Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sucked In...Again.

I got sucked in again, to another big bout of negativity, paranoia, and fear. Not my own, mind you, but a whole group of folks who are afraid of something they know little to nothing about.

So, I'm done with it now. I sent off my manifesto, and all I want to know now is this:

Why is it such a scary thought to think that someone else's life and well-being might be just as important as your own?

That's it. You can feel free to share your thoughts here, or not. But at least it's something to think about.

Birthday Beads!

I usually do a post about my birthday, but this year, it seems, it completely slipped past me. That doesn't mean that I didn't have a great birthday - because I totally did.

I'm really not sure why, but I had a little bit of a freak out over turning 38. 38! That means it's been twenty years since I graduated high school. In two years, I'll be 40. Yeah. A little bit of a freak out. Maybe I won't freak out when I turn 40 if I let myself freak out now, right?

But one of the things that made my day so special was this care package that arrived in my mailbox:

 Beads! Lots and lots of beads! Tila beads, gemstone beads, seed beads, crystals, freshwater pearls... All of my favorite things! Also included in the box (but not pictured here) were some lovely sticks for me to bead around. Added to this was also a $25 gift certificate (which I have yet to spend - what is WRONG with me?!) to my favorite seed bead source, Whimbeads.

Back in January, I signed up for this "Birthdays for Beaders" club that someone mentioned on Facebook. It really was fun, and in return, I have to send a care package of beads out to someone on their birthday later this year. (I can't wait - I have such a good time putting together packages of beads as gifts!)

The thing is, I have no idea who sent me these beads. There was a card, but no signature. Just "Your Birthdays for Beaders Buddy". So I have no clue as to who it was that sent me these beautiful, thoughtful beads! I can only hope to do good for my birthday beader later this year.

Tom (and Colden) renewed our membership to the Wild Center (where we haven't been yet since they re-opened in May), and we had a fun dinner with Tom's parents the night of my birthday.

So much more I need to write to get caught up, but I need to keep plugging away at my Battle piece today! I've got ten days to finish this thing, and I'm starting to think that I need to spend an entire day working on it (and staying off of the computer) if I expect to finish it on time.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Catching Up...

I have so much catching up to do on this blog! Time just gets away from me, between work and trying to spend time with my kid and my husband, working on the gardens, working on my beadwork...

Did I ever really think that I'd have time to do the farmer's markets again this summer? Pshyeah.

Yesterday, I had to have a molar pulled. It was full of old fillings. My dentist originally thought I just needed a root canal and a crown on it, but then when it became infected, he took another look and decided that no, there were just too many fillings in this tooth for him to do a root canal. He was afraid that if he tried to do the root canal, what was left of the tooth would just crumble. So he recommended that I have it yanked out. Oh, joy.

Thankfully, it was a back molar, so no harm, no foul.

He sent me to a new oral surgeon in town, who just opened up an office right below theirs. I have to admit: I was nervous going into this when I met her. She was younger than me. Her bio said that she graduated med school in 2006 and dental school in 2009. So she's been practicing for a grand total of 3 years.

Ouch. I told her when I got there that getting numb was the worst part of any dental work for me, and I begged her to go slow and easy with the Novocain injection.

If her idea of "slow and easy" was to just JAM that needle into the soft, cushy tissue of my lower jaw, well, then I guess she did okay.

Honestly, I am not exaggerating. I have had a lot of dental work done in my life. I have had several root canals. And I have had two dentists who gave absolutely painless injections of Novocain - and I'm not kidding when I say "painless".

The first was an endodentist who happened to also be a client at the veterinary practice where I worked. She did the first root canal I ever needed when I was about 24, and when she gave me that injection, I didn't even know it until my lip went numb. Fantastic!

The second was my wonderful dentist in AuSable Forks who retired while I was pregnant with Colden. He was a former Navy dentist who worked with the guys in Viet Nam. These guys,  he said, were already suffering so much from head and facial wounds that he decided to learn how to give painless injections so that they would have minimal discomfort when he worked on them. I loved this dentist, and I was seriously ready to bribe him to come to my house to treat me when I heard that he had retired. When he gave me an injection, I never felt it. Ever.

