Jan 31, 2014

Year of Jewelry Project: Mid-winter Memories



The topic was one that I have to admit didn't really inspire me.  I tend to associate winter with cold, wet, aching bodies and that ever present gray that shows up in November and sticks around through April.  Nothing there that I could make up into a design that I would actually show off.  Besides one issue after another managed to eat up my weekend so I decided to just keep it simple.

Silver tone chain
Pewter charms
Glass flowers and stamens


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Jan 30, 2014

Book Review: Deceptive Innocence Part 1




Ever since her mother died while serving time for a murder she didn't commit, Bell's been focused on one thing: revenge. She knows her mother was set up by the powerful Gable family, international bankers who will crush anyone for profit, or amusement. Now she's determined to take the Gables down.

* * * * *

Now I don't usually read serial novel simply because I don't like to wait for the next installment.  Boy am I glad that I broke my rule for this serial.  Ms. Davis' DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE is extremely hot, sexy and all too plausible.  

The reader is taken on a thrill ride where we are able to watch Bell integrate herself  with the Gable family so that she will be able to take each down in their own way when the time comes.  The only problem is that not all the Gable family are as she had pictured them.  

I do recommend DECEPTIVE INNOCENCE to any of my readers who have a spare hour or so and want to read a hot story of revenge.  I do want to insert a general warning to the fact that when I say hot, I mean hot.  There are some sex scenes in the book that will have you fanning yourself or looking for your significant other.  Or both.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Jan 28, 2014

Jury Duty

Jury assembled
Jury assembled (Photo credit: Nrico)


I have been called up for jury duty in February.  I know that a lot of friends dread having to do so but I am actually looking forward to it.  I found it to be really interesting and discovered more about how our justice system works during my last stint.

I am not sure how it works in your state but here in Washington we are given a number that we have to call each evening so we can find out if we are expected to show up for the jury duty.  Last time I was lucky and was assigned to a jury that first day.  This time around who knows.  If I don't have to show up then I just go to work as usual.

I know that being on jury duty can be a hardship but I am pretty lucky in that my employer does pay me while I am doing my civic duty.  I really wish that more employers would do so because jury duty really a valuable learning experience.

Have you sat been on jury duty before?  Does your employer pay your time away from work?  Did you enjoy it?
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Jan 27, 2014

Book Review: The Midnight Side




Dare to cross over...


Isa DeWitt is not alarmed when she receives a phone call in the early morning hours from her cousin Alette -- they'd always been close -- until she later discovers that Alette has been dead for two days. Then Isa receives three sealed envelopes -- a final request from Alette that will wreak evil vengeance on the living ...

* * * * * * * * *

Let me start off with an apology.  The formatting on this review  is slightly strange because Blogger isn't cooperating.  And since I have too many other things to worry about, I am not going to stress over a bit of formatting.

I first discovered Ms. Mostert a few years ago when I had the opportunity to review Seasons of the Witch.  It was excellent and I put her down on my list of authors to watch for. It wasn't until recently that I have seen some more books that out by her as some of Ms. Mostert's books have been re-released.  I will be reviewing a few of those.

THE MIDNIGHT SIDE has definite Gothic overlay to it what with phone calls from the dead.  It is a book of revenge, endings and new beginnings. Set in London in the twentieth century, Isa is asked to follow the instructions in those three letters.  In doing so, she discovers a few things about herself and the other people that Alette had surrounded herself with.


I was sold on this book within the first few pages.  The writing is rich and layered yet not wordy.  There is such a general eeriness to the whole story starting with call coming in middle of the night on one of those old landline phones.  If you get an opportunity to read this book, I highly recommend doing so though it might keep you up a bit at night. 
Jan 24, 2014

Year of Jewelry Project: Gypsy Muse


This really has been an interesting week.  I commented that I had won a metalsmithing course and I have been gathering up the supplies I need.  I actually used a day of vacation to give me a chance to do so and play in the studio.  Well playing in the studio I did and I finally managed to get what supplies that I need gathered up.  I just didn't get a chance to combine the two.

What happened instead was the city decided to flush the water main.  Great in concept but it blocked up our pipes. We have been working on getting that fixed so I haven't had a chance to actually get down and play with soldier and my torch.  Hopefully this weekend.

Now what my muse fixated on was a necklace for a blog hop that isn't until this summer.  So off we went.  Once that was finished, I made up a matching pair of earrings.  Finally Serenity, my muse, decided to cooperate with me on the theme.  And she demanded a pair of earrings.



