Ugly Beading Projects

Ugly Beading Projects Abound During the Holidays

T’is the season….for ugly beading projects!  Have you noticed how many ugly crafting projects abound during the holidays?  It’s actually not just the winter holidays, but any holiday from which a retailer might make a buck or two.

Speaking of retailers, I really have to thank Fire Mountain Gems for the majority, if not all, of these creations.  I do buy supplies from them, but not for holiday designs.

Ugly Beading Projects

I was trying to decide if I’m just not in the holiday spirit or a scrooge, but the bottom line is that you don’t have to wear or make ugly jewelry to celebrate the season.

Ugly Beading Projects

There are so many suggestions for ugly beading projects out there!
Sometimes I wonder if the people who post them are really serious?
It must be reverse psychology or a challenge to make something better.
Or maybe it’s just the jewelry industry’s version of ugly holiday sweaters.

Ugly Beading Projects

The choices out there are boundless. Retailers don’t care which holiday you celebrate as long as you buy their products.

Ugly Beading Projects

I refer to these earrings as the corn on the cob holiday celebration.  I’m not certain which holiday this is supposed to represent, but it reminds of that picture where you’re supposed to see the old lady and the young woman.  I usually see the young woman first and have to remind myself where the old lady is.  I don’t see any holiday in these earrings, but happy corn on the cob day!

Maybe the retailers are going for those afraid to say NO, thank you, when presented with a gift with angels.

Ugly Beading Projects

Ugly Beading Projects

Liking angels and having good taste do not have to be mutually exclusive.

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So no matter what or how you choose to celebrate, I hope you do it wearing jewelry that pleases you, even it’s a secret smile to yourself waiting for someone to compliment you on pieces that you’re inwardly laughing about….Happy holidays!



Beading Novice

I guess I can no longer consider myself a beading novice as I’ve been beading for over a year.  Thanks to a class at Vogue Knitting Live, I learned the basic technique of placing a bead on a stitch.

Ho hum.

There had to be more to do with beads! I have since been teaching myself how to bead using YouTube and books and a lot of trial and error.

I’ve discovered that, really, anything goes when beading even though it has defined stitches. It’s nice to have a solid background of already recognized stitches, but there are so many variations that you can do.

For my very first project – a necklace to wear to the opera at La Scala in Milan (and I have to interrupt myself to mention – how lucky am I? –  I don’t take this for granted, nor is it said with any sort of snobbery) – I went online to see how to do what I wanted to do – have beads dangling from beaded tubes. I could not believe that I invented this! However, it’s true. I could not find any advice online, and I have not seen anything like it anywhere. (Go Me!)

Beading Report
A night at La Scala

There are many beading stitches. The “basic” ones (or at least the ones that I learned first) are peyote, spiral and herringbone.   I find it easier to learn and manipulate the stitches as tubular even though ALL the instructions direct one to learn the flat technique first.

The circular diagonal direction of the beads in the “Opera” necklace make this design recognizable to beaders as peyote.

Currently, I find myself drawn to the tubular herringbone stitch.

Here’s one of the first herringbone designs I made. The primary orange beads are vintage Venetian.  These Vintage Venetian glass Seed Beads were manufactured between the late 1800’s and 1920’s and are an exquisite example of fine Venetian craftsmanship. Vintage materials provide a link to the past and allow for further appreciation of materials that could have otherwise been lost.

No longer a novice at beading

Here’s a necklace I did using different sized beads and with a wonderful druzy pendant.

No longer a novice at beading

Here’s another herringbone piece with a handmade lampwork bead, purchased on Etsy, as the focal.

No longer a novice at beading

This one has peyote as the main part of the necklace and then little herringbone tubes closer to the stones.

No longer a novice at beading

Weaving loops of beads around a spine creates the spiral stitch.  I made this one with a holiday theme in mind.  The silver and copper bugle beads accented with red beads really sparkle and shine!

No longer a novice at beading

More to come!


The Poncho / Ruana is Complete

The Poncho that took me over a year to knit is finished!  It’s not really a poncho, but a ruana – a free form cardigan, perhaps.

