Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ah! My blog! It changed!

Yes, I finally gave in and did it. I upgraded to the new Blogger. You see, I tend to have a fear of change when it comes to internet stuff. Way back when, I had a website with GeoCities. Then Yahoo! purchased them, and you had to use a Yahoo! account to log on to your GeoCities account. Well, I tried to merge my Yahoo! account with my GeoCities account, and I could never get in to edit my website again! I was afraid that the same thing would happen with my blog when I had to make a Google account. Yeah, yeah, you can laugh at me now.

Anyway, I decided to test the new template editting capabilities, and I have to say that I'm very happy with the results. No longer does my blog look exactly like one of the default templates! Now it looks like something far more "me." And in fact, editting it was kind of fun. I could get addicted to switching the colors around...

This is what happens when you give an artist technology, by the way. They just go "Weeeee, pretty colors!"

Ok, on to business stuff! I finished putting together the choker-in-progress. Now I just need to rummage through my stash o' buttons and find the perfect one to serve as a clasp. I'm very happy with this choker, it's just as classy as I expected it to be. Actually, it kind of has a vintage look, maybe a little Haskellesque.

I've heard that Hancock Fabrics has the suedecloth like I use for bead embroidery on sale, so I'm hoping to mosey down there, maybe Thursday night. I was going to go there tonight, but my husband's getting stuck late at work and he's all cranky about it, so I won't make him drive halfway across the town to satisfy my desire for fabric. But once I do get my hands on a massive amount of lovely suedecloth, you can bet that there will be more jewelry like Lady Ghost for sale!

I'm really hoping that the new site will be up soon, that way we have time to iron out all the kinks before I start shipping again on the 26th.

Today's Cool Thing is Noodle Son, an entire website dedicated to Ramen noodles. They have a review section, which I find to be pretty cool. It also helps to figure out just what flavor the mysterious ramen from the Asian market in NY is.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two weeks and counting!

For most of you out there, either your holiday has already started (and a Happy Chanukkah to you!) or is only a week away. I, on the other hand, have to wait another two weeks until I celebrate the New Year with my folks. Two more weeks of staring at the wrapped presents in my bead room and trying not to slip up and tell my husband what he's getting. Ahhhh, the anticipation!

Of course, since my friends and in-laws celebrate Christmas and Chanukkah, this is the week when all the presents start arriving in the mail. Hopefully by now my MIL and her family will have their box o' holiday goodies in hand, and a couple of boxes showed up for me today. Weee! The only problem is that I realized this afternoon that I haven't mailed out my cards yet. Shame shame! I need to go start writing them out after I post this.

It's feeling a little more like December here in Tucson. I woke up and it was grey and a little chill. I'm hoping for a bit of rain, we haven't had any in months.

The in-progress choker gave me a bit of trouble on Saturday, and I was out most of the day yesterday, so it's still not quite done. Almost, though! I think it's going to look really awesome, and the trick will be photographing it properly. I should be finishing it tonight, and then I'm going to start on a couple of top-secret holiday presents!

Today's Cool Thing is Dylon White's Etsy shop. Mr. White is the co-author of Lark's Chain Mail Jewelry book, so you know his maille work is awesome. He has a very nice selection of earrings and bracelets in his shop, definitely worth a browse!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cookies and stuff.

Today I baked some cookies using those new limited edition swirled chocolate chips from Nestle. I picked up the dark chocolate/raspberry ones, because Chris loves all things raspberry. I decided to use the recipe on the back of the package and whip up a batch for my Friday night L5R game. Well, the chips are good but I'm not too keen on the recipe. The cookies aren't nearly sweet enough. In fact, if they were any less sweet, they'd be crackers! To top it off, I burnt myself on a fresh-from-the-oven cookie sheet. BAH! Luckily, my friends all love cookies, so it will be worth it when they enjoy them.

Geez, when did I become so domestic?

In today's mail, I received a booklet from G&LW, which is apparently supposed to convince me to go to their shows by tempting me with lots of ads. Of course I was already planning on going to their shows because so many of my favorite vendors are at Gem Mall. It will take more than glossy full-color advertisements to ever get me to return to Holidome or brave the Rodeway, though! The book did serve to remind me that I need to pre-register and start thinking about what I'm going to buy at which shows.

I spent the late part of the afternoon and early part of the evening making little beaded leaves from Barbara Grainger's book, to be used to accent my choker. I have a little over half an hour left before I have to leave for my game, so I'm going to try to make a couple more.

Remember! If you want to order anything for the holidays and you do NOT live in Tucson, place your order tonight! Poor Chris had to go to the PO today and he said he really doesn't want to go again, so I guess it's good I'm not staying open until sometime next week.

Today's Cool Thing is Squidfire Designs. I saw one of their shirts over on Rare Bird Finds today, and I liked it so I went to their site. I kept finding more shirts that I liked, and basically I discovered that I liked more of their stuff than I was neutral towards. Very cool designs; I will have to get some for Chris and myself.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What I am up to.

First, a reminder! Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to place an order if you want it shipped in time for the holidays! And also, any orders placed tomorrow that total $25 or more will receive an upgrade to Priority shipping at no additional cost to you! Oh yes, and I won't be writing a Fashionable Friday column tomorrow, as many other e-stores will be closing up for the holidays this weekend, so you wouldn't be able to shop much anyway.

I'm looking forward to my little holiday break. Oh sure, I'll make some things to list on the website, but I'm also going to make presents for family and presents for me. I have this lampworked bead that's shaped like a belly dancer dressed all in shades of amber with hints of green. I'm hoping to finally make a necklace for her over the holidays, or at least get started on it. I'm also going to finish my beaded belt, by golly!

As far as business-related beading goes, well, my spiral bracelet stock is getting a little low, so I need to make a couple more of those, and a few pairs of earrings to replace what has sold recently. On Tuesday I pulled out an old choker base which I had woven a while ago, and I'm working on adding the proper accents. It should look pretty smashing. And ideally, I'll make more anklets and strung bracelets, since I only have one item each in those sections right now.

The colder weather had deterred me from dancing for a while, so I'm trying to get back into that, too. Let me tell you, it is hard to feel sensuous and exotic when you're dancing in a sweater! :P I just danced a bit tonight, I'm finally getting better at this one challenging song. Now, bear in mind that I am a dancer, not a musician, so I have no grasp of musical terms. Basically this song has a lot of similar, repeating motifs, and sometimes those motifs have a flare or accent at the end, and sometimes they don't. Dancing looks awesome when your moves echo the accents of the song. It looks lame when you misguess where the accent is and do a sudden bold arm movement when there's no equally bold music. But ha ha! The song will thwart me no longer, I almost have its timing down :)

But the major thing I've been doing is editting the heck out of my book. How did that heck get in there? Well, you see, I was writing at 4am and not paying much attention... No, seriously. What I'm really doing is tightening up some phrasing, removing inconsistencies, adding a subplot with a character who got neglected, tying up more loose ends, and adding some extra character development. There are three people who are greatly deserving of shout-outs for reading the messy first draft and helping me with edits, and they are my awesome Dad Rick, my incredible husband Chris, and my dear friend Helen. Without them I never would have gotten this far!

I've told myself that after I finish editting the first book, I can start writing the third book. Of course, I also need to edit the second book, but my muse would really like to work on some new material for a bit. In the meantime, I have lots of ideas that I need to jot down for books 3-5, because I've been thinking ahead a lot.

Today's Cool Thing is the jewelry of Alex Sepkus. Usually I see gold and gem stones and I go "meh" but his work makes me go "WOW!" If I'm ever rich, I will own something of his. I especially like his earrings, and since they're gold, I could probably even wear them for a short time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Well, today was a pretty big deal, because they did lay-offs in my husband's department. Actually, in his entire building. He and most of his friends survived the cuts. This is a huge weight off of our shoulders! To celebrate, we went out for a delicious teppenyaki dinner. We also got to talk about some plans for the future, now that he doesn't have to worry about possibly finding a new job and changing his schedule and stuff. It's nice to no longer have that uncertainty and to be able to think about things more than a couple of weeks in advance.

Oh yes, before I forget, I'd like to point out that Friday the 15th is the last day to order presents for the holidays! After that I will not be shipping anything out until the 26th. To help ensure that your items will reach you in time, orders of $25 or more will receive an upgrade to Priority shipping at no additional cost until Friday. Also, if you are in Tucson and would like to arrange for delivery or pick up of your jewelry, well, I can do that pretty much right up until Christmas.

