Oct 30, 2015

Ramblings



  • When I went into work on the 22nd, I found out that those nasty numbers that I was finding so hard to meet were lowered down enough to be practical.  It took a bit to sink in but I found what when I woke up on Monday, I was actually looking forward to work.  I enjoy my job as long as pencil pushers don't set unrealistic goals.
  • Why is it that people seem to have lost the art of debate? It seems that nowadays if you disagree with someone, then you attack that someone rather then the idea. 
  • The weather is getting colder and I seem to be tired more and more.  The good side of that is that I get to read more books.  I knew there was a reason I loved the dark side of the year.
  • About once a year my health care savings account gets blocked because I have to prove that a purchase was for a health care need.  This time around it is because I made a large payment to Group Health to cover my deductible.   What really baffles me is how they can even wonder how a payment to Group Health isn't for a medical need. Have they started selling vacations to Hawaii that I wasn't aware of?
Oct 29, 2015

Brave Angel Special Challenge




October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am sure that you have seen pink everywhere.  Now pink isn't my favorite color but when Andrew Thornton put out a call for a special challenge, well you know me, I couldn't resist.



He always puts together the best kits and I always end up with more then I can possibly use.  I actually didn't end up using much at all as I picture women that have survived breast cancer as warriors so a lot of black snuck into my design.



I used the mystery component, some of the vintage glass and lucite, and a whole lot of onyx.  It was all knotted together on waxed linen.



I also put together one pair of earrings that will be donated to Ears To You which supports women undergoing chemotherapy from all types of cancer.

I know that a lot of the designers including Andrew are planning on auctioning off their designs to donate towards breast cancer.  To check out their designs, click here.

After a lot of thought, I have decided against that simply because my fibro hates this weather and I don't know how well I will be able to monitor an auction.  I will however be sending in this necklace to a boutique that I sell through and all my proceeds will be donated to Ears To You.
Oct 27, 2015

Book Review: RavenStorm Witches: A Coven of Bitches




The RavenStorm Witches have taken the art of revenge to an all new level. Hilarity ensues when Maeve and the rest of her Coven of Bitches take on the liars, manipulators, and bullies who’ve hurt or betrayed their loved ones. And for those needing a little something extra… there’s always the stock from the better-off-dead potions cabinet.

* * * * *

Let me start off by saying I loved this book!  It's pure fun with a touch of retribution mixed in.  And as a witch myself, I appreciated the fact that their 'spells' are all designed to allow the offending party to learn and better themselves.

This book is filled with novellas where the individual witches or their charges were wronged.  My favorite has to be where Tatiana had learned from a dog that she was grooming about some other dogs that were being abused.  There were other stories about a woman who took advantage of men to get her way, one that enjoyed spreading lies about others and one who preyed on older men and then separated them from their families.   

RAVENSTORM WITCHES is a great book to read which is enjoyable and yet every novella has a lesson to be learned.  I highly recommend that my readers who want a break from the stress of every day life pick it up.

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

 
Oct 24, 2015



My love of artisan ceramic beads can be directly traced to one company, Grubbi.  The owner, Nat,  has so many unique designs that I was immediately hooked.  So of course, I jumped at the chance when Lisa of Pine Ridge Treasures announced she was doing a challenge with Grubbi.  It was a no brainer.



Now of course, I forgot to take a picture of the beads I started with but they were the ceramic rounds in the bottom right hand corner.  I decided to go simple and make up a pair of earrings.  Adding in some aquamarine beads, I came up with a pair of mismatched earrings that will go with almost everything in my wardrobe.


Oct 23, 2015

Artisan Component Marketplace September Design Challenge




I am a junkie for artisan beads. I just can't seem to resist them. So as you can imagine, I was beyond thrilled and flattered when I was asked to be the featured designer for Artisan Component Marketplace (ACM).

The kit I received was gorgeous and filled with loads of inspiration once I gave myself permission to make more then one piece. I wanted to feature each shop in its own necklace.


From the moment that I opened the treasure chest, I was fixated on the beautiful wooden focal from Dobzie Wood.  It had such a great texture and pattern to it. And there is such a feeling of age, nature and 'groundedness'.   I wanted to do this focal proud and decided to carry on that theme of nature with agate and wooden beads. 



Next up was the purple sari silk and beads from Okawa African  Beads. I just love these African ceramic beads because they are lighter then usual ceramics so I could go big and bold. And yes, I happened to have the other purple beads on hand. I told you I love this shop. In fact, I have a whole collection based around their beads at Shaiha Designs including this necklace. 



I wanted to also show how well Okawa Beads work as accents to other designers so the next couple necklaces were born.



