Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Antipodes

Even though I've spent quite a bit of time in Sydney before, this time wasn't quite the same as before. For one, it was decidedly chilly! Not cold per se but not warm enough to do more than walk the promenade at the beach (Manly as always).
The view from my mother's apartment is still stunning.
The tile floor on her balcony makes a nice backdrop for photographing beaded things.
When you visit family there's always hanging around and waiting time which I tried to use to finish the clasps on various kumihimo necklaces.
I wasn't as productive as I looked: in a little over a week I've braided three necklaces but finished a few more.
The biggest surprise was food, specifically vegetarian food or the difficulty if finding it to be precise. Not for me, for my son.
We had yum cha (dim sum in the US) a couple of times and each time the only dish (of very many let me assure you) that he could eat was Chinese broccoli or greens. The green beans had pork as did the tofu and the dumplings never even came close. There may have been vegetarian-friendly noodles the second time.

I got to spend some lovely time with my oldest friend in Sydney. It's amazing how our history transcends the time and space we've not been colocated and all I can say is that it's a precious and wonderful gift.

The most  fun thing was tooling around on my brother's boat. He and his family are spending the next year abroad, had just sold their house as we arrived in Sydney and were living on the boat,not a terrible hardship. It's bigger than studio apartments I've seen and the views!
Not to be sneezed at.
The last day the marina was full of jellyfish. Not poisonous like the box jellies up north.
These are about the size of the palm of my hand.

We also spent some time in the Chinese Garden near Darling Harbour.
Lots of us, one brother and his family and a representative from my other brothet's family too.
Our last day together was on the boat.
It makes all things beautiful being on the water.
And then we came to Queenstown New Zealand which is stunningly gorgeous.

We have a lovely view of the Frankton Arm from our little apartment.
We hiked Queenstown Hill last night (rated a seven out of ten in terms of difficulty and I think that's a little generous quite honestly) and it was still light by the time we had descended at around nine.
I loved the little piles of flat stones along the path.
We finished off our day with iconic Ferg (edited to correct the auto-correct which wanted to call them Ferguson. As if) Burgers.

And we're not done yet.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Across the World

The sky from the plane on the way to LA was spectacular. Pink-tinted puffs rolling to the horizon with glimpses of stark snow-dusted mountaintops.
I ate all sorts of awesome foods in LA - my daughter is an excellent foodie/partner in crime. Duck fat fries at Beer Belly, sushi with warm rice at Sugarfish, the biggest pancakes in the entire world (there simply cannot be anything bigger) at The Griddle Cafe - and then we hiked it off!
Somewhere in the Valley, one of the trails we hit was the Mesa Trail although we were aiming for Paradise Falls.
The next day we hit Runyon Canyon Park with its stunning views over the city. The accessibility of the outdoors reminds me of Cape Town where you could drive ten minutes to walk in Newlands Forest or twenty to get to any beach at all - the beauty of a long skinny peninsula.

The flight to Australia was surprisingly uneventful. Blissfully so. We didn't miss any flights, none were cancelled, the food was perfectly edible and we took the taxi to my mom's apartment with all of our luggage.
Her view is pretty stunning, right?

And her balcony floor makes a decent backdrop for pictures of beaded stuff.
Only slightly jet lagged and the weather is perfect for time outdoors, not too hot or humid.

Good start to a vacation.

Monday, December 14, 2015

One More Time

The step-by-step photos of the one on the right just weren't translating into anything you could make sense of, so the colours on the left were chosen to be more visible. I think it works although the seed beads are ever so slightly shorter which didn't seem to work as well while I was stitching it, though ultimately there's little difference. It might be more difficult to stitch tightly with smaller beads though.
Also I had to do it again to see if it's really that confusing, and it might be, but I think I can mitigate that in the instructions with judicious use of arrows and other devices.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Productive Weekend (So Far)

Yesterday I spent many hours generating piles of thread and many hideous pieces of beadwork until this morning I threw embellishment ideas out the window and went with simpler.
 It looks like a cube (unlike my previous attempts) and it holds its shape (unlike my previous attempts) and I like the way it looks (unlike my previous attempts).

 It's a little difficult to describe all the steps especially if people have trouble reading their beadwork and it absolutely will not be even and symmetric and firm if not stitched with tight tension. I hate to consider a class project when I can see the pitfalls but it's so cute!
 I made good progress on the shoelace front though.
I made the pink ones above all in a single day (in which I did other things too so it's not as though I woke up, started on shoelaces and then fell into bed late at night, not having eaten, bathed or done anything but worked on a single pair of shoelaces).

I need a few more pairs so that the nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters in law (and my kids if I'm being fair) all have choices and then with a bit of luck they'll leave me the ones I want (not yet made) for my purple Docs.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

No Work on the House

Really, my hands needed a rest plus I had instructions that needed doing.
 One sample for Tuesday's class.

Then I decided to start another shoelace for my niece Charlie but this time I was going to be awesomely creative and make a band with the letter "C" all the way down it.
 Errm well it didn't exactly work out except in a couple of places, which is just as well as I was convinced I'd have even more trouble with the "R" for her sister Ruby.
 So I swizzled some cards around and came u with this which was almost pretty on the back except too wide for shoelaces and then I got distracted and so I cut it off in the name of practicality. What was I going to do with a non-reversible narrow band with a weird pattern?
 No, I don't have an answer so I noodled with beads which was quite a bit of fun as I came up with a sweet little motif that you can keep adding to if you like.
Dramatic pendant, but the motifs would work well together in a necklace or bracelet too.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Need More Hours Plz!

I'm not sure I'm quite recovered from Thanksgiving weekend and (as usual) I didn't get quite as finished as I wanted to, but that's the price you pay for optimism and [over-]confidence. And it's not as though it really matters in this case.

Turns out that twenty-five or twenty-six hours a day would have been better as I went to bed later and later each night. You'd think I was partying all weekend long. 
 I do have the cure-and-seal stuff on, two coats worth and while it definitely seals the surface from water penetration, I'm not thrilled with the finish as you can see brush marks (from the first coat) and orange-peel marks (from the second coat when I tried a roller).

This isn't the final coat as I still plan to apply a few coats of a food-safe sealer so I have the opportunity to sand off sealer imperfections between coats.

My hands are resting a bit right now.
 I decided to embrace the burnishing marks because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to want to expend the effort to grind them off.

And now I can start thinking about the next phase of the kitchen make-over.

There is painting (cabinets and walls).

There is the construction of new shelves (I'm pretty excited about that one).

There is the construction of under-cabinet pullouts and pulldowns which might just wait until later since neither the painting nor the new shelves depends on their being complete.

New shades need to be made - that fabric is so last decade.

In other news I finished the necklace ends of this pendant.
 I know I always congratulate myself on actually getting all the new class proposals in on time every four months, but this last time it was a bit tight and I didn't get to rework this one until after I'd submitted it.
I loved the first version (in large part because of the colours which I chose with barely any consideration and which generally turns out better than over-thinking) but the new version is so much better.

Structurally, I elevated the rivoli a little so that it stands up above the background which both looks better and also makes the back flatter so that it should hang better. I also oriented it differently so that the necklace starts in the middle of a side rather than at the corner. I don't necessarily like the orientation better but if I think the first version suffers from the alignment of the necklace rather than its positioning. I might actually rework that again.

And more colour - I mean, who doesn't love a colour gradient, right?