Hopefully we'll get the new website up and running while I am "closed" for the holidays. I also plan to get some interesting new jewelry prepared during my break, and maybe work on better pictures for some of my existing jewelry. I have a couple more presents to make, too, and it's tradition for me to make something for myself. Not sure what that will be this year.

Today's Cool Thing is a comic strip called Sheldon. It's generally funny, insightful, and 100% safe-for-work, unlike most of the other comics I read. There's something like 5 years worth of archives to read through if you have a lot of time to kill.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like... September.

The weather has returned to being beautiful here in Tucson. It makes me feel almost guilty for spending so much time here at my computer. I should get out and enjoy these nice days before it gets cold and nasty again. With all of this pleasant sunshine, I can't believe that it's less than two weeks until Christmas! It feels more like early Autumn.

My immediate family celebrates the winter holiday season on New Year's Day. It's just more convenient and less stressful that way, and being able to buy wrapping paper and last-minute gifts at the post-Christmas clearance sales is an added benefit. My in-laws and friends, however, all do Christmas and Chanukkah, so I've been trying to get presents together. And of course, I have a small selection of cards which have already arrived in the mail. So there's a bit of holiday cheer to be had!

One thing that helps me get into the holiday mood is listening to the great holiday music from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. Yes, that's right, I get all bright and cheery listening to songs about the Great Old Ones ruling over mankind, and all of the madness that goes with it. I never claimed to be normal. I recently picked up their second CD, An Even Scarier Solstice. This has some wonderfully put-together songs with wickedly clever lyrics. I simply love it! I think that the first CD was a little easier to sing along to, but this one just sounds great and still has a few songs that demand that you add your voice to the mad chorus coming out of your speakers. Although these CDs are primarily for Lovecraft geeks, a few of the songs have proven pretty popular with my generically geeky friends as well.

And while I'm touting recent purchases, I'd also like to tell you about the delicious teas from Herb and Ginger. These are some of the most beautiful and tasty teas I've ever had! I highly recommend the Bollywood Star and Candytopia flavors, and I look forward to trying more in the future.

I need to wander off and wrap some presents, since my Official Present Hiding Drawer (tm) is overflowing, but before I go, I will leave you with today's Cool Thing, which is this awesome article on treasures that were rescued from the destruction in Afghanistan and kept hidden by some very brave people. This is like adventure movie stuff, but in real life. You've got to read it!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Glitz

This is the column which should have been posted on Friday -- please enjoy!

The holidays are upon us, even if it may not feel like it in some parts of the world. And the holidays of course bring with them those fancy parties where one naturally wants to dress to impress. I'm actually a bit disappointed that my husband's building doesn't seem to be having their usual holiday soiree this year. I bought a beautiful velvet and lace ankle-length jacket all the way back in May and I've been dying for an excuse to wear it!

I'll assume that you've already got the perfect dress to wear to your winter festivities, and now all you need are a few smashing accessories. And I am here to help!

If you're going to be wearing black or red, this beautiful scarf from Kimono Momo would make a stunning accent to your outfit! She also has some great clutches and other scarves.

For a classy pair of heels, look no farther than Mohop! I own a pair of her shoes and I have to say, they are far more elegant than my feet are used to!

And of course, you'll need a handbag as well. I like this sparkly Tulip bag from Bake Sale Designs, and the red and gold make it particularly festive! One thing I don't like about evening bags is that they don't have room for anything, but this one looks big enough to hold all the neccessities without being bulky and obtrusive.

But really, this is a jewelry blog, so let's get down to that! From my own site, there's the delectable Frost Elf's Bauble (pictured at the top of this column), which is oh-so-decadent. Lady Ghost is still one of my favorites, and is really meant to be worn to an upscale formal occasion. Gothic Romance earrings would make a wonderful accessory as well, what with their sparkle and motion. And of course, any of my ever-popular Crystal Bracelets would serve to complete your outfit!

For a necklace that is both elegant and unusual, try Paper Jewels' Kanji Love necklace. The pearls and crystals do an incredible job of dressing this piece up, and I love how balanced the whole thing is.

In my mind, a nice collection of rings is neccessary to be properly dressed up. Only the most casual of occasions will find me wearing just my wedding ring! If you feel the same way, you may want to see see Manic Trout's ZsaZsa ring, which is made from an awesome chandalier crystal. And Ex-Boyfriend has a super-sparkly bead and sequin ring that reminds me of all the lights and ornaments from a tree, all condensed to fit on your finger!

Earrings are a must, especially if you have short hair or an up-do! Jeweled Elegance has this stunning pair. I love how the metal stations look like either snowflakes or flowers, depending on your mood! Designed by RJ has these feminine earrings, and best of all they're on sale! Last but not least, Casto Creations has some great Disco Ball earrings!

Ready for those holiday parties yet? I sure hope so!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Column Delays

I had all of these things I was going to do today... Make some jewelry, finish the dragon, take some pictures, update my site, post the Fashionable Friday column, bake cookies, do laundry... But then my husband came home from work really early and I said "Hey! Let's beat the crowds and go to the Street Fair!"

And so we did.

Although I should feel guilty for shirking all of my responsibilities, I don't. I had a great time. The weather was beautiful, comfortable temperatures with just a little wind. The Fair was crowded, but not in that "wall of humanity" sort of way. I got presents for my parents and I saw local lampworker Margaret Zinser from whom I purchased a beautiful ring/bead (we're calling it a ring because it's ring shaped and then I didn't break my vow to not buy any beads until Gem Show), and I also got a cute little dragon ear cuff. I saw many beautiful and clever things, successfully resisted the urge to buy sparkly clothes, and generally had a great time. Afterwards Chris and I went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant we've been meaning to try, and we had delicious crispy fried pumpkin and jasmine tea. Oh yes, and entrees, too. They were also good.

Chris and I get so caught up in our gaming and work and whatnot that we don't often just go out and spend the day together having fun, so it was a very nice change.

Fashionable Friday will be published Sunday or Monday, and I'll hopefully post some new jewelry around then, too. I have a busy weekend planned, so I might not post before then. I hope you all have a great, happy weekend and that if you're in Tucson, you head out to the Street Fair and support some artists and small businesses!

Today's cool thing is Dirty Car Art! I love this site, and will never look at a dusty windshield the same way again.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Well, I didn't mean to be so quiet, but I got caught up in working on holiday presents... and then without warning, my desk chair broke yesterday! I had to steal my husband's chair to do my e-mail and stuff today. I guess I'll have to go buy a new chair this weekend. I'd had the same chair for probably a good 5 years now, and with how much time I spend at the computer, that's a lot of sitting hours.

Anyway, I've been doing some clay work... a secret present and then a dragon that I can talk about because its a present for someone who doesn't read my blog! Ha ha! Plus I'll probably give it to the recipient this weekend, if I can finish it (I usually sit in my desk chair for clay work...). It's a pretty awesome looking black, gold and crimson dragon with huge wings.

Over the last couple of days, I also did a lot of writing.... filling out the end of my second book, and then writing a silly short story which takes place between the second book and the as-of-yet unstarted third book. I've been thinking about the 3rd, 4th, and possibly even 5th books lately, so I really need to sit down and start making some notes and really get to work on editting the first and second books.

It looks like I'll be joining another D&D game this weekend, further cementing my position as a nerd. Since I'll now be spending every Friday night and Saturday afternoon-night at gaming, I really need to come up with more portable projects to work on at games. Lately I've been doing more complicated work which doesn't travel well. My beaded belt, for instance, uses 10 colors of seed beads and 3 types of accent beads. I'll be working on that at home, thanks.

My other plan for this weekend is to finish my holiday shopping, which will be accomplished by going to the 4th Avenue Street Fair. This is a HUGE outdoor arts, crafts and entertainment fair which happens twice a year in Tucson. I always spend too much money there, but I get the greatest stuff. Last year I got a wicked sterling silver fish pin for my button bag.

Today's cool thing is this news article!
As an unabashed bibliophile, I love the idea of free books on the web, especially old books from far-away libraries.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday again!

Well, I had a decent enough weekend -- nothing really spectacular happened. I played a few games, worked on my beaded belt, and ran errands.

