Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's still 2008 here in Tucson, but it's 2009 elsewhere, so: Happy New Year!!! I hope that everyone here is having a safe and happy holiday.

Chris and I went out for a couple of things and to have dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant. We were home before 8 and ready to spend the rest of the night at home relaxing! We've both been hard at work for the past week, so it's good to have a quiet night at home, just us and the puppies and some DVDs.

Oh yes! Dad and I finished installing the door. It needs some fancy trim around the outside to hide the fact that the Sawzall doesn't exactly cut straight lines, but it is a sturdy, fully-functional well-framed door. And I helped! My new power drill even came into play, because Dad's was too big to fit between the stud and the door frame. I'm so glad that I bought the one that is "30% smaller and 33% lighter" (or was it the other way around?) because otherwise it wouldn't have fit, either!

I'll be back tomorrow with the return of the Thursday Thirteen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh wait, it's a Monday.

I'm having a hard time keeping track of days right now. You see, usually when I dog-sit, it's on a weekend. So Weds-Friday felt more like a Friday-Sunday. This made it very weird when Chris was off on what felt like should be a Monday and Tuesday. It felt even weirder when we spent those two days getting work and errands done. I'm all mixed up.

My Dad came over today and started working on putting up the door in our game room. Chris helped. I mostly... uhm... well, let's face it, I was not very helpful. There's not enough work for three people on a project like that. I did things like held a flashlight and held nails, and did busy-work around the game room. Hopefully the door project will be done tomorrow, and then Chris and I can spend Friday (our next free day) putting up all of the insulation that will be delivered tomorrow. THEN it will be time for putting up drywall. Oh boy!

Really, the only part of this I'm looking forward to is painting the entire room jade green. It's going to be so pretty!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I've got tools!

We went to Home Depot today to buy the things we need for renovating the game room. Along with all the *boring* stuff like drywall and insulation and a door, we bought cool things, like a neon green cordless power drill, and a staple gun. Oh, the havoc I will wreak!

This week is going to be very busy, with renovations, housework, and holiday festivities. As we've done for the past few years, my family will be exchanging gifts on New Year's Day. Chris and I will be cooking the entire dinner, which is kind of a big deal for us. We're used to just cooking for two, not 5 or 6. There's going to be a big roast, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and corn. And presents. Woohoo! Presents!

I probably won't do any beading until Saturday, when I plan to try out the kit that I bought last week.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where do puppies not belong?

Every now and then I'll forget to shut the bedroom door, and I'll walk in on a scene like this! One or more corgi will have made herself comfortable on the "people bed." And of course, as soon as I walk in, they start acting all cute, because they know they don't belong there, but they just can't help themselves. It's so comfy! And it smells like us!

They also like to help me make the bed. They'll jump up and bounce around on the mattress as I'm trying to straighten out the sheets. It's all very, very cute. (Obviously, I had not made the bed when this picture was taken. I'm a very lazy housekeeper)

Daisy and Maggie turned two a week ago. This is around the time when they should slowly start to calm down, as they're officially adults now. Of course, as herd dogs, they'll always be pretty energetic and bossy. But maybe now they'll start to get the idea that they shouldn't take flying leaps off of the back of the couch onto the floor, and that the kitty doesn't want to play with them, no matter how many times they ask.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm back home!

Hello blogosphere, did you miss me?

I had a great time up in Marana dog-sitting for my friend. Her three dogs were lovely as usual, and kept me nice and warm at night by sleeping next to me. Unlike my dogs, they don't lick my face while I'm trying to sleep, so they're actually allowed in bed with me.

Admittedly, I decided not to even try to get onto the internet while I was there. I knew that if I did, I would get almost nothing done. Instead, I gave myself the very special Christmas gift of an entire day with nothing to do but play Solitaire or work on my book (seriously, I have almost nothing installed on my laptop). So I wrote. My book is 15-16 pages longer than it was before I left on Wednesday.

But I should really be talking about that over on my writing blog, shouldn't I?

I came home to find the beading kit that I ordered from Buy the Kit in my mailbox. I'm not sure if I'm going to start it right away, or save it for the next time that Chris is at gaming and I'm at home. Either way, I am back in the mood to bead. My back and shoulders feel better after a few weeks of barely beading. I'll just have to be sure to treat them better in the future so this doesn't happen again. Less stooping, more stretching!

Chris and I decided to exchange a couple of late Christmas/early New Years Day presents with each other today, so I have a couple more awesome new pretty shinies to photograph. Looks like I really need to get out to the game room and take a ton of pictures.

And now, off to my other blog!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shhh! I'm hibernatin'!

Please don't mind the clutter in this picture, the area around Chris's desk is one spot of the house that I really don't clean.

My kitty Topher just loves paper of all sorts. He likes to chew on it, shred it, play on it, scratch it, whatever. So it came as no surprise to me that he staked his claim on this chunk of brown paper that was used as packaging material in a recent delivery. He kept jumping on it and playing around, to make it make crinkly noises. Then, when he got sleepy, he trampled it down and made himself the perfect little nest... awwww.

I love sleeping critters. They're just so adorable, with the way they curl up, and the content expression on their face. When Topher sleeps like this, he always reminds me of some woodlands critter, curling up in a den to hibernate the cold Winter away.

I wil be up in Marana house-sitting tomorrow, Thursday, and part of Friday. I may or may not have internet access, so I may or may not make blog posts! I just hope it's not cold and rainy while I'm up there, as I was looking forward to a little Christmas hike with my doggie pal Gobi.

In case I'm not around to blog on Thursday, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pretty Shiny Things!

A collection of pretty, shiny things! From left to right, a beautiful hair dangle by Elise Matthesen, my finally-completed faerie button pendant, and the two pairs of titanium/niobium earrings that I bought at the Street Fair.

So, this afternoon I put the bail on my faerie button necklace and slid her onto my standard black Ndebele cord. I'll eventually make a nice green necklace for her, but I do like how the black cord picks up the black accents on the button. I'll also eventually take a nicer picture of her, but it's cold tonight (by my standards), so I wasn't about to go out to the game room to take photos.

After Chris got off of a very frustrating day at work, we decided to go out for food instead of eating in, and while we were out, I had to stop in at the PO Box, because someone reminded me that I haven't been checking it ;) Inside, I found two surprise packages! One held the lovely hair dangle, similar to ones I've admired in the past, and the other held the silver ring from Creative Mode that I included in my T13 jewelry post (I was going to include it in the picture, but I don't have a ring display).

So, a big "thank you thank you thank you" to my anonymous reader(s) who sent me these wonderful gifts! The turquoise in the dangle is the perfect color to go with my faerie costume, not to mention a lot of my day-to-day clothing. And the ring is so wonderfully elegant, just right to go with my Goth and Steampunk clothes. You're too kind and really brightened my day! Also, I promise I'll check my PO Box more often.

I included the earrings because people asked for pictures back when I bought them. Aren't they cool? The blue ones remind me of lightning, and the purple ones are the same style as the aqua-green ones that I bought last year, and match the purple top I was wearing at the fair.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What I did tonight:

Sad to say, but that's every holiday present in the house (not counting whatever Chris has for me). We really cut back this year, and Chris has barely started shopping for his family. Heck, two of those gifts are late birthday presents for my mother-in-law. Nonetheless, they are gifts and they are wrapped!

I'm not big on traditional holiday stuff, so I made due. While wrapping these presents, I had some nice festive cinnamon incense burning, and I went through a few CDs: A Very Scary Solstice by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, the Projekt Dark Noel collection (which reminded me of why I don't listen to it ever), and then because I was out of Christmas music (because the other HPLHS CD is missing), I kicked it old school with some Mary Chapin Carpenter. I also brewed myself some tea, but it was horribly bitter, so I forgot about it until it was also horribly cold. Oh well.

