Thursday, 31 July 2014

Mistress Mars experiments with a little bit of restraint!

Now there's a headline you don't read on here very often! And, no, I've not gone all Fifty Shades of Grey on you either.

How the end of July looked to me... did I mention I love having a bus??!!

I am ending the month as I started... talking about budgets & beads!

During July 1 (brand) new bead fell into my shopping cart, a rather lovely white/cream & glitter green unique with bumps that I've since squeezed onto my bus bracelet!

I also jumped on 2 preloved retired beads for another long term project; luckily being preloved definitely helped with the budget!  I'm feeling rather proud of my little bit of restraint.  Indeed had these 2 not been retired and less abundant than some retired beads, I would have left them for another day... but even on a strict budget, with experience you get to know which beads you'd be daft to leave behind!

Pic courtesy of Trollbeads

Tomorrow I am off to visit my LD for World Trollbeads Day.  It's a new day and a new budget month, and yes if I like the bead (based on it's description & early photos I think I shall - shhhh it's a secret) it's technically the whole of my budget for the month and all the pennies from down the back of the sofa - eek!  If I do like it, then this is going to be a very tough month ahead of me indeed.

To soften the blow I've been collecting even more pennies and providing nothing too dramatic happens elsewhere in my domestic life I've a spending pot for the X by Trollbeads and Trollbeads Fall Releases 2014 (hurrah!) that is considerably bigger than I first expected (woo-hoo!), so I'm hoping for some good collections and looking forward to that process of deciding what to get!

Unfortunately the bigger pot is due to a rather splendid, but sadly missing package of beads... which got as near to my house as mere miles after crossing the Atlantic, only to be returned to sender for reasons unknown (damaged or incorrect label most likely) and as the sender is no longer trading - bye bye beads.  

Thankfully my bank are hoping to refund me providing the now extinct shop don't challenge this, which if they do after having my money and receiving my beads back I'll need more than a "little restraint" to calm down!  A'hem...

In the meantime, I wish you a Happy World Trollbeads Day for tomorrow, and I shall see you sometime in August!

(Mistress) Mars xx

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday to Curling Stones for Lego People!!

Curling Stones for Lego People has reached it's 2nd anniversary of being in existance and I can't believe how much the blog has grown since last year, let alone this day 2 years ago!

Blooming Sunflowers from my trip down South earlier this month

In the last year I've collected some of my long term wishlist beads (and ones I thought I'd never have), I've had the pleasure of live blogging a Fashion Show with a lovely group of bloggers, met and worked with some amazing jewellery makers & retailers, completed the AtoZ challenge, pimped my bead box, attended my first blogger meet, finally stopped buying jewellery long enough to replace my boilers (yippee and boo all at the same time) and worked to showcase some great new brands whose jewellery just happened to fall into my shopping trolley... oh yeah and in case you were snoozing yesterday, I also bought a bus!

Sunset from the Bus

As you're reading this, I've actually headed off to experience another sunset on the bus, complete with my bus bracelet from yesterday and the number of the breakdown firm!

So raise a glass, a mug or a bottle of water and see you on the other side for the start of Year 3!

What are you most pleased about from the last 12 months,
stop by a while, share a tale or two and spread some joy around!

Friday, 25 July 2014

All the Special Things: A Bus and a Bracelet Crafted With Love

Normally I blog new charms separately; especially when I'm introducing a new brand to Curling Stones, but you know what... sometimes it's just fun to rip the format up and do something a bit special!

This is also a tale of my love affair with the new lady in my life...

View of the Sunset from the very first night we spent together under the stars

Ever since I was in my teens and once hitched a lift in a single decker bus, with a wood burning stove in the middle, chimney peaking out of the roof, a bed and sofa in the back, and a rocking chair for a passenger seat I've always dreamt of having a bus of my own.

Roll forward more years than I care to mention (but it's er, a lot) and I've finally been able to realise that dream, and although she's as tall as that single decker was, and almost as wide (I now have to stick to those "any vehicle" lanes where there are restrictions), she's not quite as long (thankfully as I've no idea where I'd park her if she was) but at just under 18ft, she will do nicely for me and mine!

