31 October 2012

All Treats. Few Tricks.

I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween. 
~Author Unknown

It is Halloween today but around here the treats were handed out on Sunday afternoon. I am told that we had 66 trick-or-treaters come by! Not only did my husband do a good job of making sure all the candy I supplied him with was taken, but he dipped into the bin of older candy (mostly Lifesavers and the random Dum Dum). So I guess, that was a bit of a trick for those that came late! 
Today I have a few treats to share... 

The first is a treat for me. I just found out that I won $100 worth of online classes from the "Dream Jewelry Studio" drawing at CraftArtEdu.com. Woot! I am going to treat myself to some polymer clay classes, like this one to make enchanting crown boxes. Or these interchangeable rings. Or perhaps Tiny Dancer and I would like to make these cute polymer clay bugs. Or maybe a make your own rubber stamp. Or a mixed media jewelry making exploration of a winged steampunk heart. Or a class making felted flower earrings to feed my new love of felting after making embellished felted leaves with my daughter at the Inspired by Nature retreat last weekend (pictures and more to follow soon!).
A few weeks back I was surprised by a package of beads from Kalmbach Publishing, publishers of the Bead Soup Book that I am honored to be a part of. They are hosting a little bead soup party this month in conjunction with the book. They asked bead stores across the country to put together a little bead soup to share with random participants. I got a sweet little package of beads from a shop right here in my state of Wisconsin - Meant To Bead in Sun Prairie! I have never been, but now I know that I will have to stop in sometime when I am in that neck of the woods. 

They sent me a pretty and springy palette of light blues, yellow and white with a gold clasp. I got glass tulip beads, faceted fire polish, crystal bicones, a sweet little flower lampwork bead and a pretty hammered Tierra Cast clasp. 

I added some ice blue shell coin beads, a fancy gold plated bracelet chain and some dainty gold plated fancy headpins from Beadalon. 

I went with a charm style bracelet. My trick with making these is to stagger groups of the beads along the length of the chain. I lay the chain out and then put the beads along the edge to give me a sense of the rhythm of the piece. Then I make all the dangles up and attach them. I kept switching between my round nose pliers and my wire cutters until I realized that my round nose pliers has an integrated cutter in them. Doh! Trick is on me!

My result is this flirty charm style bracelet I am calling "Meant to Be" in honor of the name of the store that graciously supplied the beads.

I wrote about the 7,000 Bracelets of Hope on the Art Bead Scene last week. This is an arm (no pun intended) of the Global Genes Project dedicated to putting a blue bracelet on the wrist of a caregiver of someone with a genetic disorder. To let them know that someone out there is thinking of them with hope. Did you know there are 7,000 identified rare diseases and over 80% of them are caused by a faulty gene? It makes me grateful and frankly amazed that my children do not have a genetic disorder. Since these beads were donated to me, I plan to donate this special bracelet to the 7,000 Bracelets of Hope charity. I have donated to this cause in the past, and I hope that this "Meant to Be" bracelet will bring cheer to someone. If you are interested in donating to the cause, please check out their website.
Each year we have a tradition where we carve pumpkins with our friends the DiSalvo family. We figure that we have been doing this for 15 years, since I know that we started before we had children. We get together for an evening of food and football and carve our pumpkins with the Pumpkin Masters templates. 

Every year when I was little I would ask to be a princess. I remember that we would parade around the school up and down the hallways in our costumes. I had this pink dress that was thrifted and my mom made this way cool cone hat with a scarf at the top. And I had on a long strand of my mom's pearls. I remember the tink-tink-tink as they went bouncing down the hallway when the string broke. 

For years, my daughter asked to be a witch. Or Tinkerbell. I remember the year that I made her into Hannah Montana. And the so-cute costume I made when my son was two of a dinosaur made from two pairs of green sweatpants, a green hooded sweatshirt, stiffened felt, batting and googly eyes. I hate premade costumes. We go to Goodwill and get creative. This year Tiny Dancer picked out a black bob wig, some big sunglasses and a short black trench coat. She was going to be a spy at school. When we got there today, I asked if she had her costume. Of course, she left it at home. I could have gone back to get it, but she blew it off saying, "That's okay." But it wasn't okay with me. So now I have a $12 wig, $4 sunglasses, and $10 jacket. I sure hope she knows that she will be wearing that for Christmas. ;-)


Bead Style Magazine has a new Pinterest board called "Words to Bead By" that I just love. It shows what looks like a message tacked up on a board. I think this treat is a 'something good' today!


