Saturday, August 31, 2013

AJE August Component of the Month Reveal

Mine's the one in the middle at the top.

I mentioned last week that I was fortunate enough to be chosen to participate in this month's Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month. Let me remind you of the beautiful Melismatic Molten Morsel I received from Melissa Meman.

I jumped the gun a little and made my punches in the piece before I remembered to take a picture. Heck, I punched those holes before I had even decided on a design. It worked out though.


I did ponder what I had on hand and could create that would complement Melissa's beautiful work. After much thought, I decided a deep purple would be perfectly royal. In that vein, I used some small beads that I received from a friend. After completing the necklace and in the sunlight, I found that some of the beads are more red than purple. But, I still really like it despite that little snafu.
 Yeah, I liked it so much, I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.

I really hope I did Melissa's beautiful Morsel the justice it deserves. Follow the links below or head over to the Art Jewelry Elements blog to check out what everyone else did with their Morsel.
The AJE Team

The lucky three
You are here --> Hope Smitherman

This was a lot of fun. Thank you Melissa and the AJE team for letting me play along!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thrifting Finds

Lately, I've made quite a few thrifting scores. I really love showing off what I've discovered, not so much to brag, but because y'all understand just how cool these finds are and I have to tell someone. Most of these were discovered two weeks ago while we were on vacation.

First up is this bag of miscellaneous craft supplies. One of the local thrift stores just bags up a bunch of the miscellanea they receive and sells it cheap. I kinda imagine a box in the back labeled "Arts & Crafts" that they toss the bits into and wait until it's full to send it out on the floor. Anyway. . .this big-ol-bag was only THREE BUCKS.

This is what I picked out of that bag. The rest of the stuff (the plastic beads and fluffy pom-poms will be re-donated).
I've got an idea for those spools. . .

Next up, at the same thrift store I snagged a few vintage pillow cases. One day, when I learn to sew, I plan on making a cozy quilt out of all the vintage sheets and pillow cases I've collected.
Yes, one day.

Pat and I also walked through my favorite local antique mall and he lost me for a bit in there. When he found me, I was in the floor pawing though a basket full of metal stamps. Most of them were not my taste so I left them for the next lucky crafter, but I did take these home for a steal.
If you can't see them; that's a small flower, a peace sign, an asterisk, a larger flower, and my name (Hope)!

At the bottom of a bin of odds and ends in the same antique mall, I uncovered this treasure.
Can you tell what it is?
It's a length of bone and mother of pearl buttons!! I wasn't leaving without this.

The major find at that particular antique mall, and possibly my find of the century (though in fact, Pat spotted it) was this amazing cabinet of drawers.
That was the actual picture I took of it in the antique mall because I wasn't sure that it would be mine. I wanted to capture its awesomeness before I had to leave it forever. It took a day of convincing, but now that baby's nestled in all cozy-like in my craft room. I'll share more of it at another time.

Lastly, I was able to browse another antique store this week and walked out of there with this loot.
That's a big jar of more vintage buttons and some very cool hardware. I hardly ever find super cool, old hardware and was STOKED about these hinges, keyhole, lock part, and aluminum numbers.

Now I just need to eke out some time to play with all these goodies. I'd love to see/hear about what you've found while thrifting too. What do you keep your eyes out for while at flea markets, thrift stores, and antique malls? Do you have other places you frequent for the best scores?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lorelei's New Michael's Challenge Reveal

A few weeks ago, Lorelei Eurto offreed up to us beaders a new Michael's challenge. She picked out some beads at Michael's Arts and Crafts Store and encouraged us to get the same or similar beads and see what we could make from them. We could add two other bead types, a focal, and/or a clasp if we wanted.

I really struggled with this challenge for some reason. I liked all the colors and the unique bead shapes, but had a hard time getting the blue to cooperate with the other colors. I actually kept envisioning mossy-covered structures because of the green beads, but couldn't make that vision translate. (Though I did try dying the ceramic beads with some green alcohol inks.) I finally went through my bead cabinet looking for something, anything that would coordinate with all the beads and bring the colors together. I settled on some tiny violet beads and a plan began to form.

