Pushing Through to the End (SJ Honey Do List)

Each month, Sarajo of the SJ Designs Jewelry blog has her husband Eric issue her a photo inspiration as a fun challenge. And, she extends the challenge to anyone who also wants a little inspiration. She calls it the Honey Do List. This month, Eric chose a bright and colorful picture he took of an alley in the top of my own state! So, I knew I needed to participate. As well, I thought that the bright colors would be the perfect change after working on the white challenge from Art Elements. Despite all of that, I soon discovered myself struggling for inspiration. 

I focused my attention on the colors themselves and the pattern of them from left to right. I saw orange, yellow, and blue. As well, the bricks and intersecting lines were strong. But, I just couldn't make a decision about how to proceed. Only days ago, I decided to just go for it and pulled out some Vintaj Arte Metal rectangular blanks. I ran them through an embossing machine with a brick pattern then pulled out the Vintaj Patinas.
As you can see, I applied the patinas by dabbing them on with a q-tip. This gave a splotchy, painted effect that I really liked. I had to mix a few shades of blue to get the color I wanted for the last charm to resemble the blue in the picture.

Now, let me admit that the whole time I worked on this piece, I wasn't loving it. It felt hollow and without substance, uninspired, and not quite worthy of the photo. Yet, I persisted because I didn't have any better ideas. In this end, this necklace was the result. 
See what I mean, there's just not much to it.

It feels like a throw-away piece. Blarg.

However, as I waited for the sealer to dry on the charms, another idea struck me at long last. I was thinking about the shapes in the photo and the opening at the end of the alley onto the street. It hit me that I wanted to make something that included that kind of a tunnel with the colors along one side. My first instinct was to use an oval-shaped ring, but I don't have any in my stash. Then, I was struck with the idea of using a small buckle instead. I found a fabulous mother-of-pearl one, but it was far too large for the bracelet I wanted to make. In the end, a brassy one was unearthed that has a great curve, perfect for a wrist! From there, I pulled out a little leather and colorful beads.

I was a little disappointed when I realized that all my snaps were a silver-tone and wouldn't really go with the brass buckle. To remedy that, I made sure to use silvery wire to wrap on the beads.
The brown leather echoes the color of the brick.

Oh, and the way the beads are wrapped on the buckle is similar to the lights strung across the top of the alley.

This piece definitely has the heft and substance I was looking to create from the inspiration. I'm so glad I made myself push forward a little more instead of settling for that first necklace. 

I think this bracelet is super fun and a bit of a work of art, much like the alley in Huntsville. 

Thanks so much to Sarajo and Eric for sharing their challenge with the rest of us. Make sure to head over to SJ Designs Jewelry to see what Sarajo herself created, along with anyone else who played along!

I can't believe this is my last post for the year. At the same time, it seems perfect. I feel that I've learned a lot about myself and what I enjoy creating, but sometimes I need to push through the easy ideas to find what really excites me. I'm looking forward to forcing myself out of my comfort zone and into greater inspiration and better designs in the new year. And, I hope your 2019 is full of loads of inspiration and creativity as well! 
Happy New Year!

Peek at My Week: December 23-29

This has been the last full week of the year, and a busy one at that. We had so much going on, somewhere to be just about every day. Take a peek!

Since I knew the week ahead was going to be hectic, Sunday was a stay-at-home, wrap presents, and watch Christmas movies day. Then, Monday was Christmas Eve!
I helped my mom get ready by baking cookies and pre-cooking the live crabs. 


On Tuesday, Christmas Day, Pat and I exchanged our gifts and had breakfast before heading to my mom's for more eating, gifting, and family time. 
Above are two of the gifts I received this year. I love getting presents that keep me busy and let me try out something new. 

And, our seafood dinner was delicious!

Wednesday was the day of an annual party hosted by friends. I made my favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for the party. They went over well!

On Thursday, we had Christmas with Pat's side of the family. 
After dinner and gifts, we played a fun game that involves unrolling a large ball of plastic wrap. I really hate wasting that much plastic, but the fact that we gave metal straws to just about everyone makes me feel a little better about it. 

