Friday, August 26, 2011

Birthday Fun


My favorite little girl in the whole wide world turned two last weekend.  We celebrate tomorrow at my parents' house.  Frank thinks I'm crazy, but I made sugar cookies for party favors today.  I attempted to color the dough pink and purple, but that was really lost in baking.  The sprinkles are pretty though.  I discovered Martha Stewart Paper Tape at Joann.  I know, I know, its a copy of the Japanese stuff that has been around for a while.  My excuse is that I could never afford to invest in the Japanese tapes, and I used a coupon on this.  I decorated the cookie bags and Karlie's gift box with it.  I love it!  Might have to get some of the Japanese stuff now.


I so giddy for a two year old birthday party!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
xoxo
Ashley

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Smiles All Around

These were our fortunes from dinner last night.  Not so much fortunes as true statements about myself and Frank.  If you have ever met Frank you know his smile is infectious.  He can turn a sour mood sweet with his smile, so this "fortune" for him couldn't be more spot on.  I happen to think mine is pretty accurate too.


Speaking of smiling, this picture of Lucy smiling totally cracks me up and puts a smile on my face.


With Lucy being an only "child" now she is even more spoiled than before, if that is possible.  She definitely gets more treats than ever.


I finished Karlie's birthday gifts and think they are the most adorable things that I have ever sewn.  I will share them with you next week.  

I made homemade waffle cones last night, yes I may be a little bit crazy, but we scored a waffle cone maker at Tuesday Morning cheap (they have more).  We only have a one quart ice cream maker, so we can't make enough for the whole birthday party.  Instead we are making Salty Caramel and Banana Ice creams tonight to share with my family tomorrow night. 

I'm also considering making sugar cookies for the party, depending on how my day goes tomorrow.  I get obsessed with the idea of making something like that and just can't let it go.  Good thing people generally appreciate homemade goodies!

Have a great day, I'm off to check groceries.
xoxo

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pesto and Caprese on my Mind

I have been wanting to share this Pesto recipe with you for a couple of weeks. We have now made two batches with our Basil from the garden. I'm not sure this recipe is any different from others, aside from one thing. The current issue of Saveur has a big story about Pesto. I always enjoy that magazine and love how they obsess over one ingredient, region, etc. We made the Pesto Genovese, which is the classic Basil Pesto. What this recipe does differently is blanch the Basil leaves in boiling water and plunge them in an ice bath. I swear it makes a difference, and this is by far the best Pesto that I have ever made! Here are all twelve of the Pesto recipes from the story, we used number nine.

Pesto and Goat Cheese with Parpadelle and Zucchini

Caprese Salad

Another current favorite is Tomato Caprese salad. Yum! It's so easy, I don't know why I haven't been making it every summer of my life. Slice Tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella, layer and place a Basil leaf on each slice of cheese. Drizzle with Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper. Delish!

Two more wonderful stories from the current issue of Saveur, on Salsas and Ice Cream (about Jeni Britton Bauer who taught my Ice Cream Class at Central Market).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is Summer Over Yet?

My Datura is Surviving and thriving in this crazy heat, but I'm no sure I am.
Surviving the drought

Yesterday morning I was sitting in the living room with the back door open.  The Wrens that make our back yard home were active and chirping, the Squirrel who is not scared of us was collecting pecans and I noticed my Datura blooming.  My poor garden is sorely neglected.  It was beautiful this spring, but with the crazy summer we have had it is really looking pathetic.  I try to water a bit here and there but just can't keep it all looking good.  I couldn't believe that this plant was blooming!  It made me smile.

Lucy admiring our coins

Another thing making me smile is this pile of coins that Lucy is admiring.  I mentioned to my dad that I was saving my pennies for a used flex shaft and he sent over a huge coin jar that they had been saving up.  Isn't that so sweet?!  My parents really are too good to me. 
I will be getting my flex shaft soon now!  Thanks mom and dad. 

Mom and I did our crafty shopping on Friday and I am freaking out on how cute Karlie's present is going to be.  Can't wait to share.

I survived my first Hatch Festival weekend at Central Market. 
Hatch Fest is all things Hatch Chiles, which come from Hatch, New Mexico.
There are:
Hatch Brownies
Hatch Tortillas
Hatch Coffee
Hatch Cheese
Hatch Burgers
Hatch Scones
Hatch Foccacia
Hatch Chicken Salad
And on and on and on!
There are lots of good things to taste and the store was NUTS this weekend!
I could have slept all day today but have to catch up on my etsy orders and work this afternoon.