Yes, I created a leather wrap bracelet.

The larger, ceramic beads fit on the leather nicely and the other beads hung on head pins from the leather. The owl button was a perfect clasp. The bracelet wraps about two times around the wrist.

However, I discovered that un-wrapped it works well as a choker also.

I want to thank Lorelei for offering up another fun and indeed challenging opportunity. I always enjoy a chance to work with beads that I might not have picked for myself and see what I can design. This was perfect. Don't forget to head over to Lorelei's blog to see what the other participants also created with the ingredients.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Food, Glorious Food

This week's menu was tough for me. I'm not sure why exactly, but I had a hard time coming up with meals I wanted to eat. I went through my saved vegetarian recipes several times and just couldn't settle on much. In the end, I decided to  figure out what it was I DO want to eat and try to make that work. So, I'll be coming up with a few recipes on my own this week. If they are a success, I'll share them with you later.

Breakfasts: Oatmeal/Cheese grits, Juice, Yogurt w/granola & berries, Omelet w/fruit, Waffles (either these whole wheat ones or some from the freezer), Jam filled almond muffins.
Jam filled almond muffins from EatingWell
Lunches: Turkey sandwiches, BBQ tofu pizza, Soup w/grilled cheese, Bean burritos, PB&J, Homemade pizza rolls, Leftovers

Crockpot Brown & Maple Sugar Pork Tenderloin from Your Homebased Mom
Dinners:
Jalapeno popper stuffed portobello mushrooms (my own recipe) w/green beans & salad
Taco Soup
Cheese Ravioli with Pesto Cream sauce (my own recipe) w/salad
Crock pot brown and maple sugar pork tenderloin w/sweet potatoes & cauliflower

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Recipe Review

Here's my review of last week's recipes.
Curried Brown Rice with Broccoli Casserole (1/2 recipe): As I made this recipe, I started really hoping that it was as good as all that because it made quite a mess; two pots, a pan, a casserole dish, cutting board, several bowls, etc. It was a lot of dishes for a single recipe. Since I halved the recipe, I should have used a smaller casserole dish than the one I used as the layers were fairly sparse. That was my own fault. In the end, we liked the flavor of the dish okay, but it just wasn't amazing enough for all the mess it made. I won't be making this again.

Pad Thai Soup: Wow, this soup came together really quickly and easily. And, we really, really loved it. Our only complaint was that it didn't make enough. Actually, it made JUST enough. The recipe says that it's four servings, but really it was just enough or the two of us. We like soup, we like Thai food, this was awesome. It will definitely be made again and again.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas: These were really very good. We ate them without adding any meat. I did add a few additional seasonings (as is my way) It was just some Adobo, dried cilantro, and chipotle. I wish I had halved the recipe as the bottom layer kinda turned to mush after sitting for a little while under the top layer. If I do make this again I probably will half it.

Baked Pizza Rolls (1/2 recipe): I made these for lunch and they came together pretty quickly (especially for something I had to cook for lunch.) Rolling them up was the most time-consuming part. In the end, we both really liked them a lot. I will definitely make these again. In fact, I've added them to this week's menu since I have the other half of the wonton wrappers. YAY!

Chicken Parmesan Casserole (1/2 recipe): This came together so, so quick and was pretty tasty too. I won't say it was my favorite chicken recipe, but it was definitely good. I may make it again.
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While I'm on the subject of food I thought I'd bring up this next topic. Sometime in the middle of last week, I shared this picture.
It's my favorite grilled cheese ingredients: sharp white cheddar, avocado, and onion. I asked (on Facebook and Instagram) what everyone else's favorites were and got some delicious suggestions. Now, I want to know where YOU stand on grilled cheeses. Are you a traditionalist with a simple cheese and bread preference or do you break all the rules and add something unexpected? What do you like in a grilled cheese?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Focusing on Life Week 34

Add Something. . .
Our photo task this week from Sally was to simply add something to a photo with any editing program or app we desired. I've been playing around with the A Beautiful Mess app for a little while, but really haven't done much with it. As well, the photo I chose had already been altered in Instagram with a filter and some resizing. (I'm CraftyHope in Instagram if you want to follow me.) After all that editing and addition of the things, this was the product.

