New links for Gluten Free information

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I just received a request for information on Gluten free sites. I have started a linked list on the left side of the page for web sources. Please feel free to send me information on any that you would like to be added to the listing.

Whole Foods and Glueten Free products

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I just recently had the opportunity to vist the new Whole Foods market that opened in our area. What a treasure trove of goodies, if you need Gluten Free products! Did you know that they even have gluten free baked goods in their fresh made bakery? I found bread, that actually tastes like bread, several kinds of cookies that are just yummy, pretezls that you can't tell from the regular kind, and all of the various flour substitutes for mixing my own Gluten free flours. I was amazed to find that they even carried Xanthum Gum, which I haven't found outside of the internet!

Now....I need to make my shopping list and go shopping. I want to experiment with making my own breads that don't need a forklift to carry them! I'll keep you posted and I go.

Handmade gifts...can it get any better??

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I just love Artfire.com! You haven't heard of it?....it's the newest thing in the handmade market! It started back in November, 2008, and has been growing by leaps and bounds. It has a great support staff that is extremely responsive, and is constantly striving to provide more benefits to its artists. The best part is there is no sales commission on items you sell. It also has active, friendly forums and Guilds/teams that afford helpful advice. The guilds are a good place to find artisians with like interests. Many are actively promoting their members and skill sets. If you are looking for a place to sell your handmade items, you should check out Artfire.com.


I was recently browsing member artisians in the Artfire Artisian Jeweler Guild that I belong to. I'd like to share a few of the artisians that I was most drawn to.


AAE-artglass has beautiful dichroic glass pendants, complete with supporting necklaces. They also have earrings available. She says of herself "I am always educating myself and attending classes and seminars about the art to keep up with cutting edge techniques and new and exciting products from the glass world. Currently, we are in the process of developing a line of glass fusing images that will be copywrited by us for re-sale to other glass artisans."

I'm going to have to invest in a couple of pendants to incorporate into my beadwork. They are so lovely that I just can't resist. Here's one that I especially liked:




Another outstanding artist is Gravelroadjewelry This artist has gorgeous wire worked jewelry that in many cases incorporates stones and/or glass. The designs are original and beautiful.
Here is an excerpt from the site: "Currently I am focused on wire wrapped jewelry in sterling silver and go to great lengths to provide beautiful and interesting items that are sturdy and durable to my customers. I use only quality materials in the jewelry I create and I hope you can find a piece in my shop that you will enjoy wearing as much as I enjoyed creating."



--These are the types of items you just can't find in traditional stores. If you are like me, and don't like to see everyone else wearing the same thing you are, check out the artists at Artfire.com. There are many other types of artists on the site besides jewelry artist. These are just the ones I viewed today.

Basic Beaded Crochet rope

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After seeing many questions on Facebook about bead crochet, I created this video for beginning a bead crochet rope. I hope it is helpful for some of you.

Bead Crochet Ropes

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I've seen several posts about bead crochet ropes on Facebook groups that I belong to. I wanted to post info on two books that I have found useful in learning to do bead crochet ropes. This is a tough technique to learn from books, and is best learned from taking an actual class. I have taught this class before, and it seems that people who have previous crochet experience do NOT really have an advantage. The only advantage they may have is being more comfortable with holding and maneuvering the thread.

The first book is a hard bound book by Ann Benson. It's titled "Beaded Crochet Designs". This book explains the types of cords, hooks, beads, reading a graph, invisible joins, and has good diagrams. It also has a beautiful variety of designs and instructions. This is a book that I refer to frequently for ideas. The list price when I purchased it was $24.95.

The second book is a soft bound book, about twenty pages worth, and lists for $22.95. Even though it is lean on pages, it packs a lot of information and photos between its covers! The photos are very clear, and it too covers a wealth of information. This book is "Bead Crochet Ropes" by Judith Bertoglio-Giffin

I also came across a link http://www.beadline.com/crochet/crochet.html that provides very basic instructions by this same author.

I would suggest using slightly larger beads, 6o seeds rather than 8o seeds, and a heavier cord than jeans stitch cord. I personally like to work with upholstery weight thread, but suggest CLon cord when you are first learning. If you work with a stiffer, heavier cord to begin, you will experience less dropped stitches and it will be easier to see the loops of the stitches. You can think of bead crochet ropes as an inside-out crochet. The crochet sits on the inside of the tube, and the beads cover the stitches on the outside of the tube.

