Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I am very grateful that the only snow we have seen before Christmas this year has been the stick-on snowflakes variety! I have enjoyed so much less stress and aggravation this December which means I'm far more relaxed than I have been the previous two years. I hope your Christmas preparations have gone smoothly and you're feeling calm and free of hassle.

With this message, I send everyone my very bestest wishes for a peaceful and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to follow next week.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Science -v- spirituality; why can't we have both?

I'm fascinated by science. I dropped science subjects at school when I was 14 which I regret profoundly.

I have read a few science books in the (many) intervening years. But as we all know, a little knowledge is dangerous and therefore I am always keen to gain more. I have enjoyed all of Prof Cox's previous TV science programmes and I therefore looked forward to A Night With the Stars last night. The trailer billed it as explaining how things can be in more than one place at once, I assumed he was going to talk about super positioning which I learnt a bit about when reading Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife during the summer.

But he didn't touch on that really. In reading the above book, it helped me to (VERY) broadly follow everything covered in the programme but that wasn't what disappointed me. I don't think there are enough television programmes about science so I'm not criticising the content, quantum mechanics is a gigantic subject to summarise in an hour! Even though I was already aware of the things he presented, I'm sure there will be many who will have enjoyed it and were enlightened by it.

What irritated me was the way Prof Cox dismissed things like spiritual healing as "wishy washy" and implied such things were only practiced by people with tattoos on their bums!

Having savoured both his Wonders series, I didn't realise he was a closed-minded reductionist. I felt quite stung by his ready dismissal of such things as I quite like him.

As I said above, I am very interested in science but I am interested in spiritual matters also - not necessarily in a religious context, until very recently I considered myself a died-in-the-wool-atheist-God-Delusion-zealot-who-will-never-ever-change. I'm also quite superstitious, which I realise is totally at odds with scientific thinking but then that's me, an individual.

I'm convinced that spiritual healing (I prefer the term energy healing actually but not many people have heard of it) can work, and that positive thinking can help with everything in your life but not as a total substitute for medical assistance or doing practical things to make what you want happen. I was so sorry to learn during a recent TV programme about his life that Steve Jobs delayed surgery on his cancer for 9 months whilst he tried to heal himself, I wish he could have tried both at the same time. 

Just because we don't understand the physics or mechanics of how the mind can affect the body, doesn't mean it should be waved away with such certainty by people who haven't tried it or experienced benefits from it.

Last month, my husband caught a cold, one of those nuisance factor ones that are just annoying, your nose runs, you get bunged up, cough and just generally feel unwell but not enough to stop you working like flu does. Last time he had a cold was in early October so this latest one was only a matter of weeks after the last.

Last time, I tried visualising a bubble around my mouth and nose to stop me catching it. It didn't work, In over 30 years of marriage, I have caught every cold that my husband has ever brought home (and he mine). I've always previously seen catching each other's illnesses as an inevitability I can do little to prevent. However, I caught it a couple of days after he did, my symptoms were less severe and I got better before him. I am convinced that the visualisation helped me to have an improved experience of the illness than his.

The end of November was no time for me to catch a cold, it's the busiest time for my business, I could not allow myself to be slowed down in the slightest. I point blank refused to accept the idea that I was going catch this latest sniffle. I steadfastly would not entertain the idea that I was going to be ill.

I put some mechanical preventions in place, I ensured that I didn't share a towel with him, I cooked all our meals whilst he was in full coughing and sneezing mode and made him sleep facing away from me. I changed my visualisation technique, instead of the bubble, which you can't keep up at all times because you do have to think about other things during the course of the day, I decided thats'probably why it didn't work. This time, whenever I was near to him and he sneezed or coughed, I imagined a bottle cleaner going up and down my nose removing any viruses that had got lodged in there since last time I did it. When I was visualising, I could feel a slight tingle in my nose so I was sure it was doing something.

Result - NO cold, I didn't catch it. Geoff has been well for a couple of weeks and I got all my work done. It could be it was just sheer bloody-minded determination and singled-minded focus that helped me avoid it but this in iteself is a kind of visualisation.

My lack of a cold will probably be dismissed by peremptory scientists as a coincidence and that the mechanical measures I put in place were the way I stayed well. That might be so but I am not sure so I'm not dismissing it. I am convinced that without that visualisation, I would have got it the same way as I did all the others. Making sweeping statements saying that things like spiritual healing don't work without KNOWING whether they do is a bit like all those people who dismissed Darwin's work who now look like right berks. I do hope Prof Cox doesn't regret his repudiation at some point when we have more knowledge.

I'd like to remind him that Richard Woolley (a UK astronomer) said Space travel is utter bilge in 1956 (one year before Sputnik).

Cox himself used a Humphry Davy quotation during the programme: Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer. (Humphry Davy invented the first electric light).

Whilst I was watching Professor Brian Cox's programme (for some reason I thought it was live), I tried to visualise him sneezing and concentrated on it for around ten minutes ... I jumped when Geoff sneezed (I kid you not!) and I stopped.

