Friday, 31 December 2010

Farewell 2010 .. Hello 2011!

It's here - the end of the year 2010. Another year gone and a few scant hours to get everything done that I said I would this year. The pressure, the pressure!! Then again, maybe that's asking a bit much - perhaps my to do list is just already half done for 2011!

The hot summer weather finally hit yesterday - we've had days in the last week when we've all been back in long sleeves and sweaters, but yesterday dawned clear with one of those typically bright blue summer skies, and today was no exception. We're back to opening up the house as much as we can at night and closing everything up into semi darkness (hard at our house with all our windows and glass) from about 7.30am with the ceiling fans valiantly moving the air around.

The pool comes into its own in this sort of weather and we all live in our swimsuits as we dive in, have a quick splash and then get out walking around in wet cossies and letting nature do its evaporative cooling on us :)

I've had the opportunity to get out on a few walks in the last week - they brought back to me WHY we moved out here a dozen years ago. The fresh air, the smells of the bush, the peace, being surrounded by nature, the fresh air and the togetherness that was possible in such a setting. I'll relate:

On Christmas Day while the kids were busy playing at Grandma's hubby and I escaped for a walk. Grandma lives closer to the highway than we do but being Christmas Day there was nary a car on the roads, so the distant rumbling of trucks and cars was unusually silent, there was no quad bike humming nearby, no tractor roaring away either near or in the distance (everyone who still had harvest to do had stopped for Christmas) and no fumes from any of the vehicles mentioned. Many varieties of birds were chirping, cicada's buzzing, the sun was warm but the air was cool. It felt so wonderful to be outside amid it all.

As I walked down the track in between the dry oat stalks (from harvest a few weeks ago) on an early morning walk this week, a light breeze started and the stalks rattled together, clicking and tapping, making an odd but delightful sort of music.

Last night I had to drive hubby down to collect the header from where he had been doing some late contract harvesting. The paddocks he had done were WAY down a little used track. As we entered the track there was a section of 'scrub' or 'the bush' - native trees and grasses - that we had to drive through. It had the most incredible smell - evocative of the walks I used to take myself on as a child on our farm on the north coast of NSW. When we finally got to our destination it was about 7.30pm the sun was low and not as hot, and we were able to appreciate the stunning vista before us, before turning homeward and back to reality.

So, do you all want move to the country now? :D

My girls will be 10 years old tomorrow, so whilst the rest of us reflect on the past year later tonight, they'll just be bouncy and happy waiting for 01/01/11 and their birthday! No doubt we'll be off in the land of nod by the time the clock ticks midnight - New Year's Eve parties are a thing of the past for us these days.

So, here's to a fabulous year - let's see all the new and amazing things 2011 brings to us all!


Saturday, 18 December 2010

Sydney Christmas Magic

I haven't been to Sydney in ages. After living there in my late teens/early twenties, I very much agreed with Banjo Patterson's lines in the famous poem, Clancy of the Overflow :
...the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city ...
not to mention
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste...

So, we usually bypass the city, concentrating just on what we have to do. We stay out of the city and avoid playing 'tourist'. I also usually go into sensory overload when we hit the city outskirts - the noise, the people, the cars, it's just too much for this country girl!

But after a quick visit there with hubby and the children earlier this week, I must say that Sydney can really turn on the magic at christmas time!

Firstly, we caught a train to St. James Station - it was just after peak hour so it was fairly quiet but we were greeted in the tunnel walkway with melodious notes from a busking flautist. We gave the children some coins each to put into his case, and he rewarded us all with a gleaming smile, a happy christmas tune and as we left his sight, a lighthearted trilling.

After helping some young mothers and their prams up the stairs at the end of the tunnel, we walked over to the famous David Jones store with its christmas windows. I remember visiting these as a child myself and wanted to share some of this with the children. This year they had marionettes singing various christmas songs in different settings.

A kind young man told us that there was carol singing going on in the store at that very moment, so went into the store and listened to the last of the carols. I can honestly say there's nothing like the Sydney City David Jones anywhere else in Australia. Something that every female should experience as part of growing up :D We veered off in different directions at one stage and agreed to meet back at the piano. Yes, DJ's has a pianist employed to play for the customers all year round on a lovely little Steinway.

Next destination was a wander up Pitt Street Mall. But on our way we took a slight detour into the Swarovski Shop in the new Centrepoint complex. Wow. Crystal chandeliers, a crystal curtain and some breathtaking crystal steps! Just standing near them made you feel like a princess in a fairytale. I wish I would have thought to take a photo!

Next stop was the Strand Arcade. I recall this being re-opened when I lived in Sydney and I recalled its old world glamour so I dragged everyone in for a look. Here was a fairyland of lights and christmas cheer. Gorgeous.

A short walk up to the Queen Victoria Building was next. I also remember this being opened (I must have lived in Sydney at a grand time!) and as we wandered up through the levels and took a ride in the old fashioned elevator, the feeling became more refined and we were rewarded with this gorgeous Christmas tree in the centre of the building, that went between floors.

Above the tree is a magnificient stained glass dome. Mind you taking this picture made me feel quite dizzy !

Even though we only did a small part of the city, it was such a wonderful morning. I think not having 'jobs' or shopping to do helped us to enjoy it even more and it was easy to ignore the gritty city and the hurrying people - we were just a family enjoying some of Sydney's christmas magic :)

Wishing you a sparkling festive week!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Getting into the Christmas Spirit!

Well, it's here. December! No ignoring it now - I'm getting into the Christmas spirit! No, the tree isn't up, and no the letter to friends and cards haven't been written, nor is the shopping finished. But it's been hard to resist the Christmas music, tinsel and glitter, red dresses and imagining fun filled parties and gifts.

If you want to get into the spirit of the season too, do pop over to this picture post on Bush Belles - and have your sound up so you can look at the wonderful pictures along with perfect music. It's so uplifting - guaranteed to make you smile!

Working with the red Christmas theme, I spent quite a bit of time yesterday photographing - trying out different sets, angles and jewels for a December front page photo for my site. I'm really happy with the shot I eventually chose - what do you think?

And then I made a bright red necklace (top) - I've had so much interest in red bamboo coral the last few months that I keep selling out of them, so thought I'd better have one to hand - this one is bamboo coral and sterling silver.

My open day last Friday in Coolah was fantastic and there are going to be lots of little white boxes with violet ribbons under the trees around here this year!

Since the weekend though, all it has done has rained. Has it been raining where you are? We've had well over 7 inches so far and today the sun is struggling to put in appearance. The highway has been cut by floodwaters in numerous places although we can still make it into our local town (much to the children's disappointment since they've still had to go to school)!

We had temporary waterfalls as the water ran down the hill and over the top of the retaining wall near the pool - the ag drains just couldn't cope with the quantity of water that fell in a storm that lasted about an hour.

Our dam is so full it is overflowing and the road near the gate is a few inches under water with water streaming out our front gate. Our sandy drive has washed away and left rocks in its place and I'm positive the cattle are happy the farm is on high ground!

I was planning on attending the Mudgee Art Vine Christmas Art Fair this Saturday - hopefully the flooding will subside so I can actually make it in there!

Till next :)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Jewellery news dominated by diamonds ... and an engagement ring!

And the last week of November rolls around.... *sigh*. At least I've started my christmas shopping. All this week's efforts have been online purchases - such a great way to do it ... and no sore feet ;)!

I had a wonderful time at last weekend's Christmas Fair in Tamworth. It was such a great group of exhibitors too - there was a lovely vibe to the whole day! Many customers sought me out from last year's event - I just love to hear how their enjoying their previous purchases.

I have my open day in Coolah this Friday and then next week my last show for the year in Mudgee at the Art Vine Artisans Christmas Market. I'm looking forward to a bit of a break from shows, but there will be plenty to keep me busy after that on the family front!

