Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Lull in the Craziness

Alluring earrings, with an amusing story, now in my Etsy shop.

It's been a busy month, but I'm presently enjoying a bit of a lull, and getting caught up with my Etsy shop listings. Check here to see 5 pairs of great new earrings (with some fun stories in the listings) and some new focals. I got busy with jewelry late last year before my Christmas show, but didn't get around to photos until now.

What have I been busy with? Well, the biggest, and most exciting thing has been a collaboration with Cyndie Smith for the ISGB and Bead and Button exhibit called Convergence, where bead artists are paired with jewelry designers to create pieces inspired by the four elements. Though we have never met in person, we've become friends thanks to the InterTubes and discovered that we have each been dreaming about the same kind of wild, unfettered piece for years. And so we made it, and we find out on March 1 if it's accepted. Part of the chaos in that task was due to some late-breaking (sorry for the pun) incompatibility issues with the glass I've been using, but the mystery is solved and all is well now.

I've also been applying to shows - I put two applications in through the Zapp system (you gotta check this out - makes the show application process very easy) and one the old fashioned way, and I should know within about a month what my show schedule is for this year.

Another exciting opportunity came my way last year when Sara from Soft Flex asked me to be the Featured Designer in their "Spotlight On" feature in March. I had to write a biography and assemble some images for the piece. What an honor!

All of this would have been easy to manage had my laptop not died a hard (wish I could say it was sudden, but I saw it coming) death just before Christmas. My new Dell Studio laptop just arrived, and now I have to don my IT hat and uninstall Vista and install an older version of Windows XP, then upgrade it, and then reinstall my favorite applications - Photoshop Elements, Quicken (don't even mention tax time or I'll explode), Firefox, TOPO, iTunes, Dreamweaver, it just makes me tired thinking about it. DH is good with the wireless network, so if the new machine is compatible with our older HP printer, he'll figure out how to set that up.

Oh, and how could I forget? I'm going to Tucson! I've not been to the bead shows there before, but plan to check them out and say "hi" to a bunch of folks. If you're going, let me know! I had a couple of last minute invitations for this year, but it just wasn't meant to be this time. I hope to be there as a vendor next year.

For now the frenzy has died to a dull roar, and we're going hiking today, likely in the fuzzy green foothills surrounding the Bay Area. It's the best time of year to hike there, and I'm hoping to see some early blooms.

"Stick Your Neck Out" lampwork and fine silver pendant, now in my Etsy Shop.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January Focal Bead Sale

"Mysteries of the Deep" focal bead (SOLD).

In honor of President Barack Obama's innauguration, I've decided to have a focal bead sale in my Etsy shop. 10 of my focal beads are reduced up to 50%. It's time for change, and you're the winner!

Here are some of the styles on sale:

"Autumn Love". 50% off.

"Pink Desert" (SOLD).

Five more styles are available in my Etsy shop.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Are You Zapped Yet?

Are you doing art shows this year? Have you heard of Zapp? The other day I was registering online for a Rotary Club art show and learned that their entire application and jurying process is handled through a system called Zapp. You sign up once with Zapp, create a profile, upload images, and they send you information about shows all over the country. Further, you can draw from these images to submit to participating shows. Here are some facts from their site:

Using ZAPP™ is free to artists
Applications are completed and submitted in a single online location
Artists receive instant e-mail notifications with application status and other relevant information Artists save money on postage and production of multiple sets of slides
Jurors see high-quality digital images of artists' work
Artists can manage applications to multiple shows through ZAPP™
Artists only have to enter contact information into ZAPP™ once
Artists no longer have to complete multiple-page paper applications
Artists can upload up to 40 digital images to their online, individual image bank
Artists can select which images to submit for each show

So far I've only signed up for a Zapp account, but already I've received a couple of emails from them with amazing show information. Here's a sample of what they sent me (the actual email contains links to web pages for each show):

Columbus Arts Festival 2009 - Columbus, Ohio
DEADLINE: 1/7/2009
Jury Fee: $25.00
Event Dates: 6/5/2009 - 6/7/2009

The Columbus Arts Festival presented by Time Warner Cable remains one of the top fine art and fine craft festivals in the country, attracting approximately 200,000 art patrons to the downtown area.

Decatur Arts Festival 2009 - Georgia
DEADLINE: 1/15/2009
Jury Fee: $30.00
Event Dates: 5/23/2009 - 5/24/2009

The Decatur Arts Alliance invites you to apply for booth space in the 21st annual Decatur Arts Festival, The festival will be held on the square in historic Decatur, GA, just minutes from downtown Atlanta. The Artists' Market will be open on Saturday, May 23 from 10am until 6pm, and on Sunday May 24 from 11am until 6pm.The festival features continuous entertainment and performing arts in the Community Bandstand adjacent to the Artists' Market. Food vendors, a Fine Arts Exhibition, the ArtWalk, Literary Arts, New Dance and a Children's Festival are also part of the festival activities.

