Felt fancies—the big Bead Soup Blog Party reveal!

It’s finally time for the third reveal day for the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party! This is my first BSBP and I have to say thank you to Lori Anderson, whose brainchild this fabulous event is, for such a great idea.

Now the premise of the BSBP is that Lori matches us all up with a partner, with whom we exchange bead soup—a mixture of beads and components including a focal bead and a nice clasp, plus some coordinating beads. You can make as many pieces as you are inspired to make, but must use the focal bead and the clasp, and as much of the rest of the bead soup as you like, adding in extras from your own stash as required.

My partner for this BSBP is Marina Dobrynina, a Russian beader living near Paris. Marina makes beautiful felt beads, embroidered works of art really! She sent me the following bead soup, which included a selection of her felted beads in soft greens and pinks with a splash of vibrant orange, some coordinating crystal beads of various sizes and shapes in deep purple, bright green, pink and peach, some white seed beads, a brass dragonfly clasp and two  brass cord ends, and some brass findings. I used almost everything she sent me, except the white beads and the brass end caps, adding only a few findings as I needed them.

The big challenge for me was putting the hole through the felt beads. After asking Marina’s advice, I went to work with a darning needle—a bit  anxiously, I must say! First you poke the needle through the bead, trying to line it up so it goes through the middle. Then when you pull it out, the hole disappears! I eventually figured it out, and went to work. And without further ado, here it is.

First I made a pair of earrings to get used to working with the felt beads. I used a pair of soft pink felt balls, green crystal and a lacy beadcap on each bead to make a blossom with some sparkly crystals dangling below. They are very light!

Then a necklace, showcasing the biggest green felt bead, embroidered with stars, and surrounded by more pink and green felt beads, as well as a pop of orange, and interspersed with links of crystals. I added a simple lobster clasp and an extension chain with one of the pink teardrop crystals dangling from it, as well as some lacy brass beadcaps (Vintaj of course!).

Here’s a closeup of the focal beads showing Marina’s beautiful embellishments.

Finally a bracelet using the remaining felt beads, one embroidered and the rest plain, with crystals linked in a similar pattern to the necklace. And the gorgeous dragonfly clasp of course!

That left me with the brass endcaps. These endcaps stumped me for a while as they are closed—you can’t thread a pin through the ends—and they are also quite wide, about 7mm diameter. Marina is a seedbeader as well as a felter, and these are the kinds of endcaps used for seedbeaded ropes and kumihimo braids, neither of which I know how to do. But flicking through Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel’s book Bohemian Inspired Jewelry, I saw the Japanese Kimono cord, also known as crepe cord, and thought that would be perfect, if I could find some. Well, it’s not something easily found here in Australia, but in the end I located a supplier, and I ordered some! Unfortunately, it arrived yesterday … so I’ll have to show you what I make with them another time.

Now I’m off to visit Marina’s blog to see what she did with the bead soup I sent her, and to have a look at the other 130 blogs involved in Reveal 3. Please join me in a round of applause for Lori, who surely deserves it for the hard work she has put in! As well as a stiff drink, a large slice of her favourite pie, and I think a holiday might just be in order too!

For the rest of the participants in this round, check out the links below:


Hostess Lori Anderson, Pretty Things

Agi Kiss, Moonsafari Beads
Alice Peterson, Alice Dreaming
Alison Sachs, Beads by Earthtones
Amanda Dittloff, Passion Smashin’
Andra Marasteanu, Bijoux de Monanage
Angie Szlovak, SweetBeads
Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
Ann Sherwood, Ann’s Blog
Arlene Dean, A Glass Bash
Audrey Belanger, Dreams of an Absolution
Barb Solem, Vivi Magoo Presents

Barbara Blaszczyk, laboratorim Flory
Becky Pancake, Becky Pancake Bead Designs
Beth Emery, Stories by Indigo Heart
Bianca Odenthal, Zydies Glasperlen
Birgit Klughardt, GitesBeads
Bobbie Rafferty, Beadsong Jewelry
Bonnie Coursolle,  Jasper Gems
Cece Cormier, The Beading Yogini
Charlene Jacka, Clay Space
Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie’re
Cheryl Foiles, Get Your Bead On
Christie Murrow, Charis Designs Jewelry

