Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, it's not midnight here for another hour and a half, but I figured I'd post now anyway :) I'm wishing all of my readers the best in 2010!

Sorry the blog has been so quiet, I decided to take the week off since I didn't seem to be getting a lot of visitors anyway, and I really haven't done much blog-worthy this week. I'll probably pick back up tomorrow or Saturday, depending on how late my family is here tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saw Avatar Today

Chris and I went out to see Avatar today. We decided to catch a 3D showing, and although a lot of people were at the theater to see Sherlock Holmes, our screening was pretty full, too.

The movie is beautiful, with lots of interesting plants and creatures, many of which glow with eye-popping phosphorescent hues, making every night time scene resemble Mother Nature's biggest rave party. I can definitely see why they made a tie-in video game, because the world is just dying to be explored, what with the wide branches, giant leaves, and floating mountains... actually, at times, it honestly felt like I was watching a video game.

Aside from the marvelous graphics, I found it to be entertaining but not amazing. Even at almost 3 hours long the movie had to jump around a lot in time to fit in everything it wanted to, and at times my mind had to scramble to fill in the blanks. I think it might have worked better as a two-part movie, a la Kill Bill, as it would have allowed more time for character development and backstory.

The action sequences were really intense, and while there's not really any gore, a lot of people and creatures die very violent deaths. This, combined with more exposed native boobs than a year's worth of National Geographic means that this is really not a kid's movie, no matter what McDonald's seems to think. It's a shame, because I think kids would really love the super-colorful and imaginative world of Pandora*, but might be scared by the big battles (my personal feeling is that the boobs won't harm their delicate little psyches, but I'm not big on anti-boob-stigma). It would be nice if in addition to the video game and Happy Meal Toys, they had made a kiddie movie to go with the adult movie.

But really, when you strip away the amazing graphics, the alien world, and the machine-gun laden ships, this is Fern Gully for adults, and the heavy-handed message and black-and-white moral view point is what kept me from being truly in love with it.

*Seriously, enough with the name Pandora, guys. Go mine Greek mythology for some new planet names. I'm sure Borderlands and Avatar aren't the only ones to use it, just the only ones I've encountered. This year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happily Home

I had a wonderfully refreshing holiday up in Marana. Five dogs, the quiet of the desert, and plenty of reading material. Not a traditional Christmas by a long shot, but that's how I like it. It was actually pretty easy to forget that it was Christmas, if I had the TV off. It was cool, but not cold, and beautifully clear. Felt like any other perfect winter day.

The dogs had a great time with each other. Chris got some adorable pictures of my girls loving up to their boyfriend, I'll have to get them off of his phone and post them for you all. And Daisy was just deliriously happy about all of the walking and jogging, I don't think her tail stopped wagging for a moment while she was on-leash. We even taught her how to use the doggie door.

Now it's time to start getting ready for my family's holiday celebration on New Year's Day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going dog-sitting

Tomorrow I'm going up to Marana to dog/house sit for my friend Helen. I have to say, I don't have a problem with the idea of dogsitting becoming a new Christmas tradition for me. It's so peaceful out in the desert, just me and 5 great dogs.

I'm not sure if I'm going to pre-schedule some lame filler blog posts to keep up my "blogging every day" goal, or let it slide. Probably let it slide, since no one really wants to read filler.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swappy swapness

The big reveal has been done over on the Etsy forums, so now I can post this picture of the jewelry that I made for my swappee, Mermaiden! It was only natural that Julie would get a necklace with a Green Girl mermaid focal. The hard part was choosing which of the three or four or five different mermaids in my stash suited her best... But this one is the most magical, so it won :) I paired it with freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, and vintage opal glass in capri and aqua. I liked the colors so much that I decided they needed to be made into earrings, too.

My gifts came from Carapace, who made me an awesome "anything" box (because it can hold anything) with faerie faces and leaves and gems, as well as a couple leaf pendants. Plus she sent a beautiful dryad face focal that she'd been waiting for the right person to receive. No pictures yet, because it has been gray and nasty here. Might have to give in and take some indoor photos instead.

This swap really brightened my holidays, I have to say. It was so much fun creating for Julie, and I knew that no matter who my gift came from, it would be lovely, because everyone involved is so talented.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick Recital Report

I am all tired out from a day of errands and the gym, but I did promise to talk about the recital today, so here goes!

My Dad stealth-snapped this picture of me while we were talking after the performance. Check out my crazy-awesome bindi and the cute corona of flowers that my classmate Bea put into my hair! I'm really happy with how I ended up looking for the night, stupid teeth aside. I'll get a good picture of my necklace later this week.

Of course, I'm sure that what you really want is the video. This version was taken by someone named Chase -- I think he was the staff-spinning teacher. He gave it to my classmate Shari who uploaded it and shared it with us on YouTube. Major thanks to both of them! I know it's pretty dark, but luckily I'm wearing a shiny silver skirt, so it's easy to pick me out.

The funny thing about it was that the performance itself passed by in a blur. It seemed like we were on the stage and then poof, we were off! It's nice to see the video and actually see what everyone was doing, and how I screwed up ;)

I really enjoyed it, though, and am looking forward to future chances to perform!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Lucky Winner!

Congratulations to Grace Danel for winning the gift certificate! Thank you to Artbeads.com for providing this prize for my blog readers.

There are many different ways to randomly choose a winner. I did this the gamer way... I went to the Wizards of the Coast website and used their dice roller to roll a virtual 9 sided die (since there were 9 entries in the contest). The winning number was 2, and Grace was the second poster!

Tomorrow I'll post a full report on my belly dance recital experience.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Awesome time

The recital tonight was great... lots of beautiful dancers in gorgeous costumes performing amazing routines. Unfortunately, I'm suffering the after affects of an adrenaline rush and I am so so so so sooooo tired. It will be a miracle if I get all the makeup off of my face before collapsing into bed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Like this, but better

Tomorrow's the big day! Recital! I feel like I'm ready for it. I've got my costume, accessories, make-up, and a friend willing to feed the dogs since we'll be out all day. Now I just need to finish my necklace, and pack everything up so I don't forget anything important, like my shirt. Wouldn't that be embarrassing!

Today I had to go buy lipstick, as Tiffany (my teacher) said that we should all wear dark red for the performance to look more dramatic. I hate lipstick, because it draws attention to my mouth, the single most unattractive part of my body. Ugh. But I sucked it up and bought some "Winter Red" which is dark without being TOO red, so it's better with my freckly white girl complexion.

Anyway, I'm now closed for the holidays. You can still buy things, but I won't ship them until at least the 28th.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Closing up shop tomorrow

Tomorrow I'm closing up shop. Not for good, mind you, just for the holidays. Tomorrow's the last day that I really feel that I can mail things and have a strong chance of them arriving in time for Christmas.

If you have some last minute shopping to do, Snowdrop is today's Daily Special. I've not only taken $10 off the regular price, but this necklace also ships for free. Sure, it's not diamonds and gold, which the commercials want you to believe are all a woman wants for Christmas, but it's still a stunningly elegant necklace, and far more unique than anything you'll get at those mall jewelry stores.

Ok, enough shameless self promotion! Tonight is my last class before the recital. It's hard to believe that said recital is the day after tomorrow. I've been practicing my moves and I think I'll be fine. Chris and my parents will be in the audience, and maybe my friend Helen, too, so at least I'll have some friendly faces to smile back at.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Well, no wonder...

It's a frequent problem for beaders, people look at our jewelry and say "I could get that cheaper at Wal-Mart/Target/wherever." I never realized how true that was, as I almost always either make my own jewelry or look for handmade. But today I went to World Market, because a friend of mine said they had a lot of belly dancer-y earrings, and I thought maybe I'd look for something to wear to the recital*.

All of their jewelry was on sale for 4.99. Seriously! Sets of bangles, chandelier earrings that hang down to your shoulders, chunky rings, jingly necklaces, all 4.99. Sure, the materials are a lot cheaper than what I use, pot metal and Indian glass instead of Sterling and Swarovski, but a lot of people don't care about that. They care about getting 4 or 5 pairs of chandeliers for the price that I charge for one pair.

I had to indulge myself. I bought a huge pair of black and silver hoop earrings, some green and brass chandeliers, and two sets of bangle bracelets. I would have bought so much more, except I really shouldn't be shopping at all with the holidays around the corner. But honestly. Cheap sparkly things. How could I resist?

