Friday, August 12, 2011

tiniest of seashells

I found this website a couple of weeks ago, and I thought the images that Dr Gary Greenberg creates are so beautiful!  From his website: 

"During the 1990's he invented and developed high-definition, three-dimensional 
light microscopes, for which he was issued eighteen US patents.  
Since 2001, Dr. Greenberg focuses hi microscopes on common objects, such as grains of sand, 
flowers, and food.  These everyday objects take on a new reality when magnified 
hundreds of times, revealing hidden and unexpected aspects of nature.  
Dr. Greenberg's images of sand make us realize that as we walk along a beach 
we are strolling upon thousands of years of biological and geological history" 

Those images are magnified grains of sand, and I love how they look like teeny, tiny seashells.  It makes you think that the sand you're walking on could have been a seashell that one of the very first humans picked up at some point thousands of years ago.  It also reminds me how beautiful the design of our planet is, and how wondrous it is that something that seems so average to our naked eye actually has such a beautiful, purposeful design when you look closer at it.  It makes me want to celebrate the creation of this beautiful planet!  

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and remember to celebrate the beauty in the everyday objects you see around you!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's on your Worktable Wednesday

I can't wait to wear this one! Keeping on my ocean and tropical theme, I pulled out this flamingo charm that I bought a while ago at a bead store in Las Vegas, called Bead Jungle.  They have an awesome collection of charms, and I have picked up quite a few there when we go visit the hubby's parents. To go along with my flamingo, I pulled out all the tropical blue rounds that I have, and some pink & turquoise cubes, just for a bit of variety, as well as the matching blue and pink Swarovski crystals.

I originally thought I was going to do a double stranded bracelet, since the cool flamingo charm is much bigger than I normally work with, but when I started working on that, I didn't really like the way it was looking. So I took that apart, and started working on something else. I'm pretty happy with the way it's turning out, although I can't decide if I like both colors of the little rounds, or if I want to switch one of them out with a similar color of Swarovski crystal.  What do you think, any suggestions?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Color Palette Mondays: Ocean View

In honor of our kayaking trip yesterday, I thought I would pull out one of my pictures of the Pacific Ocean from the past year.  My husband decided some time ago that he was going to do something called he dubbed the "California Pier Project" - which he eventually would like to turn into a little book.  This entails photographing all (or nearly all) of the piers that stick out into the Pacific Ocean - mostly starting at (or as close as possible to) sunrise.  That's REALLY early, but I'm a good wife and I usually go with him without complaining too much.  The funny thing is, I'll complain when we get up that early (like 4:30 in the summer time) but once we get there, I always have fun.  I usually bring along my little point and shoot camera, just for fun, and I take random pictures of whatever I think is beautiful - I usually end up with a lot of photos of pelicans, any other wildlife we see and my husband in various random poses taking pictures on the pier (my favorites are when he lays down on the ground).  And sometimes, it's waves.  This day, we were at Manhattan Beach, and I sat for some time on the beach just taking pictures into the ocean of the different waves.  I think this is one of my favorites :) Hope you all had a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tropical Whimsy

So, I know it's supposed to be "What's on your worktable Wednesday" but to be honest with you, we were busy this weekend and I haven't started anything new, plus I brought some work home with me tonight, so what's on my worktable tonight was uploading a PowerPoint presentation for my boss.  It happens.  Instead we're gonna talk about the tropics, OK?

A few days ago, Erik & I got the same email from Living Social.  They're one of these websites like Groupon, that sends out an email with daily deals on all kinds of things.  One of the things they have deals on is vacations.  They come in a separate email, and there is always several cool places for really cheap - usually anywhere from 2-4 nights at a cool hotel or bed & breakfast somewhere pretty.  So, the other day there was a 4 night trip to the Bahamas for $400 for 2 people.  It got the tropics stuck in my head!  It was all I could think about all the rest of the day.  I even got a couple of ideas for jewelry, that I have to get working on :)

I found a couple of images that I'm in love with, and I decided to pull together a treasury on Etsy.  Basically this is a little collection of up to 16 pieces that you like & have some kind of a theme.  I decided to call mine "Tropical Whimsy" and I pulled together a few things for the house that I would love to own, a few pieces of jewelry that remind me of the tropics, and a few things that I would love to get for our kids (assuming we ever have some...).  What do you think of my treasury?  Click this link to check it out, so you can get a good look at these beautiful pieces!  I don't know if I can pick a favorite, but it would probably come down to one of the pelican pieces... or maybe the flamingos... or... well, I really can't decide, I just love them all!  Which one is your favorite?

