Jewelry

The Cherry Blossom Collection

Cherry Blossom Themed Earrings, Bracelet and Necklace

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, one of my favorite parts of spring. When I first started making jewelry, I knew I wanted to make something with cherry blossoms featured in it, but why stop at one piece of jewelry? When I found a strands of cherry blossom shaped Czech glass, I was so excited. Originally I made a necklace from it, but then I had so much left over that I went ahead and made earrings and eventually a bracelet. I consider it my “Cherry Blossom Collection.”

Black Cherry Necklace

I think I found the pendant for this at Walmart. It looked like a cherry tree branch to me, so I decided to make a necklace out of it. This was made before I discovered the Czech glass beads.
I think I found the pendant for this at Walmart. It looked like a cherry tree branch to me, so I decided to make a necklace out of it. This was made before I discovered the Czech glass beads.

Cherry Blossom Necklace

Okay, so the pendant is actually a plumeria, but since it has the five petals, I think it works as a cherry blossom here. (The pink and red beads are probably also plumerias, but it's hard to tell, so let's just call them cherry blossoms.) Anyway, I love how this necklace reminds me of all the different flowering trees, red, white, and pink.
Okay, so the pendant is actually a plumeria, but since it has the five petals, I think it works as a cherry blossom here. (The pink and red beads are probably also plumerias, but it’s hard to tell, so let’s just call them cherry blossoms.) Anyway, I love how this necklace reminds me of all the different flowering trees, red, white, and pink. The pendant has gold in it, so I decided to stick with that for the components. There are also small gold seed beads in between the flower beads to give it some more interest.

Cherry Blossom Earrings

I knew I wanted these to be simple like the necklace, and I like how they dangle and move. By not putting them on a head pin, they are able to sway on their own accord, which reminds me of the petals floating to the ground.
I knew I wanted these to be simple like the necklace, and I like how they dangle and move. By not putting them on a head pin, they are able to sway on their own accord, which reminds me of the petals floating to the ground. They are still keeping with the gold components.

Cherry Blossom Bracelet

I stuck with the gold components and made this simple and dainty bracelet to match the necklace and earrings. The heart clasp almost looks like its own bead here.
I stuck with the gold components and made this simple and dainty bracelet to match the necklace and earrings. The heart clasp almost looks like its own bead here. Again, I went with the pattern I used for the necklace by stringing gold seed beads in between the flower beads.

That’s all for now! I hope this gave you some ideas for your own spring jewelry creations. If you’d like to know where I got all the supplies for these, let me know in a comment, or if you’d just like for me to provide links in future blog posts, let me know as well!

Edit: The black cherry necklace and cherry blossom bracelet are now up for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on the titles of the pictures to see them!

Bonus Blog · Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#1)

I’m back from the short hiatus with the first in a new series of posts. I figured I’d give this a shot to branch out a bit from my usual beading and baking posts. I don’t want my blog name to limit me to what I can post. I also don’t want to change the name because I really like it and it took me a lot of brainstorming to come up with. Anyway, in these new Books and Beverages posts, I’ll clue you in as to what I’ve been reading and drinking recently. You can expect a new Books and Beverages post on the last Saturday of every month at approximately 2 pm PT / 5 pm ET. And so it begins.

Books

A little while ago on xo, Yvette, she mentioned the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge. It sounded pretty fun to me, so I decided to give it a go. On Goodreads, my 2015 goal is to read 15 books, compared to the 52 books for the Popsugar challenge. So I know I’ll get to at least 15 of the 52 books, and I’ve already completed five. If you’d like to keep up with me on Goodreads, check out the sidebar.

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner
“A book a friend recommended”
This was a pretty quick read. Each chapter was an anecdote of something the author had learned from her experiences. Her mother passed away and she got divorced and soon found that she had lost touch with God. She struggled through these rough times and eventually became an Episcopal priest. Overall, an interesting story of triumph.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
“A book with magic”
Never in a million years did I think I’d ever read a book about faeries. This is the first in a trilogy, and I hope the other two books are better because I didn’t think this one was all that great. Two of the main themes of the book were science vs. art and technology vs. nature. It seemed to be very one-sided in these issues, praising art and nature and condemning science and technology. I’m hoping as the series progresses it becomes more balanced.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
“A book with a number in the title”
I never read this book in high school and felt that I was missing out. The challenge gave me the perfect excuse to read finally read it. It was a really short read and I liked how it got to the point. Although I’m sure it would have been nice to read this in a classroom setting where everyone can share their opinions, I’m glad I got to read it on my own and didn’t have to write an essay on it, just a paragraph in a blog post.

