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My Blog

New packaging. Same low price.

My business challenge for the month was to simplify my order packing routine and cut costs to allow me to keep first class postage rates the same low price for my customers despite the postage cost increase that begins tomorrow. I also wanted to make every package a customer receives extra special.

To that end you will now find:

* smaller stick on thermal printed shipping labels which allow for
* smaller padded envelopes to keep shipping weight low and
* no more packing tape
* gets your order packaged faster
* more recycled content
* half sheet size sales receipts to save on paper, ink and shipping weight
* the same complimentary jewelry packaging as always
* the same signature turquoise tissue paper with the addition of
* seasonal silver seals to make it special
* folding business card size guides when appropriate to your order

Priority postage rates will be increasing due to a larger postage rate increase.

Pearl restringing makes a great gift

Gentlemen, for most of the year I deal mostly with women.  But this time of year I deal mostly with men who realize that getting a strand of much-loved pearls, that have been sitting broken and unused in their wives' jewelry boxes, cleaned and restrung makes an excellent and thoughtful gift.  It certainly does! But your time is running out for this year.

I will not be accepting new restringing orders from Dec 10th, 2016 to Jan 1, 2017.  Any order that is already in house on Dec 10th will be completed and returned in time for Christmas.

Never fear, though.  There is still plenty of time to surprise her for Valentines Day!

Pearl restringing info

Holiday shipping deadlines for handmade items
Below are the US Postal Service official holiday shipping deadlines, but when shopping for handmade items please remember that there are additional considerations. Many handmade items you buy online are Made To Order or Customized and the artisan will not even begin to make your item until after the order is placed. Many are swamped with orders this time of year and will make each and every one with their own hands. If you wish to have a fully Custom item made, the artisan will have to work closely with you and may have to purchase special materials and take extra time to work out the details of how to make something they do not normally make. Because this takes so much extra time, many artisans have already stopped taking custom requests for the holidays, but you can find a few who still will.

Contrary to popular belief, the US Postal Service does not guarantee their shipping times. They only provide an estimate of the most likely delivery window. Therefore, most online merchants can only guarantee how long it will take them to get your item in the mail, but cannot guarantee how long the postal service will take to get it to you. As happens every year, expect the USPS to be running late due to weather and other considerations. Ordering early is your best guarantee to insure delivery and avoid paying for expensive shipping upgrades.


First Class Package Service: Dec 20

Priority Mail: Dec 21

Priority Mail Express: Dec 23

First Class International Package Service: Dec 1

Priority Mail International: Dec 1

Priority Mail Express International: Dec 8

Get your pearls restrung now!

It is time to start thinking about what you will wear to those Christmas parties, winter weddings and New Year celebrations.  This is the time of year when people start checking their jewelry boxes and realize their pearls broke last year and need to be restrung immediately or that the Christmas bride might want to wear grandmother's pearls and they need to be refreshed. Often, I have husbands contact me who wish to surprise their wives by having their broken strands cleaned and restrung for Christmas.

This is the time of year when I'm inundated with rush requests for pearl cleaning and restringing. This also coincides with the time of year when the postal service is bogged down and mail service is the slowest. The sooner you contact me to make arrangements the better. I will not be taking new restringing requests between Dec 10, 2016 and Jan 1, 2017 in order to insure that everything in house is returned prior to Christmas and so I can enjoy my holidays as well.

Pearl Restringing Information

Get your pearls restrung now!

It is time to start thinking about what you will wear to those Christmas parties, winter weddings and New Year celebrations.  This is the time of year when people start checking their jewelry boxes and realize their pearls broke last year and need to be restrung immediately or that the Christmas bride might want to wear grandmother's pearls and they need to be refreshed. Often, I have husbands contact me who wish to surprise their wives by having their broken strands cleaned and restrung for Christmas.

This is the time of year when I'm inundated with rush requests for pearl cleaning and restringing. This also coincides with the time of year when the postal service is bogged down and mail service is the slowest. The sooner you contact me to make arrangements the better. I will not be taking new restringing requests between Dec 10, 2016 and Jan 1, 2017 in order to insure that everything in house is returned prior to Christmas and so I can enjoy my holidays as well.

Pearl Restringing Information

Israel Food

When it comes to food in Israel, I think the best way to tell about it is through pictures.  These were taken by both me and my friend Tamara who traveled with me. We'll both insert a few comments with the photos.

Loaves and Fishes Lunch on the Sea of Galilee

This day we had a very special lunch at a restaurant on the Sea of Galilee.  We took a boat across the lake to the restaurant in Tiberias and our bus driver drove around and picked us up afterward.  They told us the fish was called a "St. Peter's fish."  I looked it up later and it's a tilapia from the Sea of Galilee.  The cost of this meal was included in our tour so I couldn't tell you how much it was. There were several courses.

Deep fried ice cream and date balls

You can work up a good appetite for lunch by folk dancing on the boat
Pastry Shops



Nazareth.  I sort of wish I had bought some of these.  This was from our first full tour day and I thought I'd have another chance but didn't.


Fresh Juice Stands

Along the market streets you can find stands where vendors will make a fresh glass of juice to your liking on the spot. I can't say that I took advantage as we seemed to always be rushing by them with only enough time to take a photo.

Street Vendors

Via Dolorosa.  Israeli sesame bagels.  The vendor will put yours in a plastic shopping bag that has a tablespoon or so of either ground hyssop and salt or zaatar seasoning in the bottom of it.  Just tear off pieces and dip the fresh bread into the seasoning.
Fruit and nut vendor near the Zion Gate and the Last Supper Crusader Church in Jerusalem.  Our group mobbed him.

Samples were given

Don't pass up the figs and dates
Through the Zion Gate in Jerusalem


Sesame bagels are everywhere - take advantage
Abu Gosh Village Dinner

Most nights we had a buffet dinner at our hotel after a long day.  On our last night in Israel, however, we went to a village called Abu Gosh for a special meal which was included in our tour price. Abu Gosh is a combined Muslim and Christian village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The table was set with small plates of many types of salads and appetizers

kabobs - the main course

Preserved lemons in sauce - I could have eaten my weight in these
Hotel Buffets

Israel grown wines were available for purchase with dinner at our hotel dining rooms or lounges.  Also, Tuborg, a Danish beer, is apparently very popular in Israel although not available in the USA.

Well, we were indeed in the Land of Milk and Honey!
Fresh honey dripping from comb at our hotel on the Sea of Galilee

We had breakfast and dinner buffets at our hotels. It's a wonderful way to try many new dishes.
Dead Sea

Dead Sea
Dead Sea. This is breakfast.  Salads, pickles, olives, fish and other food that the western world might not consider to be breakfast foods are served and it is easy to get used to it.

