Friday, December 31, 2010

A wonderful year!

For Christmas this year George bought us a new Apple mac mini. It is a beautiful machine, about 8" square; small enough to sit right on the desktop. We have a new screen and keyboard and I'm already loving the Apple setup. I still have to transfer my pictures and my music, but we are good to go. It was a big deal to get a new computer and finally take the old one offline. Maybe we don't do change as well as we would like to. These days, everything is supposed to be disposable, but George and I still remember "use it up, wear it out, make it do". Sometimes our old fashioned traits get in the way of progress.

Besides the new Apple computer, George won an Ipod in a drawing, and I got a new Droid phone and a Kindle. Progress catches up to us!

George continues his lucky streak. He won an engine at his flying club picnic, the Ipod at a trade show raffle, the huge gift basket at the church fair in December, and a food processor as the prize in a contest online for Hellman's mayonnaise. We really need to get him to buy some lottery tickets!

This is my last post of 2010. It has been a really great year. George loves his job, and I love mine. I even got a Christmas bonus this year -- the first in a long time. Our kitties are thriving and playful and a constant source of affection and entertainment. My jewelry business has blossomed into a success; I sell as much as I want to -- without getting tired of the creative process. We had a great time this summer at the cabin, despite the heat and two trips to Big Lots to get more fans. We visited Mike and MIchelle twice this year. Going on trips has always been fun, but coming back home hasn't been so much fun - both times in May and in October, I came back sick with the flu. Our health is generally good, our doctors are always available and at the ready to cure us, and we are grateful for modern medicine and all the miracle drugs that help us with our little problems when they appear. Do I sound old -- talking about health and doctors? It's ok -- we are just acting our age!

Our New Year's resolutions are pretty simple: eat healthy and add more vegetarian meals to our weekly menus, laugh often, play more Cribbage, watch far less drivel on TV, take walks around the neighborhood, try to keep our bead addiction under control (me), take a trip to Oklahoma to clean out the storage locker in El Reno of my mom's beautiful things, and keep it simple.

The last is probably the hardest.

Have a wonderful New Year filled friends, family and good times!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What other people love

I am getting ramped up for my jewelry shows this Christmas season, and that means I spend a lot of time thinking about what other people will love. During the year I design jewelry for me, or just because I want to, but this is the time of year that I really start thinking about others. Recently I discovered that I have very few purple beads in my collection. People are nuts about purple. So today I bought some beautiful Purple lampworked glass beads on Etsy. They are amazingly beautiful and I will make these into a bracelet that someone is going to really love.

So, this next few weeks it's not about me. It's about what other people will love. (I think I love these too!)

Have a great day.

The color purple

Saturday, October 30, 2010

40 degrees & sunny

Time to bring the peppers in from the cold. Every year I plant habaneros and other kinds of really hot peppers to add to my soups and stews during the winter. I love to watch the peppers grow and their bright colors add a little splash to the garden. Last night it was 40 degrees and today we picked the last of them. I learned the hard way that you really need to be careful with these. I put gloves on, and slice and chop them into small pieces and keep them frozen. I even put a "danger" sign on the container in the freezer. You wouldn't want to mistake these for something else! A few tiny flakes of frozen habanero pepper will heat up a whole big pot of chili. It doesn't take much when you are working with one of the hottest peppers on the planet.

The big lesson I have learned is not to touch my face, or especially my eyes or nose. Just a little touch with pepper scent on your hands is enough to burn for an hour. These little babies are so pretty and spicy, and it has been really fun to watch them grow.

Have a great day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

No harm in catching on slow

Over the years I have learned one thing about myself. (Well, I've learned many, but this is one.) I catch on slow. I am not a trendsetter. It takes me awhile to catch on to things. I am a slow learner, but watch out -- when I get it, I REALLY get it!

Several years ago a high school aged friend of my mothers was making a fleece knotted blanket, and told me about them. Last year another friend said she had made one and they are really warm and snuggly. She said, "wrap up in one and you are immediately asleep." The fabric stores have been selling this idea for a long time -- and fleece comes in a wild selection of colors and patterns, and is often on sale. Last year, still a non-believer, I bought some patterns of fleece and hemmed it up on my sewing machine for den throws. Finally yesterday, I decided to try it out and this morning I cut and knotted a fleece blanket in a little over a hour. They were right, all those years ago, this is a very FUN project!

My first knotted blanket is made with a red and green chili pepper pattern on one side and black and red plaid on the other. It happens to be Christmas colors, which seems like a plus.

