Saturday, October 15, 2011

Traditions Worth Eating

Fall is my all time favorite seasons. Traditions are big with me and this season has a few that I love to enjoy. A big one is making caramel apples. I LOVE caramel apples.

They are very easy to make too. You just need apples, caramels, measuring spoons, water, sticks, waxed paper, spoon, and a cookie pan.
I like these caramels, so easy to melt and it even has directions to make these apples. If you are going to make more than 5 medium apples then you will need more than one bag. (just beware of it)
Take said caramels, add two tablespoons of water, put it on a low heat and watch it to be sure it doesn't burn as it melts. Make sure its smooth and all the pieces are compeletly melted.

While waiting for the cubes to melt you can wash the apples. Then once they are dried put the sticks in the bottom of the apples.

Once the caramels are melted take one apple and drop it into the pan with the caramels. Use a spoon to drip the caramel on the top and on the sides to cover the entire apple. Once the entire apple is covered pull the apple out and let the extra caramel drip off. Try to let as much as possible extra caramel drip off before putting the apple on the wax paper. (btw put the wax paper over the cookie sheet ... which I forgot to meantion) Repeat these last few steps for the remaining apples. If you are feeling creative you can add nuts, or candy, or icing to the apples. I tried the nut option and it kind of worked... waited to long to roll the apple in the caramel so not alot of the nuts stuck. Once you are done, put them in the fridge to cool. This will help with trying to remove the apples from the paper.

 Tad-da you have caramel apples! I didn't get super creative with mine (mostly because I had to go to work shortly after doing them), but you can do some really fun stuff with them.

Caramel apples are my favorite candy during Halloween. They are fun to make and really get you in the mood of the season. I hope you all do some traditions of your own.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nature Unbounded

One of the great things about living in Colorado's mountains in the sheer expance of nature all around you. The view from our deck along is amazing.

Nature is not afraid to just show up and make you smile at random moments and I love that.

However my mother is not so thrilled, as they are eating her flowers. Even the ones that they are suppost to not like! Poor mom... but can't say I don't like coming home and see them just resting in the yard or munching away at her flowers. 

Gift of Blue

Friday was one of my days off and I took the time to drop off the 3 bead bracelet I made for my friend Sarah. I mostly wanted to be sure it would fit her wrist. It fit perfectly, thankfully! While I was chatting with her my other friend Jennifer, who works with Sarah, came outside and I showed her the bracelet. Later in the day I felt bad that I had not made something for Jennifer, as she is my best friend. Plus we have been having a hard time making our schedules work out, so we haven't spent much time together.  SO... I did a bit of shopping and got a rough idea in my head of a project.

After work Saturday I sat down and planned out a neckless that I had in mind for Jenn. My original plan didn't work out entirely well, so I changed it up, but only a little. I found this great center piece, so I wanted to show case it. I changed the beads attached to it and added a few of my own. I wanted it to be bright, summery, classy enough for her to wear to work but not too classy that she couldn't just wear it whenever. My original idea was to string some smalled beads that matched the stones flanking the center piece, but the clamp beads rubbed alot so I decided against that idea. Instead I used cream medium pearls linked together with eye pins. I think the colors worked out pretty well.

This is the center piece and the main focus. I wanted everything to filter out from this piece.

I used two smokey blue stones to flank the center ring to draw more attention. 

I found these fire cooled gems in a light turquise that matched with the beads I had originally wanted to use in a solid string. I was going to match it against the turquise gems on one side for visual interest. The connector piece allowed for two strands and one on the other side and had a little detail to it that I thought fit with the center pieces detailing.

Since the strand of beads didn't work out as planned (I had it all finished, but when I tried it on the clamp beads rubbed more than I wanted, so I threw that idea out.) I decided to just mimicke the eye pin connected gems but with pearls for a more vintage look.

I have gotten MUCH better at makeing eye pin loops now, so this was a snap to do. I only screwed up once, but it was just too big a loop. Yay the practicing really worked! (I also picked up a "close edge clip pliers" to do smoother, closer cuts.)

I think the finished product looks pretty good. I really like the one sided detail look on necklesses.

I was rather proud that I got it done in one night and in about an hour and a half. (mostly because my first idea didn't work out as aspected) Jenn and I went to breakfast and hung out... and ironically I left the neckless sitting on my desk. I showed her pictures though and she loves it. I'm going to try and drop it off at her work on Wednesday since its my next day off.