I made it for a friend, at her request.

She kept asking me if she had overstepped the friendship line by asking me to make it. I did not, and do not, feel that she had, even if it took longer than she expected.

When I accepted the request, I should have said – if I did not say it – I am not a prolific knitter. I do not knit quickly.  I knit in my spare time, and balance it with my other spare time activities.  Perhaps I did not make this clear.

Regardless.  The ruana is done. Delivered to its owner.  Who told me she likes it.

Here it is.

3 different yarns knit together to make its own fabric.


My friend picked the yarn (and was taken aback at how expensive yarn can be). I merely knit it.  And then sewed the pieces together.






(And I’m ready to knit something else now.)

August & September Reading

August & September Reading

The August & September reading report is a little short, especially considering that it represents two months.  I just finished a book that I really enjoyed – A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding – but will adhere to my rules and not talk about it till the next reading post.

August & September Reading

I currently have three books that I am reading among any others that grab my attention:

Whenever I pick up the How to Bake Pi book, I almost feel my children (who both are very good at math) rolling their eyes. I happen to like baking and other activities that are mathematical (like knitting and beading), but I am truly math-phobic. I am hoping that this book removes some of that inner belief that I am not good at math.

The writing style and the story of The Door remind me of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Both are about a woman who does not share herself with the public, and keeps secrets about who she is and what she thinks. I’m not that far into The Door yet, but so far so good!

I’m really just in the second chapter of S.P.Q.R., having read about it in a NY Times book review. I visited the Roman Forum ruins in Rome a couple of years ago, and then saw J.M.W. Turner’s painting of it at an exhibit in the Getty. What struck me was that Turner had visited it about a century before I did, yet it looked exactly the same! How old was this setting that it was actually a ruin over 100 years ago?

August & September Reading

S.P.Q.R. is a difficult read because it’s almost like reading a research paper and the author tries to be fair and bring in many historians’ perspectives, but it’s still fascinating. And it is still relevant to today’s world as I’ve already had the chance to use some of the material in everyday conversation!

But all 3 of these books take concentration, so I do get distracted by lighter books.

Books Read August & September 2016

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Book 1) Carlos Ruiz ZafonNot interested after the first few chapters
The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg Book 1)Lene KaaberbolGood
Before the FallNoah HawleyGood
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a TwistBetty HalbreichQuite good
SweetbitterStephanie DanlerDidn't make it very far
Eight Hundred GrapesLaura DaveHo hum
I'll Take You ThereJoyce Carol OatesCould not get very far
Dear Committee MembersJulie SchumacherCould not get very far
How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of MathematicsEugenia ChengEnjoying it
S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient RomeMary BeardA little hard to read so far, but still fascinating
The DoorProfessor Magda Szabo, Professor Stefan Draughon (Translator)Liking it so far

Because my reading pleasure was a bit lackluster, I am happy to report I did not buy many of them!

Books Bought August & September 2016

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Book 1) Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Boy in the Suitcase (Nina Borg Book 1)Lene Kaaberbol
I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a TwistBetty Halbreich
How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of MathematicsEugenia Cheng
S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient RomeMary Beard
The DoorProfessor Magda Szabo, Professor Stefan Draughon (Translator)
When in French: Love in a Second LanguageLauren Collins

I had downloaded a sample of I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist and liked it so much that I bought it, and then sent it to a friend when I was done. I enjoyed Betty Halbreich’s sharing of her personal story – the memories, the recounting of a childhood, her growing up and young adult life, as well as the inside story of the fashion industry.

When in French: Love in a Second Language was a gift for a friend who is kvelling that her son is learning French in high school.  Les Français est vraiment coule on her Facebook page and text messages! (Mes excuses à toute personne d’expression française lecture de ce post.)

