Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5th Winner Announced

Whew!  Craziness abounds  here - I blame the Santa Ana winds!  We are having temps in the 90-100 range and the wind is blowing with gusts up to 45 mph yesterday and I heard possibly up to 70 mph today!  No fires yet, but I am sure it is only a matter of time.

For those who haven'te experienced a Santa Ana - not only is it hot and windy, but it tends to have a similar effect to a full moon as far as inducing weird, crazy behavior (or so it seems anyway).

On top of all of that, I have been in the midst of the new-car-purchasing process for the last couple of weeks.  The VUE is at 129,000 miles and while it's hard to let it go (so! much! history! in that car), it's time for me to have something more updated and reliable to take me into the next phase of my life.  My job is requiring more distance driving and tackling the So Cal freeways is a daunting task even under perfect conditions.  When you have that niggling little doubt in the back of your mind as to whether your car is up to the job or not, it just makes it that much harder.  I'm supposed to go in to the dealership today to (hopefully!) finalize the sale if I can get through the negotiating process successfully.  Truth be told, I'm a little worried about that.  My last two cars were Saturns for the very reason that you didn't have to negotiate - the price was the price.  The purchase before that was my very first car that I bought on my own and my dad went with me to help out.  He was a math genius and so good with numbers (which I am NOT) and it's times like these when I really feel his absence!

Which leads me to what was going on here on the blog when I reached my 500 post mark around November, 2009.  The time frame from 400-500 was another tough period in my life.  Dad had a major stroke in the fall of 2008 and overnight went from an extremely fit and active person who ran or went to the gym every day, still body surfed and was a double black diamond skier to a complete invalid who could only speak nonsense words.  The worst part was, you could tell his intellect was still relatively intact - he knew who everyone was and could understand what was being said to him and would laugh if a joke was told, etc.  You could even hear the normal patterns of speech as far as tone and inflection when he spoke - it was just the word content that was gone.  We couldn't even make up a gesture system to replace it because (and this was something new that I learned), the pathway to respond to an internal command i.e. "I feel my nose itching so I will raise my left hand to scratch it" is different than the pathway for responding to an external command i.e. "Dad, raise your left hand for 'yes'."  Sadly, he retained the former, but not the latter.  He still retained the ability to really express his emotions via his facial expressions.  I still remember the look he gave me one day when I was feeding him breakfast and, in an attempt to make it a little less bland, I had added some cinnamon to his oatmeal...except I accidentally put in too much.   Ooohhh...I got the most awful glare!  It must have tasted so awful.

We had him in hospice care until April, 2009, when he had another series of strokes and we had to make the difficult decision to let him go.  Last week was the 5th anniversay of his passing and I still miss him SO MUCH.  Especially when I see how Ryan has grown during that time and I remember how close they were and how Dad would have loved seeing the young man he is turning into.

By October/November, 2009 when I was closing in on 500 posts, I was trying to keep myself distracted with projects and happier, upbeat things so I ran a design contest on the blog using photos of insects as inspiration.  Quite a few people participated and I think all of the designs came out really nice.  I bought new trays at the container store and attempted to organize the bead stash...which worked really well for a while, but you will not be surprised when I tell you that it has since reverted back to being an unruly monster.

Well, enough about that.  Here's what the latest winner will receive:

A copy of "Bead Romantique" by Lisa Kan.

Clockwise from top:  a polymer clay lentil bead, green patinated brass filigree pieces, bayong wood square beads, yellow ceramic butterfly charm, sage green and lace polymer clay charm, rust red and white polymer clay pendant, blue ceramic bird charm.

Bass Ale bottlecap bead, soldered glass pendant with vintage image.

A selection of ceramic ice cream cone charms from Scorched Earth on Etsy.
Swarovski flatback crystals in fuchsia and padparascha and a selection of green and blue Czech glass beads.

A large bag of mixed colors and sizes of glass pearls and Chinese crystals.

Some fun (and fuzzy!) fibers.

A large bag of mixed stone, shell and fused glass cabs - this is only a small portion of the bag.  The wind was blowing so hard that I had to stop taking pictures and go inside!
And now the important part!  The winner is....Juli Cannon!  Email me your address, Juli, and I'll get your package out to you!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April is Missing a Bead Porn Post

I took a look back and realized "Holy Crap!  No bead porn for April...that can't be right!"  And I have just a day or so left to fix it so here you go:

Assorted bright enameled teardrops from Unkamen Supplies.

Aqua sea glass teardrops and...

...cobalt sea glass teardrops and...

