Poppies—Art Bead Scene September challenge

Flora by Arcimboldo

When I saw the inspiration painting for Art Bead Scene’s September challenge—Flora, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo—I was blown away!  The painting is stunning, a portrait composed entirely of flowers. Although it was painted more than 400 years ago, it looks like something from a 20th century Surrealist artist.

From Art Bead Scene, some information about the painting:

About the Art

Flora is one of Arcimboldo’s most famous paintings, painted at the same time as Vertumnus, when he was at the height of his career. Although his work was forgotten after his death, over the last 100 years it has grown in popularity to be included in many contemporary forms. This particular painting was used as the 2009 cover for the album “Bonfires on the Heath” by the English pop band The Clientele.

About the Artist

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian Renaissance painter known for his intricate paintings, which combined inanimate or found objects into a portrait that would resemble the portrait subject. At the age of 22, Arcimboldo received a commission to paint stained glass windows, and later received other commissions to paint frescoes and design tapestries for Cathedrals in Spain. In 1562, he became the court painter to Ferdinand I of Vienna, and later for Maximilien II and his son Rudolph II of Prague. At this time, he was also employed as the court decorator and costume designer.

Serendipitously, I had just purchased a polymer clay pendant from Rebekah Payne of Tree Wings Studio that was perfect! I paired Rebekah’s Poppies in Bloom pendant with a Czech glass blend from Etsy’s Beads by C, antique brass chain and clasp, and some sari silk ribbon to make my Poppies necklace.

And here is a closeup of the focal pendant. Lovely isn’t it!

Advertisements

Double earring swap

Another swap I have done recently through BeadSwap-USA is an earring swap of two pairs of earrings. The first pair uses embossed copper rectangles from Melinda Orr, paired with a pretty Czech flower bead in yellowy-orange.

With a couple more pairs of these copper rectangles to use up, I have some fun organically-shaped freshwater pearls that might go well. What do you think?

For the second pair I used a pair of round red beads I got from a sampler pack from Dreamgirlbeads, one of my favourite Etsy shops. I think it’s coral, and it’s such a rich red colour. I paired it with some tiny sterling silver spacer beads and a dark dark blue, almost black Czech glass round.

If you come back on 16 October, I am taking part in Diana Ptaszynski’s Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap. My partner is another Aussie, Karen Mitchell, from Over the Moon Design.

Gumbo ya ya

It’s Spring in Australia and already I can feel more warmth in the sun’s rays and we’ve been getting some lovely sunshine. In Melbourne we get a long grey drizzly winter, so it’s very welcome. But it’s still not quite there yet, and on a cooler day like today, a warm spicy stew is the way to end the day (and a good way to start the week too).

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that okra is in season right now. It’s not a particularly common vegetable here, and most supermarkets and greengrocers don’t carry it. But it’s a useful vegetable to have around if you want to cook gumbo, the Cajun stew from Louisiana in the USA’s Deep South. When it is sliced up, it exudes a sticky sap-like substance which is cooked away, and it thickens up the gumbo nicely.

I originally found this recipe in Bon Appétit magazine, which I subscribed to for years when I lived in California. It’s not on the Epicurious website, though, so I’m glad I kept this issue.

Gumbo is a dish that takes a while to set up, but then it happily simmers away for a couple of hours while you do other things, like bake cupcakes for your daughter to take to school. It’s a little spicy, so maybe not the most kid-friendly, but it sure is tasty! Serve it over rice.

Chicken and Chorizo Gumbo

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit, November 1992.

Serves 8

12 cups water
1 chicken cut into 4-6 pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
500g okra, sliced
1/2 cup plain flour
500g chorizo sausage, cut into 2cm thick slices
2 400g cans diced tomatoes and their juices
1 green capsicum (pepper), chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
large pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp filé powder

Combine water and chicken in a stock pot or large saucepan and simmer for an hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken pieces to a bowl and cool. Once cool, discard skin and remove meat from bones. Reserve 4 cups of the chicken stock.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat and cook okra, stirring frequently, until it’s no longer sticky, about 15-20 minutes.

Make a roux by heating the flour and remaining oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently until the roux is a deep golden colour. It should take about 10 minutes.