One side effect of working at a grocery store is that I don't want to do my own grocery shopping.  When I get off work I just want to go straight home and put my sore feet up.  I'm sure I will get used to it and get in the groove before long, but we have been eating out too much in the mean time and my meal planning and desire to cook have waned.  I also haven't gotten used to the odd eating times, I have mostly worked the mid shift so I eat lunch at 3:00 pm and dinner late with Frank.  Another side effect is dreaming about checking and bagging groceries all night long.  That is my least favorite side effect, and is quite frustrating.  Saturday was unbelievably busy and that night I slept poorly and dreamt about work, which was no fun.

Well, I hope you have a wonderful week!
xoxo
Ashley

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Next Project

My niece Karlie turns two in a few days.  
I'm going to make her another doll from Wee Wonderfuls.
This one:
Next project

You may remember the Kitty that I made her for Christmas from the book.  She was so cute, but unfortunately got lost.  I still think that is the cutest pattern in the book and will have to remake it for her someday.  For now its a dolly though.  Mom is coming down for a day of craft shopping and lunch on Friday, my day off.  I will get all the cute fabrics for the doll then, I can't wait!

Here are some more of my Kool Aid yarns.  I have entirely too much fun with them.  I am so cheap that I only buy the yarn with coupons at Joann's, so I can't ever get as many skeins as I would like to at one time.  I will be in there a lot until this projects' yarn is fully supplied.
Kool aid yarn

Have I mentioned how exhausting cashiering is? I worked my first two cashiering shifts over the weekend and was just beat. It was a crazy weekend because I had my Ice Cream class Friday night, worked Saturday and Sunday, had a friend over to celebrate his birthday Saturday (for which we made Chocolate Cake, Salty Caramel Ice Cream, Pesto Chicken, Pasta with Goat Cheese and Roasted Veggies and Caprese Salad). We had to do all the prepping Friday night, but it was worth it. I will attempt to share recipes soon. We have finished off the Salty Caramel Ice Cream, so I guess I'll just have to make another batch so I can take a picture!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kool Aid Dyeing Again

It has been a long time since I did any yarn Kool Aid yarn dyeing. I found the new Washable Ewe yarn by Debbie Stoller at Joanns and just couldn't resist.  Superwash wool is my favorite yarn to make afghans with and I have a project in mind.  I made up this swatch card for dyeing inspiration.



Here are the few yarns that I have dyed so far.  I have so much fun with the dyeing part, and love the end result!  There are some limitations with using Kool Aid however, and I may try either cake icing dyes or invest in some "real" acid dyes for wool.  I just can't get much variation with purples in the food coloring dyeing.

Color pallette

Friday, August 12, 2011

Strata Treasury


As always, this tresury by Su of Quercus Silver is gorgeous!
I'm so pleased to have my Stacked Pebble Pendant included.
Thanks Su.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Project Runway Challenge Week Two

It's week two of the Etsy Metal Project Runway Challenge.  I got done and took real photographs on time this week! Here is the challenge from the Etsy Metal blog:
Episode 2: "My Pet Project"
Air: 8.4.11
My Lifetime, Thursdays, 9pm PST.

The Project Runway Challenge:
In this episode, the challenge was to create an outfit using pet store supplies. They were allowed to use muslin as well, but were encouraged not to.

For our EtsyMetal Translation:
Yup, you guessed it. The EM challenge is to make a piece of jewelry using pet store supplies! Try to limit your time in the pet store to 30 minutes. You may use some metal in the piece but try to use as little as possible. Make it work!


plastic aquarium grass

I was inspired by the plastic aquarium plants and actually wanted to bring a lot more of them home!  I had a really hard time making a decision but ended up with this green grassy plant.  I was able to take a piece off in the store without hurting the product and I could immediately see what I would make with them.  I had second thoughts at home and wished I had brought home the others that I had my eye on instead, but I persevered and love the outcome!
I think these earrings are elegant, despite being made of plastic grass, and I think that is the whole point of using uncommon or found objects in a new way.  I think you will be seeing more plastic plants in my work.





Don't forget you can play along, even if you are not an Etsy Metal member.  Just check the Etsy Metal blog each Friday for the challenge instructions and to see all the entries.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Trusty Dremel Tool

I have prided myself over the years on the work I have been able to create with such a small studio and minimal tools.  Don't get me wrong, I have a loooong tool wish list and lots of techniques that I would love to add to my repertoire, but I'm on a tight budget and always have been.

