Sep 022014
 

Much to my delight, my husband took over the garden this year. It’s something I’ve done for years and taken satisfaction in, but it’s never been an utter love of mine.

Being an enthusiastic newbie, he may have gone a bit overboard in planting, especially the tomatoes. He planted FIFTEEN tomato plants.

over 20 lbs of tomatoes in just a couple days!

over 20 lbs of tomatoes in just a couple days!

So, that is why this pic of the tomato harvest from just the past two days represents my workdesk this week. Nope, I haven’t been getting much crafting done lately because every day there’s a new pile of something to cook or preserve: 15 pounds of cucumbers, piles of green beans, bunches of basil, a heap of jalapenos, and the tomatoes currently on the table. Yeah, I’ve been busy. But it’ll be good. :-)

So this week I thought I’d share with you three of my favorite recipes: for tomato sauce, salsa and jalapeno poppers.

First up is Roasted Tomato Sauce. The original recipe is from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, but I’ve tweaked it a bit. It’s wonderful because the vegetables don’t require much prep and the roasting gives everything a great depth of flavor.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes about 2.5 quarts, but I usually double it, using two large bowls, two baking sheets and roasting for 50 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.

  • 6 pounds large size tomatoes (like beefsteak)
  • 2 medium size white or yellow onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup  olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (start with a lower amount, then check for seasoning before canning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Core the tomatoes and cut out any bad parts, cut in half around the equator. If you don’t like seeds in your sauce (I don’t mind and leave them in) gently squeeze each tomato half over the sink to remove the seeds.
  3. Peel and cut the onions in half, slice into 3/8-inch slices. Peel all the garlic cloves, but leave whole. Cut the carrots into thick rounds (3/8-inch). I don’t bother to peel the carrots, just scrub them well.
  4. Toss all the veggies into a large bowl (a 32-cup Tupperware Thatsa Bowl works perfectly) along with the thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss in the bowl to coat everything with oil.
  5. Place tomato halves, cut sides down, on a large baking sheet. Then pour everything remaining in bowl over tomatoes, spreading evenly.
  6. Roast in oven for 40-45 minutes. Onions & tops of tomatoes should just be getting black.
  7. Remove baking sheet from oven and immediately use tongs to remove tomato skins. (Depending on the variety of the tomato some skins will slip right off and other will be more difficult. I just get the ones that are easy and don’t worry about the rest.)
  8. Pour the entire contents of the baking sheet, juices and all, into a bowl and blend until smooth with a stick blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender will do.
  9. Adjust seasoning to taste before canning.

tomatoes green zebra, san marzano

Aren’t these green zebra tomatoes pretty? We had so many I decided to make something to showcase their color, rather than having the green in the tomato sauce. So, hence:

Jalapeno Salsa

Makes about 12 half-pint jars. 

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, stems removed. cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 lbs tomatoes, cored & cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup 5% acidity white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  1. Peel all garlic cloves and place in food processor with parsley or cilantro. Process in 4-6 one second pulses until minced.
  2. If you like your salsa spicy, leave the seeds & white membrane in the jalapenos and just cut them into 1 inch pieces. For a milder salsa remove seeds & membranes. Place in food processor with onions for four one second pulses. Veggies should be just chopped fine, but not mush.
  3. Remove contents of food processor to 8-quart pot. Don’t wash out food processor. (Don’t stick your head over this pot and breathe deep, either. haha)
  4. Add tomatoes to food processor in small batches and process each in four one second pulses before adding to cooking pot with jalapenos.
  5. Add salt, vinegar and lime juice to pot. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until salsa is consistency you like. I let mine go for about 45 minutes.
  6. Adjust salt to taste before canning.
tomatoes black krim, rutgers, san marzano

tomatoes: black krim, rutgers, san marzano plum

This final recipe isn’t so much for preserving as for using up all those jalapenos, but I have had good luck freezing these then pulling out a few to bake for every Patriots game. :-)

Jalapeno Poppers

This recipe filled six HUGE jalapenos from the garden. Of course, it will fill more if you use smaller ones.

