Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bead Soup Blog Party, Bead Hoarders Edition

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Bead Soup is back! This year, Lori Anderson, added a fun twist – send your partner a hoarded/treasured/loved bead(s), along with a note, explaining why it was important to you.

I was partnered up with Janine Lucas. It took me a while to find the perfect bead to send her – since she lives in Greece, weight and size were an issue. I selected one of my first artisan bead purchases, a large glass heart in blues and pinks, as well as beads in complementary colours. I can’t remember who made the this bead – when I first started buying hand-made beads, I didn’t always keep the maker’s name. I’ve always loved its shape and texture, but even though I would frequently pull it out of my bead box, I never managed to come up with a design that would do it justice. Unfortunately, in my rush to get Janine’s package in the mail by the deadline, I forgot to take pictures. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with her soup.

Janine sent me a lovely collection of beads, including a gorgeous plum-coloured  ceramic pendant with white dots.

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I love purple (I even have a pair of purple shoes), and I knew right away that I wanted to make a necklace. However, it took me a couple of weeks to come up with a design idea. I started working on the necklace last weekend and quickly realized my original idea wasn’t going work. Back to the drawing board.

By mid-week, I still hadn’t started my necklace. Since I work full-time, I didn’t have a lot of hours left to work on it before the Big Reveal. I know myself pretty well and it always takes me longer than I think it will to finish a project. I finally found my inspiration in a bag of “studio sweeps” purchased a couple of years ago from Yvonne Irvin-Faus of MyElements. She makes brightly coloured, funky plexiglass components. I found a tiny round charm and added a pewter bird from Green Girl Studios, to make a dangle to hang from the pendant. Once I figured out what to do with the focal, the rest of the design fell into place quickly. I wasn’t too keen on the clasp options I had on hand and thought briefly about running out to my local bead store to get something more suitable. Thanks to a late-season snow storm, I  squashed that idea.

The only “rule” for this year’s Bead Soup challenge was to use the special bead sent by your partner. In addition to the pendant, I used a couple of  the other beads Janine sent me. I’m happy with the final result. Lots of texture and movement; the tiny charm adds a pop of colour. Since I wear lots of black, the necklace will be a nice addition to my wardrobe (the leather cording has a silver lustre not evident in the photos – thnks to the snow sto snow storm also made it hard to get decent indoor photos).

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Thanks to Janine for sending me such a lovely bead soup and to Lori, for organizing the Blog Hop. Happy hopping.

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Art of Awareness Blog Hop – the power of purple

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Lori Anderson is one of my favourite people – in addition to being uber-talented and creative, she’s a huge inspiration to me. So when she announced she was taking a break from the Bead Soup Blog Hop and changing things up this spring, I knew I wanted to participate. Anything Lori organizes is going to be fun.

This time, Lori teamed up with Heather Millican, of Swoondimples, for the Art of Awareness Blog Hop. Heather made a gorgeous one-of-a-kind awareness bean bead for each participant. Our job was to use our imaginations and make a piece of jewelry (although we weren’t limited just to jewelry). Given M’s challenges, ADHD seemed like a logical choice for me. Except the awareness colour is orange – not one of my favourite colours (I like it on other people but it looks horrible on me). As I was browsing through the list thoughtfully provided by Lori, I noticed that purple signifies migraine awareness. Not only is purple is my favourite colour, but I’m a chronic migraine sufferer.

I asked Heather to print “in the moment” on my bead.

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This is a reminder that my headaches, however nasty, will pass. I’m also a generic worrywort, so my bean is also a good motto for every day.

As it happens, I had a particularly nasty migraine the day I planned to make my piece. Normally, I’m not very creative or efficient when I have a headache, but the design came together quickly and relatively painlessly. I finally found my long-lost cache of jump rings, which helped make the whole project go easier.

I originally planned to make a bracelet but when I looked at my bean, I realized that the hole was drilled up and down, instead of across the bead. I decided to go with a mixed metal necklace, with my lovely purple bean as the focal.  I made a series of dangles with little bits of chain saved from previous projects  (you never know when an inch of chain will come in handy) and goodies recently acquired from Yvonne Irvin-Faus of MyELEMENTS, a lovely purple leaf bead from Heather Powers of Humblebeads and a tiny brass key. I added a length of beaded chain that I cut from a bracelet purchased from Michaels and a small piece of purple enamel chain, also from MyELEMENTS, to my “tassel”.

