Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Hampshire Bead Porn

Given that the Bead Soup Blog Hop has over 300 participants this time, I knew there was no way I'd make it through all those blogs unless I started REALLY a couple of weeks ago. I've had a goal of going through 10 a week and then marking my favorites for a re-visit on the actual blog hop day. That way, everyone gets at LEAST one visit and some people will get two from me (lucky them LOL).

Not only have I discovered some great blogs, but I've found some really fantastic new bead artists which has been bad for my wallet, but great for my bead stash! I've really gotten addicted to one in particular so I thought I'd devote an entire post to her beautiful work rather than mixing her in with the rest of my bead porn.

I'm talking about Lisa Boucher of Clayworks NH.

Really, she had me from the get go with a whole gorgeous palette of deep teals, purples and greens.

And I love the speckled clay she uses as her base material.

And then I got roped in further when I realized she uses a lot of ocean imagery...which is always my weakness!

Such fantastic detail on these shells and I love the way they pop against the background colors.

You can see I had a hard time controlling myself LOL!

But, just in case you're not an ocean girl like me, don't worry...

She's started to list some wonderful late summer and early fall designs.

LOVE the cobalt with the orange and sunflower yellow!

And this golden sunflower design on the cobalt background just had to be mine! But don't worry, there's plenty more great stuff in her shop even though she just rode through Hurricane Irene!

So, go check out Lisa's wonderful shop and find yourself something gorgeous to take home with you.

I'll be back on Friday with my latest book review: "Working Stiff" by Rachel Caine.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Got Gophers?

Because apparently, after living here for 13 years and never seeing hide nor hair of any such varmint...

...I do.

Have gophers, that is. Or, at least one gopher (although, does anyone really ever have just ONE?) And even though my patch of grass is the size of a postage stamp, this gopher (or traveling troupe thereof) decided to turn my backyard into the 2011 Official Gopher Transportation System.

Or as I like to call it: "Gopher Alley." My yard wasn't good enough for him (or them) to stick just dug across it in a diagonal line on their way through. This happened in less than 24 hours because I was back there just the night before and the grass was pristine.

Doesn't it make you think of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons where he would be tunneling and this fast moving hump of dirt would just travel across the screen? I think this gopher took lessons from old Bugs.


P.S. All you people who said you wanted book reviews...see Friday's post...and leave a comment wouldja? Otherwise I feel like I'm just typing to myself and that's, y'know, kinda sad (and a little bit creepy.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Book Review

I used to do the book reviews on Fridays, so this seemed as good a day as any to bring them back to life. I suppose it’s a bit odd to be starting with the sixth book in a series, but since most of the books I read are a part of a series and I had to start somewhere and this is what I was reading…this is what you get.

That being said, it may not be possible to do this without giving away a few spoilers from earlier in the series so just be warned. Ahhh…who am I kidding…my reviews tend to have spoilers in them anyway so I guess this is an overall, going forward, general kind of warning.

And now, the review:

Downpour” is the sixth book in Kat Richardson’s “Greywalker” series. From the start, I have had a love/slight dislike relationship with this series. On the one hand, I think the Greywalker concept is a fresh, inventive take on urban fantasy. I mean, really, aren’t we all getting just a LEETLE burned out on vampires and werewolves? Not that this series doesn’t have vampires, because it does, but at least they are an unusual variety.

On the other hand, these books can seem a bit slow at times and the magic isn’t as flashy or easily accessible as it is in other urban fantasy novels…although I sometimes wonder if that’s really a fault or if it’s just that I’m so used to reading the other style that my imagination has gotten a bit lazy. In which case I guess Richardson really deserves kudos for being creative and making the reader “work” a little more for the pay off.

So, what’s a Greywalker, you ask? In this case, Harper Blaine is a private investigator who has rather too close a brush with death and returns with some unusual abilities. She can see the “Grey” – the magical energy system that forms in and around the “real” world. Eventually, she can do more than just see it, she becomes able to interact with it.

My one criticism of the Harper character is that she seems to just blindly experiment a lot with the Grey and the creatures that are part of it without much thought in the moment for future consequences. Now, maybe that’s just because I’m the naturally cautious type AND I’ve read enough fantasy stories to know that randomly mucking about with magic when you don’t know what you’re doing is generally thought to be a BAD idea. It usually seems to turn out okay for Harper, though, and sometimes I find that unrealistic. Then again, maybe her “luck” with the Grey isn’t really luck at all, but a part of her abilities? That’s a question I haven’t been able to answer. But if these books were a scary movie, Harper would definitely be the one volunteering to go down into the dark, spooky basement alone.