So Brian, if you're reading this and you sneezed at around 9.30ish last night - my wishy washy brain made that happen! (And before you ask, I don't have any tattoos!)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Frosted front door

I don't normally get much time to write alot in December; it's the busiest time of the year for my business. However, today has been a bit of a freebie, I was planning to be doing an extra day on the Art & Craft Market in Cambridge but the weather forecast was so bad and as only seven stalls turned up on Thursday, I'm pretty certain it was cancelled. I let the Market Manager know I wouldn't be there and I imagine I will find out tomorrow if anyone braved the cold sleety rain. The forecast is fine for tomorrow, even if it wasn't, I would still probably be there on the last full Saturday before Christmas.

So I've used the "extra" time to do some Christmas preparations (shopping list and hemming a new tablecloth I've made). I've also got a ton of ironing out of the way and made some more jewellery stock ready for tomorrow. When I'm jewellery making and ironing, I tend to watch films and TV programmes on DVD using my Lovefilm account. Today, I saw Julie & Julia. It's a marvellous film, I watched it twice and then watched Nora Ephron's Director's Commentary too.

The film is a true story about a girl in a job she hates who decides to cook her way through Julia Child's classic cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" which consists of well over 500 recipes. She sets herself the deadline of one year and blogs her daily experiences. The film intercuts with scenes from Julia Child's life in France during the 1950s, the time before she wrote the cookbook.

I was a little horrified when Nora's commentary describes bloggers as "predators sitting watching their own life" and refers to the people who are mentioned in others' blogs having their "privacy totally invaded". Um, I hope I don't do that!

There are lots of things that happen in my life and those around me that I specifically DON'T blog about for that very reason, plus other things that I think aren't remotely interesting to anyone else and others that are too private.

People who read my blog don't really know everything about the real me, I prefer to think that my readers get a partial view. Edie Sedgwick described Andy Warhol's films (some of which she is in) "It's like watching Henry Moore sculpture out of focus".

I was pondering whether this was a good analogy for my blog, (I like pondering, I do it a lot!) when I walked past my front door which has a lovely pattern of frosting in the glass, when it's daylight, some of the garden shows through but the frosted part makes the whole indeterminate - I'd therefore like to use this picture of my rented (and totally gorgeous!) front door as a metaphor for my blog. 

Fellow bloggers of the world, don't let Nora's opinion of bloggers put you off watching the Julie & Julia flick, it really is a brilliant film and Meryl Streep is just great in it. I can't wait to see her (and of course, Anthony Head) in Iron Lady when it comes out on DVD!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Excuses, excuses

Did anyone hear on the travel bulletins about a lorry of Marmite causing delays somewhere oop North on Monday? I remember commenting to DH about how it was unusual that the radio bulletins actually told you what the lorry was carrying, normally they just say the delay is caused by a broken down/jack knifed/overturned lorry. I didn't think it would affect me in the slightest. By the afternoon they were still reporting it as causing delays but it had turned into a lorry of yeast extract as someone obviously realised they were giving Marmite free advertising. Apparently it closed the motorways both ways, I guess it spread out ... (groan).

I ordered some materials on Monday and I particularly want four 18 inch chains as a bride is picking up four pendants from me on Saturday for her bridesmaids. They should have arrived on Tuesday with the postman as a Special Delivery item. When my package didn't turn up with the postman on Wednesday, I rang the supplier and apparently quite a few of their dispatches haven't been delivered because the yeast extract held up a lorry load of mail. I'm really hoping it will turn up today, if it doesn't, I'm thinking that this will be added to those other notorious and classic excuses ...

  • The dog ate my homework
  • Leaves on the line
  • The wrong kind of snow
  • Marmite on the motorway

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Gosh ... I'm busy!

I have got commissions for beads from my Etsy shop, orders from my website and also jewellery commissions from my stall. I don't really feel I deserve any orders from my website, it is so out of date and unloved. However, all this is keeping me extremely busy so this is a quick visit to say that the production system of new indoor studio and outdoor lampwork studio are both working well and keeping me fully occupied.

The photo above is a commission from my Etsy shop for 25 of my pink swirly lampwork beads.

I'll probably be preoccupied 'til Christmas so apologies if my visits here are sporadic and brief!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

That's a big 'un

My family came to inspect our new home on Sunday. They came for lunch (soup and a sandwich, I'm not confident of the oven yet to do a full roast for 8). It was super to see everyone but just look at the size of the chew bone that sister, Sandy bought for Missy!
And trust Sandy to take the next picture (it looks VERY rude!)
There's still loads of it left!
This is the best pic in my opinion but it's a bit blurry

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

New premises

This morning I made beads for the first time for what seems like absolutely ages. Here is the new beadmaking studio, those are leaves from an ash tree (so I haven't escaped the big Autumn clear up after all but it is a little smaller than the one at Gardener's Cottage so maybe it won't take as long!) Even on a damp and grey November day, the stone looks lovely.

Here's the interior taken from the window end

And here is the reverse angle
I'm going to put up a couple of large pinboards with some posters on so I can get a similar look and feel to my old studio which I have missed so much. I also have an idea to disguise the rafters and bring the ceiling level down to make it feel more cosy. Note our old fridge freezer is sharing the space with me (I can't be without prawns or icecream for long!)

