Thursday, July 28, 2011

Treasury Love



Another fabulous treasury by Su of Quercus Silver.  Thanks Su for including my earrings, I have found some new favorites here as well!

And a couple of other beautiful treasuries that feature my work:





Unrelated:
  • I have had two days of work at my new job and I love it.  It is exhausting because I'm not used to being on my feet all day, and my legs are sore from lots of squating and lifting, but I think it's going to b a fabulous place to work!
  • I'm going to sign up for my first cooking class at Central Market.  It is Splendid Ice Creams at Home with Jeni Britton.  Jeni has ice cream shops in Ohio and a new book out, and she is also featured in the current issue of Saveur magazine.  I'm really excited about this, it will be my first cooking class and students get a copy of Jeni's book to take home too.  She is teaching at several of the Central Market stores, so if you are in Texas you should check it out.
  • I'm spending today catching up on orders, errands and chores.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creamy Green Salsa: Version 2

I have attempted before to recreate this creamy HOT green salsa that I love from Pollo Regio. My previous attempt did not replicate the original but wasn't bad. In my ongoing quest to make this salsa at home I tried a new recipe. It also isn't like the original, in fact quite different, but quite delicious! This one will stay in my arsenal for sure.

Cilantro, Avocado and Green Onions

Tomatillos, Garlic and Serrano on the Stove

It's definitely green!
And delicious!

 Lucy sure thought it smelled good!
This new recipe is quite tangy from the Tomatillos.  I only used one avocado, so a second like the recipe calls for may cut down on the tanginess, but I still love it.  I also had to add a little water to get it to all blend up.  Try it, I think you will love it too!

I have done some research on the original green slasa from Pollo Regio.  There are people on forums obsessed with it like I am and they talk about theories and recipes.  I have seen mention of Aji Amarillo, a Peruvian pepper, Mayo or Crema based salsas like my last recipe, and oil blended with peppers.  So far nothing I have made comes close to the original, but I will continue my search!  Apparently the Pollo Asado in this style is from Monterrey, Mexico and is typically served with this salsa.  Anyone know what the salsa is called or how to make it?  Here is another one to try.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cooking with Squash Blossoms

Squash blossoms are delicious!

A couple of weeks ago I cooked with squash blossoms from my zuccinni plant for the first time.  I have always wondered what they tasted like but had never tried them.  I made scrambled eggs with a couple of the flowers that I chopped up.  I loved the flavor, it was very bright fresh tasting.  Of course that was the same day that I pulled up my squash plant.  It had squash vine borers, which I always get. It had gotten big and was a vigorous plant, but never produced any squash.  Now I'm wishing for more squash blossoms to cook with.

If you are growing squash or have access to the flowers here are some recipes that sound good:
Squash Blosom Pizza from Saveur

We had a wonderful but CRAZY busy weekend!  I had training for my new job on Friday evening in Southlake.  I baked a triple batch of carrot cake for a friends' birthday party Saturday.  That is, I made a double batch Friday night into a double layer 9x13 sheet cake and decided that wasn't enough so I made another single batch Saturday morning.  I was in a hurry so I iced the second cake before it was completely cooled and the top layer slid off in the car!  I was able to patch it up though and everyone loved it.  Saturday night we smoked chickens and made Charro Beans for Frank's mom's birthday lunch Sunday.  To top it all off we saw Sade in concert last night!  I'm beat, trying to recover from the weekend and prepare to start my new job tomorrow.  I have a long to do list for today and so far I'm off to a slow start.  
Have a great week.
Ashley

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Garden Bounty





Zinnias always make me so happy, it doesn't feel like summer without them.  I am fascinated by all the forms of Zinnias.  These were all volunteers this year, and the ones I planted from seed didn't take.  I was a bit disappointed that I only have pink this year, but love them none the less.

 

There really hasn't been much harvesting from my garden this summer.  I pick and freeze the okra as they are ready, because there aren't enough for a meal all at once.  The cherry tomatoes are slim pickings and I have to compete with birds who pick at them before they ripen.  The zinnias are the stars for now.  I'm hoping all the plants will survive the summer and produce in the fall.  We shall see.