And the final treat is one for you...with a bit of a trick ;-). I have to get my Etsy site back up and running after shutting it off from my weekend trip. But before I do that, I have to double-check that I won't be putting some of the Simple Truths back out there that sold during our trunk show. I made three exclusive designs for the goodie bags that all had a woodsy feel. Of course, I made extra and they will be in the shop soon. They are in my Forest Finery style. For one random lucky participant, I would like to give one away. That is the treat. The trick is that I am going to make the winner select from the quotes only, and not the images. Which quote is your favorite?

'a weed is but an unloved flower'  ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

'every leaf a miracle' ~Walt Whitman

'i speak for the trees' ~The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Leave a comment below telling me your favorite of these three quotes or a favorite trick or treat memory and I will announce a winner on Friday! 

P.S. For another treat, tune in tomorrow, November 1st, as I reveal the new Challenge of Color inspiration. I think you are going to love it! And then come back on Friday, November 2nd as I share the Michaels Toast of the Town variation mini blog hop and the Humblebeads Teal Branches blog hop! Treats galore!

25 October 2012

Echo Creative Club - October

Jeannie Dukic is a multi-tasking, multi-talented artist. I have had the pleasure of being a part of her Echo Creative Club this year. I love that she is always coming up with new things. One of her polymer clay creations is a line she called Peeled Paint beads. These bright colors peeking out from gold and copper leaf, as if they are a relic that was unearthed from another time.

Jeannie sent me these bright aqua peeled paint beads. I thought they would be just perfect for earrings!

I don't normally work in gold, but I happened to have these sweet little gold paisley charms. That meant that I was going to do something bohemian! I pulled out The Earring Style Book by Stephanie Wells and found a pleasing shape.

I created a frame from 16 gauge wire and hammered it for strength and texture. Then I took 22 gauge wire and strung the paisley to the middle, bending it so that it overlapped in a teardrop shape. Next I wrapped the wire around the frame adding little brass cornerless cubes, and I found a perfect match to the aqua color in some little czech faceted rounds. Add a bit of chain... et voila!

{Aqua Dancer Earrings}

Thanks to Miss Jeannie of Jewelry by Jeannie for inviting me to play in the Echo Creative Club this year! It is always a treat to get little beady presents in the mail, and Jeannie's beads and pendants are the best!

P.S. Off to Michigan for the Inspired by Nature retreat with Heather Powers! This is a girls road trip with my Tiny Dancer. I am bringing my entire jewelry studio. At least that is what it feels like. I will check back in next week with you and share more of the inspiring time that will be had!

And just a heads up.... Friday, November 2nd is the reveal of the Michaels Toast of the Town Variation necklace mini blog hop... and Thursday, November 1st I will be revealing the details of the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color.  It is going to be awesome!

24 October 2012

Commitment...With a Kiss

"Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision,
and give us the 'right stuff' to turn our dreams into reality."
~James Womack

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary.
I found this post that I did on October 12, 2010, 
on the 25th anniversary of our first kiss.
I feel that it is appropriate to reprint it today
to remember the commitment I have to the love of  my life,
my best friend, Paul. 
 Babe, you knocked my shoes off then and you are still doing it now. 
I love you!
I sat down just before midnight on October 12, 2010 to write this post not sure where I was going with it. I am choosing a Virtues card at random and Commitment is the one for this week {truthfully, I almost tucked it back in and picked a different one...but that would be against my commitment to this process...hmmmm?}. I had just come home at 10:30pm from buying milk and about $135 worth of things that weren't on my list. I was tired and crabby. I wanted to read a book and tutorial to prepare myself for some experiments for tomorrow. But something stopped me about that date.

I spent some time thinking about it. Then it hit me. Homecoming is this weekend for my alma mater Pacelli High School. My {then} 7th grade son, Rocket, will be marching in the parade and playing during halftime. And that is when I knew what it was.

Twenty-seven years ago on this very night, October 12th, perhaps at this very moment, I got my first kiss.

Okay. It wasn't my FIRST kiss. But it was the first one that counted. Because it was with the man that I have come to regard as the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I have known my husband since we were both the new kids at St. Stephen Elementary school back in 1978 for 5th grade. We were about the same age that my daughter is right now. We lived two blocks from each other. We rode the same bus to school.

Over time he developed a crush on my best friend {everyone did - Hi Lynna!}. Our paths might cross, but we didn't run in the same circles {even though our circles were mighty small in a graduating class of 93 students}.

