Monday, July 16, 2018

Adventures in Portland!

I feel like I've been a little more erratic than usual in my jewelry making and blogging lately... part of that is due to a fun vacation my husband and I took out to Portland, Oregon at the end of last month.  I thought I'd do a little recap of some of the highlights for you (and for my own memory's sake!)  Since Eric is chronicling our trip over on Beerploma from a more detailed and beer-centric level, I'd suggest checking those posts out especially if you're looking for more details on the beers.  You can find his first post HERE

The reason (excuse?) for our trip to the West Coast was ostensibly for the National Homebrew Convention (I refuse to call it by it's new, stupid name.)  Thousands of thirsty beer geeks would make the pilgrimage to Beervana for the conference and surrounding activities.  In an effort to beat the rush, and give us way more time to explore the area, Eric and I flew out almost a week early.  Two of our good friends and fellow homebrewers Ron and Denise came out the same day so we kidnapped (beernapped?) them for most of our beer explorations and shenanigans starting with hitting a bunch of breweries on arrival day.  Life is always more fun with friends!

Our first full day dawned sunny and gorgeous... perfect for more exploring and a food tour!  Eric and I started our day with a jaunt over to the Blue Star Donuts located just a few blocks from our place to get some coffee and sugary sustenance to jumpstart thing.  Everyone raves about Voodoo Donut but seriously, do yourself a favor and go to Blue Star instead! 

I couldn't wait to take a picture before taking a couple of good bites from this lovely!

The day's main event was a food tour with Forktown Food Tours. After having done one of these on our last trip, Eric and I were more than excited for the Downtown and The Farmers Market tour that we signed up for with our friends.  We started with a little plate of items curated from the amazing Portland Farmers Market and then had some free time to explore a bit before heading off on the rest of the adventure.  I highly recommend checking these guys out if you find yourself in Portland... so much food, drink, scenery, and local history!  I promise you won't go hungry and, even if you've been to Portland before, you just might discover some new favorite places!

Just some of the yumminess from our tour!  Curated plate from the Farmers Market; dip and cocktail from Southpark Seafood; Handmade pasta from Grassa; Adorable & delicious cupcakes from Saint Cupcake.

One of the things that I love about Portland is all the interesting murals, interesting buildings, graffiti, and public art.  One of the things we learned from our tour guide this time is that the city commissions a number of new murals each year... so there's always going to be cool new art to look at around the city!  I know that Eric captured a lot of cool ones that I didn't... another reason to check out his series over on Beerploma!

Sunday we started with an amazing brunch in our Air B&B neighborhood at Interurban before heading out to Tillamook and the coast for the day.  This may be the best Bloody Mary I've had... or maybe it was the combination of good friends, tasty food, gorgeous weather. 

Our main reason for heading this direction was to get to the brewery that got away last time... the elusive de Garde Brewing.  This time we were successful!  We took a little detour to the coast for some beach combing and photo fun and then headed to fun (and cheese) filled visit to the newly remodeled and expanded Tillamook Creamery.

Monday was our other road tripping day, this time headed east to Hood River.  The goal was lunch and delicious beer at one of our very favorite Oregon breweries, pFriem Family Brewers.  We made a couple of stops along the way most notably the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, home of Herman the 70 year old, 10 foot long, 450 pound sturgeon.

Taking a little break from all the beers, we joined a group of friends we know through the Minnesota homebrew community for a day of winery tours in the Willamette Valley.  We made stops at four different wineries plus had a delicious lunch at Red Hills Market.  As seems to happen every few years, I once again learned that wine sneaks up on me WAY faster than beer or even liquor.  Glad our friends arranged for a Pinot Car for the day for us all!

Fun with our friends on our Willamette Valley winery tour!  

One of our favorite places to take friends and explore is the flagship McMenamins property Edgefield.  It's just on the outskirts of Portland and a wonderful compound that includes a hotel, numerous bars, gardens, pool hall, spa, winery, distillery, two par three golf courses, concert venue, movie theater, and more!  We enjoyed wandering around the grounds with Ron and Denise, trying some more of the beers, and even doing a wine flight!  Eric hopefully got a couple of good shots of a hummingbird who was really enjoying some of the flowers.  (As an aside, if you're not familiar with McMenamins, they own a variety of hotels, pubs, and more throughout Oregon and Seattle.  Many of their locations are historic properties that they have renovated and given new life.  Edgefield, for instance, was originally the county poor farm.  They are super quirky and fun to explore.)

