Monday, December 19, 2005

New Bracelet

Here's another entry in my continuing quest to prove that I *DO* actually make stuff as well as buy new beads (ahem...shut UP, Sparkle). I finished all the tube beads for this project over the summer and then I got caught up in the search for the perfect clasp. Who knew that an affordable, three-strand blox clasp inlaid with turquoise would be so difficult to find? Not me, apparently, or I'd've designed things differently. In fact, I almost went with a plain silver clasp, but this bracelet just seemed to demand "more" than that so the search went on. Then life sorta smacked me upside the head for a while there and I had to put all the creative stuff on hold. But, I finally found the right clasp and had time to put everything together and so here it is:

I'll have it up on the website later today or this week for sale. I've got to do some cleaning up over there now that the holiday sale is over for the year so please be patient. Oh, and thanks to everyone who ordered from Silver Parrot Designs during the sale - y'all made my year!

But, of course, buying is fun, too ;-) so here are a few more of my early "presents" to myself:

These beautiful flowers and leaves are by Melissa McQuilkin of Whitney Street Studio. I have to say, they are even more impressive in person - beautiful and delicate. I can't wait to put them with some pretty amethyst, prehnite and pearls that I have in stock.

Take care!


Friday, December 16, 2005

Work in progress

So, just to prove that I actually DO make stuff vs. just buying new beads (shut up, Sparkle), here are a couple of pictures of projects that are partially completed.

When this is finished, it's going to be a beaded barrette with fringe. This picture shows the backing material that I stitch the beads to. I started with a center cabochon of white quartz. It's surrounded by several rows of size 15 Japanese seed beads in peyote stitch. Then, there's a row of backstitched size 11 Japanese seed beads in white luster pearl color and another backstitched row of silver-lined crystal size 15 seed beads. Then you can see where I've "attempted" to free-hand sketch (NOT my strong suit) a swirling design and I've also attached a few crystals and onyx disks and surrounded them with peyote stitch, too. Eventually, the entire background will be filled in with size 15 black seed beads with a few silver-lined crystal beads scattered here and there. The basic idea was to have it look like a star-filled night sky with a "moon" in the center and cosmic winds blowing stardust around. I'll post a picture again when it's complete and you all will have to let me know if I captured that feeling or not LOL!

Here's the other project I'm working on:

The center stone is yellow quartz and the two other stones are dyed red agate. I think I may have called them carnelian in an earlier post, but that was incorrect. This piece is going to be a bracelet. I've started with peyote stitch in metallic gold and bronze tones and you can again see some of my crap sketches as I tried to put in a "flame" design around the stones. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to follow through with that or just have a solid background. We'll see. I'm letting it "sit" a while so I can come back and make a decision about it. Of course I ended up with 3 "flame" sections that look pretty consistent and one section that looks totally different than the other three. Like I said...drawing ain't my thing. And, on this surface, you can't really erase your marks so it's hard to have "do overs." Color scheme on this will be either fiery tones of yellow, orange and red or, if I decide to do away with that design idea, I'll use metallic and earth tones.

I'm also still working on the latest peyote tube bracelet. The basic design is all laid out on my beading board (but no way to put it in the scanner yet, unfortunately) and now all I have to do is tinker with it a bit to get the exact bead placement that I want. I'm pretty pleased with it, though, and I think it's going to be spectacular when finished...especially with the gorgeous silver and turquoise clasp that I got to finish it off with.

Now I just need the TIME to do it!

Happy weekend everyone!


Friday Book Review and Last Day of Holiday Sale!

First things first – today is the LAST DAY of the Silver Parrot Designs 2005 Holiday Sale! so head on over to the website and check out the deals if you haven’t already.

Now, here are the book reviews. This week, I continued working my way through the rest of Sharon Shinn’s “Samaria” series. Both ”Angelica” and ”Angel-Seeker” are excellent and breathe new life into this series. I was slightly disappointed in the previous two installments as compared to book one, but these last two novels are as good as “Archangel” is.

In fact, “Angel Seeker” is the best of the entire series thus far. It picks up where “Archangel” left off and follows some of the secondary characters from that book: Obadiah, Nathan and Magdalena, as they build the new angel hold at Cedar Hills and try to improve relations with the troublesome Jansai. The addition of the imprisoned Jansai girl, Rebekah, and her dangerous love affair with Obadiah is fascinating and definitely adds spice to this novel.

“Angelica” is good as well. I enjoyed seeing how Susannah, an Edori woman, would resolve the love triangle between herself, Gaaron the Archangel, and her Edori lover. It’s also the first time that the author introduces the idea of colonists from other ships and other worlds and their impact on Samarrian society.

And then there’s the third book I read this week: Fiona Patton’s ”The Silver Lake” I’ve been eagerly awaiting this novel because not only does it have some kick-ass artwork on the cover, but I’ve been a big fan of Patton’s since reading her earlier works, especially her “Branion” series which begins with ”The Stone Prince.” I’m particularly fond of the second book in the series, ”The Painter Knight.”

So, I was all set for an equally awesome read AND the beginning of a new series, “The Warriors of Estavia,” with this latest book. Unfortunately, it does NOT live up to the promise of Patton’s earlier works. Not only is the action slow, but the characters are patently uninteresting and unsympathetic. Patton continues her trademark use of homosexuality and bi-gendered or gender neutral beings as well as her use of gods who are constantly and intimately involved in the moment-to-moment lives of their subjects. However, the gods of “The Silver Lake” are even more involved and more in control of their worshippers than the religious forces in the “Branion” series were. Frankly, I wouldn’t have had a problem with most of that if the action and characterization were up to par, but they’re just not. I think one problem that authors run into when they make the gods of their worlds into fairly significant characters and give them huge amounts of control over the mortals in the story is that the mortals begin to seem like mere puppets with no wills of their own. This stifles character development. Another problem with this novel is the incredibly confusing variety of place names and terminology. I never did figure out all the villages and temples (despite the map in the forefront of the book) or the difference between the terms “delin” and “delinkos.” It seems like one term means children and the other might mean “apprentice” or “foster child,” but it was difficult to be sure which was which. So, admire the cover art in the bookstore, but then put this one back and go pick up the “Branion” books…which are all out in paperback already.

That’s it for this week. I’m not sure if there will be another review until after the holidays. It will depend on how organized I am getting ready for Christmas and whether or not decides to ever ship my latest book order. Note to self: do NOT choose the “free, super-saver shipping” option next time. 5-9 days my a$$!

Take care all!


Eye Candy

Here are a few more of the yummy things I've picked up lately (in anticipation of MAYBE having some free time to bead over the holidays!)

This set was just too darn cute to pass up. I love the color combination and the big flowers on the lentil-shaped beads. I thought it would be nice to have a holiday set that is something other than the traditional reds and greens.

Here are some yummy boro glass spacers. I just love the colors in this set and can't wait to design something with them. I have to say, until this past year, I've never been a big fan of boro glass. It seemed like all the beads I saw were muddy and kind of "blech" but I've finally found some artists who really know what they're doing in the color department and I'm really pleased to say that I'm now a "boro convert."


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My, what big teeth you have!

So, I was checking out the website of one of my favorite authors the other day and came across some incredible pictures. In addition to being a top sci-fi writer, Alan Dean Foster, travels to some of the most unlikely places and takes these incredible pictures. I was particularly struck by the shots of him diving with great white sharks off of South Africa so I thought I'd share the link: ALAN DEAN FOSTER

Because of the way his site is set up, this link may only take you to the main page. If that happens, go over to the column on the left hand side and click on "Bio/Photos" and then scroll about 2/3 of the way down the photos column for the shots of the Great White sharks (although a lot of the other photos are interesting, too).



Tuesday, December 13, 2005

But wait, there's more!

But then, you already knew that, right? Okay, so I'm a bead slut. Or else I somehow got magpie genes somewhere becaue I can't pass up the pretty, sparkly stuff.

I bought some amazing borosilicate glass beads from this artist at the last show and just had to get more, more, more. Unlike more traditional lampwork that is made from soft Moretti or Effetre glass, borosilicate glass is much harder and requires different equipment and skills to work with. These unusual twisted rectangles and matching spacers shimmer in shades of copper, red, amber and touches of violet and lavender. The scan just does not do these justice at all. They are even more spectacular in the sunlight.

This set has all my favorite colors - luscious shades of blue, green, aqua and turquoise with touches of lavender, bronze and gold. The spacers are a unique teardrop shape which should make them fun to design with.

And last, but certainly not least, I bought another of this artist's sets of heart beads. I got a set at the last show and have been kicking myself ever since for not getting more. This set features moss green and blue borosilicate glass with a clear "window" in the center of each heart that reveals some sparkly lavender foil work. As usual, the scanner has muddied the colors a bit, but in real life, they are semi-transparent - like looking through a forest stream.

I can't wait to see what I come up with to use all of this great new stuff! It should be a lot of fun!



