Chicago – a weekend getaway to the windy city

Chicago

Cold and crisp

The sun isn’t shining but the lake is beautiful. Right now we are on an architectural tour.

We are here for a long weekend.

A dose of the big city.

chicago-weekend-getaway

Shopping on Michigan Avenue also known as the Magnificent Mile.

magnificent-mile-chicago

Eating at some fine fine restaurants

Visiting with old friends.

And lucky to have tickets to Hamilton.

Plus a visit to the SOFA show.  No it’s not sofa’s for your living room.

It’s the  Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design show.

Also a visit to the Art Museum and possibly a walk around Hyde Park where we used to live ages ago.

Really having fun

casual chic outfit for travel

casual chic travel outfit

In my last blog I shared some photos from my recent travel to the Basque Country.  So today I want to talk a little about what I wear when I travel.  This is a simple outfit that is very comfortable yet extremely chic.  I want something that is super comfortable especially on long overnight flights to Europe because I have to sleep in it.  For shoes I always choose flats because you never know when you have to run through an airport.  I like a large handbag when I travel and this one is great because it closes which is important when it goes through security.  And because the outfit is minimal a great statement necklace makes the look perfect.  Plus when you arrive to your destination you make a great impression.

Here are the links

outfit and shoes
handbag
necklace

statement necklace

 Follow Louise on Instagram

new tag

Vacation and the Guggenheim – Bilboa – the museum building is art itself

Vacation in Basque Country 

and a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

I just came back from a wonderful vacation aboard the National Geographic Orion.  The trip was titled Cultural and Culinary Adventure in Basque Country….    and it did not disappoint.  We ate and drank our way along the coastline of France, Spain, and Portugal while learning about the culture of the area.  And for me the highlight of the trip was our private morning tour of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.  You cannot take photographs inside of the museum except in the foyer.  So I will just dazzle you with some photos of the outside….

Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao

Bridge over the Nervion River, Bilbao Spain

 

Foyer – entrance – Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain

 

Elevator, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

vacation

Tulip Sculpture, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

vacation

me, taking a closeup photo of the tulip sculpture reflection

vacation

Steam Experience at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

These are just a few of the photos I took.  You can walk all around the perimeter of the museum and each angle of the building is more beautiful than the last.  And the last photo shows steam being released.  It hangs over the water and creates quite an atmosphere…..  What an experience.

But I am back in Tucson now and the studio is calling

new tag

 

My journey with beads

Someone recently asked me how I got started making jewelry.  So I have reflected on my journey with beads and thought I would share it.  

First, I started to create some simple jewelry pieces.  It began when we were going out to a special dinner and I felt I did not have the right piece of jewelry.  I had just visited a bead shop for the first time because I was asked to incorporate some beads in a cross stitch design that I was creating for a local needle craft store.  And well….  I couldn’t get all of those beads out of my head. 

I didn’t know anything about jewelry making..  what do you use to string the beads on?  How do you end the piece?  So armed with an antique button, I went back to the bead shop and bought some stone beads and silver beads and got a hasty how to and went home and created this piece.  Little did I know the journey had just begun.

my journey with beads - the first piece

I had no plans to sell my work.  It was just fun creating.  But then I discovered lampworking and for the first time found a medium that I loved.  Glass is mesmerizing.  You work it hot in the flame and sometimes the colors change when the piece cools.  It is mysterious.  It has a mind of it’s own.  And I set out to conquer it.

Fall in Tucson

It’s still in the 90’s but the sun is not as strong and the mornings and evenings feel cooler.  The fun weather of Tucson is about to begin.  The barrels are blooming….  

The blooms are absolutely gorgeous

A few more weeks in the pool.

Then it will be time to think about the fire pit and lovely evenings under the sparkly sky.

We have a vacation coming up. 

Culture and cuisine….  an expedition with National Geographic.

My psyche continues to heal.

Making art is my salvation.

new tag

But I feel the need to banish her again

banish

 

Friendship Day

I am starting to write this post on August 6th – Sunday which according to some is International Friendship Day.  To tell you the truth I didn’t even know there was a Interational Friendship day; but I like the idea of one.  So I did a little research.

