Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beading, Reading, and Eating

This is some beading I did a few years ago. The rainbow bracelet was from a sapphire bracelet I saw at a jewelers, and absolutely adored. But the bracelet retailed at over $7000, so not only did I not think my husband was going to get it for me, I would have been afraid to wear it in case it broke, or was stolen, or something. So, here is a picture of the bracelet I made...
Before I saw the bracelet, I did not know that sapphires come in all the colors of the rainbow. I knew about rubies, but sapphires also come in a lovely peachy-pink called padparadscha, and also in yellow, green, purple, etc... I still prefer opals, for the flash, and rainbow moonstone and labradorite for their blue shimmery flash, but I like sapphires a lot better now. Anyway, the bracelet is made with several different colors of 4mm crystal cube beads by Swarovski, and the outer band is silver lined gold delica beads. The toggle bar is finished on the ends with capri blue 4mm Swarovski round crystals.  I wrote up the directions as I was asked by a fellow beader to teach her how to make the bracelet, and ended up with several other students in the class. I discovered I like teaching people how to do stuff, and so did another class with my "tennis bracelet".

 This is just a basic daisy chain, with each loop separate from each other, and after finishing the loops, as in the bracelet at the top of the picture, I would go back along the loops and add other beads. The tennis bracelet effect was from using Swarovski bicone beads in each loop. I also did some with flower beads alternating with either crystals or seed beads, as in the purple bracelet in the middle.

Lastly, at least where beading is concerned, I am putting up a picture of my star bracelet, necklace, and a string of stars that I stitched onto a ribbon to make a choker.

This came about because I was noodling round trying to make stars, and figured out how to make a string of stars. Came in handy, as when I was doing the white stars for a choker, I was sitting in an emergency room with my son, who needed stitches. So instead of worrying, I beaded. Let me tell you, when I am stressed, I can really bead fast.

So on to reading. The daughter of the house, and Magpie in training, brought me a set of books to read, as she loves them and wanted to share. So I did, and now I am sharing with anyone who reads this. I highly recommend the Chris D'Lacey Icefire dragon books. This is the same daughter who, with her friends, came up with the term ADOS,  the letters of which stand for, "Attention Deficit...Ooooh, Shiny!" This is also known as Dragon ADD. Magpies also have this--well, I refuse to call an affinity to shiny objects a disorder, so...

On to the eating portion of this blog... I started making this because I love honey oat bread, but hate the prices they charge at the store. I brought several loaves to Thanksgiving last year, and my Mum and another lady wrapped the two leftover loaves to take home, and when I asked were they going to share, they both said, quite firmly, "NO!" I think it might have tasted really good--and the two loaves I left home were very yummy as toast the next morning. So enjoy, and maybe I'll make some tomorrow, it will go very well with the barbecued pork loin I am making for dinner.

Honey Oatmeal Bread
(makes 3 large loaves, or six small loaves)

6 cups water, barely warm (I finally learned that the temp of your hand is perfect, after killing a lot of yeast, and cold is better than too hot)
1/2 cup honey
3 tbl yeast
2 cups oatmeal
flour (I use unbleached white) 15 or 16 cups, something around 5 pounds)
3 tbl salt
vegetable oil, for raising and also for the bread pans

Stir together water, oatmeal, honey and yeast, let it rest so the oatmeal soaks up lots of water. Dump in most of the flour you are using, stir until it is hard to stir, then knead until the dough doesn't cling to your hands. This takes about ten minutes or so. I do all this in a large metal bowl, then lift the dough ball up, add a little vegetable oil to the bowl, smear it around and put the dough back in to rise. I put plastic cling wrap on top of the bowl so moisture doesn't escape. Let rise for a couple hours, until it has doubled. Punch down, and repeat the rise/punch down at least once more. The distinctive "baking bread smell" comes from at least two rises, and three is even better. I usually bake on cookie pans, and make the rounded "french" or "italian" loaves because it is way easier to wash a flat pan than a pan with sides.

After the last rise, turn the oven on to 400F. Oil a couple of cookie sheets (my husband says put foil down and oil that, as the oil otherwise gets very sticky and won't come off the cookie sheet). Punch the dough down and divide into six blobs. (Or three, or whatever) I like the six because it bakes in a shorter amount of time. Anyway, I flatten it on the cookie sheet and then roll the bread dough into a log. Repeat for the rest of the dough, place on cookie sheets and bake for 45 minutes (or 1 hour 15 minutes for the bigger loaves). I do this in two stages, three loaves per baking, as the bottom pan of bread doesn't brown as well, because the top pan shields it. Just let the second batch of dough rise until you are ready to form loaves and bake.