More is better

I may have to put that down as a contender for my epitaph. I don't know, though, I'm pretty fond of my original choice: "If you all would've just done it my way, everything would've been okay." And before you ask, no, I am NOT a control freak ;-)

Okay, enough with the scary peek inside my head. Back to the beads! My bead embroidered earrings with the dichroic glass cabochon centers are some of my favorite projects, but I've done several pairs lately and started to wonder about "branching out" into other genres. I'm currently working on a barrette with a large white agate stone in the center and black, white and silver bead embroidery all around it and I've also started a bracelet with a yellow agate and two carnelian cabochons with bead embroidery in shades of gold and bronze. I'm loving the work-in-progress so much that I decided I needed more bracelet and barrette-sized focal cabs so I picked up some from a glass vendor at the show. At 12 for $10.00 - these were a real DEAL!

And, I know, they don't look like all that much right now, but just wait until I'm through with them!


Part Deux

I picked up these unusal ammonite fossil pendants at a show last year, but haven't decided what to do with them yet. I don't usually do a lot of work in earth tones as I'm more a jewel tone/ocean colors kinda girl, so I took them to the show this weekend with the express purpose of finding some coordinating beads. I discovered this lovely set of bronzite coins at the 70% off sale. Unfortunately, the scan does not do them justice. Each coin has veins of deep golden "flash" very similar to a high quality tiger eye. And again, I was able to get a full 20" strand.

The next picture has a pretty ocean jasper pendant that I got at the same time as I bought the ammonites above. It's got pretty swirls of peach, gray and dark green against a creamy white background. I had hoped to pick up some peach moonstone or something similar to match it at the show, but didn't have any luck in that department. I did find this 20" strand of freshwater pearls at the 70% off sale, but they are for another project. I just thought they went well in the photo with the pendant, but I think I want something with more color in the final design.

Okay, more pictures in the next entry.


It's mine, all mine!

I attended the last local bead and gem show of 2005 this past weekend. It was a bit disappointing because some of the usual vendors did not attend - probably due to the time of year and the fact that there's a bigger show in San Diego this coming weekend. Some day, I'm going to save up my pennies and be able to hit the bead orgy that is Tucson in January of each year, but until then, I'll have to be satisfied with the meager pickings at the local shows (although I'm hoping to get to the L.A. gift show for the first time in January, 2006, so we'll see how that compares).

However, if not all of my regular favorites were there, some of them did show and they were having incredible sales. Lan's Beads had 70% off their entire stock - woo hoo! I probably should have bought more there, but I had some specific needs for planned projects so I just stuck to that and you'll see the strands in the following pictures.

I also decided to post some recent ebay goodies that have been arriving in my mailbox - early Christmas presents to me! This first picture shows two sets of absolutely stunning lampwork glass beads by ebay artist Kaye Husko of Oregon. Her work is quite pricey (and deservedly so), but after haunting her listings for nearly a year, I managed to pick up a couple of somewhat affordable sets. I don't know if I'll be able to part with these, though, because they are just so beautiful. They may have to find their way into jewelry pieces for my private collection. Hey, a girl has to keep SOME bling for herself ;-)

Also in the picture is a lovely strand of turquoise rondelles that I got at the 70% off sale. Only part of the strand shows - it's a full 20" strand.

Well, I had planned to post more pics in this entry, but is being lame so....stay tuned for part deux.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas Sale and Friday Book Review!

Don’t forget – the Silver Parrot Designs Christmas Sale is still going on! From now through Dec. 16th, all orders of $20.00 or more are 15% off!

And now, on to this week’s book review. I managed to make it through two books this week. I read the third installment in Sharon Shinn’s “Angels of Samaria” series, ”The Alleluia Files” Shinn fast-forwards the audience another 150 years into the future of Samaria where whispers of the knowledge discovered by the angel Alleluia in the previous book, “Jovah’s Angel” are causing religious persecution of a certain group. The archangel, Bael, is a dangerous fanatic who is using the powers of his office to control the direction of Samarrian society. I still enjoy Shinn’s ability to logically map out the way this society changes over time, but I found the main characters in this book to be the least interesting of all the novels so far. And, because the action splits back and forth between the points of view of two different characters (a technique I’ve never been that fond of as one character is invariably far more interesting than the other), the character development can feel a bit disjointed. Still, it’s a good overall addition to the series and I’m still enjoying the whole thing enough that I’ve moved on to the fourth book. But more about that next week.

The other book I read is the fourth installment in Rachel Caine’s “Weather Warden” series. ”Windfall” continues the misadventures of powerful, but supremely unlucky, weather warden, Joanne Baldwin. Because of the setting of this novel and its descriptions of major storms, it’s quite eerie when you think about the recent, record-setting hurricane season. Now, usually, my normal complaint about some books is that they don’t have enough action. I never have that problem with Caine’s books. In fact, if there’d occasionally be a few breathers between crises, it’d be nice. However, the reader will definitely never be bored. The reader will definitely never want to be Joanne Baldwin either. This gal makes jumping from the frying pan into the fire actually look like a reasonable course of action when compared to the ways in which her life goes wrong. And thanks to her soul-stealing Ifrit boyfriend, David, she’s low on the magic powers just when she needs them most.

I did think that the real intent of one of the characters in this novel was rather pathetically obvious which made me fear for the IQ’s of Joanne and her sister, Sarah.

**WARNING** plot spoiler!!

Ladies, if a rich, cultured, English gentleman tries to pick you up in the McDonald’s line at a local mall food court, trust me, it’s WAAAYYYYY too good to be true. Put down the QP w/ cheese and back slowly away.

Still, Caine is valiantly trying to follow in the footsteps of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake…back when she was actually a kick-ass heroine instead of a nymphomaniacally crippled outlet for her creator’s TMI (wayyyyy, wayyyy TMI) sexual fantasies. And for that, I thank her. Because, I do miss Anita. I really, really do.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I am working on some new jewelry, but it’s a lot of bead embroidery which is quite time-consuming so I won’t have anything to post for a while. Especially when you consider that Ryan had stomach flu this week (oh joy) and that pretty much kills any and all creative urges I might’ve had. I did get some truly gorgeous new clasps in sterling silver and turquoise in the mail this week so I can finally finish off the latest peyote tube bead project as soon as I get some free time LOL! I’m pretty excited about it and I think it’s going to be utterly fabulous when finished. And, of course, I’m off to a bead and gem show this weekend so I should have some yummy bead finds to post next week.

A la prochaine…


Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Book Review

The first book for this week’s review is "Melusine" by Sarah Monette. I’m having a hard time deciding what to say about this one because it has some obvious, major flaws, but I enjoyed it anyway. This is mostly due to the vivid, funny and pretty vulgar first person narrative by the character Mildmay the Fox. In fact, his portion of the story is so much more interesting and better told that it completely overshadows the first person narrative of the other major character, Felix Harrowgate. This is unusual to me because from the outside description, I would have expected for Felix to be the more interesting character.

I also thought that this book was in desperate need of some type of prequel or at least a prologue chapter. The reader is left with the feeling of being plunked down into the middle of a story that’s already been going on for a while. I found the geography of the city of Melusine as well as the surrounding countryside to be confusing and I agree with one of the reviewers on the Amazon site who complained about the use of the word “septad.” It really was impossible to figure out whether it means days, weeks, years or what. Some of the more interesting secondary characters never reach their full development and a couple of characters simply disappear part way through the book and are never mentioned again. The reader never finds out what happened to them. Lastly, the book ends extremely abruptly and if I didn’t already know there was a sequel coming (“The Virtu” due out in June, 2006), I’d’ve hurled it at the wall in frustration.

And yet, there’s something compelling about the world that Monette has created. I’m dying to know more about the various wizards’ factions – what do they believe and why are they fighting. What about Felix’s past? How did he and Shannon first get together? Then there’s Mildmay. Despite his background as a thief and sometime hired killer, one can’t help liking him and sympathizing with his situation and his exasperation with all the losers and madmen around him.

I will warn you that this book contains a lot of foul language (particularly on Mildmay’s part). There’s also homosexuality and a rape scene. Felix’s description of his madness can be quite disturbing as well. However, I didn’t find any of these darker elements to be gratuitous – they are intrinsic to the characters and the plot. I suppose Mildmay could’ve dropped fewer f-bombs here and there and the reader still would’ve been well aware of what his background is, but even there, I didn’t find it out of character.

Overall, I recommend “Melusine.” The flaws are overshadowed by the fascinating characters and worldcrafting.

Next, I continued my foray into Sharon Shinn’s angel series with ”Jovah's Angel”. While I didn’t find the main characters quite as compelling as Rachel and Gabriel in the first book, “Archangel”, still, I find the world and the series to be fascinating. The angels Alleluia and Delilah are interesting and, in Delilah’s case, tragic figures, but the male characters of Caleb and Noah were underdeveloped in my opinion. I enjoyed the way Shinn fast-forwarded the action in that this second book takes place 150 years after “Archangel” so the reader can see the major changes that have taken place in Samarrian society with the advent of technology. I thought it stretched believability somewhat that Caleb would have such a varied understanding of technology from dam building to repairing music machines to unknown alien spacecraft. But, that was a minor blip in an otherwise enjoyable read. I’ve purchased the entire series and am already part way through the third book, but I’ll save that for next week’s review.

