Oh, I very nearly didn’t make it to this hop today, I always seem to bite off a lot more than I can chew at this crazy time of the year! But having missed the ArtBeadScene Ornament hop, I knew I had to do something for this one, organised by Art Elements.
Anyway, grand plans out of the window, I decided to go simple. I have these fabulous mini embroidery hoops that can be used in a few different ways, and I thought they’d make fine little decorations for the tree. These ones are the “big” ones, at 55mm/2.2 inches diameter. I pulled out my stash of Christmas fabric, my scissors and my hot glue gun and put them to work. One of these days I plan to teach myself how to do paper piecing to make tiny patchwork pictures, but in the meantime I think these are really quite sweet.
Here they are on my handmade ornaments Christmas tree. My big tree has so much on it, the special ones get a bit lost, so I have a little tree just for my handmade ornaments! Some made by me, some by others.
Anyway, this is a blog hop, so go and have a looky-loo at what others have made! And whether you celebrate Christmas, or not, have a lovely holiday and see you in 2018 (eek!).
I was Christmas shopping a couple of weeks ago, when I came across a box of miniature baubles for $5 at a favourite shop of mine (and my girls), Typo. My first thought was to use them as decorations for my daughter when she did her hair as a Christmas tree for Crazy Hair Day at school this week:
But then a Facebook friend of mine, Diana Ptaszynski, announced the first Tacky Holiday Earrings blog hop, to let us all showcase our shiny, glittery, tacky creations. And with teacher presents looming (it’s the last week of school for the year here in Australia), it was the perfect opportunity to make some glittery statement earrings.
Two of the teachers on our present list have a penchant for big, shiny, earrings — perfect! So I put together a couple of pairs of earrings featuring three baubles dangling from a chain of jump rings. Being plastic, they are so light to wear, the size doesn’t matter! I hope they love them!
I also created a bunch of single bauble earrings, for those who might want to be a little less flamboyant.
Sorry Diana, no ugly Christmas sweater here, it’s too hot in Australia right now for sweaters! But maybe some of the other participants in the hop have indulged you!
Every year Art Bead Scene hosts a handmade holiday ornament blog hop, and for the past few years I’ve joined in. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it this year, as I have had a really busy couple of months, but I found myself with some time to play today, so I put a handful of very simple ornaments together.
A couple of months ago, Michelle McCarthy from Firefly Design Studio sent me a cute snowman ornament. I found a couple of white lampwork beads with a frosted coating that reminded me of snowballs and knotted them all together.
Ceramic bead and pendant maker Gaea always has a few festive pendants in her collection leading up to Christmas and this year was no exception. I also had a plaid tree she made last year left in my stash, so I pulled them all out. Because Gaea pairs her festive pendants with beads, there is little to do with them other than put them together, so I kept things simple and knotted them on red and green waxed linen.
Finally, I have a stash of crystals that a friend gave me from a chandelier she removed a couple of years ago. I used some of the teardrop-shaped crystals and some Christmassy tartan ribbon to make some simple ornaments. They catch the light beautifully!
To see what others have made, visit the Art Bead Scene blog here, people will be adding their links in the next day or so.
How quickly does the year pass? It seems not that long ago that I took part in Sally Russick‘s 2013 Holiday Ornament Exchange, and all of a sudden it is time to do this year’s blog hop!
Anyway, this time I have been paired up with Elisabeth Auld, a glass beadmaker and jewellery designer living in Virginia, in the US. Our brief was to make each other an ornament using handmade components and art beads. We chatted a bit via email to gauge each other’s style, and happily seemed to be on the same page (eclectic!).
Here is the sweet ornament I received from Elisabeth. Isn’t he a cute snowman?
He looks great nestled among the branches of my tree too!
Elisabeth also included a sparkly pair of earrings and a necklace featuring one of her lampwork glass beads as a gift for me. Thank you again!
Now, for this year’s ornament, I decided to take a mixed media approach. Local scrapbooking company Kaisercraft does a range of different embellishments made of thin balsa wood and some hexagonal shapes caught my eye. I gave them an aged appearance with Distress Ink and then I found some vintage-style Christmas images on Etsy and “decoupaged” them on with Mod-Podge. Holes were punched at the top and the bottom and I wired a pretty lampwork bead (made by Marianne Bradman, Fields of Clover) in Christmassy colours of green and red above and some Czech glass rounds below. The finishing touch was a loop of sari silk in green. Of course, I had to make a couple of them!
I also included a different kind of handmade ornament, a tree made from cinnamon and star anise, wrapped together with waxed linen (I got the idea from Donna Hay magazine last year). It smelled divine, spicy and mysterious. I was pleased to see it made it across the world intact!
There were ten other pairs in the ornament swap, you can visit their blogs via the links below! Thank you Sally for such a fun excuse to be creative!
