Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Dreams of Summertime: Art Jewelry Elements challenge

It’s cold and wet here in Melbourne today. School holidays too and the kids are housebound. Seems a funny time to be making summer themed jewellery, but at the same time it’s kind of appropriate. I love the sun, and I miss it desperately in winter. Sadly today we don’t even get the benefit of a cool sunny day, it’s gray and stormy.

But the challenge is on at Art Jewelry Elements to create summer-themed pieces. When I think of summer, all sorts of things come to mind: BBQs, holidays by the beach, but overwhelmingly, the one thing that really means summer to all Aussies is the blazing hot sun!

So with that in mind, I have created my own sunshine today with a pair of sunny earrings (hey, I did say it was the school holidays here!).

The ceramic charms are from Natalie Fletcher-Jones, and they are very yellow, with a hint of pinky-orange at the tops. Like the sun early in the morning. I’ve paired them with some sweet orange flowers and a blush-coloured round, and tied together with waxed linen.

File 30-06-2016, 3 07 07 PM


Thank you AJE for reminding me about the sun! This is a challenge and you should go and have a look at some of the other blogs:



Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Long hot summer just passed me by … the Summer Elements Blog Hop

Today is the reveal date for the Summer Elements Blog Hop, hosted by Toltec Jewels on the Jewel School Friends blog. Now, while it’s winter down here in Australia (and boy oh boy, it’s definitely winter here this week!), the summer has started in the Northern Hemisphere and after the winter they just had, I’m sure it’s welcome! As for me, I’m already wishing it was summer again!

Anyway, the brief for this blog hop was to share something that celebrates a favourite element of summer—Air, Water, Fire, Earth or Spirit. The hop is not restricted to jewellery, it could be  about a jewellery creation, pretty photos, a summer recipe, a campfire song, a craft, family memories, a poem. I thought I would share a couple of things inspired by the summer elements Earth, Water and Spirit.

First of all, summer food! One of my favourite things to do on summer weekends is to get together with friends for an afternoon barbeque, lots of wine, the kids playing cricket or splashing through the sprinklers, lazing the afternoon away. And this salad, from a blog post last year, is a perfect accompaniment. Made using freshly-picked corn and tomatoes from our summer veggie patch, it embodies Earth.


Then there is the music that reminds me of summer, embodying Spirit and evoking an instant mood. The Style Council’s Long Hot Summer takes me straight back to the long summers of my teenage years. The Kinks’ Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon is a classic. And in this dreary Melbourne winter weather, The Mamas and The Papas classic California Dreaming fits my mood, I miss summer!

Still, I can make jewellery that reminds me of the summer, and especially that all important element of Water. This little set, using a seahorse pendant from SlinginMud, reminds me of the beach.

Summer Seahorse Collage

And here are my Tropical Sunset earrings, with lampwork beads by Genschi. Swarovski crystals, and a sweet little silver palm tree bead.


Please visit the other bloggers in the Summer Elements Blog Hop!

Toltec Jewels (Hostess)
Marlene Cupo         
Cheri Reed              
Ailsa Cordner          
Robin Reed             
Nan Smith               
Sherri Stokey           
Christie (Charis Designs)
Carolyn Lawson       
Susie Harris              
Andrea Glick-Zenith 
Nelly May                
Melissa Trudinger       <- YOU ARE HERE
Dini Bruinsma           
Kathy Lindemer       
Cory Tompkins        
Robin Reed             
Gina Hockett           
Karen Martinez       
Jasvanti Patel           
Solange Collin          
Karla Morgan          
Anindita Basu           
Alicia Marinache      
Andrea Trank          
Mischelle Fanucchi   
Tanty Sri Hartanti     
Shaiha Williams        
Mary Govaars          
Becca Sirevaag        
Lennis Carrier          
Regina Wood           
Sue Kennedy           
Kathleen Breeding   

When life gives you pumpkins

Sometimes, life gives you pumpkins. In our vege patch this summer, we ended up with a rogue pumpkin plant that gave us 3 small but delicious pumpkins. I’m not entirely sure, but I think they were Golden Nugget pumpkins. And they were definitely the nicest pumpkins we’ve grown in the last few years.

Anyway, when faced with a bounty of unexpected pumpkins, you have to think of something to do with them. They were too small to make much pumpkin soup, so one I roasted alongside potatoes and a chicken for a delicious roast dinner. Another went into a curry. But the third made us a delicious meal combined with lamb, green beans and almonds. The recipe was a hybrid, combining the best parts of two Donna Hay recipes: one for a roast pumpkin and couscous salad (from her cookbook The New Cook), and the other for lamb with couscous and spiced almonds (from Simple Dinners). The result was a delicious autumn meal!

Lamb and pumpkin couscous with spiced almonds

Serves 4

1 small pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 and 1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for brushing
120g blanched almonds
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tbs honey
2 X 250g lamb loin/backstrap
sea salt and black pepper to taste
400g (2 c) instant couscous
2 c water
50g butter
1/2 c mint leaves, roughly chopped
150g green beans, trimmed
Tzatziki to serve

Preheat oven to 200C.

Toss the pumpkin with 1/2 tsp cumin and 2 tbs olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt, and spread out on baking tray. Roast for 20-30 minutes until tender.

Toss almonds and sesame seeds with 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp cumin and honey and spread out on non stick baking paper on a tray. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Cool slightly and break or chop into rough pieces.

Brush meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes each side in grill pan or frying pan over high heat, or to liking. Rest for 5 minutes then slice.

Cover green beans with water and microwave for a couple of minutes to blanch (or steam or boil until bright green but still crisp).

Place couscous into heatproof bowl. Boil 2 c water and pour over couscous, swirl to mix. Add butter, cover and stand for 5 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

Toss couscous with pumpkin and green beans. Divide between plates. Top with sliced lamb and scatter with mint and spiced nuts.

Serve with tzatziki if desired.


Sunshine on a plate

A couple of weekends ago, we had one of those glorious late summer days, where the sun was shining, there was no wind and the day was just begging for a lazy afternoon of friends and BBQs. Lucky for us, we’d seen the weather forecast and invited a few families over to lounge around our backyard watching the kids play.

The day also coincided with ripe corn growing in our vege patch. So I decided to make a salad with just picked corn to go with the BBQ. I searched around the web for a recipe that kind of matched what I had in mind—I didn’t want anything too complicated. And I found an old recipe on US celebrity chef Emeril’s website that ticked all the boxes.

It matched the day perfectly—sunshine on a plate!

Corn, feta, tomato and risoni salad

Inspired by Emeril’s Orzo Salad with Corn, Feta and Tomatoes.

3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked risoni pasta
4 ears of fresh sweetcorn
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
3 spring onions, chopped
1 jar of marinated feta cheese in olive oil, drained and cheese crumbled into small pieces

To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil and crushed garlic in a jar and shake to mix. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Use a knife to cut the kernels off the ears of corn. Cook risoni for 5-6 minutes in boiling water. Add the corn kernels and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until both corn and pasta are tender.

Drain corn and pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add about half of the dressing and toss to coat.

Allow to cool, then add the remaining ingredients and toss with the rest of the dressing.

Serve at room temperature or chill before serving.


1. Risoni is a small rice shaped pasta similar to orzo.

2. I used marinated feta cheese because that’s what my husband brought home from the shops. You could substitute regular feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces. You could also use some of the marinade from the cheese in the dressing in place of olive oil.

If you’re interested in seeing more of my recipes click here.