There have been a few things happening in the jewellery world the past week.

We have the world's most expensive pink diamond: The extremely rare 24.78 carat flawless pink diamond smashed the price record for most expensive diamond (and piece of jewelry) sold at auction (Sotheby's), where Laurence Graff paid the princely sum of $46.16 million and has already named it The Graff Pink. (He already owns the diamond with the previous title of most expensive diamond sold at auction, for which he paid $24.3 million - and all this from a lad who came from the streets of London and left school at age 14!)

Speaking of princes: Prince William announced he would marry his long term girlfriend Kate Middleton next summer. In a touching gesture, her engagement ring is the sapphire and diamond ring that Princess Diana wore. A little old-fashioned some may say, but its still a ring to be reckoned with - the sapphire is 18 carats of top quality stone with 14 nice diamonds around it and has a current value of approximately $500,000.

Rare emerald: A rare 9.27carat square cut emerald from from the legendary mine of Muzo, Colombia, brought a price of $835,682 at the recent Christie's sale. Gemmologists claim its vibrant hue class it amongst the world's best.

If you like to fossick for gems: Perhaps try your luck at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. A fellow last weekend had a bit of a fossick and ended up going home with a 2.44ct brown diamond. Definitely worth the $7 entry fee!

The legendary Hope diamond : The Hope diamond has had a new, modern setting designed for it by Harry Winston Inc., to celebrate its 50th anniversary of being donated by Harry Winston to the Smithsonian. Set into a necklet with 340 baguette diamonds, that took 8 months for jewellers to create, it will only be in the setting for a short time before returning to its original Cartier setting.

The other piece of jewellery news is more of an oddity, really. I saw the headline of 'world's largest pearl' and when I investigated further, found they were referring to a six ton ball of blue-green fluorite from Mongolia. As it glows in the dark it is referred to as a 'luminous pearl' On sale for an estimated 88,000,000 GBP if you want a five foot high night light?

In honour of all the lovely gems in this week's news I thought I'd better post a special piece - and this one surely is! Made with top quality amethyst and citrine and 14ct gold, I just love it!

Till next week :)

Friday, 19 November 2010

What Price Beauty?

I'm sitting here the day after a HUGE shopping trip to Dubbo. We left yesterday before 8am and we got home last night at 9.30pm! The drive each way is close to 150km (so a 300km round trip) and it feels like I walked the whole way my feet are that sore. Why are they so sore? Well, it kind of comes down to what you wear to town. I'm in the country and going to town still entails an element of dressing up.

This means wearing a dress or skirt and heels or the route I usually take which is dressy jeans or trousers. Presentable but not towering high heels, a nice top, necklace and earrings completes the look.

Since I'm only average height and not as slim as I used to be, I don't want to encourage the chunky image, so I like to wear a low heel to give me extra height. I bought some fabulous dress boots (like riding boots but with a small block heel) last winter and these look great with my bootleg jeans and give me that much needed height. The fact that they are pretty comfortable too and I had done a day of walking around Mudgee in them before with good results helped this choice along. Of course I forgot in this equation that Mudgee is MUCH smaller.

On arrival we spent the first hour car bound as hubby found workshops and machinery supply shops. Then, the first main street stop, the girls and I went off to find a hairdresser (the girls in dire need of a new cut) and the boys went off to the barber. Naturally we parked near the barber. We only had 45 minutes before the orthodontist appointment, so off we rushed. Three blocks later we had found a hairdresser that could fit the girls in - but not till the afternoon. So we briskly walked back to the car, doing a spot of retail therapy on the way ;)

Back in the car and off to the orthodontist. Hubby left us there with the agreement to meet us back in the nearest shopping centre in about an hour and a half's time. The orthodontist took about 3/4 hour with the wonderful news that my son is due for braces. Right. Great. Do you know how MUCH braces cost!? I'm strongly encouraging any of my children to become orthodontists as a future lucrative career at this stage....

I digress.

The shopping centre was five blocks away. And I should mention that the blocks in Dubbo are NOT small. We made it back to the shopping centre with a few minutes to spare. A quick bite to eat, more retail therapy even if it was rather rushed and then we thankfully got driven near to the hairdresser (within a block) as hubby and son went off in another direction. A pleasant hour or so later (and a big thumbs up to the crew at Rave Hair Studio - thanks Sam and Mel!) we walked another three blocks to the appointed rendevous point. My feet were starting to feel rather uncomfortable but I did my best to ignore them.

Walking another 3 blocks, we completed the main street's retail offerings and had added to our shopping tally. Back to the car, to another shopping centre and another hour of trekking around. By this point I've sworn off ever taking children shopping again as its just "I want..." "Can I have .... " "Muuuuuummmmmmm". Replied by me with "have you got your money, no? well, you'll have to miss out today" "No" and "Yesssssss?????"

A final stop at the toy shop. I thought. I dutifully wandered around with each of the children in turn as the gazed longingly at the shelves and picked out their sibling's christmas gifts. Back to the car where I melted into the back of the seat blissed out with sitting down.

"I think we'll go to the park" says hubby. What? It's 5.30pm, no one's eaten, it's an hour and a half drive home and I'm fragged. But before I can say anything over the happy squealing in the back seat, we're at the park. I DID get to sit for 20 minutes and chatted to hubby who I'd hardly seen all day, then we ventured to the playground (another walk) on the far side of the rather large park. By this time my feet were burning. Not a good sign.

"Let's go and have some dinner" is the next gem from hubby's mouth. Well at least I'm in favour of this one. And grateful when we get a parking spot just across the road from the restaurant. A slight maze to actually get to our seat, through corridors, up steps and so on, but we all had a lovely meal. When I stand up after an hour off my feet - ouch. I get back to the car and we begin the journey home. I take off my shoes. Ahhh. Home. Put the shoes back on to get back to the house. Mega ouch. I'm limping into the house. Shoes kicked off immediately. I'm still limping. It really hurts to walk. The balls of my feet are soooo sore and I have an unbroken blister too. Kids to bed and me too.

And now, here I am the next day, still with sore feet, a busy day ahead and a show tomorrow in Tamworth (the annual Christmas fair) where I'll be on my feet all day.

I'm now strongly questioning the reason why I feel compelled to dress up to go to town. And for my children to have straight teeth. (Well, I guess I do understand the last one).

What's your solution to going to town? Do you dress up or dress down? What shoes do you wear? Are they comfortable to walk around in for a few kilometres or miles?

In honour of 'dressing up to go to town' here's a pic of a nice little black onyx and 12ct gold fill goes well with heels ;)

Friday, 12 November 2010

It's creeping up on me.... Christmas!

Arrrghhh! Christmas is starting. I can feel it. It's there in the FIRST christmas card of the year (it's always by my ultra-organised friend Lynda) that arrived today; in the holiday music and people in Santa hats I saw in on TV yesterday; in the email that my sister in law sent me giving me this year's Christmas draw ; in Monique's post with her rum balls recipe ; in the fact that my jeans are getting tight (and that's just after two recent functions that weren't even Christmas related... can you imagine what another month will do - eeek!); in the weather - it's finally heating up, although with all the rain its just kind of steamy; and last but not least in the children asking when they can write to Santa..... (not much gets past them LOL).

I think I've just been too busy to even contemplate it. (Having a show every week is wearing me out - this weekend it's a private party at nearby Leadville. There's going to be shoes (I love shoes!) and me with jewels. Plus some champers to sip on the day. What more could any woman ask for?? )

The Christmas cards that I was so pro-active in getting TWO MONTHS ago, haven't been touched and absolutely no presents have been purchased (actually they haven't even been thought about yet!)

So, how are you going on the Christmas front? Are you being bombarded already with Christmas images and music or is something more subtle reminding you it's getting closer? Alternately, are you blissfully unaware and determined to stay that way a bit longer?