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 6-12 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise; stems, seeds & white membrane removed (If you’re going to make a lot of these I strongly recommend you use gloves. I generally have no problem with a few, but did dozens one year and my hands burned for three days.)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Cook bacon until crisp using your favorite method. (I like to put it on a rack over a cookie sheet and bake in a 375° oven for 25 minutes.)  When cool, chop into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Combine cream cheese with chives, onion powder, salt & pepper. Mix in all but 1/2 cup of bacon.
  3. Stuff jalapeno halves with cream cheese/bacon mixture.
  4. Top each popper with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a bit of the remaining chopped bacon.
  5. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes.

These are delicious hot out of the oven, cooled to room temp later or even cold from the fridge the next day. :-)

If you came here looking for a crafty post today, sorry! I hope you enjoyed the recipes instead.

You may find more creative pursuits over at Julia’s where we weekly celebrate What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday. Check it out, we have fun sharing what’s going on in our workspaces. :-)

 

 

Sep 012014
 

I’m always amazed at how much a little bit of wire wrapping can dress up beads and jewelry.  The ceramic beads in this bracelet were just kinda “meh” by themselves, but look quite nice wrapped in little wire cages.

caged-beads-bracelet-still-3

In this project you’ll learn how easy it is to make caged beads.  These can be used for any kind of project where you use beads: earrings, necklaces or home dec.  Also, if you want more wraps around the beads, just cut your wire a bit longer to begin with.

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

You can watch the Caged in Copper Bead Bracelet Video Tutorial over at YouTube.

Materials:

  • 7 – 10mm x 15mm oval beads
  • 10 – 6mm bicone beads
  • 28 inches 20 gauge dead soft wire, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • toggle clasp
  • 2 crimp beads
  • 10 inches bead stringing wire

Tools:

  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  1. Use chain nose pliers to make a loop in the end of a 4-inch piece of wire.  Continue looping wire loosely around making a spiral until 2-inches of wire remains.
  2. Make a loop on other end of wire and make a spiral as in step one. This spiral should face in the opposite direction so when the spirals meet in the center you have an “S” shape.
  3. Use pliers to gently pull out both spirals into a cone shape. Fold entire unit in half to make a wire cage.
  4. Slide a bead into cage, lining up loops with ends of bead holes.  Use your fingers to shape cage to bead.
  5. Repeat to make a cage for each of the seven beads.
  6. Slide a crimp bead onto 10-inch bead stringing wire. Slide wire through round part of toggle clasp and back through clasp. Flatten crimp with chain nose pliers.  Trim excess wire with wire cutters.
  7. Slide on a 6mm bicone and a caged bead, making sure wire goes through loops of 20 gauge wire, then through the bead and back out through other  loop of 20 gauge wire.
  8. Repeat step 7 to add all caged beads to bracelet. Slide on last three bicones, a crimp and bar of toggle clasp. Slide bead stringing wire back through crimp, flatten with chain nose pliers and trim excess wire.

 

Aug 292014
 

All of you who have garments in your closet that fit, but you don’t wear, raise your hands.

I thought so.

So WHY are they still taking up your space if you don’t wear them? There must be something about them you like enough to keep them, right?

And, there must be something about them you don’t like, which is why you don’t wear them.

The trick is to identify the problem and then change it.

copied & altered clothes (3)

Here’s a case in point. I’ve had this top for years and always loved the style of the interesting tie combined with a shaped space for the bead. The neckline shape is flattering, too.

But most every time I reached to wear it, it ended up going back in the closet.

Then one day I realized the issue. The sleeves were puffy gathered short sleeves. Which, I’ve realized, look good on nobody, not even stick thin models.  And that, I am not.

So, once I’d figured out the problem, it took about 30 minutes with a seam ripper to remove the elastic and a few more minutes on the serger to hem the sleeve edges.

