Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers

I am sad to write this post. I have, after much thought decided to quit the Daring Bakers. I truly have enjoyed the challenges and all that I have learned from this group. My life is too crazy right now, with the kids starting back to school and taking care of both my parents. I need to be honest with myself and acknowledge that I am overloaded. Please check out all the wonderful goodies this group whips up. You can check out the Daring Bakers here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More play time

Since I have had some of my beads out, I have been busy making new pieces. I mentioned in an earlier post that my dear friend, Jamie had some beautiful lamp work beads that she wanted made into jewelry. Well, she actually had quite a few sets that she wanted turned into bracelets, earrings and necklaces. This teal set was gorgeous. I love the play of browns on the beads. I partnered them with some beautiful faceted smoky quartz I had on hand. To make things interesting, I used a leather cord for the necklace to give it a funky organic feel.

When I was at our local bead shop this past week, they had a table dedicated to new beads. They had these funky Picasso beads that are a beautiful blue when you hold them up to the light. I love the play of color with the browns and purple. I added river rock beads as the Pater Noster beads and it came together nicely. This piece is for my dear friends husband. He had lost his rosary I had made a long time ago. Enjoy Stephen!

Useful Thyme

I was reading the Seattle Times online and found an interesting article on using thyme as a lawn. I love thyme and use it in my courtyard and as a border in the front of my home. It grows fast and requires little care. This article goes a step further and talks about the benefits thyme has on the environment. It is drought resistance and use very little water. Check out the article here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Work Table Revisited

This necklace has been on my worktable for almost a year. I am embarrassed to admit that it has taken my so long to finish it. I first got the order almost a year ago, right before my mother and mother in law got sick. My neighbor had asked if I would rework two of her favorite necklaces into one. Both necklaces, one blue seed bead and one coral seed beads were twenty strands long. I think the two combined turned out nicely. I added floral bead caps to hold all the strands. I still have enough beads for an additional necklace. She wants the next one to be random beads on a long wire so she can wrap it around her neck several times. I am working on that now, hopefully I will have this done a lot sooner than the last one.

This was a request by my dear friend Jamie. She went to a local craft show and found these beautiful lamp work beads. I wanted to showcase the beads for her and just added some sterling silver beads to accent the red. I love how it turned out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Too Sweet!

I couldn't resist making this cake when I saw the recipe in last month's Bon Appetit magazine. I happened to be waiting in my dentist's office (ironic, I know) and as I was browsing through some magazines I came across this recipe. It's for chocolate cake with ganache and praline topping. Whew! Now, I love ganache and I love praline, so putting the two together I thought was genius. Not quite, while the cake was moist and delicious, the ganache and the praline together, dare I say, was too sweet. I thought the cake itself was very good and I would make the cake again. I would just leave off the praline topping or make it separate and to the side.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

French Farmhouse Cooking

On a lay over in the Denver airport, I picked up the newest issue of Food and Wine magazine. As I was thumbing through the magazine I came across an article about Alain Coumont and his restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien. The article talks about how his menu is quietly becoming vegan and how they use fresh seasonal ingredients in their menu. The story and recipes intrigued me. I couldn't wait to get home and try some of them out. So, last night I tackled his Brown Rice Pilaf with Green Olives and Lemon. It was fantastic! It tasted more like a risotto than a pilaf to me. I love how creamy and complex the flavors were. You could really taste the earthiness of the olives and the hint of lemon and the herbs. The creaminess comes from the slow cooking process and all the water. I made the recipe exactly as written and I usually do when I try a new recipe. Let me just say, the servings were for twelve. It makes a lot. I would cut it into a third next time. Believe it or not the recipe uses 3 cups of short grain brown rice to 10 cups of water. Yes, I said 10 cups of water and the rice absorbs most all of it. I will be eating this for quite awhile, but that's okay, it is so good and good for you. I highly recommend picking up this months issue and reading the article.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wool felted soap

Last Christmas my dear friend gave me this neat felted soap. I believed that she picked this up in a shop in Point Arena. I was intrigued as to how they felted around the soap. I was browsing some of my favorite blogs and came across this tutorial from Little Birdie Secrets. She goes into detail on how to make these little beauties. I think this would make some nice Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Windy City

We all traveled to Chicago this past week for a family reunion. It was the first time that my two youngest boys have been on an airplane. They loved it! I on the other hand am terrified of flying, so I was white knuckling it all the way there. We had a great time once we landed. It was a whirlwind of two days seeing the sites of downtown Chicago.

We started our trip off with a visit to the beach at Lake Michigan. It was funny to see palm trees dotting the beach. I felt like we were in San Diego. I was dreading the weather on this trip. Everyone kept telling me how hot and humid Chicago can get in the summer. The weather was great for us. It was cool and we even had some showers.

Later that same day we took a cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. What fun! It was very interesting to see all the architecture the city has to offer. The boys really enjoyed the cruise. We ended our first evening at the ESPN Zone for dinner. It was a very kid friendly place and they had one whole floor dedicated to arcade games. The only catch was the games were really pricey and you had to purchase a card to play the games. But, my boys managed to have a great time.

The next day we headed out to the Field Museum. What an incredibly interesting museum. They have the most complete T-Rex called Sue. She is huge! The boys thought she looked like the dinosaur from Night at the Museum. The exhibits were great and the museum was huge. We spent most of our day there and still didn't see everything. They had a wonderful exhibit on pirates. I thought it was going to be just some kitchy exhibit, but it was fascinating. It was the story about a slave ship called the Whydah. It told about the slave trade and about the people and life on the ship. The story continued on how the Whydah was captured by the infamous pirate Sam Bellamy and turned into a pirate ship. They told the story of the pirates and even had the pirate treasure on display. Very interesting! That evening we went to Navy pier and walked around.

My brother in law journeyed with us. This is all of them in front of Soldier Field.

The boys were hoping these were filled with real syrup. They were just piggy banks.

Our second half of the trip was spent in Wheaton and Naperville for our family reunion. Naperville is a cute town and they had a lovely river walk.

Hubby's cousin hosted the reunion and she has a beautiful old farmhouse. The kids had an Olympic contest and my little guy is winning the "spin around on a baseball bat and walk straight" contest.

We had a wonderful time visiting with family. The boys loved meeting cousins and seeing Uncle Tom and Aunt Marion. What a joy to be with everyone and reminisce. My hubby had a terrific time, especially seeing family he hasn't seen in a long time. Fond memories and fun times!
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