AJE Component of the Month Reveal (January 2014)

A few weeks back I announced that I was getting to guest-design for Art Jewelry Elements (AJE). Each month AJE reveals a 'component of the month' that's made by one of their own designers. This component is then sent out to the members of their design team and a few other randomly-selected designers. By luck of the draw, I was once again selected to participate. (I say once again as I also got to participate in the AJE CoM challenge back in August.) Here's a reminder of the component Jennifer Davies-Reazor designed and sent to me this month.
I was blown away by Jenny's use of the polymer clay, resin, and dictionary text to create this amazing focal. It rendered me speechless. Actually, it rendered me design-less. I was baffled as to what I could add that would compliment without taking away from it.

It seriously took me almost all month to design my contribution. I thought and pondered and dreamed and fiddled with it for WEEKS! In the end, I should have done as the pendant suggested and remembered to TRUST in myself.

 I kept seeing dangles in my head, perfectly shaped dangles. But I didn't have anything like what I envisioned on hand. I found some fiingychain at Hobby Lobby and altered the dangles that hung from it.

I also knew I needed something else to accent the focal, but nothing seemed special enough for it. Eventually, it hit me that adding some text to wood beads would be perfect. (I'll have complete instructions on how I made the text beads and altered the dangles next week.)

All in all, I really like the the piece. It was such fun to get to play along with the other AJE designers.

Thanks for the opportunity and the trust you put in me.

Now, head over to the Art Jewelry Elements blog and check out how everyone else used their Component of the Month.

30 Words: Icicles

From the eaves they dangle
Melting to form a point;
Sharp like teeth,
Biting cold.
Yet even more pronounced
Is the blue sky promise
Of a warmer, dryer day ahead.

The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...

Take an image.
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.
Share it on Erin's Treasure's Found blog.

It Snowed Down South (kinda)

If you haven't heard, it really did snow in Alabama yesterday.

I say "snow" but what we in the lowest portion of Bama received was less snowflakes and more sleety-ice that somewhat stuck to the ground.
My front yard
There were hours upon hours of wet sleet that formed icicles on everything.
The icicles on my Jeep at the beginning of the storm
The same icicles this morning
The ice that coated all the leaves made for an almost pleasant wind chime effect as the wind blew. However, if you were out there listening to it, you were also freezing your tail off.
I'm just praying my poor rose bushes will be okay.
The ice is currently starting to melt and dripping off everything, but the temperature is starting to drop again. As such, I doubt the roads will be driveable again tomorrow.
The tires on Pat's truck were covered in icicles. I laughed because they even hung off the bottom.
 There's been a lot of hullabaloo about why Southerners can't handle a little snow.  Before you start making fun of us (or continue to do so), take a look at this article at Gizmodo on Why the South Fell Apart in the Snow. It may explain a few things.
No worries, I won't be going anywhere as long as my car's door handle is froze up like this.
While I often consider a change of pace nice, I'm ready for all this cold, wet ickyness to be gone.
Icicles on my front porch.
It's almost pretty, but y'all Northerners can keep it!

Meal Plan and Recipe Review (Jan 27)

As South Alabama freaks out over prepares for the possibility of snow tomorrow, I simply dread the thought and continue on with my usual routine. Alas, the bread shelves at the grocery store were indeed picked over (what's up with that?) and there was a lot more traffic down the aisles. . .including one poor mother who was frantically searching the floor where her son apparently lost a tooth (gah!)

I will admit that I did buy a few more groceries than normal, but only because I don't want to have to head out in the next two days in the cold for something I may have forgotten/need. For now, here's what I plan on us eating this week.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Oatmeal/grits w/fruit, Egg white omelet, Hashbrown baskets, Overnight oatmeal waffles

Lunches: PB&J, Pizza (from freezer), Tuna noodles, Cheese quesidillas, Turkey sandwiches, Soup w/grilled cheese, Leftovers

Spicy peanut butter tofu w/green beans & potatoes
Hashbrown taco casserole (vegetarian) w/corn
Baked ravioli w/salad
Chicken marsala w/pasta & spinach salad


Recipe Review

Oven baked corn fritters: I had SUCH high hopes for these. Unfortunately, I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I used wheat flour instead of rice flour and corn starch instead of corn flour (and added a little corn meal as well.) These cooked fine and were completely edible, however both Pat and I agreed that they were missing something. That something could have been as basic as salt. They were slightly chewy and really only tasted like flour and frozen corn. I MIGHT make this again and fiddle with the recipe some more.

Simple sesame noodles: As always, this recipe was a winner for us. I left out the green onions as I didn't have any on hand and will admit that I missed them terribly.

