Thursday, September 27, 2012

Artisan Colorway Series 2012 by Eva Maria Keiser

I would have posted this yesterday, but a migraine late in the day just derailed all of my working-after-dinner plans...

Yesterday, I was thrilled and honored to be featured in Eva Maria Keiser's Artisan Colorway 2012 Series! She used my Azteca bead embroidered neckpiece as part of her series!

Eva Maria creates some pretty amazing beadwork of her own, mostly three-dimensional geometric designs and free-standing sculptural beaded boxes. Truly artistic and architectural, and it's worth it to spend some time reading her blog and checking out all of her free (for personal use only, please!) tutorials.

So, a huge thank-you to Eva Maria for featuring my work on her blog! Make sure you stop over and read some of her past posts. She's got some wonderful, inspirational posts, links to instructional videos, and loads of information about how to bead!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Moose

There was a moose in Wilmington Notch on Saturday. And it stayed there, until the DEC fired a couple of rubber bullets at it to see if it would move. It did move, but then came back to the same spot, and stood there for a few more days.

People were going crazy trying to see this moose. It was right smack dab in the middle of the Notch, which is, as you might be able to tell from the name, a part of Route 86 that contains a very narrow road sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river. It's a twisty road, too, and if you're not paying attention (or even if you are) it's easy to have an accident.

So, I know it's not like we see a moose every day up here, but this moose was in a very inconvenient place if you wanted to just stop your car and take a look. In addition to being a narrow, twisty road sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river, it also happens to be the only road between Wilmington and Lake Placid. It's not like it can be closed without having to re-route traffic an extra 20 miles or so.

On my way into Lake Placid this morning, there were DOZENS of cars parked along both sides of the road, making the road even narrower. Worse yet, people were acting like idiots and bolting across the street right in front of the oncoming traffic because they wanted to get a look at the moose. There were license plates from all over - tourists, most of them, who wanted to get a glimpse of the moose.

According to the New York State police, there was at least one car accident when someone made an illegal u-turn in the middle of said narrow, twisty road because they wanted to get a look at the moose.

For real, people? Yes, I know that Route 86 through Wilmington Notch seems like a remote, pleasant, country road. But in reality, it's a main road. The only way for people to get back and forth between Wilmington and Lake Placid without driving 20 miles out of their way through Keene Valley, and that's how commuters (like my husband, who very nearly hit someone who ran out in front of his car yesterday because they wanted to get a look at the moose) get to and from their jobs. It's how delivery vehicles bring things to the hotels and shops in Lake Placid.

It's a really freaking busy road. Even if it's sandwiched between two rock cliffs and a river.

Finally, the DEC and the Environmental Conservation Police killed the moose, stating that it had seriously injured its back legs, and removed it from the river.

Now, people are up in arms. They're planning a protest in the middle of the Notch this Saturday against the actions of the DEC.

I don't know what has me more angry: the protest or the stupid people that caused the death of the moose.

If, indeed, the moose was not injured or sick, then the DEC was wrong to kill it and remove it. But in my mind, those idiot people who blocked the road and darted out in front of cars are the ones who *really* caused that moose to be killed. THEY are the ones responsible for the death of the moose.

I'm so incensed about the stupidity. Why can't we just learn to leave nature the hell alone?

Good JuJu

It didn't necessarily start out as a good day... Colden was up way too early, around 4:30 this morning, after six weeks straight of sleeping 10+ hours a night. I was worried that he would be grouchy by the time we left for preschool at 8:30, but he ran out to the car.

I made a quick stop at the post office at the same time that the local woman who drives a Smartcar was picking up her mail. I asked her about it, and she offered to let me sit in it and see what it felt like. It's truly an amazing little vehicle, and she takes hers on road trips all over the country. She said that she averages about 48 miles to the gallon with it, and now I totally want one.

The post office run was good today: no bills, and a huge box of beads from York Beads, including:

50 hanks of cut 10/0 seed beads (which is really more than I'll ever use in a lifetime, so I'm thinking a giveaway or a big Etsy sale is in order here!);

A strand of two-hole coin beads;

A whole hank of these coppery-brassy-matte glass feather daggers, and best of all:

This crazy spikey cuff bracelet from Perry! It just made me bust out laughing, brought back memories of what we wore when we were in high school and thought we were being badass with our leather jackets and spike jewelry. (Little did we know...) Anyway, that's me doing my best (worst?) Billy Idol impression in front of the computer.