What do you all think of my one sided neckless? Let me know!

As always if you have any projects of your own, please feel free to share!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fog Falls

The weather up here has finally proved that it is definitly not summer anymore. Its been foggy, rainy, and cold the last few days. The mornings have been frost filled and chilly.

I have no issue with this at all, as I LOVE fall and winter. Fall is my favorite season of all time. In Colorado is a very short season. Winter takes over pretty quickly.

The shots from the house have been great though. We live in a valley surrounded by mountains on every side.

This is a zoomed out view from our porch. Its fun watching the fog set in.

Another view from our porch, but the fog is slowly creeping in more and more. I love the look of the neighborhood when it gets foggy and wet.

As soon as I get a day off I'm going to take some picture of the Aspen groves before the turn colors. I'm also going to take some when they do turn because its just about the 2nd most beautiful thing to be able to see.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not ready for Good Bye

My family learned some depressing news this morning. My grandmother called to try and get a hold of my mother, but she called my phone instead. She sounded so stressed out and urgent that I ran the phone to mom.

My grandfather was in the hospital the other day for a regular check up, which he has been getting since his second stroke a year and a half ago. For some reason, and mom can't even figure why (she is a Nurse Practitioner, so when I say she knows this stuff I mean it), they did a chest x-ray and found an aneurysm in his heart. Its literally a time bomb just waiting to go off. If he goes into one of his coughing fits he could rupture it and he will die almost instantly. There is an option to have surgery to remove it, but its a very small percentage that he would live through the surgery, let alone the recovery after. He doesn't breathe well right now and this surgery would have him on a breathing tube during recovery and they don't think he would be able to fully get off the machine. His health has dropped considerably since his last stroke and no one thinks he could recover fast enough or fully to leave the hospital with out help, either by a breathing tube, or by a wheelchair. If he even gets recovered enough to leave the hospital at all.

My grandfather had VERY specific wishes when he was in the hospital the first time. He does NOT want to be on a breathing machine, or kept alive. He does NOT want to be resuscitated if he should die. He doesn't want to have to live his life like that and he doesn't want his family to have to care for him or see him that way. His parents went that way and he hated every second of it. It's a horrible thing to see people you love slowly dieing and you can't do anything.

The doctor told him the options and the first thing my grandfather said is, "Oh good, so I'll die." There is no doubt that he is ready for it. My grandmother on the other hand is seriously not. She called to ask mom to tell the doctors to do it. Mom told her she can't do that. He is still alive and perfectly capable of deciding this for himself. If he doesn't want the surgery there is nothing she can say to make it happen. My grandmother has power of attorney over their legal affairs, but grandfather put mom is change of his medical power of attorney because she would know better about what would have to be done. Mom was not thrilled about this gift 2 years ago when she saw him in the hospital from his first stroke. I think mom is terrified that some how grandmother might convince him to do the surgery and it will end up being  mom's decision about what happens after. I know she would not waver from his wishes because she is a nurse and she knows what its like, but its not easy being the one to have final say in something like this.

My grandfather is an amazing man and I love him so much, sooo so much. I don't want to lose him. I'm terrified I'm going to get a call in the middle of the night, or at work, saying he is gone. I'm just not ready to say goodbye.
Sweetest man ever. Funny and kind, always there to make you smile. Best hugger alive. Just huge full bodied hugs. Sarcastic, but adorable in every way possible. Hopelessly devoted to his family. Beloved by his friends and family, more than anyone I have ever known. Just a sweet hearted man.

Grandmother and Grandfather Spaight at my Aunt Trish's wedding in 2006.

My Grandfather with my two cousins Maddie and Olivia.

I just not ready to say goodbye. Just not yet.

Lay out

It only took me about a month...and then some... to buy another packet of my quilt fabric and cut them out. I had then washed and ironed for about 2 weeks and I just kept putting it off to do other things. Then mom yelled at me for having them lying around, so I just sat down and cut them out. {Plus it saved me from having to endure anymore really bad football!}

I FINALLY took the time to plan it out last night. I didn't want any block to be diagonal or be next to the same block. Took a little creative juices, but I got it done.

Now it goes pretty far up and down the bed, so I'm confident it will be plenty big.

