Saturday, February 28, 2009

You've Got Mail

I watched this movie for the umpteenth time today. I've lost count how many times I've seen it, I even own the DVD. I especially like to listen to the director's commentary as they describe the various spots in New York City where they filmed, etc. The city is like another character in the movie and the Upper West Side is where I stayed when I went to NYC a few years ago, so it all seems rather familiar. It's a great movie, romantic without being too smaltzy and the dialogue is well written (thank you, Nora Ephron). IMDB even has a section of "memorable quotes" from the movie, in case you have a hankering to browse through some of your favourites:
I was watching today because I wanted to have something on in the background while I worked on my Bag of Beads project for the Toronto Bead Society. (The night of the big reveal is fast approaching, so I've got to get busy and finish my creation.) Sometimes I listen to music, and sometimes, I find watching TV while I bead can be a good thing, as long as it's something familiar that you don't really have to "watch", i.e. a show that doesn't take too much focus away from the beads themselves, because that's when mistakes happen - you put your thread through the wrong bead or add the wrong colour and all of a sudden, there's a blip in your work.
That's why this movie was perfect for this afternoon's beading session. I've seen it so many times, I can just work away while still enjoying the movie and not losing track of the plot. I found I was much more aware of the soundtrack this time as well!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Casual Fridays

As of last week, we are allowed to dress casually at my office on Fridays, which includes being able to wear jeans. I don't know why this is such a great thing, but it is. I always think I get more done in jeans and sneakers, somehow.

My favourite jeans at the moment (because they actually fit comfortably, whomever invented stretch denim is my hero) happen to have beading on them, even though I bought them before my bead addiction had fully developed to the state at which it now exists.
Wearing jeans today was also a good thing due to the weather forecast. We started off with a rainy but mild 9 degrees in the morning, but it's been getting colder and colder as the day progressed. The final tally is expected to be a DROP of 20 degrees before midnight tonight, with a frigid windchill factored in. Thank goodness March is almost here - spring can't come fast enough for me!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tina Koyama

For some reason, this rain/snow mix of weather we've been having lately is making me think of Seattle. I've never actually been there but I've heard it's a lot like Vancouver and it rains a lot there.

In February of 2008, Seattle's own Tina Koyama (on my left in this photo) taught several classes at Bead Junction and I was lucky enough to attend two of them.
The items we made were this beautiful Phoenix pendant:

and this Crystal Confetti bracelet (which was my first introduction to herringbone stitch, which I really enjoy):
Here's her website, if you want to check out her stuff: Apparently, she's branched out from working with beads and now does more work with fibres. But the really cool stuff is in the "Sculptures" section of her website - you've got to check out what she does with pasta!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finding Blog Topics

Most days, I don't seem to have any trouble finding something to write about on this blog. But some days, like today, for some reason, it's a little harder. I have a couple of topics in mind, but for various reasons, I can't quite complete a post on any of them at this point in time. For example, I can't find one of the subjects to take a photo of it to demonstrate what I want to talk about. (yes, there are still boxes to be unpacked from the move but I'm down to the non-crucial, no idea what's really in there and where am I going to put the stuff anyway boxes, so it could be a while before that particular item is found.)

I could tell you I'm continuing to watch the Oscars from the other night, which I taped because I like to fast forward through the not-so-exciting parts and the commercials. I've only gotten as far as when Heath Ledger's family accepted the Oscar on behalf of his daughter, which was very touching, and then the guy who was the subject of the documentary "Man on Wire" (the one who walked across a tightrope strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center back in the late '70s, which I first read about in Kate's blog) balanced an Oscar on his chin and made a coin disappear, which was très amusant.

I could share a few dozen words with you about the something in my fridge that is smelling a little funny and I'd throw it out but I can't find whatever it is, which means I really should spend more than 30 seconds looking for whatever it is. But somehow, I don't think you want to hear about that!