Today I went out with my Mom to do a little holiday shopping. Well, actually, I only bought one present because I'm all done shopping for everyone except my Mom, and I can't very well shop for her while I'm out with her! But I got the last thing that I needed for my husband, and I also hit the used bookstore, where I got some fresh reading material, and JoAnn's, where I picked up the latest issue of Beadwork. There are a couple of things in there that I might try, and some pretty cool articles.

One of the things that I nabbed at the used bookstore was one of those fancy Australian cross stitch and beading magazines. This one was totally Asian themed and there are some really cool Geisha graphs which I'd like to make use of. I'm just nerdy enough to adapt them to try to look like my L5R characters. Hey, how many other geeks have beaded character portraits?

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have time to do a little clay work. I've got to get it done soon if I want to give it as holiday gifties! Too many things to do and far little time.

Today's Cool Thing is my friend Ellen's charity auction! This miniature Christmas tree is adorned with many of Ellen's beautiful lampwork beads. I own some of her beads, and let me tell you, they are quite nice and she's only improved since I purchased them. If you can afford to bid, you'll be getting great beads and helping kitties in need. What could be better than that?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Jewelry Gift Guide

Ahhh yes, here it is, December. Truth be told, I don't like December very much. It has a bad habit of being cold, the mail gets slow because of the holidays, the stores are all crowded, and everywhere I go, bad Christmas music. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holidays. I just don't like some of the trappings that go with them.

What I do like is the giving, receiving, and selling of holiday gifts! I love holiday shopping, as there are few things more satisfying than buying something that you know is just perfect for your loved one. Making presents is fun, too, when you know that the receiver actually appreciates the work that goes into it. And hearing that my jewelry is being purchased as a gift always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling -- and believe me, in this weather, I need all the warm fuzzies I can get!

(Yes, I know all of you who are in genuinely cold climates are going "Oh, boo-hoo AJ, it got down to 33 degrees, you poor baby!" Yes, I am a weather wimp)

Where was I? Ah yes. Jewelry makes a great present for many people: mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, ME ;) You'd think that by now I might say "Oh no, no more jewelry for me, I've got enough!" but I just keep looking for and making more.

My crystal bracelets are very popular as gifts. Everyone seems to love them, and I have them in a wide variety of colors. There's still time to make a custom order before the holidays if you don't see a combination that grabs you. I can even make these as anklets.

Spiral Bracelets are also very popular. The spiral is a motif which has almost universal appeal, and it's very attractive when rendered in beads. My stock on hand is currently a little limited, but this is another item when I can easily make custom versions of. Spirals also make for very nice necklaces!

If you need a smaller gift, earrings are a great choice. My selection has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and I try to add new ones every week. Starting at $10, they easily fit into tight budgets, and there's a dizzying amount of options if you'd like a custom pair. Don't forget that I can make earrings to match most necklaces and bracelets in my inventory!

If you're in search of something even more unique, I have a huge selection of Strung Necklaces currently available. Although weaving is my speciality, I do enjoy the occasional strung project, and they often feature unusual focals, such as lampworked beads or carved stones.

While I would of course love it if you'd shop at my site for all of your holiday jewelry needs, I understand that my style might not be for everyone. So I'd be almost as happy if you shopped at any of these fellow jewelry designers, who do beautiful work!

Bead Indulgences is the perfect place to find chainmaille and wire-work jewelry. If you want a gift with a real "WOW" factor, be sure to check out her necklaces!

VChoy's beadwork also has a high "WOW" factor! You will probably not believe how awesome her beadwork is until you see it!

As you probably already know, I love Elle B's earrings. They blow mine out of the water. What they were doing in the water in the first place, I really don't know.

Dreams and Jewelry
does some very awesome work, cool metal and resin and other materials. I like the vintage key necklace that she has up right now!

If you don't mind dealing with International shipping, Hana Jewels from Japan has some absolutely adorable jewelry, much of it with floral patterns. And her prices are unbelievable!

I really like JewelLace's work, too, and will probably buy myself some someday.

Ossabelle has some very cool glass slide pendants, including Lovecraftian ones! Excuse me while I squeel like a fangirl: EEEEEEE!

I could go on all day about awesome places to buy jewelry, but I'm starting to get hungry for dinner, so I think now I'll move on to great ways to store jewelry, in case you're shopping for someone who already has more than they know what to do with!

has a couple of beautiful handmade wooden jewelry boxes. I love the lid on the top one, such pretty wood grain... mmm.

Shevon Grant Ceramics
makes some lovely jewelry trays, for keeping jewelry by your bedside. I need something like this for my desk, except that with how much jewelry I deposit here, it would have to be the size of a turkey platter!

has some very cool "Jewelry Guardians" which are sculptures designed to hold your jewelry. I especially like the one that I linked you to, but there are a couple more in her store.

Hopefully between all of these links and the vastness of the Internet you'll be able to find the perfect gift for the jewelry lover in your life!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Of dragons and photography

At long last, here it is! The necklace that I made during the Thanksgiving weekend. I made the dragon and the sea star and then created the necklace for them, all over a period of two days. I'm pretty proud of myself! ;) The focals are made with Premo! clay. The dragon is accented with mother-of-pearl, Czech glass, and a seashell. His little starfish buddy is accented by a single mother-of-pearl bead. The necklace has freshwater pearls, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, Czech glass, seashells, and Swarovski crystals.

I wish I'd decided not to patina the dragon, though. I'm not as good at patinas as Christi Friesen is, and they always seem to mess me up. I didn't intend for my dragon to be so sparkly and silver! Ah well. He's still cute.

Today I did my photography, which leaves me with one less thing to do for tomorrow's website update. Hurrah! As you can see, I now have real necklace displays to fascilitate picture taking... oooh, fancy! Of course, before I used them I had to brush the cat hair off of them. Black velvety surfaces and fuzzy cats are just never a good combination.

The only beadwork I got done today was some repair work that I'd been putting off. I might spend the evening fringing my bead belt, though.

Today's cool thing is The Daily Kitten. Awwww, so cute!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


You know what? It's cold today. It's so cold that my font turned blue! Of course, those of you who live anywhere other than the desert or the tropics will be mocking my idea of cold, but it was 55 degrees and windy today, and in my book, that's just too cold. My husband, on the other hand, is from Long Island. He wore a t-shirt today and drove home from work with the windows down. I suspect that this has something to do with the time that he bonked his head on a kitchen counter as a child.

To distract myself from the fact that I am cold and as such, somewhat close to miserable, I kept busy today. I've been working on my beadroom. I put away some beads and magazines and sorted out some books to get rid of (why did I still have 3rd edition D&D books? Because I am a geek), that sort of thing. I also found a necklace which had been sitting unloved on my bead desk for most of the year and finished it. While I was at it I made a bracelet that I thought of last night, and I'll probably make some matching earrings tomorrow. All of this and more will be part of Friday's update.

It's supposed to drop below freezing tonight. Oh yes, and with all this cold wind, I discovered that my front door is drafty. The problem with getting a cheap apartment is that you end up with problems like a front door which isn't hung straight, and as such, has spots through which you can see daylight. 3 or 4 by my reckoning. Oh yes, and my desk is straight across from the door, about 5 feet away. Brrr. This will at least deter me from wasting all of my time browsing the web.

I didn't end up dancing today, but I will tomorrow. Gotta keep moving to stay warm, you know.

Oh, stop laughing at me! I live in the desert because I don't "do" cold.

Today's Cool Thing shall be... Mistress Mousey Designs, who has some really awesome rag skirts. I would absolutely wear one of these, and I don't usually go for short skirts. They have a great goth pixie look to them. Go forth and look!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My cat is helping me type this.

Yes, there is a very fluffy, friendly cat sitting in my lap as I type this message. He has a bad habit of biting my fingers as I type, so any typos are his fault.

So, first the important stuff. My new website is still not done and I'm not going to say when it will be done, so I'll stop looking like an idiot when it isn't done when I say it will be. Does any of that make sense? Luckily I convinced my webguru that a night of downtime in the middle of the holiday shopping season was not acceptable, so he'll be making sure that doesn't happen.