Christina Miles, Wings n Scales
Christina Stofmeel, Feng Beads
Christine Stonefield, Sweet Girl Design
Cindy Cima Edwards, Live to Design
CJ Bauschka, 4 His Glory Creations
Claire Smith, Embergrass Jewelry
Cynthia Riggs, Cynth’s Blog
Dana Fowler, Trunk Full of Treasure
Dawn Pierro, Turtle Moon Designs
Dee Elgie, Cherry Obsidia
Donetta Farrington, Simply Gorgeous

Dot Lewallwn, Speedie Beadie
Eileen Snyder, Dorset Hill Beads
Elizabeth Bunn, Elizabeth Beads
Eva Kovacs, Ewa gyongyos vilaga!
Evelyn Duberry, Sheba Makeda
Fay Wolfenden, Torch Fairy
Fen Li, Bead Flora Jewels
Gail Zwang, Angel Moose Enterprises
Geneva Collins, Torque Story
Grace Dorsey, Fan of the Flame
Gretchen Nation,  Art Food Lodging

Hannah Annear, Squintessential
Hajer Waheed, My Beaded World
Heather Goldsmith, As I Bead It
Heather Otto, The Craft Hopper
Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy
Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
Isolina Perez, Isolina Perez
Jacqueline Keller, CreARTelier
Jane Haag, Did You Make Something Today?
Janeen Sorensen, Wild Vanilla Designs
Jean Peter, Jean P. Designs

Jennifer Judd, Jen Judd Rocks
Jennifer L Justman, Soul’s Fire Designs
Joanna Matuszczyk, Bizuteria z filcu
Joanne Brown, Jo’s Jewels
Joanne Lockwood, Jo Bunkum
Joyce Becker, Joyce’s Joyful Gems
Judy Riley, Three Red Beads
Karen Mitchell, Over the Moon Design
Karen Williams, Baublicious
Karin von Hoeren, Creative Ideen

Karla Morgan, Texas Pepper Jams
Kashmira Patel, Sadafule .. always in bloom!
Kate Richbourg, We Can Make That at Home
Katrin Lembke, AllesPerle
Kathy Combs, Torched in Texas
Kathy Lindemer, Bay Moon Design
Kay Thomerson, Kayz Kreationz
Kelley Fogle, My Life, One Bead at at Time
Kelly Hosford Patterson, Traveling Side Show

Klaudette Koon, Only Road
Lara Lutrick, Lampwork Beads by Lara
Laura Guenther, Blue Antiquities
Laurie Lalonde, Simply Mod Jewelry
Lilik Kristiani, Soul of My Embodiment
Linda Younkman, Lindy’s Designs
Lisa Chapman, Beach Cat Beads
Lisa Lodge, Pine Ridge Treasures
Loretta Carstensen, Designs by Loretta
Lori Bergmann, Lori Bergmann Design
Lori Dorrington, Lori’s Adventures in Etsy Land
Lupe Meter, Gem’s PC Corner
Lynn Davis, LLYYNN

Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin
Mandi Effron, Craft-o-licious
Mandy Williamson, Mimi’s Beading
Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
Maria Rosa Sharrow, Willow Street Shops
Marianne Baxter, Simply Seablime Jewelry
Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre
Marjolein Trewavas, Room for Change
Marelene Cupo, Amazing Designs
Marsha Neal, Marsha Neal Studio

Marta Kaczerowska, uhuhu
Mary Govaars, MLH Jewelry Designs
Melissa Trudinger, Bead Recipes YOU ARE HERE!
Menka Gupta, Menka’s Jewelry Blog
Michelle Burnett, Reverie and Revival
Michelle Escano-Caballero, The Cabby Crafter
Miko Wiropati, Uniquely Yunikua
Milla Hope,  LB Creative Arts and Crafts
Mimi Gardner, Other Curiosities
Miranda Ackerley, MirandackArts
Natalie McKenna, grubbi

Noemi Baena, fuego, metal, y color
Pam Ferrari, Ferrari Originals
Pam Sears, Crazy Creative Corner
Penny Neville, Copper Penny
Rachel Baron, R. Baron Designs
Rachel Myers, Rockabead Jewelry
Rana Wilson, Definitive Designs by R. Wilson
Rebecca Anderson, Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag, Becca’s Place
Riki Schumacher, Riki Jewelry

Rose Binoya, Ahtee’s Blog
Rossana De Gaspari, Rdegas Blog
Sally Anderson, Wild Sally Road
Sandi James, Do Be Do Bead Do
Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe
Sandra Wollberg, City of Brass Stories
Sarah Goode, Pookledo
Sarah Small, blog by salla
Shai Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings
Shawn Mills, Shawn Marie Designs with Bent Wire
Sheila Davis, Stone Designs by Sheila

