Monday, May 1, 2017

UFO Blog Hop • Round 2

Before I get going, I need to give a huge shout out to Karen Williams for taking the time to organize and host this blog hop!!  It is exactly these type of activities that made me love the blogosphere to begin with and that used to and continue to motivate and inspire me with bead work and blogging!  

I'm not sure I'd even have had the impetus to blog today if I didn't sign up for and have this blogging 'commitment'!  

The weather had been glorious around here and the spring birding has been outstanding.  So needless to say, I've been giving birding a lot more attention lately.  There is a fantastic great horned owl nest, ridiculously close to my house that I've been visiting quite often.  Probably an inordinate amount of visits.  But gosh they are so cute and they grow so fast! 
 


And of course I've seen a few other birds along the way



But I DIGRESS! 

When I first signed up for this blog hop, I pulled out a couple of peyote strips that I had worked on ages ago, but when other more exciting projects came up I popped them in the UFO drawer (referenced in my last UFO post.) 




Although these two items definitely spent a little more time on "The Other Tray".  You know that one, the tray that has items that you want to get back to right away, and you don't move that beadwork until it starts to get dusty.  And then you realize it actually needs to go in the UFO drawer, so it stops getting dusty?   And oh, also because there is yet ANOTHER bead project you'd like to get going?  Sound familiar? 

So I started with the blue and gold one. Simple but time consuming, I'm glad this one is finished and has made space for other UFO's to take it's place int he UFO drawer!



And what about the silver peyote strip?  Well.....it looks like this one is poised to be the project for the next UFO blog hop! 


Thanks again Karen!!!  Please take a moment to visit the rest of the group who participated in this inspiring hop! 

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Francie Broadie,  FAB
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz Hart, Treetop Life
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Christi Carter, Sweetpea Path
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bead Soup Blog Party!!!

Today is the day for the Bead Soup Blog Party, one of my all time favorite activities in the blogosphere!  The Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) is the genius idea of Lori Anderson of Pretty Things.  A big thanks to Lori and her helpers to make this happen again.

Without further ado, let's party!

My partner for this year's BSBP is Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame.  Sherri creates gorgeous, artisan pieces of jewelry and other objects using the craft of micro-macrame.  Her work is beautiful and she has lots of great tutorials.  Don't just take my word for it, go check her website to see it!

Sherri sent me a beautiful owl pendant (little did she know how much I love birds and owls!!) and some beautiful natural stone featuring shades of white, cream, black and gray.  They are a perfect match for the owl pendant.



While I was pondering how I wanted to use these pretties, I went ahead and downloaded Sherri's Owl Pendant micro macrame tutorial.  And instead of working on my BSBP piece, I tried my hand at micro macrame!



Sherri has a bunch of tutorials on her site and I used many of them to get to the beginning stages of this owl pendant.  It is beginning to take shape!   But as time wore on I realized I had to abandon this micro macrame owl pendant for now, and begin working on my other ceramic owl pendant!

As I sat down to begin, the cream cord I was using for the other owl project was sitting on my table and I saw how perfectly it matched my owl product.  I had a moment of inspiration and decided to use some of my newly learned macrame skills with my BSBP beads!  I used square knotting and a few larks head knots and this is my finished product!




Thank you Sherri for sending me these fun beads and for inspiring me to learn a new craft.  I can't wait to finish my micro macrame owl!

Please click here to visit Sherri's blog and see what she did with the beads I sent along to her.  

And please click HERE to visit more of the BSBP blogs and Pinterest boards for this awesome party!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

UFO (Un-finished Objects) Blog Hop

When Karen Williams posted the idea of doing a UFO blog hop, I knew I had to get in on it!  I have several drawers in my beading nook where I store unfinished objects!


Frankly I rarely open these unless i"m stuffing something in there! So this was the first time, in I don't know how long, I opened these drawers to actually finish something!



Decisions, decisions!

My first instinct was to work on this pendant which was my Bead Soup Blog Party creation from many years ago.  It fell apart about two years ago and it didn't even make it into the UFO drawer for a while b/c I love the pendant and loved wearing it.

I just was so stuck on using the other coordinating beads, that I never did anything to put it back together again.  So for this piece I added a chain!


A little bit of a cop-out for this challenge, so there is more!

I pulled out this piece, which I knew was super old b/c I rarely use the nymo thread any more since I switched to Fireline a few years ago.

  It appears I stopped with this one just before finishing the edge, which Ill admit here and now is my least favorite part of bead embroidery!


And given the nature of this blog hop, I thought that working on this "FOCUS" pendant was very apropos!

When I originally started this (and I remember it was back in Maryland when I had a whole room for my beading!), my intention was to create a small wall hanging to hang near my beading table.  So I stuck with that idea and finally finished this mini wall hanging, with the message that I sometimes need when I'm sitting at my bead table!