Whilst I had DH and his camera outdoors, I got him to take a couple of shots of the pretty stream which runs along the bottom of the garden, here it is looking towards the West
and here it is looking towards the East
We're very happily settled in now, all the boxes are empty and the cartons returned to the removal company, some pictures have yet to be put on the wall but to all intents and purposes, everything is back to normal again. I even found somewhere for the sundial ...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Checking in

We got internet back up and running again yesterday evening. It's awful being out of touch ... five whole days without e-mails, blogs or Facebook. I have lots of e-mails, Etsy convos and blog reading to catch up on!

The move went pretty well, we're getting settled into our new home, but I haven't got either of my studios up and running again yet, I can now find pretty much everything I need in the house (our cereal bowls went missing for 4 days ... I got so, so, SO sick of toast for breakfast) and I only found the boots that I wear to my market stall this morning!)

One surprise was that what I assumed was a built-in fridge freezer in the new kitchen is in fact only a fridge. So when our order from Sainsbury's arrived, we had nowhere to put the frozen items ... prawns and ice cream for dinner on Wednesday ... yum! 

Some filing cabinet keys went missing, I got a new one cut in Cambridge this afternoon - EIGHT QUID! Only took the guy a matter of seconds once I gave him the 3-digit number on the lock ... I'm definitely in the wrong business but am infinitely grateful nothing else too dreadful went wrong.

So the filing cabinet that is IN MY WAY can now be moved and then the house will be straight but my studios are another matter. I am starting on unpacking all the boxes which comprise my jewellery making studio tomorrow, I'm hopeful I will be finished on that front on Monday evening at the latest but it'll be at least another week til I get round to being able to make beads again. The outbuilding which is to be my new beadmaking HQ is choc-a-block full of lots of things that need a good sorting out (or throwing out!) Some items are heavy so I need DH's help to move things around, everything just got plonked in there willy-nilly. As he's already taken a week off work to move, he has to get back to earning some proper money next week so it'll be a while before I can get back to lampworking unfortunately. 
In the meantime, I'm just checking in to prove that I am still connected to the universe. I'm so relieved the move is over and looking forward to getting back into jewellery and beadmaking routines once again - doing something different for a while (even if it has been a bit stressful) has whetted my apetite and given me ideas ... there's nothing like being UNABLE to make jewellery or beads to really, really make me particularly want to do both of those things ... more soon!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Moonbeams and trees

I'm very fond of the moon, I particularly love it when you can see the moon during the day; so different than when she's out at night. During the hours of darkness, on a clear night, she's a beacon and you can't miss her, she demands you look, admire and wonder at her majesty.

On a clear blue sparklingly shiny day like today, she's almost in disguise. Here she is tippy-toeing through the tree tops pretending she's a little bitty cloud. Mysterious and cloaking her true nature but still inspiring and drawing the tides, still "chaste and fair" and "seated in thy silver chair" (Ben Johnson). It calls to mind another poet, Ted Hughes who says of the moon

"The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work 
That points at him amazed".

To more mundane matters, removal plans are going well but to DH's chagrin, I have gone into list mode. If I have things recorded and written down so I don't forget, it enables me to sleep at night! I had a list for jobs that needed doing on Sunday (complete in total, all items ticked off and list disposed of). Still to be completed is the "List of moving jobs to do the first half of the week" (4 items left to complete but I've still got Wednesday morning to finish that one off!)

The next list is the "List of moving jobs to do the second half of the week", it's the longest of them all but on the plus side, one of them is already crossed out!

Shorter lists are the "List of moving jobs to do on pack up day" (Monday) and "List of moving jobs to do on day of move" (Tuesday). Wow, so this time next week, we should be safely domiciled in our new home.

One of the Sunday jobs was to sweep the paved area outside the backdoor. I swear I did this but look - it already needs doing again.

The horse chestnut and willow trees in and around the garden are half way through shedding. But I think I'm going to get away with the major leaf event in our garden which is when this ash tree shrugs off its foilage.
Look it's still green, will it stay that way for another week?!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Wintry clear bubble beads

The weather is set to turn a little colder from this evening onwards and here are some icy white clear bubble beads to go with it! It wasn't my idea to make some clear bubble beads, a customer suggested it but I'm really pleased with the simplicity of them.

I've listed them as a reserved set for that customer in my Etsy shop but I'll definitely be making some more of these soon. Hope I don't induce full-blown winter weather to appear too prematurely though! 

Preparations for the move are on-going, we're going to sign the tenancy agreement for the new house today and pay the first month's rent and deposit. The new house is empty now; the letting agent is giving us the keys for the afternoon so we can measure up and decide exactly what furniture is going into which room to hopefully make things on moving day as smooth as possible!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

So many bottles, so little time!

I got given these two bottles (empty!) by a couple of my lovely fellow stallholders at the Art & Craft Market in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago. The Jack Daniels was from Les, the Hairy Growler and the wine from Roz at Stabo.

The Jack Daniels bottle will create beads like the Talisker whiskey bottle - just plain old clear glass. As you know, I jazzed up the Talisker beads by sparingly applying silvered frit on the surface and reduced it to get a whiskey coloured bead. I'd like to do something similar with the Jack Daniels but maybe a different colour.