Art and plant life from the amazing McMenamins Edgefield
When Eric and I travel, we tend to have one big splurge meal.  For this trip, that meal was at Mae.  I had read about this place when looking at an article on restaurants in Eater and was intrigued by the idea of Appalachian cooking with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.  Mae is currently a pop-up restaurant that's in the back of another bar/restaurant and only has seatings on Monday and Wednesday for the time being.  (They are working on a brick and mortar location that will be all their own.)  The seating was family style and we had the pleasure of sitting with some folks that we met in the parking lot as we were all looking for the entrance.  Dinner was amazing... especially the vegetable courses.  I actually ate so much of the early veggies that I barely had room for the main event... fried chicken and fixins!  It truly was a lovely meal with an embarrassment of culinary riches!

I'm not going to lie... the rest of our trip was really a blur of breweries, the social parts of the homebrew conference, and food.  Instead of going into lots of detail, I'll just leave you with a couple of photo-collages that sum things up. 

Over the course of our 9 day trip, we hit up lots of breweries and brewpubs.  This doesn't capture the half of them and they aren't all my favorites even.  But this is a collection of the most photogenic beers that I captured!

Travel, food, and beer... things best enjoyed with good friend.  So, cheers to you!  And cheers to our friends who shared our Portland adventures with us this year! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Artisans Create Together: July 2018

This month's inspiration challenge over on the Artisans Create Together Facebook group is a theme challenge... Sun, Moon, & Stars.  I love this heavenly challenge!  Summer days are full of sunshine that lasts long into the nighttime hours and summer nights are all about star gazing and watching the moon cross the sky making this the perfect mid-summer challenge for us.

First up, a pair of earrings featuring some absolutely adorable star-studded earring charms by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery!  I paired them with some Czech glass rounds in navy with gold stripes and plated hematite.  Because the charms are wood, these are super lightweight despite their length.

Keeping with the theme of earrings, I made a second new pair with some fun ceramic rounds from Golem Design Studio.  For some reason these actually make me think of the kind of balls you'd see in illustrations of the circus... like something a sea lion might balance on his nose!  The cheerful red stars just make me happy!  I added some copper findings and some red Czech glass and hung the little dangles from arched ear wires that I decorated with copper wire and seed beads. 

Last but not least of the new creations for this month... one more star-studded pair of earrings!  I had some fun with a set of enameled charms from Blue Hare Art Wear that I picked up a while back.  I love the bold black and white design on these.  I paired some fun black and white striped Czech glass rounds with rhinestone rondelles and some silvery glass rondelles.  I'm a little bit in love with these cuties!

Apparently the only appropriate items in my stash were star-themed earring components!  While I didn't make the following designs for this particular challenge, I thought I'd go ahead and share a couple of older pieces that fit the sun and moon parts of month's theme!

Etched copper "new moon" charms by me; Moon & Star ceramic charms by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio. 

Golem Design Studio ceramic sun lentils; Jade Scott resin and copper sun pendant.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I was inspired to make for this month's celestial challenge!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Inspiration for the Honey Do List July 2018

Getting a day late start again this month.  We're just back from an amazing trip to Portland, Oregon which has brought us this month's inspiration!

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along with us!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

I've wanted to get a decent crow picture for ages but they have eluded me. Over our recent trip to Portland (and their plethora of loud crows) I finally had a chance!  The closer of these crows was pretty mad about my presence and kept cawing at me while I took this series of shots.  It ended up dive-bombing a random pedestrian and my friend Ron shortly after this!

The reveal date will be Monday, July 23rd (my birthday!!!).  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on July 23rd and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it out HERE.)  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Art Elements Theme of the Month June 2018: Sunflowers

I'm really loving the new Art Elements Theme of the Month challenge!  It's great that anyone can play along with a project in any medium.  This month's prompt came from Sue Kennedy and she chose sunflowers!

As is often my way, I started off by making a pair of earrings.  (Seriously... I do this all the time figuring that earrings are relatively quick and easy and then at least I'll have something done for a challenge no matter what.)  Anyway, I digress.  I decided to use a pair of Humblebeads sunflower cane polymer clay discs as my starting point.  (Heather Powers has done several different versions of sunflower discs... this one actually has some sun and leaf canes in the mix too but you can't see it in my picture.)  I made little dangle bead units using topaz Czech glass flowers and turquoise rondelles along with brass accents and hung them from a yummy pair of sari silk cocoons by Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.

Next up, a necklace!  My sweet husband bought me a nice selection of polymer clay beads from Summer Wind Art including an oval daisy pendant.  There is definitely a sunflower sensibility about the pendant so I decided to run with it for this challenge!  I strung it with a bunch of different Czech glass beads, a few vintage glass beads, and some faceted yellow jade.  I quite like the asymmetry of this one even if the colors feel more fall like.

