Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Return to Norm...Hot and Humid

above photo: yellow wildflowers in our wetland area.

Sunday May 31st. Tomorrow, the 1st of June, the start of hurricane season. Time for Floridians to stock our pantries with canned goods and non-perishables; make sure there's an ample amount of emergency candles, first aid necessities, plywood for the windows. If we happen to have hurricane shutters, then we have to be on the ready to batten them down at the first issue of a hurricane warning.

The first of June also marks a time when the Florida year 'rounders breath a sigh of relief. Our snowbirds have gone back up to their northern homes and the traffic winds down a smidgen. Our favorite restaurants become more accessible, gone is the customary hour long wait and little need for making reservations days in advance. Quite suddenly the Florida atmosphere returns to that of the laid back, slow moving, carefree tropics...of course that might be due to the summer heat and high humidity !

I have a number of photos on my camera memory card awaiting their turn at download and editing...but not today...manana for sure...or maybe the day after that...or...whenever !

Today I want to share a few joys that I discovered back in spring, when our wetland area was in bloom, have no idea what the plants are but their blossoms are lovely...if anyone should know please make a comment and let me know too. I noticed we had two varieties, a brilliant yellow and a lovely, flaming orange.

I managed, quite accidentally as I am not a seasoned about as green-horn a novice as can be found...through some stroke of luck to achieve a wonderful close up of the flaming orange wildflower. In it's midst is a dainty surprise, can you find it ?

It was only after downloading the photo and viewing it on my monitor that I noticed the wee little orange ladybug beetle nestled in among the flowers. I could not have captured this shot had I been trying.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

John's Quick Stop Mini Mart...

Tuesday I got side tracked with my blog award and managed to get little else accomplished. Well yes, it’s not like an academy award but to me it’s a big deal and hey it is my very first award, I think I should be allowed to revel in it. Phoned everyone in my family to inform them, sent out e-mail announcements...odd though that the newspaper declined to do an article about it...perhaps they didn’t have the column space...or maybe they thought I said I got a Log Award?

John is making progress on the UFO cabinet...either that or he’s going to open a micro mini hardware/grocery store. He needed weight to keep the plywood skins in place until the adhesive cured.

If Wal Mart can do it on a colossal scale, maybe we can do it
on a microscopic one ?

Mmmmm, stick to your ribs spaghetti sauce and nuts and bolts...yum !

above: hardware and paint section

above: what can you make with mayo, spaghetti sauce and rock salt...tomato-mayo ice cream?

Here we have spaghetti sauce on aisle one, plumbing and paint on the end aisle and mayo on aisle two...I’ll be fine unless the loud speakers blare "Clean up on aisle one !"

First skin is down and dry.

above : one skin down three to go...then add feet...sand...attach doors...paint or maybe stain...

Another skin going down and a new configuration for John’s Quick Stop Mini Mart.

above - sales have been slow, anybody care to buy a box of rock salt ?

Don't need rock salt ? How about a jar of metal pipe parts ?

Groceries to the right...hardware to the left...sort of artistic, no ?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First Award...

Just received my first Blog award.
Such a wonderful surprise. Mandi of MandiBeads has presented me with a "Lovely Blog" award. Mandi also has a wonderful blog and a fantastic Etsy shop MandiBeads .

Thanks so much Mandi !

Now it is my turn to pass the baton on to 15 of my favorite blogs...Hard choice to make as I have sooo many favorites.
But after agonizing over my many wonderful choices I have come up with my 15 favorites listed below...Now it's your turn HERE ARE THE RULES:
1. Accept the award.
2. Post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, along
with his or her blog link.
3. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

1. Divokc
2. Rquick
Please check out these lovely might discover your own hidden treasure...a new favorite blog !!! Enjoy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

UFO cabinet...

We have in our possession a unique piece of "Trash" or "Treasure", depending upon one’s view point. It’s a remnant left over from a past kitchen renovation.

In our last home we had gone through the mayhem of remodeling our kitchen. We wanted to keep as much of the existing cabinetry as possible so there were only a couple of cabinets that absolutely had to be removed and replaced with new units to fit the new configuration. One was an over the fridge cabinet, those shallow units that fill the space above the refrigerator.
Somehow during this remolding the removed cabinets were stashed in our family room, guess the garage was too full of "stuff"...that reads all our junk, plus the materials and equipment needed for the construction. However when the dust settled and we removed the plastic traps covering everything I noticed the fridge cabinet sitting on the floor in front of our family room sofa. It looked rather nice there, in a strange sort of way. Sure it was a little low at 12" but if you added some chunky legs to it...oh yes then there's the 3 unfinished sides...well that could be covered with something. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. Think of all the storage space inside that cabinet ! What a great space to hide magazines, books, games, toys, endless possibilities. So it was salvaged.