This oral surgeon? Apparently, she was more interested in muscling through the procedure than my comfort, it seemed.

It was the first time I actually HEARD the Novocain being squirted into my face. And it hurt. It hurt like hell. Make no mistake - I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. The strongest painkillers I took after I had Colden were Ibuprofen and Tylenol. I can cope with a pretty high level of pain.

But this was just beyond anything I had ever experienced.

It took forty five freaking minutes for her to get me numb. At one point, I was gagging on the needle she had in my mouth, and when I begged her to stop for a second so I could catch my breath, she said, "No, uh-uh, sorry, hon, we gotta get through this."

I felt like saying, "Fuck you, *I* have to get through this!" I was in such discomfort, the dental assistant began to cry. Yeah. (My apologies for the f-bomb. But this was some serious pain.)

She finally got me numb enough to start working, and in less than three minutes, she had the offending tooth removed. That simple.

She was amazed at how easy it was to work on me once I was numb, and I repeated to her that getting me numb is ALWAYS the worst/hardest part of dental work for me. I said once I'm numb, everything is easy, but it's just those damn injections of Novocain that get me. She said to me, "Well, removing the tooth - there's a little bit of skill involved in that."

I felt like saying, "Yeah, and you need to work on your skills when it comes to injecting Novocain into your patients so that you don't have to scrape them off the ceiling before you even start working on them."

I paid my bill and left, went home to recuperate and rest. The good news is that the tooth came out clean, no stitches required. The bad news is that today, most of my pain is from where she jammed that freaking needle into my jaw over and over in an attempt to deaden the nerve.

I guess the other bit of good news is that now that I have this tooth taken care of, I need one more filling and two bridges done to have a set of healthy teeth again. Huzzah!

Now, where's my applesauce...?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

T-Minus 14 Days and Counting...

I finished the last two "components" for my Battle of the Beadsmith piece yesterday, and then I went on Facebook and saw that Steven Weiss (the organizer of the competition) had posted something about there being fifteen days left to complete our pieces... So I had a minor freak-out.

Really, I think the hard part of the piece is finished. These "components" (I'm only calling them that because I'm really not sure what else to call them) were fun to design, and required constant experimentation and adjustment as I was making them. There are eleven in all, and that's all I can tell you.

Now comes the hard part - the "filling in between" part. That's always the hardest part for me. I'm so good at coming up with the Main Event, the Focal Point, the Centerpiece. But when it comes to filling in the background, I just choke. Maybe that's why I was never very good at Zentangling. (Or it could be why I need to start doing more Zentangling.)

At any rate, I'm not allowed to show you and progress pictures, but I am taking them as I go. I could show you pictures of the empty bead tubes that are piling up on my desk. Or the piles of thread scraps that are piling up on the floor next to my chair. Or the bandages that I think are going to be a permanent part of four fingers on my right hand where I've been pulling on the Wildfire beading thread to keep my tension consistent as I bead.

But you probably wouldn't be very interested in seeing those things.

That said, once this piece is made public, I have big plans for it. Regardless of when I get knocked out of the Battle of the Beadsmith (because I *will* get knocked out, make no mistake), I will have a ready-made piece for the annual Lake Placid Center for the Arts Juried Show in September. And I'll be able to wear this piece to Bead Fest Philadelphia in August, provided I can find the right t-shirt to go with it. Last of all, I'll be writing up a new series of tutorials and projects on this technique, since I don't think I've ever seen it done before. I'm not even sure if anyone will be interested in it, but it's certainly got a lot of possibilities!

For now, I'll leave you with a photograph of the peonies that Tom brought home for me tonight from work. That's something I CAN show you!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Do I Blog?

I just received my partner for the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party, and I'm so excited because this time, I get to swap beads with another bead artist in Sweden! It really speaks volumes to me about how precious beads are, and how they can unite many people throughout our entire planet.

So, while I'm waiting to send off my package of beads to this lovely woman across the ocean, I saw a prompt from Lori Anderson, the originator of the Bead Soup Blog Party. She told us to write about why we blog.

That got me thinking a lot about why I do what I do, both with the beads, and with my blog.

If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that I have exhibitionist tendencies, but I don't think that's the case.