The focals in both are from Asbury Ave which is another member of ACM. You can find all types of artisan finds there from art tiles to bronze to ceramic to painted wood beads. I challenge other designers to browse the shops there and not find a couple treasures that they need. 

Ramblings



  • I feel really lucky as I had a couple of beautiful prizes arrive.  The first is that Dragon's Eye.  It's it incredible!  I actually won that from a great artisan Deborah Head.  She has a monthly contest and I highly recommend entering.  I mean just look at the beauty of that eye!  Thank you so much!

  • The next batch of goodies have a story behind them.  I entered a contest on Facebook where an artisan lampworker, Pat LeGere, was selling some gorgeous beads as well as having a drawing.  I was lucky enough to win the drawing and I sent her off my address.  I hadn't received anything for a couple weeks so I was getting ready to drop her a line when they arrived.  I didn't recognize the address but when I opened the package,I did recognize Pat's work.  Apparently they were sent to the wrong person who was kind enough to let Pat know and then send them on to me.  I didn't save the packaging but I would like to thank both Pat and the unknown kind person.  I feel so spoiled as Pat really outdid herself on all these beauties.  I have fallen in love with lampwork headpins and just look at that hoard of them along with the focal, some spacers and a couple focals.
  • Wow!  Let no good deed go unpunished.  One of my best friend's little sisters is an addict.  She had been living with us rent free until she was able to get a job.  Instead, she up and disappeared for a few months.  She finally got in touch with me and wanted to come get her belongings.  I told her that she could come over last Sunday to get them.  Well she only managed to grab a few so we made new arrangements to finish up on Wednesday.  Monday night her new roommate decided that she wanted to come get them then.  I told her no since I work the next day.  This girl flipped out and tried to threaten me with the cops.  She then found out that she would need a court order for the cops to help her. I told her to go ahead and get one and that the judge would probably laugh at her since I have records of all the arrangements made.  I think that I am going to end up cleaning up that pig sty once she gets her junk out of there. At least I found a stable home for her cat after she deserted him the last time.
  •  Just found out that I am going to be sent one of Blueberry Cove Bead's Bead Boxes to play with and review.  So excited as they have a really nice monthly subscription service for beads.  I had been eyeing it for a couple months so I took the plunge and wrote to the owner asking if they would be interested in a review in exchange for one of their Bead Boxes.  I should be receiving it around mid November and I will be sure to share with everyone just what I received as well as what I design with it.
Oct 21, 2015

Book Review: Shattered Blue




For Noa and Callum, being together is dangerous, even deadly. From the start, sixteen-year-old Noa senses that the mysterious transfer student to her Monterey boarding school is different. Callum unnerves and intrigues her, and even as she struggles through family tragedy, she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Soon they are bound by his deepest secret: Callum is Fae, banished from another world after a loss hauntingly similar to her own.

But in Noa’s world, Callum needs a special human energy, Light, to survive; his body steals it through touch—or a kiss. And Callum’s not the only Fae on the hunt. When Callum is taken, Noa must decide: Will she sacrifice everything to save him? Even if it means learning their love may not be what she thought?


* * * * *

There are some books that I really need to time to process and SHATTERED BLUE is definitely one of those books.  I finished it a few days ago and I am still not really sure what I think of it.  

It is a story about love, about loss and about family.  What is love really all about?  What happens when you find that the one you love really isn't who you thought that they were?  How far will you go to protect and save the one that you love?  These are all questions brought up in this interesting and rather unique book.  

I do have to say that I enjoyed reading  SHATTERED BLUE.  Noa is a person that anyone would be proud to call a friend.  She puts the feelings and well-being of others above her own though there are times when I want to shake her and tell that she really needs to stick up for herself more.  Callum is interesting.  He's definitely not the usual high schooler and while there are times I enjoyed the character, there are others when he gave me the chills.  

If you enjoy reading the Young Adult genre, I do recommend SHATTERED BLUE.  It does make for an interesting read and it brings up questions that will stay with you for a while.

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

Oct 17, 2015

Danse Macabre Blog Hop




One of my favorite holidays has always been Halloween but not the dark and gloomy part with all the vampires and ghouleys.  I prefer to celebrate the changing of the year and the visits with my ancestors.  It is part of the season of contemplation while I rest and recharge from summer.

It  is any wonder that I couldn't resist this blog hop being hosted by Lee of Strega Jewelry?  Especially when she puts it so eloquently.

