Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coconut Bread Pudding

I have a serious weakness for coconut in any form. I modified a very basic bread pudding recipe to satisfy my coconut craving. I must say, this is awesome. Beware, bread pudding is not an exact science and you must use some judgment.

1 loaf sliced white bread (not as airy as Wonder bread, but nothing too dense either -- I use sliced bread from the in-house bakery at my local Safeway)
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk (generally found in the Asian cooking section of the supermarket -- don't confuse this with coconut cream, which is sweetened and much too thick for this recipe)
1/4 cup regular milk
2 TBSP vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I use the unsweetened type found in the health food section, but you could use the sweetened kind instead)

Place raisins in a bowl of hot water. let soak for 20 minutes. Drain
Combine sugar, eggs, milks, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, coconut and raisins.
Cut bread into cubes. Stir the bread gently into the sugar/egg/milk mixture. Here's where the judgment comes in. If it looks too dry, you can beat another egg with 1/2 cup milk and stir it in. It's really hard to describe how moist this should be. Last time I made it, it was just a bit too dry and I think it was because the loaf of bread I used was larger than normal.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. You can add some more shredded coconut on top for the last few minutes -- just long enough for it to brown a bit. It will look very pretty :)

I usually serve this at room temperature with whipped cream. But my friend Patty/Pricilla (she has 2 personalities) has recently shared a recipe for caramel sauce that I think would be awesome on this bread pudding.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pink Pearl Earrings

Newly listed in my etsy shop, these pearl earrings are the kind of earrings I would wear every day. The pink is soft and I can't think of an outfit that they wouldn't complement. I fused and textured the circles from fine silver before adding the pearls.


These earrings are for sale in my etsy shop, where free worldwide shipping continues through December 31!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Destashing Some Vintage Goods

Rick and I used to go "outside" (that's what Alaskans call going to the lower 48) for 2 months every winter to visit family and goof off. Then I got tired of being away from my home and my stuff for such long periods of time. It was a real challenge getting used to staying in the frozen north country for the entire winter, but now I've become a real homebody and have no desire to leave for anything longer than 2 weeks!

The one thing I really miss is antiquing. There is such a limited number of antique stores in Anchorage and the inventory doesn't change often enough to warrant visiting more than twice a year.

While driving the California coast, I found this little treasure at an antique store in Monterey. At the time, I thought I would use the ration coupons in a piece of mixed media art. I discovered that I have a really hard time using things that were once so personal to someone and their family. It feels like I'm exposing them, somehow. Hopefully, someone else will be able to use these historic papers in a meaningful way.

They are listed in my other etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing to see all the coupons in the packet.

Monday, December 28, 2009

All Silver . Bracelet of Mixed Chains


I've posted here several times about the mixed chain bracelets that I make. They are excellent sellers for me -- both at craft shows and in galleries. I've even sold a few on etsy over the past couple of years. I make them with all sorts of color drops, but the best sellers are the ones where I use all silver beads and charms.

I recently listed one of the all silver variety in my etsy shop. This one features some Thai Hill Tribe beads. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Free worldwide shipping continues through December 31!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Attention Ginger Lovers!

I'm about to share with you one of my favorite pound cake recipes. Get your paper and pens ready!

Triple Ginger Poundcake

3 1/2 cups flour
1 TBSP ground ginger
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 TBSP vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
4 TBSP grated fresh ginger

Beat sugar & butter until creamy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in combined dry ingredients alternately with milk. Lastly, stir in the gingers.

Bake in 2 greased loaf pans (the smaller size works best) at 350 for about 1 hour. Cool 30 minutes in the pan, then turn out of pan and continue cooling on a rack.


When I made this the other day, I decided to make only 1 loaf and use the rest of the batter for cupcakes. I had big plans to make a cooked frosting flavored with ginger syrup, but as the day wore on, I never got around to it. Now the cupcakes are gone ... maybe next time.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Wholesale Accounts ... Redux

Yes, it is unusual to get any wholesale orders 2 weeks before Christmas, but that's exactly what happened to Orion Designs! Both of these orders took me by surprise and I must admit that I was NOT too anxious about filling large orders at this time of year. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Grizzly's Gifts in downtown Anchorage caters mostly to summer tourists, so I am at a loss to explain their fairly large order of ivory and silver jewelry from my original Orion Designs website. They chose some necklaces and matching earrings. Hopefully this will lead to some follow-on business when the actual tourist season begins.