This pair was made using Czech Cathedral beads that are a beautiful teal color.  The findings are golden color pewter and the ear wires are gold filled.  They have a lot of movement and I have to admit that I have already adopted them.
Jan 21, 2014

Unexpected Surprises



They say that good things come in threes.  I am inclined to agree.  Take this last Sunday for instance.  I don't watch football.  In fact, my view on football is that supporting it is supporting a sport that has been proven to cause brain damage.  But I still live here in Washington and everyone is riding high on that win.

It was what happened later that evening that sent me spinning.  I was notified via Facebook that I had won one of Lisa Lodge's of Pine Ridge Treasures goodie bags.  I can hardly wait to see what is in there as she sends the best mixed bags out there.

And then the third wonderful thing happened.  I had signed up for a contest on Riki Jewelry Blog for an online Metal Homesteader class taught by Stephanie Lee and I won!!  This sounds like such a wonderful course and I can't wait to dig in tomorrow.

Jan 19, 2014

Book Review: Board Stiff



Be careful what you wish for...

"I'm actually a smart girl who would make any man an excellent wife. But no man sees that. No man is interested in my mind or personality, just my whatevers. So here is my wish: I'm board stiff. I want Adventure, Excitement, and Romance.”

So begins Piers Anthony's 38th Xanth novel, in which Irrelevant Candy, looks at her reflection in the water of the shallow well and sees luxuriant midnight black hair to her breathtakingly slender waist, matching dark eyes in a lovely face. A torso coming yea-close to absolute perfection. She was man's desire. That was part of the problem.

And in the shallow magic of a wishing well, she asks her wish to be granted. Something happens. A sudden whirlwind surrounds her, lifting her up and ripping off her clothing. She is changing, somehow. Then she falls flat on the ground.

Literally. She has been transformed into a flat, stiff board with two knotholes for eyes.


* * * * *

I remember when I was much younger and would wait anxiously at the book store for it to open so I could get my next Xanth fix.  It has been over twenty years since I have read one of this series yet the memories are vivid.  And I do have to say that reading BOARD STIFF sent me right back to those days.

Now I do have to admit that the plot itself isn't that intricate and there was no question about how the book would end.  And there were a lot of puns and some were rather lame.  Regardless of these facts, this book was fun to read.  And there are times when simple is better if it is fun.  Would I recommend to my readers?  In a heartbeat.  Just beware that it is that 'punny.'
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Jan 17, 2014

Year of Jewelry Project: Circles

I hate imps.  My house has imps and did I mention that I hate them?  So what if I am running behind.  I still hate imps.  I went to take pictures of my design this week and I discovered that my hand was missing.  And I know that our imp either adopted it or hid it. 



This week's theme was a battle.  I had ideas.  Lots of ideas but the nothing seems to come out how I had envisioned it.  Some of it was skill (pinpointed some areas to work on) and some of it was lack of ingredients.  I finally decided to ignore the theme and just create.  And guess what?  I ended up with circles.


Lentil Beads from Fanceethat
Copper wire and findings
$44.95
Jan 16, 2014

Hot Tea Month

English: Tea of different fermentation: From l...
English: Tea of different fermentation: From left to right: Green tea (Bancha from Japan), Yellow tea (Kekecha from China), Oolong tea (Kwai flower from China) and Black tea (Assam Sonipur Bio FOP from India) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I am sure that it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am a tea drinker.  Actually I put myself closer to being a tea addict with a china hutch and a kitchen cabinet full of various teas.  I have also become something of a tea snob since I get to try out all these wonderful teas for my reviews for TeaViews.  I just can't go from enjoying a high quality tea to bagged teas.  At the same time, I tend to drink anywhere from three to six pots of tea a day.  Luckily I have found some vendors that manage to carry high quality teas without charging an arm and a leg.

One place that I tend to get a lot of my oolongs and black teas from is TeaVirve.  They are based in China and Hong Kong, and all of their teas are grown in China.  One thing that I appreciate is how careful they are about pesticides if the leaves aren't from an organic farm.  They also have free shipping if you order $30 or more and I don't know about you but I can't seem to leave a tea shop without spending more then that.

Another one that I love is American Tea Room.  They tend to be more expensive for their oolongs but if you sign up for their newsletter, you can catch some wonderful sales.  And they do have some great prices on their blended blacks.

I have also joined a monthly club through Golden Moon Tea.  With this club, you get a small amount of a tea that is beyond premium to enjoy each month.  I was a member for a while last year and loved it.  I only wish that I could specify no green tea.  I don't care for it so sending me the good stuff is really a waste.

There are other vendors whose teas reside in my cabinet but those top two are the ones that I head to when I am starting to run low.  I am also going to be posting some reviews on Budda's Herbs so keep an eye out for that.

