Sunday, November 27, 2011

Support small businesses this holiday season

Watching some of the news reports for Black Friday, I was quite happy to be ensconced on the sofa next to my daughter, with a cup of steaming hot chai and a kitty lying across my chest purring her furry little heart out. This year, again, I'll be making presents, canning, and buying handcrafted gifts from other small businesses.

Tomorrow is becoming known as Cyber Monday, and there are many places other than large chain websites from which you can purchase items online!.

I'm running a sale for the holidays - 10% off my Designs by Victoria shop on Artfire. Enter the coupon code "10-THANKYOU" at checkout to receive this discount.

And guess what? I've got even more new goodies posted for your perusal!

Bloodstone Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires:

Order of the Nautilus Seahorse Grey Faux Pearl Steampunk Necklace:

Brass Flower and Black Onyx Earrings:

Sunshine Earrings - Orange Glass on Sterling Silver Earwires:

Key to a Hidden Door Steampunk Necklace with Pearls and Sterling Chain:

Moss Agate Briolette Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires:

Cobalt Blue Sparkle Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires:

Orca Earrings - oval glass beads on silver earwires:

Brown Pearl Y Necklace with Pewter Celtic Knot on Sterling Silver:


Thursday, November 24, 2011

A holiday breakfast tradition

Another food post, two in a row! Most folks skimp on or completely breakfast and lunch because they'll have "more room" for Thanksgiving dinner. This isn't a good practice. Eating regularly, if a bit lighter than usual, is healthier than starving yourself all day and then glutting out on a huge feast. So I usually start the day out with something guaranteed to get folks in the house to eat - my egg nog coffeecake. I used to use the Bisquick recipe, substituting egg nog for the milk in the recipe, but what happens when it's Thanksgiving morning and you're out of Bisquick? You improvise with (luckily) tasty results!

eggnog coffeecake

Egg Nog Coffeecake:


2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup eggnog
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


½ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans, but have also used hazelnuts to good reviews)
4 tablespoons softened butter
½ tablespoon cinnamon
½ tablespoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325F

Mix sifted flour, white sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Blend in milk, 2 tablespoon melted butter, eggs, and vanilla, mix well.

In separate bowl, cream softened butter with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold in chopped nuts.

Grease 9x9 glass casserole. Turn batter into greased pan. Sprinkle topping on top.
Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Yields: 9 servings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So many things to be thankful for! My health could be better in some ways, but it could be a whole lot worse in so many others. My husband and I are both employed at things we enjoy. Our daughter continues to delight us. We are blessed with friends who love life, whose company makes us smile. Life is good.

Today, we're going over to a friend's house, so I'm not as buried in food preparation as I normally am this time in the morning on Thanksgiving day.

Here's a couple of my turkey tricks, that I won't be using today. (We'll do a turkey in a week or two because I gotta have my leftover bird!)

This year's turkey
(my bird from a few years ago)

1) If you brine the turkey, use equal parts salt and brown sugar. I don't know why, but it seems to make for a better bird

2) Rub a herbed butter mixture on the turkey all over before putting it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 450. As soon as you put the bird in the oven turn the temp back down to 325. This sears the skin and helps keep moisture in.

3) Cook the bird breast-down until the last hour and then turn it over. The juices from the dark meat will seep downwards into the breast and help keep it more moist. Turning it back up for the last hour will brown the skin nicely. (Turkey lifters are a must for this!)

4) Pureed roasted garlic and vermouth in the gravy! NOM!

Today, I'll be contributing appetizers to our shared feast, some of my merlot and my pomegranate pepper jelly along with some goat cheese and fancy crackers, and for the feast I'm making my candied yams. This recipe got me in a bit of hot water the first Thanksgiving I cooked for my not-yet-husband. His mother called, and the conversation went something like this:

M-in-L: "What are you having for dinner?"

Me: "Well, the turkey, of course, with my rice stuffing, and mashed potatoes and corn and candied yams."

M-in-L: "But my son doesn't like candied yams."

Me: "He seems to like this version. It's kind of like a sweet potato pie without the crust. I got the recipe from your ex-husband's wife."

M-in-L: *silence*

Me: *awkward throat clearing* "Anyways...."

I haven't actually made them for several years now, in deference to both our expanding waistlines. Nowadays we usually have mashed yams in place of mashed potatoes and candied yams.

But if you want to go completely over the top, and maybe convince someone (like me) whose idea of candied yams is tarnished by years of having been served yams that were plopped out of the can into a casserole dish and garnished with little marshmallows that this traditional holiday dish can be a sinful indulgence instead of something to try to hide in your napkin, here's the recipe:

Sweet potatoes with pecans

Candied yams


3 cups cooked sweet potatoes (or two large cans, drained)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick melted butter
1 tsp vanilla


1 packed cup brown sugar
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the yams, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla, and press into a 9x13" glass casserole dish. Cream the butter and brown sugar, then mix in the flour and pecans. Sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tis the season!

