Lampwork Bead Cake Testers

Beads by Lampwork Artist Leese

I am going to introduce you to one of my beautiful daughters.  Yup, I'm actually putting a photo of one of my kids on my blog.  Don't stalk her.  I will hunt you down.

This is the same daughter who made some signs at Christmas and decided to sew a little elf for the little girl she was a nanny for while at college.  She has a kiln and makes pottery.  She is a graphic designer who works in advertising and on a variety of web sites.

She is someone who I refer to as artistic. 

But don't let that sweet face fool you, she's the same young woman who rolls her eyes at me if I ask for computer help, and she seldom reads my blog.  But she likes to bake.

Professional Eye Roller
Today she made cupcakes.  Lemon filled.  Cream cheese frosting.

A few years ago, Beth being a starving college girl, had to come up with a way to put gas in her car and gifts under the tree.

So she made this glass beaded beauty.......

And started selling them.

It's a jeweled cake tester, you know... something you poke into cakes instead of tooth picks to see if a cake is done.  But these aren't tacky little trinkets, they are true works of art made with top quality goods - Czech glass beads, Tibetan silver spacers and you can't buy the stainless steel at the craft store.  One of a kind gifts.

Cake Testers made with Fire Agates & Glass Beads
Beth found a lampwork bead artist on the East Coast who makes the most beautiful beads.  Lampwork beads are made by using long thin glass rods put into a flame then the glass melts as you spin it.  (That's the simplified version of how it's done).

There is a real art to it - just like glass blowing - and each bead is unique and original.

The artists name is Leese and her beads are stunning.......

In all colors and shapes.  Blues, reds, metallics, pinks, golds... each bead prettier than the one before.

Beth takes whatever beads suit her mood and turns them into her own works of art as a functional one of a kind kitchen gadget.  I keep mine in the knife block where it's handy.  She used it on those cupcakes today to make sure they were done.

Cake Tester By One 30 One Design using Glass By Leese Beads
When Beth first found Leese I was addicted.  I checked every day to see what new beads she had.  Jewelry crafters use Leese's beads for their custom jewelry.
Beth also has other lampwork artists that she gets some beads from.  Those beads are pretty too, but nothing matches the ones that Leese creates.  (Of course I think all the cake testers turn out pretty no matter whose beads she uses).  Beth also uses faceted agates on some of her cake testers, those are really popular.

Variety of Cake Testers
Beth can use any kind of bead really.  She has made some custom ones out of grandmothers sentimental baubles; she made a set of 8 for some airline stewardesses with travel charms; one lady orders them and tucks them in home made aprons and baking gift baskets for bridal gifts.

I like to give them as baby shower gifts for all the birthday cakes that new mom is sure to be making.  And I always know it's a gift the recipient won't receive from anyone else.

Beth also goes through a few pink ones in October......

If you want to see more of Leese's beads you can go here, here or here.  Tell her Beth's mom formally known as her stalker, sent you. 

All Glass Beads
Beth and One 30 One Designs, have a blog page {here} that she uses as a store front, and an Etsy Shop as well.  Keep a cake tester in mind next time you are stumped what to give your BFF for her birthday.  They look cute with one of those fancy bakery cupcakes.

And the lemon cupcakes?  Lemon poppyseed, with lemon curd filling and lemon cream cheese frosting...... one of them is calling my name.

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No *I* in Team & Link Party

This post has a lot of *I*'s in it, but everyone knows there is no *I* in team. 

And for the past year, anyone and everyone that made me laugh or inspired me was right there with me while I created and crafted and wondered if I was doing stuff *right*.  So thank you.

As I sat here thinking about how fast 2012 went by I was feeling like blogging took all my time and I didn't really accomplish much.

Then I went through photos.  I was very wrong on that last remark.

When I had it all right there in front of me I realized I accomplished more projects than I would of had I not been blogging. All because I unintentionally joined a team by starting a blog.

A team of hundreds + one man with some brawn.

Teams of bloggers, some of whom don't even know they were my motivation or inspiration, or that I joined their team and they unintentionally joined mine when I referenced their blogs for help.

