Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday is on FIRE ~ check out our challenge!

Some of the Fire Divas are participating in a Breast Cancer Awareness Challenge. Please take a minute to hop over to the Fire Diva's blog to vote on these wonderful beads! Thank you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Therapy Thursday ~ with Miley?

This video has been bringing a smile to my face all week. Who knew a Miley Cyrus song could be so entertaining? Go ahead, watch it. And I guarantee it will change your mood. Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Penguins and Tutorial Talk

The first critter bead I made was a penguin. I had happened upon the Bead Envy website by Emma Green, and lo and behold - there was a lampwork penguin tutorial. I had not planned on making critter beads. My grand plan was to create beautiful, sophisticated beads for jewelry. But when I saw this tutorial for Plop the Penguin I knew I had to give it a try. Emma's tutorial is wonderful - it explains in full detail what to do and in what order - which is very important with sculptural beads. A penguin bead was bigger than anything I had made up until then, and at first I had some trouble keeping the entire bead hot. Sadly, some of my penguins lost a wing or two. But that first penguin I made, which resembled a penguin enough for my kids to recognize it, was all it took. I was hooked. I made penguin after penguin, with distorted heads and broken wings and eyeballs that melted together. But I didn't care - to me, they were the most fun I'd had at the torch yet. So I moved on to Emma's Cow Head Tutorial. The cow head was much trickier for me, but I kept at it. I was so grateful to have these steps outlined so beautifully and easily for me. My penguin and cow beads don't look like they used to, but they also don't look like Emma's. I took her instruction, and as they say on American Idol, "made it my own" - which is how it should be.

If you are a lampworker who would like to give critter beads a try, I highly recommend the tutorials on Bead Envy. If you are a collector of critter beads, I urge you to check out Emma's creations ~ they're just wonderful!

I would love to write a bead tutorial. I'm thinking about doing one for turtles, because I think those would be a good place to start for the aspiring critter bead artists (I know you're out there!). My turtle beads are basic, round beads with layered spots - just add the face, feet, toes and tail and voila! It's a turtle.

Here are a bunch of my original penguin beads - they now live in my daughters' bead boxes.

Penguin in a Pom Pom Hat - see how they've evolved? They even wear hats now!

I'd love to hear from lampworkers - do you use tutorials? Have you tried a critter bead tutorial? Would a turtle tutorial (a turtle toot) be something you'd be interested in?

Monday, October 26, 2009

For the Love of Wiener Dogs

It's no secret that I have a thing for wiener dogs. I've never owned one, but I think they are just the cutest little things. So in honor of these funny little doggies, I give you my Tribute to Wiener Dogs.

Weenie in a Snuggie

Weenie in a bun

Black and Tan Weenie

Corn Dog


Devil Weenie

Brown Weenie

Dapple Weenie

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sppoooooky SALE

My Halloween beads are itchin' to get out of the bead box and go scare up some fun ~ so I've put them on SALE! Check out the SPOOKY SALE section in my shop . . . if you dare.

Franken-Turtle (a lab experiment gone horribly wrong)

Spider Skull

Turtle in a Candy Corn Costume (don't eat the candy corn with toes)

Bat & Ghost Pair (these would make fun earrings ~ and I'd be happy to make them for you for a small fee)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday is on FIRE!

Boro Lampwork BHB (Big Hole Bead)

This week's featured Fire Diva hails from New York. Lea, of LAJewelryDesigns, has her gorgeous beads in both an Etsy shop and an ArtFire shop. Lovely lentils, amazing big-hole beads for pandora-style chains, stunning bead sets, and now beautiful fish beads grace her shops. So let's get to know a little bit more about Lea . . .

How did you find your craft, or did it find you?
DH & I both have an appreciation for the glass arts. We have a collection of glass sculptures in our house that we've collected over the years. I saw a glass blowing demo years ago by Randy Strong & was mesmorized. I knew I couldn't handle the big stuff, but when a friend asked me to take a lampwork class with her at a local art league, I jumped on it. I fell in love immediately and have not looked back.

Favorite color glass?
Hmmmmm......don't tell anyone, but I've got a stash of Lauscha fuschia I've been hoarding for years. LOVE that color! I find it much easier to work with than Rubino Oro.

Do you have a nickname?
With such a short name, you'd think I wouldn't need a nickname, but I have a few actually, some just different pronunciations of my name: Lay-ah, Lee and Lee Lee.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Can't I have both??

Laundry hamper: full or empty?
Empty right now, but not for long I'm sure.

What did you have for dinner last night?
steak on the bbq, corn on the cob and salad. YUM!

Bed: made or unmade?
made. now for the rest of my house......we won't go there.

What’s on your nightstand?
watch, glasses, telephone

Last book you read:
Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. I've read all her books. She's from Long Island too.

