Thursday, March 31, 2011

Studio Warmth

I had the best little break from coop building last weekend when I attended my friend Rachel's studio warming party. She's in a new, more spacious space among other artists and had a party to warm her new digs on her birthday. In her own amazing style she transformed the gallery area into a tiny nightclub, complete with little tables bedecked in lime green and black (with orchids!), lime green punch (her signature color), tons of delicious Chinese food, a three piece jazz combo, and some really great people. I hope I get to see her mother again because I really enjoyed meeting her. Now I see where Rachel gets her ambition and her wonderful personality.

Rachel's studio warming party
I was delighted to finally hear Rachel sing! What gifts she has.

What an exciting time for her! Not only has her first book been a smashing success, but her second one, aptly titled "Bead Riffs" is nearly done too and can be pre-ordered. She's such an inspiration to me.

Rachel singing jazz
Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that california trip
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

Our water-inspired two year old collaboration piece sold to one of the party guests.

Confluence, a collaboration with Rachel Nelson-Smith
"Confluence", a collaboration with beadwork by Rachel Nelson-Smith, and lampwork glass beads by myself.

She's off very shortly to Chicago, where she'll be teaching. Lucky students!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Beads are in the House!

With all of the chicken kerfuffle around here I neglected to let you know that I've been listing some of my new work in my Etsy shop. This week it's bead sets, but perhaps not by coincidence, most of them feature egg shaped beads. Here are a few of my new additions:


Cream, slate blue and black swirls


SOLD. More to be listed in a day or two.

Neutral greys
Neutral grey egg shaped beads with encased black spacers incorporating fine silver wire dots.

I have lots of beads that aren't in the shop yet, and I'll try to be listing them a bit each day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shop Talk Wednesday

Here's what's been going on this week at our house. The sawdust has been flying!

Recycled lumber
Recycled lumber.

People door
People door.

Chicken door
Chicken door.

Vintage drill took one for the team
Vintage drill took one for the team. RIP.

Vinyl flooring remnant
Vinyl remnant. I wanted something more dramatic (e.g. black and white squares), but the price was unbeatable on this.

Cut by cut, screw by screw, it's coming together. We've re-purposed some old 2x4s we found underneath the shop outside, and some redwood stakes given to us by a friend, and the modular home-style construction job is almost done. It's somewhat over-specified for the inhabitants, and may even be standing after our own home has fallen down, but it's going to be secure from predators and will look good. My jobs included sanding, screwing structural 2x4s to the siding, framing openings, and putting the doors together. My husband tackled the trickier bits of building the nesting box assembly and interpreting the "architect's" intent in the sometimes vague plans.

Next step are details like wire-mesh guarded ventilation holes and interior paint, and we'll be almost ready to erect the walls on site. We still need to buy roofing material and a few bits of hardware, and build the chicken ramp, along with finish enclosing the dog run where the coop will go.

It won't be long before the girls move out of the dining room and into their new digs outside. We'll all be thrilled, especially our dog, who has definitely been neglected during our building frenzy.

Hopefully, it will turn out as nicely as this:

Friday, March 25, 2011

What a Find!

Okaaaaay, putting that last morbid post behind me, here's one that could have fit Andrew's theme - my find from the furniture consignment store.

I've been casually looking for a piece of furniture for a few years now, to replace a makeshift one we were using that wasn't very grown up. I guess the name of such a piece would be a sideboard, or console of sorts. It's to hold a small wine rack and cookbooks, all of which I wanted closed up behind doors, to minimize visual clutter. It fits beneath a window that has a crank opener that sticks out, so it had to be below a certain height, and the width was also constrained to allow it to fit in a certain spot.

Cabinet as found
Cabinet "as found", with ill-fitting "faux slate" top. Slate is cheap - why would anyone want to make "fake" slate? I'd like to replace or transform the doors somehow, someday.

I finally found one that's at least an upgrade from what we had, and the price tag was too good to be true - $49. It had a faux slate inlaid top, but it wasn't glued in so it could be replaced. And a drawer inside. And casters. And while not solid oak, it's solidly constructed and in very good shape. How cool to be able to just roll it aside to clean underneath and behind! I had Sterling (my local favorite stone guy) cut up a scrap of green quartz from his yard to fit the top, for only $40. He and his small crew do great work with leftover stone from larger jobs, and the cost can't be beat. This whole piece cost less than $90, and if I want to change the stone at some point I could easily go on a treasure hunt in Sterling's scrapyard and still be ahead of the game.

Cabinet transformed
Cabinet with new top.

Quartz cabinet top
Unfortunately this flash photo fails to convey the loveliness of the green quartz top. Sterling did a great job beveling the edges, and the fit is perfect.