Pat and I took the nieces to the beach a few weekends back. This is the the three of them (Pat and the girls) out in the water as he was teaching them to boogie board. It was a really great day.

Feel free to link up here and/or just check out what everyone else added!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Up to My Elbows in Challenges

There's a lot going on over here in the Craft Room lately. I've got a plethora of beads and challenges up my sleeve.

I went ahead and bought the beads for Lorelei's new Michael's Challenge, but the deadline is Tuesday and I still don't know what I'm going to make. Agggghhhhh!!!!
I better get on the ball if that's going to happen.

I was also one of the lucky three randomly selected to participate in Art Jewelry Elements' August Component of the Month. This month's artist is Melissa Meman and the component was one of her Melismatic Molten Morsels. It was a complete surprise which morsel we would each receive and I was so happy to see mine.
The morsel came without holes in it, but you can plainly see that I couldn't wait to take a picture before punching holes just where I wanted them. I can be an inpatient soul at times.

Lastly, ZnetShows is having a challenge for some of their design team. Here's what I received. I'll fill you in more about the challenge a little later on.

So, you can see I'm a busy girl. Yet. . .here I sit writing a blog post, hoping that inspiration will strike (and SOON!) What should you be working on instead of reading blogs?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Earrings Galore

Yesterday, you got a sneak peek at the earrings I worked on last week. I thought I'd show them off a little more today. Please note that this isn't all of them for a couple of reasons; the others are either rather simple or I need to save them for a reveal. Here's a better look at the rest!
This one didn't start out from the pile of pairs I had gathered. Instead, it came straight out of my sketchbook.

It's simply moonstone and brass. Lovely.

I had a bit of a theme going for the majority of the earrings pairs I made. Here you can see it was wrapping rings, one in wire and the other in some waxed linen.

There was also a flower theme. The top row uses some vintage Lucite from my stash, and the bottom flowers are glass. Also, please note that the upper left one has button flowers dangling from it. That's important.

You see, buttons was another theme incorporated into these earrings.

Those alligators at the top are also buttons. However, the theme of this shot is washers. The copper washers up top were textured and aged and the bottom steel ones were altered with some Vintaj Patinas and a stamp. That's the last of the themes, but not the last of the earrings. Oh no. . .

These just have a fun, funky shape that remind me of a clown for some reason. The top three violet beads on each of these are from MyElements.

Next up are my favorites. I just had to show these off.

I've had those purple and white triangular beads FOREVER and just never knew what to do with them. I was down to my last pair of them so they ended up on my desk this past week. As I looked at them, I suddenly saw sails and HAD to make them into sailboats. I was absolutely giddy when these came together so perfectly. The piece on the bottom is some cultured sea glass from ZnetShows.

I don't know what it is about these earrings that appeals to me so. Perhaps it really is their simplicity. I actually only bought two of these beads with the full intention of making them into earrings someday. Their time had come. Once the wire frame was shaped around them, I kept fiddling trying to add something else to them. It finally hit me to KISS them (Keep It Simple, Stupid). I'm glad I did.

These bone beads were another pair I bought specifically to make into earrings. However, I just kept moving them around my desk. Nothing seemed perfect for them. As I sat up in bed the last night of our vacation, I was struck with the idea of putting them in a birdcage of sorts. Since I was browsing the internet on my iPad anyway, I did some research on how to do it and found very little except this Basket Case tutorial from WireWorkers Guild. I awoke the next morning ready to get to it. I know my take on the encasing is different, but I love the imperfections. This quote sums them up for me.


Yeah, that quote pretty much sums me up too!