Not too far down the time line, we sold our home, that was before the real estate market crashed. The strange cabinet came with us and spent time in our rental house while we looked at homes in our area. I did place a couple of wood, plant dollies under it to raise it to a more suitable height but its sides were still unfinished and, well there’s no way to be nice, the unit was homely,, it was ugly ! Two of its sides had been marked with installation information. Written in black grease pencil and basically irremovable were the large letters "UFO" doubt that stands for unidentified flying object, maybe unfinished overhead cabinets ? Doesn’t quite fit does it ? Upper Fridge something or other? Also the numbers 92 , 28 x 64 were scrawled on both sides of the cabinet...unique but can’t say it adds to the cabinet’s charm.

Photo below shows work in process: cabinet is front side down on floor, the front is the side that has the doors, only here the doors have been removed. John had been trying to fit a 1/4" skin of plywood to one side so the yet to be attached skin is sitting on the cabinet along with his drawings, calculations and tape measure.

At one time we consulted a carpenter/cabinet maker to see about having it made into a coffee table, seemed like an easy enough task as it was already a box and had 2 nice, solid wood doors. All it needed was to finish the 3 sides and put some squat little bun legs on it, however the shop wanted $400...we could buy a brand new coffee table for that and have change left over ! So ugly Betty returned home and sat around for another couple of years.
Now John has decided he’s going to tackle this heirloom, finish off the sides, add some legs and paint or stain it for me. Should have taken a "before" photo but just didn’t think about it soon enough. Right now he has removed the doors and the unit is sitting on its front side (the side where the doors go). I will try to chronicle its progress. Wish it luck !

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sitting on Top of the World

Several years back I decided I needed a nice camera, one that was easy to operate and would take good photos. Naturally I would have loved to have a camera that took "exceptionally" good photos but knew my lack of knowledge in the art of photography didn't warrant purchasing a $1,000 piece of equipment.
My husband John, ever the engineer, researched the subject. He read every back issue of Consumer's Report that had tested cameras and we visited every camera shop or department within a 50 mile radius of us. I'm sure he probably even made up some type of spread sheet on the subject. John came to the conclusion that the little Canon PowerShot A70 would be ideally suited for me. Not very complicated, small, and relatively inexpensive. With emphasis on inexpensive !
I have found it indeed suitable for most of my purposes and it seems to take macro shots quite well. However long range shots using the zoom feature leaves a lot to be desired.
For instance a couple of weeks ago I saw one of our local hawks sitting atop the utility pole outside our front is an incredibly beautiful bird and I rushed inside, got my camera and hurried to capture the moment. Without using the zoom the hawk appeared as little more than a speck at the top of the pole...with the zoom it was still very reality the hawk was definitely much closer than it appears in these photos. Can any one suggest a really good camera, with a good zoom capacity that won't break my pathetic little piggy bank ?

The photo above was taken from my front porch while the photo below was taken several yards closer (both using the Zoom setting) not much difference.

In the following photo I got up as close as possible without having to point the camera straight up...still the distance is too great for my tiny little canon to overcome...or maybe I just don't understand what "zoom" means.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fuchsia Flower Finale

For the past 8 days we've seen little of the sun, the sky has been gray and dark with scattered rain and thunder storms. Though rain and thunder storms are typical during the rainy season it is seldom that we see 8 consecutive days of little to no sunshine. I am not bemoaning these rainy days as Florida direly needed the rain and had been in drought conditions for much too long. Also nice to see the native grasses and even weeds green again.

With the rainy weather it's been difficult to do much in the garden so yesterday was spent on indoor projects. Decided to finish off those fantasy Fuchsia earrings...have my fingers crossed that perhaps somebody might like them...besides me !

above - Fantasy Fuchsia earrings now have their upper stems, leaves and tiny Swarovski flower buds.

above - colors are slightly off in this photo as is the focus, but here the earrings are laying flat
Unfortunately most of these shots are a little fuzzy, really need to invest in a camera stand to minimize any movement. Did look at some online a few months back but the most economical one received a lot of negative reviews and it certainly did look flimsy and unstable. Guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and shell out the money for a good one.

above - my favorite photo, it shows off the fuchsia's frilly underskirt and here you can make out the top skirt of pointed petals ... are these REALLY all that childish ?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wanderlust - Rings & Things - and Fantasy Fuchsia

I find my mind wandering this Saturday morning, can't seem to focus on any one thing. Began by trying to organize my stash of Picasa photo files, quickly got side tracked when I came upon an old passport photo that I had downloaded...for what purpose ? God only knows !