Happy weekend, everyone!


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holiday 2005 Sale!!

Silver Parrot Designs is proud to announce the 2005 Holiday Sale!

From today through Dec. 16, 2005, all orders over $20.00 will receive a 15% discount. This includes the already marked down items in the "Bargain Basement."

Here's just one example of the new merchandise available on the site:

Santa decided to drop in a bit early for the Holiday Sale and he brought beautiful lampwork beads, Swarovski crystals and Bali silver with him!

Silver Parrot Designs will do its final shipments the weekend of Dec. 17, 2005, and will then be closed until January 1, 2006.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping to all!


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Work

I promised some new pictures and here's the first one. I finished these bead embroidered earrings just in time for my show on Nov. 12th. The scanner, of course, has completely screwed them up as far as accurately replicating the color scheme is concerned, but I'll try to describe them. The centers are dichroic glass cabochons. They have a black background with royal purple and tiny hints of teal in them. I've chosen royal purple, teal and purple aurora borealis (AB) seed beads for the embroidery and used them again in the fringe with the addition of teal crystals and glass daggers. I know it appears in the picture that the crystals and the daggers are different colors, but in real life, they match perfectly and they also match the teal row of embroidery around the cabochons. These babies are glamorously long at 4.25" and I call them "Twilight Teal." And yes, Jenie, I KNOW...get a digital camera and ditch the scanner. I'm workin' on it!

In other news, I've finished a couple of books this week so there will definitely be a new book review this Friday. I've got a cute Christmas set necklace and earrings featuring lampwork and crystals that I'll try to get scanned tonight so I can post a picture tomorrow. And, last but not least, the Christmas sale is definitely ON! It will start December 1st and run through December 18th. I'll make a formal announcement here of all the details later so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Take care all!


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In Memoriam

I'm very sad to report today that my sweet cockatiel girl Jimmi passed away at 7:00 AM this morning. She was a very gentle, loving bird who was completely hand tame and would ride around on my shoulder or join me for a snooze on the couch any time. She was also the inspiration for the "Silver Parrot" part of "Silver Parrot Designs." I will miss her terribly - she was a great friend and had been with me for a very long time. I hope that she's flying freely now without any pain or illness and is finding fields full of all the millet treats she wants.

Good-bye, sweet girl.

Jimmi Osborne

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Silver Parrot designs website update

Silver Parrot Designs has been updated to remove the items that sold at the show earlier this month as well as some other sales I've had. The sold items are still available for viewing on the "Gallery" page. While I can never guarantee that I can duplicate something exactly (due to the use of one-of-a-kind artist beads and other rare materials), I'm always happy to discuss the possibility of a custom order and I will let you know whether or not all the materials are still available.

I haven't gotten around to scanning and uploading some of the new designs yet, but perhaps I'll have a chance tonight. I've got a cute Christmas set featuring some nice lampwork and Swarovski crystals and there's also a new pair of bead embroidered earrings in yummy shades of teal and purple. Droooool!!!!

Oh, and Melissa...I'm glad you're enjoying the book reviews! Thanks for the comment!


Monday, November 21, 2005


Whew! It’s been a long time, but I’m back. Life jumped up and walloped me a good one across the jaw and it’s taken me a while to recover. But, I did manage to work my way through some books while that was happening so I thought I’d herald my return with some reviews.

To start, I’ve got Brandon Sanderson’s ”Elantris” This book had a fascinating premise about a city of nearly supreme beings who literally overnight find themselves stripped of all of their beauty, powers and life. Essentially, they become like the living dead and are walled up in their city to suffer for eternity. To make matters worse, in the town outside the walls, some people seem to randomly undergo the transformation into one of these creatures and are thrown into the city to suffer along with the original inhabitants. I thought that sounded like a fascinating idea and that it had a lot of potential for a good story. Unfortunately, I feel like the author didn’t make the most of what he had available here. The action lags in places and some of the characters are underdeveloped…especially the princess who, in my opinion, was the one person worth reading about in the story. When the resolution to the mystery finally comes (and it takes freakin’ forever to get to it) it’s so incredibly over-simple that it left me feeling very let down. This was a bummer because I really, really wanted to like it. Still, the book does have its moments so I can’t say it’s bad and in fact, it might appeal to someone who has more patience than I do or is not really into high action, high romance stories. But, I’d still say, wait until it comes out in paperback. And use a coupon.

Next, I read Elaine Isaak’s, ”The Singer's Crown.” I could almost cut and paste the review of “Elantris” and put it under this book as well. Once again, the book has a fascinating premise, but it doesn’t quite live up to its full potential. If a palace coup occurred and all the members of a royal family are done away with except the youngest, we’d have the typical “put the dispossessed prince back on the throne” novel. Except what do you do when that prince is, well, surgically unmanned by the new regime? How can a eunuch become king? Throw in a few wizards (both evil and good) a spoiled princess and political intrigue, toss liberally and then try to figure it all out. The story seems to go along pretty well for a while and then there’s a very confusing section where everyone switches allegiances and acts contrary to the characters they’ve been building thus far and it just seems rather silly. Also, the love interest of the Rhys, the main character, I found to be singularly unlikable. Her personality changes happen so much “off stage” that by the end of the book they are not very believable. Again, this turned out to be an “okay” book that could have been so much better. It’s already a trade paperback, but still, wait for a coupon.

Now, let’s move on to the good stuff! Ever since I read Linnea Sinclair’s “Finders, Keepers,” I’ve been eagerly awaiting her next release: ”Gabriel's Ghost” And it was nice to finally have a book that met my expectations after slogging through the two above. This book has plenty of action, romance AND an intriguing plot – my kind of story! Marooned on a prison planet for a crime she didn’t commit, ship’s captain Chasidah Bergren has one chance to escape – take up the life of the type of space pirate she used to hunt down and arrest! But, of course, there’s more to it than that. Seems she has a history with the particular space pirate who’s come to rescue her (which, I have to admit, was one part of the plot I found a bit hard to swallow…the whole “universe is a wide place” thing and all, but it was fairly well explained so I was willing to overlook it). The only other thing I wondered about is that I thought Chasidah was a little too innocent and willing to overlook numerous deceptions (albeit necessary ones) on the part of her love interest, Gabriel Sullivan. But, I’m willing to admit that I might be a tad oversensitive on that score because of certain things I’m dealing with in my personal life right now. I’m pretty much on the warpath against anyone who lies in any way for any reason whether deliberately or by omission and this goes double for anyone with whom I might have a romantic connection. Again, though, this is a minor blip in an otherwise fabulous read. I can’t wait for Sinclair’s next book, “An Accidental Goddess” to come out and I’m on a serious hunt for an older book of hers called “Command Performance.”

Lastly, I finally picked up the first book in Sharon Shinn’s “Samarria” series. It’s been around for a while and I’ve looked at some of the books in the store on numerous occasions but never actually purchased one for whatever reason. But, I’ve enjoyed other works by Shinn so I thought I’d give in and try the first book in the series ”Archangel” I was blown away. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years and I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series! It’s an extra plus that because it’s been out for awhile, there ARE other books in the series available. I’m so tired of waiting for my favorite authors to get around to pumping out their one book a year. I mean, it doesn’t take me a year to READ the book, so shouldn’t there be something for me to read NEXT when I’m done? Yeah, selfish, I know, but the reading addiction knows no limits! I’m not going to go into plot, etc. on this one because the link at Amazon covers it all pretty well. I will say I agree with the negative comments about the cover art…blech! What a shame to stick that on such a fabulous story and I agree with some of the comments that said it was a deterrent to buying the book. But, now that I’ve previewed it for you, you can buy with confidence knowing that the crappy art does NOT reflect the gem of a novel that’s inside the covers. I’m off to the bookstore tonight to buy the rest of the series.

Okay, that’s it for books. In other news, I did my second craft show as a vendor on Saturday, November 12th, in Irvine, CA. It was a good experience and I definitely preferred the indoor venue vs. the outdoor show I did back in April. I LOVE air conditioning LOL! It was nice not to arrive home as a puddle of sweat. I wish I could say that business was good, too, but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I did sell a few pairs of earrings (including my favorite “Moon Goddess” pair…sob!) and definitely made back the booth fee plus more, but I had hoped for a better showing at this time of year. There were a LOT of jewelry vendors, but we all had very different styles and inventory so I don’t think that was really the problem. Still, my assistant was once again my best customer! She now has multiple accessories for every one of her dog show outfits LOL!

I’m still hoping to have some kind of pre-holiday sale via the website again this year so stay tuned for announcements. I’ve got a lot of backlogged work to catch up on after being sidelined for a few weeks and this includes the fact that the website inventory needs a major update as a result of what was sold at the show. I’m hoping to get that done this week and I have some new pieces to upload as well.

