Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Musical Life

So, it happens a lot. You meet a new person and you are making small talk and, as they try to get to know you better, there is always the one question they ask.... What kind of  music do you listen to? It is even one of the questions on the profile list on blogger, which I did answer with a few of my favorites. My real answer to this question is YES!!
 This is a picture of 'The Record Wall' in my house. There are roughly 75-80 albums in each 13" square and I have no idea how many lined up on the floor. So, yes, I love show tunes (one of those boxes is nothing but Broadway and musicals) and disco is one of my all time favorite styles of music. I actually just received an album that is The Wizard of Oz score, disco style! I grew up listening to folk music and my affection for it has not waned. Punk, rockabilly, big band, jazz, blues, electronic, spoken word, and albums so unusual I would not know how to categorize them. They all have amazing sounds and lyrics and feeling. 
These are the sounds that keep our household moving. Cleaning is more pallet-able, beadweaving is dreamy, cooking is choreographed, and even the occasional night of the abundant consumption of spirits becomes more entertaining. This is the attraction to musicals - that my whole life can have a score and you never know when I might break out into song and dance!

Well, what kind of music do you favor? I love suggestions!

Friday, December 16, 2011

A very long story about my 'other job'

I do not usually talk about my 'day' job here or on the internet at all. It makes me feel exposed and uncomfortable. It also makes me uncomfortable to share my feelings. So today I am going to do both. Not for any self growing exercise or anything but because a recent news story has inspired me to talk about why I work for the company I do.

I work in retail. In the fall of 2008 I had been working for the same arts and crafts supplier for more than seven years. I loved the staff, the customers. and most of the product. What I did not love toward the end of my time there was that the company had started junking up our stores with very cheap, non-craft related fodder (although I know artists can relate anything to craft when the mood strikes them). The company was also never interested in being community involved at all. They even went so far as to post a sign that listed the charities they donate to at the corporate level and that is how they 'give back' so please do not solicit for anything more. My favorite example of the complete disregard for the communities where they placed their stores is their annual 'Wedding Event'. This was a huge deal to the company. We basically threw a wedding party in our store with all of the decorations, cake, hands on activities, and employees dressed up. Great idea, except that I live in Kentucky and no matter how many times we asked to change the date of the event in our store and failed to bring in half of the customers expected when they said no, year after year we dressed up and threw our lonely wedding party on Derby Day. The last straw for me came when they implemented a uniform. I could not stand the idea of dressing alike in a place where creativity is supposed to be sparked. So I set out on a mission. 

I was not just searching for a new job, I was searching for a company that cared about the community where their employees and customers lived (and still being able to wear jeans and tennis shoes every day was a plus). I chose to go with home improvement because it fell in with the DIY realm that I love. There are two major home improvement retailers in my area, Lowes and Home Depot. I heard a rumor that Lowes was employee owned. After a little research it seemed that it had in fact been employee owned at one time but that had changed and there were a few other things changing that made me a bit uneasy about the company. A little research into Home Depot uncovered what I thought I was looking for. They had employee stock purchase options and Team Depot, a group of employees in each store that actually go volunteer in the community backed by Home Depot. So it looked like they were taking care of their employees and the communities where they lived. This is why I sought employment with Home Depot.

Fast forward two years. I had learned that Home Depot does in fact take care of it's employees and not only supports the communities surrounding their stores but pushes their associates to be involved and has an all inclusive diversity policy. That year the AFA called for a boycott of The Home Depot for allowing some of their stores to participate in Pride Festivals in their cities. I held my breath and waited for my company to disappoint me with a public apology. I was so proud when they instead announced that the company has a policy to support and respect the diversity of its employees and customers and would not change their views on this to appease the AFA.

This made me realize what a great choice I had made when I chose my employer. This week, that feeling of pride in my company and comfort in knowing I made the right decision three years ago was reinforced when I read a news story that Lowes, despite having their own policy of acceptance of diversity, pulled their ad from a television program about American Muslims in response to complaints from a small group in Florida.  

I wanted to share this story with you today because when you work for a company as large as The Home Depot, their actions and policies do reflect on how people you know view you as a person. I am happy to say that I and the company I work for share the same views on equality and community.





Thursday, December 8, 2011

SnailMailART

Several months ago I blogged about an Artist Trading Card group that my sister, Risa, and I started up. Since then our group continues growing and the whole process of creating and receiving the cards gets more fun and exciting each time.  

I am once again inviting anyone interested to consider joining the group. If you are unfamiliar with what an ATC is here is a great web site that will have information and inspiration. My sister also explained it well in her initial letter when the group started...

The only limitations are that it is roughly 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size, that it can be mailed, and that it is an original artwork by the sender.  The "card" can be made of any medium:  paint, fiber, paper, wood, metal, written word, macaroni - you name it.  If you are a photographer or a print maker you can issue an edition. 

