Spool Pendant Tutorail

Spools are all over our house.  Some of them are slated to be reused as spools for homespun thread but when this challenge came up we decided to try something new.
It took weeks of thinking and brainstorming but we came up with a pendant using the design already in the spool.
We started by cutting off the end with a hack saw.
Then we painted it with a bronzing finish and added a copper insert on the edge.
For color we added green pearls and red and dark blue glass beads.
Then we pounded some copper into a bracket and punched holes in it and inserted a copper axle so the pendent could spin.

Last we just added a simple chain.


Personal Shower

I put together a shower for a friend of mine.  She's getting married this weekend, so for favors, I made a box full of little bags of chocolate pearls.  Everyone wrote a "pearl of wisdom" for the bride-to-be on a square of paper, and traded it for the chocolate.

Her favorate color is purple, and she loves chocolate, so I made her this cake.

I wanted to intensify the chocolate flavor, so intead of flouring the pans, I dusted them with my favorite cocoa powder.  The cake came out huge, beautiful and filled with a rich chocolate ganache.


Are you Ready for Cooking Around The World?

Cooking Around the World starts next weekend at UTA.  There are still a few spots left. 

In the class, I cover foods endogenous to each area, and how culture and trade have shaped the culinary culture over time.  Then we make a meal authentic to that culture.

This time, we are doing:
The Dominican Republic
and India

To get you in the mood, I'm posting a recipe here for lamb vindaloo (from the Goa region of India).  It's not for the faint of spice (It will nearly melt your lips off), but the lamb practically melts in your mouth, and there are few things better than curried potatoes.  When you toast the spices, they get extremely aromatic, so try to have as much ventilation in your kitchen as possible.  This recipe makes enough for a dinner party.  If you want to make enough for four or five people, make the masala (toasted spice mix) as is, but only use half (save the rest in an air-tight container for up to a couple of months), and half the other ingredients.

Lamb Vindaloo

3 tbsp. coriander seeds
2 tbsp. cumin seeds
8 bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tbsp. cardamom pods
1 tbsp. cloves
2 tbsp. dried red chillies
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick 
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. turmeric 
1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds 
2 lb. lamb, cubed
1 c. Greek yogurt 
3 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
12 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. jaggery 
2 lb. tomatoes, diced 
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
2 seranno peppers, sliced (do not remove seeds)  
2 onions, diced
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1/4 c. ghee
3/4 c. red wine vinegar 

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add all the spices, and cook until the mixture becomes fragrant and the spices start to darken.  Remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool completely.  Process the spices in batches in a spice grinder until you have a uniform powder.  Pour the powder into a gallon-size zipper bag.  Add the garlic, ginger, yogurt, salt, jaggery and red wine vinegar and squish to combine.  Add the cubed lamb, and refrigerate overnight.  Turn the bag over a couple of times during this process. 

Melt the ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until they just begin to soften.  Add the onions, seranno peppers, bell pepper strips and tomatoes.  Continue cooking until the onions turn translucent and the tomatoes start to give up their moisture.  Pour in the lamb, along with the marinade, and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken.  Serve over Basmatti rice, with naan to scoop up the sauce and raita to cool everything down.


Another Chance at a Giveaway

We are doing a giveaway with the help of The Frosted Button Handmade.  For this one, we are giving away a Don't Bug Me sachet and a gym bag sachet.  The contest is running through the end of the month.

Check out the details here.

For more info on the items look on our Etsy shop:




Roses -- Herb of the Year

The International Herb Association has declared the rose as the herb of the year for 2012.  On Saturday, I attended the Greater Fort Worth Herb Society's very informative talk on Earth-Kind roses (given by Janice Clark, president of the Fort Worth Rose Society).  She showed us photos of beautiful, maintenance free roses, and then gave a bush away as a door prize.

We were also treated to a demo on napkin roses, based on a tutorial from Stone Gable.

Afterwards, Linda Lain,  President of the Herb Society of America, who happened to be visiting the group, reminded everyone that roses really are herbs, bringing out their long history of medicinal and culinary uses. 

Inspired by the beauty of these flowers, I have designed two new rose-scented sachets: the Roses are Red and the Paris Afternoon.

Would you like to make your own satin roses, like the one I used in the Roses are Red?  Follow this simple tutorial. (Special thanks to Jake for holding the ribbon!)