I made a second necklace that features a sunflower connector from Green Girl Studios.  I guess that I could have gone with a more fanciful color palette for this one (and since I still have another one of the fine pewter pieces I may yet do that) but I had the perfect sunflower colored tiny Czech glass flowers that called out to be used here.  Lots of orange and yellow glass flower links and dangles make up this design!

I didn't make these next two designs for this challenge specifically, but I thought that they were worth sharing again anyway!  The first is a necklace that I made for my husband's April Honey Do List challenge featuring a Humblebeads sunflowers lentil.  The earrings have some awesome Golem Design Studio charms and more Humblebeads discs.

Thanks for stopping by!  This is a blog hop.  Check out what everyone else was inspired to make!


Sarajo - You are Here!

AE Team


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Honey Do List June 2018

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along with us!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

This one is a macro shot of a fern palm from our trip to visit my dad at his place in Florida.  I thought about using a pretty sunset picture but decided the green and the curl in this one just spoke to me!  

Even though this isn't actually a fern... it still looks fern like to me so I chose a fun fern pendant made by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.  Some cuprite rounds were just the perfect color to go with the pendant's glaze.  (I feel like I've been using this stone a lot lately... how is it that I survived without it in my stash?!?)  I added in some English cut Czech glass beads with a mercury glass finish to break things up and finished the design off with brass chain.  I couldn't resist making a little pair of earrings to go with my necklace!

I cheated a tiny bit for my second design... I decided to use the second of two fern connectors from Summer Wind Art this month.  Instead of dreaming up a new design, I decided to copy the design that I made with the first one because a) I liked it so much and b) the first one had already sold.  

get the InLinkz code

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Artisans Create Together June 2018

I'm just loving this sweet color palette for the Artisans Create Together June Color Inspiration Challenge!  Due to some travel plans to end the month of June, I didn't have a ton of time to play with this month's color inspiration, but I just couldn't pass up the chance to create something!

First up, a necklace featuring a sweet message pendant by Swoondimples.  I strung a pattern with tons of Czech glass beads in various shades of pale blues and purples.  To coordinate with the pendant's message I chose a little heart and key toggle clasp to finish the design.

I also decided it was high time I made some earrings with the sweet pale blue mushroom charms I've been hoarding from Gardanne.  I kept them super simple and just make little links with some Czech glass flowers and rondelles on sterling silver. 

I wish that I had more time to create a few more things for this challenge, but something is better than nothing!  Now to finish all my other projects, do some laundry and get packed for Portland!

Friday, June 15, 2018

We're All Ears: June 2018

I skipped this challenge last month due to some time constraints, but I'm back in action for the June We're All Ears reveal!  This month Erin has chosen kaleidoscopes to inspire our imaginations!  My gears started turning immediately.

This theme made me think of a Bruce Munro installation, Reflections, at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in the winter of 2016-17.  It was the only indoor piece in an amazing collection of winter lights.  Kaleidoscopic imagines were projected down onto fabric covered tables spread throughout the auditorium.  It was mesmerizing to watch the shifting colors and patterns!  You can get a better idea of this piece over on his website HERE.  You can also explore his website to see some other amazing installations he's done playing with light and color.

Now onto the jewelry!

Probably because of the Bruce Munro installation, I first thought of some bright charms by Jana Bliznakova of Happy Fish Things that have a fun kaleidoscope type pattern to them.  The colors also made me think of the pattern on the left above.  Unlike what I did with a similar set of Jana's charms awhile back, I decided to keep these simple.  I just wire wrapped a few seed beads onto the charms' wire loops with some copper/orange colored wire and called it good!  These earrings are plenty bold without any additional beads. 

As I was looking through my art beads for possibilities (I'm always trying to use these so I can justify new purchases!) I rediscovered some fun wax resist tubes by Joan Miller that I bought at Bead & Button last year.  The patterns in the glaze remind me of how the patterns in my childhood kaleidoscope looked... just in a less colorful palette.  I added some brass bead caps and black and bronze Czech glass beads to the bottoms leading to an overall shape that is sort of reminiscent of a kaleidoscope and finished the earrings off with brass ear wires.

Staying with ceramics for this month, I also grabbed some fun little lentil beads from Golem Design Studio whose patterns reminded me of the images in a kaleidoscope.  I kept things pretty basic and just added some antique silver colored beads to the top and bottom of the lentils.  I wire-wrapped some small seed beads onto the arched ear wires for added interest though... not wanting to go too simple. 

Head over to the Earrings Everyday blog to check out what everyone else was inspired to make this month!