 If you are unsure of yet another commitment to add to your busy days, keep in mind this is not yet another obligation that you must wade through less you face dire consequences.  It is meant to be a step back from those very obligations - a creative sigh.  If you decide it has become one too many things to attend to and you bow out you will not be fired, dumped, chastised or banished.  You will not have social services come and take away your art supplies.  And you can always come back to it.  

The cards are traded every other month so that all of the already busy members can participate without feeling overwhelmed. Each member gets a turn in choosing a theme for each round. To see the interpretations of these themes from the different minds and mediums is super awesome. 
 
If you are interested in joining this group you can contact me here  and I will provide you with full details or answer any questions. Until then, enjoy a few examples of some of the ATC's that our group members have created in the past several months...
'Translucent' by Amanda Land  
'Hot' by Jessie Yost (me)
'Transitions' by Rhonda Kincaid
'Fear' by Risa Yost
 The next theme is 'Snowflake' and if you join now you will have almost the full two months to complete your card. So have fun and feel free to contact me here or in the comments below!


Please note that while these cards are made for trade, the art and designs pictured above are still the artists' copyright and posted here only with the artists' permission. Thank you.
 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Cheer?

Well, if you can't ruin their holiday cheer then join them, and so I have. There are so many things that I dislike about this holiday. The whole month is a constant grating on my nerves, but, as I said, I have not ruined anyone's cheer yet so this is not a post about how much I dislike the holiday. There are a few shining things about the holiday that I enjoy and so, as the Grinch's heart grows, so I am trying to use those shining pieces to grow my affection for Christmas. I sit here going so far as to type out the word Christmas instead of insisting on calling it x-mas, I have not said foul things about the Christmas decorations at work (only the music because, come on, clearly some of these songs were not intended to be listened to more than one time each year), and this year I have made a Christmas Ornament to list in my shop.

Now I have made ornaments before for friends and family but this is the first year I have added to the crazy Christmas hubbub on Etsy. I feel like part of a group and a bit dirty all at the same time. The beadwork did turn out nice though and I love these sparkling crystals and hang them from my ceiling year round to reflect light into rainbows all over my studio. I don't know if more will follow (one step at a time and all) but this is a start to my trying to enjoy the holiday more and bah humbug it less. That being said, red and green remains my least favorite color combination.

Along Merchant Row, shops outdid themselves (and the churches) in decor, with displays of fashionable clothes, and useless and expensive trinkets.
                                                      - Gregory Maguire from Wicked

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Beggining to look a lot like...

Are you ready? ....Thanksgiving! 
Oh, I am so excited for a full day of laughter and family and a never ending, full, warm belly. This is the last year for the short lived but comforting tradition that the three of us have established in our brightly colored home here in Lexington before we move north and have to miss spending Thanksgiving with our extended family that first year. So one more time we will wake up early and, occasionally elbowing each other for extra space in our  small kitchen, cook side dishes in our pajamas with cartoons and the Macy's parade turned up on the television before coordinating showers and getting dressed in our cozy fall outfits. Then we will drive to my parents house in the next town over where my sisters and their families will also be gathering and spend the day sharing delicious food, bottles of wine, and each others company.

Now the important part - the food. We never know what all will be there until we are all there. The constants are the turkey and a very large number of meatless side dishes (one of my sisters is vegetarian). Since I am not as skilled in the cooking department as my Mother and sisters and partner, I cook the same dish every year. Partly because I have not messed it up yet and partly because it is delicious! This is the sweet potato dish recipe that I use and highly recommend to anyone who enjoys food. 

So, tell me, what is your favorite holiday dish or tradition or both?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Into The Woods

How's the weather?
Am I really talking about the weather? Yawn. Isn't that what people with nothing better to talk about do?  Perhaps if it has been as beautiful of a fall season in your area as it has been here in Kentucky then you too will find the weather conversation worthy. 

I suppose autumn really is always a lovely season. A fresh, cool sigh after a too hot summer. Trees may be shedding their foliage and looking a bit bare but they are doing it with grace and style, carpeting paths for inspiring walks through the woods.
So much in our creative world is inspired by the fiery and neutral colors that fall offers and since it is such a wonderful time to be outside then it is the perfect time to be seen in your favorite fall fashions and accessories. 'Tis the season for layers of color on top of skirts with fun matching tights that peek out above stylish boots. A scarf around your neck if it is cooler in your area and of course great jewelry to complete the look.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/81848592/red-green-and-brown-autumn-flowers
 
  







I am personally really excited about the stylish boots for the perfect outdoor weather. What is your favorite fall fashion?
  





