Thursday, 18 September 2008

Follow Me!

You may have noticed the 'Follow Me' thing over on the right hand side of my blog. This new 'Follower' gadget allows you to keep track of blogs that you read. It also adds a thumbnail of your profile photo to my sidebar. I'm a nosy blogger and whenever I see one of those thumbnails on someone else's blog I'll click and have a read of their profile. This normally leads to me reading their blog. I've found some really good ones since Blogger introduced the Follower gadget!

When you log into the dashboard of your Blogger account there's a new panel titled 'Blogs I'm Following'. Just click the 'add' button and follow the instructions to make a list of all the blogs you like to keep up to date with. Blogs thrive on links and comments and the Follower gadget boosts that - we all join cyber-hands and create some blog traffic. Yeah!


Talking of links, I've cleaned up my links list and removed some blogs that haven't been updated for a long while. That's nothing against the writers of the blogs, it's just a tidying up thing. If you're one of those people and you get blogging again, give me a nudge and I'll stick you back on the list. I'm just trying to keep things organised. I'm going to be having a link clear-up on my actual website soon too.


I'll probably be quiet for the next few days. Lots going on. Packing to do. I've made my last beads in the shed and now I've got to empty it. *Sniff!*


Have a good weekend whatever you're up to!

Birthdayness

Birthday CocktailsIt was my birthday yesterday and what a lovely day I had!

I met up with my little sister Emily in town and we had cocktails and lunch. I took a snap of the cocktails with my phone camera as I was so taken with the colours of them. Emily's 'Apple Passion' ranged from bright green through to that wonderful aqua (Blue CuraƧao) at the bottom. It tasted even better than it looked! My 'Summer Peach' was yellow with swirls of cranberry. It should have been orange with swirls of cranberry but the bartender was all out of orange sherbet so I had lemon instead. It tasted lush!

Em came home with me and then Sally, Paul and the little'uns came over for pizza and birthday cake in the evening.

I'm going to make a slight diversion here but stick with me and it'll all tie in.

The other day I decided to wash the pillows off my bed and give them a freshen-up. They're just feather pillows from M&S and the label on them said to stick them in the washing machine on a 40° wash and then tumble dry them. So I did just that. But for some odd and bizarre reason they came out of the tumble drier smelling of what I can only describe as wet dog. You know the smell - dog-hair-grease mingled with river water. Musty, damp and rank. I stuck the pillows in the airing cupboard thinking that they just needed a good old air, but no, after ten hours they still stank of wet dog. I Googled it and apparently even if the label on your feather pillow says you can wash it, you shouldn't. Great. So new pillows were called for. I decided to grab a lift with Dad when he dropped Em off at Southampton train station last night (she's living in Bournemouth at the moment) so that I could go to the 24 hour Tesco on the way home to buy myself some nice-smelling pillows.

Right, that was the diversion so now we're back on track.

Just as we were driving into town we saw swarms of Southampton FC supporters all over the place. The traffic was awful because of the the football match that had just finished and getting to the station would have been a nightmare so Dad decided that he was going to give Emily a lift home ..... all the way to Bournemouth! So we had a bit of a road trip there. Em (who has a much better sense of direction than me) directed Dad to her boyfriend's house via all these back roads and shortcuts. This was all very well and good but when we'd dropped her off Dad was a bit disoriented. I won't say lost because he's normally got a killer sense of direction and is like a human GPS system. Dad did have to give in (after we'd passed the same bingo hall and dry cleaners twice) and use his actual GPS on his phone to direct us out of Bournemouth and we were eventually on our way home. We got to Tesco at midnight and I bought two fresh-smelling pillows. Huzzah! At least I didn't have to spend another night feeling as if I was resting my head on a smelly damp dachshund.