And now, the dancing stuff. So lately I've been feeling all cool because I'm dancing and trying new things. I did a little floorwork the other day. I decided to do more today, and I decided it would be awesome if I went to the floor at the end of one song and then danced my way up at the start of the next song... really snazzy, right? So I get up to one knee, and try to get up to the other knee, and something goes wrong and my leg says "Nope, not doing that!" and somehow I fall backwards into the couch with a little yelp. This freaks out both my husband and the cat, who seem to think that I have greviously injured myself. Luckily the only thing that hurt was my pride. So today's lesson is: I am not nearly as cool as I think I am. I couldn't even act like I meant to do that. Stupid reflexive yelps.

Today's Cool Thing is Miss Doxie's Holiday Shopping Guide! It is cool because not only are my earrings listed in it, but lots of great products from other Indie businesses are listed as well, and many of them offer discounts! Plus it is funny. I suppose maybe I should warn you that it is also peppered with expletives, so if that sort of thing offends you, stay away. Otherwise, click, read, and shop!

Monday, November 27, 2006

And now... holiday shopping.

Today was largely spent on-line, doing my holiday shopping. Honestly, even with having several items already bookmarked and a really good idea of what I wanted to get and where I wanted to get it, it took me hours to get everything ordered. Not only that, but I spent a good $25+ on shipping alone, and that was with getting free shipping on two of my orders.

And you know what? It was still better than going to the mall. I dislike the mall under the best of circumstances (honestly, these days it's just 50 stores selling variations on the same clothing, which I could just wait and get at the thrift store next year for $5/piece), but during the holidays? Forget it!

On-line shopping is not without its problems. If I go to a store, I just give them my credit card, sign the slip, and it's done. On the internet, I have to fill in my contact information and payment info, and some sites want you to even sign up for an account before you can so much as get a shipping quote and decide if you want to order after all. I signed up on one site, got ready to check out, and only as I was poised to type in my credit card info did I see that they wanted to charge me $20 to ship $35 worth of stuff. It's not like I was ordering bricks, either. Luckily a friend was able to hook me up with another source, with better prices, selection, and reasonable shipping. Hurrah!

The good news is that my holiday shopping is mostly done. I even purchased a few gifts for my in-laws, though the brunt of that will still fall to my husband. Now I just have to do my holiday crafting! I'll start tomorrow by making a present for the Secret Santa swap I'm taking part in. After that, it will be time to clay it up. Unfortunately, I won't be able to post this stuff until after the holidays, as some of the gift recipients have been known to peek at my blog.

In other news, the new website is not done yet. Hopefully tomorrow. I am assured that it will be cool.

Speaking of cool, today's Cool Thing is Legends by Valkyrie. I admit it, I played with Barbies when I was a girl, but these are way beyond that. Very cool custom dolls with clothes, weapons, and sometimes even beaded jewelry. I especially like her faeries and goddesses!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Who told the weekend it could end?

And here it is, Sunday night already. In a few more hours my super-long weekend will be done and it'll be back to the daily grind, such as it is. The nice thing about being a self-employed artistic type is that the daily grind mostly consists of things that I like to do. And since I have ideas for new jewelry, it should be a great week.

I finished the anklet I was working on, and while it's quite cute, I'm a little bored with the technique I used. I'll be trying to make some anklets in other styles this week, which should result in a good variety for the website and maybe a couple of prototypes for my own personal wear. I also had an idea for a lariat which I'll have to gather the appropriate materials for.

As I type this, my webmonkey husband is hard at work on a new version of my website. Hopefully I'll be blogging about that tomorrow! It should be really awesome, assuming there are no icky bugs to be worked out. You never know with new websites. Once all the technical stuff is done, it will be time to focus on the artistic and get some pretty graphics up!

Today's Cool Thing is Dornick Designs! She has some really cool jewelry. I especially love her pendants and see a few that I might like to buy for myself. My willpower is still holding strong, though, so I probably won't shop until after the holidays. My willpower doesn't have to stop you from shopping, however, so have a little look-see!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm having such a good weekend!

So, yesterday I finished my sea dragon, but just as I was putting the finishing touches on him, the mail arrived and there was Christi Friesen's "Under The Sea" book. I read through it while the dragon was baking and well heck, it was so much fun that I just had to make something from it. So my sea dragon got a little starfish buddy. And then once he was baked, well, the two of them needed to have a necklace together. But I realized that if I made a two-strand necklace, I'd be really limited on what I wore it with, so I decided to be all sneaky-sneaky and make two complimentary necklaces that could be worn together. AH HA! And that was essentially my day yesterday.

Well, there was also the late-night Legend of the Five Rings game with my crazy friends which involved much laughter and mayhem. And there was also the housework, but I'm not about to blog about that because it's boooring.

Today has been pretty lazy so far. Hopefully I'll get a few things done after I fortify myself with pizza. There's an anklet which needs to be finished, after all, and I need to start planning some more projects and thinking forward to the holidays.

And here is your Cool Thing: Reel Opinions is my go-to spot for movie reviews. It's hard to find a good reviewer who will tell you straight-up whether a movie is good or lousy, without getting bogged down in subtext or gushing like a fanboy over every single movie. Ryan Cullen does a great job of giving you an honest review and being entertaining at the same time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Black Friday

Yes, here it is, the dreaded Black Friday. It's about 3pm, so the usual madness is long past. For the record, I've spent the entire day at home, and won't be leaving until almost 10, when I have a game to go to. Black Friday sales are not worth the mayhem.

Allow me to wax nostalgic. No more than 10 years ago, Black Friday didn't seem like such a humongous deal. For my mother and I, "getting up early and hitting the sales" meant that we were up at what, 6am, to go wait outside Target. The people who really wanted the bags of free samples and junk would mob the front door. The clever people like us would wait outside the garden department. I can't even remember what the heck we'd buy. We didn't do it very often, being fond of sleep on long weekends.

Nowadays, "getting up early and hitting the sales" means that at midnight, you're camped out hoping that you can get one of those $250 laptops. When the doors finally open, everyone's shoving and being nasty. People get hurt sometimes. The lines to check out stretch through much of the store. All for stuff.

Don't get me wrong. I love holiday presents and good deals as much as the next gal, but I think that the Day After Thanksgiving sales have reached a level of insanity usually reserved for villains in Batman.Honestly. Is it worth getting trampled for a really good deal on a TV?

And then there's the concept of Buy Nothing Day, which suggests that we should not make any purchases today. Meant as a protest against consumerism, it's supposed to send a message to the merchants. All very good and nice, but people who buy holiday presents are going to buy them anyways, whether they buy them today, tomorrow, or already finished their holiday shopping back in March because they're so much more prepared than the rest of us. However wonderful a concept Buy Nothing Day is, the crazy people will always camp out in front of Best Buy, because that's what they do. If they weren't waiting to get a $250 laptop, they'd be hoping to get one of the 12 Playstation 3s in the store.

Don't even get me started on the militant anti-consumerism activists who go so far as to fill store locks with glue to try to prevent people from shopping. I will always believe that turning to violence or vandalism is not the best way to get your point across -- it just makes people think of you as a bad person or organization.

A recent development is the so-called Cyber Monday. Supposedly the on-line equivelant of Black Friday, it seems to really not be all that it's cut out to be.

So what's a socially conscious shopper to do? I believe that rather than focusing on when you shop, you should think about where you shop and what you buy. And while I'm not going to say that you should avoid all large retailers, because there's a few I shop at myself, I do think that one of the best things you can do is shop locally, and/or support small and independent businesses. As much as possible, support artists and those out trying to make it on their own!

I link to a lot of small businesses, indie shops, and artists in my blog. If you search past posts, you can find a lot of great things. You can also seek out your own new and exciting shopping spots! You can check eBay or Etsy for listings by artists in a variety of mediums, or small businesses which do their selling through auctions. Shopping blogs are a great spot, too. Check out Rare Bird Finds; Indie Fixx; Artisans, Artists, and Anything Indie. Explore the Links pages of your favorite artists and small shops. Click through some ads on Indie sites. Or ask your friends about their favorite shopping spots.

During the holiday season and beyond, it's important to support small businesses and artists however you can. And of course, as an added bonus, you find gifts far more unique than anything in the department stores. Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

MMmm, so full!

