Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017, here we come!

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 books and holiday reading

I must have a thing for "B's" because two of my very favorite things start with that letter: beads and books. And when it comes to books, I really enjoy the Goodreads web site. It allows me to see what my friends are reading and more importantly, allows me to record books I have read so I don't buy them all over again. Yes, I have done that! And one of the best things is seeing my year in review which Goodreads publishes each year.

And to close out the year, I made a trip to the library yesterday to pick up some holiday reading. As I was checking out, our librarian told me about a book she had just finished and said it was one of the best books she read this year. "Would you like me to get it for you?" And that's how "The Secret Keeper" came to be in this stack. My motto is never turn down a recommendation by a librarian!

Actually the bottom book is mine as you can tell by its well-worn appearance. The cover was lost years ago and I chuckle at the sub-title, "Living the High-Carbohydrate Way." This was actually a considered a good thing back when the book was published in 1980. I should probably buy a book cover for it so I don't lose any more pages.

Carbs aside, this cookbook contains one of my all-time favorite recipes for turkey chowder and I plan to make some for our household as well as for friends who have been spending time at the hospital. I don't think Jane will mind if I offer you a glimpse of that terrific recipe.

My favorite Turkey Chowder Recipe from Jane Brody's "Good Food Book"

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thankful for family moments

One of my resolutions for 2016 was to blog at least once each week. I was right on track until mid-October when many family activities replaced my creative time. But it was worth every minute and I'm thankful to have that time since it passes in the blink of an eye. A few of our activities caught the spirit and colors of Thanksgiving as we see in the photo below of my niece and her cousin beside a gigunda pumpkin.

Since we are moving right into the December holiday season, I thought I would share some polymer clay ornament experiments.

Polymer Clay Ornament Experiments
For both, I copied images on Artist Transfer Paper and transferred the images to the clay using the instructions that came with the paper. It worked like a dream - even copied on my laser jet printer. For the one on the right, I cut out the image with this State of AZ cookie cutter I found on Etsy.

So now, I am officially gearing up for the next round of holiday celebrations!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In a pink state of mind

My hubby came home from the Steelers-Jets game with a special gift for me. A pink terrible towel!

Steeler fans out there will get the significance of the terrible towel and the color pink was park of the Pink October activities for breast cancer awareness. In the photo below, you can also catch a glimpse of the pink shoes worn by many of the players. They make an interesting fashion statement with the throw-back "bumblebee" uniforms!

Below is my own homage to Pink October with a fun Sashay Scarf.

So get with the pink crowd this month and schedule a mammogram if you are due!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Here's to a legend and a legacy

You might think with the name Paula Kramer, I'd be a better golfer. I gave the game a try-out about ten years ago and even took lessons. I told the golf pro he could tell everyone he taught Paula Kramer how to golf! You golfers out there will understand.

And what does golfing have to do with beading? They don't have much in common other than fans with an affection for small round objects. But it's only fitting today to pause from beading to salute one of the greats: Arnold Palmer. As most everyone knows, golfers and non-golfers alike, Arnie passed away Sunday, September 25th.

He leaves a legacy of excellence at his craft but more importantly a legacy of kindness. Many folks around Western PA have an Arnie story and mine is very recent, told by a friend of our son who was attending a golf outing at Latrobe Country Club. He was with three friends when he saw a familiar stance on the green opposite where they were playing. Yes, it was Arnie who stopped to watch our friend tee off. Can you imagine? That would be like Sherry Serafini coming over to my home to watch me bead. Yikes! After a particularly bad shot, Arnie came over and gave him a few tips and then encouraged our friend to try again. He did and hit a great shot. That story sums up Arnold Palmer: someone who took time for everyone.

Most golf courses around here flew their flags at half mast this week and the course where my hubby played offered the prayer card shown here.

But the very best tribute was this tweet by Pittsburgh sports writer Gerry Dulac who featured a picture of a spectacular rainbow over Latrobe Country Club shortly after the service when Arnie's ashes were spread on Thursday.

