Monday, December 20, 2010

Lentil Soup with Ham Bone

Is there anything more yummy on a cold winter day than a big bowl of steamy lentil soup?  Nope!  And here's my favorite recipe.

1 lb lentils, washed and drained
1 celery rib, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped fine or grated
1/2 C chopped onion
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
7-8 C water
1 ham bone, thinly sliced kielbasa, or hot smoked sausage
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1.Combine all ingredients except for salt and pepper in slow cooker.
2. Cover.  Cook on low 8-9 hours.  Remove bay leaf and ham bone.  Dice meat from bone and return to cooker.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve alone, or over rice with grated cheese on top.

** My own side note:  When I cook my ham, there is generally lots of yummy juice (okay, fat) in the bottom of the pan.  I save this, and use it to replace some of the water.  I pour the juice into the measure cup, and then round out the rest of the 8 cups with water.  It gives the soup a really lovely flavor.  And who worries about calories if you've just been shoveling snow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Crockpot Beef Stew

This incredibly yummy recipe was given to me by my mom,one of the best cooks I know.  This recipe is GREAT for a cold winter day, and freezes really well.  (We actually have bunch in our freezer as we speak, just waiting for the first snow.)  It's great with biscuits on the side. 

I actually replace some of the water with red wine.  It gives it a really lovely taste. 

2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into  1 ½ pieces.
Dust with flour and brown in oil
Put in pot and add:
1 bay leaf
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 onion chopped
1 C. beef bouillon
¼ t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 C. celery
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into eights
1 onion sliced
 Then add:
4 C. water  (I use 2 C red wine or 3 C, depending on my mood, and then round out the rest of the 4 C with water)

Cook 8 to 10 hours.  Thicken with a little flour mixed with water  .  cover and cook on high 10 or 15 minutes until slightly thickened.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ArtFire Group Deal is a STEAL!!!!!

ArtFire, a fabulous place to sell handcrafted or vintage goods, or supplies to make handcrafted goods is running a most WONDERFUL deal right now!

Here's the deal:  If ArtFire can get 20,000 shops to sign up for this deal, then we all get the deal.  Have a basic shop you want to upgrade?  Sign up and when we reach 20,000, you'll go PRO!  Have a Pro shop that you're paying a higher rate on?  Sign up, because that counts too!!! 

ArtFire is wonderful, fun selling venue that reaches all over the world! 

You can set up a Facebook kiosk on your Facebook pages, and everything that you list can go directly to Google base for added advertising.  One of the most recent, really cool things they've added is being able to add your favorite goodies to an Amazon wishlist!!!

And the tools available in Pro shops are AMAZING:  set up coupon codes, create gift certificates, join artisan guilds, sort your shop so that it looks exactly how you want it to,  add promo labels to your pictures, the convenience of ONE PAGE for adding pieces, personalize your shop in the colors of your business...

I could go on, but the list really is endless. 

The link for cashing in on WONDERFUL deal is:  http://www.artfire.com/groupdeal

Take a look, sign up.... You will NOT be disappointed!!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Compost Pile and other random thoughts

Well, the masses have voted.

Okay, 43 people voted.

And the winning name for my new destash shop on ArtFire will be (drum roll, please.....):

(sigh).....

The Compost Pile

This poll leads me to believe certain things about my friends:
1) They are odd, but in a good way.
2) They have FABULOUS senses of humor.

And I'm thinking they all think I won't do this.  But I will.  It won, hands down. 

Actually, what I will probably wind up naming it is: TBB's Compost Pile. Hopefully, I'll have the new shop set up by the end of the weekend.  We shall see.  And giggle. A lot. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In honor my boys starting preschool, I'm having a 10% off sale! TheBeadedBranch Artisan Studio http://www.artfire.com/users/TheBeadedBranch

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Shop Needing a Name

After much thought and consideration, The Beaded Branch is going to be expanding out a little bit.  I've come to realize several things:

