Tuesday, December 11, 2012

jewelry: smokey sparkles ring and bracelet

My friend Rachel was saying yesterday how much she loves the color gray.  Usually I start a jewelry set by making the earrings first, but she doesn't wear earrings.  Rings definitely don't come easily to me yet, but it wasn't as hard as the last one I made a few months ago.  I liked it, then took it outside for pictures and the sunlight catching all the sparkles made me love it!

 (you can tell I'm getting more into photographing my stuff in a flattering and interesting way :)

Then I made a bracelet with two strands of silver, antique silver, and hematite colored wire and various white-gray-black baubles.  It's a little fussy, but I am thrilled with how it came out in the end.  I honestly didn't expect something that's so monotone to be so classy and interesting!

If I put this on Etsy, I'm going to have to price is relatively high because the ring and double strand bracelet are extra time consuming

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

jewelry: aqua and black swirl jewelry set

I made this one quite a while ago, before I started doing the wire working.  I just listed it on my etsy site (along with a bracelet that I think I already posted here):


I love the combination of dramatic black swirls and bright beads (in my favorite color too).  Now that I know more about wire working I might do it a little differently.  The straight wire doesn't sit as nicely as links or thread or fishing wire.

Monday, December 3, 2012

recipe: chicken alfredo casserole

This is my go-to recipe when I cook for a mom who's had a baby etc.
The recipe makes a large casserole, and when I make it for us, we usually have at least 1/3 left over.  I would guess it serves 6-8.  finely chopped broccoli or spinach could be substituted for the peas.


1 lb pasta (cavatappi/cellentani is a fun shape)
1 lb chicken breast
1 jar alfredo sauce
Small package prosciutto (cut into strips) or pre-diced pancetta
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup shredded parmesan or Italian shredded blend

boil pasta in large pot, cook for 1 minute less than package directions

cut chicken breast into strips or cubes.  fry chicken and prosciutto or pancetta in a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt & pepper (I use adobe seasoning), until slightly browned.  Turn off heat.  Add jar of alfredo sauce and frozen peas.  Stir until all mixed.

Drain pasta and return to large pot.  Add mixture from frying pan and stir well.  Dump into casserole dish (13x9x2 or so) and spread into corners.  Sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese

If eating immediately, place under broiler until cheese melts and starts to brown slightly.

If the pan has been refrigerated, put in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes with foil cover on.  Remove cover and place under broiler until cheese starts to brown slightly.  A serving or two is also very easily reheated in the microwave.

(I always just wing it on the baking time so the 30 minutes is a total guess.  It should be enough to heat it through and melt the cheese on top, but since everything is already cooked, it won't need any additional cooking time.  - Deirdre)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Etsy store and other excitement!

In the last week I've created:
- an Etsy store to sell my jewelry
- a facebook page for people to "like" and to draw them to the Etsy store
- a banner for the Etsy store
- a logo and cover image for the fb page
- an ad for the MOMS Club newsletter
- a basic business card
- a postcard that I can hand out to people

So yeah, my house is a mess LOL

If you've been admiring my stuff, I totally underpriced everything by accident.
Necklace and earring sets are only $20 plus $2 shipping.  Take advantage of my rookie mistake! :)

I've already had my first sale, which has been so much fun!  That meant I had to quickly clone a design and then figure out how to mail it securely etc.  While I did it, I kept track of the materials I used and how much time it took, which confirmed how much I underpriced it by.  The amount charged easily exceeds the cost of just materials, but the remaining "profit" made the hourly rate for my work pretty silly.  I guess compared to my "day job" it's still more, but I'll definitely be increasing the list price in the future when I list new items or re-list these items.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

silver snowflake set

Bright silver (colored) wire, light blue beads, and misc periwinkle and clear beads. 

The snowflakes were made with a jig (that I made myself from a block of wood, a drill, and nails), and then hammered flat with a ballpeen hammer on the concrete patio in the back yard.  This inspired me to get a proper jeweler's anvil and small ballpeen hammer.  The hammered shapes look super cool, but they're also very delicate.  Hopefully practice and/or using the more delicate tools will make them sturdier :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

silver and amethyst daisy set

I made this one for my friend Jamie, who despite moving away years ago, I am very close to.  Happy birthday sweetie!

