Making a Gingerbread House

All the pictures make it look so easy. Right?

Mom and the kids sitting around the table, maybe even with Grandmom, and happily frosting/gluing the pieces together, adding the candy, and then a perfect gingerbread house is completed.

May I ask you, have you ever really tried doing one? With or without kids? It’s really not as easy as those pictures show. And it definitely doesn’t always turn out like it looks like on the box. Even for those of us who are usually quite crafty.

How do I know? Well, last year my daughter and I decided to make one with the grandkids. At the time Rachel was 4 and a half; Ryleigh a year and a half. 

I guess I should’ve said my daughter and I decided to make one. While the kids watched. Or played something else. Or waited to eat the candy that went on it.

We’d actually done one the year before. That didn’t turn out well at all. Besides Rachel being a little too young to really be a lot of help, actually putting these together isn’t that easy. The sides and roof pieces that have to be assembled are “glued” with white frosting. The frosting doesn’t work like my hot glue gun! And getting them to stay upright and in place isn’t a piece of cake, or gingerbread, either! 

Trust me, our finished product from that year certainly isn’t worthy of being seen on here!

Last year though, was a bit easier. But only just a bit.  It may be because we used a different brand gingerbread house kit. Maybe because the grandkids were a year older. Or maybe we’d just learned from last year what NOT to do.

Our daughter learned what not to do. She learned that she had no patience in putting the sides and roof together. So guess who got the job? The same person who did it the year before. As you can see from the pictures.

And getting the roof on and actually getting it stay is almost an engineering project. But I did it. And when the frosting “glue” dried, it actually stayed together. That was an improvement over last year!

Next was the part our daughter and Rachel were looking forward to. Decorating the house. The kits contain all the candy needed for the houses, and there’s usually some left over. Which makes all the kids, big and little, quite happy.

And our daughter and older granddaughter really enjoyed putting the candy on, even though not all of it went on the house. What did little Ryleigh do? She watched for a few minute, grabbed a bit of the candy, and went back to playing and watching cartoons.

Fortunately the house turned out fairly well. We were all proud of our accomplishment. 

So proud, in fact I actually got another kit for them, and we all put together a gingerbread camper. Which wasn’t quite as difficult. Or else we’d learned a little more about how to do it.

So what do you think about our collection? Are you ready to try and do your own? You don’t even need to have kids or grandkids to try it. But that makes it more fun. 

Or you can do what our daughter did and order an acrylic one to put together. Much easier. And lasts a lot longer. Isn’t it cute? And you knew it had to have a flamingo with it!

Here are the finished products. What do you think?

To show how brave we’ve become after this, we now have four gingerbread kits to make this year. We may or may not write about those, depending on the finished products. But you never know!

And why not send your own gingerbread house pictures in a comment. We’d love to see them!

Happy holiday creating! The fun is just beginning!

How Thanksgiving Really Is

A lot of times after a big holiday we have a letdown, a time when we sit back and reflect on all the preparations and hurrying and worrying to make sure everything is perfect, and wonder, after all we did for a few hours of family time and food, was it worth it? All the work, that is.

The turkey’s been eaten, and leftovers put away. Casseroles are covered and refrigerated for tomorrow. Leftover pumpkin pie sits on the counter in case someone wants another piece.

All the work and preparation and it’s over in an hour or so. And everyone is exhausted.

Yes, we gave thanks for time together, and yes it was wonderful, although it certainly wasn’t like a Norman Rockwell painting. It never is. And for those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, please look up Norman Rockwell and his work. Then you’ll understand.

.

At our house, it was a small gathering. Our daughter and her family, and her dad and me. And that was fine.

Now the Thanksgiving crafts Ashley brought for the kids to do didn’t quite turn out too well. Grandpa complained his crayons weren’t coloring right. Little Ryleigh lost interest quickly. Probably because she didn’t feel good. So Rachel and her mom got to have all the fun, including making a Thanksgiving hat for Daddy. Even one of our dogs decided to join in the fun and try to eat a couple of the kids’ crayons. Didn’t know yorkies liked crayons….