THE Magpie

PS, for those with bread machines, divide recipe into how much the bread machine likes. And I don't see any reason why this couldn't be kneaded with the mixer and dough hook arrangement, either. I just hate washing dishes, and the one bowl method means far fewer dishes to wash after. This is approximate measurements, at least regarding the flour, as I use what I need to get the result I am after. Do feel free to tweak the recipe to suit yourself.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture of beaded bead and Granny Weatherwax

Here is a picture of the beaded bead I am working on.
 I thought at first that it looked kind of like a frog's eyes, but later started thinking it looked a bit like a corset, at this point. Um. A friend of mine calls me terminally naive, and she may be right, but I'm getting better. Anyway, the little bumps are going to go all the way round, and then a row of slightly bigger bumps round the middle, and a second row of the small bumps for the last row. Then I add crystals between the bumps, and work some rows to tighten the ends, and I'll be finished. Appearances to the contrary, the yellowish beads are actually ceylon white pearl.
 Here is the little pot of beads I am using to stitch the bead up with. Pretty, no? Ceylon white pearl, Delica 24 kt Rose Gold, iris blue Charlottes, Capri blue 4mm Swarovski bicones, capri blue luster size 11 seed beads and three cut size 12 capri blue AB seed beads.

Here are two pictures of my avocado tree. I started her in August, and in November noticed that she had sent up a shoot, but that something had happened to it. So I brought her out from under the table, where I had placed her so that she could grow undisturbed, and added some water in hopes that she was still alive, She responded by sending up a second shoot, which got to six inches tall, and which one of the cats promptly bit off. I figured the tree had possibly gone to that big forest in the sky, but on the off chance she hadn't I put a glass chimney over her, to protect her from voracious herbivorous felines. Well, about a week later, I noticed leaflets poking out from the chopped off stems, and so she acquired a name, Granny Weatherwax, who had a sign she would hold when she was out borrowing animal minds, "I Aten't Dead Yet", so that no one would bury her by mistake. Well, the avocado tree "Aten't Dead Yet".

THE Magpie

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Inna Gadda Da Beada

Some people will get the reference. As soon as I figure out how to fix the spacing problem on a crystal torus I made, I'll put a picture on of it. I tried it with the size beads they called for, and didn't like the way it twisted. So I tried with the next size bead, really hated how it twisted. So I'm going to try again, with different combinations of beads etc, and see if I can get it to fold the way the picture in the magazine is. Arrgh. For those who are curious, it is the toggle loop in a gold and black bracelet in the same issue as the green and cream bracelet I am making.

So while I am thinking about that, I am working on a beaded bead from the book Seed Bead Fusion by Rachel Nelson Smith. Very cool looking things in the book, I am doing the Oothecal Bedes, page 68. I'd put a picture in here, but all I have is a little bit of the right angle weave, and it looks awful. So I took a picture of what I have so far, but I'm not posting it without something that looks a bit more like I know what I am doing. Rachel did the pieces in matte pink, shiny pink, lime and green iris, mine is done in mid blue lustre, blue iris, pearl, gold and capri blue, which sounds like more colors, but the blues are very close in color. The little bowl of beads looks lovely all mixed up together, so I'm pretty sure the bedes will look very nice.

Oh, and next month, I've signed up for a class at one of my EGA Chapters--that is Embroiderer's Guild of America, and if you like to stitch and want to hang out with likeminded people, I highly recommend you check them out. is the website. Anyway, it is a bracelet, made with firepolished crystals and seedbeads, and we had three colorways to choose from--none of them the bracelet that was there to show what it looked like :-( so I am doing it in AB crystal. The show and tell piece was done in red AB and gold, and looked very warm, hence, probably, the appeal.  Pictures will be posted when I do this.

Inna Gadda Da Vida, famous song by Iron Butterfly. I don't particularly like it anymore, mostly because the radio station I set on my alarm clock kept playing it at 4:30 AM, which was when I needed to get up, and I usually would lie in bed until the song playing on the radio when the alarm came on was over...

THE Magpie