There was also a treat addressed to Master Colden from a friend in Sweden!

The customs form said it was "toys", but since Colden isn't home from preschool yet, we'll just have to wait and see what it is!

I drove into Lake Placid at lunch to pick up a couple of birthday treats for one of Colden's friends who is having a birthday party tomorrow afternoon, and as I was walking down Main Street, my friend Martha drove past in her car and said hello. Walked to the bank to get some cash for tomorrow's field trip for Colden, and as I'm walking back to the car, I hear someone yell out, "Hey, Beads!" And it's my friend Kate, driving down Main Street. How funny is that? It made me feel sorta famous.

Went home, had a yummy spanikopita wrap and some fresh fruit, and read a really, really, really funny email from another friend that just had me on the floor.

After work, we're going to go spend some time with relatives we haven't seen in a few years, and then home to relax and conjure up something for dinner...

And, of course, maybe some more time with my beads...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby Spikes, Vanbeads-Style

So, I've had these baby spikes for a few weeks now, and I've just been dying to figure out what to do with them. I found a little bit of inspiration the other day when I dug out some lengths of my favorite plastic tubing and started playing with them for another beaded necklace design idea.

I also had a baggie of brass toggle clasps that were in my goody bag from Bead Fest Philly last month, so I pulled out some of my favorite creamy pink luster seed beads, some tiny little size 15/0 brass seed beads, and set to stitchin'.

I worked right-angle weave around the tubing, and then finished the ends using peyote stitch. After I added the clasp, I twisted the right-angle weave around the tubing to make sure that one row was evenly on the top of the bracelet. Then I went back and added a spike in every other open "window" of right-angle weave.

After all the spikes were nestled in place, I went back and added a little ring of seed beads around each one to just hold them in place. They are slippery little buggers, that's for sure!

When I tried it on, I realized that this pattern would also make a killer bangle without a clasp, something that just slips on over your wrist. Next up on my beading tray is that version of my baby spike bracelet, but this time I'll take photos and do it as a tutorial. I'll probably offer it for free on Beading Daily, since my tutorials don't seem to sell very well. (Or maybe I just need to do more of them!)

A clear, cold, beautiful autumn day today, just ripe for writing and beading. Had some wonderful thoughts about art today as I was sitting here perusing Facebook and checking in on my Artist's Way for Beaders group, so I'll get to those in a bit...

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I realized that it was autumn today. When I closed the back of the Matrix before I headed out to run errands, I noticed that Tom's mom had sent home the swimsuits and Colden's floaties. That must mean that the pool is closed up for the winter, which means that now, no matter the calendar says, is the official start of autumn.

I wish I had a picture to show you of the way that the sky and the mountains looked as I drove into Wilmington, but I can tell you:

The clouds were gathering around Whiteface Mountain, making the sky a pearly white and grey. The leaves on the trees are starting to change now, too. Not terribly bright, though. The colors look much more muted than they have in years past, probably because of this drought we've had all year.

I wish I could describe it better: the rolling mountains covered in a green, red, yellow, and gold carpet in the background; the expanse of open fields and wetlands up against the edge of the forest with their yellowing grasses and shallow ponds; and the smell of the air as the seasons change, gently, so subtly that I won't even notice how I have to start wearing my wool socks to bed at night until we're well into November.

Some people think that warm summers make this place come alive, but really, its the autumn that makes me feel alive. A cool breeze caressing my arm is a reminder that we need to get ready for winter. Because, really, we spend all year getting ready for winter - cutting and stacking fire wood for the wood stove, growing the gardens and then harvesting and canning.

We take advantage of the nicer weather as an excuse to put off the mundane household chores - the dirty floors will still be there tomorrow. But really, we're spending as much time getting ready for the snow as we are enjoying the warm sun.

As I drove into Wilmington, I was thinking that I live here because of the beauty and the isolation and the peace. At first, I was thinking that life here was harder than it is in other places, but then I thought that I was wrong. It's not that life is more difficult here than in other places - we have the same issues with unemployment and economy and all the other things that go along with life.

I don't know if it's because we're surrounded with what other people might consider "nothing", but there's a sense of independence here that I haven't felt in other places. There's less of a "rat race" feel, even in the big cities of Plattsburgh, Burlington, and Albany.

