Monday, July 30, 2012

Books, books, and more books!

I love books. Love them! If I had a million dollars, the room next to my perfectly laid out jewelry studio would be a huge library with a fireplace and rolling ladders and hidden doorways in the shelves.
One of these, please! Do you see the hidden door?!!
(Bibliothek St. Florian, photo from Wikimedia Commons)
But as much as I love the look and feel and smell of paper books, I have slowly been drawn to the 'dark side' of e-books. They have their drawbacks - dangerous/expensive to read in the tub, can't write notes in the margins, the possibility that the format of your whole library will become obsolete in 5 years when new formats have been created (they would be like e-book 8-tracks... how sad!). But they are undeniably convenient! Instead of devoting a whole suitcase to reading material on a long vacation, you can fit it all in one e-reader that fits in your purse (and if you have a tablet, you can even take Angry Birds breaks if the book gets boring.) They are also decidedly superior if you have a hidden trashy romance novel obsession that you don't want to share with the world.

So while I have my misgivings about actually buying and owning e-books (see the obsolete factor above...), I have found that e-books from the library are the absolute best solution. They appeal to my lazy side (don't have to drive to the library to pick them up or return them) and the selection through my library is quite good.  Since getting an iPad as a gift last Christmas, I have read way more books than before and a wider variety of genres as well.

So here are a handful of the great e-books that I've found from my library this year (just a handful - if you look at my Goodreads shelves, you can see that this is just a drop in the bucket. When I'm not playing with beads and wire or sleeping, I have my nose in a book (...or in my iPad? See, idioms haven't caught up with e-book technology yet, either!) -

Horns, by Joe Hill - I imagine he is tired of the inevitable comparisons to his dad (Joe Hill is the pen name for Joe King, Stephen King's son), but his writing style is so similar to Stephen King's that his books are great for times when you have already read and re-read all of King's books and are waiting for a new one to come out (*raises hand*). Horns tells the story of Ig, who, after being falsely accused of the murder of his girlfriend, wakes up one morning to find that he has grown devil horns and has the power to make people confess to and act on their most darkest desires. I liked this one - if you enjoy dark fantasy and Stephen King's books, you should like Horns. Joe Hill's first novel Heart Shaped Box is also quite good as well.

Angelmaker and Gone Away World, by Nick Harkaway - I actually read Gone Away World last year, but I liked it a little better than Angelmaker, so I felt like I should mention it. Both are excellent books. I would like to describe their genres, but I honestly can't! They both have a sci-fi/fantasy base. Gone Away World is a little post apocalypse, with ninjas and mimes and a huge twist at the end. I love this book - can't recommend it enough. Angelmaker was a little harder for me to get into but I still enjoyed it. It has a smattering of steampunk, a little bit of crime fiction, some spy intrigue and lots of British humor.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard - This was an excellent nonfiction book. I should hang my head in shame as a history major, but I didn't actually know that much about President James Garfield before I read this. I knew he had been assassinated, but that was about it. This is not only a great biography of Garfield before his reluctant nomination and election as president, but also touches on Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the metal detector (to try to find the bullet in Garfield's body), the first air conditioner installed in the White House (to cool Garfield's sick room in D.C.'s sweltering summer heat), the deranged mind of the man who shot Garfield, and the deplorable medical conditions of the late 1800s. I highly recommend this - even people who don't care for nonfiction or history should find this interesting.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing - Another great nonfiction book. This is quite a bit older, as it was published in the 1950s, but it is a great story and well written. It chronicles the experiences of Ernest Shackleton's failed trans-Antarctic expedition in 1914. His ship was caught in pack ice, was crushed, and sank off the coast of Antarctica and he and his whole crew were stranded on the ice for over a year. They eventually made it to an island, where half of the crew made camp while Shackleton and five others sailed in a 20-something foot open boat over 800 miles through the most violent seas on earth, then hiked across the uncharted interior of South Georgia island to reach a whaling depot. Shackleton then turned around and sailed back in a larger whaling boat to rescue the rest of his crew. The most amazing part of this was that the whole crew survived! Dog lovers may find some parts a bit distressing (the dog teams became dinner, sorry...) but this is such a great tale - fast paced, and very exciting.

This is just a smattering of the books that I have read lately - check out my Goodreads profile to see what else is on my shelves (or in my iPad...)! And support your local libraries!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


No real reason for this... and actually from earlier this summer. I just managed to find the memory card these pictures were on. From out latest jaunt into the big city to do the tourist thing with an out of town guest - harbor cruise, Pike Place Market, the Needle... the works! It was actually the first time I had been up in the Space Needle at night, though. I think I'm just posting them for those rainy winter (spring, fall... hell, summer...) days when I need to remind myself why I like Seattle.
These are actually from my phone. Not too bad.