One of the first recipes I posted on this blog almost two years ago was a spicy plum jam, redolent with cinnamon, cloves and anise. At the time I made it I mentioned that it would probably make a great addition to a glaze for the baked Christmas ham. Well I can report back that indeed it does! In fact, I used it on both last year’s and this year’s hams to great effect.
My starting point for the glaze was a recipe I had in an old copy of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. The original recipe was for a Burnt Honey, Orange and Clove Ham, but in the magazine article, a number of alternative glaze ideas were provided including the apricot and cardamom version I chose to base my spicy plum glaze on. It’s a quick and easy glaze to prepare and the cooking of the ham itself is a doddle. I prefer to cook it earlier in the day, or even the day before Christmas as it’s not necessary to have a warm ham for Australia’s summer Christmas, but in any case it only takes an hour.
The resulting ham has a deliciously sweet and spicy glaze, and looks a treat as well, with caramelised edges.
Spicy plum glazed ham
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller (December 2006, p 39)
250ml jar of spicy plum jam
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 c water
ham leg (on the bone)
Combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Strain through a sieve and cool.
Preheat oven to 180C. Remove skin from ham and discard. Score fat in a diamond pattern and place ham on a rack in a large roasting tray, half-filled with water .
Brush the glaze generously over the ham and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Baste frequently during the roasting process to get a good rich glaze.
Serve the ham hot or cold.
1. Depending on how spicy your jam is, you may want to add more or less cardamom to taste.
2. The amount of glaze will be enough for a full ham leg, although I usually only cook a half leg.
3. The ham will keep refrigerated for quite a few days if you wrap it in a ham bag, tea towels or old pillowcases soaked in cold water and white vinegar. Change the wraps every couple of days. Alternative, freeze chunks of it to bring out as required.
4. If you like, you can stud the scored ham with cloves in the centre of each diamond before baking.
This year, Christmas Eve in my house was a busy day of running around sandwiched between two family celebrations. Amid what seemed like countless trips to the supermarkets, an emergency dash to my folks’ house to rescue an esky (cooler) full of perishable food left behind by my sister, and of course, wrapping presents, I was relieved that dinner was already sorted.
About 15 years ago, my parents moved back to Australia after a stint living in the US. Along with all their other stuff, they brought a smoker with them, which gets dragged out at least once every year to smoke chickens, fish and sometimes other goods for Christmas feasts. My sister and I both requested a chicken this year and this is what I had in mind for Christmas Eve.
In addition to the chicken, I had a few ripe mangoes left over from a box I received a couple of weeks ago and some lovely fresh greens purchased at the South Melbourne Market on Monday morning. So I dug out a recipe for a smoked chicken salad that I first discovered a few years ago on the taste.com.au website (a great starting point for almost any kind of recipe you could imagine) and adapted it to suit the ingredients I had.
This is a recipe that is open to a lot of variation—you could add whatever greens you prefer (the original uses iceberg lettuce), choose different smoked meats (duck? salmon? trout?) or even swap out the smoked meat for fresh prawns. It looks great served on a platter, or divided among plates or bowls, and would be just as suitable as an entrée salad as a light main course.
As for this version? It made for a perfectly delicious family dinner on Christmas Eve.
Tomorrow’s table at The Handmade Show is my last one for the year, so if you live in Melbourne, come on down and finish off your Christmas shopping! I have loads of pairs of earrings, necklaces and bracelets, and even a few pairs of cufflinks for the sharply-dressed man in your life!
The market runs from 10:30am – 3:30pm and there are stallholders selling all sorts of handmade goodies including candles, cards, clothing, children’s toys, Christmas decorations and more. Activities for the kids include free face painting and a lolly-guessing competition. Cafe Handmade does a mean bacon and egg sandwich, among other delicious offerings. Musical entertainment will be provided by Marisa Rae Quigley. And there’ll be giveaways for market shoppers, including some for the kids.
Hope to see you there!
Saturday 14th December
10.30am – 3.30pm
St. Anthony’s Parish Hall
164 Neerim Rd (cnr Grange Rd), Glen Huntly
It comes as no surprise to those who know me that I love Christmas. And one of my favourite things about the holiday season are the decorations. I’ve amassed quite an eclectic collection of ornaments over the years, from shiny baubles to paper ornaments painstakingly made by my children at preschool and kindergarten. Our tree is lovingly decorated by my children and I, and bears no resemblance to the carefully coordinated trees I see in magazines and Christmas displays, and that’s just the way I like it.
This year I’m taking part in a couple of handmade ornament blog hops. The first of them is Art Bead Scene‘s 4th Annual Ornament Blog Hop. The rules of this bog hop are simple—to create a handmade ornament using an art bead or handmade component.