The new piece didn't hold as much as the former one, so I was happy to find a taker for several years' worth of Kitchen Gardener and Fine Gardening magazines through my local Freecycle group.

Let the spring decluttering begin! Any spring spruce-ups on your plate? This weekend we begin the coop construction. Ideally we'll knock it out in a couple of days, but we'll see how it goes. I can't wait to pick out the linoleum remnant for the inside! The girls are growing like weeds and look like geeky adolescents as their feathers push the baby down out. I think some portraits are in order for this weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Word of the Week is "Find", aka CSI: Santa Cruz Mountains

The word this week on Andrew Thornton's blog is "Find". My take on the challenge is a bit out there, so those of you with weak stomachs and an aversion to grisly or morbid things should probably just move smartly on along to the next post. 'Nuttin to see here...

Crime Scene
Scene of the crime.

For over a year now we've been hiking a steep section of the redwood forest in the coastal mountains near Santa Cruz. Teeming with life all year 'round, there is lots to marvel at and photograph. But occasionally what starts out as mere exercise turns into an episode of Crime Scene Investigation. Death is evident, and clues are found, and my mind goes into overtime imagining what went down.

Parts of the abdomen and spine were found next to the mossy tree trunk.

Rumor has it that either a mountain lion or a large bobcat took down this young deer last year sometime. There's not much but clean bones left, and even some of those are missing. How horrifying for that deer, and for the mother that lost it. I think about it every now and then when I walk these woods, but I usually end up feeling very peaceful, that everything is as it should be. While a young animal died, another was allowed to avoid starvation and live. It's likely that more than one type of animal was able to feed off of this carcass. The forest was fed with the decomposing leftovers (what few there were), and somehow it seemed kind of...right, and as the Bigger Plan had intended. Nature is efficient, and wastes very little, and everything returns to the circle of life eventually. Nature does not need to go to the landfill.

Grisly find

I'm glad that we don't see things like this frequently, or I'd probably look for another place to walk. But it does give me something to think about on those long uphill stretches of the hike. How are human animals recycled, if at all? What meaning is left behind, after we're gone? How does the world become physically enriched if we're all neatly tucked into some kind of indestructible container buried deep underground? And most importantly, when my time comes, how will my presence here on earth give something back, and what shall be my legacy be? As an organ donor I'm hopeful that when my time comes others will have a chance at life or better health because of my gifts. And I'd like that the remainder be able to physically fertilize the earth of some places I've found dear.

You can be sure that Baba Yaga had this all figured out.

Here is a haiku for this moment:

She hungry, he too
stronger captures weak, survives.
life force is passed on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Update: Rain, waves, wind, and something sweet in the mail

Rain is in our daily diet for the foreseeable future.

Weeelll, didn't quite make it to the PaddleFest, but I read that most events were canceled due to the horrible wind and wave conditions, but that's never been known to stop my intrepid friend, who went out on the water anyway. Apparently it's the worst conditions they've seen in 20 years for this event.


But progress has been made in other areas. First, I'm proud to say that I'm within a stone's throw of being done with my tax preparation. Woot! Every year around this time it's hair pulling, frustration and vows of more regular attention to paperwork, but it doesn't seem to change very much. There's been a little progress from year to year, but you know what I hate the most? Keeping track of my (ever-growing) inventory of "parts" - headpins, ear wires, wire, gemstone beads, pearls, sterling silver beads, copper components, fiber, and on and on. It just drives me NUTS. If anyone has a good system they use (be it procedural, software tools, etc.), I'm all ears. I've read this web page with some interest, and am definitely going to try the "IN/OUT" card method with my wire. Seems easy enough, right? Anyway, do share your secrets if you have them, or feel free to bitch and moan along with me if I'm not alone in this yearly meltdown.

We had a great time with our friends in Half Moon Bay, and as expected, the storm was in full force while we were there. There was tasty, beautiful food, lively conversation, and even singing and dancing! From my dinner chair I watched their ocean-facing window bow in and out with the rainy gusts, and we thought we heard thunder a couple of times. We were just getting into some swing dancing in the living room, singing along with the iPhone Glee karaoke app and listening to Patricia sing and play her guitar when we heard another loud noise, but this one kind of shook the house. However, it wasn't thunder, it was a very large tree limb crashing down on their tile roof, and it unfortunately took out quite a few tiles when it hit.

Ouch. Gonna be some work to repair this.

And guess what came in the mail the other day? All the way from Japan, no less, where the ISGB Perspectives exhibit had a stop. My bead entitled "Beacon" was fortunate to have been chosen for this exhibit.