I've always loved to write, and I've wanted to be a writer for a very long time.

I'm also somewhat distressed by what I see happening in the world, particularly in U.S. politics, and I'm distressed by the inequality I see, particularly between working poor families and the wealthiest citizens of the world. So I want to speak out about what I see as right and wrong.

Blogging is my way of trying to make sense of the world, and my way of trying to make sense of myself, and my life.

Which are all reasons why I bead, I suppose.

Beadweaving has always just sucked me right in. When I first started beading, I used to have to put a movie on so that after an hour and a half (or so, depending on the movie), I would force myself to get up and switch the tape. (This was in 1999, before DVD and "Repeat All"!) If I listened to the radio, I would just sit there for hour after hour, while I stitched away. (This was also pre-kid, when I could be a night owl and stay up to all hours of the night before having to roll out of bed and get to class by ten a.m.)

Even now, when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed by something, I want to retreat to my little corner desk, put on a funny movie or sitcom, and bead. It soothes my spirit. It gives my hands something to do, helps me calm my mind, and reminds me to just be and breathe and bead.

So, the spiritual side of beadwork...

One of the things that I saw during my time with the Tibetan Buddhist monks in Plattsburgh were these wall hangings. They are created with a combination of embroidery and painting on silk, with the color of the silk being allowed to show through the painting and the embroidery.

When I got home after attending afternoon prayers with Tom one day, I thought about making a bead embroidered cuff bracelet using some of these same techniques. And of course, the vibrant colors of the Nicole's Beadbacking are perfect for projects like this.

I traced a simple line drawing of a lotus flower on a piece of bright yellow bead embroidery backing, and then proceeded to stitch away.

While I worked, I tried to incorporate some of the Native American beadwork traditions that I love into the piece. I watched comedies and movies with happy endings while I was working on it, to avoid accidentally incorporating any negativity into the piece.

Working up the sides was more challenging. I tried several different patterns and embroidery techniques, but I didn't like any of them.

I finally came back to thinking, "Keep it simple, stupid." And I just started adding large size 6 beads and working small half-circles around them. I was very happy with the results.

I backed it with a piece of my favorite, buttery-soft Ultrasuede and was delighted to find some seed beads in the same shade of the bead embroidery backing to work the edging around the whole cuff.

The finished piece is huge. I think it's about 3" wide from top to bottom, so it's a little hard for me to wear when I'm writing/typing on the computer. But when I'm grocery shopping or running errands or beading, I love looking down on my wrist and seeing it.

So, why do I blog? Why do I bead? Because it helps me make sense of the world when nothing else does.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


It is so bloody hot in my house right now, I feel like I can't think straight. That's never a good thing. I am most definitely not a warm-weather creature.

But it is summer, finally, and the gardens are growing up nicely.

The day lilies alongside the house are just starting to bloom. Ever since we had a big patch of them at the farmhouse we rented when we first moved to Jay, I've been in love with this flower. We have a tiny patch of them alongside the house now, and I'm always tempted to steal more when I see them growing on the side of the road and plant them at our house.

The herb garden: totally out of control. We've got lavender, hyssop, oregano, garlic chives, parsley, sage, and thyme growing out there. I love running out and nipping off the herbs I need as I'm cooking dinner, and Colden and I have spent many hours out here as I teach him how each leaf looks, smells, and tastes.

We've been getting lovely, fat, red radishes for quite a few weeks now, and the beets, onions, and shallots that Tom planted are growing well, too. As the beets and radishes have been growing, we've been nipping off the leaves for use in stir-fries and salads. Yummy!

Tom did some new layouts for the other vegetable gardens this year. This is the cucumber-pea-kale-spinach garden. The outside poles are where we have planted three varieties of cucumbers and two varieties of peas. The inside rows are planted with kale and spinach. We already have baby spinach leaves coming up!

This is the pole bean and squash garden, with pots of cauliflower and cabbage at each corner. The beans and squash are already coming up nicely, and I can hardly wait until we have bushels of fresh string beads!