Sheryl Stephens, Babble Bead
Shiraz Biggie, Secret Song Designs
Solange Collin,  Ahowin Handcrafted Jewelry
Sonya Stille, Dreamin’ of Beads
Stephanie Dixon, The Dixon Chick
Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
Susan Sheehan, Strands of Thought
Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
Sweet Freedom, Sweet Freedom Designs
Tabatha Dinger, Modernly Created
Tania Hagen, Pelima Jewellery Design

Tanya Boden, Fusion Muse
Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo
Tracy Stillman, Tracy Stillman Designs

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Quick bracelet swap

Not long ago I signed up to a forum called BeadSwap-USA. It’s a great little forum of beaders interested in swapping beads and jewelry with each other.

At its heart are the travelling bead boxes, which sadly only travel around the US at the moment due to the difficulties of shipping bigger packages internationally. I have hopes of getting an Australian travelling bead box established though, if I can persuade any other Aussies to sign up!

The site also hosts a series of person to person swaps of both finished handmade jewellery and beads/components, usually involving a specific type of jewellery or bead/component. I have signed up to take part in a few of those over the next month or two. The first was a Quick Bracelet Swap, in which assigned partners make each other a bracelet (taking into account their partner’s tastes!) and send it off. My assigned parter for this swap is Laura Singley, a beader living in Montana. And lucky Laura gets not one, but two bracelets from me!

I’ve recently seen a couple of fun tutorials for bracelets that I thought I would try out. The first bracelet is a quick and versatile little number from British beader Lesley Watt, which simply alternates beads on two strands of waxed linen cord, with jumprings separating each bead. It’s certainly been a popular design, as I’ve seen it popping up everywhere. I made my version using Czech cathedral beads in a teal green with gunmetal jumprings and a blossom button for the closure.

I’ll definitely be making more of these bracelets—they’re quick and easy, and look great. And they’d work with all sorts of different beads or as part of a larger design.

The second tutorial I was inspired to try comes from Tracy Statler, whose blog Make Bracelets has a number of fantastic tutorials and videos. Her most recent design of clusters of beads was perfect for a strand of glass pearls in rich colours that I picked up recently.

And I’m pleased to report that my partner loved both bracelets!

Make sure you check back in on the weekend when I reveal my Bead Soup Blog Party creations!

Lotsa lemons

A friend came over for lunch last week bearing an enormous bag of lemons. Not just ordinary lemons, either, but lovely juicy ripe Meyer lemons she’d rescued from a tree about to be cut down.

Meyer lemons, for those who’ve never heard of them, are a somewhat thin-skinned sweet lemon, that apparently comes from a cross between a lemon and an orange, or perhaps mandarine. The skin and the flesh are almost orange and they taste divine! I first encountered Meyer lemons when I lived in Berkeley 20-odd years ago, where almost every house had a prolifically fruiting Meyer lemon tree in the back garden. But they are not quite as common here in Australia.

Rather than just freeze juice, I decided to put the lemons to good use. I’ve been wanting to try making my own preserved lemons for a while, using Stephanie Alexander’s recipe. And I thought the sweetness of the lemons would lend themselves well to lemon curd. Again Stephanie Alexander came to the rescue with a simple recipe.

It’s going to be a month or more before I can use the preserved lemons, but the lemon curd is absolutely delish! Now I need to make some scones, or some pastry cases to go with it …

Stephanie Alexander’s Preserved Lemons

From The Cook’s Companion, by Stephanie Alexander

500g coarse kitchen salt
20 lemons
6 bay leaves
9 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
extra lemon juice as needed

Sterilise two 1L jars or equivalent. Add a heaped dessertspoonful of salt to each jar.

Scrub lemons and quarter lengthways. Place in a large non-reactive bowl with remaining salt and mix with hand, squeezing to release some of the juice.

Pack lemons into jars, with bay leaves, cloves and splinters of cinnamon layered into the jars along with the fruit. Press down to release as much juice as possible.

Spoon leftover salt and juice into jars, adding extra juice if required to cover the lemons.

Wipe down the mouths and necks of the jars with a clean cloth dipped in boiling water to remove salt and seal lid tightly.

Allow to mature for a month or so in a cool place before using. Refrigerate after opening.