The wine bottle looks like it will produce beads very similar to the recycled Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry bottle but it looks a little lighter when side by side. I will have to melt some to see if they're easily discernible from each other. I could maybe make them a different shape though.

What I really need is time to experiment and that's in short supply at the moment! On top of that, I have managed to pick up a cold, DH and I both have it We probably caught it from being in a confined space on one of the warmest evenings of the year at the Blackmore's Night concert with thousands of other people- oh well, it's just a sniffle, it was worth it but it's really annoying when I need to blow mid-bead! What's more annoying is that it's only 3-4 months since I last had a cold, normally I get away with one a year. Ah well, better than getting it at Christmas time I suppose!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Getting there

Full steam ahead for the move. Removals are booked to pack us up on Monday 24th and we're moving into our new home on the 25th. It's been a busy couple of weeks showing removals people round for quotations and the Letting Agent so they can list it on Right Move. We've been continuing to work but all spare time is taken up with clearing drawers and taking old clothes to charity shops but I'm almost finished indoors. It's been so hot recently, not been doing a lot outside but we have some bits and pieces to take to the tip. Plus of course prospective tenants will start to arrive so I have to be in super-tidy mode just in case we get a short-notice visit. Cups and plates and dog bowls are whipped into the dishwasher immediately after use, taps on the sink, bath and shower are polished after every use ... it's exhausting!

Now we have a date, I have to do all the letters letting everyone know our new address. Hey Ho!

In amidst all this, we had tickets that we bought ages ago to see Blackmore's Night (site plays music as soon as you click on it). They're only doing 5 dates in the UK and it's the first time they've been in the UK for three years so we grabbed the front row seats of the dress circle of York Opera House as soon as they went on sale. York was the closest gig to us, it's usually about an hour and a half drive from where we are but given Friday night traffic, it took closer to three!

Blackmore's Night are a kind of rocked up medieval folk band. Guitarist is legend Ritchie Blackmore. He's married to the vocalist, Candice Night who has a brilliant voice. The band seemed to have a good time on stage, we all really enjoyed ourselves. They were on stage for ages and we didn't get to bed til 1am. We generally get up before 6am on Saturdays in order to get to Cambridge and set up my jewellery stall so it was a tiring weekend!

I've recovered from that now and am busily making stock (amongst moving preparations!) Here are some photographs of some of my latest creations. The top one features new clasps from Daisychain Extra in the shape of a poppy, they're really lovely! A bracelet made with a copper version of the poppy clasp and recycled Grand Marnier beads has already sold and so I've missed the opportunity to photograph that one. I'll be getting some more of these clasps so I'll make a better effort to get the camera out next time!
 This one is made with recycled Perrier Water beads in a variety of shapes.
 This bracelet is made with steely blue bubble beads, rock crystal and dyed quartz with one of my own sterling silver hand hammered clasps.
My taupe bubble beads are a lovely colour,  so neutral, they go with everything! (Especially amber and moonstone as here in these earrings).

Monday, 19 September 2011

Across the County line

Where we currently live, a few miles South of Grantham and only a couple of miles from the A1, we're just inside Lincolnshire.

By travelling only a few miles though, we can be in one of four other counties very quickly. If we go West, we'd be in Leicestershire. South, we'd be in Cambridgeshire (where I grew up and spent a lot of my life). If we go South-West we'd be in Northamptonshire or the small County of Rutland.

And now I reach the point of today's blogging - we are moving house very shortly to a village close to Oakham in Rutland. We're renting the cottage where we currently live and due to circumstances I won't repeat here, we have to continue renting for at least another year. We do want to buy another house and settle down again but our house close to Cambridge just can't be sold for a while. We only ever intended to be in this cottage for a short term tenancy of 6 months maximum. There are some things that aren't ideal for us about it and so after a rent increase, we decided to move on.

We've found a four bedroomed house (we have three at the moment) which has been fairly recently built but in an old style (which we like), we've filled in the paperwork and paid our deposit for the Agent to go through the reference checking procedure. Fingers crossed everything should be OK, our circumstances haven't changed much since we last had them done 3 years ago ....

So, we're hopefully on the move and this is why blogging has been a little sporadic, we've been clearing out cupboards and getting ready to move. It's surprising how much clutter you acquire in only 3 years! I'm feeeling quite excited now, the new house has several advantages over where we are now so if it doesn't happen, I think I'll be disapointed.

The new village has got a post office just down the road (easier for my mail order beads, most of my customers are overseas), a smaller and easier to manage garden, spacious hot working area for beadmaking and soldering in an outbuilding overlooking garden, log burner (to keep the caveman in DH happy-he likes making fire!) Both of us will have a double bedroom at the top of the house (its three stories) to use for work and so the mess and clutter of computers and my beading can be out of the way when we have visitors. The downstairs two floors are then our usual living and entertaining rooms. There are lots more dog walks locally without getting into the car as well so even Missy will like this new place better! There's also a bit of a bonus in that the new house is a few miles closer to Cambridge for my Saturday excursions to the craft market to sell my jewellery.