To successfully wrap these presents, I had to make a few sacrifices to the Dark Lord Topher. As a cat, he's naturally drawn to wrapping supplies, especially tissue paper and ribbons. So I gave him some tissue paper that was in a package we received recently, and put it on his cat tree. Then I cut him off some ribbon that was already too damaged to use, and I draped it over him. Plus I let him play in the box that all of the bows had been stored in. The best part was when he jumped onto the tissue paper, with the ribbon wrapped around himself! Ah, kitties. They're entertained by the silliest things.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Thursday Thirteen this week

I did a "25 random things about me" over on Facebook today, so I don't really feel like coming up with a list of 13 things for today.

Actually, I'm downright lazy today. I've spent the day at my computer, wearing fleece pajama pants, catching up with an old friend who I hadn't spoken to in years. Sometimes, you just need to have a day like that.

I can't believe it's only a week until Christmas! Of course, my family doesn't really do Christmas, and I'll be spending the day at a friend's house sitting her dogs... but hey, it's only two weeks until New Years Day, when we do exchange gifts. I still need to find one more gift for Chris, and then start wrapping everything. I don't have a whole lot to wrap this year, as we purchased fewer gifts than usual (a few nice gifts instead of a lot of silly gifts, basically).

And now, back to being lazy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's in the oven?

A Christmas ornament is in the oven! Ok, it's not very Christmas-y, but both of my parents like dragons, so it's appropriate. And it's a nice Christmas-y shade of green, with gold (and also blue, but maybe the blue is for Chanukkah. It's a mixed-faith dragon). This picture was taken right before I popped it in the oven, in case it doesn't turn out. At this point, it has about another 20 minutes to go, so I won't know for a bit if it's a success or a dud.

I wanted to make more ornaments, and let my friends take their pick at the game tomorrow night, but the vast majority of my clay is rock-hard and/or crumbly. Next time JoAnn's or Michael's is having a good clay sale, I'll go restock. I might also pick up some more rubber stamps, since this was fun and relatively easy to do.

So, first I conditioned the clay by running it through my pasta machine a couple dozen times. This was the only annoying part, as the pasta machine has this seperate handle that goes in a socket, and it's loose, so it kept falling on the floor.

Once the clay was conditioned, I formed it into a semi-square shape and pressed down really hard with the dragon rubber stamp to make a really good imprint. I wanted to make a circular ornament, but I quickly discovered that I didn't have anything the right size to cut out a nice circle, and there's no way I could cut one free-hand. So instead I cut along the outline left by the edge of the rubber stamp. Then I used a tool to smooth the rough edges, and poked a hole in the top for a hanger.

Originally, I was going to just dust it with PearlEx powders, but I decided that it needed a little more, so I picked out a nice blue from my package of embossing powders, because I recalled reading that you could use them to make a cloissone-like effect. Of course, I have no idea where the book I read that in is, so I have no idea how to do it right. That's why I took a picture before baking. It may come out of the oven looking like some sort of mutant dragon freak. I had a little trouble getting the powder to just be where I wanted it, but nothing too bad.

After that, I dusted it with some gold PearlEx, and then used a paint brush to distribute it a little more evenly. I touched it up once more after taking the photo, because I noticed a couple of clumps. Now it has a nice all-over gold shimmer. Well, all over the front at least. I left the back plain.

All in all, including finding my supplies and cleaning up my mess, I think it took me an hour to make, and then 45 minutes in the oven. I'll probably put a quick glaze on it when it's done baking (another 5-10 minutes of work), and then it will be ready to go to my parents' house with me tonight. Yippy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Closed for the holidays!

Erthe Fae Designs is now closed for the holidays! The one exception to this is if you're in Tucson and want to arrange an in-person meet-up to receive your jewelry. Otherwise, I will be avoiding the Post Office until the 27th. I do so hate lines.

I was so excited earlier, because I thought I was all done with my holiday shopping... but then I discovered that my husband's main gift was $15 less than I had budgeted for, so I have to buy him one more little present. Not sure what I'll get him, and I can't even discuss ideas here, because he reads my blog. Hey Chris! Want to drop some hints? Yeah, I didn't think so.

My parents randomly decided to have a Christmas tree this year, so I think I might break out my polyclay and make them an ornament tomorrow. I can't make a beaded one, because their young Siamese-mix kitty Loki likes to play with the tree. Silly Loki! My parents deserve a special ornament, because Dad came over here at 8 o clock last night to fix our furnace, thus saving us from a very cold night. Hooray for Dad! He rocks!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day at the Street Fair

Today, Chris and I went to the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. As usual, it was a fun way to spend a few hours (and some money). I actually managed to buy one holiday present, thus justifying it as a holiday shopping excursion, and not just an excuse to make a lot of impulse buys.

It was a nice day out, not too cold and not too sunny, but close to too windy (one booth actually blew over partway!). The street was packed with people. This is why I prefer to go on Fridays when I can, as there are usually less shoppers out on a Friday. I always manage to get stuck behind slow, meandering people -- or worse, smokers! Bleh!

There was a lot to see today, not just booths (which seemed to stretch farther than usual this year), but also street performers and such. One pleasant surprise was a group of bird of prey keepers who had a booth next to the main performance stage. Not only did they have some sort of falcon and some sort of hawk, but they had a real, live bald eagle. She was huge and beautiful, just an amazing presence.

Although I try not to do too much shopping this close to the holidays, I did pick up a few things (I figure it's OK if it's something that no one I know is likely to buy for me). I got a plate with a beautiful sparkling green glaze on it, two pairs of awesome titanium earrings (one fancy blue pair and one simple purple pair to go with the new purple shirt I was wearing), and Chris got a neat ceramic squid. We'd actually seen the squid at the Reid Park fair last month, but didn't want to carry one on the walk home, so we decided to wait and get one at this Fair. It will look cool hanging up in the game room.

As usual, I saw lots of clothing and jewelry that I wanted, but let's face it, do I really need more of either of those? Chris did his best to convince me to spend more money, but I was having nothing of it!

And of course, when we came home, our puppies were glad to see us, because we'd been gone forever*. All four of us kicked back on the couch with caramel corn (also from the Street Fair) and a silly movie. Don't worry, the caramel corn was for us, not the puppies, they just snarfed up anything that got dropped, and then begged for belly rubs when it was gone.

*Any length of time counts as forever in dog years.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wrapping it all up

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I love wrapping presents. Even though I get frustrated when I don't quite have enough paper, or I tape my hair to the package (hey, my hair hangs down to my waist, these things happen!), or the cat won't stop attacking the curling ribbon, or the bows keep insisting on falling off the package because their glue is drying out, it's still fun.

But as I become more environmentally conscious in my old age (you know, the ripe old age of 26), I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my wrapping tendencies. It's bad enough that so many presents come in an excess of packaging, but now I'm adding to the waste by wrapping everything in shiny paper and then layer on the ribbons, bows, and tags. What's a girl to do?

Obviously, as a crafty girl, I can come up with some clever ways to wrap gifts without adding junk to the landfill. Here are a few ideas; if you have some tips of your own, please post them in the comments section!

-Wrap presents in fabric instead of paper. This works best if the gift receiver is also crafy. But alternately, the fabric can just be saved to wrap future presents!

-Wrap presents with brown paper bags, and then decorate them! This has been a favorite tactic of mine for years. Paper bags are cheap (usually free), sturdy, and can easily be adorned with silly marker drawings, rubber stamps, and stickers. Then they can be tossed in the recycling bin.

-Put the present in some sort of re-usable container. Every year, everyone in my family gets a plastic shoe box full of stocking-stuffer type stuff. Once I've put away all of my holiday goodies, I turn around and fill the shoebox with beads. It's very handy. This year, Mom is talking about "wrapping" a lot of presents in those reusable grocery bags. This is another great idea. They're as cheap as a buck, they're colorful, and they're useful all year 'round. If you want to get fancy, you can search Etsy for reusable bags and get some very creative ones that cost more but can be considered part of the present.

