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So this morning, I discovered that at some point during our huge, prohibitively expensive, awful, very bad, in-the-middle-of-a-forest-fire-while-evacuated, three weeks in storage, with five cats, move across the great state of California; that one of the fellows who helped us move accidentally backed our rented moving truck into a fire hydrant. Over the fire hydrant.

Breaking. The. Fire. Hydrant.

And then he drove away from the scene.

You’ll keep in mind that the move was six months ago.

Obviously, it was never mentioned.

Until now.

Thank you, helpful witness with the camera phone?

No really, I don’t mind making it right. Not a bit. I wish I’d known a little sooner is all. And I really hope the boys remembered to get the insurance waiver when they rented the truck.

I think we officially WIN at moving.

A few hours later, after I was done with all that, I came downstairs to this:

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What? Ok, wait. What happened here?

Upon further inspection:

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Ah. I see it now.

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Everything is explained.

Fortunately, my man is a master fixer upper.

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Daddy always said there were only two things you needed in this world. Duct tape and WD40.

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I rest my case.

After stuffing as many feathers back into the sofa as I could, I took the slipcover out to the yard to shake it out. However, I did not take account of the wind or in which direction it happened to be blowing. I walked back into the house and proudly told Captain Sexypants that I’d handled the feathers. And then we watched them all blow past our living room window and into the neighbor’s yard.

The yard that our neighbor had just finished raking.

Actually, we watched the feathers drift past the neighbor who was still holding the rake. Who was watching the feathers too. And looking perplexed.

I guess he’s having a bad case of the Mondays too.

I had a little problem with this month’s earring club. The art beads I bought for it just weren’t making me happy. The design I had originally planned wasn’t working out. That happens sometimes, but when you’ve got people waiting and you’re on a deadline, it can feel super stressful. It’s nothing about the beads I bought, which are fantastic, they just didn’t want to work in the design I had in mind!

So I decided, “screw the deadline, I’m gonna take a minute to figure this out.” I noodled around on Etsy to see what my fave bead artists were selling, and really just wasn’t inspired.

So, I decided to use some of the art beads that I’ve been making. My thought is that I’d like to sell them on Etsy if I ever get up the courage to put them out there. They are still very much a work in progress, but this was a good kick in the pants.

I made a special batch for this project and I think they came out really cute!

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The specific birds were inspired by the birds that have been coming ‘round my cabin every morning. I made a mourning dove, a house sparrow, a purple finch and a robin.

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The primitive look and soft, natural colors were riffed off of this month’s Art Bead Scene March challenge – which was a piece of primitive art featuring birds, no less. So that’s one blog challenge accomplished! Also, the earrings are asymmetrical – related with color and material but not matched in form – so that’s a second blog challenge down, for the Love My Art Jewelry Boot Camp on asymmetry in jewelry design.

It’s like, super efficient around here.

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The beads are a super lightweight version of Sculpey. It’s almost like sculpting with foam this stuff is so lightweight, but that’s fantastic because the earrings are very light in the ears once they are hung. After I baked the clay, I gave them a coat of Golden white gesso. Then I tinted more of the same gesso with Ranger Distress inks, and used that like paint. Once they dried, they were sealed with Permalac to make them water resistant and colorfast. Bronze wires and an assortment of pearls and seed beads finished them off. I especially like how each birdhouse has a small perch. I used 20 gauge bronze wire for those.

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I have no idea which club member is going to get what pair. I think I’ll just pack them up in their boxes, then make it completely random as to what box goes to what envelope. They’re heading off to their new homes on Monday and that will wrap up the winter club.

There’s no rest for the wicked though. I’m already working out Month One of the Spring Earring Club which starts in April. Fortunately I DO have a great idea for that, and gemstones on the way!

There’s still time to sign up. Don’t miss out!

There’s something happening here, out by the back deck at Spacious Nuthouse Estates. Captain Sexypants is doing interesting things with wood and muttering about lag bolts. But whatever could he be up to?

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Well, he’s building a “Medieval Market Stall” that’s what he’s up to. We are doing a bunch of Renaissance, fantasy and pirate Faires this year and some of them have fairly strict rules about what vendor booths can look like. Our faithful EZ Up just won’t cut it. Buying a small marquee style faire pavilion runs between 2 and 3k, and that’s money that I just don’t have so we’re building ourselves something cheaper. And by “we are building” I mean, “Captain Sexypants is building.” although I am occasionally doing helpful things like coming out to say “yes” or “no” to some detail or another.