How exciting to see this in our mailbox!

Japanese glasswork magazine

"Beacon" focal in Lammaga Japanese glass magazine
What wonderful company I keep! One day, both my first and last names
will be spelled correctly in the same place. One day... :-)

Have yourself a knockout start to the week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh Yeah.

What's on your Must Do list this weekend? I need to finish tax prep (yeah, yeah, yeah), continue with the decluttering, and am totally looking forward to seeing some friends who moved up to Half Moon Bay to live in an incredible house that they designed and built themselves. Bodie will get some playtime with two poodles - what lab could ask for more? But if there's time, if my tax man gives me a kitchen pass, I'd sure like to see a little of the Santa Cruz PaddleFest kayaking competition going on this weekend. We're having stormy weather this weekend and the ocean is crazy, so the waves should make it challenging.

Some friends are pulling safety and rescue boat duty (no easy feat given that the Santa Cruz Harbor has been closed for salvage operations since the tsunami) or else the PaddleFest might not have appeared on my radar. Isn't it a great trailer? I am the ultimate armchair aficionado of extreme sports - I could watch Warren Miller films for hours and am energized by their fearlessness and the great soundtracks. I love how they took this video using a helmet cam. Suhweet!

I'm sure that Sion Milosky will be on everyone's mind. What a tragedy. Rest in peace, Sion. The local waters have taken far too many.

3 Hot Chicks


We've had these girls for about 4 days now, and it's just fascinating, they're growing so fast. I had no idea I'd become so interested in birds. I know it's going to totally blow me away when they start laying eggs. Little downey fluff is changing into feathers on their wings and cute little rumps, and their behavior is changing too. While at first only the biggest/1 week older one would perch, it looks like she's taught them all. I put the perch in the second day we had them, and she jumped right up, but the others were hesitant so I put it in at a slant, hoping to ease their transition. Now all three of them seem to easily be able to get up there.

I changed out the hot white lights for a slightly cooler red light, as I read that the white lights can stress them out and make them peck excessively. It makes for some weird photos, but if it helps keep the peace I'm all for it. It's a small space and I don't want any more feathers flying than necessary. I'm still obsessing a bit over the temperature, hoping not to get them too hot, but I'm less concerned as their feathers come in.

Learning to perch...
"It's all about balance, see. Better get it right because someday we're
going to have to sleep like this."

Learning to fly...

Every now and then a little chaos breaks out and one of them tries to fly across the cage. Occasionally one will just launch herself, feet first at another, and try to land on their back. Not very polite.

Another day in the life of the Lakinsmith Laying Squad
(one day), taken on Wednesday.

They love taking little dust baths in the pine shavings, and look like total freaks digging in them and sending it flying everywhere. When I gave the littlest one a red wiggler worm on the first day she attacked it immediately, but now none of them seem very interested.

Fowl Neck Sweater
Tell me if you have ever seen anything more endearing.
Thanks to Sherry Bellamy for pointing out on Facebook that this is now a fowl neck sweater.

We've been trying to handle the chicks each day to make them friendlier and easier to deal with later on, and they seem to be getting used to it. This sweetie wanted to sleep in my collar. We learned on Monday that they're best taken out one at a time - when we each took one out and left one alone in there she peeped her concerns very loudly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Get Lucky on Etsy for St. Patty's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of this holiday I'm having a little sale in my Etsy shop. Take 30% off any purchase in my shop, and it doesn't even have to be green. Sale is on now through Friday. Use coupon code GETLUCKY11 when you check out to receive your discount. Eiriin Go Brach! Click here to be magically transported to my Etsy shop.

I hope there's some corned beef or thick fermented beverage in your future today. Due to scheduling conflicts we had ours Monday and it was kil-LER. Me and my crock pot make a mean corned beef, and I've got an awesome way with Irish Whiskey glazed carrots. I love assuming the identify of another culture through food, if even for a day, and if only as experienced through my taste buds. It's like traveling without all the germs.

This is our neighbor Don, demonstrating his impeccable absinthe technique.

The plans for the chicken coop have been ordered and hopefully soon will arrive so we can begin buying materials and building. I've got two kinds of Asian greens planted, along with spring onions and snow peas, so the springtime gardening has begun too. How exciting! I hope your spring is at the very least showing signs of arriving, if not already there.

I'll just leave you with this shot of a little St. Patty's Day cleavage. If you can guess what Irish expression is represented in this photo, you win a free pair of hollow beads. I'll do a drawing if there's more than one person with the right answer, and winner will be announced on Saturday.

DeLightful DeCoster!