*For the longest time I thought I could only wear titanium and niobium, but Anne Mitchell was right, fine silver is doing great in my ears, so I'm going to hang the cheap $5 earrings from fine silver wires. There's something wrong with that!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm boring today!

Tonight is the last week of gaming-on-Tuesdays, unless of course the next session of Krav Maga classes is also on Wednesday nights. I'm not sure if they've set the schedule yet -- I'm too busy keeping track of my belly dance schedule, and already thinking ahead to gem show in a month and a half.

Anyway, since it's a gaming night, that means today is a cleaning day. I got sick of all the clutter and mess that had been building up, so I'm doing more than my usual spot cleaning. It's incredibly boring, but also necessary. I'd like to greet the New Year with a tidy house, and be ready to make some improvements before my in-laws visit in February. Chris pointed out the other day that it felt like we were still living in a rental, because we hadn't done much to make the house ours. What little effort has gone into the house has all been put into the game room, and even that's not finished yet.

Well, back to the grindstone for me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making your holiday cheery

If you read the comments section here, you may have noticed that I had the good fortune to win an Artbeads.com gift certificate from Dawno's blog (thank you, Dawno!). And perhaps you're sitting there thinking to yourself, "Gee, some free bead money would sure brighten my holidays." Well, now's your chance to win!

Artbeads.com has generously provided this blog with a $25 e-mail gift certificate to be awarded to a reader. How do you enter the drawing? It's very simple. Just post in the comments section with a story about your favorite homemade gift -- it doesn't have to have been a Christmas gift, any occasion is fine! -- and make sure that I have a way to contact you if you win. Contest runs until 11:59 pm MST on Saturday, December 19th. I'll randomly choose one entry and contact the winner on Sunday.

This contest is open to US residents age 18 or over who are not personally related to me (got to keep things on the up and up, after all).
If you want to win even more free bead money (and really, who doesn't?), you can also enter Artbeads.com's $100 gift card give away! It's being run through Facebook, so you may need to be a Facebook user to enter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trilobite

This is the cool wire-wrapped trilobite fossil that I bought at the craft fair on Thanksgiving weekend. I'm rapidly running out of time to make it into a necklace for my recital, so I guess I'd better get cracking.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Queen Anne's Lace

Here is my completed Queen Anne's Lace bracelet from Marcia DeCoster's class in Tahoe. Look at that HUGE Swarovski button! I'm afraid I'm going to hurt myself with it.

Unlike Twinkle, Twinkle, I made no changes to this kit. I loved the colors just how they were, and surprisingly, Marcia's default size for the bracelet was perfect for my wrist. I'm used to bracelets being too big.

Spent today at the Street Fair, got a pretty Fair-Trade scarf and more niobium earrings from my favorite vendor. Also ate lunch at the new-ish creperie on 4th Avenue. Mmmm, delicious crepes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Talisman of Sultry Undulations

When Artbeads.com invited me to pick out some silver or glass to feature for the month of December, my mind immediately went to Thai Silver. The slightly warmer tone of the silver and the timeless natural themes of their pieces make them perfect for tribal belly dance jewelry. In many ways, Thai silver reminds me of kuchi metalwork.

As I was browsing the Pendants section, my eye was caught by the selection of bells. I chose the spiral patterned ones, because I love spirals, especially in connection to dancing. The bells were almost out of stock, so I hopped over to the Charms section for some cute little leaves to fill my necklace out, and then to Clasps for a beautiful leaf-patterned toggle that matched them perfectly.

When my package arrived, the spiral bells reminded me of the cute snail pendant that Greg from Green Girl gave to me at the September Best Bead Show, and I knew it had to become part of my necklace. I eventually decided on a two-strand design and disappeared into the bead room in search of the perfect components. Eventually I emerged with dark green aventurine leaves, lots of 4mm light green aventurine, and some beautiful faceted moss agate. I put them all together and came up with this two-strand beauty, Talisman of Sultry Undulations.
This necklace expresses my desire to become better at slow moves, to stop feeling awkward and start feeling sultry. To be "slow like syrup" as my teacher says, or perhaps slow like a snail! While it's worlds away from the big kuchi necklaces that a lot of dancers wear, I think it goes well with the faerie-influenced style of costuming that I'm often drawn towards.
This image gives a better idea of how the necklace drapes when it's worn -- just enough space between the two strands that there's not too much overlap. The bells tinkle pleasantly when I move, and they have a beautiful sound! I'm going to have to get more in different styles and experiment with using them in bracelets, anklets, and maybe even earrings.

FTC Regulations stipulate that I have to tell you that yes, Artbeads.com supplied me with materials with the understanding that I would feature and review them in my blog. All of the silver items in the first image were provided free of charge in return for my honest review of them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mushroom Pixie

I completed this necklace some time ago, but it's taken me this long to get some decent pictures. Even this batch isn't perfect, the red looks a little washed out. Guess the sun was too bright. Anyway, I've dubbed her Miss August and she's the first of a proposed series of similar necklaces using the rest of my vintage faerie buttons.

Yesterday I made the jewelry for the FAE Team holiday gift swap. I'm really pleased with it, and I took some good pictures, but I can't share them here until after the 21st, as most of the participants read my blog! Today my plan is to make a necklace with some goodies from Artbeads.com, with the intention of wearing it to class tonight... Tune in tomorrow to see if I was successful.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Steampunkery!

Today's mail brought Christi Friesen's latest polymer clay project book: Steampunkery.

When I pre-ordered this book, I paid no attention to the fact that it was more expensive than her previous books, so I was pleasantly surprised when instead of the 50 page booklet I was used to, this was a nice thick 100 page volume. Twice the steampunkery I had expected!

Christi makes good use of these extra pages. Not only are there lots of projects, but many of them are a little more complicated and involved than the ones in previous books. And there's quite a bit more eye candy, including stunning works from guest artists.

One thing that I love about these books is that Christi not only guides you through specific projects, but she always adds new skills to your repertoire, which you can then apply to completely different projects. At a glance, this book introduces various ways to patina metal, and how to use texture sheets with polymer clay.

My favorite project is probably the Pocket Protector Gargoyle. I'd like to make one for Chris to go in a vest pocket when we steampunk it up.

And of course, since this is a Christi Friesen book, it's filled with whimsical little steampunk touches, like fake advertisements and newspaper articles. I'm certainly looking forward to sitting down and reading it at length, to make sure I don't miss any of the humorous anecdotes and informative sidebars.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Feels so... wrong!

Chris and half the guys in our gaming group currently have krav maga classes on Wednesday evenings, so we moved the game to Tuesday. Gaming! On Tuesday nights! What is the world coming to?!? Surely, this is a sign of the end times.

We're also gaming in the main house, because it's cold as heck and the game room is hard to heat. Guess I should go tidy up the living room, since we'll actually be using it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lunch time fun time!

Today I had the pleasure of sharing lunch with two of my FAE Team compatriots! Aquariann was visiting from DE, and she wanted to meet 88Links and I while she was in town -- so of course we agreed to lunch. Aquariann brought her sweet and geeky boyfriend along, and we had a wonderful time chatting about Etsy, business, travel, and comic books. A very pleasant diversion from an otherwise cold and gray afternoon.

The overcast weather has kept me from taking photos these past couple of days. I think I'll have to do some indoor shots, so I can show off my Queen Anne's Lace bracelet, the mushroom pixie necklace, and the trilobite pendant.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Miss Mags

Daisy has been getting most of the attention lately, due to her surgery, so here's a picture of little Miss Mags. The look that she's giving me is always accompanied by a little wag of her tail stub. There's something very cute about how she wags, it's a very hopeful gesture. Daisy's wag is more exuberant, like everything else about her.

Maggie was very pleased with herself earlier, as in her little puppy mind, the cat was playing with her. Topher was, in fact, giving her a warning "stop licking my face" bop, but since he politely kept his claws in, she thought he wanted to wrestle.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I bought dog clothes

Normally, I am not the sort of person who dresses her pets. I figure, they've got perfectly good fur coats, why should I wrestle them into a garment? However, it's pretty cold (for AZ), and my little Daisy dog has a big shaved spot from her lump removal. So I decided to buy her a doggie sweater to keep her warm until her fur finishes growing back.

