Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eco-friendly shopping in Milwaukee

I stopped by Lela, BeadStyle’s clothes and accessories source for our What to Wear column. Carrie, one of the owners, has a great eye for picking outfits for the looks we’re featuring. For our May issue, she suggested bamboo sweaters and a locally designed blouse and skirt sewn from vintage fabric. I can't wait to see how the orange and yellow blouse looks!

I walked across the street to shoo, where I picked up the footwear for the layout. Pat (the owner) told me stories about the materials, construction, and vision behind the pieces — shoes made with vegetable dyes, tire-tread soles, and biodegradable glues. He also lent me some amazing bags like a bright yellow clutch made from leather upholstery remnants. (An aside: I really want a bright yellow bag for spring.) So check out Lela and shoo — and, of course, the May issue of BeadStyle, which hits newsstands in early April.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gemstone nuggets under $25

I'm working on projects for BeadStyle's Under $25 special issue. And finding that it can be challenging to make pretty gemstone jewelry for under $25. (It can be challenging to make gemstone jewelry for under $75, for that matter!) So, I wanted to show you my latest score: a strand of faceted lepidolite jasper slabs from Lima Beads.

Even though I was a little apprehensive — 35mm faceted gemstones for $15.50 a strand? — I decided to order them anyway, because Lima Beads tends to have nice stones at reasonable prices. They didn't disappoint: the strand arrived a few days later, looking very much like the one pictured. Chunky, faceted slabs with purple, lavender, and beige hues. Maybe the beige isn't as visible in the photo, but it gives the stones added depth and dimension.

Lima Beads sends a coupon and a handwritten thank-you note with all of my orders. They also suggest other products I might be interested in, like new cuts of CZs. All of this makes me feel like they appreciate my business (and, it's good marketing on their part). That's no small thing, given how much atrocious customer service is out there. It's refreshing to find a company that cares about my loyalty.

Another great thing about Lima Beads: they sell half-strands. That's really handy when I'm making a bracelet or just need a few accent beads. Gotta keep those costs down, after all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Competition

On Saturday, Addie and I saw the Bucks lose to Golden State, 119–99. In the third quarter, the Warriors scored 41 points — the most ever scored against the Bucks in one quarter — and the Bucks committed nine turnovers. Being there, it seemed like more. It was awful to see a competitive game in the first half and a blowout in the second. Really, my team doesn't need to win for me to be happy. Nothing beats the excitement of a close, well-played game, regardless of the result. But for a game to be close, don't both teams need to play as if something's at stake?

The good news: Baron Davis, wearing a shoulder brace and an elbow brace and what looked like orthopedic shoes, zipped through traffic and made some athletic shots. We tried not to applaud. Because, as Michelle reminded me when I once clapped for Tim Duncan, we don't reward individual achievement in basketball. Good point. But maybe we should – as in, cheer for a player who's in his fourth game in five days but still looks like he cares about the sport? On a more positive note: props to the Greendale High School band for their performance of the national anthem. It was really good and probably my favorite part of the game.

Now, on to my own riveting sports news: After getting up at 4 a.m. to drive my parents to the airport (which was as excruciating as watching the Bucks) and then sleeping a couple more hours, I went to the club to play tennis — mixed doubles. Chris and I played against Dan and Dale (Dale is a girl, by the way). We squeaked by with the first set, 6–4. My favorite points: when I hit a deep crosscourt return and then Chris put away the winner. Doubles is challenging for me; I've never been good at team sports. (Or individual sports, for that matter.) The next set, we were down 4–0 and then made a quiet comeback. Point by point, game by game. It was some great tennis, but I can't remember exactly what happened. (Hey, I'm not an analyst.) Alas, we lost, 7–5. And then we were down 3–0 in the third set when our court time ended. Oh, the possibilities! Would we have won a few games but still fallen short? Barely eked out a win? Who knows. Stay tuned for the rematch.

After lunch and a nap, I turned on the TV to witness another hometown upset. I'm not into football (if I were, I'd be a Packer fan), but I was hopeful when the Giants missed the kick at the end of regulation. I was dying to see who'd win, but too close a competition makes me anxious. Being a sports fan can be exhausting: did you ever notice that no one says, in the middle of an intense competition, "It's just a game"? That's the rationalization of the defeated. So I channel surfed. Unfortunately, I flipped back just in time to see the Giants make the game-winning kick. Sigh. It was a weekend of sports heartbreak, of games won and lost. Such is life. Now I'm off to play singles against the Russian Hammer. Wish me luck. 

