Friday, August 31, 2007

Consider yourself teased...

Just a little hint of what's to come next week. These earrings are made with some of the cool beads that I picked up in NY... At first I thought that they were wood, or petrified wood, but closer inspection suggests that they're jasper, maybe from the Picture Jasper family, according to a friend who is more knowledgeable in stones than I am. I picked the two most attractive, close-to-matching beads from the strand, and accented them with Czech glass and Swarovski crystals for a classic black-and-brown combo. Black and brown and black and bronze are two big combinations for my Fall line. It just looks so rich and elegant.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Trying to stay on top of it all!

Back in July, when we planned our NY trip, it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that 4 days after returning from NY, I could start college, and that two days later I could update my website with my new Fall line. That was plenty of time to unpack, do laundry, take photographs, and catch up on things, right?

What I didn't count on was being sick! I still have the remnants of whatever hit me while I was on the plane. My throat isn't back to normal and even the minor spiciness in pizza sauce makes me cough... pizza sauce! The problem is that I really haven't been able to take it easy. I even had jury duty on Monday, though luckily my group was dismissed at 9:30am.

The good news is that I've been well enough to go to Chinese class and stay focused, and to keep my apartment from falling into shambles. The bad news is that obviously, my blog and website have fallen by the wayside. I have a whole bunch of things to photograph, and no energy to do so. I'm going to try to tackle that today, in addition to doing my homework.

The debut of my Fall line has obviously been pushed back... Tuesday, September 4th looks pretty good. I'm really excited about the new designs and color combinations and materials that are incorporated into this line. I hope to post some preview photos this weekend, just to whet your appetite.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back to normal.

Well, I'm feeling almost all better today, which is great! Yesterday I managed to get a lot of work done, so today I had the freedom to enjoy feeling more like myself. Mostly I spent it catching up on e-mail, forums, and blogs, but I've also been thinking about writing. I hope to spend some time working on Book 4 today. By the way, the working title is "The one that I wrote in WordPerfect, because Word sucks." It's something of a misnomer: every book I've written has been written in some version of WordPerfect. I just titled it that to tease Chris, who was in turn teasing me about using WordPerfect. He has this silly idea that I should stop using a program I've enjoyed for 10 years, just because, in his opinion, Word is better. Men!

All word processor snobbery aside, I also intend to bead today, in fact, I want to start as soon as I finish this post! I was working on a really cute spiral rope necklace before I left NY, and it's almost done. I need to finish it, so I can make some bracelets and earrings and maybe more necklace, all for the debut of my Fall line. I sure wish I'd done some more beading while I was in NY, especially while I was watching TV. I did manage to get a bit done, though, and of course, I bought great supplies for future projects!

Once I'm more settled into my routines, we'll see a return to Today's Cool Thing, Friday columns, and photos. The blog has seemed quite drab lately! In fact, Today's Cool Thing shall be... MapEasy! When my husband had to do a "team building exercise" (ie, play spy games) in Washington DC last month, he was provided a really cool MapEasy map of DC. I love this thing! It's cutely illustrated, looks easy to read, and has all sorts of points of interest, restaurants, and stores on it... including bead stores! Oh, and it's made out of tear-resistant, waterproof paper, so it can take all sorts of abuse. I fully intend to buy one for Providence, and for any place else that I set my books in, as a handy reference and source of entertainment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home again, home again

I'm back in Arizona! My last few days in NY were far too busy for me to find any time to blog, and my first two days home were far too sick for me to find energy for anything other than sleep and Dr. Who. I'd felt this sickness coming for days, and although it's annoying to be under the weather when I should be unpacking and getting back into the daily grind, I'm glad that I managed to stave it off until I left NY. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on all the fun, and the time with my in-laws. Oh, and the delicious food. Mmmm, Exotic Mango Chicken.