Earlier that year we carried on a bit of a flirtation one weekend during the annual Trivia contest in our city {World's Largest. You can look it up.} There is a picture of us peeking out from under a blanket. And no, we were not up to anything other than warmth...and flirting. {What kind of a girl do you think I am?} I wish I could find these pictures now... but it is so late and I am too tired to know where to start. He was always gone every summer, out to tend the land on the farm that his family owned so after that spring, I thought little of it {and besides, I did have a boyfriend at the time that I was busy breaking up with...good thing, too.}

On that end-of-summer day in 1985 there was a yearbook signing party. I recall him striding over to me and my best friend sitting under a tree. He asked to sign my yearbook {not hers}. I remember writing some trite thing like, "1986 will be the best year yet!" But it is what he wrote in mine that I will never forget.

"I hope we become better friends."

Wha? I remember my best friend and I being all in a tizzy about that. And with those words he set into motion the start of something special.

He made a commitment after our flirtatious spring to find a way to ask me out. I found out years later that he spent all summer working on the farm thinking of ways to do it. That certainly shows that he had vision and a confidence that his plan would produce the desired result. And that little note in my yearbook still makes me smile. For it set in motion a series of events that forever changed my life.

Our first date was Friday, September 6th. We went to the first football game and to the 'sock hop' after {doesn't that make me sound ancient? Really, it was just a dance in the gym...in our socks ;-}.

We spent many days after that walking through the halls holding hands, causing everyone else in our class to gasp {"What is he doing with her?"}. He lingered with me at volleyball practice. He drove me home from school and then called me on the phone at night where I would spend hours talking, he listening {he said he liked to hear me talk, but really he was just shy...and truthfully I never shut up!}. He passed me little origami-like notes in class {I still have an entire shoebox of them.}

But he never kissed me. Not once.

It drove my best friend a little nuts, I think. But I wasn't worried. And I am forever grateful that he didn't cave to the pressure of others wondering why it hadn't happened yet.

Whether he planned it or not, this waiting was a commitment. We let our relationship build and develop. We spent time finding out the truth about one another. That time that we took built our loyalty and certainly contributed to the 'right stuff' that made our dreams a reality. I think that has made all the difference during this life.

I clearly remember October 12, 1985. It was our Senior year Homecoming. So that was special in itself. I remember that I wore a black sparkly cocktail dress that was loaned to me from a friend of my mother's {wish I could find the picture... I was so skiiiinnnnyyy!}. I bought some crystal and jet rhinestone earrings that were quite stunning. I had on impossibly high heeled black pumps.

{Found the pic! from the Color Palette Blog Walk from Brandi Hussey last year. Man was I skinny!}

We danced the night away. Our class was notorious for not agreeing on anything, so the theme for Homecoming was B.Y.O.T. {Bring Your Own Theme... I know. Completely lame.} I also remember that he chose the first slow dance theme of the night. That fluttering feeling of hearing the DJ announce Bryan Adams' 'Heaven' as dedicated to me still makes me swoon. That will always be our song {and the lyrics are even more poignant today}.

My feet hurt from those impossibly high heels and I recall that he carried me to the dance floor. {Probably the first and last time that ever happened, but it was sweet.} I remember not wanting the night to end.

We sat in his car around midnight parked outside my grandmother's house on Portage Street where I was staying for the weekend while my parents were out of town. The light of the one street lamp across the street provided a warm glow that chased away the chill in the night air. We talked about everything until there were no more words {and you can imagine how rare that must be for me!}. But the silence wasn't awkward. It was comforting. In that momentary lull, it happened.

He leaned in and kissed me.

And it wasn't a polite peck on the cheek.

But it wasn't a floodgate of lust either.

It was the single most electrifying sensation that literally took my breath away. And actually knocked my shoes off.

Can you have flash forwards instead of flash backs? Because I swear that is what happened in the moment. I flashed forward to what my life could be like. I liked what I saw. And the rest is history.

What does this have to do with commitment?

Commitment is about making a choice and keeping it. It is about accepting responsibility and having the confidence to remain true. It is about giving yourself fully and going the distance.

Twenty-seven years ago tonight the kiss that was more than a month in the making held so much promise. It was as if in that moment I knew that my heart was making a commitment to this man. It felt like so much more than giving into the moment. I quite clearly remember a feeling of revelation. It wasn't love at first sight but rather love at first kiss.

And on this day twenty-seven years later I realize that it is still a thrill to be with this man, this Husband, who knows that no two kisses are ever alike. Who knows that a kiss is not to be taken lightly or be pressured into giving, or receiving. Who knows that there can be a lifetime of promise in one.

