Random Saturday - Irish soda bread

I have baker genes on my paternal grandmother's side. Unfortunately I'm the one in the family whose baker genes decided to go on strike. I made my fair share of okay cakes and cookies when I was younger, then I stopped completely. I know there are people who can't understand the problem. You follow the recipe, everything is fine. Well, obviously it doesn't work that way for everyone. Apart from that I hate having flour everywhere, sticky surfaces, and more.

Every, now and then, however, I feel the urge coming back, usually when I don't have any bread around and I'm too lazy to go to the bakery which is incredibly far away from here, about one block ;-) Or on weekends. So whenever an easy and quick recipe comes my way, I put it on my list. And nothing seemed easier than the soda bread that I saw in an English TV show.
I prepared myself. I got baking soda and decided on spelt flour for my first attempt. Then when I checked out recipes again I noticed I had forgotten to get the buttermilk. Depending on the recipe you use you only need about four ingredients which makes the buttermilk quite important. Oh well.

Today I had it all. Again I checked out recipes and found that I was about to make white soda bread. Check out this article, there are also links to different variations. I learned about brown soda bread (I may have to get full grain flour next time, too) and white soda bread and the American variation. I may add caraway seeds the next time because I love them. Or maybe I'll make bread rolls to take to work with me.

I almost felt my baker genes waking up, ready to go. There was no stopping me. No salt in this recipe? Oh come on, at least a pinch. Here they used an egg, here they didn't. Hey, I have eggs at the moment, let's use one (and break one in the box, well done, Cat). Baking soda, baking powder. One recipe said this, the other that, the third one both. I still had an open bag with baking powder, so I went for both. My baker genes cheered me on. Until they saw my dough on the baking tray. "Too much buttermilk? Are you sure you should have put the egg in? Maybe you should have used a little more flour." When I tried to cut the X across the top, they grabbed their little bags and left again (but look, you can see the X a little in the picture after all!).

But guess what. The bread came out just fine. Yes, maybe I will use a little less buttermilk the next time, and depending on if I have one or not, I may add an egg or not. In the end it might not be a genuine Irish soda bread, but I like it and it's definitely a keeper for this baking challenged lady.

Bonus: Still almost warm, with butter and orange/ginger/passion fruit jam (a gift from my lovely neighbor lady). So good!!


Tackle that stash - The caterpillar

Actually you are welcome to see whatever you want in this bracelet. I find that I tend to see animals of all kinds where others see completely different things, and this reminds me of a happy little caterpillar. Or not so little seeing that he makes it almost around the wrist.

In the beginning there was no plan of a caterpillar whatsoever, though. You may have come to think that I'm not being serious about stumbling upon stash, but it's true. I am sadly disorganized in these things.
These glass lentils that a friend had given me practically jumped at me. They had tried that a few times before and went from drawer to drawer because I had no spontaneous idea how to use lentils that were not side drilled. It must have been frustrating for them ;-)

After playing with different kinds and shapes of beads on the loom - like in my dagger pieces - I saw that the solution was so easy. I loomed a strip from gunmetal colored seed beads and the amethyst glass lentils, with short black strips on both ends to use the same bars as last week (told you they'd be back).

You know me, I often change a design spontaneously, and this is what I did here as well. After I had woven in the warp threads I thought it would be cool to make the lentils stick out even more, in different directions rather than just straight up from a flat surface.
So I rolled the strip into a tube and stitched it up using some big seed beads that had been left over from another project - except for the black ends for which I used the bars after all. That way the seam doesn't show because they hold the bracelet in place and the seam on the inside.

What caterpillar colors would you like to see in the future?


Oldies but Goodies - Copper

Not only is copper one of the first metals known to mankind - thousands of years ago - it is also one of the most important ones.
First came the Copper Age, then when humans found out about tin, copper was mostly substituted for one of its alloys. During the Bronze Age weapons and tools were made from bronze which consists mostly of copper and tin and is harder than pure copper.

There was a time in jewelry making when copper was regarded to be an inferior material compared to silver or gold. Not only people were afraid copper would leave dark or green stains on their skin, they also didn't like that copper tends to oxidize easily, and it just wasn't good enough for them.
That has definitely changed again. There is non-tarnish copper and both bright and oxidized copper is widely seen in jewelry. People appreciate the warm, earthy tones and often even prefer it to the bright and shiny gold and silver.

Now I want to show you the designs that our members entered in this week's JAC Oldies but Goodies Challenge. No doubt about it, we like our copper, too!

1 and 8 Cat's Wire
2 and 7 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 RioRita
4 and 9 Violetmoon's Corner
5 and 6 MC Stoneworks


Tackle that stash - Bead loomed and strung necklace

Believe me, I wrote a really cool post to celebrate my first stash tackler in months. It was eloquent, it was funny, it was charming and profound.
Okay, it was not all of that, but it was okay. And I deleted it with a little touch of my finger, and I couldn't bring it back because right then my draft was auto-saved. My now empty draft, that is.

So I'll make it short this time.
These acrylic beads have been in my stash almost since my jewelry making beginnings. They hid away in a box that a friend of mine had brought over when we made polymer clay jewelry for the first time which was about 30 years ago and lasted about two sessions long (which is why I don't count that as beginnings). I have no idea how they sneaked in there which says a lot about my organizational skills.

To me the necklace has a vintage touch and I can imagine it worn with one of those fancy 20s dresses which is why I couldn't resist editing the picture after this image in my head, with faded colors of an early photography.

There are two strips loomed from silver lined crystal Delica beads - sparkly! - that hold three strands of the beads that are shining in a yellow/blue/green coating and that are held by silver tone bars that were custom made after a friend's design (you will be seeing more of those). The chain allows to change the length of the necklace although I prefer it long myself.


Oldies but Goodies - News

Wait, oldies that are new? Before you think I have gone completely nuts now, let me explain.
The Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge is not necessarily about old pieces, but it can be if they fit the topic. This week is about pieces that are new to the challenge. They can be new, but they don't have to be.
If you follow our challenges, even just every, now and then, you might have seen one or the other piece pop up more than once. Maybe you even wondered if we made anything new at all or if you had already seen it all. Don't you worry, that's never going to happen.
Oh, and by the way, because it also fits the topic so well, I noticed I forgot to wish you all a Happy New Year! That was close ;-)

1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 MC Stoneworks
3 The Crafty Chimp
4 Cat's Wire
5 Jewelry Art by Dawn


Oldies but Goodies - Dainty

It doesn't always have to be big. Sometimes just a bit of sparkle, a small stone, sweet earrings are all you need to make an impression. Often exactly those pieces turn into favorite or everyday pieces to wear because they are comfortable, easy to match and the perfect little extra.
This week the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was all about dainty jewelry.

1 and 5 Cat's Wire
2 and 6 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 7 MC Stoneworks
4 and 8 Violetmoon's Corner


Oldies but Goodies - December birthstones

I'll admit it, I don't really get birthstones - wait, I think I mentioned that before. There are birthstones in different cultures, there are old ones, modern ones. In fact all I remember is that as a child I was very disappointed about mine being a pearl. A pearl is not even a stone. I never quite got that one.
It's a good thing we have people at JAC who are better at that and can tell us that the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge will be about the colors of turquoise or blue topaz because those are December birthstones :-D
It's amazing how turquoise has taken over this challenge, but there's also one piece that shows both colors ... do you see it?

1 and 6 MC Stoneworks
2 Cat's Wire
3 and 8 Violetmoon's Corner
4 and 9 RioRita
5 and 7 Jewelry Art by Dawn