I guess even our Supreme Being is a member of Arnie's Army. RIP Arnold Palmer. We're lucky to have had you on this earth.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hello Fall! Farewell Summer!

With temps the warmest on record, it sure doesn't feel like Fall but it arrived this week nevertheless. The Pennsylvania Department of Forestry marked the occasion by issuing their fall foliage map.

So folks in Pennsylvania have a couple weeks to wait for the majesty of turning leaves.  I marked the occasion with a trip to visit my sister in Indiana, PA where summer greenery was on lush display, especially at The Woods Spa where I was treated to a spa day.

We had such a fun sister day and I was truly spoiled with pampering that started with a peppermint hand and foot soak, followed by an hour massage and then a pumpkin facial. With all those yummy-sounding names, we were delighted to finish our visit with a slice of warm apple pie accompanied by vanilla ice cream. Nothing to say but yum!

Let's give a proper farewell salute to Summer. Here we have Delirious Earrings, a design by Ann Benson of Beads East captured against the backdrop of leaves that are waiting to turn.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Things change

My hubby is an avid sports fan. I knew this when we met but it was a somewhat guarded secret. Our first date was to the ballet. That was over 30 years ago and that was the last time we attended the ballet together. But that's ok. I just round up my girlfriends for those events. But when it comes to sporting events, that's a whole different universe. We have attended hundreds of sporting events over the years. Professional football, college football, college basketball, the College World Series when we were living in Omaha, professional baseball. And don't get me started on golf.

I have observed one thing about sports fans. They love the ritual... the ritual of preparing for the tailgate, where to park, what to wear, who to meet.... And many of those rituals become finely tuned. Such is the case with our parking and tailgate spot for Pitt football games.

When Pitt decided to tear down its stadium on campus to make room for other university buildings, it was like a death. We mourned the walk up heart attack hill (which I don't miss). We mourned the parking spot. We mourned the beautiful view looking over Oakland. But on the bright side, we moved to the spanking new Heinz Field where the Pittsburgh Steelers also play.

I mean how can this be bad?

Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA

But it took some adjustment. We had to find a new tailgate spot which just happened to be located beside the Partin' Panther-mobile. How can this be bad?

We were still able to enjoy our very nutritional tailgate meals. I know how this can be bad.

We still enjoyed the pre-game Pitt band festivities.

And met friends in rain or shine. But I much prefer the shine!

And just when we relaxed into our new routine.... horrors! We were  notified that Pitt was moving parking spots since construction had started in the lot where we had so many great times. (boo hoo) Here's our former parking location.

So it was with some anxiety that we settled into our new parking spot. As you can tell in the below shot, we are taking the change rather well - especially with Pitt's win last week-end.

So I salute the resilience of all sports fans who weather all manner of adversity in the support of their teams. In signing off, I'll offer a beady creation that I made last year as gifts for the fun women of Section 211 where we sit each Pitt football game.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Gone fishing....once

No, I haven't gone fishing. In fact, fishing wouldn't even make the top 1,000 on my bucket list. There's something about the combination of the smell and the worms and the bugs that just doesn't appeal. And that makes me feel close to my Dad who is shown with his brother, Jim, in this photo that I just love.

Gone fishing...... once!

This photo is probably from around 1940. It makes me smile just to see the two brothers posing with their fishing rods. My Dad was such an active man, fishing never held much attraction for him. The only time I remember him talking about fishing was relating the time he and his brother went to a near-by watering hole, got all set up and hunkered down to wait for the fish to bite. After about five minutes, my Dad looked at his brother and said, "are you having fun?" My uncle shook his head no so up they popped, returned home to stow away their fishing poles and went to play baseball instead. This must have been that day.

But since this is a beading blog, I can try to tie in the water theme with the necklace I made using a pendant from an Andrew Thornton kit. I think if my Dad and uncle had run into a mermaid at their watering hole, they might have been more avid fishermen.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Necklaces and a milestone

I love Jill Wiseman's designs and seem to return to my favorites time and again. Like the Dewdrop Spiral design shown below with a pendant I found on Etsy.