-Look for standard wrapping items that can be re-used. My family usually passes back and forth the same sturdy gift bags and boxes for a few years before they get retired. As long as you tie them shut with ribbon instead of taping them, and use tie-on tags instead of sticker ones, you can get 4-5 or more uses out of a well-made container.

-Instead of bows, decorate your packages with Christmas ornaments, candy canes, or other small items that are festive and useful.

-Recycle and repurpose! Pull all of the tape and tags off of your used wrapping paper and toss it in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Recycle or re-use as much gift packaging as possible. Turn all of that leftover curling ribbon into a cat toy, since the cat is going to play with it anyway.

-Or burn it all. I suppose the smoke isn't great for air quality, but it is fun to toss balls of wrapping paper into a bonfire and watch it get consumed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Volume 5 -- December

Thirteen Things I like to do in December

It's no secret that I don't like Winter very much. I have no tolerance for cold, none whatsoever. Still, this can be a fun month, so here are thirteen things that I do to make December less Dreadful.

1. Holiday shopping! I avoid the crowds at the mall by doing the majority of my shopping on-line and at craft fairs. I just love picking out perfect gifts for the people in my life.

2. Wrapping presents. I'm not very good at figuring out how much paper it takes to wrap something and then folding all of the edges nice and straight like my Dad is (someday I'm going to make him show me how he does it!), but I really enjoy coordinating paper, ribbons, bows and tags for a pretty presentation.

3. Going to the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. This art and craft festival happens twice a year, but I don't always go to the Spring one. They close down Fourth Avenue to car traffic for several blocks and fill the street with booths full of handmade goods. It's a juried show, so everything is high quality, and vendors come from all over the country. Plus the street itself is lined with cool galleries, thrift shops and other neat places. And it's this weekend! Woohoo!

4. Sleeping in until noon with my Topher-cat. I know the weather is getting cold when Topher snuggles up to me all night and through the morning. Now that we have the dogs, I don't get as much quality time with my big, fluffy beast, so it makes me so happy to wake up and find him curled up behind my knees or against my chest.

5. Reading on the couch with my puppies. Now that Daisy has calmed down a bit, both girls like to take turns lying next to me, with their head in my lap, while I read a good book. It's quality bonding time, and they're so nice and warm!

6. Drinking hot spiced apple cider. Whether I microwave a mug of the Trader Joe's pre-spiced cider, or ladel out some homemade that's simmering in a crockpot at a party, there's nothing quite like it to warm me up.

7. Drinking hot chocolate. Also good at warming me up, and it comes with marshmallows!

8. Listening to the twisted Lovecraftian holiday tunes from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. Those annoying Christmas tunes at the grocery store are so much more bearable when I overlay the parody lyrics.

9. Beading Christmas ornaments. I don't know if I'll get around to doing any this year, since I'm taking a bit of a break from beading... but I just love matching beads to the beautiful colors of glass ornaments and coming up with a little netted cover. I might do one or two for special people this year.

10. Exchanging gifts with friends and family. It's better to give than receive, but it's best when you can do both!

11. Enjoying various treats that only come out for Christmas. Limited-edition flavors of Jones Soda (I like their Mele Kalimaka, which tastes like a pina colada), Mint Truffle Hershey's kisses, chocolate mint candy canes, and so much more.

12. Even better, partaking in homemade goodies like cookies and fudge. Come to think of it, maybe this year I should do a little bit of holiday baking of my own.

13. Kicking back with Chris and the pups and watching DVDs. Ok, I like to do this all the time, but it's even better when it's cold, and we're both wearing warm, fuzzy robes, and Daisy is totally sprawled out across both of our laps, and Maggie is curled up against my hip, and Topher might even be at the edge of the couch, looking vaguely disapproving. Now that's cozy!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December voting open!

You ever have a day when the internet seems to be out to annoy you? Not only do I keep getting disconnected, and having time-out errors and all sorts of other stupid things, but I can't get this image to load full-size. So if you'd like to see the full-size mosaic, view all the entries, and vote for the Etsy BeadWeavers' Snow Queen challenge, please click this link.

I'm #13, Snowdrop. My entry is far simpler than most of the others, but I'm still happy with how it turned out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to glaring daggers at my computer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Slowly beading.

I'm slowly making progress on my faerie button pendant, and trying to decide what I want to do when I'm done with it. I'm actually almost done with the pendant, and I think I may just wear it on a ribbon for now and come up with a necklace for it later.

There's not a whole lot else going on with me right now, mostly just trying to stay warm and prepare for the holidays. I have 90% of the shopping done for my family, but as usual, Chris is dragging his feet on his family. I try to help by suggesting cool things that I find on-line, but he doesn't think that his family would like most of them. Bah. So I'm leaving it to him, and if the gifts end up being late (again), then at least I can say that I tried.

I'm not sure if I'll be making any holiday presents this year. Time is running out and I don't have a lot of inspiration, and besides, everyone probably has about as much of my jewelry as they can handle!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Volume 4 - Jewelry Edition

Thirteen Things that I wish were in my jewelry box

Ohh, look! I found the other headers on the Thursday Thirteen site, so I no longer inexplicably have a fly on all of my lists. Hooray!

You might think that, being a jewelry maker and all, I already have more jewelry than I could ever want. This simply isn't true. One reason why I make jewelry is that I love jewelry, and I always want more, more, more! So this list will showcase 13 pieces that I love and wish I had.

1. It would dwarf my girly little wrist, but I love Nancy Dale's beautiful Plumage cuff. Before I got obsessed with green, black and purple were my favorite colors.

2. I saw Creative Mode's Secret Sentiment ring on the Etsy front page, and it looked like just the sort of thing I would wear. Nice price, too!

3. I like all of niele's butterfly jewelry, but the Graphium Butterfly necklace is especially eye-catching.

4. MoonLitCreations' Mother Tree with Opal really appeals to my love for dryads.

5. These Dueling Dragon earrings by Misty's Creations are so neat. Actually, I almost bought them for my Mom for the holidays.

6. Morning Glory Designs makes pieces that look like elegant vintage costume jewelry. And Moonlight Bay has kambaba jasper, a stone I like very much.

7. I really like Melissa J. Lee's Ferryman's Coin, and best of all, I could work it into an awesome beaded necklace.

8. Thyme2dream makes so many nice things that it would be easier to say what I don't want from them... but this Lothlorien Spring earcuff is so pretty and such a good price that I'm tempted to buy it right now.

9. Ling Glass makes such lovely pendants with nice, clean lines. I'd probably were this Serenity Teardrop all the time if I had it.

10. I've been wanting this Bearings necklace by The Justified Sinner for a long time, and even on clearance it's just too extravegant to buy on a whim.

11. I have the perfect jacket to wear TotusMel's Victorian Lace Cuffs with. She's another one who makes about a zillion things that I want...

12. Ok, it's a bead, not a completed piece of jewelry, but this is the best raven focal I've seen from KerriBeads yet: Raven Moon.

13. And now I cheat, and say that I really wish that my own Elvensoul necklace was in my jewelry box. Sometimes it's hard to give up the jewelry that I make!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A shorter post

I might have another holiday-related essay-length post or two in me. I've been giving it a lot of thought over the past week. However, today I'm going to keep things short.

You may have noticed a general lack of bead and jewelry related talk around this blog lately. The reason for that is that I tweaked my back/shoulders and I can't bead for very long at a time right now. I need to make a doctor's appointment and get it checked out. Hopefully it is a temporary and easy to fix problem, and not some issue caused by my bad beading posture which I'll have to live with for the rest of my life. I tend to worry a lot about these sorts of things, which is why I haven't mentioned it until now... No one wants to hear me going on about how my back hurts and I'll never be able to bead or dance again, oh no, it's the end of the world!