So, that’s enough about the series in general. “Downpour” being the sixth book, a lot has already happened since Harper’s original “death” and the start of her abilities. The original story arc really comes to a close in the previous book so this installment is the first chapter of the next part of her life. She’s recovering from the action at the end of that arc and has gotten back to her regular business of being a PI…only now her business includes helping to keep the Grey balanced and in check as well as her real-world PI business.

That is how she finds herself investigating a ghostly car crash victim that she comes across while she’s doing a routine background check on a potential trial witness. And it’s not just the ghost – something is WAY out of whack with the entire Grey system at Sunset Lakes.

The positives in this book are the descriptions of both the “real” and Grey landscapes in Seattle and around the lake as well. Richardson excels in making the magic come to life and really getting spooky with the weather and background. There’s a particular scene on the streets of Seattle in the rain that is fantastic. This book also gives more insight into Harper’s relationships with her sort-of mysterious boyfriend, Quinton, and her pet ferret, Chaos. Did I mention she has a pet ferret? I find it a nice change from the almost-required cat that usually shows up in fantasy and urban fantasy novels.

The negatives are that I found Harper’s willingness and ability to trudge around the wilderness completely unprepared for hours (and the local ranger’s willingness to let her do it) somewhat unbelievable. I felt there was some obvious avoidance of the prime suspect(s) until the exact perfect point in the storyline…which then made me figure out who the prime suspect(s) were too soon. And ultimately, I thought there was a point where it got a little long before the resolution.

Overall, though, an enjoyable read and one of the better books in the entire series. And, obviously, despite some of the criticisms I’ve had, I’ve stuck with the series through six books so I do recommend it…especially if you’re looking for urban fantasy that is a little “different.”

So, that's it for my first review. I'm now reading "Working Stiff" by Rachel Caine. This is the first book in a brand new series for her so I'm eager to check it out as I've been a huge fan of both her "Weather Warden" and "Morganville Vampires" series.

Have a good weekend and to my East Coast friends - stay safe during Irene!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blogger...You Are On My List!

Is anyone else having problems with the comments on blogs (like mine?) I'm trying to work my way through the ginormous Bead Soup list of blogs to check out everyone's soup ingredients and maybe find some new blogs to follow and some new Etsy shops to check out (yeah, that little maneuver has already cost me some major $$) and I can't seem to leave comments on some of the blogs.

These are the comment boxes where it asks you what "ID" you are using to comment (Google, Wordpress, OpenID, etc.) When I put in my Google ID and password, it then tells me that I "don't have access to this webpage" and will not let me comment. I've had to resort to selecting either the "Anonymous" option (which blows...because then how can the blog author reply back if they want to) or the Name/URL option (which is slightly better, but still not optimal).

So, to I say...WTF?

Have you experienced this on other blogs or, worse, here on mine? Is this some new security feature? And most does one make this annoying problem go AWAY?!

I can't seem to find any info on it in the help forums.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bead Soup Ingredients on Simmer

My bead soup ingredients arrived last week, but the weekend was so busy that I'm just now getting to post the pictures.

First off...check out the box:

Oh my gosh - it was ginormous!

And I couldn't wait to reveal the treasures hidden within! soup ingredients!

The accent beads are some beautiful lavender pearls, seafoam green Czech glass teardrops, copper and amber Czech glass flowers and some faceted white stone (jade, I think) rounds.

The clasp is a beautifully detailed sterling silver toggle.

And the focal is one of Judy's handmade paper beads. I couldn't get the color quite right in the photo - in real life it's more cream/copper and not really yellow like it looks here.

Here's a last look at everything together. Quite an intriguing mix and DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone. I spent a good part of Sunday playing with it and am pretty happy with what I've created thus far. More to do, though, so stay tuned.

And don't forget the blog hop is on September 17th!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Review + More on Books

I survived the incredibly over-booked, crazy-ass weekend! And yeah, okay, so I had to sleep most of yesterday to make up for the preceeding three days, but it was worth it!

Started out Thursday night with an amazing dinner at Scott's Seafood. Lobster bisque...I have died and gone to heaven! Then it was on to the Orange County Performing Arts Center to see Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers perform.

Now, I wasn't sure what to expect...not really being a fan of banjo or bluegrass music (I mostly bought the tickets because I figured he'd be funny and it would be something new to try) and of the BEST shows I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, if this tour comes through your town, you have to go. Martin was hilarious as expected, but it was the sheer level of musicianship displayed by not only him, but every member of the band that just blew me away. The fiddle player alone could have had his own show. This tour is to promote the second album he's done with this group - the first one won a Grammy already. This new album is called "Rare Bird Alert" as a tie-in to a movie he's got coming out this October about competitive bird watching. I highly recommend the songs "Yellowback Fly" and "Atheists Don't Have No Songs." Plus, he's re-done his famous #1 hit, "King Tut", on the banjo so that was fun, too.