On October 24, 1992 we sealed that commitment with another kiss in front of our parents, friends, family, congregation and God.

Happy 20th wedding anniversary, my sweet!  

Can it really be that long?

And thank you for the kiss that started it all 27 years ago. It literally rocked my world. And for all the kisses since that continue to rock my world... I treasure every one as a symbol that our commitment is still as strong.
From the Virtue Card: Commitment

"Commitment is caring deeply about a person, a goal or a belief. Once we discern a direction we go for it wholeheartedly. We don't hold back, second-guess our decision or hesitate to act on it fully. We set goals and achieve them. We make promises and keep them. We go the extra mile. We are faithful to our relationships and don't allow problems to make us waver. Keeping our commitments strengthens our inner integrity. It deepens our capacity to carry responsibility with grace."

The Practice of Commitment
  • I am discerning about my decisions.
  • I give 100% to whatever I do.
  • I am confident in my choices.
  • I keep my agreements.
  • I am loyal to those I care about.
  • I have the strength to go the distance.
  • I am thankful for the gift of Commitment.
  • It brings passion to my purpose.
Was your FIRST kiss your first kiss? Or did it take some time {and some frogs} to have that revelation?

Do tell!

22 October 2012

Michaels Toast of the Town Variations Blog Hop

The three winners of three bags of beads and a toggle clasp to make a variation of my Toast of the Town necklace are...

I am ready to ship out your beads to you TODAY so you can get started on YOUR VARIATION of this necklace ASAP! Please email me your address to enjoytheday@tesoritrovati.com

For those of you that did not get selected by the random gods, never fear! You are still invited to play along. I will be responding by email to each person who commented with a copy of the instructions that I wrote. These instructions can also be found on the Michaels website here. If you are up to the challenge, I invite you to join me!

{Click here for a coupon!}

The blog hop will start right here on Friday, November 2nd. The only rule is that you use the instructions for the Toast of the Town necklace as your starting point to make your own variation of the necklace. You can use whatever color palette you prefer and although it is not required to use the Michaels/Bead Gallery line, I would love it if you did! And someone said that there is a tremendous sale (50% off strands?! Woohoo! I am going shopping!) going on right now.

If you would like to be included in an official blog hop list on my blog, please leave your blog address in the comments and I will have a master list on my blog revealed on November 2nd.

Get creative!

19 October 2012

Quick Fire Challenge: Michaels Toast of the Town Necklace Hop

Hello peeps!

Sorry for the radio silence this past week. That was completely unintentional. I had some big projects brewing that had to be focused on. I just never found my way back to you. But I missed you!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a concert of the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. Right here in little Stevens Point, Wisconsin. What an incredible collaborative musical party that was! They were in our city for about 5 days and over that time they held master classes with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students as well as local high school band students. My daughter was one of 1200 students that got to attend a presentation where they shared some of the very unique cultural instruments they played. There were 15 members from far-flung countries like Russia, India, Iran, Spain, and China. They did an impressive 2nd half performance of a work that was commissioned for them to perform that was inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. We learned that it was only the 3rd time that they had actually performed that live. And that our concert was the last stop on their 2012 tour. All I can say is WOW!

I think I have some ideas for my February Challenge of Music. ;-)

Quick Fire Challenge: Michaels Toast of the Town Necklace Blog Hop

{Toast of the Town necklace}

Remember this post where I shared my participation in the October Jewelry Celebration "Made by Me, Inspired by Life" over at Michaels.com? The whole point of this experience is to encourage you, dear reader, to make the projects that all the experts created.

Well, the fine folks at Michaels and I have come up with a fun Quick Fire Challenge for you: using the instructions that I wrote and my piece as inspiration, I challenge you to create your own Toast of the Town necklace in a completely different colorway.

{Wore this to the Yo-Yo Ma concert last night!}
The beauty of this necklace design is that you can make unlimited variations of it just by changing the beads. Right after I made this, I made another in a purple/fuschia color palette. Just goes to prove how versatile this is!

To help jump start the creativity, I went to Michaels today and selected four strands of beads each in three different color palettes. I will be giving away these bead strands, plus a toggle clasp, and a copy of the instructions as a kick start to your creativity and to prove that YOU can make this necklace in any color combination.{Pardon the raindrops! Just as I was taking this picture it started to sprinkle! I promise that raindrops will not be included ;-}

{Grey/Blue Palette: hematite - silver - dyed jasper - ceramic}

{Red/Black Palette: faceted glass - millefiori - hematite - etched silver}

{Copper/Brown Palette: shell - metal - ceramic - glass}

Are you up to this quick fire challenge Michaels challenge?
  •  Will you use the instructions provided to make your own version of the Toast of the Town necklace?
  • Will you be willing to add beads from your stash, or better yet, take a trip to Michaels and fill in the blanks?
  • Will you share your variation in a blog hop on Friday, November 2nd?

