Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4th Winner Announcement!

I'm not sure why, but I keep typing "winnder" instead of "winner."  Is it a bad sign when your fingers start doing things on their own that you don't necessarily intend for them to do?  I have a feeling that it is...

So, jumping in the Wayback machine, it looks like I hit 400 posts around July/August of 2008...kinda skipped right over ol' 2007 there.  I definitely wasn't posting quite as frequently as I was still in post-divorce recovery mode, dealing with an incredibly demanding new job, and taking on 100% of the parenting responsibility as my ex kind of crashed and burned in the whole single life and needed to go off and pull himself together without impacting Ryan so much with all his problems.

I was also getting ready to launch Ryan into kindergarten in the fall so it was the first time to buy a backpack and a lunch box and school supplies and new school clothes.  Very exciting!  It's hard to believe he's about a month and a half away from graduating elementary school (our elementary stops at 5th grade...6th grade is part of middle school).  Where on earth did the time go?

In beady news, I hadn't discovered Etsy yet and was still buying my art beads (mostly lampwork) on eBay.  I had taken a silver clay class at Brea Beadworks and had every intention of doing more with it, but never really got around to it.  I'm currently using the torch, fuel and firebrick to patina metal LOL!  I was also going nuts for Swarovski rivolis and had made a bunch of seed beaded earrings with rivolis at the center.  Ahhh...the days when my eyesight still worked...I remember them fondly...

Here's what the winner will receive:

"Seed Bead Stitching" from the publishers of "Bead & Button" magazine - this book is a great intro to a lot of basic seed bead stitches and ideas for what to do with them.

This is a strand of pretty pink and green lampwork, a full strand of vintage German Lucite shell beads and two large carved rose quartz flowers.

Some wide sage green organza ribbon and a full strand of sun/pumpkin dyed silk ribbon.

Large iridescent aqua ceramic beads.

A whole mix of wood and colored plastic rings in various finishes and some covered with ribbon plus a full strand of emerald green silk with a twisted needle already attached.

A full strand of silver ball chain, two silver plate padlock charms, an etched brass hook clasp, green ceramic dragonfly pendant, wavy aqua ceramic pendant and section of silver and bead chain.

A hand-painted polymer clay egg and disk bead, a wood disk with a bird print coated in resin, small glass grape and raspberry charms and a Jade Scott copper and resin bracelet bar.

This is a beautiful ceramic flower pendant, two brushed silver branch dangle charms and a black and red lampwork glass focal bead.

This is a Czech glass mix, some teal flatback crystals and a handpainted wooden pansy pendant.

And the winner is:  Dyan Cantrell.  Congratulations and please email me with your address so I can get your package out to you!.

Next winner will be announced this Friday, April 25th.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Day At Our Favorite Beach - Crystal Cove

The week of April 7-11 was Spring Break for my son.  Normally, we take a trip out to Palm Desert, but we are using our timeshare points for something else this year so we didn't go anywhere.  I worked part of the week and he went to the YMCA program, but I thought he should get SOME time off so I took a couple of vacation days so we could hang out together.  The early part of the week was really hot (90+ degrees) so I thought we'd go to the beach on our days off.  Of course, by then, the weather had started to shift a bit, but I thought we might still be able to get away with it.

Yeah, not so much.  It was nice in the morning, but we got a late start and by the time we got down there, the marine layer was moving in and it turned kind of cold.  We managed to have a few adventures anyway...a cold day at the beach is still better than any other day anywhere else!

See what I mean about the marine layer?  Still, I love the semi-deserted feel of the beach on days like this...far different from summer when you can barely find a patch of sand wide enough to put your chair down on.

There had been some kind of huge sand castle building contest earlier in the day at this beach.  Most of the pieces were gone by the time we got there, but there were a couple left that were so cool I had to take photos of them.  This is the Eiffel Tower.

And this is a pretty amazing replica of the Casino at Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island.

After a really brave attempt at boogie boarding, Ryan declared it much too cold to be in the water, so we decided to head for the tide pools to see what we could find.  It was low tide so a lot of the mussel beds were exposed.  I realized while looking at them how much they make me think of Sodalite and I figured there's a future jewelry design in that thought so I took this picture to make sure I would remember.  The three white/green things in the center of the photo are gooseneck barnacles.  Usually, we find a lot of starfish on the mussel beds, but there weren't any on this day...maybe too early/cold or something.

Tide pool with anemones and snails.  Didn't find any hermit crabs in this one, though. 

I was puzzled by this.  Huge anemone with an open mussel shell in its I ask you...since neither anemones nor mussels move around, how did it get this shell?  The shell was opened and the animal inside was gone so I can only assume the anemone ate it...except I didn't think they ate that type of thing.

Shell scavenging was pretty sparse, but we did find a few of these pink keyhole limpets.

More mussels and sea anemones.

One really giant anemone.

Ryan said I had to take a picture of this HUGE limpet.

This bird decided to brave the surf splashing on the rocks...

