Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gift Certificates & Prizes

I am so glad Christmas is officially over! This was a very quiet and mellow Christmas for me. I spent the entire weekend at home, alone. But it's not as depressing as it might sound...I spent most of that time beading! And I prefer to work alone anyways...I get so much more accomplished that way!

I also happen to be a very nocturnal creature...maybe it has something to do with being born at 3:00 in the afternoon? But if I do not 'absolutely have to be somewhere' in the morning and during the daytime, I am up all night and usually go to sleep as the sun comes up. And this is not always so amenable to the other people in the house!

But with my husband out of town, there was no one here to be bothered by my crazy sleep schedule! So I got a lot of work done...and I watched some old TV shows on my laptop to keep me company...without having to turn it down so it wouldn't disturb any one's sleep!

We haven't had cable or even a television set hooked up since my daughter went away to college...which is totally fine by me! I hate having to remember if something I actually want to see is coming on at a certain time...and there's not much on Cable TV that I want to see anyways! So I just watch Netflix or Amazon Instant Video on my laptop.

I might be years behind everyone else when it comes to finally watching some older Movies & TV shows, but I can enjoy them at any hour of the day or night and it keeps me company while I am beading!

Now I did not realize (and am a little disappointed) that today was a federal holiday...and that means no Mail Delivery! I am waiting for a package that I just know is sitting at my local Post Office waiting to be delivered to me!! And it has beads in it!

I may have mentioned before that I never, ever, ever win anything...and then in the past 2 weeks, I won something twice! I was one of the lucky people that won the Dream Keeper Vessel Ring Tutorial from Marcia DeCoster, which I received in my email right before Christmas...and it is stunning! I can't wait to make several of these!

And then out of the blue, I won a Facebook/Blog contest hosted by The Hole Bead Shoppe! And for that one I got a $25 gift certificate for beads! So I immediately went to their website and browsed around putting things in my shopping cart and trying to decide what I should get!

Whenever I have a gift certificate or "birthday money" I always try to get something that I wouldn't normally spend my own money on. It can actually be hard to do this, especially being on a really tight budget right now! I always try to be economically smart with my purchasing (even when I am not unemployed), but this is money that cannot be spent on bills and food no matter how I plan my budget!

So along with some beads, I decided to get a package of the new Tulip Beading needles. I have been wanting to try these for a while, but it's hard to spend $5 on 4 needles when I can spend $5 and get 4 packs of 25 Pony needles...that's 100 needles for the same price!

But I am excited to try these Tulip needles. I have a feeling I am not going to like the size 11 as much as the size 12's that I usually use. But they don't come in size 12 for some reason and I was definitely not spending $14 for 3 size 13 needles! Even with a gift certificate...haha!

So I am hoping this package arrives in the mail tomorrow...and I will report back with all of my opinions about the Tulip needles!

And speaking of Gift Certificates...my awesome daughter got me a gift certificate to my LBS for my birthday this month. And I saved this Gift Certificate for 2 whole weeks because every year after Christmas my LBS has their one & only annual sale...20 to 50 percent off of everything! And that sale started today!

So I got myself up and out of the house before noon to get to this sale to spend my birthday bead money! All Czech Glass and Seed Beads were 25 percent off so I stocked up on some things that I wouldn't normally buy...like a tube of Antique Silver Seed Beads and some Matte Metallic size 15/0 seed beads. Then I found some beautiful Fire Polish beads and some Daggers & Drop beads! I also got a bunch of Czech Glass Buttons that were 50 percent off and several "fill it up for $1" baggies of random gemstone beads!

All in all it was a great day...and I got myself some Christmas presents!

But you should check out The Hole Bead Shoppe. They carry a lot of Beautiful Lucite Flowers & Leaves, Czech & Japanese Seed Beads and some Vintage Czech Glass as well as Thread, Needles and other beading Supplies! They also have a blog and a Facebook page...where you can enter contests and you can vote on their Day of the Dead beading challenge! The kit for this challenge was put together by The Hole Bead Shoppe and was limited to only 10 lucky people and there are some really cool designs, so check them out on FB and vote for your favorite!

