Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dias de los Muertos

Look what was in my mailbox today! My Day of the Dead challenge kit from The Hole Bead Shop!

I was sooooo lucky to snag one of these kits - there were only ten of them! And I cannot believe what is in there. Fire polished beads, daggers, Tilas, drops, seed beads, Lucite, freshwater pearls, and this absolutely gorgeous handmade lampwork sugar skull bead!

I love that my sugar skull bead has a happy face on one eye because I usually sign my emails with a little happy face. Goofy, I know.

I can't wait to get started on this project! I have until December 10th, which means I need to do some serious beading on it. This will probably require several late nights, which may or may not work with Colden's sleep schedule.

I feel like I'm ready to start working on large-scale projects again, I just need to figure out when and how to do that. So I called Designer's Findings to order a couple of thick brass embroidery collars, and guess what? She's traveling until the 24th! I was so disappointed, I wanted to cry. That means I probably can't start working on this piece until November 1, darn it.

On the plus side, that also means I have another week or two to do some sketching and some coloring and see what other beads I have and what other beads I might need to do this project. This is gonna be something gooooood...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Swing Time!

Here it is, the first few rows of Swing Time!

So, I'm getting a little impatient waiting for the order of chaton montees and rose montees that I ordered back in September, so I decided to start Swing Time, since I've got pretty much all the materials for this bracelet with the exception of the clasp and the liquid silver beads.

I knew which colors I wanted to use for the bracelet after my first acupuncture treatment - the colors came to me while I was lying there on the table, full of needles, relaxing. (I know, that doesn't sound like it's very relaxing, but really, acupuncture is very relaxing for me.)

Then I realized that it has been a very, very long time since I had to read a graph for right-angle weave. A very long time. The last time I did that was back in 2001 or 2002 and I was trying to do a double needle right-angle weave project using a graph from my old White Russian beading book.

Reading the right-angle weave graph is a bit tricky, but I'm coming up with a system for it, which I'll post here and on Beading Daily once I get it written up.

I also ordered a whole bunch of seed beads from Fox Den Beads, since she's going out of business, and I thought I could get some of the colors I needed for a few more projects. Well, that was a great idea, but since she's not restocking anything, I received my order and it was a few tubes short of some critical colors. Dang it. I'll probably order some more beads from her just to add them to my stash, and then get the rest of the colors I need/want from Whimbeads and Beyond Beadery. Darn, darn, darn.

The Hunter

So, one of the things my acupuncturist suggested to me at my appointment last week was that I try the blood type diet to see if it helped ease my digestive issues. I had a few issues with that. First of all, I view any diet that is "trendy" as a sham. Atkins, South Beach - they're all a crock, as far as I'm concerned. Second, according to my blood type, I'm supposed to be eating a diet of red meat and vegetables with very little grains. I haven't had red meat since I was 15 years old. I haven't had chicken or turkey or any kind of white meat since 2003. When I told the acupuncturist about this, she said that sometimes in Chinese medicine you can substitute beets for red meat. (Don't understand that, but maybe it's the color?) Since I love beets, I thought, cool, I'll make a big kale and shredded beet salad for dinner that night.

I'm standing there shredding the beets with a hand shredder (Why didn't I use the food processor we just blew a bundle on? No idea.) and suddenly my hand slips and I neatly slice off the outer 1/8" of skin from the knuckle on my thumb. Tom took over and completed the shredding while I washed the wound and put a Band Aid on it.

Thus ended my experimentation with the blood type diet.

There's really nothing wrong with the diet that I eat - no meat, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, not a lot of processed foods (since I can't digest them anymore, anyway) and whole grains like quinoa, bulgur and kasha. Lots of beans and protein sources like tempeh, too. Low-fat dairy on the occasion that I want it like low-fat cottage cheese or hot chocolate made with 1% milk. That's about it. Of course, Colden and I bake cookies and during the summer I'm a sucker for those gourmet cupcakes from the farmer's market. But I think that overall, I eat a darn good healthy diet.