So, that was Thursday night. Then it was up at a ridiculous hour the next morning to get the kid to the drop-off point for his YMCA trip to California Adventure. After which I went rocket shopping and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the hair salon.

I am now lighter by about 4-5" of hair and I said buh-bye to the blonde. The new color is sort of a caramel brown with some red and copper highlights. I'm still getting used to it, but other people seem to think it looks good (although who would really say "hey, your new hair cut/color sucks!" to your face, right?)

Saturday morning was up early again to meet the rest of the Cub Scout group to head off to Azusa (over an hour away which is disturbingly far outside the Orange Curtain for my tastes) to launch rockets. Despite managing to get yelled at (publicly over the loudspeaker) TWICE, I managed to get Ryan two successful rocket launches. And if our rocket wasn't the biggest or the fanciest, well, it went up in the sky, deployed its parachute and landed safely (avoiding trees) both times so I'm going to call that a success. As usual, I was the only mom there with all the dads so my social anxiety was in full flame, but also as usual, I stuffed it into a box until I could get home and freak out about it later.

I spent Sunday recovering and playing with my Bead Soup. A bracelet and earrings have been completed, but I still have materials left over so I've got to try to come up with at least one more design.

That's it for the weekend.

I've received a number of e-mails regarding the book reviews so I'm excited that there are some fellow readers out there. I was answering them one by one and then it occurred to me, I could just post the answers here.

Duh (you can take the blonde out of the hair, but not, apparently, out of the brain).

So, for those who asked for recommendations about fantasy and sci-fi books/authors, here's a quick and dirty list (although there's WAY more, of course):

For pure fantasy, my favorites are Andre Norton's "Witch World" series and Anne McCaffrey's "Pern" series. My ultimate favorite is Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" series, but it crosses the line a bit into sci-fi in some of the books. If you like King Arthur...then "Mists of Avalon" (also by Bradley) is AMAZING!

(note: if you really get into MZB, you can check out her website. Although she's passed away, while she was alive, she edited anthologies of short fantasy stories and discovered/launched the careers of many of the top authors in the field today)

For urban fantasy (set in "our" world and time, but with supernatural elements), the "Harry Dresden, Wizard" series by Jim Butcher is my very favorite, but Kelley Armstrong, Ilona Andrews, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs (she also writes EXCELLENT straight fantasy) and Rachel Caine (I like both the "Weather Warden" series AND the "Morganville Vampires" series even though it is technically supposed to be for teenagers) are all terrific.

For space opera I like Lois McMaster Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series (if you start this series, make sure you start with "Cordelia's Honor" as it contains the first two books and sets the stage for Miles Vorkosigan's family background and they are kick-ass books in and of themselves) and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's "Liaden Universe" series.

I don't really go much into hard sci fi (despite the fact that I managed to get the rocket to launch successfully), but I can probably scrounge up some recommendations in that area if you are a super-techno person (although I tend to find that that area is more apt to appeal to the guys).

So, happy reading, and be sure to let me know if you try any of these and what you think of them. Who knows, if I get enough interest, maybe we'll have a monthly book club where we all read the same book (well, in my case, RE-read) and then we discuss.

Just a thought...


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cooler Nights Ahead

I just had to do a quick post about this treasury on Etsy. And it's not just because one of my "Northern Lights" pendants is featured in it. I thought it was a really great, creative theme and the colors? die for.


P.S. Bead Soup ingredients have been taken. Post is coming soon and then it's time to start getting creative...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Bookish

Okay, time to take a brief break from the Bead Soup madness. My ingredients arrived in the mail yesterday, but the next few days are crazy so I won't have time to photograph and post about them until probably Sunday or later.

What am I doing, you ask? Well, I assume you asked otherwise this is going to be a really lame post. Tonight, I'm going to see Steve Martin in concert.

Tomorrow, I have the day off from work, but instead of it being the leisurely day of doing nothing that I originally had planned, I'm finding myself engaged to go rocket shopping in the morning (Ryan has a Cub Scout rocket launch event this weekend that was supposed to be handled by...let's just say...NOT ME, but plans changed so I have to get knowledgeable about rockets RIGHT NOW). Have to finish that by 1:30 PM so I can go spend the rest of the day at the hair salon.

