Greetings, everyone, and thanks for visiting my blog! This particular blog will not have a whole lot to do with jewelry making, but it will have everything to do with feeding the one who makes the jewelry, plus her husband. See, yesterday was Mr Karlsson's birthday, and rather than go out and be social and eat at a fancy restaurant, Mrs Karlsson opted to cook Mr Karlsson a birthday dinner for the ages. Why the ages, you say? Because when Mrs Karlsson went searching for recipes, Mrs Karlsson searched through Southern cooking blogs and websites, and, well, those usually involve feeding armies or family reunions, and there are only two Karlssons allowed to eat people food in our house.
After due consideration, I decided to make meatloaf, potato salad, and a chocolate tart. I started cooking at 9am, because I figured I could take a break in between and work on some jewelry, but it didn't really work out that way. Here's what happened:
After I put FIVE POTATOES in the oven to bake (and this is what should have tipped me off about how much potato salad this recipe was actually going to produce), I made a graham cracker-style crust. Instead of graham crackers, I decided to be all fancy and use Italian almond toast and brown sugar instead of white sugar. The almond toast had a faint hint of anise, which I was not expecting, but I figured it would work to offset the chocolate. I put the crust in the fridge to let the butter harden again. (Just so you know, there is butter in a graham cracker crust.) Then I mixed white chocolate pastilles, Valrhona 85% cacao pastilles, and Valrhona 66% cacao pastilles to form my own blend of couverture chocolate. (In case you were curious, couverture chocolate is a higher quality chocolate than baking or eating chocolate and has a higher percentage of cocoa butter in it. Chocolatiers use this type of chocolate for making truffles and the like.) Once I had that done, I got two cups of heavy cream (hey, I didn't say this was going to be health food, y'all) and added espresso powder to it. The espresso powder adds depth of flavor. I heated the heavy cream until it was steaming.
Once the heavy cream was steaming (but not boiling!), I removed it from the heat and added about a teaspoon of good vanilla (because that's what Ina Garten says you're supposed to do). Then I poured it over the chocolate and let it sit for about five minutes to let the chocolate gently melt. The reason you want to gently melt the chocolate is that if you overheat it, it crystallizes and burns and gets really gross. Your ganache (that's what the chocolate and cream mixture is called at this point) should be glossy looking and easy to stir. If you discover you were impatient and didn't get the cream hot enough, you can always microwave your mixture for about 20 seconds, then stir. Don't put metal spoons or bowls in the microwave, by the way. You could set the place on fire.
Once you have your ganache stirred, you can pour it over your pie crust, and add whatever you want to the top. I decided to add raspberries, because that is Mr Karlsson's favorite with chocolate. I'm normally not a fan of raspberries because I can't stand eating the seeds, but these berries were exceptionally delicious, so I ate what was left over from decorating. Behold, the result!
By the time I finished making this glorious tart/pie/thing, the potatoes were baked, so I took them out of the oven to cool enough to peel. While waiting for that to happen. I cooked TWO POUNDS OF BACON. Why two pounds, you ask? The potato salad recipe called for a pound, and I decided to modify my meatloaf recipe and put a pound of bacon in it, too. (Somewhere, a cardiologist's eye is twitching...) Want to see what a pound of bacon frying looks like in real life? Here it is!
I didn't get any pictures of me chopping or peeling or any of that other tedious stuff, but here is the potato salad and meat loaf. Yes, that is a ton of blue cheese on top of the meatloaf, along with House of Karlsson secret recipe barbecue sauce. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, all this made enough to feed the 101st Airborne Division. Pretty sure we'll be eating this for a week.
And now, some news! I'm starting to hear back from art shows I applied to! I'm wait listed for Bayou City in Houston and also the big show in Galveston, but I did get into Septemberfest in Midland! I'm looking forward to heading out to west Texas after Labor Day to see everybody!
Since you made it this far, I figured I post a gratuitous alligator gar picture. This gar was caught by Mr Karlsson down in Huntsville on the Trinity River. This particular gar had a crooked back, probably borne of some genetic anomaly or a bad run in with a predator in its youth. Mr Karlsson caught this all by himself, and hopefully next time he goes gar fishing, he'll put the GoPro on his hat instead of his tummy so we can actually see what he is doing in the film. Ahem. He let this one go to fight another day. It had an approximate length of four feet.
Finally, here is resident diva and genius Tosca Q Puss to remind you that there is still a coupon code for 20% off of everything in my online shop here on the website. Just type in TOSCA2018 in the tiny spot for a coupon code at checkout and you will receive 20% off your entire order before shipping and tax and all that. Happy shopping, and once again, thanks for visiting!
P.S. In case you were curious...
Here are links to the potato salad and meatloaf recipes (minus some alterations I made).
Hello, everyone! This blog will be a really quick one. Just wanted to let you know that I'm offering a coupon for 20% off of everything on my website, including earrings! The coupon code is TOSCA2018 and it expires July 4, 2018. This code is only good in my website shop, not on Etsy.