History

Friendship day was originally created by the greeting card industry in 1919 by Hallmark.  Friends were encouraged to recognize their friendship by sending each other cards.  But this made up “holiday” eventually fizzled out.

friendship day

However, in 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations (believe it or not!), and in April 2011 the United Nations officially recognized 30th July as International Friendship Day; although most countries celebrate on the first Sunday of August!  (wonder why)

Here is what the UN says about Friendship Day…

“Our world face many challenges, crises and forces of division — such as poverty, violence, and human rights abuses — among many others — that undermine peace, security, development and social harmony among the world’s peoples.  To confront those crises and challenges, their root causes must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms — the simplest of which is friendship.  Through friendship — by accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust — we can contribute to the fundamental shifts that are urgently needed to achieve lasting stability, weave a safety net that will protect us all, and generate passion for a better world where all are united for the greater good.”

Well, I’m on board for sure.  So even though you all will be reading this a few days late.  I want to say I am grateful for all my friends out there who mean so much to me.  Without them I would not be the person I am today.

So I have to tell you a little story.  

A few Saturdays ago Alex and I headed off to one of the popular Farmer’s Markets here in Tucson.  I was mainly looking for fresh vegetables, but then I saw a booth with 4 woman wearing traditional head scarfs and dresses of the Muslim religion.  So I stopped by their booth and was enticed to see an array of traditional Syrian sweets that they had handmade and were selling.  They were very proud of their heritage and culture and wanted to share.  So of course I sampled some and bought a few to take home.  And I hope they understood it was my way to say welcome them and say I am glad you are here in the US.  But I plan on going back….  the sweets were delicious.

Don’t forget about the importance of jewelry… and friendship

Jewelry has always played an important role in Friendship.  Remember those friendship bracelets we used to make at summer camp?

friendship day

I think knowing that jewelry can make someone very happy (both giving it and receiving it) is one of the reasons I make jewelry.  We all need more happiness in our life.  Reach out to a good friend today!

 

Rituals

A Ritual is……. according to Webster

  1. of or relating to rites or a ritual :  ceremonial ritual dance

  2. according to religious law ritual purity

  3. done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol ritual handshakes 

 

I just finished reading an article in the Arizona Star of a high tech product that I didn’t know about, but now am fixated on buying…. Maybe.  

What is it?  A machine to brew tea.

a picture of a machine to brew tea

 

Really cool – right? 

Err…. but you might ask – what does that have to do with rituals?

 

Tea

I love tea.

I love to drink hot tea and iced tea.  I even drink hot tea in the summer.  I like to drink my hot tea from a porcelain tea cup that my Mom gave me.  I have had it for 30 years.  Drinking tea relaxes me.  So when I saw this machine that touts it brews the perfect cup of tea I got very interested.  And I started to think about my cup of tea and why it made me feel so good.

tea ritual

On a trip to Japan in the 80’s I attended a tea drinking ceremony, which I realize now is not about drinking the tea, but is a choreographed ritual of preparing the tea and interacting with the host.  It is about the aesthetics of the bowls, the pot and even the utensils.  And it’s about beauty and peace and serenity and reflection.

So, I think it’s more than just the tea that I love.  When I lived in Ohio and it was a rainy cold day (which happened a lot) my mother and I would have tea in the afternoon.  ( my Mom lived with us after my dad died)

She bought me a lovely wood box to hold my teabags.  We would get it down and choose which tea to have.  Then I would put on the kettle and we would sit and chat while the water boiled.  And chat some more while the tea steeped.  And finally, we would sip the tea before going back to real life.

I have liked to drink tea most of my life. I realize that when life dealt me things that were hard to deal with, sitting with a nice cup of tea helped me to sort things out.  Last summer – one year ago in fact, my husband and I went on what was supposed to be a fantastic holiday in Great Britain.  I drank a lot of tea there.

 

So back to the perfect tea brewing maching….

this high tech product is the Teforia Leaf  

It looks high tech and beautiful and graceful all at once.

It really appeals to me, but…

Do I really need a $400 gadget to brew tea?

Do I really want a whole new ritual for brewing tea?

Probably not…..

  But damn it looks so cool!

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

A Bead Journey

Beads – How my passion got started

I have always done something crafty or artsy.  I wanted to go to art school but my parents thought that an art degree wouldn’t be practical.  