Judging from how she and Maggie reacted to the sight of the sweater, I'm thinking they might have worn them before and that they actually liked them. These are the dogs who are not only afraid of nail clippers and baths, but also of doggie hairbrushes. Yet they jumped gleefully when they saw the sweater, and Daisy let me put it on her (though she also hit me in the chin with her head). No attempts have been made to remove the garment, and she's happily going about her evening in it. I may have to buy Maggie one so she doesn't feel left out.

Before I went on my shopping trip, I finished my Queen Anne's Lace bracelet from Marcia DeCoster's class at the retreat. I'll post pictures soon!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Other Side

Did I mention that the awesome beetle bead is two-sided? I love this, because it makes me feel like I have a secret. Well, it's actually not much of a secret, because it flips around when I'm wearing it, but still. I love Margaret's double-sided beetle beads and am glad that I finally own one. Now to see if I stop at just one...

Last night we spent a large chunk of class practicing for our recital, which is two weeks from tomorrow! I'm very excited about it, and not as nervous now that I know the format we're doing. I probably will not get stuck doing a move that I barely know (stupid Ancient Egyptian Combo!). Also, we were cleared to accessorize however we see fit, so it's time to make a trilobite necklace. Why yes, I do like bug jewelry. Why do you ask?

Today I decided to spend some time focusing on making things for myself. I've been shoving my personal projects off to evenings and weekends, while spending my days wondering what I should make to sell, and drawing a blank. So until my inspiration changes, I'm going to stop stressing about stocking my shop and just let my muse do whatever she wants.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My awesome beetle

If you'll remember, last month I was practically bouncing with joy over the awesome beetle bead I'd purchased at Margaret Zinser's open house. Here it is, in the necklace that I made with it! First I wire-wrapped it into a pendant, flanked by some earthy faceted pearls, and accented with two silvery bells and a little kuchi dangle. Then I strung it up with more pearls, Thai silver spacers, carved bone beads, and the cool jade beads that I bought at the Rings and Things show earlier this year. The clasp is a pewter hook and eye clasp that I picked up in NY with the idea of using it in a tribal necklace.

I love that this focal bead has the look and feel of an ancient artifact. When I wear the necklace, I often find myself petting the beetle -- the softly matted glass is smooth, like a well-worn river stone.

I also love the fact that these neutral colors go well with a lot of my costumes. I can wear it with earthy greens, or all manner of browns, and that's half my costumes right there!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In a twinkling of an eye... or a bead...

Here it is, my completed Twinkle, Twinkle necklace! Even if I'm not thrilled with how it hangs, I am very happy with it otherwise. It fills a nice color niche in my collection, and is a slightly different style than I normally wear as well.

I made a couple of changes to the kit. It came with opaque turquoise Delicas, not a favorite color of mine. I replaced them with the matte opaque teal. Then when it came time to assemble it, I replaced the silver daisy spacers with copper heishi disks (scavenged from an earring kit from the retreat), and the copper pearls with indicolite crystals, to compliment the matte teal beads. I kept the blue zircon crystals, as they look great with the teal AB Delicas.

I might finish my Queen Anne's Lace bracelet tonight, if I don't completely zonk out in workout-inspired exhaustion.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bead time has returned!

After making my blog post last night, I decided that I should go ahead and get some beading done -- so I finally finished my Twinkle, Twinkle necklace from Beki Haley's class at the Bead Retreat. I'm not happy with how it hangs, so I may need to move the dangles or add more -- but adding more would mean getting more of the copper heishi beads that I substituted for the silver daisy spacers. Of course, this is when I realize that I have a driver's license and I can go to the bead store whenever I want! Oh, this is going to be dangerous.

My next "evenings and weekends" project will be finishing my bracelet from Marcia DeCoster's class. I don't think it will take me too long.

Now I just need to decide what to make for the store, during the day. Spiral bracelets with the new Toho Hybrid seed beads? Brooches, as promised months ago? Tons more earrings as potential stocking stuffers? We'll have to see what I feel inspired to do this week.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Daydreams in Black

I've been daydreaming about designs, like the collar that I want to make with the above pieces, which I'd like to make before gem show. Realistically, that probably won't happen, but it would be awesome to have if I get a chance to go to the Swarovski party again. The necklace that I wore this past year (my steampunk cameo) only had a little bit of Swarovski in it, whereas this one would have the wings and then lots of jet bicones as accents, and maybe some other crystals and/or crystal pearls.

The other design on my mind is making a necklace with a goodie that I picked up at a craft fair yesterday... a nice black trilobite fossil elegantly wrapped with silver wire. I'd like to be able to wear it for my recital, as my costume is black and silver, and modern enough that I don't feel limited to kuchi. I just need to make sure that the teacher's OK with jewelry, since she chose our costume theme because it was relatively simple and sleek. If she wants to keep the jewelry simple, I may just wear the trilobite on my plain black herringbone cord. One of the reasons why I liked this particular pendant is that it has a nice big bail that my basic black cord would fit through.

Perhaps more bead time is in order...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Bust

The bazaar that I was supposed to do today was such a bust that I didn't even do it. The Etsy shop is open again, and there's still tons of jewelry there to tempt you. Go forth and shop!

That said, I can't believe the long weekend is practically over. I have a lot to do this coming week, including taking the car to the shop for routine maintenance, and taking Daisy to the vet to get her stitches out. Now that I'm driving, I get to run all of these exciting errands while Chris stays home and works.

I also plan to bead, because I wasted too much time this week preparing for the bazaar-that-wasn't.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Party Time!

Tonight I'm driving up to Tempe for a black light belly dance party. It will be my first time driving up to Tempe by myself... good practice for the weekly drive I'll be making for class.

Should be a fun time... I still haven't decided what I'm going to wear. I'll have to open my costume closet and see what jumps out at me. I'm thinking it might be a good evening for my 25 yard green skirt.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just what we needed

Today was a much-needed quiet, relaxing day for Chris and I. He's been working 7 days a week lately, putting in much more than eight hours on most of those days. It's especially hard on him, and a little hard on me, because hey, I married the guy because I like to spend time with him. I feel lonely when he's working all the time. It was nice to have the chance to be lazy, to spend an hour just sitting on the couch giving our puppies some love.

The rest of the weekend will be really busy, so I'm glad we had this chance to be with each other, without any major obligations or tasks hanging over our heads.

You know, other than the mountain of Thanksgiving dishes I'm trying to ignore...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Free shipping this weekend!

In recognition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and those nameless days between them, I'm offering free shipping this weekend on all purchases of $25 or more. This applies to US and International orders. Simply make your purchase, pay, and I will refund those pesky shipping fees. This sale is good until noon MST on Tuesday!

Now is also a good time to mention that my store will be closed for most of Sunday, as I will be at a bazaar, and it would be truly embarrassing to sell the same item twice! So if there's something you really want, make sure to buy it before Sunday morning.

All business stuff aside, I had a nice Thanksgiving with my family, ate a lot of tasty food, and now I'm in a bit of a food coma. Time to shake this fog off with a little tea.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quiet night

Usually Wednesdays are gaming night at our house, but due to the holiday, only two players were going to show up, so we decided to cancel it tonight. I do enjoy gaming, but with all the work Chris has been doing, it's nice to just have a quiet night at home with him. Of course, he's currently in the kitchen baking a pie, but we'll have time together as soon as said pie goes into the oven.

I'm way behind on prep for the gift bazaar. I should probably find my tags and start pricing things in these spare moments.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unstoppable!

Yesterday was a really good day. Not only did we get the "all clean" on Daisy's mystery lump, but I then proceeded to go to the MVD and pass my road test. I'm a licensed driver! Armed with this license, I drove myself to the gym and lifted 115lbs, a new record for me.

Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty good about life right now. I'm in the perfect frame of mind for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, as the proud owners of a large, sturdy dining room table, Chris and I get to host for the second year in a row. I spent today driving around town getting things for Thanksgiving, though I was thwarted in my quest for a few key ingredients, which means a trip to another grocery store later tonight.

Tomorrow I get to clean the house, and make some preparations for the little gift bazaar I'm doing on Sunday. Never a dull moment!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good news, everybody!