Marcia DeCoster

Last evening was just...wonderful. I attended my first Northern California Bead Society meeting where Marcia DeCoster was the featured speaker, and she gave a wonderful talk. She had just wrapped up the new and enormously popular Beading by the Bay retreat in San Francisco, and BSNC was able to book her for the talk.

In addition to providing an entertaining timeline of her beading career, she spoke very comfortably and casually about developing core skills in beadweaving, how to structure your environment to foster creativity, the importance of reusable components, where to find inspiration and influences for your work, the notion of exploration, and capturing ideas as they are born.

Marcia DeCoster and Heather Trimlett necklace
A collaboration between Marcia DeCoster and Heather Trimlett

More Marcia Pretties
Some of the beaded eye candy Marcia brought.

As a newbie to the seed beading world it was fascinating to me to see her work in person (it is both richly complex and beautiful), and I can hardly imagine how some of her weaving patterns come to be. Having at least dipped my toes a little into the sead beady sea I was able to understand some of the terms she used, but many are still Greek to me. I was grateful to have done the little bit I have done, or I'm sure I would have been completely lost, yet still awed.

Marcia DeCoster necklace

Keep your eyes on her website this fall, when registration for 48 lucky beaders opens for next year's Beading by the Bay retreat, featuring instructors Sherry Serafini, Rachel Nelson-Smith, and Marcia.

Marcia DeCoster, Rachel Nelson-Smith, and Little Hoot
Marcia, Little Hoot, and Rachel.
Visit Marcia's blog to read the story about Little Hoot.

Coming soon...more pictures of the 3 hot chicks in my kitchen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking for the positive in the wake of disaster

I thought I would share a blog post about the events in Japan that I found very enlightening. The author is an ex-Pat living over there running a software business, and he's got a closer perspective on the situation. In short, there is a lot to be thankful for in the wake of the disaster, and a lot of credit is due the Japanese people for their level of preparedness. That's takeaway message #1. Had it happened elsewhere it would have been hugely worse.

The second message is that the mainstream media in the U.S. is spreading hyperbole, and the fringe media, well, they're even worse. They report sensational headlines in large font and all caps, without substantiation and with speculation replacing facts. I don't go near Fox for any kind of information at all (for entertainment I do, however), but even found that what I was seeing on CNN or even MSNBC was grossly different from what more informed organizations are putting out on the disaster.

My remedy? I'm seeking out alternative information streams that hopefully have less to do with making money and getting ratings and more to do with passing along factual information. Seeing my immediate concern when CNN first started reporting the nuclear situation late Friday night my husband found this great site that has a number of news links. One of them is the IAEA, and they also have a Facebook page where there is lots of discussion on the reports coming out.

My heart is aching for those affected by this horrible trifecta of disasters. I wish that all of the news media would work harder to try and find some small bits of good news, like the story of the man that was rescued clinging to his roof 9 miles out in the ocean. Or the stories I just watched on UStream about people being reunited with lost family members. It gives me hope.

This also gives me's update from the nest, newly cleaned:

They clearly like frolicking in the pine shavings, and it's much cleaner in there now that I've raised the brooder up off the catch basin.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Houston, We Have Roostin!

**Note - Lest you think I've abandoned my calling entirely, I do finally get around to beads at the end of this post **

We were told that the largest and oldest of the chicks we bought yesterday was only 2 weeks old. All have the beginnings of feathers on their little wings, and their precious little bottoms. But the biggest is already flitting about the brooder cage and perching on the low roost I installed today. Presumably one of the others is just as old, but one of the three is a week younger than the others, so their achievements will no doubt be staggered a bit.

I'm a bit obsessed with the big job of making sure the temperature is just right in the brooder, which is tough given our tendencies to keep it rather cool around here most of the time, and watching for all signs of disaster to include pasty butt and bullying and any number of fatal chick diseases which scare the heck out of me. And God help me if I accidentally get it too warm and they fry. I could not live with myself.

This is all so new to us. I have never been inclined to own a bird for a pet, and know nothing about their care, so it's been quite an immersive experience learning about everything. I've spent loads of time just watching them, and some of what I see is so cuuute and so charming, and I have to tell you, some of it is just plain disgusting.

Like all infants, they don't spend a lot of time awake. But it's just hilarious how they transition from wide awake to totally crashed out in a split second, and vice versa. We're trying to handle them a bit every day, which is tricky with our chocolate lab (who hunts ducks), but when we take them out of the brooder we put him in another room, to avoid disaster. I keep telling him not to worry, and that before long the world will revolve around him once again.