Still waiting for some snow...it's just not winter to me without snow! I will be in Ann Arbor Michigan for New Year's though and it's always snowing up there!

Hope you all enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing Christmas with your loved ones (or by yourself, whichever you prefer) and wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!

And it looks like I have another Blog Friend! Thank you Siggi!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Quiet Christmas Eve

So it is Christmas Eve...and I am home alone with my cat and my Christmas Tree and my beads! It would be perfect if it were snowing!

 I would love to spend some of the day with my family tomorrow, but everyone has so many other family obligations & In Laws to spend the holidays with etc...And my daughter is grown up and has her own home now and my husband is out of town for work this week. So, I am alone here in this huge, spooky, stone mansion...but it's actually quite nice and peaceful.

But my favorite part of Christmas is having a Christmas Tree and seeing the houses all lit up with Christmas Lights! It reminds me of my childhood and driving around the fancy neighborhoods to see all the lights!

I love the idea surrounding this Holiday, and I love the spirit of giving! But I hate the Black Friday consumer crap that it has become...so I don't really participate in all of that. But I do have a tree and we do have lights on the house!

I live in an old Victorian Style Stone Castle (it even has a turret)...Circa 1880. The house is on the National Historic Registry, but the landlords don't take care of it at all. It is definitely falling apart around us, but I still love it! It sits off the road on a 1 acre lot in the middle of the city and is surrounded by trees and a little stone wall...it's just beautiful and spooky!

And it has Christmas lights on it! As you drive up our street, you come up over a little hill, and all of a sudden all you can see is our house framed with Christmas lights! And I have always loved to see that, even before I lived here!

I have lived on this street in 4 different houses over the past 20 years and I always wanted to live in this one! Then about 6 years ago, I finally moved in! But this might be the last Christmas I spend here so I wanted to get some pictures of the house lit up at Christmas...

And I have to warn you, these are not great pictures because it's dark outside and I had to try to stand perfectly still to get the extra exposure to take a night time photo (no tripod)...but they are nostalgic photos for me...or they will be one day...haha!

This is the only angle I could get a decent shot, so nothing too fancy. This is the main entryway and the Turret framed with lights:

Obviously I forgot to stand still long enough for that last one...haha! But I like it anyways!

And now I should get back to my beads...I have a lot of projects that still need finishing! But I wanted to share my terrible photos of my lovely Christmas lights...and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope everyone gets some peaceful alone time and some loving family time tomorrow!

And of course I wish everyone plenty of Beading Time!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My latest beading trays

I wanted to share a picture of these awesome little trays I found on Ebay that are just perfect for my beading projects! These are children's size cafeteria trays...they have 4 compartments and are made out of lightwieght yet sturdy plastic. They measure 13.5"x 8.5" and they stack nicely, even with projects on them!

In this photo, I am working on a project using the Spinal Tap rope by Mikki Ferrugiaro of Mikki Ferrugiaro Designs and her blog The Beaded Carpet...it is an awesome design and the rope is super flexible and has an amazing shape to it!

I love these little trays...and with their rounded corners, I never snag my thread on the edge...and that used to happen all the time with my old system! And when that happens, it spills all the little piles of beads into each other and is especially irritating!

I lined the little compartments with pieces of bead mats. I always order several of these with any bead purchase, so I have a lot of bead mats in my stash. They are so great for lining any and all bead working surfaces...I even have one lining the bottom of my Loom!

But these trays come in packs of 4 for around $8 with shipping...so I bought 2 sets and shared some with my mom for her beadwork. I always have several of them stacked up with projects on them, and I just use another small piece of bead mat to cover the center section with all the piles of beads, and then they don't roll around and get mixed up!

I also have some little 11"x 8" white plastic trays made for food service by Mozaik. They don't have the separate compartments but they do have the nice rounded edges and they also stack very well. These also came from Ebay in a pack of 8 for around $12 with shipping.

