Friday, May 29, 2009

Recipe For My BBEST Friends

joonie's free & easy baguettes

3 cups very warm water
1 TBSP. dry yeast
1 TBSP. sugar
7 cups flour
I use King Arthur bread flour, but regular is fine.
1 TBSP. salt

Combine the first three ingredients in a fairly large bowl
& allow yeast to proof for about 5 minutes.

Add the flour & salt.
Mix well with a heavy spoon.
I use wooden.

DO NOT KNEAD. <--- Are you loving me now?

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Set in warm place.
Do not fret ~ large temperature window here. :)

Allow dough to rise until it is 2 ~ 3 times its size.
{About 2 hours. Maybe 3.}

Now comes the fun part.

Heavily flour a board or counter.
And your hands.
I use the counter.
So easy.

Dump out the dough.
It will be sticky.

Using a sharp knife
{and I sprinkle a little flour on the dough}
divide it into four pieces.

Delicately shape into free form loaves
about 4" shorter than your liberally oiled
{I use Crisco shortening}
cookie sheet pans.

I used my smaller pans this time
so these baguettes are a little chubby.
You can make them narrow.
You can make rolls.
I put 2 to a pan.
Mine were cozy once they rose. :)

Cover lightly with a cotton towel.
Set aside until doubled.
About an hour.

Meanwhile, shortly before they are ready
preheat oven to 425*.
Use middle shelf.
{I baked mine on two shelves & switched them half way through.}

Bake about 20 minutes or until crusty & brown.
{I left these a little light because I knew we'd be freezing them & reheating.}
Cool on wire rack.

These warm up beautifully at 350* for 5-10 minutes.

I wish I had a photo of their interiors.
They're like angel clouds.
It was really late & I was lucky to grab these shots
before the sun disappeared.

And let's face it,
once Evan sees fresh hot baguettes
he is not a willing or able
photo shoot accomplice.

You may find yourself
in a very similar frame of mind
when you triumphantly escort
your own lovely, crusty baguettes
from your oven
and introduce them
to your loved ones.

I hope you all enjoy this
& that it will always be
a reminder of our BBEST times.

PS. And here's a helpful Etsy Tip I just read about this week. You can access your expired listings using google. It works best if your listing has recently expired. I have found I cannot access all of mine because mine expired a while ago. To accomplish this, simply go to your expired page. Copy the title of your listing and paste it into google search along with your shop name. When (if) your listing appears, do not click on the title, but 'cached'. Viola! There is your entire listing. You can now cut and paste to your heart's content, edit, grab the photos if need be... I hope this will be helpful to you. I like it because I am moving items from joonbeam to my other shops. I don't always catch them before they expire. This is a nice back up. Good luck. See you next month.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sunflowers for Maura

In the last few weeks, a number of BBEST members have lost family members or friends who have succumbed to serious illnesses or long-term diseases. One of the advantages of belonging to an Etsy street team like BBEST is that when these personal losses occur, team members typically express messages of hope and support. Although I have not lost a family member recently, a close friend of mine did. The story of her daughter, Maura, was followed by many on the BBEST team, who posted messages of support on her mother’s blog, lit candles for Maura, and said prayers. This post is dedicated not only to Maura, but also to the memory of anyone we have recently loved and lost.

Maura was a 22-year-old college student at Sam Houston State University in Houston, Texas. She majored in music with an emphasis in voice. (See news story and video here.) Everyone who knew Maura thought of her not only as a talented opera singer, but also as a kind and compassionate person—someone who was inspiring and a wonderful role model. One year ago, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of sarcoma when tumors were discovered in her abdomen. From that point on, she dedicated herself to a rigorous course of medical treatments including surgery and chemo. At the same time, she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, earning magna cum laude honors. Because Maura was too ill to attend her own commencement exercises, the administration of her college brought graduation to her hospital room. One week later at her home, she passed away.