Sometimes the best way you can help is to not actually help.

We’re building this.

We are using this as our reference photo. I really love the look of this little structure. The fairly shallow overhang is admittedly not great if it rains, but the faires we’re going to be doing are mostly summer and early fall events. Our part of California is not particularly damp in summer. We are more worried about getting adequate shade. To that end, we’ve extended the overhang on ours by a about a foot and we’ll be adding eye hooks along the roof so we can hang canvas side panels for additional shelter. At some point there’s a plan to make a canvas rain fly that extends out another 5’ from the top, but we’ll be adding that later.

Now you may have noticed I said “reference photo” not “clear directions with measurements and math.” That is because the chap who built this did not actually provide clear instructions or measurements. No. His whole attitude seems to be one of “Drool over this awesome structure that I built. Oh yes, admire and weep while I laugh because exactly how I did it is a SEEKRUT, suckers.” Caveat: I actually don’t know about his attitude, I’m guessing, based on the lack of clear instructions with the picture, and my own sense of the dramatic. He’s probably a perfectly swell guy who shares and donates to orphans and probably he just forgot to put up a .pdf file of exactly how he built that awesome market stall. Perhaps he had a veterinary emergency. Perhaps his internet went out. We will probably never know.

Regardless, the lack of data is problematic.

So, we did a little more research and came up with another take on the process. This one had pretty clear instructions and things like, actual measurements. In inches. The Captain was really happy about that!

It’s just that, well, I didn’t like how it looked. I didn’t like the slanty back and I didn’t like the low overhang. I really prefer the overall look and feel of the first shelter. The second shelter seemed a little bit claustrophobic to me. It’s been my experience that customers do not like being made to feel as if they are trapped like rats. So after some intense discussion (read: heavy sighing and facepalming and a whole lot of muttering) it was decided that the Captain would be reverse engineering the whole thing from that one picture.

It’s good to keep your brain active, especially in middle age. Things slow down. You need stuff like yoga, Sudoku and crossword puzzles at our age. You have to keep the brain nimble. I’m doing us both a huge favor with this. Really. This project is exactly like ginko biloba, but, with more swearing.

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The Captain wanted me to tell you that in addition to math, he had to clean out the space under the back deck before any of this could be done. There was straw and detritus from the deck build still under there, stuff that had filled up with rainwater, plus all the mud and dirt and piles.

And spiders. Spiders the size of cows.

He says that in light of the spiders, he deserves steak and a craft beer for dinner. Who am I to argue? I like steak and craft beer. Win win!

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We have the angle on the side supports figured out and the back portion laid out now. 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide. This will give us 2 feet of clearance – one on either side, in an average aisle booth space. And customers, even freakishly tall customers or people wearing hats with piles of feathers, will not have to duck their heads at all to get under our roof. It will be the exact opposite of feeling trapped like rats.

The whole thing has to be engineered to break down and come together easily. Those back posts will be carefully drilled and then we’re doing something complex with lag bolts and sleeves. Don’t ask. I can’t explain, and we all know what “we” really means.

Once it’s all drilled and we know how to put it all together and take it apart, I’ll be able to get out there with the rotary sander and some dark brown wood stain (Dear Aunt Terry! Don’t worry! I’ll stain all that wood out on the grass, not on the nice, new, light-colored deck that you just put in! Love, me.). Because I may be afraid of spiders and the table saw*, but I can wield a paintbrush like nobody’s business and as we learned at Crafted, that rotary sander is totally my bitch.

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I’ll even make the Captain a pina colada with a little umbrella and he can hang out on the deck and relax while the sanding is going on.

Oh and about that table saw. See, my dad had a woodshop when I was growing up and whenever he fired up the table saw or any large power tool, the rule was that I had to run over to the shop steps and sit very quietly with my hands in my lap until he was done. So now, years later, whenever mon Capitan Pants De La Ooh La La fires up that #!#@ table saw, I have this overwhelming urge to sit on the stairs with my hands in my lap and be VERY QUIET until he is done. Oh, and Dad did SUCH a great job with impressing the idea that YOU DO NOT TOUCH THE TABLE SAW EVER EVER EVER BECAUSE IT IS RABID AND HAS TEETH AND WILL KEEEEELL YOU upon me forty-mumble years ago, that now I can’t even go near the damn thing. Not even when it’s turned off. Just walking past it gives me palpitations and a sense of clear and present danger.