Thanksgiving is such a fun holiday! I might feel differently if I had to cook the giant meal (especially since I'm a lousy cook), but I just love getting together with my family and not worrying about presents, just relaxing and joking and catching up. As an added bonus, I got to play with the dogs. Dogs adore me and the feeling is mutual. Mom and I spent a little time looking at Petfinder, but honestly, I live in a two-bedroom apartment, what am I going to do with a dog? There was this adorable Aussie mix whose ears were kind of rounded so he looked like a bear. SO CUTE!

Yes, I am highly susceptible to cute animals. It's been months since I saw that chinchilla in New York and I still want one.

Anyway, since I had a few hours before going to my parents' house, I played with clay. I was going to cover some Altoids tins, but a search of my beadroom revealed that I don't actually HAVE any Altoids tins. Refusing to be thwarted, I decided to make a sea dragon instead. He's my best dragon yet! I'll put the finishing touches on and bake him up tomorrow. Pictures will be posted this weekend. I had so much fun that I might even make another dragon this weekend.

Today's Cool Thing is Christi Friesen's books, which would teach you, yes you, to make cool polymer critters and leaves and things, too. Believe me, if I can learn how to do it, so can you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pleasant Wednesday.

Well, I didn't do a whole lot today. Mostly spent some time on-line, received my package of displays and supplies (yay!), and watched some Babylon 5 on DVD. I also went to my local bead store, where I purchased scandalously expensive chain. This is why I prefer to shop on-line! After I post this, I'm going to relax and enjoy a nice cup of tea. Afterwards I'll either work on an anklet or play a video game, depending on how motivated I feel. Holiday weekends were made for laziness, after all.

You may notice that my website is now green. Its appearance may change several more times in the future, but for now it is a pleasant shade of green. I guess it's a little more cheery than the old black.

Tomorrow I'm going to play with some polymer, unless something comes up. We're not due over at my parents' house until late afternoon, so even if I sleep in, I have a few hours for clay fun. Besides, it's about time I start my holiday crafting!

I hope that everyone enjoys the holiday tomorrow -- and if it's not a holiday where you are, just have a beautiful day.

Oh yes! Today's Cool Thing is Project Gutenberg. FREE BOOKS! Ok, they're e-books, but still. FREE! For you to read! Lots of cool old books. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Looong weekend.

Tonight marks the beginning of the long holiday weekend for my husband and I. Of course, I'll still be doing my work on the weekend. I have stock to make and an apartment to keep tidy.

We don't really have any big plans for the weekend. Tomorrow I'll go to the bead store to pick up some chain. I'm planning on adding anklets to my stock soon, and I'd like to make them adjustable. Ankles are a pretty varied and fickle body-part, so it's good to have a little leeway on sizing.

Today's Cool Thing is Forgotten Toybox. Ohmigosh their books are awesome! After the holidays I plan on buying myself one of their book pendants. I'd love to have a full-size book, but honestly, what would I do with it? I tend to buy journals and never use them. A book pendant, though, I could wear, even to Ren Faire! If you visit their site, be sure to drool over the gallery, too.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I'm a dancin' fool!

First of all, I finally finished the lariat I've been working on all this time. Hurrah! It will be in this week's update. It looks like the update will happen this weekend; my husband decided to take Wednesday off to make for a super-duper long holiday weekend, so I'll probably spend the day lazing around with him instead of updating. My new displays are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday as well, which means I should be able to get some nicer pictures. Woohoo!

It turns out that I'm not sick, thank heavens, so I celebrated by dancing hard tonight. A good 20+ minutes of dancing, and it was the first time my abs have hurt in a long time. It felt great. The dancing, not the sore abs. Almost every time that I dance, I start off with QNTAL's "Levis" which is currently one of my husband's top 3 favorite songs. I followed it up with Wench's "Voodoo" which gives me goosebumps when I really get into it. Tonight was a goosebumps night.

This bout of dancing was partially inspired by today's Cool Thing: a great gallery of photographs from Pennsic 2006, by Ron Lutz II. I looked through the Musicians and Dancers gallery, and I have to say "WOW!" His excellent photography perfectly captures the grace and beauty of the dancers. I found myself saying both "I want to dance like that!" and "I want to dress like that!" Enjoy!

In other news, there are only 10 days left to vote in the Rare Robin Awards! Remember to vote for me and any other great shopping site that you'd love to brag about!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nameless Blog Post

Well, let's see. My gaming on Friday and yesterday was good, for the most part. My tea leaf cookies were delicious. And my dichro lariat still isn't done. That's about the size of what's going on in my world right now.

I feel like I might be coming down with something, which would of course suck. If I am sick, I need to at least be better by Thursday, to fully enjoy the turkey and puppy-filled experience that is Thanksgiving with my family. I'm hoping that I'm just dehydrated and will be all better in the morning. The tasty tea that I'm brewing right now will help me with that plan.

I'm hoping to do some writing of some sort tonight, either working on the collaboration with my husband or tinkering with my second draft. I took a few days off from that since I hit the part where I have to write new material. It was such smooth sailing before then!

Nothing else really to say, so here's today's Cool Thing: Kimono Source. Oh, how I love to drool over vintage kimono, obi, and other awesome Japanese clothing. So shiny!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Seeing Red

Red is a traditional Autumn and Winter color, perhaps because of red falling leaves and the red and green of Christmas. I've seen a lot of red on display recently, so I guess the tradition is still holding on. Now, I personally don't wear a lot of red. I'm one of those pale, freckly Irish kind of girls, so only a few shades of red look good on me. However, red (especially paired with black) is one of my best-selling colors, so I buy and use a lot of red beads. Best of all, I'm never tempted to keep them for myself!

Gothic Romance, the above earrings, are one of my newest red items. I also just added the Vampy bracelet, featuring plenty of lovely red crystals. And if it's a red necklace that your looking for, I recommend the Midnight Passion collar, which is both sparkly and dramatic. There are many other red items on my site, some of which have been featured in past blog posts. Just a few minutes of browsing will help you find them!

Sometimes one needs to dress up this time of year. I tend to like to wear something out of the norm -- case in point, I showed up to my husband's company's Christmas party wearing my hand-painted dragon cloak. If I wore red, I would definitely look for an excuse to wear this dress.

Of course, it's hard to find an occasion for such an elegant dress. For more casual gatherings, I like long, flowing skirts like this one. And if you need to look mature and professional, you could wear this stylish vintage blazer.

As far as other jewelry artists working in red, well, Elle B comes through as usual with some awesome earrings. And I also found this great necklace from Tomoko, a Japanese beader.

There's plenty more red to be found, whether it's at your local mall or your favorite web merchant!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Little stuff.

Whoops, I sort of forgot to blog yesterday. I got caught up in editting my story and playing video games. Actually got the first two chapters worth of revisions done, GO ME! Now that I've finally started, it's not too hard to do. I'm making changes I didn't even expect to, which will hopefully improve the flow of the story.

Today I made two items for tomorrow's update, and they look pretty awesome. I'll try to get the update done a little earlier in the day than usual, as my Wednesday game has been moved to late Friday nights, so I have to bake cookies tomorrow. Mmmm, cookies. I'm going to try a recipe which has tea leaves mixed in. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I LOVE tea! Luckily most of my friends enjoy tea, too, so everyone should like the cookies.

Oh, and just a head's up, while I will be doing my usual Fashionable Friday column on Friday next week, I think I'll do the jewelry update on either Wednesday or Saturday, depending on how soon I get jewelry made. Thursday is of course the big dinner with my parents, which promises to be delicious. My Dad will BBQ the turkey, and Mom will make a ton of fixings, and Chris and I will bring pickles and lots of olives (Chris and my brother Joe usually manage to eat an entire can while dinner is cooking). Also, I'll get to meet the new puppy, Storm. I do so love puppies!

The cool thing for today is Gothic Charm School, an etiquette advice site for Goths. It's at once amusing and informative. The Lady of the Manners has Faith and the Muse in her music links section, which makes her instantly awesome in my book. Come to think of it, it's been way too long since I listened to said band, other than their cover of Dead Can Dance's "Mesmerism" which is on my belly dance practice CD. Time to break out some music!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Well, today I finished up the gift I was working on yesterday, and finished the earrings that I was working on last week. I also prdered some business stuff, displays and the like, and finally got to work on the second draft of my book. I'm feeling pretty good about actually getting a lot done.

