Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alaska State Fair :: Setting Up and Exploring

Saturday was the first day of setting up at the fairgrounds. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. We took a midday break to explore and found the magnificent berry patch. I've only been to that corner of the fairgrounds once, and now I wonder why I don't visit it more often.

The berry (and other fruit) garden is beautifully tended and every plant is heavy and full with fruit. First, have a look at these currents. There were several rows of these red beauties, as well as black, pink and clear currents. They were all very delicious. I'm pretty sure we weren't supposed to eat them, but who could resist that gorgeous fruit? It seems like such a waste if these go unharvested.

I bet you didn't think cherries would grow in Alaska. I certainly didn't. These were also quite yummy and surprisingly sweet.

But the most surprising fruit of all were these cute little apples. Rick picked a few of these, but has not yet tasted them. Will keep you posted.

I'll close with a photo of Rick (doing all the hard work) of setting up the ramp and handrail, which keep us in compliance with the ADA. You can see a bit of the ferris wheel in the background, which I think looks pretty cool.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oatmeal Coconut Cake

This recipe was given to me by a cruising friend many years ago. We met when sailing the Pacific coast of Panama and have kept in touch for these past 15 years. Delores and Bob now live in the Pacific Northwest, after 2 complete circumnavigations aboard their sailboat.

It is a great cruising recipe because all of the ingredients are readily available anywhere and most cruisers have them on board at all times. I've made this cake while cruising and on dry land many, many times.

Oatmeal Coconut Cake

1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

Pour boiling water over the oats. Let sit until cool.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
In another bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fluffy.
Stir in the oats and the dry ingredients.
Turn into 9" greased square pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (this is inexact because boat ovens are very different than house ovens -- just check it frequently)


1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk (or cream)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and spread on warm cake. Place under broiler for just a few minutes until browned. Really keep an eye on it while under the broiler. It will burn very easily!


Friday, August 21, 2009

An Etsy Find ....

.... and I bought it! Yes, I know I didn't need another bag, but I really fell in love with this one. It's more than a tote, but it's not quite a suitcase. It's too big to be an everyday purse. I introduce you to The Weekender:The blue striped cotton ticking is reminiscent of an earlier time, yet the design is so modern and functional. Check out the seller's shop on etsy to see all of her great bags: Death and Taxes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Farmer's Market Necklace!

I purchased these adorable lampwork vegetable beads from Studio Marcy. She's an amazing glass artist. Be sure to visit her shop. I've been enjoying these vegetables for quite a while now, and finally decided to combine them in this simple necklace, which is perfect for the gardener in your life.

handmade jewelry necklace peas carrot green orange studiomarcy
Peas and carrots happen to grow very well in Alaska, because of the relative coolness. It is said that we grow the sweetest carrots for that very reason. There really is no comparison between a supermarket carrot and Alaska grown carrots!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Pair of Brass Earrings

handmade jewelry earrings brass Italian glass beads olive green
I'm loving the look of brass these days, most especially when it has an antique finish. The color is warm and the leverback findings that I use are so comfortable. The beadcaps, beads and other findings are affordable.

For this pair of earrings, I dug deep into my stash of special glass beads. These are from Italy and gold foil is embedded in the glass during the manufacturing process. Of course, I purchased them (many years ago) in every color available and I still have some in my possession. The olive green color in this pair of earrings is gorgeous. To make these beads even more lovely, they have a matte finish. This really softens the look.

These earrings are available in my etsy shop, or click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cardmaking and Calla Lilies

This lovely calla lily image is one of my favorites from Stampin' Up. I use it often and the resulting cards always sell quickly. These two cards illustrate just how different the cards can be when using the same image and even the same layout.

This first card features a dark background that is a piece of marbled paper (marbled with acrylic
paints and metallics). The calla lily is stamped in a pale soft green and the quote is stamped in black. The metallic matte seemed to be the perfect layering component.

In contrast, this next card is a bit lighter. I used a tone-on-tone layering approach with the papers. The soft gray seem to really suit the calla lily.

Next time I use this stamp, I think I'll try it with white ink on a black or brown background. But I have a feeling my next stamping play time will be several months away, as my busy craft show season is right around the corner and I must focus on jewelry.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Felted Bags

I've been preparing for the Alaska State Fair. This year will mark our 12th year of having a booth there. We always have a blast, eat too much bad-for-us fair food and sell lots of stuff!

I've had these 2 felted bags listed in my second etsy shop for several months. They will most likely come with me to the fair, so if you are interested in them, now is the time to purchase. Of
course, there's always the possibility that they will not sell and they will be active once again on etsy. But why take that chance?

You can click on either of these photos to go directly to the etsy listings. These bags are very reasonably priced and they're extremely durable. Plus, they're really cute and fun to carry.

I'll close with a photo of our booth from the fair last year. This was taken on opening day. Yes, we are right next to the tamale booth. After the fair, it's a very long time before I can even think about eating tamales again.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Brass Earrings

I did a big photo shoot the other day and included a bunch of brass earrings. I'll be listing these, along with the other things I photographed over the next week or 2. I've been working with a lot of brass lately, as I can offer those earrings at a lower price than ones of comparable design in sterling. Plus, I like the warmth of oxidized brass. Here's the first new pair.

