Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The End of April!

I have had a long worrisome week. My sister was diagnosed with cancer last week, and had surgery yesterday. It is a little more complicated than was hoped, but she is strong, and has a strong spirit. She will be fine, once she recovers from this invasive operation. I am trying to stay strong for her...

Our weather is cold, sunny today, but cold. Not very spring like at all.
I bought some new brushed sterling bead frame a couple of weeks ago, and have been playing around with them. In the spirit of spring, I made this pair today, aptly named Silver Birch Buds. I hope our birches will soon start to have leaf buds!

Brushed sterling bead frames, sterling silver earwires with ricolite tubes and tiny butter jade. The colour of spring and new life!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Istrian Gnocchi with Moose Sausage and Pepper Sauce

I tell you, the May issue of Gourmet has some delicious recipes. This one caught my eye as soon as I looked through it. I will just give you the recipe for the gnocchi, and not the truffle cream it is suggested to serve them with. I cannot get truffle butter where I live, and it would take too long to order it. I will give you the recipe for sauce I devised while making the gnocchi.
I will say, at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, I had no idea what we would eat for dinner, and then had dinner on the table by 7 o'clock, not bad. Maybe to some that would seem like a long time, but if you are one who cooks, it really was not.

Istrian Gnocchi ( I doubled this recipe, for 3 people for a main course)                  ( yes we were little piggies)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup water

Sift flour in a mound on a wooden board, work surface, or a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Add egg, salt, oil and 1/4 cup of water to well, and mix with a fork, gathering flour into egg mixture to form a dough. If it seems dry, add water (up to 2 tbsp.). Knead on a lightly floured surface, incorporating just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
Quarter dough. Working with 1 piece at a time (keep remainder under an overturned bowl), roll dough between your palms into a 6" log, then cut crosswise into about 26(1/8" thick) pieces. Roll each piece into a 3" log, that is 1/4" thick in the center, and 1/8" thick on the ends. Remember back to playing with play dough and making worms, it is similar to that! Transfer to a flour dusted surface..tea towel. 
Do this with each quarter of the dough.
Cook gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water(2 tbsp. salt for 6 quarts water) until cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.
Drain pasta, and serve immediately with your favourite sauce.
Serves 4 to 6 as a starter!

Sausage Pepper Pasta Sauce

1 pkg. sausage, any kind you wish to use, I used moose sausage.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 bulb garlic, sliced
1/2 to 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes
3 1/2 red and yellow sweet peppers, cubed
1/2 bag spinach
1 jar mild salsa, I used Mrs. Renfro's
1/4 to 1/2 cup of 1/2 & 1/2

Heat oil in a large pan or pot. Squeeze sausage meat from the casings into rough little meatballs. Saute with the garlic until cooked through. Add hot pepper flakes and the peppers, cook stirring from time to time for about 5 minutes.  Add  spinach, and stir until it is cooked down. Add whole jar of salsa, cook stirring until the sauce is heated through and starting to bubble, turn heat down to a low simmer. Once the sauce is simmering, add the 1/2 & 1/2 a little at a time stirring to mix through. Add enough cream to make a slightly creamy sauce.
Serve with the gnocchi!! Yum!


April Snow

Much to my dismay we have snow again. Our world is white! Luckily it is the end of April and the sun will shine and this dump of snow will melt!
Mark has a soft spot for our feathered friends, and crushed some sunflower seeds for them this morning. Amazing to see so many birds out there, fascinating to watch them all.

Close up zoom from through the backdoor window, they were too skittish to open the door.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stone Wood

I had made this necklace two nights ago, and was not happy with it, so I took it apart after breakfast this morning and reworked it. I listed it on Etsy before lunch.
It is a unique necklace in that the wood jasper rectangular beads very much look like wood, I paired them with sandalwood and rainbow obsidian. I think it is an earthy, elegant necklace.

To my surprise, my newly listed necklace made it's way into a treasury today, and onto the front page in a gorgeous treasury. What an exciting thrill it was!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Georgian Cheese Bread and Canada Geese!

I have been trying for days to get some photos of the geese overhead, on their migration north to their breeding grounds. There were hundreds of geese flying today. I am obviously not good at photographing them, but here some are, in their glorious V. I do love them and their honking, excited to be back home in the northland.

I got my new issue of Gourmet magazine the other day. This recipe caught my eye, Georgian Cheese Bread, from the Republic of Georgia. I made it for dinner tonight, well I made two. I served it with a delicious spinach salad. It was delicious, yes rich and cheesy, but once in awhile we just need a good hit of rich and gooey cheese!