THANK YOU Karen for hosting this fun hop.  I dare say, I could use this catalyst more frequently!

Please check out our other UFO hoppers here:

Karen Williams, Baublicious
Christine Van Dyke Altmiller, One Kiss Creations
Amy Severino, Amy Beads
Therese, Therese's Treasures
Kim Dworak, CianciBlue
Liz E, Bead Contagion
Margo Lynn Hablutzel, My World and It's Full of Books
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cathi Salzarulo Kent, The Cat's Meow
Liz Hart, Treetop Life

I can't wait to visit some of my friends on this list today!

And a quick P.S.... since I 'rebranded' my blog to be "Amybeads...and birds" (and because I'm still giddy about this particular sighting),  I do want to share this photo of an absolutely amazing owl I had the pleasure to view last night.  This bird is a extremely rare in New England since it typically lives in the Pacific northwest and Western Canada! It's the Great Grey Owl!  So without further ado, here is this magnificent creature:


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Photography Lessons

I've been posting a LOT about cameras, photography, and birding lately, so I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to mention a free resource that I've been taking advantage of lately.

I'll start with a little background.  Almost four years ago, when I started my job with the restaurant group I currently work with, they supplied me with a DSLR camera.  I was taking photos with my camera, and mentioned in passing, that the company might be served better on the web and on social media if we had a camera that took nicer photos.  I was given a budget and researched a good camera.  The choice was narrowed down to a Canon Rebel T3i and a Nikon 6000.  I chose the Rebel, because I also saw that there was a Canon Rebel for Dummies book available.  And let me tell you, I was a dummy for sure regarding DSLR cameras.  


Fast forward four years, and guess what? Still a dummy.  I barely cracked the book.  I fiddled with the camera, found a few good settings that resulted in some great photos and I just never looked back.  I should also add though, the material I have to photograph at work is simply gorgeous.  It is not that hard to make it look good!!!




So basically, I managed quite well for nearly four years.  Well, I managed well, except not at night or in anything remotely dark.  At the restaurants I have a spot at each property that I can take a good photo after the sun goes down, but forget it, if I am anywhere else on the property and need to get a shot after the sun goes down.

BUT THEN, a few weeks ago, I had to take a picture that was going to be in the Boston Globe.  THE BOSTON FREAKING GLOBE!  

I experienced some pretty major anxiety as the days led up to the morning I planned to take the photo.  I gave the chef full warning: "dude, we need to do this in the morning when I know I can get decent light in the restaurant. Please, I'm not a professional and I"m freaking the *#$& out about this.  Please can we shoot this steak some time between 10am and noon??"  

He obliged; the photos came out well; and the photo was featured in a HALF PAGE of the printed Globe and online.  

Again, I got lucky with a great shot (but I had to work for it, I staged about 15 shots in 15 different areas of the restaurant before I found this decent location and then I practically started crying as the light began to change as I waited for this tasty Steak Frites to come out of the kitchen!!!) 

So yeah, I told myself it was definitely time to learn more about how to use the camera.  But a few weeks went by and I STILL DIDN'T!!

Then winter birding kicked into gear.  And i just didn't feel like I was getting close enough with my zoom lens.  So I started looking into a higher power lens.  I started eyeing some pretty fancy lenses....anywhere form $1000-$10000.  Most definitely not in my budget, but maybe the lower end lens would meet my needs.  When suddenly one day, on a Facebook birding group I follow, one of the members said they used a Canon Powershot sx50.  And his photos were amazing!  And a discussion ensued on the post about the difference between a point & shoot with high power optic zoom vs. a dslr equipped with a high power zoom. The consensus was that if you knew how to use your camera, it actually shouldn't make a huge difference (for a hobbyist) which type of camera you use.

And so, I bought the Canon PowerShot sx60 bundle, and started looking for lessons online.



In one of the product reviews, I saw someone link a tutorial specifically for the Canon Powershot sx50 s I decided to check it out, and it totally changed my photography life!!!!




This photographer, Marius West, gives THE BEST lessons.  They are easy to understand and they come in wonderfully bite size segments.   So there is never  a huge commitment to start watching.  I am up to the 8th lesson in Season 1 and it has made a HUGE difference for my photography abilities already and how I use the camera.  Check out this before and after:

BEFORE - bad lighting too bright!

AFTER - just right!
I saw that the first photo was lit up much too brightly.....so....I used the exposure compensation feature to make an adjustment and it came out great!  I can't even believe I'm using sentences like "I used the exposure compensation feature"!!!!!  