Of course, I did not do myself any favors by taking Daisy up to the park for a craft fair on Sunday. I spent most of my time straining to keep her from constantly pulling ahead and eating popcorn from the ground. Both dogs really enjoyed the fair and got along with everyone they met, human and canine, but they also went along eating every bit of dropped food they found, and tried to get under peoples' tables. I don't think I'll take them to another craft fair until they've had some formal obedience training, but most people didn't seem to mind their slightly bad manners. Corgi cuteness apparently overcomes a number of flaws.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What are you giving this year?

Now more than ever, people seem to be giving greater thought to what they buy and give as holiday presents this year. Budgetary concerns, ethical concerns, safety concerns, and environmental concerns all factor in to gift giving decisions. Given the state of world affairs, it's difficult to just go out and buy the first thing you see. Especially on-line, I see people being a lot more concerned and conscientious about what they buy.

There are a lot of options besides going down to the local big box store or mall and paying for mass-produced, imported goods. But what is the right option for you? Buy American? Shop Local? Buy Handmade? Buy Green? Make it all yourself?

With many of our nation's jobs being outsourced, and much of our goods being produced overseas, Buy American may hold a lot of attraction for you. Of course, the fact of the matter is that there are somethings that simply aren't made in America. If you want to buy beads, for instance, you're limited to artist beads and a few lines of findings and charms.

If you see quirky little stores closing down all around your neighborhood, Shop Local is probably the best choice. We all want to keep our favorite shops in business, and in this declining economy, small stores need all the help they can get. Of course, if times are really tough in your town, you may not have many cool places left to choose from.

If you like one of a kind presents, Buy Handmade is a good choice to make. As an added bonus, you're often buying directly from the artist, and helping them put food on the table. The difficulty with this one is that some people are remarkably hard to find handmade items for. I don't know who's harder to buy for: the relatives who already dabble in all sorts of arts and crafts and can make almost everything themselves, or the ones who are too straight-laced to be into the kind of off-beat items that I like to buy at craft fairs and on Etsy.

Environmental awareness is big right now, and a lot of companies are capitalizing on this by going green. You may want to Buy Green if you're concerned about issues like global warming and overflowing landfills. You have a variety of options along this theme, ranging from upcycled crafts to items made from recycled materials to reusable items that replace disposables. Just make certain that you're still buying something that the receiver will enjoy, and not just using your gift to push an agenda.

If you're an artist, artisan, or crafter, making everything yourself is often a good way to go. You can personalize the gifts, save some money, and have fun doing it. The only drawbacks are that it takes a greater investment of time than just shopping, and there's always the risk of having one person who doesn't understand the work that goes into a handmade gift and belittles it, making you feel like dirt.

To get super bonus double karma points, you should buy handmade, recycled supplies from an American artist and turn them into personalized gifts for your friends and family. And in fact, if you can do that, I give you extreme kudos and I'd love it if you could post in the comments section and let me know exactly what you're doing.

As for myself, I find that it's impossible to adhere to any one gift-giving trend. I'm trying to be more conscientious about what I buy, but different things are appropriate for different people. It's up to each of us to take a look at our budgets and our concerns, and decide what is best for each of us to do. There is no One True Answer to politcally-correct gift purchasing, and chasing after that false ideal just adds unnecessary stress to what should be a joyous time of the year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

So, I decided not to have a sale.

Here we are, on the much-vaunted Black Friday, and after the weekend is up, we have the so-called Cyber Monday. And you know what? I find that I really don't care. In past years, I've held sales to try to capitalize on these days, and it hasn't really amounted to much. I'm not some mega-retailer who can afford to offer serious deep discounts to lure customers in, and I think that's all people are really interested in.

I find myself increasingly fed up with hype, whether it's the fiction of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or hearing that some new website is the "next great thing" for selling. I'm spending so much time on-line trying to network and self-promote that I have little time left for making jewelry. It's a little ridiculous, and I'm starting to streamline things to make my life easier. Don't worry, nothing is going to change at this blog. Although many people claim that blogs are a great marketing tool, I love mine just because it's nice to express myself and connect with friends old and new. Even if it never netted me a single sale, I'd keep it around.

I have some interesting plans for my business, which came about during a brain-storming session with Chris yesterday, but I don't have time to implement them before the holidays. As such, I'm just going to do what I've been doing now. Making jewelry, listing it on Etsy, and posting links in a few places. If people like it and buy it, great. If not, well, I have bigger things to stress about right now, like getting my house into order and keeping on top of all the little projects that I take on.

And now I'm off to do a little on-line holiday shopping, where I'll be buying what I had in mind for people, regardless of whether it's on sale.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen, Volume Three -- Thanksgiving!

Thirteen Things That I Am Thankful For

The other day I was in the post office, and the radio was on, and the DJs were talking about a study that was done recently which said that gratitude and giving thanks were good for your health. I can see the sense in that. If you're being grateful, then you're being positive, and if you're being positive, you're not stressing, and stress is bad for your health. So for me, I want this Thanksgiving to mark the start of being more thankful and showing more gratitude, every day. I want to look at this list frequently, and remind myself of all the things I should be thankful for. So in no particular order, here are thirteen things that I'm thankful for, today and every day.

1. My husband. I probably don't tell Chris enough how much I appreciate all that he does for me. He works hard to pay all the bills, never tells me "no" when I want more beads, or boots, or books, or whatever catches my eye. He puts up with my myriad flaws, supports me in all I do, and basically rocks.

2. My family, in-laws included. They're a pretty good bunch all-around.

3. My health. I've got a couple of small problems, but compared to some people, I am sitting easy. I don't live with chronic pain, I don't have to take any meds, and my health doesn't stand in the way of anything that I do.

4. My dogs. I knew that I wanted a dog (and somehow I ended up with two), but I had no idea how much Daisy and Maggie would add to my life. They're so much fun.

5. My cats. Sometimes they get lost in the shadow of the dogs, but there are still few things nicer than waking up in the morning to find Topher curled up next to me. He has the best little contented look when he sleeps. And Lira, well, she's a cranky old kitty who spends most of her time hiding, but I still love her.

6. My friends. They're funny, supportive, generous, fun to talk to, and awesome.

7. My gaming group, an off-shoot of my friends. Sure, I kvetch about the guys, but they're good guys. They're fun to play with, fun to talk with, come up with some unique characters, and they don't have most of the flaws that people associate with gamers. And they're all very good to my dogs!

8. My house. I'm already starting to take it for granted, and I shouldn't. Living here is such a step up from apartment life, and I'm so much more at ease here. I sleep better, I feel less cluttered and less frazzled, and it's so much easier to have friends over now.

9. Dancing! I don't do it enough, but when I do, it's such a transcendant experience.

10. Writing. Another thing that I don't do enough, but I like having the ability to put words to virtual paper and have it be something that people enjoy reading -- even if sometimes, the only person who reads it is whoever's running the game with the character who I'm writing the story for.

11. Beads. Without them, what else would I be addicted to?

12. The internet. I've connected to so many people here, including Chris and most of my friends. It's more than a tool now, it's a community, and one I'm glad to be thankful for.

13. Books. After too long of not reading regularly, I'm rediscovering the joy of getting lost in a story, whether it's a novel or a short story.

There are many more things I could be thankful for, but this is T13, not Twholelots, and I have to go finish getting things ready for my family to come over for dinner. So to all my readers, a happy Thanksgiving, and may you find things to be grateful for, no matter the day.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Housework, I hate it

Spent the day doing housework, and I still have to sweep and mop the floors and wash a bunch of dishes and cook some potatoes. All of which will happen tomorrow, because it's almost gaming time, and besides, I am desperately in need of dinner, which makes me light-headed.

I'm happy to say that although I didn't get all of the things done that I wanted to before tomorrow's dinner, I did get a lot done. The house is a lot cleaner than it usually is (or will be, once I sweep and mop) because I got to several of the jobs that I usually ignore. I'm really excited about tomorrow. My parents are supplying the turkey and some of the sides, and Chris and I will provide the relish tray, potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and hot and cold drinks. This is a big step up from previous years, where we only provided the relish tray. I feel like such a grown-up!

