Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Beads and recipes: Sweet and Sour Beans and Hamburger Soup

How's that for a random title? I mostly write about bead projects but occasionally take time out for other topics. Today I decided to write about a journey I have undertaken with my recent retirement from corporate life. First, let me just say I hate the word retirement but I certainly am enjoying the act. It's such an indulgence to face an entire day, knowing I can mold it anyway I want. And, like most freshly-retired folks, I have a list about a mile long of those tasks I promised I would do once I had more time to myself.

One of those activities is to build a family cookbook with my mother's recipes as the centerpiece but interspersed with family stories. Mom was a great cook. By my calculations, she cooked over 10,000 dinners, usually served at 5:00 pm sharp when up to eight of us would be starving, home after school and sports or band practice and before we started our evening routines of homework, music lessons and Dad grading papers. I didn’t think it was a big deal then but now it boggles my mind compared to my bouts of cooking, which are sporadic at best.

Mom was Martha before there was Martha (Stewart). She was always game to try something new and always had an appreciative audience. We all had large appetites and nary a picky eater in the group. The only disappointment for Mom must have been that it took us about 10 minutes to inhale dinner and jump up to whatever came next on our agenda that night, except for me as I was the clean-up assistant - a chore I enjoyed as it allowed me to munch on the rare leftovers, listen to music while doing the dishes and make a cup of instant coffee for Dad, served to him with a spoon in his thick white mug.

Me and sister Greta in the kitchen with our Mom
When my Mom passed away, my sister rescued two recipe boxes just bursting at the seams. We decided that compiling and publishing these recipes would be a great way to preserve and share our legacy with the many offspring, nieces and nephews who never had a chance to know our Mom. So I volunteered to do the heavy lifting and boy is it ever heavy. There are literally hundreds of recipes to review, scan, and catalogue. Then I want to add snippets of family history, which is a whole other project of researching family facts and collecting and organizing photos. I initially thought the project might take me a year but I think I need to at least double that estimate.

Mom's Recipe Jumble
So while I am working, I thought it would be fun to share a few excerpts on my blog along with a link to recipes. To start, I am sharing two recipes that made me smile. The first one is for Sweet and Sour Beans and it made me smile because it calls for one can of odd beans, among other things. Now what in the heck does that mean? I am guessing it is any type of bean your heart may desire. Unlike most of my Mom's recipes which were clipped from a newspaper or magazine or written on a recipe card, this one was written on an envelope that must have been laying by the phone when she was talking to whoever provided it.

Recipe: Sweet and Sour Beans

The second recipe, Hamburger Soup, makes me smile because there are absolutely no quantities listed for any of the ingredients. This more than anything reminds me of Mom for whom recipes were more of a suggestion and road map to which she would add spices, often chaotically along the way, until they tasted just the way she wanted.

Recipe: Hamburger Soup

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lukewarm on beading mags, but glad there's YouTube

I used to subscribe to just about every beading magazine and, when they went electronic, I'd buy the electronic and paper versions. But lately I have been a bit disappointed with the designs and haven't found much to motivate me to renew my subscriptions. There are so many new bead types and shapes, I never seem to have everything on the materials list and I'm really trying to use my stash before making new purchases.

Anyone else out there experience that? I find I get more inspiration from YouTube tutorials than from the beading mags, and my favorite "Tuber" bead artist is Stephanie from Bronzepony Beaded Jewelry. She consistently uploads new content which is a nice blend of easy-to-intermediate. Her instructions are excellent as is her pace of instruction. And her designs are wearable and stylish.

Link to BronzePony Beaded Jewelry YouTube Channel

I looked back over my old blog posts and found quite a few of Stephanie's designs. The caption under each photo takes you directly to the YouTube tutorial for that item.

Bronzepony Design: Interlace Pods Earrings

Bronzepony Design: Hematite Heaven Ring

Bronzepony Design: Summer Daze Earrings

Bronzepony Design: Summer Daze Necklace

Bronzepony Design: Tapestry Ring

Friday, February 2, 2018

When all else fails, make earrings!

I'm finally back to beading on a more regular schedule. I wanted to sink my needles into a challenging project and dug out this yummy design by LeAnn Boehman, saved from the August 2015 Bead & Button. And yes, this project just screams for fall weather and I am hoping I will be able to finish it in time for this year's autumnal equinox.

Autumnal Equinox Design by LeAnn Boehman, August 2015 Bead and Button

I had finished the below pendant almost two years ago, with the thought of using it for this design instead of the cabochon shown above. And, as (bad) luck would have it, I just couldn't find it in my trove. At least I took a picture of it, so I know it exists somewhere!

Long-lost earthstone cab

I dug in my cabochon stash and found this round stone that probably better serves the design. I do love the leafy fringe treatment. Now, I just need to keep track of it while I finish the neck strap.

And I wasn't joking when I said I was endeavoring to finish this by 2018 fall! While quite beautiful, the leafy fringe on the neck strap is making me crazy! The entire 10-inch strap is embellished with three leaves in between each core bead of the foundation spiral rope. Below are a little over two inches which took me about a month to complete.

With the postponed gratification of this work-in-progress, I turn to my old stand-by to get a feeling of accomplishment: EARRINGS! Thanks to AmyBeads who shared the below design for Orb Earrings, by Kelly from Off the Beaded Path. I liked this design so much that I made it in silver:

Orb Earrings: Design by Kelly from Off the Beaded Path

Then I made it in bronze:

And then I thought it would be a really pretty ring, so I made one of those:

I made a couple adjustments to the earring design for a slightly wider ring band and used 4mm bi-cones instead of 3mm.

Now I am ready to resume work of the never-ending Autumnal Equinox neck strap!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Some years, the bear eats you

When I would complain or engage in a session of self-pity, my Dad would chant, “Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.” I’m not sure if this is a widely-held aphorism so I did a little “G-search” and learned that the saying is really, “some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you,” attributed to baseball pitcher, Preacher Roe. This makes sense as my Dad was a talented baseball player and likely gained this nugget somewhere in his pitching days.

Well the bear ate me this year and I will save you from the gory details other than to say I have developed a renewed admiration for all those many caregivers out there who, day-in and day-out, care for their loved ones. We had an health crisis this year that caused us to pretty much put everything on hold that was not part of the medical bubble in which we found ourselves. And despite some harrowing hours and moments of despair, I count us among the fortunate as having access to excellent doctors, decent health insurance and a boss who allowed me great flexibility in my work hours.

Hobbies were definitely one of those things that took a back seat, thus the lack of posts since September. Fingers-crossed, we have found some stability that has allowed me to return to regular beading and crochet.

So I'd like to leave you with this beaded peace sign which was one of my first beading projects after a long hiatus. It is a pattern by Marcia and Mark DeCoster and is available in Marcia's Etsy shop. Don't let the price tag be too off-putting as some of the proceeds go toward Alzheimer's research.

Here's to a healthy, happy 2018!

© Cave Creek Beads