I decided this year to do something with polymer clay. It’s a medium I don’t have a lot of experience with, but it’s definitely fun to play with. For these two ornaments, I used a robin-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a bird shape from a textured slab of polymer clay. After baking I highlighted the texture with gilders paste. The top bead is Czech glass in a deep red and the bird’s legs are waxed linen. I used some funky wire with a glittery coating to put it all together.
But wait, that’s not all I made. I also made some ornaments using some chandelier crystals that I rescued from a broken chandelier that a friend of mine recently replaced. The larger crystal, a baroque shape that reminds me of a Christmas tree, is dangling from a sweet green and white swirled lampwork bead made by Bellissimo Jewels. I picked up the bead from a bowl of orphans at a recent bead show with the intent to use it in a Christmas ornament. The two smaller ornaments use tear-shaped chandelier drops, with some green lampwork glass beads (alas, these particular beads are more ordinary, mass-produced lampwork beads, rather than artisan-made, but they are still very Christmassy). I plan to gift these ornaments to the friend whose chandelier I stripped!
I’ve got a few markets between now and Christmas if you want to do some Christmas shopping.
Tomorrow is the first of three stalls I will have at The Handmade Show, at St Anthony’s Parish Hall on the corner of Neerim and Grange Rds in Glen Huntly. I’ll also be there on 16 November and 14 December. New to this market is the ability to pay by EFTPOS, through special arrangement with the market organisers. If it looks like a good option for me, I’ll sign on for my own EFTPOS setup.
On Sunday 3 November, I will be at the Fitzroy Lions Market, which is at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club, next to Edinburgh Gardens. I don’t know much about this market, but hopefully it will be a good day with lots of happy shoppers.
And on 24 November, I will be back at the Bend and Snap Market behind the 1000£ Bend Café on Little Lonsdale St in Melbourne CBD. I didn’t have a great day at this market last month, so fingers crossed next time the Christmas crowds will be out in force!
It looks like my girls’ school will have another twilight craft market in late November or early December, and I will do that one this year too. I’ll be selling jewellery appealing to the primary school set, as well as some easy and inexpensive Christmas stocking stuffers like earrings and cufflinks.
And I promise my Etsy shop will be open soon! I have just not had enough time to work on it recently! In the meantime, if you see something you like, drop me a line via my Facebook page.
So, a couple of days ago marked the first anniversary of my blog. As of today I have made 64 posts (including this one) and have 66 followers (so I’ve kind of added a follower every post if you like!). I’ve published more than 20 posts with recipes and nearly 40 about beads and jewellery, with one that included both of my passions and a few posts that I have not categorised (note to self …).
When I started this blog, I didn’t really know what to expect from it, didn’t know if I would be able to find my voice. I am a writer by trade, but I write about science and business, not about beads and food! But over the course of the past year I feel like a little storyteller inside me has come to life.
One of the things I have really enjoyed about blogging has been the way that it has shown me the way to the beading community, through blog hops, bead swaps, forums and Facebook friendships. I’ve taken part in more than half a dozen blog hops and challenges, each time pushing myself to try something new.
It has also helped me to push myself into a new challenge for 2013 … actively selling my creations. I hope to set up a stand at a local craft market in a few months, and I’m in the process of setting myself up to sell online, probably via Facebook initially, and eventually through one of the online sites like Etsy or Madeit. I’ll blog more about this soon.
As my blog name implies, the other half of this blog is about food and cooking, and this is more for me, to help me record and share recipes I love. I’m thinking that in a few years I’ll collect all of the recipes from my blog and collate them into a book for my kids. Among my favourite recipe posts are the jams and the lemons, the delicious lamb and silverbeet parcels and all of the Christmas recipes!
Well, that’s the year past, so what have I got planned in the coming year? Aside from the plans to sell my jewellery, I have a number of challenges and hops coming up in the near future. This coming weekend is sign-up time for Bead Soup Blog Party 7, and I’ll definitely be putting my name down for that. I’m taking part in Lisa Lodge‘s Sand and Sea Blog Hop in March. I hope to do all four of Erin Prais-Hintz ‘s quarterly challenges (if last year is anything to go on, the first one for the year is likely to be announced in February) and at least a few of the Art Bead Scene monthly challenges too.
I’m also planning to learn some new jewellery-making techniques. I’ve been playing with clay (both ceramic and polymer) and I would like to do more wire-work. Sadly, there are only so many hours in the week when you have 3 kids, including a very busy pre-schooler and a part-time job, so I have no doubt things will happen far slower than I plan.
On the recipe side of the blog, I have a few recipes floating around that I would like to play with and, if they work, I’ll share them.
And in general, I plan to work on my photographic skills. For Christmas my husband gave me a fabulous new tool to help me out—a clever device that functions as both a light tent and a camera stand from a company called Modahaus. It has already changed the way I take photos and I intend to keep refining my skills. Stay tuned for more about that too. Look out too for a blog mini-makeover, I’m updating very soon!
I’m looking forward to 2013. It should be a fun year and I hope you will join me!