On Friday, we had a day to ourselves. 
I worked on a few projects including the SJ Designs Honey Do List Challenge (reveal tomorrow!)

And, I tried out my new pasta roller and cutter set as part of our dinner. It was fun AND delicious!

Saturday was really all about football, but I started the day hopping through the reveal blog posts for the Art Elements White Challenge

Then I was tuned to the television for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, Clemson and Alabama (Roll Tide!!) will be meeting on the 7th for the National Championship game. 

As for inspiration for this week....I was so busy, there wasn't much of it. But there were a few:






Oh, and despite the crazy week, I DID get my stamp carving done each day! I'm super surprised that I've been able to keep this up all month. I had my doubts at the start. 

Here's hoping you also had some fun mixed in with what was most likely a crazy week too! And, best wishes that the week to come holds loads more inspiration and fun. Make the most of it!

Shades of White (Art Elements Reveal)

Each month, one of the members of the Art Elements team comes up with and issues their monthly challenge theme. The challenge is open to any medium and any blogger who wants to participate. This month, Claire chose the theme of "White". And, I was instantly inspired.

While sticking with a single "color" might seem hard, white is, by definition, the combination of all colors. I immediately envisioned all the different shades of white that exist. I don't know if you've ever tried to pick out the perfect shade of white paint for your interior, but it can be near impossible. And pearls and beads, my word! They come in so many shades of white. And, that's what led me to my first submission for this challenge. Thinking on the shades of white beads I own, I recalled that my bead box contained a necklace design with a variety of white beads.

I made sure to jump right into that design and finish it up for today. 
I'm smitten!

The original pendant was made in a stoke of inspiration some months ago but got pushed to the side for another day. When I pulled it out to go into the bead box, I realized that the metal needed something more added to it. Tiny beads in shades of white and brass were added haphazardly with wire to the front of the distressed tin. Admittedly, it kept slipping off, so I used a needle and thread to sew it more securely to the fabric. 

It took me a while to decide on what to do for the chain, but once I hit on the idea of just using varying shades of white beads and buttons and darkened brass wire, I was sold on the design.

I think it was the perfect decision for the pendant made from a scrap of eco-dyed fabric, bright white lace, and antiqued white mother of pearl button - all in their own shades of white. 

Once the necklace was complete, I wanted to get my hands messy! So, I knew a mixed media art piece would be my next project. 
I pulled out anything I could find in my craft room that was white. I got paints, inks, sprays, paper tape, masking tape, lacy stickers, papers, and cheesecloth to name a few.

And, I created a pretty piece of art with them!

I documented my whole process in a video.

Take a peek at some of the close-ups. 
The bottommost layers are magazine pages, paint, and book pages. 

That was followed by layers of tape, inks, coffee filter, more paint, rub-ons, and stickers.

I also added cheesecloth and doilies for texture. 

Hearts were cut freehand from paint swatches in shades of white.

The sentiment was a Tim Holtz sticker and brown accents were added with inks and a water-soluble pencil to age the edges and pull up some of the textures. I also added a few touches of brass and gold for shimmer. 

It's not completely white but definitely shows off its many shades.

Now, hop over to see what the Guest Artists and the Art Elements Team also did with this month's white theme! I know I can't wait.
Guest Artists:  Alysen ~ Anita ~ Beth ~ Cat  ~ Divya ~ Elaine ~ Hope (you're here) ~ Jill ~ Karin
Kathy ~ Rozantia ~ Sarajo ~ Susan ~ Tammy 

Art Elements Team: Caroline ~ Cathy ~ Claire ~ Laney ~ Lesley ~ Marsha ~ Susan
Thank you so much for stopping by!

I also linked this post up at the Beautifully Made Link Party and Talk of the Town

Homemade Fried Rice From Leftovers

Have you ever made fried rice? It's SO EASY. And, it's kinda the perfect way to use up leftovers.

In all honesty, you want leftover rice for this. Making fried rice with just-made rice is no good. I speak from experience. You'll just end up with starchy mush. So, there's the big secret of homemade fried rice: always use cold, leftover rice.  Shoot! I gave away the secret in the first paragraph. What are you still doing here? 
If you're sticking around I suppose I should let in you in on the rest of the steps. 