There were also many various yogurt selections to enjoy with your choice of fruit, oats, salad or other delectable toppings.
Labne Lunch at a Druze Village
View from a roof at the Druze village.  We ate here on a Saturday because Jewish restaurants are closed on the Sabbath. The Druze religion is composed of an ethnic group found mainly in Syria, Israel and Jordan.

Labne - grilled flat bread with creamy goat cheese spread, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with zaatar seasoning inside

Olives abounded!

Lunch companions

Almost every day lunch would be a pita filled with a choice of two or three fillings.  Falafel (flavorful, seasoned chick pea paste formed into balls and deep fried) was available daily.  There was usually also Schnitzel (pounded, breaded, deep fried, chicken breast). Sometimes there was Shwarma (grilled meat - think gyro) or even kosher hot dogs. Salad and pickles were added to the pita and choice of filling by the restaurant or we lined up for a salad bar to add our own. Tahini-yogurt sauce or hummus was added and sometimes even french fries were stuffed into the pita.  The pita filled lunch was a quick way to have a tour group of 30 people fed and on their way again.  Our guide often took our orders on the bus and called ahead so they would be waiting for us.  Lunches averaged $10-12 USD per day although you could certainly spend more by adding a pastry or coffee.
Lunches usually included a choice of soft drink, juice or bottled water.  Many on our tour found the readily available bottled grapefruit juice to be a perfect, not too sweet, accompaniment.

Turkish Coffee:  a special treat for Sue!  We searched with  both eyes and noses for cardamom coffee but did find anyone selling it during our outings (although one of the shops our group  passed by as we journeyed through Nazareth did smell suspiciously of cardamon)  However, Sue did find a wonderfully strong cup of Turkish coffee at Mount Bental.


It would have been nice to have more time to browse the markets, but even with two weeks in Israel, there is far too much to see and do. So we took quick photos into shops along the way to view at a later time.


We agreed that it would have been great fun to go to an Israel grocery store, but time did not allow.

Special Buys

Silan, or date syrup, I purchased from the gift shop at the bottom of Masada. I did rip part of the label off opening it. The date syrup is mildly sweet and flavorful.
The sales lady at Masada told us to drizzle the date syrup over toast spread with straight tahini (sesame paste) in the morning. It is also wonderful on cream of wheat with nuts and dried fruit.

Zaatar or Zatar seasoning is made with different recipes, but it's basically a mild blend of herbs and spices which is used as a condiment to be sprinkled liberally on food at the table.  Whereas in some countries it is a blend of either thyme or oregano, ground sumac (for a lemony flavor), salt and sesame seeds, in Israel it seems to be mostly ground hyssop, salt and sesame seeds.

Packing for Israel - what worked and what didn't

This is us riding a camel.  Yep, that's why we packed for comfort and adventure more than for style. I'm the one on the back. 
I've been back from my Israel trip for two weeks now and things are starting to get back to normal.  Let me just say WOW.  It was a great trip.  I'll tell you all about it later, but first I promised a follow up on my Israel Travel - what to pack? blog post letting you know what worked out and what didn't.  My friend, Tamara, has agreed to add her own comments and photos at the end of my Israel posts.  She had special packing considerations as she is far more interested in photography than I am and took special gear for that while I just took a camera I could carry in my pocket.

To recap: we packed for a two week bus tour trip taking place at the end of April. We packed for changeable Spring weather, multiple planned activities and varied terrain as well as modest attire for the various religious sites we planned to visit.  The only restrictions we had was the 50 lb checked baggage and 17 lb carry-on baggage limit for the airline.  Our tour bus had plenty of room for luggage in the compartments underneath so there were no restrictions set by the tour company Friendship Tours.  However, neither of us wanted to haul around 67 lbs of luggage or have to rummage through that many items to find what we wanted on our vacation so we tried to pack as lightly as possible without being too sparse.

I think we would both agree that you should plan to leave 1/4 or more of your suitcase empty going over because you will bring back more than you take over. Additionally, unless you plan to neatly fold your dirty clothes on the return trip, your items will take up more space. I had about 30 lbs combined going over and added probably 5 lbs or more coming back.  Tamara had a little more going over with all her camera equipment and she bought more books than I did so had a bit more returning.  All in all, I think we did quite well as we were among the lightest packers in our group.

You can review my earlier post to see what I brought, but I'll try to remind you as I go.

My Eddie Bauer suitcase and day pack both worked very well as did the Tupperware Eco Tumblers. The suitcase and day pack were both the right size and the cups were perfect for refilling quickly and being easy to empty and wash out and easy to drink from. You can drink the tap water all over Israel, but some of the hotels had softened or strange tasting water so we ended up buying bottled water part of the time.  Our bus driver had cold bottles of water in a cooler available for $1 each all the time which was very convenient--bring a lot of singles.  The only slight annoyance with the suitcase was that with two main compartments, two luggage locks are required.  We did have an issue with someone tampering with our luggage locks at one hotel while we were out for the day (we know because Tamara's lock is alphabetical and she sets a secret code word when she leaves for the day--very clever). They didn't get into the locked suitcases so we do highly recommend locking up before you leave the room.

My shoe selection worked quite well.  I was happy to have both the supper comfy leather Clarks and the super lightweight blue Easy Spirit slip-ons so that I had a change from day to day. Sturdy shoes were a must for all the uneven cobbles and rocky trails and stairs.  I think I could have substituted one pair of Teva style sandals that fasten on for the purple Crocs AND the black water shoes. Tevas would have worked for staying on in the water at the Dead Sea and splashing through Hezekiah's tunnel in Jerusalem without coming off and could have worked to change into at the end of the day, as pool shoes and with a casual skirt.  I did use the Crocs sandals as bedroom slippers too.  A pair that fastened on would not have been as convenient for that.  I do truly wish that I had also included a pair of slightly dressier sandals for going down to dinner at night.

At Tell Dan.  This was the type of terrain we were hiking over sometimes.  You can see why sturdy shoes are needed.
My outerwear worked very well.  We did have rain one day and it was cool and windy several days so the rain/wind shell was needed.  I thought maybe the fluffy fleece would be too hot, but it turned out I needed that too.  It does get cool sometimes in late April in parts of Israel.  I think maybe a slightly less fluffy workout/running jacket like Tamara brought would have been better and would have packed up smaller.  However, I did fold up my fleece and use it as a pillow on the airplane and at the airport so it served an extra purpose.  I also bought a lightweight black cardigan sweater and used it quite a bit.  My Tilley hat worked beautifully as always.  I think our tour group would probably be divided in half if you asked them whether a hat was necessary or not.  Even with a hat and daily sunscreen my skin freckled from the sun. We were outdoors a lot.  I'm sure almost everyone was wishing for a hat the day we baked in the sun outdoors at the tank museum or the day we hiked down Masada.