We put half a dozen tomato plants in upside-down pots, and once Tom stopped fertilizing them, they actually started to grow like crazy! We even have little baby tomatoes! The remaining two we put in large pots with cages, and then we planted some eggplants and peppers in pots, as these have never done terribly well when we plant them in the ground. No idea why. But they always do better in pots, so into pots they go!

With all of this green garden goodness coming up, we've decided to temporarily suspend our whole-diet CSA experiment. We were getting way too much meat and dairy and not enough vegetables to really make it worth our while.

The other problem we had was that Colden flat-out refused to drink any of the milk, even after we pasteurized it ourselves. He would pitch a fit and not drink it, and most of it ended up going to waste.

But we're not done with our quest to give up going to the grocery store. We're looking into other local CSAs to join, and I'm researching where I can get some locally grown and milled organic flours. Our local natural foods store has also told me that she can get me some non-GMO soybeans so I can make my own tempeh (fermented bean cake - it's actually much tastier than it sounds).

What's next? To be continued...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Patterns in the Etsy Shop!

In addition to working full-time, going down to New York City (blog post to follow about THAT particular adventure!), keeping up with Colden, and trying to keep the house in some semblance of order, I've been working on new beading patterns. Lots of new beading patterns. And lots of beading patterns that I've had half-written on my computer for the last year and a half. And I'm listing them in my Etsy shop and on Craftsy!

First, the one that I'm most proud of, is my Katya bracelet. I love the new Czech Twin beads, and I love the two-hole freshwater pearls that were a gift from Beki Haley at Whimbeads, but I had absolutely no idea what to do with either of them. Then I got to thinking about how I might be able to alternate Twins and pearls and come up with a funky netted collar.

The collar thing didn't really work out, but as you can see, the bracelet sure did! (And I've still got two strands of two-hole pearls in white for that collar!)

You can purchase this tutorial on Etsy or on Craftsy.

Tila beads? I love 'em. But like most two-hole beads, I had no idea what to do with them. Until a small box of these satin-finish Tila beads landed in my lap one day. I paired them with some seed beads, drop beads, and Czech crystal bicones and came up with this easy and vibrant Bollywood-inspired chain necklace!

Really, this necklace is an easy pattern and it works up pretty darn fast. I love the way it drapes, and it's extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear.

This tutorial is also available on my Etsy shop or on Craftsy.

Last but not least, we will see the return of an oldie, but still a goodie. My Queen Margaret's Lace was one of my best-sellers, and I've completely re-written the instructions and added new, professionally illustrated diagrams to show the thread paths! This is another piece that can be done by an adventurous beginner or an intermediate beader, and it should be live later today!

Coming up next week in between dentist appointments and acupuncture will be a smattering of basic beading tutorials; beaded bottle patterns; beaded bezel tutorials; and, at long last, my bezeling eBook! (Not to mention a few really cool spike bead patterns!)

For today, it's going to be near 90, and with no A/C in the house, I think I'll be taking a trip to Starbucks this afternoon for a little treat and an air-conditioned writing session.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Dilemma

So, I took a little break from my Battle of the Beadsmith piece while I worked on other projects that have more urgent deadlines.

One of those pieces turned out completely different from the way I had originally envisioned it. It's even BETTER than I thought it would be!

But now I have a problem: this new piece would make a KILLER entry for Battle of the Beadsmith. And I can't tell you any more than that. Except it would probably be a lot easier than the design I've been working on. And it would take less time, but still be just as intricate. (Might involve weaving in more thread ends, though, and that's something that I really hate doing.)

So, what do I do? Do I give up on the Battle piece that I've already thrown about fifteen hours into and go with something completely new? Or do I pick up where I left off on the original piece and complete it as my entry?

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Panic Mode

Yup, I'm officially in Panic Mode. I'm leaving for New York City on Friday, taking Monday off so I can travel home at a decent hour (unless I decide to bag it and drive home late Sunday night), and then I'm off from work the following Friday to help out my in-laws, and then I'm off the whole last week of June to take Colden back to the dentist and maybe finish that eBook that I thought I would finish when I took off the whole last week of May!

I've got deadlines up the wazoo, beading projects scattered everywhere, we can't see the dining room table underneath all the beads that have somehow migrated in there from my little corner office in the living room, dinner needs to be cooked, beds need to be made, and the kitchen and refrigerator need a thorough cleaning and re-organization.