The food was good, even though it wasn’t all necessarily homemade. There’s nothing wrong with stovetop stuffing, turkey gravy in a jar, ready made mashed potatoes, and a frozen pumpkin pie. But I did make two casseroles myself. And Ashley and the girls made cinnamon buns from my mother’s recipe, which is our tradition.

We didn’t carve the turkey at the table; that’s just not practical. Good thing, though, because the electric knife decided to die on us when my husband started to cut it, and our son-in-law had to use his deer knife to carve the bird. He did tell us he’d cleaned it after he last used it out in the woods!

We didn’t dress up in our best clothes, like we did as kids at our grandma’s house on Thanksgiving. But we did eat in the dining room. We didn’t use our best china, but we didn’t use paper plates either. Good thing we used unbreakable dinnerware, though! You can imagine why with two little girls….

The grandkids had fun, even though they didn’t eat much. One ate three helpings (kid-sized) of corn pudding and one ate mostly cinnamon buns! Our daughter put ketchup on her turkey while her husband used hot sauce. Who else does that? And why?

The grandkids were actually more interested in running into the living room to try to play my piano and in the next minute go look out the window for Santa Claus. Rachel even said she thought she saw him on the roof and made her Daddy go look! But I guess he’d already left because they didn’t find him.

I wonder if he was starting to make his list early!

The dogs were unhappy because they weren’t allowed to be in the dining room with us, half because they wanted to be with us, and half because they knew the kids were dropping food on the floor and they wanted to help with the cleanup!

But don’t worry about their holiday dinner! They discovered the cloth napkins and tablecloth I’d thrown on the steps to take upstairs to the laundry room, and they were more than happy to grab those and run around the house with them.

Guess they wanted their Thanksgiving treats as well!

Family Thanksgiving pictures? The closest we got to that were pictures of the grandkids helping their mommy make the cinnamon buns and taking pictures of the kids modeling the Thanksgiving paper hats they’d colored.

Now tell me the truth…was your Thanksgiving more like ours or more like the picture perfect scenes you see on tv commercials and magazine ads?

I think I know the answer already. And I really wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, it’s our family, and that’s just how it is!

And if you’re wondering how my husband was able to handle all this after his heart procedure two days ago, well, that’s another story, for another time. While we wait for it to be rescheduled now that the insurance company has FINALLY sent the doctors their approval! Things do work out for the best after all. Because Thanksgiving day would have totally worn him out.

And now it’s on to getting ready for Christmas. And there’ll surely be more stories and memories to cherish.

Being Thankful 2021

(Be sure to read through it all for a surprise at the end.)

It’s almost Thanksgiving again. We’re all trying to plan our meals, figure out who will join us at our feast, as well as what everyone can bring. 

We’re trying to figure out how to prevent arguments at these family and friends dinners because, well, some of you don’t get along with each other that well, and have such uncompromising ideas that you’re afraid dinner will turn into a battleground.

People are already complaining that the cost of our traditional Thanksgiving meal is too high. We can’t get this or that and we just can’t have our dinner without it.

People are complaining that many retailers who traditionally opened after dinnertime for an early start on Christmas shopping won’t be doing it this year. They’re actually letting their employees have off to spend time with THEIR families instead of trying to deal with pushy shoppers who complain that what they stood in line to buy is gone already! 

It just isn’t fair! 

Who said life is fair? Who said we have to have certain things for dinner because it’s tradition? Is Thanksgiving going to be ruined if we have to eat chicken instead of turkey? Not, it’s not quite the same, but you do have food on the table.

You don’t want to have certain family members there because you don’t agree with them on certain things? Maybe they don’t agree with you either. Maybe you can agree to disagree for one day and leave that conversation out of your day?! Or maybe you can just forget about them this year. But do you really want to do that?