The rope is pretty basic - a spiral - but the pretty comes in when each little spiral is embellished with a contrasting row of peyote. It's time-consuming but well worth it.

Next up is something a bit more basic. I had this varigated rattail in my stash along with a kimihimo disk purchased a couple years ago. I decided to pair it with a pretty turquoise stone. Normally the pendant would take center stage but the vibrant colors on the rope made it an eye-catcher.

And last up is probably the most beautiful cake on the planet, except for the milestone #!

Last week-end, my family spoiled me with an early birthday celebration and this cake was one of the highlights! Not only is the Arizona theme perfect but it was a triple chocolate threat so how can that be bad? I have to give a shout-out to my brother and sis-in-law, Pam, who introduced me to this fantastic bakery: Jennuine Bakery in Murrysville, PA, owned by Jennifer and Mike D'Ascenzo. If you are ever in the neighborhood and in need of a gorgeous baked confection, this is the place to be! It makes a milestone like 60 pretty sweet.

And speaking of sweet, one of my nieces also celebrates a birthday around this time of year and I wanted to give her a special shout out. Here we are together at a family wedding this summer. She is my crafting partner and a pretty special girl. Happy birthday, Josie!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Some projects are just #!@#!@#!@

I think you get my drift. Some projects just seem to give me fits where I vow to throw the whole thing out the window. This Greensleeves Collar design was such a project but I am so glad the stubborn side of me persisted because the finished result is pretty special.

This project had been sitting in my to-do pile for several years so that probably should have told me something. The design, by Jill Devon, was from the 2010 Beadwork Magazine. It requires quite a few different types of beads - triangles, size 11/0's, drops and 4 mm bi-cones so it took me a little time to round everything up but then I just kept deferring until a month or two ago when I took it with me on a trip.

The whole necklace uses right angle weave, which I don't do very often, so this was a great way to hone those skills. The first part of the necklace was great fun. You make the back straps and the connecting modules. But once I got to the front section, I was in trouble. You make a series of four graduating strands of right angle weave and have to take care that the strands don't get twisted when you are connecting the right side of the necklace to  the left side. Seems simple enough, eh?


Despite all the care I took to make sure they were straight, I finished the fourth strand only to hold it up, try it on and discover ##@@!@! they were twisted! Arghhhhhh. Yes, I had to rip them all out and start over.

Determined not to be outsmarted by a couple of teeny beads, I pulled out my macrame board and decided to mount the strands on the board to help keep everything aligned while I was fastening off the strands.

I took a little comfort when I noticed another beader had similar frustration with the design. I don't agree that the design itself is flawed but I do think Jill could have added extra emphasis to the caution about the twisting strands in the tutorial.

I held my breath as I connected the last strand. Yes! (fist pump) They were straight!

Yay! Straight strands!
This picture doesn't really capture how pretty it looks when it is on. I think it would look great with an open collar blouse.

Here's one of my favorite features of this necklace. I used multi-color triangles in the middle strands and they really give the necklace a more playful feel and also allow it to go with multiple looks.

The tribulations and rewards of this design remind me of the famous Winston Churchill quote and the expression on his face below was a lot like mine about half way through this project.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Beady purchases

Earlier this month, I attended the Art Unraveled Art Retreat Expo in Phoenix. I would have loved to take some of the classes but I am so busy at work it was impossible to fit in some vacation days but what a terrific line-up of teachers! I was especially interested in Laurie Mika, Jen Cushman, Roxanne Evans Stout and Susan Lenart Kazmer. I had to content myself with attending the Shopping Extravaganza on Saturday. Extravaganza is a bit of an exaggeration as the show floor was a modest size but I still found some great items.

Here's my favorite - a fabulous hand-painted Frida Khalo pillow by Olive Rose. I just love the quote, "At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can." Olive Rose has some adorable kitty creatures so cat lovers might want to check out the web site.

You might remember my love for all things Frida from a blog post several years ago where I shared a photo of my Frida chair.

I did pick up a couple packets of assorted bead shapes for embroidery, some buttons (which you always need) and some gorgeous blue glass flowers.