All of my pants worked well and washed easily in the sink and dried fairly quickly.  Three pairs were sufficient to wear each twice and then wash.  I did get some compliments on the grey Mountain Hardware Yuma pants.  I will note that things didn't exactly dry overnight as I expected.  When you hang them in an unventilated hotel bathroom over the tub to drip dry, there is not enough air circulation to dry them completely overnight.  Once they were no longer dripping, they could be moved to hangers in the closet or to a travel clothes line in another location to finish drying.  Plan for a full 24 hours of dry time unless you are very careful about rolling them up in towels to get the excess moisture out and hanging them in the bedroom and not the bathroom.

The quick dry running shirts also worked perfectly and also took more than overnight to dry in the unventilated bathroom.  Some of the people in the group had button up travel shirts that looked a bit dressier than my t-shirts and also seemed to wash and wear extremely well.  Looking back I should have brought more scarves than just the one melon colored one pictured.  It got a lot of use and another color or print or two would have been nice to have. Some of the ladies in the group brought more than one and that was a smart move to change up the look of outfits without adding much packing weight. I used mine as a shoulder cover for some religious sites, as a fashion accessory, to keep sun off the back of my neck, and also just as a scarf to keep warm.

For swimwear, Tamara and I both agree we should have each brought two suits.  Putting on a wet suit is not fun.  I was happy to have both the rash guard shirt and the board shorts to put over my suit, but I never wore the surf leggings.

Floating in the Dead Sea

My one nice outfit was perfect except for the fact that I definitely should have brought at least one more skirt and a dress.  After a long day sight-seeing outdoors, a shower and a change of clothes was very welcome.  Many of the other ladies had the forethought to bring some nicer clothes to change into for dinner.  My plain, packable, black sheath dress would have been perfect to wear several nights with a change of jewelry or scarf to change the look and wouldn't have taken up much room in my suitcase.  Most of our hotels only had free wifi in the lobby and lounge areas so many members of our group ended up finding each other there after dinner and socializing.
As far as miscellaneous gear, my Eagle Creek shoulder bag worked well.  I think next time I buy one, I'll get one without a flap and maybe slightly larger and with a water bottle pouch on one side, but this one has served me well for a long time.  We had headsets so our guide could talk to us all as a group without shouting and I clipped mine to my bag instead of wearing it around my neck and that worked perfectly.

Next time I think I'll trade in my money belt for one that goes around the neck and has shielding.  I got this one for safety, but I think if I got one with a no-cut strap it would work just as well.  This one worked better before I got the passport book with the extra pages which makes it bulkier.

I did use the umbrella one day and it stayed in my bag on the bus when it was not needed.

The blue patterned fold up Rume Tote Bag was great.  Tamara had one as well and we'd pack what we needed to take with us for the day, but leave it on the bus in those.  We also used mine for a beach bag. Out of curiosity I weighed mine on my postal scale and it weighs 2.2 oz and holds up to 50 lbs of stuff.

What I definitely did not need from the photo above was all those snacks.  There is plenty of food in Israel and we had full buffet breakfasts and dinners at our hotel and stopped somewhere for lunch each day.  I really didn't even want snacks, but had I wanted them they were available for purchase in many places.  Many from our group enjoyed a treat of various flavors of Magnum ice cream bars that are available all over Israel on hot days and fresh, oblong shaped, sesame bagels available from street vendors. I should have just taken a few snacks for the layover time at the airport and not the pound of snacks I hauled all around Israel and ended up bring back home with me again.

The little green REI brand blow up pillow pictured on top above was a complete waste of space.  The valve didn't work and it wouldn't hold air.
Sesame bagels - the vendor will put ground hyssop and salt or zaatar seasoning in the bottom of the plastic bag for you to dip your fresh bread into
Here we are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with our tour group headsets on
The Trek and Travel Laundry leaves pictured above were pretty much worthless. They didn't seem to do anything. I ended up washing my clothes with the Dr Bronners Liquid Soap I brought to wash out my water cups with.  It worked just fine.

What did work very well were the inexpensive 1 oz bottles I bought from REI pictured above. I thought they might leak, but they didn't. I just labeled them with my label maker.

Our hotels did not have wash cloths.  Bring one of your own if you want one.

A couple of other things I should have brought were some more of those little Wisp toss out mini toothbrushes you can find in the toothpaste aisle most places.  Those were perfect for brushing in the lavatory in the airplane or any rest stop as they are tiny and have the toothpaste on them already.  I should have also remembered to bring chewing gum.

One thing to be sure and not forget is plenty of hand wipes and/or hand sanitizer.
This particular natural sanitizer has a fabulously light and fresh thyme scent

The proper electrical adapters to use for Israel are the ones with round prongs.  However, bring both the one for small round prongs and the one with slightly larger round prongs.  There doesn't seem to be a standard fit.

I also brought a pedometer which was interesting.  We covered about 5 miles per day on foot.

Almost everyone in the group also brought a small notebook or journal and a Bible in print form or electronic form.

Tamara and I each brought our Badger Balm Sore Muscle Rub which was well used on the trip and worked it's magic.  She even shared with a lady who took a tumble on the slippery pavement and she was surprised to find that she didn't even bruise from her spill.

As far as the drawing supplies I brought to sketch with, I should have taken less.  There simply wasn't time for much sketching.  I should have just made due with a few pencils and small sketch pad.  I didn't need to haul the pastels around as I only got one chance to use them.
See of Galilee sketch
Tamara's Notes:

Let's talk shoes!  Initially, I was convinced I could easily get away with two pair for the two weeks:  My trusty worn-in Keens and a pair of simple Tevas.  Both can be worn for hiking as well as in water so they would be great backups for one another.  However, after researching the Dead Sea I grew concerning about the uneven salt floor being rough on the sides of my feet and I didn't want to potentially ruin my favorite Keens so, the day before I flew out to meet up with Sue, I rushed around in search of "water socks".   Bass Pro Shop was the only store in this small Alabama town where I currently reside that had them in stock.  I was so happy with my little last-ditch $12 purchase!  Well, as Sue can attest, as soon as I stepped out onto the tiles of our  Dead Sea hotel, I almost bit it! After the third slip I gave up all pride and proceeded to shuffle along behind Sue like a little old granny.  They worked great once I finally made it down to the Dead Sea but took several days to dry.  They went out to the trash the day I returned home after my loving husband pointed out that no one should be tempted to break an ankle in them.  Turns out that I simply didn't need shoes in the Sea Dead.  There was a ramp with rails one could use when entering and exiting the water and  salt was bumpy yet smooth and felt quite good on my bare feet which hardly touched the bottom anyway.  It was so amazing to simply lift one's feet and start gently bobbing around as though you were sitting in a lounge chair.  Phenomenal ab workout!

