Engineer by day, beadweaver by night (mostly), I like to look for answers to questions.
How do things work? What inspires you? What do you wonder about?
Explore the journey to creativity together.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making Beaded Snowflakes

At this time of year, I particularly enjoy making snowflakes.  Even though they are a relatively small project for me, they completely take over my beading space when I work on them.  My beading mat fills up with dozens of tiny piles of beads.  

I like to mix many different textures, shapes, sizes and colors.  I mostly use glass beads, but sometimes I add a pearl, shell or gemstone bead.  So far I have used bright colors sparingly, which is why some of my bead piles are so small.

It is amazing how many different kinds of white there are.  So far my work has been strictly in cool whites; I haven't even broken into my boxes of warm cream colors yet.  I want to make some ivory snowflakes too, maybe with amber touches.

Each snowflake has been unique - I make up the pattern as I go along.  This takes longer than working from a set pattern.  Sometimes I try something that doesn't work very well and it takes me several tries to get the get a snowflake to look right.  I keep meaning to make copies of some of my favorite snowflakes so far, but it's more fun to try something new.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite winter project?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for the Happy Memories

Thanksgiving is a holiday about remembering your blessings and being together with the people you treasure.  My mother recently gave me a thumb drive full of old family photos she had scanned into the computer.   I thought I would share some of the pictures that bring back lots of happy memories for me.

Here are my older brother, my younger sister and I.  I especially like the photo of  my sister looking through the window - it really captures her sweet personality.

These are my grandparents.  They lived on a farm.  When we came to visit, they let us drive the tractor, most of the cars, and an Honda 3 wheeler (they were legal in those days).

Here are my brother and sister riding the 3 wheeler together.

My parents took us on lots of camping trips when we were growing up, which is probably why I love camping and areas of natural beauty so much as an adult.

Of course, we had the trip to Disneyland.  I remember riding in that giant tea cup with my mother made me feel so special. 

This collage is a group of special memories that didn't fit with the rest:  my childhood best friend (notice the Pinto in the background?), a trip to Mt. Palamar, me wearing a red dress my great grandmother made in 1928, and the family dog.  I think I still have that pillow she is laying on.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and make some wonderful memories this weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thank You Thursday

I'd like to show my appreciation to the people you have included me in their treasuries in the last few weeks.

Thanks to VariousGeekery for featuring my Winter Ornament Snowflake in Cold Snap.  VariousGeekery does not have a shop, so I will post the treasury itself.

Please help me thank VariousGeekery (who loves to make treasuries on Etsy) by visiting and commenting on any of their treasuries.

Thanks to Josephine of Josephine Brooks Design for including my Grapevine Necklace in her lovely treasury Wine Country.  Josephine makes beautiful lampwork beads.  I really love her Purple Dragonfly Lampwork Bead

Thanks to Sharri of the Beaded Bead for including my Leaf Earrings in her stunning Warm Thanksgiving Wishes from the Treasury Challenge NonTeam.  Sharri makes gorgeous beadwork beads, jewelry and patterns.  Her Sea Anemone Pendant with tiger's eye, green garnet, tourmaline and pearls is absolutely amazing!

Thanks to Guildedhedgie for including my Unique Snowflake Ornament in the exquisite Sparkly Silver and Blue Holiday Decor treasury.  Guildedhedgie makes fun and quirky crafts; talents include sewing, knitting and jewelry.  Like me, Guildedhedgie is an engineer who needs a creative outlet :)  This Autumn Colors Scarf is perfect for fall!

 Thanks to Karen of Mystic Wynd for including my Beautiful Snowflake Ornament in her very lovely First Snowflakes of the Season treasury.  Karen makes wonderful jewelry.  I especially love her Autumn Charm Bracelet.  I am a big fan of both copper and moss agate.

As always, thanks to all of you for being an awesome community!  I hope you have enjoyed these features as much as I have :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Avoiding Sinus Infections

I haven't been very active in any social media for the last week, including blogging.  I've had a sinus infection that has left me wiped out.  I could not afford to stay home sick for the last week, so I've just been working and resting.  Now I am finally starting to feel better.

I have a history of having lots of sinus infections.  Over the years, I have learned tricks to prevent illness and to shorten the duration when I do get sick.  This year I have only had 2 sinus infections (in years past, I have had one every 6 weeks or so).

