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Sunday, October 20, 2013

F.A.L.L. Has Arrived!

This weekend the F.A.L.L. season finally made it's debut. The temps were in the low 60's, the air was crisp and the colors of fall are showing. It's one of my favorite the cooler temp and the gorgeous colors of the leaves changing.  It's a calming time of year for me - fall colors are some of my favorite.  It's also that time of year for football ~ enjoy watching the Philadelphia Eagles and (my alma mater) the Penn State Nittany Lions. Pretty colors of fall: reds, golden yellows, olive green, etc. 

In the fall I love to make and freeze soups, stews and baked goods.  One of my favorite fall recipes is pumpkin bread.  I like to make these for family and friends at Thanksgiving and Christmas in those neat disposable foil bread pans that have the perfect plastic lid - makes a great gift!  During the holidays they have seasonal designs on them - perfect for gift giving, no wrapping needed! I wanted to  share with you my all time favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 beaten eggs
1 C packed brown sugar
1 C canned pumpkin
1/2 C maple syrup
1/3 C canola oil
1 C chopped pecans

Note: you can substitue 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the spices in the recipe.
  1. Grease bottom and half inch up sides of a 9 inch loaf pan.  Set pan aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and allspice. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine eggs, brown, sugar, pumpkin, maple syrup, and oil and mix well. Add all at once to dry mixture.  Stir just until moistened battter should be lumpy).  fold in pecans. 
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake in a 350° oven for 60 to 65 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  (If necessary, cover with foil the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning.)  
  5. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack. 
  6. Wrap and store overnight before slicing (I honestly never wait that's tastes so good when it's warm - smothered with sweet cream butter!!)
It's not a low calorie bread - 238 calories / 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat) per serving - but definitely worth it.  I'm going to try making this with whole wheat pastry flour as a substitute for the all-purpose flour in an attempt to make a wee bit healthier :)

Besides baking and cooking, I made lots of new jewelry pieces this weekend.  Photos were taken, just waiting to be edited and then listed.  Check out these copper disk earrings that I applied cinnamon and golden yellow Vintaj patina to - they kind of look like pumpkins ??  I paired them with soft yellow jade teardrops, wire wrapped in oxidized copper - perfect fall colors!

Hope you all had a great weekend!  O.N.I.A.M. - oh no it's almost Monday (yeah I just made that up, lol! I hate Mondays).  May you have a great start to your week!

Live. Laugh. Love. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Splash of C.O.L.O.R.

The weekend started out gloomy - I was all psyched to stay indoors and just make jewelry. Then the sun came out, the air was warm and I just couldn't stay inside all day.  I cut the grass, did a little very, very little yard work, chatted with the neighbors, then got in my car, rolled the windows down and took a ride to my local Hobby Lobby.  Not that I need anymore beads or supplies...I just wanted to browse.  Browsing is dangerous for me - I always seem to find something I want to buy.  I came home with some Irish waxed linen cord, waxed cotton cord and these really cool Vintaj colored patinas.

These colored patinas produce a permanent finish on any type of metal.  They can be mixed, layered, sanded off for a worn look or thinned down for a light washing of color.  They don't required a sealer, but if you want the patina to last "forever" (is that possible??) I would recommend sealing them and then applying some Renaissance wax.  I did some playing around with the colors, you have to work quickly as the patina dries fast, which is an advantage over the dye oxide patinas I usually use.  Dye oxide patinas need to cure for 24 hours before you can seal them, let alone make anything with them.  The Vintaj patinas are much easier to use, don't require a heat source and the curing time is about ten minutes.  The color after it dries has shiny finish and looks almost like the piece has been enameled.

Here's a sampling of what I did with the patinas:

Clock wise from the top:
  • I mixed red & blue together to make purple (remember back in grade school when you learned which primary colors to mixed together to make other colors? - well that knowledge came in handy today! {grin})  
  • Etched copper disks were colored with rust and then washed with ochre.  
  • Next, I hammered some copper soldered rings flat, then textured them, followed by a patina of verdigris and a wash of cobalt. 
  • Fourth on the list - I had some etched copper that I cut into disks, then colored them with cobalt, used a sanding block to take off some of the color, then rubbed silver gilders paste to highlight the raised edges from the etching.  
  • Last, I had a pair of copper oval hoops that I had previously applied a dye oxide patina to that just didn't work out I sanded most of it off and then applied olive green patina mixed with a tiny bit of lacquer to produce a wash.  
Overall I'm pleased with the results and can imagine many other design ideas. I did seal all of the findings with lacquer and Ren wax for durability. I made earrings out of the pieces, but unfortunately by the time I got them all finished, I wasn't able to take photos.  Hopefully, can get them photographed in the next day or two.