Daisy's lab results are already in, and the mysterious lump was benign! They told me exactly what it was, but it was very confusing a wordy. Something like a "Sub-2 mass in the collagen of the nerve something." The important part is that once her incision heals up, she'll be a perfectly healthy girl, no meds or treatments or constant worrying about new growths. She's currently celebrating by snoozing in the sunny spot on the living room floor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to post on a Sunday

I often find that I don't have a lot to blog about on Sundays. I usually spend the day running errands and hanging out with Chris, not really doing anything that anyone would be interested in. And it seems like no one really reads on Sunday anyways, because I rarely get blog comments over the weekend. Not like I can blame you guys, I usually just catch up on my blog-reading on Mondays, too.

I've considered not blogging at all on Sundays, but that would throw off my goal to blog every day. As it is, right now I'm thinking of posting beading book reviews every Sunday -- but that would require me to get 52 new beading books a year, and they just don't publish that many.

Maybe I'll do a Finds post, like my old Fashionable Fridays series, but on a smaller scale.

Is there anything you'd like to see become a regular feature here?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sparkle Sparkle Sparkle

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought it might be nice to put my Custom Crystal Bracelets on sale for today's Daily Special. Buy as many as you want for $35 each! These make great presents, and they're also the perfect little bit of glimmer to add to your go-to holiday party outfits. Dress up the Christmas sweater, or make your cocktail dress even more elegant.

By the way, the word Sparkle really starts to look weird after you type it three times in a row. I think it's the "rkl", such a weird and unattractive combination of letters, in such a nice and useful word.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Need more practice!

My dance class recital is one month from yesterday... Our teacher brought it up last night, we picked out our costume, and we're supposed to think about what song we might like to perform to, so we can choose one in two weeks when class resumes (no class on Thanksgiving, obviously!). I'm excited, but I also realize that I need to practice a lot more if I'm going to be ready -- especially the moves that I never officially learned. So on top of my two bits of assigned homework, I need to continually go back over my vocabulary of moves and really polish them.

We learned two new moves last night, although one of them was just a variation on something we already knew. Still, it's exciting to be moving forward into Intermediate, and to be challenged with some more complicated footwork, which I'm now supposed to drill for 8 minutes a day, minimum. Practice, practice, practice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Long overdue

Halloween is weeks behind us, and I'm just now finally posting an image of the awesome belt that I made for my costume. Keys and tassels and kuchi and chain... so much fun! I'm happy that it actually stayed up while I danced, as it's pretty heavy. Now I need an excuse to wear it again. It's just a little too over-the-top for class.

I'm looking forward to class tonight. I think we're going to finally start learning some intermediate moves. And hopefully my almost-daily zill practice will show. I also think I've finally got the grasp of one move that was stymieing me, which is a good thing since it was this week's homework and I barely got a chance to practice it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Daisy's Surgery

I just wanted to let everyone know that Daisy is out of surgery and we're going to go pick her up from the vet in about half an hour. Now begins the fun of keeping her from worrying her stitches! Better go get the e-collar out of the pet cabinet.

Maggie seems pretty unhappy about Daisy's absence. First we took Daisy on a car ride without her, then we came home sans Daisy! Her puppy mind must be boggled. I've made sure to take several breaks today just to cuddle with her on the couch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank you, Meri!

You've probably seen Merily posting in my blog comments before. She's one of my wonderful teammates over at FAE Team, one of the crazy few who post regularly in our team thread on Etsy. The thread is a nice melange of daily life, random thoughts, and a little bit of self-promotion. Recently Meri decided that she wanted to run artist interviews on her blog, and today was my turn! Head over to Elbit Blog to read the interview and see the beautiful collage she made of me and my jewelry.

Make sure that you also visit Meri's shop. She does great work in jewelry, polymer clay, and crochet. I especially like these Autumn Leaf Rune Stones. If I were the sort to read runes, these are the ones I'd want to cast.

On completely unrelated news, Canon didn't want to let me install the camera software that I downloaded from their site without the CD (Dear Canon, if I knew wear the CD was, I wouldn't be downloading from your site), but I discovered that I can remove the photos from the camera without the software. Now I just need to install GIMP so that I can edit photos. Hopefully this means pictures in tomorrow's blog post!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Daily Specials Return

I don't handle change very well, so the simple act of switching to a new computer completely threw off my usual routine. Now, more than 2 weeks later, Daily Specials are finally back! Face of the Gorgon is today's offering.

This week I hope to get my camera talking to my computer, and start getting new jewelry into the store for the holidays. Of course, that would require me to spend less time playing video games and more time beading. The beads have been feeling awfully neglected lately.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Autumn is Back

There's a chill in the air today! Looks like it may really be Autumn this time. As much as I do enjoy warm weather, it's unnatural for it to be warm this late in the year, so I guess I need to resign myself to lower temperatures.

My Dad came over today and winterized the cooler and set the furnace up for us, so I don't have to worry about freezing. We needed to ask for his help, as I'm afraid of heights and there's no way Chris was going up on the roof with one bad hand. It's nice to have family close enough to help.

The cool weather put me in an Autumn-y mood, so I put together a tasty dinner of ahi tuna, grain medley with dried berries, and squash tossed in a mixture of butter, maple syrup, and chai spices. Yum! We washed it all down with hot spiced cider. Hot drinks are the best thing about cold weather.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just passing by...

This is one of those cheezy "I'm posting just so I can say I posted" posts, as cooking dinner took longer than I expected and now it's almost time for gaming.

Not too much to post about anyway, as I spent most of the day running errands and playing video games. I did pick up the latest issue of Beadwork, but I haven't had time to read it yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Aww man

I was really excited for Sunday, because I was going to take a 4-hour workshop called "Fire For Bellydancers." It was going to cover fire fans and palm torches. What could be more awesome than adding fire props to my dancing?* Unfortunately, I got an e-mail this morning saying that the class was canceled due to lack of interest. Lack of interest? Seriously Tucson, what is wrong with you? How could there not be enough interest in Fire For Bellydancers.

Apparently they're going to try again in January. I may have to find random people and convince them to sign up for the class.

Anyway, today I went back to the gym for the first time since Monday, and I did a really hard workout. I even learned some new things. Hopefully I won't be too sore tomorrow, since I want to go to the Saturday afternoon workout.

*Actually getting good at the moves I already know, which is what I'll do instead.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shiny New Book

This week I spent some of my bead-stringing money on Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence. You may recall that Marcia was one of my teachers at Bead Retreat. I had already planned to get the book before her class (actually, I hoped to buy it in Tahoe and get it signed, but alas, it was Not To Be), but after the class I was even more convinced. Marcia does beautiful work with my favorite materials -- seed beads, Swarovski crystals, and firepolished glass.

I flipped through the book as soon as I got it, and I've already found three projects that I definitely want to do. Of course, I have to finish all of my Retreat projects first, and start thinking about beading holiday presents. Once again I need to learn to manage my time better!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday already?

Well, this week is flying by and I haven't done half the things that I had planned. This includes my homework for tomorrow night's belly dance class. I've been practicing my zills almost every day, but not my Maya and Taxim (two variations of slow figure-8s). This wouldn't be much of a problem with some moves, but I really am bad with those two. I'll have to force myself to stay awake after gaming tonight to practice before bed, and then get some practice tomorrow before I drive up to Tempe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Went to the vet today

Ah, Daisy. She's my little problem puppy... Totally manic and OCD, always charging into everything, always licking, always desperate for more love, and twice now she's needed her own special trip to the vet.

For the past several months, Miss Daisy-Face has had a little lump on her side. When she had her annual vet check this summer, the doctor said that it might just be a bump from wrestling and to keep an eye on it. Well, it never got better, and it started to get bigger, so back to the vet she went today.

This time the lump got a much closer examination (last time, the doctor could barely feel it). Because it felt unusual and the skin was discolored, she recommended that we have it removed and sent to the lab, and Chris and I quickly agreed. Mysterious lumps are not something you want to mess around with! So Daisy goes back to the vet on the 18th for a little surgery, and will once again have to wear the Cone of Shame (thank you, Up) because she can't be trusted not to lick her wounds.

I don't know how long it will take us to get the lab results after the surgery, but I'll keep everyone updated.

Lest anyone worry too much, let me assure you that Daisy does not seem to be in any pain (though she doesn't like having the lump prodded), she still eats like every meal is her last, and she's always eager to run outside, play, wrestle, or lick our friendly mail carrier. Whatever the lump is, it's not affecting her quality of life one bit.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thank you, Artbeads.com and Art Bead Scene!

