Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I saw a Lion!

Ok, not quite so cool as the moose, but he was rather fierce.

Linda and I went out and about yesterday and stopped at this fabulous gift shop with lot's of eclectic furnishings in a huge hot pink building. I should get better at remembering names....but it was very fun.

Then on to the Knitting Grounds which offered a selection of yarns, fibers for spinning and many many fibers for felting. There were beautiful hand dyed selections and many inspirational pieces hanging from the walls. Zaynab the owner was delightful as she showed me around. My friend Arlene , a very accomplished felt artist teaches here on occassion so you may want to keep an eye out for her classes. Her Nuno scarves are amazing and I love her pillows and wall hangings, all very colorful and artistic.

Then on to the shop where I was teaching Ringlets. Many of the folks from the weekend were back. Karen was wearing a gorgeous Romantica with earrings to match.

Shannon's fun colored Romantica was well on it's way.

Here's Shannon and Shera who very nicely color coordinated their outfits for the photo shoot.
Too bad you can't see Shera's very cool bracelet. Curved right angle weave, nicely designed, beautiful colors.

More Ringlets tonight and tomorrow we're off for a drive to Seward where the bar has been raised to include sheep and whale viewings, we'll see.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I saw a Moose!

I told you yesterday it was on the list and Linda the wonder hostess accommodated with not one but three moose sightings, including a bull moose with full rack, apparently a more rare sighting. I don't have the good camera with me, just my little point and shoot with minimum zoom capability so you'll have to trust me on that one, but look at this moose!. Literally by the side of the road, munching away, oblivious to me taking photos of him.

It was a stellar day with visits to Portfolio

my kind of store where I purchased a URU shirt....
and a fabulous yarn store whose name escapes me at the moment. They were super friendly and I just happened to purchase some hand dyed boucle for another Satine.
We stopped at Black Elk and at the Bead Shack and Skinny Raven where I was able to resist the temptation of the hand painted danskos only because they didn't have my size.
I was then fortunate enough to be invited to Cheryl Frasca's beautiful home for dinner. Cheryl owns Beadventure and we have the beginnings of a plan....more later.

Andrew is always posting pictures of luscious plates of food, well look at this one!

Maple and chipotle glazed pork roast on top of herbed polenta with a side of olive oil marinated asparagus, baked with parmesan and drizzled with lemon. This was one fantastic meal!
Back to the hotel I was able to take this picture of the very pretty and most pleasant Roberta

who was responsble for my room with a view.

What an amazing day! Thank you Linda, thank you Cheryl, it was truly lovely.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A room with a view!

I'm in Alaska at the Dimond Center hotel which is a very nice hotel, big spa tubs with granite surrounds, Aveda toiletries,and cushy beds....but when I checked in they were full and although from the lobby I could see the exquisite view, the only available rooms looked out onto the couryard, no mountains...

When I arrived last night the darling Roberta , a very customer service oriented young women was at the front desk and I inquired if there just might be a room available with a view (I'm not usually so high maintenance, ok maybe a little) but I'm here for ten days and it seemed worth asking and Roberta came up with my new room and this view!

Sunday was another great teaching day with many familiar faces from Saturday and a few new ones. Many fabulous Romanticas are in progress.

I've yet to see my first real moose (it's on the list of things to do) but here are the Alaska Bead Company store windows. I took these for you Liz. I'll spare you the Moose poop earrings, but I'll find some other moosey trinket in my travels. Requests?

Last night Linda, my lovely hostess for the week took me to sushi and we were joined by Cheryl Frasca of Beadventures. I met her once previously and find her delightful to be with. We're having dinner at her house tonight!

I have some deadline beading to get done this morning and then Linda will pick me up for a day of shopping. Thanks to my friend Arlene who lived in Anchorage for many years, I have the list of places to shop and eat. I'm starting out at the Skinny Raven and though the website looks sports oriented I've been informed they have hand painted Dansko's. I may get in trouble....