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Emptiness at the End of Summer Vacation (I'm filling it with food and beads)

Today just seems like the end of summer; school is starting back (not that it affects me much) and our staycation has ended. It feels like a new start. . a perfect time to get back on the ball. While it unfortunately rained the last few days of our vacation, the bad weather gave me an opportunity to plan out this week. That planning especially included our meals. Here's what I'm looking forward to enjoying this week


Breakfasts: Oatmeal/cheese grits, Juice, Yogurt w/granola & fruit, Omelet w/fruit, Whole wheat waffles, English muffin with peanut butter & fruit
Baked Homemade Pizza Rolls from Back to Her Roots
Lunches: PB&J w/fruit & chips, Baked homemade pizza rolls, Soup w/grilled cheese, Bean burritos w/all the fixin's, Turkey sandwiches, Sesame noodles w/carrots, Leftovers

Slow Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas from The Kitchn
Dinners:
BBQ Tofu Pizza
Chicken Parmesan casserole (1/2 recipe) w/pasta

Pad Thai Soup from Tasty Kitchen - recipe and photo via Jackie Dodd

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Recipe Review

Since I didn't meal plan last week and thus didn't blog my recipe review, let me go ahead and review what we ate the week before last.

Spicy peanut butter tofu: I made these a little bit spicier than suggested with a tad more Sirracha and a touch of chili oil. It was yummy! I'll probably make this again.

Pasta and white beans with garlic rosemary oil (half recipe): I actually forgot that I was doing a half recipe of this, so I used the whole carrot, celery, onion, and garlic amounts but then adjusted most everything else down a bit. I also used some veg broth instead of water/cooked bean water in some cases. It was really pretty good. I may make this again.

Skinny baked broccoli mac and cheese: This was okay. . .I accidentally bought and used VANILLA almond milk in this recipe so I personally tasted a distinct sweetness to it. The hubs said he couldn't. Either way, I just didn't find this creamy enough for me. I couldn't taste cheese at all. I might make it again to see if it's just the almond milk that was the problem, but I'm not completely convinced that was it.

Honey balsamic carrots: I've made these before and we like them. I'll admit that I'm not a HUGE lover of cooked carrots anyway (I prefer them raw), but I like all the flavors that go into this recipe. I do have to adjust my amounts from the recipe as 2 pounds of carrots is WAY more than the two of us will eat. I'll probably make these again.

Garlic sesame snow peas:  These weren't listed on the menu two weeks ago, but I found this recipe at the last minute to cook the snow peas that I did plan (To clarify, I had snow peas on the menu but didn't specify what I would do with them.) I had everything on hand to make these and it came together very quickly! I'll make these again.
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Also during the rainstorms, I had time to make sure my bead table was ready for a fresh start. I started vacation off by pulling out a bunch of beads that I only had a single pair of left. Earrings. . .pairs. . .it seemed a good start to me.

About the middle of vacation, the top of my desk looked something like this.

By the time yesterday rolled around, this is what I was dealing with! GAH!!!!


It only took a few minutes to straighten in back out, thank goodness.

I mean. . .who wants to come back from vacation to a mess? The 19 pairs of completed earrings were a definite plus to the whole situation.

That's all for today. I've got all kinds of other news and posts to share with you, but I figured I'd stick with routine for this Monday. Is it feeling like the end of summer for you too?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quick Update Amid our Staycation

I just wanted to pop in and let y'all know that Pat and I are taking a bit of a Staycation this week. While we are still at home, we're trying to enjoy some down time. Here's just a snippet of some of the fun we've already enjoyed.
While kayaking on Fish River, we spotted this. I just love how the trees bend over the small opening to form a natural tunnel from the river into a little cove.

Yesterday we decided to take our sailboat out to Johnson Beach in Florida. The weather was a little sketchy, but there were intermittent views like the one above.

So, we're living it up on this Staycation and I'll be back later to show you more pictures of our beautiful area. However, it's time for me to get back to the fun.

But first, this bracelet was re-listed
Twist of Fate bracelet
  In reality, today's plans include some tasks we need to take care of like running to the bank and cleaning items in the yard. Yup, STAYcation. Ha! Here's hoping you're making the most of what's left of your summer too.