Operant conditioning, folks. It’s real.

More booth build next time. Same bat channel.

Someone just told me that today is the first day of spring! Wow! It’s soo beautiful up here on the mountain. Nights are still getting down into the 30’s, which means that we’re not quite ready to give up our evening fires, but we’re getting all the sunshine during the day. Such glorious blue skies and gentle breezes that make the pines shush and dance around each other. I know we need more rain rather desperately but I can’t say that I object to our current climate. It’s been pretty perfect up here. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced such an exuberant shift into spring – Los Angeles is not a city that really has distinct seasons and they get flowers year round down there. The shift from winter into springtime and the greening of the mountain is something entirely different.

There are birds everywhere. We’ve got a small flock of mourning doves nesting in the grove near our cabin and the early mornings and evenings are full of doves cooing. There are blackbirds, thrushes, finches, and chickadees flocking to our feeders in the yard. A chorus of frogs was singing down by the lake last night and there are daffodils poking their wee heads up out in the yard. Nature seems to be pretty sure about this spring thing.

SO I guess it’s good that we’re about to embark on Round 1 of the Spring Earring Club! It starts in April, and there’s still time to sign up! The first month will be sterling and gemstones and I’m plotting some sort of expression of all this seasonal change. A little bouquet of gemstones or somesuch. I haven’t quite decided but I’ve got some lovely AA gems bookmarked to purchase, once I make my mind up about a color palette.

Busy times here at the H&O studios! We’ve got the San Jose Fantasy Festival coming up in a few weeks, the Sonora Spring Fling a few weeks later, and then the Fresno Pirate Festival in late May. There are a bunch of other applications out for other shows and I’ll be posting those as I find out where we’ll be. And of course, there’s the big Bead Soup reveal in May as well. Tax prep, inventory, custom work, a new booth to build, spring cleaning around the cabin, oh the list is really never ending.

Always something to do.

Naturally, in the face of all this urgent stuff that I really need to do, all I really want to do is hang out on the back deck and watch birds or maybe take a nap.

Bead Soup is here!

I went to the post awful yesterday and lookie here, I got my soup from Robin, for the 8th annual Bead Soup Blog Party challenge!

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I’m pretty stoked. Lots of stuff here to work with and definitely some challenge. I don’t normally work with seed beads and Robin sent me several small strands of them, all in really interesting colors, sizes and finishes that coordinate really nicely. I rather like the way they all play together!. I like the assortment of natural stones she sent too – mostly agate – but there are also some gorgeous golden florite chunks and rhyolite. This is a little bit outside my normal color palette – I like earth tones but barring the occasional odd piece, I don’t generally feel called to do much in the orangey range! Robin definitely nailed the “challenge” part on that count. Her soup is not so far out of my color comfort zone that I can’t work with it – just far enough out there on the edge that I will have to stretch my creative muscles.

I particularly love the faceted agate rondelles and the eensy agate rounds. I grew up going to “Agate Beach” as a kid, so I’ve got a special love for that particular sort of rock. The agate rondelles are probably going to be some sort of stacked earring, and they are most definitely not going up on Etsy when they are done because those agate rondelles are mine, baby! And I’ve definitely got big plans for that odd man out, the small string of bright green, faceted, Czech crystal rondelles. There’s a wee mermaid tile on my bench that’s been waiting for some matching green beads and I think these will do more than nicely. Robin, are you psychic or something? You must be!

Also enjoying the Patricia Healey copper focal box with the leaf. Patty’s copper components are a huge favorite of mine. Anyone who is familiar with my work knows that I use her stuff a LOT. Her booth is one of the biggest reasons why I go to Pasadena Bead and Design every year. She’s fun to chat with and her attitude towards this business is one that I admire and respect totally. She’s definitely one of my inspirations in the jewelry world and in the woman-owned-business world. I actually already have several of these copper focal boxes in my stash – I’d bought them several years back, and then never used them. I’d completely forgotten about them till I opened Robin’s box and saw this one. The rules of the challenge say that we HAVE to use the focal and the clasp that we are sent, which means that I have to actually sit down and think out what to do with it. Well that will definitely give me some ideas for the ones already in my stash so maybe they will eventually see the light of day as well! Also loving the round, domed and textured copper toggle clasp from Melinda Orr. Melinda’s work is new to my bench, but I’ve seen her stuff on various art bead blogs and really liked what I’ve seen.