Bowtie pasta with creamy wild mushroom sauce: NUMMY! I kinda hate that we didn't eat more leftovers this past week as I would have chowed down on what was left of these.

Now that I've got all that typed out, I'm STARVING. Maybe a little snack before dinner. . .

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

I saw this blog post format on Jayesel's blog and liked it enough to try it (at least once). Who doesn't love a bullet-list post? Let's take this baby for a whirl!

Yesterday I. . .
  • discovered I was featured in this Shades of Gray Treasury on Etsy. The whole list of items showcases Etsy members from the Deep South.   
    Shades of Gray
  • shipped out an order!
  • had lunch with my long-time friend, Kate, at Lap's Grocery and Grill. We had a great time chatting it up and licking our chops over this glorious food. 
    My Cobb Salad that included smoked chicken and grilled shrimp!
    Kate's low country boil was super messy, but she really seemed to enjoy it!
  • pushed myself to get some items checked off the to-do list before I headed out to see Kater.
  • went grocery shopping
  • changed up the menu some as I wasn't sure the tilapia was any good after I discovered a hole in the freezer bag. We had some pre-marnated turkey breast chops by Butterball instead and really enjoyed them.
  • watched "Captain Phillips." Tom Hanks is an amazing actor.
  • Finished reading "Little House on the Prairie."  I learned so much from this children's book and think that every kid should read it or have it read to them.

Today I. . .
  • took too long to get out of bed after staying up late reading.
  • tried PB2 for the first time in our smoothies and found that we both REALLY liked it.
  • got this new necklace listed in the shop 
    Bright Fringe Necklace
  • plan on making our lunch today after eating out yesterday. Of course, that completely depends on what Mr. Man wants.
  • hope to get to do a little thrifting before I head to Mobile.
  • will drive over to Mobile to hang out with/help out my family. I pray that everyone is in a good mood.

Tomorrow I. . . 
  • will have a tougher time getting out of bed as I always visit with the family too long.
  • would like to get up and exercise in some form or fashion. (ha. . .we'll see how that goes.)
  • want to finish up my contribution for the AJE Component of the Month.
  • plan on starting to read my next book for the month, "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."
  • hope to get another item listed in the Etsy shop.
  • might just make a Treasury (you know, since I was just in one and all!)
  • know that I'm forgetting something I need/want to do, but this list already seems over-ambitious!

How's your week going?

Menu and Recipe Review (Jan 20)

A weekend with the nieces means a weekend of junk food, eating out, and avoiding my carefully planned menu. This weekend was one of THOSE. As such, there's some repeats on this week's menu and I didn't  even bother to change our breakfast and lunch options from last week (so they're not included on this week's post.)

Pad Thai soup (from freezer)
Baked ravioli w/salad
Spicy peanut butter tofu w/green beans and boiled potatoes


Recipe Review

Delicious ham and potato soup: As always, a winner in our house!

Lemon garlic spaghetti: So simple, so tasty! I will make this again.

I apologize for being so short today but I'll leave you with the newest (re)listed item in my shop
Marooned Necklace
Happy Monday y'all!

30 Words: Fairy Cove

A crisp, clear day had me yearning for adventure. That desire was fed by biking along the water’s edge, down long stretches of road, and into this hidden fairy cove.

The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...

Take an image.
Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.
Post it each Thursday.
Share it on Erin's Treasure's Found blog.

In the Shop and on the Craft Desk

It's been a while since I listed much of anything in the shop. I've recently started adding (and relisting) some items in there so I thought you might like to see what's now available.
Winter Dream Bracelet
Leftover Sprigs Earrings
Heaven on Earth Necklace
Dragon Eye Earrings
Delicate Night Necklace
And just for kicks, this is what's on my desk currently
And that's not including the three items with deadlines that I should be working on instead. Ah well. . .tomorrow is another day.

Menu and Recipe Review (Jan 13)

It's time again for me to share what we'll be munching on this week. I'm keeping this short and sweet as the rain and lack of sun today has my energy at a low.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Cheese Grits/Oatmeal, Egg white cheese omelet, Hashbrown baskets, Overnight oatmeal waffles

Lunches: Soup w/grilled cheese, Pizza (from freezer) w/salad, Sesame noodles, Bean burritos, PB&J, Cheese quesidillas, Leftovers

Lemon garlic spaghetti w/roasted broccoli
Baked ravioli w/salad


Recipe Review

Taco Hand Pies: I'll start by saying that I made these with soy crumbles instead of ground beef to make them vegetarian. It didn't hurt the flavor at all. The pies turned out pretty good, but were uber messy to make. (see picture of aftermath above) Between the flour on the counter and the filling oozing out of the dough (see picture below) I had a real disaster on my hands (and on the counter, floor, and front of my shirt). I also had a ton of extra stuffing that wouldn't fit into the pies. I actually ended up freezing the leftover stuffing and half of the pies (before they were baked) since the recipe made sixteen pies. I probably won't make this exact recipe again as the dough itself was a TON of calories, but I will consider it. They ended up looking fairly pretty.