Did I say I was in panic mode yet? 'Cause I totally am.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have absolutely nothing that needed doing right this second. Of course, it's all relative: the dishes could stay there, or we could just sleep on sleeping bags instead of making the bed. We could pick up a pizza instead of cooking dinner.

But despite being in panic mode, right now, I am hard-pressed to find the energy to get up out of my chair. Yet get out of my chair, I must.

Crossing my fingers for some good, restful sleep tonight!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Colden's First Canoe Trip

Tom and I have been talking about taking Colden in the canoe for YEARS. Probably since I found out I was pregnant, we've been talking about taking him out in the canoe. We never really had time the first couple of years after I had him because weekends were spent with me at the farmer's market, trying to earn some money. Then the summer that I had the miscarriage was just a total loss. Then last summer, after the van went to the big Garage in the Sky, we didn't actually have a vehicle with which to haul the canoe around.

But now! We have the van! We have the canoe! And Tom made a perfect canoe rack for hauling the canoe around on the van! So this morning, even though I was feeling achy and crappy, we packed up and headed out to Paul Smiths for a little canoe trip from Church Pond to Osgood Pond.

The last time I can remember being on Osgood Pond, it was a cloudy, windy day. The water was so rough, we could barely keep the canoe upright, and I paddled with my eyes shut.

Today was the exact opposite. The bright blue sky was studded with clouds, there was just a light breeze, and it wasn't terribly hot. We put the canoe in at Church Pond, and headed out.

I was a little nervous in the canoe. I think the last time I was out in a canoe was back in 2006, before I got pregnant with Colden. That means it's been six years - SIX YEARS! - since I've been out for a paddle. But after a few minutes of the sound of the water slapping gently against the sides of our little aluminum boat, the smell of a damp Balsam forest in the spring, and the sounds of the frogs and the birds, I felt totally at ease.

A few strokes in, and it felt like I had recovered a part of myself that had been missing for far too long. I felt connected with the world around me, with my husband, and with my son.

We saw so many animals! Frogs and huge fish - a bullhead catfish the length of my arm - sunfish, minnows, blackbirds. Tom caught an enormous large mouth bass, and we had to explain to Colden that it wasn't bass season just yet, so this one was only a catchin' fish, and not an eatin' fish.

We paddled through two small, shallow channels between ponds. These ponds were flooded back in the 1850s when Apollos Smith flooded them to have a way to make power for his hotels and sawmills out near where Paul Smiths College now stands. We showed Colden the layers of dirt beneath the roots of the trees.

When we finally came out into Osgood Pond, I wanted to cry. It was so breathtakingly beautiful with the trees and the water, the mountains, clouds, and sky. We paddled near the shallows, avoiding the many kayakers that were congregating in front of two of the camps along the lake shore.

Looking down over the side of the canoe, we saw mussels poking up in the sandy shallows. Tom fished one out and showed it to Colden, telling him that there was a living animal inside of it. We saw a few empty snail shells, and Tom picked up three of them for Colden to take home and put in our cabinet of nature specimens on the back porch.

As we turned around and paddled back, we decided to stop at a lean-to and have a snack. We put the canoe into the sand on the shore, and climbed out, finding the empty outer skin of a giant water bug alongside the dock. 
The lean-to looked as though there had been a serious party going on there. Garbage was everywhere, and there were four folding chairs scattered around the structure - one of which was actually on the roof! Tom asked me, "Why would [Paul Smiths College] students do this?" After all, environmental education and environmental science are two of the core programs at the college.

I just looked at the bags of trash stashed around the back of the lean-to and said that they just weren't the same kind of students as Tom and his friends were. Sure, they partied. It's Paul Smiths College, after all. But they never left a lean-to looking quite like this one.

Paddling through the second channel on the way back to the car, we saw a large, joyful, black-and-white dog playing along the banks. His owner was nearby, and Colden laughed and screamed as the dog splashed down into the water. His owner told his that his name was Oreo - a good name for a black-and-white dog.