Anyway, bead stuff. I posted on my website that there would be beads for sale tonight. Slight change of plan - it will now be at nine o'clock Friday morning instead.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

'Orange & Blackcurrant'

Orange & Blackcurrant Lampwork BeadsI know things have been quiet on the bead front and rest assured I have been melting glass - I just haven't been producing decent beads! I was giving Chris earache on the phone the other night whinging to him that 'I've made beads but they're rubbish!' and he said 'Yeah, but I know what your idea of rubbish is. Are they really that rubbish?'. He has a point. Sometimes I make a bead and put it to one side because I think it's got something wrong with it only to pick it up a few days later, study it and not be able to see why I discarded it in the first place. I admit it - I do suffer from occasional bouts of Bead Dysmorphic Disorder but honestly, these past few days I've made some seriously heinous beads.

So I was mighty pleased when this batch came out of the kiln today. A strand of orange and deep pinky-purple loveliness! And no, your eyes don't deceive you. Some of them - the ones with the bumps - are actually, shock horror, asymmetric! That mucks with my mind, I can tell you. My eyes say 'Hey - they look nice like that, Laura!' but the bead department of my brain screams 'Aargh! The designs are all lopsided and not matchy! What the hell were you thinking, woman?!'. Well, I'm going to ignore the bead voices in my head because I like their lopsidedness. (Yes - I hear bead voices in my head. I know, I'm odd.)

What became of the heinous beads? Well, after Chris's are-they-really-that-rubbish question I sorted through them and no, not all were as fugly as I first thought. As a result the not-so-bad ones are now hanging around in the Lonelies jar waiting for more to join them and the oh-so-bad ones ended up in Robyn's bead bag. She loves to sort through my reject beads, thread them together to make necklaces and bracelets, unthread them and then sort them out all over again. My sisters and I used to do exactly the same thing with the contents of Mum's button jar. A love for shiny, sparkly beads and buttons must run in the family!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Winner

I've just this minute drawn a name from my big spherical vase thing (yes, a vase. I don't possess a hat - hats look ridiculous on me) and that name was Mei-lin Tan. Congratulations, Mei-lin! Your bead will be winging its way to you in tomorrow's post.

Big thanks to all who entered. I'll do another draw soon!

Friday, 12 September 2008

On My Bike

My New BikeAt last we finally have a moving date - the 24th of September.

Ever since we decided to move to Oxford I've had this thing in my head about getting a bike so I can ride into town and also pop over and visit my Grandparents and other relatives. Plus, it's Oxford - everyone rides bikes!

So here she is. Caprice. I didn't name her, that's the model name but seeing as it's got 'Caprice' written on it the name is going to stick. You can't really see in the photo but she's got pretty pink and purple flowers dotted here and there on the frame.

Dad just dropped me off at Cycleworld so I could collect the bike and ride it home. A simple task, but this is me we're talking about and simple tasks are never that simple where I'm concerned. The man in the shop adjusted the saddle for me. That's always an odd moment - a man assessing the height of your nethers while you stand, slightly embarrassed, in the middle of a shop. I never quite know where to look. Awkward.

Anyway, he adjusted the saddle and I left the shop and started to cycle home. Now, you may know that I'm not a fan of roads. If I was, I'd have a car or I'd still have my Vespa. I knew that there was an underpass that would take me under the main road but could I find the thing? No. I have no sense of direction at all so I had to call Dad and get directions and then I was on my way again.

I was happily cycling along when all of a sudden I hit a bump and the saddle shifted dramatically which nearly did me a serious feminine mischief! It was a bit of a shock, I can tell you! Obviously the man in the shop hadn't tightened the saddle properly after he'd adjusted it. I returned the saddle to a horizontal position and carried on my way, sat in a slightly peculiar fashion so as not to induce any more saddle surprises! When I reached the village it started to rain. Typical.

I saw two of the many Hedge End village characters on my way home. The first was the Don't-Look-At-My-Garden Lady who always shouts 'Don't look at my garden!' whenever you go past. True to form, as I cycled by she told me in no uncertain terms not to look at her garden. A bit further on I encountered Alright Anne. She says 'Alright?' to everyone she meets. You have to say 'Alright?' back to her or she gets angry. You can't say 'Hi!' or 'Hello!' or 'Morning!'. That just won't do. It has to be 'Alright?'. Once she said 'Alright?' to my sister and when Sally replied incorrectly with 'Yes thanks. You?' Anne slapped her! Hilarious!