...aqua sea glass long drops all from Linden Avenue.
Cobalt patinated disks and...

...verdigris patinated metal drops both from Miss Fickle Media.

Bronze toggle with sea urchin detail and...

...patinated bronze heart charms from Thea Elements.
Darling dragonfly polymer clay charms from Gwydion's Garden (she usually lists them singly, but will make a matching pair if you convo her). 
Dusky purple polymer clay pendant from Treewings Studio.

Cute ceramic owl pendants (one of which went to my Bead Soup partner for her soup!) and...

...ceramic turtle pendants all from Bead Freaky.

Beautiful lampwork glass from Nadin Art Glass.

This set is definitely reminiscent of a day at Crystal Cove!  It's by Mermaid Glass.
And last is this gorgeous pair made by Studio Juls.
Okay, April has been officially porn'd.  I feel so much better now!
P.S.  The survey I did a while back seems to indicate that readers like the bead porn posts, but that doesn't really match with the comments.  So, if you like bead porn, I encourage you to leave a comment and let me know.  Or, if you're looking for something in particular, tell me that, too.  For example "please do an all orange bead porn post"  (although why anyone would want that, I don't know, but I'll do it if you ask for it!)  Plus,you never know when I might pick someone out of the comments to win a prize...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Stuff Delay

You've heard of a rain delay?  Well, I'm declaring a stuff delay...on account of stuff happening.

Too much stuff all at once (like meetings at school every night plus a Scout meeting and prep/departure for Scout camp).

Stuff happening that wasn't supposed to happen (like getting a call at midnight on Saturday night informing me that all the Scouts were coming home early because of a problem with the water pump at the camp site and could I please come and pick up my son now).

Stuff NOT happening that was SUPPOSED to happen (like spending all day Sunday waiting for a call from the dealership that my prospective car had arrived only to be told at 4:30 that they were "too busy" to send a driver to go get it...see...they had "stuff", too).

Anyway, on account of all that stuff, I didn't get the photos taken for the next prize winner announcement today.  So, that will happen on Wednesday.  I also didn't get packages mailed out so Patricia, yours will go out this week.  Dyanne, I still need your address.  If anyone knows Dyanne - please give her a shout out about her prize!

Tomorrow, you get bead porn (if no more stuff happens!)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Feathered Fun

Can I tell you a secret?  I have a serious infatuation with feather earrings (and other feathered accessories).  I know, I know...they have been around a while now and are probably on their way out, but all during my enforced hiatus I had a serious hankerin' for them and I promised myself that I would try to find some way to make a few pairs just for the fun of it.  Also, I can't pass one of those stands at the mall without desperately wanting to have a few feathers attached to my hair along with one of those bright pink or electric blue hair strand clip-ons...and if it includes glitter, so much the better!

I am sooo 12 years old sometimes.

Anyhoo...I happened to be strolling the aisles of Hobby Lobby recently and...TA DA!  Bags of colored feathers on SALE!  I still had the whole yellow/green color scheme from the Earrings Everyday challenge in my brain so I bought a bag of green feathers to play around with.  Unfortunately, after looking through the entire bag, I realized that all the feathers were basically the same length and I wanted something with graduated lengths and a little more variety of TYPE of feather (5 minutes of attempted designing made me a feather connoisseur). to Michael's I went (because it was a Sunday and Hobby Lobby is closed and darn but that annoys the snot outta me because I invariably need supplies on Sundays and they are SO much better stocked than Michael's) and I ended up with a few more bags of feathers of various sizes and colors along with some foldover crimps.

Eh, voila!  Feathered earrings a la KJ:

In the "lessons learned" category, do NOT try to take photos of feathers when there is even the SLIGHTEST breeze because guess what?  Feathers try to fly away!  Duh!

Laying them down worked a little bit better, but it was still difficult to get any kind of a shot (and, as has been mentioned, my photo skills are rudimentary even under the best conditions).  I thought the polka-dot feathers were fun and I used some black and white ones to tone down the crazy brightness of the turquoise ones.  The tops are faceted onyx and a little faceted Czech glass rondelle that is black with some turquoise speckles on it.


I had to REALLY scrounge through the entire bag of feathers to get enough of the same coloration, size and length to have matching earrings.  If you try this, I suggest maybe buying 2 bags of the same colorway so you have more to work with.  There were only TWO of the black and white polka dot feathers and I had to trim them to make them the same length...same goes for the turquoise with the large dots.

And then here's where I totally lost my mind.  These are definitely statement, shoulder-duster type earrings.  I started with the large and partially fuzzy pale gold feathers, then layered on the curved, flat brown feathers (again - only 2 in the whole bag), and then did a grouping of three of the bright green feathers on top.