The crafting team.The sewing team.The tutorial team.The motivational team.
The inspiration team.The painting team.The idea team.The organization team
The decorating & design team.The clever, witty & funny team.The building team.

In the blogging game last year I had to call on each of those teams at one point or another.  And they all became....
New friends.

And there are also followers.  Followers on my team who are not bloggers.  They come to read what I write and see what I make.  That amazes me.  Thank you.

My first post hit the blogosphere January 9th and saying I had no idea what I was doing is an understatement!  But how fitting my day for the 'Tis the Season' link party is also January 9th.  I'm holding up the rear or ringing in the new year, which ever way you want to look at it.
I would very much enjoy if you would link up at the bottom.

My first year of blogging brought cast off furniture or pieces of wood scraps that  mostly I had to hand letter.......
It was someone, somewhere - it was one of you - that I gleaned confidence from 
Confidence to stick my brush in the paint and put fingers to keyboard.  Thank you.

I made pillows.  I can't sew, but gosh darnit I made pillows.  I made burlap valances because I was inspired by one of you.  I did copy cat challenges most every month, just to see if I could do it.  I picked up free furniture on the roadside believing even if the project sucked, what did I have to lose by not trying? I became a hoarder and filled our garage with crap.  I'm proud.  Brawn, not so much.

I put something on the door for every season.  I'd never done that before. I even painted the door.

I amused myself with a 4th of July wreath made out of old hankies and a pool noodle, naming it Hankie Noodle Dandy.  The name still cracks me up. And who thinks to make stuff out of pool noodles anyhow?  It wasn't me, it was someone on one of those teams.

I prepped my house for a Halloween Mystery Dinner with some of my own old ideas, and some new ones from blogs that inspired me.  Thank you.
I even inspired a few people along the way myself.  Me? Hmmmm... a creative and inspiring blogger?  Nope, never imagined that would happen.

I created a window display so I would have somewhere for the Kodak dresser.  I complied junk into a tree with some groovy girls, and made gifts for friends......

I calculated everything I made/updated/created/painted/repurposed/recycled/COOKED or baked, for the last 12 months and it comes out to about 4 projects a week, which means I accomplished a whole bunch of stuff that never made it to the keyboard.

Projects were featured......and I hope I never forgot to thank anyone for that.

The cooking and recipes...... O.M.G. you bloggers inspired me to try new stuff, thank you,
*I think*, but that has GOT to stop!!!  Seriously, if I do that throughout 2013 I won't fit in my computer chair!  And this cute kid did not loose his tongue cake pop making!

I guest posted on 19 blogs, and I will never forget who each one of you are.  Thank you.

Being associated with like minded people for the past 12 months has reawakened my creativity. 
I would not have accomplished all of that without all of you.
~ I have never been so inspired before. ~ 
Thank you.

And now, it's time to link up. What should you link?  3 choices......
1) Link up something from last year this time...January of '12.  
2) Or link YOUR very first post in the blogosphere.
3) Or link anything that was inspired by someone or something...someone from YOUR team.

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I Resolve to......

I resolve to:


Please head over to 551 East Furniture Design for this weeks 'Tis The Season link party and link up your own resolutions.

The party started on the 2nd.  It's now the 4th.  Hence my resolution.  Bliss Ranch's party is on the 9th, hope I make it.

Then on the 5th, stop in with Stacey at EmbracingChange for favorite furniture makeovers (this is a change from the original party host).  LOOOKIE LOOOOKIE.... I'm early for that one, I am so on top of my resolution!

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Cowgirl Up Party Host... Yee Ha!

*There has been a change for the 'Tis The Season Holiday Home Tour'.  To link your holiday home decorations see Stacey @EmbracingChange.  The link on my page is for the Cowgirl Up Party.  You are welcome of course to link at both!

Ranch, Porch, Cottage.   
The style of these is a feeling, not  muddy boots every day, but it also wouldn't be too far fetched at my Ranch to see a dirty pair plopped at the door.
I have always liked a rustic style, just about as much as I like all white or a French style, but I haven't perfected how to marry those looks together. 

The Cowgirl Up ladies however have figured it out. They've got comfortable style partnered with just the right amounts of color and clean white and I've yet to see any muddy boots laying around at their Texas homes!