Thursday, November 3, 2011

When I am Alone

I sit at my desk. The music ended minutes ago but I continue in my bead world watching stitches build, completely oblivious to the  ba-dump ba-dump of the needle reminding me that it needs to be lifted from the record.

It is a stray thought into the 'real' world that alerts my ears to monotonous sound keeping rhythm with the silence. I hop up, quick stretch, flip the record, then back to my mesmerizing world where cold glass and warm threads come together to make sparkling, texture rich art that makes me smile and feeds my imagination.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Am Back

So I became a bit overwhelmed a few months ago and dropped the blogging for a while but I have decided it is time to pick it back up. 

Life has been quite busy in that time. My daughter suddenly became obsessed with soccer and joined a team. She is quite good for a beginner but then again she is already athletic. I took over a different department at work which involves a lot more responsibility (and stress). And my partner and I have decided to move our small family to Minneapolis, MN next summer. We visited the city for the first time a couple weeks ago to check out the area and schools and we were not disappointed by our decision. Minneapolis is a beautiful city with a lot going on. I don't have a lot of pics to share from that trip as most of the pics we took were of real estate but I will share the most valuable tool we have ever purchased. GPS
I know I am really behind on this but I am glad we at least finally bought one for this trip. It saved us a lot of time and arguing. 


We are back, life has not stopped being incredibly busy but the waves are calming a bit as the soccer season comes to a close and I settle into my new job and our travels come to an end after this month. That means I have a little more time for weaving beads and my jess2bead shop. 

So new projects are beginning and my communication on line is becoming more consistent. I have even started trying to learn how to use the twitter account I opened and never used. I have  to say that I am definitely very confused by twitter so if anyone has any tips on that, feel free to share.

Thanks for reading and have a Happy Halloween!

 
 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meet Jennifer Daniels


Let me introduce you to the lovely and talented Jennifer Daniels . My favorite current folk musician.There is not a song on her albums I have that I don't love and know all of the words to.

A couple weeks ago a local deli hosted her in a wonderful outdoor setting with great food and beer giving me my third opportunity to enjoy her music live since I first heard her in Chattanooga, TN many years ago where I became an immediate fan. (She's that good folks!)
Jennifer Daniels and Jeff Neal
If you have not been so lucky you should do yourself a favor and discover her fresh folk sound here




My beaded folk music tribute.

Since I am not much of a writer and am much better with visuals and imagery I have also created an Etsy treasury inspired by Jennifer Daniels and folk music.  












          Peace, Love, and Rock On!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation Part1

Woo Hoo! I am back from soaring through the skies!! 



It was a crazy exciting week that my family and  I started out by being slung 125ft into the air.







Then shot 420ft straight up a track......







.....Just making it over the top to plunge straight back down toward the ground.








420ft is 10ft taller than the tallest building in the town I live in!









That still did not make being pulled 310ft into the air and released into a whirlwind of drops and twists and turns seem less crazy and awe-some



 


Over and over again for two days of reaching new heights and turning upside down while sitting, standing, feet dangling in the wind.








Being rattled into fear in a beautiful maze of lumber...




....and even enjoying a few peaceful and silly moments riding a few tame rides like the YELLOW SUBMARINE!
Yes, we did sing the song while riding. :)
This started out our fun week. I will continue with the rest another day soon. In the meantime you can check out the treasury I was featured in and the treasury I created on Etsy since I have been back home and have fun!



 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good Day

I do not actually lack good days in my life. Most of them are quite nice, but a couple things happened today that were worth bragging about!


Please note my awesome necklace.
 This is me in the parking lot of the grocery store where I just bought batteries to find out if the camera that was used to take this picture did in fact work. I am so happy that it does work (illustrated by this picture) and even better, works like new. I purchased it for $15 at the Goodwill across the street from this grocer. I was getting ready to spend over $200 on a very similar camera so I could have one to carry with me outside of the house. I take my product photos with Levi's fancy and bulky professional camera so I certainly did not want to risk damaging that baby. This find definitely deserves a thumbs up!

 My hair in that picture is a mess because I have been riding around in this. A 1993 Honda Del Sol and our 'new' car! We actually bought this a couple weeks ago but Levi and I have been working crazy schedules so today was the first chance we had to get to the DMV and get a license plate for it. We had a lot of fun with it today.

 It replaces this gas guzzler which will soon be on Craig's List. It has been a good car but we no longer haul anything and it is beginning to cost much more to keep it running than it is worth.


But the Honda is not the only car we titled today! The first and only car that we have not purchased out right also became ours today! So there is my story of this good day. I hope everyone has had a good day and will have great days all week long. 


 

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Invitation

Hello My Friends!

Today I wanted to extend an invitation to any artists, writers, creatives who might read this or know someone who read this.

