Friday, July 25, 2014

Focus on Life Week 30: Documenting a Life Moment

Hmmmmmm.... This week’s post got me thinking and thinking…. until my brother, Paul, saved the day on Tuesday when he told me he was just appointed the Artistic Director of Cresson Lake Playhouse. Here is a copy of the Facebook newsfeed with the announcement.

Facebook Newsfeed

You may be asking how this event is connected to one of my life moments. Cresson Lake Playhouse has been an artistic touchstone in my family since its opening in 1974. It is a jewel located in the Allegheny Highlands of Pennsylvania about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh or 20 miles west of Altoona. You don’t just stumble upon it. It requires a commitment on the part of the artists and theater-goers to find their way to its forested location where they are rewarded with an intimate structure of about 200 seats in a totally unique setting. Here's another Facebook photo that captures its special charm.

The theater is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a program entitled: I Remember...40 years at Cresson Lake Playhouse. This prompted me to dig out my scrapbooks since I had the good fortune to appear in several CLP productions and also completed a college internship in public relations under the tutelage of Eleanor Lantzy, its founding force. I had roles in Mountain Myths, Seven Keys to Baldpate, Bye, Bye Birdie, South Pacific and The Fantasticks. Here I am as Mrs. Rhodes from Seven Keys to Baldpate and as Luisa from The Fantasticks.

I am so proud of Paul as he begins this exciting new chapter of his artistic life. He has achieved amazing success as a beloved, award-winning teacher in the Central Cambria School District and as an artist who together with his wife, Cathy, operates One Creative Couple specializing in upscaled vintage and new furniture and home decor items. His credentials and accolades are too many to mention. What should be highlighted is that he is a terrific brother, husband and father. Here he is below (right) with his family, who all have Cresson Lake connections too.

Paul and His Family

Congratulations, Paul!

Now, let's read about some other life moments.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Focus on Life Week 29: Celebrate Sweetness

OK - confession. I gave up sugar in February so when Sally encouraged us to celebrate sweetness this week, I started to develop some serious cravings. Instead of indulging, I looked back through my photo library for inspiration and realized that I am a helpless Cake Snapper! What may you ask is a Cake Snapper? That is the bizarre person who, no matter what the cake or occasion, has to take a picture of it. Here I present to you my cake snapping for the past several months in no particular order.

Here we have our son's birthday cake, celebrated as we do most years, at the Pitt football game that aligns with his birthday. Section 211 is our section in Pitt Stadium and has some of the best football fans ever.

Next we have my birthday cake last year made by a colleague at work who is also a certified pastry chef. This cake tasted even better than it looked.

OK - now I feel really spoiled: another birthday cake for me - also for last year - from my Steeler football fan friends. We watch all the games together at our favorite watering hole here in Cave Creek. Is it any wonder I had to give up sugar?

Here's the cake from a birthday party we hosted for five of our nephews who all celebrate birthdays in the fall. We took them to neon bowling and served up a delectable menu of pizza and cake.

I'm cheating a bit on this cake which was from my brother's 50th birthday party a couple years ago. I use it because you see it's one of those cute photo cakes and I wanted to close with the adorable photo that is somewhat hidden beneath all those candles.

Here he is at age 1 - sweetness personified, I think!

Let's see what other sweet goodies our friends are showing off this week.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Focus on Life Week 28: Celebrate the Season... with a Vacation!

I wasn't on vacation this week but I was traveling for work. My destination was the wonderful city of San Francisco where tourists were out in abundance. So that gave me a good jumping off point for this week's theme to celebrate all the folks taking their summer vacations.

I didn't have too much time for photo-snapping but managed to take this one of the iconic cable car.

And I'm wondering if you recognize this landmark from an unusual vantage point? (It's the TransAmerica Building.)

I found this great carousel on my way to dinner. The Zeum Carousel was created in 1906 making it over 100 years old! It is currently located in Yerba Buena Gardens but was originally planned for another park. Unfortunately, it could not be installed as planned due to the earthquake and fire which decimated most of the city. It also survived the 1911 fire in Luna Park so it is a real tough lady!

Arriving back at Sky Harbor Airport last night, I was waiting for my luggage and happened to notice this beautiful mural hanging above the water fountains. I had seen it many times before and wondered how many other people were pleasantly surprised by its beauty. I took a photo with my cell phone so it really doesn't do it justice.