Jeannette facebooked that Color Creek will be another good destination. I'll report on my shopping success tomorrow!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

History is made in Alaska

Or there's a man in my class!; but first....

I arrived to the beautiful view of mountains. Since I was sitting in the aisle my first glimpses of the Alaskan landscape were from a distance out a 10 x 12 inch window and I was still wowed. Lest you think the plane was about to crash, these pictures were actually taken on my morning walk. It is breathatkingly beautiful here.

And now the man story....Wanda came to class accompanied by husband Byron. I commented that in ten years of teaching I had never had a man in class and Byron signed up then and there! He was not new to seed beading, he'd done other classes in both metal and seed beads. What a guy. We were making the tiny La Boquita medallion and with a little guidance from me and a little from very accomplished wife Wanda, Byron was off. In fact at the end of the day he had four beautiful medallions complete!

Wanda was making a bridal piece and the wedding is taking place on a Hawaiin beach. With her pearl and crystal pallete she introduced the tiniest little seashells. I loved it! If only I had gotten a good picture I would share. It was really really pretty.

Sian was in class. She had taken a ringlets class from me ten years ago in San Ramon, wow! First I noticed her really fun socks.

Then decided you might like to see more of her! Sian's pallette was Hyacinth, frosted drops and gold seeds. Again, beautiful.

Shannon and Beth came to class prepared to laugh and have a great time and I think they did. Both had amazing colors and lots of good ideas for changing things up.

Karen was somewhat new to beading but was a quick study and left with several medallions. Karen number two is a painter who arrived in class with an amazing freeform piece!

And Shampagne tied last week's record with Amy of Minnesota with 9 completed medallions at the end of the day. Look at the smile, what a cutie!

Everyone was a delight and I look forward to my next classes.

Mark the store owner was warm, friendly and funny and Linda the store manager is making sure that I am well hosted. We're going on a yarn outing on Tuesday and a roadtrip on Thursday. She's the best!

Loving it here.....more as the week progresses

Oh and Arlene, I had my first cup of Kalidi coffee, really good, thanks for the tip.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Bags are Packed, I'm ready to go!

Yes, lyrics from 'I'm leaving on a jet plane', loved that song in it's day.

The clothes part of packing I have down, I pack black, with a few colorful accessories and of course beadwork. My electronics all live in their cleverly designed neoprene case by Built, easy, and there is an extra set of all toiletries which live in their Maruca toiletry case. I have packing down, except for....

What to bead, what to knit? I'm bringing along beads for a ring trade with Kate (she's ahead of me), and beads for my final 'designer of the year' Beadwork project, and beads for my next Queen Anne's Lace Sample (Tahoe retreat), and beads for a little design that's been nagging at me....are you getting that I have a delusional view of time here? Alaska is not a vacation, I'm working....but I do have a few days off....

I needed a knitting project as well, and with Satine finished I went looking for some yarn and a project, (Yes Lynne, I am going to get back to Mark's vest, I am, but right now I'm having a love affair with lace) and I found this!

On the needles, started pre-book and languishing. I'm taking it with me to Alaska, it will make for good plane knitting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tahoe and Beads!

What could be better? Bead Unique Magazine is presenting a 3 day Bead Retreat in gorgeous Lake Tahoe. I was incredibly honored to be asked to be one of their instructors along with Sherry Serafini and Beki Haley. I couldn't be more excited, Northern California is one of my favorite destinations and in the fall time it promises to be exquisite.

I am loving my project, Queen Anne's Lace, over 200 sparkly little crystals to catch the light, finished with a large Swarovski button.

Visit the retreat website for details, it's going to be a grand time!

Small Pleasures

I often delight in life's small pleasures. A few weeks ago I caught sight of these carved bird napkin rings at Z Gallerie and somehow was distracted enough not to pick them up at the time. During this weeks heat wave we took a convertible top down early evening drive to the mall. I usually avoid the mall, but these little birdies kept calling me...

and they were on sale!