I've also come to realise that I'm in need of access to a scrap yard, a bit more cash and a hotline to a decent mechanic!

My Bus
I should point out at this stage that I fell in love with her as soon as I saw the first photo, let alone that first glimpse as we drove hundreds of miles to see her, before I heard her deep rumble, battled with her non power "oh my god I'm driving a bus" steering and even when she broke down it didn't diminish, although I might have sworn a bit, after 3 times in 2 weeks.  As a result I'm now on 1st name terms with the breakdown & recovery guys!

Owning a bus is not a practical decision, it's definitely more a lifestyle thing and this bus is functioning as a camper... when she's behaving herself that is.

Her colours are now purple and cream on the outside and green and warm wood tones on the inside!

Since I published this post this morning, I've had a few requests across social media and on here to put pics up of our lovely bus.  

As she's rather distinctive looking (once seen never forgotten), I'd decided not to put pics on of our actual bus, but I do get that it's hard to just imagine what she's like, after all buses come in many shapes and sizes, so... I've come up with a solution!!

I've found an original spec sheet of the same model, so you can see her shape and size and this was actually her original colour - Sunshine Yellow! 

The bus as a bus!

There are sliding driver and passenger front entry doors (great for driving on hot days with the doors open) and double doors on the rear, which when we're parked up we just sit with these open, the bus equivalent of French Doors!

The original wheelchair lift has been taken off and any seats that nay have been in the back have been completely removed leaving a very large space that has been converted.

Structure wise there is now a front driver and passenger cab which is screened off with a middle door into the back of the bus, but the outside is completely untouched so you still have that full on bus experience and all the windows still have the clear glass, so there's a lot of curtains or blinds to draw at night but the views are spectacular!

The passenger carrying part of the bus was divided into a fully working kitchen area in the first part of the passenger area with a full sized cooker, sink, draining board and fridge.

At the back is a rather large lounge by day and bedroom by night.  There's a table that fits in the middle of the settees (which are long enough to lie down on with a good book) and at night these convert into one supersized king size bed spanning the width of the bus!  There's also a fire for those colder nights (definitely not needed this week) and more storage than you can shake a stick at, both in the kitchen and the lounge.

The Bracelet
I wanted to pick up on her new colour scheme in my bracelet (not the Sunshine Yellow that she was), and I wanted it big and chunky, like the bus, and to try and convey some of my feelings and emotions about finally having a bus and this bus in particular... Perhaps a tall order but here goes the reasoning behind the choice of beads!

I'll start with the silver and brass charms as the glass is mostly about her colour scheme.  The brass is not to represent any rust, honest... although there is rust given she's almost 30 years young!

Waxing Poetic - Dream Come True
I think this one is self explanatory - what you won't know is that I saw, and bought this charm on the very day that I bought my bus, and indeed I bought it whilst on the bus!  It's also my very first Waxing Poetic Charm so it would have been a very special "first" charm in it's own right.

Now, although I had to wait for it to be delivered, charm wise, it will always remind me of that first day and first night on the bus!  Did you notice the cloud formation as the sun set was rather similar!

Trollbeads - Spirit of Freedom
This is a bead I've had on my wishlist since I first started collecting, over 3 years ago.  It's only recently come into my possession and sums up the feeling I get when we're away in the bus.

Trollbeads - In Your Heart
A favourite on my Fantasy Necklace but the first time I've worn this on a bracelet, I wanted to make a big heart gesture to try and convey just how much I love my bus!

Redbalifrog - Aladdin's Lamp in Brass
I've always liked this charm, but when Amanda released this in brass, this was a must and was ordered immediately!  For my bus bracelet, this adds to my feeling that I really have been granted one of my big wishes!

Trollbeads - The Hare and the Tortoise
The tortoise is there to remind us that slow and steady is okay, although the tailback of drivers wherever we go may not agree, we are slightly more popular than a tractor!

Trollbeads - Lock with Buds
Lock with buds in this instance is in my mind "Lock with Bumps" to signify the bumps in the road, the bumpy start we've had with her and indeed a hair raising attempt at a bump start whilst being towed around a residential area one Sunday!

Trollbeads - Angles Tip
Angles Tip is an old retired silver bead and represents some of the moving parts of the bus, particularly the alternator!