The one redeeming quality about my water socks is they looked kind of cool in this photo.  Sue had no slippage issues with her pair from Walmart.


My wonderful-umpteen-dozen-miles-tested-so-comfortable-I-forget-to-take-them-off Keen Arroyos whose slits on the side do no go all the way to the footbed so I didn't even have any issues with rocks in my sandals.  On this particular day I wore socks as the morning was quite chilly as we explored Jerusalem.

Now, as far I'm concerned, no discussion of shoes and Israel is complete without mentioning Naot sandals.  This was a personal quest for me as I had acquired my first pair down in the Keys several years ago and had worn them right out of the store without ever getting a blister.  The option of a removable (hence replaceable) cork footbed that molds to your feet simply seals the deal.  Oh! And they look great too!  Sue did all the research and we were able to squeeze in a quick visit to a store about a third of a mile from our hotel in Tiberius.  While, Sue and our other friend, did not find anything in this particular store to suit their fancy, I once again walked out wearing a new favorite (on sale!) pair and proceeded to wear them off and on for a week around Jerusalem.  I would not recommend them for trail walking but they are fantastic on cobbles and stairs. Unfortunately, this created a fiasco with our co-travelers who now wanted to their own Cinderella Naot moment and Sue was hounded about store locations and hours for the rest of the trip but the timing never worked out in our other locations. This, however, is not a huge problem as Zappos carries a large selection of Naot. I highly recommend the styles that have the removable orthopedic footbeds.

My old pair with new footbeds ordered online through Zappos.  My old footbeds wore out after 5 years.  Naot recommends changing footbeds every 2 years.

The new pair:

Moving on....I bought a Lowepro 16L hatchback camera backpack for this trip and it totally rocked.  It's light weight, with comfortable straps and has a removal padded camera storage box so that it can transition into a great day pack.  It fit nicely under the seat on the plane and I even used it as a footrest in the airport without worrying about damaging my equipment.  For me it's the perfect carryon as I was still able to fit my Nikon D5100 with a 24-70 lens and also a telephoto lens along with a change of clothing, a pashmina in case I needed a light wrap, my ziplock toiletries bag, a book, passport wallet and a snack, glasses case and water bottle.  (My spare shoes also fit in the side pockets when we hiked the water tunnel)  If I'd brought one, I could've fit my tablet in the front tablet pocket as well.  It's the bomdiggidy.  The only thing I had to readjust were the extra straps hitting my legs.  Minor detail.

The Lowepro in action descending the steep "Snake Path" at Masada
What else worked great on this trip?
  • My iPhone without any special plans.  Just turned off cellular and roaming and utilized the free wifi on the bus (slow but useful) or at the hotels.
  • A lightweight battery operated fan. (Mine is a $6 O2Cool from Target) If I have a little breeze I can typically cope with whatever temperature/stuffiness we may experience in a hotel.  It proved its worth our first night at Sea of Galilee.  It was very warm as the air conditioner unit wasn't fully operational and a gazillion gnat-like bugs would cover the walls if you left the balcony door open.
  • The tiny packable Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline :
    Laundry Day for Tamara at the Ramada in Jerusalem

  • My choices in clothing:  one fleece, one skirt, several quick dry shirts, one cardigan, a pair of  well-loved zip-off outdoors pants, a pair of capris, a pair of Columbia cotton travel pants.  Packed mostly blue hued shirts though and would add a little variety next time. I agree with Sue that a travel dress would be a great addition.  I would still choose a blue one :-D
  • Pashmina in a zip locked bag (Sue's awesome idea to keep threads from being snagged in transit)  We wore these at several of the holy sites.
  • My telephoto lens!  Sue's husband almost had me convinced to leave it behind but why squabble over a mere 1.3 pounds when you have opportunities to get up close to goats without  getting attack by guard dogs or having anything awkward to declare to customs?
  • My Cloudz neck pillow!  It snaps to my backpack and has those little beads of styrofoam inside.  We enjoyed quite a few naps together.
  • Extra plastic baggies (my Keens reeked after two weeks and 60+ miles)
  • The P.T. Pod microfiber towel that my husband asked us to try out.  Weighs just a few ounces, folds into its own built in bag and takes up very little space.  Oh, and it works!  Used it several times including after merrily dowsing myself in a waterfall at En Gedi.
What didn't work? (aside from the blasted water socks) What would I do differently?
Be prepared and bring your own jacket. Not everyone can pull off sharing like these two brothers.
  • Two swimsuits!  (I heartily agree with Sue about the unsuitable nature of cold wet swimwear)
  • Sue's Tupperware water cups rocked while my new collapsible Akanpa water bottle tried to drown me as I attempted to gulp down water on Masada.  It will now be relegated to camping equipment and not for everyday travel.  It also continually felt gritty on the outside despite repeated cleanings  Again, something that won't phase us camping but bugged me at night and  in airports.  By all means though find a water bottle you like as there are stations or at least water fountains in the airports where they encourage refills and most of the tap water in the Israeli hotels tasted fine.  The one exception would be the Ramada in Jerusalem  (and that uber nasty sludge fountain we tried near the Roosevelt Park in DC--Blech!!)
  • Another insight:  the surge protector power adaptors will NOT charge camera batteries regardless of how they appear to be charging!  Good thing I travel with three batteries.  Also, travel with both fat and skinny simple two pin Type C power adapters since the outlets vary. 
  • A light pullover sweater would have been welcome and would have looked nice.  Mornings in Jerusalem were quite chilly and, in spots, windy

    That's about it.  No big regrets.  Lots of fabulous memories!

    Valley of Elah where David slew Goliath

    Israel Travel - what to pack?

    I am leaving soon for a long awaited trip to Israel.  This post is about what I'm packing to take, but I'll report back AFTER the trip and tell you how all my gear worked out. I also plan to blog about my adventures when I return.

    Crocuses - just because they are pretty and might make up for the fact there is a photo of my old shoes coming up . . .

    The details of the trip are that I'll be going in late April, traveling to many different locations by tour bus and traveling with a good friend. It's Spring and there will be varied terrain, so wearing light layers will be important.  The itinerary includes lots of walking on uneven cobbles, standing, trail hiking, opportunities for swimming and so many stairs. Did I mention the stairs? There are lots of stairs and then above those stairs there are more stairs.

