Gems That Rock the House

Inspiration comes in many forms, often unpredictable and unexpected, without any apparent relation to the innovations it may produce. Broadening one’s horizons is the most effective way to home in a completely different creative venture. This is the best explanation I can provide for why I ended up in a metal shop, torch blazing away, for the better part of my spring semester. General craftiness and a penchant for beading runs in my blood, so it seemed criminal to overlook the burgeoning jewelry and metal arts program offered while on campus. With no prior experience, it was exhilarating to literally forge a new path, turning scrap metal into something to treasure. While my wearable work is still quite amateur at best, I found that subtle touches of color can make a world of difference. Thus, it was a stroke of pure luck that House of Gems reached out to me prior to my first class and offered me an opportunity to sample their wares.

Beads and findings of all materials, shapes, and sizes glitter even from the glow of the computer screen on the immense online catalog. Choosing would have been impossible if not for the basic guidelines of JEM 110- Only natural stones or gems would do, as plastics would certainly melt under the temperatures that soldering demands. Though I didn’t know it at the time, my selections would prove to influence a sizable portion of the work to come in the following weeks.

Dubbed “The Crimson Cloud” due to its deep red carnelian rain drops, those stunning faceted beads were the cherries on top of this patina-ed brass sundae. Though time constraints prevented me from completing the pin back as I had envisioned, the possibilities now remain open for turning this midterm submission into a magnet or pendant instead.

Just a simple whimsy made to blow off some steam, silly little side projects like this tube ring were welcome distractions when more complicated techniques eluded me. Admittedly, these beads here are merely glued in place and then lacquered over for security, but I simply couldn’t resist incorporating those brilliant purple sugilite in any way possible. Besides, the copper ring band would need some sort of veneer to become truly wearable, I reasoned.

Making samples of various new concepts as they were taught was an essential component of the class, and I must admit that I went a bit overboard at times. All that was required in this case was a basic example of any functional earring wire, capable of being fabricated in about two minutes, but I couldn’t leave those bare sterling silver strands alone. Very simple textured nu-gold teardrops gleam in the sunlight with the addition of a few smoky, pearlescent labradorite beads. As far as everyday jewelry goes, these unassuming earrings may quite possibly be my favorite creation of the semester.

While I may not have access to the same equipment anymore, I do still have a wealth of stunning stones to spur new jewelry inspirations. This is only the beginning of my metal crafting experiments. With the help of House of Gems, I would love to spur that same drive and ability to create some something beautiful in all of you! All orders over $25 automatically qualify for free shipping in the US, for anything that captures your crafty imagination amongst their vast selection of wares.

No matter what you create, you can’t go wrong with such a vast selection of impeccable craft and jewelry-making supplies to draw inspiration from!

Bead for Life

Holiday shopping madness is upon us, and it would seem as though everyone- Young, old, wealthy, or of humble means- Is out in force, buying up anything that could possibly be wrapped up in paper and topped off with a bow. I’m not one to advocate such excessive consumerism, but if it’s possible to make conscious purchases that aren’t simply wasted on meaningless plastic and glass, I personally would certainly be more inclined to fork of my hard-earned money. Shouldn’t a gift be something of actual value, and not just the numbers on a price tag? If no store has that “perfect gift” and you find yourself at wit’s end, looking to please the person who has everything, I have one little suggestion to throw into the ring.

One of the most thoughtful presents I received in a while was this beautiful bracelet made of paper beads, from a good friend who seems to know me better than I know myself. Thanks to Bead for Life, an organization that allows women from Uganda to sell their lovely handiwork, it’s possible to support those in need and give a lovely piece of jewelry to the loved ones in your life. It’s like donating to a charity, with benefits for all those involved!

Being a compassionate consumer means taking into account the welfare of animals, naturally, but I think that the well being of our fellow man is often swept under the rug in this equation. Think about what’s going into your store-bought gifts this year, and decide: Do you want something mass-produced that’s supporting sweatshops and suffering, or something unique, handmade, and actually bound to send money where it’s needed?

Luck of the Eater

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, an excitement fills the air. People are preparing their most impressive green outfits, planning meals of “traditional” corned beef and cabbage (bleh), and most importantly, stocking up on the libations. You don’t need much of an excuse to drink around here, but this holiday seems like the perfect reason to get totally smashed, so that seems to be the point of the whole day by the time one reaches college.