Measure out a length of ribbon.  About 60 inches works for 1 1/2" wide ribbon.  Use a shorter length for smaller roses.  Leave the ribbon attached to the spool, to avoid waste.  Find the midpoint of your measured piece, and fold as pictured.  Fold the ribbon back under.

Continue folding each side of the ribbon under and under again until you are 6 inches away from the end of the cut end.  Hold the last fold, and allow the rest of the ribbon to accordian out.

Pull gently on the end of the ribbon still attached to the spool, gathering up the folds to make rose petals.  If you pull too hard, you risk pulling the rose back through itself.  Adjust the petals so that they look nice.

 To add stability to your rose, sew up and down through the center of the rose a couple of times using a thread color that matches the ribbon.  This makes for a neater, slightly more compact finished product.  Cut the rose off from the spool, and attach to whatever project you made it for.


Sachet Giveaway

The giveaway is already in it's third day to get your very own dryer sachet set.  You can enter this giveaway by going to giveawaysandglitter.  They have an awesome site where you can get a chance at a lot of cool stuff.
Even if you don't win you can still get these nifty sachets from my etsy store as always.


How Do You Like Your Hot Chocolate?

Winter showed up late, but it is finally here.  So, now that it's cold outside, I'm thinking of ways to warm up.  My hubby loves chocolate, so hot chocolate is an obvious choice.  There are so many ways to enjoy hot chocolate, from Aztec spiced brews made with water, to thick drinks that are basically a liquid ganache.

Here are three of my favorites:

B&B Style Hot Chocolate

1 c. heavy cream
8 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Splash of vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a rolling boil.   Immediately remove from heat and whisk in chocolate.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean jar or plastic container, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. 

For each cup of hot chocolate, stir together 1/4 c. chocolate concentrate and 1/4 c. milk.  Heat over low heat until warm but not boiling.  Stir in vanilla. 

Note: The chocolate mixture will last covered in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Lavender and Roses Scented Hot Chocolate

4 c. milk
3 tbsp. food-grade lavender flowers
2 tbsp. food-grade rosebuds
5 oz. good quality chocolate, chopped

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it almost comes to a boil.  Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting, and add the lavender flowers and rosebuds.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Strain the milk into a clean saucepan, and return to the burner on medium-low heat.  Add the chocolate, and whisk  constantly until it has melted.  Referigerate leftovers for up to two or three days in a container you can shake before opening.

Hot Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup high quality cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp. cayanne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. honey
2 cups whole milk
sweetened whipped cream

Heat the water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for two minutes.   Add cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and cayanne pepper.  Cook, stirring continually, until smooth.  Add the vanilla, honey and milk and heat through.  Serve garnished with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.  Referigerate leftovers for up to two or three days in a container you can shake before opening.


Early Birds

Robins are supposed to be the first sign of spring.  So what are these guys doing in Texas in February?

It has been an unusually mild winter, and it seems like the animals (and the plants sprouting in my garden) seem to have gotten a bit confused.  I took these pictures yesterday, when it was just cold outside, but now it is sleeting, and I feel sorry for these little early birds.


Thread Junkie

I am now an official thread junkie.

I have been doing a zig-zag stitch safety seam on all my dryer sachets.  This wasn't a big deal until I decided to list two dozen new fabrics for sachet duos and trios on my Etsy site (and to make enough stock of each to cover orders).  Then I saw exactly how much thread a zig-zag stitch can take.  So I went for it.

I headed down to JoAnne's (with a coupon, of course) and picked the Gutermann Polyester Sew-All Thread In Home Cabinet.  It literally looks like I have a sewing-store display propped in a corner near my machine. 

I have long favored Gutermann thread.  You just can't beat the Germans for quality.  Plus, the display totally appeals to the graphic designer in me.  The numbering system makes sense (the blues are all 200s, the purples all 900s) and I've got enough colors sitting there that I feel like I am matching thread off a Pantone board.

 Of course, I still need a huge spool of white for doing inside seams, and a large spool each of black and dark brown comes in handy.  Plus, people sometimes give me thread.  So I don't think I will be getting rid of my old thread rack.  Although, it does look a little empty right now, since some of what I had matched the slots for extra spools of thread in the Cabinet.