I use both styles of my new beading trays all the time...I guess the choice just depends on the mood I am in! But I searched for a long time to find nice little trays that I could use for my beadwork instead of just putting a bead mat down on my work surface. With that method you can't move the project without a big mess, or without putting all the beads away.

And for a while I just put a big piece of thick cardboard under the mat so I could move it around, but this was not an ideal solution. My thread was always catching the corner of the cardboard and making a huge mess, plus I could not easily stack and store my projects with that system! Not to mention my bead mats did not like to stay in place without sliding around or being taped down!

The mail man just arrived and he delivered a package from Fusion Beads! I love getting beads in the mail! They are discontinuing their line of Cubic Zirconia Beads so they were 50 percent off! Which means their 18mm x 7mm CZ Drops were $1.44 each! They sold out very quickly! But I managed ti get several sets of them in 5 colors so I can make more pairs of Marcia DeCoster's Medici Drop earrings for Christmas presents!

This size is a little smaller than the ones I used in my first pair of these...those were 28mm x 7mm CZ drops that I purchased at Beadaholique. I love those longer drops...they are stunning!

But I have had many people tell me that they can't wear such long earrings, so these 18mm drops should be perfect for shorter versions of the Medici Drop Earrings! And who knows, maybe I will use them in some other earring designs as well!

Well, I guess I need to go work on some of those pairs of earrings! And I wish you lots of luck getting all of your beading projects done before Christmas! I know I am going to have a lot of sleepless nights in the next week or so!

Happy Beading and try to get some rest before Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Friends & Blog Hops

Well I am just so excited! I have my first Friends of my Blog! I guess they officially call them "Followers" but I like Friends better! It sounds less cult like...

But I wanted to officially Thank You for being my first Blog Friends, Lori Anderson of Pretty Things and Karyn of  Releases by Rufydoof.

And I got my first comment! I know this might seem silly to many of you, but I have never written a blog before and I while I have been following some of my favorite bead artists' blogs, I have always been a lurker...never a commenter! Hard to believe considering how much I like to talk and write about beads!

But the lovely Miss Marcia DeCoster changed all that with her "Share the Love Blog Hop" that her and 6 other wonderful bead artists shared with us for the past week!

Marcia DeCoster of MadDesigns, Beverly Gilbert, Val Hebert of Val's Art Studio, Jeanette Cook of Beady Eyed Women, Carol Dean Sharp of Sand Fibers, Cynthia Deis of Shiny Little Things and Lori Anderson of Pretty Things have all joined together to offer us some beautiful prizes for "hopping" around to read their blogs and leave a friendly comment!

It was so much fun...seeing all the wonderful beads and crystals and books and cabochons and silk and all the pretty things that they added to the goody bags...it was just amazing!

And, I was one of the lucky second place winners on Marcia's blog...she felt bad that everyone couldn't win so she gifted her pattern for the Dream Keeper Vessel ring to 5 lucky winners! Check it out, it is absolutely stunning!

Now I have never win anything...seriously! I don't even bother to enter contests and lotteries anymore because I just don't ever win! Of course the not entering part could have something to do with not winning, but you know what I mean!

But other than all the beautiful beads being given away, I had so much fun getting to know these artists on a more personal level...and I was introduced to several blogs that I hadn't been following before. Now I can see myself spending all of my time reading blogs and not beading!

It's a good thing I have taken on the New Year's Earring Challenge at Beading Daily! At least this will keep me motivated to bead after I am done with my daily reading! I am also excited to join the Beading Babes hosted by Releases by Rufydoof in their 3rd Project! These projects should keep me busy!

No photos in the diary today...but I just got my camera back and am working on setting up a better photo taking area for my beads and jewelry. Hopefully this will help with the quality of photos I post here in the future.

Now I really do have to get back to some fast & furious beading if I intend to have anything done by Christmas!

Happy Beading, Reading and Blogging!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Preciosa Twin Beads & International Shipping

So today is my Birthday...I am 39, which is only 1 year away from 40...and that's only 1 decade away from 50...Haha! But all in all the day itself was perfectly fine as far as birthdays go...