The Godfather by Mario Puzo
“A mystery or thriller”
There are actually a lot of books on my list for this challenge that could classify as a mystery/thriller. I figured that I enjoy enjoy watching mystery/thrillers, so hopefully I’d enjoy reading them as well. And I did indeed enjoy The Godfather. I’ve heard the movie is good and I’ve always wanted to watch it, but of course I had to read the book first. It reminded me a bit of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in that there are several families in a power struggle, the major difference being the time periods and the technology associated with them. Oh yeah, and The Godfather doesn’t have magic or dragons or white walkers.

The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
“A book with more than 500 pages” *
The first part of The Lord of the Rings.* Finally I’m getting around to reading this and eventually I’ll watch the movies too. This is my favorite so far, probably because it’s a good fantasy novel. I now understand some LOTR references and it makes me really happy because I feel like a true nerd. I will say that reading about Frodo and his journeys has made me want to go on a long hike really bad.

Beverages

Tea. I’ve been drinking lots of tea. I could list off all the teas I’ve had in the past month, but that would make this post unnecessarily long. Recently Starbucks started offering Teavana brewed teas in their stores. I’ve always wanted to buy some Teavana loose leaf tea because it seems good, but I didn’t know what kind to buy. So I’ve been sampling the teas from Starbucks and there a couple that I’ll have to buy to brew at home.

Pineapple Kona Pop
This herbal tea really does taste like pineapple, and it smells amazing. I also love it because it’s so unique. How many other brands make a pineapple tea? It’s definitely something different from all the typical tea flavors out there, which is one thing I really like about Teavana. I highly recommend trying this one, especially if you like pineapple. (Photo is from Starbucks website.)

Passion Tango
This is another herbal tea. It’s got a great fruity flavor with a hint of cinnamon. At first I wasn’t sure how the cinnamon was going to work with it, but it really did. It adds another layer to the tea that keeps you going back for more. (Photo is from Starbucks website.)

That’s all for now. I won’t be taking another hiatus for a while, so no worries there. In fact, I’ll be posting some time next week about what I did during the hiatus. I hope you like pictures of tropical landscapes, volcanoes, beaches, and sunsets over the water.

Edit: *Originally, The Lord of the Rings was the trilogy I was planning to read for the Popsugar challenge. Then I read the note on the text at the beginning in which it says that The Lord of the Rings is not a trilogy, but one big novel sometimes published as three separate volumes. (The movies, however, are a trilogy.) For accuracy’s sake, I decided to change it from the trilogy to the book with more than 500 words.

Jewelry

Four Shamrock-themed Pieces of Jewelry

I thought I’d do I quick round-up type post of pretty pieces of jewelry featuring shamrocks. I chose four for the four-leaf clover in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. One of these pieces is my own creation, and the other three I found on Etsy.

Shamrock Earrings by Steph of Yellow Raspberry Jewelry ($25.00)

I made these a little while ago and I really like how they turned out. The large peridot-colored bead is Czech glass, which is very versatile, and the shamrocks are Swarovski crystal. I chose gold as the component color here because I felt that it really brought out the St. Paddy's Day vibe.
I made these a little while ago and I really like how they turned out. The large peridot-colored bead is Czech glass, which is very versatile, and the shamrocks are Swarovski crystal. I chose gold as the component color here because I felt that it really brought out the St. Paddy’s Day vibe.

Kawaii Shamrock Charm by ItsyBitsyMinis ($5.00)

This cute shamrock pendant caught my eye as I was browsing through Etsy. It’s made out of polymer clay and the artist is Mary-Katherine of ItsyBitsyMinis. She has other similar pendants in her shop and all of them are equally cute. There’s even a pot of gold that you can buy to go with the shamrock! (Photo belongs to Mary-Katherine.)

Shamrock Necklace by SilverTrumpetJewelry ($28.00)

This necklace is another Etsy find and a perfect pairing for your green shirts. You could call this a lucky charm necklace, but that might make people think it’s a delicious breakfast cereal. Regardless, I love the vintage feel of this necklace and its simplicity. You could get away with wearing it on days other than St. Patrick’s Day. It was made by Andrea Rose of SilverTrumpetJewelry. She’s got more vintage-inspired jewelry in her shop that’s really pretty. (Photo belongs to Andrea Rose.)

Vintage Shamrock Charm Bracelet by Tracyloustreasures ($49.95)

This is a really pretty shamrock charm bracelet. (Again, lucky charms.) I like how Tracyloustreasures uses both gold and copper colored components. I think it really brings out the St. Paddy’s vibe. Her shop has a combination of vintage items and handmade jewelry. (Photo belongs to Tracyloustreasures.)