This isn't the same pie as the one above it. . .Pat ate that one before I could get a picture.

Roasted cauliflower alfredo: This was good, but the consistency wasn't exactly to my liking. I failed to read the whole recipe before making it (dur!) and didn't realize that the cauliflower was blended to make the sauce rather than just IN with the noodles and sauce. I think I would have liked that better. Oh well. I probably won't make this again. You win some, you lose some.

Broccoli cheddar soup: This was AWESOME! There was something about the roasted broccoli and the aged cheddar together that gave this soup a fabulous flavor. While it was pretty high in calories, I will most likely make it again. Yummers.

Slow cooker coffee braised brisket with potatoes and carrots: This was so easy to throw together on Sunday morning. I wasn't feeling well and it was nice to know that I wouldn't have to mess with cooking dinner in the evening. However, it was too sweet for my taste. I did add the extra coffee, garlic, wine, and Sirrachi as the comment-ers on the recipe suggested. However, the brown sugar in the recipe was where it went off course for me I think. If I make this again, I will likely use less brown sugar. Yet, I'm not sure that I'll make this again as I think I would have just preferred a regular old crock pot roast beef.

That's all for today y'all. It's about time to get started cooking tonight's meal and hope that the rain is gone tomorrow.

I'm a Guest Designer for AJE this Month

How lucky can one girl be? I was fortunate enough to have my name drawn  as one of the wildcards for the Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month for January 2014. This month's component was created by the talented Jennifer  Davies-Reazor. You can read more about her development of the component on the Art Jewelry Elements Blog, but let me go ahead and show you what she sent ME!

Isn't it sublime!? I've just been oooohing and ahhhhing over the metallic and patina combination she achieved on the polymer clay. Love!

It's one of those pieces that if I didn't HAVE to have something made by the end of the month, I would probably hoard for way too long!

Oh, and it even has my name in it! GAH!! Let me admit that I'm just a little intimidated by it's awesomeness but I've got until the end of the month to come up with something.

Check back on Friday, January 31st to see what I've made for this challenge.

Thrifting Adventure

Over the weekend Pat and I decided to do a little thrifting. We went to one of those places that's more of a warehouse; an establishment where the wares are piled floor to ceiling with only a vague semblance of organization. I perused the overpriced costume jewelry and the DVDs (for the heck of it) before venturing into the building's depths. There were couches and bookshelves and tacky figurines, nothing that really drew my interest. As I neared the end of my path, I spotted a hardware section. Boxes and tubs and bags were filled with old hinges and knobs and drawer pulls. One bucket contained a full black bag of these items and I timidly stuck my hand into its innards. I came up empty. However, another box nearby was filled with smaller boxes and bags. There, with more timid digging, I unearthed these beauties.
Small glass knobs in desperate need of cleaning
I held the knobs close to my chest and turned the last corner into what seemed to be the electronics section. Realizing I would probably have to do more digging, I tiptoed my way through the piles picking at this and that. On a shelf I spied a basic brown cardboard box with contents overflowing. At the top were two plastic containers that I quickly recognized as sewing machine accessories. I laid those aside to discover a bounty of glass.
Beautiful electronic works of art
Pat was soon at my side to identify the items as electronic tubes. Though I was already giddy with excitement, we discussed how I could use the tubes before the shopkeeper approached to appraise my finds. She offered what I deemed to be a fair price and the treasures were mine!
Some of these vacuum tubes were even still in their original boxes
Have you unearthed any amazing thrift store finds lately?

Some Outside Activities, Meal Plan, and Recipe Review

Living a healthier lifestyle is WAY hard. I'm conscious of every calorie I consume and burn. I suppose that's what I need to do, but it's just hard to recognize that some of my favorite consumables won't fit into my day (or I won't fit into my pants). I also need to find some more active activities to burn those calories away. It's so cold that outdoor activities are hard for me to wrap my brain around. With some not too bad temps this weekend, Pat and I headed into the wild. Well, we took a couple short hike/walks and played some disc golf. I love using those opportunities to capture the beauty in nature.
Cypress Tree(s) at Weeks Bay Reserve

Boat launch in Weeks Bay
Fishing pier in Weeks Bay
Camilla in bloom at the Orange Beach Disc Golf Course
As the temperatures continue to drop (even way down South where I am), I'm not sure outdoor activities will be in the plans this week. I'm going to have to buck up and do some other activities like the WiiFit or the dreaded exercise video! ACK! (first world problems, I'm well aware.)