Other than that, I’m just looking forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend with my family and my first piece of pecan pie for 2005. I get to eat it 2x a year – once on Thanksgiving and once on Christmas and it’s my FAVORITE!

Take care all!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New Work!

I just updated the website with some new finished designs. I did a pair of earrings w/ onyx and blue crystals:

I also finished another of my "Flower Child" embroidered pendants. This one is a purple butterfly with purple seed bead edging and it's strung on purple satin cord:

And of course, you can find everything for sale at the website: Silver Parrot Designs



Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Getting Caught Up - Part 2

Okay, so that's out of the way. Now, on to the belated book review from last Friday. I finished reading Wen Spencer's ”Ukiah Oregon” series and enjoyed it very much. It does have some "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" type elements that I wasn't sure about at first, but the action certainly doesn't disappoint at all. It was a nice change of pace from some of the slower moving books I've read lately. And, there are already 4 books out in the series so you can enjoy yourself without having to wait for a sequel that is months or years away ('cuz you KNOW how I hate that!)

I also read Charlaine Harris's newest book, ”Grave Sight” Ms. Harris is the author of the acclaimed "Southern Vampire" series which I also enjoyed although it is a bit on the "romance genre" side of things for my normal taste. Her newest book features a woman, Harper Connelly, with an unusual talent - thanks to being struck by lightning as a child, she can find dead bodies and "see" how the person died. And she makes a living doing it. Of course, this also means she gets caught up in some unusual circumstances on occasion...such as the apparent murder-sucide of Monteen Hopkins and Dell Teague. But, are those deaths actually what they appear to be? That's what Harper is being paid to find out. Of course, not everyone will necessarily be thrilled with her answers. I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it as a fun read.

And lastly, I already posted about how much I enjoyed Linnea Sinclair's "Finders, Keepers" and Ms. Sinclair was nice enough to leave a comment here on the blog which just thrilled me to pieces! It also reminded me that she's got 2 books coming out in fairly short order that both look excellent: ”Gabriel's Ghost” and ”An Accidental Goddess.” I've added a link to her home page over in the links section of this blog so you can keep up with the latest and greatest. As soon as I can get my hands on either of these, I'll be sure to review them, but I already have a good feeling based on my past experience with "Finders, Keepers." And yes, Ms. Sinclair DID buy some jewelry from me (which thrilled me into even tinier pieces) but that sooo has nothing to do with this plug ;-) Good writing is good writing and deserves recognition. Especially since, in my totally inconsequential opinion, the whole sci-fi/fantasy genre is having its overall publishing budget eaten into by franchise books (Star Wars, TV series books), gaming books, etc. I much prefer originality in world-building, plotting, characterization and other elements...but maybe that's just me.

That's it for now. I did finish a couple of new pieces this weekend, but this entry is so long already that I'll wait to post those tomorrow.

P.S. Okay, one more thing. When Ryan was born, the spouse and I signed up for Netflix so we could get movies delivered to us at home because we figured new baby = severely reduced theater attendance. One of the things I like best about it is that it allows me to keep up with TV shows I've missed out on as well as movies and this last week, I discovered a really cool show called "Veronica Mars." I'd heard of it before and seen the ads, but had dismissed it as sort of a "Dawson's Creek/OC/Everwood" rip-off so I never checked it out. I couldn't have been more wrong. This show is smart, funny and has a great detective story/murder mystery running through it. It's kind of got a "Twin Peaks" feeling without being so in love with its own confusing bizarreness that it becomes a turn-off (hey, "Lost" producers...are you paying attention? Because you're SOOO headed down that whole "who killed Laura Palmer" "I don't care any more" slope). Anyway, I just thought I'd mention that you should check it out...and get Netflix, too, while you're at it. It’s WAAYYY more convenient than all those trips to the video store (plus, no late fees). Blockbuster? What’s that?

Getting caught up...

Okay, I'm a bad, bad, little blogger and I'm way behind. There's so much to write about. Let's finish up with the last two pictures from my show purchases last week:

These beautiful and unusual dichroic lampwork glass beads are by Scott of Unicorne Gifts. The hearts have little "windows" of clear glass in them that let sparkly aqua foil peek through. The strand of smaller beads features an unusual asymmetrical teardrop shape. Of course, I had to select my favorite "ocean-y" colors of blue, green and aqua, but Scott had a whole rainbow to choose from and says he'll be back at the next show. Ouch! My poor bank account!

Lookit - more pirate treasure from my favorite new sterling silver vendor. Those fun hammered "coins" now come in other sizes and also come in GOLD! I've enjoyed using these so much and can't wait to think up more to do with them. They'll go great with the new colors of shell disks I got! PLUS, I just had to pick up some other unusual shapes of sterling including hearts and disks for pendants and some cool earring components like the open disk and the long teardrop.

And lastly, of course I had to buy MORE shell disks. These are getting to be an obsession as I try to make sure I have some of EVERY color (well, except the baby poop green...I get enough of that at home LOL).

I found these lovely sky blue disks and larger mother-of-pearl disks at a different vendor this time. Fortunately, she still had good prices on them so I had to pick some up. The white disks have some lovely honey-colored streaks in them and I think they're going to be smashing with some dark citrine nuggets and some whiskey quartz I have on order. Yummmy!

To be continued in the next post.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More "treasure"

I promised more pictures so here's another one:

Okay, so I didn't get these at the show, but they arrived in the mail this weekend so I stil consider them part of my "pirate treasure." I got them on eBay and I think they're going to make really cute Halloween jewelry...if I can just get them made up in time. I think I'll do a necklace w/ the ghost pendant as the focal and a pair of earrings out of the black spacers and then I'll make a set out of the 3 pumpkins - the large one as a pendant and the smaller ones as matching earrings. Some Swarovski crystals in black and orange should make perfect highlights.

Stay tuned for more pictures (okay, okay, so I was a GREEDY pirate this weekend LOL).

Take care!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me...

We had a true "pirate" weekend at Casa d'Osborne this past weekend. I spent Saturday at the Costa Mesa Gem Faire and picked up lots of yummy treasures to be made into new designs (if I ever again have any spare time which is starting to look more and more doubtful). I continued the theme from the previous show by getting more of those pretty shell disk beads in more colors.

Here's a pic:

I just love these cool colors: delicate lavender, slate blue and mint green. Delicious! I can't wait to start playing with them. I got lots more loot to share so check back tomorrow for more pictures.

Then, on Sunday, I took Ryan to a "pirate party." He had to dress in a pirate costume and oh, he was just SOOOO darn cute! He'll be wearing the same thing for Halloween and I can't wait. This party was really incredible. The hosts happened to know someone who had a part in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie and still had the costume so he came all decked out as Capt. Jack Sparrow and led all the kids on a treasure hunt. This culminated in the children actually digging up a REAL treasure chest which had been buried in the sand and was full of pirate treasure (i.e. candy, stickers, toys, etc.) There was a pinata in the shape of a pirate's hat and they also played a "cannonball" game. Each child was given a black balloon to sit on and "pop" and there was a treat hidden inside. The hostess had made the cake herself. The bottom layer was vanilla and it was covered w/ blue/green frosting to look like the ocean and had some plastic fish and dolphins set into it. On top of that was a chocolate cake shaped like a pirate ship. She used long, rolled "cookies" to make the deck and mast and cannons and then stuck the candles inside the cannons so it looked the ship was firing when they were lit.

Ryan had a terrific time and can now sing the Disney pirate song perfectly. If this is the level of kid parties that are being done these days, I better start planning NOW for Ryan's birthday in January (and I still might not have enough time).

A demain!


Monday, October 10, 2005

Way to go, Nicholas Cage!

Okay, this makes up for the whole "Kal-El" kid-naming debacle because Nicholas Cage is going to exec produce the Harry Dresden Series Pilot for the Sci Fi channel. And may I just add...ya-freakin'-hooooooooooo!!!

Now, 2 things:

1. James Marsters IS Harry Dresden and needs to forget that whole "Brainiac" on "Smallville" deal.

2. Please-oh-please don't let them do to this what they did to "Battlestar Galactica" (which is totally screw it up!). My poor, poor Starbuck...look what they did to you!

And for those who haven't read any of the Dresden series yet - shame on you! Get thee to a Barnes and Noble post haste!


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Of Ants and Elections

Did you ever have one of those days where there's a big master grandiose plan and you can just see how it's all going to fit together perfectly and then one tiny little stumble and the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket? Welcome to my world.

So, today is election day in California. Nothing much big going on as far as the nation is concerned, but some important initiatives and local races, etc. I pride myself on always making it out to vote and that was the plan for today as well. I made arrangements with the spouse to take the kidlet to daycare this morning so I could vote on the way to work. Then, I'd pick the kidlet up and drive him home and spouse would vote on the way home.