...while its buddies looked for yummy treats in the sand.

According to my detailed research (I Googled), these are Marbled Godwits...and for some reason I find that name really funny to say and now I can't stop saying it and laughing.  Marbled Godwit.  Marbled Godwit.  See?

Sandy fingers brought to you by Ryan.  He was so proud that he found a shell "just like Mommy."

Okay, we have been to this beach like a jillion times and for some reason, I never noticed these unusual, circular rock formations before.  Doesn't this look just like a manhole cover almost?

Here's a larger one that is not buried in the sand.  You can see how the swirling action of the water around the rock has carved this shape over time.

I know there's a specific name for these formations...I just can't remember what it is.

Hermit crabs!  We finally found a pool that had some!

I know this is a boring landscape photo, but I took it to show the typical colors of coastal cliffs.  People think California is all green and palm trees and stuff, but we are really more of a coastal desert.  It's only April and already most of the vegetation is gray or brown...just a few spots of green and they won't last too much longer.

I got super excited when I first noticed this guy at the top of the cliff...

I had to really play with the zoom on my camera to try to get a better shot so I could see if my suspicions were correct...

...and I think they are.  I think this may be a peregrine falcon.  Now I've been informed that it's more likely an Osprey.  Definitely some sort of raptor and not one of our regular red-tail hawks that I see all the time.

At last...the sun finally made a very brief appearance at the end of the day.

And really, that pose just says it all...warm or cold...we love the beach!
Here...enjoy some Marbled Godwits and the sounds of the surf!
P.S.  I didn't get a photo of the best part of the day...there's a restaurant right on the sand called The Beachcomber Cafe and normally, it's packed and impossible to get into, but since it was a random Thursday with kinda crappy weather, they had some openings so we decided to eat dinner on their patio and watch the sunset.  Right after we sat down, there was suddenly a lot of shouting and excitement and the wait staff started ringing the ship's bell that hangs on the wall because...there was a WHALE swimming by right in front of the restaurant!  It surfaced multiple times and spouted and everything!  Now, we definitely have a whale season, but usually, you have to go out on a boat to see them.  In all my 44 years of living here, I have NEVER seen one right from the beach like this.  This whale was solo and was motoring northward all by itself.  It was so cool, but in my excitement and mad dash to run over to see it, I forgot to grab my camera LOL!  Still, Ryan and I got to see something totally amazing and once-in-a-lifetime!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Third Winner Announcement

NOTE:  All of the announced prize packages up to this point were mailed out over the weekend so watch your mailboxes if you were already chosen as a winner.  Now...on with the announcement...

I made it to 300 posts right around November/December, 2006.  In taking a look back at that time frame, I noticed a few things:

1.  Wow...I was really angry.  It's a simmering, under-the-surface kind of anger that is sort of covered over in humorous, sarcastic sauce, but it was definitely anger.  Considering I signed the final divorce papers and took back my maiden name around that time, I guess it was not surprising, but I'm glad to realize that I don't feel quite that level of pissed-offness any more.  I still have my moments, of course, but they are few and far between now.

2.  I was really, really hungry (which might have contributed to the anger LOL) because I chose to deal with the divorce and the job loss (in part) by going to the gym like I was training for the Olympics and totally starving myself.  On the upside, I lost 65 lbs. and I looked AMAZING the day I went in to sign the divorce papers, but on the down side, it was not a pace I was able to maintain once I got a new job and, later, when 100% of the childcare responsibilities fell on top of me.  Sadly, I eventually gained all the weight back and have had to realize that I can either manage work/single mom-hood OR my weight, but apparently not both at the same time.

3.  I was still using a flatbed scanner to take pictures of things and OMG...I am so embarrassed about those jewelry photos.  They suck SO BAD!  My photo skills are still rudimentary at best, but using the digital camera outside with a macro setting and natural lighting has definitely been an improvement.  If I could just figure out the magic key to making my photos fit in the little thumbnail windows on Etsy listings PROPERLY, I would be in 7th heaven.  And yes, I know, the entire rest of the world seems to be able to do this and I am a complete dumbass that I can't figure it out.

4.  My design and jewelry-making skills have (at least IMO) come a LONG way.  It's funny to look back at what I was making then and think how proud I was of it at the time and now I want to bury all those photos because everything looks like crap.

Okay, enough with the time machine.  Here's what the winner will receive:

A copy of "Metal Clay for Beaders" by Irina Miech.  This is an awesome, introductory level book on metal clay.

A strand of lampwork beads, a ceramic bee charm, a Jade Scott copper/resin teardrop pendant, brushed silver large-link chain, a pretty aqua/white/pink ceramic pendant and a pair of red/peach lampwork swirl beads.

A memory-keeper glass bottle (fun to fill with all kinds of sand, shells, glitter or trinkets and then wire-wrap to a necklace), a red patinated seahorse, two dark wood pendants and a ceramic rectangle pendant.