So all-in-all it was an eventful bike ride home from Cycleworld. Do you see what I mean about me and simple tasks? How can so many things happen during a fifteen minute bicycle ride?! I finally made it home, rained-upon but generally very pleased with my new bike. And yes, Dad's put the saddle right for me .....

Quick note about the prize draw

Loads of you have entered the prize draw so far - there are so many names in the hat. I love the fact that because I asked for your full name lots of you have given me your middle names! By 'full name' I meant first name and surname. You see, I have a lot of Joannes, Amandas, Lesleys, Lynnes and Melanies, amongst others, and it all gets a bit confusing. But feel free to keep sending me your middle names if you want!

There's just one thing I want to point out - the prize is one singular focal bead. It does say that and I did write that the photo shows two views of the same bead. Many of you have sent little notes with your entries telling me that you'd love to win the beads. There's only one up for grabs.

I hope that clears up any confusion!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Blogger Favicons

Favicons are those little images that appear in the address bar of your web browser, on the tabs in tabbed browsing and also in your favourites list. Up in the left hand corner you should see that my favicon is a red heart bead. Most Blogger blogs display the orange Blogger logo as the favicon but why have that when you could have an icon that's a bit more relevant to you and your blog?

I'm not a techno-geek but little things like favicons make me happy and knowing how to make and use them makes me even happier! I've written a tutorial to show you how you can add a favicon to your Blogger blog too. Please click here if you'd like to read it.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Cliff Richard. No. Just no.

I've just witnessed something awful. Sir Cliff Richard was on the lottery show a minute ago singing a terrible, terrible song. And not just singing but trying to dance in a highly disturbing way - kind of simultaneously squatting and swaying. He was even doing the reaching-up-and-clutching-at-the-air thing that Westlife do. What the hell is he thinking? I think I know. He's thinking that he's still got it.

Newsflash, Cliff - you haven't.

EDIT - Just found last night's Cliff performance on YouTube. Click here if you dare .....

More focals .....

Banana & Pomegranate Focal Beads..... because making a whole matching set requires concentration and patience that I just don't seem to have this week. These big'uns are about 18mm in diameter. Chunky!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Prize Draw

Prize Draw BeadThis pretty pink focal bead contains sparkly dichroic glass and is decorated with lavender stringerwork and raised pink dots. It measures 25mm long. The photo shows two different views of the same bead.

Fancy a chance of winning it? If so, send me an email at laura@beadsbylaura.co.uk with the words 'Prize Draw' in the subject line. Please put your full name in the body of the email. I will put all the names into a suitable receptacle and I'll draw a winner at 9.00pm on Sunday 14th September. The draw is open to anyone anywhere.

Good luck!

Twinkly Focals

Lampwork Dichroic Focal BeadsThese are my take on the 'Barbie Bling' tutorial from Sarah Hornik's Think Pink! E-Book.

Swathes of colour and ribbons of glittery dichroic glass for a touch of twinkly loveliness, encapsulated in crystal clear glass and shaped into smooth cylinders. I spent more time shaping these beads than I did layering all the glass!

Naff Day

It's one of those days today. One of those days that makes you wish you'd never got out of bed.

Number one, it's raining. Lots. Slugs, mud, wet. Rubbish!

Number two, I'm having such a bad hair day it's untrue. It's the weather. I look like the love child of Leo Sayer and a circa 1985 Chess era Barbara Dickson. And the hairdresser can't tame my mane this week as she's fully booked. Typical.

Number three, the move. Our buyer is a complete and utter tit. No other way of putting it. By rights I should be sat typing this post from the new house in Oxford. But no. We've been waiting for a moving date for almost three weeks now and apparently we were definitely getting one today. Hasn't happened. Yesterday the estate agent/solicitors said that we would probably move on Monday 15th but our buyer didn't do all the legal stuff he needed to do yesterday afternoon so that's all gone out of the window. I just wish we had a moving date so we could get things organised and have something to work towards. Everything is so unsettled. If our buyer had two brain cells to rub together the situation might improve.

