Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Boogers and Beads

Yup, that's where I've been for the last week. Boogers and beads, but mostly boogers...

It started on Thursday morning when Colden woke up with a fever of 103 and a runny nose. We took him to the pediatrician who didn't see anything obviously wrong with him, and we decided to cancel Thanksgiving with Tom's folks to let Colden rest. (I also woke up feeling pretty crappy that day with a runny nose and a sore throat, so I needed some rest, too.)

The next morning, Colden's fever hit 104.7 and I panicked. Sandy came over and held Colden and let him sleep while I packed a bag and we got ready to go back to the pediatrician.

The next few days are just a blur in my memory - trips to the pediatrician, my fever climbing and my sore throat getting worse and worse, and our frustration at the pediatricians' refusal to give us an antibiotic for Colden because they kept insisting that what he had was viral.

Finally, yesterday, I woke up with my throat so sore and swollen that I couldn't really swallow. I took some Motrin to take care of the pain and went to the walk-in clinic where I'd been a few times to have someone check me out and give me an antibiotic - I was sure that this was another round of strep throat, which I have had before, and which I seem to get when I'm under a lot of stress.

They tried several times to get a throat culture from me, but every time that swab went near the back of my throat, I threw up. I finally told the p.a. to just give me an antibiotic and send me home, because I was tired of the torture. She looked at me like I was five, shook her head and said, "I can't do that because that's just not good medicine." I nearly jumped off the exam table and strangled her with her own pony tail.

"Oh, but it's good medicine to let me go home with an untreated strep infection?" I countered.

"Well, if it is strep, then we need to quarantine you for 24 hours. You won't be able to go to work -"

"That's fine, because I work from home."

She said that she needed to go talk to her supervisor, the doctor who owned the practice. He's a bit of a horse's ass himself, but that's another story for another time.

I heard them conversing outside and then she came back into the room and told me that I had a few options, one of which was giving me an antibiotic without a throat culture.

"Give me the antibiotic," I said again. She sighed and sat down to write me out a prescription for Amoxicillan which I promptly took to the nearest pharmacy and had filled.

Later that afternoon, I sat down in the exam room with Tom and Colden and the pediatrician and told the pediatrician that we wanted an antibiotic for Colden and we were done waiting for the fever to go down. She FINALLY relented and gave us a prescription for Zithromax.

Now, as a former pharmacy technician, I understand the concerns with antibiotic-resistant infections and superbugs. But this, I think, is ridiculous. We've gone from giving antibiotics out like they were candy to restricting their use like they're controlled substances. Why is it impossible to find a happy medium here?

After just two doses of the antibiotics, the swelling in my throat went away, and I could eat and feel normal again. After just one dose of Colden's antibiotics, his fever broke. Coincidence? Maybe. But we probably could have had a much better weekend if the pediatrician had just given us the damn antibiotic on Saturday instead of making us wait all weekend.

Okay, getting off my soap box now.

Tomorrow, beady stuff, I promise!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Survived the Weekend and Back in the Game!

Tom left for his annual hunting trip downstate on Friday, leaving me along with the kiddo for the weekend. I managed to get all my work done on Friday and I got EIGHT - EIGHT!!! - new peyote beading patterns finished and published on the site. I was on a roll, and it felt great.

We spent Saturday running around in the morning, and then I taught a beading class in the afternoon while Colden took a nap at Oma and Opa's house. Then we had pizza for dinner with Oma and Opa.

While I was reading Colden his bedtime stories, I noticed a strange sound - kind of like the sound that the furnace made last weekend when we discovered that it wasn't working properly. Sure enough, I went downstairs after Colden was asleep and found that it had stopped working again. It was trying to turn itself on, but wasn't igniting properly. So, since I couldn't remember where Tom had hit it with the wooden board to make it start working again, I shut it off at the switch like he told me to and just waited for him to come home.

He arrived home a little earlier than he had planned, mainly because he wanted to see if he could get the thing working again so that we might have hot water intermittently until we could get the replacement part. He did manage to get it working again, but we have to keep an eye on it and as soon as we hear it making that noise, we have to shut it down for a while. Hoping we can get that replacement part sooner rather than later!

His hunting trip, however, was a great success, and he came home with his deer tags filled for the year. He was thrilled, and was even able to leave some venison behind with his friends as a thank-you for hosting him this weekend. I had to help him hoist one of the deer up in the garage yesterday afternoon, something I have to admit I never thought I'd find myself doing. But the good thing is that he now has enough venison to make sausage and jerky, and some really great tender cuts for roasts with is parents. And Colden, of course, looooooves those tender cuts of venison.

