Monday, January 31, 2011

One for the girls

One of the things I decided to do while losing weight is to get rid of my clothes as I shrink out of them. I'm not even going to consider keeping them; no matter how nice they are, I'm never going to wear them again. I'm making a change for life.

Today I tossed my first item.

Items, actually; three bras were ceremoniously tossed into the trash this morning. I am down a size. I'm not going back to that size - ever. Hurrah!

Getting rid of them made me feel so good; I'm actually wearing a pretty bra today; it's been a long time since I've been able to do that. I'd gotten too big for pretty bras; I was stuck in utilitarian ones. I've got a few more sizes in my drawer to get through before I buy any new ones, but I'm already thinking about how much fun it will be.

Pretty bras. Who knew that could be such a motivator?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A little adventure

We were both feeling a bit restless today; we wanted to get out and do something different. We're very lucky to live in an area with abundant open spaces. There are so many, in fact, that it can be hard to choose just one.

Today we decided to go to San Antonio Lake. California has been suffering form drought for several years now; this December we had a lot of rain, and it was good to see more water in the lake this year. It's currently at 54% of capacity, and if we get another good stretch of rainy weather, it will go even higher than that. But never mind the data; it was good to get out of our own backyard and into nature.

We saw several herds of deer, including this gorgeous buck; I wanted to get closer so that the picture would be better, but I was afraid of spooking him. There are lots of deer in this area, but this was the first time I've ever seen a buck. There were two of them, actually - but the other one went behind a tree and I couldn't get his picture. We usually just see the does and the fawns; the bucks don't come out in the open very much.

We also enjoyed the ground squirrels; squirrels are such silly creatures. They were chasing each other all over the place and running like mad with their tails straight up in the air. We also saw a lot of magpies; I love their gorgeous black and white plumage and the way they whirl around, showing off.

We stayed until it started getting cold; once the sun gets low in the sky this time of year, the temperature drops rapidly. We weren't dressed for that, so we got back in the car and headed home. I love my town, but it's nice to be able to get out and feel as though we are miles and miles away from civilization.

Being close to nature soothes my soul.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Garden notes

Our winter garden is growing nicely; here's a shot of the brussels sprouts. No sprouts on them yet, but I think we'll have some before the end of next month. The broccoli is starting to bud; in a few days, I'll start picking. The collards are getting bigger; I'll be able to take a few leaves from them by the end of the week. The chard - a leftover from last winter - is still growing like mad and producing far more than we can eat. I like chard, but not every day!

Yesterday I planted two rows of spinach and a row of lettuce, and today I planted a long row of peas. It might be too early for them, but the weather has been so lovely that I decided to plant them and see how it goes. Volunteer lettuce plants are already coming up where some seeded last year; I'm going to trust that they know what they're doing. If it turns cold on us again, I can always replant. If it doesn't, then we'll have a nice long season of spring veggies.

It gets hot here pretty early, so the season is usually short, especially for the peas; fresh peas are so good, though, that they're worth it. This year, I'm trying an experiment; I'm planning on planting the tomatoes in front of the peas. While the tomatoes are growing, I expect the peas to finish off; I've got a sturdy wire and steel trellis for them to grow on, and, as the tomatoes grow, I'll tie them to the steel posts that support the trellis.

We're eating through the veggies that I put in the freezer, and looking forward to having fresh ones very soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


All my life, people have accused me of being a patient person. And then, they're surprised to find out that I'm a very impatient person. They can become very annoyed with me upon that discovery; I can't count how many times I've had someone say, "You work with things that take forever to finish; what do you mean, you're not a patient person?"

Because finishing is inconsequential to me.

I don't need to finish something; I just need to see change. I don't care if the change is measured in millimeters or miles; I can keep working on something for years as long as every thing I do makes it look just a little bit different. I've chosen this picture of the amaryllis in my window to illustrate the point; it sat there, doing nothing, for weeks. And then, all of a sudden, it's growing. I know, from experience, that every day when I come into my studio from here on out, it will look different. Every day, that stalk will grow an inch or two until the day that the bud on top splits open and flowers. The flowers will last for awhile, the stalk will no doubt become top heavy and tip the whole pot over if I don't figure out how to stabilize it before then, and then the flowers will die, the leaves will form, and it will be just another bit of greenery in my window. I was impatient for it to start, but I won't need any patience for the rest of its bloom period.

It's the same thing with beading. I rarely ever make anything that can be finished in a day, but even a few stitches create a very satisfying change in the work. Truth be told, I'm almost sad when I do finish a piece; I miss watching it change. I do wear jewelry - sometimes - but most of my pleasure comes from working on it and watching a pile of beads on my table become a piece of jewelry. I don't need any patience when things change so quickly.

And that brings me to the reason that I'm thinking about patience this morning. As you have no doubt realized, I've been alerted to the fact that I need to lose weight. That's a hard one for me, because change happens so slowly. I'm only a couple of days into it, and already I'm impatient for change. Shouldn't my clothes feel looser? Shouldn't I be dropping a size any minute now? Shouldn't I look different? Shouldn't I feel different? Shouldn't something have changed by now?

Well, no. No, not really. This is going to take patience, and patience is something I simply do not have. But I'm going to have to find some, and I'm going to have to find it quickly.

Told you I wasn't a patient person.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walking, walking, walking

The Salinas River runs close to our house; it's a seasonal river here, and it's dry most of the year. But this is the rainy season, and we had a very wet December, so there's plenty of water in it right now.