I was able to get a photo of these earrings that I made from a tutorial from JewlieBeads.  Her tutorials are so easy to follow and include great photos, I highly recommend them.  The photo was taken before I gave the earrings a patina bath and tumbled them to bring out the highlights and shine.

Well...It's time for me to wind down for the night - I have so many design ideas, it's hard to put them aside and relax.  But I must...wishing you all a good night & a Happy Monday!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Food Junkie - From Freezer to Crockpot

I'm a food junkie...I love to cook & I love to eat!  I always try to make healthy meals and follow the motto: "if your great-grandmother wouldn't have eaten it, neither should you."  I don't buy processed foods - no frozen TV dinners here, no "light, low-fat, fat-free" (ok..with the exception of milk & cottage cheese) foods in this household.  We eat "real" food - fresh veggies, full-fat cheeses, meat, eggs, real sweet cream butter, whole grain breads, get the point!  And Y.E.S.- I read the labels on everything. They say the healthiest foods are found in the outside perimeter of the grocery store.

I wanted my lazy Sundays to be even lazier and still get a home cooked meal on the table. What could be easier than crock pot meals?  I scoured the internet for crock pot recipes that could be assembled and then frozen.  All I would need to do was remove from the freezer, dump it into the crock pot and walk away.  Easy peasy, right?

I made seven crock pot meals, total cost for all the food was around $112 dollars.  I'm pretty sure the cashier thought I was nuts for purchasing twenty-five (yes-25) chicken breasts.  That's about $16 per meal, since there is only two of us, we'll probably get three meals out of each crock pot - just a little over $5 per it!  It took me about three hours to make them all, but totally worth the time.

Here are the recipes for the meals that I made (with simplified instructions) - check out those fresh veggies! These recipes are not my own, so I'd like to give credit (thank you to those bloggers) where I got them from -- click on the title of the meal, it take you to the original recipe.

Fresh veggies - delicious!
2 pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced
3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup chicken broth
taco seasoning packet
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
Cook on low 5-6 hours

3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 (16 oz) bag frozen broccoli (I used a head of fresh broccoli)
1 large green pepper, chopped (I used a red pepper)
2 (16 oz) jars alfredo sauce
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

3 chicken breasts
juice from 2 limes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 (16 oz) bag corn
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
Cook on low for 8 hours

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey 
1/3 cup olive oil 
3 tbs rosemary, chopped
1 tsp salt
Cook on low for 6-8 hours

4 chicken breasts
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken
1 dry packet of italian seasoning
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces 
1 cup teriyaki sauce 
1 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. ginger (or a few slices of fresh ginger)
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

5 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 bottle of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Cook on low for 4-6 hours

That's all!  There were so many recipes to chose from - I'm excited to try out the recipes for beef and pork that I found.  Having the BBQ chicken for dinner tonight, it smells delicious!  Happy Sunday to you all ~ enjoy your day!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lazy Sunday

So...I haven't had the most productive week...been a bit under the weather with a cold.  Thought I was kicking it, but this weekend kind of did me in a little.  I've been so congested with sinus pressure that I'm feeling a little off and light headed - and that kind of leads to slower thought processes.  So, it's taken me all day to decide what to write and I still can't really come up with something good.  But I wanted to keep up with my weekly blog post goal, so I'm going to make a good attempt.

Today was a lazy Sunday...I spent the whole day at home. I finally had the time to organize the chaos of my bead stash with the new bead containers I got.  I'm happy to say that all my beads are now organized and easy to find.  I used all but twelve containers - did I mention that I started with 318 containers? Add that to the seventy-two that I had filled two weeks ago...well that's a lot of freakin' beads.  I'd better get crackin' on making some pieces!  It did make for a nice relaxing lazy day (that didn't take too much thinking) and I couldn't be more pleased that I can finally find everything.