Normally, I prepare in advance of an election so I know what the heck I'm voting for/against, but due to some circumstances in my personal life in the last few weeks, I've had zero bandwidth for anything other than sheer, daily survival. But, I say to myself, all is not lost. I'll sit down with the voter information booklet so kindly provided by the state of California (via my tax dollars at work) over breakfast the morning of the election and get myself all read up on the pros and cons of everything so I can make my decisions. Not perfect, but at least not voting blindly.

I went to sleep last night with this beautiful plan in my head. Nothing gives us OCD-perfectionist types more restful sleep than a well-thought-out, detailed plan. So, I slept well and everything moved forward on schedule through the alarm going off and showering and then I headed downstairs for breakfast with my sample ballot and info booklet in my hands...visions of scrambled eggs and English muffins dancing in my head.

And that's when the sh*t hit the fan.

You see, our kitchen was no longer a nice, safe place to eat and get informed. It was a battlefield...and the enemy had breached the gates. The enemy, of course, being the small black ants that are ubiquitous to homes in Southern California. They're tiny, but they descend en masse and are impossible to get rid of. The best you can hope for is a long-running stalemate with occasional incursions. And no, it doesn't matter how clean your house is. My mother has problems with these and it's a well-know fact that you can eat off her floors without any qualms. Plus, our cleaning guy was just here yesterday.

So, there I am in my nightgown, hair wet from the shower, holding my voting materials in one hand and surveying the disaster that my kitchen has become. The ants are everywhere. They are on every counter and chair. They are in the sink and the dishwasher. They are making looping patterns all over the kitchen floor, which, when I follow them, lead to the back door, then across the entire length of the living room carpet to our entry way and out the front door. This time, the little bastards aren't even in the walls of the house (an exterminator got rich off of us last summer making that bit of progress happen), but are coming in from outside by going under our front door.

I can't even find a clear spot of counter to put my voting materials down while I figure out how to begin waging battle. With a toddler and two birds in the house, I can't just begin randomly spraying ant poison everywhere. So, with the intention of at least stopping the immediate invasion and clearing some floor and counter space so we can have breakfast (although the thought of eating where all these ants have been made me slightly queasy), I grabbed a bottle of Simple Green and started spraying the disgusting critters and their entire trail.

I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed. Then I went up and interrupted the spouse's shower to alert him to the situation and request his presence on the battle lines post haste. Then I grabbed paper towels and began mopping up the dead ants floating in puddles of Simple Green. Yeah, I know. EWWWWWW! That was my reaction, too. At least you're only having to read about this.

The spouse arrived shortly thereafter whereupon a command disagreement was had as to whether it was better to vacuum up the entire floor (thus removing any remaining strays) or to mop the floor. I was winning up until the point where I stomped my foot and it accidentally came down in one of the as-yet-unmopped-up puddles of ant/SG solution.

Now, when bare foot meets wet wood floor, bad things happen. BAAAAAAAD things. To wit, I involuntarily did the Chinese splits for the first time since I quit dancing when I was 24. I'm now 40. For those who need help with the math, that's 14 years during which those muscles haven't been stretched to go that way (and they weren't too keen about doing it even back when they WERE in shape to assume that position).

So, now, I'm on the floor in my nightgown and two sensations are fighting for top billing in my brain: the pain from my twisted leg/hip/back and strained groin muscles vs. the increasing desire to throw up over the realization that dead ant/SG solution is soaking through my nightgown and I'm not wearing any underwear. Wait, was that TMI? It probably was. Forget I said anything. Besides, even if I had been wearing underwear, the solution would have soaked through it too and...oh man, I'm still talking about this.

Never mind.

The spouse's mouth is hanging open as he stares at me and finally pulls himself together long enough to ask the age-old dumb spouse question: "are you all right?" I LOOK all right? What do you think, brainiac?

(And btw, I always thought "brainiac" was just an expression, but I learned today that there was a character (villain) in the Superman comics by that name and that character will be played on "Smallville" this season by none other than our beloved James Marsters (formerly Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). Go James!)

Now, where was I? Oh, right. Massive humiliation and grossness in my kitchen. So, the spouse picks me up because neither of us are sure my leg is going to take any weight yet. Fortunately, nothing seems permanently damaged, although I'm sure I'll be REALLY sore tomorrow. So, I limp off upstairs to change into a clean gown.

All of this has sucked up the time I was going to use to get prepped for the election. And, I still have to get breakfast, get my hair and makeup on and get dressed as well as get the kidlet up and fed. And then there is the giant trail of ants on the living room carpet and the entryway to be dealt with before either the spouse or I can leave for work.

It quickly becomes obvious that there's no way I'm going to make it to the polls before I have to go to work. And, I wouldn't have a clue what I was voting on anyway because I had no time to read up on the issues. And yeah, I know, I could've done it Monday night before I went to bed, but Brett Favre was instituting one of the most amazing comebacks of his career (especially considering the Packers were 0-3 going into that game) and yeah, I know, he missed the conversion on 4th down by 2 yards and they lost anyway, but I don't care. It was a beautiful thing to see him in action making up all those points and 2 point conversions and doing it all without a defense, a running back (Ahman Green having gone out earlier in the game with a knee boo-boo...wuss) or an offensive line. What a man!

No way I could make it all the way across town to my assigned polling place on my lunch hour so that's out. And the spouse is biking tonight so I have to pick up the kidlet and it's pretty hopeless trying to vote and keep an eye on a toddler at the same time. I'd be like "punch", "Ryan, come here", "punch", "Ryan, Mommy said come here", "punch", "Ryan, where are you? Ryan? RYAN!" Well, you get the idea. I'd probably end up voting for Mickey Mouse by accident.

So, the great wheels of democracy will just have to roll on without me this one time. And I'll have to trust you, my fellow citizens, to make wise choices in my absence.

Now, where's that can of Raid?


P.S. Yes, I know there was no book review last Friday. That's because I was still slogging my way through that Holly Lisle book which did finally get interesting on freakin' page 224. From there until the end, it was awesome. But skip the first 223 pages...blech!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Book Review

Gee, I'm suddenly having good luck with new authors! I loved, loved, loved Linnea Sinclair's Finders Keepers

Not only does this book feature a terrific heroine in the persona of freighter captain Trilby Elliot, it's one of the few books I've read besides Alan Dean Foster's ”Splinter of the Mind's Eye” that manages to TRULY capture the feeling of the original "Star Wars." Seriously, if Trilby were a man, she'd be Han Solo. And yet, the book doesn't come off as a cheesy rip-off, either. Which is good because heaven knows the stores are already hip-deep in cheesy Star Wars rip-offs. Whatever happened to building your OWN world?


Anyway, RUN, don't walk, to pick up a copy of "Finders, Keepers."

I also finished re-reading the second book of Tanya Huff's ”Keeper’s” series, “Second Summoning”, which I already mentioned in a previous blog entry so I won't say much more about it except that if you need a laugh...this series is so worth the bucks. I'm usually not a big fan of talking animals in stories, but Austin the cat is a really outstanding character. I've never even owned a cat (damn allergies), but I'm pretty sure if I did, this is what he'd sound like!

Lastly, I've started Holly Lisle's ”Talyn : A Novel of Korre”and all I can say so far is "yawn." That’s a big disappointment because I usually love Lisle's work. I'm already a third of the way into the book and the two main characters haven't even met each other yet. I hate when that happens.

Get the action going already!

And what is it with the authors today who think we need 17 chapters of background explanation before there's even a hint of a plot developing? Didn't your high school English teacher explain how important it is to grab your reader's attention early and never let go of it? Sheesh - get to the point!

Besides, the whole storyline (such as it is thus far) has a definite reek of a certain "Star Trek" episode about two factions who've been warring forever because they've managed to make war sort of clean and distant (no property damage - people just get identified as casualties and report to be disintegrated as requested). I don't know the name of the episode (hey, I'm not THAT big a geek!) but anyone who’s watched much "Star Trek" is sure to know what I'm talking about. Well, if this story ever turns around and gets going, I'll give it a full review.

But I'm not holding my breath.

This weekend will involve car washing, kid and grandparent transportation duties and a baby shower. Boy, somewhere, Paris Hilton is jealous of me!

Happy weekend all!


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Plum...or Aubergine?

When I was working on a new necklace last night, I thought the colors in it sort of reminded me of the dress that Felicity Huffman wore to the Emmy's on Sunday night. I've heard that color being described as "aubergine."

But, before I went running off to name my new creation "something aubergine," I thought I better double check that the commentator who used that word to describe the color of Huffman's dress actually knew what he was talking about. Apparently, he didn't because Webster's defines "aubergine" as:

"n 1: hairy upright herb native to southeastern Asia but widely cultivated for its large glossy edible fruit commonly used as a vegetable 2: egg-shaped vegetable having a shiny skin typically dark purple but occasionally white or yellow"

Soooo...I don't really think I want my jewelry designs to be associated with anything "hairy" or "upright" or any combination thereof. That description is more aptly applied to the lovely e-mail spam I get each day. (insert rant about useless Hotmail junk filters).