One of a Kind Show & Sale 2009 (Vancouver) - Vancouver, BC, Canada
OPEN DATE: 12/16/2008DEADLINE: 4/10/2009
Jury Fee: $25.00
Event Dates: 10/7/2009 - 10/10/2009

The One of a Kind Show and Sale presents a vibrant shopping event that has brought devoted attendees and exhibitors back, year-after-year,since 1975. The show has been so popular with its loyal audience in Toronto and Chicago that a Vancouver Show was been added to this impressive family of shows.The latest expression of the One of a Kind Show and Sale will present a similarly vibrant event in Vancouver. Our target audience is affluent,and enjoys spending its expendable income on top quality, unique local fashion, home accessories,designs, creations and edibles. As such,our exhibitors will reflect the audience – the most exciting, high quality artisans from North America will be exhibiting!

Center for the Arts Evergreen - Winterfest Arts and Crafts Festival 2009 - Evergreen, Colorado
OPEN DATE: 1/5/2009
DEADLINE: 7/31/2009
Jury Fee: $30.00
Event Dates: 11/14/2009 - 11/14/2009

The Winterfest Arts and Crafts Festival is an annual juried fine arts and crafts festival nestled in the lovely mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado. Winterfest is a 30 year tradition and it takes place at Evergreen High School. Winterfest has approximately 100 artists with over 2,000 attendees during the one day event.Center for the Arts Evergreen and the town of Evergreen provide support for the wonderful two day event. Volunteers and board members contribute many hours to make Summerfest one of the outstanding fine arts and craft shows in Colorado.All proceeds earned during Summerfest are given back to the mountain community in the form of grants and donations to various artistic, musical, and theatrical groups. In addition, funds are used to support the "Arts in the School Grant Program".

Maybe you should get Zapped too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Oh. My. Gawd.

Fish Couscous with Onion T'faya

I've got some domestic momentum going (much to my husband's delight) and have another amazing recipe to share with you. It's even better than the last one. The October 2008 issue of Eating Well magazine had a piece entitled "Spice-Scented Morocco", and last night we tried the Fish Couscous with Onion T'faya recipe. It is to die for! The heady spice mixture is intoxicating, and includes saffron, salt, ginger, turmeric, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper. I think I'll make this up in volume to have around.

We have lots of fish in the freezer, and for this one we chose halibut, but it could have easily worked with another kind. I didn't have the whole wheat couscous around, but instead substituted a box of Near East roasted garlic couscous. It worked fine.

Here's the recipe on the Eating Well site. This issue has tons of great looking recipes, so I think January is going to be a good month for food!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

An 11 Day Food Orgy

That's the best way to describe our holidays this year. As soon as I put my Etsy shop to bed for the year, I got busy in the kitchen. Over the last two weeks we have enjoyed roasted pork tenderloin in port wine and prune sauce, split pea and ham soup, rum cake, Thai style tuna tartare with Taro chips, prime rib, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted winter vegetables, carnitas tacos, collard greens, hoppin' John, fried chicken, and Greek style braised lamb shanks. Not to mention a very nice, casual dinner out at a great restaurant called Evergreen in Tahoe City. No wonder I feel a little, full.

Other highlights included snowboarding at Lake Tahoe in 2' of fresh snow, x/c skiing with our dog, going to the movies, visiting relatives, shopping, and some surprises (who knew that a portable duck blind would open at the flick of a wrist in our living room on Christmas Eve?).

My mom and I took one afternoon at Lake Tahoe for a peaceful cross country skiing trek through the woods while the boys hit the more hectic downhill slopes. I hope I have her vigor at 75! I give her credit for trying the cross country skis for the first time, even if she decided she preferred the snow shoes. Tahoe XC has a special deal where you can take your dog out with you on the trails at special times, which is a great way for everyone to blow off some steam. Bodie had fun frolicking in the deep snow and playing with the other dogs there. What a gorgeous set of trails they have.

See his trail pass? It looks just like a doggie lift ticket.

Anyway, this lamb shank recipe is just killer, and it's not hard to make, so I thought I'd share it. It's from a 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. Enjoy!

Greek Style Braised Lamb Shanks

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 12- to 14-ounce lamb shanks
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 drained canned anchovies
2 cinnamon sticks
2 small bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
5 juniper berries or 2 tablespoons gin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle Merlot
1 14-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 14-ounce can low-salt beef broth

Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof pot (wide enough to hold lamb in single layer) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb on all sides with salt and pepper. Add lamb to pot and sauté until brown, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to plate. Add next 10 ingredients to pot. Sauté until vegetables brown, about 20 minutes. Mix in tomato paste. Add wine and all broth; boil until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Return lamb to pot, arranging in single layer; add any accumulated juices. Bring to boil.
Place lamb in oven and cook uncovered until tender, basting and turning occasionally, about 2 hours. Transfer lamb to plate. Skim any fat from top of roasting liquid. Press all liquid and enough of vegetables through sieve set over large bowl to make sauce with gravy consistency. Return gravy to pot; add lamb. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.) Rewarm lamb over low heat. Transfer to platter and serve.

Time to get busy in the studio again! Guess I'll have to supplement my glass melting with another more vigorous form of exercise to shed some of my holiday baggage.

Happy New Year everyone!


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