    I understand that casual dress is the norm in Israel, but also conservative, modest attire is expected at certain sites.  I'm not aiming for fashionable.  I'm aiming for comfortable, neat and convenient.  I have found quite a few blog posts and many capsule travel wardrobe photos on Pinterest instructing women to pack nothing but high heels so they can look great all the time. I think those might all be written by teenage girls. I will not be bringing heels. I will not look fabulous. Instead I intend to have the time of my life.

    I had planned to fit everything in a carry on bag, but I finally decided that was a bit sparse for a two week trip, although it could be done.  That scenario also involved me washing socks and underwear by hand so I moved on to Plan B. Instead I decided to take a small checked bag and carry a day pack. It does make me a little nervous that the airline will loose my bag, but I'll put what I can in my day pack. The airline allows 50 lbs for a checked bag, but I should have half that.  There will be plenty of space left over in the checked bag so I can do some shopping on my trip, right? I'm not entirely sure what of interest there will be for sale in Israel, but I'm bound to find out along the way.

    The blue bag is the Eddie Bauer Expedition 26 inch rolling duffel.  It has a hard sided compartment on the bottom which is completely separate so it's good for shoes and laundry and anything you don't want to get broken. This one has already been in seven countries around the world with my husband and doesn't show signs of wear. The day pack is also Eddie Bauer and it's the type that doesn't really have a structure so it can fold up very small if you need it to.  I like it because it's very light and simple. I have a higher end backpack I bought for another trip, but it ended up being too heavy and hard to get into. I think the day pack will stay on the bus most days and I'll carry my smaller shoulder bag.  The water cups on the sides are Tupperware Eco Tumblers and are fantastic.  They seal tight, have drinking spouts, and are quick and easy to clean and refill. I like that they are only 12 oz so I can balance the day pack and still have 24 oz of water with me.

    Let's face it, shoes are the most important consideration.  If my feet aren't happy I'm going to be miserable. I'm splurging and bringing four pairs of tried and true, non-glamorous, non-Pinterest-worthy shoes.  The blue Easy Spirit slip-ons are my airplane shoes.  They are super light and airy and easy to take off for security check points. They'll also be good for days when we have a little more bus time and less walking or if it is rainy and I don't want my leather shoes to get wet.  If the airline looses my checked bag the Easy Spirits will be the best all around shoes. The leather Clarks are probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever had.  I can walk and stand in them all day so the airline better not loose them! The purple Crocs are for changing into when we get back to the hotel after a long day and do multiple duties as slippers, pool shoes and shower shoes, plus I can wear them with the one skirt I am bringing.  The black pair are inexpensive water shoes.  I'm told the salt crystals on the bottom of the Dead Sea are like shards of glass and we'll also be wading through water in Hezekiah's tunnel. I need water shoes that won't come off my feet. My friend is only bringing 2 pairs of shoes (Tevas and Keens) so we'll compare notes and see what works best.  I'll let you know in my follow up post.

    Because we'll be gone nearly two weeks, and I don't want to haul around that many changes of clothing, I searched clearance racks for simple, fitted running t-shirts that are light and dry quickly.  I can wash these out in the sink at night and they'll be dry by morning. They take up very little space and don't wrinkle very easily. I was able to find several for $3-12 each. One of the white ones is long sleeved and the Monet print is a tank top.  I'm also bringing the melon colored scarf on the right which coordinates with most of the tops. A scarf can serve as a blanket on the plane, a sarong at the beach, shoulder or head covering at religious sights and, well, it helps keep you warm when it gets chilly. This one folds up and fits in a sandwich bag so I can keep it clean and snag free in my day pack or jacket pocket and pull it out when needed.

    I'm just taking three pairs of pants.  Like the tops, they are all lightweight, performance fabrics with stretch and can be washed and dried overnight.  The long pants are both Mountain Hardware Yuma pants, but one pair is convertible. I love these because they have super soft micro chamois around the inside of the waist and stay comfortable all day. The stretch factor will come in handy for those stairs. They all have draw string waists which are trim and allow room for my money belt underneath and make it so I don't have to pack a belt. The black are my favorite Bliss Capris by Prana.  Neutral colors make putting together outfits easy.

    You need one nicer outfit, right? The maxi skirt does not wrinkle and the lightweight cardigan makes a nice light layer with many outfits. The skirt has a fold over yoga style band on top which means my money belt can easily be worn underneath. The shirt is one of the ones also pictured above.

    For outerwear I'm bringing a Columbia fleece jacket and a raincoat shell I can wear with it or separately. Also, there is the cardigan pictured above.  I suspect the fleece won't get much use, but I will want it on the airplane and they say it can get cool in Jerusalem at night. The raincoat is also good as a wind breaker and folds up small. And I cannot forget my favorite Tilley hat. I could really go on and on about the Tilley hat, but I won't. Almost all the blogs I found about packing for Israel stressed bringing a sun hat . . . well, not the ones by the high heel girls, but nearly all the others . . .

    I don't do that much swimming these days, but there seem to be plenty of not-to-be-missed water activities available to do.  We'll be at hotels on beaches on the Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, will be wading down Hezekiah's tunnel in Jerusalem, have the opportunity to be baptized in the Jordan River and swim in a natural pool at Ein Gedi. In addition, the hotels all seem to have pools and saunas.  I would like to note that the bikini is for wearing underneath the other things in case anyone who actually knows me sees this.  The rash guard shirt and surf leggings (black and yellow) are from Lands End.  I purchased Boys' board shorts from Target because women's board shorts were either shorter than I wanted or rather expensive.  I prefer the on-sale-for-$5 ones for an item I probably won't wear much, but these can double as regular shorts.  The towel is a microfiber yoga towel I'm bringing because it is small and quick drying.  They say the Dead Sea is so salty that you absolutely do not want to shave your legs before you go in.  I think those surf leggings are going to come in handy.  When I tried them on at home, my husband told me I looked like a super hero, which made me want to return them, but he likes them.