Georgian Cheese Bread

2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
7 tbsp. warm water
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour, divided
3/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 lb. Havarti cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 lb. mozzerella, coarsely grated
1 tsp. butter, melted

Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir in 1 tbsp. flour. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir together salt and remaining flour in a large bowl, then stir in egg and yeast mixture to form a dough.
Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and turn to coat with flour, then knead until smooth and elastic, a bout 5 minutes. Form into a ball and dust with flour. Let dough rest in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, (I put the dough on a lightly floured surface and cover with an overturned bowl) punching down with a wet fist every hour, at least 2 hours and up to 3.
Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in the middle.
Turn the dough out onto floured pizza pan, turning to coat, then flatten with your fingers into a 7" disk.
Toss together cheese, and press into a compact 3" ball with your hands. Place ball in middle of dough, then gather dough up around the cheese, squeezing excess dough into a topknot. Press down on topknot with damp fist to press cheese out from center, until dough is an 11" disk.
Cut a 6" cross (X) through the top to expose cheese. Bake until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush surface with butter and bake until golden and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more. Cut into wedges to serve.
Serves 8.
Enjoy, we sure did!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oven "fried" Fish

I have left my taxes to the last minute, and am not very organized. I got myself a little cranky yesterday, and was seeking comfort food. I am trying to watch, somewhat, what I am putting in my mouth. I do need to lose some weight. I bought salmon at the grocery store, and found this recipe for oven fried fish. I served it with oven fries, and steamed swiss chard. It was actually very good. The recipe calls for white fleshed fish, but the salmon worked out well. I cut the fillets into long strips, sort of like fish fingers. Okay it was not the lowest calorie dinner I could have prepared, but I was seeking comfort food, and this came very close, well it hit it on the head.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe.

Oven "fried" Fish

4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets ( or white fleshed fish, such as tilapia)
1 egg white
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil

1. Position the rack on the top shelf of the oven.
2. Preheat the oven to 500° F.
3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and lightly grease the foil.
4. Pat fish dry with clean tea towel, or paper towels.
5. Slice fillets in half lengthwise to form long pieces.
6. In a shallow dish whisk egg white with the buttermilk.
7. In another dish stir the flour with bread crumbs, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and salt.
8. Working with one piece of fish at a time, light coat with the flour mixture.
9. Shake off excess flour, then dip into the buttermilk mixture.
10. Turn to coat evenly.
11. Shake off excess liquid.
12. Coat the fish in the flour mixture again.
13. Shake off excess coating and place on the baking tray.
14. Repeat with remaining fish, one piece at a time.
15. Discard any remaining buttermilk and flour mixture.
16. Lightly spray fish with  the olive oil or using a brush lightly dab about 1 tbsp. as evenly as possible over coating.
17. Do not skip this step as it is essential for the crispy fish.
18. Bake on the top rack of preheated oven until coating is crisp and golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. I turned the tray around, halfway through the cooking time.
20. Do not turn the fillets over.

Serves 4.

I found this recipe on

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Water Grass

My newest creation using one of Gillian's beads!
I have combined stones and colour in this piece, I am very pleased with the outcome. It is a combination of lemon jade, olive jade turquoise and cobalt blue Czech seed beads. There stones and colours work very well with the lampwork bead. 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Deep Forest Moss...Necklace

In the past month or so, I have bought quite a few beads from Etsy artisan Gillianbeads. I am slowly incorporating them into some jewelry pieces. They are gorgeous beads and it is a pleasure working with them.

I love the earthiness of the combination of the jade with the copper and the focal lampwork bead. Gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wood Flower Earrings

I ordered these gorgeous wood and metal flower beads from Artbeads, I love them. They are really quite light. I made a pair of earrings with them for my daughter Megan. This is not the best photo in the world but I took it late last night. I was just so excited by these beads. They were pricey, but now I wish I had ordered more of them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Recycled Material Basket Weaving

I have been asked by one of the elementary schools here to give a workshop in May to 50 students from area schools. My choice of what I do with them. I have decided that whatever I do decide it will be totally a recycled material craft.
I have been doing massive online searches for recycled material weaving for children, but am not really coming up with anything that gets my attention.
I think I have decided to try a simple basket with them, grades 4 through 8. I quickly worked with newspaper and plastic last night, and this is what I came up with. Very crude, they only have two hours to complete the project. Mark thinks it will be too difficult for the younger kids. I am not sure, I have been away from children for too long, and am not sure of their capabilities. I could just use round reed, but would rather not, I will have to come up with a better way of rolling the newspaper tighter. If anyone has any suggestions I would very much appreciate them. I do think it is nicer if they go home with something, not just a wall hanging. 

Newspaper reeds and cling wrap warp, twine woven basket, unfinished. The cling wrap comes from my local grocery store. They have been saving it for me for my rug experiments that for now are at a standstill. I am being over run with boxes of used plastic, but will get to it soon.

Canada Geese

Whoohoo, a big sign of spring today, I saw my first three flocks of Canada geese flying back home to the north land. Pure spring tonic to my ears, eyes and well being!! There is nothing better than watching the little specks in the distance as they fly over Lake Superior, winging their way north. 

I have tried over and over again to take photos of this pearl necklace. I had some success last night, and listed it on Etsy today. It is a very elegant necklace, gorgeous colours.

Coffee Banana Scones

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate or carob chips (optional)
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. coffee powder
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
In a separate bowl combine bananas, yogurt, coffee and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, stirring lightly to make a moist dough. 
On a floured surface knead lightly for about 30 seconds. Roll dough to 1 1/2" thickness - cut into 3" circles, place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a 425 F oven for 15 minutes or  until cooked through.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Little Road Trip

Late last week, I went on a little road trip with my sister and my mom to Winnipeg, to visit my sister and her husband. It was a long drive and a short stay. I must say the prairie is beautiful, I love the flat, and the huge sky. It was a treat being in the city. Very nice to have a visit with my sister and her husband, no matter how short our stay was.

Getting close to Winnipeg, sun was setting!

Room with a view.... overlooking the city, the river, the prairie in the distance. Spectacular view from the apartment.

Grain elevator on our way back home!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Original Rug for my Article.

This is the first rug I wove for my step by step article. Before I knew enough to save copies of my original photos. 
I was going to post this yesterday but life happened and distracted me, my poor old Tukker.

I love this rug, it really reminds me of a plaid shirt, I cannot  quite figure out which, but it does remind me loosely of a tartan.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Memory of Tukker

We lost our dear old dog Tukker, Canadian Inuit Dog, unexpectedly this morning at the age of 12. 
Here are a few photos of him.

Tukker in the river, a favourite spot!

Sleeping out back this winter.

Mark covered Tuk with this sleeping bag a few weeks ago, on a cold day, he slept like this for a couple of hours.

A close up view!

Thawing out in the front porch, he slept here every night this past winter.

He was a character, our big sweetie!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

My cat "Lu"!!

Littlebit, my 15 year old cat, affectionately know to me as Lu. Sleeps all day and wants to visit with me all night long. Maybe I should become nocturnal too. He is a bit of a brat, but I love him to pieces.

Plastic Rug

This is the progress I have made on this little experimental rug. Not much! I didn't even touch it yesterday, but will get back to it today. For as hard as it is to work with this shrink wrap, it is kind of cool, the woven bits. 

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Playing with plastic on my loom

I had this great idea to try to weave an all plastic rug, with recycled plastic, that my local grocery store has been saving for me, from their deliveries. Shrink wrap... it is not great to use for a warp, too sticky, sticks to the loom, to itself, to each other. I had the hardest time winding this little warp onto my loom. Torturous, right from the start. I will post some photos today of the bit of progress I have made weaving. I know already in this little experiment that I have made my strands too thin, it is not as heavy as I would have liked.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Very Long Week

I have been writing a step by step article on my felted wool rugs, for Craft magazine. I have never done anything like this before, so I did not know to make copies of my photos and save high quality copies. I sent off the article, with the smaller sized photos attached, in pdf. I was then asked to send the high rez photos. Yikes, I didn't have any, so I had to weave whole new rug, take new photos, and here we are. I have just loaded the photos of this rug, into the computer. Tomorrow when I have fresh eyes and mind, will choose and crop the photos I need for the article. What a stressful couple of days, and a lot of work!
I actually like this rug better for the article, it is brighter and more springlike. The other rug, is gorgeous too, but more like a tartan. I will have to get some photos of it and post it.

I just listed this rug, on my Etsy shop! It is a gorgeous little rug, greens, blues, grey and beige.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rug Weaving!

I have been busy in the past week or so weaving, or prepping to weave rugs. I feel inspired for some reason! This rug, below, is very pretty. It has a beautiful range of greens through to blues to mauve to yellow. Very spring like! 

I have a lot of ideas, so I will be trying to weave rugs with some different materials, to see what works. I am excited about it! Our local grocer has started to save me different packing material, so I will be trying plastic before the week is through. I am not quite sure how to finish a plastic rug though. I will have to play around with it. I am not sure if fused plastic becomes brittle of it it is still pliable.
I will see!