Friday, July 29, 2005

A banner week!

(insert sounds of trumpet flourishes here) It's been a banner week in the Osborne household! Ryan has used the potty every night this week successfully!! Da da da DA! I can finally see a faint light at the end of the diaper-changing tunnel. And, of course, it's great news for YOU, dear readers, as it means you can look forward to blog entries free of the mention of pee and poop in the near future. I KNOW! It's just so exciting!

And speaking of blog entries, a thousand and one thank you's to my friend, Jenie, for introducing me to the hilarity that is Go Fug Yourself Don't be put off by the slightly scary name - it's not dirty...just uproariously funny.

And now for the Friday book review:

I just finished the latest in Kim Harrison's "Witch" series which starts with Dead Witch Walking and is the tale of Rachel Morgan - surburban witch and bounty hunter. I like Rachel (despite her more questionable fashion choices which could definitely land her on the "fugly" website listed above) because she's very "human" despite being such a powerful witch. She's impulsive, she makes mistakes (sometimes big ones) and things in her life aren't perfect. Plus, she has this wonderfully sarcastic pixy named Jenks as a partner and he is small enough to ride around on her earring. That's just sooo cool - I want a pixy on MY earring Wow, that sounded SO Veruca Salt. I guess I should re-phrase. I'd very much like to have a pixy on my earring if one would be so generous as to grace me with its presence. Anyway, if you like the first book, there are two more out in paperback.

And that's pretty much it. I wish I had some finished jewelry to show today, but since I've spent all week on a pair of embroidered earrings that aren't finished yet, I got nada. And WHY aren't they finished yet you ask? Because they are not co-operating in the color department. I've ripped the darn things apart no fewer than FIVE TIMES already. I think I've FINALLY got something that works even if I'm not 100% crazy about it but I'll be pixed if I'm going to rip them apart again. I can't take it any more. I have NO IDEA how Sherri Serafini does this (especially on her larger pieces) without going completely insane. Still, her work is incredible and I'm in awe of her talent.

Take care everyone and try not to melt this weekend!


Monday, July 25, 2005

Santa Monica Ain't So Cool After All...

...but I still had a terrific time at the show. My friend, Jenie, and I braved traffic, lost keys, exhorbitant parking rates and lack of air conditioning in search of beads on Saturday and we had a great time. However, if I were a vendor at that show, I'd refuse to pay up for next year's spot until I was given an absolutely iron-clad guarantee that NEXT YEAR the hall will have air conditioning! One end of the show had the doors open and was doing okay, but the other side - whew! I have no idea how those poor vendors hadn't passed out from the heat. In fact, I'd've bought more at one booth except I just literally couldn't stand there any longer without melting. I was already terrified I was going to "drip" onto the beads - yikes!

Saw some great new stuff, tho. Sadly, I didn't have as much money to spend as usual so I had to be content with getting business cards and looking instead of buying. Rats - that just sucks! Anyway, some of the highlights included beautiful shell disk beads dyed every color of the rainbow. I've never seen such a variety and I wanted a strand in each color to come home with me (well, okay, MAYBE not the orange ones)! Also saw some really gorgeous African ceramic beads from Kenya which I discovered (after a little judicious research and googling) are produced on the ranch that formerly belonged to Karen Blixen. You might remember her story from a little movie called "Out of Africa" starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Fortunately, that vendor is coming to Costa Mesa in the fall so I still have a chance of getting some of those yummy beads. Another place was selling really unusual vintage Swarovski components (filigreed flowers, disks, etc. all set with crystals) that I could see would make up into some really pretty, feminine designs with an antique feeling. I think they'd be especially great scattered on a charm bracelet with other pieces. Sadly, those folks don't have a website and only sell at shows, but said they might come to Costa Mesa in October. I can only hope.

I was only partially successful in my mission at Glasscapes. They didn't have the red/green/gold combo in furnace glass that I was looking for, but did offer to custom make it for me (I feel so honored) if I send them a picture of the existing beads. Of course, while we were talking, I got hypnotized by all their beautiful glass which I can only say looks JUST like candy. I bought a couple of sets to make up into future pieces - one all in bright pinks and yellows for summer and one in darker jeweltone colors for the holidays.