Today is a day for sites with Art Bead in their name being nice to me!

First, I woke up and found that Elvensoul had landed me a spot as the Featured Designer at Art Bead Scene. It always makes me happy when other people love this necklace as much as I do, as it was very experimental for me.

Then when I checked the mailbox this afternoon, I found an envelope from Artbeads.com. Inside was a $20 Gift Card for me, and a coupon code for my blog readers! So if you would like to do a little bead shopping, click the above link and enter the code SCF10P-ARTBEADS-0424 when you check out for 10% off of your purchase.

I used my $20 to buy some Toho Hybrid seed beads and a really cool silver dragon pendant. I'll blog more about them when they arrive. Hopefully by then I'll have my camera and my computer talking to each other.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Software... where?

I kept the box from my digital camera, and I put everything back inside. Everything except the CD with the software. AGH! What was I thinking? Until I find the disc, no pictures on the blog. Or new Etsy items. Yuck. Guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A good day

Today was a fun day. Chris and I went to the gym, where he managed the workout despite only having one usable arm. This impressed quite a few people there. I just hope that he didn't over-do it with his right arm. We'll see how he feels tomorrow!

Then after we cleaned up, he dropped me off at Margaret Zinser's open house. You may already know that Margaret is one of my favorite lampworkers, which makes it even more awesome that she lives just 5 minutes from my house, and has open houses a couple of times a year. This time she also had the lovely and talented Anne Mitchell there displaying her beautiful fine silver jewelry. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours chatting with them and the other bead and jewelry people who came in and out of the house while I was there. And of course I bought a few pretty things, which I'll take pictures of tomorrow.

Chris left his usual Saturday game long enough to pick me up, say Hi to Anne and Margaret and tell his broken thumb story, then he took me for a quick deli dinner, ooohed and aaahed over my goodies, and dropped me off here at home, where my puppies were happy to have me home.

Now I'm going to kick back with a bead magazine and a mug of tea, and maybe get my zillage on in a bit.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Art Bead Scene Challenge

For 2009, Art Bead Scene decided that all of their challenges would be inspired by classic or iconic paintings. A great idea, but unfortunately most of the paintings have been very uninspiring to me. Until this month! Finally, a faerie painting has been chosen. The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke by Richard Dadd. It's not my favorite faerie painting, because the colors are so muted and bizarre, but the level of detail is amazing and Dadd's story is quite sad.

I've already submitted Elvensoul to the challenge, as the colors and design are relatively evocative of the painting. I'll likely submit the Mushroom Pixie as well when I finish her. But I'd really like to make a necklace specifically inspired by the painting, probably using a Green Girl faerie pendant to go with those muted colors. It might be a good time to use the new Greige Swarovski crystals, too, although I had planned to use them with a Lillypilly shell pendant. Maybe I have enough for both.

By the way, yesterday's drive to Tempe went very well. Next week I hope to manage the round-trip.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wish me luck!

Tonight I'm going to drive to Tempe for the first time. It's about a 1 hr 45 minute drive from my house. I've only driven on the highway once before, so this is a pretty big jump for me -- but it's something that I have to start practicing since I'll be doing it at least once a week for the next year or so.

I'm trying not to worry about it too much, and am focusing instead on this zill rhythm that we're supposed to master by the end of this class. I've been mostly just practicing the finger movements at various times and places, because let's face it, it's not very feasible to break out finger cymbals at the gym. But today I actually put them on and walked around the house practicing. The dogs ran away and hid, which is better than what I expected -- barking and jumping. Perhaps I can actually practice dancing without crating them now, so long as I'm also zilling.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Busted thumb update

We just got back from the orthopedist, where Chris was given a cast up to his elbow and told that it will take 10 weeks for that little thumb-bone to heal. But the good news is that the bone didn't die, which was a definite possibility given the bone in question and the fact that it went untended for over a month.

It was a very good thing that I drove him there, because we got into the office and they handed him a 6-page medical history questionnaire to fill out. I'm now his unofficial secretary, writing and filling things out for him. My new position pays all the chocolate and beads I want, which is the same pay as my housewife position, but it looks better on my resume.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Day = Derailed

I had plans to get some work done today, beading and housework and setting things up on my new computer. And I was going to get some dance practice -- smoothing out my gahwazee, and trying to get that darned beledi zill rhythm memorized.

What did I do instead? I spent 4 hours at Urgent Care with Chris. Back when I injured my ankle, he injured his wrist. He thought it was nothing and ignored it, but it kept hurting after the gym. Finally yesterday he really hurt himself at the gym, and the trainer, his best friend and I all told him he had to go see a doctor. So he did, and the doctor ordered X-Rays, and the X-Rays found a broken bone in his hand. So tomorrow he has to go to an orthopedist. Hopefully he won't need surgery, but it is a possibility.

And while I would like to now relax a bit and then catch up on all I had to do today, instead I'm off to the gym. Hooray.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cthulhu on the Front Page

My dear friend and editor Sheryl asked me to write an article about my beaded Cthulhu project... and then put it on the front page of Collector Times!

In other news, I'm not having any luck getting my old e-mails to load into my new in-box. Hopefully Chris will get it working later, there were a few things I needed in there and I really don't want to have to set the old computer back up.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

From my new computer

I'm posting this from my new computer! Chris and I spent most of Halloween cleaning our desks and the office, and setting up the new machines. They're pretty freakin' awesome. Tomorrow I get to put all of my files on here, and set up my e-mail server and all that. Need to install the software for my camera, too!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

You've waited long enough... Here are the pictures of my tribal-style steampunk costume! Lovingly cobbled together out of things I already had -- I didn't buy anything specifically for this costume -- it's the perfect blending of two costume styles that I truly love.

From top to bottom we have:
-Steampunk feather clip from The Gypsy's Kiss. You may recognize this from my Dancehall Steampunk costume earlier this year.
-Three hairsticks tucked into my bun, sagging a bit because I'd already been dancing when this picture was taken.
-Primitive grey niobium earrings and earcuff from The Beaded Lily.
-My peacock feathers woven necklace. I was going to wear a steampunk necklace that Chris gave me, but it was too long, and this one matched the colors of the costume.
-Vest purchased from Target, upgraded with vintage glass buttons. I wore this last Halloween, too.
-My coin bra, which doesn't jingle much with a vest over it.
-Green lace choli with 3/4-length sleeves, purchased at Plaza de Anaya last week.
-Brass bracelet that Chris gave me for the holidays, awesome coin bracelet that I bought in NYC, and an assortment of rings that I grabbed on my way out the door.
-Tribal steampunk belt. My vest covers it in this picture, so I'll get better pics of it next week. I ended up tying it with some black grosgrain ribbon, and amazingly it stayed up all night.
-Bustle skirt! I'm so happy with how it turned out. There's nothing like wearing a bustle to dance.
-Gradiated sage green harem pants.
-I was wearing my sequined ballet flats, but they're really uncomfortable, so I kicked them off as soon as we arrived.

And here's a back view so that you can see the beautiful gathers on the back of my bustle skirt. Squee!

I hope that everyone has a fun Halloween. I'm spending mine at home with Chris, tidying up the office to make room for our new computers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Costume complete, but time running short

I'm happy to say that I managed to complete my crazy steampunk belt, which involves one "Abercrombie" brand cloth belt that I bought at a thrift store years ago, copper chain tassles given to me by a former friend, copper chain given to me for my birthday a couple years back, 8 vintage keys purchased from Gem Show, and the HUGE kuchi pendant-y thing given to me by my friend and mentor Helen. I might also add some ribbon to tie it closed, because I don't like the yarn ties it has.

Anyway, my cookies are in the oven, which is why I have a couple of minutes to pop on here and let you all know that I will take many pictures tonight and share them here and all over the Internet tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Armed with needle and thread...

Remember when I said that I was hoping to finish the mushroom pixie necklace this week? Yeah, I haven't touched it. When I made that statement, I forgot to take into affect the fact that Halloween is this week. Yesterday I was struck with the desire to make a bustle skirt, so I did. I took scissors, needle and thread to an old skirt of mine and bustled it up. It looks pretty sweet.