I started with a frosted glass bead of the palest gray (almost white) and topped it with a cute beadcap, a wavy spacer and another gray glass bead. Voila! A pair of earrings for everyday.

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing. Or, have a look at my entire etsy shop.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Watermelon Berries

Yes, another post about berries in Alaska. Sorry if you're bored, but these berries are amazing. They are shaped like miniature watermelons and they're full of well, water. Slightly flavored water. We have several of these plants scattered around the property. This summer, Rick discovered a large patch of them. Why did we never see these particular ones before? Have no idea.

We've been grabbing a few every evening on our walk around the property with Xena. They're a refreshing after dinner snack.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peridot - August Birthstone

handmade jewelry earrings sterling silver peridot
In honor of all people born in August, I listed these brand new peridot earrings. I adore these small peridot briolettes, but they're a little too small to use alone. Three at a time is better than one.

I suspended them from circles that I fused from fine silver wire. I hammered and textured the circles before oxidizing all of the silver. I used my hand formed sterling silver earwires to complete the earrings.

Happy birthday, August babies!

These earrings are for sale in my etsy shop. You can click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sandhill Crane

While walking along the inlet yesterday morning, we heard some strange bird sounds and saw 3 sandhill cranes. I was amazed at how HUGE they are! I managed to get one great photo (and several terrible ones).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vintage Glass Bead Earrings

handmade jewelry earrings sterling silver cobalt blue vintage glass beads
It's no secret that I love vintage glass beads. I have quite a collection of necklaces. And I've purchased plenty that I've deconstructed in order to use the delicious beads. The necklace that originally contained these super glossy cobalt blue beads was nothing special, so I had no problem cutting it up to give the beads new life.

They are hanging from my hand formed almond shaped sterling silver earwires, which I have a tutorial for.

These earrings are for sale in my etsy shop.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Public Art in Anchorage

In Alaska, all public projects such as schools, convention centers, police and fire stations, courthouses, and many more, are required to have 1% of the budget dedicated to art. I don't really know much about the program, but a few friends of mine have bid on and won such projects. This art can be seen all over the state, but I'm most familiar with the projects local to the Anchorage area.

This photo is one of my favorite outdoor pieces of art in Anchorage. It looks like gigantic fishing poles with gigantic reels. At the end of each one is a beautiful hanging basket full of flowers. I'm proud that my state holds the arts in such high regard.

And yes, I felt a little like a tourist when I stopped to take of picture of this!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Details, Details

When working with beads or making any type of jewelry, details are so important. Here's one of the little details of creating beaded drops that I find critical.

After stacking beads on a headpin for creating a pair of earrings, we most often make a wrapped loop in order to attach the drops to earwires. I make 2 types of wrapped loops: neat and messy. But that's a topic for another post. This post is about the neat type of wrapped loop. Chances are, you have a favorite method of creating said wrapped loop. Take a close look at the last pair of earrings you made. You will notice that they do not look the same when viewed from the front as they do when viewed from the back.

This first photo shows one drop facing one way and the other drop facing the other way. Can you see the difference in the wrap? This may seem like a minor point, but in a simple pair of earrings, if each one is not suspended from the earwire in the same direction, it can really stick out like a sore thumb.

I won't try to tell you which way is right and which way is wrong, I only suggest that you assemble both earrings the same way. I always hang my drops as seen below, because I see this side of the wrap as "the front". You may see it the other way. Just be consistent!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Prasiolite ... or Green Amethyst

handmade jewelry earrings sterling silver green amethyst prasiolite briolettes
I listed these earrings in my etsy shop yesterday. The shape of these stones is amazing. They remind me of those hanging crystals from a fancy chandelier. But they really are prasiolite, or green amethyst.

They need little adornment, so I wrapped them with oxidized sterling silver wire and suspended them from my hand formed sterling earwires.

I must remember to save 2 of these stones for myself!

Once again, I'm featured in the Etsy Weekend Deals. My deal is 20% off your entire order August 7-9. You must enter the words "weekend deal" in the message to seller. I will refund the appropriate amount via Paypal.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Trip to Homer

We are now home from our mini-vacation to Homer. We all had a grand time taking long walks on the beach, eating at some fun restaurants and enjoying a beer at the Salty Dawg Saloon. We spent a day taking a boat ride across the bay to the little village of Seldovia. It was a quiet day and of course, Xena was the most popular passenger on the boat!

Here are some pictures of our little getaway.

Xena tries to eat a crab at low tide. The crab won that fight.

Xena contemplates the darkening sky.

The Salty Dawg Saloon, outside, then inside. The entire interior is covered with dollar bills that patrons have placed there with push-pins over many years.

Now, I must get back to work making jewelry. The State Fair is fast approaching.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going away ...

... for just a few days.

We haven't been to Homer in a few years. We love it there and plan to walk on the beach and eat great pizza. I promise to take some photos of Xena at the water's edge (she was scared of the little waves last time).

We may also make a stop at The Salty Dog. Can you believe I've never been there??

Til Thursday...