Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last two recipes for 2009

A little late in posting this, but we went a little outside the box for Christmas dinner this year. I wanted something different, and said no to turkey. I wanted to do a pot roast, but the husband didn't want that. Neither of us were enthused by the thought of ham. And then I got the brilliant but rather daunting idea. Leg of lamb.

I secured a 9.5# haunch. It was prepped by rubbing it all over with a lemon half, then with sprigs of rosemary. I thin sliced the other half of the lemon and half an onion and laid them across the fatty side, with a couple more sprigs of rosemary on top. Pre-heat the oven to 400, put the leg in, turn the temp down to 325, and cook it for 20 minutes per pound.

Before:

Leg of Lamb, before

After:

Leg of Lamb, after

Très Flintstones, oui?

It came out beautifully. Very tender, slightly rare, and quite tasty. I need more lamb carving practice, though. We've got lots of leftovers, so it's been gyro central here the past week. So, of course, the next thing to make was tsatsiki. No pictures, as there's none left, but here's the recipe - pretty simple:

8oz Greek yogurt
1 English Cucumber (they're the ones wrapped in plastic)
2-6 cloves of garlic to taste, minced or pressed
3-6 sprigs of dill, stripped
2 1/2 teaspoons of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Wash, peel, and either dice or grate the cucumber. Toss the cucumber with 2 teaspoons of salt and let it drain in a strainer for at least 1 hour. Mix garlic with remainder of salt. Mix all ingredients. If you can, let stand overnight. That's a hard one, though.

Happy New Year, all! 2010, here we come!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 120

So I said I was taking a break, but today I finally got around to editing the load of pictures I took at the Pacific Science Center last Sunday. Here's my favorite of the bunch:


Gears by *dbvictoria on deviantART

In case you hadn't noticed

Yep, taking a bit of a break for the holidays. I'll be creating and blogging again starting the 2nd, but the holiday schedule has been rather whirling, and I've been having way too much fun with my Christmas present from the husband, a copy of Dragon Age for the PC.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 115

No rest for the wicked, even on Christmas Eve! While I was engaged in the knitmonster project, the munchkin kept asking if it was for her, and I kept telling her no, but that I'd knit her a scarf for Christmas. Of course, yesterday afternoon I remembered that I'd promised her one. I couldn't wuss out and give her one I'ad already pre-made, because she'd even picked out the yarn color that was her favorite from my stash!

So here it is - I finished it about 6pm this evening, two skeins of boa yarn:

A scarf for the munchkin

Presents are made, cookies and milk are waiting for Santa, and the husband and cat and I are about to curl up in front of a toasty fireplace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 114

I did another knotted necklace today, but unfortunately it's going to remain in an almost-completed state for awhile yet, because I still haven't gotten the right kind of bead caps that are used on the end of knotted necklaces to finish the piece off and add a clasp.

jewelry necklaceFreshwater Pearl and Burgundy Glass Knotted Necklace

Here's what the ends currently look like:

Freshwater Pearl and Burgundy Glass Knotted Necklace

And what I need to finish them are these little pieces pictured here:



Someday I'll get a stock of these, and then look out, I'll be a knotting fiend!

One more picture, a set I made some time ago, but just retook the pictures of with the slate tile, so much better images than the originals on black velvet:

Cool photography news

One of my aquarium photos in my flickr pool is on the short list to be published in the 10th edition of the Schmap Seattle Guide!

It's this one, in case you were wondering:

Pictures from the Seattle Aquarium

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 113

I missed yesterday's post, but in a good cause, as I went to see Avatar. If you haven't seen this yet, go! It's amazing, a true visual treat, and a wonderful treatment of a classic plot.

Here's yesterday's creation, only one picture, and it's not quite finished yet as I don't have the right clasp for it. It's rescued from an old broken brass bangle bracelet, combined with some vintage chain, and rounds of rhodonite:

Rhodonite and Brass Steampunk Y Necklace

And today's, another steampunk piece, a part from an old pocketwatch combined with jade beads and vintage chain.

Jade and Brass Steampunk Necklace:



I also made a batch of my carnivore's black bean soup:

Ingredients:
Four cans beef or chicken broth (or a combination of both)
Two cans refried black beans
Two cans whole black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
A half to a whole bulb of garlic, depending on taste
One medium sweet yellow onion
One red bell pepper
1-2 cans corn
1 lb hot sausage (or regular sausage with jalapenos to taste)
Two chicken breasts, diced
Sour cream (optional)

Directions:
Dice the red bell pepper
Drain corn
Roast pepper and corn in oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F, stir once


Dice the sausage and onions and saute them in a large soup pot (at least 10 gallons) until the onions are just beginning to get translucent.
Peel and press or mince the garlic (and jalapenos, if using) and add to pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
Strain and rinse the whole beans well.
Add broth, refried and whole beans, and roasted vegetables to pot, bring to a gentle roil.