Besides, even if you make the leap to "aubergine" being used to describe the COLOR of the the plant it actually refers to, the dictionary says it's closer to eggplant. Which is a dark, dark purple. Which is most definitely not the color of Huffman's dress NOR of my new design.

So, I've decided to call it "Plum Perfect":

And yeah, I know, it's not really plum, either, but I already have a design called "Pink Perfection" so I can't go that route.

This design is a result of seeing some leftover beads (the peacock pearls I used this weekend and the darker pink shell disks from last week) together in the "go back" pile and thinking hmmmmm...those might be interesting together. Add in some leftover sterling silver chain and this pretty little "Y" necklace was born.

And no, I'm not going to change the name to "Leftover Perfect" either.

This may end up being one of my hurricane auction pieces...if not, I'll have it up for sale on the website later this week.

In other news, I'm off today on my lunch hour to sign up for booth space at an upcoming local craft fair. Hope I get a good spot so wish me luck!


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Why Bill Maher rules!

In case you missed HBO's "Late Night with Bill Maher," here is his open letter to the President:

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more.There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man?

Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security over to FannieMae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of thePentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just unlucky?

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take the hint.'"

Monday, September 19, 2005

This Weekend and Northern Lights

I wish I'd had a more exciting weekend to report about, but it mostly consisted of chores, church, working on jewelry and taking Ryan to the zoo. Where I learned that a pile of dirt to run and slide in is FAR more interesting than 16 different varieties of monkeys.


Although, I can't really say that I blame Ryan all that much...I wanted to get out of the monkey area pretty badly myself. Did you know that the smell of monkey piss can actually strip the lining of your sinuses in about 30 seconds flat? Neither did I...til Saturday.

Oh, and I also got complaints that this zoo doesn't have a lion. But then again, this is the same kid who asked me today for a "broccoli milkshake" and insisted that that's his favorite so I suppose I can't take the lack-of-lions complaint all that seriously. Where on earth did he come up with the idea for a broccoli milkshake?

My plans to exhibit at a hurricane relief benefit show on the Queen Mary this next weekend have fallen through, but I'm still planning to do a show in Irvine on Nov. 12th so stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, here's the one piece I managed to get completed this weekend:

I call it "Northern Lights" but I'm not in love with the name so if anyone has any suggestions...lemmee have 'em. As usual, the scan doesn't really do it justice. The pearls are peacock pearls and are actually all shades of purple, plum, mauve, green and blue and the labradorite pendant has a nice spot of blue flash right in the center of it that the scanner didn't pick up at all.

And yes, I know, I need a good camera. Just as soon as I win the lotto...

Both this piece and the black bangle bracelet from last week are now up on the website and available for purchase!

C'est tout aujourd'hui! A la prochaine...


Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Book Recommendation

It’s time for the Friday Book Recommendation(s)! Remember last week when I mentioned Wen Spencer’s “A Brother’s Price”? Well, I enjoyed it so much that I went looking for her other books. I had hoped to get the Ukiah Oregon series, but as usual $()#&@)!! Barnes and Noble let me down. One store didn’t have any of the books and the other store only had the LAST one in the series. I am sooooo not going to start reading a series by picking up the last book. That’s just dumb.

I really miss the days when book shopping meant more choices than just Barnes and Noble and ordering on-line from Amazon. Here’s to the memory of Crown, Walden, Bookstar and all the other wonderful stores that used to actually carry a wide selection instead of, as B&N does, just the bestsellers and most recent books (except that they can’t even get that part right as I often have to wait a month or more for a “new release” to hit their shelves).

Okay, rant over (at least temporarily). Back to my story. I had to content myself with another Spencer book, ”Tinker.” It’s a stand-alone so it solved my whole series dilemma. And wow…Spencer hits another home run! I really enjoyed this book! It was a great blend of science and fantasy and nice to see the female character being the techno-genius for a change. Add in some handsome elves and some pan-dimensional bad guys and voila! Lots of fun. I have to admit there were a couple of false notes regarding the romance between Tinker and Windwolf. I felt it blossomed a little too quickly and that there were some important questions that Tinker should’ve asked that she never seemed to get around to, but then again, Windwolf is awfully H-O-T so I might’ve forgotten a few important things myself given the chance to hit that.

Also, regarding last week’s discussion on Michelle Sagara’s “Cast in Shadow”, I have to admit that the conclusion turned out to be a little more satisfying than I thought it would be, but still, it wasn’t enough to really turn me around on this book. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel. Still, it’s a shame because the world-crafting is really top-notch. One of the more interesting backgrounds I’ve come across in a long time. So, if deliberately unclear and mysterious conversations that go nowhere don’t bug you…it might still be worth picking up.

I’ve moved on to a couple of other books this week, but haven’t finished them yet so I better save them for next week’s review. At least one of them is already looking fantastic so stay tuned!

In other news, I spent my lunch hour yesterday interviewing a pre-school for Ryan. A friend gave me a 3 page list of questions that she used during her search for pre-schools and I put this poor school director through the ringer. How is that I can be totally doing the “good mom” thing and still feel like a total dork in the process? The one good part is that I took Ryan by there later in the day so they could assess whether they’d put him in the 2 year room or the 3 year room and he was just awesome! He followed all the directions and when they got out shapes for him to play with…the kid named ALL of them correctly, including “octagon” for heaven’s sake! I try not to brag on him too much, but I was SO proud of the little guy. Of course, they said he’s definitely ready for the 3 year old room. Now, DH and I just have to come up with the $$$$!

Damn, pre-schools are expensive!

So, looks like we’ve got a typical weekend coming up. The car needs a smog check, the carpets need to be shampooed, I’ve got jewelry to make and organize for a possible upcoming show and the piece de resistance? I get to spend part of a day fighting the crowds at Babies R Us looking for a shower gift for my sister-in-law’s shower next weekend. And, according to the registry this morning, some b*tch already bought the gift I was going to get which means I’ll have to actually SHOP AROUND to find something instead of just running in, grabbing and checking out.

Sigh. I hate that frickin’ store.

I need a drink already. Cosmo’s anyone?

Happy Weekend, all!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How Bush Blew It - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage -

Yet again, Newsweek provides one of the better articles I've seen on what led up to this catastrophe, where the failures were and who was responsible at what level. With all the competing stories in the media, it's difficult to keep up with what happened when and where. "How Bush Blew It" does a great job of pulling it all together in an orderly fashion with a specific emphasis on the response (or lack thereof) by Bush and his immediate circle. This is thought provoking and well worth the read.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Other America - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage -

I just had to share this article: The Other America - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage -

Since Katrina hit, there've been so many stories on "what went wrong" and "who's to blame" that it's almost dizzying. I tend to believe that no one particular party or level of government was solely responsible. Rather, this was a systemic failure on every level from local to federal in preparing a city the size of New Orleans for a disaster of this magnitude.

But, there are other elements besides just disaster preparedness and evacuation plans at play here. This article really brings to light some of the deeper underlying issues that led to this scenario.

I only hope that people are listening...


Link Updates and New Bracelet

I just added a couple of new links here: CLuny Grey Jewelry and the Jewelry Trends Blog. Be sure to check them out...lots of beautiful jewelry and photos!

Speaking of which, here's a pic of my latest creation:

This is another brick stitched bangle bracelet over 14 gauge sterling silver wire with some Bali silver accents and a star charm. I made my own simple pattern for the zig-zagging line design and used some new palladium-finish delicas for the silver beads. By the way, the palladium finish is FANTASTIC. No more of the finish degeneration problems that existed with the galvanized-finish beads. I LOVE these beads now. Of course, they ARE more expensive, but this is one instance where it's definitely worth it.

In other news, it looks like I've got a chance at a couple of shows coming up in the next few months so stay tuned for more information on that.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Katrina Aid and Random Ranting

A friend of mine who lives in Louisiana has been working her fingers to the bone at a local shelter since the Katrina disaster occurred. She has provided specific examples of the types of items the people in the shelter need so I thought I would post the list here along with the address to the shelter. I've confirmed that mail IS being delivered there with no problem so please feel free to send anything from this list if you want to help. Monetary donations are gratefully accepted as well, but sending the actual items will help relieve some of the burden from the shelter workers of having to go out and do the purchasing and transporting. If you need a receipt for tax purposes, put a note in your package (make sure to include your return address!!) to that effect and you'll receive one.

Here's the list:

"Our big needs right now are:

1. New undies for men, women and children. The women need plus size panties, bras in the middle of the alphabet and training bras for the girls. The men are asking for XL, 1X plain white t-shirts.

2. We have about 20 school age children and we have all but 4 registered to start school on Monday. They all have to wear uniforms here so we need belts of all sizes in black, brown, navy or khaki. We also need socks in black, white, or navy. The shirts they need are just standard polo uniform shirts. The colors vary by grade and school but the one color that works for everyone is white.

3. We’re able to get plenty of bottled water and we offer it freely at every meal but some of our guests would really like a soft drink now and then.