Danse Macabre illustrates the universal aspect of death.   It comes to all, regardless of station in life.  Paintings were created with skeletons dancing their way to the grave, sermons were preached cautioning people that the material side of life was unimportant, death is a fate we must all meet, peasant, pauper, priest, pope or noble.  So, enjoy life, make the most of it for we are all on our way to the same fate.   Life, after all, is a glorious dance with the grave as the finale, dance through it with joy!
 Since it a celebration of life and the end of life, I wanted bright colors.  I wanted flowers and skulls.  And I found all of that with a focal I had been hoarding from Blu Mudd ceramics which has sadly closed down.  Yeah I know.  All in the circle of life.



I really wanted to play up the orange color of the flower in her hair so I went with carnelian beads which I hand-knotted on waxed linen thread.  And to bring in a sense of playfulness, there is also a tiny skull at the clasp.



Now a lot of my favorite designers are also joining in on the danse so be sure to check them out also.

Lee Koopman                           Strega Jewellry
Sam Waghorn                           Pale Moon Creations
Dini Bruinsma                            Angaza by Changes
Mowse Doyle                              Mouse Made This
Lori Blanchard                            Alainn Jewelry
Robin Showstack                        Hearts Desire Jewelry for You
Amy Jorgensen                           Hoarders Corner
Nan Smith                                    Wired Nan
Tammy Adams                             Paisley Lizard
Catherine King                              Catherine’s Musings
Michelle McCarthy                         Firefly Designs Studio
Betony Maiden                             Beadwenches Blog
Becca White                                  Morgana Fey Creations
Kim Dworak                                   Cianci Blue
Tami Norris                                   Tamis Creative Spot
Inge Von Roos                               Inge’s Blog
Terry Jeanette Carter                    Tapping Flamingo
Deb Fortin                                       Mohti Studio
Melissa Trudinger                           Bead Recipes
Oct 16, 2015

Ramblings




  • I really thought that I was going to lose my little red boy last Friday.  We were laying peaceably in bed when he started having a seizure out of the blue.  Never had one before as far as I knew (he's a rescue) and he ended up having three throughout the night.  Not a lot of sleep for me since I had to cuddle him and calm him back down.  He's fine now though.  Looks like he had those three and that's his limit.  If it happens again though I am going to need to get him on seizure meds.
  • There is just something wrong when I get an email from Applebees on October 13th offering all active duty military and veterans a free meal on October 11th.  I am thinking that they didn't get a lot of takers this way.
  • On Wednesday, I was out doing my running around when I suddenly became exhausted and experiencing nausea. I came home and passed out. 
  • Still feeling drained on Thursday but had to work in the office. I was totally dragging until I received a notification that I had sold a necklace from my new collection. What a way to brighten my day!
Oct 15, 2015

Lunar Eclipse Challenge




It's been a couple months since I was able to join in with one of Andrew Thornton's monthly design challenges.  And I have missed them because they always tug me in new directions with new colors that I don't usually reach for.



Just look at all the goodies that Andrew included in his kit.  The only thing that isn't shown is the mystery component that Andrew always sends along.  Some kits I end up hoarding that focal and focus on the other goodies.  Lately I have been all about color so I didn't end up using the kit itself.  It is staying tucked away for a later time.



The mystery component however really caught my interest.  It's it just lovely?  That red combined with hints of brass ended up being my palette.  I ended up using some Czech glass that I had also picked up from Andrew to play up those colors on the focal.  I also used some Hamilton Gold beads to bring in more of the brass to the design.



I am very happy with this design and it is one that will be up for sale at Shaiha Designs later this month. 

Now that you have seen my design, be sure to head over to Andrew Thornton to see what everyone else made with their design kit.
Oct 14, 2015

Book Review: Witchstuck




If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned.

If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different—that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practise witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne.

With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice.

* * * * *

I had high hopes for this book.  I tend to really enjoy alternative historical books and anything with witches.  Unfortunately, I just wasn't entranced by  WITCHSTRUCK.

My main issue is with Meg herself.  I found her to be a rather idiotic girl with no sense of self preservation.  Witchcraft is a crime with an automatic death sentence so one would think that she would be much more careful with its use.  Instead she is using it for frivolous ventures such as playing tricks on the other servants. 

And when she get caught, she finds herself trusting Alejandro de Castillo despite the fact that he is a member of the church,  and from Spain which doesn't get along all that well with the English.  Oh and let's not forget that Meg was warned to beware of a stranger from across the waters.  

I probably would have enjoyed this book immensely if it wasn't for Meg.  The other characters were well written with some great dialogue.  The reader is immediately drawn back to the days of the Tudors and the book is filled with action.  It's a shame about Meg though.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Oct 12, 2015

Studio Tour




I was recently asked to do a little tour of my work space.  I was all for it but did throw in the disclaimer that my studio is always a mess.  I did clean it up some but there are always things out and about so that I can grab them easily.