PS.  none of the photos here today are mine.  the first one is a downloadable wallpaper, and came from this site.  The last image is just a screen capture of my treasury on Etsy!  Thanks for reading :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Color Palette Mondays: Whale Watching

Today the hubby and I went on a whale watching cruise out of Newport Beach Harbor.  I was not overly impressed with the overall operation who took us out, but we got a pretty good discount so I can't complain too much.  Plus we got to see a bunch of dolphins and even a fin whale!  The down side was that we've had some wacky weather this weekend - storms around here and tropical storms starting to push their way up from the South - so the waves were crazy high.  I didn't get a ton of pictures at all, because we were being tossed around so much some times it was hard enough to find a spot where I could see, much less be able to hold the camera steady enough to snap a shot.  I did get a couple of cool videos of the dolphins jumping near our boat, because I realized that while I couldn't get a still shot my camera takes pretty good video :) I'm always the problem solver! When I figure out how to edit them, I will try posting one or two here.  Now I know you're thinking, this is a really long story since she didn't get any pictures on the whale watching cruise, why is she telling us all this when she's going to use some other picture today.  Well, I got some good pictures while we were more in the harbor where the water was calmer.  On the way in, our captain took us right up to the bouy that marked the end of the harbor area, and there were half a dozen sealions hanging out on the bottom of it.  They were super cool, and posing for our cameras.  They make an interesting color palette, don't you think?

I had to pull the green in form the alge on the bouy as well as that bright red of the bouy.

The other really great photo op I got was as everyone was getting off the boat.  A small fishing boat had stopped near where we were docked, and a pelican was hanging out.  The boat had two grown ups and a kid about 10, and best I can tell the kid decided to throw the leftover bait (maybe, or something else, I didn't see) into the water for the pelican.  Well, that attracted about a dozen more pelicans, and as the boat drove away trying to escape, one of the pelicans saw our boat and decided we might have food.  He started swimming right up to where I was standing, until he was about 5 feet away!  I love me some pelicans, so quickly snapped a few shots before we had to run off the boat!  I love this shot, and I really had fun pulling a color palette out of this guy.  It's actually kind of beautiful, don't you think?

Hope y'all had a great weekend too!  Did you do something exciting this weekend?  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's on your Worktable Wednesday

This week I'm working on a piece that I have been working on for a while.  It's called "Where the Blacktop Ends" and it's actually named after one of my favorite songs (that link will get you to the official video, please don't judge the look! He was young and mullets were still in style).  Keith Urban has been my favorite artist for a long time.  His music is often a source of inspiration to me, and this particular song has not only been my favorite, but it was the first KU song that really caught my attention so many years ago.  Not a day goes by that I don't listen to some KU song, sometimes to help keep my focus at the office, or to help make the long drives in LA traffic easier or just to sing along at the top of my lungs.  I've been lucky enough to meet him twice now, and he is one of the nicest celebrities I have ever met.  I could go on and on, but lets just say, I'm a proud Monkey!  Anyway, back to my worktable & "Where the Blacktop Ends"...

Gonna kick of my shoes and run in bare feet
Where the the grass and the dirt and the gravel all meet
Goin' back to the well, gonna visit old friends
And feed my soul
Where the blacktop ends

I've always had some specific ideas in mind when I listen to this song, and I was hoping I could convey some of them through the stones I chose for this bracelet.  I started out by finding some African Jade rounds, Brownsite cubes and Labradorite chips representing the grass, dirt and gravel.  I compiled them all into what I thought was going to be a cool bracelet, but something was missing.  I knew for certain it wasn't right, when I found myself not wearing the bracelet very often.   It looked something like this...

Pretty, but just not really working for me.  With things not looking quite right, I thought I would add a little sparkle.  I picked up some crystals the other day in Jonquil (a light yellow) and Azore 2AB (a light blue), and started trying to weave them into the design without taking the whole thing apart.  It's looking like this now:

I got about half way through, and while it's definitely better, I'm still not sure this is what I want it to look like.  I think these beads just may need a little more "breathing room" so to speak than most of my designs, so I think I'm going to end up taking the whole thing apart and starting over.  That's ok, though, because I've recently learned some new techniques that I think I can implement that will make this bracelet even better.  I'll for sure post the final piece when I'm done with it.

