Aug 30, 2013

Challenge of Travel Blog Hop: Tacoma, Washington



I must admit that some of my favorite challenges are the ones that Ms. Erin of Treasures Found.  She hosts a challenge every three months that really cause a person to ponder and research before coming up with a design.

The challenge this time was to travel to our home town or in my case the town that I currently live in, Tacoma Washington.  Tacoma is truly the home of my heart and one of the few places that I could be reasonably imagine myself living in.  I think that it comes from my childhood with a mother who moved us around so much that I felt like a gypsy and the only mother-daughter trip that we ever took.  For my eighteenth birthday, we took a trip to Seattle.  The town immediately entranced me and I swore that I would live there when I 'grew' up.

In between then and now, I have lived all over the States and spent several years living right next to the German/Nederlands border (remind me to tell you about smuggling coolie loaches one of these days).  Yet I kept gravitating towards Seattle.  I don't think that I will ever live there because of the cost of renting let alone buying a house.  Tacoma,  however, is the second largest city in Washington.





This is truly a wonderful city to live in.  We have an old growth forest  that is part of one of our city parks.  There are a couple beaches to walk along.  We have the blue, blue water of the bay.  We have theatres, great restaurants all without parking issues.  Also Seattle is only thirty miles away with all that it has to offer such as Fusion Beads, and Pike Place Market.

Besides Tacoma has the Museum of Glass founded by Dale Chihuly.  My plan was to go visit it since that wonderful glass was the theme of my designs.  Issues with both my and the hubby's health interfered with that plan. So I wasn't able to get pictures any of the pieces there but I do have my own to offer.



Just look at the depths in this focal.  It was made by MonaRaeBeads and even more gorgeous in person.  The colors...the blues and greens really remind of Tacoma.






To continue along the lines of glass, the boro glass beads in these earring were designed by Java Beads who is based in Washington state also.  The brass dangles are from the Patina Queen.

To see more hometowns, just click on the links below.


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Book Review: A Clockwork Heart



As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally.

In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.


* * * * *

My introduction to the steampunk genre was actually the first book in this series, A Conspiracy of Alchemists, and I haven't looked back since. The blend of urban fantasy and alternative history is one that I find rather satisfying.  So you can only imagine how I jumped at the chance to review A CLOCKWORK HEART.

I really enjoyed the characters of Elle, Marsh and Loisa so getting a chance to rejoin them on their adventures was like getting together with old friends. And boy do they get themselves involved in adventures.  I found this book filled with suspense and danger.  Or course, Elle loves to court danger.

I have to say that I really enjoyed A CLOCKWORK HEART but there were some instances where I was pulled out of the story as I tried to figure out just what or who the author meant.  On the plus side is the fact that this book kept me on the edge of my seat almost the entire time and ends in a cliff hanger.  I can hardly wait to see what Ms. Scharz and Elle have planned next for us.

I do recommend A CLOCKWORK HEART to any of my readers that enjoy steampunk.  It is one wild ride that is sure to please.  I rate it a 4.1.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
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Aug 24, 2013

Summer Color Surprise Blog Hop







Now normally I tend to be rather chatty when I post for my beloved blog hops however this time I am going to let the pictures do the talking.  My only excuse is that today was a very busy day and I am getting this post up way past my bedtime.

Be sure to check out all the other blogs that took part in this hop.  Just click here to be taken to a list of the participants and a contest even awaits there.
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Aug 22, 2013

Book Review: The Sea of Tranquility




Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.


* * * * *

I finished this book a week ago but it has taken some time to really think about it.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved the book but I couldn't figure out just that was so. 

THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY  is really a story of second chances after the unthinkable happens.  It's the story of finding acceptance both within one's self and with another.  It's a story about finding your chosen family.  It is the story of life.

The main characters, Nastya and Josh, became so real to me that I wanted to reach out and help anyway that I could even if it was just to accept them.  I was almost in tears a couple times and others I just wanted to reach and slap Nastya as she goes about attempting to self destruct.  I found it almost impossible to set the book aside as it meant leaving the world created by Ms. Millay and coming back into my own reality.

As you can see, I still haven't figured out just why the book effected me so.  The fact that it did however makes it a real keeper and one that I will be rereading.  I rate this book a 5.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

Reminder!!




I just wanted to remind everyone that the Surprise Color Blog Hop will be this Saturday!  This hop was a lot of fun because going into it, I had NO idea what color of beads I would receive.  I just love challenges like this as they cause me to push myself.

This hop really got my muse going and I have been spending a lot of time playing in my studio.  I will be showing them off as I go.  Also I got my first commission yesterday!  Yep I am excited.

Aug 16, 2013

Dragonflies.




I did a shift switch with one of my co-workers who needed the day off to get married.  Boy was it strange being off on a Thursday but I sure enjoyed it.  And needed it.

I had plans to catch up on some running around but it was such a dreary day with the spots of rain and clouds that I pretty much hibernated.  Especially as I kept getting dizzy spells when I would stand up.  Not too sure where those came from but they seem to be gone today.