And guess who's a guest host for the Cowgirl Up party this week?  Me!  
I'm the grey one on the right.  Really.

Welcome to Week 47
The Cowgirl Up! Link Party!
1 Party, 5 Blogs   

Needless to say I'm quite honored to be guest posting for the Cowgirl Up party gals.  They all have a style that I could get comfortable in... sipping coffee, a glass of wine, or just cracking open an ice cold beer.  You can find me sipping and blogging around our ranch.  It sits on 25 acres with a lake at one end, woods and field on the other and a house in the middle.  
It's a little bit country.....
Heading out of the driveway
And a little bit rock 'n roll.....
Son's Free Dresser Project
You can find a blend of crisp white .....
Master Bedroom
Along with sticks......
Family Room & Burlap Pillows
And stones.....

I do a photo project or two....
Kodak Moment Dresser re-do
And when we aren't covered in snow you can find me sipping something out here in the cedar porch....

Hey Buckaroo don't forget to link at the Cowgirl Up party.

Link up your cool awesome stuff, because I know my followers have the best stuff to strut.
 On to this week's features chosen by Anita of   Cedar Hill Ranch  
Uncommon Designs shared a No Sew Burlap Tree Skirt 
White Whimsy shared Christmas in a cloche
The Lily Pad Cottage showed off her festive front porch
Redhead Can Decorate shared her kitchen reveal. 
and Swede Dreams made these scrumptious Chocolate Truffle Tarts
Now about this week's party... You link up on my blog and your link shows up on FIVE blogs.
More exposure, less time.
We are looking for the latest and greatest projects, tutorials, ideas, crafts, recipes, decor, and inspiring stories. Anything that you are proud to show off.
Cowgirl Up! is the link party that saves you time and brings you inspiration.
What blogs will your link appear on? Check us out below!
Linsey with The Farmhouse Porch
Anita with Cedar Hill Ranch
Amanda with The Ivy Cottage Blog
Samantha with Crafty Texas Girls *PLUS our Special GUEST HOST:  Bliss with Bliss Ranch
The four of us are all Texas bloggers, but you don't have to be Texas, country, western, or own horses to participate in Cowgirl Up! You just need that "can-do", cowgirl spirit!
Cowgirl Up! Link Party Guidelines
(Please read the guidelines before participating)
* When you link with Cowgirl Up!, your link will automatically show on four different blogs. Awesome!
* Please follow your host blog before linking up on GFC (and if you have a linkyfollow account, then please follow that way too.)
* You may link up decor, DIY, crafts, guest post, recipes, giveaways, sewing, inspiring stories, and anything that you feel related to the listed categories.
* You may link as many links as you want.
Be sure to include the Cowgirl Up! Button or text link to Cowgirl Up in your linked post, (mine can be found on my sidebar.) Mandatory to be featured!!
* Be courteous and visit the two links before yours. Several projects will be featured each week!
* By linking up you are agreeing that the photos are yours or that you have permission to use them,  that we may use those photos to feature your project in a blog post, on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter with a link back to your blog of course. 
*If you pin a project shown here, please, please pin from the original source.

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Recipes with Dear Emmeline

Just let me make this very clear.... I am not a food blogger, do not enjoy documenting cooking progress nor do I like to rewrite recipes or take pictures of food. 

I do however enjoy eating, and I know good when I taste it.

This weeks link party is recipes hosted by Dear Emmeline and she is cooking up foods with holiday leftovers.

 I have been trying for 10 years to perfect or find a chocolate caramel recipe that is as good as my butter caramel recipe.  Last year I gave yet another recipe a try.

It was "the one".  The one that is now in the lineup of favorite holiday treats to make year after year.  The one good enough to end the yearly search for a chocolate caramel recipe.

With just the perfect creaminess and a distinct chocolate flavor.  I found the recipe here at Epicurious.  It is a salted caramel recipe that I love, but my family doesn't like the salt on top so I leave it off.  The caramels do look more gourmet with the salt flakes, but I haven't had anyone feel slighted without it.