Maura’s favorite flower was the sunflower, a flower whose stalk stretches tall and whose bright yellow head faces the sky in the same way that Maura carried herself throughout her short life. Many were touched by her struggle to stay alive, and by her faith. At her funeral, about 800 family members and friends filled the church with the sunflowers she loved. While none of the BBEST members who followed her story were able to attend Maura’s funeral, we can still honor her memory in our own way, and at the same time bid a last farewell to those we have recently lost. That being said, below are “sunflowers” in the BBEST tradition.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


As a guest BBEST blogger, and this my very first blog, I must admit that I struggled at first to come up with a topic. After considering and rejecting several different ideas, it finally hit me – Go with what you know best and that which motivates and excites you. It should come as no surprise to my BBEST friends that my topic is my passion…GLASS.

When I think of the history of glass and the many uses that glass has, I truly believe that it is a miracle substance. Consider that it comes from sand, so plentiful and so mundane. Consider that examples of glass art and artifacts have been found from as early as 2000 B.C. There are museums full of complete, intact vials, bottles, medallions and figurines from thousands of years ago!

Glass is an amorphous solid, meaning that it is without a structured shape on the molecular level. It is not crystalline like salt, for example, and in fact, when crystalline silica (sand) is subjected to heat at a few thousand degrees, it melts and becomes fluid, and then rapidly solidifies into what we know as glass. The results, the possibilities for the final article, are limitless.

Naturally-formed glass has existed since the beginnings of time, formed when certain types of rocks or sand melted as the result of high-temperature phenomena such as lightning, volcanic eruptions, or meteorite strikes. It is believed that stone age man utilized this natural glass in making tools and weapons.

One can think of the most common uses of glass, from ordinary residential and office windows and architectural decorative brick, to safety glass in automobile windshields and impact-resistant glasses and goggles, but think of the many other uses that glass has been applied! It is used in fiber optics to carry communications signals thousand of miles in seconds – the signal travels at virtually the speed of light along the hair-thin glass strands!

Without glass, where would science and medicine be? Laboratory microscopy and astronomy depend on glass lenses. Scientists in the early Renaissance era began to grind and polish globs of glass into lenses to bring far-away stars and planets closer, and to bring miniscule amoeba and protozoa into visible images. Imagine their reaction when looking through a microscope at a drop of pond water for the first time! Imagine when the inventor of the telescope peered into the heavens and shared the view with his colleagues!

Without glass, there would be no camera lenses, and without camera lenses, there would be no photography! We wouldn’t be treated to such beautiful images as those captured by Beth Peardon. Beth is a very talented etsy photographer with an eye for composition and flair. Her photography is displayed and available in her etsy shop – BethPeardonProds.

I recently visited the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY and watched the glass-blowing demonstration. The person who demonstrated his skill had 35 years of experience behind him and, according to him, “…lots of mistakes and shattered glass.” Though it looked simple enough, it takes a real master to make wonderful gems like this one made by Mike of Gimmebeads on etsy. This is an splendid example of hot glass and the glass-blowing technique.

Mike, aka Gimmebeads, also does beautiful lampwork. Here is another example of his exquisite creations:

I’m fascinated as well by what is known as “warm glass.” How does Chauncey get those little pictures into her pieces? Here’s one of my favorites in Chauncey’s shop on etsy.

Glass can be a real challenge when painting on its surface. There are certain glass paints that require surface pre-treatment, and the results are not always permanent, but there are also paints that will become permanent after curing in an oven at a relatively low temperature. Monti of GlitznGlass on etsy does a fabulous job. Here’s one example of her lovely work:

One of my very favorite collectibles is American Brilliant Period Cut Glass. Back in the late 1800s, manufacturers of glassware started to make lovely bowls, vases, pitchers, plates, and many, many other pieces of cut glass. Rather than one expert making one piece, the manufacturing process required several steps and several experts. The cut glass of that period in the U.S. was exceptional and far exceeded the beauty and sparkle of anything European, simply because the silica in the United States, particularly in the eastern part of the country, was superior to silica in Europe. To make the pieces sparkle and ring when “thumped,” and to allow intricate and deep cuts characteristic of ABP cut glass, lead oxide was added to the molten glass. Sadly, upon the outbreak of WWI, when lead oxide was needed for munitions, the ABP Cut Glass era ended abruptly. However, there are still many fine examples of this wonderful glass remaining and are in great demand by collectors (like myself!). Among my favorites is this gorgeous vase, "ruby cut-to-clear."