Maybe things will be different next year and you can see them then. Or maybe they won’t be around any more and you’ll never get the chance to be with them again.

Tomorrow is not promised. Next week is not promised. And next year is not promised.

When we start making holidays, say Thanksgiving for a start, only about the food and who’s cooking it, and what we can or can’t have, there’s a problem.

When we make Thanksgiving about who we don’t want as our guests instead of welcoming family members to join us for a time of fellowship, gratitude, and thankfulness, there’s a problem. When we refuse to go to our family Thanksgiving dinner because some one or two people we don’t want to see will be there, and give up going and being with others we love, there’s a problem.

When your traditional after Thanksgiving dinner early Christmas shopping can’t happen because retailers decided to give their employees off to enjoy their own families, there’s a problem.

I think we’re forgetting what Thanksgiving means. It’s not about the food. It’s not about shopping. It’s not about refusing an invitation because you don’t like someone who’s also invited, so you’d rather complain that you have nowhere to go. Because you do; you just choose not to.

And yes, I find myself starting to do that as well. I forget, too. But then I was prompted to start writing this, and as I wrote, I saw too many things inside myself that I was doing wrong.

I found myself pushing to make sure I had all the good items we “always” have for our dinner. Yes, we did get the turkey early, but we didn’t pay a fortune for it because we found a sale rather than just complaining about prices. Complaining has become the new thing to do, hasn’t it?

And if we have to change up the menu slightly from what we traditionally have, well, maybe we’ll like the changes so much we’ll keep them for next Thanksgiving. And cranberry sauce? Yeah, it’s tradition but no one really eats much of it.

As long as we can have my mother’s recipe cinnamon buns we’re good. And I ordered the hot roll mix she always used so all we need is for our daughter to make them!

And the dinner guests? Since my family lives several hours away, and my husband’s family lives halfway across the country, our dinner guests are our daughter and son-in-law and their two daughters. Over the last several years we’ve usually had several friends in the same situation; family out of town and they couldn’t get there. Or they’re newly separated or divorced and well, we won’t go there. Or some of our daughter’s friends who couldn’t get to their family celebration that year.

There’s always room at our table for one more, and many times it’s someone who’s invited at the last minute because we didn’t know they had nowhere to go.

The shopping after dinner? I can truthfully say I’ve never done that. Not even wanted to. After a big dinner and cleaning up afterwards, the last thing I want to do is go fight the crowds fighting over bargains on things they don’t really need or gifts that the recipients might not even want.

What’s wrong with stores actually letting their employees have a holiday off? Is the almighty dollar so important that the retailers should be open no matter what? Personally I’m glad a lot of them made that decision. Let families have a full day together, and that means those of you who used to take off shopping as soon as dinner was over. Spend time with the ones who are important to you while you can. The stores will be open the next day. And there will be merchandise to buy.

Now, to make our Thanksgiving even more interesting, a few days ago, a new complication was added to our Thanksgiving plans. But it’s added at the top of our “Being Thankful” list. 

My husband who’s had a history of heart issues (read his story in the Matters of the Heart series on this blog) was unexpectedly notified that after a year and a half of waiting and delays (Covid and insurance, among other things) he finally had an opening for a very important but hopefully minor heart surgery, if any heart procedure can be called minor. Two days before Thanksgiving. We took the appointment.

After a rushed several days of preparation for surgery, final meal planning and some prep for the actual dinner, and yes, finishing up the majority of our Christmas decorations, notifying our family and friends, I think we’re ready. 

Tomorrow morning he will be having a device called the Watchman inserted laparoscopically into his heart. The device is designed to prevent blood clots from breaking off and possibly causing a stroke. Which means he will finally be able to go off blood thinners at the beginning of the new year. And he should be home the next morning.

So you see, our Thanksgiving won’t be the same as other years, either. But with the help of our daughter and other friends, as well as a great surgeon and his team, we’re going to have a truly thankful Thanksgiving Day.