Add the reserved chicken stock, okra, sausage, tomatoes, capsicum, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered for 1.5 hours until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Spoon off fat from the surface and then add chicken and filé powder, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Notes:

1. I’ve used chorizo sausage as andouille sausage is not available in Australia. Kielbasa or another spicy smoked sausage could also be used.

2. Making the roux is an important step, so don’t rush it. Keep it moving as it starts to colour so that it doesn’t burn.

3. Filé powder is made from ground sassafrass leaves and can be found at some specialty spice shops. It’s not essential, but it helps thicken the gumbo and adds a delicate flavour.

Another bracelet swap

I’m really enjoying doing swaps and challenges—it gets me moving and stretching my creative muscles! And that can only be a good thing, right?

The bracelet swap I did a few weeks ago led me to another bracelet swap with another jewellery designer I met through BeadSwap-USA, Lindsay Starr. I played around with Lesley Watt’s tutorial again—I’ve got lots of ideas for using this technique! This time I used a central focal ring in copper, and beaded off both sides of it with some unusual Czech glass beads. I think it worked out really well.

Stay tuned for my post on the Double-Trouble Earring Swap! I’m just waiting to hear that my earrings have arrived in Canada—it can take so long for packages to get from one side of the world to the other! The next few swaps I’m doing are all bead-related—a flowers and leaves swap, a pendants and charms swap (both of these through BeadSwap-USA) and a Pantone colours swap through Lori Anderson’s Bead Soup Cafe Facebook group.

I’m also planning to take part in a side-shoot of Diana Ptaszynski’s Mismatched Art Bead Earring Swap, and I’m tossing up whether to do a historical challenge/blog hop. Then there’s the Beading Forum‘s Designer Quest, which is due in November. I’m sure some more fun will be heading this way too, especially with Christmas looming on the horizon.

Pay it Forward—Handmade

If you’re looking for my Bead Soup Blog Party reveal, click here.

And if you’re looking for my Challenge of Travel post, click here.

There’s a new game doing the rounds for bloggers. It’s called Pay it Forward—Handmade. I’ve seen a similar thing on Facebook, now blogs are joining in the fun! I came across it on Karen Mitchell’s blog Over the Moon Design, and since then I’ve seen a few more bloggers playing too.

Here’s How It Works
I’ll send a surprise gift to the first three commenters on this blog post. The gift will be a handmade surprise by me and will be sent to you some time in the next 365 days (yep, mystery gift at a mystery time).

Here’s what you need to do, leave me a comment and make sure you include your email address (if your profile doesn’t include it). I’ll email you for your snail mail address and ask a few questions (likes/dislikes, favourite colours, sizes, general stuff like that). And I’m happy to send gifts overseas!

To complete signing up you MUST play along too. To do this you must blog a similar post and pledge to make a surprise gift for the first three people who comment on it.

So, do you want to play? Comment below and I’ll sent a thoughtful handmade gift to the first three people who do.

Let the fun and games begin!

¡Hola! Mexico! The Challenge of Travel

From one blog hop, straight into another … if you are looking for my Bead Soup Blog Hop post it’s here.

I’ve done a bit of travelling in my time. Family relocations from Australia to the USA and back again when I was a child, camping trips, road trips across Australia to visit relatives and then my own relocation to the US in 1990 and back to Australia 11 years later, but not before a three month road trip around the States! I’ve been to a fair few countries in Europe, a couple of tropical paradises in SE Asia and I’ve seen quite a bit of my own country too.

So when Erin Prais-Hintz announced the Challenge of Travel, I signed up very quickly!

In Erin’s words …

… travel with us around the world from the comfort of your own home. In this challenge you will be tasked with creating an accessory that captures the spirit of the nation that you are assigned.
Whatever your inspiration… the climate, the landscape, the colors on a topographical map, the way the people dress or what they eat, the architecture of the cities or the natural landmarks… I challenge you to be inspired by travel this month!

The first part of the challenge was to choose the country. The rules were to choose a geographical region (not your own) and a country, or have one assigned to you. I chose Mexico, the southernmost of the three countries of North America.