They are scratching around and pecking everything in sight, drinking water, grooming themselves and each other, making the most aDORable birdie sounds I've ever heard, and showing interest in humans (and the beeping of my camera!). When we take them out to cuddle in our hands they fall fast asleep, and make some mighty endearing noises as they do.

The disgusting part has to do with their cleanliness, or, their lack thereof. Let's just say they don't hesitate to eat anything at all in their cage, including their poop. It's really awful, and reminder enough that handwashing is paramount with these critters. We'll see how long they last in the kitchen (the warmest place in the house these days).

My husband has been searching for the perfect coop to build, and I think we've settled on this one, though the name is irritating: City Biddies. Did it occur to them that perhaps some rural folks might like this design too?

It's compact, functionally designed, and darned cute, and will do the job just fine for our modest flock of 3 hens. Now we just need to get the plans and fire up the saw.

Meanwhile, I've also been attempting some beaded projects from Kate McKinnon's book, and I can't help seeing chicken feet instead of Ndebele flowers in this:

I got some 3.25 mag lenses for this job, and I am proud to say that
I can thread the needle the first time almost every time. Shown here are a bunch of 11 and 13 seed
beads I ordered from Fire Mountain Gems and The Red Bead.

The peachy pink beads are supposed to be smaller than the gold ones, but they're not, so the flower flares too much, but I don't have anything better here to work with now. I went to a local bead store last week to find some vintage charlottes, and they were all mislabeled. Even as a newbie it was clear to me that they were all size 11 beads, but most were labeled as 13s or even 14s. I suspected it when I bought them, but just fell in love with the colors. I'm sure I'll figure something out for them.

The most hilarious thing about receiving my first order of seed beads from Fire Mountain Gems was the free gift they sent with it - a magnifying glass!

But do you know how freaking TINY a 13° bead is? Here's a clue:

Anyway, lots of learnin' going on at the Lakinsmith Lodge, soon to be Lakinsmith Farms. I kind of like the sound of that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Girls! Keep it down in there!

I am a master procrastinator when it comes to paperwork. I was supposed to work on my tax preparation today. But first we went shopping for furniture and I scored a very inexpensive sidebar type piece I've been looking for, and then we met some really cute chicks downtown and they convinced us to bring them home with us.

Welcome home girls!
Names, names, we're definitely going to need some names.

We've actually been thinking about this for some time, and finally decided to take the plunge. It's Jennifer's fault, actually, for posting this awesome picture of a metal chick feeder and accelerating our plans. I knew I wanted the feeder to store my jewelry pliers, but now it looks like it might be a few weeks until that can happen. My husband is going to build them a condo, and we're going to repurpose a chain link dog run that came with the house for their run. It will be 100% secure from predators. Many a poor neighborhood fowl has lost their lives to raccoons, bobcats, dogs, and who knows what, and I intend to give these girls a nice long life.

We've got an Ameraucana, a New Hampshire Red, and a Danish Brown Leghorn and they are aDORABLE! From the way that they peep, scratch and peck, and fall asleep just anywhere, and the fact that they weigh about 0 ounces. They are 1-2 weeks old and seemingly ready to take on the world.

We've never done this before, so it's all new and fun. So far it's been pretty easy - go to the rural hardware store, fall in love with the big pen full of peeping fluff, swoon, buy a feeder, some starter crumbles, a hanging feeder for later, and the girls. My brother in law had already given us a wire mesh brooder cage years ago, and I already owned a little thermometer, lights, and pine shavings. And as (their) luck would have it, I am a vermicomposter so I have lots of wriggling red treats for them. Not so lucky for the worms I guess, but it's the circle of life.

And now, from the Brooder Cam:

So, any suggestions for names would be lovely! Tomorrow I will give them a roost.

Now I've seen it all.

I thought I had seen it all when I found out about the dog butt floss and the doggie butt covers, but I was wrong. I simply must have this leopard print slipcover for my garden hose. I mean, how could I garden without it?

But seriously, Dirtcouture has a lovely shop. You should check it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Breathtaking Fun at 6700 feet

Hike In
An invigorating altitude gain of over 1000' to the top, in a few miles.

At the peak
Our cozy mountain hut buried in snow (foreground), with a chute for entry
(it's the hole to the right of the backpack).
Outhouse (the one with the vent stack) had only 3' of snow blocking the door.

Digging In
Turning a chute into a staircase.

Warmth and delightful company, liar's dice, Eucher, and Jenga.

Nili's amazing eggs benedict. I could not bear to remove the color from this one.
And the thai ribs were out of this world.

Snowed in
New snow overnight.
My husband is brilliant for putting the shoes upright before bed.

Hike Out
Hiking out in splendid beauty, feeling almost weightless.


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