It's antiqued silver wire, various findings in that color (two sizes of daisies and spacers) plus a variety of amethyst colored beads.  I used iridescent crystal style squarish beads plus plum colored e beads and some other misc purple, gray, and black beads.  I like the way the crystal looks suspended in the large daisies :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

marbled gray and black wire set

black wire with various white, grey, and black marble-y beads.  this one I made for my baby sister Lisa for her birthday.  I tried two other color combinations before I finally found one I liked.  might make a matching bracelet, or might just drop it in the mail.

also contemplating whether to use black nail polish to touch up all the places where the black scratched off the wire, exposing copper colored wire.  or maybe that's part of it's charm :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

faux glass tile backsplash

This is one of the projects / hacks that I'm most proud of, that was done last March.

We have a house built in the late 40s, and some parts of it haven't been updated since at least the 70s.  Our kitchen has issues, and some of them we have been able to address with some creative thinking and help from my parents.

Jeff was drooling over this fancy, expensive tile called green onyx.  We liked the look of glass tile too, like subway tile (the picture on the right we didn't have at the time, but it was totally what we were thinking :)

so, crazy prototyping hacker that I am, came up with the idea to make a fake version that would be much cheaper (since we weren't actually redoing the kitchen otherwise).  It is a very temporary solution, but we love the way it came out and it's actually held up surprisingly well so far! :)

What you probably wouldn't guess (unless you already know the story ;)  is that the above faux "tiles" are made from painted contact paper.  I used white contact paper, a fat paintbrush, green wall paint, white wall paint, plus dark green and yellow-orange acrylic paint.

I cut a 5' length of the contact paper and drizzled the paints on it (mostly white and green with a few drops of dark green and yellow).  Then before it got a chance to dry, I swept across it with the fat paintbrush, blending the colors a bit but leaving it streaky.  I made 4 sheets of contact paper, all of which of course came out different.  Then when they were thoroughly dry, I used the guidelines on the reverse of the contact paper to cut the sheets into a gazillion 4"x8" rectangles (using scissors and a paper cutter it went surprisingly fast).  After cutting, I grouped the "tiles" with similar colors/textures together.

I made sure the backsplash (sandy colored formica countertop which they put continued up the wall for some reason) was very clean.  I put down blue painters tape as a guideline at the bottom, and then just eyeballed it.  I applied a few tiles along the bottom row, leaving an inch from the countertop.  Then I applied a few tiles in the row above it, etc until I had a completed section several tiles wide.  I mixed up the tile colors/textures so it didn't look continuous.  There's no grout - just the original formica showing through :)  Applying all the tiles took less than 2 hrs, probably a lot less time than it would take to put up real tiles!

The corners of a few tiles peel up slightly, but none of the paint has come off even when splashes of who-knows-what need to be washed off.  I think it would look even more awesome and be more durable if it were coated with a thick coat of clear gloss, but that wasn't part of this solution :)

tomato cage ghosts for Halloween

This past weekend we emptied out the Summer stuff from the raised beds and kids' planters.  When I was about to throw away the  rusty old tomato cages, I had an idea.  I turned them upside down and bent the spikes (that would normally be in the ground) inwards to make a rounded top.  I found 3 white-ish pillow cases (why do I even own white pillow cases?) and simply put them over the cages.  Some of them were too small to reach the bottom of the cage, but that just made it look like they were floating :)  A fat black sharpie marker gave them all different faces

I was going to use tent stakes to keep them in place on the front lawn, but I couldn't find them, so I used broken off pieces of the tomato cages, bent into a tent stake shape.

We have a lot of old dress-up stuff, so I gave one the dollar store cowboy hat, another dollar store fairy wings, and the third an old rainbow clown wig.  I tried to use solar powered lawn lanterns to light them, but the most effective light turned out to be a battery-powered LED desk lamp, also from the dollar store (notice a trend here? :)

(I think Hailey was flapping the wings of the fairy ghost in the nighttime picture :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

autumn beads with gold wire

My latest, pretty amber colors and gold (colored) wire, perfect for fall!

