Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Play ball!

What an exciting finish to the regular baseball season for Chicago fans!! The nailbiting anticipation of the single tie-breaker game tonight against Minnesota must have had the city's collective stomachs in knots all day. But now it's official, Chicago has two teams in the playoffs for the first time since 1906 - how thrilling is that??

Sigh. I'm having a nostalgic moment for those magical 1992 and 1993 seasons, when the Toronto Blue Jays won their back to back World Season titles. Those were the days!!

If only Toronto had finished that well in the standings this year. As nice as it was to have Cito Gaston back at the helm for the latter part of the season, we're just not there yet. But hey, there's always next year!!

In the meantime, I'm cheering for the Sox this post season, in honour of my new friend Adrianne from Chicago, whom I met this summer in France while taking the precious metal clay course taught by Kate McKinnon (more about that in a later post). Maybe she'll invite me down over the next few days or weeks to catch a game?! Yo, Adrianne! ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thanks for the memories, Paul

I was sorry to hear Paul Newman died. What a sweetheart of a guy he seemed to be. A great actor, a devoted husband (bonus points for staying married to the same woman for 50 years!) and father, an extremely generous philanthropist (millions of dollars donated to the "Hole in the Wall Gang" charity by way of sales of Newman's Own food products).
My 3 favourite movies of his are "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid", "The Sting" and "Message in a Bottle" (where he proved that even septegenarian curmudgeons can be sexy!). He will be greatly missed by all of those who loved and admired him. I am grateful his legendary films will be available for us to watch for years to come.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday TV

The guest speaker at our Ottawa conference this past week was none other than the CBC's own Evan Solomon. He co-hosts a news show that comes on right after Coronation Street on Sunday mornings, called "CBC News: Sunday"as well as the Sunday night version, called (you guessed it) "CBC News: Sunday Night".

He gave a great talk focused on our conference theme of "Innovation" and spoke about the trend toward forming deeper relationships with your clients as a means of differentiating your company in the marketplace in these days of rapid technological change and economic uncertainty. I think the same theory is a good one for social relationships as well.

Here's his picture - isn't he cute? I got my nerve up and spoke to him after his talk and he was very friendly, shook my hand and called me by name (thanks to the name badge I was wearing). We discussed the Wall Street bailout talks and I tried to sound intelligent but all I could think about was "Wow, he's really tall" and "Gosh, he's cute"!! :)

Tall, dark and handsome, really nice, incredibly smart and well spoken - yes, of course he's married!! C'est la vie, oui?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Speaking of shopping...

I'm off to Beadfx this morning. They're having a surprise sale (shh! don't tell anyone) - it started at midnight last night and runs until midnight on Oct 5th. That's 9 whole days! I thought I'd go by, just in case I see anything I need.

Oh, who am I kidding? I've got a list and I'm not afraid to use it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

International Bead Shopping

One of the fun things about being a beader is checking out bead stores when you travel. Had to check out The Sassy Bead Company when I was in Ottawa this past week - here's a picture of the outside of their store on William Street - love the polka dots! They also have a store on Yonge Street in Toronto, which is one of the first bead stores I visited when I began beading.

My favourite Toronto shops are Bead Junction and Beadfx. I have taken a lot of classes at each store, all of which were very well taught, and the staff in both stores are fabulous - very nice, extremely helpful and friendly. The selection of product at both stores is also excellent, I never leave empty handed!

My first foray into foreign bead shops was in London, England in January of this year. I visited a lovely store called Buffy's Beads in a neat little shopping block called KinglyCourt, off the famously funky Carnaby Street, and bought some beautiful Saworski crystal cubes in all the colours of the rainbow. It was pouring rain at the time I visited but it was worth getting wet to visit this store. Another great London bead store is called "The Bead Shop" in the Covent Garden neighbourhood.

But so far, my absolute favourite international shop is the one I discovered in Paris in March of this year (yes, 2008 has been the year of great trips to Europe!). It's called "Tout a Loisirs" and it's located in an old apothecary shop on the Rue de Archives. If you are in town, you really should check it out - it is beautiful. Lots of little wooden drawers and the beads are very conveniently displayed by colour. Here's a photo I took of the inside:

My friends Colleen and Bev were going to visit bead stores in Rome this past week, I wonder if they bought anything?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Home from Ottawa

Had a great trip. Turns out being trapped on a train, oops, I mean, travelling merrily along on the train for more than 4 hours each way with your co-workers can be a lot of fun, especially if they are looking at your creations, liking them and buying them! Thanks to everyone who supported my business and complimented my work.

