Friday, April 26, 2013

Focusing on Life - 17 of 52

It's been four months since Sally Russick began her "Focusing on Life" series.  Each week, I've enjoyed focusing a bit on my life:  the kiddo, my husband, our family and our day to day activities.  This photo series is shaping up to be a wonderful digital scrapbook, of sorts.

Even more, though, I've enjoyed getting to know everyone who is participating.  Reading through your blog posts has been the highlight of my weekends.  I've been lax on commenting, though, and I apologize to everyone for that.

This week, Sally prompted us to think about color.  I couldn't think of anything that really "spoke" to me.  Then I saw this:

My husband's aunt made up a little Easter gift basket for the kiddos.  In it was, among other things, this colorful pinwheel.

The kiddo loves watching this pinwheel on windy days.

Even though it was a bit rainy today, the kiddo and I had fun making the pinwheel spin so I could take a few pictures.

I love the rainbow effect.

Please check out Sally's blog to see the colorful entries of the other participants.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The 2nd Spring Fling Challenge

Last year, Amy, from Amy Beads, hosted her first Spring Fling Challenge.  Amy put together two gorgeous kits for the challenge, one in blue and one in orange.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I missed it.  The reveals were amazing and I vowed not to miss my chance again.

This year, for the 2nd Spring Fling Challenge, Amy put together a wonderful kit centered around a focal made by Alenka of Pepita Handmade.

Seriously, I love the focal and all of the beads Amy picked out.  Don't the dark blue and purple look awesome together?  I would not have put those together on my own.

I rummaged through my stash and found all different shades of purple seed beads and a strand of blue pearls.

I wanted to put the blue pearls around the pendant, but couldn't figure out how.  I finally decided on a frilly type of embellishment with the pearls.

I absolutely adore how the pendant came out, but realized it was a bit larger than pendants I usually wear.  I was thinking about making it an ornament or bookmark when the kiddo saw it.

She claimed it for her own, so I added a bit of leather cord.

She loves it and I love seeing her wear it.  :)

The next thing I made were little charms with some of the purple beads from the kit.

I used two of the glittery purple stones as drops.

I happened to find pink wire, which made fun earwires.

I wanted to use the rest of the glittery purple stones in a chunky bracelet.  I tried a few different things and settled on Marcia deCoster's "Two By Two" bracelet from  Crystal Jewelry Inspiration.

I used most of the pink pearls from the kit and the rest of my blue pearls on the base of the bracelet.  The purple stones from the kit were perfect dangles.

The bracelet was a little short, so I made a focal/connector with the four large blue pearls from the kit.

I thought it worked perfectly with the bracelet.

You can't see in this picture, but there is a beaded toggle that slips right into the holes in the beadwork.

I love this design.  It's similar to Marcia's Rising Sun bracelet and is so easy to work up.  The layers of beads look give an amazing texture to the bracelet and the dangles are a fun addition.

If you haven't seen Marcia's book, Beaded Opulence,definitely take a look.  Her second book, Beads in Motion, is due out in August (and I can't wait to see it).

Amy, thank you for a wonderful challenge.

Please take a few minutes and visit the other participants to see their awesome creations.

Maryanne • Zingala's Workshop
Therese • Therese's Treasures
Tanya • A Work in Progress - you are here
Alenka • Pepita Handmade
Cynthia • Created Treasures
Mowse • Mowse Made This
Carolyn • Carolyn's Creations

Friday, April 19, 2013

Focusing on Life - 16 of 52

This week, Sally prompted us to take a walk and look at our surroundings.

The kiddo and I love to take walks around the arboretum or hike over a trail or two.  Unfortunately, this week has been break-out-the-winter-coats cold and rainy.  We haven't had much of a chance to enjoy the outdoors.

Luckily, today was perfect for a walk.

A few weeks ago, I learned that Genea, of Genea Beads, lived close to me.  We had arranged to meet for lunch today and lived  for lunch and she was kind enough to let the kiddo and me drag her to the arboretum.

(Genea also brought some of her beads to show me.  As awesome as her beads look in her shop, they are even more gorgeous in person!  Definitely take a look at Genea's etsy shop.)

Genea and I were able to visit a bit while the kiddo ran ahead.

I did get a few pictures of new blooms.

We had a great afternoon and a nice little walk around the arboretum.

Please visit Sally's blog to see what the other participants saw on their walks.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


If you are looking for my Bead Soup Blog Party reveal, click here.