After you master the basics of the technique, the types of bead combinations is unlimited. You can see several types of crocheted ropes in my store at Artfire: http://simplyuniquejewelry.artfire.com/ If you type "crochet" into the studio search box, you can view only the crochet rope items.

Grandma Day Continues....

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Once again it is Grandma Day. My four year old grandson showed up at my door at 9:30 AM, with his mother in tow. His words of greeting were "You should have come to get me sooner Grandma!" I told him that I was up late last night working, and had just gotten up a few minutes before his arrival. He thought about this for a while, and then asked me what I was working on. I showed him the bracelet that I had finished the night before. He examined it for a few minutes, considered, then informed me "It's pretty Grandma, but you should have come to pick me up sooner!"

Well now that things were in 4 year old perspective, we settled into having fun. We built silly friend critters out of Knex blocks, with me explaining to him how to read the pattern sheet. Then we decided to make Chocolate Chip cookies. As we gathered ingredients from the cupboard, we discovered we were missing one key ingredient,.....chocolate chips! It was off to the store to remedy the situation.

My grandson is wheat/gluten intolerant. In his case, the wheat triggers an asthma like condition. His mom, a doctor who has gotten heavily interested in natural supplements and remedies, decided to try eliminating wheat from his diet. Magically, the symptoms disappeared. With wheat he has dark circles under his eyes, runny nose, raspy cough, and trouble breathing. Without wheat these symptoms disappear. He is now about 90-95% wheat free.

Consequently, Grandma has started experimenting with recipes for cookies and breakfast/dessert breads so he can have some treats too. One of the most successful has been the Chocolate Chip cookies. I found two commercially available wheat substitute flours at our local grocery, Publix. One is Pamela's Products: Baking & Pancake Mix , and the other is Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour . The first contains Xanthan Gum in the mix, which most Gluten Free sites will tell you is necessary to hold your baked goods together. This flour is primarily made from Rice products and also contains baking powder and baking soda. The second contains no Xanthan Gum and is made from Garbanzo Beans, potato starch, tapioca flour, and various other components.

I decided to try the Toll House recipe by simply substituting a mix of these two flours. This produced a very FLAT cookie that tasted great, but looked like someone had stepped on it! I went back to the Internet for research. There I found that baking soda and baking powder cause the cookies to spread. By substituting my gluten free flours, I was already adding the baking soda in the recipe. The other tidbit I came across was that items made with these flour substitutes are more fragile than regular flour items. It was suggested to use parchment paper on the cookie sheets.

Here is the recipe that I have developed. It is basically the Nestle Toll House recipe, substituting a mix of the flours, with a slight increase in quantity, and eliminating the baking soda. I also increase the vanilla flavoring to increase the flavor. I cover my cookie sheets with parchment paper, and let the sheets set for about two minutes when I take them out of the oven before I transfer the cookies to the counter to cool.

Toll House cookies--Gluten Free:
1 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Flour
1 1/2 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
1 tsp salt
2 sticks softened Butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12oz package Nestles Semi-Sweet Morsels
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Measure flours and salt into a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowel with mixer on low to medium speed until mix is a consistent color. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add half of flour mix and blend on low. Add remainder of mix and blend again. Stir in bag of chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir to mix all together.

Drop by rounded teaspoon fulls onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes until golden brown. I normally bake mine for 10 minutes.

Remove tray from oven and set aside for about 2 minutes. Remove cookies to a counter covered with paper towels and allow to finish cooling.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
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If your cookies seem too flat, increase the flour mix slightly next time you make them. I increase the Pamela's flour as it is the one with the Xanthan Gum.
You really can't tell the difference between these cookies and the original ones once they are baked. The raw batter tastes a little different, but it still is good. Once baked, I can't tell a difference, and have several family members rave about how good the cookies are.

I hope those of you with wheat allergies will find this recipe enjoyable. Now I just have to experiment with a loaf of bread so Emmi can have sandwiches. So far our loaves of bread have been less than enjoyable!

Beading Books I like

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I'd like to tell you about a couple of beading books that I have read and enjoyed. I have been beading for about four years now, and have learned most of the common off loom stitches. I'm getting a little tired of seeing the same things in the magazines and have decided I would like to try developing some of my own designs. I am really interested in 3D shapes, and find creating them with beads to be both challenging, intimidating, and fun. There are two books in particular that I have found to be useful.