This photo is from my website, but my print catalog has a much more extensive selection of ivory jewelry. The ivory is all ancient and fossilized mammoth ivory that I purchase from a very reputable dealer. No animals were destroyed to obtain this ivory.



The other order was from Bell's Nursery and Gifts in south Anchorage. It is a beautiful place, especially in the summer. Their gift shop is extensive and full of kitchen gear, china, crystal, home decor and some jewelry. Apparently they do a great amount of business during the holiday season with a large selection of Christmas trees, wreaths and poinsettias. The day I was there, the gift shop was buzzing with activity. The buyer made some selections from my existing inventory, which was embarrassingly low. I certainly wasn't expecting the call from Bell's when it came, otherwise I would have built some new inventory.

When I asked how she found me, she said she had purchased a pair of my earrings in a gallery in Anchorage and she loved them. All of my earring cards have my contact information on the back. Good thing, huh?

These two orders made me just that much happier this season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brand New Earrings in Gold Filled

I heart vintage glass beads and have an enormous collection that I work with often. I've been hoarding these lusciously creamy colored faceted beads for many years. Now it is time to share them with the world!

The design is simple and a bit sophisticated -- I think that comes from the use of gold filled wire for the earwires. These earrings are for sale in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movie Stars

I recently purchased a sheet of rubber stamps from The Stampsmith featuring photo images of movie stars. I adore these images and made some cards using them. The focus is definitely on the movie star, so I decided to keep the cards simple -- no fancy or complicated techniques or layouts.

I'm sure you recognize Lucille Ball and Betty Grable. It's taken me a while to be able to get good, clean stampings from these detailed photo image stamps. When I finally broke down and purchased a Versafine inkpad (by Tsukineko) I couldn't believe the results. This inkpad is specifically designed to capture the details in fine rubber stamps, such as those created from photos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Classy and Classic


These brand new earrings in my etsy shop are petite, but quite special. I started with little plump briolettes of smoky quartz. Above them, I added a loose cluster of white keshi pearls. The color combination of cocoa brown and creamy white is so elegant.

I always hang these type of super-special earrings from leverback earwires for maximum security. Plus, I think they add a bit of formality to the look.

These earrings are great for a party and equally perfect for every day wear. They are for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Remember, free shipping continues through year end!

Friday, December 18, 2009

How about some snow?

It's obvious why I have not driven anywhere lately. The snow is almost as deep as my car! We've been using Rick's truck almost exclusively for the past few days.



It's most beautiful when viewed looking up through the birch trees.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A New Pearl Mix Necklace


I actually made this a few months ago. It's one of the few that did not sell at my shows, probably because I never actually had it out on display. Silly, huh? We know what that means -- it gets listed in my etsy shop.

This one is warm and earthy, with all shades of copper, bronze, brown, cinnamon and even a bit of orange. It comes with matching earrings.

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Party Bracelet


This bracelet is festive, but also great for everyday wear. The colors are a great mixture of blues, greens and purples.

It starts with a modified right-angle-weave stitch for the base. I then add lots and lots of tiny fringe to the top surface. The fringe consists of seed beads and interestingly shaped pressed glass beads.

This bracelet is finished with a vintage glass button, which makes for a very easy clasp to do by yourself.

The best part? It's on sale. Originally $125, the bracelet is now on sale for $98. And, FREE SHIPPING continues through year end.

Click on the photo to go directly to the listing in my etsy shop and see some more close up photos and one of the entire bracelet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Butternut Squash Gratin

This is a great winter time recipe to accompany any meat dish.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp thyme
salt & pepper
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup flour
1 cup grated cheese (I use cheddar, but you can use Swiss, Monterey Jack or any other type of cheese you like)
1/2 cup heated milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use Progresso with Italian seasoning)
2 TBSP butter

Cook onion with thyme in half of the olive oil until they caramelize (~ 15 minutes). Salt & pepper to taste. Turn into greased 9 x 9 baking pan.