The sides don't go very far, but I will still be putting a 10 inch border of purple around the entire quilt. {The blocks are 9 1/2 inch by 9 1/2 inches}

i.e. this purple:

 By the way this is what I got the idea and what I am following. They call for bigger blocks and less because of it, but I wanted the detail and colors of having more, so I'm slightly following this idea.

Now I just have to sit my pretty behind down and get to sewing. I have the lay out for each row stacked and numbered on my chest just waiting for me to piece them together. It will probably be another month before anything happens... because I'm just special like that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Three Stand Bracelet

So I noticed that I actually never posted this bracelet, which means in my purple classic post you have no idea what I am taking about. The purple pearls I was talking about is being used in THIS project. I am a little slow sometimes!

I wanted to try my hand at multi-stranded bracelets. I used purple pearls, blue/gray beads, and metal beads as individual strands.

-Purple pearls
-Blue/gray sepecaled beads
-Small metal beads
-Clamp beads
-Toogle clasp
-Jump rings
-Bead wire
-Clamp pliers
-Needle nose pliers
-Wire cutters

*tip 1* As always lay out your design first. This will save time dealing with changes and annoyances.
*tip 2* Measure ahead of time for the length needed, especially for bracelets.
*tip 3* When cutting bead wire for desired length be sure to include about 2 to 3 inches to loop back through clamps and beads.
*tip 4* When threading the bead wire back through the clamp bead after attaching one end of the clasps, the loop created can be big or small depending on how tight you pull the wire through. It looks better if you make it as small as possible, but its entirely up to you.

Step 1 - Measure and cut the length of bead wire you will need for the bracelet. *tip 1, 2 and 3*

Step 2 - Take a clamp bead and thread it onto the bead wire. Then loop the bead wire back through the clamp bead. Use the clamp pliers and close the clamp bead. *tip 4*

Step 3 - Thread on the beads in the order that you want. Having done *tip 1* will make this easier.

Step 4 - (This next step is entirely up to you to do or skip it to Step 5. If you do this step, then skip to Step 6 Thread on a clamp bead, making sure that all the beads are tightly together, and use the pliers to close it. (This will keep the beads tightly together and show no gaps when wearing the bracelet. It's easier than trying to thread the wire back through the beads and still keeping them tightly together)

Step 5 - (If you skipped Step 4)  Thread a clamp bead on the wire then thread the wire back through the clamp pulling it tightly to create a small loop at the end. You must be sure to keep the clamp as close to the end bead as possible in order to keep the beads strung tightly together, or you will get gaps when wearing the bracelet. Once you have it correct use the pliers to close the clamp. Thread the wire back through the beads to hide the extra wire.

Step 6 - (If you did Step 5, skip this step) Thread a clamp bead on the wire thread the wire back through the clamp pulling it tightly to create a small loop at the end. Pull the end as close to the last clamp as possible. Use the pliers to close the clamp. Take the wire cutters and cut the remaining wire as close as possible to the clamp you just did.

Step 7 - Repeat Steps 1 through 6 (depends on which last steps you took) for the remaining 2 strand of beads.

Step 8 - Use 3 jump rings to attach each strand of beads to one end of the toogle clasp.

Step 9 - Use 3 jump rings to attach each stand of beads to the other end of the toogle clasp.


This was pretty easy, so I am going to try and do one that I twist the beads and one in which I braid them together. I first need to figure out how much longer the strands needs to be. When they get twisted or braided they get scrunched up and it shortens the over all length. This is my next project!

Let me know what you think of this finished project and as always if you make one of your own please let me know! I love to see other people's take on my projects!

Rock Ledge Ranch '11

The historical Rock Ledge Ranch site at the Garden of the Gods hosts a craft fair every year in September. They also have an silent auction on handmade quilts.

Mom and I have been going for the last 3 years now and we started taking my father with us last year. He seems to really enjoy it now.
This year the weather was not amazing, but it turned out to be a relative decent day midway through the day.

I love seeing all the quilts they have for auction. They also give away two quilts for charity. This years were very pretty and detailed.

You pay a dollar for a ticket and they draw for it on the last day. The nice part is that they inform the winner by phone, so if you aren't there you still get it. This year as a nice gesture to my Mom I put in two additional entries on each for her. Dad also put in an entry for Mom on both quilts, so in all she got 4 entries on each. I Think it would be great if she got the tree one, that is my favorite of the two.

The auction quilts were all very lovely. They had quite a few this year, so that was nice to see.