That said, I had my second acupuncture treatment yesterday and I feel great. Had a little bit of a queasy stomach the other night, but I now believe that was due to other circumstances. No more nausea after every meal, no more gagging and dry heaving... And I actually feel like cooking again!

Colden and I are going to baby sit for a friend this afternoon, so we're putting a harvest soup in the crock pot this afternoon - mixed lentils and barley with brown rice, chunked up butternut squash, celery root, carrots, chopped kale and leeks. Tomorrow night after Tom's hunting buddies have left, I'll be making a vegetarian cassoulet with tempeh, carrots, white beans, sweet potatoes, chopped kale, and a yummy buttery breadcrumb topping.

Yep. I should have done acupuncture months ago.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Awake

That's what the acupuncturist told me the other day. When we were talking about how my body just doesn't react well to most Western medical practices, particularly to prescription medications, she nodded and smiled and said, "Well, that's a good thing. It means that your body is still awake."

It certainly was awake the last few nights. Colden had a rough couple of nights. The first night, he would not sleep unless I was in bed with him, and even then, he would cry (with his eyes shut) and say things like, "Mommy, I wanna go an a big airplane NOW!" (The best we can figure is that he was thinking about the movie Rio and the three second clip where a big airplane touches down at the airport in Brazil.) Then the night after that, he and Daddy laid there in bed and cuddled and snuggled and laughed and laughed and laughed. Tom said something about Moose chasing a critter in the backyard, and Colden just took that and ran with it - "Moose is chasing those freaking racoons again!" Not exactly conducive to sleep, but we didn't have to get up early the next morning or anything.

We went to Canadian Thanksgiving at Rob and Jenny's last night, and the place was packed. It was so much fun! I can't remember the last time I saw so much food - or felt like eating so much! My only mistake was that I went back for thirds. After my third plate of mushroom stuffing, mashed squash, locally-raised and roasted beets and carrots, mashed potatoes and green salad, the music, noise and heat started to get to me. (It was 83 degrees yesterday!) We had to bail a little early, which was a shame because Colden was having so much fun playing with the other kids.

At one point, I heard singing and I looked down into the lounge area and saw Colden with his little friend Andrew. They were putting together a HUGE wooden train track and singing the theme to the Wonder Pets about teamwork. It was so cute and funny, I told Andrew's mom about it.

Lots of beading for today. Two deadlines: one project needs to be out the door tomorrow morning, and the other needs to be ready to post for Friday morning on Beading Daily.

And I've started another project from Bead Riffs! More on that later today once I get the camera out and ready...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Death of Jobs

One of my beading friends on Facebook posted this quote last night:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” Steve Jobs
And I just loved it. I had to share it again. I don't know why I was so shocked to hear about the passing of Steve Jobs. It's not like I knew him, although his company certainly affected my life. I can remember playing and working on my dad's Apple IIe computer during grammar school, learning about programming languages and learning how to use a word processor. I think we even used that thing to access the first BBS on a local college campus.

I can remember my uncle using his Mac to create those wonderful church bulletins every week. He was truly talented at desktop publishing, and he and my father had many long conversations about the pros and cons of Apple vs. IBM.

In 2008, my father sent me my first iPod, and I was hooked. Ever since I loaded most of my music collection into my iTunes, I've always said that the only way anyone is going to get that device away from me is to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

I also saw with some amusement this story from The Onion with the headline, "Last American Who Knew What the Fuck He Was Doing Dies". Sadly true, I think.

Wherever he is, I hope Steve Jobs could see Colden this morning as he played on my iPad. RiP, Mr. Jobs.

Night in Tunisia

First of all, I loved this piece from the minute I saw it. But when I started picking out my colors to go with those Siam Swarovski crystals that I picked, I felt totally disheartened. I just could not find a set of colors that went together well, so I cheated a bit.