Cut off the selvages and layer 2 yards of 2 patterns of fleece wrong side together, (be wild and creative); cut a 4" square out of each corner; cut 1" strips that are 4" long around the edges. (I found working with a plaid is great since it gives you the straight edge guide you need.) Knot every other one with a square knot, then flip and square knot the remaining strips. The flipping and knotting makes the knot fringe a little fluffier and the same direction of knots on both sides. I was pretty careful to make nice firm square knots all around.

I have enough fleece to make two more blankets this weekend. They are warm and nice, but they are especially wonderful because they are so much fun to make.

NOW, I finally understand.

Have a great day

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My new Kindle

My new Kindle arrived yesterday. I downloaded several books - some free from Amazon. When the price hit $139 at Amazon I decided that it was time. I love my Kindle! It is a really cool thing to have so many wonderful books at my fingertips. I had my Kindle for only a few minutes and downloaded The Cossacks (free) by Tolstoy, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (free), Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (free), The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (not free), War and Peace (free) and Four Classics: Billy Budd, The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn and Red Badge of Courage ($6.95). That should keep me busy for a little while! George's fear was that too much money would be spent on books. I assured him that with the kind of books I like to read - it will take me while before I have to pay for new ones.

This morning I started looking at Kindle cases on Amazon. I didn't want to spend the $60 for the lighted case, or the $100 for the Cole Haan hand stained pebble leather. Nor did I want to spend $35 for the hand crafted cases on Etsy (with $5 shipping). I looked and looked and never saw one I liked for less than $20. Then, down in the Google list I see an article about the best Kindle cases, and a picture of a kindle in a 6x9 padded envelope. Voila!!

Here is my new Kindle case. Hand made, and free, just like I like it.

Have a good day.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Saturday, September 04, 2010

When time is not money

I just finished this peyote stitched bracelet. I started it on Thursday night and worked on it for probably close to seven hours on Friday night and Saturday morning. It is stitched with size 15 seed beads - the smallest - with a "ruffle" of gold size 11s. I wanted to practice my peyote and I loved the pattern. If I had to put a price on it, it would be $100. It is subtle. It may not sell. But I am not that interested in the money -- I'm REALLY interested in making another!

Have a great Peyote stitching day!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A new piece of livingroom furniture

I love my Craftsman cart that we bought at Sears for my kiln. It is the perfect size and is a pretty bright and cheerful red. The kiln fits perfectly and I can hang my fireproof mitts by magnets on the side, and put my kiln and silver clay tools on the bottom shelf.

It is like a welcome visitor to my living room. It won't stay there forever, but for now, I like it where I can see it!

Labor Day weekend is the target date for the first firing. Until then I'm reading the manual, getting my clay tools together, making and drying the first silver clay item, and getting ready for the big exciting first firing!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My new kiln arrived today

It isn't set up yet, and the enameling collar is just sitting on top, but isn't it just a magnificent thing!

And a couple of magnificent kitties to add to the picture.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

My new Caldera Kiln (without the enameling collar)

What I made in class last year with silver clay

My Kiln

For the last year I have been thinking about getting a kiln. At the Bead and Button Show in June of '09 I took an all-day class with Irina Miech, and completed a silver necklace and earrings from PMC silver clay. It was a wonderful class and she is a precise and patient teacher. Her books are wonderful too, so look them up on Amazon. This past June at Bead and Button I visited the Whole Lotta Whimsy and Paragon booths and learned that the kiln I thought I wanted was probably not the kiln for me. It was a shock to see how beautiful the kiln I should have really was. The shock was also for my checkbook. A kiln purchase for me is a big deal.

This week I took the plunge and ordered my beautiful new Paragon Caldera kiln from Whole Lotta Whimsy. There is a sale going on, and the kiln was $565. After adding the collar and shelves - (kiln furniture) - and the tools that I need the final cost was over $900 and I haven't starting buying the clay yet! I researched and read and emailed the experts. In the end, I added the brand new enameling collar. This is a "collar" extension of the kiln, which makes the inside larger, and also gives me a front door to load and brush enamel and re-fire.

The advice I read over and over was that when buying a kiln, buy one that you can grow into. I don't do enameling, but I want to learn. And adding beautiful color to silver pieces seems like something I just have to do. My excitement is building and it has been a wonderful week. The kiln has left Mesquite, Texas and is on the way to me.

Glory be. Amazing. Fun. Exciting. Inspiring. Hot!

Have a great day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This is the view we look at for 7 days straight - always changing, always serene. Did I tell you that only two cabins out of 7 were occupied, so we almost had the whole place to ourselves this year?

Mrs. Merganser and her 18 babies diving for minnows at the pier.

George's special friend.

Cribbage Tournament

Pictures from our vacation

Another beautiful sunset view.

Curds and whey at the Cabot Cheese Factory in Cabot, VT. Fun, and air conditioned!