If all goes as planned, we should be on our way during the last week of October so if I'm a bit quiet, you know why!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Asymmetrical earrings. I sold a blue pair of these at the weekend, I never got round to photographing them so when I made this green pair from recycled Perrier Water bottle beads, teeny pieces of faceted peridot, swarovski crystal channels and sterling silver daisies, I thought I'd better record them for posterity.

I did have a couple of people tell me that the two earrings didn't match ... they didn't quite get the point ... oh well! :-)

I'm in a bit of an asymmetrical mood at the moment, possible big changes on the way (not with my beads or business) but will post more in next couple of days if things pan out the way I hope ... ;-)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Twiddly twirlies

I listed these beads yesterday n my Etsy shop and they sold within an hour! (Thank you Hazel!) I have made a pair of prototypes in a rusty red and amber colourway (see below) and there are a quantity of purple ones are annealing in the kiln as I type.
This is another new bead for sale in my Etsy shop but I am also planning on making jewellery for my stall with these. I showed a trio of the prototypes to prospective customers and other stallholders last Saturday.
Everyone that saw them said they reminded them of the sea so I've gone into production and the set above is the result. Hopefully I should also have some jewellery made out of these in time for this Saturday in Cambridge.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Grand Marnier spirals

We have finally managed to finish the contents of the Grand Marnier bottle! After trimming the lawn on Sundays, I rewarded myself with a Grand Marnier, lime juice and tonic water cocktail (sometimes DH would join me). I also put it into some casseroles of liver, mushroom and orange, and DH manfully poured a tablespoon over strawberries for desert a few times too, the brandy flavour was too strong for me to take neat but I believe DH came to quite like it - he's a star!

When I broke it up, the glass looked rather close in colour to beer bottles. I was a bit worried the beads would look too similar but fortunately, the beads are much lighter, gingery amber colour that I'm very pleased with. I don't know what I was so worried about.

If the colour was too similar, I had it in my mind to melt the glass into spirals to differentiate the different types of glass but I needn't have worried, they are easy to tell apart from the beer bottles (Poachers beads shown below)
I think the Grand Marnier spirals allow the full beauty of the glass to show through rather than the usual donut shape and so I'm going to be making more of these today!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Talisker whiskey jewellery

I've made another batch of recycled Talisker whiskey bottle beads. This time I've kept them to myself and turned them into a set of jewellery. Above is a close up of the bracelet which may (or may not!) make it onto the stall tomorrow. I really want to keep it myself!

Below is the complete set including a necklace and matching earrings. I've teamed the beads with some gorgeous Czech faceted glass beads, some Jasper rondelles and copper. The fantastic primitive and rustic stoneware bead was made by Beadfreaky in the US.

They'll all (maybe minus the bracelet!) be for sale on my stall at All Saints Art & Craft market opposite Trinity College in Cambridge tomorrow. The weather forecast is for some early rain but it's clearing up and the rest of the day should be dry, so I'll hopefully see you there!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Time goes by

I'm not going to make excuses about why I haven't blogged in ages, I do have quite a few but enough about that!

Here's a picture of my sun dial to remind me how time passes by without you really noticing how quickly. I don't have anywhere in this house to put it, we're only renting here (for now), one of the reasons for my absence is arranging repairs and tenancy agreement for our tenants in the house we own near Cambridge (ooops, I said I wasn't going to mention excuses!) We came here for 4 months and have been here over three years ...

Anyway, back to the sun dial, for the time being it has been left in a corner under a hedge and now the ivy has started to wend its way over it ... I don't know what it is about stone and ivy - they always look wildly romantic together don't they?!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Amber alert

I have been after amber and red recycled glass for some time. Through a circuitous route, I found a Grand Marnier recycled glass vase on Etsy and suddenly realised I had an old bottle at the back of our drinks cabinet. It has been there forever, it must've moved at least twice with us ... DH and I were trying to remember why we bought it, I think it was for a chocolate and orange cheesecake that I only made twice. Anyway, what a bonus!

Just one problem, there's a lot of Grand Marnier left in it and so I have to use that up before I can get my hot little mitts on the glass. I could decant it but after recent adventures in that department, I'm a little shy of doing it again. One morning, I was decanting some Bombay Sapphire gin, some of it got spilled onto my arm and then suddenlhy the window cleaner wanting paying (at 9.30am!) ... he gave me a funny look and I just couldn't be bothered to explain why I smelled of alcohol so early in the day!

Another time, some time ago, I must've decanted some into a Perrier Water bottle. I did write in red on the label "GIN" in capital letters and put the bottle back in the drinks cabinet. I totally forgot about it and got on with my beads!