OK, what photo for today? I think I might go a bit glamorous with these stunning AAA grade rock crystal quartz earrings - soooo sparkly and perfect for Christmas parties!

OK, off to ignore all the Christmas things, well at least for another few days ;)

Till next
Annette :)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Shows - the trials and tribulations

OK, I think I need to just stop. For a few minutes anyway.

This time of the year is unbelievable - even one of my girls last night asked when my next show was, and the next, and the next and the next.... Her eyes got bigger at each one I mentioned. Luckily they're kept busy at school and when they're home they're playing together, doing piano practice and reading. Lots of reading (I think I gave birth to book worms not children sometimes!). And I have a husband that is flexible enough to look after them (and if he is not available, then, thankfully, there is always Grandma!).

I love doing shows - I love getting out and about and meeting people, sharing my passion for gems and pearls and hopefully brightening people's day with some 'pretty' jewels. Even better when I can extend that happiness by having someone take something they love home.

I have another outing this afternoon - just a small one, in my neighbouring town, Dunedoo, about 45min drive away, for a 'ladies afternoon'.

Last weekend I wended my way to Armidale with my friend Trista in tow (to keep me awake as well as help me at the show) for the TAS fair. We had a wonderful time, met some lovely people and sold some jewels, but, as often happens, there was just too many people selling jewellery for any of us to do really well and the poor people attending the show had glazed eyes at the literally hundreds of strands of necklaces that must have been there. Of course the quality, material and styles varied immensely, but at first glance, all people saw was "more jewellery".

This, I must admit, is one of my pet peeves about doing shows. I realise that these shows are organised by time-poor volunteers, but as organisers they CAN and SHOULD dictate what people can sell. In the case of last week, two stall holders mentioned they sold jewellery amongst a myriad of other things (such as clothes, shoes, homewares etc.) but they displayed mostly jewellery. The result is that the show isn't as successful as it could be - the stall holders don't sell as much as they might if there were less of the same category there, and the attendees get limited variety and boredom sets in early.

Of course, some shows are very well organised in this department and they are usually very successful and enjoyed by everyone. These go on to run year after year and I'm fortunate to be a part of some of them. I noted on the Business Mums Blog a week or so ago that some of the markets/shows in Melbourne do great promotion for their participants too. Ah, sometimes I want to live in a city and get those sort of benefits. But then, I love my peace and quiet and rural life too much!

I also noted on the Busy Mum blog, that she's wishing for summer to hurry up and come. Given the cold weather we keep getting here, I'm wishing for a bit of summer too!

Well, I must dash and put my busy hat back on. I still have to finish packing for my outing this afternoon and I only have an hour and a half left before I leave! Today's photo is of pearls - I've felt a bit 'pearly' the last week or so, so made this strand up a few days ago. Rich dark brown pearls with a peacock sheen, enhanced by the addition of some rhodolite garnet, amethyst, iolite and peridot. Yum!

Till next :)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A Weekend out at the Gardens

Wow, what a week! I've been go, go, go and I'm starting to get dizzy!

I was at the Riverlea Open Garden outside Mudgee last weekend (picture of my set up above). And what a stunning garden it was. Relatively new (the current owner expanded it about 4 years ago) she has done such a lovely job. This was my view for the weekend - not bad, eh?

The weather on the Saturday was idyllic - warm temperatues, light breeze, bright blue skies. Perfect for browsing around gardens and even though it clouded over in the afternoon, the spits of rain held off until well after the garden viewers had gone home and we even managed to have a sociable drink and chat on the gravel drive :) .

Sunday, however, was miserable. It was cold, wet and windy. Only the most die-hard gardeners came out on a day like that (not being one of those gardeners I know I would have stayed at home!) and we shivered through the day. I don't think anyone thought the worse of any other person there when we all packed up a little early.

I did, however, meet some of the lovely people of Mudgee and surrounds and managed to catch up with a few clients who I only see rarely. One woman who mentioned that she had been meaning to get some of my jewellery for years but really had no idea what might suit her. I love that this lady actually told me this, as it CAN be difficult to know what to go for if you're unsure of colours and style, particularly if you've been a chain/pendant necklace and stud earring wearer for many years.

We ended spending about an hour trying various colours and styles on. She was surprised to see some brighter colours suited her and colours that, although she loved them to look at, really didn't do her skin any favours. She ended up with two lovely necklaces - a special amethyst one for wearing out and about and an everyday one of black onyx and white pearls for when she didn't have to think of what might go with what. She was also so thrilled she wore the amethyst one immediately and I had so many comments from other people about the "lady who had just bought a gorgeous necklace".

I had numerous other conversations with ladies about what might suit them too and they were excited to learn more about jewellery - what to wear with different necklines, what went with their face shapes, what suited their personal style and more. I do have quite a bit of this information on my site too - if you want to know more, click here to go to my Style Tips page :)

All in all (if we ignore the inclement weather on Sunday) it was such a lovely weekend. I have since run into some of the ladies I met on the weekend and they've all expressed how happy they are with their new jewels, which I love to hear!

I am off to Armidale this Saturday where I will be at The Armidale School Razzamataz fete in the TAS Emporium (situated in the Hall). I will have to leave at around 4.30am to get there in time to set up since it is just over 3 hours drive away. The fete is open from 10am to 3pm, so if you're in that area, please come and say hello.

OK, better get back to putting that nose on the grindstone - always so much to do at this time of year!

Till next :)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Spring, Gardens and News from the Gem World

Wow, what a week its a been! We've had gale force winds, rain, snow (albeit 'sago' snow), icy winter temperatures as well as the expected sunny skies and pleasant temperatures that spring brings. Luckily we got through the wind, rain and snow BEFORE the open garden that I attended with my jewels on Sunday. It was still rather chilly though and the garden presented beautifully, even after the inclement weather. Everyone had a fabulous time and lots of money was raised for CanAssist.

On the downside of the spring weather though, all the girls in the house have succumbed to hayfever, so we really can't get out and about and enjoy it. The Coolah valley is renowned for its ability to give people who have never had it before, hayfever, so we've really got no choice in the matter! My next show (this weekend) is at the Riverlea garden at Mudgee that is open as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme. I know Tamara will have a beautiful garden and if you're in the district, you'll find me in the courtyard, possibly sneezing!!! The lovely Julia of Bushbelles has some information on this garden and the other Mudgee garden (Mullamuddy Park) open this weekend in her post here.

I've been catching up on my gem news and there are so many fabulous things happening in the gemmie world at the moment!

If you're near New York, did you go to the Christie's Jewel Sale yesterday? Included in the auction was a Vanderbilt diamond necklace that sold for $626,500; a Mouboussin sautoir pendant that went for $1,106,500; a 17.86ct Harry Winston diamond ring that sold for $1,818,500; and a Bulgari vivid blue diamond ring that sold for a whopping $15,762,500, which was an absolute bargain as they had hoped to go as high as $50 million! See a short video on these jewels here or click here to see the whole catalogue on the Christie's site.

Christie's is also hosting a gemstone sale in Dubai on 27 October. This twice yearly auction is apparently a highlight of the Middle East's social calendar (and rightly so!). Included in this sale is a private collection of more than 40 parures (jewellery suites), the largest selection ever to be sold at auction. Highlights of this collection include a 26ct Kashmir sapphire ring, and two Ceylon sapphires of 180ct and 130ct. Another highlight of the sale is the second largest orange melo pearl to be offered at auction (only 9 of these have ever been auctioned). The melo pearl, named after the mollusc melo amphora, is found in the waters of the South China Sea. For the Emperors, who wore the Imperial colours of yellow and orange, a Melo pearl was highly prized and its image is often found on Imperial robes with the symbol of a dragon chasing an orange or melo pearl. Another rare gem on offer in the sale is the Paraiba tourmaline. First discovered in the Paraiba State of northern Brazil in the early 1980s, it has a unique turquoise green colour not found in any other gemstone. There will be a ring and a pair of earrings made with this gorgeous electric blue stone in the sale. Click here to see a slideshow of the sale pieces.