Canning season, that is. I fell out of the habit the last couple of years, but in Christmases past I'd give tasty sweet things for presents to my coworkers, jams and lemon curd. I've decided I need to start up again, so am getting a head start. Tonight's accomplishment: 15 8-oz jars of papaya strawberry mango jam:

Mango Strawberry Papaya Jam

Next - bragging over a fun find. I dropped into one of my favorite antique stores during lunch yesterday and they'd just put out a bunch of antique keys, including some little bitty ones:

new keys

Ooooh, am I going to have fun with these!

Still continuing to get new pieces in the store. 38 days till Christmas!

Amazonite Briolette Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires

Opalite Rectangular Glass Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires

Red Coral and Brass Key Steampunk Necklace with Leaf Toggle Clasp OOAK

Steampunk Earrings Antique Crystal and Watch Parts with Rubies

Green Garnet Steampunk Necklace Antique Watch Part on Sterling Chain

Monday, November 14, 2011

Filling the shop with more shiny things

What better to do when I'm procrastinating filling out the paperwork my doctor's office sent me in preparation for my annual check-up than listing more jewelry? I'm not looking forward to my physical this year. I did just turn 40, and that means I get to start having my breasts made into waffles. Er, I mean, it means I get to start having annual mammograms. I've had two already, once when I was pregnant because the doctor I saw for this, not my regular GP, wasn't satisfied when I told her my breasts normally felt like that, and later when I was having some issues that resolved themselves when I seriously cut back on my caffeine consumption.

Am I making you squirm yet? :D

Our local public radio station does Public Service Announcements reminding women to get their "annual streaming mammograms" except the person doing the PSAs slurs his words a bit so it came out sounding like he said "annual SCREAMING mammograms." How appropriate.

But since we're on the subject, did you know there's an app that sends you a reminder to do your monthly self-exam? It's called the "Your Man Reminder". Why is it called this, you ask? Watch and learn!

(I chose the doctor.)

Now here's a few shiny things to take your mind off of the need for a cold shower:

Cobalt Fancy Steampunk Brass Neckalce Draped with Vintage Chain OOAK

Faceted Vaseline Glass Bracelet on Sterling with Toggle Clasp OOAK

Faceted Garnet Earrings with Pewter Celtic Knot on Sterling Earwires

Steampunk Gear Earrings with Opalized Glass on Sterling Earwires

Amber Glass and Brass Steampunk Necklace Crystal Vintage Chain OOAK

Orca Earrings - glass on silver earwires

Cherry Amber Nugget Drop Pendant Necklace on Sterling Silver Box Chain

Faceted Black Onyx Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Whoever said Goths are all gloomy and mopey and can't crack a smile without their face splitting in two and then evaporating into a poof of bat filled mist has never hung around with the goths in my neck of the woods. We get silly at the drop of a velvet hat, and next weekend is no exception. A bunch of us have been scouring the thrift stores for suitably sparkly and garish attire for an event we'll be attending, our own little German Sparkle Party.

Wait. You don't know about the German Sparkle Party? Well, let me educate you:

Anyways, it's only a week away and I've been despairing because I hadn't yet found anything to wear. But today, when I was on a fruitless hunt for pint canning jars at multiple thrift stores, I happened to see something sequined peeking out at me from the bottom of the dress rack at Goodwill.

sparkle party dress alteration 1

Yes, I found a lavender sequin gown. But as a sheath, even with all sequins and the obnoxious color (well, obnoxious to me anyways - that's a color I would have sworn I'd never be caught dead in), it's still rather staid for the event. But no worries, I have skillz!

sparkle party dress alteration 7

I cut off the bottom ~2/3 of the dress on a diagonal and used the fabric to make a ruffle for the hem.

sparkle party dress alteration 5

Now to acquire rubber boots. And feathers.

Do YOU have your party pants?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

It doesn't sell if it's not listed

You'd think after all these years I'd not have to be reminded of this, yes? But yet there is this large ziplock bag sitting next to me as I type of stuff that I made but never actually listed or put into my Designs by Victoria ArtFire shop. Doh!

So expect over the next few weeks to see lots of old new shinies being posted. It's only six weeks till Christmas, after all! And as much as I appreciate Nordstrom's decorating policy, waiting too long to buy hand-crafted goods from artisans online can sometimes cause a delay. Everything I post is already made, but if you're looking at a custom item, your likelihood of getting it before Christmas goes down each day you wait. That being said, I hope you'll still patronize a small business or independent artist for your holiday gift needs this year.

Steampunk Blue Skies Key Necklace Glass Sterling and Vintage Chain

Tiger Iron Briolette Earrings on Sterling Earwires Brown Striped

Amethyst Dangle Earrings on Sterling Silver Earwires

Black Cinnabar with a Twist Upcycled Necklace Silver

Knotted Purple Pearls Necklace and Earrings Set 9mm

The Snowflower - white frosted glass on sterling silver