Cats and Cookery Happy Thanksgiving

Who knew cats could cook?  Not that Boris cooks.  He expects to be waited on and is the type of cat who would have all the best take out places on speed dial if we let him have a phone.  Which we don’t for obvious reasons.

But our bridge kitty Plumpton was quite a cook .  In fact, one of this recipes was published.Feline-Lcookbookcover

Here is the recipe


I have never tried it and never made it for Boris.  Even though I have an adventurous palate, I find some of the ingredients, well, a little off-putting.

We will not be making a turkey tomorrow because we will be delivering a cookbook to Boris’s penpals with whom we will be spending the day.   Here he is posing with the cookbook.

On this Thanksgiving, Boris is thankful for friends, (especially his young penpals),  for a safe and cozy home, and people who love him (even if we don’t feed him as often as he would like).   What are you thankful for?


Boris Dream of Drumsticks

Boris (dreaming of drumsticks) wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving,

My Studio Then and Now

Libby Mills ran a series on her blog a few years ago called Studio Snapshot and she was kind enough to feature my workspace in one of her posts.  I thought it would be fun to do a then and now post of my space.


A little neater. now, don’t you think?  I have to confess that one of the reasons it’s so orderly is because I am not in the middle of any projects now, because I am recovering from hand surgery and because I have been cleaning.   Our boiler and water heater entered into a mutual suicide pact last week which necessitated replacing them both with this new gizmo.  Which necessitated drilling through the foundation.  Which created lots of dust.

The New Gizmo

New Gizmo does not need to use the chimney as it is vented out the side of the house, and the workshop is so clean is because I have been steam cleaning the fine layer of dust off of everything.

Chimney opening

This means I can move my kiln and my polymer oven to the back basement, install a ventilation system  like this one that will blow out the chimney, and gain some space in the front basement.    I do not plan to add anything else to the front basement because I like the idea of having more room to stretch,  something I did not always have. But I will have to have some electrical work done in the back so I can run my kiln, oven, and ventilation system there.  I haven’t done any lamp working for a few years but I have worked with bronze metal clay, porcelain clay, and have done some glass fusing.


Pretty Cluttered

I have donated all but my very favorite beads ( which leaves quite a lot of them) and have installed new lighting in the work space.  And I have gotten rid of a TON of supples, paints, fabric, glues, found objects, old tools, metal and more to good homes.

I replaced all my old furniture with Ikea Helmer cabinets and Linmon table tops  When I like about this is when you want to move supplies, you can simply switch drawers. Everything fits! And everything’s on wheels which makes it doubly convenient.  You can move things around without a lot of fuss.



I still have my old watchmaking bench but I use it for display and to hold supplies


When your space is as small as mine, something has to go every time you bring something new in.  I snagged this cabinet for $5.00 at a house sale.  I am still deciding what to toss.


I don’t think I will ever have enough hammers though.


Beginning Flat Peyote Stitch

I mostly love the how-to videos available on YouTube.   I mean they have everything!  I learned how to make striped lamp worked beads,   how to replace the gasket on my refrigerator door, how to remove an appendix (only kidding there.)

There wasn’t any YouTube when I first started seed beading.  My friends Sara Caldwell, who later started Blue Santa Beads and Carole Haines showed me a basic peyote stitch which enabled me to make my first lumpy amulet bag.  I bought books and taught myself the basic stitches.   My friend Gladys Glass, who owns the Woodstock Trading Company,  taught me how to crochet with beads. Since then, I have taught basic bead stitches and bead crochet to friends, mostly for fun.  And Beading Yoda has taught me innumerable tricks and tips.

When my friend Cynthia told me she was interested in learning off loom bead weaving, I went to YouTube in  search of beginner’s videos to recommend and I was somewhat taken aback.  The first one I saw described starting the first rows of flat peyote stitch as a “nightmare.”   I don’t think you help newbies by telling them that what you are trying to teach them is difficult (unless it really truly is.  But we are not training Navy Seals here.  This is beginning beadwork).  People learn in different ways and an effective teacher facilitates learning.

In other videos, the teachers talk for several minutes before getting into the beading.  Unless this digression covers a well-edited review of tools and materials, or something equally interesting, like in Leslie Rogalski’s video (below) I don’t see why all that chatter is necessary.  I get impatient.  And bored.  But Leslie’s video is concise, concrete and informative.


And sometimes, you don’t need  words at all, like in this great animated video from VP Biser.   You can turn off the music if it gets to be too much.



When you’re ready to graduate to more complex beading and projects, I recommend the videos of Heather Collin, Jill Wiseman, Beading for Perfectionists.  

It’s best to use larger beads (like Perler beads) when you a beginning beader, at least to learn the basic stitches.  Now, Cynthia thinks this does not apply to her because her first knitting project was argyle baby booties. And the project was successful.    And while I haven’t seen the booties, I believe her.

Delica Beads are a good choice for beginner’s projects because they are uniform in size, a fact you especially appreciate when you start beading.    (One reason my  first amulet bag was lumpy was that I used cheap  beads.)  Yes, they are more expensive, but they are easier to use.  And you can always rip out your work and start over if you don’t like what you’ve made.

Blue Santa has a great selection of Delica beads, plus all kinds of needles, threads and a great staff to answer all your questions. Beading Yoda swears by Discount Delicas who has a big selection. I like Farmer Jerry on Ebay .  They don’t have every color, but they have great prices and  offer free shipping on orders of $20.00 or more.

Happy beading.

Street Art in Lisbon

Last week’s post on the Philadelphia Fashion District referenced the blog which chronicles street art in Philadelphia.  I love street art because it’s free for the viewing,  usually relevant to current events, or a chronicle of  past events that need to be memorialized.  People have been drawing and writing on public walls since ancient times.  Street art can be viewed as a crime or high art.   I prefer to think of it as  public art.

Lisbon in Portugal has a lively and vibrant street art scene as I discovered on a  trip there earlier this year.  Here are some highlights:TheFoxLisbon89

The Fox covers the side of a building and is made up of junk and recycled materials.

Read more about the artist, Attero Bordalo II, here.


The Alfama District is home to some great street art including a mural dedicated to Fado singer Maria Severa Onofriana.

LisbonWalkingTourAlfama13Respect Stpry of Old Women Graffifi Artists

Here’s one of my favorite Lisbon murals.  It’s called “Respect” and is also in the Alfama District.  Apparently there is a whole cadre of senior street and graffiti artists in Lisbon.  We were told that this mural depicts one of them reacting when a younger colleague does not show her the respect to which she is entitled.  Read more about the older artists here.  Read the real story behind the Respect mural here.

Some more  Lisbon street art picturesLisbonWalkingTourAlfama76 2LisbonWalkingTourAlfama10IMG_7923IMG_6967IMG_6949IMG_6872IMG_6862IMG_6860

If you want to learn more about Lisbon street art, the Camels and Chocolate  blog is a good place to start.  Better yet, go to Lisbon and walk the streets.