Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

My go-to chocolate cake. It's called "Darn Good Chocolate Cake" and it always has been. So, of course it's the first gluten-free Cake Mix Doctor cake I had to try. And as I sit here, drinking a cup of coffee and eating my "Darn Good Chocolate Cake", I can honestly say, I'm not disappointed. It tastes exactly right, just the way it's supposed to.... it's just a little less moist and heavy than the original. I used the gluten-free Betty Crocker mix. Next time, I'll try Pamela's mix. And maybe cook it a couple minutes less. Or maybe it needs a chocolate drizzle instead of the powdered sugar topping. That might make it absolutely perfect, actually.

Darn Good Chocolate Cake

1 package (15 oz) chocolate gluten-free cake mix
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips

dusting of confectioners'

Mix all together with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, pour into a prepared bundt pan, bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 10 minutes, invert onto cake plate, let cool a little more, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, enjoy!

More wonderful recipes here, in my favorite cake book:


Another old favorite, is a scone recipe given to me by my old friend Lara. I decided it had to work with gluten-free flour mix, and so I gave that a try too. (All this baked food in the house!) Perfectly happy with these, they taste just right. Maybe even better than the gluten ones? Maybe.

Scottish Oat and Cranberry Scones

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

1 1/2 cup flour (I used Pamela's bread flour mix)
2 cups rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats)
1/4 cup sugar (I used organic brown sugar)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries


1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk, and I used a splash more than 1/3 cup)

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Add beaten egg, melted butter and milk and stir together.

Grease a baking pan, and make two rounds of dough, about 6 inches around and 1.5 inches high or so. Score or cut each round into quarters.

Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm with butter and jam.


And I have more gluten-free findings. I know, this is like three posts in one, but I'm going to try to keep my gluten-free posts to a minimum, because I don't want to bore you, so I'm sticking them all in one big post for the week.

This is gluten thing is easier than I'd thought and even if you are not a gluten-free gal, these foods are GOOD, or much better than I'd hoped.... foods I'll eat again, some of them I'd eat even if I wasn't avoiding wheat!

Rudi's Gluten Free Bread - seriously f.i.n.e. I like them just as well as any other sliced bread from the store. We made panini sandwiches and they were great. The slices are on the small side, which also makes me happy as I never finish a whole sandwich.

Udi's breads - We tried their frozen pizza crusts, and I have to say... they are not cardboard. But neither are they nice chewy thick crust. Ah, well, I will just have to think of them as a vehicle for pizza toppings. And I do think they are better than those boboli things. They will do for now.

Pamela's Products - gluten-free bread and cake mixes and flour mixes. So far, the corn-bread was good, and I used the buscuit-mix blend for both drop biscuits and my lemon bars. The drop biscuits were funny looking but really yummy. And the lemon bars... well I could have eaten the whole pan! I need to make more of those soon.

Blue Diamond Nut Thins - These are good. Good for dips and such. I've only tried the almond ones, but I'm happy.

Not gluten-free but dairy free and OH SO GOOD. I'd eat this over regular ice cream any day: So Delicious Coconut 'Ice Cream'. I'm going to try the coconut almond one next, and mix it with dark chocolate and then I'll have an Almond Joy in a bowl!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bead Soup Teaser

I finished my piece today! I'm not sure about it... it's different from anything I've ever made. Ever. There are parts I love... and parts I wonder about. Too bad I can't show you today! You'll have to wait until the Big Reveal - which is on Saturday. So come back on Saturday and I'll have my post up with links to all the other blogs.

In the meantime, here's a litte teaser, which will completely throw you off. I think.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Starts With the Books

Actually, it started with a few comments from friends who are going through the whole detox, elimination diet thing. A few things they said that made me go hmmn. Even though I've been down the elimination diet, allergy tests road before, wheat never came up as an issue. But I started to wonder: could wheat be a pain thing rather than a digestive thing for me? Really? Hmn....

And then I decided I was going to experiment. Just an experiment. One week with no gluten. By then I'd know. Right? I decided it was so. And I asked the family if they wanted to experiment with me. They both said sure. Four days? Five? A week tops? Sure, they were in. No problem. But first, let's finish that coconut cream pie. OK, now we were ready... one week, no problem.

Except, it was a problem. We all noticed right off that we felt better. Seriously better. Luke and I decided pretty quickly that this was it. We were done with wheat. Frank was not so sure. Grumbly. And then he ate something with gluten after not having any for a few days and he got all hot and bothered and said "wow, yeah."