Do you have favorite online tea shops that you love?  Let us know about them.
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Jan 14, 2014

Art Bead Scene Monthly January Challenge


Textile Design for Cretonne, 1928? 
by Lois Mailou Jones

One of my favorite challenges every month is put on by Art Bead Scene.  Every month they choose a picture to inspire a new piece of jewelry which has to contain art beads. 

I just love the picture that was put up for inspiration this month.  All the colors, both warm and cold, as well as the different shapes just drew me in. I had a lot of trouble trying to decide just what to focus on.  Once I sat down and thought about however it became clear what I kept focusing on was the black and blue leaf.  The shape really reminded me of a heart.  Once that was determined, the rest was easy.


The focal is by StudioJuls and has those wonderful black, blue and purple tones that I was drawn too.  I attempted to draw those colors out more by using kyanite and amethyst beads.  I then tied it all together using gunmetal chain and silver-filled wire.
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Jan 13, 2014

Random Things



  • I had one of my readers commit on my flow of consciousness posts and how they seem to fit the title of the blog so I decided to have a couple a month.  They are mainly going to be on random thoughts that flip through the brain.
  • I did my best to resist the iPhone but I have to admit that Siri got me.  She (or in my case He since I have the male voice on it) is just too darn handy for taking notes in the dark.
  • Just started in online course in Photoshop.  Dang I didn't realize what all it could do.  And here all I wanted to do is make my pics look better.
  • That handsome guy above is Rusty, my husband's new MinPin.  We had been keeping an eye out for one for him and well it was meant to be.  My roommate had stopped by the Humane Society and saw him.  Well I had to go down there to make a donation as part of my MinPin Secret Santa gift and ended up coming home with him also.
  •  Why is it that people immediately accuse you of giving them poor service when you are being nice and polite when they don't like the answer you are giving them?
  • Last week was tough.  I ended up having to go into the office for training Tuesday through Friday.  Not only was it cold out there but I had to be into work two hours before I usually start.  Not my idea of fun.
  • This Saturday is our Pagan potluck and our theme this month is German.  I am still trying to decide if I am up to making  schnitzel for 8 to 12 peoples. 
Jan 11, 2014

Into the Forest Blog Hop



I love to start the year of right with a blog hop.  And Lisa of Pine Ridge Treasures hold the best hops.  One of the things that I really like about her hops is that Lisa sends us beads and gives us the theme.  Usually this sets my muse free to go nuts.  Note that I said usually.  Lisa sent us a hoard of beads and I do try to use up as many beads as I can.  But my muse went on vacation once I made the bracelet above.  So I am not empty handed.  I just don't have as goodies as I normally have to show off.

I think it might have to do with the fact that I haven't had a chance to go play in the woods for quite a while.  It's not that I don't have the time (though I don't) but more the fact that I don't want to go without my hubby.  He is the one that really loves the woods so I would feel guilty heading out on my own. And with his medical issues wandering through the woods just isn't possible.

It really does look like mixed metals in this bracelet. But it's all copper.  I just had some antiqued  patterned brass chain that I thought would be perfect for one of the strands.  The other strand consists of beads that I got from Lisa that are wirewrapped with a bright copper.  Personally I really like the different colors of the same metal.

Not everyone's muse was vacation though so be sure to take a look at what these wonderful designers came up.  What great eye candy to look at while you are drinking that first cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer).

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes
Kathy Zeigler Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Eleanor Burian Moore, The Charmed Life
Jo-Ann Woolverton, It's a Beadiful Creation
Chris Eisenberg, Wanderware
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations
Janine Lucas, Esfera Travel Blog
Jasvanti Patel, Jewelry by Jasvanti
Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreationz
Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
Veralynne Malone, Designed by Vera
Toltec  Jewels, Jewel School Friends
Christie Searle Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry
Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
Monique Urquhart, A Half-Baked Notion
Janet Bocciardi, Honey from the Bee
Dini Bruinsma, Angaza by Changes
Heather Richter, Desert Jewelry Designs
Christina Miles, Wings n Scales
Elizabeth Engriser, Bead Contagion
Alice Peterson, Alice Dreaming
Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things
Kay Mallery,TBD
Catherine Yvonne King, Catherine's Musings
Alice Craddick, Alice's Beads and Baubles
Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs


Jan 10, 2014

Year of Jewelry Project: It's Golden




Lampwork: StudioJuls
Clasp: Metal Me This
Beads: Dyed Howlite
Findings: Brass 
Price:  $74.99

I had a lot of fun with this necklace as it all came together so easily.  Once I had it all laid out, it was just a matter of wrapping it all together while listening to a podcast.  This time around I was engrossed in Darkness Radio which I recently found because the host showed up on Coast 2 Coast.  I do have to say that it one of my new favorite podcasts.