I actually made the earrings a few months ago for my friend Rachel (who wears a lot of earthy colors), before I remembered she doesn't have pierced ears

This was the first set I made where I didn't have someone specific in mind.  I think I'll start putting some on etsy soon, fun but eek! :) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rainbow bead necklace for my niece Eva

She doesn't have one favorite color, so I made it with rainbow patterns.  I think the big to small beads (not a trick of the crappy camera) will help it feel like a fancy necklace so he'll less interested in her mommy's grown up necklaces :)

Beading supplies and organization

I've been building my beading and wire working supply since I got back into it a few months ago.   I've also been organizing and reorganizing it all!  After a trip to the Container Store last week where I found some perfect containers (clear, inexpensive, snug-lidded, and with lots of small compartments), I am finally happy.  Now that I am happy with how it's all organized, I can also better see what I have an what I don't have.  It turns out I own a lot of blue-to-green, for example :)

I put all the smaller compartments in a file storage box that has a carrying handle, so I can take my projects with me.  In addition to the beads and findings shown in this pic (which I'm having trouble attaching from phone), I have a box that holds wire and tools, plus a tray that has my current project(s) in it

Friday, October 12, 2012

purple bead soup jewelry

this uses some similar aspects to the pink set I made for Hannah.  most of the beads I used for these came from my friend Allana who sells beads.  She sells mixed beads which she calls "bead soup" in lots of different colors.

still having a hard time with rings.

 I'm glad I "splurged" on the black velvet display thingy (actually only cost $4), makes the pictures look so much nicer :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

recipe: corn chowder

Deirdre's "no recipe" Corn Chowder

(so called because it seems whatever recipe we try, we all prefer my winging-it recipe, so now I'm writing it down :)

1/2 lb bacon slices, chopped
4 c water
2 c heavy cream (or half-n-half, or even milk)
boullion for 6 cups of liquid above (3 cubes)
16 oz package of frozen corn (3+ cups)
1 small onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, chopped

Cut the (sliced) bacon into small strips, then fry in a pan until crisp
Put water and cream into large pot, add boullion and stir until dissolved
Add corn to pot, cook on medium heat
Using slotted spoon, move bacon from frying pan to pot
Chop potatoes and onions.  Add potatoes directly to pot
Cook onion in remaining bacon grease until translucent
Using slotted spoon, move onions from frying pan to pot

Cook for at least half an hour at low-medium heat
Taste and add salt, pepper, or additional corn as needed

(most of the seasoning flavor comes from the boullion, I used 2 cubes chicken and 1 cube veggie-herb boullion)

Delicious served with crusty bread and a savory meat like sausage.  Serves 4 to 6

Thursday, September 27, 2012

green bead and black wire earrings and necklace

these I made for my sister Niamh's birthday.  I'm getting better at the wire working, but the black wire is actually silver coated with black, so all the marks I make fussing to get it just right show up much more than on the silver colored wire.

still came out cool.  I was practicing making spiral metal links and when one came out looking like a music clef I thought that would be fun for my sister, who is very musical :)

I'll have to work on getting better lighting and backdrops when I take pictures...

rose crystal silver wired necklace and earrings

I made these for my friend Hannah's birthday, whose favorite color is pink.  this was my second wire working project, and I am very, very pleased with how it came out.  the combination of dusty pink and tarnished silver looks very classy and old-fashioned, which suits her nicely.  At the last minute I managed to make two matching rings, but forgot to take pictures of those.  Maybe Hannah will model them for me :)

edited to add blurry, cropped cellphone pic of one of the rings.  this one didn't match the above set in style, but she says it matches everything else and she wears it all the time. :)

teal and lime beads wire bracelet

my first wire working project: a bracelet made for myself with "bead units" (wire link with a bead in the middle, loops on the ends, and nice curlies etc :)

edited to add: put this in my etsy shop as a bracelet / anklet
(since at 10" long it's much longer than most bracelets)

recipe: passion fruit possets

Passion Fruit and Lemon Posset

a picture of one of our actual passion fruits, courtesy of "Fred" (our Frederick passion fruit vine :)