I  know some city dwellers and some other folks who live in the suburbs and work in the city. I just don't know if I could do that anymore. There's something about the solitude and the quiet up here, of being able to look out my window and see nothing but mountains. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award!

Well, after a frustrating day spent mostly in bed due to tummy troubles, I opened my email at the end of the day and found a lovely note from Bobbie at Beadsong Jewelry who was passing on her good karma at being nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. She nominated my blog for the award!

In return for the award, I'm asked to do the following:

1. Thank the nominator and link back to them in the post.
2. Share 7 random facts about myself.
3. Nominate 15 (or so) bloggers that I admire. (This might be a long post, folks! Grab a cup of something to drink and a snack!)
4. Contact them to let them know that they've been nominated.

So, a few random things about myself:

1. I spent many years working as a veterinary technician, and then as a compounding pharmacy technician. For a while, I thought I was going to go to veterinary school, but I was totally intimidated by the cost of 8+ years of college and and the idea of having to take out over $100k in loans to finance it. Although I loved working as a compounding pharmacy technician, making prescription medication to doctors' specific orders, I never had the desire to become a pharmacist.

2. I started college as a music major, concentrating on piano. The idea was that I was going to study music therapy. I'd only been playing piano seriously for about two years when I was accepted, and I was never really comfortable performing with some of the heavy-hitters in my music theory classes. I always felt that they were way more talented than I, and so I dropped music therapy and dropped out of college for a while.

3. There are certain movies and television shows that I can recite by heart. A Fish Called Wanda is one, as is pretty much every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Other movies include French Kiss (with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan), History of the World Part I, High Anxiety, The Muppet Movie, and pretty much every episode of Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I run through these in my mind as a way of relaxing and getting to sleep.

4. I am a total Harry Potter freak. I own all of the books in first edition hardcovers, complete with dust jackets, and I attended every midnight release party except for the last. When the last book came out, I was pregnant with Colden and incredibly sick. I couldn't get to Plattsburgh to the Borders to pick up my reserved copy because I was so sick that night. But the next day, I gulped down my horrible anti-nausea meds, got into the car with Tom, and hobbled into Borders to get my copy. I stayed awake that night until 2 a.m. and finished it, even though I was sick as a dog the next day.

5. I didn't learn how to cook (properly) until I stopped eating meat. I don't know why it happened that way, but once I went vegetarian, I suddenly discovered that I LOVED to cook. Before that, I had subsisted on things like boxed pasta dishes, steamed vegetables, sauteed chicken breast, and green salad. As you might know from this blog, I enjoy spending a great deal of time in the kitchen and would love to write and publish a cookbook one day for gluten-free vegetarians!

6. Despite the fact that I love movies and certain t.v. shows, I gave up watching t.v. when Tom and I moved into our apartment in Lake Placid back in 2000. We didn't get any television reception there in that big bowl in the center of the High Peaks, and since Tom wasn't making much money and I was a full-time student, we just gave it up because we couldn't see spending the money on cable. I truthfully don't miss it and sort of enjoy being bewildered when I see celebrity photos online and wonder, "Now, who the hell is THAT?"

7. The first time I drove a four-wheeler during an ice fishing trip, I was convinced that I was going to break through the ice and drown. Our friend Tim wanted me to be "Bait Girl" one afternoon, so whenever someone was out checking the lines after the flags went up, they would signal to me, and I would hop on the four wheeler with the bait bucket between my knees and drive across the ice to wherever I was needed. It was a lot like the summer I worked at the Bergen County Zoo and drove the little Cushman around, but with the added adventure of driving over ice as it popped and cracked in the dead of the Adirondack winter.

8. And one more, just because this one is really good: I am terrified of worms. I can't stand them. If I see them in the soil while we're working in the gardens, I run. When the warm spring rains comes and the worms all come out and take up residence on our huge driveway, Tom will have to park right up next to the back door so that I can make it out of the car and onto the back stoop without having to risk squishing one of those fatties with my shoe. 

And now, for some bloggers that I admire, I present to you:

1. Kerrie Slade. Kerrie is a beader from the UK who does some absolutely fantabulous stuff with beaded flowers. Not the kind made with wire, but stitches with needle and thread. I've admired her beaded flower creations for years, both bold and delicate, and have followed her journey this year as she has set out to create using a single color palette.

