Monday, September 29, 2008

Birds of a feather...

So, something kinda cool happened over the weekend. There I was, attending the kidlet’s soccer game all bleary-eyed because we had the “ass-crack of dawn” start time this weekend. I was wishing desperately that I had some hot chocolate and a donut when I noticed something odd down at the far end of the park.

It was a guy. I know, nothing weird about that part, but just wait.

A guy who appeared (and yeah, I WAS wearing my glasses) to have a rather large bird on a string.

Now, people also use this (and some of the other surrounding parks) to fly all kinds of small, remote-controlled airplanes and helicopters and fire off home-made rockets and lots of other strange stuff so I had to keep looking to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.

Yep. He really did have some type of hawk or falcon on a line and he was training it. Like something straight out of Bradley’s “Hawkmistress” or one of the other Darkover books or any other story where the nobles go out “hawking.” I was fascinated because I was under the impression that all birds of prey were on the endangered list in this state and that it was therefore illegal to keep them as pets unless you are a licensed by the Fish & Game dept. as a bird rescuer.

I eventually went over and spoke to the man when he was done (yeah, I know, bad me for leaving the soccer field, but the game hadn’t started yet and I knew the kidlet would be so bummed he didn’t get to find out what was going on as the guy had attracted quite a crowd by this point) with his training session and I learned some interesting stuff.

The bird was a peregrine falcon. They are native to the area and there’s been such a successful captive breeding program that their numbers are back up in the wild and they are no longer quite so endangered. If you have the correct license and permits from Fish & Game, it is legal to capture them although this guy’s bird was captive-bred.

He’s a licensed falconer and had to go through a 2-year apprenticeship and be reviewed by both the state and federal Depts. of Fish & Game including visits to his breeding and training facility before he earned his license. He trains the birds as a hobby and then either sells them to other falconers or returns them to the wild (if they are wild-caught to begin with).

This particular bird was 8 months old and male. The females are about 1/3 again larger. The guy was nice enough to let me take some pictures:

Isn’t he absolutely beautiful?

I wish I’d been able to get some shots without the hood on because his eyes were just amazing. You can definitely see the intelligence there. Still, it was an amazing experience to be able to get this close!

It's strange how you can just be going about your normal, everyday, boring life, and then something like this drops right into your lap. It made my weekend!


Friday, September 26, 2008

The Latest News

Let's see...

The economy sucks.

Politicians are stupid and evil.

I bought new beads*:

I made new jewelry:

Hmmm...guess none of that really qualifies as actual news.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

*beads are by LittleCrow on eBay

Monday, September 22, 2008


I have finally conquered the mystery that is my digital camera. And it only took me 15 months to do it!

I’m quick like that.

While my scanner really does work okay for most pictures (and is quicker and gives me pictures in smaller, easier-to-deal-with format), it occasionally is a really BAD choice for certain pieces.

Either the color isn’t right or remotely realistic, or the piece is too bulky to fit well on the scanner or well, whatever…

I’d thought a digital camera would be a good option in those cases. And it was for a while, until mine died.

And then the one a friend loaned me died, too.

Then, I was lucky enough to receive one for my birthday last year and was so excited to try it out that I took it on vacation and snapped a ton of pictures with it.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived home and downloaded everything and found that, with but a few exceptions, every single picture was blurry or otherwise messed up.


Perhaps one ought to read the instructions before one operates the new and incredibly complicated piece of technology?

Naaahhh! I’ll just figure it out on my own eventually (yeah, right).

So, after 15 months of disastrous and unusable pictures (and yes, I did eventually break down and read the instructions…which made no sense), I finally, magically stumbled on the right setting for close-up pictures.

Eh, voila!

Quite some time ago, I purchased multiple strands of faceted cubic zirconia briolettes at a bead show and I finally got around to using them this weekend – they look great with some 14k gold-filled earring components I had in stock.

I did these two pairs in fall colors.

But, since I'm not really a "fall" girl when it comes to color schemes, I had to, of course, do a spring pair, too.

I just loooove me some long, dangly earrings. And long, dangly earring bedecked with sparkly bling? Shut UP!