Of course I would be much more excited about it all if it would just snow on my birthday! That hasn't happened since I turned 17...and that day it snowed over 2 feet! And I love snow storms...or any kind of storms actually. But bright, sunny and cold winter days just seem so out of place to me! Where is the beautiful grey sky of winter?

I had a lot of annoying errands to run today...which is a very bad idea in the middle of December! I can't believe that I actually forgot what it is like out there in the world of Christmas shopping...something I avoid like the plague! But my wonderful Daughter offered to drive me around so at least I got to spend some of my Birthday with her...even if we were in Commercial Christmas Hell!

But when I got home my new Twin Beads from Preciosa were in the mailbox! I have been wanting to try these out since I heard about them, but not wanting to end up with 100 grams of one color before seeing them first...so ordering from York Beads or another Wholesale Supplier was out of the question for now!

So I ordered 3 little 10 gram tubes from Sparkle Spot in Bronze, Black and Crstal. I use Bronze and Black more than any other color except maybe Red...and I figured the Crystal color would be good for using in netted ornament covers or something Christmassy!

These beads are so damn cute...they are much smaller than I imagined they would be! It can be hard to visualize something that's measured in mm's. Even with all of the seed beads I own and play with everyday, I still don't know what 5mm is going to look like until it's in my hands!

I can't wait to start playing with them...I am much more excited about them now than I was when I first heard about them! For some reason I assumed they would be similar to the Miyuki Tila beads, which I like, but I wouldn't want to see another version of them!

But here is a photo of these Twins with a US Penny for scale. Also included for scale are some Miyuki Round Seed Beads in sizes 11/0 and 8/0...

At this time of year I always start thinking about what I accomplished during the past year and what I might wish to attempt in the coming year...and I always prefer to think of these things as a challenge rather than a resolution! I work better with challenges than with some "set in stone" rule, which is how I think of the word Resolution!

And just in time, Jen of Van Beads has offered up a New Year's Challenge on Beading Daily...to bead 1 pair of earrings every day for the month of January! I am totally in for this one. And now I don't even have to come up with my first challenge of 2012...this one just fell in my lap!

This is a great challenge for seed bead artists, especially because seed bead projects always take an insane amount of time to complete. So making a pair of earrings is like instant gratification for a seed beader!

As a seed beader, I always get side tracked in the middle of a project to start something else that I can't get out of my head! And then I end up with a crazy amount of projects going at the same time...because nothing ever gets finished in less than a day or two and usually nothing gets finished in less than a week...and sometimes months!

So today I decided to practice for this challenge...I made a pair of earrings out of Marcia DeCoster's Beaded Opulence: Medici Drops. These are so beautiful...and fairly easy to make if you can find the right tear drop beads for them!

I finally found some 7mm x 28mm Cubic Zirconia Tear Drops at Beadaholique...and they were on sale! But they are out of stock on every color except for Garnet Red (more of an Orangey Red like Hyacinth) and Jet Black. But if you're making these Medici Drop earrings you want something more outrageous than Black...sooo, I got the Garnet Red and paired them with Dark Bronze Seed Beads, Matte Metallic Bronze Seed Beads and Swarovski 3mm Bicones in Red Magma...

It's not the greatest photo...actually, it's a terrible photo! I apologize for that...most of my photos on this blog are kind of awful! But I took them with my iPhone...and now I have my camera back so I will finally start getting some better photos for this little diary of mine!

Anyways, I am still playing along with the Blog Hop being hosted by Marcia DeCoster and several other amazing Bead Artists! I am really hoping that I win something out of this! The beautiful beads and things being given away in this Blog Hop are amazing and I want them all...Haha! But I enjoy reading their blogs anyways, so I certainly will not be losing anything if I don't win!

But I have already missed out on winning the one item I wanted (so far) on Beadaholique's 12 Giveaways of Christmas...so hopefully I get lucky with the Blog Hop...or maybe something else will come up on the Christmas Giveaway that I could actually use!