At least I can look forward to yummy meals. I'll admit I haven't considered the calories for each of these meals, I'll just have to watch how much I consume instead.

Breakfasts: Smoothies, Oatmeal/grits, Egg white cheese omelet, French toast, Eggs w/biscuits

Lunches: Leftovers, Sesame noodles, Pizza (from freezer) w/salad, PB&J, Chicken salad, Soup w/grilled cheese, cheese quesidillas

Vegetarian chili over rice


Recipe Review

Tofu parmigiana: This was really, really good and such a great alternative for tofu. I will very likely use this recipe again.

Guiltless cheesy mac: I've made this before and make it again. It's a great way to feed my mac and cheese cravings and a bunch of veggies at the same time.

Jalapeno popper stuffed mushrooms: Since this is my own recipe, I knew it was good. However, I think this time around it was even better than the first time I made it. YUM.

I've actually been sitting here too long writing this and am aching to stand up and get moving. . .that's a great sign! How do you stay active in the cold winter months?

Taking Photos

Yesterday I was having one of those days when I was determined to be productive. I was definitely going to get some pictures taken. Definitely. And since I always like to see into others' process/work-method/day-to-day style, I thought I'd share some of mine with you.

Over a month ago, I shared my pile of finished jewelry, a pile that was waiting to be photographed. I finally made a very small dent in this pile yesterday.

I start the process of photographing by pulling out my photo tent. Pat got this for me for Christmas a few years ago. It's a Square Perfect Studio in a Box Kit. I love how it folds down into this convenient size. (Oh, and the cat hair is not included, repeat...the cat hair does not come with the kit. My cat is just a magnet for anything black.)

See how thin it is!

I've found that the best place for me to set up the studio is on my kitchen bar since the height is good for me and there's plenty of room to spread out. The tent comes together easily and the two lights are included in the kit. There's also a tri-pod that's perfect for a small point and shoot camera. I'll admit that I don't use it since I have a bigger camera. But I think it's great that it comes with one.

Once I get the kit set up in the kitchen, I start pulling out the props. Here's a quick shot of just some of my props spread all over the place.

I won't go into what all I use for props/backgrounds as I'm not completely happy with the ones I've got. There's this GREAT blog post at the Art Bead Scene Blog about photo backgrounds by Penny of Sparrow Salvage (from 2011 - eek!) that I really want to study more (and then immediately run out to the thrift store to buy some rustic, grungy, tattered, crackled awesomeness). So. . .my backgrounds may change before too long.

Anyway, that's just a little peek at one of my processes. The next step for me will be editing all those dang photos (maybe). It's going to take me a while to get through all of that pile!

What equipment are you using to take product photos?

New Year, New Goals

 Like each day, a New Year is a new beginning. A time to begin afresh.

While it's nice and nostalgic to look back over the previous year, a start is a time to simply look ahead.

With that in mind, I'm not going to review the goals I made for 2013. I know I still need to work on almost every last one of them. I set my sights. . . too lofty. . .and many of you tried to tell me that. It was just too much to keep track of. Now, it's time to move forward once again with a blank slate of a new year.

I've made sure to limit my goals this year and really just try to work on being a better me. Some of that other trivial stuff, I know I need to continue to strive toward but recognize that it will come in time. It doesn't need to be tracked on a daily basis. Instead, here's what I'll be focusing on for 2014:

1. Eat right 
(Be conscious of what I put in my body and how much of it I put there.)

2. Be active 
(Work standing up, do jumping jacks, walk up and down the street, hula hoop, whatever I can do to keep my body moving and working properly.)

3. Write 
(Whether it's a blog post, a poem, or just my thoughts. . .put it down in words.)

4. Read 
(I'm aiming for 24. . .2 books a month. That's do-able. Right?)

5. Be a good person 
(I basically want to make sure I exist outside myself and attempt to think of others. This can be helping them ins some way, appreciating them more, and considering their side of things. This goes for friends, family, and even people I don't know. Karma!)

I've got a few more vague goals; tutorials that I want to take and the like that I don't need to list here. I can always add more goals as the year progresses. For now, the above will work just fine. 

I've got this! I think. . .

Winding down the 100DayProject

I awoke the other day with many thoughts about the 100 Day project and decided to jot them down here to share with you. Some of the bits I g...