Last week, someone on one of my forums posted an article about time management at the office. It was more geared towards people with traditional dayjobs instead of a home business like mine, but it's still good advice. They suggested that every day, you should get something done before you check your e-mail. And you know what? It's true. I get so caught up in e-mail, IMs, forums, and other web stuff that some days, 2 or 3 hours pass before I even think about getting anything done. So today before I even started the computer, I did those earrings and some housework. I'm going to continue this for the rest of the week and see how it goes.

Today's Cool Thing is the artwork of Nedda Angelina Shishegar. I mentioned her leaf jewelry in my Fashionable Friday column, but I also really love her faerie paintings. In fact, the very first button on my infamous button bag was one of hers. Be sure to also check out her guest galleries, where she features other faerie artists.

Monday, November 13, 2006

WOOHOO! 100 posts!

Normally I might do something special for my 100th post, but I didn't realize it until I went to post, and it's a little late to come up with anything nifty. I guess I'll wait for a bigger milestone, like 500.

Today I did a bit of beading, but it was a gift, not website stock. Still, it was good to get something done. I hope to get even more done tomorrow.

I did start the new collaboration book with my husband last night. We only got 1 1/2 pages into it, but it's a start. We'd hoped to do more tonight, but things kept coming up. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. And hopefully I'll also find time to work on the second draft of my first novel. I really hate doing second drafts. The story's already told and I want to move on to another story, not refine this one.

The other thing that I started last night was that I began to read a Laurell K. Hamilton books. I'd always seen them, because they're shelved next to one of my favorites (Barbara Hambly), but never read one. Well, my friend and fellow Dread Genre Writer Helen had picked one up as "market research" and so I borrowed it from her to do some research of my own. You see, I mostly read High Fantasy, but my book is Modern Dark Fantasy, so I need to see what's being done in the field. There are some definite parallels between my work and Hamilton's. The difference is that ohmigosh is there a lot of sex in her books. I mean, I'd heard that they were steamy, but there's more steam than story here! I'm not a prude, so it doesn't offend me. Instead, it sort of amuses me. But the writing's enjoyable at least.

Today's Cool Thing is Button Arcade, because I love buttons! I haven't ordered from them yet, partially because my "button bag" (a cheap department store messenger bag) is running out of room for buttons. I need to find new things to put buttons on. My husband's laptop case/messenger bag is looking mighty tempting... hmmm. Yes, anyway, Button Arcade has an awesome selection of "I Heart ..." buttons which I need to buy. Oh yes.

Aaaaaand let me remind you once more to vote for ME and any other cool Indie business sites in the Rare Robin Awards!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Awwww, isn't it cute?

I got my very first blog spam post today. The person who posted it managed to post it about 8-10 times through 3 or 4 different posts. Honestly, why put the same message, from the same person, five different times on the same post? I had a good laugh while I was deleting them.

Today was a very lazy day. I slept for about 12 hours, and it felt so good. I was going to work on some prototype earrings, but I'll admit it, I played video games instead. But I also spent some time with my husband, discussing our shared writing project, and as soon as I finish this tasty mug of hot cider (I'm pretending that it's actually a chill Autumn evening), we'll get to work on actually writing.

I'm determined to bead a lot this coming week. I need to get presents made, repairs done, and web site stock created, and as far as I know, I've got nothing going on this week other than the usual games.

Today's Cool Thing is Stuff On My Cat, because it makes me laugh so hard. If you love cats, and enjoy silly websites, you'll like this one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trying new things.

Today my husband and I, along with our friend and neighbor Alex, went out to an SCA battle. None of us had ever been to one before, and some friends kept suggesting that we check it out, so we did. It was held out in a little town called Winkelman, AZ. Winkelman is at a higher elevation than Tucson, so it was nice and green, and the drive was really awesome.

We had fun seeing friends and watching jousting, but due to being generally exhausted, we headed home after only a few hours. I'd hoped to stick around for the dancing at night, but I probably wouldn't have been alert enough to appreciate it. I've spent all night feeling almost dazed.

Part of this I can blame on the sun. I spend almost all of my time indoors, and so when I go outside for more than a few minutes, my body gets unhappy. I managed to avoid sunburn, but I've still got a headache. Bah.

Surprisingly, there was not a lot of jewelry on display at the "merchant's row" but there was a lady who had some wonderful chainmail that she and her husband had made. Very professional work, nice jewelry designs and they'd tumbled the maille so it wasn't all nasty and scratchy like the first bit of maille I bought. I would have liked to have brought some home, but it was a bit out of my limited budget for the weekend.

In keeping with the day's events, today's Cool Link is to Chivalry Sports, a local store that also does mail order, specializing in Renaissance garb and related items. Cool stuff, awesome people, and some informative articles. Enjoy!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Falling Leaves

Living as I do in the desert, I don't really experience Autumn much. We had a high of 89 degrees here on Wednesday. 89! And while -- contrary to popular belief -- we do have leaves out here, they're all rather small and they stay the same sagey greens year 'round. This is probably because our Winters are as warm as some peoples' Summers. What do the trees have to worry about? Ok, ok, our nights do drop to freezing during the Winter. Sometimes. But the biggest deal about Autumn here is that it's Not Summer.

This does not stop me from loving Autumn leaves. Sometimes I visit my in-laws in NY and NJ during October. In between complaining bitterly about the weather (honestly, it's not in the 80s in October? What is up with that?), I enjoy the changing leaves. Since I'm only visiting, I never have to deal with the hassles associated with said leaves, such as raking and blowing and disposing. I just admire the pretty colors. Of course, I like leaves of any sort, even our tiny little desert leaves, and I look for excuses to buy leaf beads and use leaf motifs in my jewelry.

Autumnal leaves are easy to find on my site. There's the necklace above, Autumn Dryad. And there's still Dame Autumn, whom I love to link to at the drop of a hat. Leaf Fall is more simple, but still visually stunning. I have many other leaf necklaces, and more yet planned, but these are the most Fall-friendly of the bunch.

Many other jewelry artists find inspiration in the changing colors and falling leaves. Blend Creations has this beautiful washi pendant, made with maple leaf paper. Enchanted Leaves has an entire selection of Autumn Leaf jewelry. Dreams and Jewelry has a Leaf of Fall necklace which makes a lovely understated accent. And if you want to really be blown a way, check out Christi Friesen's Amazonia Unfurled. Wow.

Of course, if you live someplace other than the desert, you might actually be feeling a chill in the air. You could keep warm with this gorgeous hand-knit sweater from JewelLace. Or maybe you just want to keep your neck cozy. Well, instead of a more traditional knit scarf, how about a stunning red leaf scarf, made from kimono silk?

Next to the Amazonia necklace, my favorite leafy item for today's blog is Andrea Adams' leaf mask. I really love her leather work, and I think this particular mask is just a knock-out.

Finally, for my fellow artisans, I offer up this great link to C.A. Therien's eBay store. I've conveniently sent you right to the "leaf cane" section, where you'll find a great variety of polymer leaf canes, just waiting for you to try them out.

Looking for awesome leaf products on-line is certainly a lot easier than taking a sight-seeing trip to see the changing colors, and more fun than raking your lawn. I'm sure that with a little browsing, you'll find things even cooler than what I've shared today. Have fun!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Good shopping trip!

Today was lunch and shopping with my Mom. As I mentioned before, we hit the big JoAnn's sale. I didn't even bother looking at beads, but I did get some other cool stuff. A few bricks of clay, some ribbons for kumihimo, and fabric for a bead quilt. Plus a couple of magazines. The latest issue of Bead Unique has a tutorial on doing glass slide pendants, something that I've been wanting to try.

I realize that the blog has been a bit, well, boring lately, so I'm going to try to spruce things up by sharing a cool link every day, in addition to the explosion of cool stuff on Friday. Whereas Friday is all things to buy, the rest of the week will be whatever is cool... a funny time-killing site, a happy news story, a gallery of eye candy. And sometimes, things to buy. Today's cool thing is Tea Perfume by SBS Teas. I love this idea SO much! Normal perfume doesn't do much for me, but smelling like a cup of chai? I like that idea, and I'm sure my husband would like it, too. SBS has a bunch of really awesome sound teas, chais and cocoas, too. I'm planning on buying some for the holidays (I know an insane amount of tea drinkers) and I'll just have to get some for myself, too. Just to, y'know, make sure that it's good enough for my friends. Not like I'm a tea addict or anything...