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I strung a couple of copper-coloured spacers, a large purple plastic trixie (from Yvonne) and a furnace glass bead with a hint of purple and gold highlights from my stash (origins unknown) with my focal. The chain came from my stash, along with a black enamelled toggle clasp from MissFickleMedia.

 

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It took me about 2 hours, from start to finish, which is relatively fast for me. My headache was mostly gone by the time I finished my necklace, which was a bonus.

 

While I really enjoyed participating in Lori’s Bead Soup Blog Hops, I think the Art of Awareness Blog Hop is my favourite. Maybe it was the colour of my bean or just taking the time to truly be “in the moment”, but the process of making my necklace was energizing. I didn’t struggle with coming up with a design, nor did I have any problems with execution.  It’s not a super-complicated design. With the exception of my awareness bean, everything came from my own stash. The end result is a funky, one-of-a-kind necklace with lots of movement and texture. I wore it today and I expect it will be a go-to piece for me all year round.

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Please check out Lori’s blog, Pretty Things, for a full list of participants and to see what she made. Enjoy your weekend!

 

2nd Annual Bead Hoaders’ Blog Hop – late to the party

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I made a necklace for the blog hop and had taken some photos too. The reason I’m late posting is that I came down with a cold on Friday. After making Christmas cookies, volunteering at the craft sale at my son’s school (which included donating bags of said cookies), and doing a little Christmas shopping, I ran out of steam and had a nap (several, as it turned out).

The necklace was a gift for one of my favourite colleague’s who retired recently. I made a focal bead, using a Jade Scott owl pendant and a copper disc which I distressed, using Ranger’s metal patina in verdigris.

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Although I’ve had the patina for over a year, I’d never actually used it before (my stash includes more than just jewelry components). I scratched the surface of the disc with fine sandpaper and applied the patina on both sides, as per the directions on the bottle. Big impact with minimal work.

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I polished the edges of the disc with the sandpaper to give it a bit more detail. I attached it to a length of fancy round cooper chain that had a natural patina – I don’t know if it came that way or it’s just been in my box of chain for a long time. Either way, it was a perfect match for the focal bead.

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Attaching the focal and the clasp to the chain turned out to be a bit tricky because I couldn’t find my jump rings. Over the last several months, I’ve slowly been organizing a craft space in a corner of my basement (aka, the craft cave) and most of my supplies are sorted. Except apparently, the jump rings. I looked up and down for them several times, to no avail. I managed to find 4 or 5 small gun metal ones, and I used them to attach the clasp, figuring no one would notice the difference in colour at the back of the necklace. The pendant came with a jump ring, but I didn’t like how the owl ears poked up above the metal disc. I had cut a link off the chain so it was the right length and I used it as a jump ring, to drop the owl down a bit further. It did the trick perfectly, plus it looks like part of the chain.

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Thanks to my MIA jump rings, I could only make one piece for the blog hop. However, I also made my colleague a card from materials in my stash, including a vintage button.

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I probably won’t be making any jewelry for Christmas. But as soon as the holiday rush is over, I’m going to track down those darn jump rings, so I can dive back into my stash and have some more fun and perhaps learn another new technique or two.

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Middle school – one year down

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 Before M started Grade 7, I was told repeatedly that the transition to middle school could be challenging, especially for a child with ADHD – larger school, more responsibility, and more demands. Since transitions of any sort can often be difficult for M, I was continually on the outlook for signs that he was struggling: increased anxiety, calls from the school about his behaviour, etc. Based on our elementary school experience, I fully expected to be on a first name basis with the principal by no later than the end of the first month.

Looking back over the last 10 months, I can unequivocally say that M had a successful year. Full credit to him – he adapted to and navigated a new environment. There were some bumps. But these were generally one-offs and relatively minor. I didn’t actually meet the principal until after Christmas and I had one call from her all year. My blood pressure didn’t automatically spike whenever my office phone rang.

Probably the biggest change was in terms of his behaviour. M didn’t get as angry and aggressive whenever things didn’t go his way. I thought he might be overwhelmed by the social complexities of middle school, but he made friends with different groups of kids, not just the students who had come from his elementary school. He certainly enjoyed having more freedom and responsibility – he and some of his buddies would occasionally go for pizza or to a nearby discount store for candy during lunch. On the whole, he was much happier than in previous years. This is a huge win for M.