The current gift looks awesome, it's all about bead embroidery and includes a signed copy of Sherry Serafini's Sensational Bead Embroidery (I have this, unsigned of course), 4 tubes of Toho 11/0's, 3 bobbins of Nymo (hate the stuff), a pack of Beadsmith Assorted Beading Needles (I prefer Pony's size 12) 2 sheets of Lacy's Stiff Stuff (I prefer Nicole's Beadbacking) and a sheet of Ultra Suede (this I could use)...

But I already own everything in the gift bag except for the Ultra Suede...so I may as well leave my name out of the hat and give someone else a little bit more of a chance to win it, right?

Well, it's 11:59  and my birthday is almost officially over...I guess now it's time to go play with those Twin Beads!

Happy Beading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Giveaways of Christmas!

So I know that no one reads my blog...I haven't really publicized the fact that I even have a blog. I started this as a Diary for myself...it's a great way to document my ideas and my love of seed beads and it gives me the opportunity to express some of the nonsense whirling around in my head!

There are limits to how much you can talk about beads with friends and family before their eyes glaze over and you know they just don't get it...

But in the off chance that someone out there is reading this, I thought you might want to know about this wonderful giveaway going on at The Beader's Blog published by Beadaholique! I only recently found their blog and so far they have had 2 beading contests and now this awesome giveaway!

Over the next few weeks they will be offering the 12 Giveaways of Christmas! All you have to do to win one of these is comment on the blog post! You can comment on each and every giveaway but you can only comment once per blog entry or you will be disqualified...and you can only win one of these giveaways!

And they are offering some wonderful items with substantial value! Today's blog entry is offering $100 worth of Czech Glass beads...that's a pretty awesome prize to win in exchange for a simple comment! Here is the photo from the actual Blog Post at The Beader's Blog:

And here is a list of the dates and names of all 12 giveaways:

Giveaway #1: Dec. 2nd - Everyone's got to start somewhere.....let us help! Ends Dec. 5th
Giveaway #2: Dec. 5th - Time to cast your thoughts towards the holidays. Ends Dec. 7th
Giveaway #3: Dec. 6th - Czech your list twice.......... Ends Dec. 8th
Giveaway #4: Dec. 7th - Ho ho ho, you're going to be fit to be tied..... Ends Dec. 9th
Giveaway #5: Dec. 8th - Holidays are the time to stick together....... Ends Dec. 12th
Giveaway #6: Dec. 9th - Nunn does it better....... Ends Dec. 12th
Giveaway #7: Dec. 12th - What a Lark! Keep a stiff upper lip and lace up tight! Ends Dec. 14th
Giveaway #8: Dec. 13th - Precious treasures, for colorful holidays. Ends Dec. 15th
Giveaway #9: Dec. 14th - Ice and snow are elements that frame the season....... Ends Dec. 16th
Giveaway #10: Dec. 15th - Our favorite Christmas vintage! Ends Dec. 19th
Giveaway #11: Dec. 16th - We've come far and we're worth it. Ends Dec. 19th
Giveaway #12: Dec. 19th - All the Elements come together for a dazzling finish! Ends Dec. 21st

So go ahead and comment on every one or try and figure out which one is the most appealing to you and wait for that one since you only get to win one of these!

That last one, All the Elements come together...that sounds like a nice big Swarovski giveaway...so if I don't win any of the other ones, I will most definitely be trying for that one!

And while we are on the topic of Blog giveaways...one of my most favorite Bead Artists, Marcia DeCoster of MadDesigns is joining 11 other Bead Artist Bloggers in a Blog Hop...now I can only imagine the beautiful beads you could win from these amazing artists! I will most definitely be trying to win some of these too!

Now I never win anything...so I just don't even enter these kinds of things. But I think it's time for my luck to change...So I am definitely going to commenting on Blogs all over the place in the next few weeks...my 39th birthday is coming up this month so maybe I will get lucky and win at least one of these!

Happy Beading and good luck with these Giveaways!