So I must extend a HUGE that you to Marius West of MWest Photography!!! Another great feature of his lessons is that he also references how to apply what you are learning about the Powershot, to a DSLR.  So even though I started taking the lessons to learn about my new camera, I am also applying this new knowledge to my work camera!!  Thank you Marius West! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bead Soup Blog Party • Partner and Soup Reveal • Owls

It's here, it's here!!!!  My Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) package arrived and I couldn't be more excited!!!!


The BSBP is truly one of my favorite blogging activities!  Created by the talented jewelry artist, Lori Anderson, the BSBP was on hiatus while Lori battled some health challenges.  But I'm delighted to report the Party has been revived.

This year, Lori added a theme: Bead Hoarders Edition.  Can't we all relate to that!?!?!  Who hasn't hoarded something pretty, with the best intentions of eventually creating something with it?!   She also encouraged everyone to create their BSBP package before they were partnered, so that we influenced to create our BSBP soup, based on who our partner was.  Here was my package and note:

I knew I was giving in the spirit of this theme, because I struggled a bit on whether I wanted to even give it away!! That said, I'm super happy that this pretty focal is going to get its due with the BSBP!

In the meanwhile, I was partnered with none other than, micro-macrame knotting extraordinaire, Sherri Stokey!!  Can I just say, I have been drooling over her work for YEARS! Seriously - if you haven't had a chance, check out her amazing micro-macrame on her Etsy page or follow her on Facebook.  Here is Sherri's blog, Knot Just Macrame (and may I also give her HUGE props for her clever business name!?)

Now onto the bead soup that she sent me!!!!!  Yippee!  First of all.....how cute is this packaging!?

Next: this card!!! Oh my goodness.  LOVE!

And anyone who has been reading my blog will know that my head just about exploded when I got to the part in the note about an "owl pendant"! WHAT!? Talk about synergy!

I LOVE OWLS! In fact, just yesterday I trudged through a foot and a half of snow just to get a glimpse of my neighborhood great horned owl pair (as referenced in this post ), and saw Papa Owl fly away.  At which time, I scanned the tree line for 30 minutes and took lots of pictures.  Wasn't sure if I got anything (blame it on my middle aged eyes!) until I got back to my computer and was delighted to see I was aiming my camera just where I thought he perched!

Oops - I digress - back to my soup reveal:

I LOVE IT! Thank you Sherri! I am positively swooning over my pendant and beads.  I love birds and especially owls, and this earthy color scheme is going to be tons of fun to work with! I can't wait to begin working on this!  Come back on March 25th for the reveal party!!!

Since we're on the subject of owls, I'll leave you with this video I captured last month of a screech owl trilling in his tree hole! Love these pint size owls! They are so cute!! (And doesn't this guy kind of match the colors of my bead soup!!???)


(This video was also captured on my new Canon Powershot, more about that camera if you click here!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy February!  Just when I as thinking 'we are having a mild winter', February reared its ugly head and reminded me that it's still winter in New England! ;)  The day after I took this shot, we got hammered with another 10 inches!


But the previously mentioned mild winter, has made for some fun winter birding!  And on that note, because I've been posting just as much about birds as I have about beads, I decided to slightly rebrand my blog to include birds too! hee-hee


So back to the birds!  A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to pick up a new camera that is popular for its amazing optic zoom.  This camera does not disappoint!

The Canon Powershot SX60 16.1MP Digital Camera 65x Optical Zoom Lens 3-inch LCD Tilt Screen (Black) optic zoom is not to be reckoned with!!  I mean seriously people, this is a point & shoot, or as some people say, a 'bridge' camera...because it has some features and settings similar to a DSLR, but this camera totally rocks as soon as you take it out of the box!

So here are a few shots I got the first day I used it:



Earlier this week I checked out an area near my home, where last year I located a great horned owl couple that was nesting.  They are back!  Here is the camera view when I first got to the site:

See those little circles?  The one on the left is the nesting hen (uncropped)!

The one on the right is the male owl roosting near by!!!! (Also uncropped!)

Can you believe it!?!? I hardly can!  Here are a couple of moon shots recently snapped by the amazing Canon Powershot SX60:


I couldnt' be happier with this camera.

So when I'm not working, or looking for birds, I have also been beading!
Some earrings here & there....


Here are a few snaps of one half of a heart pattern by Gwen Fisher:


And I came across this pattern via Bead&Button and am still working it!  Seems I need to get started on Valentine's day hearts a little sooner than a few days before Valentine's day!

And when Im not beading, or birding, or working, I'm still having tons of fun playing Pokemon Go with my son.


This fun game even inspired me to create this Pikachu bracelet pattern!


Finally - I'll leave you with a few snaps from my work over the past few weeks!


Stay tuned for another post soon.  I am excited to participate in the  2017 Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) this year! I can't wait to see and post what my BSBP partner sends along!


HAPPY FEBRUARY!