Finally, I just have to share about The Boy in the Suitcase because I had that book on my wish list for the longest time and finally read it. I also like to read books that are part of a series, so if I like it, I know there are more to read. This Nina Borg series is not on that list. The book was well written and believable. The ending was a bit of a surprise, but not in a “that author just threw that in there” kind of way. The reason I won’t be reading any more is that Nina Borg is a narcissistic, unthinking character. She makes choices that are not in the best interest of her family or herself. I had to push myself to finish the book because I did not want to share my spare time with a woman who made poor choices. The story line, save for the main character, was good. Don’t you hate that?

best friends


Did you ever feel like you lost your best friend? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. 

I just came back from a whirlwind trip to Milan with a good friend.  Three days with a compatible companion in one of the greatest cities in the world was so much fun. Now we’re back to the normal routine, where she and I get together about every 6 weeks or so.  I guess you could say I’m going through withdrawal.

best friends

Another good friend just moved out of the area. I thought she had trained me to not miss her by getting together infrequently before she left.  I was wrong. Knowing that she’s not a short drive away anymore really makes me sad.

I was lucky enough to get together with my childhood and onward BFF last month.  We celebrated her birthday with other childhood friends and it was so much fun!  Texting, emails and phone calls just cannot replace spending time together in person.  We always manage to have some kind of adventure, or misadventure, that keeps us laughing and this time together was no different!

best friends

…and LD moved to the other side of the country after her college graduation.  It’s slowly occurring to me that she doesn’t live here anymore.

Here’s a toast to all the lovely friends in my life!  I love my friends…I just wish we could be together more often.

Gluten – Love it or Leave it – or both?

I ate entirely too much gluten this weekend.  Of course I feel much better when I eat no gluten at all. I have not been diagnosed as celiac nor as gluten intolerant. However, I do notice that I become extremely bloated, tired, lethargic, and feel as though my lungs are congested after I eat it.

So why on earth did I consume a sausage roll after playing golf on Saturday? (For those not in the Northeast, a sausage roll is similar to a calzone – sausage, peppers, onions and cheese baked in a pizza dough, served with a marinara dipping sauce.)  I was starving, and it seemed like it would be filling.  It was delicious.   But the after-effects reminded me why I do not eat that kind of food.

Imagine my surprise to realize that I am now finding myself absolutely addicted to The Great British Baking Show! This is a British baking competition where each week, the recurring contestants referred to as “the bakers” face a 3-round challenge, and at the end of the episode one is named The Star Baker and another is sent home.


It is fascinating how these amateur bakers create wonders!  The judges and the tasks are extremely intimidating and the hosts are enjoyable.  Ready, Set, Bake!


The funny thing is that I try not to eat gluten, and all the recipes contain it. Yet, that doesn’t make it lose any appeal.  It’s still wondrous seeing these bakers make these creations.

Typically, with most TV shows and movies, I am trying to catch up to see what everyone’s talking about.  I found out tonight that I’m actually watching the current season (at least current in the US – it may have aired already in England).  That’s why I thought of sharing it with you!

The first season is on Netflix. The third season is currently airing.  I’m catching up on the first season. I’m up to date on the third season.  Soon, I’ll have to find the second season.

But I’ll save my own creativity to knitting and beading (and avoid gluten consumption)!

4 month reading report

4 Month Reading Report

Egads! A 4 month reading report? My heavy workload really took away my capacity to read, and then when it was over I felt like I had PTSD to struggle back to normalcy.

Now, it’s mid-August and I am able to focus again. I did a major Kindle-library trip earlier this week and have already finished one book! Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what I did manage to read these past 4 months.

Books Read April through July 2016

The Japanese Lover
Isabel AllendeGood
The Stranger
Harlan CobenGood
The Rent Collector
Camron WrightLOVED
Marilynne RobinsonDid not get far
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James BrownCould not get into it
Bead Royale: Elegance in Bead WeavingCristie PrinceGood designs
Beading with Shaped Beads (video)Melinda BartaHelpful
How to Create Professional Finishes for Jewelry (video)Chloe ChateneverBasic
Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass JewelryKerry BogertGood ideas
The Life We BuryAllen EskensBelievable, held my interest
The SelloutPaul BeattyUGH

My all-time favorite was The Rent Collector.