OK, enough drooling over all the Christie's goodies!

If you like historical jewels and artifacts and are in the UK, check out the "Buried Beneath the Beaney" exhibition at the Museum of Canterbury. The archaeology exhibition showcases nearly 2,000 years of history after Canterbury Archaeological Trust conducted a major dig in, of all places, the High Street! Highlights in the exhibition include a Roman gold bracelet and a Turkish carved gemstone. Wouldn't it have been a thrill finding these.

In other news, The Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB), touted as the world's largest diamond trading centre, opened at Bandra-Kurla complex in the Mumbai, India, yesterday (20 October).India is already a world leader in the export of cut and polished diamonds.

Tanzania has temporarily lifted the ban on exporting uncut tanzanite till next year to give their jewellery and lapidary sector time to establish themselves. I just love tanzanite - its a pretty purple-blue stone and there is a small one in the photo above (along with pink topaz and rock crystal quartz)... ok, they're not anywhere on the same page as the Christie's beauties, but hey, I've got to be realistic!

Whilst nothing at all to do with gems, I loved this post by Monique of My Cheeky Monkey on "Why doesn't an igloo melt inside?" - if you've got younger ones, check it out! And a shout out to the Business Mums Blog - a great resource if you're a small business.

OK, I must drag myself away from the computer (and the Christie's site... yes its still open!) and get to my bench.

Hope you're having a fantastic day!
Till next

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Back from holidays

I'm home from a wonderful, relaxing holiday in Queensland *sigh*. I was full of energy first day back, yesterday I hit the post-holiday low and then today I'm feeling a bit more 'normal' LOL!

We drove north west (instead of north east) and went to visit family in Bollon (west of St. George) in Qld. They live on a magnificent property "Woolerina" where they run sheep, cattle and horses. Last time we visited it was dry and dusty no matter where you looked, this time it was green! We're farmers and graziers but their operation is at a whole new level. Typical outback living and we all enjoyed our short stay immensely. The children can't wait to return.

We then turned east and eventually north-east and made our way to Woodgate and the beach.

There was lots of time for all of us to read, time to play games with the kids and daily walks along the beach. I saw dolphins which was a real thrill, hubby and son saw sea turtles and the twins are cross they didn't manage to see either!

I even managed some exercise - a bit of a shock to the body I'm sure! I was up every day around 5am and off for a jog. The warmer weather (but not hot) made it easy to commit to doing this daily!

The kangaroos were often entertaining too - if you haven't heard me talk of Woodgate before it's a rare town, situated between the beach and national park and there are kangaroos everywhere - on the streets, in the yards nibbling the lawns, on the beach in the mornings. Usually they just look cute (or in the case of the big males, rather intimidating) but these pair were having a fight in between our house and the neighbours...

The weather was consistently warm - even on the one day it rained it was still warm (very bizarre having come essentially from winter here on the farm) and the clothing layers reduced to one light one.

I even got to go shopping in a big town - with lots of shops yippee! - weekly. Such a rarity for me.

The weather a couple of hours drive south of us was atrocious with falls of 200mm in 24 hours. This was our destination on the return journey as my brother in law was getting married. The day of the wedding was gale force winds and rain, so the wedding moved indoors and the pool party became a normal party watching the rain sheet down!

So, I'm back in the saddle now, as they say, and have to wait patiently for another year till we can get away again.

I have a show (eek), this weekend, at the "Mayfield" open garden at Birriwa - a fundraiser for CanTeen. Lots of people say they're coming so it may be a very busy day - the gardens are supposed to be gorgeous and cover 3 acres, so it will be lovely to see!

Till next :)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Shows, an Airshow and now its almost holiday time!

I’ve been a very bad blogger. I’ll admit it. I’ve been going along at a 110% (which we all know is totally unsustainable) so things started to drop off. I miss being online. I feel like I’m falling behind by not keeping up to date in my fellow blogger’s worlds!

And just to compound my discomfort offline, I am off on our annual holiday in a couple of days time. YAY for the holiday – lots of reading, lazing around, beach walks, bike rides and family time. But BOO to no internet coverage!

Since I last wrote I’ve had two, two-day shows. Quirindi was the first. The show was great fun and many husbands said “oh no, not you!” but their wives smiled widely :D . The second show was at Merriwa with gorgeous weather, lots of familiar faces and ladies keen to look at and partake of the new collection. It’s so lovely to be welcomed by the ladies so warmly!

Country shows are great fun and as I’m situated in the ladies pavilion, I get to see all the local talent – the green fingered ladies with their flowers, the cooks with their cakes and preserves, the patient ladies with their needlework, embroidery, sewing and knitting, the artists with their paintings and sculpture, the budding younger artists with their drawings and the avid photographers with their creative photos. It’s always great to see the men having a go too – Merriwa always has a brave gent or two competing in the cooking arena and lots of them in the fresh produce department.

Naturally there are the horse events, cattle judging, pet parades and more. Merriwa had a ute muster and with all their big lights and myriad of aerials, I assume these young fellows are very lonely and scared of the dark! They also had a roving magician as part of the entertainment and I had my own private little show at one stage with some incredibly good card ‘tricks’ – a polished performance, I still have no idea how he did it.

We finished the weekend off with a visit to the RAAF Williamtown Airshow. The last one we attended there was in 1985 and when I told this to one young airman he made me feel incredibly old when he told me he hadn’t even been born then!

The show was quite spectacular, starting off with Matt Hall, of Red Bull Air Race fame; two incredible formation flights of aeroplanes from different eras (the poor old Neptune at the front must have been going flat out compared to the F111 in the same flight!); the last public performance from a F111 that was awe inspiring and made everyone jump when he sneaked up on us all; and a fantastic solo by an F-18 that showed so much skill and control in such a powerful machine. Of course there were many more air displays that we all enjoyed but the ones above were amazing! All in all a fantastic day, although it was soooo long with a three hour drive each way added on to a full day at the show. Truly memorable though and worth it.

So, please forgive my absence, including one for the next couple of weeks. But I promise I will think of you while I’m walking along the beach, playing games with the kids, reading a huge pile of novels and snoozing regularly … well, maybe a passing thought now and again ;)

Till next

PS. Today’s pic – this one found a new home last weekend - from my Beach Party Collection, it’s fun and bright mother of pearl shell, sterling silver and freshwater cultured pearls.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Spring jewellery, shopping and entertaining!

Can you believe it’s spring! We’ve had a couple of beautiful warm days when the when the jumper came off, leaving me in a short sleeved shirt and all the doors in the house were open with a lovely warm breeze flowing through. Bliss. Then the next day it turned Cold (with a capital ‘C’!) and then the rain started. Again. Now as I’m married to a farmer, I can’t complain about the rain at all – but it’s staggering how much we’ve had this year in comparison to the last decade! I’ve even slid sideways down my dirt road to the front gate. Please imagine a look of intense concentration as this was happening LOL. Luckily it dries out fast so we're back to cool but sunny weather and driving down the track is just fine!

I’ve been incredibly busy on the jewellery front thus my absence from the blogging world. I’ve finished the spring-summer collection and have been loading it onto the website, so if anyone was checking in on the site, there’s been lots of new things to look at every day. I’m close to finishing now, just in time for my first spring outing at Quirindi Show this weekend on 11 and 12 September. The following week is Merriwa Show on 17-18 September – so a very busy fortnight in store.

Apart from jewellery I’ve also been a ‘gardening fairy’! I was the recipient of this gardening goodness recently having three wonderful girls come and help me prune roses, weed and plant white agapanthus at the front of the house (which has been kept very bare due to the lack of my gardening talent).