It may not be traditional, but it’s going to be blessed. And full of heartfelt gratitude.

So I ask you now…what are you going to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Are you going to be grateful for what you have or complain about what you think you’re missing?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Behind the Scenes

“Oh that bracelet is really pretty! Maybe I should try doing that. It really looks easy.”

Well, it is. Sort of. 

But you don’t know what goes into the making of a bracelet or necklace. It’s what you don’t see before the bracelet is finished. 

I didn’t know what went into it all before I became hooked on making bracelets and necklaces. 

At first, I’ll admit, I copied designs I found online. Well not totally copied, but fairly close. But those were for me, and certainly not to sell. 

Then I started making my own designs, which was a lot more enjoyable and creative. 

Getting ideas and then finding the right beads is a lot of fun. Usually. Unless you can’t find what you’re looking for. So many times I’ve had a particular color and style of bead in mind, but can’t find it in the local craft stores.

Ordering online is the only other option. I don’t paying for shipping, but sometimes there’s no other choice if Amazon doesn’t have what I need. And I hate waiting, but what other choice do I have?

Now I do have a rather large assortment of beads in the studio,  since I’ve been doing this for awhile.  

 But it seems like there’s always something else I need.

Putting the design together is usually easy, as long as you have an idea what you’re going to do. I use a bead board to plan the jewelry out which allows me to not only see the design as I go but also make sure the size is correct. Which is very important.

Then comes the part I really don’t enjoy. Stringing is not that bad, and I have several different kinds and sizes of beading filament and wire that I use. 

Note to newbies: be sure to allow yourself enough filament to have at least an inch of filament at each end so you’ll be able to tie off the bracelet without the beads coming off. Yes,it’s happened to me many times, and I scold myself for doing it every time! You’d think I’d learn eventually. If the ends aren’t long enough to tie your knots correctly, you’re going to regret it. 

And be sure to use a bead stopper on each end of the almost finished bracelet or necklace. My favorite are the “bead bugs”. I like the name, but they really work well. I probably have 20 sets of them so I can make a lot of bracelets or necklaces at one time. Then complete the final steps with several pieces at a time.

Because for me, the most difficult part of finishing a stretch bracelet is gluing the knot, which is an extremely important final step to be sure that knot holds. Why is it so difficult? 

For one thing, it’s very precise, and the smaller the beads, the harder it is to tie the knots and position the glue correctly. I use a brand called G-S Hypo Cement which dries quickly, and because of the type of applicator, it’s fairly easy to get the right amount on there. Let the glue dry for a few hours, snip the ends off, and you’re done.

The problem, you may ask? Getting  the cap back on the tube in exactly the right place. Plus my astigmatism makes it even harder! You can see from the picture below that it’s very slim and tiny. I love the way you can manipulate the drop of glue, but let me tell you, putting that cap back on is not easy.

The other closure types, lobster claw or toggle clasps, can be easily as frustrating until you master the art of the crimp. (Just make sure to include the clasps in the overall length of your jewelry.) Putting the actual crimp bead on isn’t really that difficult. But finishing it off with a crimp cover? Let’s just say I haven’t mastered it as well as I’d like. The crimp covers are small, and have to be positioned just right to cover the crimp. And with astigmatism, it’s worse than putting the cap on the glue!

And if you mess up on these last steps, well, you sort of have to start over. Which is certainly not fun.

But the finished products are definitely worth it. 

Be sure to visit my store NotOnlyBracelets to see – and purchase –  some of my creations.

My Favorite Cookie

Everyone has a favorite. Chocolate chip cookies are usually number one in almost everyone’s answer. With or without nuts.  It’s a big debate, though. Actually I don’t like nuts in cookies. So there’s my answer on the chocolate chip cookie question 

But they aren’t my favorite. They’re good, yes, but my very favorite is oatmeal raisin. And amazingly enough, my best friend has the same favorite! What are the chances of that!