On Thursday, we went into New York City. I simply love NYC. Yeah, it's crowded, and dirty, and some parts of it smell funny, but it's still an awesome city. I love window shopping. I love people watching. I love looking at all the cool old buildings, with their frescos and other architectural niftiness. I love glancing at the menus of the restaurants I pass by, knowing that I'll never, ever eat there. Oh, and I love Chinatown, which was our main destination for the day.

In all fairness, I most disclose a certain amount of hypocrisy. Chris's stepfather didn't want to go spend all day shopping with us in NYC, but he did have breakfast with us before we left. There was a TV in the diner playing news about the toy recall, so naturally our conversation turned towards China and its business practices. We complained about poor quality control, bad employee treatment, how they're driving other countries' industries under, and how our country blithely goes along with it... and then we took off to Chinatown, where we purchased cheap goods from China... *sigh* Well, ok, a lot of what I bought actually came from Japan, but I am still a freakin' hypocrite.

My problem, of course, is that I want to like China. I enjoy learning Mandarin. I love Chinese food (and while I realize it's highly Americanized, the inspiration had to come from somewhere, right?). I'm a martial arts movie junkie. Etc etc. It's hard to accept that all of these things that I enjoy come from a country whose policies and actions I can't really support.

Moral quandaries aside, I really did have a good time in the city. It was a pretty nice day, with just a little rain, so we walked the entire way from Penn Station to the store we love, Pearl River. I'm not sure exactly how far we walked, but I believe it was something like a zillion blocks. In fact, the only way I can justify all the food that I eat while I'm in NY is by pointing out how much I walk while I'm in NY! Anyway, Pearl River is the only place we shop in Chinatown, because it's the only place we need to shop. They seriously have everything there. Clothes, food, dishes, knick-knacks, musical instruments, furnishings, housewares, everything. And not just imports from China, but also a lot of stuff from Japan, and maybe a couple of other Asian countries. All of this is held in a clean, bright, well-organized store. We must have spent a couple of hours there, getting things for ourselves and presents for our friends.

All that walking and shopping built up some hearty appetites, so we made our way over to Singapore Cafe. If you read last year's NY trip report, you'll remember that we absolutely loved that place. It was just as good this year. Delicious food, food service, and incredibly fast for a sit-down dinner. If you go there, definitely get the lemonade iced tea to drink! It is delicious and refreshing.

After dinner, it was time to make our way towards the theater for the Blue Man Group show. We arrived there with over an hour to spare, so we went around the block to Barnes and Noble, where Chris and I picked up some reading material for the flight home, and I also got a cute plush dragon, made out of that soft chenille fur. We got done right in time for the show. I really enjoy Blue Man Group's music, so I kind of wish that the show had been more music and less... stuff, but it was still a lot of fun. By the time the show was done, we were all tired enough to take the subway back to Penn Station, then we took the train back to Long Island and were home somewhere close to midnight.

Well, this post is getting way too long, so let's do a quick rundown of other things I did while in NY: We saw my sister-in-law's band, The Good Luck Affair, play at a local club. I don't have the exact URL, but you can find them on Myspace. They're a rock kind of band, but Grace plays violin, cello, and sax on some songs, which changes things up a bit. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge, which was kind of cool, except I was exhausted so I kept wondering if I could close my eyes and walk on auto-pilot. We went into Little Italy and ate delicious dessert. Coincidentally, we were in Brooklyn right when the fire at the Deutsche Bank fire started, so we saw a lot of fire trucks going by. Luckily we were not anywhere near the fire itself.

In a way, I'm glad to be back home, with my kitties, and my beads at hand, and my friends nearby, and the ability to just laze around in quiet... But I also can't help but miss NY, with all of the fun things to do, the great people to do them with, and the delicious food to eat when we're done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Close to Nature...

I am so tired tonight! Today we went to The Planting Fields, which is an old estate from the early 20th century. The grounds are full of lawns, trees, and gardens of all sorts, not to mention greenhouses. All the buildings were closed while we were there, but that's ok -- as much as I wanted to see the inside of the Tudor-style mansion, the outdoors were amazing. I love to walk beneath the shade of the trees, admire all sorts of plants that we never see in the desert, and watch huge butterflies flit from flower to flower.