2. MADDesigns (Marcia DeCoster). Marcia was one of my original inspirations for starting my own blog. She just made it look so EASY and interesting! She was also someone who contacted me after my first cover of Beadwork magazine back in 2007, and I so admire her talent and her business acumen! Her blog is highly engaging and full of absolutely amazing eye candy.

The stunning beadwork of Nancy Dale
3. NED Beads (Nancy Dale). Nancy Dale is a beader that I've "met" through Facebook. Her work just always leaves me shaking my head, thinking, "How does she COME UP with this stuff?" Her bead embroidery is flawless, as far as I can tell, and her designs for off-loom bead-weaving are both innovative and graceful. Even though Nancy is my "neighbor" from Vermont, I have yet to meet her in person. (Although I hope to make a road trip to New Hampshire one day soon to get to meet her in real life!)

4. Peter Sewell. Sadly, my nomination for Peter Sewell's blog, The BeadSage, has to be a posthumous one. Peter lost his life to cancer earlier this year, but he was such an inspiration to me. He created structurally amazing beadwork using Swarovski beads and stones as well as gemstone cabochons and beads, and his work could easily be described as "breathtaking". He proclaimed himself to be something of a curmudgeon, but we all knew better. He had a wicked sense of humor and great taste in music, and he is sorely missed by the beading community.

5. Pretty Things (Lori Anderson). Another bead blogger who inspires me on a daily basis, Lori Anderson is the brains behind the Bead Soup Blog Party, and one pretty darn talented lampwork and jewelry making artist. Her blog is full of life and love and great ideas, and her recently published eBook, Follow the Path, is a favorite resource of mine for when I get stuck and need something to blog about.

6. SandFibers (Carol Dean Sharpe). No list of my favorite blogs would be complete without including Carol Dean Sharpe. She's my hero, standing up to the copyright thieves of the world while single-handedly creating astounding charted peyote stitch patterns. Even though I've never met her in real life, Carol has talked me through some of the toughest times of my life in the last few years. She's sweet, and wonderful, and probably one of the best people I've ever come across online.

Beaded earrings by SaraBeth Cullinan
7. SaraBeth's Belly Dancing Bead Blog (SaraBeth Cullinan). Belly dancing and beading - what's not to love? I can't remember the first time I ever had contact with SaraBeth, but it was probably when I was writing for I love her sense of color, her sense of style, and the fact that she's a work-at-home mom . Her beadwork graces the pages of Margie Deeb's color reports, as well as the pages of Beadwork magazine.

8. The Beaded Carpet (Mikki Ferrugiaro). Mikki is another one of those bead artists who just make me wonder how the heck she comes up with her designs. I first saw her work in the pages of Beadwork magazine, and she has gone on to create some really knock-your-socks-off beading designs. Mikki's blog is on hiatus right now as she moves to a new state and gets set up in a real studio, but enjoy her posts meanwhile!

9. Tapestry Beads (Jill Wiseman). Jill makes me giggle. Seriously. The first time I met her was at Bead Fest Philly back in 2009, and I had such a great time chatting with her. We stayed in touch via Facebook, and then I finally got to see her again last month at Bead Fest Philly again! Jill writes a great blog, is a great person, and just has a knack for making me laugh so hard that I snort water or hot chocolate out my nose. She's also the author of the recently released and incredibly amazing Beautiful Beaded Ropes book, published by Lark. Check out her blog. It's fun.

10. The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton. Andrew is an insightful, thoughtful, and extremely talented artist who creates jewelry and handmade beads and components. His blog is a beautiful collage of both the personal and professional.

11. Beaded Bear's Nonsense and Complete Waste of Time (Sig Wynne-Evans). Okay, so this blog is definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Sig is a fabulously talented beading designer who also calls it like she sees it. This is one blog that makes me laugh out loud when I read it, regardless of where I am. Whether you're reading about her adventures at work, with her daughter and son-in-law, or on her latest quest to get fit and lose weight, Sig will have you coming back for more!

12. The Mommy Chronicles. Now, I know that this last one isn't a beading blog, but it's a blog by a friend of mine that I've known since middle school, and I love it. Melanie is a thoughtful parent trying to raise a thoughtful little girl. And that's it! Melanie lives her life with compassion, and I greatly admire her for this. It's a good blog.

So, there ya have it! Twelve bloggers that I admire, and thanks again to Bobbie for nominating me for this wonderful award!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Sometimes, you just have to set aside things like housecleaning and dishes and laundry, pick up your beads, and just CREATE.