Last night I finished the bezel around the faerie button for my Thanksgiving necklace (which will not be finished in time to wear tomorrow, I fear). Tonight during the game, I'll be bezeling the rivoli and maybe joining them and starting on the embellishing. I think it's going to be very cute. I love how the bezel frames the faerie image, so I'll probably do the same thing for the 5 other buttons.

So to all of my American readers, happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hey look, it's SNOWDROP! :D

Ok, I'm through delaying! Today I photographed Snowdrop and now she's up on Etsy and ready for your admiring glances. There are three more images in the Etsy listing, including a couple of close-ups if you want to see more detail (and I know you do!).

I created Snowdrop for the Etsy BeadWeavers' December challenge, Snow Queen. For more eye candy, search Etsy for the tag "ebwc" and see what my team mates have come up with!

A wide variety of white and crystal beads went into the creation of this frosty beauty. There's Japanese seed beads in two sizes and colors, Delicas, a silver-backed crystal rivoli, white opal crystals, crystal moonlight teardrops, vintage teardrops, and a big opal and crystal givre teardrop, plus a cute little Czech glass button for the clasp.

The rivoli is bezeled with peyote stitch, and then I added three layers of embellishment. First, the long fringes with accent beads. Then a layer of short, plain fringes behind them just to fill it out. Then some ruffly picots all around, to give it some extra texture.

The necklace itself is a variation of chevron chain. I love this stitch because it's quick, sturdy, and attractive. This particular variation looks like interwoven hearts... although if you look at it just right, it sort of looks like hearts alternating with pretzels.

Now that Snowdrop is done, I can focus on the necklace I'm making for myself, which is never going to be ready in time for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Snowdrop

I got a slow start today and didn't get out to the workshop again. That's the one problem with the new photo set-up. It seems like a real waste of time to go out there and set everything up just to photograph one necklace, especially when I'll have to tear everything back down on Wednesday night for the game.

Of course, that's assuming we have a game. One player has other plans, due to it being almost the holiday, and if anyone else has plans, we'll just cancel the game for this week. And as much as I enjoy the game, that will be fine if it happens. Gives us more time to get things ready for Thanksgiving!

Anyway, I might whip up some more earrings or something as soon as I get up tomorrow, to make the photography set-up worthwhile. Or maybe I'll take pretty new pictures of some old items and put them up on Etsy for the holidays. I do have a few other Wintry items that could use some love. Maybe Snow Angel? We'll see.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hey look! Puppies!

Ok, so they're full grown, but they still act like puppies. Chris and I call them our pups all the time. And I swear, they don't spend ALL of their time on that love seat. It's just that since the seat is catty-corner from my desk, and my camera is on my desk, I'm more likely to get a cute picture of them there. If they're being cute in the living room, they'll probably follow me into the office to get the camera.

I love this pose. It's so adorable when they lie together, in sisterly friendship. It's easy to see why the rescue insisted that they be adopted together. They like to be in the same room as each other, they go outside and back in at the same time, they like to cuddle together on the couch, play together, and walk together. One time when we took them for a walk, I got a leg-cramp and had to stop halfway through, and I kept Mags with me because I didn't think Chris would want to walk both of them (they have a bad habit of criss-crossing the leash around your legs), and Daisy still had a lot of energy to burn. The entire time that we waited for them to come back with the car, Maggie sat there looking in the direction they had gone, occasionally whimpering. And when Chris showed up with the car, she and Daisy were all over each other in the back seat. The next time we walked, Maggie wanted to be right up behind Chris and Daisy. There was no way they were getting away from her again!

I'm of course posting a corgi picture to distract you from the fact that Snowdrop isn't done yet. I will be finishing it tonight, but it's already dark and cold out, so I won't be trekking to the workshop to take pictures.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Just popping in

I wasn't feeling great today, so I spent most of the day kicking back and reading a book. Then I went out with my family to celebrate my Dad's birthday, and I ate chocolate cheesecake, and that make me feel a bit better. But now I am going to once more kick back, because the first disc of Doctor Who Season 4 arrived in today's mail, and watching that is more fun than blogging.

Tomorrow I should have Snowdrop ready, however!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen, Volume 2

Thirteen Things about AJ

This week, it's Thirteen Things I Need or Want To Do Before I Host Thanksgiving For The First Time.

1. Actually finalize plans with my family, as to when they'll come over and who is making and providing what.

2. Buy the things that we are providing.

3. Seriously clean the house. While doing a basic cleaning yesterday, I noticed a lot of oft-ignored jobs that need doing.

4. Wash all the fancy plates. Some people have China. I have heavy pottery dishes with brown and glowing turquoise glaze.

5. Wash the new silverware. We got the style with bamboo-shaped handles.

6. Decide if I want any fancy platters or bowls to hold things in, and if so, purchase them.

7. Come up with an attractive way to cover the hole that one of the dogs chewed in the couch last night. Seriously dogs, we were gone for 15 minutes. What is up with destroying the couch?

8. Design and bead a new necklace to wear, because I haven't made anything for myself for a while! Maybe something involving one of the adorable vintage faerie buttons that arrived in yesterday's mail (goodness, I love Etsy), or a green rivoli. Or both!

9. Make sure that all holiday presents already procured for the family are safely hidden away in the guest room closet.

10. Give the dogs a bath, because no one is ever thankful for stinky, dusty dogs.

11. Figure out where we are going to put all of that food, and more importantly, how to keep the cats out of it.

12. Go buy more olives, because no matter how many we have, it's never enough for my husband and my brother, who will nosh on them constantly while the rest of the meal is cooking, and yet somehow still have room for a gigantic dinner.

13. Pre-write next week's T13 post, because I know I won't have time to blog!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Egyptian Treasury

It's almost time to schlep myself over to the game, so just a quick post to tell you about the treasury I curated today, Egyptian Mystique.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Serious Chandeliers, Silly Name

I call these Tiger in a Taffeta Dress because sometimes, when I have 5 or more new items to list at once, I just can't come up with beautiful names for all of them. Of course, this can work to my advantage. The earrings that I named "Mulch!?!" a couple of years back sold pretty quickly. Maybe these little tigers will find a home, too.

Actually, they're not very little. They're the heaviest earrings I have in stock right now! And you may recognize the color combination -- I used it earlier this year for the earrings that Denise won in my "how many spools of thread?" contest. I wanted to see how it would look with antiqued brass, and I think the answer is "quite nicely." Unfortunately, I had to substitute vintage glass for the citrine, as the citrine holes were way too small for the bronze headpins. 4mm Swarovski crystals also don't fit on the headpins, which limits my earring options quite annoyingly.

The Snowdrop necklace is coming along very nicely. I'll probably finish it on Thursday. Maybe even tomorrow, if I get up early, push through my housework, don't waste a lot of time on Facebook, and bead through the entire game. So yes. Expect it to be done on Thursday.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cute keyrings

I call these earrings The Keys to Any of a Number of Things and they feature the little keyring charms that sparked my key-buying frenzy on Etsy. Aren't they just the neatest little dangles? The Czech glass window beads are also pretty. I plan to use more of them in a mermaid necklace, eventually.

My necklace for the December EBW challenge is off to a good start. I'm thinking its name will involve the word Snowdrop but I'm not entirely certain yet.

Chris's job is putting us both under a lot of stress right now, so I'm not feeling very talkative right now. I'm going to go work with my beads some more and see if it makes me feel any better.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hello and good-bye!

These Hidden Secrets earrings sold within 24 hours of being listed on Etsy. The funny thing is, I told myself that if they didn't sell, I could replace the brass hooks with some bronze titanium and keep them. I really, really like them! But I'm very happy that they sold, it's a rewarding feeling to know that my favorite is someone else's favorite, too.

I have one more of those medallions left, and 2 more of the keys, so I'm thinking of doing a matching necklace with the brass chain I bought the other week. Although, since the earrings are already gone, I may do different bead accents, just to mix it up. Hard to say. Those matte, swirly Czech ovals are rather pretty.

