Monday, August 24, 2009

Crystal Couture

Simple elegance for an evening out on the town, these versatile quartz crystal earrings will become a staple in your jewelry wardrobe! Quartz crystals are a wonderfully neutral stone that will go with many outfits and many styles. Yet, despite the fact that they are clear, the abundance of facets on these stones really sparkle, reflecting rainbows of light and drawing attention to the earrings!

Beginning with two different gauges of sterling silver wire, I used a torch to turn the wire into handmade ball headpins, which became the dangles and earwires. I added three quartz crystal rondelles to each headpin and wrapped the headpin in a closed loop to keep them securely on the earwire!

The Crystal Couture earrings are a petite 1-1/4 inches in length from the top of the earwire to the bottom of the dangle; the dangle itself is jut 3/4 of an inch long. Look for these lovelies on my website very soon!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Double Hearts Ring

Just a few weeks ago Corra Liew, of de Cor's Handmade shared this free twin hearts ring tutorial on her blog! Since hearts have a special meaning to me and I loved the look of this sweet little ring, I just had to try making one!

Corra put lots of clear pictures of each step in constructing the ring and the written instructions were easy to follow too! After just a few practices with copper wire (which is strongly recommend!), I was confidently making rings with my good sterling silver wire!

One thing I will stress, use 18 gauge dead soft wire as is listed in the instructions, it does make a big difference in the construction of this ring! The final picture below became a heart with a swirl in the center because the half hard wire I was using became brittle and broke when bending the last loop in the second heart! But that ring is what I call one of my "happy accidents"!

In closing, I will add a little tip from me! If you do not have dead soft sterling silver wire, try annealing it with a torch, quenching it in a cup of water and cleaning off any fire scale with very fine steel wool. Your sterling silver wire will become very malleable which is much easier to work with! Please be sure to use all proper safety precautions and use the appropriate tools to anneal any metal!


Friday, August 14, 2009

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.

Charles R. Swindoll

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zucchini Brownies
A very decadent and
delicious dessert!

Do you have children or a husband who won't eat their vegetables no matter how much you plead? Then try this delicious zucchini brownie recipe! It's a wonderful way to give them a serving of veggies and use up some of that abundance of zucchini squash from your garden! I promise, if they don't see you make them, they will never know that zucchini is lurking within this yummy treat! So get out your food processor and start shredding your abundance of zucchini!

Zucchini Brownies

2 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

2 c. shredded zucchini
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. pecans (optional)

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, soda and salt. In another bowl, combine shredded zucchini, sugar, and oil. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Creamy Brownie Frosting

3 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons milk

Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and milk, beat to spreading consistency. Makes about 1 cup frosting.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Freedom Purchased
at a Great Cost

The following was read on the Neal Boortz Show on August 7, 2009 and wanted I to pass it on to you. It is an email from a Delta Airlines pilot who flew a fallen soldier and his family home to Virginia. Just a word of warning, you will need tissues (and if you don't you need to check your heart to see if it's still beating)!


My lead flight attendant came to me and said, 'We have an H.R. on this flight.' H.R. stands for human remains. 'Are they military?' I asked. 'Yes', she said. 'Is there an escort?' I asked. 'Yes, I already assigned him a seat.' 'Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early', I said.

A short while later, a young Army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us. My soldier is on his way back to Virginia', he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words on his own. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', he said. He then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia. The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendant's voice when he asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told him that I would get back to him.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had onboard with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and this following is the text:

'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and planeside to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.' Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing. After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us. 'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking. I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His name is private XXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft. When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one. Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of America.


We are blessed with great freedom in this country, freedom that was purchased with the lives of many people! Please remember the sacrifice that each of our fallen military men and women have made and their families as well. And the next time you see someone in a military uniform, thank him or her for their service to our great country!



flag picture provided by:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fresh Tomatoes
from the Garden

Searching for a new way and different way to serve all those fresh tomatoes from your vegetable garden? Try this yummy recipe from Living on a Dime! It's a great and easy to make side dish and with butter and Parmesan cheese, what's not to love????

Tomato Casserole

8 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
8 slices of bread, cubed with crusts removed
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of margarine or butter, melted
1 tsp. each of salt, thyme and dried basil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place tomatoes in a greased 9x13 pan and top with bread cubes. Mix butter and spices and pour over tomatoes and bread. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How To Save and Store Seeds

I love my garden, and am always looking for new and unusual annuals and perennial plants to add to my collection and I know there are many of you who share this passion! With the popularity of gardening increasing over the last several years, we have all noticed the cost of seeds and plants from our local gardening center going up. In an effort to help us all save a little money, I would like to share the following tips for saving seeds sent to me by my sister-in-law Robin!

First, collect seeds from your favorite herbs, vegetables and flowers in your garden and dry them at room temperature on racks or on large sheets of paper for about a week to ensure they hold no moisture.

After drying is complete, separate the seeds from their seedpods or flower heads by shaking them into large paper bags. Sift out the seeds from any dried plant bits and pour them into recycled paper envelopes or print your own template from TipNut to create your own seed packets. Be sure to mark on the seed packets the type of plant and the date seeds were harvested.

Then take a Kleenex tissue and pour about 1 tablespoon of powdered dry milk in the center, fold the tissue up so you have a little packet, place this in the bottom of a large clean glass jar. The powdered milk will act as a desiccant inside the jar and help to absorb moisture so the seeds have a dry environment.

Fill the jar with your seed packets and seal the jar shut. Keep the jar in a cool dark place to keep the seeds dormant; the back of the refrigerator is an ideal location.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this information and that it has given you inspiration to try preserving the seeds from your favorite plants! Next growing season, you will be sure to have lots of seeds to plant and share with friends and family! Many thanks to Robin for sharing this information and link for the seed packet template too!


Elegantly yours.....