Or I could tell you that I can't type, because my chair is occupied...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dreaming of Durfort

This return to bone chilling cold we have been experiencing here in Toronto for the past few days has made me reminiscent about my trip to southern France last July to take a jewellery workshop taught by Kate McKinnon, hosted by the lovely Gwen Gibson. The weather was so pleasant and hot the week we were there. Not uncomfortably so but the kind of warm that my body is longing for in the midst of this minus 20 degree weather, the kind of sunny, enjoyable summer heat that just envelops you and makes you feel like everything is right in the world. And in that little pocket of the Mid-Pyrenees, it certainly is!

Here are a few photos to show you what I mean:

By the way, Gwen is now blogging about her lovely French home - you can check that out here:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night 2009

Last year after the Oscars, The Dixon Chick created an amazing wire crochet necklace inspired by the one worn by Nicole Kidman to the ceremony. (I hope she doesn't mind my copying this photo from her blog. Doesn't she look fabulous??)

It was the first time I really noticed the connection between jewellery styles we see on TV and those we wear in our every day lives. It simply hadn't occurred to me that I could make something similar to what someone famous might have worn to an awards show.

This year, I was paying more attention to the jewellery. Did you see the necklace Amy Adams was wearing?

What about the one that Tiraji P. Henson wore?

The Swarovski crystal curtain framing the stage was also beautiful. Imagine what you could make if you had 92,000 crystals in your bead stash!

P.S. A very special shout out to my niece, Alex, who is celebrating her 11th birthday today!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Some days are better than others

That goes for sessions on the lampwork torch as well. Some days, you just can't seem to get the rhythm and it's probably best to stop trying to force it and leave it for another day. Case in point:

Last week in lampwork class, we were making toggles. I thought I would try to make some toggle beads similar to those made by Sarah Moran ( who does amazing things with colours and creates unusually shaped beads that are so fun and funky.
Sadly, I am not nearly as talented as Sarah. My first attempt to make a similar shaped bead was a colossal failure. When I realized it wasn't going to end up anywhere near toggle shaped, I started to add glass and make something that began to resemble a fish, but even that just ended up looking silly by the time I was done. Here's the photo, you'll see what I mean:

My only consolation is that it was only my first try so surely I can only get better from here. Although somehow I doubt mine will ever look as cool as Sarah's do. Worst case scenario, I'll just buy beads from her!!

So then I tried to make a different type of toggle. That also didn't work, so again, rather than throw it out, I thought I'd make a little animal thingy instead. I ended up with a bead that looks like a boggle-eyed something or other with wings:

It was at this point that I decided I was just wasting time and glass and the stars just weren't aligned in the proper position for me to be successful that night, so I stopped. Don't worry, I haven't given up, I went back a couple of days later and things had settled down in the torch universe and I was able to make some pretty nice looking, basic round beads. I'll just have to keep practising when it comes to toggles!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back to Class

My sister Janine and I and another wowan who was in our class last fall, Lorri from Nortel, have all signed up for another session of intermediate lampworking classes with Dwyn Tomlinson at Beadfx. I like taking the class, because it's eight weeks in a row of torch time so you have a chance to get into a rhythm, plus Dwyn is teaching us and she is so talented and willing to share her knowledge, as well as being very patient with and tolerant of us newbies.

The first week of the new session, we made drawer pulls. Instead of working with a plain mandrell, you use a threaded one and wrap the glass around that to form the base of the knob, the part that screws onto your cupboard door or drawer. You just have to be careful as you're winding on the glass to be sure it doesn't unscrew and slip off!

They turned out kind of cool, although the colour scheme has a little bit too much blue in it, not sure what I was thinking of when I picked those colours. They don't match my decor, but still, I was pleased with the end result, considering it was my first try at making them!

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Absence of Blogging

My friend Kate McKinnon is teaching beading classes in Detroit this week and hasn't posted on her blog for three or four days now. Given that I consider Kate to be a serial blogger - she took her laptop to Europe last summer and it was not unusual for her to blog two or three times a day - I find this silence to be highly unusual. Of course, she is certainly under no obligation to blog every day and I am reasonably sure she is safe and sound, somewhere in Michigan.

