Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Package From Cyprus

package from Cyprus w/ beautiful stamps
 Pretty Cypriot Postage Stamps

Rimi of An Air of Surprise hosted an earring giveaway in early January. 
The giveaway was sponsored by Victoria Letemendia of Lavender Field on Etsy.  Much of Victoria's jewelry features crochet.  Some items such as her bib necklaces have geometric motifs while others have stacks of tiny crocheted disks.  All are very unique and colorful.  I know of no other jewelry designer who makes anything similar!  So, you can imagine that I was thrilled to learn that I had won the giveaway.  Victoria's package arrived from Cyprus and in it, I found a lovely drawstring organza bag (jewelry purchases will arrive in her handmade pouches) containing the jade, crochet, and chrysocolla earrings that I had won.  The color combination is perfect and they are very well-made.  I'm thrilled and cannot wait to wear them!  Thank you again, Victoria and Rimi!

Lavender Field business card w/ earrings crochet earrings
Jade, Crochet, & Chrysocolla

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Senate Bean Soup & Honey Wheat Yeast Rolls

McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola & Destin has Senate Bean Soup on their menu at the insanely low 18¢ price that the Senate cafeteria charged until public outcry forced them to raise the price.  Their recipe was published in the June/July 2009 issue of Taste of the South.  So, anyone who has vacationed in NW Florida and eaten their soup can now, make it back home in Iowa, etc.  Here's a link to the recipe: 

I made Senate bean soup for dinner tonight along with some honey wheat yeast rolls from a recipe that I found on the King Arthur Flour website.  Here's the link:  The soup is incredibly easy to make and the rolls are, too.

My recipe changes:
  • I substituted a teaspoon of molasses for the caramel color (someone suggested that in the comments section)
  • I used active yeast and proofed it with 1/3 C of the water and the tsp of molasses rather than add instant yeast directly to the other ingredients
  • I didn't have KAF bread flour and used their regular unbleached all-purpose flour
  • I also substituted Arrowhead Mills (whole wheat) Organic Pastry Flour for the KAF White Wheat Flour
My observations:
  • My rolls rose a little faster than the recipe stated and baked a little faster but today was a very Spring-like day and ovens will vary
  • Next time, I won't sprinkle the baking sheet or the tops of the rolls with cornmeal (I don't think it really adds anything)
McGuire's is a good restaurant but an excellent microbrewery.  It's too bad that McGuire's doesn't bottle all their beers because this meal was in need of one of their Oatmeal Stouts or Porters.  If you are lucky enough to find that their Irish Red is distributed in your area, give it a try. 
~Fingers are crossed that they expand their bottled beer lineup~

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Today I am Making Molds of Vintage Glass Buttons...

using Cold Mold: molds of vintage buttons
and deciding what I'm going to make for a charity raffle. I participate each year and this will be the first year that I donate something that I have made.

 Cicada Silver:  PMC fine silver pendant made w/ vintage button mold
Cicada Silver hallmark on back of pendant
 PMC Fine Silver Button Pendant Necklace Made For  A Friend

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sorry For The Delay

handmade small plain copper beads caps
 Small Copper Bead Caps:  12 mm
Medium Copper Bead Cap:  17 mm large handmade copper bead caps
 Large Copper Bead Caps: 22 mm

Photography issues delayed the listing of the copper bead caps.  It's difficult to photograph very shiny objects so, I'm glad that I have my husband to take care of all the photography.  We're still not entirely satisfied with the shots but the bead caps *are* listed.  I'll go back and tweak the listings with a few more photos.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Intermediate Metalsmithing

I had my first class last night and I know I'm going to really enjoy it.  Our class is a combination of intermediate and advanced students which means that we get to learn a lot of extra information.  The advanced students are learning how to make tools for repoussé and getting to work with ferrous metals and the big oxy-acetylene set-up in the process.  Nice!

Our first intermediate project is a cylindrical pillbox with a pressure-fit lid.  This should be a lot of fun.  Now, I have to decide how I will embellish my box.  Choices, choices...

handmade copper bead caps
Handmade Copper Bead Caps:  Sm, Med, & Lrg

I'll be listing three new sizes of copper bead caps tonight or tomorrow.  I made these from 24 gauge copper sheet.  The small bead caps are 12 mm in diameter while the medium are 17 mm, and large are 22 mm.  I've left them raw so that you can customize them.  The possibilities are endless:  Treat them with liver of sulphur, patinate them with any number of colors, enamel them, even elecrolytically etch them if you make sure to paint the underside with resist and run the wire through the hole.  You can even make your own version of squash blossom-style beads by soldering two together. 