2 ceramic turquoise beads, 2 pewter fish charms, a large stone heart pendant, a vintage button, a mix of vintage Lucite beads, and a lampwork glass "sombrero" bead.

A mix of Czech glass leaves and beads and three pastel resin butterfly charms.

A full spool of black waxed linen cord.

A blue ceramic owl pendant and some golden urchin spine center drilled beads.

A package of large iridescent green ceramic beads and three different ribbons - a solid purple chiffon and two dyed silk.

And the winner is:  thecolorofdreams.  Congratulations and please contact me by email with your mailing address so I can get your package shipped off to you.

Next winner will be announced Wednesday, 4/23.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're All Ears - April Challenge

I am having so much fun with these monthly challenges from "Earrings Every Day!"  Kudos to those who started that blog and these challenges - they are perfect "bite-sized" morsels to participate in without being massively complicated or requiring copious amounts of time.  Perfect for li'l ol' time-challenged me!

So, here's the inspiration for this month:

Using a Pottery Barn catalog photo?  Genius!  I totally love this photo and am seriously depressed that my house does not look like this all the time.  I need magic Pottery Barn fairies to come and make everything look so good!
My second thought was that, although I really love the way everything looks in the photo, when it comes to jewelry, bright yellow & green is not a color combo that I have ever embraced.  I tend more toward blues/teals rather than outright green.  I wasn't even sure what my stash would have to offer in these colors.  Fortunately, I buy beads like Doomsday Preppers buy MREs so as I trolled through my stash, I actually came up with more than I thought I would.
And the next thing I knew, I was off on a yellow/green frenzy (because, really, who can make just ONE pair of earrings...they are like potato chips!):
I found these cute polymer clay beads that look like they were practically made just for this challenge!  These bright yellow Czech glass beads were leftover from another project and just begged to be included here.  I'm happy with the results, but the overall effect is more cute and less sophisticated than the inspiration photo.  It finally occurred to me that what this color scheme needs is more of the dark brown to ground it so I came up with this option:
Lime green jade rounds and carved citrine flowers against large rings of dark wood are much closer to the feel of the photo.  I'm picturing these worn with a long, 70's summer sun dress kind of outfit.  At this point, I was happier...but I still felt like something was missing...I just couldn't figure out what it was.  Then, I got an email from a color blog that I follow and whether this was planned or just a lucky coincidence, the weekly color scheme had similar shades of yellow and green...but also included some shades of royal and dark blue.  BAM!  That is what was missing...another color! 

I kept with the original theme by using sunny yellow Capiz shell disks, brass bird charms, and olive green Swarovski crystals and then I added in the new color with some polymer clay blue branch beads from Humblebeads and some bronze Mykonos ceramic spacers.  The use of the dark brown/bronze color helps tie everything together.  This worked so well that I decided to go for the ultimate in color addition:

I had these gold patinated rings from Miss Fickle Media and then I came across these gorgeous color-changing (remember Mood Rings?  These work sort of like that) bee beads that I bought at a Rings 'N Things trunk show several years ago.  When it's cold, they are sort of ivory colored with a dark brown patterned edge (similar to the china and placemat in the inspiration photo) and have hints of yellow and green in them...which I made show up for the photo by putting them in the frig for a few seconds (because they got warm from being handled and changed colors). 

Here they are starting to warm up just  a bit and you can see the colors starting to change.

And here they are after I held them tightly in my hand for a little while and brought out some lovely aqua and teal colors.  If you warm them even more, you start to get pinks and purples.  Amazingly, all of that works with these gold rings and the tiny olive Swaros I put at the top to keep the original color theme going.  If these beads had only had birds on them, it would have been a complete slam dunk!  But, I figure birds and bees go together so still pretty cool LOL!
Hope you enjoyed my April Earrings Every Day-inspired designs!  Here's a link to the rest of the blogs:  An InLinkz Link-up

On a Wing

I made these earrings more than a week ago, but I've been so busy with the set-up for the contest, the Bead Soup Blog hop and the Earrings Everyday monthly challenge that I only just now found time to photograph and post them:

You wouldn't think it would be that hard to get on pair of earrings onto the blog. 

I found these butterfly wing components on line about a month ago and swooned over them so much that I bought a bunch of them in different sizes and color combinations.  They are wood covered with paper and resin.

One of my struggles as a designer is the fact that I am attracted to anything that is bright or glittered or really embellished, which then doesn't leave much room for me putting an additional spin on it.  If I add too much to any of that...I get instant tacky.  But, if I don't add enough, then I didn't really create a design so much as slap a couple of beads together.

Hopefully, I walked that line successfully here by adding JUST enough.  I really wanted the wings to shine on their own and it seemed like black Mykonos ceramic disks and vintage German red glass rondelles would be just enough to echo the patterns and colors in the wings without taking them over the top.

Some of the other wings I bought have more subdued color schemes so I might be able to go a little wilder with them - we'll see.  In the meantime, I'm really lovin' these and am going to have to fight a battle with myself about putting them on Etsy or keeping them.