You may have heard me mention here and here that I've been training for my black belt in Okinawan kenpo.

Our school emphasizes both the traditional aspects and the practical applications of karate.  Knowing and demonstrating the material is only one part of the test.

Students must also spar and demonstrate the ability to break boards and/or bricks during each test.

I don't like sparring, but I have come to accept it as a necessary part of training.  I am slowly getting better.  I can't even say that I was dreading the sparring portion of the test because, like anything, I knew I would do my best and let the pieces (hopefully no teeth or other random body parts) fall where they may.

The breaking portion of the test, however, had my stomach in knots for the last week.

Our instructor requires black belts to break a brick.  

When you see someone do this, it looks easy.  Heck, some testers break two, three, even four at a time.

I, however, was struggling with one.  It was like hitting my head against the wall (or hand against a brick) over and over.

Each time, I was wondering how I could possibly have trained for all this time and *not* succeed.

Well, there is something about stress and fear that can make you do what needs to be done.

That broken brick?  I did that!

Thanks to all of you who offered your support a few weeks ago.  Your encouragement meant a great deal to me and I'm so excited that I was able to make all of you proud.

Bead Soup Blog Party - the reveal

I've been looking forward to this for a few months now .. my reveal for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party!

First, let me thank Lori Anderson for all of her work in putting this party together.  

There were close to 500 participants and Lori took the time to visit all of their blogs and personally select a partner for each participant.  Lori also sends individual emails, coordinates reveal dates, posts helpful hints, is available for questions and many more things I am forgetting.

Lori, you are awesome!

Second, I want to thank Catherine for sending such a gorgeous soup.  There were so many possibilities and I hope you like what I created.

Let me remind you what Catherine sent to me.

Catherine's soup was full of luscious goldstone and copper as well as some faceted rounds, beaded beads, a gorgeous jasper pendant and a copper heart.

I ended up making four necklaces, a bracelet and a pair of earrings.  Even with that, I still had beads left, including some of the rectangle tube beads.  I would like to make another bracelet with those, but that will have to be later.  :)

I'll start with the gorgeous jasper focal and the copper clasp.

I loved this pendant.  I haven't worked with natural stone very much and never one this big.  I really wanted to make the pendant shine.

I tried several different bezeling techniques and had every intention of using the copper pearls.

As it turned out, I opted for something simple to keep the focus on the detail of the pendant.

I used copper and gray seed beads to create spiral accents around the pendant.

I did this after I created a gorgeous cubic right angle weave rope using a tutorial by Gwen Fisher.  I *adored* how the rope came out and I think twisted cubic right angle weave might be my new go-to rope.

I like how the spiral around the pendant echoes the spiral in the rope.

I used the clasp from the soup also.

The copper goes so well with the beadwork.

This necklace was one of the last pieces I finished.  The first piece I made from the soup was this bracelet.

I used the copper pearls, goldstone rounds and a few of the faceted rounds from the soup and copper and green seed beads from my stash.  I love copper and green together and the goldstone was a great compliment.

To make the bracelet, I combined one component from Mikki Ferrugiaro's "Medallion Bracelet" with Sabine Lippert's "Starlace bracelet" pattern.

I love the way Mikki's component pops up a bit for a three dimensional effect.

Sabine's open band is a great compliment to Mikki's component.

Mikki and Sabine are two of my favorite designers  Mikki has awesome designs in her artfire shop.  Take a look.  You won't be disappointed.

You can find more of Sabine's patterns in her etsy shop and in her webstore.  Sabine's book, Beaded Fantasies, is also a "must have" for seed beaders.

The second piece I made was a necklace that used one of the "blooming beads" from the soup.

These beads were made by a friend of Catherine's using a pattern from Carol Dean Sharpe.  I love this pattern and how versatile it is.  You can find the pattern here if you want to create your own.  You might also want to check out Carol's etsy shop for more gorgeous patterns and beautiful beaded jewelry.

For my necklace, I, once again, took inspiration from Lorelei Eurto's and Erin Siegel's book Bohemian Inspired Jewelry.  (Seriously, if you don't have this book, get it now.  I don't mind waiting.)

I had some rose quartz rounds that looked great with the blooming beads and used them to create my version of Lorelei's "Ocean Love" necklace.

I wanted to use both "blooming beads" from the soup, but ended up only using one.

I think the necklace works, though, and I have enjoyed wearing it over the past few weeks.

I have also enjoyed wearing the pair of earrings I made with these gorgeous drops from the soup.