If you are can answer yes to those three questions, and you are willing to play by those rules, please comment on this post by Sunday, October 21st.

Be sure to have a way to quickly get in touch with you {Note: I try to reply to virtually every comment on my blog. If you have never received a reply from me, you don't have your email address turned on in your profile!}

I will pick three random winners to be gifted with a random colorway of four strands of beads, a toggle clasp and a set of the instructions. Since this is a quick turnaround, I have to limit the giveaway to U.S. addresses only. I will announce the winners on Monday, October 22nd and mail out the beads that day. I will also be playing along to make a third variation of this necklace.

This is a quick turnaround, hence the Quick Fire name! Would love to have you join me!

And even if you are not randomly selected, or you are outside of the U.S.,  you can still play along by taking a copy of the instructions found on the Michaels.com website and making your own version. Everyone is welcome to participate in this Quick Fire challenge!

13 October 2012

The Forest for the Trees

I was drawn to this quote today.

So I paired it with a shot from my trip up Granite Peak at the Rib Mountain State Park on Saturday, September 29th. We enjoyed truly spectacular views of central Wisconsin before the leaves had fallen.


10 October 2012

Win with Jangles

Do you know Jennifer Jangles? Actually... her name is Jennifer Heynen, and she is the owner of the whimsical world that is Jangles.

Her bright colors, kooky patterns and fun beads and pendants were some of the first ceramic pieces I ever owned. I love her fresh style. They made me bust out of my drab color scheme in a big way. A few years ago I bought some of the cutest personalized snowman ornaments from her. And as for her beads... I love 'em! I have even won contests and been published with them. That makes us a great team ;-) My favorite mug, the one I use for my coffee and tea and cocoa when I am at home, is from her. I always feel like I am drinking in her creativity and passion when I use it!

I have the pleasure of seeing her every year at the Bead & Button show and I never miss the opportunity. I just wish I was able to spend more time with her. Her smile and her enthusiasm are contagious.

In the past few years, Jennifer has branched out into her other love - quilting - first with a line of buttons, but then with a set of her own fabrics! Yikes! This woman is a go-getter and someone that I admire greatly.

She is as sweet and fun and bubbly as you would expect from someone who plays with dots and stripes and zigzags all day.

When she asked if anyone was interested in sponsoring a giveaway for her highly successful Christmas newsletter promotions, I didn't even hesitate. (Seriously. She is totally prepared and on the Christmas kick. Me? I am still in full fall mode. I have so much to learn from her in regards to business and promotion!).

Today is my day for a giveaway. You can go over to her blog and leave a comment to win one of my new 'LIFE is..." pendants. And don't forget to sign up for her newsletter.

Go! Enter and you could win!

And tell, Miss Jennifer Jangles I said hi! ;-)

09 October 2012

Winner... and a Recipe

"I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work.
That is the recipe.
It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near."
~Maraget Thatcher


You are the lucky random winner of my Sari Snapshot Bead Soup. Please email me your address and I will ship it right out to you (and I would love to see how you are inspired by it!).

Do you know Miss Mona Rae? I discovered that she makes the most yummy glass beads. Like this one in her Etsy Shop.

{MonaRae Beads Vanilla Fleurs XL Lampwork Lentil - oh! The colors!}
 And these bumpy bits of fun. I love them for their textural quality and fun pops of color.

{MonaRae Beads Lady Lumps Big Hole Sliders - the name is so kooky and the colors are punchy!}
I am in awe of glass bead artists. That is something I would love to try someday. Until then, I am thrilled when I find a new-to-me artist. Check MonaRae Beads out!


I am not the best cook. Have I told you that I am lazy? Unfortunately, my family demands meals with great regularity. It counts as homemade if you use a box mix and add some unexpected mix-ins (and by unexpected I mean whatever you have on hand that isn't expired. Why did I buy those green chilies again?). Right? 
{No author....picked it up at a school book fair....}
I like cookbooks that show pictures (sort of like how I like bead resources that show me great pictures). A recipe is a success if I can use three ingredients and make it in 30 minutes...and it looks like the picture. ;-) I have a cookbook that has a lot of dog-eared pages on called Meals in Minutes. Not all the recipes have pictures, which is a flaw in my eyes, but I do like that they arrange it by the time it will take ("20, 30, 40 minutes from start to finish") and have a shopping list and pantry list. Of course, I usually don't have anything near what they suggest my pantry should hold, but that is beside the point.