After nearly melting inside the hall, Jenie and I were on a desperate hunt for an air conditioned restaurant in which to eat lunch and talk over our show experience. Unfortunately, we discovered that a dismayingly high proportion of the 3rd Street Promenade restaurants don't have A/C! Yucko! Which is of course, why I titled this entry "Santa Monica Ain't So Cool After All."

Finally, we did find a fun little French bistro/creperie where we had yummy sandwiches and a really wicked chocolate crepe for dessert. Things did get a bit weird when I headed off in search of the ladies' room only to discover that it was a PAY toilet! You either have to pay or, if you're a customer of the restaurant, the waiter will graciously slip you a "token" to put into the lock instead. I've never heard of such a thing!

So, I've added pay/token toilets to my list of things that are different between LA and the OC (where I live). I have an ongoing discussion with a friend of mine (who is really just jealous because she lives in the 909...sorry, Sparkle LOL!) about how life behind the "Orange Curtain" differs from life in the rest of So Cal. I've got some new things to add to the list after this weekend. OC's restaurants HAVE AIR CONDITIONING (with the exception of Avila's El Ranchito which I learned to my disgust on Friday night), OC's restaurants do not make you beg "pee tokens" from their waiters ('cuz that's just CRAZY) AND as what I think is a direct result of this policy...the sidewalks of OC DO NOT SMELL LIKE PEE! Oh, and in OC, you can find a damn parking spot without having to spend $8!! Even in Laguna on a Saturday night!

So, all in all, I think I'll stick to the OC bead shows from now on. The vendors are nearly identical, there's free parking and no pee which really ought to be their advertising tag line "OC Bead Faire - Free Parking and Fresh Air." Okay, I'm just kidding (because as everyone knows, I'll suffer through just about anything to get beads). I had a terrific time and it was great to get to know Jenie better - the girl is absolutely hysterically funny in addition to being a great jewelry designer.

I'm still slogging my way through custom orders and repairs being as how I didn't accomplish anything this weekend so no new pictures yet. Maybe later this week (yeah, in my dreams).

Take care all!


Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Book Review, etc.

Okay, seriously, ENOUGH with the heat already! And yeah, I know, other places are 113 where we're only 98, but I don't care. I don't live there, I live HERE...where it's freakin' HOT!


Okay, on to the book review:

Firstly, I finished reading the new Harry Potter book last night. It was pretty much as predicted - lots of revelations of "background" info and *SPOILER WARNING* the death of one major character. And yes, it was darker and more adult than the previous books. It was a good read, but honestly, I was left with the overall feeling that it was 600 or so pages of set up for the NEXT book. Which, of course, is probably 2 or more years away so that's kind of a bummer. I thought it was better than the previous book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," but still not as good as I was hoping and somewhat repetitive in spots. Still, I don't feel like I wasted my $ buying it (note - I got it at 40% off).

So, on to new recommendations. This week, I'd like to introduce one of my all-time favorite authors - Tanya Huff. From urban fantasy to space opera to vampire detectives, she does it all well...and with a wicked sense of satirical humor which is always a plus for me.

I first discovered Ms. Huff's work through her Vicki Nelson, vampire detective series (note - she was doing this genre WAY before Buffy or Anita Blake came along). The first book in the series is Blood Price

Then, I moved on to her "Quarters" series which begins with Sing the Four Quarters This series involves a common "universe" where bards control one or more of the four "quarters" (air, earth, fire and water) by their music, however, each book follows a different character or set of characters in the universe so you can easily read one without having read any of the others. I will warn you that this book (like most of Huff's work) contains some homosexual characters and homosexual situations. If you are bothered by that type of thing, then Huff (and this series in particular - as the mentions in other works are much less blatant) is probably not for you.

Her space opera "Valor" series I think is truly outstanding and I very much enjoy the strong female sargeant protagonist. The first book in the series is Valor's Choice

Finally, there's her "Summoning" series which is just pure cotton candy fun. Huff provides hilariously funny, sarcastic dialogue well mixed with traditional fantasy elements. Who knew Hell had such a potty mouth? If this is your cup of tea (or wolfsbane or whatever), then start with Summon the Keeper Warning: this series gives a major part to a talking cat so avoid it if that kind of thing bugs you ;-)

And finally, here's a tantalizing picture of something I just won on e-bay:

Coming to Silver Parrot Designs very soon!

Have a great weekend everyone and try to STAY COOL!


Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's H-O-T...

Okay it was 80 degrees at my house at 7:30 this morning! Who authorized this big "heat up" is what I want to know. We're melting around here and I *shudder* to think what the electric bill is gonna be like after all the A/C running we've been doing. I know some people don't even HAVE A/C and I honestly have no clue how they are managing to survive this! Can't wait til the weekend so I can head to the pool or the beach.

Hopefully it'll be at least a LITTLE bit cooler at the Santa Monica Bead Show where I'm going to meet my friend Jenie (who, btw, has THE coolest jewelry website of her own going - Dragonfly Jewelry ). I'm just crazy about her Butterfly Lariats .

I have a customer interested in some furnace glass from Mingo and Asho and this is the last local show they are doing this year so I've got to make a run to their booth. Then, we're going to find some place fabulous to have lunch - yumm! Won't be doing much other shopping because this month was sales tax month (blech) and that soaked up a lot of my available fundage (not to mention WAAAYYYY too much time spent on e-bay lately - I need a 12-step program (seriously).

Drink lots of iced tea and stay cool!


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

In defense of "30 Minute Meals"

Rachael Ray - Why food snobs should quit picking on her.

I just thought this article was interesting as I really enjoy Rachael Ray's shows on the Food Network and own one of her 30-minute-meal cookbooks. I like the fact that I can FIND all of her ingredients at the regular grocery store. While it's nice to make something unusual and special on occasion (like during the holidays when I'm on vacation from work and have TIME!) but normally, I just don't have the time or the resources to go to two or three different stores looking for specialty ingredients. I've got a full-time job, a side business and a toddler (not to mention a husband and a house and two parrots) - I need quick, easy and inexpensive!

The other thing I like about her recipes is that they are relatively healthy. Sure, there are a few fried things and desserts here and there, but they're usually paired w/ lower calorie items so you get an overall healthy experience.

I had no idea that there's a whole "anti-Rachael" movement out there but I suppose it's a measure of how popular you've become once people start taking the time to hate you (in print no less).

If I have any complaint about Rachael it's that I've never successfully completed one of her meals in 30 minutes, but I think that's more due to the layout of my kitchen and my serious lack of knife skills (plus, I don't have that super-cool knife she always uses which DH won't buy me because he KNOWS I'll cut off a finger with it).


Monday, July 18, 2005

Okay, so I lied...

...when I said there wouldn't be any new pictures for a while. I actually managed to get this set done over the weekend in addition to working on custom orders and repairs. But, it's only because it was basically done already and just needed the clasp and the earrings. I decided to call it "Canyon Road" after the street in Santa Fe with all the galleries and boutiques. The turquoise color of the lampwork beads reminded me not only of New Mexico in general, but also of the traditional blue doors in Santa Fe. I added smoky quartz to pick up the brown "matrix" in the lampwork beads along with some freshwater pearls and Bali vermeil beads, spacers and clasp.

I should have the set up on the site later today or tomorrow. I still have to figure out the pricing on it and edit the appropriate web page before uploading it.

In other news, I got my business taxes done only to realize that I can't mail them in yet because I have to write a check for the amount due and I'm out of checks! Or rather, I should have two books of checks left, but I can't find them anywhere. I hate it when I lose stuff - especially important stuff that ought to be right where I left it the last time. So, had to go on-line to the bank's website and order more checks only to find that they're going to charge me $20.00 for even the BASIC, no-frills design! I guess I'm just old, but I remember when checks were FREE! GRRR!

I spent the rest of Saturday working on a custom order and then DH and I went down to Balboa Island for our "date night." We had dinner and walked around for a while then got Balboa Bars for dessert (yummmmy!) We had planned to take the ferry over to the peninsula and go to the fun zone for a while, too, but both of us kept yawning all during dinner so we finally decided to just head home instead. We'll save the ferry for another time.

Sunday we went to church and then took Ryan to the pool at my parents' neighborhood club house. He had lots of fun playing in the water and we talked to one of the lifeguards about signing him up for swim lessons. Then we went to my parents' house to get cleaned up and hit a new Japanese restaurant nearby for dinner. We hadn't gone there before because we thought it was ONLY sushi and not everyone in our group will eat sushi. But, turns out they have lots of other stuff on the menu so we had a great dinner. And, of course, Ryan charmed the staff by saying a few words in Japanese for them, LOL!