Today I had to stitch the elastic straps for my zills, and while I was doing that, I started thinking about Chris's steampunk costume, and how his vest would look a lot better if it had vintage brass buttons instead of cheap-o plastic ones. I'm almost done with that project. Tomorrow's project will be my crazy steampunk belt to go with my bustle skirt.

I swear I'll get some beading done over the weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who invited you, Autumn?

It was really windy yesterday. I had this silly hope that the wind was blowing in some much-needed rain, but no. It was blowing in Autumn! It's still windy today, but it's a cold wind, the kind that cuts right through clothing and leaves you shivering.

Summer was nice while it lasted!

Here in Tucson, sometimes we have very warm Halloweens, and I can wear belly dance costumes outdoors. Othertimes, like this year, it's the sort of Halloween where I want to just wrap up in a beautiful cloak. I'll probably compromise, and wear a belly dance costume, but not bare my midriff. Or I might just wear some Ren Faire clothes from my pre-dancing days. We'll see what mood strikes me on Saturday. Who knows, maybe it will have warmed up a bit.

Monday, October 26, 2009

For evenings and weekends

During "business hours" I try to work on jewelry for my shop. But on evenings and weekends, I've been working on this. It's called Twinkle, Twinkle and it's Beki Haley's class project from the Tahoe retreat. Those four pinwheel-looking stars will eventually be hanging from the ends of the spiraling herringbone rope. I did 4" of rope yesterday while waiting for Chris, adding onto the 10" I already had, so there's not too much longer to go.

Both this necklace and the Mushroom Pixie are woven with a new-ish thread called One-G. Made in Japan and distrubuted by the Toho company, it's a bonded Nylon thread. It has everything I love about Nymo (drape, ease of threading) and less of what I hate (fraying and knotting). It also costs 3 times as much, so I probably won't switch over to it entirely (after all, I still have most of a huge spool of black size B Nymo), but it's definitely fun to work with.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New computer soon!

Chris has purchased all of the parts to build us identically awesome new gaming machines. I'm quite eager for this, as my current computer is about 5 years old and barely runs Guild Wars (a game that is 4 years old). I can't even try out new games to see if I like them, because my computer can't handle them, even at the lowest graphics settings.

The fun part will be transferring over 4-5 years worth of files... Stories, photos, random junk. I cleaned it out recently, but there's still tons of stuff on this beast. Some of these files date back 10 years or more, to my old on-line roleplaying days. You'd think I'd get rid of them, since I haven't looked at most of them in a decade, but nostalgia is a powerful force.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time for dancing. Lots of dancing.

Thursday was the last night of my current belly dance class. Having taken Beginner C and Beginner A, I figured I would be taking Beginner B this session. However, there are no beginner classes for the Winter session, only a fast-track class that reviews A, B and C and then transitions the dancers into intermediate moves.

My options were:
Take this 8-week session off and practice at home.
Switch to the beginner classes offered by another teacher.
Ask to be allowed into the Fast-Track class even though I've only taken 2/3 of the prerequisites.

I opted for the third choice, permission was given, and now I've challenged myself to have at least passing knowledge with all Beginner B moves by Thursday, as well as having practiced A moves and refreshed myself on C, which I've barely practiced while I've been trying to perfect A and survive the gym.

I'm very excited about this, as moving up to intermediate is a big step forward for me. It also means I'll finally learn zills. Every time I dance in public, someone asks me why I don't have them... Little realizing that it's hard enough to keep track of what my hips, shoulders, feet, hands and whatever else are doing, without playing a musical instrument as well ;)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A little preview

This is one of my current projects! A little vintage faerie button, in a peyote-stitch bezel. Next up comes the accents! Red and white is not a palette I do very often, but I decided that I really wanted to stick with it for this piece (without drawing the blue, green, yellow or black into it) because of the iconic white-spotted red mushrooms. I hope to finish it early next week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whoops, leaving early!

I thought I'd have time for an actual blog post, but Chris just informed me that he wants to leave early, so I'd better go finish getting ready for class. It's the last class of this session, and tonight we have to practice leading slow moves! Yikes! I've been drilling my snake arms in preparation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Medusa Rocks!

Face of the Gorgon is my second Medusa-themed necklace... Third if you count the one that I made for myself with this same focal. I just love Medusa!

I had some fun combining stones for this necklace. The nephrite jade echoes the shape of the pendant, whereas the lizardite has a snake-skin like appearance. I actually had the chance to purchase some beads that were made with real snake skin, but they felt really gross. I couldn't stand touching them. I don't know if the texture was really that bad, or if my natural aversion to snakes was kicking in.

The nephrite, lizardite, and eagle eye from yesterday's necklace all came from the Rings and Things show in May. They have another show coming up on November 1st, but I don't think I'll be attending it, since I'm hoping to go up to the Phoenix area on Friday the 30th for a Halloween party. Three trips to Phoenix in 4 days would just be too much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gothic Roots


When I started making jewelry 11 years ago, a lot of my designs were Gothic in nature. This was partially because I liked the aesthetic, partially because hematite beads were cheap, and partially because those designs sold well on eBay. There are still some Gothic designs in my shops, but lately I've been leaning a lot more towards steampunk.

However, earlier this month I got dressed up for a night on the town with Chris, and I ended up pretty Gothed out. Admittedly, there were steampunk influences, but I was wearing all black and grey, and it reminded me of how much I love the Goth aesthetic, and how I need to remember to use it more in my jewelry.

Along those lines, I present Beneath an October Moon, the latest addition to my Etsy shop.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Turning of the Wheel

Wheel of Destiny is today's Daily Special. This particular brass stamping is one of my favorites. I need to find more, preferably in the states this time (I ordered this batch from Canada, and I hate how long it takes things to arrive from there).

I have some ideas in mind to make another piece or two today. My shop definitely needs more new items to fill it out, especially with the holidays around the corner.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fish-related disaster

Well, not really, but it's a fun title for a blog post. We were supposed to have fish for dinner tonight. The instructions said to baste it with butter and broil it. But the butter got so hot that it burned holes through the foil and filled the house with smoke after only 5 minutes of broiling. We decided that aluminum-flavored fish was not the ideal meal, so we went out for burritos instead.

And that's really the most exciting thing that happened all weekend. We gamed a bit, I got a lot of work done on my necklace from Beki Haley's class at the bead retreat, and the corgis were cute as ever. Also, I finished reading the last book in a trilogy I've really been enjoying. Good times, just not much to blog about.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun times not as advertised

Here's a picture of my Mistress of Ghosts earrings. Blogger is being dumb and rotating pictures for no reason again, but we can pretend that I just took the photo at an artsy angle.

So, as the title of this post suggests, last night's concert was not quite what I and my fellow belly dancers expected. First of all, despite the fliers saying that the show started at 9pm, they didn't let people in until after 9, and then we had to sit through 2 hours of the house DJ, who was playing very loud hip-hop. Things at least got interesting after an hour and a half, when the previously empty dance floor became the stage for a few hip hop/break dancers to show off their very impressive moves. At around 11, the opening act came up. Unfortunately, this was another DJ, and his music wasn't that great.

Finally, Beats Antique took the stage at somewhere between 11:30 and midnight, and the dance floor filled up. It was an interesting mix of belly dancers, burlesque dancers (and some bleed over between those two groups), break dancers, normal people at a club dancers, people standing on the floor just swaying a bit, and one annoying trancy guy who was taking up more than his fair share of floor space.

The music was pretty good, though much more skewed towards the hip-hop end and not so much the Middle Eastern and Gypsy influenced pieces that I've seen belly dancers performing to. They also didn't have Zoe Jakes dancing for them, which was a big disappointment. I still managed to have some fun dancing (after all, I've applied my moves to disco, metal, and classic rock), but it was really not what I expected.

After a bit, the breakdancers pretty much took over the floor, and I got shoved into a corner as everyone else crowded in to see what was going on. Now, admittedly, those guys had some awesome skills and I really enjoyed watching them... But I came there to dance as well! Maybe if the club hadn't set up tables on more than half the dance floor (most of which were not occupied), there would have been room for everyone to have their own little space to dance.

I think I'd probably see Beats Antique live again if given the chance, but only if I knew they were actually coming on stage at a decent hour, and with a reasonable sized dance floor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun times tonight!

After class tonight, we're heading right over to a Beats Antique concert that happens to conveniently be happening just down the road 40 minutes after class. I'm pretty excited, as other than shows at Ren Faire, I have not seen a concert since I was a kid. I'm looking forward to some good music, some dancing, and hopefully a bit of socializing with my fellow dancers.