However, recently we’ve both changed our mind, just a little. Because last year when I was making Christmas cookies,  of course I had to have my favorite kind included. I’d already mixed up the dough, and preheated the oven, but when I reached for my box of raisins, they weren’t there!

Now I almost always grab all my ingredients before I start mixing, but this time….well obviously I messed up.

So now what to do? I really didn’t want to do them with chocolate chips, and plain oatmeal cookies are still good, but I needed to have something else in them. Then I saw the package of Craisins. Well they’re similar to raisins, so what the heck?! 

And I mixed those in. And baked the cookies. 

And I tried them as soon as they were cool enough to eat! Absolutely delicious! Definitely a new favorite. Move over raisins! You’ve been replaced!

So if you want to try this new favorite, here’s the recipe for Oatmeal Craisin Cookies. Or, you can always buy a packaged mix and add the craisins like you would those boring raisins. Just don’t tell your secret!

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 – 8 oz Craisins

Preheat over to 375 degrees. In medium bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar together til light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.

Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in Craisins. (And don’t eat any of them as you’re doing that; save them for the cookies!.)

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes til golden brown Remove to wire racks and cool. And then you can eat a few as soon as they’ve cooled down a bit. You don’t want to burn your mouth!

And if you want to be adventurous, throw in some white baking chips (about 2/3 cup) with those Craisins! They’re awesome as well!

And now…I need a cookie! Or three.

And by the way, did you know that oatmeal raisin/craisin cookies count as breakfast? At least they do in my book. After all it’s a combination of oatmeal and fruit. So……

Remembering The Price of Freedom

This post was originally published five years ago today. But it’s still very relevant today. So I’ve updated it slightly to reflect Veterans Day, 2021.

The price of freedom cannot be measured monetarily. It is measured by the sacrifice of the lives of the men and women who defend it.

Today is Veterans Day. The day we thank all of those who have served and are currently serving in our military. Their bravery and dedication to duty is not appreciated nearly enough. They have a unique understanding of the ways of the world that we who have not served cannot begin to understand.

To all of those who have served or are still serving, we owe you a huge THANK YOU for the time and sacrifice you, and your families, have given, and are still giving, to this great nation. You leave home and family behind far too often to serve your country because that’s your duty and your chosen profession. You and your families are invaluable to this country.

My father served in the Army during World War II, however, because of a bad knee that he had originally injured playing football in college, he was sent home with an honorable discharge and a knee brace.

My uncle also served, however, he did not get home until the war ended. He was quite fortunate. Although I do not know his entire story, I will relate what I know of it, because in my eyes, he was one of the heroes.

Fowler Cottingham joined the Army as a young man barely 18 years old. He was trained as a crewman on the fighter planes, and consequently sent to Germany, where he flew in several successful missions with his crew.WW2 Plane

The morning of the day he flew his final mission was most likely just another day. Clear skies; light wind; a perfect day for flying. I can imagine the crew loading the plane, going through their pre-flight checklist, making sure their parachutes were ready, and most likely cracking jokes and talking about what they’d do when they came back from their mission.

Flying over enemy territory was never safe. Most of us have probably seen movies of the allied war planes heading out for missions over Germany. What the movies don’t adequately show is the danger our men faced during each of these missions.

They didn’t have all of the sophisticated equipment in 1945 that our armed forces have now. There were no computers, no GPS; only a navigator with paper maps showing where they were supposed to be flying. There were gunners who fired their weapons without fancy electronics to assist them. They had to judge where to aim, and when to pull the trigger, based on what knowledge the officers and ground troops had been able to discern. It was much different than today. But they had courage, and a sense of duty. They had volunteered to serve, and knew the risks involved.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but my uncle’s plane took a hit from a German warplane. Fortunately they were all able to parachute out, and landed in a wooded area somewhere behind enemy lines. They had only a few supplies, and had no idea where they were. And no idea whether anyone else had any idea where they were, or even if they were alive.