Even with all the feathers, it sill seemed to need something, so I added some green glass briolettes and gold chain sections for extra bling.

Still can't get everything to quite hold still and when I lay them down, the dark brown feather on the left earring wants to hide so taking these photos was a real challenge.  I think you get the idea, though.
The overall technique is SUPER simple:  
  1. Figure out what feathers you want to use and make sure you have enough for both earrings (although if you are not obsessed with things being symmetrical like I am, I suppose you could just do one totally bodacious feather earring on one side and a tiny, coordinating, but not matching, earring on the other side). 
  2. Put them into a layered pile (NOTE:  remember to layer in reverse i.e. lay the front of the earring down first and build towards the back) with the quills in the foldover crimp.  Adjust size, length and quill thickness as necessary with scissors.
  3. Using a toothpick, spread a teeny bit of glue into the crimp (you can skip this if you want - I just like extra security).
  4. Put your feather bundle tips into the glue inside the crimp.
  5. Use your flatnose pliers to carefully fold over the edges of the crimp
  6. You can attach this directly to an earring hook now OR you can add extra beads, bling, chain or whatever as desired.
I kind of like having a bead that hangs in the right place to sort of hide the foldover crimp (like in the green/gold earring pair), but be careful in choosing this bead as I found that if it is too big or heavy, it will cause the feather section to hang wonky.  I had to adjust the design of the turquoise/black pair because of this.

Hope you enjoyed my foray into the world of feathered earrings...I want to get some better quality/matching feathers and see what else I can come up with. 


P.S.  I actually wore the turquoise/black pair to work one day last week...and no one thought it was odd.  I'm not sure what that means...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4th Winner Announcement!

I'm not sure why, but I keep typing "winnder" instead of "winner."  Is it a bad sign when your fingers start doing things on their own that you don't necessarily intend for them to do?  I have a feeling that it is...

So, jumping in the Wayback machine, it looks like I hit 400 posts around July/August of 2008...kinda skipped right over ol' 2007 there.  I definitely wasn't posting quite as frequently as I was still in post-divorce recovery mode, dealing with an incredibly demanding new job, and taking on 100% of the parenting responsibility as my ex kind of crashed and burned in the whole single life and needed to go off and pull himself together without impacting Ryan so much with all his problems.

I was also getting ready to launch Ryan into kindergarten in the fall so it was the first time to buy a backpack and a lunch box and school supplies and new school clothes.  Very exciting!  It's hard to believe he's about a month and a half away from graduating elementary school (our elementary stops at 5th grade...6th grade is part of middle school).  Where on earth did the time go?

In beady news, I hadn't discovered Etsy yet and was still buying my art beads (mostly lampwork) on eBay.  I had taken a silver clay class at Brea Beadworks and had every intention of doing more with it, but never really got around to it.  I'm currently using the torch, fuel and firebrick to patina metal LOL!  I was also going nuts for Swarovski rivolis and had made a bunch of seed beaded earrings with rivolis at the center.  Ahhh...the days when my eyesight still worked...I remember them fondly...

Here's what the winner will receive:

"Seed Bead Stitching" from the publishers of "Bead & Button" magazine - this book is a great intro to a lot of basic seed bead stitches and ideas for what to do with them.

This is a strand of pretty pink and green lampwork, a full strand of vintage German Lucite shell beads and two large carved rose quartz flowers.

Some wide sage green organza ribbon and a full strand of sun/pumpkin dyed silk ribbon.

Large iridescent aqua ceramic beads.

A whole mix of wood and colored plastic rings in various finishes and some covered with ribbon plus a full strand of emerald green silk with a twisted needle already attached.

A full strand of silver ball chain, two silver plate padlock charms, an etched brass hook clasp, green ceramic dragonfly pendant, wavy aqua ceramic pendant and section of silver and bead chain.

A hand-painted polymer clay egg and disk bead, a wood disk with a bird print coated in resin, small glass grape and raspberry charms and a Jade Scott copper and resin bracelet bar.

This is a beautiful ceramic flower pendant, two brushed silver branch dangle charms and a black and red lampwork glass focal bead.

This is a Czech glass mix, some teal flatback crystals and a handpainted wooden pansy pendant.

And the winner is:  Dyan Cantrell.  Congratulations and please email me with your address so I can get your package out to you!.