I’ve always been fascinated by Mexico, its culture and its cuisine. I remember a few things from my first trip to Mexico, at the tender age of 5 … the powerful smells of Mexico City, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, my Mum getting a dose of Montezuma’s revenge, flashes of climbing pyramid-shaped Aztec temple ruins and going to the Floating Markets … that may or may not come from photographs in my parents’ photo albums. But sadly, despite 11 years of living in the US as an adult, I managed to visit Mexico exactly once, to go scuba diving in Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While there we managed to visit Tulum, a fascinating Mayan ruin in a picturesque location on the Yucatán coast.

The seaside view of El Castillo at Tulum
photo credit: CasaDeQueso via photo pin cc

Mexico has some fascinating traditions that draw on both its ancient Mayan, Olmec and Aztec civilisations and the more recent Spanish-Catholic influence. One of my favourites is Día de las Muertos—the Day of the Dead—which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the same time as the Catholic Church’s All Saints and All Souls Days. Derived from an Aztec festival, it’s a time to celebrate and pray for friends and family members who have died, with visits to their graves to be with the departed souls. Traditions include building altars to the deceased that are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds as well as the favourite foods and drinks of the dear departed.

photo credit: uteart_traveling via photo pin cc

A common symbol of the holiday is the calavera, or skull, and the calaca, or skeleton, which are often used as decorations for the Day of the Dead festival, as masks or costumes, small figures and sweet treats, or sugar skulls.

photo credit: digiyesica via photo pin cc

I have a couple of sugar skull pendants made by Australian ceramic artist, Natalie Fletcher. And recently she came up with some fantastic beads in bright colours that matched the colours used to decorate her sugar skull pendants.

I used black waxed linen cord to create some pretty czech glass dangles below the pendant and then knotted the bright ceramic beads above the pendant, along with a couple of silver-plated pewter spacer beads and some little birds. Above the knotted section I created a chain out of silver-plated pewter bone-shaped links and jump rings and finished the necklace off with a sun-shaped toggle. The silver plated components all come from TierraCast’s Viva Mexicana range.

And because this blog is called Beadrecipes, after two of the things I like to do in my spare time, I thought I would finish off with a recipe! So here are some Mexican-inspired fish tacos and skillet potatoes. Now I say inspired by, because tacos are not usually served in flour tortillas, however I could not get soft corn tortillas at our supermarket the day I made these. But the flavours are there!

Fish Tacos with skillet potatoes

Adapted from Masterchef Magazine, issue 24, June 2012

1/2 c plain flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
500g flathead tails
olive oil to shallow fry
guacamole (see recipe below)
shredded lettuce
salsa
sour cream
shredded cheese
Flour or corn tortillas
 
3-4 potatoes
1-2 tsp mexican spice blend
3 Tbsp vegetable oil 

For tacos:

Combine spices and salt with flour on a large plate. Dredge fish in the flour mixture and shake off excess.

Heat 1cm of oil in a frypan over med-high heat.

Cook fish on each side for 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Drain on paper towel.

Heat tortillas in oven or microwave according to package directions.

Assemble tacos: place tortilla on plates, spread some guacamole down centre, flake fish into large pieces and place on top of guacamole. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream as preferred. Fold in half or roll up. Serve with skillet potatoes (recipe follows).

For potatoes:

Cut potatoes into 1.5 cm dice.

Toss with mexican spice blend.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat in frypan with lid. Add potatoes and cook stirring continuously for 5 minutes.

Add remaining oil and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.

Guacamole

2 avocados
1 lge tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful of chopped coriander
juice of 1-2 limes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
jalapeno chili, chopped (optional) 
 

Mash avocado flesh roughly with a fork

Finely chop tomatoes and add to avocado along with spring onions, coriander, garlic and chili if using.

Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:

1. Substitute flathead tails with any firm white fish, such as snapper.

2. Instead of mexican spice blend, use a combination of 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp salt.

3. This is really quite a loose recipe, adjust to suit the ingredients on hand. Tomatoes are optional in the guacamole, as is the chili, depending on your tastes.

Now sit back with a margarita and enjoy the blog hop!