So there you go. We are a gluten-free home. Even the dog and cat are grain free - they have been for awhile now - Zoe gets itchy paws, Tyger yacks. So, grain free for them, gluten-free for us.

And now I'm ready for more experimenting. Recipes. Originally, I had thought, forget it, gluten-free stuff sucks - we'll just eat veggies and fruits and protein and there's always rice and potatoes, and if you know me, you know that I do love potatoes. It will be fine. But, no. Luke wants cheese crackers. Frank wants bread. And if I'm completely honest, I want pizza dough. And cake, eventually. I can't live without cake. At least not forever.

Recipes. Because I'm not a boxed food girl, I prefer homemade. Everytime. Unless it's Oreos. I'll miss Oreos. And Girl Scout Thin Mints. Hmn.... I'll miss them too. Well, whatever.

Right... recipes. I started with the blogs. The blogs are great. At least the photos look tempting. The comments are encouraging too. There are so many good-looking blogs out there. Gluten-Free Goddess, Gluten-Free Girl, Gluten-Free Nosh... you can find them anywhere.... and they give me hope. The Gluten-Free Goddess just gave us a pizza dough recipe, for example. I'm all over it. (Except... it doesn't really look like pizza, does it? Maybe I should wait a bit until I'm really missing pizza.)

So recipes. Sure you can print them off the blogs... but there is nothing so satisfying as a good cookbook sitting on the shelf with handy go-to favorite recipes bookmarked and waiting, is there?

Here are my first finds:

I can't tell you how happy I was to discover The Cake Mix Doctor has a gluten free cake book. Seriously... overjoyed. Her cake mix books are my go-to books for every cake I've made in the last 10 years... I feel so much better now! And the reviews on Amazon are great. Encouraged and overjoyed.

I also found this one, which has a recipe for Luke's staff-of-life: cheese crackers. I'm making them RIGHT NOW. With Almond Flour. Who knew? Also, lots of good reviews.

And then there is the Gluten-Free Baking Classics, which, from what I am reading, as THE BEST chocolate chip cookie in all the world, gluten-free or not. Everyone says so... I'll let you know as soon as possible!

There are two more exciting titles waiting in my Amazon shopping cart... I'll get to them later. First to try these cheese crackers that are supposed to be just like Cheez-Its. They arn't, I'll admit. They need more salt. But they aren't bad. I don't think Luke is going to like them much. Maybe if I'd used Beecher's cheese?

Wanna try one?

Eh, I should have made those chocolate chip cookies. Next time.

Goodbye Leo!

Goodbye Leo, you were so much fun while it lasted! Goodbye yummy partner's flat crackers that I love so much. Goodbye you wheat thins, crack that you are. Same to you little round donut holes covered in powdered sugar, goodbye. Goodbye fancy bread flour that I was just getting to know. Goodbye Trader Joe's pumpkin bread mix that I loved (until I realized it was giving me hives). Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to all the wheat-laden items in the cupboards. Goodbye.

Goodbye achy body, goodbye puffy circles around my eyes. Goodbye nervous shaky feeling that something bad is about to happen. Goodbye dark cloud that has been hanging over my head.

Hello, clear head, how I've missed you! For you, I'll keep this up, and for my poor body that has been achy and sore for longer than I can remember, I'll keep this up. And especially, for hugs from my child that no longer hurt, I will keep this up.

Hello to the challenge of discovering a new pizza dough, of learning to make gluten-free Leo bread (is that possible?)... of finding a substitute for the kiddo's beloved Goldfish crackers. We will do it!

Hello to the amazing blogs of people who have been doing it and making it easier and more delicious for the rest of us, I thank you in advance. Things look much brighter in this gluten-free world than they did almost 10 years ago when I dipped my toes in and pulled them back out too quick. Ah well... some of us have to learn the hard way. Remember a year ago when I said "over my dead body". Yes, I can still eat my words.

And I can also eat these amazingly delicious lemon bars, my first gluten-free baking experiment of many. So good. You know you want a taste too!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Green Beads

Here are some beads that were supposed to be aqua/teal/blue-green but, when I opened the kiln this morning, they were forest green. Ah well, sometimes you just never know what the magic glass kiln fairy is going to give you! These are Double Helix ST-382 - a test batch I got from the 2010 Bash.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

OWOH Winners, a Surprise, and More Good News!