In other news, I'm working on my piece for the Etsy Beadweavers' Snow Queen challenge. I'm not sure what it will be called yet, so the working title is Snow Queen. It's weird to work with these crisp white beads, after a week of the russet, earthy tones of Wastelands Tribe and all the green and brass for the earrings. It's good to mix things up! Not sure what I'll do next after this, though. Maybe more wintry colors, since it is that time of year. Oh, or the magenta/purple/celadon bead embroidered pendant. I guess those are more Spring-y colors, but I don't adhere to seasonal themes as much as I probably should.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wastelands Tribe at last

I'm still not a great model, but I really needed a shot of this necklace being worn so people could see how awesome it is, and it just wouldn't have looked as good on Chris ;) For more pictures, please visit Wastelands Tribe on Etsy, and while you're at it, you can see all of the awesome earrings I made yesterday, too!

I'm probably happier with how this came out than I would have been with the original design. As I was weaving, I really felt like the necklace had an Afghani or African look to it, so the brass bells really go. And it was fun to work the key and the gear into the design, too. In fact, the gear is really nifty. It's actually two gears on one little axis (axle? spoke? thingie?), and you can move them individually if you have fingernails and decent manual dexterity. They could probably also be manipulated with a pin.

Next up, I'll be working on Snow Queen, but first I have to clean the remnants of about half a dozen projects off of my desk. It's getting way too cluttered here!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Volume 1

So, I keep seeing this meme over at A Rose By Name's blog, and I thought I'd give it a little try. I am a sucker for internet memes.

Thirteen Things about AJ Reardon

To start off, we'll do Thirteen Random Things About Me, for people who are new to my blog (I'll try to throw in some interesting things so my regular readers aren't bored), and in future weeks I'll try to come up with some fun gimmick lists.

1. I've been going by my initials since I was 11. I'm getting kind of bored with it, but I still don't like my actual name, and getting everyone to call me by a different name all over again is too much work.

2. I am happily childfree and intend to stay that way.

3. I do not call my cats and dogs my kids or babies, I am not their mother, and actually, I kind of hate it when people call me "Mom" when referring to their pets.

4. I'm not quite as cranky as this list makes me sound, so let's try to be positive, shall we?

5. I like gourmet flavored teas, and in fact have an entire cupboard in my kitchen dedicated to tea and tea-brewing paraphernalia. Last night I found a whole stash of yummy tea that had accidentally been pushed to the back of the cupboard. Woohoo!

6. I am an amateur belly dancer and I love to dance to Collide, Dead Can Dance, Stellamara, and whatever else sounds good at the moment.

7. I love living in Tucson because our winters are mild and we have the biggest gem show in the WORLD.

8. Speaking of gem shows, I hire myself out to various vendors to work as booth help to earn extra bead money. Since I started 8 years ago, I've worked for a Czech glass seller, a silver and beading supplies seller, a resin bead seller, a lampworker, and a full-fledged bead store whose booth is an entire room. It's an awesome job.

9. I collect mythology and folklore books. I especially enjoy going to the used bookstore and looking for old and unusual volumes. My collection includes a copy of "A Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology" published right after the discovery of King Tut's tomb. I think it's technically my husband's book, but I sort of took possession of it...

10. Actually, I just really like books in general. I like to read them, I like to write them, I like to buy them, collect them, give them as gifts. In fact, the only thing I really don't like to do is pack and move them! They get heavy fast.

11. I am really enjoying being a homeowner. My husband and I bought our first house this year and we're so happy here.

12. I'm a big ol' nerd who is into fantasy, sci-fi, roleplaying gaming, comic books and web comics, steampunk, the occasional video game, and hanging out with other nerds. I really get tired of jokes that suggest that all nerds are socially inept, can't get a date, and live in their parents' basement. And don't even get me started on the assumption that they're all boys. Girl geeks rock!

13. I can be a little opinionated, I like to rant, and I stand up for what's important to me. Sarcasm is my favored weapon.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm one of the cool kids now.

I'm writing this on my laptop out in the game room. Everyone else always brings their laptop to the game, so I decided to bring mine out tonight, too. I just finished Wastelands Tribe, finally, and it looks pretty awesome. But I didn't feel like sorting out the Delica/11 mess for Snow Queen, so there's no beading tonight.

Technically I should be gaming, but everyone is talking about Fallout 3, a game which I am not playing. This always happens. Oh well. I needed time to blog anyway!

Chris's mid-week weekend was stymied by his boss, so we didn't get to do our other errands today. Instead, I spent all day doing housework. In fact, it was a pretty annoying day and the current lack of gaming is not making things better.

Tomorrow, I should be working on some neat earrings, and I should be able to take pictures of them and Wastelands Tribe. It's been too long since there's been new jewelry on this blog!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today I bought the most awesome black lace-up ankle boots. They're even more awesome than my previous black lace-up ankle boots, which have to be retired due to general falling-apartness. Chris is very amused by my excitement about these boots. While I like clothing, I am generally ambivelant about shoes. The one exception is boots. I ADORE boots of the lace-up or button-up variety. The more psuedo-Victorian the better. Now I just need a pair of brown boots and I will be an extremely happy girl.

This week has been beyond weird. Chris had to work overtime on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and last night, and now he's off today, tomorrow and probably Thursday. As such, today feels like a Saturday, and I kept forgetting that it was, in fact, the middle of the week.

Safety Gear has been redubbed Wastelands Tribe and it was coming along nicely until I realized that I had somehow been 5 rows off on finding the center (despite counting twice...), so I have to take it apart a bit and rework it some, but I do believe it can be saved. It looks nothing short of awesome, with a definite Afghani and African influence. I can't wait to finish it and show it off. In fact, I think I should go work on it now.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Our grand time at the park

I mentioned in Friday's post that we were going to take the girls walking at the park. We did, and it was a good time. We met Chris's friend and former co-worker Clinton, introduced him to Daisy and Maggie, and set out. The girls were pretty hyper at first, because they don't go for walks very often and aren't officially leash trained, but after about 10-15 minutes, and a dog swap (Daisy is too much a handful for Chris, especially when he's talking while he walks), they settled down and really enjoyed themselves.

The path around the park is about 4 miles... it took us around an hour to walk it, which is good, because they say corgis should get 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. Because of their short, stubby legs, a comfortably brisk pace for me is also a quick pace for them, so I'm sure it was a good aerobic workout for them. A dog of their size but of a less athletic breed might have been tired out, but these girls were bred to herd sheep, cattle and horses, so they have lots of energy to burn! They were smiling for pretty much the entire walk.

We had a little trouble, in that Daisy barked and lunged at the first dog we passed, but I kept her in hand and we only had minor pulling the two or three other times that we walked by other dog owners. She also shied away from rollerbladers. Being a country dog, I'm sure she'd never seen anyone on skates. Maggie, meanwhile, was just perfectly content to be out and about and didn't seem to have trouble with anyone or anything.

Because it's such a short distance to and from the park (walking distance, really, but walking there, around, and back would be too much with the shape we're currently in), instead of crating them, I took the center seat in the back and held their collars while they sat on either side of me. They were very well-behaved and didn't even try to get up front with Chris. Daisy seemed a little scared or uncomfortable with the car ride, but Maggie loved it.

After we got home and fed the girls their dinner, they slept on the office chair for five hours. Those pups were all tuckered out!

It was such a success that we're hoping to go on similar walks 2-3 times a week. We could all use the exercise, and the girls need to learn how to walk well on a leash. Besides, it's so much fun when someone walks by, smiles, and says "Aw, corgis!"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

My Day of Getting Things Done

Since gaming was held elsewhere today and there were no random people going in and out of my house, I felt really free to get around to doing a lot of things that I had planned. Granted, I didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but I still accomplished a lot, while still having fun and not feeling like I spent half of my weekend working. Today I...