Salad dressing: on the side or mixed in?
mixed in unless I'm being good. ;)

Ever eat Playdoh?
EW! No!

How do you like your eggs?
sunnyside up or an egg white omelet with mushrooms & onions.

Ever have a perm?
Yes & it was NOT a good look!

Deep dish or thin crust?
Thin crust. yummy!

What’s on your living room wall?
A very uninspiring painting. Thanks for the reminder. :) I have had something in mind that I wanted to make for that wall. It's a cathedral ceiling and the painting on the wall now is way too small. I had gotten a large refrigerator facing from someone on freecycle awhile back. I want to paint it black & then glue on capiz shells in an interesting design. I think it'll be a big improvement.

Least favorite smell?
Rotting garbage.

Can you play an instrument?
Sadly no.

Ever broken a bone?
Yes, both arms, but at different times. I'm not THAT talented!

Do you like guacamole?
Love it! Yummo! My older son loves the guac that I make from scratch.

Most proud of:
My children. I have 2 grown sons, 23 and 27. We had some rocky times, but they've both turned into such fine young men. They both have good jobs (knock wood) and have moved out. That's the sad part. :(

Ibis ~ Lampwork Glass Fish Bead

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Therapy Thursday ~ time for a joke

Today's joke is brought to you by my 6-year-old daughter, Jessie:

How do you make Lady Gaga mad?

Poke her face.


Got any good jokes to share? Leave them in comments, please!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chocolate on the Brain ~ Random Book Review

You may sense a theme here. The last (and only other) book I reviewed was a novel called Eat Cake. And now here I am with Chocolate on the Brain, Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics. This one is an actual cookbook (though the picture above is of the recipe notecard version, the book goes for $18). Written by the mother-son team of Nancy and Kevin Mills, this book is choc full of chocolaty goodness. I've owned this cookbook for several years (a gift from my mom, who knows me so well), and it's obvious by looking at the chocolate-stained pages that the book is loved. For me, a cookbook is a hit, or worth the money spent on it, if you get one really good recipe out of it. I can tell you that is more than true with this book. I'm obviously coming off a chocolate high - I made the Chocolate Oatmeal Brownies last night - as I write this.

Kevin Mills writes an introduction to the book that is spot on. He says, "I don't trust people who say they don't like chocolate. To me, it's like saying you don't much care for oxygen, or you're tired of living aboveground. I just can't relate to people like that. They should be closely monitored, if not rounded up an reeducated." Kevin's humor and family stories are sprinkled throughout the book. So even if you don't intend on making the Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe, you'll still be amused by his story about his sister's trip to Mexico.

Every recipe is rated in difficulty and the prep and baking times are given at the top. There are lots of "Mom Tips" throughout, too, where Nancy recommends types of chocolates or explains where some ingredients can be found in the store.

I have yet to try most of the recipes in the book - I tend to stick with the old standbys: brownies & cookies. But there's everything from Chocolate Chip Mini Bagels (Not So Easy) to Mississippi Mud Pie (Easy). One of these days I'll venture into the chapter on pies or puddings. For now, I'm extremely satisfied with Intensely Chocolate Cocoa Brownies (Very Easy). Here's what Kevin says about them:

"When regular brownies don't give you the chocolate fix you need, it's time to move on to the harder stuff. Intensely Chocolate Cocoa Brownies are the next best thing to injecting chocolate syrup into your veins."

Intensely Chocolate Cocoa Brownies

Makes: 25 (1.5 inch squares), Prep time: 15 minutes, Baking time: 15-20 minutes, Rating: Very Easy

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter + more for greasing
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350. Lin an 8- or 9-inch sq. pan with aluminum foil, making sure two ends of the foil overhang the pan by about 2 inches so you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan later. Lightly rub the bottom and sides of the foil with butter, set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over low heat. When it has melted, turn off the heat and stir in the cocoa. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla, mix thoroughly.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until combined. If you are adding walnuts, stir them in now.

Pour the batter into the foil-lined pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top feels firm. These brownies taste better underbaked rather than overbaked. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the ends of the foil and remove the brownies from the pan. Cut into 25 squares and serve. Store in an airtight container or wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.