There were many cool moments which I'm simply too sleepy to describe right now. Suffice it to say that I found myself feeling very inspired (it's a shame that my book doesn't really take place in a natural setting, but at least I can use the inspiration for leafy jewelry!), and we've vowed to dedicate an entire day to the place next visit.

That said, I'm going to sleep now. We're going into NYC tomorrow and I need my energy for that!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another day in NY...

It's funny, but I seem to blog more when I'm on vacation than when I'm home. I guess it's because there's less to distract me. I'm not on AIM (though I could be), I don't have most of my bookmarks, I hate playing video games on the laptop, and I only have a limited selection of beads and books to distract me. When people are home, I tend to be off the computer socializing, but when I'm alone, it's easy to grab a few minutes and post.

Of course, it also helps that I'm doing more of interest than I do at home...

Yesterday and today have been pretty peaceful. Yesterday we went to the store that my brother-in-law works at and ate some pizza from the great place two doors down. The funny thing is that they're in two different towns. I guess that at some point on that walk, I was standing in two different towns. Maybe the little street between them is the border? Anyway, although I'm generally not a fan of NY pizza (having lived out West my entire life), this place makes a delicious Sicilian, and their garlic knots are to die for. After dinner, we went to The Simpsons Movie, which was just as silly and pointless as we expected it to be. The theatre we saw it at was disgusting, though, and I doubt any of us will ever go back there. They hadn't even cleaned it before our showing -- there were still cups in the holders at a couple of seats!

Today we haven't done anything yet. Chris is out doing errands with his mother, whereas I decided to stay home and get a little beading done. I've made two of the crystal bracelets that I packed beads for, and I think I'll start the spiral necklace. We're going out for dinner tonight, though -- kebabs, I think. Mmmm. I love Middle Eastern food, and it's not too common in Tucson.

Back to the beads I go!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Site and Stardust!

As of this morning, is back up and running. Yay!

Last night we went to see Stardust. As you may already know, I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman. I've been looking forward to this movie ever since I heard about it, as have Chris and his mother. The three of us went together for a late-night showing, and we were all positively thrilled by the film.

First, I must say that the movie takes a few liberties with the original story, but most of the changes were fitting for a movie. Some things were omitted or streamlined to save time, and they added some action to make the film more exciting. Certain characters and events are all together missing, and the ending is completely different than in the book, I think partially to make it more climactic (the addition of an action sequence), and partially to appeal more to Hollywood (changing the very end, making it less bittersweet than the book). However, all of the important elements are still there, and the film stays true to the tone and message of the original graphic novel and novella. The look of the movie, too, is very much like Charles Vess's artwork from the graphic novel, and my mental images from reading the book (which I read first).

The scenery was beautiful, as were the costumes. The special effects for magic, and the makeup on the witches was all pretty convincing. The swordfights were not that impressive, but they were at least believable. And the performances were mostly great, though the witches sometimes seemed to be overdoing it a bit. Robert De Niro comes close to stealing the show with his great portrayal of the airship captain; you really have to see it to believe it.

Over all, if you are a fantasy fan, you owe it to yourself to go see this wonderful treatment of one of the best modern adult fairytales.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Site status and more NY fun.

First things first: my web host package is still active, it was just my domain name that was down. I've just paid to renew it, but since they're not open on the weekend, it probably won't be processed until tomorrow. Hopefully they'll be quick about it, I always hate having my site down!

In more pleasant news, I'm still having a great time in NY. On Friday we went to Ace Handicraft, where I got some more great beads. They always have the coolest glass! In addition to glass beads, I picked up some carved horn, an almost dzi-style pendant, and a carved stone knotwork pendant. Chris also got a few clasps for his maille bracelets. The people working there were as nice and friendly as ever, and really admired Chris's work (the conundrum weave bracelet that he always wears has garnered a lot of attention so far this trip).