    A couple of pair of comfy pajamas from Jockey:

    Miscellaneous items:

    My Eagle Creek shoulder bag is on the left. The clasp is halfway broken, but it still works and is tried and true. That is what I'll be carrying most days. It has room for a water bottle, small camera and a few other items and has a outer pocket for easy access to maps and brochures. Top to bottom: travel clothes line (black), blow-up travel pillow (green), and sleep mask which I made myself.  Rume fold up tote bag (blue patterned) for a beach bag or shopping or stowing items on the bus. Something I forgot for my last big trip (Peru), since I usually check the time on my phone, is a travel watch.  This one is an inexpensive Timex, but it shows two time zones, has a light, and I can set an alarm on it. Travel umbrella (green). Head lamp (black and red) for light in Hezekiah's tunnel and night time reading. Swiss Army money belt (black) because I have had pick pockets try to steal from me in the past while on vacations. Ziploc bag with snacks - I'm bringing mostly KIND bars and Trader Joes trail mix because they are filling, but low sugar.

    I'll leave all the outlet adapters, devices, toiletries, socks and other misc items to your imagination, except to say I'm bringing good sunscreen, Burts Bees peppermint foot lotion and elderberry tablets for an immune system boost. I cannot forget my favorite Badger balm for any aches and pains because I'm not one of those young girls who can breeze through life hiking in high heels and did I mention the stairs?

    I am a jewelry designer, so I'll bring a few pieces.  I'm probably overdoing it, but jewelry is small and the outfits I'm bringing are plain.  I'm not bringing anything expensive. My dad carved the wooden cross. I think it needs to go on a walk down the Via Dolorosa with me.

    And something to draw with in case I can find the time and energy to do a few sketches.  I'm just taking a small drawing book, but have to have all my Conte Crayon colors.

    I've been taking these photos with the new, small Nikon Coolpix S9700 camera my husband got for me to take.  Maybe by the end of the trip I'll get better at that.

    I hope to update this with a follow up post within the next three weeks and then to begin blogging about my trip so check back. This will be similar to the series of posts that I did on our Peru Trip.

    You can now view my follow-up post on what actually worked and what didn't work from what I packed.

    My winter knitting project

    I was looking for a simple knitting project that would teach me to knit basic twist cables and go quickly.  After searching on Pinterest, I came across a pattern by Jill Nault given in her blog post.

    I liked this pattern due to the nice proportions of the cables, seed stitches and background.  I don't usually care for bulky yarns, but in this pattern the chunky yarn really makes the textures pop and gives the scarf edge a nice look. I think it's a nice classic looking scarf.

    I'm not a quick knitter, but I did this in one weekend. The pattern is only 20 stitches across.

    The simple cables are much easier to knit than they look.

    I have chosen my next project which is a similar scarf except it is wider and has two rows of cables and popcorn stitches in between and will be in the chunky yarn instead of the super chunky yarn. Maybe one day I'll learn enough to knit an Aran sweater . . .

    Playing Around: "Hand Painted" silk scarf
    A while ago, my mom sent me a white silk scarf and some instructions on how to use Sharpie brand permanent markers and 91% rubbing alcohol to make "hand painted" scarves by drawing on the scarf and then diffusing the marker with the rubbing alcohol for a water color look.  My mom tells me it makes a great project for a get together with a group of ladies.  She did it with her quilting group.

    I finally got around to trying it out yesterday.  This is my first attempt. I think parts of it came out really well and other parts - not quite as well as I had no real feel for the process until the end.

    You can buy plain white silk scarves inexpensively at DharmaTrading.com. The Sharpie markers can be found almost anywhere in a wide range of sizes and colors and the 91% rubbing alcohol can be found at any pharmacy. I also used a small misting bottle I got at a beauty supply store and a dropper for applying the alcohol.  I covered the surface of my kitchen bar counter with a white trash bag to protect it--be careful as the marker is a permanent (although it cleaned off the counter with the rubbing alcohol).

    I began by doubling the scarf and drawing a simple cherry blossom pattern free hand.  The scarf is very thin and if you draw somewhat slowly, the design will go through to the second layer giving you a symmetrical design. The second layer was fainter than the top layer so I re-drew over that side again in places.

    After that I misted the rubbing alcohol over the design and let it dry a few minutes - it dries very quickly.  I went back in and drew some more and repeated the drawing and misting process a few times. 

    The darker pink Sharpie was quite florescent so I decided to tone it down with some red and peach colored markers.

    Ultimately, I decided that I had played around too long and too much of the design had spread to the background or smudged from the surface underneath or faded away.  I could probably have sprayed those areas with rubbing alcohol and blotted the color out, but I decided with the red and peach I had added, a yellow background would look nicer than the white.  I quickly drew diagonal yellow lines through the background and misted those.  I liked the way that misting the background chased some of the flower and branch colors back into the middle of the design so I decided to quit while I was ahead. The whole process, including all the drying times, took about an hour.  This is lots of fun and quite forgiving.

    Things I learned:

    No drawing experience is required if you stick to simple, abstract or geometric designs.

     The slower you draw, the thicker and more diffuse the lines will be as the color flows out of the marker and into the weave of the silk

    If you hold a marker in place on the silk, the color will bleed out into a cross or T shape following the weave of the silk.

    If you put too much rubbing alcohol on, it will puddle underneath - which might make a nice design if you are going for that, but be careful of color from the surface below coming up onto the scarf when you apply more alcohol.  You may need to find a a clean place on your surface to work.

    You can always go back in and draw on top of what you have already done to add sharper details or layer in color.

    You have limited control over the results.

    You can use the rubbing alcohol in a misting spray bottle to chase your design around a little bit if you spray it directionally instead of straight down.

    You can use tie dye type techniques of wrapping sections with rubber bands, etc with this as well.

    Making Something for Myself

    On rare occasions I actually get around to making a special piece of jewelry for myself.  I made this wire wrapped pendant in a class a few years ago and have worn it a few times, but never had the right chain or cord to showcase it properly.

    I recently purchased some kumihimo (Japenese braiding technique) books and a kumihimo disk and bobbins. With these tools I am able to use the supply of satin cord I already have that I use to make satin necklace cords from and create something even more special and elaborate.

    I blended the cord colors to pull out the colors in the gemstone cabachon that I used to make the pendant.

    I ended up with a beautiful piece in colors that match my hair and complexion very well.

    Now that I've learned the technique, I am working on several other pieces to list in my Etsy shop and on my website.

    Gardening update

    Three weeks ago I blogged about the container garden I had just started.  I just wanted to chime in with an update. 

    We added some plant hangers under the upper deck to hang some more shade tolerant plants.  My Christmas cactus seems to like it.

    The tiny cucumber, tomato and pepper plants from my last blog post have taken off.  I've never done very well growing peppers.  None of the three I planted seem to be nearly as exuberant as the other plants.

    I under planted these two tomatoes with a mesclun lettuce mix and we'll enjoy a nice, very fresh salad with dinner tonight.

    I planted many of the containers with herb seeds.  They have sprouted and are just now really getting going.