He still had some challenges, in terms of getting along with people he didn’t like, particularly supply teachers. Early in the year, he took it upon himself to “tell the supply teachers what everyone else in the class was thinking.” This strategy probably netted him a few visits to the hallway and/or the office. We had a numerous conversations at home about respecting authority, recognizing that M has never accepted “because” as a reason to do anything, even at home. While M may be more extreme than the average child, according Anthony E Wolfe, a child psychologist who writes extensively on parent/teen relationships, adults can’t count on absolute compliance from adolescents – they need to earn it. M gave the supply teacher who told the class to sit down and read a text book a hard time, as his classroom teacher always spoke to the materials, rather than having the kids read on their own. My sympathy for this particular substitute took a nose dive when M reported that she’d told him “she was glad she wasn’t his mother.” Not all teachers are good ones.

Another reality that M had to confront this year – you won’t always like all your teachers. He was very fortunate to have had great teachers in elementary school and developed close relationships with them. He didn’t bond with his homeroom teacher and was often frustrated by his teaching style. His relationship with the Art teacher was a constant source of anxiety and frustration. Not only did she have a much more traditional teaching style than he’s used to – she expected the class to sit quietly for the full 50 minutes and not talk to each other – she wasn’t flexible in terms of her expectations. M spent several weeks working to finish an assignment at home and when he took it into to class, she told him it wasn’t finished. As much as I’d prefer that M not have to deal with this teacher next year, difficult people are a fact of life and he needs to figure out how to manage these types of relationships. I certainly wish I learned this skill earlier in life.

The academic expectations in Grade 7 were higher than they had been in elementary school and M certainly did more work in class than he had in previous years. But according to his homeroom teacher, M often checked out, especially if he found the assignment to be uninteresting or difficult. I tried to explain to M that we all have to do things we don’t particularly like from time to time (like clean out our in boxes or attend long meetings), but that’s part of life. M tends to give up if he doesn’t get the answer right away. He doesn’t like to ask for help, which makes it harder for him when he doesn’t understand something.

M’s grades for the year were mostly below the class average. We didn’t talk about it very much, but I think he was a little disappointed. His dad and I don’t care about his grades. They don’t tell the whole picture, especially where M’s concerned. He could easily improve his grades by paying attention in class and doing the work. As I told him one day as he complaining about school, unfortunately for him, his teachers know he’s smart and capable of doing the work. If they thought he was doing his very best, they wouldn’t challenge him to do more. He grudgingly agreed that this was probably true. There are times when I’ve been frustrated by his lack of effort, but he’s got to figure it out for himself. He’s got another full year before (shudder) he starts high school.

Hat’s off to M for conquering Grade 7. Next step: Grade 8.

Signs of spring (better late than never)

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Less than three weeks ago, we had fresh snow on the ground. Two weeks ago, the mercury was barely breaking o C. However, after a few days of sunny weather , some rain and double-digit temperatures, spring seems to be finally making an appearance. Not only can I walk outside in shoes and a light coat, but my garden is showing signs of life.

I have snowdrops…

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and crocus…

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some are even starting to open.

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Plus, the tulips are popping up, never mind the snow.

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An iris, which over-wintered in a pot outside, also P1040046has new shoots.

 

A few other plants are starting to poke out of the ground – this might be Sedum.

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My garden is still pretty messy. Despite temptation of the warm temperatures, its way too early to do a major clean up. I’ll leave the leaf cover for a while longer, until the risk of snow and heavy frost is gone (snow’s in the forecast for early next week). I have picked up the dog poo that was littered around the yard, (downside of letting the dog out in the backyard during the winter months), as well as other random piles of unknown animal droppings (since they’re always near the dog poo, I’m pretty certain some other creature has been leaving gifts in the backyard – gross!), so as to avoid stepping in anything nasty when I finally get out and start the serious tidying.  A few more warm days and plants will be popping up all over the garden Who kows what else I’ll find? Yeah Spring! My favourite time of year.

John Sebastien Toad - a gift from my mother and my version of a garden gnome

John Sebastien Toad – a gift from my mother and my version of a garden gnome

All that glitters – pearl and crystal drop earrings

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During one our pre-Christmas craft show outings, my friend Beth saw a pair of earrings that she really liked. They were similar in style to these Magma drop earrings I found in FusionBead’s inspiration section (a great source of ideas and techniques).
Magma Drop Earrings | Fusion Beads Inspiration Gallery

The earrings we saw had a pearl at the top of the chain and a crystal at the bottom. She decided against buying them and I decided I’d make her a pair.

These earring are easy to put together. It took me about an hour to make them, but that includes the 45 minutes I spent hunting  my supplies (I’m working on organizing my beading stash, but it’s slow going).