But as I am missing the entertainment provided by her regular blog postings, my mind starts to wonder - why hasn't she posted? Did her laptop break? Did she forget or choose not to take it with her? Does the hotel she is staying at not have internet access? (okay, that would be a little hard to believe, in this day and age, wouldn't it?) Is it so cold in Detroit that the keyboard froze? Did some disgruntled and soon to be unemployed GM worker run over it with his or her car? Just random speculation with little or no basis in reality. I am assuming that she is just too busy and/or having too much fun to have time to blog - I hope for her sake it is the latter.

These days, it seems like everybody and their cat is blogging. Now that I'm blogging myself (and trying to have the discipline to do it daily), I find the topic of blog posting frequency to be an interesting one. From time to time, I hit the "next blog" button at the top of this page and scroll along checking out other people's blogs, to see what they're talking about and how often they're talking. Or people I know will tell me they too have a blog but when I check it out, they haven't posted a new entry for several weeks or even months. Why not, I wonder? It's like reading a book and then finding out the last few chapters are missing. I always want to know, what happens next?

I "met" this guy online a couple of years ago - okay, it was a dating website and we chatted a bit but never did meet in person, I don't even know his last name (come to think of it, I don't even know if the first name he gave me is his real name) - but he told me about his blog, I started reading it and found it to be rather entertaining so I'd check in from time to time to see what he was up to. He usually wrote about his dating adventures, as he travelled a lot with work and always seemed to have an interesting or amusing and sometimes racy story about the women he met on his travels. He tended to blog fairly frequently, not every day but pretty regularly. At least, he did, until about January 2008. Strangely enough, he hasn't posted a word since then, which I find strangely fascinating. This was a guy who loved to talk about himself and all of a sudden...nothing. (He still has a profile on the dating website but hasn't logged on to that for about a year and a half either.)

Which leaves me to wonder, whatever happened to this guy? It could be something as simple as, he finally met a girl he could be serious about, settled down and stopped having dating adventures. Or he could have started posting somewhere else and just didn't tell his loyal blog readers where he had moved to. But what if it is more serious that that? What if he's in jail? (they say most guys on dating websites are serial killers or jailbirds, so that would fit). What if something really bad happened to him? What if he was in an accident or, God forbid, died? He's just some guy I met on cyberspace and I don't know who he is - in real life, he could work in my building or be standing behind me in line at the Tim Horton's and I'd never know - I hope he's okay, wherever he is, but it's a bit of a mystery and every now and then I think, where did he go???

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama In Ottawa

Mr. President travelled to the capital of Canada today for a quick, six hour visit - his first foreign visit since taking office in January (hey, who are they calling foreign??)

We've been hearing lots of details about the visit for the past few days - the snow, the special car (nicknamed "the Beast") and the special gas they brought with them to fuel it (talk about protectionism!), the politicians jockeying for face time (who got the longer visit, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition??), his family in Burlington, the CBC interview with Peter Mansbridge, etc.

Apparently, Obama headed over to the Byward Market and did a little shopping before it was time for wheels up on Air Force One. Now, as anyone who's ever been to Ottawa can tell you, they have the shop with the best beaver tails in the Byward Market - I'm sure that's really where he was headed. Those pastry confections are the best!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In the beading world, I'm told, U.F.O. stands for "unfinished objects". I didn't know there was a beading term for this until recently. Glad to know I'm not the only one who starts things and then stops before they are finished. It's not that I don't like them any more or that I won't finish them some day, I have just moved on to something else for the time being. More often than not, it's just while other ideas are percolating in my head. I let my subconscious continue with the design while my hands are busy making a new piece.

However, I seem to have been collecting a few UFOs recently, thought I'd share a couple of them with you.

First up is this little section of what I think will someday be a bracelet. I'm having a bit of orange phase these days, I seem to be collecting various types of orange beads, haven't quite decided what I'll do with them yet...