Finally, the crown jewel in the family of glass, in my opinion – Stained Glass. Early stained glass was just that – leaded glass that was stained by the artist. The very finest examples are in Cathedrals and Churches in Europe. The intricacies and sparkling colors just amaze me. Later on, in America, Louis Comfort Tiffany developed stained glass using metals to give it color, and incorporated various colors into sheets of glass. His windows and lamps are world-renowned. Here is one of the finest examples of Tiffany’s windows:

I was introduced to stained glass, also classified as “cold” glass, when I took a course on a whim four years ago in an evening Adult School setting. I was hooked from the first night. Four years and 50+ pieces later, I am still learning. I think, of all the pieces that I have made, that this is perhaps my favorite. It's 18" x 22", and hangs from a hand-crafted cherry wood stand. I made the panel for my daughter for Christmas three years ago because Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is her favorite piece of classical art, and I was excited to try to render the likeness in stained glass.

I hope that this has been a fun and educational blog and that it has imparted a new appreciation of glass to those who never thought about it before. I can’t help but share my love of glass. Just ask any BBESTer that has met me in person – I can bore them to tears going on and on!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If You're Happy And You Know It......

What makes you happy, what makes you smile? A favorite song, some sunshine, the contented purr of a kitty? How about finishing a piece you’ve been working on and loving it? For most it would be spending time with family and friends or a day working in the garden or laying on a beach. (don’t forget your sunblock!)

Our team has seen its share of bad times but we always bounce back with talk of jiggly thighs or chocolate. (anyone else see the connection there?) MJ and Bethy are expecting new grandsons this fall. Our newest member, Beth Anderson’s son just graduated from college, PQ’s daughter gets married this summer and Barb’s daughter landed a great job with a move to NYC. Yankee and Knotty just got some new canine buddies. Vannie and Sara are getting married in October. How's that for happiness!

Here are just a few of the pieces that the bbest team have listed that make me happy.



One Talking Dog

Thanks for stopping by. I wish you all many happy times! Life is good.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It Made My Day!!!

“Hi,” greeted Sally, as I opened the door and welcomed her into the front hall. “How is your Mom doing? she asked.

“Oh, my goodness!” I exclaimed. “You won’t believe how well she is doing, just three and a half weeks since her hip replacement surgery,” I replied.

“How old did you tell me she was?” she questioned.

“She is 91 and will be 92 in September,” I answered.

“Mercy!” Sally said. “Wasn’t that a risky surgery at her age?” she continued.

“Well,” I explained, ”There really wasn’t a choice. Her femur head was deteriorating due to a lack of blood supply, and she had been in a lot of pain since this all began last September. She had a complete physical, including an EKG, an echocardiogram, a carotid Doppler, and a PET scan, just to be certain there were no underlying causes for the avascular necrosis. She passed them all just fine,” I shared. “About a week before the surgery we went to the hospital for an educational class on what the surgery would involve, the restrictions following the surgery, and the hip replacement parts. Patients can have a metal joint that is inserted into the bone, and the bone will grow around it, or a metal joint that is glued in. My mom chose the plastic femur head that glues in because it is weight-bearing immediately, lighter in weight, and designed to last 15 years or so, “ I continued. “I guess she figured that ought to last her at her age, “ I laughed. “If not, she said she would just get it done again!” I grinned.

Sally said, “Your Mom is amazing!”

“Yes, she is,” I responded. “Do you know that the day after the surgery, the surgeon came in and asked her if she was going to go to a rehab center when she was dismissed from the hospital?”