Colden insisted on "paddling" all the way across Church Pond,  back to the car. He refused to give up the paddle, and told me that I should just sit up front and "enjoy the ride", which I thoroughly did.

It only took about five minutes for Colden to conk out after we got back on the road, and when he finally woke up, he told us over and over again that he wanted to go back in the canoe! We totally agreed, but it was starting to get hot, and we were all hungry to the point of nausea, so it was time to go back home and get something to eat.

The whole adventure is almost enough to make me wish I weren't going to New York City next weekend for the classes with Betcey and Nikia at York Beads. Almost. But after I get back, you better believe that we'll have the canoe back in the water, exploring more of our favorite Adirondack waterways.

Friday, June 08, 2012

A Happy Accident

Finally! Some beadwork of my own that I can show you!

Despite my lack of posts about beading, I have been doing quite a lot of beadwork in the last couple of weeks, but I can't post pictures of most of it. But finally, this morning, a happy accident that I can share with you!

This morning, we were all awake early. Colden came into our room around 4:30 with his favorite flowery pillow, plunked it down between us, and declared, "I want to snuggle in bed with you!", which was followed shortly by, "Mommy, I'm thirsty!"

We finally all got up around 6, and Colden asked for his waffle with blueberry jam, butter, and syrup. (Hungry boy!) While he ate, I sat down and cut apart two strands of the two-holed pearls that I got from Whimbeads back in February at the Tucson shows.

I have been turning over this idea for a pearl collar in my head for weeks now. I wanted to mix them with some of those cool Twin beads to make a collar reminiscent of traditional wedding jewelry from Inida. But it turns out that trying to engineer a pearl collar from two types of two-holed beads at 6:30 a.m. was slightly more difficult than I thought. When I started in on the second layer of netting, the collar started to make a sharp turn.

At first, I tore it all apart because it wasn't what I had envisioned for the collar. But then while I was in the shower, I thought, hey, why not? That's a fun component. I'll bet I could link up a bunch of these for a spectacular collar or even a chunky bracelet!

So now I'm at the point where I'm trying to figure out exactly how I did it, and how to do it again, but easier. When I *do* figure it out, I'll be putting a bunch of them together and writing up instructions for sale in my Etsy shop.

I'm on the hunt right now for a good iPad app for adding professional-looking thread paths to my beading patterns. I've already got the iPad and the stylus, and I have the photo editing software. I just need to find a way to connect my iPad to Adobe so I can make it all happen!

One thing on my shopping list for today is more Fireline. I'm going through it at an alarming rate, and if I'm going to be doing some serious beading down at York Beads next weekend, I'm going to have to grab a couple spools today.

One more deadline today, and then I should have a couple more pieces of beadwork that I can actually share with folks on the blog and on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

For the Romantic Beader...

I am so very behind in getting some book reviews up here, I figured it would be a good way for me to warm up for my marathon writing session this afternoon.

I've never been one to lean towards the romantic and the sparkly in my beadwork. I've always considered myself more of an Earthy girl when it comes to my jewelry and my beading. I have a small stash of crystals and crystal beads, but nothing compared to some of my fellow bead artists.

Even so, I love looking at the sparkly beadwork of other beaders, and I could barely contain my excitement the day the UPS lady brought my copy of Sabine Lippert's Beaded Fantasies, and I was most definitely not disappointed.

Looking through the projects in this book, there is really something for everybody. Even if you aren't a fan of crystal beads, Sabine has beautiful beading projects made with gemstones and Czech fire polished beads. Her designs are not just striking to look at, but also cover a wide range of skill levels. What I love about Sabine's beading designs in this book is that while the finished pieces look complicated, they are really quite easy to create.

Sabine's innovative beading projects come from her own unique understanding of basic beading thread paths. Her mastery of basic beading stitches allows her to add her own twists to the techniques, resulting in an array of beading projects that will appeal to beaders of all skill levels.

If you want me to go on about the sheer beauty and elegance of Sabine's beading projects, I could tell you how her choice of beads, components and colors is sophisticated and refined. Any number of these finished beading projects would look entirely appropriate in the collection of an old European art museum. Sabine really has captured the romance of old-world European jewelry design in these projects, and after making a few of these projects, you will find yourself falling under the spell of this fairy-tale beaded jewelry.