And now let's see how everyone else is celebrating the season:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Focus on Life Week 27: Let's Celebrate

Nothing says celebration quite like a parade. I took this photo at the Cave Creek Fiesta Days parade in April. The patriotic theme of these clowns is a great way to mark the Independence Day celebration taking place across the U.S. today.

Cave Creek Fiesta Days Parade 2014
Let's visit some more celebrations:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pearls! Pearls!! Pearls!!! Blog Hop 2

Thanks to Michelle Buettner, our "Pearl Professor," for hosting and creating such inspiring pearl art.

For this challenge, I am gearing up for the July 4th holiday and chose a pattern by Jill Wiseman as my inspiration. Jill's Fireworks Necklace was in the August/September 2013 Beadwork Magazine shown below.

I decided to interpret it quite literally in a color palette of red, white and blue. The white pearls are complemented by blue and red glass beads.

And here are the handy links to more pearl inspiration.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Focus on Life Week 26: Free Space!

AKA: Bitten By the Bead Crochet Bug

The wonderful thing about beading are its endless permutations. Countless stitches, materials, surfaces and techniques make it at turns fascinating and frustrating. It's almost like learning to ride a bike all over again each time a new technique presents itself. This was my experience with bead crochet. Several years ago, I bought a kit at the Bead Babe Conference. I tried it once with a sorry-looking result and put the kit away.

StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig and Tutorial

Fast forward to this Spring when my LBS was hosting Judy Kintner to teach a bead crochet class. I signed up and dragged my friend, Janet, along too. Judy was also displaying her bead spinners which are an essential tool for many of her patterns. The first part of our class was learning how to use the bead spinner without spinning our beads all over the room. Honestly, it took us over an hour to string our beads so we could start the crochet portion of the lesson. By then it was time for lunch!

My New Bead Spinner
We then moved to pony beads and yarn and that kept us occupied for another hour. Then the hard part -- graduating to #8 pearl cotton and a teeny tiny crochet hook. Not so easy. I started and ripped, started and ripped, started and ripped. By then the class was over.

Arriving at home, I was determined to complete the class assignment. So I dragged out my jig from Studio Dax and was able to finally successfully start AND finish my bracelet. Here is the result.

I was so smitten that I went online to learn more and ordered a couple kits from Beads East. By this time, I was able to start the crochet ropes without the jig. I guess it's like training wheels for bead crochet! The first kit used 8/o beads in a patriotic pattern but the second one was an even greater challenge with size 11/0 beads and an even smaller crochet hook.

Beads East Kit: Liberty Bead Crochet

A whole new world opened up to me. My web searches turned up a great store called Marion Jewels in Fiber which had a tutorial for flat Turkish bead crochet. I made one as a wrap bracelet for my niece and a bunch of red, white and blue ones as gifts for our family reunion.

Flat Turkish Bead Crochet Tutorial by Marion Jewels in Fiber

And then I found the Turkish loop variation which works up much faster than the slip stitch crochet tubes. Thanks to Debbie Patel for the great Etsy tutorial in Turkish loop crochet.

Turkish Loop Crochet
All this practice gave me the confidence to pull out an old pattern I started years ago but never finished -- just in time for summer at the beach.

As if I didn't have enough projects in my to-do list, now I have a whole new technique for inspiration.

Let's take a look and see how our other contributors are using their Free Space!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Focus on Life Week 25: Color! (Green)

Sally's description of color this week was "having much or varied color". Well my story is more one of monochrome. It started when I was going through my photo files reviewing projects I was checking off my completed list. Sure and begorra! I definitely was on a green binge and never realized it until now. It all started with the Well-Behaved Cuff I shared with you earlier this year.

Here we have some green again in the Autumn Branch Necklace, a design by Linda Gittings from the (gulp) August/September 2004 Beadwork Magazine. Yes, I hung onto that issue for 10 years!

At least I pulled in some browns on this necklace but those green chunky beads and ceramic pendant continue the trend. I was playing with waxed Irish linen for the first time and fell in love with it!

And here we have some coordinating (green of course!) earrings.

But my very favorite is this green turquoise cab on a herringbone ribbon strap.

I think I am ready to move onto a new palette.

Let's see what other colors inspired us this week.