  1. I have waaaaay too many crafting supplies.
  2. I would really like to have the new "Certified Handmade" badge to proudly display in my ArtFire Studio.
  3. I have waaaaay too many crafting supplies.
  4. A little extra cash would be nice.
  5. I have waaaaay too many crafting supplies.
Here is what I'm planning on doing.  I'm opening up a de-stash and supply studio on ArtFire.  By doing this I will be able to still sell my tutorial on ArtFire (just not in my main shop) and I will be able to clear out some of the crafting supplies I never use. 
Here's the catch:  I have NO idea what to call this new venture.  In my sleep-deprived brain, the best name I could come up with was "The Compost Pile".  Catchy, but I don't think too many people would want to shop there.  The idea is good, taking what is old, and turning it into something new, but the connotations of a compost heap are just not pleasant.  The smell for one thing...
At any rate,  I've gotten a plethora of suggestions from my friends on Plurk, and with those great suggestions, I'm going to set up a poll, so people can vote. 

Here are the names that have been suggested:

  • Beadless Branch
  • Beaded Branch Destash
  • Beyond the Branch
  • From the Branch
  • De-Beading the Branch
  • The Apple Never Falls Far
  • The Beady Apple
  • Branching Out
  • TBBDestash
  • Beads from the Branch
  • Branch of Opportunity
I'll set up the poll soon.  Vote now.  Vote often.  Otherwise I'll be stuck with a shop name like "The Compost Pile"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

There Are Just Some Days...

Some days, when you have kids, when you have to let the work go by the wayside and have a little fun. This was one of those days. As I gathered up paints, paint brushes, paper, and a LARGE sheet of plastic, my kids kept asking "Mommy, what are you doing???"

I laid the plastic down on the dining room floor, got out a styrofoam tray, and had a great time with my kids. We explored a couple of different painting techniques, mixing colors, and basically getting down and dirty with a lot of paint, and having a wonderful time. Clean up was kind of a chore, but so well worth it in the end. We have some fabulous works of art now, to liven up our rather bare walls.




Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Have you ever had one of "those" weeks?
This week hasn't been one. This has been one of those "other" weeks. You know the kind. You're cruising along at top speed, everything is falling into place, running smoothly, going great!
But what you don't see is that HUGE patch of black ice in the middle of the road. In fact,you don't even expect it, because it's sunny and 80F.
Okay. Enough with the imagery already. It's only Wednesday of this week, and up until yesterday, I was cruising at top speed, business wise.
For the past year, I have been consolidating all of my business records into one piece of database software, and I was FINALLY starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. For all intents and purposes, I was going to be able to finish it this week. After a year of data consolidation from three (yes, THREE) databases in to one, seeing an end in sight was nothing short of a miracle. But, I digress.
Yesterday morning, I got up, turned on my desktop (an old behemoth of a machine), and turned on my laptop (only slightly less old, but it has seen me through many papers in college). I opened the software that I was transferring data from on my desktop, and slowly but surely, it opened. I clicked on the icon to open the software on my laptop, where I've been transferring data to. And I waited. And I waited. It finally decided to open. Sort of. Basically, it was a blank screen where once (just Monday night, in fact) hundreds of pieces of data danced. (Gasp!)
Okay, trying to keep the panic down, I closed out the program and reopened it. Same thing. Rebooted the computer. Opened the program. Same thing. (Panic is now coming on full blown, and sweat is breaking out on my forehead) I try some other programs. Pretty much the same thing is going on. I try a system restore. Okay, that took care of some of the problems, but not, of course, the database problems. One last option. I go back onto the website for the software, download the latest update and and reinstall it. I restart my computer, and bingo. It's all there, back again, safe and sound.
I wiped the sweat from my brow, but realized that yes, while a new desktop would be nice, I'm going to need a new portable computer much sooner. My laptop just isn't longed for this world. I guess the white cheddar flavored rice cake crumbs that one of Da Boys dropped into the keyboard kind of ticked the computer off and was the last straw.
What is the point of this long-winded blog? After weighing all the options I have (the most extreme included closing my business altogether, and totally giving up) I finally decided that the least extreme is to have a sale in my ArtFire shop.
So, here's the deal: I'm having a sale in my ArtFire shop This sale is 20% off everything in the shop, with free shipping, domestic and international. ;-) And I'm going to keep the sale going until I raise enough to buy myself a new netbook.
Since US Mother's Day is right around the corner, here's an opportunity to get a great deal on a present for your favorite mom. Shop soon. Shop often. I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

Until my next update, remember
Sand Is Always Blue!!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

If I Could Be....