A visit to my friend Val's house this week introduced me to another of the mall's offerings. Teavana....have you been? Beautiful fragrant teas, many many varieties, but since I'm easily influenced I settled on an African Roobois for Mark and the Jasmine dragon pearls that Val had served earlier in the day.

Little pearl like balls of tea which unfurl when they are steeped. A lovely interlude in a busy day.

Yesterdays total walking only 7700 steps, somehow sitting at the computer doesn't count, darn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Miss Princess Maya Angelina DeCoster

Needed a new collar and look what I found!

The talented Paula Best is making among many other things the cutest ever dog collars. I knew that Miss Maya must have one....and so she will, because she is of course 'The Best Dog'

My initials are MAD, which is why I am MaDDesigns, just in case you ever wondered. And my husbands initials are MAD, which of course meant that darling Miss Maya must also have the initials MAD and so that is how she became Maya Angelina DeCoster. The Miss Princess is just because she is.....


Satine from French Girl Knits is complete and I love it. Totally smitten, over the moon in love...

I've been a knitter for much longer then a beader, much....and I can knit lace and cable and make socks, I'm reasonably accomplished even; but somehow gauge, fit, style, often escapes me and I end up with a not so wearable garment.

Which has turned me into more of an accessory knitter, hard to go wrong with a scarf or shawl. So I had low expectations for my success rate here. I was knitting gauge and had measured, but somehow on the needles I couldn't quite tell if I was knitting a 3x or a size 2. Well yesterday I bound it off, tried it on and it fit! And it looks good. Of course now I have the dilemma of the perfect outfit to wear it with....

I must thank my knitting friends for their encouragement and most especially Susan from the Grove whose gentle guidance has helped me to pick better and knit better.

And on the bead front, want to See what 10 gross of Air Blue Opal Bi-cone Swarovski crystals look like, me too....

MMMMmmm...... pretty

And here is Maya, back from a Lake Chollas walk, 4900 steps...yesterday's Lake Murray walk and ensuing day ended up tallying 11,289 steps.

She's getting ready to supervise a really busy day in the studio, really busy, much to do before leaving Friday a.m. and I'm planning some playtime with Mark tomorrow which means it must all be done today. I'm on it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A small world

That it is, posts like this are proof to me. Here is a Stephanie Pearl McPhee (The Yarn Harlot) blog post from February. I was quite busy then and just caught up blog reading her really funny posts and stumbled on this post.

A picture of James accompanied by this text.... "James. He works at the desk at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, he's a handsome devil, made only more attractive by his charm, his ability to get Tina into the hotel room she very adeptly locked herself out of in the wee hours, his willingness to discuss the politics of nuclear energy with Eugene, and his knitting. He's got friends in Toronto, and this one's for them. (He knit on my sweater a bit.) "

Two years ago I taught at the Puget Sound Bead Festival, stayed at this very hotel and was charmed by the very same James. It is a testament to his great customer service and charm that both myself, an over 50 year old women (note James youth) and the 30 year old gay man at my dinner table, were both quite sure that James was only smitten with ourselves and no one else. I of course know the fantasy of this, but still, he was definitely a charmer.

And I see he continues to charm....


val is giving twitter lessons

Monday, April 20, 2009


I am amazed, and to those of you who are technically advanced this may not seem like such a big deal, so humor me

The previous post's picture, Hotel Art, was taken on my iphone, and then sent to my blog with my iphone! No computer required. Things like this totally blow me away. I started my career using an ibm selectric typewriter. When the white correction tape was integrated into the machine it was a big day.....

Stop laughing Rachel, I know that you can't even imagine the day that was true...You probably don't even remember when you stored you word files on floppy discs because there was no room on the hard drive. When you wanted to work on a document you had to get the right floppy disk and insert it.

And to think, I sent a blog post, complete with pictures from my iphone, sigh...

Hotel Art

I love this lighted glass ball in the lobby of the Hilton!

A very nice weekend indeed

Indeed, it's such a funny word, my husband uses it often to acknowledge a remark I'm made'The weather is really nice today', 'indeed'.....I find it rather endearing.