Last week it was time to return the favour – three of us attacked one of the other girl’s gardens, digging up and planting a huge circle of agapanthus (purple this time!), pruning lavender and chopping down and removing the debris from four large (15 foot high) shrubs. We did have her husband’s help with the chopping down part though! It’s amazing how much work you can get done in a few hours with a few of you. Another stint as a garden fairy in a couple of week’s time – the rush is on now spring is here.

We had the pleasure of a wonderful lunch with friends on the weekend. It's been so long since we entertained, I had forgotten what a great time we have getting together. I'm almost considering hosting a Christmas or New Years party, but well, we'll see about that when it all gets a bit closer.

I've also enjoyed the pleasure of quite a bit of online shopping in the past week. With both a beach holiday and wedding to attend in the near future and a lack of suitable clothes available in town (I looked!), I took the plunge and must say I'm happy with my purchases. I can see why people love to buy from me too - the buzz when the mailman delivers and then finally trying the goodies on that you were trying to picture and measure if they'd be right is immensely satisfying!!! And all without going to town. It's times like that when it hits home how the WWW has changed our lifestyle.

Today's pic is from the new Under the Sea range, with soothing colours reminiscent of the seashore or with corals and pearls from a mermaid's treasure box! This necklace is made with faceted aqua amazonite and lots of sterling silver - perfect to make a summer statement!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The pre-spring merry-go-round

Life is a merry-go-round at the moment. And that merry-go-round is spinning faster and faster and won't let me off! Even blogging suffered when I couldn't find time to sit down and write here for an hour or so last week.

I've been totally caught up in creating for the past couple of weeks - designs have been flying out of my head and I have to get them down on paper before they flutter away! I've been making as many up as I can but even I have my limitations - too many late nights and overloaded days and I turn into a grumpy mother and wife, regardless of how well the design side is going along!

I still have a few things I want to try but the majority of designs for spring and summer are basically finished. There are summer brights in pink, green, yellow and purple; bold statments in red, orange, black and teal, stunning red-carpet worthy creations in sparkly aqua, straw yellow, lavender, white and icy clear; some solid pieces in earthy tones and some lustrous pearl and paua designs too. Sheesh. No wonder I've been busy!

It can be pretty full on in this pre-season rush to be ready but I guess I make up for it at other times of the year when I wind right back - its just hard to remember those times at the moment! I also want to re-organise my existing pieces into collections in line with the new stock and to change my display quite dramatically according to these collections. Considering my first spring show is less than two weeks away, it might not happen that way unless it's at the last minute (or even while I'm there!)

I'm glad to see, however, that others go through similiar things - we all get busy, don't we and hurry through before some sort of deadline? I love to read Amanda's blog Busy Mum 2010 (aptly titled!) and my life seems positively tame compared to hers!

I've done a bit of a sneak peak on my spring/summer range in the photo above - there are so many new pieces its hard to choose just one to feature this week!

Right, I need to get my nose back to the grindstone!

Till next :)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Moods and Creativity

I've had a lovely couple of days working on my spring/summer collection. In fact I have the whole week scheduled for nothing else!

Monday I was into the turquoise blues as it was a sunny, bright day. But Tuesday it was raining most of the day - everything was soggy and with the low clouds things were dim. But I put myself in mind of spring rain rather than winter rain and ended up working with the wonderful watery-looking stone, aquamarine. A sneak peak at one of the pieces above!

It's funny how your mood/surroundings will be reflected in what you create. Monday I was trying to get things done in between unexpected visitors, telephone calls and housework. The clear skies and warm breeze did lift my mood (luckily!) from harried to 'getting the job done'. The pieces I created when I eventually got to my bench were consequently also more 'energetic'. Easy to wear, eye catching, low maintenance - I could see people throwing them on as they rushed out the door for a busy day - not thinking about them until it was time for bed after another busy day.

Yesterday, however, with the wet weather settled in, I enjoyed the peace of the constant thrumming of rain on the roof and enjoyed the calm in my quiet, warm studio. When the rain started during the night I started to think about a particular aquamarine strand that had been sitting, patiently waiting for me to have some inspiration about it. I sat down with it in the morning and it all came together beautifully (I just love it when that happens!) Looking back at the day's work, the designs from yesterday are serene and unfussy - someone will put them on with care and thoroughly enjoy them.

I wonder what today will bring?

Can you believe we're well into August already? That means spring is just a couple of weeks away! And now we're well into the second half of the year many people I know have started to do things for Christmas. One girlfriend, incredibly, has already FINISHED her gift buying!!! Incredible. Monique from Your Cheeky Monkey has started on her Christmas crafts. Even I have not been immune - I have already designed and received my Christmas postcards! Considering I left it till the last minute last year and paid a premium for the rush job, I must have learned my lesson! Have you started thinking about the "C" word yet, or are you already in denial?

Till next :)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Inspiration and Music

Spring is in the air again today with bright blue skies, a light breeze and warm sunshine. Of course, this follows some miserably cold days, wet days and even minor local flooding! I'm again working on my spring/summer collection inspired by the warmth and finding myself drawn to bright, bold colours - pink, blue and purple, citrus colours with saffron yellow and lime and lovely bright and rich reds. Of course, gems DO limit my ability to work with bright colours as they're not really found that way in nature. But I have some plans with one of my favourite stones - icy clear rock crystal quartz which should cool down the hottest summer day!

It IS hard to get inspired though at times and I find a little escape can be great for kicking the inspiration into gear - a drive outside your immediate environs (as I did for the show in Scone last weekend) can be great. I saw countryside, rich in varied shades of green and brown - the paddocks with bright green oat and wheat crops, rich chocolate soil laying fallow, light brown paddocks of old native grasses. Add to that the rushing, turbulent brown creeks after the recent rain and the fresh green grassy banks next to the creeks. It gives you a fresh perspective, as Michelle mentioned recently on her blog.

If you're stuck and can't get out and about though, I also find a good book where you can escape into a different life; a movie where you can live vicariously through the storyline and even music can inject some lift into your step!

Speaking of music, I'm a fan of classical, jazz and the standards as a rule, however I find I'm getting more and more drawn to what I term 'light classical' or 'contemporary classical'. My children's piano teacher describes this sort of music as desert, whereas true classical is the main course! Since I've always had a bit of sweet tooth, this analogy is probably pretty right :)

If you'd like to try out some contemporary classical, do have a listen to
*Ludovico Eindaudi, a classically trained pianist from Italy who is very popular in Europe and the UK for his compositions and concerts. I love his CD "Echoes - The Einaudi Collection" which has a great selection of his work - I find the songs quite uplifting.
*Yiruma, also a classically trained pianist from Korea. His work is quite well known, even if you don't think you know of him, as he has written scores for films. My favourite CD of Yiruma's is "First Love" - just gorgeous music to listen and relax to.

OK, so now I've set you up for listening to some beautiful music, I'd better tell you about today's pic :) This bracelet found a new home in the Scone district ... along with its matching necklace and earrings. Mother of pearl shell in a gorgeous soft mid-blue with sterling silver balls and faceted iolite gems.

Till next :)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Massive jade boulders, wet weather and thoughts of spring

Do you know how some things happen (almost) in your backyard, but it takes a news story from another region or even country to bring it to your attention? Case in point - the Jade Buddha of Universal Peace. I had no idea that this 8 foot high 4 tonne gem quality 'polar' (nephrite) jade carved statue even existed, let alone an Australian sculptor had a hand in the design, it was blessed by the Dalai Lamai in Sydney and its eventual home be in Bendigo, Victoria!

But there you go - a newspaper article in a Canadian paper alerted me to its existence and I've now discovered more about 'polar' jade as well. I have previously heard of and had some 'BC' Jade from Canada which is a dark translucent green nephrite jade, however in the late 1990s a new find of jade was made near the Yukon border in Canada.