2 C heavy whipping cream
      (or regular whipping cream)
¾ C + 1 T sugar
¼ t vanilla extract
1/4 C passion fruit liquid *
2 T lemon juice


* If starting from whole passion fruits, scoop out the pulp and press it through a sieve to remove the seeds.  To get 1/4 cup of seedless pulp you will probably need to juice approx 3-5 fruits.  If using concentrate, use 3 T Perfect Purée passion fruit concentrate plus 1 T water

Put cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Let it boil for 3 minutes, then remove pan from heat and add juice.  Whisk thoroughly.

Strain with a medium-fine sieve and pour into 4-8 custard cups.  Let it cool for about 30 minutes before placing in refrigerator.  It will set to a soft pudding

It can be garnished with lemon peel curls, passion fruit seeds, and/or candied lemon slices

Makes: about 2.5 cups, enough for 4-6 modest servings

recipe: mini apple pies

mini apple pies

2 premade pie crusts, unrolled
4 apples (2 sour granny smith, 2 sweet Spartan)
2 T sugar
2 t flour
2 t cinnamon
2 1/2 T salted butter

preheat oven to 350 degrees, put cupcake liners in 10 holes of regular size muffin pan

let pie crusts come to room temp and unroll.  cut 5 large circles out of each crust (I used 4" circle cutter)
carefully tuck one circle into each cupcake liner
peel and cut apples into small pieces, fill each mini crust with a mix of the two apples
mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in bowl.  put 1 teaspoon of mix over apples in each mini pie.
cut tablespoons of butter into quarters and put one cube in each mini pie
cut remaining crust into strips for a simple lattice or use a cookie cutter to put a single shape as the top crust

bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown

makes 10 mini pies

with lattice top

with a cute boy for scale

with cookie cutter top

recipe: divine passion fruit curd

Divine Passionfruit Curd

adapted from recipe at http://thepassionatecook.typepad.com/thepassionatecook/2011/02/passion-fruit-curd.html


1 C passion fruit pulp (seeds removed)
10 T unsalted butter
1 C sugar
6 eggs


If starting from whole passion fruits, scoop out the pulp and press it through a sieve to remove the seeds.  To get one cup of seedless pulp you will probably need to juice approx 10-20 fruits.

Put all ingredients in a metal bowl and whisk thoroughly.  Place metal bowl over a pan of slowly boiling water.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until fairly thick.  remove bowl from heat and let cool slightly.

I put most of it into three 1/2 pint mason jars, and processed them in boiling water for 5 minutes to seal thoroughly.  I don't know if this will make it shelf-stable or whether we should still refrigerate it.  If it isn't all eaten within a week or given away, we could freeze some, or it's supposed to last a few weeks in the fridge.

Makes: about 3.5 cups

and yes, it is very tasty just eaten with a spoon, though it's probably too rich to eat a pudding-like quantity :)

iphone case inserts

I was finally forced to update my phone, and got a spiffy new iphone 4S.

I found lots of cute/stylish cases on amazon for really cheap, from Hong Kong.  Apple and Fry's didn't have anything that appealed enough to be worth the cost.  so I got a basic clear case, with the idea that I could cut paper to fit inside it.  The case back is frosted, which isn't ideal but still works.

Then while my phone took hours to download my old content, I went looking for a template.  I applied it to 6 different photos I manipulated to make some personalized case inserts.  Here they are in the frosted case (I since rubbed out most of the logo with nail polish remover, ha :)

another blog, really?!?

yes, another blog, really.  I have one for Dutch recipes, on which I posted 3 Dutch recipes (or so) and then started cooking other things.  I have one for nail art.  And I have one for the kids' antics.

So no place to post the jewelry I've gotten into making lately, or the other recipes, or the miscellaneous artsy things I've been up to.

Hence CRAFTY-DEE.  It's got a silly ring to it, don't you think?  Plus crafdee and craftdee were already taken on blogger :)