Trollbeads - Black Silk
I have a particularly purple version of this, but the reason I chose to include it is because it reminds me of oil and given I've spend a lot of time with my head under the bonnet, it seemed apt!

Trollbeads - New Black, White and Grey "Peace" unique (CND symbol)
This is one of the newish uniques and it found it's way into my bead box early on, it's the first time I've used this and given the amount of times I've been asked about festivals, or if I'm going to read my crystal ball in the back of my "Hippy Bus" I figured the pop culture symbol was perfect for this bracelet.

I hope you like my bus bracelet, beads are listed below working from the Lock and travelling clockwise.

Beads clockwise from lock (Trollbeads unless marked otherwise) : Lock with Buds, Safety Chain, Stopper,
Purple Prism, Peace Unique, The Hare and the Tortoise, Purple Unique, Redbalifrog - Aladdin's Lamp in brass,
Lake Eye, In your Heart with Purple Unique, Inner Glow, Spirit of Freedom, Luccicare - Purple Unique with CZ,
Green Unique, Waxing Poetic - Dream Come True charm, Purple Stripe Unique, Lake Eye (extra big version),
Angles Tip, Black Silk, Green Python Unique, Purple Prism, Stopper.

Well this is the first time I've ever made a bracelet for a vehicle; but then again I've never had a bus before!

Have you ever made a bracelet for an unusual reason?
If not, would you consider it?  Have I just got bus madness...
Hit the comments and tell me all!

Monday, 21 July 2014

All My Amber Trollbeads

Regular readers will know that I love Amber, I never tire of how it looks and whilst I make and break bracelets all the time, I *always* have an amber one made up.

Recently I discovered I could make another amber bracelet without breaking any of my others up.  I love mixing amber colours, sizes, designs and textures, which is a good job as the amber beads that were in my bead box are all different, but I was stunned at how co-ordinated and deliberate this bracelet looks!
All Amber Bracelet (new)

It's been a while since I made my Amber and Amethyst bracelet in March, it hasn't changed in 4 months, not even a little tweak!

Amber and Amethyst Bracelet

I now have enough beads to have two full bracelets made up if one is mixed with other beads.  Awesome discovery!!

That's with still being able to have my Carved Amber Indulgence Bangle and Fantasy Necklace Set made up from May.

Carved Amber Bangle

Carved Amber Onyx Fantasy Necklace

...and there's still 3 stray Amber Beads in my bead box to play with... so by my current reckoning of making something amber up every other month, I'd check back in September to see where these 3 end up?!

Spare Amber?!

Did I mention I *really* love amber beads?!

All the Amber!

I would love to have an amber bead with an insect in, but failing that, I want to collect some more of the more opaque light ambers, and I'm always on the look out for unusual shapes!

Are you an amber fan?  With or without insects? Pop by & let me know!

P.S.  If you've ever wondered how the amber is made into beads...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Trollbeads Bangle - Green & Orange on Black with an Lemon Twist!

There have been some lovely new uniques from Trollbeads recently and the centre bead in this bangle was one that was part of the UK set available from Macrow Beads.

It was the only one I bought (see I do try and be good sometimes) and it's taken a while to get around to using it in a new combo as I've been so enamoured of the bangles and bracelets I already have made up!

I knew I wanted it to feature prominently in it's first combo, and I love that it has a black base so I took inspiration from this and paired it with my new (to me) Onyx Beads.  I was lucky to pick this fab pair of onyx beads preloved and the twist was that I threw in some lemon prisms for contrast.

Once this bangle came together, I suddenly realised that it might just compliment another bracelet I have made up, what do you think?

I love my new orange/green/black unique.  I'm being good and haven't picked up any of the newest batches but I love all the variety, something for everyone!

What new beads & brands do you have your eye on?
I can't believe I need to cut back just as it's all got very exciting again!
Hit the comments and share what you're currently coveting!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Themed Jewellery - Valentine's Day: Traditional Bracelet, Bangle & Fantasy Necklace Set

Sometimes when you're just bead playing you end up making something a bit special; at least that is what happened to me when I received some beads and a lock in the post.