I looked in the vegetable bin and noticed some aging mushrooms. My daughter Tiny Dancer is nuts about mushrooms. Her pizzas usually only have mushrooms as an ingredient. So I started with that. There were a few contenders that I could have made (Chicken with Pan Sauce... Pasta with Mushrooms and Aged Jack Cheese...). None that I had all the ingredients. And it was already 6:00 pm. No last minute trips to the store. But then I flipped the page found the right thing. I have made it before and everyone loved it. Surprisingly, I actually had all the ingredients on hand! I made this on Sunday and it is so good, I have to share.  

How about a recipe to go along with these beady appetizers in the spirit of the Soup party? Think of this recipe as your consolation prize if your name isn't MonaRae. ;-)
Pork and Chorizo Stew

Start to finish: 40 minutes (of course, I usually have to add about 20 minutes to the total for me standing dumbfounded in the middle of my kitchen, getting distracted, or my too-slow chopping skills or the fact that I usually have an epic fail at following printed directions and skip a step... or an ingredient)
1 1-pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes (whatever pork you have on hand...I think I used some boneless short ribs...chicken or beef would work, too. It's stew. Buy cheap meat ;-)
8 oz cookded smoked chorizo sausage, cut into 1/4-in slices (have you ever tried to slice chorizo? It is more like a paste. It doesn't slice. It mushes. I just squeeze it into the pan. This is what adds the flavor. It is flavorful, not spicy, so don't let that worry you. Put the other chorizo log back in the freezer for another time.)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion (1 large) (Does half of one mostly dried out onion count? I also added the MUSHROOMS for Tiny Dancer at this point)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Or two or three dollops of the already chopped and minced garlic, so much easier!)
2 T. all-purpose flour (This is actually the only thing that I always have in my pantry.)
1/2 t. dried thyme, crushed (I actually had this in the cupboard! Color me surprised. I was thinking of substituting Italian seasoning in case I didn't.)
2 1/2 c. reduced-sodium beef broth (Used the new Knorr concentrate. Heat some water and let the gelatinous dollop melt. So much better! No waste!)
1 c. frozen peas and carrots (I use a frozen California blend. Peas make me shudder.)
salt and ground black pepper (Of course, I forgot this ingredient. Put the salt and pepper on the table in case this happens ;-)
2 c. dried egg noodles (Not enough. I make up a whole bag. My family loves noodles.)

  1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook the pork cubes and chorizo in hot oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until brown.Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a plate; set aside.
  2. Add onion and garlic (and MUSHROOMS) to pan juices. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Return meat and juices to pan. Add flour and thyme. Cook and stir for 1 minute. (This would be where I lost my focus and started opening mail and cleaning the dishes. Stay focused and you might still make it in 40 minutes!) 
  3. Gradually add broth, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of pan. Add frozen veggies. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large pan cook egg noodles. (And make Krusteaz Natural Honey Corn Bread muffins. Yum.) Drain well. Serve stew with noodles. (And a nice salad from the grocery store ready made deli case. Opening a bag takes too much work. ;-)

You're welcome! ;-)

07 October 2012

Bead Soup Book: Nightmare Insomnia Inspiration

"Only those who have awakened know that they were sleeping."
~ Jim Paredes

When Miss Lori of Pretty Things approached me to participate in the Bead Soup book, I didn't hesitate for a moment. I had always wanted to be in a book, and I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the bead soup swaps that she hosted. Anything that grows this community and focuses on our shared passions of beads and inspires creativity is for me! Plus it is just so danged fun to get a surprise in the mail to kick start your creativity. Who doesn't love beady surprises?

We had to mail our specially selected bead soup mixes to Lori who would photograph them and then hand select where they would go. So this is a bit different from the traditional bead soup swap where you are paired with a partner to swap your bead soup. (Note: I usually ask for a Bead Soup partner to be from another country because I have made the coolest beady penpals that way and get things that I never would find in the States! I would highly recommend this if you do participate in a swap.)

I have to admit that one of the hardest things was selecting my soup mix to send (that ultimately wound up in Lyn Foley's most capable hands with a design that still has me exclaiming 'Wow!'). Because this would be a book that needed to be accessible to everyone, I was told that I couldn't include any art beads. 

