Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 - Time to flower

I just came across a quote from David Whyte this week which seemed appropriate in thinking of the New Year and what it may bring. The quote is:

"We are the only species on earth capable of preventing our own flowering."

So my wish for you for 2009 is that this is the year you will flower! Let's not get in own way.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope it's a wonderful, happy and healthy one.

YouTube day

OK, end of the year and here is this week's video for all those dog lovers out there - in fact, you don't have to love dogs to enjoy this. It's really sweet.

Doggie's Christmas Surprise

Maybe this will persuade my husband how good it would be to have a doggie!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My own desk buddies

After yesterday's post, I thought maybe I should introduce you to my own current desk buddies. They are a motley crew....

Firstly there is "just for you". This little guy I think you may have met before. He was one of the first sculptural animals I ever made. People often think of him as different types of animals - he was just a cutie to me - his very own species and kindly bringing me a flower. Whenever I do a show, he always comes along with me to keep me company and look after the stock!

Similarly, and the same species, but in bronze, here is my next little buddy. Again he brings a flower but it was also mentioned that maybe he is protecting his modesty. So he was called Modesty Max for a while - but as he was one of the first pieces I ever did in bronze, to me, he is known as Pat Ina - as in patina!

While I was playing with bronze at the conference this summer, my two friends Marly and Angie gave me Ding the Ring. When they first gave him to me, he was "just" a ring and didn't have any features or body parts.....but then when he came home with me, he developed! He's quite the character now and a bit wayward!

And then in the next photo you can see Robin who is hand felted and just had a busy Christmas time, posing for lots of Christmas cards....and then my other early bronze piece, a Quentin quail. Quite the menagerie! Guess that's another excuse for having an untidy desk.... Oh and yes, can't forget my blue footed booby either - all the way from the Galapagos islands.....and my musical frog - a gift from my nephews....Quite a rowdy gang when I let them all hang out together - so I try to space them out a bit to keep the noise level controllable!

So show me yours! All photos gratefully received....... Who do you share your space with???

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Desk buddy

Hope you had a good Christmas. We did!

Now that everyone has opened their pressies, thought I'd show you another one that I made. I have a wonderful friend, Fabienne, who lives in Turkey. She is French and translates all my listings for me for my Dawanda website and is also part of our merry-go-round.

We met through Dawanda and have such a fun time corresponding with each other and learning more and more about each other. It is people like Fabs who make selling online so much fun. Both her and my friend Marion, who translates my listings into German, have become such great friends and they enrich my life in so many different ways.

Anyhow, she makes jewelry too - absolutely gorgeous stuff. She does the most incredibly fine and detailed wire wrapping - so take a look at her Dawanda store - Easterya.

But as she makes her own jewelry, I decided to make her something that wasn't jewelry but that could sit near her computer or at her work bench and keep her company. So she got a desk buddy - who also happens to double as a friend for her intrepid explorer dog, Jack. Here's her new desk buddy.
I like the idea of desk buddies. I have a few myself......and maybe I'll do a few more of these......It's like a miniature sculpture - adorning your computer or desk instead of you! Hope you like Jack's new friend.

Do you have any desk buddies? Friends who sit with you as you work????? Do tell us about them..

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Traditions - Merry-go-round

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's question that myself and 8 other women will answer is seasonal and related to Christmas and holiday times - " How do you celebrate Christmas/holidays? What traditions do you have?

For me, Christmas traditions really begin on Christmas Eve. I sing at Grace cathedral and so drive down to the city with my hubby, and we find somewhere for a nice early dinner. Rehearsal starts at 6.30pm and then I sing the service at 7.30pm. It's always a lovely service, loads of people there, a thrill to sing in the cathedral. I love it.

Then John and I drive home and, if I'm lucky, I get to open one little stocking present before we go to bed. And that's the only present I ever open early...I keep all other presents until 25th! (Here's Harold - he as some decorations on his cage and his own stocking too!) Then I settle down and have a whiskey mac drink (scotch with Stone's green ginger wine) and John and I read "''Twas the night before Christmas". We have a few versions of this book, but the one we always read on Christmas Eve is the Robert Sabuda's pop-up version. We take turns in reading the different pages and pulling up the pop-ups! Oh, it's such a delight!