Tom took the day off today so that he could butcher and package the venison, so that means that I get to go to Starbucks and edit my newsletter, and that's where I am right now. Peppermint hot chocolate, egg white and feta cheese wrap, Jimmy Eat World, and the view of Main Street from the front window. I'm in heaven, and back in the game!

Aaaaand I'm also having another great sale in my ArtFire shop - 30% off your total purchase by using the code HOHOHO30 at chcekout. That includes my newest piece, the Glamour and Goth beadwoven necklace, with a handmade ceramic cabochon by Marsha Hedrick and those funky onyx gemstone drops! The coupon code is good until December 15, because that's the last date I can guarantee shipping in time for Christmas, and you can use the code more than once.

Shop now for best selection - I have two holiday shows coming up in December and then I won't have any new inventory back in stock until January!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poor little man...

My little boy was not in a good mood this morning. Everything that he tried to do ended with him in tears, and I could not figure out what was wrong. I finally abandoned my plans to do anything and just gave him my 100% undivided attention all afternoon, and he fell asleep on the bed with me while I was reading to him, just before Tom was going to take him to Plattsburgh.

Before Tom left for Plattsburgh (to get a replacement key for the car, which we lost back in July around the time I had the miscarriage), he asked if there was anything I wanted him to bring back. Considering all the b.s. we've been dealing with in the last 24 hours - health insurance company denying the claim from the hospital again, the ineptitude of the hospital billing department and claims manager, and the medical collection agency that called us on behalf of the hospital last night - I suggested something, ANYTHING, with chocolate.

So while I still have a chance, I'm stitching away on these tiny little beaded bezels for the typewriter keys for my beadpunk piece. I'm sorry to say that these two pieces have been sitting half-finished on my work table for far too long, and now that I can finally see the light at the end of the beading tunnel, I'm going to finish them in the next few days!

I Don't Know What it Is...

I don't know if it's the cold rain that started last night, the volume of work I need to do this week and next, the gray, sunless morning, the early nights, or the mounting medical bills and the idiots at the billing department at Adirondack Medical Center who decide to send us straight to collection without sending us a bill.

Whatever it is, it is really ruining my mood today. I think today is going to be a day to get as much beading done as possible, maybe some blogging and article writing, and basically doing whatever I can to divert my attention from the feeling that we're drowning.

I'm very much looking forward to yoga class tonight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

This is, without a doubt, my new all-time favorite scene from a movie. And in particular, my new favorite movie.

To me, this is a movie about trusting yourself and earning the trust of others. It's about knowing who you are and using that knowledge to the fullest. It's about following your heart and doing the right thing.

And mostly, it's a story about a boy and his dragon.

More than once, Tom and I have watched this movie with Colden, and then turned to each other and sighed and said, "Don't you wish that dragons were real?"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beautiful Cabochons by Marsha Hedrick of Amazing Porcelain

Marsha Hedrick really picked the right name for her business: Amazing Porcelain. I finished another piece using one of her beautiful cabochons this time:

I chose the blue and gold cabochon because I don't work with blue very often, and I wanted to see what I could do with it. I was also interested in beading around the cabochon because of it's unusual shape - definitely not your everyday round or oval cabochon!

The fringe and the strap were a bit of a challenge for me. As I wrote previously, my original plan to attach the piece of a brass collar covered in leather didn't work when I discovered that I didn't have the right color of leather and that I lacked the necessary glover's needles for stitching through leather. (The glover's needles have since arrived and worked perfectly for finishing the leather collar!)

I decided to use a variation of flat spiral for the strap, using Czech fire polished beads and some inverted onyx drops from a project I made years ago. The fringe repeats the colors of the cab and uses more of those onyx drops. I tried the piece on and found that the fringe hangs wonderfully from the strap and the cabochon, and the strap is so comfortable to wear that I almost forgot I was wearing it!

The cabochon itself is truly a miniature work of art from Marsha. I love it. It's thin and lightweight, but substantial. The raised texture on it feels wonderful to the touch, and the colors are true and vibrant.

Marsha has some of this style available as slides for beaded and kumihimo ropes, and she'll have some available soon as cabochons. She also has them in red and gold, and has a set available with some of her yummy porcelain cones. Check out her website for all the options, including some other beautiful art nouveau styles of slides and cones!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If I'm Too Busy to Blog...

Then that's a good thing, right? It means I'm doing what I love to do - beading, writing directions, photographing tutorials, making beading pattern graphics or chasing after Colden, or going to playgroups and play dates or cooking...

In case anyone has been following the adventures of the first Best Little Bead Box, we are now taking applications for the second round of The Best Little Bead Box! You can find the application on the blog by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. Applications should be sent to both me at vanbeads@yahoo.com and Carol Dean Sharpe at sandfibers@yahoo.com. You also have the option of including a picture of your very best beadwork.