“Certainly not,” my Mom responded. “I’m going home!”

The surgeon said, “Well, who is going to be with you?”

“Karlene,” she answered.

”You couldn’t be in better hands,” he replied. “She is one of the best physical therapists around.”
Sally asked, “How did he know your sister was one of the best?”

“She had set up the physical therapy department at that hospital about twenty years ago, and she had also had a double hip replacement herself by that surgeon about four years ago. He knew her skills as a physical therapist, and knew our Mom would be in great hands.”

“So, has your sister been with her this whole time?” Sally asked.

“No, “ I answered. “We have been taking turns, switching off several days at a time. It has been great to see the improvement each time I come back. My sister took her for her first checkup 16 days after the surgery, and the physician’s assistant who checked her over said he had never seen an incision healed so well by that time. And her walking with the walker was very good, too!”

“Has she been out of the house much yet besides for her checkup?” Sally inquired.

“Yes,” I said. “She and I went to her beauty shop just a few days ago. They were all excited to see her. Of course, we took two pillows with us because one of the restrictions that hip replacement surgery patients have is that their hips must be above the level of their knees when they are sitting down. This is to prevent stress on the hip joint that might cause it to dislocate. If that happened, you would be back to square one and have to do the surgery all over again. Anyway, we went back to the salon area, and I met her hairdresser. What a cute, petite, cheerful, and pleasant girl! I went over to one of the dryer chairs nearby and worked on a custom knitting project I am doing and watched my Mom and Priscilla across the way. My Mom was getting her hair colored that day as well as shampooed and set. So, I knew there would be a little wait while the color worked its magic!”

“Your Mom gets her hair colored?” smiled Sally.

“Oh, yes,” I grinned. “She and I have the same philosophy on that. As long as color comes in a bottle, there will never be a reason to be gray!”

Sally laughed. “Cut from the same cloth, I see!”

“Yes, I guess so! I went over and asked Priscilla if she had anyone else during the time the color was working, and she didn’t. So, I asked if she would shampoo and style my hair. And, I was so delighted when she said she would. What a great shampoo with a neck massage! Oh, my! And then we went to the styling chair. My instructions were simple. Make sure it has that messy look. I don’t want every hair in place.” Priscilla smiled and went to work with the round brush and the blow dryer.

“Then I asked a question the response to which simply made my day,” I said.

”What was it?” Sally asked.

“Well,” I said, “I asked Priscilla to what length she thought a woman my age should let her hair grow. My husband is always saying I should let it grow longer--it's the men and long hair thing I guess!”

She said, “Down to the shoulder at the neck is probably okay. If it goes out on the shoulders, it might look stringy,” she suggested.

“Well,” I said to Priscilla, “I just wanted to be sure what was okay for a 68 year-old woman to do. And then came the really good part where she made my day, “ I said.

“What was it? What was it?” Sally asked excitedly.

“Priscilla just drew back, her eyes wide, and said, ‘No way. Absolutely no way! I was going to guess you were no more than 55!’ "

“Now, what else could anyone say that could make your day better than that?” I grinned.

"And now, let me show you some of the creations from my Boomer and Beyond friends (who are all over 40, by the way!) that will make everyone’s day! Scientifically chosen, of course, by that twirl your finger in the air until it gets very, very dizzy, close your eyes, and point to the list of team members of the weekly promotion thread method I used before! "

"Let's see where that finger landed this time!" Sally laughed.

Clinton/Jackson, Mississippi

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Peabody, Massachusetts

Washougal, Washington

West Sussex, United Kingdom

Charlotte, North Carolina

Urbandale, Iowa

Chuckey, Tennessee

Waynesboro, Georgia

Muncie, Indiana

York, Pennsylvania

Salt Lake City, Utah

Asheville, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Metal Edge

Vintage Vocabulary Necklace by Joonwalk, with quality metal ball chain

Last weekend I attended the Inspired Artist Workshop in Charlotte NC. This workshop is developed by Donna Downey annually, and each time I attend I am stretched into very uncomfortable places - I stress before the event because the classes are things I don't think I am interested in, things I don't think I will enjoy. I attend because I know it is good to get out of my comfort zone. And every year I learn about new arts and techniques that I didn’t know before and that I never would have tried otherwise.