Enter my trusty dremel tool.  This guy has been with me since at least 1999, and I'm pretty sure my parents got it for me.  I didn't need a flex shaft, oh no, my dremel tool worked just fine.
my trusty dremel....
Looks innocent, enough, right.  Maybe a little worn in...
Or maybe a lot worn in!

Or maybe completely Melting!

Yikes!
This has been happening for a while, but I'm sure our few days of no air conditioner and indoor temps near 100º didn't help.
I hereby nominate myself for an upgrade to a proper metalsmith's tool, a flex shaft.  I will be pricing and comparing, the choices have always overwhelmed me when I have looked at them.  Perhaps the next time I send in my scrap silver I can get myself a flex shaft.  In the mean time, its sticky fingers around here after using my trusty old dremel.

My Jewelry in San Fransisco!


I should have told you about this a while back.  I sent a collection of my fiber jewelry to Perch in San Fransisco back in June.  I love San Fransisco and am so thrilled to have my jewelry shown there!  I've never been to this store but have heard great things about it.  If you are in the area go check it out and let me know what you think.


I just found a site that has Perch as the winner of Best Homegoods store in San Fransisco.  With such wonderful shopping options in the city, this must be an awesome place!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dots Treasury



Another lovely metalwork treasury by Tana of City Rustic Jewelry. I obviously love circles and dots and these pieces are all beautiful. Thanks Tana!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Etsy Metal Project Runway Season Nine Challenge

I've never participated in the Etsy Metal Project Runway Challenges, but have always wanted to, and have admired the work that came out of them. It's sort of ironic that I chose now to participate, now that I have started a new job and am working most days and my jewelry making time is severely limited.  Because of that and the fact that our main air conditioner, the one that cools my studio, went out two days ago and it's been around 110º everyday, because of those things I'm all the more impressed that I finished this project.

Here are the instructions for playing along, and a description of this week's challenge.  This challenge is open to non Etsy Metal members, so if you would like to participate just check the Etsy Metal blog each week to see instructions.

Here is my bench mess that I was able to pull materials and inspiration from.

My piece under construction


The finished Ring


I used a Lace Agate stone from my Paw Paw's collection.  I have a bunch of his rocks and this is the first piece that I have utilized, but hopefully not the last.  My accent stones are Labradorite and Sunstone.  This is one of the most complex pieces that I have made in a while and I'm really pleased with the outcome.  I will take better pictures of this ring soon, but have not yet decided if I will offer it for sale or keep it for myself.

I needed this challenge to inspire me and deadlines always get me motivated!  I hope to keep playing along and I hope you will too, if you are so inclined.


Enjoy your weekend!
xoxo
Ashley

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Horchat-ahhhhhhh



In the current issue of Sunset magazine there is a recipe for an Indian spiced Horchata (a Mexican rice drink).  Frank loves Horchata, so I decided to make him some.  I didn't have cardamom, and know he doesn't like it anyway, so I just made the Mexican version with canela.  I never realized how easy it is to make at home, and on these crazy Texas days with temps reaching 109º this is a seriously refreshing drink.  I never really liked the restaurant versions that I had had because they were too sweet, but that is easily fixed with a homemade version.

       To make Horchata:
  • Grind 2 cups of long grain rice in your coffee grinder a little at a time
  • Soak covered in the refridgerator overnight in 7 cups warm water with a 2" piece of Canela (Mexican Cinnamon) 
  • Strain through cheese cloth, you may have to do this step a couple of times to get out all of the rice
  • Add about 3 cups of milk, or to taste
  • Add about 1/2 cup of sugar, or to taste
  • Sprinkle in a little extra ground cinnamon, you will have to use a whisk to break it up.
Serve over ice and enjoy!

Drinking Horchata, yum!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pebbles and Stones Treasury


Another gorgeous treasury on Etsy featuring my Mossy Pebbled Path Pendant. Click on the image above to see the treasury and all these beautiful items on Etsy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A New Treasure

IMG_0907

My parents came down for Fort Worth yesterday, which is always a treat.  We had a delicious Mexican breakfast at a favorite spot, then escaped the heat at Barnes and Noble (mom and I also snuck over to Anthropolgie to window shop).  When they were leaving dad said he had something for us.  He pulled this wonderful hand carved wood and antler back scratcher out that he had made!  I can't believe he carved it and everything, so cool.  I love it as a back scratcher and as a table decoration.
Thanks Dad!