Terms and conditions;
1. No return on sales items.
2. Sales tax applies to residents of the state of Texas
3. Shipping charges do apply
4. Enter the coupon code at checkout where it says "add coupon code" in ridiculously small print (I wasn't in charge of that design; that's the template's fault) and it will take off 20% once you enter it.
5. The 20% goes for the whole order, not each item.
That's pretty much it. If you have any questions, please let me know!
P.S. Here's some stuff I recently added to the shop under the Explorations collection:
Greetings, everyone, and thanks for visiting! Well, I looked up from my jewelers bench and discovered that we're already halfway through June! How the heck did that happen?! Pretty soon it will be time for 4th of July and temperatures rivaling the surface of the sun down here in Texas. Come to think of it, it's pretty roasty-toasty already. It's looking like this summer is going to be a real scorcher, so I think I'm going to stock up on deodorant and orange Gatorade. Anyway, since I have your attention, I may as well tell you what all has been going on here at the House of Karlsson, starting with the most recent development.
I got an e-mail this morning from the Etsy headquarters stating that since they adore their sellers SO MUCH (sarcasm alert), they're going to raise the transaction fees to 5%, plus charging a transaction fee for shipping, plus the commission they already get, which is significant. They're also going to offer *ahem* "premium subscription services* to better serve the seller community. I don't know about you, but to me this sounds like a thinly veiled threat to pay up or have your listings buried deeper within the bowels of the Etsy search engine than they are already. Since I am not a big fan of extortion, I have decided not to update my Etsy shop any more, and use it to drive traffic to my website shop instead. I never get much traffic on Etsy in the first place, since the algorithm they have is so messed up, so I don't think I'm going to be missing out on much, to be quite honest. So, if you're thinking of buying from me, please do it through my website shop and not Etsy. I'd really appreciate it.
Now, I can hear some of you argue "but Heather, what about galleries? Don't they charge a hefty commission as well? More so than Etsy?" Yes. Absolutely. The difference between Etsy and galleries, however, is that a gallery is a brick-and-mortar establishment. The commission an artist pays a gallery from a sale goes towards the gallery's overhead. This overhead includes everything from electricity, insurance, and salary for employees working there to advertising and curating your work. A gallery puts significantly more effort into selling an artist's work than Etsy does, therefore, they deserve to be paid more commission. Also, a gallery doesn't sell cheap knock-offs or imports being sold as "one-of-a-kind" or "handmade", which is what Etsy does. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with selling on Etsy. There are people out there who do very well on that platform. I just don't think it's worth my while anymore. End of rant.
In other news, I'm revamping the Ritornello collection. This iteration is going to be strictly handmade. The design process has been to take the sculptural elements of musical instruments (in this particular case, I'm using the oboe as inspiration) and incorporate them into a solid silver piece instead of using the actual musical instrument keys. I mean, I'll still make jewelry from the actual instrument keys, but in this way I can continue to grow as an artist and flex my creative muscle and learn and perfect new techniques along the way. Here are the works in progress (I'll do a detailed blog about the process at a later date):
In case you were curious, the process I'm using to form the key cups isn't the same as the actual manufacturing process in musical instrument factories. That involves a lathe and large diameter brass or nickel stock. They cut out a recess to fit the pad into from the solid piece of metal for strength purposes. My key cup and arm setup has four parts to braze. Musical instrument key parts have only two. That means only two weak points when the part is under stress. Since the key cup and arm that I'm making isn't going to be used on a musical instrument, those high levels of stress don't come into play. Also, buying silver stock that large and chucking it into a lathe is an expensive proposition, so I'm going to continue doing it the way I've engineered it. The end result is the same, which is all I'm really after. For me, it's also a lot quicker, because it takes me FOREVER to get my lathe set up the way I like it. (I swear, those shop gnomes in my garage wreak havoc on all my gears and settings, and it is super annoying.)
In addition to making these design changes in the Ritornello collection, I've also been experimenting with doming copper and drawing on it. Drawing on copper is a lot of fun, and it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. Below are two domed pieces I worked on. One is just a simple dome that I engraved with a battery operated graver. The other is a St. Felicia medallion (you young folks should understand what I'm talking about, heh heh...). You can use a lot of wild colors, and blending them is similar to what water color artists do with water color paints, or so I am told. My last experience with water colors was probably in kindergarten, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Since I was on a roll with the disc cutter, I also made this domed piece that resembled some sort of sunflower medieval Viking Ren-faire shield thingy. I think it's pretty nifty. It was an interesting challenge in that I had to dome the copper after I put the hammered texture in, and that flattened out the texture. I think the next time I do this, I will really hammer the living daylights out of the metal before doming it. If I had a stake, I could hammer it AFTER doming, but I'm not ready to make that kind of investment quite yet. Those suckers are expensive! At any rate, here it is in all its glory:
I have a bunch more I want to share, but I imagine that if you've made it this far, you're probably all blogged out and are about to head out to the pool or something. Here instead are my two kitties being very disappointed in everyone. Once again, thanks for stopping by, and tune in next time for my further adventures!