Almost every design I make centers around art beads, and I always have a bead soup with art beads on the back burner waiting for the right moment of creativity to bubble over. But this is a challenge, and I never shy away from one of those. I pawed through my stash and decided upon these dyed blue agate slices, blue nugget pearls, faceted opalite and a sterling silver clasp that I made in a class in 2008 with Susan Lenart Kazmer with a swirly blue resin that looks like druzy I created. (So I guess I sort of 'cheated' in that I sort of made the clasp but this shade of blue was perfect for the soup.)

When I got my bead soup, I was thrilled to find out that it was from the very talented Jen Cameron from Glass Addictions. Her beads are droolworthy, don't you think?

I have to be honest. That focal bead - that big, beautiful, bold focal bead - scared the living daylights out of me! I have since found out that the name for this bead is 'Nightmare Insomnia'. I think that is quite fitting! It is so very large and has a very definite presence, I worried that I would be able to give it a treatment that made it shine. (Perhaps I suffered a few nightmare insomnia moments obsessing about that! ;-)

Jennifer had this to say about her inspiration for these 'Nightmare Insomnia' series beads on the Art Jewelry Elements blog (which is a great blog, by the way. Go and follow it!):

Blog Party Bead 5 

My 10 year old daughter, who turns 11 in July, inspired this series. The first time I made one of these, it was 4 years ago in the midst of a particularly bad spell of nightmares for her. Every single night she would wake up screaming and end up crawling in bed with us, plastered against me...elbowing, kicking, tossing and turning. Plus I would be sweating because I was crammed in between her and hubs. This means I really wasn't getting much sleep.

Bead 21 

One night, as I was torching, I was stewing about this particular issue, and suddenly my beads started growing these stylized spider end caps thingies on them before I realized what was going on. The next morning when I showed my lovely daughter, she responded with "that's really mean that you made those because of my nightmare, but also really cool."

Bead 15 

I continue to make them even though she no longer wakes up screaming about spiders or crawls into bed with us.

When I read this description it really clicked for me! This bead is huge and now that I see those spider tentacles on them I totally get the energy and intention that went into making them. They are so very unique. Turning a negative scary experience into a positive one.

The colors that Jen coaxes from these lava hot glass rods is quite amazing. Whole universes exist in those swirls! The Nightmare Insomnia bead that I got, and the coordinating glass nuggets, were in this rich honey butterscotch color. So yummy for fall! Along with it I received a cool stamped pewter hook clasp, a strand of these deep inky black and blue button pearls and a whole slew of clear and opaque pink faceted beads.

{Sneak peek of the Portobello Mushroom soup I created with these genius ingredients!}

I have to admit that I really puzzled over the pink. They stumped me. I am not a pink sort of girl. I find it a hard color with which to design. And although I could see flashes of pink underlying the swirling golds and tans and bits of rusty orange, I just didn't feel this color.

So I left them out of my design.

That is the thing with the bead soup... you are required to send a pretty clasp, a focal and coordinating beads, but you are only expected to use the clasp and focal. The rest is up to you. As a challenge, this is where you get to have a little say in what you end up with, so if you are at all concerned that you won't like your ingredients, you shouldn't worry about it. Just like any good cook knows that a pinch of this and a dash of that makes all the difference in the final dish, you can tailor the end result to what feels comfortable to you. That is exactly what I look for in a creative challenge... pushing me out of my comfort zone but also giving me the tiniest bit of control.

I can't show you the full piece (buy the book!), but I can tell you that the picture of it is beautiful. To this mix, I added stamped pewter rings, steel washers and wire, silver pewter daisy spacers, a carved bone bead, Swarovski crystals in a smoky gray color and a whole tube of silver lined frosted topaz seed beads. Do I have you drooling yet?

Luckily for you, Miss Jennifer sells her one-of-a-kind nightmare insomnia beads in her Glass Addictions Etsy shop. You can pick one up to see where this special bead will lead you.

And if you hurry, you may still be able to enter your comment on Jen's blog to win one of the Nightmare Insomnia beads of your very own! I would love to see how it inspires you!
In the spirit of Bead Soup, I put together a little bead soup mix of my own to give away to one lucky random commenter on this post.

My Bead Soup Prize Mix includes a new 'Sari Snapshot' Simple Truth pendant in juicy shades of orange and grape along with a strand of really cool purple swirly faceted glass beads, orange shell heishi, carnelian/peridot/amethyst carved leaves, brass connector beads and a Vintaj leaf clasp.