    I also put in a simple compost bin
    My son's one request was strawberries

    Craft Fair Booth
    Photos of my craft fair booth and new table covers.


    Gardening Again

    It's been three years since I have really done any gardening and longer still since I've done gardening on a scale large enough to produce much of anything other than a few herbs and flowers and the occasional tomato. Our frequent moves have not been conducive to planting a full scale garden. But our current rental house has a nice multi-level deck.  While we use the upper deck that is near the kitchen area for grilling, eating outside, feeding the birds and star gazing, we haven't used the lower deck--until now.  It is a nice, sunny spot with built in benches and has a nearby faucet and is therefore perfect for container gardening.

    Over the years, the movers have managed to break almost all of my terra cotta pots, so I recently made a couple of trips to the garden center and hauled home large plastic containers and many bags of potting soil.

    The tomatoes have already doubled in size in the last week.  I planted meslun lettuce mix seeds or nasturtiums around the tomatoes.  The lettuce seeds are sprouting already.
    There is a mix of containers from what I had on hand, what the previous tenants left behind and the new ones I just purchased. I planted herb seeds in most of the pots.
    The little cucumber is already growing like crazy. I planted only heirloom tomatoes and three types of peppers.
    Basil and swiss chard seeds are already sprouting.  The others take longer to germinate.

    Not pictured are three hanging planters with strawberry plants that my son asked for. Strawberries were the one thing he wanted to grow.

    There is not much green showing yet, but hopefully I can post an update in a few weeks. But, let's be honest, I might just be growing squirrel food. They've already been through daily to dig in the dirt.

    Knitting hemp washcloths

    For years I've been using those plastic mesh bath puffs because they make nice lather with my homemade soap, but every single one I've purchased in the last couple of years has self destructed in no time at all. So I pulled out a hemp washcloth I bought once upon a time and have been using that instead. I found I liked it better.  I like a nice textured washcloth and decided to knit some more. 

    From Loretta at ThoughtfulGemsCrafts on Etsy, I purchased the light fingering weight yarn and knitted the two cloths pictured on small size 2 needles in a simple pattern.  Hemp yarn wears like iron so these should last years and years. I love the natural look.

    Each ball of yarn made one nice size washcloth with plenty of yarn left over.

    Shop small and get your orders in early

    With the popularity of handmade items and a noticeable slow down in the speed of USPS deliveries, a lot of my fellow online arts and crafts vendors are setting an early cut-off date for holiday orders. Scroll down for a peek at some of my all time favorite on-line vendors--many of whom have sales running through today only.

    Yesterday's orders ready for today's mail pick-up

    Happy Valentines Day
    Happy Valentines Day from Sue Runyon Designs.

    Pearl Re-stringing before and afters
    Since it's the start of a new year and people are thinking about renewing, refreshing and updating, I thought I'd post just a few before and after photos of jewelry that I restored or re-strung this past year. I offer professional pearl re-stringing services and also repair some other types of beaded jewelry.

    BEFORE                 AFTER

    For more information about my jewelry repair or re-stringing service, take a look at my website.


    Merry Christmas from Sue Runyon Designs

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Last Day for Christmas Delivery

    The United States Postal Service gives tomorrow (Thursday) as the last day for sending First Class mail for Christmas delivery.  That's means items should be ordered today at the latest or upgraded to Priority Mail.

    It has been my experience this year that even the Priority Mail has been running quite late so get your final orders in with all on-line vendors just as soon as you can.

    International ships dates have already passed.

    That probably means I should mail those Christmas letters . . .


    Craft Show Christmas Tree Display
    I just wanted to share with you all the fabulous Christmas tree display that my father made me to use for craft shows.  No, he won't make one for you.  Be very jealous.

    I wanted a Christmas tree display for my handmade dragonfly ornaments that would be simple and open to suit the style of my craft show displays and keep from blocking my view when I'm behind my tables and from blocking the precious light needed on my items like an artificial tabletop tree would.  It also needed to be compact and flat so it doesn't take up a lot of precious table surface space, but sturdy enough to not be knocked over.  And my one big request was that it break down to pack away and be of the dimensions that would allow me to fit it in the totes I use for shows.

    Unfinished wood tree.  My dad made it so that the finial on top can be switched out with others. I like the bare wood and was sad to have to paint it, but I needed a whitewashed look to go with my table displays.
    I don't know if you can see in the photo, but my dad made the ends of the dowels and the holes they fit into on the center pole threaded so they screw firmly into place. I painted the parts and then went over them with steel wool to get a whitewashed look before I sealed them with clear sealant.
    This worked beautifully at my last show. There are 50-60 ornaments displayed on this one tree.
    I think this might come out of my craft show storage to be used in my house this Christmas
    I sewed a couple of fluffy fleece drawstring bags to protect the pieces.  Inside the pieces are further protected by being wrapped in sheets of fleece.  These worked out so well I sewed fleece bags for some other displays to help protect them.

    Craft Show Fitted Table Cover Tutorial

    I just completed my first craft show using my newly made fitted table covers.  They worked out so well that I wanted to share how I made them.

    Notice where the panels overlap to allow easy access to the under table space

    When it came to covers I had a long list of must have features. I use 5 foot folding tables instead of 6 foot because I can fit them better in different size booth spaces.  Because I sell jewelry, I raise all the tables up 9 inches by putting bed risers under each foot which brings them up closer to eye level. This means that my tables need non-standard size covers to fit and reach all the way to the floor. I wanted them to be fitted so that I could quickly slip them over the tables at shows and not have to fuss with getting them on straight or pinning them. Additionally, I knew that I wanted them to be made with panels that would allow me access to the under table space from either end of the table or the back so I can access my storage totes easily.  I knew I would be pinning a banner to the front of the tables at most shows so I needed a way to do that without damaging the fabric over time.  Furthermore, I needed them to be made with a washable fabric that didn't wrinkle.  And, most of all, they needed to be a neutral color that looked somewhat upscale, but not so posh that people would walk right by thinking my items were not affordable. The price for the fabric had to be right as I would need 20 yards of it to cover 3 tables. I could either spend a fortune having them custom made or I could make them myself. Thankfully, I have basic sewing skills.

    After much consideration I chose to buy two bolts (20 yards) of "silver" color panne velvet. Panne is simply that widely available, inexpensive, synthetic crushed velvet that people use for costumes a lot of the time. It has several benefits.  It has a low knap which makes it look a bit like suede and therefore less fancy than other velvets. It comes in a wide range of colors including the silver which is a very neutral grey color and fit perfectly with my displays. Because it has a crushed velvet look you can simply fold it away and put it in a plastic shopping bag or bin for storage.  When you are ready to use it, it looks pretty much like it did when you stored it away. And the price was right.  In stores it normally runs around $7 per yard.  On sale you can find it for half that.  There are a few potential drawbacks with the panne.  It's not thick so light will show through when it is back lit.  I don't think that it will hold up well to very heavy use, It's not something I would use for outdoor shows because it's not something you would want to wash after each show.  Also, it is quite stretchy so I knew I would have to take some extra steps to make it work for me.