One of the big buying points for me about this house was the fact that I would have studio space.  Previously I had a little section of the front room which just didn't work for me because I like be able to leave what I am working on out.  With my critters that just wasn't possible unless I had a room to shut them out of.  And it didn't hurt at all that the room I decided to use as my studio came complete with a Serenity mural.

As you can tell, this area is also where I keep my waxed linen and other knotting supplies.  The tray is full of little bits and pieces of semi-precious stones.  This is also the space where the shipments that come in end up until I get around to putting them away.



The oak cabinet is full of shipping supplies, tools, finished jewerly and wire.  The antique cookie boxes up top have vintage beads and other do dads in them. The red bins have findings as well as more semi-precious stones and beads.



This is my set up for photos and also for playing with my torch and metal work. I also keep all my patinas there though for those, I spread out a cookie sheet laid with waxed paper.  Off in the corner is my dress form that I just knew I needed for pics and never really used.   I keep even more shipping supplies stashed under the table.  I really need to get some artwork up on the wall there.



This is an outside view of my little cubby that I actually create in .  The drawers are full of metal findings and beads as well as strands of stone beads separated by color.  The crates are full of sea glass, and Czech glass.



This is the space where I actually create.  I can reach almost everything I need just by turning.  The most I need to do is slide my chair over to the oaken chest and red bins.

My studio is still a work in process but I do really like the layout. I do want to repaint it as the tangerine color isn't working all that well for me any longer and I would love to get some printer's cabinets for storage.  It would also be wonderful to have a sink down here with me so I don't need to run up to wash out my brushes.  And more light!  I am located in the basement so I am not able to take advantage of sunny days.  I have lamps to try to bring in more light but can always use more.

Now as much as I like my studio, it isn't really a place where I would bring clients if I was asked to do some custom pieces.  Right now, I will meet them at a coffee shop but that can be awkward if I am bringing a good selection of stones or meeting a few people at once.  That is where WeWork comes in.  They have a wonderful set up where you can book work spaces as well as conference rooms to meet clients in.

They have shared office space in several major cities including Seattle which is actually perfect for me.  You are able to set up a full time office or set up a plan where you can use work space as needed.  Just perfect for start up business or an artisan. 
Oct 11, 2015

Art Bead Scene October Monthly Challenge




One of the monthly challenges that I truly enjoy is put on Art Bead Scene.  Somehow I have let the last couple months slip by and I just knew when I saw this month's inspiration that I couldn't let that happen again.  After all, one of my Goddess is Egyptian.

This painting was done on a wall in Queen Nefertari's tomb and is of the Goddess Ma'at.  Ma'at was a Goddess of of truth, order, law, mortality and justice.  This was painted in approximately 1255BC.



I just loved the rich colors in this artwork and while I wanted to keep the Egyptian feel, I didn't have anything in my collection to honor Ma'at so I instead decided to play up the rich cobalt blues.



I used some gorgeous lampwork glass from CC Designs as both a focal and accent beads.  The beautiful brass scarab was made by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery.  I also used some blue goldstone beads to bring in yet more of the rich blue color with flecks of gold.  I just love how they all play together so nicely to give me that rich, lush feel that I was looking for.  In fact, I have to admit that I am half thinking about keeping this necklace for myself.


Oct 9, 2015

Ramblings




  • I had a blast on Saturday attending the Northwest Tea Festival.  I took a great class from Thomas Shi about Taiwanese Oolong Teas.  And of course I picked up a bunch of tasty teas for this winter.
  • I just wish that having such a fun day didn't wipe me out so much the next day.  Aw well, it's just a matter of spoons.
  • I think Fall has hit.  I actually started shutting the back door rather then just letting the dogs have free reign of the backyard.  It's getting just a touch nippy for that.
  • Every time I go to the dollar store, I have so much fun.  Probably why I don't hit it that often but I was making up a couple of Halloween Treat bags for a swap and thought it would be a great place to go.  It was but I ended up with a few more things then I planned.