That's the kind of mood I was in over the weekend. We had loads of housekeeping to do, but we were all still sick with this crud that Colden brought home, and really, after wiping boogers and administering cough medicine all week, the last thing that any of us wanted to do was break out the mops and the vacuum.

On top of that, I was eager to play with my new Bead On It board and try out an idea I had as I was falling asleep one night during the week.

The carved pendant was part of a purchase I made from Nancy Vogel's Etsy shop, FamilyOnBikes. It's an antique Chinese carving, very heavy, and very challenging for me to use in a piece of bead-weaving.

In her description of the piece, Nancy talked about how this was one of her finds from the Jade Market in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She purchased it from the Chinese antique dealers that hung out towards the back of the market, where, as she puts it, the magic happened.

I stitched a right-angle weave bezel for the ginormous Swarovski crystal that I got from Beyond Beadery back in June, and then made a herringbone rope in matching seed beads. I put a piece of wire through the hole of the pendant with double-wrapped loops on either end. (I'll embellish those loops with drop beads later.)

The real challenge came when I was trying to figure out how to attach the pendant to the as-of-yet-theoretical neck strap. I have such a hard time designing the neck straps of my necklaces. I can design a focal, no problem. But the straps? Forget it. I get a creative brain freeze, and not in a good way, either.

What I finally wound up doing was going back through my old sketch books, and I found a piece that I had drawn out last winter that used three beaded ropes to support a centerpiece made up of three art beads. I haven't gotten around to picking out my art beads yet, but I can use that same basic structure to support this very heavy pendant!

Now, I just need to either find some brass end caps or cones to finish off the ropes, or get off my lazy beading butt and stitch some peyote caps/covers for the ends of the ropes. I get the feeling that I'll be doing a lot of peyote stitching over the next couple of days...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beading For a Cure

Finished! My entry for this year's Beading For a Cure challenge and auction is this piece of bead embroidery, "I Wanna Be A Cowgirl".

This was such a fun piece to make! I used up my entire stash of mother of pearl cabochons, and I was thrilled with how they complemented the colors chosen by Beki Haley of Whimbeads without overwhelming them. They just sort of nestle right in there, don't you think?

The strap, of course, was always a challenge. Why am I so good at designing focal pieces, but no so good at designing straps? Does this mean I should make more bracelets?

This piece was almost a bracelet, actually. I turned it on its side and wrapped it around my wrist before I added the stiffener between the bead embroidery and the Ultrasuede. But in the end, I decided that in order to use all of the beads that I still had to, it would work best as a pendant.

This was the piece that I enjoyed stitching so much with my Craft Optics. I swear, those things are amazing. I could see every single detail, right down to exactly where I needed to position my needle to make nice, straight, beaded lines with backstitch.

And the edging on this one was not so much inspired as it was just me being lazy again. I had to figure out how to use those peanut beads! I use the drops the easy way, and used them to fringe some beaded beads that I attached to the leather strap. But those peanut beads...

Just on a whim (Whim Beads, get it?), I picked up a seed bead, a few peanut beads, and a seed bead. Skipped a few beads in the brick stitch edging, and made a tiny little loop with the peanut beads all pushed together.

It resulted in a lovely, lacy edging all around the embroidery that both softened it and gave it a lovely accent color!

It was hard for me to pack this one up and ship it off. The thought of parting with it was so bittersweet that I actually wrote to Beki over at Beading For a Cure and asked if it was okay for me to bid on my own piece during the auctions in the spring. Because I really want this one back!

Such a pleasure being part of the Beading For a Cure challenge again this year. One of the questions they ask on the paperwork is why you wanted to be a part of this challenge and charity auction.

I didn't know Layne, the woman for whom all of this is done to honor. But she must have been a pretty special person to have inspired this in those she left behind when she lost her battle with colorectal cancer. And even though I didn't know her, I feel proud to be contributing towards the efforts to raise money for this type of cancer research in such a wonderful, warm, loving community of bead artists.

And THAT'S why I love participating in Beading For a Cure!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In the Pink

Well, anyone who loves beads and blogs probably knows about Lori Anderson. She's the brains behind the original Bead Soup Blog Party, and an incredibly talented lampwork and jewelry making artist to boot.