The next one came about from my recent travels. When I got back from Mexico, I was very inspired by the bright and bold colours there. Since then, I've been playing around with multi-coloured seed beads of various sizes, both in random ways and in patterns:

And last but certainly not least is this bracelet I was working on for Valentine's Day but didn't get finished in time. I ran out of wrapped beads before I ran out of bracelet, so I've got to make a few more.

All in good time, all in good time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Instant Cleanup

I'm doing an instant cleanup. This is a time honoured tradition in my family. You probably know how it works (surely everyone does this, and not just us?) - if you're having someone over, you need to make sure flat surfaces such as tables and sideboards are cleared off, things are picked up off the floor, dishes are washed and put away. Of course, in true instant clean up fashion, sometimes that means things just sort of get swept into a drawer or a box to be pulled out after the visitor has left and properly disposed of at a later date. :)

Why am I doing this? Because I've got a new cleaning service coming tomorrow morning to do a test run. They clean my apartment one time and I see if I like how they do it and if I do, they start coming on a regular basis. I just arranged the visit today (after a very sunny weekend which was quite enjoyable with the sun shining in the windows for most of the day, except that all that bright light only seemed to emphasis the dust lying about and the fact that my carpet is in need of a good vacuuming), so I've only got tonight to get ready.

However, in order to have them over, I need to tidy up a little bit. Nothing major, just putting all the cleaning supplies in one convenient location for them to use, putting a fresh bag in the vacuum, making sure my stuff is tidied up and out of their way.

The good news is, my clean up looks more like this:

than this:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Remembering A Long Ago Summer

I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. I spent part of yesterday scanning and posting some photos from a summer job I had at Ontario Place almost - gasp - thirty years ago. Can't believe how young we all were back then. It's funny how it seems like just yesterday and it seems like forever ago, both at the same time.

Thanks to Facebook, a bunch of us from that summer are in touch again, which is why I was digging out the photos to share with everyone. It's pretty nice to be in touch again after all this time. We're all older, a little grayer and/or heavier, most are married and/or parents (which is a bit harder to wrap my head around since we were all single and unencumbered and so very young back in the day) but still the same people in a lot of ways.

It's interesting what scraps of information the brain holds on to and what pieces fall away over time. Looking at the photos from way back when, I was remembering the fun times we had when the snapshots were taken, thinking about a guy I was dating back then, remembering a friend from that summer who was killed in a car accident a few years later at much too young an age. It was like any other job - sometimes boring, sometimes challenging. We worked six day shifts and then had three days off, which we often spent together. Parties, cottaging, weddings or just hanging out. Most of all, I remember having a lot of fun with a lot of extra special people.

Here's a picture from those good old days, of me and a girl named Nancy in our hostess uniforms in front of the Cinesphere - yup, I'm the one on the left.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day at Beadfx

It was a busy day yesterday at Beadfx. I went by for a couple of hours to do some lampwork and because they were having an open beading session featuring cupcakes for Valentine's Day. Me, I can't resist a good cupcake, although I didn't have the right ingredients to make any so I took along some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead, just to mix it up a little bit. Jen brought in her Red Velvet cupcakes and her own personal entourage, made up of her mom, her daughter Mia, Mia's friend Rachel and Rachel's mom. The little girls started to make tiaras and then got distracted by trying on all of the jewellery pieces the staff had made that were on a display table, so that they ended up wearing every piece they could get their hands on and the moms were left to finish making the tiaras! (For some reason I never did have explained, the tiaras included beads that looked like bananas. Carmen Miranda would have been proud!) The Dixon Chick was also there teaching one of her now famous wire crochet classes. In the afternoon, there was a chinese knotting class which it turns out my friend Colleen was there to take and just as I was leaving, my sister Janine arrived to do a little torch work of her own. So all in all, it was a very enjoyable and social day at the bead store with a bunch of my favourite beading people!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought I'd share a couple of lovely lampwork beads with you this Valentine's Day. One is a red and white heart I bought from Amy Waldman-Smith earlier this week - I just had to have it. I made it into a pendant for a necklace and wore it today.