Dice raw chicken
Toss chicken in pot, bring back to just boiling

Reduce heat to low, and let simmer, stirring regularly, for at least two hours.

Best the next day

Optional: Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top



And today, I bought a lamb shank for Christmas dinner. It'll be my first attempt at lamb. Fingers are crossed, wish me luck!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another vintage shot

I just had to brag, because I love how this picture turned out so much!

Vintage Coro Rhinestone Screwback Earrings


Vintage Coro Rhinestones by *dbvictoria on deviantART

A Year in the Making, Day 111

First off, I have to squeeeeeeee! As I type this, my golden grapes earrings are featured on the front page of Etsy!

FP 12-20-09

The page is also captured in the Vault on Craftcult.com.

And now on to more serious business. I made a necklace today with rose quartz, and experimented with different photo backgrounds to see which one showed the beads off best, my regular fabric remnant and the slate tile I dusted off earlier this week:


Rose Quartz and Pewter Celtic Knot Necklace on Sterling Silver






Which background do you like better?

I also did some more canning today, to round off my Christmas gift giving for the year. Today's jam operation - mango papaya strawberry:


Mango Papaya Strawberry Jam

Now to go bask in my 15 minutes for a little while longer!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New additions to Miss Victoria's Vintage this weekend!

Over 50 new items listed so far, and oodles still more to come:

Etsy
Buy Handmade
missvictoriasvintage

A Year in the Making, Day 110

A quick post today, a fly-by, as we say in the JET team. We spent the afternoon puttering around Seattle, getting out of the house before we all went stir-crazy. Just a standard winter day in the drooling weather. We are currently in the midst of making Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, and will be whipping up a batch of hot chocolate soon. I whipped out a couple of sets today, with beads that I found in our perambulations. They're proving rather troublesome to photograph, or at least the smaller ones are. I found smaller and larger clear glass beads with orcas on them, so here's a set with each size, necklace and earrings:

whale-set-1

whale-set-2

The smaller ones didn't want to cooperate with the camera at all, but here's a close-up of the larger:

whale-set-1-2

6 days till Christmas - are you ready?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Two whole days

Without a new item made. Bad Kitty!

I have been working though, really. Both at the day job, and for most of the last two evenings I've been spending editing photos of oodles of vintage pieces that I just acquired. I've got some wonderful estate jewelry, as well as a plethora of mens' goodies. All the pictures are now edited, and I've begun listing the shinies. Here's some of my favorites so far:

Blue Rhinestone Filigree Flower Brooch



Art Deco Silver Filigree Brooch with Red Faceted Glass



Heart and Rose Screwback Earrings and Rose Brooch Set with Rhinestones



I'll be listing lots more throughout the weekend, so keep an eye on Miss Victoria's Vintage.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Etsy in the New York Times

An article was published on Etsy in the New York Times yesterday, and it portrays a very realistic view of the work involved in being a power seller.

Imagine knitting 13 hours a day, or starting work at 5am and working till 1am trying to get your orders out the door.

Most of us would like to be able to live off of our arts, but I know for me that's not a realistic dream. The wire wrapping is hard on my hands and wrists.



Carpal tunnel and tendonitis are a very real possibility for me, as well as various back and neck problems that I've worked through doing the sewing, especially of the parasols.



I had a small taste of this earlier this year, as Miss Victoria's Vintage had a flurry of activity, the source of which I have never determined. It was nowhere near the amount of sales that a featured seller might receive, but 24 sales in one month had me hopping nevertheless! Imagine having that many in one day.

I've currently got over 700 items listed between my two shops. Each item corresponds to at least a half an hour of taking and editing pictures, measuring and calculating, and doing the listing. So that's about 350 hours of work there, not even counting the time it took me to make things, or the hours I spend shopping around for vintage goods! Admittedly, relisting a hand made item is less work, but not everything in my dbvictoria shop can be reproduced. Even with the simpler necklaces and earrings, I'll run out of a particular style of beads, or, as happend a couple of years ago, my supplier discontinued a certain type of chain, then started carrying it again at twice the price! I'll find some beads or another bulk chain that are close but not exact, so have to retake pictures after I remake an item. And I'm always working to improve my pictures, and once or twice a year I'll redo the images in the listings of about 40-50 items.

So this article really does capture the work involved in running your own handmade business. It's a sobering thought, but reality checks like these are good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 107

Today, a new pair of earrings. I recently acquired a lot of estate jewelry, and among all the things were this pair of carved jade whales. They were attached to some mangled pieces of wire that may have at one time been earwires. I restrung them with some freshwater pearls and sterling earwires tonight:

Jade Whale earrings

And I have a new toy, to help with identifying some of my vintage pieces, since my jewelers' loupe hasn't been quite sufficient in some cases:

My new toy

Isn't he cute?