Have fun and play!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valentine's Day is Fast Approaching

I'm offering free shipping on all "heart" jewelry  through Valentine's Day.  No code necessary.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Congratulations to Lisa of TheEclecticInterior!

vintage cans
Instant Can Collection by TheEclecticInterior

Lisa's treasury "Fantasies and Deadwood" won the AP Team Treasury Challenge this week.

Please stop by her shop and have a look around.  She might have that unique item you've searched for and as of yet not found!  It is The *Eclectic* Interior!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Request

I recently learned that a good friend has cancer--stage 3 cancer.  I'll respect her privacy and not reveal a lot of details but I am requesting that anyone reading this blog *please* send positive, healing vibes her way.

She is one of the most generous, loving, kind people that I've ever known.  Let's all channel all our positive energy to help her through this horrible disease so that she and her husband can come through it stronger than ever.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Advertising and Promotion Treasury Challenge #2

Please vote for your favorite treasury:
(Saturday morning through Sunday evening)

Chilly Weather Requires Soup

curried pumpkin soup w/ flatbread
Curried Pumpkin Soup

I'll start by saying that I am a cold weather wimp but that comes from being a lifelong Southerner. So, any of you who live in truly cold weather climates, please don't laugh too hard.

Temperatures below 60° usually make me start shivering. I am not a fan of cold weather but I love any excuse for a pot of homemade soup. I get emails from Panera because I've got one of their reward cards.  One of those emails contained a recipe for Curried Pumpkin Soup. I finally got around to trying the recipe and I'm happy to report that with a few modifications, it was really good.

My changes:
  • I used organic ingredients
  • I almost doubled the curry powder but I hesitate to say that it should be doubled because curry powders differ so much (season to your personal preference)
  • I shook in a bit of cinnamon because this curry powder (Frontier) was rather mild
  • I increased the ginger to 3 tsp.  In the future, I will grate the ginger and squeeze the juice from the pulp
  • I substituted light coconut milk for the regular
  • I used a bit more sugar but the amount of sugar needed will definitely vary by the sweetness of the pumpkin
  • I added 1/2 tsp of red chili flakes
I made another change that I do not suggest.  I processed the onion, carrot, etc. mixture in my food processor until it was very finely chopped but it did not puree.  I should have used a stick blender but I don't have one--I've worn out two in the last few years and am currently without.  Please use a stick blender or the soup won't have a wonderful silken texture.  BTW, if anyone can suggest a good, powerful stick blender with a decent life expectancy, I'd appreciate it.  My last two were Cuisinart and wore out way too soon.  In Cuisinart's defense, I will admit to using my blender far more frequently than the average household uses theirs.

Curried pumpkin soup, a salad, and some Dr. Kracker Pumpkin Seed Cheese flatbreads made a healthful and delicious dinner.

Attention Music Lovers!

The band Cogito is competing for a chance to win a free music video and a few other perks.  Go here:

and listen to a clip and then VOTE!

If helping a band isn't reason enough to vote, then feast your eyes on the beautiful earrings that Rochelle Darrow has made for a giveaway to encourage more votes for her son's band.

Good luck to Cogito and all those hoping to win the "Chasing Dreams" earrings!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slowly But Surely...

Cicada Silver:  sterling silver links earrings 
Trio of Sterling Silver Links Earrings
hammered dots stud post earrings
Hammered Sterling Silver Post Earrings

I'm beginning to build up a stock of items for my next Etsy shop (Cicada Silver) that will focus on silver (fine and sterling).  It's going to be a mix of items made from precious metal clay and silver sheet/wire.  You might have noticed that both shops have insect names.  We have lots of dragonflies around the beach during late Summer and Autumn so, that was the inspiration for Libellula.  My adventures in PMC started last May when I took my first classes in Nashville.  That was during the time that brood XIX of the 13-year cicadas had begun to emerge. Many people dislike cicadas but I've always adored them and find their song very soothing while some find it deafening.  As a friend of mine always says, "To each their peach".  So, Cicada Silver it is!

My metalsmithing class is about to start again which means life is about to get a lot crazier than it already is.  Back and forth to New Orleans each week is not only time consuming but seriously tiring.  But I *love* it!  And, it's allowed me to be a part-time New Orleanian which is never a bad thing.  So, I'll keep everyone updated as much as I can.  I have a feeling that intermediate metalsmithing is going to be a lot tougher and much more work.

There is even some talk about trying as a group to sell at markets and music festivals.  This interests me quite a bit because I was really happy with the holiday show/sale  Etsy can be incredibly slow so, a supplemental sales outlet would be excellent.  Plus, no one is going to say no to that much exposure which reminds me that I need to get more cards printed.  Moo!  I absolutely loved my sample pack of cards.  Now, it's time for the real deal without the little line of ad text on the edge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

chocolate zucchini cupcake w/ cream cheese frosting

A few years ago, The Fresh Market in-store flyer had a recipe for chocolate zucchini cake.  The shredded zucchini makes this an incredibly moist cake with a great texture.  This is especially nice because I substitute whole wheat pastry flour for the King Arthur White Wheat Flour that the recipe specifies.