The applications are all due by December 1, and the announcement of the next 12 beaders will be made on December 15. The next round of the box will start sometime after New Year's and last for 12 weeks.

A big thank-you so far to everyone who is supporting our little project!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beadwork Exhibit at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts

I just finished taking over 200 photographs of some of the most amazing beadwork I have ever seen in my entire life. Many of the pieces I've seen in advertisements, online and in books, and it was an incredible experience to be so close to them.

The colors and the forms and the beads were enough to take my breath away. I loved seeing the pieces by Sherry Serafini, Jeannette Cook, Carol Cypher, Robin Atkins, Melissa Grakowsky, Laura McCabe, Suzanne Golden, Jean Campbell, Diane Fitzgerald, Kelly Angeley, Huib Peterson, Carol Perrenoud...

I've seen this piece by Carol Perrenoud for many years, and I think it's one of the first pieces of beadwork I saw that really inspired me to learn how to stitch. It's made with size 20 and 22 seed beads, and the beaded fringe really resembles twisted cotton cord.

It's the kind of beadwork that makes part of me want to go home and just stitch for the rest of the day and the other part of me wants to curl up under the bed and whimper at my lack of talent.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Time Flies...

What was all that stuff about Saturdays and Sundays being days of rest? Ha! Not in my world!

Saturday was full of our usual stuff - housecleaning, cooking, running errands. We were invited to an appetizer party at our friends' new house, so I made a HUGE batch of hummus and we brought along some crackers, carrot and zucchini sticks. We met a lot of cool new people, and got to catch up with some others that we hadn't seen in a long, long time. Colden had a great time playing with some of the other kids, and when we saw him getting cranky around 9, we decided to call it a night. Which was smart, considering that I had to get up early the next morning, and we had that daylight-savings-time thing to consider, too.

Tom woke up on Sunday morning in a full-blown panic. "It's 7:30! You have to get out of here by 8:15!" I asked him if he had set the clocks back before we went to bed, and since he hadn't, we got to relax a little bit.

I came into the kitchen after I got dressed and found my little dude sitting on the kitchen counter, eating an egg sandwich and drinking from a big boy cup! He looked so grown up!

I spent Sunday morning at the annual Hanukkah bazaar up at the temple in Plattsburgh, and it was so much fun. I made some new friends, got to catch up with folks I haven't seen in months, and brought home some yummy lavender salt scrub. It made my hands feel so nice that I actually bought some new nail polish and cutesy, sparkling little flower decals!

Who am I, anyway?!

On the beading side of things, I have FINALLY finished the last two projects for Marsha Hedricks! I wish I could show them to you now, but we've had nothing but rain, snow and sleet for the past 48 hours, and I can't get any decent photographs. The sun is supposed to come out tomorrow for a peek - we'll see what I can do then.

Tonight, I talked to a very old and very dear friend on the phone for a few minutes before The Toddler dragged me away. I miss her so much, I decided that after I finish whatever else I need to do for the evening (blogging, etc.), I am going to set aside all my other work and start on a necklace for her. It features a pendant of Frieda Kahlo that I got from Andrew Thornton. It should be a good necklace.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Plan B

So, here is the start of Plan B for the cabochon by Marsha Hedrick:

I found these awesome onyx upside-down drops that I used a few years ago on a piece I donated to the local PBS station's art auction and thought that they would just look perfect with this handmade porcelain cab. I was right, eh? And I found the perfect shades of turquoise and gold to go with the colors in the cab. I can't help but feel like it's a little bit Goth, a little bit Art Nouveau.

I've got the rest of the beads for the strap laid out in little piles, but I have been having the worst time getting that strap started! I've had about six false starts, fraught with split thread, cracked seed beads, and difficulties with tension in getting the beads to lie just right. I've got another idea in my head for how to execute this strap, I just need to find some time to do it.

And here's the other Plan B:

These turquoise pencil-shaped beads that I got at the Syracuse Gem & Mineral show last summer have been floating around with my "current projects" for a year and a half now, and when I realized that the leather-covered collar was just NOT going to work for the cabochon, my mind instinctively went to this strand of beads. I've also got some turquoise scarab beads leftover from a project I did five or six years ago that have been languishing in a plastic bag in one of my bead cabinets - and they shall languish no more!

Last night, I thought I'd start edging the collar with brick stitch and seed beads and discovered the reason why I don't usually use real leather. (I usually use Sensuede, Ultrasuede or another type of synthetic suede fabric.) When I tried to push my size 12 beading needle through one piece of the leather, it went right into my finger and up underneath my fingernail. If I hadn't been so worried about waking up Colden, I would have screamed in pain. That HURTS.