Take care all!


Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Book Review and Announcements!

I had planned to announce this back in June, but, well, what can I say? Life happens ;-) Anyway, Silver Parrot is proud to introduce its new Bridal Collection! I recently did a custom order for a bride-to-be and generated several additional designs in the process so I decided to give them all their own special place on the website. If your or anyone you know is looking for elegant, feminine accessories for the "big day," then feel free to send them to:

Bridal Collection

And now, on to the Friday Book Review! I know everyone is all focused on the release of the latest Harry Potter book today, but I thought I'd go a different direction. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge HP fan, but I figure he's getting enough attention on his own. I'd like to introduce you to a less well known series, but one which was influential in shaping my love of fantasy and sci fi: Susan Cooper. I first read "The Dark is Rising" during the summer between 6th & 7th grade and I was utterly enthralled. I couldn't put it down and wound up getting in trouble for sneaking it into my summer school classes and reading it instead of the assigned work. I also snuck a flashlight out of the garage at home and took it up to my bedroom so I could stay up reading long after "lights out." Although the series really begins with "Over Sea, Under Stone," each book is complete unto itself and they can definitely be read separately. Cooper deftly weaves Celtic myths with the modern day lives of children and adds in her own creation of the "Old Ones" - beings who appear human but who are immortal and are charged with battling evil down through the ages. The entire series is now available as a boxed set:

The Dark Is Rising Sequence

It's also worth noting that a later book in the series, "The Grey King" won the Newberry Award.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that there might not be a lot of new pictures here for a while. I've gotten in a lot of repair and custom order work that is going to suck up my jewelry time for a while. PLUS I have to hunker down and get my business taxes down this weekend - oh joy! SOOO not looking forward to that.

Hope everyone has a fantabulous weekend and that you can stay cool! It's been awfully hot here these last few days and looks to stay the same over the weekend - maybe I'll head over to Surfline and check out the local beach conditions and surf report. Cowabunga, dude!

Take care all!


Monday, July 11, 2005

Pleasant Valley Sunday

My life is just so darned typically suburban that I'm pretty stuck with "Another Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees as my theme song. This weekend was another example. DH took the kidlet for a haircut and grocery shopping on Saturday morning which allowed me to do laundry (blech) and actually get some beading done! Woo hoo! I'm so pathetically behind schedule on planned projects that this puppy was actually meant to be done in February in time for Valentine's Day LOL! I call it "Tangled Hearts."

It features furnace glass heart slices in cherry and white by David Christensen and I've added accents of Czech glass and Swarovski crystal and wired everything to sterling silver chain. I wasn't quite sure where this design was going when I first started out, but I'm rather pleased with where it ended up. And, I've got enough of the heart slices left to do a coordinating necklace if I ever have time to get around to it. For some reason, I've had lots of repair orders come in these past few weeks which is great, but really messes with my schedule.

So then, in the afternoon, we took the kidlet to the beach for the first time and we all had a ball. It was really fun to re-connect with all of my own summertime beach memories of building sand castles and playing in the waves, etc. Of course, we may have created a monster as now Ryan will not stop asking to "go to the beach." I have not yet managed to get across the concept of "you have to wait til the weekend." Sigh.

Sunday I met my mom and two sisters-in-laws down in San Juan Capistrano for tea. Yep, we went to a real, honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned type tea house in the historic Los Rios section right by the train station. The weather was perfect and we sat out on the verandah next to the fountain and had our tea and scones and sandwiches and just had a wonderful, wonderful time. I highly recommend The Tea House on Los Rios if you're looking for something fun to do with your gal pals someday (they also do weddings and showers!) If you're looking for more substantial fare, then head across the alley to Ramos House Cafe for some truly outstanding cuisine. Absolutely fabulous beignets!!

After our tea, we walked around downtown San Juan for a while and looked in various galleries and boutiques - it was lots of fun.

Then it was home to more laundry and watching "Dora the Explorer" with Ryan while we waited for pizza to be delivered because Mommy was too lazy to cook. Then later I watched "Entourage" and "The Comeback" on HBO (two of my new favorite shows - although I DO miss "Sex and the City") and after that I went to bed.

Really, can you STAND the excitement LOL! Hope you all had a good weekend and I'll try to get the bracelet up on the website later today or tomorrow. I've got some new bridal designs coming, too.