If I could be a month I’d be May
If I could be a day I’d be Monday
If I could be a time of day I’d be sunrise.
If I could be a planet I’d be Venus

If I could be a sea animal I’d be a sea otter
If I could be a direction I’d be north east
If I could be a piece of furniture I’d be a big comfy bed
If I could be a liquid I’d be hot cocoa

If I could be a gem stone I’d be Emerald
If I could be a tree I’d be an oak

If I could be a tool I’d be a hammer
If I could be a flower I’d be a rose

If I could be an element of weather I’d be sunshine
If I could be a musical instrument I’d be a dulcimer
If I could be a color I'd be forest green

If I could be an emotion I’d be comfort

If I could be a fruit I’d be an apple
If I could be a sound I’d be waves crashing on the shore
If I could be an element I'd be earth

If I could be a car I’d be a station wagon

If I could be a food I’d be clam cakes
If I could be a place I’d be the beach
If I could be a material I'd be cotton

If I could be a taste I’d be sweet

If I could be a scent I’d be rose

If I could be a body part I’d be hands
If I could be a facial expression I'd be contented
If I could be a song I’d be a great 1980's dance tune

If I could be a bird I'd be a seagull.

If I could be a gift I'd be handcrafted by a child
If I could be a street I'd be a street along the shore

If I could be a city I'd be Boston.
If I could be a door I'd be unlocked, ready to open.

If I could be a pair of shoes I’d be a kickin' pair of bright red patent leather stilettos.


And what would you be? How do you see your inner self? Thank you Ruth for the inspiration. You can read Ruth's blog here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Trying to simplify and other random thoughts

I can honestly say that these have been the roughest two months of my life so far. It's a very slow road back to "normal", whatever that means in my seeming chaotic life. And because life has been so very difficult, I've decided that I'm going to try to simplify my life and my businesses as much as possible, and so far, I've been taking baby steps to accomplish that.

For some strange reason, I have all of my jewelry stock and supplies spread between three separate databases. Yes, I know. That is NOT the simple way to do things. It took my life falling apart on a minor scale for me to realize that. So, right now I'm in the process of combining about 10 years worth of records and data, scattered between 3 separate pieces of pricing software into one piece of software. And let me tell you, it's ROUGH! I have found a few shortcuts, which is helping a little bit, but it still is VERY time consuming. I'm hoping that I can be done with this long, drawn out process in a few months.

I'm also pretty excited because I have some new pieces of jewelry in the works. Or at least floating around in my head as ideas. I'm just looking for the time to make them real. I'm excited because these are going to be outside my "box" or comfort zone. I've managed to acquire some pretty new beads and pendants, and SOOOO want to create with them. But first, I must clear up this database garbage, so this is giving me incentive to do so. I have to get the work done, before I can play. ;-) I can't wait for play time.

This winter has been a hard one. Power outages, feet of snow, cold temperatures, snowfall after snowfall after snowfall. I am so VERY sick of white stuff it isn't even funny. I want signs of summer. I really just want to skip spring all together since it can still snow in the spring. Bleh. I want the lovely hot days of summer to be here.

Okay, I also want summer to be here so I can start selling at the Fluvanna Farmers Market this year. It might sound crazy that I'm going to start selling at another venue, when I'm trying to simplify, but in the end, it will be good for me. It will get me out of the house, and talking to adults on a regular basis. It will get my name out there more. It will be a fun time! Hot, muggy, Virginia summer fun! (And yes, please keep reminding me I said this when I'm complaining about how terrible it is here in the summertime.)

That's all for now. I'm trying to come up with new ideas for blog posts, so I don't keep rehashing anything. I'll let you know how that's working for me.

Remember: Sand is always blue!