4 Month Reading Report

The description does NOT do it any justice at all.

Sang Ly struggles to survive by picking through garbage in Cambodia’s largest municipal dump. Under threat of eviction by an embittered old drunk who is charged with collecting rents from the poor of Stung Meanchey, Sang Ly embarks on a desperate journey to save her ailing son from a life of ignorance and poverty.

The story starts out as a simple premise of a poor family reliant upon the task of picking and selling garbage but then expands its horizons. It examines relationships, circumstances, healthcare, literature, intuition, friendship, marriage, and more. It is totally captivating and enchanting.

I also enjoyed two bestseller mysteries: The Stranger by Harlan Coben and The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. I often sneer at the bestseller lists – because who says that the people buying the books share my taste in books? But I really wanted to see what Harlan Coben’s writing was like after I read a book review where he was quoted on how he puts together his stories.  All the pieces were presented in a timely manner before the mystery was solved, the relationships and characters’ behavior were believable. I would definitely read another of his books after reading The Stranger.

Allen Esken’s book, The Life We Bury, was also believable and drew me in. It was one of those books that I had to put down at certain times because I just knew that the main character was going to do something stupid. Believable, especially given his age, but still stupid.

I could not omit talking about The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende.  My journey started as a library book, but I ended up buying it when it was unavailable for renewal.  It’s only rated as Good because it did not draw me back anxious to know what happens to the characters. It was good enough to read to the end, though (somewhat Spoiler Alert) the end was extremely disappointing to me.  I would still recommend it because I flew through some of the chapters, while others…not so much.

Books Bought April through July 2016

The Japanese Lover
Isabel Allende
Blood Defense
Marcia Clark
The Stranger
Harlan Coben
The Rent Collector
Camron Wright
Marilynne Robinson
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown
Bead Royale: Elegance in Bead WeavingCristie Prince
Beading with Shaped Beads (video)Melinda Barta
How to Create Professional Finishes for Jewelry (video)Chloe Chatenever
Totally Twisted: Innovative Wirework & Art Glass JewelryKerry Bogert
Beadweaving Beyond the BasicsKassie Shaw
Bead MetamorphosisLisa Kan
The Life We BuryAllen Eskens
The SelloutPaul Beatty

So this “month” or time period, I bought more books than I read.  I was taken in by two sales at the Interweave Store and took full advantage of the low prices!  I just noticed that Cristie Prince delivers designs like royalty would wear in Bead Royale, which is only fitting!  Although you’d think she’d change her name to Princess to really make it simpatico.

I’ve enjoyed most of the beading books and videos I’ve perused thus far.  What I’m really getting from all this reference material is that (1) anything goes, (2) I’m more knowledgeable than I give myself credit, and (3) anyone can be an expert.  Also, I like to see what people have to say or what they’ve done and then just mull over their ideas and subconsciously incorporate them into my work.  As Norah Gaughan said at one of the Vogue Knitting Live lectures,  there is nothing truly original anymore.

4 Month Reading Report

There may be new ideas or ways of doing things, but they originate from prior knowledge or experiences.

There! Now I’ve done it! I’ve transformed my Reading Report to include the other ways I’ve spent my time (except for golfing) – knitting and beading. Funny how well that worked out!

Blowing Kisses to My Bed

Imagine my surprise when I found myself blowing kisses to my bed.  I have been missing my bed, spending very little time in it (sleeping or otherwise), and find that I can’t wait to get back into it.

blowing kisses

Let me explain. I have been away for business working really long hours for almost a complete month now. I come home for about 20 hours each weekend which enables me to have one night in my own bed each week.

Not thinking about the lack of time to do anything personal, it’s surprising what I miss in terms of having access to, leaving out the obvious of family and friends….