The only change I have is to NOT cook it to the temp they call for in the original recipe.  The original recipe calls for cooking to 255* on a candy thermometer.  I find cooking to that temp makes the caramel too hard.  I recommend 252 and no higher for perfect ones, at least in my kitchen.  Cook it right at 252 and when it starts to go above that, turn it off.

Unlike my butter caramels this one is a two step boil process.  A little more work, but after a 10 year search for the perfect tasting chocolate caramels, I'm not messing with it because the outcome is excellent.  I doubled the batch this year without any problem.

I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate baking bars.  I won't use another brand because these give me the taste I was going for.  Yummmm.......

Remember to stop in at Dear Emmeline's and link up a holiday recipe.  For the full chocolate caramel recipe/tutorial, head over to Epicurious .... they don't mind writing out tutorials.  I like to just get right to the best part....... the eating.  And these are excellent eating if you want to indulge.

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'Twas the Night Before

 It's the most wonderful time of the year for more reasons than one.  We have lots of traditions here, but one of the oldest takes place before bed on Christmas Eve.

If you look closely there is no baby in the manger.  Jesus wasn't born till Christmas Day, so for over 20 years on Christmas Eve when all is still, I or one of the kids lay Him in his bed. 

The stable was a gift from child #5 when he was about 10 years old.  He made it for me because he knew I wanted one the right size for our nativity.  I love it.

The stockings are hung, the treats are made, most of the presents are wrapped, and the last of the homemade gifts are waiting for their finishing touches.  

All is quiet.  Well not really, it's rarely quiet here! 

Faux Crate Tree Stand Cover  see here
  Merry Christmas

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Tongue In Cheek Tuesday on Thursday

Reminder...... Tis The Season Link party this week Christmas recipes at Alderberry HillCome on, I know you got some recipes, so get your festive self over there and link up! 

        Tongue in Cheek Tuesday

Kirby from KirbAppeal suggested a day set aside from projects and seriousness to poke fun and asked if Dani from SiloHillFarm and BlissFromBlissRanch (that's me) wanted in on it.

Of course I said yeah, because I am pretty capable of poking fun at myself or anyone else for that matter.

Lets start with a definition from WiseGeek:
Tongue in cheek:
When described as “tongue in cheek,” it means it should not be taken seriously. Tongue in cheek humor is often wry, subtle, and sometimes difficult to catch, in contrast with more blatant forms of humor.

I might have trouble with this, I am usually blatant and I also had to look up wry.

Or this one from Wikipedia, (who also wanted a donation while I was there reading):
Tongue-in-cheek is a phrase used as a figure of speech to imply that a statement is humorously or otherwise not seriously intended and it should not be taken at face value.

So if I have it correct a good example of tongue in cheek would be:  "helll yeah I want to donate money to Wikipedia, I can't think of any place that deserves my cash more".

Or maybe that's just a lie?  Whichever. 

For the kick off to Tongue in Cheek Tuesday, that may or may not happen regularly and might not even be on Tuesdays, I decided to just poke fun at myself with out any tongue in cheek because sadly the story you are about to read is true, blatantly true.....

Last night I rushed around to get ready for a Christmas party of a committee I am on.  I got all dolled up, Brawn wore jeans without holes, and we loaded ourselves up in the cold and headed out.  We showed up promptly at 7:05, cream cheese pepper dip and homemade caramels in hand.  Ummm mmmm, yummy. 

In fact we were the first to arrive.  Odd no one else was on time. Brawn said he didn't recall ever being first to a party. 

Ding dong went the doorbell.  The hostess answered in a festive red sweater but she really didn't look all that happy to see us.


You read that right we showed up to someone's house for a party on the wrong damm day. 
Four.     Days.     Late.  

I apologize now to my oldest daughter..... these people travel in your circle and you will probably have to endure jokes at my expense.  Please don't let my son in law agree with them, defend me.

Of course I won't live it down at home either.   Child #6 has already threw it back in my face.  I told him he has basketball practice on Thursday and he said he didn't think so.  I said authoritatively, well it's written on my calendar, I got that info from somewhere!

And the little brat said.......
"ohhhhh.... just like that PARTY was written down on your calendar?"

I had pepper jelly dip for breakfast today.  And lunch.  And snack.

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