Notes:

1. Any kind of lemon can be used.

2. I doubled the quantities from the original recipe.

3. I sterilised jars by washing in very hot soapy water and then drying jars and lids for 30 minutes in an oven at 150C.

4. According to Stephanie Alexander, preserved lemons should last at least a year without refrigeration.

Stephanie Alexander’s Lemon Curd

From The Cook’s Companion, by Stephanie Alexander

4 large lemons
200g unsalted butter
350g sugar
6 eggs, lightly beaten and strained through a sieve

Sterilise enough jars for about 4 cups of curd.

Zest and juice lemons. Combine with butter and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan.

Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add eggs, whisking to mix well.

Stir constantly over low heat until the mixture thickens. Do not boil as it will curdle.

Pour straight into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Keep refrigerated.

Notes:

1. Any kind of lemon can be used.

2. I sterilised jars by washing in very hot soapy water and then drying jars and lids for 30 minutes in an oven at 150C.

3. It should keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Brunch or lunch?

We caught up with old friends this morning. They used to be our neighbours until we moved to a bigger house, and we kind of lost track of each other over the last few years. Earlier this year they had a baby of their own, and today they came over for brunch, or lunch, or whatever you like to call it.

To make things easier for myself I thought I’d serve a dish that I could prepare the night before. This recipe is based loosely on a few recipes from Bon Appetit magazine from about 15 years ago—a variety of recipes can be found on the Epicurious website using the search term “strata“. To me it’s a lot like a bread pudding, albeit a savoury one. I mixed and matched from a couple of recipes, tweaking it to suit the ingredients I had to hand.

It’s a really simple recipe and takes about 15 minutes to set up. Tastes pretty good too, eggy, without being overpowering, nicely cheesy, a spicy kick from the sausage. It’s simple to change around ingredients to get a different flavour, think prosciutto and goats cheese, or fetta cheese and olives, or artichoke hearts and roasted veges. A good brunch dish or a simple supper, or a make-ahead Christmas day breakfast.

And it went down a treat, along with some good conversation.

Chorizo, cheese and vege bread pudding

Serves 4-6

2 chorizo sausages
olive oil
10-12 thick slices of white bread
200g grated cheddar cheese
1 red capsicum, cut into strips
1 spring onion, sliced finely
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
5 large eggs, lightly whisked
2.5 c milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper 

Slice sausage into half-rounds about 1/2 cm thick and fry over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until starting to colour. Drain on paper towel.

Remove crusts from bread, and cut each slice into 4-6 squares. Mix bread, sausage, cheese, capsicum, tomatoes, spring onions and basil in a large bowl.

Combine eggs, milk, and mustard in a bowl or jug and season to taste. Pour over bread mixture and stir gently to combine.

Use olive oil or butter to lightly grease a rectangular glass or ceramic baking dish. Spread bread mixture evenly across and chill for at least 2-3 hrs, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 180C and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

1. The crusts can be left on the bread if preferred.

2. Ingredients can be substituted to suit your own tastes: use a different kind of smoked sausage or replace with ham, bacon or proscuitto, vary the vegetables, replace some of the cheddar cheese with feta or goats cheese, add olives or sundried tomatoes, try sourdough bread instead of white.

Peacock pearl necklace

At my girls’ primary school, the annual Trivia night is coming up in a few weeks, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to make something for the silent auction that accompanies it. I wanted to make a necklace and after browsing through my magazines and Pinterest boards for inspiration, decided on a multistranded longer necklace.

Last week I went to the Craft and Quilt Fair and picked up a strand of textured freshwater pearls—they have a unique knobbly texture. I combined them with some peacock coloured Czech druk beads interspersed along some peanut shaped brass chain from Vintaj, and a strand of tiny peanut-shaped seed beads in a matte peacock combination. Then I joined them to a Vintaj flower on each side, and added more chain around the back. No clasp as it’s quite a long necklace, especially on little me.

I hope it does its part in raising money for the school!

Two giveaways

No not me. But I get extra entries for promoting them on my blog 😉

The first is from Lori Anderson and her Pretty Things blog. It’s a great blog, and she has a great giveaway from Beads Direct, a beading supplier in the UK. Gosh the world is getting smaller isn’t it?

This is what she is giving away! A couple of magnetic clasps, some braided leather and some wooden beads in several different styles.

The second giveaway is from another one of my go-to bloggers, Lorelei Eurto. She has a copy of Lisa Niven Kelly’s book Stamped Metal Jewelry and some stamping blanks to give away, courtesy of Beaducation.

Here’s a picture …

I have to say, Lori and Lorelei are two of my favourite bloggers and jewellery designers, love both their blogs AND their jewellery!