I’m seeing the makings of several very cool pieces in this soup.

Thanks, Robin! I can’t wait to play with the soup you sent!

Well I got my partner for the Bead Soup Blog Party! Robin Kae Reed, who makes fun and funky one of a kind jewelry creations with her daughter. You can check her out here at her blog. I am super happy with the Soup I created for her which is chock full o’ all the good stuff ! We aren’t supposed to spoil it but we can post a teaser, so here it is.

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Tease. Tease. Tease. :-D Mmmm, minty fresh! But still a surprise!

I’m excited to see what she does with it.

This is winging its way off to my partner this week and then I guess the creating will begin!

…in a word? Bloody brilliant! Ok, that was two words, but really I haven’t had such a great time at a show in a really long time. The site at the Sonora Fairgrounds is just so lovely anyway and then they went and filled it up with Faire folks, pipe bands and all the goodies you could ever want. We did really well! The new lines got so much great feedback. I am a happy designer today and feeling more on track than I have in a good long while.

The weekend started out spectacularly when I fell down our stairs at 5:30 in the morning (that’ll larn me to try to walk without coffee) and pulled and strained a bunch of things that are best left unpulled. Like knees. And then I was pretty busy all weekend so I didn’t really walk around but there were a few things in our immediate area that really stood out over the course of the weekend.

First up? Blooming Lotus – a husband and wife duo who teach yoga and make the most stunning wind chimes you might have ever seen. These are works of art and a set of amethyst and copper chimes followed me home. They were promptly given to Captain Sexypants, because I love him and something so beautiful could not possibly exist without me wanting to give them to him, along with the moon. Seeing as how the moon is impossible, windchimes it is! They were technically a birthday gift .

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I’ve heard it said that “True Love Waits” but in this case True Love was pushy and started whining until the Cap agreed to unwrap what was in the shopping bag RIGHT NOW, two days early, instead of on his actual birthday.

Sometimes True Love gets like that.

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Fantastic, non? Love the fire patina on the copper and all those rough stones. They are making our back deck rather fabulous. I’m a little worried that between those, the zen bells and the Tibetan prayer flags all over our front porch, our neighbors might think we’re pinko hippie liberals. Or something. Heh.

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Musical high point of the whole weekend was definitely this Celtic rock band called Stand Easy. I got a huge kick out of them. Their show was a lot of fun! Good times, good times… please allow me to offer up a YouTube that I have randomly found, just for your delectation.

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All I have to say about that is, “wow.” Their singer/piper fellow John is really nice and wow can he ever rock the pipes. Throw in a pair of stompy boots, a fetching chapeau, a kilt and er, hello there Mr. Bagpipe Rocker Guy! You make the world just that much better with your bagpipes and your music (not to mention your knees, not that I was looking at them. Well maybe a little.) You just keep doing what you’re doing, ok? It’s working out fine. Carry on.

Seriously though, aren’t we all just sooo grateful for Scottish rock bands?

Mittens the Studio Cat would like to interject that he is not grateful for Scottish rock bands, however I feel that he is operating under some bias seeing as how cats + bagpipes = generally not a winning combination. Also, nobody cares if you think kilts are overrated, Mittens. Go find some glitter or something to knock over, ok? Wait… on second thought… oh never mind.

I think the most exciting part of the weekend was getting the opportunity to wholesale some of my work to a great little store in Ventura, CA. It’s a shop that I’ve been in love with when I saw it during the first Craftcation conference 3 years ago. The whole thing manifested in such a serendipitous way, too. I can’t even begin to express how much gratitude and delight and pure squee I’ve got going on about that.

You know that part in Buffy Season 5 (4?) where Xander gets split into two Xanders and they each think that the other is a demon and Goofy-Xander does the Snoopy Dance to convince Willow that he’s the real Xander? Yeah, that’s totally me right now.

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The happy dance part, I mean. Not the being split into two of myself by the powers of darkness part. At any rate, the next time you’re in Ventura, look for Honey&Ollie at Heart’s Delight on Main Street. Because we’re totally there. In their store. Dream come true. Go and look for the Honey&Ollie girl! Yay small local businesses supporting other small businesses!

Thanks, Celtic Faire! I feel totally rejuvenated and like I got my groove back, oh yes I do.

What’s next? OH! I’ll tell you what’s next. We just got accepted to the San Jose Fantasy Faire on April 12 and 13th. See you there?

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