Here's a teaser of things to come for Miss Victoria's Vintage, by the way:

Amber Glass Pin

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holy Sleeping Camera, Batman!

It's working again, thank goodness. Tried to turn it on one more time out of desperation, and it's back as if nothing happened. Guess it needed a nap?

Still going to be doing my homework and picking out its successor, though. But I'm a lot less stressed now that my baby is functioning again.

My baby

Missed you, baby, even though you weren't gone that long!

I'll have to save my making post till tomorrow now, since I lost the light, though. But tomorrow's okay.

It's like a scene from a movie

You know when the hero or heroine sees some huge disaster looming, and the movie moves into extreme slow motion, and they get this look of horrible realization on their face, and they give the screen a tragic drawn out "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Well, that's me right now. My trusty Nikon 990, that I've had for about 8 years now, that has given me so many wonderful images, just died. Blank screen, won't turn on, nothing. My other camera is a Canon PowerShot A550, and although it has twice the megapixels, it doesn't have the extreme macro power, the fantastic spot focus that lets you see each individual wrap of wire in a bracelet.

Going to go drown my sorrows in something now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 104

Today, I took a break from making, as I spent a good portion of the day with a rather painful cramp in my left hand. I noticed it while driving, gripping the wheel. It was an on-the-road kind of day for me, about 3 hours worth of driving altogether, and I spent most of it with my left hand in my lap or carefully stretched out against the door armrest. It finally went away, but I'm babying it now.

So instead, I retook a bunch of pictures. I was trying for a unified shop appearance as much as possible, and a light background is always better, because even in natural light, a dark background washes out the colors of the jewelry. But the light colored beads and stones were blending a little too well with the light background. I have a couple of slate pieces that we use for trivets on the dining room table, and I've used them in the past for a few of my pieces, so today I pulled out all the lighter colored bits and bobs, and a few sets that I'd originally photographed on black velvet, and retook them all on a green slate tile. I've been updating the listings bit by bit throughout the evening, taking a break to decorate the Christmas tree with the family, finally.

Our Christmas Tree 2009

We have to move the sofa every year to set up the tree, so for the rest of the year I will be suffering a crick in my neck from trying to lie on the sofa and use the laptop and watch TV all at the same time.

Here's a before and after of the same necklace, white background vs. slate:

Moonstone Necklace





I've got a much better contrast now, and also pulled in a lot closer for the shots as well, to highlight the materials.

And while I was doing my photographing and updating, I found a necklace I'd made some time ago, but had never actually listed!

Freshwater Pearl and Pewter Celtic Knot Necklace:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 103

Two days in one again, as I went to a rather fabulous holiday party last night and was too tired to post when I got home. It was an altogether busy but wonderful weekend. We had babysitting during the day Saturday, and went out to brunch at The Crepe Cafe, an extravagant indulgence. I had the Heavens Crepe - black forest ham, swiss, and asparagus with bechemel sauce. Divine indeed! We also got to browse in a couple of antique and thrift stores without wondering what little hands were getting into. Also divine.

Home again, and I made mashed yams and candied yams for a holiday party. It's been awhile since I've made the sweet dish. For years I made mashed potatoes and candied yams for the holiday table, but the last few, with nods to our increasing waistlines, I started making just mashed yams. It's pretty simple, and very tasty.

Take 2 yams, peel, and cube to about 1-1.5" square. Simmer in a pan with 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 heavy cream for about 20 minutes, till fork tender, then mash. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Or, you can take this mixture, minus the salt and pepper, and instead add 2 eggs, a half-cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of powdered ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of allspice, and press into a 2-quart casserole dish. Then take another 4 tablespoons of butter, softened, and cream with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and a generous cup of chopped pecans, sprinkle this on top of the yams, and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. I used to use canned yams for the candied variety, but cut those out, which this makes the dish a tad less horrible for you, and tastier to boot.

Candied yams

Yesterday, while the yams were simmering, I made a new necklace from some vintage ceramic beads and a rescued vintage chain:

Brown Ceramic Vintage Choker with Vintage Chain



Experimenting with the photo style that seems to be in vogue at the moment, which really does the beads on this necklace their just due.

My goal for the rest of the month is to work on fitting myself back into my bead toolkit. I've got an 18-gallon tote into which I put all my bead boxes, but this year I outgrew it, so I've been storing bags of beads and other oddments in two 2-gallon tupperware bins. I don't think I'll be able to clear them all out in the next three weeks, but we'll see!

Here's the kit, by the way:

My jewelry kit

That picture was actually taken about a year and a half ago, so it gives the false impression that I do indeed still fit into it.