Shortly afterwards they were captured by German soldiers and marched to one of the POW concentration camps. Capture was certainly better than being shot, which I’m sure they were all afraid, would happen. As brave as these men were, just remember, they were all in their early 20’s, the beginning of their lives. They all wondered if they’d ever see home and family again.Blanches Banques POW Camp

Over 93,000 men were held as prisoners in the German POW camps in World War II. They were held in drafty wooden buildings, with uncomfortable cots, and only a thin blanket for warmth. They were fed one or two meals a day, usually some type of thin soup and stale bread. Their only utensils were a tin spoon, and a tin cup for water. One day they were given a treat…candy bars which they quickly bit into. And then saw the worms inside.

My Uncle Fowler and his crew spent six months in that camp, guarded by armed soldiers and German shepherds. They never knew when or if the guards would come for some of them to question them, torture them, or kill them.

There are some experiences that are just too terrible to discuss because they bring back too many nightmares. My uncle would never discuss any of what happened, other than what I have written here; not with his parents, his wife, or his two sons. After his return, and until the day he died, he was scared of German shepherds because he had seen them tear hands and arms off of prisoners who were trying to escape.

How did these men survive this ordeal? And where was the Lord in this? I’m sure the men wondered many times where He was. Even at the young age of 20, when he was captured, my uncle was a man of faith, and I’m certain his faith helped sustain him.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Lord was watching over them the entire time.

Yes, their plane was shot down, but the crew survived. The Lord directed the German bullets away from the fuselage so that the plane didn’t explode, which would have killed them all. When they landed in the woods, they had no idea where they were, and no idea where to go. The German soldiers could have killed them, but instead they were captured and allowed to live. Many other soldiers spent years in these concentration camps before being freed; these men only had to endure for six months. Many died in these camps, but these men all survived, because the Lord had plans for them. My uncle had a young woman, my aunt, waiting to meet him, fall in love, and marry. The Lord had plans for all of them and made sure those plans were carried out. Prayers for safety were answered; just not the way that was expected.

I wish I knew the names of my uncle’s crew members, but I never had the opportunity to find out. I would love to thank them as well for serving with him, and being part of his support system while in the camp.

And again, to all of our veterans and those who are still serving, and their families, Happy Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service. May God bless you all, and keep you safe.veterans_day_thank_you-1940983

Who Needs Daylight Savings Time Anyway?

In the spring it’s not too bad. After all, we do lose a hour of sleep, but the good thing is, we gain an hour of daylight. For a while, at least. 

Assuming we remember to change the clocks that don’t automatically change by themselves.

Yes, we’re tired those first few days or so, because our sleep patterns have to get used to the change. And for those with small children or infants, it’s really a problem getting them adjusted. It takes a few weeks. 

And those of us with pets, well our furry kids don’t understand either. They have a set schedule and they don’t like it messed up.

But the longer we have sunlight in the spring and summer, the better I like it!  There’s more time for outdoor activities, especially using the pool later in the summer. We can also do later cookouts, evening bike rides, and just enjoy being outdoors a little longer.

We get used to the time, but just when we’re comfortable with it, it’s time to change again and turn the clocks back an hour! And suddenly our body rhythms are all messed up again!

At least it’s been changed to turning back the clocks after the kids go trick or treating on Halloween. By that time it’s getting dark early enough; we don’t need it to be worse!

But then it messes us up all over again. We go to bed Saturday night at our normal time, hopefully remember to change the clocks, and then our bodies wake us up an hour too early! While we know in our minds we can sleep a bit later, our bodies don’t let us. 

And again, for those with babies and small children, they’re up and ready to go when their bodies wake them up. The dogs and cats? They don’t understand either, and they’re ready to  go out and then be fed at their normal body time.

We just can’t win.

We go through that first day, watch football all afternoon, and by the time it’s 7:30, we’re getting tired and thinking it should be 9:30 or 10:00 and time for bed!

