Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's Bead Soup Blog Party Time Baby!

Today is the day of the big reveal for the over 300 of us who have participated in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party. Lori took on the daunting task of pairing up 362 jewellery designers in a global bead exchage.  Participants were encouraged to go out of their comfort zones to create something with the beads their partner sent them.  My partner Tamara sent me these lovelies!!!


One gorgeous mix, don't you think?  I thought alot about what I wanted to make, and wanted to create something that I have never tried before. Or at least, try do things a little differently. 

So here is my big reveal.... Are you ready??!!!!

I created four pieces of jewellery from Tamara's stash. Here is the first one.


I wire crocheted with artistic wire five strands of pearls, abalone beads, silver findings, mother of pearl beads and crystals. I added some of turquoise tube beads from my own stash to complement the colors in the abalone and pearls. The star of the show is that beautiful abalone focal bead, which I embellished with sterling silver wire and attached it to the necklace.  Although I have wire crocheted necklaces before, I have never attempted to use such different shapes of beads, and I have never added a focal bead before to my necklaces.  Here are some more pictures.....





 
Creating the next piece did take me out of my comfort zone. I made a brooch!



I wrapped the beads with artistic wire and attached a pin bar to the back. I used Tamara's beads, and added a turquoise bead and some tiny pacific opal swarovski crystals.



I was pretty pleased with my first attempt at a brooch. 

I made another necklace. Tamara sent me a gorgeous gun metal and crystal toggle clasp which was too pretty to be hidden at the back of the neck.  This is what I made......



I used an abalone shell which I embellished with sterling silver swirl and attached it to one end of the toggle, along with a and a sterling chain. More of the bead mix dangles from the chain. By the way- do you like my busty mannequin?

  
The last piece I created was a pair of earrings. I used some of the abalone shells, wrapped them with sterling silver and suspended them from a silver chain.  The challenge for me was that these shells had two holes in them. I created the swirl, then ran the wire up the back and made a wrapped loop.






So that's what I made with my soup sent by my new beading friend Tamara!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Old School Banana Cake

Today I am supposed to be working at home on prepping for classes for next week. However, being the procrastinator that I am, I did just about everything but. Some days I'd rather clean a bathroom then revise powerpoints.

I was trying to decide what do instead of school work when a fruit fly came whizzing by my face and I thought AHA! I am going to use up all those overripe bananas sitting on my kitchen island and bake something. I love to bake, but really haven't done much over the past few years except on holidays. Time contraints and concerns over weight gain have caused me to cut back on an activity I really enjoy.

I haven't made a banana cake in probably a few years, so the decision was made. Now I had to find the recipe.  I grabbed my bag of recipes and starting sorting through them. Not only am I procrastinator but also somewhat disorderly in certain areas of my life. 

 One of these days I keep telling myself I am going to organize them all and put them in a binder. Yeah, right.
It took more than one pass through this mess to actually find it. I was starting to get upset because this was the one from my Mom.  It's very old. I know I could easily find another recipe, however this is the one I always make.

I finally found it, and it was looking pretty worse for wear.



Next I had to find the frosting recipe. The best frosting for banana cake is buttercream.


This is looking rougher than the cake recipe!  Here is the recipe written out so you don't have to stare at these old crappy looking recipe cards and try and figure it out.

Old School Banana Cake

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F
2 1\2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 2\3 cup of sugar
1 1\4 tsp. of baking soda
1 tsp. of salt

Mix all of the above in a large bowl
Add:
2\3 cup of soft shortening
2\3 cup of buttermilk or subsitute with scant 2\3 cup of milk and 1 tbs. lemon juice
1 1\4 cups mashed ripe bananas
2 large eggs

Beat for  2 minutes. Pour into either a 9 x 13 pan or into 2 cake pans.
Bake 30-40 minutes.

Butter Cream Frosting
 1 cup of sugar
1\2 cup of butter softened
1\2 cup of soft shortening
Cream above ingredients in a large bowl
Add:
3\4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Beat again. If you want a thicker consistency add approximately 1- 1 1\2 tsp of flour and continue beating.

Here is the cake fresh out of the oven.





And here is the cake after frosting!



 This recipe is for hard core cake lovers. If you are looking for anything remotely healthy then you should pass on this recipe. Check out the amount of shortening (aka grease) and butter in this cake. That's what makes it taste so good!




Monday, September 5, 2011

Twisted

I have a new listing in my Etsy store.  A gold twisted bead and crystal necklace. Take a look:

Gold and crystal twisted bead necklace

I created the beads using around 2 1\2 feet of 14k 18 gauge gold filled wire.

Gold and crystal twisted bead necklace

The beads are around 1 1\2" in length and just shy of a 1\2" wide.

Gold and crystal twisted bead necklace

I measured and cut approximately 2 1\2 feet of wire. I made a wrapped loop at one end of the wire, wrapping around the wire twice.  I measured 1 1\2" down the wire and made another wrapped loop at the other end. I wrapped around the loop twice, then taking the and of the wire, I started wrapping loosely along the length of the bead, then began to wrap  up and down in a chaotic pattern.  I tucked the end of the wire inside the "chaos". 

Gold and crystal twisted bead necklace

The beads have a nice weight to them. Combined with the ab crystals I think it looks good!
In the future ( notice I am not  committing to a specific date!) I will post a picture tutorial on how to make twisted beads.  Ok. Now that I have said this, I guess I'll have to follow through!