I have OWOH Winners! But first, let me say, what a great final year for OWOH - I loved exploring some new blogs (though I did not make it to all 800+ of them, did anyone?) and finding ones that I want to follow all year long, and as ever, I love the kind comments left by all my visitors - thank you! And welcome to all of my new followers - I look forward to making new connections with all of you this year too, and hope 2011 is a beautiful, colorful, creative year for all of us.

OK, on to the Winners!

The first prize, Poppy the Bird Bead, goes to: Sylvia, at Baxter's Mom

The second prize, the peace bead, goes to Grace at Grace Beading.

The third prize, goes to Diane at Turn Left at the Pigs

And the fourth prize, Claire the Bird Bead, goes to: Marie at Art from My Heart

and.... now for The Surprise:

A fifth winner! This is a mystery prize, which, let me tell you, is a heart pendant that I made out of this bead:

This fifth prize goes to Itaya at Itaya Art.

Congrats to all my winners! I will email you next. And for the rest of you, as my son said to me just now, "The only thing I hate about your give-away? Is the 200 hundred people who don't win." I agree. I hope the other 230 of you win things at the other blogs, and that you made some new friends - I know I did!

And , now, for the Good News:

Lisa Swifka, the originator of OWHO, is going to be hosting a similar, but different event next year called OWOA - Our World Our Art - and it's going to be great! So head to her site and read about it and sign up for her newsletter. Exciting!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Frit Diva Testing Part 5: Petulant Petuntia

Frit Diva's Petulant Petunia - now here is a frit to be reckoned with. Probably my favorite name of the bunch, and she lives up to it. We have not yet made friends, she doesn't seem to like my hot torch... or the colors I put her on. I will try again though. I think I will try encasing her next time.

Anyway, here she is over Opal Yellow and Ink Blue - I was sure she was going to be a great floral garden background, as you can see from my theme...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Frit Diva Testing Part 4: Arielle's Odyssey

This is a sweet frit in wonderful ocean blues, called Arielle's Odyssey. It doesn't seem too reactive, at least from my first experience with it - over light transparent blue:

Frit Diva Testing Part 3: I Like it Like That

Back with more Frit Diva frit test beads. This one I like - a lot - it's called "I Like it Like That" and it plays oh so nicely with Kalypso - look how it spreads and makes little halos on this first bead:

And this one, compliments the sliced Kalypso edges perfectly, I think. On Ink Blue.

Love Glass

If I could marry Double Helix Glass, I would. Sorry, Frank! But seriously, just look at this love glass:

And yeah, I just placed an order.

Frit Diva Testing Part 2: Don't Worry Be Happy

I really like this Frit Diva color - Don't Worry Be Happy - and want to explore it some more on a non-reactive base.

Here is is on CIM peacock, with enamels and stringer decorations:

And this is on Double Helix Gaia - I don't know what possessed me to try this as a base... but it's a nice bead even if the frit can't be seen well.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

100 Beads for Beads Of Courage

Still sorting through old beads here and now I have a pile for Beads of Courage. 100 of them. A lady bug, some starfish, some hearts, some cats, some trees, a dog bone, some pumpkins, a seashell, some flowers, and a bunch of colorful odds and ends. I sure hope they help brighten a bunch of children's days.

It turns out that February is also a Beads of Courage bead drive - for each 25 beads you send in, you get a chance to win a new GTT Cricket Torch. I would love a chance to win that - perhaps I'd set up a second spot in my studio for Luke and/or other beady friends who want to come by and play?

If you have beads and want to send some in to support these brave kids, the address to send beads to is:
Beads of Courage, Inc.
5301 S. Houghton Road
Tucson, AZ 85747

Friday, February 11, 2011

Frit Diva Testing, Part 1: Santa Fe Cowgirl

Frit Diva's grand opening was today - remember I said I was going to be doing some frit testing for her? Well, I only just got started... and I only tried Santa Fe Cowgirl, so far.

This one is CIM stone and pale trans blue:

This one is on... either Khaos or Echo, I can't remember what the tag said. One of the silver glasses, a brown rod.

This one is half maple and half pale trans blue:

And this is opal yellow, super heated, reduced (turned all dark) and then back in the neutral flame to clean it up a little, trying to keep the dark edges.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Luke's First Ring

Proud Momma report here! Luke made his first ring in his Metal Arts class at school. He shaped and soldered it himself - check it out!

He tells me he's making another one, for me this time, with one of my lampwork beads on it. Can't wait to see it!