This really is crazy when you think about it. We gain something in the spring, but in the fall it’s taken away. Our sleep patterns are screwed up twice in a year, and for those of us who are in our later years, it’s even harder to adjust because we don’t always sleep well anyway!

It takes us a couple weeks to get situated, and then before we know it, the cycle’s starting all over again.

Here’s a suggestion. How about next spring we set the clocks ahead at the normal time and then leave them alone!? It would sure make all our lives easier.

Who’s with me?

Gratitude, Thankfulness, and a Little Spice

We’re already well into fall. October is already gone and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Where’s the time going?

For me it’s going too fast. I don’t have nearly the time I need to get ready for all the festivities and shows that are just ahead. 

Creating jewelry for the fall has lagged behind a lot more than I wanted, with all the other projects I’ve been involved with. But the busy-ness of life is just that. Busy-ness. Sometimes it takes over your life to the point that you are so busy being busy, you don’t accomplish anything.

However, these last few days have enabled me to have a spurt of creativity, and I’m delighted to introduce our Fall/Thanksgiving bracelet collection. 

Only one of a kind of each piece. But they’re all created with love as well as attention to color and detail. And we do take custom orders; just be sure to get them in in enough time for me to make and ship them.

Working with the Heishi beads was a bit of a challenge at first, I must admit. They go together much differently than regular glass or gemstone beads. But once I got started on this collection, I found it to be a fun challenge to come up with the right words to use with my bracelets. 

I love the personalization, and although none of this collection uses actual names, they can certainly be custom made. As long as I have the letters in my bead collection, that is.

I’m discovering as I go along that the alphabet beads don’t always have enough of the letters I need for certain words. Especially the multicolored beads, and as you can see, I’ve had to combine beads from other sets to get the word I needed. But it works, and adds a few unexpected pops of color as well.

Just don’t do what I did and spell a word wrong if you’re making your own personalized jewelry. I did that and had to redo half of the bracelet…fortunately I caught the mistake before I’d finished it off!

Heishi bracelets are designed to be worn in stacks, 3-4 at a time. Although they look equally nice being worn one at a time. Personally I love the stacking because I can show off more of my creations at one time.

Here are some of the collections I’ve just posted in my shop. 

Welcome Fall

Fall leaves, pumpkins, and fresh-baked apple pie. What sounds more like fall than that combination? And don’t forget the Gobble (for the turkey, of course)!

With Gratitude

Thankful.  Grateful.  Gratitude. Isn’t that what the Thanksgiving season is all about? Why not buy one of these for yourself as well as for a special friend?

Spicy

This was a fun set to create. It was harder figuring out what spice names to use than actually doing the designs. These would make a great gift for someone who really enjoys cooking.

You may click on the link NotOnlyBracelets or in the home page of this blog to go directly to the store.

And check back often to see what else we’ve come up with. Christmas is coming, you know!

Obsessed With Beads

Once you start collecting a few beads…you just can’t get enough of them. There are so many styles…colors…shapes and sizes…so many different materials. You want them all. But then what do you do with them?

That was my situation. But let me start at the beginning.

When my husband decided we needed ANOTHER Christmas tree several years ago (we already had SIX!) he wanted to do a wine themed tree. Which led me to start collecting wine corks so I could make a few garlands to put on the tree the following year. Well, my cork collection grew as friends contributed their corks, as well as my asking for wine corks at restaurants when we went out to dinner, and I soon had a large collection of them. Then I started buying a few beads to add to my creations.

One thing led to another, and I found myself making not only wine cork Christmas garland, wine cork Christmas ornaments, but also wine bottle hanging “jewelry” and other cork creations, combining any number of my colorful beads with the corks. I even started collecting champagne corks (and a few Petron corks) and making what I call “corky people.” It was so much fun!

But I quickly became obsessed with all the bead choices and eventually decided to expand my creativity into making my own jewelry. At first I only made bracelets and a few necklaces just for me, and for my granddaughters, but one thing led to another, and I realized I had to sell some of my creations in order to fund my obsession/hobby. After all, how many bracelets can you wear at one time? Three, four, maybe five in a stack, but when you’re working remotely you don’t get to show them off as often!