And when I returned home, I found another package awaiting with some purchases I had made on The Lipstick Ranch site a couple days earlier. I discovered this wonderful artist a couple years ago at Tucson and have been purchasing rustic pendants and charms from her ever since. If you're interested, you can read about their background and how they operate their mom and pop business from their dairy farm, which makes me love their products even more. Anyhoo -- here's my latest purchase:

Wonderful rustic pendants from The Lipstick Ranch
Now I need to get busy putting my new purchases to work!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Allegory Gallery Mystery Challenge 2 Reveal

I haven't done a beading challenge since April with Andrew Thornton's Hidden Cove Challenge. So I signed up for his second mystery challenge, where you don't know what your kit will contain and you just take a leap of faith that inspiration will strike regardless of the color combination.

I was so happy when my kit arrived since it was primarily blue and yellow and I thought, "Great! I will make something in the University of Pittsburgh colors since football season is right around the corner."

Mystery Challenge 2 Kit - Bead soup at lower right

But I just couldn't decide what to do. I started and stopped a few designs and at the end of the post I have a photo of one of the designs I stopped. I am working with a large load in the office right now and have even fewer leisure hours than normal so I decided to just not participate in this round. But this past week-end, I looked at the bead soup shown in the above photo and decided to try a design that used all the  crazy colors and shapes in the bag along with a tube of brilliant yellow seed beads. The interplay of bold vibrant colors reminded me of a carnival-like atmosphere so I called it Carnivale.

Carnivale Necklace and Earrings

Oh, and if you are interested, here is my reject item. I started out with a bib design using a map of Arizona which I printed on muslin using Artist Transfer Paper.

Once I started adding the bead dangles, I thought the colors looked too gaudy although I do like the sweet little peyote heart. For now, it is sitting in my UFO box and maybe I will finish it one day.

Please visit the Allegory Gallery Mystery Challenge page on Facebook for more creations. I'm a little on the fence about how I like Facebook as a platform for challenges. I really liked the format Sally Russick used in her challenges but we haven't had one of those in awhile. I would be interested to hear if anyone else has participated in any challenges hosted on Facebook.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Crochet and Mom

I don’t crochet very often and when I do, it’s usually to make something like this bead crochet bangle I recently made for one of my Art Jewelry Adventure classes.

Or this Turkish flat crochet bracelet, designed by Marion Hunziker-Larson.

I receive Marion’s newsletters which are always a fascinating recap of various new cords and techniques. Her latest newsletter shared these very awesome barefoot sandals. Now forgive the “Fred Flintstone” toes - feet are not my best feature. If you really want to see some nice feet in barefoot sandals, check out Marion’s blog where she generously shares her tutorial. I don’t go barefoot much these days - living in the desert always presents a risk of a stray scorpion under foot. But for my young nieces, these might be just the ticket for pool or yoga wear. Oh - and PS - it's really hard to take pictures of your own feet!

Barefoot Sandals Design by Marion Hunziker-Larson

Every time I crochet, I feel close to my Mom, who was a champion crochet-er, seamstress, doll-maker, cook - you name it. She made my wedding dress which I have written about before. All I can say is she would have LOVED the Internet and left us way too soon.

Wedding Dress by Mom: Mary Margaret Seymour

I need to look for some photos of Mom’s crochet which was lacy, gorgeous and perfectly crafted. While on my recent crochet jag, I saw a YouTube tutorial by Melanie Ham for a crochet basket made with clothesline and thought that was a very cool idea. Melanie is adorable and a terrific instructor. So I ordered some clothesline and followed her pattern to make this basket.

Then I was on a roll. I made these baskets using the same technique but different cord:

And this is one of my favorites. I came across this tutorial bundle on Etsy by JaKiGu and the directions are wonderful and the baskets are so beautiful:

Jute Basket Tutorial by JaKiGu

I don’t really need any baskets but I must admit they look great in my kitchen and great room and gave me some wonderful moments thinking of Mom.
© Cave Creek Beads