So there you have it! If you love the color green, then you should check out last week’s jewelry post on everything green! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Baking

Mini Raspberry Pies

Happy Pi Day! If you’re nerdy like me, you’re excited for this Pi Day because it’s 3/14/15 and that only happens once every century. Instead of a normal pie (and only eating one slice) you get to eat the whole 2π! These mini pies made in cupcake tins allows everyone to have their own little pie. Here’s how to make them.

Mini Raspberry Pie

You Will Need:

  • Pre-made pie dough (homemade or store bought; half of this recipe works great; you may need 2 shells if it’s store bought, and make sure it’s been thawed)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends how sweet your raspberries are)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • If your berries are extra juicy, add 1-2 Tbsp of thickener, like cornstarch
  • 12-count muffin pan
  • Large rectangular cookie sheet
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Circular cookie cutters, 4-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ in diameter (or a cup rim with similar dimensions)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 450°. Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. You will only need to spray six of them, in a checkerboard pattern (see below). Make sure to get the pan around them as well.

Step 2: Make the pie filling by mixing the raspberries, sugar, and flour in a bowl. It’s okay for a few of them to get crushed in this process, but make sure there are still a few of them in tact. This will help make your pie filling look less like jam. (If the berries seem extra watery, add in a thickener 1 Tbsp at a time until thicker.) Let the mixture stand for 10-15 minutes.

Step 2: Pie Filling

Step 3: Get out your pie dough and roll it out if necessary. (About 1/8″ thickness works well.) Cut 6 circles with the 4-1/2″ cutter. Press these into the greased sections of the muffin tin. Make sure they come over the edges a little bit.

Step 3: Bottom crust

Step 4: Cut 6 more circles with the 3-1/2″ cutter. Cut through the middle of these with an X. These are the top crusts.

Step 4: Top crusts

Step 5: Fill the pies with filling, leaving a small space at the top. Put the top crusts on top of the pies and press down the edges with a fork to seal them together.

Step 5A: Fill Pies

Step 5B: Finish Them

Step 6: Put the muffin pan on top of the larger cookie sheet to prevent spilling while cooking. Put the pans in the 450° degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and juices are bubbling out.

Step 6: Yum

Step 7: Allow the pies to cool before gently lifting them out of the tins. You may need to use a thin knife to pry them out. (Pies are best enjoyed hot, with vanilla ice cream.)

Hope you enjoy this little recipe! I like it because everyone gets to have their own little pie, and I don’t think a slice is enough for Pi Day. (Pie filling recipe came from an ancient edition of Joy of Cooking. You can find the original here; I used half of the recipe to make the pies.)

Nutrition Info:
Serving Size: 1 mini pie; recipe makes 6 servings
Calories: 338
Fat: 17.2 g
Saturated: 8.3 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 30.0 mg
Sodium: 197.0 mg
Carbs: 41.3 g
Fiber: 3.5 g
Sugar: 13.0 g
Protein: 3.8 g
Vitamin A: 8.0%
Vitamin C: 14.7%
Calcium: 1.0%
Iron: 1.3%

Baking

Dessert Popcorn

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! For those of you who have decided not to leave the house today and are planning on binge watching Netflix, this recipe will be perfect for you. It’s also perfect for anyone’s who’s getting tired of microwave popcorn. Perhaps you’ve fantasized about those delicious sounding popcorn flavorings you’ve seen on the snack aisle, but you’re wary of all the bad stuff that’s in it. Well, this recipe is perfect for you too. Not only do you get to pop your own popcorn and avoid burning it in the microwave, but you also get to make your own sweet seasoning to go on it and you’ll know exactly what’s in it. Here’s how to make low-sodium, gluten-free, cinnamon sugar popcorn. You can either make it with an air popper or on the stove.

Cinnamon Sugar Dessert Popcorn

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 Tbsp for stove)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp canola oil (for use with stove)
  • 1 tsp confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • A 2-qt bowl
  • A heavy bottom 2-qt pan with lid (for use with stove)

Step 1: Make the cinnamon sugar by mixing together the powdered sugar and ground cinnamon. It may not seem like a whole lot, but this little bit will go a long way.

Step 1: Cinnamon Sugar

Step 2:
Air Popper: 
Put the kernels in your popper. If your popper has a place to melt butter while the kernels are popping, place the butter there. (If not, refer to the last part of the stove instructions.) Place the bowl under the place where the popcorn comes out. Turn on the popper and wait until it’s finished.
Stove: Pour oil and kernels into the pan. Put the lid on top, leaving a small gap for air to escape. Cook over medium heat until the popping slows to 2-3 seconds between pops. Remove from heat. Pour popcorn into bowl. Put butter in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 10-20 seconds or until the butter is completely melted.