The other is a bead that Rachel Nelson-Smith had with her last week when she taught at Bead Junction. It's a lovely green and blue heart bead on its own but the really cool thing about it is that is says "love" on the side of the bead in a funky 70's style. Either Rachel couldn't remember the name of the artist or I can't remember what she told me, but whoever (whomever?) they are, I am in awe of their skill!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

I looked up Friday the 13th in Wikipedia today. Apparently, lots of people believe that either the number 13 and/or Fridays are unlucky and the combination of the two makes literally millions of people want to stay home and pull the covers over their heads.

As far as I'm concerned, those of us living in Toronto have been pretty lucky for the past few days. Last year, the days leading up to Valentine's Day looked like this:

In a word, snowy! This year, it's the complete opposite. We've had several days in a row of 9 degree weather and most of the snow has melted. It's funny how the mild weather seems to cheer everyone up. We all know it's only February and this is just a tease, there is sure to be more snow and cold before spring officially arrives in a month or so, but for now, the forecast is for a sunny, long weekend and that is making everyone smile.

But just in case you need to know, there is at least one Friday the 13th in every calendar year and 2009 actually has three! So if you have paraskavedekatriaphobia (no, I did not make that up - its the Greek word for the fear of Friday the 13th), prepare yourself to go through it again in both March and November!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vancouver 2010

Exactly one year from today, the eyes of the world will be focused on Vancouver, British Columbia as the opening games of the 2010 Winter Olympics begin.

Canada has hosted the Games twice before - in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 1976 and in Calgary, Alberta in the winter of 1988 - but so far, no Canadian has ever won a gold medal on Canadian soil. We're hoping to change that statistic this time around.

Best wishes to all those currently training or involved in getting the facilites ready for next year's competition - it's a heck of a job and we are very proud of all your hard work.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Inspirations Are Posted!

As previously discussed, The Dixon Chick and I were both creating jewellery for Beadfx to post on their Inspirations page and as of last night at midnight, our pieces are showing on their website.

Funnily enough, we both made necklaces. The beads themselves are a combination of caramel and a clear orange - the official name is Cinnamon Givre (??) but I call them "Tangerine Jello Pudding", because part of the bead is clear like jello and part of it looks like butterscotch pudding.

Stephanie did a really cool combination the beads and wire and used black beads for accent (I knew she was going to go with black and orange, I just knew it!) I combined the beads with these really beautiful rectangles called Teal Paisley Jasper that I just happened to buy the same night as Dwyn gave us the challenge beads, and I noticed the two bead types seemed to compliment each other. Definitely not a combination I would have made for myself otherwise but I was really pleased with the finished result.

Here's the link to the Beadfx Inspirations page, in case you want to check it out and/or see the list of components:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More About Rachel

I have to talk more about Rachel Nelson-Smith, because she was guest speaker at the Toronto Bead Society February meeting last night and I was again struck by her very kind and gentle personality. She's kind of like one of those still ponds that runs deep, she looks very calm and happy but at the same time, has such a twinkle about her. She showed us slides of her work and described how the designs came to be and even showed us some of her secret techniques for making an even better piece of jewellery.

Here are some more photos of her creations, to dazzle you:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Check out these beads!

I am so excited about these beads, I just have to show them to you. I bought them from one of my favourite sellers on eBay. (I'm not going to give you their name, as it's already very hard to win an auction when they put beads up for sale, they are so popular.) They are called Rainbow Circus hollows and you can't tell by looking at them because the glass used is opaque, not clear, but they are hollow inside, which makes them very lightweight. I just love the colours, they are so happy!
I wish I could make beads like this myself. Hopefully it's just a matter of practice and one day I will get the hang of it, but in the meantime, I am delighted to own these and can't wait to make something with them!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beon Freo Cuff

I took a class today at Bead Junction to learn how to make a design called the Beon Freo Cuff. The teacher and designer is Rachel Nelson-Smith, who is in town to teach several days of classes at the Junction store. Rachel is a lovely person and a very patient and helpful teacher.