Then we retire to bed and let Santa and the reindeer do their thing. We used to leave food out for Santa and his pals before we moved to CA - but we try to encourage healthy eating as he gets lots of food all in one night - so we offer the option of any of our fruit, straight off the tree - and leave an open bottle of Birdland Merlot!

Christmas morning begins with champagne!....and continues with champagne :=D Our first glass is drunk as we sit outside in our bath tub! We have a French copper and zinc bath tub in the garden so we brave the elements and start our day with a soak in the big tub and a glass or two of champagne! Time to relax and chat and enjoy the birds overhead and the occasional drip of cold water down your back from the tree above!!

Our next part of the day is the phone calls. We call our family and friends in England. By this time, as there is an 8 hour difference, most of their day is already done - so we hear all about their Christmas time. In between phone calls, we sneak time for breakfast and a little more champagne...... The phone calls tend to go on most of the morning.......sometimes also interspersed with present opening so we can thank everyone for what they've got us!

Once that is done, we start thinking about preparing food etc...and while that is cooking, settle down in front of the fire and start opening our presents under the tree - here's this year's tree - a 9.5ft noble fir.

Then it's lunch around 2.30pm....and a leisurely afternoon with a stroll, maybe a game or nap....and then finally it seems we have our Christmas pudding early evening!

Always a lovely day but tinged with a little sadness for missing everyone in England......

"Merry Christmas to all".

Try linking to the others in the merry-go-round and see how they spend their Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays - whichever suits you best!

Thanks so much for reading my little blog. I started it in July and I enjoy writing it and love hearing back from you with your comments. It a nice way to connect and for people to get to know more about me and maybe understand why what I create is what it is! The fact that you bother to read it, means alot to me.

Enjoy your Christmas time. Hope it's full of love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My favourite Christmas video

My YouTube video for the week! A friend first sent me this wonderful little video three Christmases ago - and I have yet to find another one to surpass it! The singing style, expressions, dancing etc are just wonderful! They will surely make you smile and want to sing!! So go check out Singing Santa:

It'll become your favourite too!
Happy singing!

The harvest continues......

Well it may be December with frosty mornings, but our harvest still continues!

We still have gorgeous roses blooming - and John even picked me a sweet pea this morning - and it still has it's amazing perfume as though it were the middle of summer!

Winter is a wonderful time here - just when you expect everything to die back, we get rain after months and months without any - and so some things seem to just come to life! All the grass goes from gold to green - and the hills look so lush again.

We still have quite a few flowers out - especially the roses.....

And now we are harvesting persimmons, mandarin satsumas, limes, lemons,.....just had a grapefruit for my breakfast, picked fresh off the tree......

The oranges are not quite ready yet - but we can wait :=D

What a bountiful place we live in. Santa will be able to pick up some healthy snacks for himself and the reindeer when they call by tomorrow night......

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wine labeling

We labeled our 2006 Merlot wine today! It's always a fun job - apart from the label machine.

We borrow a label machine, so we can't really complain, but it has it's frustrations. We spent most of Saturday afternoon trying to get it to put on the labels with the correct space between the front and the back. But it was inconsistent...and when it's inconsistent, its tough to change a setting and have an effect because sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not.

Anyhow - we had two batches to label and our trusty labeling team assembled at 9:30am. The team was Bill and Sue - our Sonoma friends and John and I. We were at Havens winery, so also helped by John and Mike (- the son-in-law and son of Bill and Sue! - yes - keep it in the family). In the photo, from the left is me, Bill at the back, Sue and John.

The first batch was a little erratic in terms of the label machine - but it seemed to warm up after a while. We all had our own job - which we've each done for a few years now!!! Highly technical stuff! John opens the case of wine and puts it on the conveyor belt. Sue hands me a bottle of wine and I put it on the machine, press the foot pedal and hope the label will go on OK. I check it, pass it back to Sue who puts it on another case...and when that case is full, Bill puts it through the taping machine to close it and stacks it on the pallet!!!

We labelled 45 cases today - and had a good time to chat and catch up as we worked. Then we drove it home and carried it all down into the cellar.