This necklace is for sale and if you are interested be sure to drop me a line.  Actually if you are interested in any of the jewelry I put just contact me.  If that particular piece isn't for sale then we can custom design up one just for you.

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Jan 9, 2014

Book Review: Dead Beautiful



On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she'd ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.


* * * * *

I really hate having to write up a bad review but as many books as I read, I guess that I can't expect them all to be hits.  I really like the premise of this book with all the gothic overtones and was looking forward to diving into  Renée’s life.  It just didn't work out as planned.

I found the pacing on DEAD BEAUTIFUL to be really slow during the first half of the book.  It does pick up later but by that time, the damage was done.  It just couldn't manage to hold my interest.  There were some interesting questions posed but my fear was the reader would have gotten frustrated and set the book aside long before they come up.

One of the changes that I am making for this new year is that I am getting away from ratings.  Instead I plan on letting you know my thoughts on the books and leaving up to you to set your own rating.  This is a book that I really can't recommend for my readers.  Now mind you, your mileage may vary and you might end up loving this book.  

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Jan 4, 2014

Book Review: Vampires Need Not...Apply



Meet Dr. Antonio Acero. Heir to Spain's wealthiest family, world-renowned physicist, and dedicated bachelor. While on vacation in southern Mexico, Antonio discovers an ancient Mayan tablet. Local legends say it contains magical properties, properties that could put his stalling research on the map.

But is this really his lucky break?

When Antonio attempts to put the tablet to use, he'll discover that Fate has other plans. Her name is Ixtab, and she's quite possibly the deadliest deity who ever lived.


* * * * *

First off,  I really want to give Ms. Pamfiloff kudos.  I am terribly anal about having to read a series in order as I always feel as though I am missing something.  This series however is a real kick in the pants no matter what order you read it in.  I have already picked up the ones that I am missing for those days that are just blah.

So you are a Goddess.  That doesn't mean that you don't have issues and one of Ixtab's biggest issues is that she is lonely.  And she doesn't see that changing any time in the next several hundred centuries.  Oh but wait.  Life is supposed to be ending in a few months unless they can get her brother back and to do that, she has to get along with this annoying scientist.

What really makes this book so amusing is watching their relationship grow and change.  The dialogue will have you rolling with laughter.  Add in the other Goddess and Goddess along with their loves and you have a barrel packed full of laughs.

As you can probably tell, I loved this book and highly recommend this series to any of my readers who enjoy paranormal comedy mixed with a bit of danger.
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Jan 3, 2014

Year of Jewelry Project 2014: Something New For Me



I decided to sign up again this year for this challenge even though I didn't hit it out of the ball park last year.  I am going to really push myself to actually design 52 pieces based on the themes.  The goal of the project is to create a design a week but that is where I got in trouble last year.  There are just some weeks when I am just flat out exhausted and not up to doing anything after work beyond laying down and listening to a book.  (Thank goodness that my husband handles the cooking.) 

Instead when I am having a good day/week/month, I am going to work on creating jewelry based on the themes and stockpile them (this will also help me out when I am wrapped up in a blog hop).  This will also help reduce some of the stress.  I have found that I am great at creating under pressure but it tends to aggravate my fibro so best to avoid that. 

My plan is to show off what I have designed on the Friday associated with that theme.  The theme for this week is "Something New For Me" and we were asked to take a picture of ourselves wearing our new design.  So I am going to step out from behind the camera (where I prefer to be) and post the picture for all of you too see.  Just be sure that you concentrate on the jewelry not me as I did this on a break from work and no make up or anything on (one of the advantages of telecommuting but it sucks for pictures).

Ceramic beads by Tina's Bead Mind,  It's hand knotted with onyx rounds and waxed linen.
Jan 2, 2014

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge



I tend to jump into a lot of challenges when it comes to my jewelry but not so much for my other favorite pastime which is reading.  I know what you are thinking.  Yes I do put up a lot of reviews but there really isn't a challenge there.

So just what is this challenge you ask?  Escape with DollyCas into a Good Book is hosting the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge.  During 2014, I will be reading different books whose titles begin with the different letters of the alphabet.  And I plan on covering them all though I expect finding titles starting with X and Z might prove to be interesting.

I am sure that your next question will be how am I planning on keeping track of these books.  I don't really have a place set up on this blog to track them so I will be maintaining a shelf on my GoodReads page just for this challenge.

Anyone can join in so for further info just click here.

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