Are you working on anything interesting?  Who is your favorite artist, and have you ever made something inspired by one of their songs?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Color Palette Mondays

This weekend we went to Las Vegas to celebrate my in-laws's birthdays.  In case you don't know, it's HOT in Las Vegas this time of year.  I think it was somewhere around 110 degrees both days - that's way too hot for me!  On our drive home, we saw this beautiful sunset, and we stopped to take a few pictures.  This is one of my favorites...

That's my husband taking his own pictures, I just can't resist snapping pictures of him taking pictures when we're out :)  I had every intention of posting this Sunday night, when we got home, but we hit a big traffic jam, and the normally 4-ish hour trip ended up taking us 9+ hours.  It was exhausting, and since we left later than we probably should have, we didn't make it home until nearly 1am!  So, I'm a day late, but I hope you enjoy this one anyway, I sure did!  

Did you do anything exciting over the weekend?  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Color Palette Mondays

One of my favorite design-y bloggers is Brandi over at Brandi Girl Bog.  She's big on color inspiration, and if you know me, you know how much I love colors!  One of the things she does is make color palettes from pictures that she has taken (or found, depending on the week).  I thought this sounded like a fun way to find new color combinations.  So, here's my first one.  The photo was taken at one of our favorite places, and our favorite ride - the Mad Hatter's Tea Party @ Disneyland in California.  Erik and I often ride this ride - you know the kind, where you sit in a teacup and turn the crank in the center to make it spin around like crazy - and it's become "our ride".  One of our favorite things to do is use my camera ('cause it's small and easy to control when you're spinning around that fast) on a long exposure setting aimed upwards towards the brightly colored lights to get pictures like this:

We could seriously do this for hours on end, the images created are always beautiful and always unique.  One of these days we were standing near the Tea Party ride, and decided to try to capture the spinning cups as well as the lights.  I think this is one of my favorites from that shoot, as well as it's one of my favorite color palettes!  I use these colors together often.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's on your Worktable Wednesday

(even though I'm writing this on Thursday, and you're going to read it on Friday... sigh). 

So I wanted to start this new thing, something I could do every week, that would help me both make more jewelry and have one less day that I have to come up with an idea for a blog post but still have something to post.  I saw this one on one of the blogs that I have been checking out lately, and I hate to say I have no idea which one, but I don't.  I apologize to who ever I stole this idea from, and I would give you credit if only I could remember who you were.  Anyway, it's called "What's on your Worktable Wednesday" - you know, 'cause it's all W's - where you share take a photo of what you're working on right now.  It would help me make more jewelry since it would be lame to be working on the same things 2 weeks in a row! I'm actually working on something tonight that I wanted to share with you - but I can't share the finished product yet, it's a gift!). So I'm going to share it as the first post in my series of WWW's (that's less of a mouthful than What's on your Worktable Wednesday, don't you think?  We shall call is WWW from now on) even though it's Thursday already (and you're not going to read it till Friday...)

Here's what I've got out tonight... wire in 24 & 20 gages, 4mm & 6mm Swarovski Crystals in Capri Blue and Crystal AB & some jump rings with a gunmetal finish.  I'm still debating between the 2 heart sizes I made here, but I think I'm leaning towards the smaller ones.  Hopefully I can finish this in the morning - I'll post the finished product after I give it away! 

What are you working on this week???  Anyone have a good weekend project going?  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Santa Cruz Beads

2 weeks ago (June 26th) was our second anniversary.  The hubby and I decided to take a mini-vacation and get out of town for a few days.  We headed up to San Francicso to stay with my aunt & uncle for the weekend.  On the way up there, we stopped in Santa Cruz over night.  We stayed in a beautiful Victorian Bed & Breakfast  right across the street from the Santa Cruz pier.  I really wish we could have stayed longer there, because it as beautiful!  Santa Cruz is one of the only piers in California that still has it's boardwalk operational, complete with carnival rides and a 100+-year-old carousel!    As soon as I sort through the rest of my photos from the trip I'll post some of them here because that pier is really cool - there is a whole layer underneath the pier that you can access and all kind of animals live down there!  The best part about our day in Santa Cruz - we found two bead stores!  I scored just a couple of things at each store, but it was fun to sort through all the goodies, and to see how the stores differed from the ones I'm used to down here.  I think the one thing that was most different for me was that most of their inventory was sold "by the bead" rather than "by the strand".  I usually prefer to buy my beads by the strand because I tend to shop by inspiration (hence the name of this blog) rather than because I have a specific project in mind.  This means that I will rarely know how many of each bead I will want for a design, I will just buy which ever strands speak to me and hope I can find something to go with them later!  That's not to say that I didn't make some good finds up there.  So, here's where we went, and what I got.