The Bead Monkey in Minneapolis, Minnesota is a large beautifully stocked store with a well equipped light filled classroom. We had two fun filled days making La Boquita and Ringlets.

There was Tana and Doreen and Ceceila and Deb and Sarah and Amy, all making beautiful versions of La Boquita.

Here is Doreen, a fairly new beader who was doing an exellent job

And Amy, the speed beader of the group who was most of the way through the necklace at the end of the day

And Tana, notice the stunning necklace with Dustin and Stephanie beads

Most stores have their specialities and the Bead Monkey has an amazing offering of glass beads, here are just two shots, the whole wall is 5 or 6 shots...

Which would be a great use of a photo mosaic, but alas, I have not yet put the energy into learning an easy way to do that.

I finished the weekend off by having dinner with Jean Campbell. I'd have taken a picture, but we were way too busy talking about all things bead related. Dinner was delicious and the company was the best!

Time for travel home and spending a couple of days regrouping before heading off to the Alaska Bead Company in Anchorage on Friday.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I'm here! Though I sat in the dreaded middle seat the trip was uneventful and short. I made some progress knitting on my lace tunic while continuing to listen to 'the Girl with Dragon Tatoos'

As much as I travel I try to stay organized. I found this neoprene zippered case with 6 pockets for carrying all the necessary electronics. I have the iphone charger, the camera, the cameras battery charger, an extra memory stick, the ipod, the swarovski ear bud headphones, power cord for the laptop, and mouse. I love it when I find a really useful product, and this one is great.

Also along on it's maiden voyage is the lavender sachet that Susan knit for me. I was touched by her thoughtfulness, giving me a bit of home and comfort to take on the road with me. Thank you Susan! It is well loved and will be well used.

Across the street is the chophouse in the Hilton hotel. I've been known to frequent the Chophouse while at Bead and Button in Milwauke so I'm hoping this one is as good. I'm planning a nice dinner, some beading time and an early bedtime.

I look forward to meeting everyone in tomorrow's class!

I couldn't resist finishing off this post with this beautiful art glass. I've photo'd her for the blog before, but I've moved her to this table in the bedroom where the light creates magic. mobile posting capabilities.....hhhmmmm how to add pictues?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Power of Beads

It must be that the beads have power because in the midst of anxious times and much to do, a pretty bead is just the thing I need to calm me. And lot's of pretty beads,'s quite therapeutic.

Here's a new Terracita colorway, turns out I'm still having a love affair with pale aqua's and muted greens. (Coming your way soon Michelle....)

And look at these Cathedral beads, a finish I've not seen before, aren't they pretty?

And here's a beauty that I got from Heather to be worked into a new piece.

And a non bead photo of beauty, yesterdays sky with big puffy white clouds

I'm off early tomorrow morning for a flight to the Bead Monkey in Minneapolis so you may not hear from me for a day or two, although I am thinking about traveling with laptop, so we'll see.....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Playing with sequins

I have quite a sequin stash picked up here and there. I find these ones quite fun and have been waiting to use them in something. This is part of a bigger plan, my last Beadwork project of the year, due May 1st. The delightful little blue beads are size 15 3 cuts that I acquired during my trip to Tucson.

I was over at Andrew's place and was reminded of my love of Anne Choi beads.

This bit of beadwork has been done for quite awhile and perhaps some day it will become wearable....In the meantime the ? seemed appropriate to me today as I question how to work smarter, where to put my focus, how to keep engaged in the artistic while struggling with the schedule and to do list.

Also on the list is a piece for Bead Unique magazine to go along with a retreat that I'll be doing in Tahoe this year. The retreat is the first weekend in October and the instructors will be myself, Beki Haley and Sherry Serafini. The website with details should be available soon and I'll keep you posted.

Today I got up really early and enjoyed some beading time while listening to 'The Girl with the Dragon Tatoos'.