Inspired by its surroundings this find was called 'polar' jade. When tested it was found to be harder than normal nephrite jade and could be polished to a high shine, making it very desirable for jewellery and objects d'art. In 2000 an 18 tonne boulder of 'polar' jade was found and the noted gemmologist, Fred Ward admitted it was the largest gem quality nephrite jade boulder found to date. The planning for the statue started in 2003 and it was finished in 2008 and is valued at a whopping $5 million! The face by the way, has been painted in gold, in the tradition of buddha statues in Tibet and Nepal.

I then went on to discover that a 35 tonne jadeite (not nephrite) boulder from Myanmar was purchased by a Vietnamese businessman who plans to also have it carved into a statue of Buddha that he hopes will be approximately 16 tonnes when completed.

All I can say is WOW - they are two darn big rocks, eh!?

On the home front, it is currently wet. Very wet. I worked at the local saleyards canteen today (the school runs the canteen) and the cows and people were all soaked. Dry old drizabones that looked very stiff, had been dragged out and I'm not sure how much protection they afforded those who were wearing them as I'm pretty sure their waxed finish had well and truly gone LOL.

However we have had some lovely mild sunny days and I started to get all excited about spring and found myself working on my spring collection with lots of lovely bright colours in mother of pearl and freshwater cultured pearls. But naturally the dull weather has made me lose all interest in that. Maybe next week will be sunny again and I can take up where I left it all!

This weekend I have my last outing before spring - at the St. Luke's Fair in Scone, on Saturday from 9.30am to 2.30pm. If you're in the vicinity I'd love to see you there!

Today's pic - well I was sure I had a photo of the BC jade necklace I made once upon a time, but after almost an hour of looking I just can't find it! So, instead here's a pretty necklace - mossy quartz which has, from a distance, a slight lavender tinge is matched with silver and iolite.

Till next :)

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Silence really can be golden!

Peace has returned to the house (well, between the hours of 8.30am and 4pm it has) as the children returned to school this week. The silence truly is golden and there's one thing to be said for the holidays - it has given me a new appreciation of solitude and quiet LOL.

As we settle in for another term at school, the children have to switch from holiday to learning mode (never an easy thing) and unbelievably, as the year is well into its second half, I have to start thinking about my spring/summer collection. Eeek! It's never easy when its cold outside with heavy frosts every morning, frequent rain showers and dull skies. But we have been fortunate to have some days of brilliant blue skies and warm winter sunshine and its not too hard to think of spring then! (But at night I'm gravitating straight back to that fire!!!)

The Connect2Mums 2010 Conference is on at the end of next week. I went last year and had an absolute blast, but timing is off this year with heifers calving left right and centre here on the farm (and therefore needing round the clock watching). But I have sent along a huge box of special things for the goodie bags they're giving to everyone who comes along, and also a prize of an amethyst, rose quartz and silver necklace (pictured above). If you're interested in going to the conference (held in Brisbane) there are still a few places available, so check it out here.

On to other things, my wonderful, talented and go-getter neighbour (she really is - the woman built her own combined chook shed/dog pen, a hanging cradle for her youngest, gardens like there is no tomorrow and cooks the most divine food that makes my mouth water just thinking about it!!! Anyway....) she introduced me to the world of bamboo clothing a couple of years ago. I had never heard of it before then and couldn't believe it could be so soft and luxurious. If you have a little one, or know someone who is having a baby, I can highly recommend these babyjo bamboo wraps from Your Cheeky Monkey. My girls (now 9) still play with their wraps from their babyhood (very good for wrapping up your toys in, as well as putting around your shoulders as a cape or even just wearing as a scarf!) so its a long-term gift, rather than something they'll grow out of and not be used again.

Ah, it had to happen, I've left this too long and the peace has been shattered by the return of the munchkins.... school is over too quickly some days!

Till next :)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Term break stresses, gem snippets and a pretty fluorite necklace

The children are driving me crazy. Can I sincerely request that the teachers cease their holidaying and open the school doors so I can get some peace and quiet? My children don't know the meaning of those words, it's all about noise, noise and more noise! I even had to shush them when we were walking down the street in town the other day. They were talking so loud it was almost as if they were yelling! Ah well, at least school is back next week, so I'll just continue stoically on (I wish!) in the meantime.

I attended the new Mudgee Upmarket at the Fairview Artspace last weekend. The weather was absolutely miserable with a heavy drizzle most of the day so the gallery owner brought us all inside - I was in the entry/coffee shop (yes it smelled of great coffee all day long!) along with a sculptor displaying her 'ladies'. The rest of the artisans were scattered throughout gallery rooms, wide hallways and verandahs. There was a steady stream of people that came regardless of the weather and lots of visitors from Sydney and interstate.

When I've not been the taxi service or peacemaker with the children this past week, I've been busy finishing orders, so there is not much new in the wild flights of fancy department a.k.a. my bench! But I have seen some fascinating gemstone trivia - well, trivia might even be too grand a word, lets just use 'snippets':

New York, the city that never sleeps, has introduced gemstone facials. One spa has a preference for amethyst - that pretty purple variety of quartz - which they use as a serum, eye cream and powder. They say it reduces skin inflammation and radiates infrared rays in order to stimulate healthy cell growth. The skin is supposed to be instantly firmer and brighter and all at a mere $275USD.

Another spa uses emeralds, rubies, sapphire, citrine, and gold. Emeralds are used to correct skin tone imperfections; rubies and gold are supposed to hydrate and smooth; citrine is supposed to plump lips; and sapphire is supposed to lift. The treatment supposedly leaves a shimmer on your skin and also runs at $275USD.

Yet another spa recommends their exfoliating paste of pearls - apparently to prevent dark spots on the skin by slowing down the growth of melanin. Compared to the others this treatment is a bargain at only $120USD!

So, okay, you don't want gems pulverised and put on your face (Wise woman. Much better to wear them!) But perhaps you might like to visit a house in Texas that reportedly has a turquoise kitchen sink!?

OK, enough with the truly reported, but rather silly state of gem news ;)

Today's photo is of a newish necklace (made a couple of weeks ago) and it gathered many lovely comments at Mudgee last weekend. Little fluorite cubes in green and purple shades and lots of sterling silver.

Till next :)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Gem Mineral Found on the Moon

Life has been hectic with children on holidays but relatively quiet on the jewellery scene - because of the children! We're still in the midst of a cold snap and the sunshine is watery at best. Good weather for reading a book near the fire!

To break up the monotony (hardly!) of the term break, I have a show on Sunday at the new Mudgee Upmarket, held quarterly at the Fairview Artspace. It will be my first outing there and I'm looking forward to it.

Even though I haven't had much time to play at my bench, I'm always on the lookout for new information on gemstones. And I was fascinated to read a report earlier this week that mentioned the mineral olivine - of which peridot (pictured above) is the gem member of the family - has been recently identified on the moon in a large impact basin. Amazingly, I went on to read, abundant quantities of olivine have been found on Mars and that olivine is also a constituent of comet dust. Olivine as well as peridot itself has been found in meteorites too!

I've never really thought of gems being found on other planets but if you let your imagination go, you can't but help consider the amazing and wonderful possibilities of new gems on new worlds! I'm imagining stunning colours, colour-change stones, incredible patterns... how about you!?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A winter's day of sunshine and cooking

It's another gorgeous winter day here on the Great Dividing Range. There are bright blue skies, not a breath of wind, but the air is bracing and there was a big frost this morning. The type of day when you just want to sit outside and soak up the warm sunshine and read a book (which is exactly where I'm going after this post!!) I hope you're having lovely weather where ever in the world you are too!