Here's what the bead boxes also looked like a year and a half ago:

My bead boxes

I've added 3-4 more of the translucent white boxes since. I wish I could find more of the larger blue storage boxes. I got the three I have at a yard sale about 3-4 years ago, and have never seen anything like them since.

The black box

But the whole point of this is that the necklace I made today was made from beads that just wouldn't fit in the toolkit, some fire polished burgundy beads. I bounce around between a lot of different styles, but always come back to the classic Hollywood era, the era of style.

Garnet Fire Polished Glass Multistrand Necklace with Vintage Butterfly Clasp:





So the stringing phase continues.

I actually started working on another necklace, a knotted one, with some more of these beads alternating with white freshwater pearls. Didn't get too far on it today, and I don't know when I'll finish, as I have to track down some of the clamshell endcaps with which to tie off the ends correctly, what I figured out I did wrong the last time I tried a knotted necklace:



They're talking possibility of snow flurries tomorrow, and we had a brief one today too. To which I must say "NOOOOOOO! NO SNOW!" Wish us luck?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 101

Another day, another complaint about the cold, another necklace! Today, a wish for warmth and sun and sparkle, a chunk of polished agate strung on brushed brass chain. Still in simple mode:

Agate Geode Necklace

Tomorrow's a full day, so there may not be an update until Sunday. We've got babysitting set up at our local community center, so will have 3 whole hours to ourselves in the middle of the day. Don't quite know what we're going to do with it! Then a social engagement is planned for myself and the munchkin, which will hopefully not be interrupted by forecast of evil snow. I will be doing double yam duty, making mashed yams for the more healthy minded, and sinful candied yams for those with a mind to indulge. So either tomorrow or Sunday, I promise you more recipes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 100

Day 1 of triple digits! Go little old me!

Still cold. Are you tired of me griping about cold yet? I am.

Today, I played around with a chunk of turquoise I'd picked up awhile back. I'm in a simple frame of mind right now, I think, plus I'm wanting to find more things to do with these rice pearls.

Turquoise and Rice Pearls Necklace

Turquoise and Rice Pearls Necklace

I've also been listing oodles of beauties in Miss Victoria's Vintage, and there'll be even more to come as I work through the backlog I've accumulated the last few months:

Etsy
Buy Handmade
missvictoriasvintage

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 99

Still cold. Still entirely too cold. Moved away from Wisconsin because I DO NOT LIKE! weather like this. Brrrrr freakin' brrrrrr!

DO NOT LIKE!!!

But still being inspired by icy cold, so today you get an ice pendant. Well, not really, just a cut glass teardrop with freshwater pearls, but still:

Cut Glass Drop Necklace with Rice Pearls

Cut Glass Drop Necklace with Rice Pearls

The weatherman says there's a chance of snow Saturday. I say no. No to snow. We had our snow quota for the decade last Christmas. I remember vividly. Snowbound for a week. That's when I started actually posting to this blog, out of absolute and total snow-induced stir-craziness. Say it with me, gentle readers: "NO SNOW NO SNOW NO SNOW!"

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 98

Towards the end of September, I was approached by a fellow Etsian, noneoftheabove, asking if I'd be interested in a trade. I normally don't do trades. This isn't my main source of income (thank goodness!), but it is money in the bank, and covers some of our household expenses and has saved our bacon on more than one occasion when an unexpected expense arises. (Like when the water heater decides to explode!) But I'd had a really good month, and decided I'd take a look at her shop, and I'm glad I did, because she makes the most beautiful pendants! I ended up with four of her pendants, and tonight I finally came up with a way to showcase two of them:


Grey Pearls and Clay Necklace by *dbvictoria on deviantART


Golden Pendant Glass Necklace by *dbvictoria on deviantART

I've got two more pendants I'm sitting on still, waiting for inspiration to strike:





I don't have quite the right colors of beads to go with these. Yet. Give me time. There are always more beads to be bought!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Year in the Making, Day 97

Brrrrr! Still freezing cold. Literally. It may have broken 32F today in some parts of the Seattle area, but it sure didn't feel like it!

I'm excited, because today the feature from Caroline Ghetes ran in the Ruffled blog! Check it out here. It was a wonderful experience, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with her again!

Look! More exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!! *laughing at myself*

Today, a new bracelet and earrings set, inspired by the frigid temps. It gets dark starting about 4pm this time of year. (No, seriously!) I couldn't find my tripod to take shots tonight, so all the ones I took of the full set were blurry and the only ones that turned out were ones I took at strange angles because I was leaning a corner of the camera on top of the box on which I take my pictures.

Silver and Glass Bracelet and Earrings

Silver and Glass Bracelet and Earrings

Silver and Glass Bracelet and Earrings

And now off I go to primp and preen for this evening's outing, the 7th anniversary of a local first-Monday swing and jazz night. I've decided to pull out the vintage velvet and antique mink for the occasion.