My younger sister and I have started an Artist Trading Card group with a few people we know and have discovered that it is crazy fun!

 So much fun that I felt bad for others that have not been presented the opportunity to have this kind of fun and felt it was my responsibility to give more people the chance to have as much fun as we are.

So without further suspense here is a message from my sister...

THE IDEA

Artist Trading Cards.  If you are unfamiliar with them, here is the wikipedia site with a brief explanation:

 We have created an alphabetically organized mailing list of the names and addresses of those who are participating. The participation involves creating one of these cards on a bi-monthly basis and sending it via USPS to the person whose name follows yours on the list and then the next name and then the next and so on and so forth.  In turn you will receive a card every other month from one of the other participants. 

The only limitations are that it is roughly 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size, that it can be mailed, and that it is an original artwork by the sender.  The "card" can be made of any medium:  paint, fiber, paper, wood, metal, written word, macaroni - you name it.  If you are a photographer or a print maker you can issue an edition. 

 If you are unsure of yet another commitment to add to your busy days, keep in mind this is not yet another obligation that you must wade through less you face dire consequences.  It is meant to be a step back from those very obligations - a creative sigh.  If you decide it has become one too many things to attend to and you bow out you will not be fired, dumped, chastised or banished.  You will not have social services come and take away your art supplies.  And you can always come back to it.  

Your friend,
Risa Yost

She is brilliant, my sister.

As I mentioned, we have already started and gone through one round that was mailed out June 1st so now is a great time to join because you will have the full two months to create your piece. If you are interested you can contact me and I will give you any additional information you may need or want.

Have a fun week!

Friday, May 27, 2011


My lovely, talented daughter, Illyana, recently photo-documented a warm and quiet spring evening in our back yard.

 She has quite the eye for good flower shots...



...and she prefers photography over boring things like conversation and pulling weeds.

Even Alice enjoys lazing about in the sun with the family.


 

 I hope you are all enjoying a few quiet spring evenings of your own.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Beady Beginnings

Thanks to everyone who responded to my first blog post! It is very encouraging. 

One of the comments complimented the beaded mask I pictured in that post and I mentioned that it was inspired by a piece done by bead loom artist Don Pierce that he showed during a three day workshop I took from him. I wanted to write about this today because that workshop was my introduction to the bead world.



I was living in Lakeland, FL with my young family at the time and staying at home with our daughter. My partner had purchased one of those plastic bead loom kits a few years earlier out of nostalgia  (she used one as a kid). That kit moved with us twice unopened.

Out of pity for the thing just sitting in a drawer never used and a lack of cash, I decided to make bead loomed bracelets for all of the women on my x-mas list that year (2000). The instructions in those kits are not exactly great. It came with a small pack of multi-colored beads and a needle but no thread. It did mention that sewing thread would not hold up and that whatever thread you did use could be coated with bees wax. Off to the superstore I went for dental floss and more beads!

That's right - dental floss was what came to mind for strong thread. So there I sat making bead loomed bracelet after bead loomed bracelet with my bagged size 10 beads and dental floss that I was coating with a Burt's Bees salve in place of bees wax. I loved every minute of it!

After the holiday I couldn't stop using the loom and had run out of design space on the small strip of graph paper provided in the kit. My wonderfully attentive and supportive partner, Julie, recognized my passion and discovered a local Bead Society that was coincidentally going to be hosting a bead loom workshop with Don Pierce and encouraged me to sign up for it.

I received a supply list that included the following:
delica beads
nymo thread
large bead loom

My reaction to this list went like this:
What?
Huh?
Where do you get that? 

This is the very same loom that I still use!
I found a local bead store that explained and supplied the delica beads and nymo thread. They could not provide me with a loom any bigger than the one I had though so Julie decided to make me one. A few scrap pieces of wood, some nails, and a screen door spring and I was all set for the workshop!

I was the youngest person in the workshop and the only beginner. I felt extremely awkward and silly next to all of the experienced and accomplished beadweavers but everyone was so incredibly nice and supportive and concerned with whether I was working under enough light. Mr. Pierce showed us the basics of beading on a loom and I was hooked. So much more I could do with my bead loom than I had ever imagined. We each worked on a piece using a technique that we were not totally confident with yet which for me was anything besides a strip for a bracelet. My design and color choices received some funny looks but no one judged my style - only the technique.

I still have that beadwork that I wore as a bracelet for a little while and I am still as happy with it as I was then. Since that first wonderful eye opening experience in the bead world I have taught myself off loom techniques and more on loom techniques via the internet and numerous books. I now own two large looms (the one made by Julie and one of Mr. Pierce's Larry Looms) and both are always in use....and I live happily ever after in my beautiful bead filled world.