I was in my late forty's when this photo was taken, we were living in Quito, Ecuador. Spent almost 6 years in Ecuador and yet never made it over to see the stunning Galapagos Islands, what a shame. Oh there were reasons, there was always a reason, but mostly it was the expense. We had 2 girls in high school and college was just around the financial was an object, an import object at that time. Oh well maybe someday, though I know it sure as hell won't be because I struck the Mother Lode with my jewelry making.

Next I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong, or not doing right, on the Rings & Things blog site. Couldn't seem to leave a comment. I've received their catalog for a number of years now and have had their website on my favorites list for ages, however a couple of years ago we moved, which meant a new Internet provider. Went from Comcast to Brighthouse and everything in between changed, new email account, new email address a ton of people and places to notify. All in all, I hadn't utilized a number of my favorite bead sites in over 18 months so Rings & Things required starting over from scratch, especially since it could not recognize me from my new email address and without a recognizable email address I did not exist !
Once the new R&T account was established I tried again to leave a comment feeling confident that it would no longer be a problem...wrong ! I kept getting the prompt for a User ID...What User ID? Did I have a User ID? I didn't Make a User ID ! Where the Heck is my User ID ? Even went as far as checking my last few Rings & Things catalogs...well there's my account number...oh and look at this two boxes in which to write your "User ID" and that secret password in...Okay so where's that User ID ? Ultimately figured it out, one is required to register for the R&T blog separately, having an R&T account wasn't really sufficient.
Now I have my "User ID", can access the blog and leave a comment, but dang, it took me so long to figure out HOW to finally get to qualify to leave a comment that I forgot what comment I wanted to post ! One very long, deep sigh ! Perhaps it'll come back to me.

A few weeks ago I constructed a pair of seed beaded earrings, fantasy fuchsia flowers. At my last craft show I had several pair of these for sale but they were double fuchsia drops and in more realistic colors, sold all that I had and had special orders for several more pair. They are small but time consuming. This pair are fantasies as I'm sure fuchsia don't come in light and dark shades of turquoise !

I had wanted to add some tiny seed bead branches and leaves near the top of the fuchsia dangles...similar to the branching leaf effect that I constructed on my Magnetic Attraction earrings. Pictured below.

Thought my magnetic attraction earrings were a cute idea as I used small barrel magnets to attach the crystal drops. At the time I had made up a number of different colors...amethyst, peridot, aquamarine, clear crystals, rose-pink crystals, so one could buy a couple of pair and interchange the large crystal, take it off entirely or even get another magnet and make up a totally different drop to attach...perhaps use a charm.
They were very popular at the show but no interest has been shown via my web shop (oh I did get a couple of hearts but not for long).
As I mentioned I had wanted to add the same type of branch and leaf element to the fuchsia flower earrings but made the mistake of asking a forum for their opinions on the incomplete piece. The comments were disheartening. Someone said they looked too childish and maybe a kid would like them, and someone else said that they were not her taste. In all I think there were only about three comments or opinions and since it is said that if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all, I figured no one had anything positive to say and therefore kept their thoughts to, for now, I've lost the desire to complete them.

Well I promised myself that I would tackle the extreme mess and clutter on my work table before it takes on a life of its own. So may you all have a glorious Saturday and a happy weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cameron the Chameleon

Another deviation, or detour if you prefer, from beads and jewelry.

A few weeks ago I noticed an unusual lizard that showed up at our back patio. All other lizards in the area were the drab gray-brown variety, this lizard was green...vivid, bright lime green. I soon discovered that he could also change coloration and was fairly certain we had a little chameleon in our midst. It didn't take him long to get used to our presence and he even allowed me a couple of photo sessions, albeit with slight reluctance.

Pardon the blurriness, I was leaning over a shrub trying to get a clean shot at the little fellow. I unfortunately grew attached enough to name him...Cameron, a slight spin off of chameleon, and a nice enough name.

Notice his very long tail, it crosses over the support beam of our patio screen and it's there that his camouflage has kicked in. I've caught him on a few occasions in shades of brown and once, on a rare opportunity, found him sporting a very dark, deep chocolate outfit...all except for the area around his bottom lip (if lizards had lips) which was bright yellow. It was an amusing almost comic sight and, naturally, I didn't have my camera.