Lori has done something really incredible. She has brought together beaders by the thousands from all over the world into a single community, both through her Bead Soup Blog Party and her Bead Soup Cafe on Facebook. I can't imagine another single person who has done so much to connect beaders, jewelry designers, bloggers, and artists all over the world with a single stroke of the keyboard!

So, a group of folks who love Lori and love what she's done for the beading community banded together to create In the Pink, a tribute group to Lori Anderson. In honor of Lori's wonderful hot pink hair, we decided to do some hot pink hair of our own.

And here I am, half-crazed, sweating in the August heat without air conditioning, with my crazy hot pink hair extensions!

Lori, you have touched so many of us with your blogs and your honesty and your insights and your love and your BEADS! Thank you so much for everything you've done for the beading community!

And in case you didn't know...Lori also has an amazing eBook all about how to be a more creative blogger for sale on her own blog. If you need some fresh ideas for how to be a better bead blogger, check out Follow the Path!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Virtue Trap

This week is Week 5 of my The Artist's Way for Beaders group on Facebook. This week is always a good reminder to me of what I need to do to stay sane as an artist, and a reminder of how important it is to work at staying true to myself while being considerate of the needs of my family.

The very first time I did The Artist's Way, I was right on board with the whole taking-time-for-yourself thing. I was working at a job that I didn't enjoy very much while at the same time trying to get a business of the ground, and it was hard. I understood how much I needed that time to unwind and create, and truthfully, it wasn't very hard for me to get a lot of time to myself. This was way before Tom and I had even thought about having kids, and even though we were busy, it was really all just about us.

Then I had Colden. Wow, nothing like having a baby to totally change your perspective and your attitudes about having time for yourself! Tom and I made a lot of sacrifices to have Colden, and we still make a lot of sacrifices to make sure that Colden's needs are met. After all, we made the decision to bring him into the world, and it's our responsibility to make sure that he grows up to be a productive, well-adjusted, and happy member of society.

So where does that leave us when it comes to having time for ourselves? As a couple, and individually?

It's hard. It's really hard.

This time around, I bristled when I read through some of the examples that Julia gives in The Artist's Way of how people put their families' needs and/or desires above their own individual creative needs. Well, of COURSE we're going to buy a second vehicle instead of sending me to a bead show. Of COURSE we're going to pay for Colden's preschool instead of spending the money on ourselves. How dare Julia suggest that we put our own needs above what's going to be good for our kids?

But, no, I had to rein myself in. Of course, that's not what she's talking about.

Example: I work 8:30 - 5, 5 days a week, writing about beads, jewelry-making, and bead-weaving. I spend most of my days taking and editing photos, writing blogs, formatting newsletters, choosing content for eBooks, poring over spreadsheets, and analyzing statistics. It's not like I get to sit in front of my beads and just stitch for 8 hours a day.

Of course, when Colden and Tom get home, there's dinner to make, dishes and laundry to wash, beds to make, baths, and bedtime. Not a lot of time to sit and create after dinner. Mornings are crazy, since Tom leaves so early, so it's all me for getting Colden up and dressed, fed, and out the door. Not a lot of time there, either.

So, when DO I get time for myself to create? Where do I draw the line between doing what I "have" to for work, and what I "want" to just for myself? They aren't always the same thing, that's for sure.

Sometimes, my husband sees me beading and says, "What are you doing that for? Don't you do that all day? Stop working, and let's do something to relax!"

Which really gets me ticked off. I *don't* sit and bead all day, as I mentioned above. I'm answering emails, writing, editing photos, etc. When I decide to take a few minutes and bead, it's because I AM doing something to relax, but somehow, he just doesn't seem to get it.

That leads to me avoiding my beads when I find myself with a few minutes of downtime. Which leads to me getting really, really, really grumpy after a few days.

I really *need* that time alone or that time when everyone will just leave me alone to do my beading. I really *need* that time in the bathtub with my sketchbook and my jewelry books to dream and doodle and think.

And how do I manage to balance my needs with the needs of my family? It ain't easy. It's been a struggle since the beginning. Something always manages to get pushed to the side, usually the housework, which becomes another struggle.

 Why do we think that to be "good" people, we need to sacrifice our own well-being to the point that it makes us miserable and not much fun to be around? Am I really benefiting my son if I deny myself an hour a day to bead and relax? Will he remember the fun we have, or will he remember me being a screaming maniac because I'm so stressed out and won't take time for myself?