I’ve had this project sitting around half-finished for at least a couple of years. So long that I lost the paperwork with my original design idea sketches on it and had to start over from scratch. Still, the results are pretty spectacular if I do say so myself. The gorgeous lampwork beads are from a wonderful artist, Luna Beads, who, sadly, is no longer making or selling her work. Thankfully, I stocked up on a whole bunch of sets before she retired a few years ago and they are so yummy. I love the turquoise, sage green and yellows in this set which mix perfectly with Swarovski crystals in matching shades and lots of wonderful, rich-looking gold.

Here's a close-up of the clasp:

And, of course, the matching earrings:

Have a good week, everyone!


Friday, September 12, 2008


Yes, I’m actually writing back to back blog entries! Try to contain your surprise.

When last we left off, I made mention (amongst other things) of my NEW! LEATHER! COUCH!

(And yes, that IS how I’m going to refer to it every single time. Get over it.)

Anyway, I realized that a mere capitalized mention in typed words could not describe the grandiosity of the new butt support mechanism at my house and, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words soooo…

Ta DA! Here it is!

Ignore the fabric swatches, pillow and teeny rug. These are just some things I’m playing around with as far as color, etc. Eventually, there will be a large area rug (5’x8’ or bigger) when I find one that matches (that I can afford).

The walls are painted a color called “Greg’s Edge” from Dunn Edwards. As far as I can tell from their website, they no longer make this color, although I’m sure you can still get a match to it. Or maybe they’ve just renamed it? Because I did always think the name was kind of dumb.

You can’t see it in this picture, but the adjoining room is painted in “Jakarta.” It’s warm beige with a yellow undertone that picks up the yellow in the fabric swatches. Dunn Edwards still has that color available in their “Classics” collection.

And another picture because it is JUST THAT COOL to finally have a couch!

The couch itself is a peanut butter color (and NOT baby poop brown as SOME obviously-lacking-in-any-taste-whatsoever-people have suggested). There's a built-in recliner at each end which I plan to use as a platform from which to spend entire weekends watching football and making about 20 years...when the kid is grown and no longer my full-time responsibility and when he has also outgrown this pesky break-stuff-and-smear-Play Do-into-the-carpet-whenever-Mommy-isn't-watching-me phase.

But don't worry about the couch - you can't see them, but I have installed infrared detectors in front of the thing so if the kid even APPROACHES it, all kinds of alarms, horns, bells and whistles go off and a cage descends from the ceiling...

NO! not around the KID! For heaven's sake, what kind of mother do you think I AM, anyway?

The cage..actually, it's more of an impenetrable shield of titianium...descends around the COUCH, thus protecting it's peanut-buttery-leather-but-oh-my-god-expensive-goodness from any and all incursions of small, possibly destructive, small children.

Thus ensuring a long, happy life for both child and couch and a jail-free existence for Mommy.

And we all lived happily ever after.

The End


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vacation Creations

I took a couple of wonderful, glorious (and surprisingly productive) days off leading up to Labor Day weekend. Not only did I get to catch up on my sleep (thank God!) but I got oodles of laundry done, and I sorted out two car loads of household “crap” (books, kid toys, kid clothes, etc.) to donate to Goodwill in order to make room for my NEW! LEATHER! SECTIONAL! I’ve wanted to put an L-shaped sectional in my family room ever since I bought the house 10 years ago! I finally got around to it and the couch arrived this weekend. After a few more touches (built-in media cabinet, window treatments, pillows and area rug), I will finally have ONE ROOM in my house that’s suitable for viewing and use by family, friends, random visitors, etc.

But, as per my usual, I’ve wandered completely off track.

The other thing I managed to do over Labor Day weekend was put in some serious jewelry-making time. Yay!

Here are the results:

These are just a quick, sweet little pair of earrings using some fun, sterling silver and enamel earring findings and then adding some Swarovski crystals, freshwater pearls and Bali silver.

Now for the more complicated stuff:

This fused glass cab has some strange colors in it: emerald green, metallic orange, hot pink and even a metallic purple. After seeing all the Halloween decorations already hitting the stores, I decided to highlight the orange and the green in my bead embroidery bezel and again in the necklace and then tie everything together with black. The beads in the necklace are vintage glass and Czech glass.

The next cab I worked with is a stone cab (an agate of some sort, I believe) and had a much more subdued color palette of browns, beiges, gray and black. It looks great with these golden glass pearls and matte steel gray Czech crystals for some subtle sparkle.