... went to the post office and ran some errands.
... finally received my package of components from Canada and ooohed and aaahed over them.
... began a new blog for my writing.
... gave in and signed up for a Twitter account.
... caught up on reading a couple of other blogs.
... continued to work on Safety Gear, though I had to change my idea and it will need a new name.
... started work on my chapter for the Collector Times Round Robin story, The League of Explorers.
... got a good bit of dancing in.

There's a few more things that I might get done before the night is over. But even if I don't, it feels good to get so much done in a single day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Much Beading Accomplished

(yes, it's another picture of Dreamwalker Amulet. I really like the necklace, what can I say?)

I'm making great progress on Safety Gear. I have half a dozen stitches left, and then it's embellishing time. I'm only taking a break because I hit the end of my thread, so that seemed like a good time to come over here and blog about it. I might even finish it tonight, and if so, I may photograph it tomorrow.

As I sat here working on it, I had an inspiration for an interesting variation on the design. It's definitely worth exploring, but I won't get to do so until after I finish Snow Queen. I thought about discarding my original Snow Queen idea and doing this instead, but I don't think it would be quite elegant enough, and it would require different beads than the ones that I already picked out.

Tonight we're going to head over to Reid Park (the largest, most awesome park in Tucson) with the dogs to go walking with a friend. It's a little colder than I'd like to be out walking, but it's good to get some exercise, take the dogs out, and be social. Hopefully the girls will behave themselves! They like to wrap me up like a maypole when we walk.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Full Steam Ahead!

Full Steam Ahead is the theme for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge. You know I am excited about it! I've already entered a couple of pieces, and I have a few more to add, including Safety Gear when it's finished. And of course, I'll also be entering The Inventors' Gala Ball, which I just listed on Etsy. Brown and steampunk are both so hot right now that I'm confident this necklace will find a home quickly.

Back to Safety Gear for a moment, it's coming along very nicely. I had a lot of beading time at last night's game, and then a lot of beading time today. And in fact, I'll have more beading time after I post this, too. I actually had to force myself to stop and go do the Etsy listing and all of my other on-line stuff. I was in a nice grove, stitching along, and it seemed almost a shame to let that momentum go.

Meanwhile, today's mail had two packages for me! I ordered some shower gel, lip balm and perfume from Etsy seller Savvii which arrived today. I'm especially pleased with the Chai lipbalm and the Midnight Pomegranate perfume. Haven't tried the shower gel yet, but it smells pretty nice, so it's promising. And I also received the beads, rivolis, and chain that I ordered from Whimbeads. The rivoli is just what I needed for my Snow Queen necklace, so I get to start that as soon as I finish Safet Gear.

All in all, a pretty satisfying day!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Super fast post

No time for a real blog post, since I have to go to the grocery store before the game, so let's cover bases really fast:

Dreamwalker Amulet is now on Etsy, at a reduced price! Yay!
I'm working on Safety Gear again and think it will turn out this time. Yay!
The presidential candidate that I voted for won. Yay!
None of my various Etsy packages arrived in today's mail. Boo!

That is all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The turtle now has friends!

Yesterday I decided that since I enjoyed the colors in Turtle Talisman so much, I ought to make a bracelet and earrings to go with it. So here they are: Marsh and Trundling Turtles. Singly or as a set, they're deliciously green.

I've had a busy day today. I voted, did housework, made earrings, took pictures, listed things on Etsy, and played with my hyper dogs. All in all, a good Tuesday.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Not quite white

Well, I went to start Snow Queen today, and it didn't work out because the Crystal Moonlight rivoli has a slight yellowish tint to it that looked bad against the white seed beads. Not to be deterred, brought up the Whimbeads website and ordered a plain ol' crystal rivoli instead -- as well as some chain, some Delicas, and some of those new-fangled size 15 Delicas. Because, you know, I had to make the order worth the cost of shipping (ok, I went beyond that. Maybe I felt the need for a little retail therapy...).

The annoying part in all of this is that I'm using the same color Delica and Japanese 11 for this project... and I accidentally dumped the Delicas into the 11s tube when I was cleaning up! Sorting them back out from each other will not be a fun task. I think I might save it for the Wednesday game, that way I don't have to worry about a cat jumping up onto my desk and mixing them right back up.

Anyway, in the meantime, I felt like I should bead something, so I made a green and green crystal bracelet, using some of the colors from the Turtle Talisman. I'm also going to make some earrings with a pair of the turtle beads and some crystals... That way if someone is so inclined, they could get a matching green turtle set. I'll list the bracelet and earrings on Etsy tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I get them photographed.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

White on white on white on white...

The December theme for Etsy BeadWeavers is "Snow Queen." As luck would have it, I've had several snowy pieces planned for a while, but hadn't worked on them yet, because it wasn't winter. Tonight I decided to pick out the beads for the most appealing one, which has a "Crystal Moonlight" colored rivoli, and some matching briolettes.

If you've been following my jewelry for a while, you probably know that whenever I make an icy necklace, I tend to add light blue to the white, because I like color. But this time I'm forcing myself out of my comfort zone and working only in shades of white. I think it will make for a much icier, snowier necklace. It will probably also be a pretty bridal necklace, something which I am pretty much lacking.

I might need to order some 15s before I proceed, though. The best I could come up with were some plain matte crystal, and I think they're going to look too drab with the white-lined crystal AB Delicas and 11s. Plain white was too stark, and gilt-lined opal white was too yellow... and that exhausted my selection of white beads. I almost never work in white, preferring cream and ivory for neutrals, so I have almost nothing to pick from for this necklace!

Anyway, with any luck, this will work out better than my attempts for the November challenge did!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What I wore for Halloween!

Here I am, dressed up for Halloween. I'm standing in a weird way, trying to show off my cute socks, and holding the neat bottle that I bought on Etsy.

Not expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters, I bought a 25 pack of mini Play-Dough tubs. I won't be doing that again. I ran out after about 20 minutes. There were a lot of people out and about in my neighborhood! I sat outside on the front porch for those 20 minutes, so the dogs wouldn't freak out about the doorbell being rang all the time. Instead, they just freaked out about all the people who were outside! They were a little edgy even after everyone was off the streets, but today they're back to their usual behavior. They're both dozing right now, in fact, in that "tummy full, time to sleep" post dinner haze :)

With Halloween over, I guess it's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Mmm, cranberry sauce! I think we'll be hosting it this year, for the first time ever, since we have a bigger dining room than my parents. Should be fun!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sale ends today!

Just a reminder, today is the last day to take advantage of the 10% off sale on all jewelry in my Etsy Shop! Remember, the holidays are just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to buy some presents or pick up the perfect necklace to wear to the office Christmas party.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So blasted lethargic!

Ugh, I just could not fall asleep last night, and though I eventually did (sometime after 3am), I don't think I slept very well. I've spent the entire day with that slightly dulled, completely energy-less feeling that I get when I haven't slept. As such I didn't get nearly as much done as I should have. I did write three articles for Collector Times, and I'm about to edit some BFAC pictures, but I didn't have any inspiration to bead or motivation to clean the house.

Last night, however, I almost completed a rivoli pendant in purple and green. I left it out in the game room so I can finish it next week. It was fun to work on a smaller, simpler project without any real pressure. I think I need to work on such things for the next little bit, at least until I'm done with all this BFAC stuff. I don't seem to be having much luck working on major projects.

The other fun thing about last night was dressing like my roleplaying character, since it was just two days before Halloween. I love the fact that I can cobble together a costume out of the contents of my closet -- although to be fair, I did borrow Chris's Ren Faire pants -- and I'll do the same tomorrow. I haven't decided if I'll be a belly dancer or a steampunk for Halloween, but I'm leaning towards the latter. I've been a belly dancer for the past two or three years. Not that I'm even doing anything for Halloween, but I will be handing out stuff to any kids who come by, so I'll dress up for them.

Anyway, off to photos with me!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nope, that idea didn't work...