Trollbeads don't have that many true red beads in the collection so when I picked up a second scarlet bud, two white stripes, another red stripe and a Heart Lock in a sale (one of the infamous liquidation sales earlier this year), I knew I wanted to have a go at making a more traditional Valentine's Day bracelet, and I had just the right heart unique to build the bracelet around.

Only I didn't stop at just the bracelet, I got a bit carried away and made a necklace and 2 bangles as well.

I tend to only dabble with themed jewellery when the mood takes me, or I've been inspired by a particular bead or set of beads; yet I know that this seems to be one of the most popular ways of putting together bracelets for some.

My everyday method is a bit more functional, I tend to match jewellery to my outfit (or in some cases choosing an outfit to go with a ready made bracelet) but I've played around with a few themes recently, just for fun like the set above, and quite enjoyed myself!

Now I'm curious! Do you make / wear themed jewellery at certain times of year?
What do you wear / make and what themes are your favourites?
Hit the comments and tell me more...

Oh by the way, you also need to "forget" ever seeing this post so I can reuse it come next February ;)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Beads, Boilers & Budgets (6 months on)

Wow it's July already!!

Butterfly in flight by Mars (Greece 2014)

As we've just tipped the half way point of 2014 it seemed like a good time to revisit my New Years Bead Resolution No. 6.

This is what I wrote at the start of January 2014...

6.  To spend less on jewellery than I did in 2013 so I can finally get my boilers replaced
"...I think this one is fairly self explanatory and obvious to regular readers of Curling Stones.  I've had a bumper year for jewellery buying and I've added up what I spent in 2013 then compared that figure to the one that represents what I've been saving up for generally (not just my boilers) and I didn't like the way the scales tipped - although I do love all the lovely new jewellery! No regrets for last year, just a change for 2014; I've set myself some personal financial goals and the result of this is the scales need to tip back to a more manageable level on the jewellery spending... well let's just leave it at that for now and see how this year pans out shall we?"
I expanded on this further when I wrote my A to Z series in April, 3 months later...
"My latest method is to say that "I won't spend more on jewellery than I save in any given 6 month period" - essentially hoping to promote a win win situation, if I spend more on Jewellery then I need to save more money for practical stuff.  So far it's looking good, but then again we're only in April... a lot can happen in 3 months!"
So, it's 3 months later and what did happen in April, May and June?!

Carved Amber Bracelet: Rose, Turtle & Ladybug

I thought I had a chance of recovering this resolution after I indulged heavily in the Liquidation Sales at the start of 2014, and then, a'hem, carved ambers appeared, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 carved ambers later - say no more!

Carved Amber Fantasy Necklace: Fat Fish, Thin Fish & Scarab

My resolution has evolved into 3 broad goals over the course of the last 6 months:
    1. Spend less on Jewellery overall than I did in 2013
    2. Increase my savings (preferably to the point where they exceed my jewellery spend, or at least match it)
    3. Replace my ancient boilers (I have been seriously saving up to do this for 3 years now)
Well if I take the optimistic view and don't get into too many details; to quote Meatloaf 2 out of 3 ain't bad, although in case you think he's developed a secret Trollbeads obsession, the song isn't about my battle with beads, boilers and budgets (sorry, although you gotta admit that would have been rather awesome).

So what's the verdict in July?
    1. I've just about (by the skin of my teeth) spent less on jewellery than the equivalent 6 months of 2013
    2. I've increased the amount I've been able to save by being uber strict, and probably a bit too hermit like, but this means I've almost doubled the amount saved for practical stuff by this time last year.  Despite all this I've not been able to match my jewellery spend yet, let alone exceed it
    3. My ancient boilers are no more, and a big shiny beast of a boiler has replaced them with a huge magnetic hat to keep it all going
All in all it's been a pretty good 6 months!  I've achieved the third goal completely, which is pretty major in itself... but as I enjoy a toasty warm and hopefully cheaper winter, I will continue to attempt to also complete the first and second goals by the end of the year.  Fingers crossed!

How do you all manage your spending/collecting/obsessions??

I'm always looking for new ideas to help me budget, as willpower by itself doesn't work for me;
I'm far too impulsive and magpie like!!

Hit the comments and share your tips, trips & slips!