Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chrstimas Wish

I wish Peace and Joy to all this Christmas, and prosperity in the New Year.

"Adoration of the Magi" by Gentile da Fabriano

Once in royal David's city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Marble Man and I found ourselves way ahead of the curve this year:

lists have been checked, and double-checked
gifts are wrapped and mailed
the tree is up

Lots of time left over for baking cookies. Marble Man has so many favorites, that I asked him to narrow his choices to two types.

His pick for this year:

Vera's Checkerboard Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate Crinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
makes 52 cookies

2 C plus 2 T all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1+3/4 C granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 squares unsweetened baker's chocolate (1 ounce per square), melted
1/2 C confectioners' sugar

Mix flour baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is pale yellow, then vanilla and chocolate until blended.

Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just to blend. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

Lightly grease cookie sheets. Shape heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into 1.25 inch balls and roll in confectioners' sugar. Place on cookie sheets 1.5 inches apart.

Bake about 12 minutes until tops are puffed and cracked. DON'T overbake! Cookies are quite soft when hot but firm and chewy when cool. Remove to rack to cool.

Per cookie:
80 calories
1 gram protein
12 grams carbs
3 grams fat
20 mgs cholesterol

Enjoy! (Just don't worry about that last part there. ;)

And while you toss some treats together for your family, here's a little Holiday fun to keep you company: Tennessee Ernie Ford singing for a group of children.

His son (sitting next to him) is so into the song that he has to really work to keep from cracking up.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
And now for a short programming note: From now on, all my cooking posts can be found at my NEW blog. The new page is entirely devoted to cooking. I'm in the process of transferring all my old cooking posts over there.

It will be MUCH easier to organize the posts and for you to find an old one you might be looking for. I hope you'll add it to your blogroll and visit often. :)

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perseverence Pays Off... Again

You've probably figured out by now that I like to learn.

No, make that: I LOVE to learn. As I headed off to college, my Daddy told me that now I was going to learn how to learn... not just cram for tests and regurgitate knowledge into a blue book at the end of a semester. My task, from now on, was to teach myself how to learn so I'll be able to do it for the rest of my life. I'm so grateful for that lesson - it's been instrumental in shaping the way my life turned out.

In my quest for knowledge, I came across this little gem by beader extraordinaire, Lisa Kan. As I flipped through the book,

I turned to this page and knew This Was IT - my new learning project. This gorgeous lariat is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Getting the hang of the peyote-stitched leaves and right-angle weave flowers was not so bad,

but there were so many of them in the finished piece!

Each individual leaf and flower took 30 minutes, and that was working as fast as my digits could move.

Then there was the time it took to add each one to the fringe...

I did change the spiral rope from a triple to a single.

The instructions said to do a triple spiral and make it 50 inches long. WHaaaattt? That's crazy talk! I tried the triple spiral at the start, and it took one hour to do a single inch. No way would anyone pay for that amount of time, no matter how gorgeous the finished piece is. So, I made it a a single, and shortened it to 39 inches. It's plenty long, and certainly gorgeous.
When I showed the finished lariat to friends, one suggested that the clustering of leaves and flowers in the fringe is very effective, but it's hard to see the individual parts. She thought I should spread them out a bit and let each piece shine. Always up for a challenge, I set out to do this.

Because the leaves and flowers take so long to make, I wanted to be sure to make only the amount needed. Marble Man suggested I draw up a design, something I don't normally like to do. In this case, it was a great idea.

I started with a sterling silver clasp in the shape of two leaves. I always like it when a clasp fits the theme of a piece.

Now that I've planned my work, it was time to "work my plan"... one tiny bead at a time.

We're talking size 15 seed beads here, folks. I broke out my special glasses and magnifier for this one!

The nature of peyote stitch is to have alternating beads poking out the sides of the work. This made a very neat finish as I "married" leaves next to each other and then zipped them up with thread.

The finished necklace turned out just as neat on the back as it did on the front.

Final count: close to 26 hours to complete.

Lacy, lightweight, and very elegant. I'm so happy with the way this turned out.

You can find both of these pieces listed for sale in my Etsy shop.

Now... what's next?

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Bratwurst and Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage

This winter, Marble Man and I signed up for a fresh-meat-and-eggs co-op through Fickle Creek Farm, one of the vendors at our local Farmers Market. The meats have been incredibly delicious, and the eggs colorful - brown, blue, green... and also delicious. Every two weeks, we head to the market to pick up our assortment of sausages, roasts, chops, and chickens. This week's sausages were bratwursts, and I think they were the best I've ever had.