Toss squash cubes in flour. Cook in remaining oil for about 15 minutes, until it starts to brown and get tender. Spoon this over the onions. Cover with cheese. Pour the warm milk over the cheese. Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Melt butter in pan. Stir in bread crumbs and stir until the butter is well distributed. Remove the foil from the casserole and sprinkle this on the top. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Devour. If I had a picture, I would share it, but I forgot to take one before we started eating. Sorry.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Asymmetry Rules

These necklaces were quite a hit at my shows this fall. It was a new design for me this season and it appealed to customers with an eclectic sensibility. The design is a bit out of the ordinary and more rustic than most of my pieces.

I currently have 2 of them listed in my etsy shop. This first one is the longer of the 2, at 19 1/2". It features iridescent green freshwater pearls.


This second necklace is shorter. It is about 17 1/2" long and has peacock colored pearls -- a mix of purple, gray and a bit of blue.



Click on either of the photos to go directly to the listings and find out a little more about these pieces.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sunrise

We have had the most beautiful sunrises for the past few days. I brought my camera on our morning walk on Monday and captured this. Of course, I'm no photographer, but I think you get the idea. The sky was alive with all shades of pink and orange, with a touch of purple.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mexican Brownies

We had some friends over for dinner over the weekend. I had not seen these friends in a long time and wanted to spend plenty of time with them. That meant making a meal that required little fuss. I put a huge pork roast in the oven early in the afternoon and prepared (with help from Rick) a butternut squash and potato gratin. Those things basically cooked themselves while we chatted with our friends over wine and smoked salmon spread on crackers.

Early in the day I made a batch of Mexican brownies. Here's the easy-peasy recipe:

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 TBS cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Stir into the melted butter, the sugar, flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, milk and vanilla until well combined. Stir in walnuts. Spread in greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

For the frosting: in a heavy saucepan, melt 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Spread on hot brownies.

I served these with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream -- a make-your-own sundae dessert! It was a big hit.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Xena's Holiday Spirit

Even Xena the wonder Bouvier gets to celebrate the holidays. We have a special collar for her that we put on her right after Thanksgiving. We switch back to her regular collar after the New Year.

I had to move some fur out of the way to get a good picture and I had to use the flash. Xena was quite upset when she saw that the flash had accentuated her gray hair. I told her "you're as young as you feel, girl friend".


I won't tell you how she responded.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Custom Order ....

... turns into a staple product.

I made a pair of these earrings by special request from a customer at my Bad Girls of the North show in early November. I've done plenty of these hoops in sterling and copper, but I usually feel the need to add a dangle or a wrap to the bottom of the circle. This customer wanted it plain. Could I do that? Of course!


My customer was already an etsy buyer, so she agreed to purchase these in my shop. Now they are relisted and ready to go again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Three Note Cards

I spent yesterday doing "a little of this and a little of that". I reorganized part of my studio (a small part), I photographed some vintage items to list in my other etsy shop and I made some note cards.

All of the cards feature techniques from the Technique Junkie Newsletter.

This first card uses the Antiqued Glimmers technique with distress ink pads and sparkling misting sprays. It's hard to capture that sparkle in a scan, but trust me, it's there. I also used one of my favorite rubber stamps. If you can't read it, click the photo to get a larger image. I'm sure it will make you smile.


For this next card, I used the Splatter technique. It was quite messy, but the results were definitely worth it.


Lastly, I used the Sparkling Resist technique and some floral rubber stamps from Stampin' Up.



Tomorrow -- more studio organizing and cleaning!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Completed Sweater

I've worked on this sweater for months. I only knit in the evenings, and not every evening. That's why this sweater too so long to complete. I first blogged about it here. It was not a complete success. It's way too big. I tried to shrink it by washing it first in warm water, which is contrary to the instructions found on the yarn label. That didn't work. Then I washed it again and put it in the dryer on high. That didn't work. I got brave yesterday and washed in it hot water on the gentle cycle. That didn't work. The yarn is a cotton & wool blend. Why won't it shrink?

I decided to wear it today with a white turtleneck underneath. It's big and baggy. On the bright side, it's very comfy and it hides ... well, things that I might want to hide. Let's just leave it at that.