This year was no different – I did some fine art (yes, I painted a FACE on a Canvas!) and some sewing (who KNEW I could actually work the sewing machine for more than a minute on a zig zag stitch from one of Sue Bleiweiss journal classes?) and some polymer clay beadwork. I learned new techniques for scrapbooking and for creating on various mediums – and my most favorite of all the new works was what I learned in the metal working class.

My husband works in metal and has always told me that it is a very cool medium, quite forgiving. But I have never been interested in metal – I am in fiber love at the moment, and have a hard time not spending time at the spinning wheel.

My metal working class was with Cheryl Darrow of Ten Seconds Studio, and it was a real revelation, for several reasons. Cheryl is as honest and direct as a person can be. She said what she meant, meant what she said, and made us all laugh with her direct approach to answering questions. She told us funny stories of people just learning about metal work, and even funnier stories of people who failed to read or pay attention to all the directions associated with metal work. She showed us fascinating art works. And she taught us how to make surprising art from metal ourselves. These photographs of some of her art are from her blog.

Life is not measured - Cheryl Darrow

She also inspired us to be in the moment when she talked about how Ten Seconds Studio got its name – she shared a very personal experience and talked about her close call with Cancer about three years ago, before she and her daughter started their company. The experience brought her to the realization that, as she puts it - Life is about Ten Seconds Long, so we need to LIVE Every Second of it.

Deep Thoughts Journal - Cheryl Darrow

She talked about being inspired in a very candid way – you can read some of her thoughts on her web site. Through the entire course she inspired us – to enjoy ourselves, to take no prisoners in our creativity, to be brave with new techniques and mediums, and she reminded us to grow and learn in every minute.

I feel very privileged to have taken her class and to have learned about a new art form that I am planning to incorporate into my other works – yet I am still not as confident as I would like. And so, I checked out our BBEST team for more inspiration and to see where others were using metal, working with metal, or incorporating the idea of metal work into their other products. I found some great examples of interesting and (as always) creative and works from our team! Take a look at these fab metalworks - or how our artistic teammates incorporated metallic ideas into other interesting works of art and creativity!

At the top of this blog is a fun Vintage Vocabulary Necklace by Joonwalk, with a great metal ball chain. LOVE IT.

And then we have this very cool metallic gun metal and gold Stoneware tea trinket storage jar by Pearl at FehuStoneware. The metallic finish really provides a great shine!

Check out the absolutely stunning Spring Bloodroot Leaf Pendant made from fine silver from the talented hands of Hemlock Hollow.

And what a fun Sparkly Purple Bracelet we find in OneDogTalking's shop! Love the metal charms!

Susan Lambert provides metal kits for doing lampwork, like this silver disc and headpin for lampwork beads. What a beautiful tool!

And what lovely earrings with a Native American Sterling Silver Ingot and Turquoise from Joni Stinson. Love those designs.

Liz Plummer has an interesting incorporation of metallic texture and sheen on her Medieval city Journal. She achieved that incredible metal look by the creative use of embossing powder in her design.

And Christine of Chris1 has many metal offerings incorporated with fabulous glass designs in her shop, including this stunning metal and glass Squares and Rectangles framed artwork.

I would like to encourage each of you to give some metallic thoughts space to grow in your art work - or at least to be inspired by the fun and fantastic work of our talented team mates!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A garland of silver, anyone?

