Archive for December, 2014

Hoarding, then purging and jewelry mutations

During the holidays, somehow between feasts (or while prepping the feast) there is more reflection on life, joy and even death. Yeah, I know, pretty morbid beginning. I also think about stuff, because it’s the gift giving season. My family and friends are pretty good about not giving me consumable stuff (booze, honey, gift cards), probably because I’m rather vocal about, “I have too much stuff,” “I live in a small townhouse, emphasis on small,” and “This last year, I tried to donate/toss one thing per day of the year (only one month behind!)”. If I didn’t use it within the last year, then I sent it to a new home (which means I might still have what you gave me for Christmas last year). Memoribilia from my travels has been reduced. It has meant being really ruthless, and sentimentality has been squished! But there are a few things I can’t be that ruthless about. One of them is my beads. I can’t just toss this monetary investment. This problem (and also what created this problem) is what MaggieMakesIt was designed for. This one-purge-a-day is why MaggieMakesIt is getting a revamp, requiring a number of things. No. 1. Inventory. That’s right. Inventory, which is a four-letter-word to anyone in retail. Done! Everything on the website is now current, so go shopping! No. 2. Take better product photos. I decided the iPhone camera photos were just not cutting the mustard. I bought Miss Partner a FABOOO digital SLR camera a few years back when I was more gainfully employed. She loves it and has allowed me to borrow it for product photos. I spent a roller coaster of a day, thinking I have perfect photos, then reviewing them and finding they are garbage, then doing the dance all over again. I think I’ve finally got it dialed in to take fast and gorgeous photos. Check! No. 3. Make things I’m proud of. Really, some of my jewelry is less than inspiring. In the early days, I just wanted to have products up on the site and I didn’t much care how great they were. I’m not proud of everything, and I want to be. New and beautiful mutant jewelry. If I need more beads, then I will pull apart a finished item and incorporate into a new and improved and inspired design. Below is a series of before and after photos; first product with poor photo on the top, new one on the bottom. Click on the new version to see it in the online store.

Ho-hum!

More sparkly!

Not a big change, but definitely an improvement, especially in photo quality.

This version had to be constantly readjusted.

This version I get compliments on ALL the time.

I confess, I remade this piece over a year ago and kept it selfishly to myself. Sorry.

Ugh. Uninspired. And the leaves wouldn’t lie flat.

Ba-BAM! Uber inspired!

Wow, right!? Crazy gorgeous. Elaborate and glamorous and classic. And in perfect time for the holiday season. Or next year’s, since it’s Christmas in a few days… Here’s to less hoarding in the future, purging when possible, and more jewelry fun for me (which I will probably post about because I plan to be proud of everything I make from here on out). Oh, and hey, check out my website, and my Pinterest. Have a great holiday, in case I don’t write again soon. Enjoy your feasts and hug your families, related and chosen. PS. New Products at MaggieMakesIt.com White Freshwater Pearl and Rainbow Crystal Necklace White Freshwater Pearl and Rainbow Crystal Bracelet Crystal Flower and Freshwater Pearl Ring on memory wire  (MMI’s first ring!) Crystal Flower and Freshwater Pearl Earrings Crystal Flower Bracelet with linking loops Crystal Flower and Freshwater Pearl Necklace

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December 23, 2014 at 12:47 am Leave a comment

Immortal Words: Bourbon Apple Brown Betty

As a citizen of the United States (‘Murica!), I am pretty familiar with pie, a familiarity approaching obsession. I’m less familiar with what makes a pie into a tart, though this article makes it pretty clear. That thing called a galette, I’ve heard it is also called a crostata. Another question that needs clarification: Do you know the difference between a crumble, crisp, pandowdy, brown betty and cobbler?

I have since learned that a crumble is the same as a brown betty, described as a dessert made with fruit and sweetened crumbs. I can’t hide my disappointment at learning this and I’m afraid it makes this post less interesting with each word. Time to reinsert some magic. In the immortal words of Miss Partner, “You can, and really, you should, deglaze with bourbon.” Bourbon. Do you feel the magic again? Okay, more about that later.

In my research, I did find a recipe (thank you, Epicurious) that might differentiate the crumble and the brown betty. Instead of sweetened crumbs, it calls for layering of bread cubes and apples, sprinkled with nutmeg-sugar, kinda like a strata but without the custard or a stuffing without the savory.

Now that you have had magic, it is time for comedy. Miss Partner has taken over running the house recently, perhaps as a test to see if she can still do it or to shhhhhhhh my nagging. I am allowed to cook once a week, so I can keep my skills. We were vying for control of a hunk of stale bread that one of us was going to make into dessert. Well, both of us waited so long that the bread was rock hard. No amount of putting it in a bag with a wet paper fowl could soften it. To break up this bread, I went after it with a meat cleaver. It took longer than I thought it would. Can you see me, just pounding away at this piece of bread with a meat cleaver? The cleaver probably would have hacked through bone faster than this piece of bread. It was so dry, it was splintering into cubes on its own, and I’m glad because if I had to go after smaller pieces with the cleaver I was in danger of chopping my fingers off. I really should have been wearing safety glasses, as shards of bread were hitting my face rather close to my eyes. I wish I had taken a picture of the mess. Maybe next time I’ll try microwaving it in a shallow bowl of water; that would probably be safer.

Now, back to the magic. When this recipe called for water at the end, I was like; water?! Water?! No. Cider or beer, or white wine. Oh, oh, oh. Or BOURBON! I guess the water is supposed to help moisten and steam the bread and apples, but so can cider, beer, white wine and BOURBON! Of course, I’m not going to use water. I was terribly pleased to report that Google could not find a Bourbon Apple Brown Betty recipe, then utterly deflated to learn there were plenty of crisp (and pie) recipes with apples and bourbon. Let’s face it; a crisp is just a crispier crumble or brown betty. Fine! [exacerbated] But, again, more positively, Google couldn’t find any Bourbon Apple Brown Better recipes!

Mmmmm. Breakfast!

Mmmmm. Breakfast!

In the end, the bread on the top does get crispy and I wanted to add some protein and wholesome nut oil; I added oats and almonds to the sugar-nutmeg sprinkle. So I guess this is a crisp-brown-betty fusion. For more brown-betty-ness, omit oats and almonds.

Now recipe, because the inter webs must have a Bourbon Apple Brown Betty recipe. This size will be good for two  or four people.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats (optional)
  • 1/2 cup organic almonds (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups 1/4-inch bread cubes
  • 2 pounds large organic apples, sliced (remove skins if apples are not organic)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons BOURBON
  1. Get yourself a loaf pan and butter it up! Set oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine first four ingredients in food processor, and pulse until you have a course meal. Add butter and pulse until only small chunks observed.
  3. In the loaf pan: First Layer bread, Second layer apples, Third layer bread, Fourth layer apples, Fifth Layer bread.
  4. Sprinkle with BOURBON!
  5. Sprinkle with mixed ground oats, almonds, sugar, nutmeg and butter.
  6. Bake 40 minutes tightly covered with foil. Bake 10 more minutes without foil.
  7. Ends up being not overly sweet. Good. That means you can add pumpkin ice cream! Do it. Oh, salted caramel gelato would be good, too.

Throughout this post, I kept typing brown better instead of betty. Laughable and infuriating.

December 4, 2014 at 1:05 am Leave a comment


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