I always bake this recipe as cupcakes rather than a sheet cake.  They are really good with cream cheese frosting--even though I find it to be gilding the lily.  But, my husband often likes his lilies gilded so, frosting it is.  Make it with Neufchatel cream cheese and it won't be quite as naughty.

Here are my changes:
  • use organic ingredients where possible
  • substitute Arrowhead Mills (whole wheat) Organic Pastry Flour
  • add 1 tsp of vanilla extract (I use my homemade)
  • don't add as many chocolate chips (I use around 1/2 C)
In my oven, the cupcakes are ready in 17 minutes.  But, ovens vary so keep an eye on them.

The recipe makes around 30 cupcakes but they freeze well so, there is no pressure to consume them quickly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Saints Country

Advertising and Promotion Team Treasury Challenge #2

Voting begins Saturday and runs until Sunday evening.  Don't forget to vote for your favorite at

I Need To Improve My Tagging

I intend to recheck my Flickr photos and make some improvements.  I've probably been too lax.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Congratulations to Ellen of EllensClayCreations!

handpainted goldfish flower pot
 Goldfish Flower Pot

Ellen won the Advertising and Promotion Team Treasury Challenge #1.  Her treasury titled "Terrific Turquoise" won 46% of the total vote.  Her treasury will be featured on the team blog this week as a result.

She is now offering 15% off everything in her shop until January 22nd.  Please use the code:  Thanks15.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Who Doesn't Like Pie?

Nestle Toll House chocolate chip pie w/ vanilla ice cream

Sometimes you just need pie and today was one of those days.  I would  have loved to make a luscious fruit pie but black walnut chocolate chip pie had to suffice.  This pie is my take on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie. 
The original recipe can be found here:

Here are my changes:
  • when I don't have time to make a crust, I like to use a 9" whole wheat crust by Wholly Wholesome
  • I prefer to use organic ingredients
  • I add 1 tsp of my homemade vanilla extract (vanilla beans stuffed in a bottle of Jack Daniels!)
  • Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon & 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • I add fewer chocolate chips--usually no more than 3/4 C (Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet or Whole Foods 365 Organic) 
  • I think black walnuts really *make* this pie so, that's what I use and I tend to either chop them very finely or process them until they resemble very coarse crumbs (I'm not a fan of large bits of nut)
My husband and mother like their pie with a scoop of Alden's Vanilla Ice Cream but I have mine plain with coffee. 

How will you enjoy your pie?

Just A Reminder...

Please vote for your favorite treasury in the Advertising and Promotion Team Challenge #1.

I would love it if you vote for my treasury!


Friday, January 13, 2012

CornerStone: Kudos to Janet Alexander

CornerStone: Kudos to Janet Alexander: by Jennifer Roberts I am happy to congratulate PMCC Instructor Janet Alexander , who today takes on two new roles: Senior Instructor a...

After reading her post "Use the right tool for the job", I'm thrilled that Janet Alexander was chosen as the new PMCC Technical Advisor. I'm a big fan of using both PMC and traditional metalsmithing techniques.  So, kudos indeed!

Spicy Shrimp In Coconut Milk

spicy shrimp in coconut milk

We have enjoyed this recipe ever since it appeared in the Co-op Advantage newsletter a few years ago.  It's a lovely Thai-inspired dish.  So, I've pulled this recipe out in anticipation of tonight's dinner.  I can't remember the last time I cooked it but I know it's been too long.

I change all recipes--like most of you do; I'm sure.  So I've listed my changes below:
  • increase garlic to 1 Tbsp
  • increase coriander to 3 Tbsp
  • double the cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and turmeric
  • use a full 14 oz. tin of Muir Glen tomatoes w/ green chilies rather than just a cup of tomatoes
  • decrease the coconut milk to 1 can of light coconut milk
  • omit salt entirely if using royal red shrimp (they are deep water shrimp and the pressure infuses their bodies w/ enough salt)
Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Earthy Valentine

Libellula Jewelry:  copper heart toggle Czech glass necklace
Soldered, hammered copper heart toggle clasp necklace
handmade copper & Czech glass earrings
and matching earrings
This necklace and earrings combo feature faceted Picasso finish Czech glass beads in a variety of coordinating colors.  The predominate color is olive green making this the perfect Valentine's Day present for all the earthier gals out there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Handmade Copper Bead Caps

handmade tiny copper bead caps

I've just listed some tiny, plain copper bead caps.  It's really hard to find the small bead caps--especially if you want plain ones.  I make my own and decided to offer them to my fellow beaders.  I hope you like them!