Step 3: With a spoon, drizzle the melted butter onto the popcorn, stirring often to ensure the best distribution. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture, stirring often as well. (If your bowl has a lid, you can put the lid on top and shake the popcorn to ensure that all the kernels

Step 3A: Drizzle Butter

Step 3B: Sprinkle Cinnamon Sugar

Popcorn is a whole grain and gluten-free, so it’s easy to see that it’s healthy by itself, but tastes much better with butter, which is why so many consider it a junk food. However, making popcorn yourself is much healthier since you can control how much butter and salt goes into it, and it’s not as hard as it may seem.

Hope you enjoy this simple and easy recipe! Tomorrow is a special day for baked goods, so you can expect a bonus blog on 3/14/15 at 9:26 AM PT.

Jewelry

Green Jewelry: It IS Easy Being Green

St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away and spring only ten days away. If you’ve come across a creative block and you’re looking for some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. This week’s jewelry post is all about green for your spring and St. Patrick’s Day needs. Green is a great color to work with, given that it’s neutral. It can be paired with gold, copper, silver, gunmetal, and brass findings (neutral + neutral = good). It also pairs wonderfully with other shades of itself, which you will see in this post, and gives the piece of jewelry an outdoors-y type feel. Green symbolizes life, greed, money (especially when paired with gold), and a whole lot more.

For additional inspiration, try to make your jewelry be something more than just a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings. Have a word in mind while you’re looking through your bead stash and start from there. I find that when I have a creative block it’s because I don’t know where to start. For example, if your word is “life” you might want to use your bright green beads to symbolize the bright green found in plants. Once you have somewhere to begin, the rest should fall into place. I hope these three pieces of jewelry will give you somewhere to start.

All of these items in this post are now up for sale in my Etsy shop!

Spring Garden Necklace

Spring Garden Meckalce
A simple alternating pattern of emerald and peridot colored Czech glass beads with dark brown glass seed beads in between. The acrylic pendant features a green flower and is attached to the strand with a bail clip. I like the green/brown dynamic because it reminds me of new plants poking through soil.

Mossy River Stone Bracelet

A simple yet elegant and light weight bracelet. The aurora borealis finished Swarovski crystals complement the dark green hues of the jasper discs. Peridot colored seed beads add another dimension of green.
A simple yet elegant and light weight bracelet. The aurora borealis finished Swarovski crystals complement the dark green hues of the jasper discs. Peridot colored seed beads add another dimension of green. The polished stone color of the jasper and bright green seed beads reminds me of mossy riverside boulders, and the Swarovski crystals remind me of the clear water.

Green Marbled Earrings

Green Marble Earrings
Dark green and white swirled beads dangle in a clustered formation. I was inspired to make these after seeing similar designs in the accessory department of a local store. By looking in this department I was able to see some jewelry trends, which always helps with inspiration.

I hope you found some inspiration in this post. If you’re still craving more green jewelry check out the green crackle agate earrings in my first post and last week’s green crackle agate rosary. (If you haven’t guessed already, I really like the green crackle agate beads. You can purchase them here.)

Baking

Banana Nut Bread

I absolutely love banana bread. I love that you can pretend it’s healthy because it’s got fruit in it. It’s also versatile in the sense that you can have it for breakfast, dessert, or a delicious snack. And it’s super easy to make as well. In an ancient Joy of Cooking cookbook (circa 1976), I discovered this recipe and have made a few changes after making it several times. I was unable to find the original recipe online to link to, but here’s my version.

Banana But Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/4 tsp double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans.)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Peel the bananas and mash them together along with the egg in a separate bowl. Mash until there are small chunks of banana left.

Step 2

Step 3: Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend together the shortening and sugar until creamy. Blend in the banana/egg mixture until well incorporated.

Step 3A

Step 3B

Step 4: Slowly add in the flour mixture on a low speed so as to prevent a flour explosion. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed in well. Fold in the chopped nuts (optional) and pour the batter into the greased pan. Even out the batter with a spoon or rubber spatula. Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.

Step 4A

Step 4B

Nutrition Info: (Bread with nuts.)
Serving Size: 1 slice (1/2″ wide)
Recipe makes about 17 servings.
Calories: 185
Fat: 9.6 g
Saturated: 1.6 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 10.9 mg
Sodium: 82.3 mg
Potassium: 104.9 mg
Carbs: 22.8 g
Fiber: 1.5 g
Sugar: 10.6 g
Protein: 2.6 g
Vitamin A: 0.7%
Vitamin C: 3.0%
Calcium: 1.1%
Iron: 1.6%