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Totally awesome 80s song

I can't believe I forgot about this: the main reason I wanted to blog about the great 80s music at dinner: we heard Christopher Cross' "Arthur's Theme." Now there's a song you don't just happen to hear very often. I couldn't remember the title, so I Googled "when you get caught between the moon and New York City" and found it. And then I spent way too much time watching YouTube videos of him performing that and other classics like "All Right." Anyway, just wanted to make sure I made note of that.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Totally awesome 80s music

Wednesday night was excellent. The Bucks beat the Heat and the Chinese unicyclist flipped five bowls onto her head at halftime. But the night was off to a promising start before that.

Addie and I had dinner at Cafe Vecchio. I hadn't been there for years, but we figured we'd try it since it's close to the Bradley Center. They've revamped their menu, and I got the Chinese chicken salad — which, by the way, is especially good because it's topped with fried angel-hair pasta.

While we ate, peppy 80s tunes played. My favorites: "Oh Sheila," "All Night Long," and "My Prerogative." Yep, I currently have all of those. Though I don't have Richard Marx's "Hold on to the Night" — that'd be a little too high-school — it also made a nice addition to the ambiance. Addie and I agreed that Quiet Riot's "Cum on Feel the Noize" was not good. Head-banger anthems make me antsy when I'm eating.

We were only there for an hour, but I like to think that the playlist might have also included some Journey, Styx, New Edition, and Hall and Oates. It doesn't happen often, but the music enhanced my dining experience. Maybe because it wasn't 80s overkill: the music was from the 80s, but the place didn't have an outdated feel. Now I just need to make some mixed tapes so I can enjoy that stuff at home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Who sells seashells?

Every year, Milwaukee-area artists donate a themed work for Kathy's Garden Party. Kathy passed away from cancer in 1998, but her family and friends honor her with an annual runway show featuring the artists’ work. At the end of the night, each piece is auctioned, and proceeds support The Grace Foundation’s efforts to help women and children with cancer.

This year’s show, to be held August 2, will have a beach theme: Way Beyond the Sea. I’ll be making a sea-themed charm bracelet. I haven’t started my beachcombing efforts yet (or even tried Google, for that matter), but I’d love to hear if you’ve got any good sources for seashells, beach-themed charms, or anything nautical that I can attach to a chunky chain. If you do, please post a comment or email me at cooljewelsnaomiATgmailDOTcom. If you live in a place plagued by rain- or snowstorms, don’t worry if inspiration isn’t striking. The finished piece isn’t due until June 2, so we’ve got some time to come up with sunny, beachy ideas.

By the way, you can click through the images to see art from the 2006 event, including my “Home Is Where the Heart Is” charm bracelet. I used vintage Lucite, pearls, and hearts (one of my favorite motifs) in different colors and finishes.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions 2008

When Michelle gave me a journal with a cover made from a Scrabble board, I decided to retire my old, uninspired blank book in favor of my new one. It seemed like a worthy start to the new year. I've been keeping an abundance journal, which may sound hokey, but doing it has made me appreciate my life. Sure, some days the best I can muster is "I didn't have a migraine," but there's a lot of good stuff going on in my career and my personal life. So I think a pretty journal is a fitting way to keep track of my progress toward my goals and resolutions. Incidentally, I have mixed feelings about resolutions: on one hand, I'm better able to meet the ones that I tell people about. Something about accountability makes me more likely to do stuff. (This is also why I like having a job with many deadlines.) On the other hand, I don't like to make grand pronouncements about what my goals are.

There's a feature on 43 Things where you can challenge yourself to meet a goal within a given timeframe and set up consequences if you don't. I'm pondering that. If I do it, I need to choose carefully. There's nothing worse than committing to something you don't really want.

So here are a few of my resolutions, in no particular order:

1. Eat fruit every day (if you knew what I ate, you'd see why this is a resolution).
2. Develop a turnaround jumper. (Bonch has been helping me with this, but I am not a natural when it comes to basketball.)
3. Write a second book. Maybe I won't complete it in 2008, but I'd like to at least have gotten the proposal passed.
4. Reconnect with my Greek friends. (Aren't you curious what your college pals are up to?)

This time next year, I'll either be blogging about the power of resolutions or providing an elaborate rationalization about how my priorities changed. How about you: have you made any resolutions? Are they big or small? One-offs or ongoing processes? I wish you luck with your goals. And thanks for supporting me by reading this.