Take care!


Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday Book Review Books: First Channel

What would you do if the life of someone you've known and loved suddenly becomes necessary to your own survival? Either they die or you do - how do you choose? What if your child suddenly turned from the sweet kid you've raised and loved into a ravening monster whose merest touch can now kill you? This is the world that is Earth's future as the human race has divided itself (through evolution or genetic manipulation - no one is sure) into two types: Simes and Gens. Gens appear as what we would call a "normal" human except that they produce an energy field called "selyn." Simes appear mostly human except they have a set of tentacles on each forearm and they require an infusion of selyn each month in order to live. Simes also have extra "senses" and are stronger and can move more quickly than Gens. They are the ultimate predators. Unfortunately, the process of taking selyn from a Gen each month results in a dead Gen. In addition, no one knows whether they will be Sime or Gen until they hit puberty. The world is divided into two territories - one controlled by Simes where they raise Gens as livestock in pens and feed off of them each month and the other controlled by Gens where they live in fear of Sime raiders and the constant worry that a child may suddenly hit puberty, turn Sime and kill the first Gen it comes into contact with.

"First Channel" is the original book in the series and its main conflict centers around Rimon Farris who discovers one day that his intended fiancee, Kadi, has suddenly become a Gen. In Sime territory, she is now considered a non-person and must be turned over to the nearest Gen Pen where she can be purchased by a Sime, fed from and killed. But Rimon only sees her as the woman he loves and is desperate to save her - despite the fact that he is a Sime himself and in a month will need to feed on a Gen just like every other Sime.

I've always thought this was one of the most original sci fi premises I've ever come across and I've been addicted to the series ever since I read the first book back in the 70's. These may be somewhat hard to find since they've been out so long, but Meisha Merlin publishing is in the process of re-issuing some of them (combined in large single volumes) and they can also be found at used book stores in the meantime.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are actually two authors in this series. Jacqueline Lichtenberg (who rose to fame as the author of "Star Trek Lives!") originally created the series and wrote most of the books, but her partner, Jean Lorrah wrote the volume "Ambrov Keon" and has been involved in the creation of some of the other books as well. In fact, if you decide you like the Sime/Gen universe, you might want to check out Jean Lorrah's "Savage Empire" series.

Finally, since Lichtenberg and Lorrah got their start through fan fiction, they've got a very involved website dealing with Sime/Gen fanfic as well as background to the universe, technical details, and writing workshops for those interested in pursuing fanfic and/or professional writing. They often post Sime/Gen fanfic stories and other types of fanfic for free on the site, too. Here's the link:


Lastly, a new Sime Gen book has been in the works for FOREVER, but I believe that Meisha Merlin has finally set a REAL publishing date for summer of 2006. The working title for the book is "To Kiss or to Kill."

Have a great weekend and zlin you later (and if you want to know what that means - read the books LOL)


Friday, July 01, 2005

Friday Book Review Books: Cordelia's Honor (Hugo Winners)

I'm trying to make the "Friday Book Review" a regular thing so let me know whether you enjoy it or not. I suppose if EVERYONE hates it, then I can stop ;-)

This book is actually two books in one: "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar" and it features one of sci fi's best written female protagonists: Cordelia Naismith-Vorkosigan. In addition, it provides the kick-off point for the author's famous "Miles Vorkosigan" series which is an absolute MUST READ if you are any kind of sci fi (more specifically space opera) fan. I won't provide a lot of other details in my reviews because 1. they're available via the links to and 2. I like to let the books speak for themselves.

Another great thing about this series is that it's been out for a while so all the books are available in paperback and plus, there are like 10 or so books in the series so you're set for quite a while if you haven't started reading them yet. Be aware that some of the books have now been reissued in "compilations" (2-3 books combined in one new volume with a new name) so check carefully as you're buying to avoid duplication.

And finally, if you make it all the way through the Vorkosigan series, you might want to check out Bujold's foray into fantasy which begins with "The Curse of Chalion." Now this book, I will admit, starts of SLOWWWWWLY. But once it finally gets going, it's EXCELLENT! The two follow-ups, "Paladin of Souls" and "The Hallowed Hunt" are enjoyable as well. "Hunt" just came out in hardback, but the other two are available in paperback.

Enjoy and Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!