“You’re getting up there,” read the card we received this month from my mother-in-law, who sent us a congratulatory card to honor our 30th wedding anniversary. Although my husband and I tend to celebrate special occasions in a fairly low-key manner—usually by dining out at a nice local restaurant—many other couples celebrate wedding anniversaries with gifts, parties, and exotic journeys. Anniversary celebrations are so popular, in fact, that there are hundreds of Web sites that contain suggestions for gifts and vacations. There are “traditional” gifts of paper, tin, crystal, silver, pearl and gold for the 1st, 10th, 15th, 25th, 30th and 50th anniversaries, and corresponding “modern” gifts of clocks, diamonds, watches, sterling silver, more diamonds, and gold.

The custom of celebrating wedding anniversaries on an annual basis is actually a modern notion. More than a thousand years ago, celebrations of any kind tended to be group events, rather than a celebration between individuals. Besides observing the passing of each season with traditional festivities, twice a year the unmarried men of a community would be paired up with the unmarried women in a prescribed group ritual. As weddings between individuals were introduced, however, anniversaries began to be celebrated in the same manner, but not as frequently as today. It is likely that the notion of presenting gifts originated in the Middle Ages in the Germanic region, when the gifts themselves were associated with the concept of bringing good luck to a couple. The typical occasions that were celebrated in this manner included the 25th anniversary, when a husband would place a garland of silver on his wife’s head, or the 50th anniversary, when the husband would present his wife with a golden wreath. By the middle 1930s, this custom evolved into celebrating the 1st, 10th, 20th and 70th milestones, in addition to the 25th and 50th anniversaries.

In the United States, traditional wedding anniversaries begin with gifts of paper and flowers, increasing in substance and value each year, relating directly to the perceived increasing investment the couple makes in each other. In Germany, however, couples uses a list of symbols that represent an increased strengthening in the marriage with each year that passes.

The Hallmark Web site says that the original 75th “diamond anniversary” dates back to the Victorian age, and that the 60th anniversary was added when Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, or the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1897. “The Victorians, so fond of cataloging and classifying,” say Gretchen Scoble and Ann Field in The Meaning of Wedding Anniversaries, “were likely the first to adapt ancient customs into a prescribed list of gifts for each wedding anniversary.”

In 1922, in her Blue Book of Social Usage, Emily Post listed eight anniversaries that ought to be celebrated: the 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries. She admitted, however, that there was a trend toward celebrating each of the first 15 years of marriage, as well as every five years. For most couples today, this is the anniversary calendar that is used, although the American National Retail Jeweler Association has expanded that list with an annual gift for the first 20 years, with a suggestion for a gift every five years, up to the 75th anniversary.

Whether you follow the gift calendars of Hallmark, etiquette guides or jewelry associations—or no guide at all—the fact of the matter is that most couples enjoy presenting gifts to each other on the anniversary of their commitment to each other. Below are items in BBEST members’ shops that would be wonderful anniversary gifts.

Janine of AltheaP, for example, offers a personalized silk wall hanging. She created the first one for her own parents, when they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Marion of artmixter offers a custom fiber 4x6-inch post card. “Give me a theme, choose your colours, and we'll create a piece of unique art together!” she says.

Your partner will know you appreciate him or her when you gift that person with Kym of PaperParaphernalia’s journaling booklet, which is accompanied by a matching envelope.

Enjoy some wine at your celebratory dinner, chilled to perfection in this stoneware wine chiller by Pearl of fehustoneware.

These dainty earrings by Gloria of hemlockhollow are perfect for a Crystal Anniversary.

AJ of ajscountrycottage helps you create the perfect tropical setting as you enjoy a romantic dinner together (perhaps the prelude to a cruise?!) with her New Island Coconut Soy Candle.

The Hearts Wind Chimes in Chris1's shop is the perfect anniversary gift that can be used every day, reminding both of you about the affection at the center of your relationship.

Candy is never out of style as an anniversary gift! Present it with style in Pam of blazingneedles’ Knit Lace Round Box.

For those of you who prefer to select anniversary gifts according to one of the traditional or modern anniversary, floral or gemstone calendars, visit one of the following sites:
© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at