Because my hair is a disaster of epic proportions. If there was a Japanese tsunami of'd be on my head right now. It's down below my shoulder blades in back, the gray is ever-creeping and the lower sections are all damaged and frizzy from over-blow-drying and excess curling iron use.

Sounds pretty, right?

Anyway, I am in the mood for a major change. I'm talking hacking everything off, or maybe going red, or hell, maybe I need white-blonde with pink dipped ends. I don't know, but I have definitely reached the "I CAN'T STAND IT ANY MORE" stage of hair.

Then Saturday is the rocket event - have to meet up with the carpool at 7:45 (ugh!) and drive over an hour to get to the launch site.

So yeah, I have a jam-packed 72 hours coming up.

But what I really wanted to talk about (now that all that is out of the way) is a recent change I made to the blog. Besides just futzing about in general with the right sidebar (you may have noticed some things moved around and some new sections have been added), I've been thinking for a while about bringing back an original feature that I had: Book Reviews.

Yep, way back in the distant mists of, oh, let's say 2005, after I'd been blogging for about a year, I started doing weekly book reviews. Kept up with them for quite a while and then I kinda got burned out and started doing the Friday bead porn posts instead. Well, I decided it's time to bring back the books so I added a photo link on the right sidebar to show what I'm currently reading and I'll have a review on Friday.

Now, I'll warn book reviews are not what you'd call your "standard" review. I figure you can get all that elsewhere. And besides, you know if you read the blog that I...sort of have an oddball sense of humor and that tends to leak into everything I write. Including my reviews. Especially when I didn't like the book. So just be warned. Oh, and also? I pretty much only read sci fi and fantasy so if you don't like those

The first review might not be tomorrow as I don't think I'm going to have time to finish "Downpour" by then given all that I have going on, but you never know...I might be able to get to it while I'm under the dryer at the salon tomorrow.

If I don't post before Monday...have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bead Soup Teaser Post #4

If the focal bead in my Bead Soup package traveled to the 60's and decided to get REALLY MELLOW, it might look something like this:

Hey, man, that's like far OUT!

Not to be outdone, the clasp decided to join in.

Then it rained so if the Bead Soup ingredients were underwater, this is what they'd look like.

And here are a few of the accent beads "crystallized" by Picnik (one guess as to what my new addiction is LOL!)

Now for today's teaser question:

Which of the following materials are included in the package:

A. Shell

B. Jade

C. Czech glass

D. Vintage lucite

E. All of the above


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bead Soup Teaser Post #3

Here's the closest, clearest look yet at the whole package:

Hmmm...what could it be?


Bead Soup - Teaser Post #2

As the package of soup ingredients meanders its way through the postal system, I thought I'd post a few more teaser shots.

Letting the pictures get slightly clearer each time and adding a few clues as to the actual ingredients.

Like this:

One of the following types of beads is NOT included in this soup mix:

A. Ceramic
B. Lampwork
C. Metal
D. Stone
E. Glass

Okay...guess away!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Bead Soup - Teaser Post #1

This could be the color scheme for the bead soup mix that I sent to my partner, or... could be my new bathroom rug.

Nope, I'm pretty sure it's the bead soup. See, that's the focal, and then there's that strand of...and those green blotches are...

Well, you'll find out eventually...


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Bead Soup Blog Party is ON!

And I just got my partner: Judy Riley of Three Red Beads. We haven't conversed yet, but I see some pretty jewelry and a whole post about gorgeous paper beads that she made herself over on her blog so check it out.

I'll be off putting together goodies to send to her...and if you read my blog at all, you know I have the stash to live up to this challenge ;-)

I'm excited about getting to play this round. I can definitely use the creative boost and it's always fun to check out new blogs and make new friends.

Stay tuned for future developments!


Monday, August 08, 2011

Toot! Toot!

Okay, so, my resin beads have made it into Etsy treasuries pretty frequently, but my jewelry almost never gets noticed...except for this time.

So, yeah, I have to brag a little on this one ;-) That's my "Indigo Butterfly" bracelet in the top row.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pasadena Redux

I'd stopped going to the Pasadena Bead Show over the last year or so because I hadn't seen anything new there for a while. I did still have a couple of favorite vendors that attended, but it's an awfully long drive from the OC to buy more stuff I already have.

However, a certain beading buddy was planning to go and I really wanted to catch up with her so I decided to make the trek.

And boy, am I glad I did! Not only was it great to see Julie and not only did my old favorite vendors have great new stuff, but I found some terriffic new vendors this time as well!

I also did my part for the economic recovery (debt ceiling, schmebt ceiling).

And yes, I really did just type the word schmebt.