I wasn't sure what to pair the drops with.  I looked through my stash of beads, but couldn't find anything that really "worked."  Then I remembered Marcie Abney Carroll's "Moroccan Charm" pattern, published in the April/May 2012 issue of Beadwork Magazine.

I used the faceted rounds from the soup to create the charms.

Marcie's pattern is cute and versatile.  Plus, it works up very quickly and is easily adapted to different sizes of beads.

Marcie has many more tutorials available in her etsy shop.  I have many of her tutorials and I can honestly say that they are a joy to bead.

The charms went perfectly with the drops.

As much as I love those earrings, I think my favorite piece I made was this necklace.

I loved the goldstone ovals the second I saw them.  They are sparkly and have little flowers on the surface.

I wanted to use a blue stone to compliment the blue in the ovals, but couldn't find anything in my stash.  I ended up buying a strand of kyanite ovals at the bead store and I am so happy  that I did.

The necklace is made with two strands of beads.  The first strand is made with the goldstone ovals and rounds, kyanite ovals and Chinese crystal.  The second strand uses those beads as well, but incorporates sections of spiral rope.

The spiral rope uses the goldstone rounds, the red magma crystal bicones from the soup and Indian sapphire crystal bicones from my stash.

I love how the goldstone, red and blue all look together.  The color palette looks so "rich" to me.

I made a pendant with the copper heart from the soup.

The pendant was inspired by the focal on Jill Wiseman's "Falling for You" necklace from her book Beautiful Beaded Ropes. Definitely check out the book if you haven't.  It contains many gorgeous ropes using basic beading stitches.

I made the bail large enough to slip over the clasp and the beaded strands.

It can be removed for a different look.

I *love* how this came out.

The final piece I made used the rectangle tube beads from the soup.

As soon as I saw those beads, I wanted to use them, but I couldn't figure out how.  I tried beading them with a right angle weave stitch.  I tried knotting them and stringing them, but something wasn't quite right.

Finally, I paired them with a polymer flower by Staci Louise.  (Check out Staci's etsy shop for more awesome components.)

Staci's focal went perfectly with the rectangle beads.  I grabbed some green crystal beads, the copper pearls and the rest of the faceted beads from the soup.

I love how the bits of color go so well with the browns and yellows in the rectangle beads.

The copper chain from the soup was a few inches too long for the necklace.  I took a few of the links off to shorten it.

I used the oval links as decoration between the two strands of beads.

I made a copper hook and used a round link from the chain for it to hook into. The hook blends into the chain.

I like how the necklace turned out.

It's a great spring necklace.

Lori, thank you again for putting together an awesome challenge.

Catherine, thank you for such a wonderful bead soup.

I am off to Catherine's blog to see what she made with the soup I sent her.  Then, I am going to take some time to visit the other participants in the second reveal.

Please take some time to visit the other participants.  I know you will see some amazing work.  There are too many blogs to list here.  (This post seems too long already), so I am just going to provide you with the link to all the participants from Lori's bead soup blog party blog.

If you haven't already, you can also browse the blogs of the participants in the first reveal a few weeks ago.  Next week will be the third reveal, so stay tuned.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Focusing on Life - 15 of 52

This week, Sally asked us to see the beauty in age.

I know Sally meant for us to look at objects:  buildings, cars, watches, etc., but my first thought was my grandmother.  She is a beautiful lady and I love her dearly.

I've made it a point to take a new picture or pictures for each week's prompt, but I don't live close enough to my grandparents to pop over for a quick visit.

Instead, I'll cheat (just this once) and show you a photo I took several years ago.

This is my grandmother -- definitely an ageless beauty.  At 87 years old, she still has a twinkle in her eye.

Please visit Sally's blog to see other ageless beauties.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Focusing on Life - 14 of 52

This week, Sally asked us to show a macro shot.

I love macro photography.  I typically keep the macro lens on my camera unless I am taking group shots.  I get great pictures of the kiddo using the macro lens.

I was at a bit of a loss as to what to photograph this week.  Nothing jumped right to mind.  Since I had fun last week photographing a little Yoda figure, I thought I'd try another figure.

This is a dunny, a line of little bunny shaped figurine that the kiddo, for some reason or other, adores.  This one is my favorite from the past few years.  Who wouldn't like a tiger ninja?

Especially one with nunchaku?

He's a cute little ninja, but I bet he has some tricks up his sleeve.

Please visit Sally's blog to see the macro goodness from the other participants.