  • Found this cool charging station at Seattle Center.  We need to have more of those about so that the homeless who can and sometimes do have cell phones have someway to keep them charged up.  I do wonder who walked off without their phone though.
  • Sometimes I really love my job when I get to talk to interesting customer as I set up their services.  I have been halfheartedly researching another large dog breed for when my Jindo leaves us.  Anatolian Shepherds were in my list but I ended up chatting with one of the rescue reps and I don't think that they would work for us after all due to my MinPins. 
  • Our weather has been skittish which is par for the course during this time of the year.  My fibro hates it so I ended up not going into the office this week.  I woke up on Thursday so stiff and sore that I couldn't turn my head which doesn't make for safe driving.  I love the fact that I was able to beg off of working in the office and just do my thing from home.
  • I made a sale in my Store Envy store which totally made Thursday a great day
Oct 7, 2015

Book Review: Virtuous Scoundrel




Sebastian Sherbrook, a self-proclaimed scoundrel and the newly minted Marquess of Manwaring, returns to London after his estranged uncle dies, intent on reforming his rakish image once and for all. Yet through no fault of his own, he’s soon embroiled in the biggest scandal of the Season, and his secret plans to court the only woman he’s ever wanted are in shambles.

* * * * *

It has been awhile since I have enjoyed a Regency historical romance as much as VIRTUOUS SCOUNDREL.  Reading it was pure fun and I think part of what really added to my pleasure in this book was the chapter names.  They all give a hint of what is to follow with a tad of deviltry.  Here is an example of just what I mean "In Which Bad French Melodrama Rears Its Ugly Head Yet Again, for Which the Author Apologizes in Advance".  How can you not love a story that pokes fun at itself?

Now mind you, that is not the only thing that endeared this book to me.  The characters themselves, both main and secondary, have a lot of depth, there is witty dialogue and the heroine Katherine rescues dogs and pigs.   It is also set in a time period that I enjoy with all of the rules of engagement as well as scandals of the day.

VIRTUOUS SCOUNDREL is actually the second book of this series and it does a fine job of standing all on its on.  I do plan on picking up the first book however because I enjoyed the characters so much and I want to get a more in depth backstory on some of the secondary characters.

I do recommend this book to  any of my readers who enjoy historical romance with a side of humor.  I really think that you will enjoy it.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Oct 5, 2015

New Earrings Monday



I have been really bad about keeping up with the New Earring Mondays.  For some reason, earrings are the hardest for me to design. It has been so long actually that I am not even sure of th week numbers.   I did make a couple simple pairs this time around that I wanted to share.



This pair was actually designed to go with a necklace that I made that will be going up on Jewelry Because sometime in October..  It was made using adventurine and onyx.  The earwires are sterling silver.



This next pair will also being going up on Jewelry Because in October to support water conservation.  I used sea glass as well as Greek patinated copper dangles.  The earwires on these are also sterling.
Oct 4, 2015

Book Review: The Murderer's Daughter





A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents' death in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace's harrowing past returns with a vengeance.

Both Grace and her newest patient are stunned when they recognize each other from a recent encounter. Haunted by his bleak past, mild-mannered Andrew Toner is desperate for Grace's renowned therapeutic expertise and more than willing to ignore their connection. And while Grace is tempted to explore his case, which seems to eerily echo her grim early years, she refuses—a decision she regrets when a homicide detective appears on her doorstep.

An evil she thought she'd outrun has reared its head again, but Grace fears that a police inquiry will expose her double life. Launching her own personal investigation leads her to a murderously manipulative foe, one whose warped craving for power forces Grace back into the chaos and madness she'd long ago fled.

* * * * *

Wow!  This book is an incredible look into the mind of Grace Blades.  She is smart, scarily so.  And she  is broken but since she is so smart, no one really knows how much her past damaged her.  I did find it difficult to emphasize with Grace because she has such a core of coldness but she did utterly intrigue me.  

Her foe is one from her past.  One who also has that core of coldness but rather then using his intelligence for the good of society as Grace did, he uses it for his own personal gain. It is really like looking at opposite sides of the same coin.

I don't know if I would call this book a suspense since I never got that edge of the seat feeling but it is definitely a physiological thriller.  The plot was rather slow in places but overall, I found the book fascinating and I feel that my readers that enjoy discovering just what makes a person tick will also.
Oct 2, 2015

Ramblings



  • I absolutely hate it when my body decides to shut down.  I had plans such as attending a ritual on Sunday but I was so exhausted that I wandered in and out of sleep all day.  There was NO way that I had the energy to actually go anywhere.  I always feel as though those are wasted days but I did wake up Monday actually with some energy.
  • I just love the bracelet above.  I made it up for a Halloween bracelet swap.  Now I am considering making myself up something similar because it wears so nicely.
  • I wanted to let my readers know about a great online store that sell semi-precious and precious gemstone beads.  I received my first order from Nelson Beads & am all kinds of impressed.  I think one thing that I really love is the fact that you aren't looking at stock pics on the website.  Instead as the stones come in, the owner takes new pictures of them all so you can really see what you are getting.  There is also great information about the various stones on the website.