Thanks to everyone for the wishes on the show and the hints on surviving outdoor venues. Unfortunately it wasn't as successful as I would have liked - poor positioning meant no-one had reason to come near the traders area, unless they specifically wanted to have a look and there weren't too many of those! I would have been lucky to have had 100 people walk past in total over the whole weekend. But you live and learn and at least I got to see the showjumping, which was fantastic.

This means that all my work at my bench last week basically went unseen, however it holds me in good stead for two little shows I have coming up in the next month. Maybe I will take it a little easier as the children start their term break tomorrow and life is no doubt going to be busy as each of them vie for my attention. It will be time to change my name from "mum" by the end of the break I'm sure!

On the farm, the 70+ heifers are due to start calving this weekend so no doubt hubby will be in a grumpy mood for the next six weeks LOL. This doesn't always relate to problems the heifers may have, but just the general tiredness that comes from frequently checking out cow's rear ends. After six weeks it really takes it toll and hubby is due for a holiday!

I have also been doing lots of baking recently - I stumbled upon a cute little blog on 'sweet treats' (that I've since lost!) and wrote down their recipe (handed down from the blogger's grandma) for oatmeal cookies. I made them this week and the children are consuming them gusto. A neighbour's banana muffin recipe also got the thumbs up and our favourite apricot and choc chip biscuits were happily monopolised by the boys of the house. I just saw a great looking recipe on Your Cheeky Monkey for a muesli slice too which looks pretty yummy. Maybe that will be the next one I have to try out!

Well on that note, I think I will grab my book and head out into the winter sunshine. Ooops - almost forgot - the piece at the top is a bit scrumptious too - a necklace of black spinel and Kingman green turquoise faceted nuggets with silver.

Till next :)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Pre-show frenzy, the piano arrives and a pretty paua bracelet

I'm in full headless chook mode (aka running around trying to be productive but not really making it!) as I try and get ready for a three day show this weekend.

Out of character, I have committed to an outdoor event, it's currently cold and wintry and the thought of leaving my tent up for three days in possibly gale-force winds is not comforting. If you have any hints or tips on outdoor events, particularly in reference to tents and keeping them down, please comment NOW! All will be very gratefully received!!

The battle with the elements is one of the reasons I prefer indoor shows. However, I was asked by a client to bring my jewels to this event (it's the Gunnedah Showjumping Festival) and how could I say no when she told me others like her would be there!

Although only a few years old it's already a fairly big event in the Australian showjumping circuit with over 200 competitors booked. Add on their support crews / families / friends and of course other people just coming for a look and you can see its not a small get together. When the ladies are tired of the horses and associated products they can come and refresh themselves with looking at some pretties! So, fingers crossed it is successful for me as well as the festival itself and the wind and rain stays AWAY for the duration of the show!

As you know, the search for the perfect piano (well, as perfect as it could be within financial limitations!) was pretty consuming for a couple of weeks. It all culminated in it's delivery on Saturday afternoon and we celebrated by having the piano teacher and her family over for lunch so she could check it out and hopefully tell us we did OK. (We did! *phew*)

There was much excitement as they brought in the pedals, then the legs, then the lid and finally wheeled in the piano.

Hubby had taken the railing down off the verandah and their truck had a ramp that could be raised or lowered to various heights so it rolled out with hardly a worry (well a small delay as it inched forward as it only just fit between the ramp and the roof of the truck).

They put it together in minutes, moved it slightly to the desired spot and it was all done! Ahh, the joy of professionals!

The children drew straws as to who would get to play to first and they were followed by the teacher :) Here is Langdon trying it out:

And here is the teacher, Telly. She is really the one who deserves a grand piano rather than our children in their current stage of musical ability, but hopefully having a good instrument will spur them on to greater achievements! If you want to see a very short video of Telly playing it, you can see it on my facebook page. (20 seconds of her playing Ballade Pour Adeline). Her fingers just FLY!

Needless to say the children have been fighting over who gets to practice on it first. If its not one thing, its another....

Before I go back into my frenzied mode in getting ready for the weekend, at the top is a photo of a bracelet I made yesterday (before the headless chook mode struck and post piano excitement) with sterling silver, paua shell and freshwater cultured pearls in blue, green and purple to reflect the glorious colours in the shell.

Annette :)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The long weekend, a blue necklace and some favourite photography sites

Well, I ended up running so late last week, some things just had to give and the blog post was one of them. But I'm here now :D

The long weekend passed in a blur, as it does when you have three children running around driving you crazy. I really don't know where they get their energy from but they're constantly on the go. They compete for the spotlight as far as attention goes (from anybody - not just me!) and the uneven factor (3 verses 2 or 4) means that there is often one trying to be painful to at least one of the others. *sigh* Hubby went off to the Queensland Aerobatic Championships for the weekend so once again in my guise as Farmer Piper I took the reins. All fine though - short bursts of farm responsibility are OK :)

I've also been dragging myself out to the gym every couple of days. Obviously I'm too far from town to pop into the gym but in my garage I have a step machine, rowing machine, bench and free weights that have just been collecting dust for months. The time has come however - I've obviously taken it far too easy since summer (first because it was too hot, then because I was too slack) and need to clear the cobwebs and get some reasonable level of fitness back. It's hard work (even though they're only short workouts so far) but I'm sure I'll feel better for it soon. Well, perhaps once the muscle soreness goes away!

On the positive side, this past week I had a creative burst that lasted days (it is usually only a day or maybe two) so I have lots of lovely new finished jewels scattered around my bench plus a couple of orders I'm still working on.

Today's photo is one of the new pieces. I was in the right place at the right time to get these beautiful royal blue ultra smooth kyanite ovals :) They're not big, but the colour is absolutely spectacular! It's easy to think they're really sapphires in the most desired blue. I've made them into a fine silver chain with the addition of some gorgeous tanzanite that I've been hoarding for a while. Tanzanite has always been a favourite of mine with its delicate periwinkle blue colour. Yummy!

I'm a big fan of lovely photos - I have quite a collection of macro photography books weighing down my shelves, but I love great photographs of all sorts of things and find them very inspiring. I follow quite a lot of blogs that have gorgeous photos although most are photos that others have taken - they present them to a theme or idea and they are wonderful to look at.

But if you like to look at original photos too, check out these few sites - most are professionals but there are a couple of amateurs included. Maybe you'll find one or more that you'll love too! (I've got my eye on one of Clark Little's amazing wave photos for our beach house!)

Where I live
The Satorialist
Clark Little
Deceptive Media
Creative Outlet
Jeff Lynch

OK, enough getting distracted at those sites... I'd best get to these orders!
Till next :)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pianos, a creative burst and a birthday!

Another busy week, but at least I feel like I've achieved more than my usual level recently.

We went and looked at the baby grand piano but son wasn't too fussed. It wasn't in as good condition as we were led to believe and son's lack of interest meant we needed to keep looking. We spent all the next day in Newcastle looking at every grand piano that was for sale. Typically all the children loved the best (aka most expensive) one we saw. It was three times the price that we originally set out to spend so we didn't say 'yes' on the spot. Consequently I've spent a few more restless nights dreaming of pianos and more time on the phone - to Sydney this time - to find out what is available down there. Naturally we have to go down there to actually see and try out what is available so I guess we'll get there eventually!

I also have had the dubious honour of turning 45 this week! The day before this momentous occasion I took the dye bottle in hand and got rid of all that grey hair that was pulling me down every time I looked in the mirror. It's amazing what a little bit of colour can do. ( I feel so much better as a brunette rather than a brunette with a badger streak!) Hubby took me to town for the day (big town - not the local village!) and we had a very pleasant day going to a couple of coffee shops, visiting some friends and doing a spot of shopping.

On the jewellery front I'm glad to say that the creative streak came out in full force and for one day I hardly moved from my bench from 11 in the morning till 12.30am that night. I could have kept going but I knew I wouldn't be able to function on any level the next day if I didn't go to bed then!