Hence, my first-ever order to Shipwreck beads this morning included a package of Glover's needles, which are super-sharp, triangle-tipped needles that are designed especially for stitching through leather.

So the turquoise collar is going to be put on hold until I get those needles, because I'm not into self-torture. Not even for my beads!

And on that note, I have to get back to work... Colden is at Oma and Opa's today, and I am trying to get as many patterns, tutorials and articles published on the About.com site as I possibly can before Sunday and my new Starbucks-on-a-Sunday-morning ritual!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sometimes, Designing is HARD.

Seriously. There are times when I sit down to write or design a pattern, and it feels like my brain is just a total blank.

Like tonight, for instance.

I had a wonderful morning, but a very trying afternoon that included several joyful utterances of the sentence, "Mommy, I made a BIIIIIIIIIIIG mess!" So when Tom came home and Colden decided to grab a handful of my hair and yank on it for the umpteenth time, I was ordered to take my laptop and go to Starbucks so that I could work and decompress for a while.

But once I got here, I found that working was harder than I had thought it was going to be. Armed with my list of about fourteen articles and hubs that I could publish and put together for the site this week, I found my attention drifting and wandering... I thought I'd catch up on emails to "warm up". Then I thought maybe I'd try to design some Christmas and Hanukkah and winter holiday patterns.

But nothing seems to be flowing right now. I got two bracelet designs finished, and I can publish those tomorrow.

I got one beading stitch tutorial done for tubular netting, to go in the beaded ropes hub and set of articles that I want to publish.

I started writing my review of Jean Campbell's new book. But that stalled when I realized that I could just not find the right words.

It's just not working tonight.

So what I'll probably end up doing is knocking off a couple of blog posts and editing a set of photos or two and then heading home to do the real work tomorrow while Colden is at Oma's house for the day. And then maybe some more on Friday, and maybe some more on Sunday when I come back to Starbucks for my Sunday morning ritual.

Meanwhile, I'm getting into some good old John Mayer. Whatever you might say about John Mayer, I love his voice and his tunes are catchy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Price Increases

Nobody likes 'em, and it seems that everywhere you turn, the price of things is going up, and sadly, that's the case with my Venus Necklace as well.

I went to place an order for some more pearls from my usual source and found that the price of these pearls is now three times what they were when I ordered my last batch earlier this year!

So, unfortunately, I have ONE of these necklaces left in my inventory right now at $95. After this one is gone, the price is going to go up to $115 to cover the cost of the pearls. You can find this piece in my ArtFire Shop by clicking on the picture, and everything in my store ships for free via Priority Mail.

Tomorrow: pictures of the ceramic cabochon that I posted yesterday. I spent all evening covering a brass collar in turquoise leather only to discover that it was the wrong shade and clashed terribly with the turquoise in the cabochon. On top of that, I didn't have nearly enough of the light turquoise blue seed beads to put an edging on the collar. But as I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep (which shouldn't have been that difficult, seeing as I was completely exhausted), I came up with a better design idea that involves a whole bunch of these cool upside-down teardrops in black onyx that I've had for several years. I won't have much time to work on the piece tonight, but maybe tomorrow...

Oh, and the brass collar that I covered in turquoise leather? Turns out that it's a perfect match for the gorgeous turquoise pencil-shaped stick beads that I bought in Syracuse last summer! So there's another project half done!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Well, This Just Sucks.

I just found out that there is going to be a major contemporary bead art exhibit that opens this Friday at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh, a mere forty five minutes from my home. This is probably the first time that beadwork of this caliber and by so many major artists is going to be shown in the North Country, and I would love to go to the opening and check it out, take some photos and do a writeup for the About.com site.

Unfortunately for me, I also just found out that the show organizer is someone who is so highly toxic to me that I can't stand even the thought of being in the same room with her again, even for just a few minutes. She has said some incredibly hurtful and demeaning things to me in the past, and when we were business partners together in Plattsburgh, she threatened me with legal action and financial ruin when I left the partnership, at her request.

Part of me is saying, well, come on, now, you're a big girl - just go up there, take some photos, and get on with it. The other part of me is saying, forget it - it's not worth the stress of seeing this person again, and there's always the option of taking a quiet Saturday morning or mid-week trip to the gallery to see the exhibition when no one will be around except for me and my camera.

So, that'll give me something to chew on for the next few days.

In the meantime, just in case I do decide to go to the opening, I'll need something beaded and fabulous to wear. So my goal is to have this beaded cab finished and attached to a leather collar before Friday afternoon. Can I do it? Stay tuned!