Thanksgiving and the question of dessert

Terrain at Styers, October 2013
With Thanksgiving just a few days away I'm having a bit of a tough time trying to contain my excitement.  For one, Thanksgiving might possibly be my favorite holiday - if not my favorite it's certainly tied with Christmas.  But secondly, it's our first Thanksgiving as newly weds! Hooray!  And I have two days off!  Double Hooray!

This year we are spending Thanksgiving day at my sister-in-laws so that they can christen their new home with a good ol'Thanksgiving feast.  Friday we'll be traveling out to central Pennsylvania to partake in another feast that Saturday.  It's looking to be a promising holiday, for sure.

As usual, I'm bring desserts to both dinners.  No complaints here!  For the past few weeks I've been tossing dessert ideas around in my head and am having, admittedly, an embarrassingly hard time deciding on what to make!  I really just can't make up my mind.  I'm determined to make a cheesecake.  I've never made a cheesecake before- most likely because I never had a proper spring form pan.  Now that I have one in my baking arsenal I think it's time to put it to good use.  Originally I wanted to make  a pumpkin cheesecake.  Then I decided on a pumpkin chai cheesecake or one subtly flavored with cardamom.  But alas, after endless pinning, I just couldn't settle on a recipe.  I continued my search for a pumpkin cheesecake only to abandon the idea because there will probably be 101 other pumpkin treats that day.  Instead, I'll be make this incredibly decadent orange cranberry cheesecake with dark chocolate crust.  Who cares if we are all stuffed and the thought of a slice of cheesecake will send us all over the edge?  A sliver won't hurt anyone and I'm sure it will be even better in the days to follow.  I was asked to bring a second one to my sister-in-laws so in addition to the cheesecake I plan on making this brown butter tart with pears instead of apples and a dash of cardamom for good measure.  I'm drooling on my keyboard as I type this.

My mom requested a pumpkin pie for her dinner so I'll be jumping on the creme brûléed pumpkin pie bandwagon of Thanksgiving 2013 with gusto.  I'll make a simple pie, hopefully with a gingersnap crust, inspired by these delicious little confections.  And with that, I think I'm ready to go!  Now, to get through the next three days of work.

In other news, have any of you watched the movie What Maisie Knew?  I saw it last week and can't stop thinking about it.  I highly recommend it if you find yourself with a good lazy day on the couch kind of day this holiday weekend.  Let me know what you think if you watch it.  Are you cooking or baking this holiday?  If so I'd love to hear what you are making!

I'm married!

It's been a long time since I've posted on here but for very good reason:  I'm married!  Dan and I tied the knot (literally- we did a hand fasting) this past Saturday, October 5th under a beautiful blue sky and in unseasonably warm weather.  It was perfect.  Below are a few black and white polaroids snapped by our incredible photographers, Tin Sparrow Studio.  Matt and Anna were an absolute joy to work with.  I can't wait to see how they captured our day- which was described by my new sister-in-law as being like "Narnia, but with out the snow!"  I'll take it!

Our wedding was filled with so much DIY that I hope to showcase here in the coming months- hopefully once we have the photos back from our photographers.  A few things that I made were 13 bow ties for the groomsmen, our fathers and the ring bearer in Liberty of London prints.  I thought they'd be the death of me but I pulled through in the end!  The men were also gifted with handmade cufflinks that I made with resin much like the pendants in my shop and boutonnieres made from vintage millinery leaves and dried lavender (I hope to start carrying these in my shop- I LOVED making them!).  Jewelry was made for the bridesmaids and lots and lots of decorations adorned the grounds. 

One of my favorite things that we constructed was a DIY photobooth.  I purchased a Fuji Instax 210 camera and lots and lots of film a few months back.  Dan made a backdrop stand out of PVC pipe (I'll share the tutorial when I post more on this) and I made a fabric backdrop out of ombre dyed burlap streamers.  The props that we used were printed for free from patterns that we found online (I'll also share those).  It worked out so well and everyone seemed to have lots of fun with it.  Now I have a whole stack of photos to put in an album that will surely bring lots of laughs for years to come.

I expect things to return to normal here by the end of the month.  I look forward to creating some new jewelry pieces for the holiday season and reworking my website.  We are in need of change!  In the meantime I have my etsy shop set to vacation mode as we will be on our honeymoon next week.  I can't wait to get away for a decent period of time and just relax.  We've purchased a fancy new camera and I expect it will get lots of use in Mexico! :)  

See you soon!!!!


 Hello, and welcome.
My name is Amy and this, dear readers, is my blog.  By day, I am  an architectural stained glass historian, by night, a self taught jewelry artisan and budding sewist.  

Helen Ethel Studio chronicles my adventures and misadventures in crafting and baking in a little apartment just outside of Philadelphia occupied by me, my fiancé, and our little rescue beagle named Heidi. What you can look forward to: lengthy ramblings regarding fabrics; an assortment of recipes; polymer clay; and the unavoidable frustrations and jubilations as I venture into the world of sewing.

Please, grab a cup of tea and enjoy your visit.  I welcome all of your comments and am always delighted to read them!

If you have any questions for me, or would just like to say hello, please feel free to email me.  Danke!

Adios, Google Reader!

I suppose with it being the first of July (the first of July! How are we here already?!), and with the first of July being the last day that Google Reader is available, I'm a little late in the game to tell you that you can find me on Blog Lovin' in addition to FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.  Don't forget to find me elsewhere once Google Reader says farewell for good!  If you have a Blog Lovin' account, transferring your blog feed over from Google Reader is a snap if you follow this link.  (Thanks for the tip, Laicie!)  Or, if you prefer, subscribe to me via email (at right).  I've transferred everything over this morning, so my blog reading should resume as scheduled tomorrow.  I hope yours does too!

