Saturday, July 30, 2011

Shipshe - Shopping

My friend Jenni and I usually make a summer day trip to Shipshewana, Indiana for some shopping and fun. We missed last year, but managed to squeeze in a visit this July. We have a routine: a few hours at the flea market, then downtown for a pretzel at JoJos, wandering our favorite shops, a stop at the antique mall, and then dinner and a bit more shopping at Essenhaus.

Didn't buy much this year, but here are my purchases:

A quilted purse by Bella Taylor. My Vera Bradley purse that I received as a gift is starting to show some wear. This one is in a similar style, has lots of pockets, and is a perfect size to carry my iPad plus lots of other stuff. Plus it was much cheaper, half off at the flea market. I love the paisley and the colors.

A few vintage earrings. Looked for more vintage keys with no luck!

Some seasonings from the Amish bulk food store. Great prices!

Pictures were given that vintage touch using the Instagram app on my iPhone.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Blog Template Update

So I have been doing a little much overdue "redecorating" over here at Clever Karen. (If you are viewing the blog via a RSS reader you might want to click through to see the new design.) I have been playing around with the template designer in Blogger. I also did a bit of a redesign with the header image. Not sure I like the header quite yet, I think it is a bit busy, so I will continue to tweak that. What do you think? If there is anything that is looking wonky when you view it on your browser, could you let me know! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Phoenix Dust Storm

Last week in Phoenix I experienced my first dust storm! Here is a picture I took from our bus on the way back to the hotel. You can see the cloud of dust approaching!

You can see the clouds of dust behind these mountains. And below you can see what it looked like from the hotel when the dust rolled in.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hotel Valley Ho - Scottsdale

Last week I had the privilege of attending the USA Apple Distinguished Educator Summer Institute. We held most of our meetings at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in downtown Phoenix, but our homebase was the very hip Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

The Valley Ho was built in 1956 and is thought to be one of the best examples of a historic hotel from the mid fifties. It was extensively renovated in 2005 to add modern comforts and green features, but it maintains that retro feel in decor. The main tower is new construction with the original rooms surrounding the pool in an oval shaped courtyard. (I didn't like having to walk to my room outside in the heat, but I guess that is the cost for keeping the vintage atmosphere.)

I didn't take a dip in the pool, but it looked like a great place to hang out in the hot Arizona weather. The grounds around the pool are beautifully landscaped with plants and flowers that could handle the 100 degree + heat.

Our rooms were very comfortable. The beds were cushy and had soft bedding. They had a comforter but no top sheet which seemed a bit warm for sleeping, but housekeeping supplied another sheet on request.

There was a very modern work area and a flat screen TV (not that we had time to watch TV with our 6 am to 10 pm full schedule).

The view out our window overlooked a fountain courtyard and there was a nice little lounging area (too hot to sit outside and enjoy it).

The bathroom was probably the most unique feature of the room. It had frosted glass walls, sliding doors, mood lighting, a huge soaking tub, and a walk in shower. Loved the Red Flower toiletries!

We had breakfasts and dinners at the hotel. I didn't take any pictures of food as I normally do because the buffet line was outside in a courtyard area. Rather a hot place and food was kept covered up so I couldn't get any nice shots. Great pastries in the morning and loved the mac n cheese and the huge piece of carrot cake. We also had a wonderful ending meal at Trader Vics!

We didn't have much down time during the conference, but after our projects were finished and presented, we did have a few hours in the afternoon to enjoy the hotel. They opened the spa for us for complementary treatments - I enjoyed a lovely neck massage which was wonderful after a week of lugging all my tech equipment around!

Hotel Valley Ho is located in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona and is within walking distance of the downtown area.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mango Vinaigrette


My friend Sally has a great recipe for a raspberry salad dressing that uses raspberry preserves as the base. I have tried her idea using all kinds of preserves to make dressings and it works great. My recent experiment was using this new Mango Butter from Trader Joe's. It makes the most wonderful sweet and tangy vinaigrette ever!

Mango Vinaigrette

1/3 cup mango jam
1/4 cup canola oil
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin (can omit)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Put all ingredients into a container. Use an immersion blender to whip the dressing together. I used my Braun stick blender (which I love) but you could also use a wisk to blend by hand.


Use a funnel to pour into a pretty jar.


This dressing is wonderful when used on a salad topped with grilled chicken, strawberries, and cashews!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dinner at the Berkley Bistro Cafe

The BBC used to be the Berkley Breakfast Cafe and they have always have had wonderful breakfasts (prepare for a wait for wait on the weekend). Later they added dinners and changed the name to Bistro. Then for a while the dinner service stopped. Well the dinners are back. When a friend posted a picture of her dinner there on Facebook, I knew I was due for another visit.