Boom, done. Happiness and joy. Wearable top. :-)

So, my challenge to you is to go find one garment you would wear if you could just change something about it. Then figure out how to make those changes. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy re-creating!

 

Aug 262014
 

Hello and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing upper shelves

Last week you saw I was in the middle of reorganizing my crafting space after the hubs finished a pair of new shelves for my room. I promised completion pics and here they are.

Just standing back and looking at all this neatness makes me smile. :-)

Each of the two dozen photo boxes on the left ($1.66 each at Michaels) holds a particular kind of supply, or assorted components for a certain project. It’s so easy to just pull out the box with what’s needed.

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing lower shelves

The magazine holders on the right are wooden ones from Ikea which I covered with pretty papers. (K and Company’s Que Sera Sera Collection)

Those bottom two somewhat messy looking spaces will soon be covered by doors, hubby promises!

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing metal organizer

Always a sucker for cool organizers, I picked this up ages ago, only to discover there was nowhere in the room it would fit.  Now it has a home. That tidy row of ribbons makes me very happy. :-)

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing under table

THIS has been a goal for quite some time: to eliminate all the stuff under, around and behind these baskets on the floor.  This clear, empty space makes me even happier than the ribbons. Vacuuming is a breeze now, too. And hopefully finding dropped beads will be easier.

The only bummer is that under & around all that stuff is where I would chuck things I wanted to hide. So, gotta find new hiding places. You know, like for chocolate I don’t want to share. :-D

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing cork board

It was nice to get the Sizzix tower up off the floor, but I didn’t care for the look of that large expanse of black plastic on the sides.

My solution? Cut foam core so it just pops into the spaces, then cover that with 1/8-inch cork sheets. Now I have two mini cork boards for tags & such.

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing mason paint jars

To solve the problem of paintbrushes in a jar falling all over each other, I used tin snips to cut 1/2-inch hardware cloth the size of the top of the jar. This piece pops into the top of the ring. The jars were painted with chalk paint (one was tinted with white to make a different color, rather than buying two jars.) After the paint was dry a light sanding brings out the details.

2014 08 27 woyww

Oh, and the workdesk today has a sewing project, another teaching sample for Joanne’s. I’ll take a pic when it’s done and share that soon.

Want to see what other creative folk are up to this Wednesday? Be sure to check out the blog link party over at Julia’s. It’s always fun and inspiring.

Happy creating!

 

Aug 252014
 

One good thing about not always being able to buy all the supplies you want, is that you learn to get creative with the supplies you do have.

blue-crystal-silver-earrings-1

I’ve often admired jewelry made with long metal tubes as beads, especially the ones that are curvy or spiraled. In fact I thought I’d picked up a few of those curvy tubes in my travels, but naturally, I couldn’t find them.  So, when I came across these longish crimps, I said, “Aha!”

blue-crystal-silver-earrings-2

(Click on either photo to see a larger version.)

Throw in a package of Swarovski crystal bicone beads in assorted blues, a few other silver plated findings and there you have it! It’s fun to see what you can come up with whilst digging through the stash. :-)

You can watch the Blue Crystal & Silver Dangle Earrings Video Tutorial over at YouTube.

Happy creating!

Materials: 

  • 40 – 3mm x 2 mm silver plated crimp tubes
  • 1package 4mm Swarovski crystal bicone bead assortment, color “Muted Blues”
  • 12 – 2mm silver plated crimp beads
  • 12 silver plated crimp covers
  • 2 silver plated ear wires
  • bead stringing wire 

Tools: 

