Monday, August 31, 2009

It's a little toasty around here...

So, it was eleventy-bazillion degrees over the weekend which, of course, means it's time for So Cal to explode into flames. The fire is burning over an hour away from where I live and yet I could still see MASSIVE columns of smoke rising up every time I went over an overpass during the weekend. It's awful.

The only thing my area has going for it right now is that we had our big fire two years ago (Santiago Canyon) so it usually takes a while for the brush to build back up and get "fire-worthy" again.

Still, it's awful even when it's happening an hour away. I really HATE this time of year.


Friday, August 28, 2009

New Bead Friday

A couple of items of business right away:

-I want to thank everyone who is reading or following the blog. I can’t tell you how much of a thrill I get (it’s kind of silly what a dork I am) out of each and every single comment and how I watch the follower number to see if it creeps up. I may not always comment back due to time restraints, but I swoop onto my comment approval page every single morning and usually judge how good the day is going to be by how many comments I have (see, I told you, I’m a huge dork). Anyway, thank you all for choosing to spend some of your valuable internet time reading my random, beady drivel.

-Crap! While writing about #1, I just forgot what #2 was. Either the re-blonding had more of an impact than I thought or the Alzheimer’s is gettin’ goin’ early. I cannot remember ANYTHING any more. It’s awful. I’m sure someday soon I’ll be found wandering aimlessly around some neighborhood (not mine) naked except for socks and a lot of beaded jewelry.

Okay, sorry about that mental image. Let’s progress to the beady stuff, shall we?

I managed to squeak in a couple of pairs of earrings during the week:

I'm trying out some different backgrounds for my photos so let me know what you think.

These were another product of serendipity when Swarovski crystal teardrops in “Titan” fell next to hammered gold hoops on my beading station. I thought the result was very simple, but really pretty. I think the “Titan” color may be a special coating and not a regular Swarovski color, but I’m not 100% sure so don’t quote (actually, probably a good idea not to quote me anyway…the men in the white coats might come for you). I got the teardrops from Fusion Beads.

This pair I made using some lovely porcelain pendants from Summers Studio. They reminded me of some antique lace and I loved the delicate blue color and didn’t want to fight too much with it so just platinum pearls, Montana blue crystals and some touches of gold were the perfect addition.

And now on to this week’s new beads (which is what you were all really here for anyway, right?):

This amazing floral clay pendant came from The Classic Bead on Etsy. The colors are actually even deeper and richer in real life.

I can’t ever resist ocean-colors so I knew I had to have this wonderful set of lampwork beads from Lazy Cat Beads on Etsy. She calls them “smartee” sets and has designed them to work so well together that all you need to add is a few spacers and crystals and your design is done. Excellent idea for we overwhelmed (and okay, yeah, I’ll admit it, lazy) beaders!

In fact, I liked the idea so much, I bought a second set in pink!

Got this incredible bronze wing charm with lovely turquoise patina from Zoa Art on Etsy.

And then, for some inexplicable reason, I found myself buying hand-dyed silk ribbons.

In lots of colors - like "Maple Sugar."

And "Vintage Rose."

And my favorite: "Painted Pony."

These all came from Jody Poesy on Etsy and she threw in a whole handful of freebie ribbons in a bunch of different colors with my package - awesome!

I sure hope I can come up with some designs to make use of them because they are really stunning.

That’s it. More beads next week as I am off to the Costa Mesa Gem Faire tomorrow. Gotta keep that economy going!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Episode #92 wherein our intrepid author reveals old news

I can’t believe it’s taken me until Thursday to talk about the NEW BEAD STORE I found over the weekend. Right in my neck of the woods, too. It’s called OC Bead Store.

Now, I thought I was pretty up to date on all the bead-related doings in So Cal – stores, shows, etc. So, when I just heard about this place recently, I figured it must be new. After all, how old could it be when I, the great bead guru, only just learned about it.