Yesterdays pedomoeter count ended up at 7498, not 10,000 but a respectable start. It is going to be challenging to fit everything which requires doing into the next two days before I leave for Minnesota. But the schedule is always going to be challenging or at least for the forseeable future so I need to make walking a priority......breakfast, shower, walk......walk, shower, breakfast........shower, walk? I seem to be a tad indecisive today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wanna take a walk?

It is way past time that I dust off the pedometer and get back to daily walking. When I lived in Europe we walked everywhere out of necessity and it was a nice way to live. I walked to the train station, to my office, to lunch, to the grocery store, anywhere we needed to be....I often surpassed the recommended 10,000 steps, sometimes accumulating 12,000 to 15,000 steps in a day.

Unfortunately I am much more motivated by destination walking, but there are few destinations that merit walking to from my house. So I've decided that at least twice a week I will drive somewhere pretty to walk and explore, 3 more days I will walk out the front door and the other two, who knows, maybe a beach walk or a hike, or a rest. That's the plan right now at least.

Maya is very excited about my new plan. A walk is the highlight of her day and when the sneakers go on and the leash comes out she spins circles all the way to the door.

Here are some pictures from todays walk. The pedometer only reads 3653 steps for my walk, so a slow start, but we'll see what the rest of the day brings.

An interesting cactus about to bloom, will need to walk by this again...

Pretty in pink...

I'm off to the Grove for a knitting session with Satine, my lace tunic from French Girl Knits. With not too much effort it could be done, which would be nice, then I can start my purple February Lady Sweater.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home Again

Not for too long, but we arrived home from Santa Cruz last night. I'm off again on Friday morning to go teach at the Bead Monkey in Minneapolis. I've never taught there before, but I did visit the last time I was in town and it was a large, light filled, well stocked store with two classrooms! And I get to have dinner with Jean Campbell who I definitely don't get to see often enough, so that is going to be great fun.

This weeks flowers, very pink, very pretty, thank you Jill

But before I get on that plane there are things to be done and really all I want to do is bead. I found myself dreaming about beading last night and I take that to mean that I am having bead withdrawals and not enough time to satisfy them.

I am going to try to carve out some time today between cleaning, walking, and making some semblance of order in the studio. There remains a rather substantial to do list for some of my other endeavors, such as finish up my last designer of the year project, write directions for my Tahoe project, order beads for my bead and button kits, mail off some beads for sample making......

Last week I got back 'disco squares' my April May Designer of the Year project from Beadwork magazine.

I might not have called it that, but then I gave it some totally unoriginal last minute name like square medallion bracelet, so I can't complain, but I can take a note to get better at naming. Despite the name I love this bracelet, and judging by the mail I have gotten, others are having fun with it as well. I haven't taken it off for the last 5 days despite several people trying to persuade me to give it to them.

Off to the airport (Mark is returning to North Carolina for one week) and then a walk and then.....perhaps some beading!

Friday, April 10, 2009

And in Bead News...

I'm a Cover Girl! The June July issue of Beadwork will feature my golden ruffled collar, yippeee! It's a beautifully textured collar with my favorite matte metallics!

Santa Cruz

Well through a few technology challenges I've managed to bring pictures ...

First quintessential Santa Cruz, the light house at the harbor.

This is the view from the Crow's Nest, the place of the surprise birthday party and reunion with family and friends.

Mom was surprised and pleased to celebrate her birthday with so many.

Here is friend Char with Mom

Daughter Casey

Daughter Casey and friend Rose

Daughter Lucia and fiance Ethan

Son Brian and Grandbaby Sam

It was a fabulous evening!

And then on to downtown Santa Cruz and my visit with Rachel.

The day was challenged in that all internet service and mobile phone was down and I had neglected to get the address to Rachel's studio, I was going to call her...So I began going to stores that might know Rachel and asking. They knew her, but not the location of her studio. Well in my travels, Rachel and I ran in to each other! Thank goodness.

We shared tea,and chocolate macaroons.

enjoyed her studio

and found these, bead color number F457 in shoes!

It was a great day but way too short! I saw some of her book pages,

Wow, it is going to be so beautiful. It will be a must buy with so many beautiful and intriguing projects.