This recipe tends to be on-the-fly and uses whatever's in the fridge. I use up any meat and most leftover vegetables that are sitting around. As well, I almost always have frozen veggies and a small can of peas and carrots just to make fried rice. But first, start with heating up oil in a wok or large skillet. I like to use a combination of peanut oil and sesame oil. Then, toss in onions and a little minced garlic. 
I used a combination of diced yellow onion and the white part of a few green onions. 

Let the onions cook for a few minutes, then add your veggies. 
Here, I used frozen edamame, leftover corn, and a small can of peas and carrots. Stir those in with your onions and let them get hot.

Once they're cooked, make a well in the center.

Beat an egg or two, then pour them in the well.

Let them cook on the bottom, then stir to allow the rest of them to cook.

Then, mix the eggs in with your vegetables.

Dump in your leftover rice.

Add your leftover meat.
Here I've added shredded chicken, but other times it's steak or ham or chopped chicken or no meat at all. 

Now it's time to add the soy sauce.
Let me admit that I don't measure it. I just shake in several tablespoons and stir. 

If it doesn't look like the ingredients are evenly coated, I add more soy sauce. 
I also may add a touch of sesame oil, pepper, and salt to taste.

And with that, it's done and ready to enjoy!

If I do have green onions, I'll top the rice with the green portion.
Of course, you could also garnish with sesame seeds or even peanuts if you like. This makes a great lunch and is a perfect way to clean out the fridge!

If I do have leftovers of this (usually don't), I throw them away because I know you're not supposed to chill and reheat some things too many times.

I don't have an exact recipe for this, but here's a general idea of my process in one place.

Fried Rice
Ingredients:
Peanut oil
Sesame oil
Diced yellow onion
Sliced green onion (white and green parts separated)
Minced garlic
Frozen edamame
Leftover Corn
Small can of peas and carrots
2 eggs, beaten
Leftover rice
Leftover chicken
Soy Sauce
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet on med-high heat.
2. Add onions (just the white parts of the green onions) and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add other veggies and heat them through.
4. Make a well in the center of the vegetables
5. Pour beaten eggs into the well and allow to cook, stirring.
6. Once eggs are cooked, stir in with the vegetables.
7. Add rice and cooked chicken to the pan.
8. Add soy sauce and stir.
9. Allow everything to heat through.
10. Top with green part of sliced green onion.

I hope the holidays are treating you well and this recipe helps you use up some of those leftovers and make it easy to do so. 

Peek at My Week: December 15-22

Christmas ate my week. Seriously, y'all. This whole week has been a flurry of just getting things done and ready to ceclebrate. 

We started the week on Sunday with a glorious walk with Zoe in a nearby nature preserve.

Despite the path in the picture above, we went off-road and took one of the nature trails. And nature we saw!
This Pignut Hickory mesmerized us for several full minutes.

Along the secluded trail, a tree had fallen and the moss and mushrooms that covered what remained gave the whole little glen a magical feel. I was taken with it!

I couldn't stop taking pictures!
Can't you see the fairies living there?

We had a puppy anxious to continue the walk, so I had to let the fairies be.

The rest of the week was a blur. I did get my Carve December contributions done each day.

It rained much of the week, so there were loads of puppy snuggles for a poor dog who just wanted to go outside and run.
You can see her teenagery angst! I had to add the headphones to complete the look.

I participated in  the We're All Ears Challenge then worked on the Art Elements White Challenge.

Oh, and super exciting - the deck's coming along well. We got post toppers for the finished rails.
They're solar lights! Isn't that cool?

The rest of the week felt like it was just shopping, cleaning, wrapping, and prepping for the holiday. We did have dinner out with friends one night, but I didn't get a picture

How about some inspiration?

And now it's Christmas Eve! If you celebrate the holiday, I hope it's a joyous one. 
I've got a crazy busy week ahead full of family gatherings and friendly celebrations. I do hope I can eke in some art and creativity, and I hope you can too!

Thrifty Thursday (a day late)

I had planned to share some of my thrifty haul with you yesterday, but the day absolutely got away from me. This was partly because I was ou...