As you can see, the bracelet is very detailed and quite heavy to hold, but it's so fun to look at and play with. The more you look at it, the more you notice the little details that make up the whole and marvel over Rachel's talent and creativity.
After the end of a full day, we each had a few components completed but no one was anywhere near to completing their own pieces, even though we had each made the base ahead of time. Rachel said it took her 10 years to finish her piece, although apparently that was just because she was busy with other things and only worked on it from time to time! I certainly hope it doesn't take me that long to finish mine but it will be a while before it is finished. The good news is, I have lots of ideas about what I can do with the techniques we learned today and I'm looking forward to getting to work on my own version of this wonderful design!

P.S. Rachel will be the guest speaker at this month's Toronto Bead Society meeting, being held tomorrow night - guests welcome! You can also check out her website at

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wedding Wear

I'm invited to a friend's wedding tonight, so this morning, I've been working on a bracelet to wear with my outfit. Haven't quite decided exactly what I'm wearing, I have a couple of outfits to choose from, both of which are black, it just depends what I feel like when the time comes to get dressed. However, I wanted to make something to go with the necklace that I made and wore to the company Christmas party (see Dec 4/08 post).
I used the style of the garden bracelet I posted yesterday, only as you can see, the finished result looks totally different done in black, white and silver. Of course, I also needed a pair of dangly earrings to complete the ensemble.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Garden Bracelet

Here's a picture of the garden bracelet that Kate taught us to make during the workshop in Mexico. I'm posting this picture today, because I'm planning to make a variation of this design for a wedding I'm going to tomorrow night. I'm going to start working on it right after I finish making the base for a bracelet I'll be learning to make at an all day class with Rachel Nelson-Smith at Bead Junction on Sunday. Plus I'm hoping to get my inspiration made for Beadfx. So it's going to be a busy weekend, both socially and bead-wise, and I'm looking forward to every single minute of it!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cold Winter Mornings

It's hard to get motivated to get out of a warm, cozy bed in the morning when the radio announcer wakes you up with the new s that "it's minus 28 degrees out there with the windchill, folks!"

One of the few positive aspects of this bitter cold weather we've been enduring lately is that when it's that cold overnight, we get really amazing cloud formations building up over the lake, which seem to disperse pretty quickly as the sun comes up, so you've got to get up early to see them.

I took these photos this morning of the downtown skyline. I really like the sepia tones that resulted, those are pretty much au naturel, I didn't add them in after the fact., I just enhanced the contrast so you could see the actual cloud banks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Angel Keychains

I'm still thinking of seed beads, so I thought I'd post a photo of these angel keychains I picked up in Mexico. They are so cute and the detail is amazing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Even Count Peyote

Last Thursday night, at the open beading night at Beadfx, Jen taught Stephanie and I how to do even count peyote with triangle beads. I'd already been introduced to the stitch in Mexico when Heather showed me how to bead around a cabachon (is that how you spell that?) with the stitch.

I especially like the effect with the triangle shaped beads, the way some rows show narrowly because it is the point of the triangle, and some are wider because it is the full width of the bead showing. It seems a bit random though, the way the narrow rows appear, I wonder if that's just the way it is or if, gasp, I'm doing it wrong??

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

Since when do we let little furry rodents predict our weather? Since about 1887 apparently, when the first Punxsutawney Phil made his appearance in Pennsylvania, carrying on an Eastern European tradition that originally involved hedgehogs. Who knew?
Earlier today, all three of the varmints we rely on here in Ontario, Wiarton Willie, Schubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia and the aforementioned Phil, predicted six more weeks of winter for us. The good news is, the National Climate Data Centre says the wee animals are right only 39% of the time, so it might not be as bad as it seems.
The joke is, either way, we get at least six more weeks of winter as spring doesn't officially arrive until mid March anyway. Gosh, those settlers were a laugh a minute, weren't they?
In reality, those groundhogs aren't coming out to see if it's a sunny day, they're looking to get lucky. They're driven from their burrows by the need to procreate.
I don't know about you, but somehow the idea that groundhogs are getting more action than I am is even more depressing than the idea of six more weeks of winter!