I decided to stick with those lovely hematite colored seed beads for the base, and I found some silver lined red beads that were a perfect match for the crystals. I loved the way the grey-lined 15s contrasted with both the red and hematite beads, but I just could not find a color of size 8 that I liked with these beads. So I used size 8 beads in silver lined red.

Stitching this piece together was, I thought, like magic. As I made the base with right angle weave, I couldn't get over how unstructured it looked. (I should have taken a picture.) It was loose, floppy, and just didn't sit right, no matter what I did.

Then I started filling in the little squares, and WOW! Things just tightened right up, took shape, took form... It was a beautiful thing to watch.

I loved the freedom in this piece - Rachel didn't have a specified thread path for filling in each of the little units of right angle weave, so I was free to wander through my beadwork in any way I saw fit, which was good when I was trying to squeeze my beading needle through some of those tightly-filled bead holes.

My current obsession: finding the perfect red sweater to wear with this necklace this winter. I did see a couple of beautiful jewel-toned red cocoon sweaters at the Bass outlet in Lake Placid the other day. Maybe another quick trip there with Colden this weekend...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

How to Bend a Tulip Beading Needle

Well, I did it. I finally figured out how to bend one of those new Tulip beading needles! I finished High Style the other day, and when I was finished, my gorgeous Tulip beading needle had a definite curve to it!

I just love this bracelet! I really should have made it one unit shorter, but as long as I don't lose any more weight, I should be okay with it. And truthfully, if I did have to tear it apart and re-stitch it together, I think I'd be okay with that. (Just can't do it right now with deadlines and some new designs floating around in my head!)

Just look at those fun little bumps! I loved them. There was just something so wonderful and soothing about stitching these. They were simple, once I got the hang of them, and I was amazed at how quick they stitched up.

And just look at how they tarnished! At first, I was disappointed that the shine of those little copper beauties faded so quickly, but then I tried it on with my favorite long copper earrings and my new favorite brown hemp wrap shirt, it looked fabulous. Really fabulous. Like, I can't believe that I made this bracelet fabulous.

I also finished Night in Tunisia, but that will be another post for tomorrow...

Monday, October 03, 2011


One of my non-beading friends asked me the other day why I had decided to bead my way through Rachel Nelson-Smith's newest book, Bead Riffs.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to do this. First of all, ever since I saw Rachel's first book, Seed Bead Fusion, I've been totally captivated by her style. I love her techniques of making peyote stitch bumps on a base of right-angle weave, the way she creates bezels to capture rivolis and cabochons... I especially love the way she uses Swarovski crystals. I've never been much of a sparkly-beader kinda gal, but Rachel uses crystals in a way so that is so subtle, you really don't notice them. So when I first took a look through her book, I was just totally inspired to start stitching up every single one of these projects.

Another reason why I was motivated to stitch up all her designs was because I don't often get a chance to stitch up another artist's designs. For the last few years, I've been so busy making beadwork for inventory and working on my own designs that I just haven't had time to make up designs from someone else. That was always something that I loved to do when I first started beading and brought home a new beading book - I would make up little lists on sticky notes with all the beads I needed to buy for each project, and my hours after work were always spent sitting with Tom and watching movies and beading. I thought Rachel's designs are just so beautiful and so WEARABLE that I had to give them a try!

I've also been feeling a little stifled in my own beading designs lately as well. I'm so used to the ideas flowing easily into my sketchbook that this most recent dry spell has left me feeling a little bummed out and a little worried about if the ideas will ever come again. (Of course, on some level, I know they will, but right now, it feels like I've been hung out to dry by my Muse.) I'm hoping that getting a peek into Rachel's process and her designs will help ignite some of that inspiration in my own designs so that I can start designing my own pieces again.

So, enough of that for now. We had a fabulous weekend up here, complete with roaring fires in the wood stove to chase away the damp chill from the rain, a HUGE (60+ pound) box of assorted squash, a big pumpkin that Colden picked out all by himself, and a dinner of roasted vegetables and tempeh with a big loaf of Tom's homemade bread.  If this is autumn in the Adirondacks, I say bring it on!