1. Little Bead Boxes by Julia S. Pretl
This book is written for the individual who wants to create boxes, using Japanese cylinder beads. It covers a variety of shapes: square, triangular, hexagonal, pentagonal, and oblong variations. She covers various types of lids also, overhanging, flush edges, and recessed edges. The book has very good diagrams and clear, easy to understand verbage.
I'm not really interested in making boxes, but I am interested in making something like a closed cylinder that I can suspend from a beaded rope. I can use Julia's instructions to make a really tall, skinny hexagonal shape and close off the top. I could also follow the directions for making a box with a recessed edge and extend the new recessed edge into a longer smaller wall to build a multilevel shape.
Julia also covers reading a graphed design, and finishing with finials and legs. Graph paper is included in the back of the book for graphing your own designs.
Overall, I think this book is definitely worth the cost, $21.95 US list, and deserves a place on your book shelf if you are interested in beading 3D shapes.

2. Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork; published by Lark Books;$24.95 US list: Diane Fitzgerald is a well respected master of the Beading field. She has compiled much of her research and knowledge for creating shapes out of beads into this book. I had the priviledge of receiving this information directly from Diane in a two day seminar. It was intense, informative, and fun! We started out by beading flat, 2D shapes and progressed to creating 3D shapes. The culmination was to bead a Trillium flower pendant. Diane has taken all of this information and compiled it, along with additional info, into this book.
She covers various shapes from the 2D perspective first; triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, oval teardrop, diamond, and rectangle. She then looks at these shapes, but leaves the centers unfilled. This helps you see how the shapes could be used for closure loops, frames, or bezels. From this you progress to 3D shapes. All of this is covered in an instructional format that includes lovely projects to practice on.
If you are looking for something new and different, please take a look at this book.

Grandma Day

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or as others know it...Tuesday!
My four and one-half year old grandson has dubbed Tuesday as GrandMa day, as that is our scheduled day for him to not go to preschool, but to come to my house to play.

The day started out innocently enough, with Mom forgetting what day it was....she packed his lunch for school. When he saw the lunch box he indignantly informed his mother that it was 'Grandma Day'! Well...the lunchbox was promptly stopped. Then Dad told him it was time to go to school. He once more clarified the fact that it was NOT a school day. After his misguided parents left for the day, he settled down to wait with his aunt for Grandma to come pick him up.

When I finally arrived at his house, at an early (in my estimation)hour of 10:30, I was greeted with a "Grandma, I've been waiting For..Ever for you to come!"

We're off to my house.
"So Grandma, what shall we do first?"
"Well first, where's my hug and kiss?" I said as I picked him up for our happy smile time.
"Grandma, your teeth are minty!"
"Thank you, I brushed them so they would be minty for you."
"I need to brush my teeth." he proclaimed. So we were off for the bathroom. I unwrapped a new toothbrush and put toothpaste onto it. I gave Emmi the brush.
"Where's the button to turn it on?" he asked surprised.
"There is no button, you have to move it yourself." I chuckled. I turned to get the towel. When I looked back, his little head was rapidly moving from side to side and up and down. I burst out laughing and told him, "No sweetie, move the toothbrush, not your head!"

I love Grandma Day. It always keeps me smiling for the rest of the week. It reminds me of why Jim and I moved to Florida five years ago. These are the best years of our lives, while the grandchildren are young, and I don't want to miss any of them. I can't wait for next Tuesday, uhmmm Grandma Day!

Who am I??

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It started on a windy night.....No that's not what you want to know....I am an artsy-fartsy old lady that loves all things artistic....That's pretty much true, except for the old part....well maybe the old part too!Actually, I am a retired Military spouse, who has had the priviledge of travelling around the world and the USA with my retired Army husband of 40 years. Whew!....that does make me old! Oh well, I'm still young at heart! We have lived in Georgia, Germany, North Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Northern Virginia, commonly known as the "DC area". While in Germany, we had the opportunity to travel to Holland, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, and England, as well as all over Germany. I wouldn't trade any of it. I grew up in a little town, where I knew there just had to be more to the world than my little space. Little did I know what was to come!In all of these different locations, I experimented with different Arts and Crafts techniques. My own personal drive always made me strive for the higher artistic ends, rather than the craft ends. I have experienced Oil painting, Acrylic painting, macrame, custom sewing, Quilling, Decorative painting, and now Designer jewelry making.I love working with color to create strong contrasts and beautiful, unique items. I am inspired by nature, sunsets, beautiful skies, the beads and stones themselves, but mainly color. I love the way one color plays off of and influences another. Sometimes it is the shine, or the texture that attracts me, but always the colors hold me