I already had an online shop called The Beaded Cork which sold my corky people, corked wedding cake toppers and wine bottle hangers as well as diaper cakes and cupcakes, but I’d put that on hiatus for a little while. 

So I renamed and redesigned my store, which was not the easiest thing in the world to do, but after several weeks of categorizing products, taking photos, and pricing and writing up product descriptions, NotOnlyBracelets was finally launched on Etsy.

The shop has an assortment of farmhouse garland, beaded corky people, necklaces, and of course all sorts of bracelets, including kids’ bracelets. More styles and selections are added each week as I find time to design and create them. Some for me, and some to sell.

And a former bedroom has now been turned into a craft and jewelry studio where I can play with my beads in my own space without having to move my unfinished work to make room for other things. Plus I have room to create other items when the mood hits me! (Which is what the vase of silk flowers is for that’s sitting on my table.)

With my own space who knows what else I’ll come up with as I go along!

You can visit my shop through the link in this post or by clicking Shop – Not Only Bracelets in the menu of this site.

And if you have a particular jewelry or garland idea in mind, contact me and we’ll see what we can come up with.

And now, back to my studio. The beads are calling.

Leftover Halloween Candy?

That’s sort of like how to use leftover wine, isn’t it? Like who really has leftover Halloween candy? (or wine?)

Well, actually, we usually do have some leftover Halloween candy each year. We usually buy too much (on purpose) because we do enjoy it, and even though I am still working remotely, I do like to have a candy dish in my home office. And what better to fill it with then those miniature pieces of candy that are so tempting.

And at Halloween it’s worse, because the bags are bigger, and they’re usually on sale.

After Halloween it’s even worse because the bags are marked down even more, and if you get to the store early on the day after, you can really stock up.

When our daughter was still a child, we would sit on the floor after trick or treating with her and our neighbor’s son and sort through all the candy, making sure it was ok to eat of course, and then exchanging pieces back and forth if one kid didn’t like something and the other did. We all made out fairly well from the candy exchange and of course, ended up with a lot more in each house than we really needed to eat!

Now that our daughter is married with children of her own, we don’t have as much leftover candy from trick or treating, because we go to their house and join the granddaughters on their Halloween trick or treating. Their neighborhood goes all out for Halloween, with most of the homes decorating their yards with all manner of blow ups, giant spiders, skeletons; you name it, and it’s there somewhere. Many of the residents (and a lot of them are dressed up as well) sit outside in their driveways with their portable firepits going and hand out candy to all the kids. Some even have adult beverage treats for the adults! Those of us with children (or grandchildren in our case) usually rent golf carts from the clubhouse and decorate them, and then drive around the community with the little ones to get their goodies. It’s really a lot of fun, and much easier to ride in the golf carts than walk, because their development is so big.

But back to the candy. I’ve been hearing ads on the radio and seeing Facebook posts about where to donate leftover candy. Well, that may be good for some people, but chocolate candy is a bit pricey, and call me selfish, but I sort of want to eat it…..?

Last year, I ran across a couple of recipes for brownies using Halloween candy. And I thought, why not try it? I had a big bowl of it sitting around in the kitchen, and since I do enjoy baking I tried it. And it was really good! And easy.

So here’s the recipe for those of you who want to try something new!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbl flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • t/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup M&M’s
  • 1/2 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate candy bars

OR, you may want to use a boxed brownie mix, follow those directions and just add the candy!

To make the brownies from “scratch”, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat brown sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a separate large bowl using an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.

Fold in candy and press into prepared baking pan. You can add a little extra, which I did, but just don’t add too much or it won’t cook properly. Bake in pre-heated oven 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack for ten minutes and then cut into squares.

Then enjoy! They’re delicious. In fact, I think I’ll go make some!