Yesterday we went to a Renaissance Faire in upstate NY. We didn't know about it until we got out here, but luckily I had packed some dance clothes, so between that and what I bought at the Indian import store, I was able to cobble together a decent costume which was appropriate for the 80 degree weather. Chris had no such luck, but he's not as obsessed with such things as I am anyway.

We had a really fun day... Little traffic on the drive, and there was a lot of beautiful scenery along the way. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny with a little breeze to keep it pleasant. The Faire itself wasn't quite as large as the one in Arizona, but it was still big enough to keep us entertained until almost closing time! Several of the vendors and at least one performer also do the AZ faire, but mostly it was different shows and shops. It was held in a forested area, which was so wonderful, a lot more appropriate than our desert setting, and also less dusty! Our faire is always either dusty or muddy.

One of the performances we saw was Dextre Tripp, who also performs at the AZ Faire. We love his show and had to share it with my mother-and-law, who really enjoyed it. We also saw some belly dancers (not as good as Syrene from AZ), a band called Karpathios, a pretty cheezy illusion show (the tricks were nice, but the spiel was lame), and a kind of cool knife throwing and whip trick show.

Shopping was great. I love shopping at these events, but after 9 years at the AZ faire with some of the vendors never changing their wares, it's not as exciting as it used to be. Seeing all these new-to-me vendors was a ton of fun. There were different weapons, different musical instruments for Chris to admire, and lots of different clothes for me to drool over. Plus various artwork and jewelry. The artwork was great, the jewelry not so much. I ended up with an amazing two-layer handkerchief hem skirt of hand-dyed silk, and a matching top of hand-dyed silk and hand-dyed handmade felt. It's simply gorgeous, with a flowing, faerie-like look and feel to it. I can't wait to dance in it. Chris got a blue-glazed porcelain ocarina and a cool woven African hat with an Asian look. He wanted to get one at our faire, but they were all sold out, so he was really happy to find one out here.

There were a lot of people out in costume yesterday, even several wearing full armor. It was also nice to see entire families dressed up. Oh, and there was one cool guy in a 17th century courtier outfit, very nicely put together. He was at the hand-dyed silk booth at the same time as me, so I overheard part of his conversation with the gals there about his costuming. I didn't catch any details, but his enthusiasm was apparent. It was cool to see something a little different from the usual medieval-style and fantasy/gothic costumes that are so prevalent at faires -- not that I mind those at all, it's what I usually wear!

I'm hoping to maybe even be able to swing a visit to that faire every year that we're out here, since it spans the time that we tend to visit. Only going to ours once a year is just not enough!

Well, I've babbled on enough. After I clean out my purse and find all the business cards, I'll share links to some of the vendors we bought from or admired.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Site Down!

I was certain that my webhost package didn't expire until after I got back from NY, but I can't get into my e-mail tonight, and my domain is showing as parked. Great. I don't know if I'll have time to deal with it tomorrow, so I'll have to hope that they do business on Sundays.

Other than that, it's been a great day.

Watch this blog for updates as to the site's status.

It's raining on my parade!

We hit Long Island yesterday, and almost immediately set out for some bead shopping. I revisited Bead Market in Farmingdale, where I once again went wild on vintage. They had so many cool things that I just couldn't resist. I can't wait to get home and design with them!

Next we hit Beads and Stitches, which my mother-in-law thought was new, but I know that I have some beads at home with their label on it, so I think they'd just moved to a new spot. It was a pretty nice spot, in an older house. Very spacious, well-lit, and what looked like a pretty nice class room area. I was initially excited to see that they still had a good assortment of seed beads, but I ended up being enticed by their stone beads! I got some sardonyx, some wood or maybe petrified wood, some sort of purple stone, and also some glass briolettes. You may have noticed that I don't normally use stone beads, but these really spoke to me for my Fall line. It should be fun to see what I can create with them.