Pretty roadside wildflowers wherever we went!

A really pathetic 4th of July fishing derby in a pond with not enough water. The show must go on!

A pretty trout pond on a country road -- great fishing if you have the right gear.

An apple pie that couldn't be beat!

Home Sweet Home.

Vacation in the Great North Woods

We just returned from our week's vacation in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire. This year we were there for the 4th of July festivities. Unfortunately for us, all the July 4th festivities in Pittsburg, NH (closest town to the cabin and last town in NH before Canada) took place on Saturday, the 3rd of July! We arrived in town all dressed in our red white and blue for the pancake breakfast, only to discover that everything - the breakfast, the parade, the Lions Club chicken barbecue - had taken place the day before! Arg! Off to breakfast at the restaurant.

The week went by with no mishaps and a lot of fun. The weather was very unique for this part of the country. Most years we pray for a few days of blue sky and sun, and almost always get some rain and thunderstorms during each day. This year, it was Miami all the time, sun sun and more sun. It was so sunny that we didn't fish much. The lake was calm and bright and the fish had cooler, deeper places to be. The dock had gotten messed up by a fall storm, so our chairs didn't fit well on the rocks, and it was too darn hot to sit out there looking at an unmoving bobber. So we donated our $70 fishing license money to the state, and went swimming instead.

The swimming was wonderful. We played a lot of cribbage and cooked out every night on the barbecue over charcoal. We read, and I worked on learning how to read a crochet pattern and made several lovely dishcloths (?), and beaded a difficult project, and read some more. When it got too hot for man or beast in the afternoon, we retreated to our air conditioned car and took rides around the countryside. We drove 100 miles on a 90 degree day to Cabot, VT, and watched a demonstration about curds and whey and spend $50 on artisan cheeses. It was a lovely ride through the Vermont countryside.

I estimate that I used about half of the stuff I brought, including food. It was too hot to do many things, and I didn't need a nice hot pot of tea at the end of the day in my china tea pot. We didn't use our fishing gear, our sweatshirts and sweaters, half of the food we brought (too hot to have much of an appetite), and we stayed cheerful, packed it up and brought it all back home again.

It was a lovely vacation. The whole country was suffering from heat, so why not us too? The days went by slowly, we got lots of rest, no stress, and BEST OF ALL, no bug bites for me thanks to a morning slather of Avon Skin So Soft gel lotion--miracle stuff! Whoohoo!

Here are the pictures.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Packing Light

Tonight we are packing up the house to take it to the cabin. We leave for Pittsburg, New Hampshire on Saturday morning. We want to leave in time to miss any 4th of July traffic. By the time the hoards get going, we will be way up past the White Mountains. I think that packing light is highly over-rated. When I go on vacation, I want to make sure I have most of the comforts of home. I take pillows and towels and nice sheets. I take table cloths for picnics and one for the kitchen table. We take our books and binoculars and my beading lamp and supplies. I have an afghan kit to take that should be easy to knit outside by the lake with my feet dangling in the water. I take a china tea pot and two nice mugs, so that I have tea in a china cup. My mother always said that tea and coffee tastes much better in china, and I believe her. We take clothes, but not too many. I probably take one pair of shoes too many, but, hey, it's my vacation and why should I leave my new flip flops at home? We take steaks and hamburger from a good butcher, and cold cuts and sausage from our favorite German sausage store. We buy fresh vegetables and fruits on the way, and I packed a pie plate and small rolling pin so I can make a fresh strawberry pie.

If all this sounds a little crazy, just think of all the things I'm leaving behind: TV, cell phones and computers! See you on the flip side!

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seafoam Necklace - beading Kumihimo on a Marudai

Milwaukee Bead and Button Show

My friend Connie and I went to Milwaukee for the Bead and Button Show. We were there for four days and had a great time. This year, we concentrated on taking classes. She loves silversmithing, and took 3 classes. I am working on learning new skills in seed beading, and I took four classes. Every morning, one or the other of us was up with the birdies, packing our rolling bags and heading out into the Milwaukee sunshine to find our class room. We really had to concentrate in order to have all the materials that we would need for each separate class. Connie had to bring a bench block and hammers. Traveling with a 50 pound limit while carrying heavy tools is a real challenge. I had a Marudai, which is a Japanese braiding stand made of wood. Between the two of us, we worried a lot over our 50 pounds.

We had challenges, and we met them head on and prevailed!

Our first class was on Wednesday night, the same day we arrived. I took a class with Irina Miech in wire wrapping cabochons. I have done this technique before, but she uses half round wire, which makes a softer look, and she is always a great teacher.