I love dragonflies.  In fact, they are one of my totems and I have been collecting dragonfly focals.  I just hadn't done anything with my collection so with me hibernating, I decided to change that fact and make myself a necklace.

The focal is by Patina Queen and I am really pleased with the pieces that I picked up through her shop.  Her prices are wonderful and I plan on doing some shopping there today.
Aug 12, 2013

ABS August Challenge

Tres Personajes, (Three People) 1970
Rufino Tamayo
Oil on Canvas 51" × 38"
 
I have found that lately it has been a struggle  to go down to my studio.  I keep finding other distractions such as good books and finding time with my husband. Of course, these tend to be distractions that also keep me off the computer so if I am not around on the days I don't work...well you know why.
 
Anyways, I was talking about entering my studio.  Once I get there and set down my tea though I am good to go.  I go plug in my nano (ever mention that I am addicted to podcasts?) and start to play with my beads.  I lose track of time and just play.  
 
Speaking of playing.  I have my torch now so I need to start playing with it.  I am considering to picking up some enamels to see how I like playing with them.  Sorry my mind is wandering all over the place.
 
When I went down this weekend, it really was with a purpose.  You see that gorgeous piece of art was our inspiration for this month. I saw it and just couldn't resist Art Bead Scene's  monthly challenge.  What struck me first about this painting was the colors and how they played with each other.  How they appear randomly placed until you look closer.  How the yellow focuses and distracts.
 
 

To me, these raku beads from StudioJuls.  The focal has that same sense of play and mystery.  The closer you look at it, the more you see.  The yellow ripples waltzing with purple orbs.   I chose to highlight the focal with brass wire wrapping, accent beads from StudioJuls and crystals.
 
 

This is one that should be at Shaiha Designs by the end of the month.


 
 
Aug 9, 2013

Contests



I have found a couple contests today that sound interesting and I wanted to share them with all of you wonderful peeps.

I really like the idea of prepackaged meals that I can just toss in the microwave and they are healthy!  I tend to do a lot of microwaved lunches and well with all the preservatives they aren't all that good for me.  So be sure to check out this give away on Momma Told Me.  Just click here.

And since you will be eating such healthy meals how about a little desert.  Keenly Kristin is offering deserts from Bake Me a Wish.  Just click here for more information. 

Okay now I am hungry.  Off to the kitchen to see if I am find anything healthy to eat.
Aug 7, 2013

Book Review: Stonefly




Jacob Duke has come back to Braketon­—a sleepy, backwoods town bordering Dover, the mental institution where he spent his formative years. Jacob's intention is to enjoy Braketon's woods and water for the first time as a free man, but he soon discovers that Dover isn't through with him yet. Driven by a curse that compels him to grant any wish he hears, Jacob is drawn back into his disturbing former life by a young boy's desire to see his own father dead.

Complicating things are Lori Nelson, Jacob's friend-with-benefits who continues to put new boyfriends in his path, and Motown, Jacob's friend from his years at Dover, who carries a secret that rocks Jacob's foundation and makes him question his own morality.

Stonefly is a suspense thriller that rockets to a surprising, but satisfying end. Stay tuned for the second book in the series, entitled Broken Horizon.


* * * * *

STONEFLY has to be one of the most unusual books that I have had the pleasure of reading.  Jake spent his youth in a mental institution after he killed a classmate to grant another's wish.  He is driven to grant wishes no matter what they might be due to a curse that he inherited from his father.  This is the only thing that he inherited from the man and Jacob's feelings are rather conflicted about both him and his mother.  
 
STONEFLY is written in the first person and normally I find that style rather hard to read.  In this case however I found Jacob and his thoughts to be fascinating. The way that he deals with his curse is interesting as he made himself deaf so that he would be able to hear passing people making random wishes.  He is still able to grant wishes as he is excellent at lip reading.  

I found STONEFLY to be a fascinating book and I am sorry that it is over.  I even put the book down for a couple days when I got close to end just to make it last longer.  I am definitely waiting impatiently for Broken Horizon which is the next book in this series.

Aug 4, 2013

Endings and Beginings



I have had a good weekend playing around in my studio.  I wanted to share on of the pieces that I have made featuring beads from StudioJuls and copper.

I was also got to attend the final ritual that TERRA will be putting on as we are disbanding.  It has been a long run with them and I have been on the board of directors off and on for the past ten years.  I am sad in a way but looking forward to having more time to play with my jewelry and a lot less stress all the way around.
Aug 3, 2013

Just a tease


And a reminder.  I will be participating in the Summer Color Surprise 2013 blog hop on August 24th.  The picture is of some of my pieces all mixed up together.

Also I wanted to announce the winner of my Birthday Giveaway!

 Congrats Monica! I have sent an email your direction.
Aug 2, 2013

Travel Challenges



I am so excited as I have missed out on the last few challenges that Erin has had.  And she definitely has some fun challenges.  This one is rather unique.  It is about travel but it is travel around your home town or where I am living at currently.  I am really going to have to get out and take some pictures of Tacoma.  I do know that it will have to be something involving glass as the Glass Museum is here.