Our first stop was Bead It! in downtown Santa Cruz.  They had an adorable little storefront, right in the walking part of the downtown.  They had a bunch of unique charms (mostly what I picked up) and I had fun looking through them because good charms are hard to find.  I found the Ferris wheel charms that I have been looking for (watch for them on an upcoming project), some brass hedgehogs that I'm not sure what I'm going to do with quite yet but were WAY too cool to pass up, and some really pretty blue glass flower beads.  I wish I could have bought a strand of the blue glass ones, because they were so beautiful!

Our second stop for the day was Monkey Girl Beads.  Like Bead It!, their focus seemed to be individual beads rather than strings (they did have some gemstone strings, but nothing unusual or extraordinary).  despite my preference for strands, I really wish Monkey Girl Beads was closer to my house!  They had such a great selection of silver & plated charms & findings, I nearly spent a small fortune there.  As it was, I spent more here and got way less beads, but they were SO worth it! I got these 5 tiny silver flowers and 2 pairs of tiny silver wings (they're almost actual size in this photo) :

 The other thing that I found that was different up there was that, since you were buying single beads rather than strands, you were given your purchases in tiny bags that were taped shut so the beads wouldn't fall out.  When I was pulling these 2 tiny bags out of my purse later, I felt a little like I had picked up drugs rather than beads :

That's my dime-bag of bead crack from Monkey Girl Beads.  (it's about 2"x2.5")   All in all a good beading experience - and for sure stop into these 2 stores on your next trip to Santa Cruz!  We went to several more bead stores in the San Francisco area, including one in Berkeley, but the inspiration didn't hit again, which was kind of a bummer.  I've found that sometimes it's like that though.  Most days I can go into any bead store and find something that I just have to have, no problem.  But other days, I can go into my favorite store and come out empty handed.  I'm just happy for these finds!

Do you like to stop at bead stores - or other specialty hobby stores -  while on vacation?  Do you have a favorite find from a trip that you wish you could go to again? 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Date Night

A month or so ago, my husband and I decided that we needed a "date night". Now, before you ask, no we don't have kids and we haven't been married for that long either. But that doesn't mean we don't get stuck in the rut of eating dinner in front of the TV - each of us on our own computers and thus barely speaking - most nights. So, in an effort to combat that, I called date night. We went to the 2nd street area of Long Beach to a place called Color Me Mine. If you've never heard of them, it's one of these places where you can make a ceramic piece - you choose a pre-created unfinished ceramic piece of varying size, complexity & price and "paint" it with the special glazes they have. You leave it there and they fire it for you, turning your hard work into a one-of-a-kind piece. It's something I've been wanting to try out for a while. Here's what we picked :

I have to tell you now, I have a bit of an obsession with all kinds of semi-tacky lawn ornaments - especially pink flamingos & garden gnomes. I find them fascinating, especially the older looking ones. I have a gnome that used to belong to my grandfather, and he has a prominent place right above our TV (we live in an apartment with a shared backyard and I would fear for his safety out there). I think he started the fascination with gnomes, but I've loved all things lawn-ornament-y for a while. (I also like to make up words. I can't help it.) Suffice it to say, I loved the movie Gnomeo & Juliet. Anyway, back to my date night story... I turns out that we are really slow painters! These little guys took us 2 visits of about 2 hours each time to finish. The really nice woman who was working the first night said to us as we got started "now, you know we close at 10 right?" and we just scoffed - 2 hours will be plenty of time to finish this paint job! No way!!! Neither one of us got more than half way done the first night.

Well, one of us got a little more than halfway done, but still... I'm happy to report they turned out beautifully! We both had a blast deciding on the colors, and sitting there painting surrounded by a bunch of other would-be-artists. (though there was a girl in there the first night who made this beautiful coffee mug - I think she may be a real artist!) I would love to go back, they had a bunch more things I wanted to paint - and even the hubby enjoyed himself! Here are the finished gnomes, after firing. Bet you can guess which one was mine!