I don't know what the right answers are to any of it, really. I do know that I feel happier when I manage to find time for myself to bead and create or dream during the day. But I also know that when I get into my "zone", it's hard for me to break out and move on to the next thing, and invariably, I have to break it off before I'm ready to because something else needs my attention.

I would love to find time to sign up for an art class at the Cultural Center in Plattsburgh, or a photography class at Clinton Community College, or a workshop at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. But my big concern is: where will I find the TIME?

My time with Colden is so precious and so fleeting... Sometimes I think I guilt-trip myself into doing something with him when what I really need is to take some time for myself and let Tom take over.

So, yep, it's all back to the Balancing Act. Not easy. But as long as we can figure out what works for us, we'll be good.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Seeing Clearly

Last year, I was absolutely thrilled to snag a kit for Beading For a Cure, a non-profit organization that raises funds every year for colorectal cancer research as a tribute to beader Layne Shilling. Layne lost her battle to cancer in November 2002. Every year since then, a group of beaders has come together to create a unique piece of beadwork (jewelry, sculpture, objects, etc.) using the same challenge kit.

I got a kit for this year's challenge, as well, and I was absolutely delighted with the colors! Figuring out what to make with the kit, however, was another matter.

I went back and forth, from thinking about making one sculptural object to a pair of objects...but in the end, I found a set of mother-of-pearl cabochons in my stash that just looked magnificent with the beads, and I decided to make a piece of bead embroidery.

The deadline is looming: I have to have this piece finished, photographed, and out the door before the end of the week! But last night, as I finished the bulk of the embroidery, I stopped for a break, took off my Craft Optics, and took a good look at what I was making.

I was struck by how even my stitches looked on this one. Was it just because I had placed my cabochons on a measured grid before I started stitching? Was it because I was making extra thread passes through each row as I finished it?

I don't want to say that my nice, even stitching is just because I wore my Craft Optics the whole time I was working on this piece. But I have to admit: this is the first piece of bead embroidery I've made while wearing the Craft Optics the whole time, and the stitching really is cleaner, more even, and probably some of the most precise stitching I've ever done.

Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not...

Friday, September 07, 2012


Sometimes, the beads just have a mind of their own.

I was meditating the other day, and someone recently departed popped into my head. I only knew her for a short time, but I was so moved by her generous, creative spirit and her wisdom. This is what came out, and even though I'm scrambling to meet deadlines this week and next, I needed to take a couple of evenings and put everything else aside and work on this piece of bead embroidery.

After finishing the first half, I wasn't so sure about it. I wasn't sure that I liked the colors. Or the lines. During acupuncture this morning, I almost had myself convinced to tear the whole thing out (7+ hours of work) and start over.

But once I got home and sat down at my desk to look at it, and I really looked at it, I realized that it was true to my original vision, and I'll continue with it as it is.

It's baby steps, the progress on this one. It doesn't feel like I'm doing very much with it, but I think this piece is going to be more about being present while I'm stitching it. After I finish this portion, I'll need to embroidery the collar and attach it to the brass, back it, etc.

So many ideas bubbling around in my head these days. Not enough time to do them all.

I still can't believe summer is over. I can't believe we're nearly into the second week of September. Where does the time go? It seems as though my life is a flurry of activity, from the time I get up in the morning and start making breakfast for me and Colden, to my working days (which consist of writing, writing some more, beading, editing a zillion photographs, and then writing some more), to making dinner, cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes, and then getting Colden ready for bed. It seems as though the lazy days we used to have are becoming few and far between. Weekends are reserved for adventures outside or time to clean the house (when it gets to critical stage) and visiting with friends. It's just not possible to get done everything we want to, or need to.

That said, Colden has been doing so much better sleeping in his own bed these days! I thank Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution, for giving me the idea of offering Colden a fun little wrapped present every morning after he spends the whole night in his own bed. And I thank the Target $1 bins for a wonderful selection of inexpensive little goodies!

Getting back to my almost-normal sleep routine has been amazing. I slept for ten hours straight for two nights in a row this week, and I can't remember the last time I woke up feeling that refreshed. I know we're probably a few years away from my being able to go back to my night-owl ways, but for now, I'm happy to feel like I'm finally getting some good sleep again.

So, for now, I need to just keep making my lists, writing down my ideas, and then just working on prioritizing things. What do I need to do right now, what can I do later today, and what can I do later this week.

Breathe in, and be present.