  • wire cutters
  • chain nose pliers
  1. Cut bead stringing wire into six 4-inch pieces. On each one string a crimp bead. Slide bead all the way to one end of the wire and flatten with chain nose pliers. Cover crimps with crimp cover beads.
  2. On two of the wires string an a pattern of nine 3mm tubes with five 4mm bicones, on each of another two use seven 3mm tubes and four bicones and on the last two wires use four 3mm tubes and four bicones on each.
  3. Slide a crimp bead onto each wire, slide wire back through bead until you have a very small loop just above last bead strung. Flatten crimps with pliers, trim excess wire and cover flattened crimp with crimp cover to complete dangle.
  4. Open the loop of an ear wire and slide on one dangle in each of the three lengths. Close ear wire securely and repeat to make second earring.
Aug 192014
 

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday once again!  

sewing room before bookcases (1)

Today’s mess desk is one I’ve been looking forward to showing you for a while now. When we moved into this house I did mostly quilting, so I took the large empty wall on one side of my sewing room, covered it with white flannel and used it as my quilt design wall.

It saw a LOT of use. (That’s it on the right.)

sewing room before bookcases (2)

Fast forward 16 years and I only make the occasional quilt (still trying to complete a bunch of unfinished tops, though.)  The areas under & around my table and along the wall have filled with stuff and I decided that space would be better put to use with a couple of bookcases.

2014 08 20 woyww reorganzing new bookshelves

My first plan was to pick up two cheapies at Ikea, but hubby offered to custom make what I needed so that it would fit  exactly what I wanted. He designs &  builds custom cabinetry for a living and he does it well, so who am I to turn him down?

The downside to this plan is that I could have had those Ikea bookshelves up and running over two years ago. :-) The up side is that these are made to my exact specifications. (Like a space that perfectly fits the press, lower right.) Definitely worth the wait.

2014 08 20 woyww reorganzing

So, my workdesk this work is just a pile of mess that shows me in a frenzy of tossing, figuring & rearranging. Check back next week and I’ll show it all sorted.

In the meantime, if you’d like to see more interesting and creative pursuits on workdesks, check out our blog party over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!

Aug 182014
 

Some of the nicest jewelry designs come about by pulling together a bunch of odds and ends. Bits of chain and charms work especially well for this technique.

Chains & charms necklace still

This time around I made the necklace asymmetrical, balancing the large round shapes on one side with some wire wrapped beads on the other.

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Materials:

  • 2 – 12 to 14 inch lengths of chain in two different styles
  • lobster clasp
  • jump rings
  • assorted decorative metal rings (I used a 20mm twisted wire round, a 15mm hammered round and four 10mm x 15mm hammered ovals.)
  • 6 8mm top drilled Swarovski crystal bicone beads (mine are cyclamen opal)
  • 6 6mm top drilled Swarovski crystal bicone beads (mine are lavender)
  • 3-5 assorted charms
  • 24 gauge wire

Tools:

  • chain nose pliers
  • round nose pliers
  • wire cutters

See video for directions.

 

 

Aug 122014
 

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday once again. Sorry I didn’t participate last week but I couldn’t show my desk as it was full of a project that is going to be published in a magazine some time next year.

(Looking serene on the outside, but whooping it up on the inside ’bout that!) :-D

2014 08 13 woyww august tim tag

This week’s desk shows me working on the August Tim Holtz tag. As always, piles of products are in use, including Distress inks, Distress Stains, Tissue TapesSprocket GearsFilmstrip Ribbon and Distress Paints.

august 2014 tim tag (1)

The stamp set I used is the Inkadinkado Cattitude Clear Stamp set as I decided to make a sort of tribute to our Miss Molly cat who died this past spring. :(

august 2014 tim tag (2)

After adding all the TH stuff it seemed to need something more, so I made a few polymer clay pieces. The fish and the paw print are from a Sculpey push mold. The mice are just teardrop shapes with tails and ears.

The crown, of course, was absolutely necessary as she was totally in charge and ruled the three boy cats with an iron paw. She even thought she could boss around the humans, lol. (Not surprisingly, none of the other cats seem to miss her tyrannical self. We do, though.) 

august 2014 tim tag (3)

Hope you all are having a creative week. I’m off to make several quarts of pickles with the MANY pounds of cucumbers hubby has grown in his garden. Pretty soon I’ll be making tomato sauce by the gallon.  :-)

If you’d like to see what other crafty folks have on their workdesks, be sure to join in the fun over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!

