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 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 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! 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'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


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 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, 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, with the intention of wearing it to class tonight... Tune in tomorrow to see if I was successful.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


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.