And of course, the other Cool Thing is the Rare Robin Awards! Remember to vote for me, and if you vote for at least two other sites, you can win some awesome prizes!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Repricing and Things.

I spent this afternoon repricing my entire earring selection. I intended to get to a couple of other categories, too, but something came up. Hopefully I'll be able to do more tomorrow and Friday, then finish it all up at the start of next week.

Today's mail brought some vintage nailhead beads which I'd purchased from eBay. Nailheads are really cool flat-backed beads which were traditionally used to embellish garments. They're usually faceted or otherwise patterned on the top. This time around, I bought some lovely transparent red faceted ones, and some that are a light tan with two holes and a nice floral pattern on top. I haven't treated myself to any nailheads in a long time, so I was way overdue on these. Whether or not I'll actually use them to make anything remains to be seen.

I don't know if I'll have any new jewelry in Friday's update, or if I'll just focus on pricing. I haven't beaded anything yet this week, and tomorrow I'm going to be out with my Mom. JoAnn's is having a big Veteran's Day sale, with polymer for cheap, so we're hoping to get there before the good colors all sell out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In a funk.

I haven't been feeling very creative lately. I've been spending way too much time playing video games and browsing the web and not nearly enough time beading and writing. This happens every now and then, and seems to be a normal part of life for many creative people. I need to get myself motivated again, especially since the dreaded holiday shopping season is upon us all!

Just a bit ago I went out and voted like a good girl. I'd been hearing that the polls were really crowded, but we didn't have to wait in line or anything. I guess most people prefer to vote early in the day. There were almost 20 propositions on the ballot, so I had a lot of reading to do before I voted. I'm glad that it's all done now. I feel that voting is important, but all of that dry reading... ugh.

I have a bunch of novels to read, which should help me recover from the political overload and maybe get me feeling creative again. Plus I have a fun weekend coming up, so at the very least that should kick me back into gear!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Interesting Weekend

Yesterday was one of those obnoxious days where I was in a bad mood and couldn't think of anything positive to say here. Basically, someone said and did some unkind things and tried to ruin the day for the rest of us, and while I think that most of my friends managed to salvage the day (my husband, our carpool pal, and myself went out for Japanese, for instance), it still got under my skin.

Today, however, was a wonderful day. Chris and I went out to visit my friend who lives in the desert. It was a beautiful day, everything is surprisingly green from all the rain we had this Summer, and my friend is such a warm person. So we sat in her Arizona room, enjoyed the view, played with the dogs (she has two Border Collies and a Border Collie/Queensland Heeler mix, all very sweet), and talked for several hours. It really lifted my spirits and has left me feeling refreshed for next week.

I'm hoping to get some more beading done in the next week. I intended to work on the black-and-orange lariat yesterday, but I don't bead well when I'm in a bad mood, so I'll work on it a bit tonight instead. Also on the agenda for this week is looking into a different shopping cart for the site. PayPal's cart is very easy to use, but it's also very limiting. I'd like to be able to offer discounts and such, and I just can't do that right now.

That's all for now. More tomorrow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Ensembles

Many jewelry designers sell coordinated sets. A necklace, earrings, maybe a bracelet, too. I usually don't, for the simple reasons that I recognize that sometimes you want just the necklace, earrings, or bracelet on its own, or that you can't wear earrings, or that the necklace is the right size, but the bracelet is too small. I want my customers to buy just what they want. However, I do still make a lot of coordinating jewelry, so that if you want a set, you can assemble it.

For instance, take the Carribean Spirit necklace above. It's lovely on its own, but my Oceanic Earrings would make the perfect accent for it.

Lady Ghost, which was featured in my Fashionable Friday column a few weeks ago, also has a pair of earrings made with her in mind, appropriately named Ghostly.

Some items have multiple accenting options. The Tranquil Butterfly necklace would look equally perfect with Ornate Butterflies or Teal Trio. The choice is yours!

Death's Garden would look just right with my Gothic Garden earrings, and the Scarlet Shadows bracelet makes it a complete set.

If you prefer a necklace and bracelet combination, might I suggest the Purple Dawn necklace with the Purple Illusions bracelet?

I do have a few pre-made sets on my site, if you prefer things that way. I'm partial to Dancing Butterflies and Turquoise Starshine.

Remember, color coordination really is everything, whether it's in clothing, jewelry, web design or interior decoration. A well-matched set of jewelry gives you a polished, finished look that will impress those around you!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This is Thursday's post.

Well, let's see... what is going on today?

-Last night I started a lariat in black and orange, with those awesome dichroic seed beads.

-I've received a request for black and white earrings, so I'll be including a few pairs in tomorrow's update.

-This morning I dreamed that I was finally working on the second draft of my book. Maybe it's a sign that I should stop slacking off.

-The Rare Robin Awards are still going on, you can vote for me and make me happy! Remember, vote for 3 or more awesome websites and get entered into a drawing for phenomenal prizes!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Welcome to November!

Hard to believe that it's November already. This month has really flown by.

Yesterday was fun, although the problem with living in the desert is that it's still warm on Halloween. I couldn't wear my cloak, instead I wore belly dance clothes, including a backless shirt. And I wasn't cold. That's Tucson for you. Anyway, the cookies turned out OK, though I won't be using that recipe again, and everyone had a great time at the Call of Cthulhu game that my husband ran. Now life goes back to normal until Thanksgiving...

In actual jewelry-related news, this week will be a bit of a sparse update. I have some things that I really need to do, including repairs, a present, and reading all of this election literature. On top of that, after the mad amount of beading and writing that I did last month, I'm now in a bit of a creative low. I think I need to spend a bit of time exploring my bead collection and maybe looking for more new techniques to try.

There will be at least one new item this week, maybe more, and a small Fashionable Friday column. Plus, of course, I'll be starting my repricing. But don't expect a 10-item update full of spectacular woven necklaces, and a column bursting at the seams with awesome links. I'm saving all of that for next week ;)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday. Growing up, we didn't do Halloween very often at my house. Now that I'm an adult, I've decided that I really don't care if the holiday's roots come from a religion other than my own; most of our modern holidays have been so commercialized and removed from their origins that it doesn't matter anymore. So I'm just going to enjoy wearing a costume and eating more sugary snacks than I should. And if being an adult was going to stop me from dressing up and having fun, then I wouldn't go to the Renaissance Faire. So today I'm baking chocolate cookies for my friends, and tonight I'm putting on some nice black clothes and my hand-painted dragon cloak and my $1 Goth boots, and I am going to enjoy every moment of it.

Oh, and I am going to wear more black, silver, and malachite jewelry than you would think that one woman would own, because it all looks so awesome with my cloak.

If you didn't get enough macabre skull action with last week's Fashionable Friday column, Rotem Gear has an awesome Dia De Los Muertos blog post that you should read. Look at all those cool sugar skulls and nifty t-shirts. I love this sort of thing.

I'd better go hit the kitchen and work on those cookies, it's going to be a big gathering tonight so I'm going to bake a couple dozen.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Of fish and fringe.

The above necklace is one of my projects from this past week: the first in my series of tribal necklaces. For now, these will all be made for myself, to be worn when I dance, but when the gem shows come back to town, I will be looking for supplies to make them for sale, too. The jade fish in this one came from a necklace that I bought at gem show a few years ago; they were strung with cheap silver plastic spacers, and looked cool even like that. Here I've added some Afghani jade tubes, faceted jade rounds, sterling silver fish from Bali, and a lampworked fish by an Australian artist. It's just about choker length and sits pretty comfortably.

In other news, I've just now finished the base row of my belt! It's plenty long enough and rests just right on my hips, staying in place even over the slippery skirt I'm wearing today. Now, of course, it's time for fringe. I just need to decide what sort of dangles I want to put at the ends of the fringe... hmmmm.

I haven't quite decided what I want to make for the website this week, so I need to start thinking about that, too.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- An Influx of Skulls

It's a little strange, walking into a department store and finding skulls on clothing not marketed specifically for Halloween. Strange, yes, but also good. If you have any sort of Goth or pirate tendancies, then you're probably taking advantage of this trend while it lasts. I sure am. Skull-bedecked yoga pants make me a happy girl.

Truth be told, I only have two skull items on my website. One is the above necklace, Death's Garden. The other is my awesome Grunge Skulls bracelet. The problem is that my husband and I like to hog all of the cool skull beads to ourselves. It was hard parting even with these! I guess I will just have to take a trip to the bead store and buy more skulls for busines purposes, and maybe one or two for myself.