To make your own earring you’ll need the following:

6-8 inches of fine silver plated chain

2 6mm glass pearls

2 8mm glass crystals – I used Preciosa, but Firepolish or Swarovski would work too (widely available, including at FusionBeads or Artbeads

6 – 2-inch silver plated headpins

2-sterling silver earring wires (optional, but they’re a nice touch)

wire cutters and needle-nose pliers

I chose pearls and crystals in a pinky-gold colour (Beth is blond and I wanted something that would complement her colouring). Preciosa crystals have a nice sparkle to them, which made them perfect for this project – I wanted the earrings that were elegant but that could also work for every day.

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To make the loops for the pearls, snip the pin end off 1 head pin.

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Make a loop and attach it to the earring wires.

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Slide the glass pearl on and make another loop, without closing it all the way.

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Cut the chain to the desired length – I used about 1-1/4 inches (I recommend cutting the chain for both earrings at the same time – you can always cut a few links off if they’re too long, but hard to add links if they’re too short).

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Attach 1 length of the chain to the loop at the bottom of the pearl and with the needle nose pliers, close it all the way.

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Slide the crystal onto a headpin and make a loop, sliding it onto the chain before you finish it. That’s one earring. P1030695

Repeat the steps for the second earring.

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Lots of glitter for little effort.

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If your local bead store sells beads individually, you can easily make these earrings for less than $5.

Beth really liked her earrings. I did too and plan to make a pair for myself, as soon as I can schedule a trip to my local bead store to pick up more supplies. I’m thinking my wardrobe needs a little purple sparkle.


Or maybe green, for spring? At less than $5 a pop, I can make a pair in every colour I have in my closet!

Links include: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Monday Link Party at Craft-O-Maniac; Motivate Me Monday at Keeping It Simple; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Market Yourself Monday at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today’s Creative Blog; Tuesday To Do Part at The Blackberry Vine: Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy; Flaunt It Fridays at Dotted Line Crafts; The Cure for the Common Monday at Lines Across My FaceSix Sisters Stuff – Strut Your Stuff Saturday

Count down to middle school – we have blast-off!

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Epic Rocket Launch

Epic Rocket Launch (Photo credit: jurvetson)

 

The beginning of school is a particularly nerve-wracking time for me. I never know how things are going to go for M. Even if the principal doesn’t have me on speed dial by the end of week one, I’m reluctant to say he’s off to a good start. In my experience, that’s a sure-fire way to jinx things.

 

However, after nearly a month into middle school, so far so good. M is getting back and forth to school by himself.  I still have to remind him to check to see if he has everything he needs for the day, but so far he hasn’t forgotten anything important at home or school. He’s been dong his homework, with limited parental prompting. He’s adapted surprisingly well to coming home alone – at least 2 hours of unsupervised media time seems to keep him well occupied. When he called me one day last week to tell me he was home, he was making himself popcorn, something he never does when one of his parents is home.

 

Compared with previous years, M seems to happy at school.  One of our neighbours remarked that he looks like he’s grown about a foot taller in the last month. He hasn’t , but he is carrying himself with renewed confidence. One of his buddies in his class and he seems to be hanging around with a group of boys during breaks and lunches. Some of them were classmates in elementary school and are very familiar with his past behaviours. But M seems to have discovered what I’ve been telling him for several years – other kids are more likely to want to hang around you when you aren’t poking them or yelling at them. While M has some definite quirks, he’s a pretty likable kid. His problem has never been making new friends, it’s been keeping them. I’ve been convinced for quite some time that if M felt that he was part of a group, rather than an outsider, he’d probably be better able to cope with the normal lumps and bumps of life. In other words, a strong social network would help him feel better about himself, thus increasing his resilience.  Like most 12 year olds, M’s relationships with his peers are one of the most important things in his life. But no matter our age, everyone needs to feel connected to other people (cue the cheesy pop song – People who need people/Are the luckiest people in the world).

 

I’m not so naive as to believe M won’t have some challenges are school. We’re still in September – we’ve got 9 more months to go. The teachers are still getting to know the kids and haven’t started piling on the work yet. For the moment, the kids are getting outside at break and lunch which helps make them all get through the day. Wait until winter comes and M is stuck inside from 9 to 3 every day with 500 or so restless 12 and 13 year olds. If we don’t have some drama. there’s probably something wrong with my child.

 

But why borrow trouble? For the moment, I’m not going to worry about what might happen. M is making friends and is happy at school. Can’t ask for much more than that.