Monique Urquhart http://ahalfbakednotion.blogspot.ca/ Africa Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers http://silverniknats.blogspot.co.uk/ Africa Egypt
Therese Frank http://www.theresestreasures59.blogspot.com Africa Kenya
Raychelle Heath http://abeadloveaffair.blogspot.com/ Africa Lesotho
Joan Williams www.lilrubyjewelry.wordpress.com Africa Mauritania
Sherri Stokey http://www.KnotJustMacrame.com Africa Senegal
Regina Santerre http://reginaswritings.blogspot.com Africa Seychelles
Raida Disbrow http://havanabeads.blogspot.com Africa Tanzania
Kristi Wodek http://livedinlife.blogspot.com Africa Zimbabwe
Sally Russick http://www.thestudiosublime.com Americas Brazil
Melissa Trudinger ME! https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com Americas Mexico
Tracy Stillman http://www.tracystillmandesigns.com Americas USA
Sandra Wolberg http://city-of-brass-stories.blogspot.de Asia India
Tanya Goodwin http://pixiloo.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Susan Kennedy http://suebeads.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Beth Emery http://storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Lisa Cone http://inspiredadornments.blogspot.com/ Asia Japan
Tanya Boden http://fusionmusebangkok.blogspot.com/ Asia Japan
Inge von Roos http://ingetraud.wordpress.com Asia Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz http://treasures-found.blogspot.com Asia Nepal
Dee Elgie http://cherryobsidia.blogspot.com Asia Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson http://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com Asia South Korea
Lisa Stukel http://carefreejewelrybylisa.blogspot.com Asia Sri Lanka
Elly Snare http://themagicsquarefoundation.wordpress.com Asia Thailand
Shelley Graham Turner http://www.shelleygrahamturner.blogspot.com Europe Austria
Mallory Hoffman http://rosebud101-fortheloveofbeads.blogspot.com/ Europe Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim http://www.pmaximdesigns.blogspot.com Europe France
Jenny Davies-Reazor http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog Europe Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson http://sharylsjewelry.blogspot.com Europe Greece
Evelyn Shelby http://raindropcreationsbyevelyn.blogspot.com/ Europe Iceland
Holly Westfall http://silverrosedesigns.blogspot.com/ Europe Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag http://www.godsartistinresidence.blogspot.com Europe Ireland
Toltec Jewels http://toltecjewels.blogspot.com Europe Ireland
Lee Koopman http://StregaJewellry.wordpress.com Europe Ireland
Laren Dee Barton http://larendeedesigns.blogspot.com Europe Italy
Cindy Wilson http://www.mommysdreamcreations.blogspot.com Europe Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik http://ModernNatureStudio.blogspot.com Europe Poland
Shaiha Williams http://shaihasramblings.blogspot.com/ Europe Portugal
Jennifer Justman http://soulsfiredesigns.blogspot.com/ Europe Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca http://ladelizchica.blogspot.com Europe Spain
Lola Surwillo http://www.beadlolabead.blogspot.com Europe Sweden
Kim Hora http://www.kimmykats.com Europe Switzerland
Leanne Loftus http://firstimpressiondesign.blogspot.com Europe The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen http://myaddictionshandcrafted.blogspot.com Europe The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll http://labellajoya.blogspot.com Europe Turkey
Marlene Cupo http://amazingdesigns-marlene.blogspot.com Oceania Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle http://jewelsbyine.blogspot.com Oceania Fiji
Tammie Everly http://ttedesigns.blogspot.com/ Oceania Guam
Alice Peterson http://www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.com Oceania Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld http://www.beadsforbusygals.com Oceania Nauru
Susan McClelland http://mistheword12.wordpress.com/ Oceania New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland http://islandgirlsinsights.blogspot.com Oceania New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman http://somebeadsandotherthings.com Oceania New Zeland
Rebecca Anderson http://songbeads.blogspot.com Oceania Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi http://micheladasmusings.blogspot.com/ Oceania Samoa
Kari Asbury http://hippiechickdesign.blogspot.com Oceania Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier http://www.thebeadingyogini.com/ Oceania Tonga
Emma Todd http://www.apolymerpenchant.com Oceania Tuvalu
Debbie Price http://greenshoot.blogspot.com Oceania Vanuatu