After that we took a quick trip to a nearby mall which had an Indian import store, which means lots of belly dance clothes! I got all kinds of cute skirts and tops that can be worn for dancing, Ren Faires, or just looking great. I was all excited to be able to wear some today, because yesterday was beautiful so naturally I imagined that today would be, too! Oh, how disappointed I was to wake up to cold, rainy skies! I'm going to have to wear pants, or at least a heavy skirt.

Today we're planning to hit Ace Handicraft, my favorite Long Island bead stop. I'll post about that trip this weekend.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More from NJ

Well, let's see... I've barely seen the sun all week. Apparently it's been pretty hot and humid out, but I've been inside until evening every day. The evenings themselves have been very pleasant, and last night there was a huge storm while I was sleeping (I'm a light sleeper, so I woke up a couple of times to the sound of rain against the window, highlighted by the rumble of thunder and the flash of lightning). The haze in the sky is a uniform grey, like a fuzzy blanket stretching from horizon to horizon. There's none of the depth and darkness of the monsoon clouds that are probably even now gathering over the mountains in my home city of Tucson.

All waxing poetic about the weather aside, last night I tried yoga for the first time. It was a pretty interesting experience and left me feeling loosened up and even a little tingly. This afternoon I have just a little ache in my abs and back, not too different from what I have the day after a good session of dancing. I don't know if yoga is something that I'll take up, but it's always nice to try something new.

My beads remain packed up, I'll probably break them out tomorrow when I return to my MIL's place. I think we'll have a little time until she gets home, and her kitchen table is always a good work spot for me, thanks to a nice overhead light. I think next time JoAnn's has a 50% off coupon, I'll go buy myself one of those super-compact Ott travel lights for occasions like this. At this rate I doubt I'll get to all half-dozen projects that I packed, but I never really expected to anyway.

My next post will be from the exciting land of Long Island.

I know I haven't shared any Cool Things lately, so here's an awesome one that Chris and I found this week. Check out the Elder Gods necklace by somk, and then be sure to browse the rest of her gallery. She has the most awesome Lovecraftian jewelry ever, as well as some equally awesome Celtic, Norse, and fantasy jewelry. We're hoping to save up and get ourselves Cthulhu wedding rings, maybe as a 10th anniversary present. Ia Fhtagn!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Checking in from the East Coast

I'm blogging from the exciting land of New Jersey. How did I ever live without my laptop? It's so nice to just sit down, connect to a wireless network, and still be able to conduct business and stay in touch with friends and family no matter where I am.

I had a great time at my step-sister-in-law's wedding, and I got a lot of compliments on the necklace that I made specifically for the event. I don't have my digital camera with me, so I'm afraid I won't be able to show that off until I get home in two weeks. We do have some pictures from the wedding, though, so I might share those at some point.

The lighting's not great here for beading. I should have packed my Ott-Lite, but I was really running out of room in my luggage (hence not having the camera). Packing used to be a lot easier when I dressed more casually. So much of what I like to wear now is handwash, or at least line-dry, so I can't do a lot of laundry while I'm gone. This is the price of my vanity!

I think next week is when I'll go bead shopping. If you remember my posts from last year, I found some really great beads on Long Island and in New York City. I'm hoping for some great finds this year, too. I'd like to get back out to the one shop that had table after table of vintage. I've already used up some of the best things I got there.

That's all for now. I started my next novel while I was in the Chicago airport (I'd already finished my reading material), and I'm trying to get some work in on that today.

Friday, August 03, 2007

On my way out!

Goodness, have things been busy for me. I'm leaving for NY within the half-hour, so I figured I'd better make at least some sort of post before I go. I probably won't have a good chance to blog again until the middle of next week, as I'm spending the weekend at a wedding and the first part of the week at a house I've never been to before.

I'm taking a ton of beads with me so I can make some beautiful new things while I'm gone!