The weather has been constant cloud and drizzly rain so I haven't got the camera out yet to take any photos of the new pieces. There is a nice mix of bold colours (black, white, red, silver), soft greens and muted pinks coming up though! Instead, since quite a few people have wanted to see the farm where we live, I thought I'd show you a photo (above) of our house taken from the next paddock.

This is a more distant shot - taken from the same spot but without the zoom on, so you can the setting a little better. Rather peaceful, don't you think? (Well it is when the children are at school and there are no cows over my back fence!) So when are you coming to visit!?

Before I go, if you have little ones, why not pop over to the Australian Handmade Cooperative 4 Kids who are running a Mega Giveaway. Mon at Your Cheeky Monkey gave me the heads up on that one - she is super lucky when it comes to winning in draws that it would be a good idea to follow her around!

Till next :)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Eisteddfod Success!

I've been distracted most of this past week - firstly because my kiddos did so darn well in their eisteddfod (basically a competition for non-professionals in dance, speech, singing and instruments for those who asked!) then the 'high' of having won followed closely by a commitment to buy another, better piano for them.

Firstly, the eisteddfod. Well, our teacher definitely knows what she is doing and I can clearly say that her students were the best prepared out of any there. They played note perfect, their style was lovely and each was truly a little 'performance' rather than just 'playing'.

My heart was beating so fast as each of them went up to play and until the whole class was over and the winner announced the adrenalin was pumping! Of course the children themselves were fine and relatively unconcerned.

Of course, very proud parent here as you can tell (sorry!). If you know me, I am NOT one to talk about how amazingly talented my kids are - they've have never really been achievers so it has been a wonderful boost to everyone to have this success under their belts!

As they did so well, Hubby gave approval for the expenditure on another piano for them. The teacher has been warning us for a while that their skill has exceeded the capabilities of our current 80+ year old Beale Elfin (a small Australian made 'parlour' piano). So there's been lots of phone calls around the State looking for pianos.

Tomorrow we are off on a two day sojourn to look and try out an 8 year old baby grand. Hopefully it will be wonderful, we can get it and I can get back to something a little more productive than having a phone dangling from my ear and dreams of pianos!

I am sure I will need a dose of inspiration to get back into creating next week - and I think one of the best places for that is at the Additions Style blog. Valerie always writes posts that pushes my brain into 'what if I did this ....' I highly recommend a visit there if you need a creative push!

Since I haven't created anything brand new this week, I thought I'd show you a piece that I made just before the Scone show earlier this month that found a new home while I was there. It's a lovely mix of freshwater cultured pearls in cranberry, wine-purple, lime and khaki green with a sprinkling of peridot and garnet. Yum!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Endless eisteddfod preparation ... and a touch of glamour

Its a cold, dreary sort of day here on the Great Dividing Range. We've had some gorgeous autumn weather of brilliant blue skies and sunshine and its been lovely to soak up some of this milder warmth - but it gets a little chilly when there's no sun out. Like today! A good day for staying inside near the fire and doing 'inside jobs'.

It's been a bit of a manic week with lots of running around - the children have had daily piano lessons in preparation for their participation in the eisteddfod and when you live 25 km out of town, daily trips there add up pretty quickly!

I'm sure I'm more nervous than they are - they seem remarkably unconcerned. Although they've done a small concert last year, tomorrow is their first competition and I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing all the talented young pianists out there.

It's been an alternately exciting (when they first master their song or play it perfectly ) and frustrating (when they can't be bothered or have had enough) ride getting them up to the expected standard, but I must admit I'm looking forward to hearing some new songs next week. Perhaps Bach, Haydn and Dvorak can take a breather for a week or so!?

On the jewellery front, for a good dose of bling we need to move to Europe for a while! I saw some fabulous jewels (and some rather over the top ones) photographed at the Cannes Film Festival that is currently running. Diamonds, a few more diamonds and the occasional emerald and ruby. Oh and I did see one big amethyst necklace that was spectacular. For a nice change there were statement necklaces everywhere. Plus a liberal helping of cuffs and bracelets, huge rings and even bigger earrings. One could say they were dripping in jewels and you wouldn't be far wrong!

But there must be an element of excitement for all the guests - choosing dresses, jewellery and shoes. A bit like an overblown prom I'm guessing! I saw this great post on Tiffani's blog about her daughter's prom and I just love the photos she posted showing a very glamorous young lady in her gown and jewels!

Today's pic is of some delicate drop earrings with gorgeous green peridot gems suspended under 12ct goldfill chain. Perhaps not in the Cannes bling category, but certainly enough to add a touch of glamour to most mere mortals!

Till next :)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Rose Quartz and a bit more about Creativity

I had another brilliant day last weekend at the Scone Grammar School annual fete - lots of stallholders this time and a real market feel to the whole event. People kept milling about and there was a real reluctance for people to go home! I caught up with lots of clients, some ex-Coolah residents and sold lots of jewels. It's wonderful to watch people see "the" one piece of jewellery for them. (Of course, I have a couple of clients who find "the" one, each time they look LOL. Addicted to beautiful stones - what a way to be!)

I've had a few questions recently about specific stones and realised I haven't really written about the stones themselves for a while. So this week I thought I'd do a run down on rose quartz since I use it quite a bit in my designs.

Rose quartz, a member of the quartz family, is found abundantly in Brazil, Madagascar, India, Mozambique, Namibia, Sri Lanka, the USA and in smaller quantities elsewhere in the world. Of course, the grade of rose quartz varies considerably and it is often crackled and usually turbid rather than transparent. Some higher quality rose quartz is softly glowing pink and rather than completely clear it is often as if it's just a bit misty. With a hardness of 7 it is a sturdy stone although care should be taken to avoid hard knocks or impacts as these can cause conchoidal fractures - which will look like 'chips' to the naked eye.

Rose quartz is named after its pink colour and this colour is thought to come from titanium. Although its crystal structure is trigonal, it is usually found in a massive form (so found in chunks rather than crystals).

A popular stone, its use in jewellery goes back to 7000BC in Mesopotamia where it has been found in the form of beads. The Assyrians used it during 800-600BC and the Romans used it for seals.

Many cultures believed in its metaphysical properties, notably for love and matters of the heart. Egyptians believed it prevented aging (quick, give me some!). It is still used by crystal healers in a variety of ways, predominately to restore calmness, balance and clarity to the emotions.

All in all a pretty stone with nice connotations!

On to other things, the topic of creativity has featured prominently around here lately. I worked with the local preschool on a mother's day project where the children could make a bracelet for their mum. I took in a vast array of beads and my not-good-enough-to-use-in-my-jewellery gems and pearls, some memory wire (it springs back into shape) and my pliers. Over the course of a week, the children strung their selections onto the wire which I then made into bracelets. The results were incredible. There was the occasional mish-mash and the occasional child that obviously wasn't really interested, but most of the bracelets were amazing. There were some real stars too in the colour combination category! The feedback from the mothers has been overwhelming - the preschool teacher even called me last night to tell me how thrilled the mums were.

Is this creativity innate or do you think it's inspired by things they see or their play? Do you think it fades as we grow older or it just needs topping up?

I saw a great post on the Heart On My Sleeve blog about a couple of university graduates being so inspired by the often colourful washing hanging on lines that they took photos of clothes lines in over 22 countries! Some of the pics ARE inspiring too, particularly with the varying backdrops. And if creative play inspires, then I think the cute little knitted finger puppets at Your Cheeky Monkey would be just the thing to get the children in the mood.

Given the run down on rose quartz, today's photo is of a rose quartz and freshwater pearls sterling charm bracelet. Very feminine and very spring inspired (even though we're going into winter - like I said, the muse takes me where she will, regardless of what's going on around me! *sigh*)

Till next :)


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