I thought I would share what has worked for me, since we are coming into cold and flu season.   The basic strategy is to keep mucus thin.  When mucus is more fluid, it washes viruses and bacteria down to the stomach, where they are destroyed by stomach acids.  Thinning mucus also helps relieve the awful stuffy head caused by sinus infection.

1.  Vitamin D:  This has probably made the biggest difference for me.  I now take 4000 IU per day of vitamin D (10 times the USDA recommended level).  Several times, I have run out and stopped taking it for a week or so - each time I get sick.  There is a ton of research going on right now about all the ways vitamin D is beneficial to many different aspects of health.  Many people are deficient in vitamin D, especially in my part of the world.  It is possible to take too much of this vitamin, so it is important to talk to your doctor.  When I have blood work done to check my cholesterol and so forth, I ask them to check the level of vitamin D in my blood and adjust my dose as needed.

2.  Diet:  I try to make sure I eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  They say you should eat 5 servings - I shoot for 9.  I also try to make sure I eat enough protein, which is hard for me because I am a picky eater when it comes to meat.  I really limit my carbs, especially sugar and flour - no sodas, no candy, and very little bread.

3.  Exercise:  I play soccer twice a week and try to walk every day.  Sometimes when I am getting sick exercising hard in a soccer game makes me feel better.

4.  Hydrate:  When I am dehydrated I get more stuffy.  Drinking lots of water helps keep mucus thin.

5.  Saline Nasal Irrigation:  This will sound kind of weird if you have never done it, but rinsing my sinuses with a saline wash can really help remove infections and even relieve allergy symptoms.  The rinsing action of the water helps carry away allergens and invading virus or bacteria, and the water itself helps thin mucus.  Irrigation also helps reduce inflammation, allowing a wider passage for mucus to drain to the stomach.
6.  Kelp (iodine):  I was going to an acupuncturist for help at one point, and he suggested taking an iodine supplement.  I learned that iodine helps thin mucus, and I was amazed how well it worked.   Kelp has a lot of iodine in it, so nowadays I take a kelp supplement instead of iodine drops.  I read up on iodine (I think it is always a good idea to do your own research on supplements) and found out that if you take too much it can cause thyroid problems.  I ask my doctor to check my thyroid function when I get blood work done.

7.  Hot Tea/Water:  Both green and black tea are very healthy in different ways.  I drink both. I find that hot tea or hot water is soothing when I am stuffed up; it helps to thin mucus. If I am feeling too dehydrated for tea but still want something hot and steamy, I drink hot water, sometimes with peppermint extract added.  I am careful when I decide to add peppermint - the first few seconds after I add the extract to the hot water, the peppermint is strong enough to be uncomfortable.

8.  Steam:  Inhaling steam, especially though your nose if you can, can help a stuffy head and thin mucus.  Sometimes I add a few drops of peppermint extract to the hot water.   I am careful when I decide to add peppermint - the first few seconds after I add the extract to the hot water, the peppermint is strong enough to be uncomfortable.

9.  Hot Pack:  A hot pack improves circulation, allowing more of the antibodies in the blood to reach the infection.  I recently got a hot pack with a mixture of flax seeds and peppermint leaves.  The peppermint really magnifies the effect of the hot pack.  I like it, but it might be uncomfortable for some people.

10.  Other Supplements:  Taking other supplements does not make as a clear a difference as vitamin D does, but I think they do help.  I take a good quality multivitamin every day.  When I am sick, I also take extra vitamin A, C and E, extra zinc, echinacea and goldenseal.

11.  Gargle:  When I have a sore throat I gargle with salt water.  It helps for a while.  Sometimes I have to gargle pretty frequently.  I keep a box of kosher salt in my desk at work.  I have read one should use non-iodized salt to gargle, but I am not sure why.

12.  Get Help:  I prefer to take care of my illnesses myself using more gentle, natural methods.  But I also need to know when to use pharmaceuticals or go to the doctor to get an antibiotic.

This is what works for me - I really believe everyone's body works a little different, so it is important to experiment and see what works for you.  Do you have any tips for cold and flu season?  I would love to hear about them - I might add them to my repertoire!