So, imagine my surprise when I asked the owner if the store was new and how long they’d been in that location and she doubled over with laughter. The other customers in the store joined her in the laughingness which, really, I did not appreciate AT ALL. To be sure it’s perfectly odious to be laughed at by total strangers to whom one has not been properly introduced.


The kind owner then explained the reason for their laughter was that the store had been there for TWO AND A HALF YEARS!

Well, I am nothing if not totally well-informed and up on all the latest news.


But, I was, after all, in a bead store so I didn’t wallow in my misery for too long because I was distracted by all the bright and shiny things. The walls in this store are literally covered from floor to an arm’s length above my head with strand and strands of beads. All different kinds – stones, glass, crystals, pearls, oh my!

Then there are tables and tables of little dishes full of more yummy stuff – ancient Roman coins in silver and gold, chunks of coral dyed all sorts of colors, sea glass, etc. I was there for an hour and I don’t think I saw half of what they had to offer because I was just so dazzled.

The prices…could have been a bit better, but for an LBS, they were pretty good. They don’t offer much in the way of classes beyond basic beginning stringing. I think where this store stands out is in its incredible variety and selection. I had the hardest time deciding what to buy and definitely left some things I want to go back for…umm…next paycheck.

These are a bunch of strands of Czech glass that I got – stuck in my usual turquoise color rut, of course.

Then I just fell in love with this strand of Nevada lapis. Such delicate shades of lavender and moss green. There were other shapes, too, but I decided to go with the coin shape.

My pictures don’t show the colors really well, but the lavender is much more apparent in real life.

I'm still not sure why I bought these blue coral branches other than the color was so yummy and I never buy anything kind of funky like this so I thought it would fun to have something different for a change. I have NO IDEA what I'm going to do with them, of course.

Then, I ran into a bit of serendipity on one of the walls. A couple of strands of Czech glass – one gumball sized with a swirl design and one rectangular with an almost lava-like texture – happened to be hanging next to each other and the Muse saw them and went…HMMMMM….

The result is this necklace which I decided to call “Alien Earth.” I know, it’s kind of a weird name, but I watched a show on the Nat Geo channel with the kidlet over the weekend about how scientists are searching our galaxy (and beyond) for Earth-type planets. They’ve grouped the potentials into three categories – one of which has more carbon in its system than oxygen and is therefore going to have a surface bubbling with tar, oil and even gasoline. The soil will probably be thick with diamonds (take carbon, compress it and you get diamond) and the atmosphere will be fully of carbon compounds such as benzene and methane. They showed a computer-generated simulation of what such a planet might look like and these beads reminded me of that vision.

I had originally planned to put a pendant of black onyx in the center, but after playing around with it, I decided I liked it better without.

I kept the clasp simple and just used a Bali silver hook.

The Bali silver spacers help the other beads come to life and I really like the texture added by the faux-lava beads. I tried copper and brass in this necklace and while they were both nice, they didn’t pop as well as the silver does.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for New Beads tomorrow!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Attack of the Giant Spiders

I’m not sure why my neighborhood has suddenly become the home of the creepy-crawly and oddly gigantic, but I guess we are now the Motel 6 of the arachnid world.

It’s not enough that I have to check on the Silver Argiope orb weaver at my son’s school every single day, but last night, we found this lady had taken up residence in a web above the impatiens in my backyard:

According to What’s That Bug, this is a Golden Orb Weaver.

It’s also known as a Yellow Garden Spider. This picture gives a good shot of the stabilimentum (white stuff) in the center of the web.

My son has nick-named her "Webhead." I am sure I will now have to check on her status every day, too. Maybe I’ll even have to ask if she needs room service or fresh towels.

This is what my life has become – I run a Spider Motel (insert obligatory Roach Motel joke here).