Sometime later on, DH saw it in the drinks cabinet (ignored my fading scrawl on the Perrier label) and decided that mineral water isn't a drink .... so he put it in the wine rack in the dining room with the mineral water and unsuspecting me poured some into a glass (noting it was a bit flat) and then took a big swig ... yeurggh! As anyone that knows me will realise, I do quite like a gin and tonic (especially Bombay Sapphire) but not neat! We're more wine and beer drinkers in our household, it takes ages to get through a bottle of spirits so I now need to go find some dessert recipes (or summer cocktails) that use Grand Marnier in large quantities or perhaps have a party with a Grand Marnier based punch.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Lost in London

I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamed DH and I were in London (don't know what for). DH was walking ahead of me somewhere around the West End but we got separated. For some reason I had his Blackberry phone and his wallet in my bag (the same one made by Sarah-Jane who sells these on the Art & Craft Market in Cambridge on Saturdays and shown in this pic).

So I had no way of contacting him. I stood where I was for a while in the hope he would backtrack but DH did not appear. Then his Blackberry started beeping in my bag, I got it out but couldn't make it work (very frustrating!) I could hear his voice saying "Tut, all she's doing is saying 'Hello' but she can't hear me" ... but I could!! "I can hear you, where are you", I say. "No luck, I can't get through to her, thanks for lending me your phone". He rung off.

I decided that as he had no wallet and no phone, he had no way of identifying himself so I looked for a branch of our bank, I went in and explained; they were very helpful and said they would give him some money if a man identifying himself as DH turned up.

As I wandered aimlessly around London not really knowing what to do, I came across a library and had the brilliant idea of contacting him through Facebook using the public access computers as he would be sure to think of this himself. So I went on Sarah-Jane's page (she of the bag) and left a message on there saying if DH saw it that I would meet him at the entrance to Kings Cross tube station. Then there was the dawning realisation that he wouldn't see it because you have to be a friend of Sarah-Jane's to see her Wall and since he no longer has an account, he wouldn't see it ... I woke up in a cold sweat and DH's Blackberry was beeping away in the Study where he'd left it the night before, forgetting to turn it off.

Sarah-Jane misses DH's wit and charm on Facebook more than I do and nags him every Saturday when we see her to re-open his account. If the fact that I am now having bad dreams about Facebook isn't enough to persuade him to come back, I don't know what will!

Monday, 20 June 2011

New look and a Blogger question

I have had a bit of a tidy up and smartened up the blog, what do you think? Feels roomier and looks fresher IMHO. Website needs a revamp next! I haven't updated it for ages.

I have a query that I'm hoping other Blogger users can answer. Is there a direct route to the Dashboard from the public face of one's blog? I always click "New Post" and then "Dashboard" to see whether there are any comments needing moderation, is that how everyone else does it? I keep thinking I must be missing something as it seems daft to have to click twice to get to the most useful part of Blogger.

My visualisation strategy hasn't worked for bug preventation, I'm afraid I have succumbed to DH's cold. I have had better weekends, it has to be said! I missed the market as I was feeling too bunged up and poorly, and then my mum had to go into hospital because she dislocated her hip. I can't go see her in case I pass it on to her, it's the last thing she (or anyone else in hospital) needs. We're having a family bar-b-q round sister, Sandy's house on Sunday so we're hoping she'll be well enough for that. Get well soon, mum! xxx

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Milk is running out

I just finished this cup of tea, I have enough milk for one more cup. DH has got an awful cold, he worked (from home which isn't unusual) yesterday, I don't know if he's feeling well enough to do that today, he seems worse than yesterday.

Dilemma, I have only enough milk for one more cup which will take me through to about half past ten. Normally, DH would just pop down to the shop, it's about 2 miles away. I would take the dog and walk it as a four mile walk holds no fears for me, but it's along a fast A-road, not very pleasant and more than a bit dangerous given Missy's habit to go sniffing. DH would argue with me not to go as he has in the past and I don't want to put him through that, he would just struggle out if I said I was going.

I can drive, I have driven lots of cars, when I had a proper job, I owned one of my own for years but it's been a long time since I've been behind the wheel and I've just realised, I have never driven DH's latest which he's had about 18 months. It's a big car, an estate, so we can fit in all the boxes which I take to the market every Saturday. I'm a bit worried about driving something so big but if I don't ... no more tea with milk today.

I have some choices:
  • Order some from Sainsburys, it will come tomorrow
  • Drink fruit teas all day
  • Drink my normal tea with no milk
  • Take the plunge and drive DH's car for the first time but the places to park are so limited (and small) in the village's narrow streets, I think I'd be sure to have to turn round and come home without any (which would be annoying!)
I'm posting this as a blog posting as I realise that both of us are pretty much healthy and happy for most of the time. I really never take the time to appreciate that so when we're both back to the peak of health, I will not take it for granted as much as I normally do.

Of course, if we had a milkman, this wouldn't happen, there would be one behind the front door like magic. I miss having a milkman. One of the casualties of modern Britain. I wonder if there are any places in the UK where milkmen still exist?

I'm hoping I do not catch this cold as it might put me out of action for Saturday at the market. I have been visualising a sterile bubble around my nose and mouth which filters out any cold viruses. I'm a great believer in visualisation as a means of healing oneself; I use it a lot to minimise the impact of headaches which I get from time to time and lately, it's been working. It's not an instantaneous cure but I haven't had one that lasted two days for well over a year since I started (touch wood) and so I think the visualisation helps get rid of them quicker and makes them less bad.