These pretty mermaid beads are from Jewels by Jules. They appear to be paper decoupaged onto rectangular beads (not sure what the material's very lightweight) and then sealed with some kind of lacquer or possibly even resin. The seams are nearly invisible and the beads have a great shine to them. And I was a sucker for the mermaid image.

Another favorite vendor, Primitive Earth Beads, sold me some colorfully printed aluminum chains at a previous show and this time I discovered that they now have clasps to match! Next time, I'm hoping for headpins and jumprings and I'll be all set!

They had some new colors of chain, too. I guess I was in a "blue sky" kind of mood.

You & Me (now known as Merico Corp) is a staple at all the Southern California shows. I used to get all my Bali silver from them, but since the price of silver has skyrocketed, they've gone into a whole new line of base metal chain. Here are a couple of different styles of copper chain I got from them - one is pretty basic and all-purpose and the other has those distinctive patterned disks and oblong links.

They also had some great silver-plated chain...I especially love the bubble links on the left.

These are some silver plated rose filigree beads and Bali-style large bead caps.

These beads have a textured finish that sparkles, but unfortunately, the effect doesn't show up in the photos. I call them "stardust" beads. The strand on the left is in a gunmetal finish and the one on the right is brass. They come in copper, also.

This large stone teardrop came from Royal Quality Gem.

I could NOT get my camera (or Photoshop) to accurately portray the color on the bottom strand of beads in this picture. It's actually a much darker blue-purple than it appears to be here...which is why I bought it. I love colored jade rondelles as filler beads and I already have MOST of the available colors, but I didn't have this one. The orange strand was just for fun.

Then it was on to the new vendors. Eriko Page of Heart & Hand in Tehachapi, CA, is a polymer clay vendor who I hadn't previously seen at the show. And would you believe...this bead was the FREEBIE she gave me?

She had these wonderful grab bags of poly clay flowers and leaves - this is only about half of the bag!

This gorgeous bead is sanded and polished perfectly and sealed with a lovely finish.

But this one is my favorite. Reminds me of the hibiscus bush in the front yard of the house I lived in on Oahu when I was a child.

I don't have a website for Eriko, but I do have her business card with an e-mail address and phone number so if you're interested in her work, shoot me an e-mail and I'll share the info.

Grace Beads is normally known for her lampwork beads (and they are fantastic), but she had a small collection of ceramic beads (that I think come from a different vendor) at her booth, too. I liked these two - a hawk and an owl.

Then I saw the colors on these water lily beads...LOVE that deep teal background!

These butterflies with the gold edging reminded me of antique china.

And then there were these delicately detailed hummingbird beads...LOVE!

Loot is another favorite vendor. And, after picking up yet more of her gorgeous glass on Saturday, I decided I finally needed to stop hoarding it all make those earrings that I posted about on Monday. This is the new stuff I bought from her.

Unicorne Beads has long been a favorite of mine for their gorgeous glass and large selection of ocean-related beads (shells, dolphins, turtles, starfish, etc.) Now they have owls! Some small, some larger, different colors and all with a bit of a metallic sheen to them. I picked out this zebra-striped guy to send to a special friend who has an owl obsession (but I'm not telling who...who...whooooooo).

I thought I'd already seen everything Paula Radke could do with dichroic glass, but I love these new nugget shapes. On top of that, she had dichroic glass seed beads which, I will admit, were super-spendy at $35 for a teeny little tube. However, if you are a seed bead junkie and looking for something REALLY special to work with, these babies are definitely the ticket. I saw a bracelet she had made up with peyote-stitched tubes using these seed beads and it was stunning.

She's also developed the next great clay innovation: Art Glass Clay. I'll talk more about that in a future post because I got a flyer, instructions and a whole demo. It's pretty darned cool!

Aren't these florals stunning? They are from Kyoto Studio. I've seen her work on Etsy before, but this was the first time I'd seen her at a show. Online bead buying is great, but really, it still can't compare to being able to touch and see things first hand. These sunny, yellow flowers had me at hello!

I saved my very favorite purchase of the entire show for last. I will admit, this is not a great picture. I was trying to get close enough to show the incredible sea green and gold effects in the center of this borosilicate tube bead from Beau Barrett of Evolving Creations. Have you ever been at a bead show and had a bead literally shout your name from across the aisle? That's what this bead did to me. The way the light plays off this and Beau's other creations is just magical in real me when I tell you that even the pictures on his Etsy site do not do justice to these amazing creations. I saw a piece similar to this one at the show and it just glowed! Prices are a little up there, I know, but if you're looking for something special as a design focal point or to add to your collection, this is the place to get it.

Hope you enjoyed the trip to Pasadena with me!