Some Hearts

Love. I love melting glass. And I love it that my husband traded places with me yesterday so that I could "go to work" and melt glass. And that he got to experience a full day of "homeschool" which actually means, not a whole lot of time at home, strangely enough. And I'm almost caught up on custom orders now, which also means, I have photos to share.

I'll start with some hearts. Hearts = love, after all.

It's the time of year for hearts, isn't it? Actually, I like hearts all year round, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I enjoy making them too, and especially enjoyed making this first one, which you can see front and back. It's a very special bead with a very special story for a very special woman. I'm happy with the way it turned out, and I know she will treasure it for always and forever. And that makes me feel extra good about it.

And then there are these two, which are made with veiled Gaffer glass - they turn out looking like a watercolor painting, I think. I hope one of these is "just right" for my customer because these are the only two "blue" glasses I could find for them. I love it that they are not traditional pink. But then anything blue makes me happy.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bead Soup for School Kids

Tomorrow I'm sending Luke to school with this stash... to donate to his new Metal Working class - beads only kids could love, I think - I hope they find some ways to work these into their metal and jewelry projects!

Look at these things. How small some of them are, I almost don't remember making those... some of them are probably 6 or 7 years old... nothing like going through the reject box to see how far you've come.

Monday, February 07, 2011

You Are An Art Hero

Yes, YOU. My Art Hero.

I have been blog-hopping for both the OWOH thing, and also for the Bead Soup Blog Party... and I've been so happy to see all these interesting blogs, and inspired by so many people creating so many different kinds of things... people getting published in magazines, and writing books, and selling tutorials and teaching classes... and I've been following some friends on Facebook who have been in Tucson selling what looks like hundreds (thousands?) of beads, beautiful handmade beads, the amount of which I have yet to make in all my years of bead-making... all these people living creative, productive, brave artist lives...

and I feel... inadequate.

I don't know how you do it. Many of you also have children. More of them than I do even. Many of you also suffer from health problems that sap your energy. Many of you work full time jobs in addition to being artists. And yet, you still create. Often. And beautifully.

I have not been able to find, or, make the time. It's been a very tough year. One thing after another. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I've been trying to find other ways to feed my muse - ways that fit into this life I'm living now - ways to be creative that fill the gap - but it's not the same as melting glass - these things don't make my heart sing the way the glass and fire does.

But. I'm inspired. By this post by Kesha Bruce, and by all of you. To see you doing it, shows me that it's possible. So. Thank you. I, too, will find a way.

(Inspiration Mind Map by Paul Foreman)

The Dahlia Lounge Coconut Cream Pie

I had this last night, actually, I only got to share it with the kid, but I wished I'd had my own piece - after he got his first taste, he didn't want to share with me anymore and I literally had to fight him for it! - it's seriously the best coconut cream pie I've ever had!

And HERE!!! is the recipe. Yum - I can't wait to try to make this.

Google Art Project

Have you heard about Google's new Art Project? I just did, and I think it's the best thing to happen to the internet in forever! Check it out, you can tour famous art museums from around the world, you can zoom in on amazing works of art to see detail probably closer up than you could if you were standing right in front of it in person!

Just look! at the face in Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" and you'll be hooked too.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

That Bead Soup Blog Party Project

The Bead Soup Blog Party rules say... we are not supposed to show our finished work before the party date... 20 days from now... but we can show hints.

So here is a hint. It already no longer looks like this... Though I'm not very far into it yet.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Another Bird for OWOH

Since Poppy the Bird Bead has been such a hit in my OWOH thread (I love all the comments!!), I've decided to add another bird to my OWOH offering. Meet Claire:

BE SURE to leave your comment in the right post - this one is NOT it! GO HERE -->> to comment for a chance to win it.

What We've Been Up to Lately

The biggest project in forever, that's what. I have to empty the lower level of the house so we can have some repairs done... which meant, either store all the guest room stuff in a pod, or upgrade the kid to a tween/teen room and give him the guest bed. You will see here what we decided to do.

Here is the inspiration photo and the finished result. We painted, had new carpet installed, new baseboard, new curtains, new bedding... the whole works. I figure he's good now until he goes to college.... at least I hope so!

You can see whole post is over on Luke's blog: Luke's New Room - all the before and after and in between shots. I'm impressed with myself, but then I had a total slave-driver project manager pushing me every step of the way (Luke, of course).

Phew, done with THAT! Now to empty the rest of the basement. Hmn.