This year's label was lime green - my favourite colour!!! Yippee!!!! You can just make it out in the photos. Each year, we change the color and the little story on the back. It's normally about the Birds at our Birdland Vineyard. Here's this year's story:

"This year we welcomed the return of Quentin the California Quail. Hearing his unusual call, seeing his bobbing top-knot feathers, and then meeting his new family - Queenie and their 13 little chicks, was just such a pleasure. So in his honor, as you enjoy our 2006 Birdland Merlot, make a toast to families everywhere."

Thanks, Bill and Sue, for your help. Now all we have to do is enjoy the wine!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Surrounded by music

Having a wonderful few days surrounded by music...

Last night we went to the Chanticleer Christmas concert in Petaluma. It was great to see and hear them again. I have been participating the Chanticleer in Sonoma workshop each year for the past few years and plan to again this coming year. They are a real joy .....if you don't know Chanticleer - check them here.

Then today we went to see one of the Live HD broadcasts of the Metropolitan operas. My husband and I try to always have Saturdays as a day together and so for the last few months, we have got tickets to the Rialto Theater in Santa Rosa on a Saturday morning to watch the live broadcast of one of the Met opera matinees. Today's opera was Thais - by Massenet. It starred Renee Fleming as Thais and Thomas Hampson as Athanael. I had never heard of Thais before, never heard an Massenet opera either - but this was just amazing. I loved every minute of it - and as it lasted 3 and a half hours - I had three and a half amazing hours.

One part in it most people will recognise -and that is "the meditation" - a violin solo. It occurs during a scene change and it's unusual that the most well known part in an opera is an violin solo - not a soprano solo! David Chan played the solo and it was gorgeous......

If you get a chance to see this opera or watch the broadcast - I would highly recommend it...

And now ....the music continues... Tomorrow, I'm singing at Grace cathedral in the morning, and then going to the ballet in San Francisco with my friend.....

What a way to spend three days - surrounded by wonderful music......and so I decorate this post with music jewelry - it is customizable - I can put your favourite piece of music on a necklace, earrings or cufflinks or brooch...... Shown here is a necklace "in terra pax" - "on earth peace" from Handel's Gloria and cufflinks of Bach's "Jesu Meine Freude" - the bass part shown on one cufflink and the tenor part on the other cufflink......

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Free hugs

Just reading the couple of comments from my posting last week "anyone can give a hug" and it reminded me of one of my favorite youtube movies. Now for those of you who usually ignore my youtube links - that's fine....... normally - but don't ignore this one. I have sent it to a couple of people before - but even for those people, it's worth looking at again.

It's entitled "free hugs" and it is just great. You will love it - I can guarantee! I was just reading in the paper yesterday about the increase in suicides in Sonoma county....and thinking of everyone stressed out before the holidays....and maybe we should all take time to give a few more hugs.

Here's another hug from "anyone" - he's on his way to Berlin to give some hugs....
and here's the "free hugs"
And here's another hug from me....(----`^`----)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"just for you"

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I haven't been showing any new pieces for a little while, as alot of them are Xmas gifts for people and so I don't want to ruin the Christmas surprise!

However, I heard from one of my friends today thanking me for her gift! She had opened it already!!!! It arrived today and she opened it! Gosh - what happened to 25th December???!!!!! :-D

Well, I guess I may as well show it to you now!!!!

Here is "just for you" that I made for her:
She has a cat called Dickie and he loves to bring her little presents - dead birds or other creatures from his haunt. Well, I could hardly make a piece with a dead bird in it - so I made a little cat who has caught a mouse and is holding it under his paw - ready to give it to you - "just for you"!!!

My friend doesn't wear jewelry as she reacts to quite a lot of different metals so this little guy is a desk buddy for her. I suspect he may well sit on her computer to keep warm!!! Cats always know how to find the best spots!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Presents and casting

Haven't been showing many new things on the blog lately - sorry for that. The reason is that I've been busy making presents for people - so can't show them until after Christmas! Had to ship them to Santa in plenty of time....