It's all about positive thinking and so (applying that principle) I hereby announce that I am going to enjoy drinking tea without milk! 

I hope anyone reading this is fit and well!

EDITED at lunchtime:
DH went to the shop, without me even asking! He just came out to the shed where I was making beads and said he was going to get some and off he went in his car despite me saying I could manage without. It's not as if he wanted some for himself, he drinks black coffee or fruitjuice (or beer if I need the glass!!)  Isn't he a love? I have the bestest bloke in the world! xxx

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

On the run and nowhere to go - renegade beads

These beads don't fit in anywhere, they're either left over from sets (where I made too many, they were too big or too small) or they're experiments I decided not to go ahead and make more of. Either way, individually, they're renegades and pretty wild. Six of them teamed up on my bead table pretty peacefully as they seemed to like each other. However, since the blue ones got together with two of my bombay sapphire recycled beads, and the golden ones got hold of one of my Talisker whiskey bottle beads, I'm worried they're going to start causing some trouble! Please buy these beads from my Etsy shop (before they wreck my studio!) If you put them to work with some calming influences, I can see them leading a long and happy life in some wonderful jewellery created by you!
PS Please note, these bead sets have now been sold, thanks!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Daisychain bracelets

I'm very pleased with some new clasps which I bought from Jo at Daisychain Designs a few days ago. I've been following Jo's blog for some time. When she announced she would be selling clasps at a new Etsy shop called Daisychain Extra, I headed over there and was so impressed, I immediately purchased two! One in sterling silver; it's so pretty, I thought the bracelet needed to be feminine and on the delicate side. I've used my own pink lampwork beads, swarovski pearls in Light Amethyst and swarovski pearls in Rosaline.

The other clasp I purchased was the same design but this time in patinated copper. This clasp had an altogether different character; this time I combined it with my own recycled beer bottle beads, copper and some more swarovski crystals.
Both bracelets will be for sale on my stall on the Art & Craft market in Cambridge, opposite Trinity College on Saturday, come along and try these pretties on!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cambridge Beer Festival

It's the Cambridge Beer Festival this week! Guess who has been drinking beer so I can make beer bottle beads, yes, it's good old DH. He may have disappeared from Facebook but he still supports me in other ways! He doesn't really like beer ... he only drinks it for me ... ;-)

Look out for recycled beer bottle beads being turned into jewellery later on this week so I can engage any stray festival goers who wander round the craft market on Saturday!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Sparkly poncho

This is my latest completed knitting project. A sparkly poncho knitted in Firefly using a pattern I bought from the knitting shop in Alnwick when we were on holiday in Northumberland recently. As soon as I saw the pattern, I knew I wanted to knit it without any idea of when or where I would ever wear it - suggestions welcome!

DH is elsewhere today so I've had to take the photograph myself on the 10 second timer. I had such a peculiar expression on my face as I tried to work out whether it was going to take the picture or not that I've had to crop my head out for fear of scaring my followers!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The finished beads

And here are the cleaned Talisker beads, Heather whipped them off my Etsy shop within an hour or two of them being listed this afternoon! They'll be on their way to Canada tomorrow. In her convos she sounds as excited about them as I am. I think these are the best recycled beads I've ever made; I can't wait to hear what she thinks about them.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Recycled whisky bottle

Customers at my Saturday stall in Cambridge are nearly always fascinated to hear I recycle bottles into beads and then into jewellery and they seem to find it especially interesting when they discover the bottle used to contain something alcoholic! In fact at the moment, I only have one tee-total option - Perrier water mineral bottle beads!

Here is a photograph of the latest recycled beads that I'm adding to my range this week. It's another alocholic one; these have been made from a Talisker whiskey bottle. The bottle was drunk and donated by sister, Sharon's fiance, Martin. (Thanks, Martin, you're a pal!) I quite like whiskey and have drunk it in my younger days but for preference, I'm a wine or a gin and tonic drinker myself. What I particularly like about using a Talisker bottle is that my sister, Martin, DH and I had a holiday in Scotland several years ago and we actually visited the distillery and saw how Talisker whisky is made.

There's quite a range of colours in the beads here, when the glass is first melted, the beads look like the clear ones to the bottom right of the photograph. They're a bit boring like that, and they don't really say "whiskey" to me. I could etch them but then they're going to look identical to the recycled Rosé wine bottle beads which are all summery, light and delicate. That look isn't going to suit a drink like whiskey and I want some way of differentiating them; their origin is a robust and (forgive the sexist word) manly drink. I had the idea to add frit to the surface of the beads to alter the colour. After many experiments and failures, I've come up with a combination I'm happy with; I've very sparingly used a reducing frit with a high silver content. With reduction frit, you can make the surface of the bead ultra shiny/metallic/irridescent. At the end of the beadmaking process, I turn the propane to my torch up and the oxygen down to achieve what we beadmakers call a reduction flame. It's much cooler than the neutral flame that is used for most beadmaking. I'm not sure how it does it (probably a chemical reaction) but when I bathe the finished bead in this altered flame, it causes metal oxides in some types of glass to come to the surface and coat the bead. This particular frit produces colours that are reminiscent of whiskey itself, all kinds of burnished golden amber.