~ from Chocolate on the Brain, by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills

And here is my photo of the finished product - I added chocolate chips to the top. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

L@@ky What I Bought

It's time for an episode of "Looky What I Bought!" Or maybe it should be "Looky What Eye Bought." Anyway, last week my mailbox was filled with things I'd bought on Etsy and elsewhere. I don't shop a real lot, but when I do I like to buy handmade. I felt like I hit the jackpot when four of my recent purchases were crammed into my mailbox on the same day. Today I'm going to show you the Eye Soap I bought from BunnyBubbles. I ordered two pairs, so four eyeballs total. I chose bloodshot for all the eyes. These are a gift for my dad, who is an eye doctor and whose birthday just happens to be on Halloween. And luckily, he doesn't follow my blog. We always look for eyeball-related things for him, and this soap was the perfect choice this year. It arrived quickly, and was packaged beautifully. And as soon as I slid the top off the box I got a good whiff of the white peach sangria-scented eyeballs. Can you think of a better scent for bloodshot eyeball soap? I can't wait to give these to my dad - and I know my mom will love the scent. BunnyBubbles is filled with quirky soaps (my kind of shop!), from calculators and sushi to fortune cookies and light bulbs ~ a super fun shop with wonderful customer service.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday is on FIRE!

Rainbow Tab

I have long admired the beads and use of color in the shop called Lutrick on Etsy. Lara, a fellow Fire Diva, is the creator of the gorgeous creations in this shop. Right now Lutrick is filled with beads for fall and Halloween, but you'll still find her signature focals, stunning bead sets and a large variety of Pandora beads. So let's get to know Lara . . .

How did you find your craft, or did it find you?

I had been stringing beads and making simple fimo beads while in high school and college. I had seen Indian lampwork beads, but didn't use them as they were really bad. While at a local arts and crafts fair in my home town of Seattle I saw and bought my first true artisan lampwork bead. The artist told me that I could take a class at my local bead store. I took that first class at Glass Expressions in Burien WA and I was immediately hooked.

Favorite color glass?

Oh this is too hard. I like so may colors. My favorite color is purple, so I like: Ink Blue, Psyche. I like reactive colors so I like: Opal Yellow, Ivory (all of them), Copper Green. I like striking and reducing colors and mine are: Blue Chalcedony, Gaia, Bullseye Copper Green Luster

Do you have a nickname?


Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate (but really prefer Strawberry)

Laundry hamper: full or empty?


What did you have for dinner last night?


Bed: made or unmade?


What’s on your nightstand?


Last book you read:

An Echo in the Bone - Still working on it actually.

Salad dressing: on the side or mixed in?


Ever eat Playdoh?

Eck, no

How do you like your eggs?


Ever have a perm?

Yup, and I back combed it for big bangs too. Ahhhhh, the late 80s and early 90s.

Three favorite condiments?

Mustard, Mustard and Mustard

Deep dish or thin crust?

Regular, kind of a medium.

What’s on your living room wall?

Historic flower prints, a framed abstract poster and a mixed media collage with handmade paper and leaf skeletons.

Least favorite smell?


Can you play an instrument?

Slightly - Piano

Pets' names:

Beetle (cat)

Ever try their (your pets') food?

Ack, no.

Ever broken a bone?

No, but came close when a bolder fell on my knee.

Do you like guacamole?

Mmmmmm Yum.

Most proud of:

Graduating from nursing school with by BSN.

Big Leaf ~ Autumn Lampwork Focal

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Therapy Thursday ~ and boy do I need it!

Is it really only Thursday? I wouldn't know - I've been in the house all week with two sick kids and a dog with a nasty case of the runs (he got into the cat's food - my bad). And just a few minutes ago our poor kitty had a seizure. He is diabetic, and occasionally will suffer a seizure if his numbers are off. This was a pretty bad one and it took me a while to snap him out of it. Corn syrup on his tongue and lots more food in his belly, and he's doing much better. But while he is experiencing an episode, he sprays uncontrollably. I was lucky in the sense that this time he was on the hard floor, so clean-up was a little quicker. But, as I'm sure you can imagine, my house needs some freshening up! And I could use a bit of aroma-therapy (and a drink, but it's only 9:30 in the morning). So I lit my Monkey Farts candle from DavesHomemade and it's starting to smell much better in here. Don't let the name "Monky Farts" scare you - it's not what you think. These candles have a "unique complex fragrance is anything but disgusting! Fragrance begins with top notes of fresh bananas and juicy grapefruit, middle notes of kiwi, juicy bubblegum, and strawberries; and a hint of vanilla as a base note," according to their description. And I have to concur - yummy!

But my candle is getting low, and I already gave the other one I bought as a gift. So now I think I'll treat myself to some shopping therapy. I'll make my hubby happy in the process, because I'm going for the Fall Trio, which includes Pumpkin Pie, Hot Apple Pie and Gingerbread Cookie (all my hubby's faves - and no calories!).

Happy Thursday to me!

What are you doing on this gloomy Thursday to stay upbeat?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Warning: Sale Ahead

From Friday, Oct. 16 thru Sunday, Oct. 18, I'll be offering 10% off of all sales in my Etsy shop. Just make your purchase and put "Weekend Deals" in the note to seller, and then wait for a revised invoice with the new price, or pay and wait for a refund. Easy as pie.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Take Care of the Girls

As you probably know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a chance to promote awareness of the disease and remind women to go get their mammograms and do their own self exams. It's also a chance to contribute to the cause. The following shops will all donate a portion of the proceeds of the sales of specially-marked items to breast cancer charities.