Try a sample of Sabine's work with the Les Fleurs Necklace as a free download from the Lark Crafts website. This simple but gorgeous beaded necklace works up fast using easy netted bezels, and is one of my favorite projects from the book.

If you want to explore your inner romantic through thirty amazing beading projects, Sabine Lippert's Beaded Fantasies is a great place to start!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Sourdough Worth Waiting For

After making the Sourdough Starter That Ate New York, I scooped some out last night and started the dough for sourdough bread.

The recipe called for letting a cup of the sourdough starter, mixed with water and flour, ferment for at least an additional twelve hours. Then I had to let it rise - twice. The second rising took place with the loaves upside-down in a couple of bowls lined with flour-dusted dish towels.

At the end of the day, this is what I had.

A couple of perfectly baked, soft-on-the-inside, chewy, tangy loaves of homemade sourdough bread.

I slid them off the baking sheet and onto a wooden cutting board to cool. Tom put his nose right up to them, inhaled deeply, and told me that he was jealous of my loaves.

I've never been much of a baker, aside from Mississippi Mud Cakes (put everything in a greased tin, mix it up, and bake it) and brownies from a box. I did have a brief stint when I was pregnant where I found I could make cheddar cheese scones pretty well. But yeasted bread? That was just beyond me.

Until now.

The sourdough starter smelled so good, I wanted to eat it right out of the bowl. And the loaves are just so perfect: chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, with a perfect sourdough tang.

The baking was a good way to burn off some stress today. Colden is playing another round of hide-and-go-poop. I've been getting bad news all week, mostly involving friends with cancer and relatives of friends with cancer. I went for a ride after dinner to get another gallon of milk so that we don't run out before Friday and cranked up the radio so I could scream my head off and just get it OUT.

It's almost time for bed, but Colden is wide awake, after a four-hour nap he decided to take AFTER he got home from preschool. Glad that I got 10+ hours of sleep last night, because I get the feeling it's going to be another looooooooong night...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Preparing To Do Battle...

Battle of the Beadsmith, that is.

I've been working on my piece for the Battle of the Beadsmith this last week, while I was on vacation from work.

I've been swinging back and forth on my opinion of this new design that I'm creating for the Battle of the Beadsmith. At first, I was absolutely giddy with delight when my experiments worked out. (And I'd love to show you some of those experiments, but alas, I have to keep this whole thing a secret until after July 10!) Then I sat down and started to create the actual piece, and as I worked, a whole slew of little self-doubts kept creeping to the surface.

No, this is never going to work, I thought. Oh, hush, it's a brilliant idea! No, really, this is STUPID. How are you going to finish this? It'll never work. Your spacing is all wrong! Yeah, but I've never seen anything like this before - what if it's the first of its kind?

And so on, and so forth...

Now, here's the thing. This "battle" is supposed to be bloodless, right? But after spending all of last week working on my new piece for this competition, I am now wearing bandages on three out of five fingers on my right hand. To construct this piece, I've been calling upon my mediocre shaped peyote stitch skills, and trying to keep my beading thread tension consistent has resulted in several cuts across my fingers where the thread repeatedly rubs against my skin. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I'm happy to say that I've made excellent progress in Phase I of the piece, and I so wish I could show it off to everyone! But, the rules of the competition are that I need to keep this piece a secret. So all I can tell you is that so far, I've used up twenty grams of size 11 seed beads, and about fifteen grams of size 8s. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of more size 8s before I pick the piece up and finish it, and meanwhile, I'm sourcing out other unique components.

I'm dying to share the inspiration behind this piece, the techniques that I'm using, and my initial experiments that led me to create it. But alas, I'll have to save all those for future blogs after I've turned in my submission and the Battle begins!

Meanwhile, today is a grey, wet, cold Monday morning. I had last week off from work, and I kept telling myself that I'd get things done during that week, but no. The week just flew past, and here we are again, Monday morning, back at work, with a ginormous to-do list. Could be worse, I know, but my fingers are itching to get back to the beads later today.

If you're so inclined, head on over to the Battle of the Beadsmith group on Facebook and join so you can watch the fun!