I also had a request this week to quote on making 200 charms! Yes, it was just earlier this month I was talking about moving into more commission charm work - and here is this request! So I've been figuring out how I can do this - and do I want to do this! I've spent the week learning alot about casting.
I tried casting once before on Little Bo Peep and it didn't come out well. There was a lot of detail on the piece, as you can see in the photos, but the cast pieces weren't as good and seemed to lose their form...... I think because the original piece was hollow......and I didn't get much feedback/advice from the casters. However some other metal clay artists gave me names of casters they had used.
It's an interesting process. I would make one master version of the charm and finish it fully. Then send it to the caster who makes a mold of it and then creates however many copies of it. Different casters then do differing amounts of finishing work for you - but I think with 200 pieces, I'd want them finished! I can't imagine polishing 200 tiny charms myself! That is not why I like making jewelry!!!

Anyhow - I have a better handle on it and feel more comfortable this time. So we'll see how this progresses. Even if I don't do this project, I spoke to such a helpful guy at a casting company not far away, that I think I'll try something with him....maybe get one of my pieces cast in gold for myself?????

Hope you are all dealing with the Christmas chaos and finding time for fun, family and friendship.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Youtube day

Here's this week's youtube short movie for you. Yes, about birds! So give it a try - only lasts a minute! Don't be like the ostrich!

Bird race : click here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Olive harvest update

Just to let you know - we picked up our olive oil yesterday. We got 3 1/2 gallons. Yummy!

Much more than we normally get - so we will liberally pouring it on everything for the upcoming year...once we get through the rest of 2007. It is still very cloudy so needs a month or so to settle out - but then I'm sure it will be great.

We gave a bottle to Laura - our valiant harvester! Hope she likes it too.

Our pick was the majority of the oil for that day - so that means that it was just about all our own grapes with just a few others thrown in!

Just think of all those health benefits we will be getting in the coming year....we'll be slippering everywhere!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Anyone can......give a hug

Here's my latest little "Anyone". It's "anyone can give a hug" - with the little anyone holding his arms out wide, ready to give you a great big hug. And you know his hug will be one of those just-what-you-need hugs.....those pick you up and feel loved hugs....

These bottom two photos look like his is just looking for someone to hug....A sweet little guy - perfect as a gift for someone who needs a hug (and who doesn't?) or else someone who is always there ready with a hug.

Hope you like him....

Big hug to you.

Monday, December 8, 2008


As I've mentioned before, when people come and stay with us at our home, we like to get them to paint a birdhouse and then they can choose where to hang it in the vineyard or garden.

We've had a few just disintegrate recently. I think it means those visitors haven't been here for a while and need to come back to make another. We just buy the birdhouses from Michaels and its great to see all the different ways our guests paint them. John does a little renovation work when they start to fall apart.....but Mick and Mal's had a serious falling apart this week - maybe they need to come back I think!!

These little earrings will last longer than the wooden ones out in the rain! I made them for my recent show and sold them then too. This little birdie looks like he was quite interested in them!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Amigurumi charms

I had a lovely request from someone on Etsy recently. This lady had recently bought my "Charlie the Chicken" bangle bracelet and wanted to commission another charm from me. At the beginning of the year, she had bought her sister a Amigurumi knitted toy - called "little bun" when her sister was having a tough time. This little knitted bun turned out to be the one thing that connected the two of them together during an otherwise sad time and the only thing that brought a smile to their faces..... The photo above shows the little guy who was to be my inspiration for a charm. He was created by moonscreations

Now she wanted to try and capture a piece of what could bring a smile to their faces during a difficult time and have something to remind her of it...and so she asked me to make her a silver charm of her Amigurumi little bun. For those of you who don't know, Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crotcheting a small stuffed animal.The pervading aesthetic of amigurumi is cuteness! To this end, typical amigurumi animals have an over-sized spherical head on a cylindrical body with undersized extremities.
Anyhow, I contacted the person - Marcy, from Moonscreations, who made the original bun and checked with her that she didn't mind me using her design. She was lovely - and in fact asked me to make her one as well!

And so in the end, I made three little Amigurumi-style little bun silver charms, in case one of them didn't work out......
Hopefully the "cuteness" comes through.