I did worry about little Cameron, the world is a very dangerous place for one so small, and also one at the lower end of the food chain. Many times I watched as the white Cattle Egrets browsed through our yard and I held my breath whenever one would suddenly make a mad dash across the back lawn, heading straight toward our screen and our bright green little chameleon. However Cameron seemed to be quick enough and would dart up high on the screen, well out of harm's way.

One of Cameron's favorite spots was high atop our patio cage, there he would display his colorful what-ever-you-call-it-sac, in attempts to attract insects, which would then become his snack.

I enjoyed watching Cameron and another "standard" alligator lizard I called "Stumpy", as it had lost a portion of it's tail...not just once but twice, poor thing. However for the past couple of days I've not seen Cameron nor Stumpy and I fear that they've ended up being a meal for some predator. My husband, bless his heart, tries to cheer me by being very optimistic; "It's been awfully hot and dry. I bet they've just gone off to a little wetter place where they'll find better insects to catch." I really hope that is the case as I'd truly love to see Cameron grown and sporting his mature crest and chameleon regalia.

Of note, lizard motifs have been used in jewelry for ages. Think I'll look around for either a small pendant, charm or lizard brooch...I already own an adorable frog brooch...would love to be able to find a silver or pewter lizard pin or pendant...oh how about one with gorgeous green enamel work and Swarovski crystal eyes ?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Donut Diet...

A couple of years back I developed a passion for donuts...purchased at least 40 with plans of devouring every single one. Fortunately these were non-fat donuts and also non-edible donuts, yeah I know, what's the fun of that ? Well the fun is when they are beautiful gemstone donuts.

I had taken a couple of wire work classes at the Miami Bead Expo and had gotten the bug for embellished wire and beaded donuts. Had even bought a half-dozen or so assorted gemstone donuts...Black Onyx, Red Jasper, Turquoise etc. With enthusiasm I crafted a number of lovely casual pendant necklaces focusing on the gorgeous 40 mm donuts resplendent with dangling beads, bits of chain, and lots of wire...sterling wire, gold filled wire even warm, lush copper wire. It was the height of the Southwest craze and my pendant necklaces had that hot, spicy southwest flavor that sold quickly. Afterwards I went overboard and purchased, as I mention before, approximately 40 maybe even 50 more in assorted gemstones...all 40 mm. However about the same time I began to notice a wane in the southwest fad so decided to hold off and see if it (the fad) would resume or peter out. Turns out it was definitely ebbing though it would always have it's die hard followers.

Now, a couple of years later, I find myself confronted with my over zealous past appetite for donuts. I have come up with a couple of slider bails made from my favorite Delica seed beads and adorned with a mulligan stew of assorted beads and pearls. I've made the slides large enough to easily fit over a strand of 6 to 8mm beads but I think these tasty donuts would look just as lovely on a simple black cord or a thick chain. Guess that's what makes them so nice, they can be quickly changed from necklace to necklace to create a totally different look...I've always loved variety and a multi-functional piece holds my admiration and respect.

Above: 40 mm Red Jasper Donut with seed beaded bail embellished with freshwater pearls, leopardskin jasper chevrons, carnelian rondells and Czech glass beads all topped with tiny #14/0 Charlotte beads...some in 24kt gold plate. Had to use a #15 beading needle in order to make multiple passes through the tiny beads.
Below: 40 mm Sodalite Donut with it's cool blueberry tones...yummy...think I'll go grab a blueberry muffin !

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I've Discovered a Bold New World !

I've just discovered a great blog site that's perfect for the novice photographer also super for those much more professional at photography. Since the "Strobist." site has been around for a few years my discovery smacks of an explorer landing in a bustling New York harbor and announcing; "I've just discovered the New World !" However to myself this was a fantastic discovery and I wish to share it with any and all who may not have knowledge of it's existence.

click above to visit the Strobist blog site

Strobist gives wonderful advice on how to light your shot...and it was here that I found excellent, detailed instructions on creating a light box.
Find that info at :
Now I need to absorb their instructions on how to actually use a light box which, according to their blog; "It ain't rocket science". Well maybe not for them it isn't but to me it's more like advanced physics ! Now I'm off to find a good cardboard box, some tissue paper, tape and my razor cutter...oh and make sure I have Band-Aids handy, maybe even a tourniquet, if I don't get myself with the razor, I'm bound to at least get a paper cut.

In Retrospect...Naturally !