From the harbor cruise. Mount Rainier was even hazily visible off to the south.

Space Needle at dusk. (I almost said twilight and tried to make a joke, but I restrained myself. You're welcome.)
Can you see Mount Rainier?
And a bonus - right outside our front door earlier this spring.
I'll be back to cling to these images in February...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Necklace Length Guide

Opera? Matinee? Princess? Rope? Collar? Choker?! No, this isn't a random list of words taken from Fifty Shades of Grey, these are terms for necklace lengths. Here's a guide to show you the lengths of most necklaces available:
  • Collar length necklaces are 12-13 inches long and hug the middle of your neck. They are often multi-stranded and are best for formal occasions. People who don't like the feeling of something snug around their neck should avoid collars. 
  • Choker length necklaces are 14-16 inches long and fit close to the base of your neck. They can be found in single or multi-strand styles.
  • Princess length necklaces are 17-19 inches long and are the most popular length of necklace. Many necklaces you see for sale will fall within the princess style lengths. Princess length necklaces go great with many necklines, just make sure the collar of your top is higher (so the necklace sits above your shirt) or lower (so the necklace does not catch in your collar) than the length of you necklace.
  • Matinee length necklaces are 20-24 inches. They are perfect for low necklines, or to wear above your top.
  • Opera length necklaces are 28-34 inches long and are great for elegant outfits. Anything from ball gowns to t-shirts look classier with an opera length necklace.
  • Rope necklaces are 45 inches long or longer and are the longest style of necklace available. They can be worn as one long strand, wrapped numerous times around your neck, or knotted. Think 1920s flappers and long strands of pearls.
    • A lariat necklace is similar to a rope necklace in length, but is a straight, unconnected strand with no clasp, often with tassels on each end, and can be knotted or looped together.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally a space of my own!

So for the past 6 years, due to lack of space, all of my jewelry creation have been confined to either the dining room table or the couch. And while I kind of like lounging on the couch, it has a few drawbacks to jewelry crafting (losing beads in the couch cushions, losing beading needles in the couch cushions, sitting on lost beading needles days later...). And being on the dining room table meant that I had to pack up all of my beads and wire whenever we wanted to have guests over for dinner. So instead of rescinding all dinner invitations and becoming a hermit, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to create a permanent home for my jewelry studio.

Being cheap thrifty, I didn't want to pay a lot of money for a desk or table that I was going to possibly destroy with gouges and scratches from wire. But since, alas, I don't have a dedicated crafting room (on my list of things I want when I win the lotto...) also I wanted some sort of desk or table that could close to cover my mess when company might be around. Off to Craigslist I went. Living in the Seattle area means pretty good pickings for inexpensive decent quality furniture being offered for good bargains by people who just want it out of their house. Luckily after a few tries, I stumbled over a good candidate.

Sure, it's a little blue...
At only $25 this was kind of a must buy, even though it had some issues. I sort of liked the blue/green/teal paint with the contrasting wood, but it clashed horribly with the moss green and brown color scheme in the room I was going to put it in and on top of that, the roll top itself was pretty much non-functional and barely being held together with duct tape in some sort of haphazard fix-it job. But $25! So half a day's work with two coats of brown paint and a cloth ribbon backing for the roll top and voila! A new home for my jewelry work!
I kept the slightly contrasting wood color for the desktop and roll top

Now just to find a more comfortable chair and possibly another table or shelf to go along the wall to the side of the desk to put my laptop on. Back to Craigslist and I'll keep my paintbrush ready!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How to determine your ring size

Will this fit you? Find out here...
I have just started making wire wrapped rings and I have realized that ring sizing is rather complicated! Large jewelry stores have ring sizing tools (usually looks like a large keyring full of little brass or plastic rings that you try on until you find your size - kind of like Cinderella's glass slipper... only backwards... and not glass...) but buying a ring online if you aren't sure of your size? Dangerous! So as a reference, here is how to find out your ring size at home with just a scrap of paper.

To find your ring size:

1. Cut a half inch wide and 4 to five inch long strip of paper.

2. Wrap the paper strip around the base of your finger and mark the point on the paper where the end of the paper strip overlaps.

3. With a ruler, measure the length from the outside end to the mark on the paper to the nearest 1/16" of an inch or millimeter, rounding up if necessary.

5. Find the closest circumference measurement on the size chart in inches or millimeters and look to the far left column to determine your ring size.