My grandmother taught me sewing.  She was a seamstress and worked in a sweatshop mill in upper state New York sewing clothing for a manufacturer until the mill moved south.  I even designed some clothing patterns.  She also taught me knitting.  And being me, I also taught myself to design some knitting patterns – pretty easy ones.  I took a painting class and it didn’t inspire me.  I loved doing needle work in the form of needlepoint and cross stitch.  I was designing cross stitch patterns for a shop in Las Vegas when we lived there.  The owner coaxed me to “name” my business and I chose Desert Bloom. Of course, I instantly designed a pattern in cross stitch for the business.  I showed it to Shirley, the shop owner, and she said “why don’t you add some beads to the design?”  

So I walked into a bead shop….OH MY!

bead journey

Beading can be overwhelming.  What technique did I want to start with?  I chose seed beads for the Desert Bloom cross stitch.  You might not be able to see them in the photo but they are there. And as soon as I finished that project I taught myself how to stitch designs and jewelry with seed beads. 

This is one of the first bracelets I made. (designed the pattern too).  And sold several hundred copies of this pattern online.  I decided that trying to sell the finished product was not feasible.  It takes a long time to complete, and I would never get the price to compensate for the hours of work.

bead journey

I designed more patterns, but I was having a hard time finding button closures.  In the meantime my youngest daughter was in college in Portland, OR and I went up to visit.  I had some time that weekend and decided to attend the Embellishment conference at the Convention Center.  And that is when I saw my first lampworked bead.  Of course I was familiar with Venetian beads.  But the lampwork beads I saw at this convention were tiny works of art.  And I was hooked.  And my journey with glass began in 1997.creating the desert in glass and metal

Salsa Cravings

Pico de Gallo vs Salsa

So are you eating salsa or pico de gallo.  They are similar, but I discovered it’s pico de gallo that I love …  and really that could be called salsa fresca.  It’s a mix of chopped tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions and cilantro.  It’s fresh and chunky and not as juicy as salsa.  I love it on eggs, potatoes, chips, meat and fish or just as a salad.  Or put some in your guacamole…. Ummmm

salsa

Here’s a great recipe from Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman.

And here’s a great video on salsa…. (it will make you smile)

Yeah I still watch those reruns….

Work in Progress

work in progress

new lariats too

lariats

 

Have a wonderful day!!! I’m off for a week in Coronado Island, CA.  Taking a class

creating the desert in glass and metal

 

My Anniversary

anniversary

June 7, 1975

Forty two years ago

Baltimore, Maryland

two daughters

1 gandson

ups and downs

Life is Good

 

 

Ochre – I love this color

ochre

I love this color.  I call it ochre or mustard.

And I really consider this color to be a neutral at times.

So do you love it or hate it?

Both of my children are blond and blue eyed – so it’s not on their favorite color list.

 

What is ochre?

Ochre is a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide, which ranges in color from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colors produced by this pigment.  A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as “red ochre”.  Wow, I just wrote a blog about my love of hematite and now I find that ochre and hematite are related.  

To top it off another one of my favorite things is rock art…  and guess what.  The predominant colors used in rock art and cave art are black(from charcoal, soot, or manganese oxide), yellow ochre (limonite), red ochre (hematite or baked limonite), and white (kaolin clay, burnt shells, powdered gypsum, or powdered calcium carbonate).

Roussillion, France

ochre

 

The ochre of the Luberon fascinates.  Proudly perched on a hilltop, Roussillon overlooks the first quarries carved out over two centuries ago. The red of the cliff faces certainly explains the attraction of this village which is the only one located in the heart itself of the ochre deposits.

These natural pigments have been used since prehistoric times. Then in 1780, Jean Etienne Astier from the village of Roussillon discovered that, after processing, ochre became an inalterable and non-toxic dye.  He became the first ochre extractor in France.  The pigment is used in the making of stucco for the Provençal houses, because it is heat and sun resistant.

I visited Provence a few years back and we visited the quarrys at Roussillion.  I even bought some powdered ochre.

me in the ochre quarry

 

Ochre and jewelry making

I use ochre in my art jewelry fabrication when I solder.  By applying a paste of ochre to solder joins it acts as an inhibitor and prevents solder flowing onto places you do not want the solder.  Great stuff.

Thanks for visiting.  

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creating the desert in glass and metal