In Retrospect I should have named my blog differently...perhaps even; "In Retrospect", though I’m sure that title was taken long ago, as were many other more suitable titles such as "Down the Rabbit Hole" and "Through the Looking Glass".
Humanity has a propensity for embarking upon an adventure and once set sail, we halt, sometimes only a short distance from the dock at other times much further a sea. It is this inherent nature of our species to realize, afterwards, a better course, a fairer passage, we second guess, use hindsight and long for a "do over". And time marches relentless on.

For the past few days I’ve succumbed to Spring Fever, have done very little in the way of designing new pieces of jewelry, haven’t purchased any new beads or findings (truly unheard of for me, a die hard beadaholic). Instead I’ve been found puttering in my garden, pruning away the last remnants of this past winter’s frost damage, planting some seedlings, pulling weeds, and watching in amazement as things seem to grow before my eyes (especially the weeds).

Today I realize that I’ve veered far from my original course with this I had never meant it to be solely a blog about beading but I did have every intention of sprinkling a few morsels of bead work here and there...much like hidden Easter eggs.
So in all this time of fair spring weather I have created only a couple of new pieces, a pair of seed beaded fringe earrings using rondels of carnelian and tiny freshwater pearls. Though I'm pleased with the earrings, I can’t say that I’m pleased with their photos. I’ve been contemplating rigging up a photo light box, have heard it’s easy to fashion one from a frosted, plastic storage box...note to self; "look into self-made light boxes". I’m also very open to your advice or suggestions on this subject so please feel free to post me your comments.

Have also just completed a lovely beaded pendant using a 40 mm gemstone donut of beautiful red jasper...will have to take some photos to post in another blog entry...but the red jasper donut is quite shiny and causes much reflection of light...need that light box!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

International Garden Naked Day...

This morning I received my daily email from Park's email could not help but grab my attention and bring a smile. They were celebrating International Garden Naked Day
so for those of you who enjoy gardening in the buff I've copied and pasted their email into this blog. For those curious souls simply click on the highlighted text to see more ... and for those far more adventurous you can visit the World Naked Gardening Day website.

Below email from Park Seeds :
International Garden Naked Day - at Park Seed?

Well, yesterday was a first for us here at Park Seed. We decided to celebrate International Garden Naked Day! Hey, we're all friends here — more like family, really — so who better to get together with and return to nature, uh... au naturel?

Gardening is all about becoming one with nature...right?Gardening in the buff is actually
getting quite a following these days. In fact, there's an entire
World Naked Gardening Day website, dedicated
entirely to this unique practice. We must warn you, though, if you
decide to visit this site, you will see real, live gardeners...sans
clothing! So proceed with caution and a healthy sense of

Some of the reasons a lot of people
are starting to strip down to plant their Petunias is they find it
fun, it gives them body acceptance, and it reminds them of their
relationship with nature and the environment. And hey, you just
might get that much-needed tan (just
look at our pictures
to see how pale we get during the
winter!!!)! Oh, and you don't have to worry about the cost of buying anything extra because it doesn't require you to buy special clothing or all.

Obviously, if you do decide to venture into your borders unclothed, use some common sense — look out for insects, wear plenty of sun screen, and oh, yeah...make sure you follow all of your local regulations on nudity.

Disclaimer: No actual gardeners were hurt (or truly naked) in the making of this article.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Drying, Dying Wetland...

I am being extremely naughty and ignoring my Etsy shop...have ignored it for several days now, but then it’s not been doing anything, no sales, no genuine public interest, so it’s not like I’ve turned my back on a thriving enterprise.

Today is the 1st of May but here, in my little part of South Florida, it feels like full blown summer. For the past few days the temps have reached into the upper 90’s with extremely low humidity, unheard of here. Each time I exit the car and shut the door I experience the sharp shock of static electricity, something I'd expect if I were in Southern California or New Mexico.

Yesterday I explored some of the less visited areas of our property, a wetlands area sheltered by massive live oak and adorned with natures ferns and wildflowers. In the midst of all this lush greenery a pond once existed, protected from the rays of the sun it was a cool, quiet retreat. But drought like conditions, constant winds and unrelenting heat have turned our pond into a mere mud hole...and even that is quickly drying out.

above: wetland ferns encircling dry pond bed.

These photos were taken in what was once the pond...not long ago I would have gotten my feet quite wet standing here to take these snapshots. I pray that this rainy season will bring sufficient rains but then I can't help but fear perhaps mankind has so altered our climate that wetlands such as this, will become a distant whisper, a faint echo of what used to be.

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