One-half of the proceeds from the sale of this adorable Hooters For Hooters Bead by StudioMarcy will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Now is your chance to own one of Marcy's sweet critter beads, and know that 50% of the proceeds is going to fight breast cancer. Check out Marcy's shop for more of her whimsical Hooters for Hooters.

DavesHomemade will donate 20% of each Breast Cancer Awareness Serenity Candle sale to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. These pretty pink candles are Pink Sugar scented, a playfully soft women's fragrance with the sweetness of sugar, cotton candy, vanilla, musk and light florals. I happen to own candles from this shop, and they are absolutely wonderful!

bellsandunicorns will donate 20% of the sales of these Pink Ribbon Sandwich Baggies to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, which provides monetary and other support to families struck by breast cancer in the Southwest Missouri area. These baggies are perfect for the eco-minded person who wants to help the earth - and also set a good example for the kiddos.

You can find this Boobie Bookmark is in my Etsy shop ~ Maybeads. I'll donate 50% of the proceeds from the sale of the bookmark to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's True! My Beads Really are Realistic!

Last spring we went to Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria, Illinois, and spent the night in a one-room log cabin on the park grounds. It was our second visit to the park, and we spent the day wandering the grounds and looking at all the animals. When we got to the indoor exhibit for snakes and turtles, I nearly squealed with delight to find these two turtles posing, one atop the other. I quickly got out my camera (I don't know why I had to act quickly - these two weren't going anywhere) and snapped a couple shots. All this time I had thought my stacked turtle beads were purely fantasy. But now I know the truth. Turtles really do like to horse around.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday is on FIRE!

Juicy Candy Orange Dichroic Ice Cube Lampwork Bead

It's FRIDAY! And you know what that means - time to pry into the life of another Fire Diva. On the hot seat today is Jennifer, of GlassAddictions. She might have named her shop after her own glass addiction, but I'm quite confident her gorgeous creations will have you thinking a 12-step program would be the only way to quit looking at her intricate beads. Each one is a work of art in itself. Don't take my word for it - read the interview and have a look!

How did you find your craft, or did it find you?
I was already addicted to everything glass (stained glass and fusing) before I started lampworking. My sister in law was making beads. My other glass buddies were all getting torches. I resisted as long as I could possibly tolerate (about 3 months) and then got a torch. Now I hardly ever do any fusing and haven't made a stained glass panel in about 5 years.

Favorite color glass?
Seriously? I have to pick just one? I guess it would have to be Effetre Dark Silver Plum. However, I don't think I could live without clear, even though it is not a particularly exciting color.

Do you have a nickname?
Jenny, Jen, my Dad calls me Jenny-FUR, I also go by Mom, but periodically I get so sick of hearing "MOM!" that I threaten to change my name to Consuela.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Dark Chocolate

Laundry hamper: full or empty?
well...technically empty. However, that is because 3 out of 4 people don't know what a laundry hamper is and anything that actually makes it into a hamper, the Golden Retriever drags out into the middle of the living room.

What did you have for dinner last night?
This is so embarrassing! It was leftovers. I ate the leftover refried beans, cheese and salsa with Doritos. Super healthy dinner.

Bed: made or unmade?

What’s on your nightstand?
The top layer? Magazines and books. It is piled so high full of stuff there could be all kinds of treasures on that thing.

Last book you read:
The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith

Salad dressing: on the side or mixed in?
on the side

Ever eat Playdoh?
Not that I am aware of

How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled with green peppers, onions, ham, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, rosemary and pepper

Ever have a perm?
yes. The last one was when I was about 20. Then I discovered I have naturally curly hair.

Three favorite condiments?
Chocolate, raspberry sauce, caramel

Deep dish or thin crust?

Least favorite smell?

Can you play an instrument?
not anymore.

Pets' names:
Oscar (mini labradoodle), Nim (short for Cumulonimbus, Golden Retriever), Lucy (cat), Piper (guinea pig), S'more guinea pig), Cookie (sugar glider)

Ever try their (your pets') food?
nope. Unless you count the food they steal off our plates as THEIR food...

Ever broken a bone?
The middle finger of my right hand after getting it caught in the swinging doors when I was at work in the operating room of all places. Having that particular finger splinted was fun....

Do you like guacamole?

Most proud of:
My husband and kids.

Fairy Dust Trail Lampwork Focal Bead

Wrapped Series Lampwork Bead-Blush

Terra Shells and Nuggets

Nightmare Insomnia Series-Reflection Pools

Dichroic and Enamel Lampwork Focal Bead