Friday, November 30, 2007

New Bracelets

I've been studying these sets for some time and in the evenings, in between crises the last few days, I figured out how to handle them.

The first one is called Frozen Rainbow:

Second is the result of a recent swap - I call it Wild Mustard:

Finally, my favorite, which I don't think will be for sale owing to the large amount of silver used in it (plus the fact that I am personally in love with it!), Moonscape:

I love all these bracelets, but Moonscape just fits my style perfectly. It's a little different for me, but I think there will be more along this vein.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New on the Website

I just added a bunch of new things to the Torchsong website, in particular on the focals page. They include pendants and necklaces:

And a bracelet.
Take a look!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Changing Seasons

We see the change very sharply here. Although a few of the maple trees are still ablaze. This one is right outside our bathroom window and so makes a lovely statement first thing in the morning as the sun's rays creep over the hill. The yellows and burgundies of fall cling determinedly to the rickety gazebo...We do, however, live on a Christmas Tree farm and see the folks flocking in like clockwork to start the preparations for their Christmas holiday.

They actually started early this year and managed to show up during our family dinner on Thursday. This is something new as usually, if our customers show up at all on Turkey Day, they make sure to do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Toward the end of the day yesterday, I lit the torch and was inspired to make a few Christmasy beads. Here are some of the trees in various stages of decor, plus a blurry snowman. I have to say that my Christmas trees have definitely improved over the years and the decorations on them have come a long way from blurry blobs and strands to a much better representation of actual garlands and balls! The trees are only around 1/2-3/4" high, so they will make cute charms or small pendants.

The final bead was just a barrel with a couple of greens making some interesting leaves and some red berries. I think it's a nice look and will probably make a whole bracelet using this pattern while the original bead will make a nice little necklace.

I'll probably get a shot at the torch again today and will post more later!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Don't say that again!

Well, all I have to say today is that the next time Tina says, "Looks like we have a clear weekend ahead", I'm going to smack her!

I'm going to ramble on this one, so be prepared!

We were planning a quiet weekend, with a few Christmas tree taggers and a little bit of prep for a visit to a customer for restocking on Monday. As it turned out, we spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday early morning in the hospital with our brother and I wound up spending the rest of the day and night Saturday in bed - when I wasn't worshiping the porcelain idol in the bathroom!

Brother John had apparently become dehydrated and since he is taking diuretics, it was a serious situation. Let's just say that when I saw him trying to hang his cell phone up on the chandelier, it was obvious there was something wrong. I called Tina and we hauled him in to the hospital where they hooked him up with not one, but two IV's. We were really worried because by the time we left on Saturday morning, he was unable to articulate a clear thought and had begun speaking gibberish. As it turned out, though, everything happened in the best possible way as it seems to every time something goes wrong with John, so we figure Mom is still at work watching over him.

When I called in to the hospital around 7, he was almost back to his normal self and making sense, so apparently my body took that as a signal to evacuate.

I think there is a GI bug traveling the circuit and my DH & I both had it! It was like the flu and we both took to our bed to sweat it out. Luckily the kid was home and could take care of the few people who showed up to tag trees.

Today, all is well. Brother John is sure he will be going home tomorrow, but I doubt that they are in the habit of releasing patients directly from intermediate intensive care. It's okay, he still isn't sure what month it is, so until he is..... it's best that he stay where he is. Bob and I are well on the mend and the kid is back at school.

I do have a few goodies to show. (I was planning to do this earlier, but life got in the way!)

I've been working with Dark Silver Plum, a really nice color that I have never been able to work with properly and probably didn't photograph very well either.

Anyway, the other day, something clicked and I achieved the great silver sheen that it is supposed to have. I liked the idea of a light color encasing white and then making the scrolls on top of it all.

The peach colored bead is called "Wrought Iron Peach" and the blue one is just called, "Blue Note".

You may notice I have been playing with Photoshop - mainly because the photos weren't that great. I was doing some experiments with masking and wound up with some smoky clouds around the green bead and so, I named it "Jack's Beanstalk"!

Then, I got carried away and tried some dichroic glass with this technique and wound up with "Captured Dichro", to the right.

The picture actually did pick up the flashes in the dichro layer, so at least I am pleased with that.

Finally, while I had the silver plum out, I thought about making a heart with silver rivets in it and tried to tie them together with black strings.

I wound up with "Mended Heart". I have the feeling it may lead to something really good. This one is kinda boring! I did have fun doing the background though. Photoshop is fun!

Anyhow, since Thanksgiving is on its way, it is time to count my blessings although I truly do that every day.

It's been a strange year, so many things could have gone so horribly wrong and yet we survived and flourished.

Despite everything, the business moves along, we are lucky to have the time to take care of our brother and go along with him for his check ups. The magazine is almost ready to go to the printer because for some reason, I decided to get started on it early this issue. My DH has survived his small stroke and made life style changes so that he'll be around for many more years. Our son has been accepted to the Grad school he was hoping for although it may mean we won't see him for a year or two since it is about as far away as it can get.

Just last week, I said that I didn't want to change things this year since it may be the last chance we have to all sit down together. I was thinking about our son traveling, but (not to be maudlin) as we all get older, it is becoming more and more of a possibility that each holiday may be the last we will all have to get together.