Of course, I don’t drink and am not even the least bit Irish, so this holiday has typically fallen through the cracks for me. To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know what it’s all about or how one is supposed to celebrate without imbibing great quantities of alcohol, but I’ve decided that I want to pay my respects to the celebration in the only way I know how: By baking!

Setting aside the sugar after having overdosed a bit on marshmallows, it was high time to get something green back into my body. And what could be more appropriate for St. Patrick’s day than green clovers, after all? Smuggling a handful of spinach into the young dough, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not about to fulfill anyone’s daily requirement, but it did add some lovely flavor and just a hint of natural coloring.

Even if this holiday doesn’t hold much significance for me, just pulling those lovely golden buns out of the oven was cause for celebration. Finally, a simple sort of bread that is cooperative, easy, and incredibly tasty, appropriate for more than just special occasions, too. Even my mom was taken aback by how buttery they were!

For all those who are yeast phobic, give this one a try. You might just find that you luck will improve. It’s no coincidence that they embody such a fortuitous symbol!

Yield: Makes 12 Rolls

Four-Leaf Clover Rolls

Four-Leaf Clover Rolls

Infused with chopped spinach for a subtle green color, these four-leaf clover rolls will improve your luck for working with yeast, since it's a truly foolproof recipe.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes


  • 1 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 1 (1/4 Ounce) Package Dry Active Yeast
  • 5 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, Divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Flax Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed
  • 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour


  1. Briefly heat the milk just until it’s lukewarm; around 90 degrees or so. Add in the sugar and yeast and let it sit for about 15 minutes to become frothy and active.
  2. When ready, melt the 1/4 cup of vegan butter and add it to the liquid mix. Grind up the flax seeds using a spice or coffee grinder, and then process them for just a minute with the water. Incorporate this into the other liquids as well, along with the salt and thawed spinach (make sure you squeeze as much water out as possible!)
  3. Now, transfer this mix into your mixer and begin gradually adding flour in a couple of installments. You may need more or less than called for, so just keep an eye on it and allow it to fully combine everything before changing the amounts. Once it has more or less come together, switch in your dough hook, and allow it to process for about 10 minutes, until it’s a smooth elastic ball. You can also knead it by hand, but be aware that it will take longer to reach the proper texture.
  4. Lightly grease a large bowl and drop the ball of dough in, covering lightly, and allow it to sit in a warm place for about an hour and a half, until doubled in size. After it’s nicely risen, lightly grease a muffin tin in which to house the rolls. Gently punch the dough down, and cut it into four pieces. Each of those pieces should be cut into 12 more pieces, and then you’ll want to roll each of those pieces between
    your hands to form nice smooth little balls. Fit four balls into each muffin indentation. Cover the whole tray with a clean towel, and let it sit to rise again for one and a half hours.
  5. As the rolls near the end of their final proofing, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and melt the single tablespoon of butter. Lightly brush the tops of each roll with the margarine just before popping them into the oven. Bake for about 16 – 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let them sit in the muffin tin for 10 minutes after leaving the oven, and then finish cooling them on a wire rack.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 215Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 369mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.


Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Like thousands of jewel-toned grains of sand, an impressive collection of glass, plastic, and stone beads lay at my disposal, practically in front of my nose for half the day, but completely invisible to my mind’s eye. Tucked away in a carefully organized case, towering above my book shelf with its numerous cloudy drawers, you would think that something that size would be extremely visible, a constant reminder of the treasures it holds. In reality, concealing the hundreds upon thousands of baubles prevents them from ever entering my consciousness, causing this otherwise obtrusive grey storage bin to blend into the background along with the long forgotten books and DVDs residing on shelves directly below it.

For this reason, all these available, gorgeous beads keep crying out to be used without being heard, sometimes for months on end. Taking note of the passing of one year since I began posting, I decided to take a brief look back at old posts for nostalgia’s sake. Patterns began to emerge in short time, and I can’t say I was entirely surprised at the number of entries that fall under the greatly neglected “beading” category. Knowing that there was no way to make up for all this lost time, I thought it would be best to atleast make an effort to dabble again in the other wonderful crafts I have experience with. Expecting little from my stash after having turned my back on it for so long, such a great pleasure it was to take in all of the colors, shapes, and sizes all at my disposal. I’m out of practice in this field, to say the least, but motivated by my inspiring materials, I pressed onwards and ended up with a nice, easily formed choker.