But don't despair! If you need more skulls and skeletons than my little site can provide, there's plenty more to be found out there! This skull-patterned halter dress, for instance, is about 7 shades of awesome. If you need a more casual way to show your affection for skulls, how about these Skull Heart and Flower shirts? I love that pattern, and really need to get one for myself! If you're feeling really daring, though, you could let the whole world know that you are a Love Pirate!

Jewelry is a great way to add some skulls to your wardrobe, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a jewelry designer. Bijouboutique's earrings have skulls, style, and plenty of movement. I love them! Keen Designs has a couple of awesome skull necklaces; I like the one at the bottom the best. And for a fun touch, I like this skull bracelet! If that's not enough, ratkiss! has a nice selection of skull jewelry, right on the front page no less.

Once you've got yourself all decked out in these skull items, you might want to check yourself out in the mirror. Well, hey, why not have a pocket mirror with a festive skeleton? And if you want your favorite pampered pooch to rock the skull style, too, Lindsay Designs has you covered with some kewl collars. Lastly, now that you've got all this great skull swag, you'll need something to carry it all in. You know what I like to carry things in? Messenger bags! It's a good thing that this one comes in a Los Muertos print.

Yes, if there's one trend I'm really enjoying this season, it's definitely skulls. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I missed posting yesterday because I had to bake muffins. Tasty, tasty muffins. I'm finding that I rather enjoy baking, and since many of my friends are young guys, I don't have to worry about baked goods sitting around, tempting me to eat them. There are no leftovers when I bring muffins to group events!

When I wasn't muffining it up, I made a bracelet for tomorrow's update, and worked on my ongoing belt project. The belt is rapidly nearing completion! Hurray!

It looks like I'll just have the 5 items for tomorrow's update. My evening tonight is pretty busy -- I'm getting together with my neighbors for pizza and a bad Lovecraft film. Even if I'm not there all night, my mind will probably be too damaged by the movie to create anything of beauty. At least the pizza will be tasty!

Tune in tomorrow for Fashionable Friday and a website update! See you then.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On to the next one...

Alright! I finally finished the necklace last night, and it looks great. I also worked up two pairs of earrings, which will be included in this week's update. I have a couple more ideas bouncing around in my head, so it should be an easy matter to have a full and interesting update on Friday. I might even make some stuff for myself.

As a reminder, it's going to be about another week before I start raising prices on my jewelry. Because my website design requires that I change each price individually, not everything will go up at once, but almost every price will be raised within the first half of November. If you've been eyeing something, buy it now while prices are still low!

And another reminder is: vote for me in the Rare Robin Awards! Don't forget that if you vote for at least 3 sites, you are entered into a drawing for some truly awesome prizes. How can you resist that?!?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Still working on it...

Yep, I'm still in the midst of working on the aqua strand collage. I'm having trouble getting the ratios right, so that all of the strands will hang just right, in relation to each other and to your neck. I'm just about to sit down and attempt to finish it tonight, so I can start tomorrow with a fresh project.

In case you're wondering why I've been wanting to use up all these stray beads (hence all the collages), the simple fact is that they were taking up space. Space that could have been occupied by new beads. And so the new beads languish in bags and hidden places, and then I never find them when I'm looking for project-fodder. I'm greatly streamlining things by using up all these beads that I bought years ago, used half of, and then forgot all about.

Now I can replace them with new beads that I will use half of and then forget all about.

Isn't it beautiful?

I've never claimed to be a very organized or efficient person. Quite the opposite. I live and work in a state of barely contained chaos, too much stuff and too little space. I love beads, so whenever I see something awesome that I can afford, I snatch it up. And within the past year I've added kumihimo and polymer clay to my repetoire, so now I have supplies for that, too. And books. Do I ever have books! Books for beading, books for writing, books for gaming, and plenty of books for books' sake. This leaves me very little room to actually work, so periodically I have to go through a stage of cleaning, organizing, and purging. That's where I'm at now.

Probably more than you want to know about my workspace, I'm sure. On that note, it's time to tackle the necklace.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beautiful Sunday.

The pleasant Autumn weather is still holding out here in Tucson; as I look out my window, I'm treated to a beautiful blue sky. It's very calm, quiet, and just the right temperature. I think this weather is helping to foster my creative spirit. Without the heat to drag me down, I'm free to think and search for supplies and spend hours just beading or writing away.

Ah yes, beading and writing. I was only able to post the one necklace in this week's update, as I ended up being too busy to complete the strand collage. I've got to organize my time a little better, and stop using chill mornings as an excuse to sleep in. On the bright side, I did finish the first draft of my second book, and the wheels are turning for the second draft of the first book, and the plot of the third.

In the midst of all of this, I'm still finding the time and energy to dance. My stamina is back, and so now I've been focusing on trying some new arm accents, and also some stomach-isolating moves. I feel great when I'm dancing and I sync right up with the music.

I haven't quite figured out what I'll be making this week, other than finishing the strand collage. I think I'll spend some time in the bead room tomorrow, looking for materials that will inspire me.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fashionable Friday -- Greyscale

It's a bit surprising to me that grey is so in this season. But there's no denying it, it's on all the shelves and in all of the windows. And for the most part, it's not even paired with other, friendlier colors. No, monochromatic greyscale ensembles are the look for Fall and Winter. Some are drawing straight from businesswear, with their pinstripes and smart lines, whereas others have a more ethereal look, the shimmer of silver satin.

As an artist, I feel drawn to find beauty, so this week I set out to make something that was at once grey and beautiful. Lady Ghost (seen above) was born of that quest. I purchased the cabachon and vintage beads in New York with the intention of pairing them with black for a more traditionally Gothic look, but I love the otherworldly blending of silver and grey that I've achieved here. Perfect for any formal Winter event, be it the office Christmas party or a night on the town with that special someone.

A subtler grey statement can be achieved with a sparkling bracelet, maybe accenting your business suit. If crystals are your style, try Silver Mist on for size. Or you can adorn yourself with that universal symbol, the spiral, by wearing Cloud Burst.

It's really not hard to find grey jewelry, of course. Silver, after all, is just a metallic grey, as is pewter. Dreams and Jewelry's Aged necklace combines silver with labradorite, a beautiful blue-grey stone, perfect for winter. Weekend Jewelry, in the meantime, adds lustrous coin pearls to sterling chain for a very feminine look. Of course, you need earrings to round out the outfit, so try First Frost from BeadGal Desigs, or for a more Goth-Punk look (something I always like), try Jewellace's Heart Earrings, an awesome twist on crochet jewelry.

I know that I usually leave the men out in my column, so this week I'm happy to say that Weekend Jewelry also has some subdued grey jewelry fit for the guys. I love this leather and moonstone necklace
. Actually, I'd wear that myself, but I have been known to be a tomboy!

With the chill in the air, you may find yourself wanting to make some cozy scarves and hats, so why not use grey yarn? This eco silk is beautiful, and it works into last week's theme, too, by being made from recycled soda bottles! How awesome and clever!

If all this grey has you feeling like a corporate drone, you can always express your feelings with Camp Apparel's barcode bag. Quite possibly the most awesome purse I have EVER seen online, and I have seen some pretty awesome purses.

And now, having exhausted yourself with a grey shopping spree, perhaps it's time for a nap, on grey silk pillow cases. Not the sort of thing I would normally list, but Elliebelly is donating 10% of the price to the Komen Foundation, so they definitely deserve a shout-out! Besides, that really is a lovely color!

So remember, even grey can be beautiful!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Slacking off...

Ok, I admit it. Other than making a quick bail for a pendant I wanted to wear, I didn't bead yesterday. Instead I wrote 16 pages on my book, bringing it to just right before the end. I've just got to wrap up the loose ends and set the stage for book 3 and then I'm done. I'm pretty happy and excited.

I was going to take beads to the game, but we got such a late start that I figured I'd spend more time unpacking and packing the beads back up than I would actually working on the necklace. But I did pick out the focal and all the accents for the necklace, so when I finally sit down to bead today, I can jump right into it.

This does mean that tomorrow's update will be pretty small, probably just the two necklaces. But since I've had 19 items between my last two updates, I think that's OK. Next week should be back to my usual standards of at least 4 new items.