I got a new job!  I start next week at our local gourmet grocery store, Central Market.  I'm starting out as a cashier, so if you shop there you may see me when you check out.  
I think I'm going to love this job.  I probably won't be blogging as regularly, but will have lots of new recipes and food knowledge to share, so I'll try to keep the blog updated.  Of course I'm not abandoning jewelry altogether, this is a part time job so I will be juggling both.

We have two birthday celebrations this weekend so I'm doing a double batch of carrot cake again. Yum!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saying Goodbye to my Pebble Studs






I have decided to discontinue my Pebble Stud Earring Design. I will be listing all of these, the last of my stock, in the Sale section of my Etsy shop over the next day or two. If you ever coveted a pair of these, now is the time to get one.

On top of the sale price you can also use the coupon code SUMMERSALE in my Etsy shop through Sunday to save an additional 10% off your entire purchase!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Looking Back

I found these images of my first art show recently. It was Art Antiques and Auto, a show in my hometown of Denton, Texas in either 2000 or 2001. I did that show for several years, the last one I did was in 2004. I got Best in Show this first year, and won a cash prize! It's crazy to look back on my booth and my small amount of inventory and see how far I have come.

Some of these pieces still stand out in my mind and I think they were good, solid designs. The pendant on the top left above is one of my all time favorites and I would be proud to create it today. It had a Sea Shell, Fire Agate, Amber, Peridot and Carnelian. All the stones were bezel set and connected by jump rings so that they moved. I remember the lady that bought that from me, I hope she still has it and loves it.
I wish I could get my hands on some more affordable Fire Agate now!


I remember lots of people asked about that little ikebana bud vase, I had gotten it at my job at Home to Garden. I also learned early on that if you put a dish of candy out people will grab a piece and not even look at your work!

Also crazy to see how low I priced my work then! Of course silver was much, much cheaper, but I don't even think I was taking the cost of the stones and my labor into account. I just didn't know how to value my work.
Oh well, I had great support from family and friends, and I learned a lot at these early shows. This was all pre-etsy and when I had no website. I intended to learn html to build a site, but of course that never happened. Things got so much easier when etsy came along and also artist website services like Other Peoples Pixels that just let you plug in images and text.

More of those pendants. I need to bring that design back, it is similar to the Sun Moon and Stars Pendant that I recently showed you, but much more simple.

Dad in my booth. Both of my parents have been so supportive of my creative endeavors from the beginning! I did have an ez-up, black table clothes and the same mirror I have today, but my booth sure has changed a lot. Check out my booth at my last show.


I have really great memories of these early days of jewelry making. I remember creating these pieces in my first duplex in Fort Worth. I was pretty fresh out of college and in a newish relationship. I had my workbench in the kitchen of that little duplex and I was doing what I loved. Frank was always very supportive too and would come help out at the shows, and he still does when he can. I think those little small town one day shows are a great way to get started, especially if you have a built in audience of people that you know. I got a letter in the mail the other day from this show wanting me to participate again. I don't think I would now, it is more focused on the Antiques and Auto than the Art, and I think I have priced myself out of being able to sell my work there, but I certainly am grateful for the experience I gained there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Congrats to b-dette

Congratulations to b-dette, you are the winner of my jewelry giveaway based on a random number generator! I don't have an email but I think I know who you are and have contacted you through facebook. Thanks everyone for playing! I am going to try to have giveaways more often so stay tuned.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My first Prong Setting!

I didn't always like the look of prong settings, so I hadn't found the need to learn to make them. I did try once, unsuccessfully last year to set an opalized clam shell in a prong setting. I'm digging the more contemporary look of thicker gauged prongs, and after seeing a tutorial by Joanna Goldberg in the current issue of Art Jewelry Magazine, I wanted to try again.

A friend wanted me to come up with a setting for her turquoise cabochon. Her husband gave it to her for her birthday, but the bail came unglued and it needed a new setting. I thought prongs were the perfect choice, since they show off as much of the stone as possible and had a similar feel to the original idea of just the stone hanging from a bail.

I didn't have the soldering brick that Joanna recommends, where you can push stuff down into it. It's on my list now! I used this honeycomb brick and made it work by pushing the wires into the holes, but that might not always work depending on the spacing of the prongs and the gauge of the wire.