Next winner will be announced this Friday, April 25th.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Day At Our Favorite Beach - Crystal Cove

The week of April 7-11 was Spring Break for my son.  Normally, we take a trip out to Palm Desert, but we are using our timeshare points for something else this year so we didn't go anywhere.  I worked part of the week and he went to the YMCA program, but I thought he should get SOME time off so I took a couple of vacation days so we could hang out together.  The early part of the week was really hot (90+ degrees) so I thought we'd go to the beach on our days off.  Of course, by then, the weather had started to shift a bit, but I thought we might still be able to get away with it.

Yeah, not so much.  It was nice in the morning, but we got a late start and by the time we got down there, the marine layer was moving in and it turned kind of cold.  We managed to have a few adventures anyway...a cold day at the beach is still better than any other day anywhere else!

See what I mean about the marine layer?  Still, I love the semi-deserted feel of the beach on days like this...far different from summer when you can barely find a patch of sand wide enough to put your chair down on.

There had been some kind of huge sand castle building contest earlier in the day at this beach.  Most of the pieces were gone by the time we got there, but there were a couple left that were so cool I had to take photos of them.  This is the Eiffel Tower.

And this is a pretty amazing replica of the Casino at Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island.

After a really brave attempt at boogie boarding, Ryan declared it much too cold to be in the water, so we decided to head for the tide pools to see what we could find.  It was low tide so a lot of the mussel beds were exposed.  I realized while looking at them how much they make me think of Sodalite and I figured there's a future jewelry design in that thought so I took this picture to make sure I would remember.  The three white/green things in the center of the photo are gooseneck barnacles.  Usually, we find a lot of starfish on the mussel beds, but there weren't any on this day...maybe too early/cold or something.

Tide pool with anemones and snails.  Didn't find any hermit crabs in this one, though. 

I was puzzled by this.  Huge anemone with an open mussel shell in its I ask you...since neither anemones nor mussels move around, how did it get this shell?  The shell was opened and the animal inside was gone so I can only assume the anemone ate it...except I didn't think they ate that type of thing.

Shell scavenging was pretty sparse, but we did find a few of these pink keyhole limpets.

More mussels and sea anemones.

One really giant anemone.

Ryan said I had to take a picture of this HUGE limpet.

This bird decided to brave the surf splashing on the rocks...

...while its buddies looked for yummy treats in the sand.

According to my detailed research (I Googled), these are Marbled Godwits...and for some reason I find that name really funny to say and now I can't stop saying it and laughing.  Marbled Godwit.  Marbled Godwit.  See?

Sandy fingers brought to you by Ryan.  He was so proud that he found a shell "just like Mommy."

Okay, we have been to this beach like a jillion times and for some reason, I never noticed these unusual, circular rock formations before.  Doesn't this look just like a manhole cover almost?

Here's a larger one that is not buried in the sand.  You can see how the swirling action of the water around the rock has carved this shape over time.

I know there's a specific name for these formations...I just can't remember what it is.

Hermit crabs!  We finally found a pool that had some!

I know this is a boring landscape photo, but I took it to show the typical colors of coastal cliffs.  People think California is all green and palm trees and stuff, but we are really more of a coastal desert.  It's only April and already most of the vegetation is gray or brown...just a few spots of green and they won't last too much longer.

I got super excited when I first noticed this guy at the top of the cliff...

I had to really play with the zoom on my camera to try to get a better shot so I could see if my suspicions were correct...

...and I think they are.  I think this may be a peregrine falcon.  Now I've been informed that it's more likely an Osprey.  Definitely some sort of raptor and not one of our regular red-tail hawks that I see all the time.

At last...the sun finally made a very brief appearance at the end of the day.

And really, that pose just says it all...warm or cold...we love the beach!
Here...enjoy some Marbled Godwits and the sounds of the surf!
P.S.  I didn't get a photo of the best part of the day...there's a restaurant right on the sand called The Beachcomber Cafe and normally, it's packed and impossible to get into, but since it was a random Thursday with kinda crappy weather, they had some openings so we decided to eat dinner on their patio and watch the sunset.  Right after we sat down, there was suddenly a lot of shouting and excitement and the wait staff started ringing the ship's bell that hangs on the wall because...there was a WHALE swimming by right in front of the restaurant!  It surfaced multiple times and spouted and everything!  Now, we definitely have a whale season, but usually, you have to go out on a boat to see them.  In all my 44 years of living here, I have NEVER seen one right from the beach like this.  This whale was solo and was motoring northward all by itself.  It was so cool, but in my excitement and mad dash to run over to see it, I forgot to grab my camera LOL!  Still, Ryan and I got to see something totally amazing and once-in-a-lifetime!