Here's a picture of some of the ladies checking out the goods:

And one of me making chains on the train:

My "Love by the Lake" necklace was chosen by Elvira - here is a picture of her wearing it, doesn't she look beautiful? I hope she will enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed making it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beading Lesson No. 14: Cats and Beads Do Not Mix

But you can't tell the cats that! They want to help. They think it's a game, and they can't wait to play. As soon as you spread your beading paraphernalia out on the table, they are right there, checking everything out - "Let's see how this bead tastes!", "ooh, this piece of jewellery wire makes a great toy!", "Look what happens when I bat this with my paw!"

And my personal favourite? The way my cat Max will sit patiently as I string beads and just when I hold it up to see how the piece looks, quick as lightning, his paw sweeps out and grabs the wire, sending beads flying in all directions. Oh, what fun!

Beading tip #23: Try to listen where the beads roll to, rather than watch them land. It sometimes makes it easier to find them on the floor.

Here's a photo of my other cat, Carly, all tuckered out after a busy beading session.

I know, isn't she cute?? :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Heading to our nation's capital

For those of you from out of town, that would be Ottawa, Ontario. We're headed there for a work conference, leaving today, coming back on Friday. We're booked on the VIA train. Should be fun. Probably. Hopefully.

Except for the whole, trapped on a railway car filled entirely with people you work with for 4.5 hours with no opportunity to escape thing.

Looking forward to seeing these buildings again:

However, I imagine they will be quite empty, as everyone who is supposed to be working there will instead be off campaigning to get re-elected. But if your office was this pretty, why would you want to leave?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Equinox

Today is the first official day of fall.

It's always a bittersweet time of year for me. I'm sad to see the end of summer because it always goes by too fast, the birds are beginning to flock together in preparation for their flights to warmer climates, the leaves are just starting to get a tinge of colour, the days grow shorter...

At the same time, I love the sights and smells of autumn. The deep orange, yellow and red hues on the leaves, the sound they make as they crunch underfoot, the deep blue skies, the crisp evening temperatures that make you want to cozy up in front a warm fire.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, we're not quite there yet. There's sun and warmer temperatures in the forecast for the rest of the week, so we can pretend it's still summerish for just a little while longer.

Here's a pair of earrings I made a few weeks ago, when I first noticed the changes afoot in Mother Nature. It reminds me of the quiet way the season changes, the muted tones that somehow bloom into vibrancy and then fade again to soft browns after the annual display is over. I call them "Leaves of Autumn".

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Canadian Bead Oasis - Toronto - Fall 2008

I helped out at the Toronto Bead Society booth yesterday, at the Bead Oasis show. Here's a picture of me standing beside some of the jewellery donated for display by various TBS members - all of whom are incredibly talented.

If you have never been to this show, it's a pretty cool place to check out a lot of bead suppliers in one place. It was pretty overwhelming the first time I went, last year, as there was so much to look at and I really didn't know much about beading to make sense of it all. I'm a little more experienced now, so I went prepared with a list because of course, I went early so I could do a little shopping before my volunteer time slot, and I was pretty good about sticking to my budget. Well, almost. ;)

I enjoyed working at the TBS table. I ran into some old friends and met some new ones, and I might have even convinced one or two people to join (go for it, Michelle!). I hope so. It's a great place to hang out with fellow beaders, learn new techniques and be inspired by the sheer creativity and uniqueness we humans are capable of.

Afterwards, I went for a bite to eat with the Dixon Chick and we got to talking about bead crochet necklaces and whether or not a focal bead could be woven into the centre of the design, rather than suspended separately.
I was quite inspired by both our conversation and all the lovely beads I'd seen, and got to work as soon as I got home. The result is the necklace shown pictured in this post, which I call "Love by the Lake" (because I was watching the movie "The Lake House" with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves while I was crocheting). I love the colours, the deep blues and green. Perhaps more of an ocean focus than a lake, but I'm using a bit of artistic licence here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Confess

My name is Cynthia and I am a beadaholic.

It all started when I signed up for a Saturday workshop at the Haliburton School of the Arts last spring. I thought I'd spend the day learning a little bit about beading. And I did. I just didn't realize it would be the start of this obsession with all things beadiful.

I've taken several classes since then, in many different places - Toronto, Haliburton, even in a little village called Durfort in the south of France! - met some great people, made many new friends and learned a lot. But I still feel the journey has barely gotten started and I'm looking forward to the next chapter.