One of the really nice things our town has done is to lightly develop the riverside; there are trails and the occasional picnic table or bench in the fields near the river, and a few access points with trails down to the river itself. I decided to kick off my new exercise program with a walk along the river; it was so nice out, I'm really glad I did.

Because my husband came along, the pace was brisk; the man does not know how to walk slowly. Nor does he know how to take a short walk, so we covered a few miles. Walking in the sandy areas gave my leg muscles an extra workout, but it was worth it; the river is so pretty this time of year, especially so now, because we're enjoying unseasonably warm weather.

We saw numerous birds, including a red-tailed hawk, and a rather confused jackrabbit that ran across our path and then back again. It felt really good to get out in the sunshine and walk!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's a plot

Or not.

I've been feeling fine about my weight, because I wear size 8 jeans. How bad could it be if I can wear a size 8? (No, I don't wear a size 8 top. I wear a medium, or sometimes even a large. But I'm able to rationalize that. I'm busty. That's okay, right?)

Well, yesterday I went to the doctor for a check up, and somehow I weigh more that I thought I did. Rather a lot more, actually. Nearly 30 pounds more. So I did some research and found out that the size four I wore 20-30 years ago would now be called a 0 or a 1. My size 8 is the equivalent of a size 12, back in the day.

Oh. My. Goodness.

How did that happen? I know how the weight happened; too much food and not enough dancing. But how did something as sacred as clothing sizes shrink so rapidly? It's not new; from the 1950s to the 1970s, a size 12 went down to a size 10. But it didn't stop there; sizes have dropped four more times in the past 30-40 years.

No wonder I've been able to wear the same size for so long, even though my old pants are too tight. And here I've been blaming the dryer. My jeans weren't shrinking, but the sizes were.

Time to shrink me, instead.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More trees

We planted three more trees in our little orchard today; a Black Jack fig, a Wonderful pomegranate, and a Spice Zee nectaplum.

So what's a nectaplum, you ask? Obviously, its a cross between a nectarine and a plum; I don't know any more about it than that. The advertising copy makes it sound very delicious; but advertising copy makes everything sound delicious.

We figured that since we like nectarines and plums, we'll probably like nectaplums. And it's something different; not something we'll see in every grocery store. We like to be a little bit different.

I'm going to have to learn how to juice pomegranates when they come in; right now the pomegranate tree is a stick, and we won't see much, if any, fruit for at least a few years. But, eventually, it will get big and it will produce more than we can eat. I figure I have a few years before I need to find out how to make juice, but I'm looking forward to having my own fresh pomegranate juice. It's unbelievably yummy mixed with champagne.

This year, we're hoping to get some apples, pears, nectarines, apricots and cherries; last year we had a nice peach harvest and a few white figs, but the rest of the trees weren't quite ready to produce. We did have one cherry, but a bird got it before we did. This year, we hope to get at least a few more.

It's fun growing our own food; we're not quite self-sustaining, but we do grow a lot of what we eat. Once the fruit trees start producing more than we can eat out of hand, I'm looking forward to making juices and ciders.

I might even have to learn how to make wine.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The chicken or the egg?

Designing beadwork is a very interactive process for me; quite often one design builds upon another, incorporating bits and pieces here and there from other things I have already done. Some days the process feels like I'm riding a barge down a river; as I go around each bend, I see new sights and my work changes to include them.

These variations on designs gradually become new designs; most of the time I keep the variations to myself and only show my work when it has turned the corner, left its origins behind, and become something new in its own right. This time, I'm breaking that long-standing tradition; this bracelet is the precursor to my latest design, and, although I'm calling it a variation of that design, it actually came first.

I'm the designer here; if I want to alter the timeline, I can.

Anyway, there's a really good reason why this one has to be labeled a variation, even though it came first. See the cute little beaded bead balancing on the top of the bangle? And the giant beaded bead that it's leaning against? Those aren't my designs. They're called Infinity Dodecahedrons, and they're the work of the mathematical masterminds behind beAd Infinitum. I had to come up with a new focal for this bracelet before I could write up a pattern for it.

But, in the interest of keeping at least one part of the story straight, I'm publishing this one here before publishing the final design to my Jewelry Tales blog.

Yup, you saw it here first.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My muse has been on holiday

Last week we went down to San Diego, and I think my muse kept going and ended up in Tijuana. She'd been sulking and refusing to work for most of December; she has not been herself for quite awhile, actually.

She needed a vacation, and I know better than to ask where she's been. There are some things that I'm just better off not knowing.

She's back now, and she brought me a new bangle idea to make up for her recent behavior. She knows I'm a sucker for bangles. I've finished one, and am working on writing the tutorial while I make another.

I haven't stopped to take photos; I haven't had time. I've been beading and writing pretty much constantly for the past two days. I will probably take pictures of the first one in a day or two, depending on how the beading and writing goes on the second one.

I'm having so much fun being creative again.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I've got famous friends!

I'm so happy for two of my friends and fellow Bead Mavens that I could just burst. Not only are they wonderful people whose presence in my life I cherish, but they've also been recognized by one of the best beaders in the business for their gorgeous beadwork.

Mikki Ferrugiaro and Nancy Dale have just been named up and coming beader/designers by Marcia DeCoster, author of Marcia DeCoster’s Beaded Opulence, on the Lark Crafts Site.

And, without any further ado, here is a little eye candy from the Artfire shops of these wonderful women (to see even more, click on their names and you will be whisked off to their shops):

Royal Amethyst Lariat by Nancy

Kimono Royale with Geisha Bow from Mikki

Barrel Urn Beaded Vessel by Nancy

Victoria Vintage Style Tile bracelet from Mikki