Of course, I have to leave in a little over an hour and I'm still having an internal debate on what to wear -- decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A little different.

The Gatekeeper Medallion is an experiment in mixed metals and mixed media. It's also my new favorite necklace! The combination of elements really speaks to me, so I'm hoping that it will speak just as loudly to someone else out there.

Normally I would have just hung the pendant from the brass chain, but I wanted to work some silver into the chain to balance the silver in the pendant. Then when I was weaving the silver chain through the brass, it naturally fell to one side, leaving the other side empty, so I decided to weave in the black ribbon for extra texture and to match the black etching on the shell.

Today's other new items are Little Elf Shoes, Mistress of Ghosts, and Wheel of Destiny.

Back to being busy.

After a week of being mostly-lazy following my return from Tahoe, this week I had to get back into the swing of things for real. That meant piles of laundry for the last two days, some jewelry creation today (and lots more tomorrow!), and returning to the gym.

I'm really excited about the new designs I'm creating, and I hope to be able to share a couple of them tomorrow. My shop is in desperate need of some fresh jewelry!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dancing Pictures

The lovely and talented Colleen Theodore took many pictures of me dancing at the Tahoe retreat. I sorted out the best ones (ie, the ones where my posture wouldn't make my teacher cry), and put them in this album on Facebook. You need not be a Facebook member to view them!

I learned a couple of important lessons with this impromptu performance, such as "always test your costume before performing" (my scarf came unwrapped, and one bra strap kept slipping), and "if it's freezing outside, don't leave your shoes in one room and then walk across the courtyard to dance in another." Also "when dancing in your friend's temporary bead store, watch out for wire racks." I still have a mark from that last one...

Needless to say, next time I travel, I'll travel prepared. I'll bring a real, pre-tested costume, and I'll write down which tracks on which CDs I want to use for my performance.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So much driving!

To make up for lost time, I did a lot of driving this weekend. Parking practice, errands, date night, daytime and night time driving. I have to drive Chris home from laser eye surgery* while he's loopy on Vallium, so I need to be confident enough to be as if I was driving by myself. Of course, if he's loopy enough to be a distraction, I'll have to call someone else to drive us BOTH home!

*Surgery performed on his eyes with lasers. Not surgery to give him laser eyes, which would be 500 times cooler.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trees in the Wind

I snapped this picture a week ago at the Bead Retreat, as the wind was blowing in the clouds that would later dump snow on us. Those yellow and orange trees in the middle were the only ones I saw that were changing color. Of course, the mountains themselves were covered in evergreen pines, but all of those trees look like the sort that should have been colorful.

It's hard to believe that I've been home for less than a week... this has been a very long week, and slightly overwhelming. I'm having a hard time catching up on everything I need to do. At least I'm getting a little beading done, as yesterday's post illustrated.

Today I finally went back to the gym. It kicked my butt, but at least I don't seem to have injured myself this time around. On Tuesday I restart the evening classes, since I missed more than half of them the first time around. I'll still miss a third due to dance class, but oh well.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Created with Crystals.

Today I sat down and played with my goodies from Artbeads.com! When I was told that September was Swarovski month, I decided to spoil myself with a few of the newer fancy Pendant styles. The above necklace features a 45mm Article 6905 -- Dragonfly Pendant in Crystal Golden Shadow, and some 8mm Deep Brown Pearls from Artbeads, plus a Karen Sherwood lampwork bead, 4mm Ceylon Topaz bicones and green Czech glass from my own personal stash, topped off with a pewter Dragonfly clasp purchased in New York a couple of years ago. I call this necklace "Dragonfly Goddess" because the swelling of the bicone makes her look quite fertile.

I was really excited about the Dragonfly Pendant when I first saw it at the Swarovski party in February, so I lept at the chance to play with one now. In person, I'm very dissapointed by how asymmetrical it is. Lately, Swarovski has really been leaning towards these bizarre uneven shapes, and as someone who loves symmetry, I'm having a hard time getting enthusiastic designing with them. I definitely will not be buying any more Dragonfly pendants, which is a shame because they'd be perfect for my line.

The Deep Brown pearls, on the other hand, are just what I expected. The color is rich and lustrous, like dark chocolate. Swarovski really does make the best imitation pearl on the market, and I always love working with them. 8mm is larger than I usually use, but I wanted a big bead to be the head of the dragonfly pendant.
I also ordered two Article 6150 Pegasus pendants in Jet. My idea was to just dangle them at the end of some chain, or a few beaded strands, to make a simple lariat. However, while I was in Tahoe I saw this beautiful piece of black kyanite and it reminded me of folded raven wings, and it was flat enough on the back to be glued down for bead embroidery. Together, these components will form the focal point of a necklace called "The Morrigan's Wings" which I hope to start on soon.

Because Autumn is upon us, the shadows are a bit long in these photos... I'll have to try to get some better ones over the weekend.

Note: Technically I should be calling all of the crystals CRYSTALLIZED (tm) Swarovski Elements but who wants to type that half a dozen times per blog post?

Disclaimer: In keeping with FTC regulations, I need to disclose that Artbeads.com provided free beads to me in return for me reviewing them in my blog and linking back to their site. I am receiving no payment for these posts other than free beads, all of which are being blogged about.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Standing in the snow

Here you go, photographic evidence of the fact that it snowed in Tahoe, and I actually went outdoors! If you're wondering why my arms are crossed, it's because I didn't expect it to snow during the day, so I foolishly left my coat in my room. I was COLD!

The picture was taken by my friend Betcey, who is from the mountains of Colorado where snow is a frequent occurrence, and this tiny dusting would be nothing to remark upon in her home. But she knew that for a desert girl like me, this was a Big Deal, so she offered to take a picture for posterity :)

The snow came on so suddenly that most of the trees in the area hadn't changed colors yet, so you can see the pretty contrast of the white snow on the green leaves in the background. Some plants even had icicles on them, but I didn't have my camera at hand when I saw them.

I'm so glad to be back in AZ where the temps have been very pleasant 70s since I got home!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Visit The Shelley House

While I was away, The Shelley House opened its virtual doors! Though our selection is still small, each item is an amazing hand-crafted treasure. I'm so excited to see what the future months bring, and I hope that you'll remember to check in periodically to see what we've been up to.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This is my full report on the Tahoe Mountain Bead Retreat, sans pictures because I don't feel like tearing my suitcase apart to find the USB cord for my camera. I'm going to break it down into The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, as stated above, and I'm going to be perfectly honest, which may not win me some friends, but I think that the bad is just as important as the good, because people should be informed of what to expect if they're in the market to go to a retreat.

The Good

-All of our teachers and classes were great. I already knew that Beki Haley was a good teacher, as I'd taken a class from her at the Vegas Retreat and used several of her on-line tutorials. I also expected to enjoy Sherry Serafini's class, because she's one of my bead idols and the book that she co-authored with Heidi Kumli really helped me become proficient with bead embroidery. I was less familiar with Marcia deCoster, but I found that she was a great, fun teacher as well. I made decent progress on all three of my projects and am looking forward to finishing them.

-Sherry gets extra props because she gave everyone a Halloween goodie bag with mini candy bars, silly rubber toys (I got a spider ring!), crystals and cabs. We teased the other teachers about it all week. "Well, SHERRI gave us chocolate!" I don't think they appreciated that much ;)

-The free classes on Thursday were fun, although far less challenging. I enjoyed the opportunity to play with some new techniques and materials, and everyone who was teaching or helping did a good job.

-Laura Timmons was just plain awesome. Fun, friendly, generous, and quick with a compliment.

-The hospitality suite was well-stocked with tea, soda, cookies, fresh fruit, and other refreshments that I'm less familiar with because I didn't partake of them.

-The other hospitality suite was a full-service Out on a Whim bead booth, stocked with all sorts of wonderful goodies for sale throughout the retreat. You could either purchase things right away, or have a tray that you threw things into until you were ready to check out.

-When lunch ran crazy-late one day, the Bead Unique staff delivered our afternoon fresh-baked cookies directly to our class rooms, so we didn't have to stop beading to run downstairs to the hospitality suite.

-Bead Unique editor Pamela Hawkins sat with various members of my group several times to discuss what we did and didn't like about the retreat and what we might like to see at future retreats.