Advertising and Promotion Team Challenge

Please visit the team blog to vote for your favorite treasury!  Voting begins this Saturday morning and ends Sunday night.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Orleans School of Metalsmithing Open Registration

New Orleans School of Metalsmithing Spring 2012 registration
Steven is a great teacher so, give him a call!

Handmade Findings

I had thought about offering a few handmade findings so, I finally took the plunge and listed a few. I'll list more if they sell. I'd like to offer an alternative to the ones that are made to order. I plan to only offer them when they are pre-made and ready to ship for people who are in a rush or just don't want to wait.

handmade ball end copper headpins

So far, I've got 20 gauge copper headpins in three finishes: raw, antiqued, and rosy tipped. I'll get some copper ear wires in the same three finishes and small raw copper bead caps listed soon.

I may decide to offer a few toggle clasps. If the copper items sell well, I plan to offer sterling silver findings. Let's see what happens...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I've Been Working On...

I had hoped to get these listed sooner but I got started working on more items and the photography and listing had to wait.
copper hearts  Czech glass earrings
Soldered copper hearts with Czech glass beads

I soldered the hearts at the joins and over the wire wraps that bind the hearts together.  The thin copper wire that binds the hearts will not come undone or snag on your skin.  Everything is handmade by me excluding the beads, of course.
enameled fine silver hearts freshwater pearl earrings
Enameled Fine Silver Hearts & Freshwater Pearls

I made these little hearts from PMC (precious metal clay) and gave them a paisley texture and enameled them with two colors of Thompson enamel.  The dangles hang from my handmade sterling silver ear wires.

Hammered Copper Floating Hearts

Made from soldered, hammered 14 gauge copper wire.  Simple & lightweight.  It's amazing what can be done with a little bit of wire!

Filigree Copper Hearts & Raspberry Czech Glass Beads

18 and 20 gauge copper wire were used to make these filigree hearts.  The outer hammered heart frames are 18 gauge and the little jump rings were made from 20 gauge and were soldered in place with copper solder.  This ensured a good color match with the surrounding metal.  The necklace is lightweight but strong and hangs like a comfortable, slightly looser choker necklace at 17" or just over 43 cm in length.

I'll be listing one more necklace later today or tomorrow.  

Now, I'm off to go knit sample swatches of some beautiful alpaca yarn!

Friday, January 6, 2012

CornerStone: Using the Right Tool for the Job

CornerStone: Using the Right Tool for the Job: Posted by Janet Alexander PMCC Certification Instructor and Guest Blogger I began experimenting with Precious Metal Clay (PMC) two years a...

Currently Working on Soldered Copper Hearts

I've been getting more items ready for Valentine's Day. I'll try to get them photographed and listed tonight.

You might have noticed that I added a MixPod at the bottom of the blog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Finally--A First Post

New Orleans School of Metalsmithing Dec 2011 Show

I just finished a metalsmithing class at the New Orleans School of Metalsmithing.  We ended the term with a jewelry show and sale on the 17th of December and the event was a success.
New Orleans School of Metalsmithing Dec 2011 show

Lots of people attended and it wasn't just locals.  In fact, I sold a necklace to a wonderful woman who was down from New Jersey volunteering with  With that transaction, I gained not only a customer but a new friend. *Waves to Jo-Anne*
student shows jewelry to customer

I will do a few things differently at any future shows.  Not everyone had cash at the show but I managed to salvage one sale because both the buyer and I have PayPal accounts.  I definitely need a credit card reader like Square  or GoPayment  I've heard pros and cons of both and have yet to decide which I'll use.  Plus, this means I'll probably have to buy a new phone.  I like a simple phone and would rather have a card reader that is compatible with a tablet but I've yet to hear of one.  I'd love to hear about your experiences with both Square and GoPayment and please let me know if you hear of a reader that is compatible with a tablet.
customers view students' jewelry

In addition, I'll make sure that I don't forget to have a mirror on hand.  We had to make do with an antique mirror that has seen its better day but the customer was a good sport and tried her best to see if the earrings worked for her.  Apparently they did; her husband bought them for her.  I hope she is enjoying them.  Lastly, I'll make sure to dress for the occasion.  I was running late and dressed for comfort rather than beauty and ended up underdressed.

necklace made with ceramic art beads

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and I'm getting a few items ready for my Etsy shop.  This necklace features beautiful handmade ceramic beads by Gaea Cannaday combined with faceted rondelles of jasper, yellow jade, and cherry quartz.  It's the perfect Valentine's necklace for someone who isn't into the typical red and pink or just prefers earthier colors.  I made two pairs of coordinating earrings; who doesn't like having a choice?