Number four, British Telecom. Three weeks ago Dad arranged for them to sort out a phone line and broadband in the new house so that it will all be working when we arrive. The phone line is sorted (only just) but some complete tool has mucked up the broadband. Dad's spent hours on the phone and is slowly going mad. This morning BT wouldn't tell him the new phone number because it's ex-directory. What? We've never been ex-directory! Why have they done this? And why can't BT grasp the concept of customer service?

Number five, lack of beads. Due to my current mood and mind-on-other-things-ness I can't seem to concentrate on lampworking. The only beads I have in the kiln are a couple of focal beads which I'll post a photo of later on. I may even do a prize draw for one of those to make up for this miserable blog post so do check back later .....

Thanks if you've read this far. I hate blogs where every other post is a whinge and a moan and here I am doing just that but hey, every blogger's entitled to the odd bad mood blog post every now and again, right? You have my word that I won't make a habit out of it!

Monday, 8 September 2008

Why 'Wine' Gums?

Wine GumsOn my way home from Cambridge this morning I bought a tube of Maynards Wine Gums at Waterloo. As I was munching my way through them I wondered why they're called 'Wine' Gums when they don't actually taste of wine.

When I got home I looked it up (aren't I a sap?!) and according to Wikipedia "the name comes from the lingering, subtle fruit flavours that make it similar to the experience of savouring a fine wine" and that's why they have the names of various alcoholic drinks such as 'Port', 'Claret' and 'Hock' stamped on them. So now I know!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Cupcakes

CupcakesIt's my niece Robyn's fourth birthday today so I've made these cute cupcakes to take with me when I go and see her this afternoon. Vanilla cakes topped with pink buttercream decorated with sugar flowers and a dusting of spangly edible glitter. Yum!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Sneaky Peek

Banana & Pomegranate Lampwork BeadsThese 'Banana & Pomegranate' beads are part of the batch that I will have for sale on my website this evening. For some reason they're extra shiny - getting that one on the left to balance on top of the Torus bead was tricky. They behaved in the end, though!

There will be lots of Torus beads for sale tonight - you all seem to be loving those.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

A non-beady Laura creation

Red & White Polka Dot BagWhen I'm travelling to and from Cambridge I find that my normal handbag just isn't big enough. Sure, it may look nice with its shiny silverness but it's no good for holding my book, iPod, purse, phone and other travelling and handbag-related paraphernalia. When I was browsing around my favourite haberdashery (love that word) shop the other day I saw some fab red and white polka dot fabric and I thought I'd make myself a bag from it.

It's quite roomy and fastens with a swanky magnetic closure. The big red button does nothing except look nice. I love buttons - I ended up buying a huge transparent lavender-coloured one. I have no idea what I'll use it for but I just knew I had to have it in my life!

Red & White Polka Dot BagI've got a bit of a thing for red and white polka dots at the moment (understatement) and I've always been partial to black and white stripes so I decided to line my bag with some. I really enjoyed making this bag. I think I might have to make another .....

Monday, 1 September 2008

'Mostly Magenta'

Mostly Magenta Lampwork Glass BeadsOne for all the pinkaholics out there!

So, we're in September and are therefore sliding down the slippery slope towards Christmas. I saw a Christmas tree for sale on one of the TV shopping channels the other night and I reckon we'll be seeing huge tins of Quality Street, crackers and festive gift wrap and greetings cards in the shops before the month is at an end.
Oh joy.

Lampwork Glass Beads For Pandora BraceletsMore Torus beads. Don't you just love the yellow and pink together? Reminds me of sweets - those yellow bananas and pink shrimps. They don't taste the same as they used to. It's just no fun since they took all the E-numbers and artificial naughty stuff out of them!