To win, answer any one of the following questions (you don't have to answer them all!):
  •  Do you participate in swaps, hops and challenges? If so, what do you love most about them? If not, what would make you consider it? (Come, join us!)
  • Have you ever participated in a swap, hop or challenge that pushed your creative limits in a way that was totally unexpected? What did you learn?
  • Tell me what you would do with this Bead Soup Prize Mix.
Winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 9th. 
Be sure to have a way for me to contact you (either turn on your email in your blogging profile or add your email to the comment). I will ship this soup mix anywhere in the world so that I can add another beady penpal to my list! ;-)

My personal thank you to Lori Anderson. I am honored that you invited me to participate in this beautiful book and be a part of a ring of talent such as this. It really is a great collaboration with some very wonderful designers and artists, people that I truly admire, and I am humbled to play a small part.

02 October 2012

Diversionary Tactics

Getting ready for the A.R.T.S. Night (A Reason To Shop) benefiting the Women's Fund of Portage County. Making a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that. And pricing. And liberating all my girls from their duties up on the shelves in the studio.

Found this funny blog that is laugh out loud called Dog Shaming. Sometimes you just need something to pick up your day or divert you from what you know you should be doing. Like cranking out a few more pairs of earrings and pricing my wares and loading up my vehicle. Oh... you like distractions, too? Well, then, enjoy the havoc that only these furry loves can wreak.

{Poor little hungry Riley!}

{Broken Internet}

You're welcome for the snorts.

Lately I wish I had me a pup. Just a little bit. Mostly so that I could submit photos to this blog. ;-)

Next time I blog it will be about my booth redesign. Some things made the cut, some didn't. Others were just a victim of time that is too short. Hope this show is a good one. It can be really hit or miss. Especially when the price of the tickets is $25-30 (don't ask)! My 'price' is 25% of my sales to the Women's Fund. So if I sell well, we both win. But if nothing else, I have a lot of stock for all the places that are waiting for it (and anyone else who might be interested in carrying it...hint, hint ;-). And if nothing else I will be seen by those who will eventually buy my jewelry, even if it is not at this show, because "I already made my donation at the door." (Insert rolling eyes here.) 

See you soon!

01 October 2012

Bead Soup Book Progressive Party

Raise the roof! The Bead Soup Book is in the house!

This week there is a progressive bead soup party going on to celebrate the Bead Soup Book by Lori Anderson of Pretty Things. Have you ever been to a progressive dinner party... where you start at one house and sample appetizers and cocktails and keep going until at the end of the night you have had a full meal and a lot of fun? Well, this is a bead soup progressive party! By the end of these next eight days you will get your fill of bead soup from around the globe and I hope you will have a lot of fun doing it.

I was delighted when Miss Lori asked if I would participate and even more delighted when I got the beads selected just for me. I will share more about my inspiration and process on my day for the party, Sunday, October 7th. Oh, and I have a bead soup prize to share as well, so be sure to come back and visit me then. But in the meantime, you might want to start your party hopping with the blogs for Monday. Eight days of reviews, giveaways and inspiration galore!

Monday, October 1st
Lori Andersonhttp://www.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Rebecca Andersonhttp://www.songbeads.blogspot.com
Barbara Bechtelhttp://secondsurf.com/wordpress/

Tuesday, October 2nd
Lori Andersonwww.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Kerry Bogert –   http://kabsconcepts.com/wp/
Melanie Brookshttp://earthenwood-beads.blogspot.com
Jennifer Cameronhttp://glassaddictions.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 3rd
Lori Anderson www.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Diane Cookwww.rosa-josies.blogspot.com
Malin de Koningwww.beadingbymalindekoning.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 4th
Lori Anderson — www.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Cassie Donlenhttp://cassiedonlen.blogspot.com
Jeannie Dukichttp://site.jkdjewelry.com/blog
Nan Emmett  — http://www.spiritrattles.blogspot.com/
Lyn Foley –  http://lynfoleyblog.com

Friday, October 5th
Lori Anderson — www.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Brandi Husseyhttp://www.brandigirlblog.com
Cindy Wimmerwww.SweetBeadStudio

Barbara Lewis -- Painting With Fire

Saturday, October 6th
Lori Anderson www.PrettyThingsBlog.com
Melissa Memanhttp://www.melissameman.blogspot.com/
Stefanie Teufelhttp://stefaniessammelsurium.blogspot.com/
Libby Leuchtman - http://libbyleu.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 7th
Sharon Palachttp://sharonsjewelrygarden.blogspot.com
Heather Powershttp://www.humblebeads.blogspot.com
Erin Prais-Hintzhttp://treasures-found.blogspot.com

"The suspense is killing me... I hope it lasts."
~Willy Wonka


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