I may have already said as much on this blog, but after the beaded book didn't work out, I decided I'd try doing a necklace based on the expression "a stitch in time saves nine." Today I sat down to work on it, and it was one little problem after another, which resulted in a crooked and unattractive pendant. Grr. Hopefully I can pop the old watch face out of the glue, because it's the only one from my package of watch faces that actually has numbers on it.

So after two failed attempts to come up with something appropriate, and the deadline for the November challenge looming, I'm quite frustrated. It's reached the point that -- despite the fact that I am not an evolutionist -- I think I'm going to go WAY back on the ancestral scale and make a primordial ooze bracelet. Ooze about matches my mood right now. And ooze is green. Working in green should make me happy.

And if that doesn't work out, I have to give up on the November challenge altogether! I have too many other deadlines on the horizon. Darn my tendency to bite off more than I can chew.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The brooch, at last!

Here is my brooch, The Soaring Wyvern. It has a fun little story with it in the Etsy listing, too. I'm so happy with how it looks, that I might just make more brooches in the future.

I had a nice day today, did a bunch of housework and then had a visit with my friend Helen. She adored the dogs, and they were of course all over her. We talked a lot about pets, some about life, and a bit about the current season of Heroes. All in all, a good time.

Tonight I'll start picking things out for my EBW challenge piece, I think.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My dogs are clean!

Much to their extreme dismay, Daisy and Maggie got baths today. Their white fur is actually white again, instead of a dusty-color. And they smell slightly less like dog. It's quite an ordeal bathing them, and next time Chris wants to try taking them to one of those do-it-yourself groomers so we don't make a mess of our bathroom. Given the bits of dog hair everywhere in the tub, I'm inclined to agree with him.

The girls had to be bathed, as my friend Helen is coming over to meet them, and I thought she'd probably prefer to not be greeted by dirty, smelly dogs. Our weather has been so dry that the backyard is all dusty, and all that dust and dirt gets caught up in their fur... yuck!

Moving on to a much more pleasant topic. I actually managed to finish my brooch before bed last night. I was going to put some fringe on it, but after I finished the edge, I thought that any fringe would just look too fussy, so I'm leaving it as is. I hope to photograph it and list it on Etsy tomorrow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not much getting done...

I'm feeling a little rundown today, probably the stress over the stupid website thing. So I didn't get much done, not even much fun stuff. I had planned to bead a lot, and here it is almost 11:30 and I've only done a single stitch. I'll do a few more after I post this, but not too many, because I'm using black thread to stitch black felt and black Ultrasuede together (accented by dark pewter beads) and that makes my tired eyes get all squinty!

This next week is going to be crazy, as I have to continue what I've been doing for LL-BFAC, write my usual e-zine columns, and get my EBW challenge piece done (which, by the way, I haven't even started). Oh yes, and keep the house clean and care for all the pets and possibly cram a couple social visits in as well. And, of course, try to get my website back. The fun never stops!

I don't mean to sound all complainy. All in all, life is pretty good. The house is awesome, the dogs are a constant source of joy, Chris is great, the economic situation hasn't hurt us, etc etc. I just can't help but wish that I had a little more time for beading and writing, and to play with polymer clay and learn to use my sewing machine (which I've had for about 10 months now), and all the other creative endeavours I might want to try.

I might as well take advantage of the time I do have, so it's off to the beads with me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Key Necklace!

Key to the Autumn Door is the first piece in my new series of inexpensive steampunk jewelry. With the economy being what it is, I'm sure many people will be looking for affordable presents for the holidays, so I'm trying to add more modest pieces to my collection, to balance out the wanton extravagance of beadweaving and art beads. This new line of jewelry may also include other themes, but I just purchased a lot of keys and brass elements to use, so that will be the main focus to start with.

In other Etsy-related news, today I was accepted in the Fantasy Artists Etsy Team. I'm really thrilled and honored, as many of my favorite Etsy sellers are part of that team. If you'd like to get a taste for the excellent work done by the members of FAE, just go to Etsy and do a search for "faeteam."

In annoying news, my domain name was finally released, only to be snatched up by one of those annoying companies that purchases expired domains to use for advertising. So next week, I have to try to get it back from them. This is about where I start to bang my head against the wall...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Photos, I take them!

I hope you're not bored of Locked Away, because here's another shot! I just edited this picture, and a dozen others. That's the part I hate about doing photography... going through and getting all of the images web-ready. Luckily, with this set-up, I don't have to do any color adjustments, so it goes a little faster, but it's still a tedious job. I have to take lots of little breaks... Like a break to post on my blog!

Last night, I bezeled a rivoli in the new "Purple Haze" effect (you may have seen it advertised in the beading magazines). I'm not thrilled with the effect, it's not very purple. I won't be buying it again. But I do have a couple of vintage cabs that go nicely with it, so eventually they'll all be part of a very fancy pendant. The cabs just have to wait until I've got a couple of other projects finished, including the brooch and my November EBW challenge piece.

Rivoli bezeling is a nice, simple project for gaming, though, so if I'm not working on something else easily portable next week, I'll definitely work on another one. I feel almost like I should plot out projects for all of the rivolis that I currently have, and pick out the bezel beads for them, so I've got a ready-made project for the next half dozen or so game nights.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Making stuff!

Well, I got an early start today, and my friend was too busy to come over, so I actually got to have a little creative time today. I just whipped up a quick, simple necklace which I'll try to get photographed and into the Etsy shop soon. Because it is quick and simple, it will also be affordable! I think I need to have more than just earrings in the $25 and under range.

I'm going to do a little beading tonight during the game, probably just bezel a rivoli that will eventually be part of a larger project. Or maybe bezel one of these slightly defective rivolis and make myself another cute pendant. I haven't made anything for myself for a while... and I have several green rivolis to choose from. Hmmm....

In my mail today, there was a package full of some goodies that I purchased from Etsy... two different styles of vintage glass cameo cabochons, and some cool Czech snake beads that I wish I'd had for the Animal Instincts challenge. I'm trying not to buy a lot of random supplies, but these were all too awesome to pass up. The cameos are especially beautiful, and I've been needing some of those for Neo Victorian/Steampunk jewelry.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just flitting in.

I snapped a few shots of this really cool moth on the screen in my beadroom today. I owe thanks to Topher for these pictures, as I found it by following his gaze to see what he was staring at. The neat thing, which is more visible when its wings are spread out (unfortunately, those pictures were fuzzy) is that the lighter parts are translucent.

Anyway, I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get to bead today, and I won't be writing either. I did take a bunch of LL-BFAC photos, and go to Target and buy another vest, and get some housework done, but I didn't get to any of the fun stuff I had planned. Bummer.

Tomorrow will be another busy day! I've got housework galore, possibly a visit from a friend, then grocery shopping and gaming. I'll try to at least get some beads together to work on something during the game.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sarcasm dog rolls her eyes at you!

I took this picture of Maggie looking sarcastic last night. And that's all I'll say on the subject of dogs, since it isn't the weekend!

Over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that I'm just not going to finish this beaded book. It's boring. I remembered that square stitch was a bit tedious, but my memories were not exact in just how soul-numbingly dull it is. I bead to enjoy myself, so I should be doing something fun. As such, I'm going to go in a totally different direction for the Ancestral Expressions challenge. Hopefully I can start my new project tomorrow.

I have a couple of small, simple projects that I want to do, too, and I need to finish the wyvern brooch. I definitely need to make time to bead this week, when I'm not taking LL-BFAC pictures, or editing them, or cleaning house. And speaking of BFAC pictures, it has been working out much better to take them in the game room. I'm not getting that weird yellowish tint anymore, so it must have been those lights.

Also, if you're on Facebook, you can now become a fan of Layne's Legacy -- Beading For A Cure! I'm maintaining the page, and will be using it to post pictures, website updates, news, and the auction schedule. You can use it to chat with other LL-BFAC fans, plot out your auction purchases, and introduce your Facebook friends to a worthy cause.