This year there were not as many vendors as normal. The weather has been rainy and foggy, so not many people came to sell this year. Still had a decent amount and the regulars were there with new stuff, so that cool with me!

I will have a list of some of the vendors I liked websites listed for you at the bottom.

The views of the park (Garden of the Gods) are visable from just about every angle in the fair grounds, which adds a nice atmosphere.

My mother and father waiting for me to get a picture of the blacksmith shop. It was closed for the first half of the fair due to the wetness.

There were individual tents for those who have them and then three large tents for the vendors that did not have their own.

Dad and I thought these were cool. Wooden belts made with fishing wire to allow for bending. They were amazingly strong. The guy showed us how flexable they were and expandable.

Mom and I like to get the very many Christmas ordanments we send to my cousins and second cousins. There are always TONS of great ones here.
Mom also gets all excited because her favorite craft lady comes with her santas. I can't recall her name, but she makes the most AMAZING santas. She also makes other dolls, but the themed santas are by far our favorites. There is this wilderness santa that rides a black bear that I love. It was being sold when I got there, so I couldn't get a picture of it for you.

I thought these were SO cute! There were also mugs. There were ones that were ravens too. That would be seriously cool for a Halloween decoration or center piece, but they were a little pricey.  

This lady had the greatest vintage tins and cards. (Of which I got a few... see the pictures at the end)

The jewerly shown here is from Bella Tesori.

There was literally too much stuff I wanted. The workmenship on some of the items was just amazing. The jewerly in the picture above is some of the most detailed I have ever seen.
(I have cards from several of these places and I WILL be posting the websites [if they have one] as soon as I get a second to edit this)

Mom found a booth that was selling diachronic glass. If you have never heard of it, or seen it, you really should check it out.
Here is a little lesson for the day on Diachronic glass:
Diachronic glass is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metals or oxides which give the glass diachronic optical properties. The main characteristic of diachronic glass is that it has a particular transmitted color and a completely different reflected color, as certain wavelengths of light either pass through or are reflected. This causes an array of color to be displayed. The colors shift depending on the angle of view and the light.  (brought to you by Wikipedia)

This would be why my mom is holding it out in the sunlight. It shows the hidden colors and highlights them significantly. Mom is a BIG fan. Every year for Christmas (for the last 7 at least) she has gotten Diachronic glass jewerly from the Glass Blowers of Manitue here in Colorado.
Here are some examples of what it looks like so you know in the future.

I happily found a few items that I just couldn't walk away from, along with some favorites that I always purchase something.

Check out Lotion Bar Cafe for more items.

These lovely items are from Lotion Car Cafe. The celtic heart in the tin is a lotion bar. You rub your hands on it to get the lotion worked into your hands. Much cleaner than lotion in a bottle that can leak all over. The capstick is natural, so I like it much more than other kinds.

Check out Lotion Bar Cafe for more items.

See more items at Warm Personality's etsy site or you can email her about more.

Warm personality made this lovely bird. They make several types and I got this to tortue my babies. They enjoyed it too.

The classic tins and post card, along with the vintage flour sacks, are from one tent that was filled to the brim with vintage items. I was going nuts because I wanted SO many things and I just couldn't afford them all. *sigh* There is always next year!

Puzzle Place is a favorite stop of mine. They hand paint blocks and then cut them up into puzzles. They have about 300 different ones in all sizes. I mailed several off last year to my cousins that were the size of a shoe box. This one is the size of a lighter, but I'm partial to the smaller ones.

The day was full of family fun. We always have a good time going to the craft fair. We were missed while we were gone. I had a welcome commitee when I got back.

This is when I showed my babies the bird I got. I was trying to figure out how high or low would be safe for them to NOT reach it, but to drive them nuts at the same time. {Don't get me wrong I LOVE my kitties, but I like to give them, and me, some fun.}

Stue was of course overly curious and clamped onto the tail right away. Ah how I love my kitties!

It was a fun day and I got some real treasures to display once I get my own place. For now they will get wrapped up and stored downstairs in the storage room. Well not the lotion or capstick or the birdie, as the kitties have been hunting for it. They saw me put it down and now they must find it. It must die!

If you ever get a chance to come out to Colorado I would say the 16th through the 18th is a good time to visit and enjoy a little local color.

Vendor websites:

Art Wear email
Creations by Cami
Lotion Bar Cafe
Warm Personality
Bella Tesori Gallery
Victorian Elegance Jewerly