  • My bed
  • My sheets
  • My bathroom
  • The towel warmer in my bathroom
  • Getting the NY Times from the driveway
  • Reading the paper version of the Times
  • Being able to binge watch what I’ve DVR’ed
  • My Ninja coffeemaker
  • Reading in my own bed
  • My golf lessons

But the bed. Every time I leave to go back to the hotel, I say a fond farewell and look forward to the next time we are together.

more reading

More Reading

I had this nagging feeling that I had done more reading in the past two months and that I was forgetting some books when I wrote my February/March recap.  It only took an afternoon of diverted thinking to remember where I put the receipts so that I would remember to include them in the post!

more reading

  • The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester was published in 2001 but seems like it is much older. I really thought I would like this book of a man’s autobiography through his experiences with food – it sounded somewhat similar to Muriel Barbery’s Gourmet Rhapsody (which I did not finish – it was not as good as The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and I had high hopes.  Alas, I could not make it very far.  I never got to the part about “murder and art” that was supposed to make it even more intriguing than food.
  • Beaded Chains & Ropes by Karin Van Voorhees looks rather simplistic from its cover, but it has a lot of interesting patterns and ideas.
  • Bead Play Every Day by Beth Stone, on the other hand, has a very compelling cover, but I like the ideas in Beaded Chains & Ropes better!  (You really can’t tell a book by its cover!)

Book Report – February & March 2016

The procrastination period is over.  Here is my book report for the last two months!

Books Bought February & March 2016

Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie Meister
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard Hopkins
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnell
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes: 300 Quick & Easy DesignsJill Wiseman
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna Gray
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles Duhigg
Home to ItalyPeter Pezzelli
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey Ford
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge Mahood
The Sound of LanguageAmulya Malladi

The book worth noting here is the Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch Women.  These are collected oral histories of women who moved to Montana in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  It’s better than any historical novel.

I’m also enjoying the beading books, but will report more specifically on those in another post.

Books Read February & March 2016

Maggie Meister's Classical Elegance: 20 Beaded Jewelry DesignsMaggie MeisterHaven't read yet
What Knot?Geoffrey Budworth, Richard HopkinsInteresting
One Big Beautiful BeadSarah McConnellInteresting
Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded RopesJill WisemanThumbs up
Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch WomenDonna GrayEnjoying
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessCharles DuhiggGood
Home to ItalyPeter PezzelliThumbs down
The Girl in the GlassJeffrey FordInteresting
Every Day is a HolidayGeorge MahoodThumbs down
The Sound of LanguageAmulya MalladiInteresting
Shopaholic to the RescueSophie KinsellaAwful
The Flood GirlsRichard FifieldThumbs down
The Good LiarNicholas SearleInteresting
The Empty HouseRosamunde PilcherGood
The GilderKathryn KayEnjoyed what I read
ManhuntingJennifer CruisieThumbs down

This looks like a long list, but everything book rated with a Thumbs Down or Awful lasted one chapter or less.  I find it very difficult to plow through a book if it doesn’t grab my interest right away.

The caveat to my selections this month is that I was lucky enough to go on sunny vacations in February and March. I was looking for lighthearted, not too deep books.  The Girl in the Glass, The Good Liar and The Sound of Language all fell into that category.  Nothing too absorbing, but managed to keep my attention throughout – and to the end – of the story.  I was enjoying The Gilder, but didn’t finish before my library checkout expired.

The Girl in the Glass is about a con man and his crew who put on fake seances for wealthy clients in Long Island during the Depression.  It reminded me a little bit of a Donald Westlake story – the characters were real characters, but believable at the same time.

The Good Liar, surprising to me as I write this, is also about a con man who uses dating sites to sponge off of women.  The backstory included in the blurb mentions that the woman in the story may also be up to something other than dating. It’s this piece of information that kept me reading to the end…and I actually was not disappointed.  (Yes, that might be construed as words of praise.)


The Sound of Language is about an Afghan refugee who settles in Denmark, and how she and her family adjust to their new home.  This particular woman gets an internship with a beekeeper who is adjusting to being a widower.  I have been very interested in today’s refugee situation, and this was an interesting perspective that can be applied to Europe.  It may be written as a  Young Adult book. I found the writing to be simplistic, but the overall concept was compelling to keep me interested through to the end.