On a good note - I spent Saturday at my friend's daughter's engagement party.  It was a great time and the weather was beautiful, a little on the cool side but warm in the sunshine.  I was honored to have been asked to make my Japanese Kumihimo braided bracelets, stamped with hearts for her bridesmaid gifts.  They all got these bracelets made in their favorite color.  I made them in purple, blue, pink and green like this one:

With my computer being only operable in "safe mode" for a week, I haven't been able to upload and edit pics of the pieces that I made last weekend.  I'm pleased that my computer is up and running again.  So I spent some time today editing photos.  Here's a sneak peek:

These beads remind me of wagon wheels, in gorgeous hues of gold and brown.  I paired them with some copper moon charms that I purchased last weekend at the bead show.

I always need to find a use for leftover scraps of copper sheet.  These rectangles were created from the edges of copper sheet that I had etched with a stamped design.  I then paired them with iridescent apple green flower beads, lime green glass saucers and torch balled (and flattened) wire wrapping.

I have a few more pieces that I need to edit, but going to wait until tomorrow.  It's time to wind down, relax (haven't I been doing that all day??) and get ready for tomorrow.  Hoping to get some pictures this week of the gorgeous fall foliage.  I hope you all had a great weekend and a great week to come!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bead Loot

Yesterday I had a great time at the Innovative Bead Expo here at the Allentown Fairgrounds.  I was happy that it wasn't too crowded, but disappointed that three of my favorite vendors were not in attendance.  That being said, I still managed to spend almost three hours browsing, dreaming of designs in my head, chatting with others...and of course buying!

Every time I thought I was ready to leave, I made another loop and found something else that interested me.  I managed to keep myself under budget and came home with some great finds.  I passed on buying any semi-precious gemstones, as they seemed to be priced fairly high.  The vendor I like to buy my gemstones from wasn't there...hoping they will be there in the spring!

Here's a sampling of what I got:

Ceramic pendants in perfect fall colors.  My plan is to combine them with textured copper plate, knotted waxed linen, leather cord and some beads. 

I purchased these from my favorite ceramic bead vendor.  I previously made a couple of pairs of earrings with the light teal ovals and they sold before I could list them on Etsy.  So, I am delighted that I was able to get them again.  I couldn't resist the patina'd, dark iridescent purple and the rainbow ovals...ideas are brewing. 

Handmade lampwork beads. I love the orange and purple beads, that have a cute little flower design on the sides.  The designer of these beads (PJBeads) was super friendly and very helpful...she turned me onto the lilac and green striped ones, wouldn't have found them without her.  From another vendor I found these gorgeous olive green and deep dark red, two of my favorite colors (oh no...the photo makes them look bright red, but they are really deep dark red!). Already know what I am going to make with them.

I just couldn't resist these tribal beads, handmade in a small village in Africa.  Love the striped deep green color mixed with red, brown, gold, cream, blue and some other colors.  These will make a nice necklace and knotted bracelet. 

Believe it or not, these are ceramic charms.  Aren't those fish and hands cute?  The neat thing is that the fish have a copper finish that you can oxidize and then burnish to shine.  My head was swirling with ideas!

These were a great find and a steal deal!  Cute little pewter charms (apparently I was a in a flower mood ~ I am missing the summer blooms)...I have plans to combine these with knotted macrame bracelets. 

I always save the best for last!  I'm am over the moon excited about finding Gilders Paste at the show - my local art shops have stopped carrying it and I really didn't want to pay the shipping to purchase online.  I was finally able to complete my color collection.  This one is a gorgeous iridescent olive green.  I also got silver, dark red, violet and aqua blue.  These are great to use on textured metal to give a little pop of color.

I got quite a few more beads, mostly some rustic Czech glass beads and a couple of grab bags with some great finds inside.  I came home excited to start making stuff...however, my brain was overloaded with ideas - and I just wasn't able to concentrate to make more than two pairs of earrings.  Will save those photos for another day.

Hope you all had a great weekend - the leaves are changing, the air is cool & fresh...may you all enjoy the beauty of FALL!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Disorganized Chaos

While I was looking for some beads to make a few pieces, I realized that my bead stash is nothing short of a mess or to put it more eloguently -- disorganized chaos. I'm a fool for beads, I definitely have an over abundance of them. Yet, I continue to buy more - why? Well, I'm a sucker for pretty gemstone and beads...I simply can't get enough of them (so I might have a little obsession). I see them, I want them and then I buy them! On that note, I'm super excited for the Innovative Bead Show next weekend.  I've been saving up for awhile and just can't wait to spend that money on some pretty beads and supplies.