Selecting beads based on color alone, the resulting combination wasn’t entirely satisfactory when brought together, creating seemed to be a slightly off-key harmony. Many of the awkward notes came from the size – Using all medium sized seed beads in addition to the token drupes, the whole piece may have worked better with the incorporation of smaller pieces. Still, for the first stab at the craft in who knows how long, it could certainly be worse!

The design was based on one that was found online, but that site seems to be having trouble right now, so I’ll add the link in if it decides to straighten itself out soon. I just found the concept too cute and simple to pass up, the picots reminiscent of little bows adorning a child’s ribbon.

Hopefully I can get back up to speed quickly, allowing me to return to creating the intricate beaded lace that I once found deliriously thrilling to complete. For a little while though, my efforts may have to be focused on new strategies of how to spill the tiny little beads everywhere only two or three times in the course of an hour. Darn my clumsy reach!

Key To My Heart

Poking through thrift stores, scoping out Goodwill or the Salvation Army, no matter where I attempt to pick up second-hand goods, it seems like the odds are always against me. How is it that almost everyone else I know owns the most amazing things that not only used, but more importantly, cheap, while I’m doomed to keep coming up empty? It’s not like I don’t try, either – There are atleast two or three Goodwill stores nearby that I keep hitting, but the best I found was a metal pizza tray for $2. Unfortunately, I bought it to hold magnets and things in my room, but when I got it home, it turned out that it wasn’t even real metal! Honestly people, that’s such a rip off, it should be a crime!

Trying to put that awful piece of useless junk out of my memory, I gave thrifting yet another go when I heard word that there would be a flea market held at one of the high schools in town. Now, I didn’t have high hopes in the least, seeing as the flea markets around here are notorious for boasting the largest amounts of old, broken, or worthless crap ever to be witnessed in just a few square feet. These garbage dumps are held quite often throughout the summer, so figuring that this would be the last I might see for a while, I figured there was no harm in trying.

Wouldn’t you know it, hardly two tables into the cacophony of rowdy voices and dusty relics, I found the most amazing treasure that was clearly meant for me and me alone. I can’t even assert that I found it; Really, I think that it found me. Gazing down upon it in its transparent plastic baggie marked with “$1” written in black sharpie, I wondered if this was all a joke. Well, I didn’t wait around to find out. Snatching up my new found pendant, I dashed home to begin planning out what it would become a part of.

Such a strong yet simple focal point, how could I help but being whole-heartedly inspired? I tried to match the sharp silver of the metal for the main color of the necklace, but added little accents of multicolored beads, mimicking the depth and brightness brought by the “key” in the pendant.

Although I hadn’t beaded anything in a good deal of time now, this piece practically made itself. I only provided the hands with which to make it – The heart shaped lock really spoke to me and told me what it was meant to become in the new life it was about to enter. It was all pre-destined; I simply aided to create the inevitable final product.

I adore how this necklace came out to such a degree that I don’t think that any amount of money would persuade me to part with it. I rarely wear any sort of jewelry other than the earrings that I never remove, but this is one piece that may actually stand a chance at making it into my normal wardrobe. Believe me, this means a lot more than any sort of words I could use to describe how attached I’ve become with it.

Lace in Bead-Form

Lace is definitely my thing. Whether it’s knit, crocheted, beaded, what have you, I really love making it. Something about its intricate patterns, the delicate lines and open spaces… I just find it so rewarding to create, and the finished project is almost guaranteed to be an instant beauty. In this case it was a beaded choker on The AntiCraft that caught my eye a few months back, beckoning me towards my needle and thread.

It had been such a long time since I’ve attempted any complex beading pattern, I was at first a bit imtimidated by the seemingly demanding instructions. Taking a deep breath and preparing my thread, I took comfort in the fact that if I screwed up royally, it would never have to see the light of day via my blog. And of course, the first tier into it I got a huge knot and the nice little ending leading towards the clasp completely died. I had no choice but to cut out the snag and just tie in the second side of the clasp, so the two ends aren’t exactly symmetrical. Just do me a favor and don’t look too close, okay?

Once I got further into the pattern, the thread wasn’t nearly so long and wild, just waiting for the opportunity to tangle. After the whole clasp fiasco that nearly ended it the whole project in tears and spilled beads, there was not a single issue with completing my choker.

It’s a really lovely pattern, and trust me, much easier than you might think!