I have the feeling that we will all sit down together at the Thanksgiving table this year and be especially grateful for our many blessings.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving Turkey

When I was very young, I decided I would NEVER cook a turkey. After watching my grandmother prepare various holiday dinners, I was horrified by what seemed to be a really gross and messy job. (I suspect that in those days, the giblets weren't packed up in a nice neat bag as they are now.)

After I was married, I worried that someday, I was going to be expected cook a turkey and though I avoided it as long as I could, I realized that since I was the one who had the time, I should really be the one to make holiday dinners.

Bread stuffing, is the way we have always traditionally stuffed turkeys in our family. And the stuffing should be solid enough to be removed from the bird and sliced. I remember going up to Aunt Mary's house after Christmas and being served cold sliced filling with hot left-over gravy and thinking it was a very special treat.

As luck would have it, something like 30 years ago (which is how long ago this happened,) either Woman's Day or Family Circle magazine published an article on Thanksgiving dinner which included a chart of stuffing recipes and also instructions on how long to bake the bird.

The bread stuffing recipe looked about right and, sure enough, everything turned out perfectly.

Stuffing the turkey has become one of those weird traditions with my DH and me which I have probably discussed here before. There's something very companionable about being in the kitchen early in the morning, chopping and cooking together to prepare a wonderful meal.

We still stuff our turkeys and (after calculating the approximate cooking time) we do it early in the AM, put the turkey in to cook immediately and it is usually ready at almost the time we expect it!

I kept the original pages from the magazine, but they have become brittle and yellowed. I encased them in plastic and keep them around for old times' sake, but I have transferred the information to a computer file and today, I made it into a jpg which is shown here.
If you are interested printing it out, Just click on the picture and it should come up in a separate frame. Then choose print from the file menu above and it should printout for you in a readable size.

I've never seen an article again that laid all the information out so simply and I'd love to know that I have passed on something that has been very important to me through these many years.

11-25-07 I added a picture of our turkey this year. It was actually overcooked (as you can see the wings fell off!), but it was one of the best we ever made. I think giving it an extra half-hour will become a new tradition.

When we put it in the oven at 500 F., we didn't turn it down for maybe another half hour so that it was golden brown almost immediately. We tented it and turned it back down and it seems all the delicious juices were sealed in for the duration! Oh, and I had more gravy than ever before - it was perfect!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Unusual Season - redux

As I was titling this entry, I realized I had written a very similar entry in March, 2006 about the unusually warm and early spring. This time, it's about summer hanging on seemingly forever.

When I was in elementary school, we did a play called, "The Unusual Season". I remember it well because I think it was my only starring role in a school production (I was the unusual season!) In it, the point was made that there is often an unusual season in between the regular, expected ones when odd weather occurs. I remember long ago, when we lived in our first house, mowing the yard on Thanksgiving and thinking how strange it was to still have grass to cut so late in the year. I think this is going to be another one of those years.

So, I'm looking outside and realize it's November.
First, I saw the Pineapple Sage. Now, that's one of the last things to bloom in the fall, so it wasn't too out of place even though it was surrounded by the fallen leaves. Next, I saw Calendula blooming away. I wonder if this one knew it was slated to be the herb of the year in 2008 and was hoping to hold on for some of the accolades. Then, I realized my lavender was STILL blooming. We were making wands with this back in May and usually by the end of summer it has faded away. Not this plant, no sirree!One lovely hydrangea bloom peeked out from the bottom of the plant. Most of the other blooms have faded to a brown and some to a beautiful burgundy/green combo.

But, strangest of all are the tomatoes... still producing high on the tops of the vines. You can see where the frost has withered the vines above them, but these tomatoes are still very good. I lost my enthusiasm for them some time ago after gorging on them for weeks, but Tina tried one of them, right off the vine and was pleasantly surprised that they must have been protected somewhat by the foliage.

And, it isn't just the plants. We've been noticing baby animals that we usually expect to be born in the spring seem to be coming along right now, as we go into winter (I think!)
This is the "Chicken House". The door is closed because my DH decided the Polish Bantam hen who is sitting on a nest of about 20 eggs should be protected until the babies hatch. I said, "Maybe we'll have to bring them inside." But, he assured me that we have heat lights that can be installed in the "Chicken House" to keep everyone comfy and healthy.

Only last Friday, as we traveled between Philadelphia and home on the PA Turnpike, in a spot where, at twilight, deer are always along the highway feeding, we saw a tiny fawn in the group and were discussing how out of season it seemed to be.

Maybe I'm just remembering things wrong, but it certainly seems that things are out of whack. Hmmm... Global warming? Could be.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Flying Spaghetti Monster!

That wasn't my original theme on this piece, but once I added the little dangles at the bottom, it was all I could think of.

The base bead is one I made some time ago and wondered how to use it. It is a large, diamond shaped bead in various subtle shades of turquoise and muted greens.

When I got started adorning it, once again, the bead took over and I couldn't stop! There are little green fishes on the sides along with iridescent stars sparkling here and there. All kinds of beads and a few nuggets of turquoise and peridot peek out from all angles. The wire is sterling, but the silver beads that trail in and out of the random design are silver colored.

My other piece for the day is one of the folk art series I have been working on since discovering the redware effect I can get with enamels.

I found that it looked perfectly natural with aged copper.

There are two styles of heart beads along with a couple of stylized folk art birds.

Hmmm... birds being the messengers of the gods sending up a wish for love. So, that will be its name, "Wish for love".

Oh, just a little heads up. I am opening an Etsy Shop and as soon as I have it completely set up, will be posting the address.