Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monarch Butterflies

This morning Kent spotted a lot of butterflies on one of our milkweed plants.   A closer look showed a bush full of Monarch butterflies.

Arizona is on their migration route, but I've never seen so many in the yard at one time.

It gave me a great chance to play with my new camera again.

         While we were having breakfast on the porch, a hummingbird joined us.  They are very friendly out here and frequently come close to check out what's going on.
I think this one is a Black Chinned Hummingbird, but I'm not sure.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Countdown to Retirement

     I plan to be seeing a lot more of my backyard soon.  

     Yesterday  I turned in my retirement papers.  Beginning November 1, I'll be retired. 
     I've been making plans for this for quite a while, and my boss has known for over a month.    But now that  the paperwork is in, it seems real.   Like it might actually happen.
     In anticipation, I've been making a list of things I want to do, like beading, writing, traveling, etc.   I rejoined the Romance Writers of America a few weeks ago, and yesterday I mailed off my membership application to the local Valley of the Sun chapter.    They have a writer's seminar coming up that I'd like to attend.   
       The Sun City Grand beading group has a class I want to take in early November, too.  I'll be trying to join them next week because the classes fill up quickly.  I can't wait until I'm officially retired or I might get closed out.
       Whew--I'm not even retired yet and I'm already busy. 

       This morning I had breakfast on the back porch, something I look forward to doing more often.  While I was there, I practiced taking pictures with my "new" camera.    The pix shown here are the first two keepers.   The hummingbird blends in with the foilage, I realize, so I'll have to try to catch him on a different perch.

     When my husband retired a few years ago, he wanted a Cannon Digital Rebel camera for his present.   He's taken some great photos in the last few years, but he moved onto a newer camera recently.    So I asked him for the Rebel as my retirement gift.   Or should I say re-gift?

      My older Cannon PowerShot is still a very good camera.  It's small, lightweight and easy to handle.    I may end up continuing to use it, especially for video.    But at 12.20 megapixals, the Rebel is much more powerful, plus it has two telephoto lens.  I'm looking forward to learning to use it.

      Most of all, I'm looking forward to being retired.     

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September Jewels

This is my latest jewelry project.  I'm seeing improvement thanks to finding a better type of wire and getting more practice.  I didn't have nearly as many beads go shooting across the floor with this project.   I'll celebrate that!

The bracelet is similar in color, although the stones aren't the same.  But they're close enough that they'll look good together.   This is the first time I used a two-strand clasp.
I still need to work on the photos.   I read an article about photographing jewelry, but I need to read it again.
We're making plans to go to the HUGE gem show in Tucson in February.   I've always wanted to go, but work interfered.   Won't have that problem this year.  
Which means there will be a major announcement soon.....

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Girls Night Out

      Dorothy, my best wine buddy, invited me to a Wine Tasting  at Darlene's Tea Room in Lake Havasu City this weekend.    These popular events are held on the first Friday of each month.   All of the tables were filled so it was a good thing we had reservations.
       Darlene's is decorated in a quaint Victorian style with lace curtains, English china tea cups, and all things feminine.   Next door is The Gin Mill, a fun bar with live music and room for dancing.  The wine tasting is held on both sides.   We chose to sit  on the tea room side so we could talk, but we were close enough to the bar that we could hear the music.    An excellent table!   
       The wine tasting included 4 wines and appetizers to complement each wine.  The first three wines were from Chateau Ste Michelle, and the last one was a red blend from Amitage.  The blend was 63% merlot, 33% syrah, and 4% Cabernet Franc. I'm very fond of merlot so it's not surprising that this was my overall favorite.    Amitage is from Columbia Crest, one of my favorite wineries.  
        We started with the two whites.  The first, my favorite of the white wines, was a 2011 Riesling.   The second was a 2010 Chardonnay.   

        The appetizers were wonderful.  An apple and cheddar spread on multigrain artisan bread was paired with the Riesling.    The mini veggie and cheese frittatas on the bottom left were paired with the Chardonnay.   
         The two reds were a Cabernet Savignon and the Amitage.   For the Cab, the appetizer was sliced beef with melted bleu cheese on a slice of baguette bread.     In the center is chocolate mousse, topped with blackberry cream and a huge, juicy blackberry.   It was perfect with the Amitage.  
         A great friend and great wine--the perfect pairing for a fun night out.




Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Beader is Born

     A few months ago I became interested in making jewelry when I decided to make a steampunk necklace.   I started with a metal necklace that has matching earrings.   I added the gears, jewel, and watch parts.   A simplistic and easy project, but it got me hooked.

      My next project started with a unique bead from Cosmopolitan Beads in Cave Creek, Arizona.  They make some of their own beads, and this one caught my eye.  It has dark gold accents to highlight the green and white.   Unfortunately my photo doesn't show off how beautiful it is.   

At first I didn't know how to use it.  Then I found Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.  They have great tutorials as well as beads.  
        I used brown Goldstone beads and Swarovski Pearl dark green beads and filled in with some antique copper bead caps and rondelles.  The fancy clasp was a fun touch.
     Now firmly hooked on beading and Fire Mountain, I began to look at the weekly e-mail specials they sent me.   What a great way to daydream away your cares.   When the ads started to appear about a Dutch Auction, I was intriqued.  I had never heard of that.   I watched for a few days, then I started looking at what was on sale.   Every few days the prices dropped.   Finally I started adding items to my cart.   
       The different types of jasper had previously caught my eye, and suddenly they were cheap enough for this novice to try.    I bought a trio of jasper focals for $2.00 and nuggets for 22 cents!   Wood jasper was on sale, too, so I bought some of those round beads.
  I added a couple of wood ovals that I've had for a really long time.   For fill and to add some color I used shell amber beads that I found at Michaels.   By adding those in, I had enough to make a matching bracelet and earrings.   Here's the complete set:
     I just received my third order from Fire Mountain.  This time I bought a crimper and crimp beads so I can do a more pro job.   On a recent trip to Ikea, I picked up a 9 drawer stand to hold my bead supplies, too.    
So it's official--I'm a beader.