I cooked them in beer with lots of onions, and a side dish of sweet and sour red cabbage. *Slurp* So good!

serves 6

6 large bratwurst
1 C sliced onions
1 C beer

Prick each sausage before adding to a large skillet. Pour in enough water to cover the sausages with 1/2 an inch of water. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the water has evaporated. Be sure not to let the water boil - this will cause the bratwursts to burst. Uncover and cook the sausages in the small amount of fat remaining in the pan to brown. Add onions and saute until translucent. Pour in the 1 C of beer and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with spicy mustard on the side.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Serves 6

1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, cut in small wedges
4 slices bacon, diced and fried
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar plus same amount sweet pickle juice
Salt and pepper

Fry bacon. Leave fat and bacon in skillet and add remaining ingredients. Cover tightly and get it hot, then turn down heat and cook slowly until tender. May be fixed ahead of time and reheated. This would make a wonderful Christmas Eve dish.


And I want to thank everyone who weighed in on my new image signatures. I will see what I can do to make them less intrusive.

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Renewed Energy, New Work

After the church Art For a Cause show last month, I've been flying high on the success I enjoyed during the short seven hours the show took place. I spent the week before the show tweaking my booth design and I think it turned out pretty darned great.

Right after the show, Marble Man and I headed up North for Thanksgiving, and a buying spree at my favorite bead shop. This shop is down the road from my mother's house, and I had the proceeds from the craft show burning a hole in my pocket. I just HAD to go.

While Marble Man resisted the urge to ask, "Do you REALLY need those?", I wandered through the store, which displays finished pieces next to the bead bins, guaranteeing sales. I picked up tubes and tubes of tiny little seed beads in sumptuous colors, Czech crystals in colors I'd never seen anywhere else, as well as some patterns for new bead creations.

Czech fire-polished crystals and faux pearls

My favorite so far is "Encased Crystal Beads" - a new version of the beaded bead. As I forked over the cash for the instructions, the saleswoman warned me these beads are highly addictive, and boy was she right!

Czech fire-polished crystals

I started out following the directions to the letter, and while the results are stunning, I decided to play with bead shape, size, and composition.

cherry quartz and rose quartz rondelles

I have several types of rondelles (flat, round beads) in crystal and stone. I used some of these as the core beads and found the resulting saucer-like shape quite pleasing. Varying the size of the core beads allowed for a larger central bead in the finished bead strand.

Two sizes of agate rondelles give the beads a smooth earthy look; crystals added to the sides lend sparkle.

For sure, I'm addicted. These beaded beads are really fast to make, and that quick fix keeps me going bead after bead.

I've got three new necklaces listed for sale in my Esty shop:

Click the above pictures to see individual listings.
And now a question for those of you who've had pictures lifted from your blog posts. A while ago I signed up for Tynt Insight, which is a blog service to track when blog content is copied. In many cases, they are able to insert a credit and a link back to the original blog in the place my content is copied to, but sometimes they can't.

They also only tell me that content has been copied, but not where it's winding up or how it's being used. So far, they tracked 20 images copied from my site, as well as one entire post! As a result, I've started adding a signature to my pictures, but I'm not happy about it. I could use some really honest feedback about how you like the signatures. Are they intrusive, or are you able to see past them? Do you have any alternate suggestions for what I can do?


copyright 2009 Shibori Girl

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Giving Thanks Is Murder

We went away for Thanksgiving this year, and the trip has really shaken up my routines. I didn't have to cook for a week, and I liked it. So much, that I haven't cooked all that much now that we're home. Therefore, I have no recipe to share this week.

What I do have to share is the most fun thing we did while we were in New Jersey visiting my mother. We made our traditional trek out to Peddler's Village outside New Hope, PA.

While there, we stopped at the Golden Plough Inn for murder and mayhem caused by Without A Cue Productions and their Murder Mystery Dinner Theater (Subtitled Dinner, Dessert, and Death). This week's play was titled: Itt's an Addams Family Mystery.

Mark Cook as Gomez Addams

Basically, the story was The Addams Family daughter, Wednesday, announces her engagement to Eddie Munster, but he is suddenly killed, and it's up to the actors to give the diners enough info so they can guess whodunnit for a prize.

The cast sings the Addams Family theme song

It was a very funny play with lots of ad libbing, double entendres and the occasional spooky songs thrown in for a change of pace.

Marilyn Munster sings a song (I want to say "Thriller" but can't be sure)

The action takes place on the stage as well as on the floor, involving the diners in the doin's.

Marble Man dances with Grandmama Addams to "Thriller"

Dinner was delicious:

Mmm.... filet mingon with lovely sides. Or as Uncle Fester likes to call it: Dead Cow! :O

And as we ate, the actors took a break from the action and schmoozed the diners

Jen Jaynes as Marilyn Munster

Marble Man talks with Uncle Fester, played by Ron Bush

After the hilarity finished, Mom, Marble Man, and I walked outside to find the shopping village dressed in her holiday finery:

Everywhere we turned we saw trees and buildings festooned with colored fairy lights. It's official, I've got the holiday spirit now.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Oh, and as for whodunnit? I can't say as the play runs through the end of December. Don't want to spoil it for anyone. ;)

copyright 2009 Shibori Girl