Monthly Archives: March 2014

Bead Soup to the rescue


I had a long day at work. One of those days where there’s more problems than solutions. When I finally got home, I was thrilled to find that my Bead Soup, from Shalini Austin, had arrived. Definitely a pick-me-up.

Shalini sent me a treasure trove of goodies, all wrapped up in separate bags with a little note. I discovered that she had made a number of the components, including these lovely wire flower links.


Wire flower links

Shalini works primarily in wire and I had admired similar flowers in the jewelry on her blog/website. So I was delighted to receive some od my very own. The photos don’t do them justice – they are very pretty.


Close up – wire flower link


Shalini also sent me a Kumihimo cord made of organza ribbon. I’ve never worked with this type of cord before, but now I have 30 inches to play with. Plus a large S-hook clasp.



I love felt beads and Shalini sent me a bag of tiny wet-felted balls in bright colours.


Candy is dandy…but beads are better

The piece de resistance, however, is the focal – a beaded wire Tree of Life, also made by Shalini. It is stunning.


Beautiful hand-made focal

As if that wasn’t enough, Shalini also included an assortment of Tibetan silver components and a bag of freshwater pearls and glass beads in colours that coordinate with the felt balls and the focal.


More bead sweetness

Lots of colour. The perfect antidote to the sea of white that greets me every time I look out the window (with more snow predicted for later this week – oh joy!).

At this point, I have no idea what I’m going to make with my Bead Soup. There are so many possibilities! I know that I’m going to have a lot of fun. Thanks to Shalini for brightening my day.


A little bit of everything

Please check out Jewellry by Shalini to see what I sent Shalini. I sent along a little card with her Soup – liked the design so much that I’ve copied it for several birthday cards.


The Bead Soup reveal is May 3, 2014. Something to keep me occupied while I wait for the snow to melt.






S(no)w spring


According to the calendar, spring arrived a couple of days ago. So did more more snow – about 15 cm (6 inches) fell overnight.

Instead of walking around wearing cute shoes….

 Grace Flats!

Grace Flats! From ShoeMint

I’m still wearing my winter boots – not to mention a parka, a hat and mittens.


My purple Bogs – they were much cuter in November

Around here, snow this late in the season isn’t totally unusual. We had a storm about the same time last year that dropped over 20 cm on the ground (I remember this is because we’d just come back from a week in California where it was 75 F and sunny everyday). But this year, the freezing temperatures arrived in late November and stayed until a couple of weeks ago, when the temperature climbed above the freezing mark for a couple of days. It’s been up and down like a roller coaster since then.

While I’m dreaming of spring flowers…

June 3, 2013 020

Primroses – my garden (spring 2013)

My garden is still fast asleep under a deep layer of white


Sedum (height between 12 to 18 inches)



Even the birds have decided to find somewhere else to spend the day.


Nobody’s home

There is one flower in the garden – lonely and just a little chilly


March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. There are still 9 more days until the end of the month, but so far, the lions are showing no sign of leaving.


Neighbourhood picnic table


Cheap tricks – fresh flowers (almost) every day


I love fresh flowers. If I was independently wealthy, I would have a seasonal arrangement delivered to my house every week. Sadly, my bank account does not lend itself to such extravagance (at least not if my family and I want to eat regularly). However, as the winter of 2014 trudges on, with no end in sight – more snow in the forecast for later this week – fresh flowers are important, if not essential, to my sanity. Tulips are a particularly good antidote to the March doldrums as they’re bright and cheerful.

Narcissus and daffodils are also a good bet, as their bright yellow faces defy anyone to be in a bad mood.

Pots of daffs and tulips are generally available in the stores this time of year, at a fairly reasonable price – by picking the ones just on the verge of opening up, I’ll be able  to enjoy pretty blooms for almost 2 weeks.

Recently, however, I’ve discovered the half price bins in the floral section of my local grocery store. For a relatively modest cash outlay, I can have fresh flowers any time I want. And until the weather warms up and the snow piles in my backyard disappear, I want need a vase filled with flowers in my house, prominently displayed where I can see them.



The selection of flowers in the half-price bins can be a bit hit and miss. At my local store, there’s lots on offer over the weekend, while during the week, the pickings can be a bit slim. Right after a long holiday weekend is often a good time, as many stores are closed on a Monday or a Friday, which means they have to rotate more of their stock than usual. In addition to figuring out the schedule in your store of choice, you also have to be prepared to spend a few minutes examining the goods. Sometimes, it’s easy to tell whether a bouquet is on its last legs or is a day or two past its prime – roses are particularly delicate and don’t tend to last very well. However, alstroemeria (resembles a miniature lily and comes in a variety of colours) and chrysanthemums (also available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes) are relatively hardy. Even though they’re fairly long-lasting, I tend to skip the carnations – they remind me of funerals and as flowers go, they aren’t very interesting.

The one disadvantage of buying from the half-price bin is that what you see is what you get. Depending on the day, the colour and/or flower choices may be somewhat limited. I consider this to be part of the challenge – it gives me a chance to try colour combinations I might not other wise consider, if I was paying full price. Sometimes, I mix and match several different inexpensive arrangements, just for fun.


My floral arranging skills are pretty basic. Since I also like lots of colour, my arrangements would probably send Martha Stewart screaming in the hills. But who cares? The whole idea of having fresh flowers in the house is to bring everyone a bit of pleasure. I’m not sure M and his dad really pay much attention, but the flowers make me happy.


Even if I get a bouquet home and I don’t love it or it doesn’t last very long, I don’t feel like it’s a waste of money. My recent arrangement cost me about $10.00 – less than buying a coffee at work every day. Money well spent, at least until I can get outside into my garden.


Bead Soup is back!


8th Bead Soup Blog Party Thanks to the amazing Lori Anderson, Bead Soup Blog Party is back for 2014. And I’m participating again! Last year, my partner, Marina Kosović sent me a neat mixture of beads, including several polymer clay pendants that she had made herself. The whole process pushed me out of my comfort zone – both in terms of designing and executing several pieces of jewelry, but also exposing my designs to a large group (close to 500 people).

This year, my partner is Shalini Austin. The first thing I noticed when I went to her blog is that she works primarily with wire, using semi-precious stones and a variety of beads. Her designs are very unique and striking. I love these wire earrings made with bright pink felted balls.

Felt Bead Earrings








And this necklace with copper and colourful pearl flowers.

freshwater pearls flower necklace

She also makes stunning wire sculpture trees – this fir looks incredibly lifelike.

Evergreen Wire Sculpture Tree

 Bead Soup is a challenge on two levels – assembling the “ingredients” for your partner and then designing and creating pieces from what she sends you. In putting together Shalini’s “soup,” I focused on combining as many different textures as I could. I also had to be mindful to keep the package itself fairly flat, as Canadian postal rates are based on weight and height. A package higher than 2 cm is considered a parcel and for whatever reason, seems to take twice as long to get to its destination. There was a bit of trial and error involved – a couple of things I really wanted to include were just too big. However, I spent a couple of days putting together different combinations, until the soup was “just right.” I packed it all up and sent it on its way to Shalini.

I can’t show you what I sent her – Shalini gets to see it first. However, I wrapped some of the pieces separately, to ensure they’d fit in the mailing envelope.



I’m crossing my fingers Shalini gets her Bead Soup package soon. I can’t wait to see what she thinks!