4. We also need large trash bags, everything from tall kitchen size bags all the way up the commercial bags that fit 55 gallon drums.

5. We have plenty of paper plates but we could use bowls, like those Styrofoam kind.

6. We go through tons of plastic utensils every day. Do they make plastic serving utensils? Someone should, I’m tired of washing serving spoons.

7. We need small boxes or bottles of laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. We’re helping our guests do their own laundry at a nearby laundromat and the smaller containers are easier to handle.

Here's the mailing address:

Trinity Bible Church
Katrina Shelter
130 E. Broussard Rd.
Lafayette, LA 70503"

I'll add a little something to sweeten the deal, too. For anyone who mails or e-mails me a copy of a receipt from this shelter, I'll send you a free pair of Silver Parrot earrings worth at least $25 or more as a thank you for your generosity in helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks in advance for your help!

And now, on to my rant! I took the kidlet over to the big entertainment center at the Irvine Spectrum yesterday. We met up with a friend of mine and her two kids and had a great time riding the little train and the carousel and having lunch. We went to the bookstore (where I learned that Sept. 19th is official "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and found some pirate books for the kidlet). The kids got a lot of exercise running around like crazy and one of the places they ran to was a pet store. So, cool, we're in the store looking at all the animals and enjoying ourselves when I see this guy pick up a gorgeous scarlet macaw parrot and walk outside with it on his arm. I asked a store employee about it and he said "well, it's okay because he's buying the bird and he's just hanging out with it so it gets used to him." Okay, great. We go back to looking at puppies and fish and guinea pigs.

Then, it's time to leave the store and I start to take Ryan over to where this guy is sitting with the macaw so Ryan can see it up close when I suddenly notice something. This man (and I use the term loosely because what I really want to call him is $*($&(#&!! imbecile) has lit up a cigarette and is sitting there blowing smoke into the bird's face! I wanted to cry for the bird and beat the shit (see, Jenie, I do know some bad words!) out of this moron all at the same time.

This beautiful, amazing creature is going to end up a bedraggled, feather-picked mess with a racking cough that will eventually shorten its life. All because the moron with more money than brains (apparently) has no clue about how to take care of a parrot. The respiratory systems of birds are far more efficient than those of mammals which means they are far more susceptible to airborne contamination than mammals are. Idiot asshole with the cigarette has obviously never heard of the whole "canary in a coal mine" scenario.

Why are people so $()#&@)!!* stupid? I just don't get it. I desperately wanted to confront this guy, but since I had Ryan with me, I didn't want to start something that might turn ugly. So, I compromised by going back inside and saying something to the store manager about either re-considering the sale to this guy or AT LEAST talking to him about proper care of a macaw (or any bird) and that it most definitely does not include cigarette smoke.

I'm sure it was probably a waste of time, but at least I tried something. Later, I went home and gave both my birds extra head scratches and some fresh fruit and veggies to eat.

And here I thought I couldn't possibly loathe smoke any more than I already do, but this was far worse than having my dinner ruined by smoke or having to walk the gauntlet of smoke by the front door of my office or receiving smoky bead supplies in the mail. This poor bird has no choice in who buys it or what they do to it.

It's not even "Talk Like A Pirate" Day yet and I'm already saying "ARRRGGHHHH!"


Friday, September 09, 2005


I can’t believe its Friday already! Seems like the week just FLEW by – probably due to the Labor Day holiday, I guess. So, that means it’s time for the Friday Book Recommendation, but I’ve got a few announcements first.

I’ve definitely decided to do two hurricane relief auctions – one to support human refugees and one to support animal refugees. Really, the situation with the animals is just so appalling. I’ve had to stop reading the reports because I couldn’t take it any more.

I hope to get both auction pieces finished this weekend and put them up on eBay on Monday. I’ll make an announcement here when I do. I realize this is taking a bit of time, but my take on it is that that’s okay. Firstly, jewelry isn’t something that you can just crank out in a spare 15 minutes. Well, okay, you can get crappy, poorly made jewelry done in 15 minutes, but that’s not what I do. This is an important cause and I wanted to create something that would really encourage bidders to open their hearts and their pocketbooks for the relief effort. Secondly, the people and animals affected by this disaster are not going to recover for quite a while. While there will initially be an outpouring of donations, I can’t help but think that the flow will taper off over time. As Dennis Miller once said “the attention span of the American public is that of a rabid ferret on double espresso.” Which reminds me…I soooo miss Dennis’s HBO show. Yeah, yeah, I know he’s still on TV somewhere (Fox News channel or something) but it’s not the same.

Okay, on to the books. A while back, I mentioned my not-so-fondness for trying out new authors because I usually end up disappointed. However, that’s not always the case. This past weekend I picked up ”A Brother's Price” by Wen Spencer and LOVED it. This book is a terrific example of social science fiction (as opposed to spacecraft, robots and techno stuff) with a world where polygamy has become the norm due to an extreme shortage of healthy males.

In Spencer’s world, polygamy is the accepted social system. Unlike modern-day US polygamy, however, all the power resides in the hands of the women. The men are the ones expected to cook, clean, and take care of the babies all while maintaining a fabulous appearance. Basically, they’re Donna Reed in drag. The women are the soldiers, merchants and political powers. The few men are guarded zealously by their powerful (and heavily armed) sisters and then sold or traded to another family in exchange for either money or another adult male. The entire social system and economy centers on the selling and trading of the men. Each group of women knows that the only chance they have of ever reproducing is if they can afford to purchase or trade for a healthy male who isn’t too closely related to them.

The author has plunked this social and economic system into a frontier-era, Mississippi-river type background (complete with pearl-handled six-shooters and paddlewheel boats) and added both a romance and a murder mystery to it. Spencer’s pacing is absolute perfection as this book was one which just rocketed me along until I finished it in less than a day. I couldn’t stand to put it down!

If I had any complaint, it would be that the scarcity of the men is never really explored or explained. There’s some mention of high levels of venereal diseases among the adult males which explains why virgin males are so prized and so zealously guarded. However, the author never addresses the low birth frequency of males compared to females. I also thought that a couple of the secondary characters, like Eldest Whisper, could’ve been developed a bit more, but I still highly recommend this book and I’m looking forward to picking up Spencer’s other series of books about a feral child turned detective named Ukiah Oregon.

My other venture this week into new fiction is Michelle Sagara’s ”Cast In Shadow”. I’m not quite done with it yet and I hope that it manages to pull out a terrific ending, but so far, I’m rather disappointed. It’s a serious pet peeve of mine when an author is successful at creating a fascinating background world and a terrific main character, but then doesn’t DO anything with them. I’m ¾ of the way through the book and so far the plot (it’s a detective story) consists of go to slums, come back, go to slums, find body, come back and have autopsy, go to city, come back, get in fight, get put on suspension. Oh and there’s a lot of “getting yelled at by superior officers” interspersed with all the comings and goings. There are a ton of conversations that lead nowhere and have nothing to do with helping the storyline unfold.

And yet, I LOVE the background world and the main character. I want desperately for something exciting and interesting to happen here. Sagara has been successful at grabbing my attention and making me wonder and care about who her characters are and what happens to them which is one of the most difficult things for a writer to accomplish. Then, she’s left me hanging. There’s nothing behind the curtain. GRRR! Now, perhaps all will finally be revealed in the last ¼ of the book I have left to read, but there’s going to have to be a serious show-stopper of an ending to make up for all this dragging around accomplishing nothing. Stay tuned.

Lastly, this week I also finished the latest installment of Simon R. Green’s “Nightside” series, ”Paths Not Taken.” I’ve been in love with this series and its main character, John Taylor, since the first installment and all the books have been equally fantastic. Until now, that is. Sadly, “Paths” just doesn’t live up to the promise of the earlier books. It seems to exist mostly to tie up some loose ends and develop the relationship between John and Shotgun Suzie, which seems rather pointless since Suzie would rather shoot anything that moves than have a relationship with it.

I suppose this book does help steer the series towards its conclusion, but I’m not sure that’s reason enough for a book to exist. Shouldn’t it be an enjoyable read in and of itself and help move the series along at the same time? It made me wonder why this book and the inevitable series conclusion book couldn’t just have been one big volume. This probably has something to do with the publishing industry and what Marion Zimmer Bradley used to refer to as the “inelasticity of typeface.” Oh, and corporate publishing greed…I’m sure that’s in there somewhere, too. Speaking of Ms. Bradley, it occurs to me that I’ve been remiss in featuring her in one of my Friday entries. I’ll have to make up for that in the future since she is one of my favorite authors of all time. But for now, you’ll have to just be content with her website 

But, as usual, I digress…

Still, I recommend the series as a whole. The Nightside is a truly fascinating world as is the character of John Taylor – a man who is far more than he seems to be. Just read slowly and maybe the final book will be out by the time you get around to “Paths Not Taken” and the whole thing will make a lot more sense.