And again, it was another example of a story behind a piece that was just so touching. Whilst I haven't elaborated on the details here - my knowing the reason behind the creation makes it so much a richer experience for me. And richer too that this person would want to tell me about it......

And whilst it's all too easy to often think to myself that I just create jewelry.....and what's the point of that??..... - projects like this show a different side of it. Thanks Iza. Hope your new little bun brings a smile on your face when you need it most of all.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Olive harvest

We harvested our olives today - and were blessed with good weather. Normally it's raining and cold and your hands get raw and's just not alot of fun! Last year we changed clothes 3 times because we got so drenched and soaked and chilled through..... I have to admit that this year we also changed clothes three times -but were taking off layers - so that made a refreshing change! The sun was shining, it was warm...and a perfect day for olive picking.

It's a well known fact that friends only help you pick olives once. Now grapes, everyone wants to come back year after year - but olives are hard work. Especially ours. The previous owners of our house never picked the olives but let the trees grow tall so now most of the olives are out of reach, even with ladders. Well we had one friend help us this year - Laura. Thanks Laura - you did a great job. Her favorite was using the rake. As the weather was nice, maybe you'll come again?????? Here's Laura scrambling in the large olive...but small tree....This year one tree made all the difference to us. Most of our olives are the tiny olives - we have about 10 trees of these. They are the old trees that were planted years ago and are tall. Since we've moved here, we've planted some large olive varietal trees - and kept them shorter. One of these just had soooooo many olives on it this year - it was just great. It was the a joy to pick. Here's John up the ladder ...
My parents bought us a tree a few years ago - with large olives - but this year it only had 10 olives on it. At least it was some.....but olive trees tend to bear fruit one year, then take a year off, so it was its year off this year - so 10 was better than none!

As always happens, we finish picking and there are still loads of olives left on the tree. We just can't get to them all. This year, we picked for about 4 hours. It's tough work - especially on the arms but also on my toes. I find when I'm up a ladder all the time that my toes are trying to curl under to hold on....I tell my self, just relax your toes - but they won't. I think they are scared and so try their best to hold on to the step, even though inside the shoes it really makes no difference. So tonight or tomorrow, I'll probably have cramp in my toes for keeping them curled up for so long!

Anyhow - we picked 97 lbs today! Not bad heh? Last year we picked 75 lbs. We'll take them down to the olive press in the village tomorrow and then pick up our wonderful oil later in the week.
I'll let you know how much we get and how it tastes - but normally, it's enough to last us the year - and it tastes wonderful -especially because you know it's yours!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A cup of coffee.....

I'm away at the moment. I know - again!!! This time it's a little escape with my hubby to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We've been married 13 years now. We are in Half Moon Bay - haven't been there before - and having a leisurely time and spending time lingering over a cup of coffee....

I made a little coffee mug charm for my sister for her birthday, along with some other charms and a bracelet. I thought it was quite cute - and nice gift for friends whom you meet to have coffee with. Conjurs up those cozy feelings or sharing coffee or snuggled under a blanket and warming your hands on the mug........

Back tomorrow and it's olive harvest day!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Here's this week's little movie - called Boundin - by Pixar. There's a cute owl in it - but most of it is about a sheep. Sweet little story. Hope you like it and it makes you want to go a boundin'!

Here's the link: Boundin'

The secret garden

I've just added some colored resin to my secret garden necklace. When I first made it, it was always my plan to put resin in it -but then when it was done, my hubby said he liked it as it was, so I left it..... But whenever I saw it, I felt it needed something else. So now it's done! Little pinky/red flowers. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


During this holiday and gift giving season, if you are purchasing gifts online, try looking at From their online mall on their website, you can shop from over 700 stores and a percentage of your purchase amount is sent to a non-profit. You can choose from the list of non-profits, or add your favourite one. Nest is one of the non profits that is a recipient too.

Stores include Lands End, Nordstrom, Barnes and Noble, Home Depot, Staples, Gap, Best Buy...Lots of places you may be buying from.

There is also a little "gadget" you can get for your toolbar that notifies you if you are about to checkout from somewhere that donates to iGive. It can then reroute you through iGive so that the non profit gets the benefit.

It's a great way to shop and help others too: