Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grand Canyon Soldered Charm Necklace

Again, a few weeks ago, before my unfortunate bike accident, I had a chance to try making some soldered charms again. I think I am getting better at them! Here is one that I made out of part of vintage postcard image of the Grand Canyon. I paired it with a pretty vintage door key.

The opposite side of the charm is the postmark from 1922 from the back side of my postcard:

Friday, May 29, 2009

You Know You are a Jewelry Geek When...

...when you wake up at 6 AM in the morning and want to wear your new Compass Necklace, but realize you don't have matching earrings. So at 6:05 AM in the morning (this was a few weeks ago, before I broke my elbow) I was up making these earrings! Yes, crazy, I know. Fortunately, it took less than 10 minutes to put these together. They are now some of my favorites!

That night I also made this pair out of some of the pretty green stones that I had included in the necklace:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

A few weeks ago I wanted to use up some buttermilk that I had leftover from my Buttermilk Fantail Rolls, so I made some Buttermilk Baked Chicken. I made the recipe up based on several other recipes I sometimes make, and I really liked the end result. The buttermilk made the chicken breast very moist and tender and the topping had a bit of crunch. I used a mixture of butter and olive oil to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the recipe, and that seemed to work to give a bit of crispiness to the crust without frying. I 'm still playing around with the spices - not sure I have the blend perfect so I will keep experimenting!

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

4 chicken breasts (halves) - I cut each piece into half, so I had 8 strips.
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt

1) Mix the chicken, buttermilk, and salt in a bowl. Let marinate for 30 - 45 minutes in the refrigerator.

2) Topping: combine in a bowl and set aside

1 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To coat the chicken:

2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil

Put the butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Put in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes to melt the butter. (Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.) Then add the olive oil to the pan.

4) Remove the buttermilk soaked chicken from the refrigerator and set it next to the coating bowl. Using tongs, lift each piece of chicken out of the bowl and let the excess buttermilk drip off. Then dip the piece into the coating, flipping it, and pressing it down so all sides of the chicken are totally covered with topping. Then set the chicken into the butter mixture. Turn the chicken over, so the top side is coated with butter. Repeat for each piece of chicken.

5. Bake for 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Serve while the topping is warm and crunchy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Rojo Mexican Bistro - Novi

I am managing quite well as a one handed lefty and actually have managed to plant a few pots and my window boxes! However, there is a limit to what I can do outside and that was a good excuse to get together with friends for a movie and meal. Movie watching can be done comfortably with a broken elbow, and although I am a bit messy eating left handed, I can manage it with only minor a few spills.

We ate a late lunch after the movie at Rojo Mexican Bistro in the Fountain Walk Complex in Novi. The restaurant is upscale Mexican and is very plush inside with cozy circular booths as well as tables that are comfortably spaced through a beautiful room with high ceilings. I loved the large murals which were painted in the style of Diego Rivera. There were big windows along one side, so during the day it felt bright and airy.

First off, chips and salsa are not incuded in the meal as they typically are at a Mexican restaurant - you have to order them as an appetizer for an extra $4.99. We weren't super hungry, so we passed on the appetizers The menu has classical Mexican items such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and fajitas. You could add meat to these items for additional cost. I found the prices to be slightly higher than your typical Mexican Restaurant (and the portions were a bit smaller). What sets the menu apart is a lot of unique items including grilled entrees (the mahi mahi sounded really good).

My friends ordered the enchildas verde and the chunky beef burrito. They enjoyed both of them. They described the sauce on the burrito as "just the right amount of spicy with a touch of sweetness." We thought the line of guacamole looked a bit like a piece of aparagus laying on top of the burrito - a bit strange!

I went for some simple chicken enchiladas. They were served with a side of rice and a bit of lettuce and tomato (I left off the beans) - nothing too unusual there. I thought the chicken inside was outstanding - nicely flavored and tender which made eating left handed easy. They also were filled with a 3 cheese blend, but I didn't really notice much of the cheese, actually. A mild flavored red sauce and a sprinkle of queso fresco cheese on top. It was good, but I personally like my enchiladas to be a bit cheesier!

Service was fine, although we had to wait a while before anyone noticed we were there and came to seat us (it was mid afternoon, so maybe they weren't expecting customers). I saw enough interesting items on the menu that I would like to visit again and maybe try one of their more unique items. They have a deal during the week for 2 meals and 2 movie tickets for 35 dollars that might be a good way to try them out.

Rojo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Clutzy Karen

I have been thinking about renaming my blog to Clutzy Karen. Ah yes, I have had an unfortunate adventure which has put a crimp in all my creative plans for spring.

Last Tuesday I received a lovely used blue bike. I had this fantasy of having a bike and riding to the farmer's market or library or coffee shop. I thought it would be a great way to get a little exercise and save a little on gas. Sounds like a charming plan, right?

By 8 pm that night I had managed to fall off that charming bike while trying to make a turn onto the sidewalk. I had already ridden a bit around the neighborhood, but lost control on my second ride. Fortunately a friend was with me, I was right by my house, and I didn't seem to be too badly damaged. Just a sore elbow which hit the pavement, but I still could bend it.

However, during the night the elbow became so swollen and painful that I could barely bend it. I had scheduled Wednesday off of school as a personal day, and had planned to buy flowers for all the gardening I had planned to do over the weekend. Instead I sat in waiting rooms, got x-rays, and saw an orthopedic doctor who let me know I had fractured a bone in my elbow!

Fortunately, I don't have a cast, just a sling. I need to keep moving it to get my range of motion back. The pain is getting better. Unfortunately I can't lift, push, or pull. And it is my right arm.

So my gardening will be severely limited this season to things I can do left handed. I think I can plant a few pots and hopefully I can get any friends that stop by to help me move them into place. Also, this puts a crimp in some of my blogging plans - it is very hard to take pictures with your left hand when the button to push is on the right side! I'm finding other things that are difficult to do as well - eyeliner and flossing are two that come to mind!

I'm not sure how long my arm will be out of commission. But I do have a few pictures that I haven't blogged yet and I'm sure I will find a way to use my point and shot camera. But just wanted to let you know where I've been hiding the last few days!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Strawberry Cream Brunch Cake

This is one of my favorite coffee cakes. It comes from one of those little recipe books that always tempt me when I am standing in the grocery check out line - "Weekend Breakfast & Brunch" from Gold Medal flour. It's easy, a little fussy, and always tastes amazing! (I use lowfat sour cream to feel less guilty about all the yummy ingredients.) I think you could easily substitute different flavored jams for the strawberry preserves - blueberry or cherry would work nicely!

Strawberry Cream Brunch Cake

2 1/4 all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10 inch springform pan and lightly flour.

2. Make filling: combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and one egg. Set aside.

3. Mix the 2 1/4 cups of flour with 3/4 cup of sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until it looks like coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cup of the crumbs for the topping. Then stir the baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the remaining crumbs. Blend in the sour cream, almond extract, and egg to make a thick batter.

4. Spread the batter over the bottom of the pan and 2 inches up the side, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread the cream cheese filling over top of the batter.

5. Spoon the strawberry preserves over top of the filling. (No need to measure extactly - just make sure the that filling is fairly well covered with the jam.) Mix the reserved crumb mixture with the almonds and sprinkle over top of the preserves.

6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes and then remove the side of the springform pan. Serve warm or cool.

Makes 16 servings.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tipnut Featuring Clever Karen

Yesterday I noticed a lot of traffic coming to my blog from a site I had never heard of before.  Turns out they were featuring my Postcard Train Case redo on their website.  I have no idea how they found me!  Actually it is kind of a neat website with all kinds of links to craft projects. I think I could spend a lot of time exploring this site.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Compass Necklaces

I recently saw someone wearing beads in a color combination like this - lots of neutral browns, whites, and blacks with a couple of pops of green, red, and light blue. I wouldn't have imagined these colors would work together, but I think they really do. Not my typical colors - but I love them. I'm calling this my "compass" necklace because the colors will let me go in a lot of different directions in how I match it with my clothing.

I made a short and longer version so I could mix and match. I can even hook the 2 necklaces together to make one long strand.

And here is the "hanging around" webcam view.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Inside the Postcard Train Case

So are you curious about what is inside?

So I've seen several blogs that show how they use vintage train cases to store all their craft goodies - here and here. So I organized my tangled mess of jewelry findings (should have taken a "before" picture, it was bad!) - wire and clasps and charms and tools - into this beautiful collection.

The top tray lifts out, and there is more underneath. I can easily find everything instead of digging through piles of little plastic bag. Plus, it just looks cute! It certainly makes my jewelry making easier when my supplies aren't in a mess! You can check out all of the suitcase photos here at Flickr.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Postcard Train Case

Ever since seeing these train cases covered with a collage of vintage papers, I have been searching for old train cases at the goodwill store. I finally found a couple last fall. Here is one of them - bland and beige. It sat for several months while I waited for the right inspiration - I finally decided to scan my vintage postcards to use to cover it. I thought it would go along with the map collage suitcase I made a while back. I printed them in sheets in a 2 x 3 inch size using a laser printer (so the colors wouldn't bleed). All of the postcards represent places that I have traveled to.

I cut them into sections and applied matte Mod Podge with a brush to adhere them to the suitcase. After that dried, I covered the entire surface with several coatings of Mod Podge.

Tada! The end result:

Tomorrow I will show you what is inside!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pasta Presto

Here's a quick way to make a fresh tasting pasta sauce.

Start with a 24 ounce can of chopped tomatoes. I like to find some good Italian San Marzano chopped tomatoes - I think the flavor is brighter.

Chop 1/2 an onion. (Add chopped red pepper if you wish.) Saute for about 5 minutes until softened. Then add the canned tomatoes and a clove of chopped garlic. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper, dried Italian herbs, and fennel seeds. Cook for a few minutes more, until warmed.

Add your favorite cooked pasta.

Top with fresh parsley and basil. Sometimes I even add some chopped spinach so I can get in a few more healthy vegetables. Finally, put some shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ben and Jerry's Cinnamon Buns Ice Cream

I am often tempted by Ben and Jerry's interesting ice cream flavor combinations. I usually don't buy ice cream, but when I saw some of their latest inventions, I just had to try them. Their "Mission to Marzipan" ice cream was ok, but the "Cinnamon Buns" flavor is a winner!!

Caramel flavored ice cream - mmmmmm.....

Cinnamon roll dough chunks - kinda like cookie dough without the chocolate chips - double mmmmmmm.......

A ribbon of cinnamon streusel - triple mmmmmmm. Somehow it keeps the sugary texture and I found myself digging to the bottom of the carton to get to all the streaks of cinnamon.

And someone else thought it smelled pretty good, too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eiffel Charm Necklace

Over the weekend I bought a new soldering iron and did a little more experimenting with making the soldered charms. The new soldering iron made a huge difference! I'm getting a little better at it, but certainly don't have the technique mastered. Yet!

One of the fun parts of doing these charms is that you can design something different for both sides. One one side I put part of a postcard of the Eiffel Tower.

On the other side some red and blue fabric. I added a little curl of wire at the bottom and hung some beads. Kind of fun. This is made from a microscope slide and is about 3 inches long. I wonder if it will be easy to crack the glass on the slide. We'll see......

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vintage Travel Postcards

Well, I just spent 90 minutes scanning most of my vintage travel postcards for a clever little project that I am working on. When I go to antique stores, I look for old postcards showing places that I have actually visited. I like the ones with the antique amber and blue colors (and they actually inspired the colors of my office). Here are a few of my favorites:

Bacharach, Germany - the prettiest town on the Rhine

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska
The Falls at Artist Point in Yellowstone National Park

Mount Rainier - no place is prettier when the lupines are blooming!

I will share my project when it is done - and I don't think it is what you are expecting! And if you'd like to see all my postcards, here is the set at Flickr.


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