do they enjoy startling people by inserting an element of ugliness? Is that what it's all about: daring people to look at prettiness marred, forcing them to consider ugliness turned beautiful?

I don't know if I can pull it off, but I'm going to try.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ambushed by inspiration

That's the only way I can describe it.

There is a contest that I've been wanting to enter, but I have been sadly lacking in inspiration. The contest is the Haute Couture Beading Contest, and, since it is all about providing inspiration, I'm quite horrified to admit that I just wasn't finding my way into it.

Until last night.

Yesterday, I received a packet of ugly beads as part of a fun challenge I'm participating in, called, of course, an Ugly Bead Swap. The idea is to send off a packet of ugly beads to another participant; by the time the postman has made his rounds, we will all be the proud owners of a pile of, well, ugly beads. You can see the beads that I received to the right of this paragraph.

Oddly enough, I like almost all of them. Okay, that's not entirely true; the orange beads in the middle of the far left column are ghastly. So ghastly, indeed, that I had to begin with them. There are two different types of beads in that bag; four very badly foiled Chinese lampwork flattened bicones and a string of neon orange and yellow oval glass coins.

They just cried out to become beaded beads. To be honest, one of us was crying; it may well have been me. Those lampwork beads are a sin against molten glass, and the coins are bright enough to stop traffic. After quite a few bad starts (and even worse finishes) I came up with a design that I liked. I thought that would be the end of it; I could toss it on a headpin, string it on a chain, call it a pendant, and fulfill my duties to the challenge. We don't have to use all of the beads; just some of them. I'd used the worst of them; surely that was above and beyond the call of duty?

And so, after settling my mind on that, I let my mouse wander off to other, more interesting, pursuits. Once again, I found myself looking closely at the inspiring photographs on the Haute Couture Beading Contest. And it was there that I was ambushed: my beaded bead of ugly beads called out to one of the photos and gave me an idea, all at once.

Do I dare use it?

Friday, August 20, 2010

One down

Our daughter is moving out on her own very soon; she doesn't have a date yet, but it could be anytime in the next two weeks. We are giving her our old futon (also known as our living room couch), which meant that we had to find a new one.

No problem . . . or so we thought.

Yesterday we went down to the Futon Store, only to find that it had closed, lock, stock and barrel. No forwarding address; no suggestions of where people who are in dire need of new futons should go.

We looked, half-heartedly, at several regular sofas in regular furniture stores; we're just not upholstered people. We needed to find a futon store. I googled; there was one option listed near us. They had one left in the style we liked; we bought it and went off to get the jeep so that we could bring it home.

Sadly, by the time we returned with the jeep, they had uncrated it and discovered a problem. Since it was the last one, we had to cancel the deal and look elsewhere. We did a bit more looking at regular sofas; we just couldn't see ourselves owning them. And then, in desperation, we stopped at the local oak furniture store. We'd never seen a futon there before, but thought that perhaps they would have a sofa we could live with.

They had one futon in stock. Mission-style. We love it. It's in our living room already.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Waiting Game

A friend of mine said recently, "I don't mind change, I just hate waiting for it."

Bingo; that's me in a nutshell. I like to just get on with it! Once I know change is upon me, I'm the first one over the wall, my hat sailing merrily before me. I hate to wait; I'm a do it now sort of person.

Oh, would that I were in control of the world! Change would occur at a dizzying rate; there'd be no waiting around for things to happen. Everyone would get things done and make things happen. The word "later" would be struck from our vocabulary.

Obviously, I've not been voted Queen of the World.

Neither have I been voted Queen of my little section of it.

So, here I sit: waiting most impatiently for change of which I am not the agent; suffering through the pain of watching other people miss deadlines and procrastinate their way through things they really ought to just do. I want to get moving on this.

I am not a patient person.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I finished i!

And I spent all day today drawing diagrams and writing up my notes to make the tutorial.

I love the dark red crystals with the black beads; I don't do a lot of dark pieces, but I really like the way this one turned out.

It may have given me fits while I was working on it, but I love it now that it's done!

I got a good start on the tutorial today; I'll keep at it, and hopefully, I'll get it finished this week or next. I'm happy to say that the writing is going a lot better than the beading went!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is why they pay me the big bucks*

Over the years, I've had lots of people ask me how I come up with my designs; they seem to think that I know what I'm doing when I set out to make a piece of jewelry.

Listen up: my method is quite simple. Trial and error. Yup, that's it; I try something, and if I like it, I keep it and add something else to it. If I don't like it, I rip it out and try something different.

This is usually a pretty good method; most of the time, I like what I try more often than not. But not on this necklace. Whooee, nope, this one is 99% error. At every turn I've tried a dozen things and ripped them all out before finding one I could keep. I'm not sure what's up with that, but I'm hoping that my next project goes a lot smoother. It's taken weeks, and I haven't even begun to write the tutorial for it.

I'm almost done with it.

I think I've found the right thing to do to finish it off.

Wish me luck!

*Only kidding about the big bucks; I'm keeping my prices low. No need for everyone to suffer!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wow. My "baby" is 18.

How did that happen?

I know, I know: time passes. But really, it seems like just yesterday that she was small enough to carry around and tuck into bed. How many times did we read Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book? Enough times so that I can close my eyes and see every page. I'm on to you, kid; I know it was a favorite because it took so long to get through and postponed your bedtime.

Now that she's 18, all I remember is the good stuff. The problems we had are irrelevant; she's 18 now. Not that I won't still worry, or want her to be safe and happy; but it's not my call in any way, any more. She's 18, and that means she's in charge of herself. My job description has changed; mom doesn't mean supervisor any more.

I get to cheer from the sidelines now.

You GO girl!!! You ROCK!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Is that a window?

As I mentioned before, doors have been closing around me a lot lately. At first, I was upset about the changes; I failed "meets new situations with confidence" in kindergarten, and, although I've improved enormously since then, I do still find sudden change a bit upsetting. Especially when it comes roaring in at me, with anger, loud voices and a lot of drama.

Luckily, doors can also be closed quietly. Without drama, and without any noise. I can also close them myself. Quietly. Without drama.

Learning that, is a window opening.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Frying squash and other veggie tales

It's been a good harvest in our garden; the artichokes and patty pan squash are coming in fast and furiously. I have accepted the title of hors d'oeuvres mistress, and I have to admit that I not only deserve it, but I'm doing my best to keep it.

Most of the hors d'oeuvres so far contain artichokes; the artichoke harvest has been very, very good. I've cut and cooked more than 50 so far; there are more out there, getting bigger every day. Not all of them have gone into hors d'oeuvres, however; about 30 of them have been frozen whole.

I've mixed them with all sorts of things; crab, garlic, poblano peppers, basil, and, of course, cheese. Cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese; alone or in combination. I've fried them in wonton wrappers, rolled them up in puff pastry, and served them in a dip. I am nothing if not resourceful.

Today, however, the artichokes have been (temporarily) contained, and I have segued into the squash. I've been breading and deep frying it; whatever we don't eat right off, I'll put into the freezer for winter.