-Food in the Village was mostly delcious, service was friendly at all restaurants, and the little shops were cute and also well-staffed by smiling, helpful people.

-The swag bags and raffles were full of great stuff.

-Beki made sure that all of us wild and crazy gals from my home bead forum were together in the same class, and that everyone else in our class could handle us when we got raunchy. It was so great to spend 3-4 days with old and new friends.

-Rooming with my friend Maia, who I've known for almost 10 years but only met in person twice before now, was perfect. We both had the same low tolerance for cold, love tea, and were happy to spend our evenings talking with each other or calling/IMing home.

-The room was pretty good, other than the over-zealous heating. We had a full-sized kitchen, a super-deep tub and high pressure shower, a fireplace, and my couch bed was very comfy. The view from the balcony was great, though I didn't spend more than a few minutes on it due to the temperature.

-Dancing for friends and strangers, in a mostly spur-of-the-moment way, in a costume cobbled out of things I'd brought, with a borrowed stereo, and not losing my lunch due to stage fright.

-Generous beaders gave me rides to and from the airport, so I didn't have to pay for an expensive shuttle.

-Sherry and I were on the same flight out of Reno, and my new friend Jamie was leaving at the same time on a different carrier, so we all shared a fun farewell lunch at the airport. It was so much nicer than eating by myself!

The Bad

-After being asked repeatedly what we needed to bring, Bead Unique told us that we didn't need to bring anything, everything we needed would be provided in our kits, we just needed scissors for Thursday's class. While everything we needed was in fact provided for the free Thursday classes, we arrived at Sherri's class Friday to be told that of course she didn't provide needles and thread, because everyone had their own preference. Marcia told us the same thing on Saturday. Beki was the only one who included needles and thread. I was lucky to be in a class full of beadweavers wiser than me, who had packed their own needles and thread and generously shared with me. I hope the other classes were equally lucky!

-Though the restaurants did their best to handle over 60 hungry beaders in a timely fashion, our lunch hours usually ended up running late. This was especially true when we had Saturday's lunch at Twenty-Two Bistro, which had opened especially for us (they were closed for the off-season). While it seems like a nice idea in concept, in reality, the kitchen staff seemed pretty overwhelmed and it took forever to get our food. One person at my table had been served, finished eating, and left the restaurant long before my lunch arrived.

-Snow. Ok, yes, it was pretty. Yes, everyone was right, the cold temperatures feel warmer at a high altitude than they do in Tucson. But it was still cold, I still wasn't quite appropriately dressed, and I still slipped down icy stairs, banged my knee, and sent my luggage flying everywhere.

-Thursday's Meet the Teachers Dessert Social. Yes, you could in fact briefly meet your teachers as you purchased your kits for the week's classes, but if you wanted to say more than five words to them, you'd be holding up the line of the other 50 beaders behind you who also wanted to buy kits. Then by the time you got out of line, your seat had been stolen.

-Did I mention the over-zealous heater? The hotel had awesome heating provided by hot-water pipes under the floor. This meant that you could step out of the shower onto toasty warm tiles. But despite the fact that we had the thermostat set to 70, it never shut off on Wednesday. I woke up at 5am and found the bathroom floor was almost too hot to walk on, and I was drenched in sweat, so I turned the heat off completely. When Maia got up at 8, she went to turn it off because it was still swelteringly hot in the room! We had to leave the balcony door open all day to let the heat out. For the rest of our stay, we had the heater off, but even the ambient heat of the building was sometimes too much. Oh yes, and all of my chocolate melted on that first day :(

-There was a huge discrepency in the quality of raffle prizes. Some were crazy-nice (worth $100 or more), some were very nice ($50 range), some were pretty nice ($10-20) and some were meh ($1-5). Some people won multiple very nice prizes and others won no prizes at all. One friend of mine who doesn't string won a small package of crimp tubes. Twice. I think it would have been better if it worked life past raffles I'd been in, where you could pick your prize. Maybe the big-ticket prizes could have been raffled seperately, and then all other winners could have their choice of the smaller prizes. Then no one would get a book they already had, or something they couldn't use, wouldn't consume, whatever. Alternatively, really small prizes could have been bundled together into goodie bags.

-We were told that there would be sparkling cider for the non-drinkers at the farewell champagne toast. Now, I think this is relatively important. There are people like me who don't drink because they don't like the taste. There are people who don't drink for moral/religious reasons. And there are people who can't drink for medical reasons. When I asked if there was sparkling cider, I was given a weird look and eventually handed a glass of apple juice from a can, as were the other non-drinkers. Someone else said that it seemed like there was *supposed* to be cider and someone dropped the ball on getting it... but even if that is the case, the correct response is "Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have any. Would you like apple juice instead?" (in which case I would have asked for water, because goodness do I hate plain apple juice) not a strange look.

-Did I mention the snow?

The Ugly

As I mentioned before, Cthuhlu took voter's choice for the "I Don't Think So" Ugly category in the Ugly Contest. After the contest was over, a couple of people tried to take their items, and were told that they weren't done with them yet. Everyone seemed to assume they would get them back at the end of the retreat.

On Sunday, they went around announcing when the farewell toast would be. They also said that they would be photographing the Uglies and getting them back to us. I took that to mean that they were photographing them that afternoon and we could retrieve them after the toast.

After the toast, I was returning to my room to get my evaluation form so I could turn it in, and I realized that they hadn't given Cthulhu back to me, nor had I seen anyone else getting their projects back. When I got back with my form minutes later, everyone had cleared out of the hospitality suite and the Bead Unique/All American Crafts staff were getting ready to tear things down. I could see the box full of uglies sitting right there.

I asked if I could take mine back, and I was told no, they still needed to photograph them. I said... when? Could I get him tomorrow before I left? I was then told that Pamela was taking them back with her and she was going to sleep for the first two days she was home (not that I can blame her on that count, I did far less work than her and I'm wiped out). I pointed out that I had spent *two months* working on mine, it was a major project, and I was not happy with their cavalier attitude as to when he would be returned to me. No one seemed to care.

My anger built up as I walked over to the Pub where a bunch of my friends were gathering for one last dinner together. I told them what happened, and I got a strong chorus of support and people telling me that I did not have to let them take Cthulhu. One friend confided in me that I had every right to feel uncomfortable about it, as they'd had one piece of hers for one year and another for two. So I said OK, I'm going back to get him! My friend Nikki came to be my moral support -- or maybe to make sure I didn't hit anyone ;)

When I got back, Pam was back, and I said "I'm taking my ugly." She said that they were going to take them home and photograph them and eventually mail them back. I pointed out that once again, this was 2 months of my life, my most major project ever, and furthermore, I had not signed anything giving them any rights to take him. I pulled him out of the box and left. She just stared at me and didn't respond.

The next day, several Bead Unique/All American Crafts staffers were also on the same flight as Sherry and I. They walked up to say Hi to us, and one of them (Russel I think) told me that I could have trusted Pam with my project. I said thank you, that's nice, but I did not want him out of my hands for any length of time, nor did I want to chance him being damaged by the USPS.

But the truth is, I was worried about a lot more than USPS damage. I was worried about not getting my project back for a year or more. Possibly never. And do you know why? Cthulhu was in the bottom of the box, under some neck displays, with no packaging. No label to say who he belonged to. He had been seperated from the bag of books I'd given for him to sit on (some trashy 1970s Lovecraft paperbacks). None of the items were labeled or wrapped up. I didn't see anyone taking any note on who he belonged to when I turned him in.

Honestly, after seeing that, I was supposed to expect that he'd arrive home undamaged and in a timely manner? I'd have been lucky to ever see him again.

Now generally, I try very hard to promote a good image to magazine editors, writers, and other staff, in case I ever wanted to submit a project or article. I like to have a good reputation within the bead industry -- and I think I've built a decent little one, through my work with BFAC and as a gem show vendor helper and that crazy girl dancing at the Swarovski party. But on Sunday night, I didn't give one whit whether Bead Unique and All American Crafts thought that I was a primadonna, a bitch, or any other appelation applied to a difficult woman. The fact of the matter is that they were the ones in the wrong, for never telling anyone that the Ugly Project entries would not be returned to their creators at the end of the show. That should have been spelled out from the very beginning.

And if anyone's made it through this entire post, I applaud your patience.