In other, non-bug-related news, I finally got my hair cut (and re-blonded) this weekend. I hadn’t had anything done since JANUARY. It was such a disaster and I couldn’t wait to be rid of it so I went a little nuts and had about 6” cut off. I now have a cute, shoulder-length bob with some layers around my face. Just in time, too, as I’ve heard we’re supposed to get a heat wave this weekend and it’s going to be a bazillion degrees around here (blech!)

I may have also possibly gotten over the creative hurdle. I finished two pieces last night that I’m actually happy with. I only had time to photograph one of them so will have to do the other one tonight (if I can brave the spider-filled back yard that is).

This bracelet is made from more of the Chinese foiled glass that I got from the Rings ‘N Things Blog Partner giveaway. I can’t believe I still have more beads to use!

I added dangles of Czech glass, some Swarovski pearls and sterling silver melon beads. Behold the power of the matchy-matchingness!

The clasp is a sterling silver square toggle (gee, Kelly, as if they couldn't TELL that from the PICTURE).

I call it “Grape Sorbet” because I thought it made a refreshing change from my lackluster designs lately.

Also, cuz, y’know….purple.

And “Grape Jelly” just didn’t sound elegant enough.

And no, I have no idea why blogger is suddenly turning all my pictures sideways. Usually it means the pics are too big, but I've re-sized them several times and it's still happening. I'm choosing to ignore it and get on with my life.
I suggest you all do the same :-)
Have a great day!


Friday, August 21, 2009

No More Pity Party

Okay, I was re-reading yesterday's post and realized that I sounded very self-pitying. Blech! Who wants to read THAT kind of drivel? Not me. And probably not you, either LOL!

It's funny, it didn't sound that bad when I first wrote it and I certainly didn't mean it to come across that way. It was more that I realized I'd been "playing in the wrong sandbox" so to speak. I was over there < -------- when I really needed to be over here ------- >

But, either way, enough of my mental messiness, let's get to the Friday BEADS!

I gave in and went back to The Patina Queen. I just can't seem to stay away from her stuff.

This color is so amazing. I can't wait to do something with this.

These kissing birds were so cute and I like that there are so many openings on this piece - offers a lot of different options for how to string it.

Antiqued brass sand dollar charms - because I can't ever resist anything with an ocean or beach theme.

I liked this white starfish so much...

...that I had to get a teal one as well. I know, I's a sickness.

These leaves are amazing, too. Just look at the variety of colors in them!

These bright silver Greek ceramic beads have a wonderful organic shape and I think they'll make great spacers.

I got a more traditional square shape, as well.

I'm in love with these beachy beads from SueBeads. And I don't even care that summer is over with - a cute pair of earrings made from these and you can have summer with you all year long!

I have to 'fess up and admit that I'm not normally a big fan of polymer clay beads. Quite often they don't look quite, I guess, elegant enough for me. That's not really the word, but I can't really describe it - they sometimes look too plastic-y and fake or something. I don't know. But anyway, when I saw these beads and the beautiful flower detail and lovely bright colors, I just had to have them. Plus, they made me want to lick them to see if they taste like strawberry (the pink) or pineapple (the yellow). And that's always the acid test for beads - if they look so good you wish you could eat them...then they're probably good beads.

Got this set from the same artist. Her name is Zuleikha (I THINK I spelled that right) on Etsy.

And, as long as I was perusing poly clay beads, I figured I might as well go all the way. Besides, this set had a pair of PANSIES in it. I am all about the pansy beads, yo! These beads came from The Color of Dreams on Etsy.

Yes, they ARE just as yummy as they look and the colors are just fantastic.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Maybe I MIGHT get a chance to finish some jewelry this weekend, but if nothing else, I am FINALLY GETTING MY HAIR CUT! That's gotta lift my spirits and put me in a more creative frame of mind for sure, right?



Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Comfort Zone

I have been seriously unhappy with my designs of late. It’s not that there’s anything hugely wrong with them – it’s more that they’re just kind of bleah (that’s a technical term).

So, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what the issue is. Did I offend the Muse when I leaked the news that she’s a drunken party slut who left her underwear in the Bahamas? Is it the weather? Is it that we are all given just a certain amount of creativity at birth and I have used up my allotted portion?

Despite all this wracking, I haven’t been able to come up with a solid answer – just sort of a pet theory.

I’m sure part of the problem is just my insane schedule and the demands of being a single, working mom who also just lost a parent less than six months ago. My house is a wreck, I’m tired all the time, I have no time for anything other than making sure the kid gets fed and clothed and to school on time and that I get to work on time.

Heck, I haven’t even been able to make time for a hair appointment since FEBRUARY! I’m finally getting my hair cut and colored on Saturday and I am BEYOND EXCITED.


You’d think I just won the lottery or something.

So let’s say that all that “life crap” (as I like to call it) is 50% of the problem.

My theory on the other 50% is that I’ve wandered outside my creative “comfort zone” and I don’t like it out here at all.

I know, I know. Artistic growth and experimentation is supposed to be good for you. That’s why I’ve been trying out different mediums (alcohol inks, ICE resin) and different materials (copper, brass, gunmetal, lucite, and clay just to name a few). I’ve tried to get away from being so symmetrical and matchy all the time and attempt some asymmetrical designs and play with colors I don’t usually go for.

But the results have been…well, mediocre is probably too nice a word.

Experimentation has resulted in things like this:

Whereas the comfort zone has produced things like this:

I just know everything about this design is right: the colors, the style, the components, the balance, etc.

I mean, there’s a REASON they call it “the comfort zone.”

And I’m going back to it. And I’m taking my blankie and my fluffy slippers and my hot chocolate with me.

Because I want to go back to enjoying the results of my work and feeling like I can be proud of them. I want to again experience that feeling that I get when a design just totally comes together and, I don’t know, it just..sings! There’s harmony. There’s a rightness to it.

Instead of a vague feeling of “well, that could have gone better.”

Now, I’m not saying I’ll do this forever, but maybe with as crazy as the rest of my life is, my brain is too overwhelmed to deal with all the experimental possibilities out there right now. I’m thinking maybe the poor Muse just needs things to be simplified right now.

Sometimes too many choices are worse than too few.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Yeesh, it’s boring around here. I can’t even think of anything to blog about this week.

Well, unless you want to hear about how I’m really irked (I love that word) with whoever bought items right out of my Etsy cart last night as I was in the process of checking out. It wasn’t just one item, either! It was three different items – all disappeared between the time I put ‘em in my cart and the time I checked out.

Now, I know the person on the other end of the transaction has no idea that they’re doing this, so it’s not their fault. I think Etsy ought to fix it, though. If something is in your shopping cart, it ought to be unavailable for anyone else to purchase unless and until you take it OUT of your cart. I mean, if I was in a store I wouldn’t go up to someone else’s cart and just take stuff out of it. So it shouldn’t happen in a virtual store, either.

Or maybe you want to hear about how I HATE the grocery store. I swear that my idea of hell is to be perpetually stuck at the grocery store. I cannot make a trip there without my blood pressure going through the roof. In fact, I predict that that is probably how I will die – by having a massive heart attack in the middle of the store.


Also, I don’t know how it is at other stores, but we have the SLLLLOOOWWESSSTTTT deli counter EVER! I can literally place my order, go do all the rest of my shopping, come back and it’s still not ready.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I must have, like, some HUGE order of stuff, right? Nope. ½ lb. of brown sugar ham and 1/2 lb. of maple turkey.

Really difficult.

DEFINITELY ought to take more than a half an hour to do it. No, really, go ahead. Take your time. I’ve got NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN STAND HERE WATCHING MYSELF AGE while you wander aimlessly around picking lint out of your navel and asking me to repeat my order 17 times.

½ pound of ham.

½ pound of turkey.

It’s not like I’m asking you to cure cancer or invent space travel.

