Thursday, July 30, 2009

I LOVE Baking!

I have three passions in life...spine research, making jewelry, and food. My favorite thing about food is making it, and cooking and baking are two of my favorite hobbies. Last night I baked these delicious banana nut muffins, going by a recipie I found on the Food Network. Here it is:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 overripe bananas

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Warning...these muffins may dissapear nearly instantly! My boyfriend ate 3 in a row.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Creative Weekend

Happy Monday!

I had a very crafty weekend! Saturday I photographed my lovely new Chrysoprase necklace I made. I tried out some new camera tips, (whitebalance and playing with the exposure settings) and I was very pleased with the result. I was delighted to discover that lowering the exposure is the key to capturing the beautiful shimmer of the pearls, without them ending up like a glaring white blob. The necklace is listed here in my Etsy shop:

I also made a trip to the craft store this weekend and bought some sterling silver earring hooks and head pins for some earrings! I made two pairs, a pair to match the custom kyanite necklace I did last week, and a pair to match the black agate shell necklace and bracelet I have in my shop. Pictures to be posted soon! Completely unrelated to jewelry, I also made some fun beer bottle cap magnets to decorate my refrigerator! My boyfriend has collected all the beer bottle caps from most of the beer he drank in college, so we have a huge bucket full of bottle caps in the back of our closet. I picked out some of my favorites that we drink often (Blue Moon, Guiness, Shipyard, North Coast Brewing, Sam Adams) and super-glued magnets on the back of them. They look great on my previously bare refrigerator!

I'm also excited to say that I made my first Etsy purchase yesterday! I bought a beautiful lampwork bead for my Pandora bracelet from TheSassyBead2. I received a Pandora bracelet as a graduation present from one of my cousins, and I only have one sad little bead on it! The glass beads Pandora sells are so expensive and un-original, so I was very excited to find TheSassyBead2's shop on Etsy. Her Pandora bracelet-sized beads are absolutely gorgeous...they are little works of affordable art. I can't wait to receive mine!

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Item...More Kyanite!

Kyanite has probably become one of my favorite stones to work with. The newest item in my shop features this gorgeous rough kyanite focal stone, offset by freshwater pearls and shimmery blue seed beads. I love all the different cuts of kyanite out there, from this unique rough chunk to the polished beads I used in my recent custome order. The wide range of blues in this rough kyanite piece and the black inclusions take me back to a night on the ocean...(I miss the ocean!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Custom Order!

I just finished up making, photographing and posting my very first custom order. It's a gorgeous beaded kyanite necklace, accented with freshwater pearls. I love the irridescent blue color of the kyanite, it reminds me perfectly of a clear day at the beach. As accent beads, I used a few freshwater pearls to highlight the kyanite pendant and clasp. I'm very pleased with this piece and will be sad to see it's truly one of a kind!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

So this morning I was planning on photographing my two newest necklace creations, only to wake up to discover that it is dark and gloomy outside. I keep hoping the sun will come out, but it's a rare day when it's perfectly sunny here in Troy, NY. Tonight I'll probably spend creating my mom's custom order necklace out of these beautiful kyanite beads. She wanted something really simple, just a string of polished kyanite with a small kyanite pendant accented with some freshwater pearls. The beads are gorgeous, and I can't wait to see how it comes out. Kyanite is actually a great stone to balance the chakras and is ideally worn around the throat in a necklace, as it will promote the ability to speak more easily and express oneself more clearly.

Instead of making jewelry last night, I indulged in one of my other favorite hobbies...baking! I have a lab meeting this afternoon, and treats are always appreciated, so I thought I'd try out this oatmeal chocolate chip recipe I found on this great baking blog:

They turned out oh so yummy! Here's a picture of you can see some of them have already mysteriously disappeared (my boyfriend and I are to blame for that...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Necklace Pictures Comming Soon...

This past week/weekend I got around to creating two new pieces! They are both a bit different than what I normally do, but I am very pleased with the way they came out. Pictures to be posted soon, and both items will be listed in my Etsy shop by the end of the week! Plus, my mom has commissioned me to make a necklace out of kyanite for her, and we went to pick out beads at my favorite local bead shop, River Rocks (in Downtown Troy, NY) when she and my dad were up visiting this weekend. Hopefully I'll get a chance to make it early this week (if real work doesn't get in the way!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Item!

I've got a new item for sale in my Etsy shop, a bracelet to match the freshwater pearl and black agate shell beaded necklace. Great as a pair, or solo! Check it out!

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Necklace + Photography Escapades

I posted a new necklace posted on Etsy yesterday, a very classy, elegant piece made with freshwater pearls and black agate shell beads that I found at this great beadshop, Caravan Beads, in Portland, Maine. Check it out! I love the patterns of the black agate shell, and how each bead is different and has it's own unique markings and coloring. I can easily see this necklace being worn with a gorgeous little black dress. ; )

Finding a location to photograph this piece proved to be quite a challenge, however. All the previous pieces I have made I photographed on the fire escape right outside the window of my apartment. The fire escape was a beautiful, natural rusted color, and provided a perfect backdrop for me to drape my necklaces over, and the shade from the big tree behind my apartment building provided the perfect lighting. However, much to my dismay, my landlord decided it would be a great idea to give the fire escape a fresh new coat of shiny black paint! It had completely lost it's lovely natural color, and I had lost my easy-access photography spot! So this weekend I found myself wandering the streets of downtown Troy with my camera and my jewelry, looking for a prime photography spot. I finally settled on a sidewalk near my apartment that is made of stone, rather than the usual boring concrete. I think the neutral grey of the stone off sets the colors in the piece very well, and texture of the stone keeps things interesting. Needless to say I looked extremely silly sitting on the sidewalk, taking pictures of a necklace. Oh well...anything for a good picture!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A little about me and my jewelry...

Hi and welcome to my blog about my adventures in beading and running my little bead shop, Brownstone Beads.

To start off, here's a little about me and how I came to start beading:
I'm a recently graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY with a bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering. I love RPI and my field so much, I decided to stay another 4 years here and get my PhD. In having recently graduated and having all of my roommates move away to jobs etc, I had the task of finding a new apartment to live in. After much searching, I eventually found a lovely little place in downtown Troy, but alas, the current occupants were still living there, and the place was to be redone after they had moved out. Now having being kicked out of my old apartment on the first of June, my boyfriend and I were stuck living in a basement room, with a small adjoining kitchen (no stove, though), and a bathroom that was up a flight of stairs through this lovely woman's art shop. In addition to the lack of privacy, we had no internet or cable TV, making the situation especially dire (especially two graduates of RPI, where most students are attached at the hip to thier laptops). Needless to say, I was very bored. My boyfriend suggested to me that I take up a hobby, since I am a very crafty individual on the inside, hidden somewhere in there among the science and math. As I had dabbled in jewelry making when I was younger, I decided to take up beading, and began making necklaces on my bed in a basement room in a brownstone on 4th Street.

Eventually, when we had finally (after 2 weeks in a basement) moved into another apartment (the one we were supposed to have still wasn't done) in a lovely brownstone on 2nd Street in downtown Troy, that I realized that I would eventually have made too much jewelry for myself to wear alone. I was very proud of the pieces I had designed and made thus far, and I had the desire to share them with others (and also attempt to make a bit extra money to supplement my meager graduate student's stipend). So, Brownstone Beads was born. All of my creations are for sale on Etsy, and they feature natural stone beads, semi-precious stones and unique and interesting pendants. Come over and take a look at!