The next morning was my class with Sheila Cleary called Seafoam Necklace. This class is Kumihimo with beads and called for a wooden Madurai stand and 12 bobbins of strung size 11 (small) beads. It was a challenge to do the prep work at home, and mine was not without fault, so I got off to a slower start than I wanted, but my skills in braiding were good, so I caught up fast. One whole day of class and I finished half my necklace. I wasn't interested in racing to the finish, I'm more interested in getting the technique perfect, and it was a super class. I have enough work to do in this technique to last me for years!

The next class was the following day - making a beautiful heavy chain maille bracelet called GSG "Great Southern Gathering". I love the name of this weave. The class was taught by Diane Miller, who sells on Etsy, and who supplies me with all my Argentium silver rings for chain maille. This was a fun and relaxing class and the bracelet I made is beautiful. I will list it for sale soon!

Saturday I took an inspirational day long class with Diane Fitzgerald. We worked on making ginkgo leaves out of tiny delica beads and she taught us how to choose bead colors and patterns to make them shimmer in the color change. Color technique in beading is an art and something I could never have figured out by myself. She has many books on beading and color, and is a very thorough teacher. I loved this class, as I knew I would.

Classes at Bead and Button are serious business. They are expensive, and the teachers are very good. Teachers are evaluated and carefully considered each year. Getting to class on time and well prepared is a prerequisite. This is beading at its best!!!

Between all these classes we shopped at the marketplace in the huge carpeted and well lit Frontier Airlines convention center. 370 vendors mean that you can't even visit all the booths in a week, and everything you need to supply your beading needs is there! Expertise abounds and it is really great to walk around and see demonstrations. I walked into one booth and they said, "You're Yvonne Shea? I read your Bead_Tips Twitter every day!" That made me very happy! (I'm famous!)

Connie and I managed to pack our bags for the home trip without exceeding our 50 pound limit, but my rolling backpack was filled with a couple thousand dollars worth of purchases that I couldn't trust to a checked bag. (The lady who pulled our bags aside at airport security said that she wanted to "shop right out of the bag!") Even with all those classes, we found the time to talk to old friends and to buy beautiful artist-made beads and purchase the elements we need at wholesale prices that can't be beat anywhere! This was my fifth year going to Bead and Button. It is a once in a lifetime experience, that you get to go to every year!

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Picture from the local paper

I am completely charmed by this picture of the baby Swans at Ells Pond near our house.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Off to Washington DC tomorrow

George and I are flying to Washington DC tomorrow to visit Michael and Michelle. We will be on a 7:30 plane, and will meet Mike at 9:11 and spend the day talking, laughing, eating, and having a world of fun. This trip is short, so I don't expect to do much touring around. They always take us to great restaruants and I'm looking forward to Korean food and maybe some Thai food too. I also look forward to one of Mike's grilled sausage dinners. Maybe we can find a birthday cake somewhere. Maybe mommo will bake one. I'm not bringing any crafts, or jewelry tools, or knitting (well...hum...)and I'm packing light. I have a book. We fly back on Monday morning (Happy Birthday, Michael!), and I go to work in the afternoon. Short and very very sweet.

Have a great day.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Duck water

On Saturday the word went out that there was an emergency water main break west of Boston and 700,000 households in communities near Boston would have to boil their water. We didn't react very fast. Then I started to think that I didn't want to drink pond water, where ducks have pooped. We began to think about our options.

People who live near Boston always have big lobster pots, so we just boiled some water. But boiled water in a pot doesn't look as appetising as a nice cold bottle of Spring water from the fridge. Then we started getting thirsty. We made a very quick decision and ran out the door. We hopped in our car about 8 p.m. that evening and headed north. No stores near us has any water left, we knew that. People had done what they often do, and rushed to the store as soon as they heard. As we sat around and watched the Kentucky Derby, it didn't take long for the grocery and drug store shelves to empty.

George and I headed north toward Maine and turned off toward Newburyport, which is a touristy and beautiful oceanside area. We figured that people wouldn't bother to take that long slow road to the ocean. Trouble is, there are no grocerie stores. It got dark. We drove further. It got darker. At one point, it was pitch dark and we were out on a peninsula jutting out into the ocean. Water, water everywhere, but....

So, we meandered more and looked for some bright lights. We stopped at a lobster roll/hamburger shack. They had stopped serving dinner, so we had an ice cream cone and kept driving. Into the dark. Thirsty.

FINALLY we come upon a large town - Haverill - and a BIG well-lit Market Basket supermarket. They had no idea of the water ban. They had water stacked to the skies. We bought several gallons and two cases and gloated and stopped at Wendys for a celebratory burger and fries.

Our little late night venture to the oceanside in search of water will be a good memory long after the water ban is over.

Saturday, April 17, 2010