Oh, and as long as I’m pitching a virtual fit here on the blog can someone please explain to me why I, who am NOT technologically savvy AT ALL, am apparently the only person in my town who can use the self-checkout stations without screwing them up and taking forever to get through.

It’s REALLY not that difficult.

Slide your item.

Put it in a bag.


If you can tie your own shoes, you SHOULD be able to do this. But just in case you can’t figure it out, they have those 10 lanes OVER THERE ------- > just for people like you.

And then there’s the parking lot.

I cannot for the life of me understand why grown human beings get into that parking lot and suddenly begin to behave like rabid ferrets on double espresso playing bumper cars. I mean really – is it too much to ask to NOT barrel down the aisles at freeway speeds or to LOOK before you start to back out of a spot.

Apparently, it is.

It is also apparently too much to ask for people put their carts away and to not stroll blithely down the center of the parking lot aisle as if they haven’t a care in the world and can’t tell that there is a car RIGHT BEHIND THEM WITH A CRAZY LADY IN IT WHO IS ABOUT TO MOW THEM DOWN. Seriously, people, GET OUT OF MY WAY!

Whew. Okay, I don’t know about you but I feel MUCH better.

Generally, I try to be a pretty positive, happy person, but yanno, sometimes you just gotta let the inner bitch (as opposed to the inner sorority girl who is no good in these situations because she just makes snippy comments about people’s shoes) run free.

Maybe now that I’ve let all this out, I might be able to get back to the jewelry.

Have a great day…and if you see a crazy lady at the deli counter throwing hunks of cheese and salami at the workers…well, just wave and say “hi” to me.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Fish Stories

So, we survived the great fishing expedition of 2009. Barely.

I went home and collapsed face-first onto my bed and didn't wake up for a couple of hours. It was great to see how much fun the kidlet had, though, so that made it (mostly) worth the sleep-deprivation.

This is a man-made lake called "Oso Reservoir." It's attached to a campground and the whole thing is operated by the Boy Scouts.

Looking northwest towards the 241 toll road. Which, I know, means nothing to those of you not from the OC.

Some of the "master" fishermen at work. Also, you can see how low the level of the lake is - all that ground in the picture is normally underwater. Yes, we are definitely in a drought.

Some of our guys got brave and went out in a little leaky rowboat. That's them way out there in the distance. I drew the line at doing the leaky little boat thing with just me and the kid (they wouldn't allow 2 adults in one boat). I just didn't think I could handle 2 fishing poles, keeping the kid in line, rowing the boat and any potential emergency that might happen. One of the other dads very kindly offered to take my kid out with him and his kid so it worked out fine.

Looking east with the Saddleback Mountains in the background.

Another view to the east.

For security reasons, I don't normally post pics of the kidlet, but I just couldn't resist with this one. At least his face is not full-on to the camera. I call this picture "Opie" because it reminds of Ron Howard on the old "Andy Griffith" show. Seriously, how CUTE is this picture?

Oh, and here's the wildlife report for the trip:

Rabbits: 2

Lizards: 2

Turkey vultures: 2

Red-tailed hawk: 1

Bald eagle: 1

Guppies: 100's of them

Catfish: 0

Bass: 0

Bluegill: 0

Trout: 0

Can you tell that the "fishing" part of the expedition was not necessarily a great success? LOL! But the kids had fun anyway.

Oh, and I made a pair of earrings on my lunch hour last Friday:

I call them "Jumping through Hoops" earrings.

Patina'd copper dolphins and rings, copper chain, Czech purple glass rondelles, blue opal Swarovski crystals.

I can't decide if these colors really "go" with the copper or not. I wanted some kind of water element, but they may not really be working. I'm starting to think I should stick to working with silver as copper doesn't really seem to be my "element." I have a hard time putting colors with it.

And that's it. I got some great beads in the mail this weekend so I should have some good things to post on Friday. Maybe I can even get my muse to start cooperating again because I'm just not happy with the things I've been turning out lately!