And this was the reason - "The Big Cheese!" Deep fried mac and cheese served in a bowl of tomato bisque! When you feel the need for comfort food, this is the ticket! It does come with a healthy salad which perhaps helps to add a bit of healthy balance to the meal (well, maybe not).

For dessert, they had these cute cake pops! Mine was red velvet cake and was a sweet bite to finish off the meal.

The BBC is located on Coolidge in Berkley, just north of 11 Mile.

Berkley Bistro and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 18, 2011

Red Coral Nugget with Jet Black Beads


I made this necklace years ago. It was one of my favorites, but it broke, and I just didn't have the time or patience to restring all those little sparkly black beads. But while looking for something to go with a flowery black sundress, I realized that the red coral would work perfect. So I spent part of my afternoon restringing the little beads, this time on thin wire rather than string. Hopefully it won't break again!


I'm looking forward to wearing this at a special dinner at the end of a conference I am attending next next week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Loot from the Royal Oak Garage Sale

I like to hit the RO garage sale right when it opens, before it gets too crowded and before the heat gets unbearable. I was looking for bargains for various projects and I think I found a few.

Vintage fabric for one dollar - a curtain panel and top in perfect condition.

Vintage button cards for a dollar each, again in pristine condition.

Crystal pendants for 50 cents each, great price!

Vintage Christmas ornaments in the colors I love - 5 dollars for the bunch, couldn't resist!

The main thing I was looking for was old keys and vintage earrings to refresh my stash. One booth had lots of skeleton keys, but way above my price point. There were tons of old earrings everywhere, but most were pricey. One of the last booths I hit in the bowels of the garage had a bit of old jewelry 3 for $5. I scooped up a great assortment of really pretty sparkling earrings that I can use in my next set of projects. SCORE!!!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vintage Key and Earring Necklaces


When making the necklaces out of vintage earrings, I noticed how cute the earrings looked when combined with some of my vintage keys. I ended up playing with lots of combinations and taping them onto a file folder to figure out which ones I liked best.


I used the 2 part epoxy (tutorial here) to attach the earrings to the keys. I think the end results are darling!



If you are looking for more inspiration on how to remix vintage jewelry, here is a book that might provide more inspiration: Vintage Revised Jewelry





This last one combines a chandelier crystal with a vintage drop earring:


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tutorial - How to Create a Necklace from a Vintage Clip-on Earring

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial

As you may know, I enjoy refashioning bits of vintage jewelry into new necklaces. Here's an easy way to turn an old clip-on earring into a cute necklace. Most antique shops have lots of bright blingy earrings for sale for between 4 and 10 dollars. If you buy a pair, you can make one necklace for yourself and one for a friend. I try to look for bags of junk jewelry pieces to use for these projects as a cheaper option, although they can be hard to find. This is a great way to use an orphan earring!

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial


Old clip-on earring
Wire cutters
Two part epoxy glue
Filigree backing
Small nosed pliers
Chain or leather cord

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial

Step 1 - Turn the earring upside down. Bend the clip part forward to loosen it as much as possible from the backing. Use a strong wire cutter to snip off the clip. Be sure to wear eye protection when doing this.

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial

Step 2 - On some scrap paper, squeeze out a small amount of epoxy. Use a toothpick to blend the two parts together.

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial

Step 3 - Use the toothpick to carefully put the epoxy on the edge of the earring and the edge of the filigree. Put the pieces together. Let it set without moving for about 10 minutes (check the set time on the directions of the epoxy).

Vintage Earring Necklace Tutorial

Step 4 - Use a small nosed pliers to add a jump ring through the filigree. Put the chain or leather cord through the jump ring. Tada - your earring is now a necklace!

I bought the filigree pieces for the backing at Munros in Berkley, although I've also purchased it at bead shows. I also get leather cords at Munros - if you buy a package of 10 they cost about a dollar each. I buy packages of dog chains at Lobby Hobby using their 40% off coupons. The dog chains are nice because you can clip them to any length you desire.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July Garden Views

My garden looks its best in early July. The hydrangeas have popped, the impatiens have filled in, the daylilies have started to bloom. The potted flowers look lush. Things haven't wilted in the summer heat. Here are a few views from my backyard garden:

The Annabelle hydrangea looks spectacular right now!

My blue bottle garden.

Herbs mixed in with the flowers.

This is where I love to hang out and read in the evenings.

Notice the little blue glass globe tucked in between the flowers. It was a gift from a friend. Adds a bit of color and actually can be used as a watering tool to keep your plants from drying out.

I have a few changes that I am making to the garden including a new arbor that I will be sharing soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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