    Because of the stretch in the fabric, I knew I would have to line the tabletop section with a non-stretchy woven fabric so the covers would keep their shape. I chose inexpensive muslin and pre-washed and dried it so it would shrink as much as it was going to. I did not pre-wash the panne.

    I placed some of the panne right side down on the floor and spread it out as much as I could and then covered it with the muslin.  I used the table itself as a pattern to trace the tabletop section.  Then I cut the top out of both layers at the same time leaving a generous seam allowance.

    My sewing room is also my exercise room.  The cushy mats come in handy for crawling around on the floor

    Because the panne is so stretchy, while pinning both pieces together along their edges, I pulled the panne out about 1/2 inch on all sides to further stretch it.  I would rather have it nice and tight across the tabletop than wrinkled. Once pinned, I transferred the whole thing to my sewing machine and used a long stitch to baste all the edges through the middle of the seam allowance to hold them together and allow me to remove the pins.

    I then carefully measured the skirt length I would need by setting up the table on the bed risers. I figured where I wanted each panel break and allowed an extra 4 inches on each side of each panel so they would overlap and not leave a gap. I figured for 1/2 inch seam allowances and simple one inch hems on three sides of each panel section. I added an extra 4 inches wherever the panels would wrap around the corner of the table because I wanted to gather the fabric slightly at the corners to allow some extra fullness for the bed risers where they stick out a little. I left the rest of the skirt un-gathered for a more tailored look. I used a sturdy straight stitch while sewing the skirt panels to the tabletop section, but I used a zigzag stitch for hemming the panels because a zigzag stitch will allow for stretch. I trimmed the seam allowances down to about 1/4 inch with pinking shears after sewing all the skirt sections to the top.

    Two tables in an "L" shape
    The one other feature that I added to my table covers is a panel of muslin along the front of each cover under the panne that allows me to pin through to the non-stretchy muslin when pinning my banner in place. This is just a panel that I layered in and sewed right into the seam while sewing the front skirt section on. It hangs loose about one foot from the top across the entire front so I can position the banner where I want it.

     The covers were a great success at my show.  The other vendors were crazy about them and the customers noticed the jewelry as the covers were a nice neutral backdrop. After being stored for a few weeks before the show I pulled them out and they looked unwrinkled and slipped on and off in a minute for quick set up and take down.

    Look for a new blog post soon on the incredible ornament display my dad made for me.  Also, I'll be working on ways to get a few more pops of my signature turquoise color into my display.  If you have any ideas, leave a comment.

    My Latest Culinary Adventure: Artisan Bread

    I've been hearing great things about a cook book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I finally purchased it and gave it a try.  The loaf below is for the most basic recipe and I can tell you it was a big hit with my family.  There wasn't a crumb left 20 minutes after we sliced into it with dinner and there is only three of us.

    My loaf - Looks Great!
    The concept of the book is very simple.  Instead of taking a few hours to make a loaf of bread in your home from scratch, this book simplifies everything. The results seem to be even better than what you get when you go to all the work of kneading and rising and resting and so forth.

    Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois
    The dough is a light, wet dough so you can simply mix it up with a wooden spoon.  There is no kneading. Instead of letting it rise in a warm place and coming back to check on it, you pop it in the frig and leave it.  A day or even two weeks later you come back and cut off a portion of the dough, quickly shape it (in your hands--you don't even need to get your counter messy), let it rise on a pizza peel, cut a pretty pattern into the loaf and then pop it into your oven on a hot baking stone.  You pour some hot tap water into a broiler pan for steam and let it bake.  You get a loaf that is crusty on the outside and luscious and flavorful on the inside. And the lovely thing is the longer you leave the dough the more it develops a sourdough flavor.

    Dough quickly formed and resting on the pizza peel
    The book says 5 minutes a day minus the time the bread is rising and baking and doing it's own thing.  I'm not even sure it took that long.  The 5 minutes must include the small amount of clean up time or time to add the extra ingredients or rolling out time needed in some of the more complex recipes.  They allow 15 minutes on the day you mix the dough--several loaves worth at a time to bake as needed.  I think that only took me about 5 minutes.  I can't wait to try some of the other recipes.  Commercial loaves of rye bread never have enough caraway seeds for my taste.  I'm going to load my artisan rye down with caraway seeds.

    There was a little mishap with the first loaf.  My old pizza stone cracked.  For any fan of Dr. Who reading this you'll see that the Crack in the Universe came to my house.


    Easy bracelet display tutorial

    I've been meaning to figure out how to make one of these for a while so I've been saving cardboard tubes that are approximately wrist size to do it. But I hadn't figured out how to cap the ends to make them look finished and professional. Then it occurred to me that mailing tubes already are the right size and already have end caps.  This couldn't be easier. I used a scrap of fabric that resembles white Dupioni silk to match my other displays.


    * Mailing tube that is wrist size (this one was 7 inches in circumference)
    * Thin fabric of your choice (too thick and the end caps won't go on later)
    * Matching thread


    Cut a piece of fabric to cover the mailing tube.  Measure carefully so that the fabric is just 5/8 inch wider than the circumference of your mailing tube and at least two inches longer.  With right sides together sew the fabric into a long tube with a 1/4 inch seam. I used pinking sheers after sewing to trim the seam and keep the fabric from fraying.  Press seam open using just the tip of the iron.  Turn fabric tube right side out and slip over the mailing tube. It should fit very tightly if you measured correctly. Tuck the raw ends into the tube and slide the end caps on. 


    What is your summer project?

    For a change we are sticking close to home this summer.  So I thought I'd get out a big project that I've had planned for years and get to work on it. I'm scanning all our old print photos to digital.  This will also allow me to get rid of several shelves full of ring binder albums that are taking up space.
    Me with my brothers 1969

    My husband and his little sister
    I expect this will take me months, if not years, to do. So far I've scanned all of my own photos and my husband's photos up to right before our wedding in 1989.  It's a trip down memory lane.

    My husband, June 1968
    Poor kitty
    School I attended until 7th grade
    What is your summer project?  Gardening? Landscaping? Organizing your recipe file? Garage sale? Cleaning out closets?  Leave a comment and let me know what it is.


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