Aug 112014
 

If you can squeeze a pair of pliers, open & close jump rings and weave a little cord, you can make this necklace.

suede stitched chain necklace

It’s a rather different look than your average strung or wire wrapped beads and kinda interesting. I’d love to see your different take on the project! Enjoy the video and happy creating. :-)

Materials:

  • 2 8-inch lengths chunky chain (can be the same or different, but have similar size links)
  • 2 20-inch pieces 3mm suede cord
  • 2 6-inch pieces chain (for sides of necklace)
  • 2 cord ends
  • 4 jump rings
  • lobster clasp

Tools:

  • chain nose pliers
  • flat nose pliers
  • scissors
  1. Insert ends of both pieces of suede cord into a cord end and flatten with flat nose or chain nose pliers.
  2. Wrap one end of one piece of suede cord around end link of 8-inch chain twice. Repeat to wrap the other suede cord around end link of other 8-inch chain.
  3. Criss-cross cords and insert through next empty link of chain on each side. If cord is coming out the bottom of the links, insert cord up from the bottom of next link on opposite side.  If cord is coming out the top of the links, insert cord down from the top of next link on opposite side.
  4. Repeat step three down the length of two chains, binding them together with a series of “X’s” of leather cord.
  5. Repeat step two once you get to the end of the chains.   Trim suede cord so it’s the same length as cords at the beginning and repeat step one to secure in a cord end.
  6. Use jump rings to attach 6-inch pieces of chain to cord end loops. Add a jump ring to one remaining end of chain and a lobster clasp to the other to complete your necklace.
Aug 042014
 

Are you inspired by materials or by ideas? I’ve found I often have to have a material in hand, and then the ideas just start flowing for possibilities what to do with it.

This gunmetal slide clasp came in a goody bag from Fire Mountain Gems. I don’t usually work in grays, so put it aside a long time ago. But then I found I liked the colors in this photo, gray included, enough to add it to my “Color Inspirations” Pinterest board.

gunmetal & fuchsia color pin

Finding the right combination of colors, textures & shapes of beads was also a challenge. These matte finish glass gray ones in the middle contrast nicely with the shiny sparkle of the Swarovski cubes & bicones and the frosted greens. The little bits of black seed beads and the gunmetal chain pull it all together.

gunmetal & crystal bracelet

I challenge you to do a project based on a Pinterest pin. We’re collecting all these pics for a reason, right? ;-)

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

Materials:

  • slide clasp with seven holes
  • 7 10-inch pieces bead stringing wire
  • beads of your choice to string approximately 7 inches on each strand of wire
  • 2 7-inch lengths of chain
  • crimps
  • crimp covers
  • wire protectors
  • jump rings

Tools:

  • wire cutters
  • chain nose pliers
  • crimping pliers
  • bead stoppers (optional, but useful if you want to string your beads in advance)

Keep in mind that you’ll need to make this bracelet longer than you normally would to account for the width. The clasp, crimps and wire protectors will take up about one inch of length, so plan accordingly.

To attach stringing wire to clasp loops slide on a crimp bead and slide wire into one end of a wire protector and out the other.

Hook the wire protector over a loop of your clasp and slide wire back through crimp. Gently squeeze ends to make wire protector more of a teardrop, rather than horseshoe, shape. Use chain nose pliers to flatten crimp close to wire protector.

Use crimping pliers to pick up a crimp cover and place over flattened crimp. Squeeze gently to close crimp cover and form into a round bead shape. String on your choice of beads and repeat crimping to attach other end to other piece of clasp.

Attach as many lengths of strung beads to your slide clasp as you’d like, making sure to not twist the strands. Check strands against each to make sure they are all the same length.

Use jump rings to attach lengths of chain to either end of clasp.