20 August 2009

foxyfindings.com August Facebook Contest



As I was checking in on Facebook today, I saw the posting for a contest on FoxyFinding's Facebook page.

Here's what you have to do to enter the contest:

1. Head over to www.foxyfindings.com and find that special item that catches your eye.

2. Write a blog post about the item. Why you love it, what piece of jewelry you’d like to use it in, how it inspires you. Let us know what you love!

3. Post the link on our fan page wall at www.facebook.com/foxyfindings

4. Get your friends to “like” your post! The top “liked” post at the end of the contest will win a $50 shopping spree on FoxyFindings.com!

5. Plus, voters have a chance to win! We will randomly choose a voter from the top “liked” post for a chance to win another $50 shopping spree on Foxy Finding!

A $50 shopping spree? and all I have to do is share what I want to make with some of the amazing beads they have to offer? How could I resist? :D





So, I went to www.foxyfindings.com, and found these lovely rhyolite beads. As soon as I saw them, they reminded me of a beautiful picture jasper bead I used in my most recent skull bracelet.





When I made this bracelet, I thought it would be fun to make a similar bracelet, but with the wrapped teardrop stones on both ends, and multi-stone chains between them. Sadly, that was the last of those jasper stones in my stash, but these beautiful, mossy green stones would make a perfect substitute! And with $50, not only I could buy the rhyolite beads, but I could find some fun beads to make up the chains in between, too! In fact, there would be more than enough to make two bracelets!

So here's what I will do, to sweeten the pot even more: If I win, I will have a little contest of my own, and everyone who leaves me a comment here, as well as liking my post on foxyfindings' page will be put into a drawing, and if I win the contest, I will make one of these bracelets just for you!

To 'like' my post and cast your vote, click here. Thanks!

You all have until the end of this month to get your votes in. ;)
Cheers!
~Pippi

14 August 2009

Apricots!




My neighbor called me to let me know that the apricots on her tree were ready to make into jam, and told me to come get some. Hooray! I love apricot jam! I went over today to pick my first batch for jam making, and went to the store to get more jars. (I filled all I had with blueberry jam last month.) Another friend is letting me borrow her food dehydrator, so I will be drying a bunch, too.

This first batch of apricots was photographed in some of my beautiful pottery bowls made by the talented artist, Amy Palatnick. I will be featuring her later this month here in my blog. You can find her selling her work at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon, or in her new shop on Etsy: www.amypalatnick.etsy.com






This recipe from Molly Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook is my all-time favorite coffee cake recipe. I often make this cake for myself for my birthday, but both apricot jam and dried fruit are expensive, so I don't make it as often as I would like. And since my neighbor is sharing the fruits of her bountiful apricot tree, and I am making both jam and dried apricots, I will be making this coffee cake through the winter. Yum! :D


Russian Coffee Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature

Filling:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup peach or apricot jam
1/2 cup dried apricots, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease a standard-size tube or bundt pan.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cream together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Sift together the flours, baking powder, soda, and salt into a separate medium-sized bowl.
4. Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture (dry/wet/dry/wet/dry). Mix just well enough to thoroughly blend after each addition. Don't beat or otherwise overmix.
5. Place the chocolate chips and almonds in a blender jar. Whirl together in short spurts until ground into a coarse powder. Combine this with the coconut in a small bowl.
6. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it until even. Spoon small amounts of jam here and there onto the batter. (Don't try to spread it - just leave it in little blobs.) Sprinkle on the apricots and about 2/3 of the chocolate-nut mix.
7. Add the remaining batter, distributing it nicely. Sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate mix, and bake the cake for 45-55 minutes - until a probing knife inserted all the way in comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.





My husband tells me that apricots are actually related to plums, and were first cultivated in India. They need a cold winters to produce fruit, and even temperatures for pollination. They tend to bloom around the Vernal equinox, and often the flowers are killed by Spring frosts. They do really well here in our sheltered mountain valley, and this year enjoyed warm temperatures while they were blooming, so there are a lot this year!

Last fall, my landlords came over to help me move compost in the garden, and there was one pile in the alley that was full of apricot pits (from the neighbor's tree). When I was weeding the beds this Spring, I saved some of the apricot starts, and planted them in a big pot. I plan on splitting them into their own pots this fall, and hope to nurture them long enough to plant them as small trees for future apricot crops.





When life gives you the pits, plant trees!
As always, thanks for stopping by!
~Pippi

12 August 2009

Procrastination....




I'm supposed to be cleaning the house. That is the big TO DO item on my list for today, but I am procrastinating. Instead of sweeping and mopping the kitchen, or vacuuming, or dusting, I am sitting here at my desk, checking my Facebook and posting on Twitter. So, since I am putting off what I should be doing, I figured I would at least make this computer time productive and write a post for my blog.

So what have I been doing since my last post? The biggest project I've been working on is a tutorial for making my seahorse design. So many people have asked me to make one, but I have been a little intimidated by doing so. I finally decided to take the plunge! I have a good portion of it done, but weather and computer glitches have slowed down my progress lately. I am back on track, and pushing to finish it this week.





The weekend after my friend's wedding, an old friend of ours from our Collins Bike Shop days was in town. It is always a pleasure spending time with Tom! That saturday that he was here, he decided to drive up to Stanley for the folk festival, and took us and our tandem as far as Galena Lodge before heading over the pass. Carlos and I had been wanting to ride the old toll road over the pass, and this way we didn't have to ride all the way up from Hailey first. We had planned on riding the toll road last year on our bike trip, but weren't able to find the road (it was there, just under a marsh). This time, we consulted with Don Shepler, who is one of the caretakers at Galena Lodge, and he told us how to find the trail. We had to ride on the highway for about a mile before the trail continued past the marsh. It was a warm, sunny day, and the trail was steep, but we made it to the top of the pass, where we ate sandwiches from our perch overlooking the Salmon River headwaters and the Stanley Basin. Lovely! We rode back to Hailey via the Harriman Trail, rode along the highway for a few miles until we reached the Wood River Trail, and took that the rest of the way back home. We rode a total of about 75 miles, of which at least 50 was off road, and only 5 miles on actual roads! Whew!

The next day we went on a ride with our friend, Tom. We hadn't ridden the Cold Springs trail on Baldy since the Castle Rock fire in 2007, so we decided to ride up Cold Springs, and down Warm Springs. The back side of Baldy burned right to the ski boundary (a little over), and the trail on that side of the mountain was very different from its pre-fire days! What was once a hobbit-like trail twisting through the trees was now open, with blackened tree trunks as far as the eye could see. However, nature is amazing in its ability to recover, and the hillsides from top to bottom were covered with a sea of pink wild hollyhocks! It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen! Sorry, I didn't bring my camera - it's too hard trying to take pictures during a bike ride.

The next weekend, we went on another ride with friends, and I DID take my camera! We rode up Kinsey Creek and down Curran Creek. The ride was only 10.6 miles, but the climbs were steep and the trail fairly technical. It was a great ride! There was one point where the trail crossed a sea of lupines. The smell was intoxicating!





Last tuesday, I went with the folks from Sagebrush riding arena to Camp Rainbow Gold, and we did riding sessions with the kids. It was an amazing day!





During the off-times from working on the seahorse tutorial, I had to make SOMETHING, so in the evenings, while my husband and I relaxed and watched old Doctor Who episodes, I played with my wire and made some more copper and seed bead seahorses. It was relaxing to be able to just make one without having to photograph each step. I also made a coiled wire basket, which I am very pleased with. I'm thinking about ways to incorporate tiny baskets in my jewelry. We'll see what I come up with.





OK, now that I've cought you up on my doings, I really must get off the computer and get my house cleaned!
Thanks for procrastinating with me!
~PIppi