I'm thrilled with the outcome!
I see lots of possibilities with this new technique that I've learned. I'm so happy that I'm enjoying jewelry making and having fun playing around and learning new things. Of course its not perfect, but its pretty good for a first (well second) try.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mossy Path

Mossy Path Inspiration

I was leaning towards the name Mossy Path for the pendant that I posted earlier. When I searched for images with that name they totally evoked what I had in my mind. Walking a pebbly, mossy path in light dappled woods. I like it!
I'm so bad with names and descriptions, so it really makes me happy when I come up with one.
What do you think?

I'll get the pendant listed on Etsy this evening or early tomorrow.
Now availabe here.
Have a great night.
xo
Ashley

The Mossy Pebbled Path Pendant




In my ongoing quest to get ALL my work on Etsy and my website (that part is going slower) I have a newly photographed pendant to share with you. I'm so bad at naming my work. The inspirations in this piece were pebbles and texture. The piercing reminds me of a pebbled path, or a river bottom. The stones are mossy greens. I don't know what to call it, can you help? I'm thinking something with pebble and moss would be good but that's all I have.

We have a name, The Mossy Pebbled Path Pendant, now available in my Etsy store here.

Speaking of my website, I am making changes and updating it slowly but surely. I put one of the portraits that Jill Johnson took on the front page and changed the background to light gray from black. I think the images in my portfolio show up better against the lighter background. I also updated my bio, which is to the right of my picture on the home page. Check it out and let me know what you think of the changes.

I'm also the featured artist on Etsy Metal's about page! That was the motivation for writing a new bio, and I'm so glad I did.

One more thing, my jewelry giveaway will be coming to a close soon, so if you haven't entered for a chance to win hurry up and do so!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Modern Folk Tale



I'm loving this treasury by Quercus Silver. It is summery, bright and fun! Thanks so much Su for including my earrings in your lovely treasury.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happiness!

It was a busy, but fun, weekend of preparations and celebrations at my parents house, my childhood home.
My brother and his girlfriend got married and we all had a blast.
This was a casual backyard wedding, the fourth and final wedding at this house for us. Family friend Shari married there, as did my dear friends Susan and Matt, followed by Frank and I and now Elliott and Celeste. I'm so glad they were able to do this before my parents move to the Hill Country.

Mom, Shari and I did the flowers on Friday and that is always my favorite part.
Flowers, my favorite part

Flowers, my favorite part

Flowers, my favorite part

Flowers, my favorite part

I baked the Mexican Wedding cookies, which were delicious, made salsa, guacamole and 6 lbs (!) of Charro Beans (with Frank's help). You wouldn't think beans would be a much requested recipe, but they are so delicious and got rave reviews.

I wore a dress that I finished Saturday afternoon, but of course did not get and good pictures of. I didn't get many pictures at all actually. My camera died right after the ceremony started, and even though I changed the batteries after I was having too much fun to take pictures.

Someone was really tired.
Someone was tired!

They have been a family for almost two years now, but are now officially husband and wife!
The newly married couple

With all our love and blessings, we wish you two nothing but happiness in this life together.
We are so lucky to call you our family.
xoxo

Friday, July 8, 2011

Celebrations need cookies

Mexican wedding cookies

I'm off for an exciting weekend of celebrations.
My brother and his girlfriend are getting married tomorrow!
We are all thrilled and can't wait to feel all the love that will be surrounding them.

One of my contributions to the party is Mexican Wedding Cookies. I tested two recipes and this one won. I use finely chopped pecans in place of ground almonds. They are very tender and yummy. I made them small, tablespoon size, and it made 30 for a 1/2 recipe. So I'm doing a double recipe and that should be plenty. There will be cake too after all.

Mom and I will be doing flowers and decorating and all that fun stuff.
I'll take pictures so you can see.

Have a wonderful weekend!
xoxo
Ashley

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Photos by Jill Johnson








These photos were all taken by Jill Johnson for the story in 360 West. Jill was fun to work with and really put me at ease. I love the portraits as well as the detail shots of my materials and workbench. Thanks for sharing these Jill!
Be sure and check out her website, she has some great stuff on there.
Jill even photographed a book called Kitty Wigs, it's really funny and cute.

I also have to give a big thank you to Judy Wiley who wrote the story. I could tell it was going to be a good one because Judy was really curious about my design process, materials and the actual work that goes into creating jewelry. Judy was also great to work with and I have received nothing but positive feedback about the story.

Here is the story on the 360 West website in case you missed it the other day.