Now...back to the disorganized chaos of my bead stash.  I couldn't find what I was looking for because my bead drawers (which by the way are disorganized by color) look like this:

I rummage through the drawers trying to find what I want and get so frustrated after relentlessly looking and not finding.  So, that prompted a visit to my local Michael's store, to purchase some containers...that would let me see the beads at a glance (thereby ending the relentless rummaging!)  

I purchased three organizers, each containing twenty-four round containers. Doing the math in my head..."yeah, 72 containers should be good."  Home I went, delightfully excited about my "new" bead organizers.  Well, let me tell you - 72 containers didn't even make a dent.  The yellow/green bead drawer used all 72 little containers. So, maybe I underestimated my obsession...I mean bead stash, just a little.  At a glance, it would appear that I need about 200+ more containers.  Luckily, I found a place online that I could order them in bulk -  now I can't wait for them to get here.  I love opening the drawer and being able to see what I have - here have a look:

If you thought my bead drawer was disorganized...check out my work bench.  Who created that mess? Better yet who is going to straighten it up?  It's a wonder how I ever get anything made...

The work bench is a collective of random items laid out in perfect disorganization.  However, if I put the stuff away...I probably wouldn't be able to find it. At least the rest of my house is neat and tidy. I'll save the reorganization of the work bench for another post.  After all, I gotta get my beads organized! Out of all that disorganized chaos of beads and findings came these: 

Olive and lime green Czech glass beads dangling from my own handmade copper kidney ear wires, embellish with a bead and wire wrapping. I've oxidized them to dark finish and tumbled them to shine.

I hope you all are having a great weekend.  The weather is getting cooler here and I'm loving having the windows open and the fresh air blowing in.  Live. Laugh. Love. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blog Revival

So...I know, I blog has been pretty much dead in the water for two years ( time flies!).  Not sure what happened, but somehow I think I lost my blogging mojo.  Well, maybe it wasn't a loss of mojo, but rather pure laziness lack of motivation.  After all, it's much more fun to make jewelry than to attempt to write a creative post on your blog.

Getting my blog up and running again has been on my bucket list of "things to do" f-o-r-e-v-e-r!! So on this lazy Sunday, I decided to whittle away at my bucket list: #1 was to work on my blog.  I spent three hours this morning, adding/ deleting/ tweaking & playing around with it (Note: I probably should have been cleaning the house, doing laundry, cutting the grass and whole lot of other things...that weren't nearly as much fun)

I think I am finally happy with it - for now - but that may all change tomorrow....I can be so indecisive at times.  I'm hoping this revival will last and I will keep to my own personal goal of posting weekly - I think I'm going to make it my Sunday morning while enjoying a hot cup of Java routine!

Now for some fun's peek at what I've made this weekend.

Hand formed and soldered copper rings. Going to hammer texture some of them and then give them a colored patina coating. 

Etched copper plates.   I am always amazed at what a little ferric chloride can do to copper stamped with a design.  I cut out some disks and random shapes from them. 

Copper kidney ear wires.  I learned how to make these a few weeks ago and I've been addicted.  I like to embellish them with glass seed beads and wire wrapping. 

The Pièce de résistance from those findings...

Hand cut copper disks that I hand shaped into bead caps.  Paired them with yellow blue (they look kind of green) Czech glass rectangles and creamy pearlized seed beads.  Oh and my embellished kidney ear wires!

Large dark red quartz teardrops, topped off with handmade etched copper bead caps and paired with black onyx donuts.

Love these carved wooden beads, periwinkle blue flower beads dangle below.  I like how these beads look hanging from kidney ear wires.  I wire wrapped the ear wires so the beads are secure and won't fall off.

When you etch copper the edges that don't have any stamping on them gets this neat little wrinkly pattern.  Not wanting to waste any metal, I decided to turn the edges into these sweet rectangle swings.  I riveted the rectangles together, so the copper ovals are secure.  Sweet little amber and gold flower beads and unakite rounds dangle below. 

I hope you've enjoyed my blog revival and will follow along with me in future posts!  Have a great day!
Best - 

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