Whew! As you can see, I read a LOT this week, especially when you consider that three of my beading magazines arrived over the last few days and I’ve been perusing those as well. “Bead and Button” has a whole section featuring the winners and selected entries from the recent Bead Dreams contest and holy cow there are a lot of talented people out there. Sherri Serafini alone is truly amazing. I just don’t have any clue how she has enough TIME for all these massive beaded projects. It takes me a few weeks just to do a dinky pair of embroidered earrings and here she’s got purses and collars and oh my! I’m so jealous. One of these days I’ll be able to bead full-time instead of fitting in a few minutes here and there on my lunch hour and after my son goes to bed at night. Sigh.

On that note, I’m off to Toy’s ‘R Us to buy a gift for a 4-year-old’s birthday party tomorrow. Somehow, when pondering whether or not to have children, I forgot to include that whole “having to socialize with other people’s kids” on my Pro/Con list. ROFL! Oh well, they’re going to have a real fire engine there for the kids to ride on and since fire engines seem to be THE thing in Ryan’s world now (well, except for snails, those are still big, too), I’m sure he’ll have a good time. I can hardly wait for the cake-induced sugar high to hit. Not.

Have a great weekend everyone and watch for the announcement about the hurricane auctions coming soon!


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Blah, blah, blah

Not much new to report around here except that my neighborhood raised over $700 for hurricane relief this weekend which will be turned into $2100 via a local company that's going to match our donation 3-1. So, way to go Harvest Neighborhood!

I'm working on my own design to be auctioned off for hurricane relief. I'm actually hoping to get two auctions up so I can send the proceeds from one to support people and the other to support animal rescue. I can tell you that one of the designs I have planned is prehnite, citrine and gold...well, that's what it is right now. Sometimes I change my mind mid-creation LOL!

This weekend we're taking Ryan to the birthday party of one of his friends from daycare. They're supposed to have a real fire engine and firemen at the party which I'm sure will be a thrill for the kids. Especially Ryan - he is ALL about anything fire engine related right now. Every morning we have to locate and call out each fire hydrant we pass on the way to daycare. There are a LOT of fire hydrants in our area ;-)

See, I told you nothing much was going on. Sometimes my life even bores the snot outta ME.


P.S. Has anyone else been watching Kathy Griffin's reality show, "My Life on the D-List?" I'm totally addicted to it and can't wait to see the finale tonight...

Friday, September 02, 2005

P.S. Comment Spam

Okay, I've just enabled word verification for comments on this blog as the result of some truly disgusting spam that was just posted (and which I have now deleted). This means that you'll have to enter a word given to you by whenever you make a comment. Sorry for the extra step, but I refuse to let spammers hijack my blog.


Oh and one more thing...

Here are the pictures of the earrings I made earlier this week. "Ancient Treasure" is African prehnite and Bali silver and matches the "Ancient Treasure Necklace":

Then I made two pairs to go with the "Mermaid's Treasure Necklace":

Everything is up on the website and available for sale as of today.

I am now IN LOVE with these shell disks. I must have more of them. And the vendor isn't selling them on their website (boo! hiss!) which means I have to wait until the October Gem Faire to get more. I may not be able to take the stress...

Oh, and now a random, "pondering the existence of the universe" type rhetorical question. Why is it that I can wear a shirt of any color except white and NEVER get a stain on it, but if I wear a white shirt, I spill something on it EVERY SINGLE TIME! Is there something about the color white that interferes with brain function to the point that I become a walking spill-a-thon? Seriously, I must know why this happens! And dude, the answer sooo better not be that it's due to the same mysterious force that steals one sock out of every pair that I put into the wash or my head my spin right off my neck and go bouncing down the hall.

By the way, you have not REALLY had to deal with this phenomenon of missing socks until you have leetle, teeny kid-sized socks in your wash. They don't just disappear one at a time. No, they disappear in packs. I'm thinking of stapling each pair together prior to washing in the hopes that I might get ONE functional pair back out of the machine. Oh, and I could insert a whole rant here about a certain male parental unit who thinks it's okay to take the leftover single socks and put them on our kid and send him out of the house looking like Rag Boy, the Motherless Wonder, but I won't. Because that would be mean.

Happy laundry day, all, and keep an eye on those socks! They're sneaky li'l suckers!


P.S. Please don't anyone think that the silly post above means that I'm not tuned in to what's happening in the hurricane areas. I just thought we could use some levity and distraction in the light of all the bad news. I hope to announce an auction of some of my jewelry items for funds to be donated to hurricane relief soon. Stay tuned for details.

Friday Book Recommendation

It was tough to come up with a recommendation this week. There was nothing new in the "to be read" pile so I'm re-reading Tanya Huff's "Keeper" series, but I already profiled her several entries ago so no luck there. Then I started watching the hurricane aftermath coverage and thinking about the city of New Orleans and how much of an effect it's had on a lot of things I've read. With it's associations to voodoo and vampires (among other things), it's been a rich breeding ground for stories from some of my favorite authors. This lead me to think about one of those authors, Barbara Hambly in particular.

She's based in Southern California, but has always mentioned New Orleans as being her "second home" and her ex-husband lived there until his recent death. She's used the city's colorful history as the background for her "Benjaman January" series. She hasn't posted an update on her site since the tragedy occurred, but I'm sure it's going to have an effect on her writing.

Although she's lately turned to historical fiction with not only the January series, but also "The Emancipator's Wife" and "The Patriot Ladies", she's written prolifically in both sci fi and fantasy. She's created her own universes as well as dabbling in both "Star Wars" and "Star Trek." She's even got a couple of vampire books.

My personal favorites are the Windrose Chronicles, the Darwath Trilogy (which is actually 5 books, not 3), "Stranger at the Wedding" and "Bride of the Rat God." Her "Winterlands" series has been popular with fans, as well, althought it's not my personal favorite.

Anyway, there's enough variety here and such a huge volume of work that just about anybody can find something to suit their tastes. Her latest fantasy novel, "Circle of the Moon," comes out in the fall.

Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe!


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina's Aftermath

Well, I was going to post some new pictures today, but with all that's going on in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, it seems kinda lame. Maybe I'll save them for another day. I can at least report that my brother-in-law who had recently moved to New Orleans survived okay. He happened to be out of the country in Mexico at the time of the hurricane. He doesn't know anything about whether his house or boat survived, though, and as of yesterday, he was still stuck in Mexico. He had planned to catch a flight to Houston and try to rent a car from there, but that's the last we've heard.

I also got an e-mail from my sorority's national headquarters stating that they were activating our emergency fund to support both the collegiate chapter houses and members who were affected as well as alumnae in the damaged areas. They gave a run down of most of the major colleges in the area and their status. I think it gives a good idea of which areas were hit the hardest and what the status is so I'm posting it here in case anyone is interested:

Chapter Updates

Louisiana State - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The chapter has reported that they are aware of at least 35 members from New Orleans, Kenner, Metairie and River Ridge whose families and homes have been affected. The chapter facility sustained some minor damage due to flooding. Classes will resume on the campus, Tuesday, September 6.

Louisiana/Lafayette - Lafayette, Louisiana
Some chapter members will likely need assistance. Classes appear to have resumed. No official university statement was available.

Millsaps - Jackson, Mississippi
Students may report back to campus Monday, September 5. Several chapter members will likely need assistance. The chapter reported that there was no damage to the chapter lodge and the power is back on.

Southern Mississippi - Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Tri Delta has not been able to establish contact with representatives from Southern Mississippi. Several chapter members will likely need assistance. At this time, the university's Web site is not accessible.

Mississippi State - Starkville, Mississippi
Classes on the Starkville campus resumed Wednesday, August 31. Some chapter members will likely need assistance. The chapter facility sustained minor wind damage.

Mississippi - Oxford, Mississippi
Classes were not interrupted. Some chapter members will likely need assistance. The chapter facility sustained minor water damage.

Delta State - Cleveland, Mississippi
Classes were not interrupted. Some chapter members will likely need assistance.

Spring Hill - Mobile, Alabama
Tri Delta has not been able to establish contact with representatives from Spring Hill. Several chapter members will likely need assistance. The university statement reports that Spring Hill College will remain closed for students until Sunday, Sept. 4, at noon and classes will resume Monday, September 5.

Alabama - Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Classes resumed Wednesday, August 31. Some chapter members may need assistance. The chapter facility was not damaged.

Auburn - Auburn, Alabama
Classes were not interrupted. Some chapter members may need assistance. The chapter facility was not damaged.

Other chapters
There will likely be other chapters in the Southeast and South Central regions that have members who were affected by the hurricane. Chapter officers, advisors and collegiate volunteers will be advised on how to work with these members and these chapters on a case-by-case basis.

I am considering putting some items up for auction to raise funds to donate to either the Tri Delta Crescent Fund (emergency relief fund) or a general relief fund such as the Red Cross and I will post details both here and on the website if I go forward with the plan.

I hope everyone out there is safe and dry today and that the area recovers as quickly as possible from this disaster.