This is a close-up of the pendant to show how pretty the markings are in this natural stone.

This necklace is composed of materials that were originally purchased to go with the cab shown above, but they didn’t work so well with that piece and I ended up creating a separate set using steel gray glass pearls and champagne-colored Czech crystals. I think it’s no surprise that this romantic and classic-looking piece came to mind just after I had finished reading “Pride and Prejudice.” I can just see one of Jane Austen’s heroines wearing this to a ball or a concert with a beautiful dress and long, white gloves.

Lastly, I made a bracelet lush with tons of dangles to accent this exquisite set of lampwork beads from an artist whose name I just cannot remember. Stupid, 4_- year-old memory! I feel terrible about that because really, the design work on these beads is just so intricate and extraordinary. I wanted to put a lot of detail on this piece and yet not detract from how lovely the lampwork is and hopefully I’ve achieved that balance. The dangles are made of 4mm onyx rounds, 6mm Swarovski bicones in Caribbean opal, lavender Swarovski pearls, purple Swarovski cubes and lavender Czech crystal rondelles. Sterling silver beads and Bali silver spacers and toggle clasp add the finishing touches.

It felt so good to clear some of these projects off my desk and out of my head. I only wish I had more time to keep working on things. But, even though two carloads of crap was a lot to get rid of, shockingly, there’s still more to be done.

Like the closet in the kid’s room which has my ex’s old high school suit, several bridesmaid dresses and my own wedding dress stuffed in the back half of it. Why? I don’t know.

Then there’s the three different shelving units full of books in various locations throughout the house that still need to be purged.

And don’t even get me started on the so-called “office” – which is getting so bad that I can SEE the other side of the room from the doorway, but I can no longer GET to the other side of the room.

Well, without stepping on stuff, that is.

But, I will get there.


Sometime between now and 2010.

One small bit of cleared floor at a time.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Cheap Chic

While I’m still lucky enough to have a job and a house with a fixed rate mortgage, I know the economy really sucks right now. Although prices at the pump have gotten a bit better recently, they’re still painfully high.

Because of this, I’ve tried to put a moratorium on my discretionary spending where possible. I’ve at least attempted to get things on sale when I do buy anything. Hence this really cute top I got at ON SALE at Ann Taylor:

I liked it so much that I got it in brown, too (hey, it was on sale!):

I desperately needed something pretty for summer, but versatile enough that I could wear it into the fall. These tops look great with jeans and I have also worn them with a denim skirt, a white skirt, white shorts and chocolate brown Capri pants. When it cools off, I can add a white cardigan sweater on top to keep warm.

I wanted some matching jewelry to go with them. They don’t need necklaces because of the pretty, embroidered decoration at the neckline, but I thought a bracelet and pair of earrings would be great. I already had a bracelet and earrings set that I made years ago in shades of brown, amber and gold that goes really well with the brown shirt.

I had NOTHING in that particular shade of blue and I wanted something more interesting than just my white pearl bracelet.

So, I set myself a challenge to make something to match the blue shirt without spending more than $10 on NEW beads (i.e. stuff not already in my stash) and without going over a total project cost of $25.

Here’s what I came up with:

I ALMOST got away without spending ANY money on new beads, but the shirt is a pretty unusual shade of blue and I didn’t quite have anything in the stash to match it. Everything I pulled out was a little too turquoise in shade except for some crystals…and I thought they were a bit too fancy for this look. I wanted something classic, but slightly on the casual side.

So, I had to pick up that strand of dyed blue quartz beads at the LBS

Here’s what I spent:

1 strand 8mm blue quartz rounds $ 7.00 (from LBS)
½ strand Swarovski 10mm white pearls $ 5.00 (from stash)
Misc. pewter beads, spacers and components $ 3.00 (from stash)
1 pr. 14k gold-filled earring hooks $ 1.75 (from stash)
Beading wire & crimps $ 1.00 (from stash)

Total $17.75

That’s $17.75 for a nice bracelet and earrings that go with this cute shirt and will also go with anything white (like a white shirt and jeans), black or brown. I think that’s a pretty darn good deal and just goes to show that while it’s possible (and very easy) to spend a fortune on beads, you don’t HAVE to and you can still come up with something nice and fun as a design.

Of course, the expensive stuff is fun, too. As you’ll see in an upcoming entry.

Have a nice weekend.