As you can see from the photograph of my experiments into how much frit and reduction to apply to the beads, the colour you can achieve varies quite a bit. Mostly, it depends on how much frit you've put on the surface and how long you bathe the bead for. Sometimes the effect of the reduction can change in the kiln depending on how long the beads are in there as well, all sorts of things affect the colour of glass but I won't go into all those factors here.

Anyway, I've decided the ones I like the best are the lustre-rich semi-transparent golden ones to extreme left of the front row. I've got a batch of these annealing in the kiln as I type. I hope to be offering some beads for sale in my Etsy shop tomorrow as well as making the others into jewellery for sale on my stall on Saturday.

The idea to make these beads came about after an e-mail exchange with one of my Etsy customers, Heather who lives in Canada. She's a member of a very active single malt "appreciation" association. They often raffle off prestigious bottles of scotch, but are always on the look out for other means of raising funds, and after seeing my beads, Heather had the idea that she could make some jewellery with beads made from a recycled whiskey bottle. She asked if I could make some and I was certainly willing to try! Heather teaches English literature and - like myself - the narrative of people and things fascinates her, I think this is why we struck up such an e-mail friendship.

I like to have a story behind the recycled beads and "narrative" as a word just fits the way I sell the jewellery made from recycled beads. Just recycling any old bottle won't do. For example, my dad had some brown bottles that he purchased years ago intending to make some home brew beer to go into them but he never used them. When he had a clear out, he offered them to me but unused and unloved, they seemed a bit "soul less". I like to tell my customers that the beads were made from a Rosé bottle that DH and I drank at a bar-b-q last summer - there's the narrative. Customers enjoy the Cava story where the first bottle I made beads from sent me to sleep all afternoon so I always make sure I have guests for Sunday lunch when I need another ... how disappointed the first time I had Bombay Sapphire gin that the drink was was clear instead of the lovely aquamarine colour of the bottle.

There's no narrative to some boring brown bottles that have never contained anything, Dad just thinks "hey, free glass, what's not to like?" I can see his point but I'd rather have some kind of a tale to go with it.  Heather told me a very special story from her family history and with her kind permission, I'm reproducing it here

Even ordinary bottles can carry stories, I learned years ago when, literally on his deathbed, my grandfather confided to my mother that he had a little six-pack of beer squirrelled away collecting dust under the kitchen sink that he wanted my mother to have. They were little dark brown "Stubbie" bottles, a short, slightly squattish shape that had been abandoned by the major breweries in Canada many years before, so they'd been hidden under the sink for a while. After his death, my parents raised the Stubbies in honour of my grandfather. If only we could have made beads and jewellery out of them: my grandfather (himself a tremendous recycler of all things long before recycling was popular) would've been thrilled!

I think that's such a beautiful memory. I'm glad she shared it with me and that she took the trouble to write and enquire about whiskey bottles, together we have developed a new product line and I'm grateful for the inspiration, especially from one who is so appreciative of the narrative that accompanies these new beads. I hope you will like them too.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Volunteers, form an orderly queue here

DH (stands for Darling Husband) has deleted his Facebook account, he has decided that busy people don't have time to do social networking. Huh! I'M busy and I still find time to do a little blogging and a little Facebooking and the odd Tweet, OK so I only put in the occasional Twitter appearance just to check whether @AnthonySHead is STILL ignoring me (answer: Yes).

Anyway, the reason I'm blogging is to let everyone know that it means that my Facebook "Married To" has disappeared ... does this mean I'm no longer attached? Am I divorced?! (DH, if busy old you is reading this, please note, I'M having custody of the dog and tortoise). So, are there any volunteers to fill the vacancy?!  Anthony ... if you're reading .... (and if not, why not?!) please be the first to offer. :-)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

New spankle bead colour

I haven't even cleaned these beads yet, here they are straight from the kiln - a brand new colour of spankle beads. One of my customers asked me if I could do a version in teal or green and here they are, hope she likes them!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Feels like I'm still on holiday!

Hiya, been a bit elsewhere for a while. We just got back yesterday from a wonderful week's break in Bamburgh, Northumbria. We didn't realise it was Easter week when we booked it last year! Also, then William and Kate decided to get married so there was a lot going on whilst we were there!

It's quite good to be away for bank holidays as otherwise, I just end up working - no rest for the self-employed amongst us - no work, no money!

So even though it was busier than we're used to, the beaches are big places though and we took lots to read and I took some knitting too. Because we know Northumberland so well, as we've been so often in the past, we knew exactly where to go to get away from any crowds that do form!

I'm including a few of my favourite photographs in this blog posting but I know how boring it can be looking at others' holiday snaps. So for anyone who does fancy the full gamut of photographs, I've put some albums of pics up on my Facebook profile. The four headings below are links which will take you to the corresponding Facebook albums:

Album of flowers and gardens of Northumbria

Morning walk around Bamburgh Castle

Stag Rock Lighthouse at sunset

Day out at Warkworth

Hope you're enjoying some lovely May Day weather - Happy Beltane, everyone!

I'll be back soon with beads and jewellery, I'm well rested and can't wait to get back into beading!