If the methods listed above aren't your thing, here is a list of additional alternatives to Good Reader.  I'll be looking into them in the near future so maybe I'll see you there, too.

P.S. If you are on Blog Lovin' (or not) and have a blog that I'm not currently following please let me know in the comments below!  I love discovering new blogs. :)

The weekend we got dolled up for a roaring 20's party!

Well, it's back to the grind after a lovely, lovely weekend.  But before I jump into this week, I wanted to share a few shots from this weekend's activities. Dan and I attended a friend's 30th birthday party that had a Great Gatsby theme.  It was wonderful!  We dressed up in our best 1920's inspired garments and laughed the night away.

It didn't have a sparkly flapper-esque frock to wear for the night and couldn't really find anything on our thrifting excursion last weekend so I opted for an emerald green dress that I re-constructed a few years back out of a full length, long sleeved 1980's dress.

Enroute to the festivities!
I set my hair in pin curls, pinned it up and topped the style off with the perfect bit of sparkle thanks to my Giant Dwarf bobby pin.

LOVE this photo of Dan! BEST.
Dan went as dapper as can be, fashioning his pants into plus fours (or knickers) and pairing them with a vintage wool vest and a handmade bow tie made by me! (More info on that later this week!)

Mood lighting.
Once Sunday rolled around I was pretty much dead to the world as I had one too many glasses of champagne punch.  It was delicious, but sneaky.  I did find the energy to complete a project I've been wanting to tackle for the wedding:

DIY Swizzle Sticks!  Here is a snap shot from yesterday:
I plan on posting a materials list and a link to the tutorial that I followed later on this week as well.  Thanks for reading- I hope your weekend was just as fabulous!

New (ish) work: Tara Necklace

With the wedding approaching, my jewelry designs have sadly taken a back seat for the mean time.  I haven't all together stopped creating, though!  Over the past few months I've made a few pieces here and there and I'd like to share some of them with you.

This set was created for an old friend of mine- our friendship streches as far back as elementary school.  She was one of the first friends I made when my family moved to out to the sticks in central Pennsylvania when I was in second grade!  Tara had picked up the most beautiful pendants and asked that I create three necklaces with them- one for her and one for each of her sister-in-laws for Christmas.  The finished pieces came about through Tara's beautiful vision and I was so happy to construct them for her.  

If any are made in the future and they find their way to the shop, they'll be known as the Tara Necklace. :)

Each multi-strand necklace features a pair of amethyst and chalcedony gemstones set within gold vermeil bezels.  The pendants are suspended from a double 14k gold vermeil chain.  The tiniest faceted pink amethyst and aquamarine faceted gems have been hand-wrapped in gold filled wire to the chains.

City Hall

City Hall, Philadelphia

Happy Friday and the first day of summer, my friends!  I snapped the above photo last Friday, when I was on my way to meet up with Dan and a friend of ours.  There was just something about the sky juxtaposed against City Hall that made me stop in my rush and snap this photo.  I wasn't the only one to have been taken by the scene, either.  Later on, as we were all talking we realized that each one of us had taken nearly exactly the same photo all within a few hours of one another.  That put a smile on my face.

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

October 5, 2013

I realize that it has been quiet around these parts- more quiet than usual, in fact. Things have been a bit hectic around here but all for a good, wonderful, joyous reason: I'm getting married! 

Dan proposed to me nearly two years ago, on a crisp October morning on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I'm not sure how he did it- I guess it's because he knows me so well -but he picked the one and only place that I ever imagined being proposed to, because it is my favorite place in the city.

Moments after his proposal in October of 2011

He had surprised me with a renewal of my museum membership a few months back- specifically (so I thought) so that I could visit the Rembrandt exhibition I had been pining to attend. We had recently moved out of Philadelphia, and into the suburbs, after living there for eleven years for me and five years for him. The trip to the museum was our first visit back to the city and our old neighborhood together and we were looking forward to getting brunch with our friends afterward at one of my favorite pubs and just enjoying the beautiful, late October day.

Little did I know, that as we were standing atop the steps, looking over our beloved city and discussing our future (would we move back? should we stick it out in the suburbs? how we couldn't wait to build a garden next spring.) Dan was gathering up the nerve to kneel down on one knee and ask me to marry him. And when he did, I was so stunned I actually stepped backwards!  We had been together at that point for six years- I truly wasn't expecting it.  But I said yes - of course! - after pulling myself out of the surreal haze I found myself in - I said yes with every bit of my being.  Moments later, after I wiped away tears, I was delighted to find that two of our best friends, Chris and Becky - and their little daughter Emily - and their twin boys that Becky was still carrying in her belly, looking as though she could burst at any moment - were watching the entire scene unfold as Chris snapped photos of the proposal.  I began to cry all over again.

After the above photo was snapped, we gathered up our things, called our families and jetted off to the pub to share our happy news with more friends and celebrate over Bloody Marys.

The next day I played hooky from work (okay, actually I called in with the good news and politely explained that I would be taking a personal day) and we went back to the city for a little celebrating of our own - hopping from bar to bar to enjoy hot cider and whisky, skipping through the fallen leaves (me, not Dan) and discussing a million different ideas about what our wedding day would be like.

Celebrating the fact that we are about enjoy an amazing meal at Talula's Table with some really wonderful friends, April 2013
And here we are- nearly two years later, having just celebrated eight years together, and almost four and half months away from our wedding day- and I have so much to share with you.  I'm not sure why I waited so long to give you the news.  I've mentioned it before on Facebook and Twitter and shared the news with one paricular blogging friend a while back who has been patiently dropping hints about how I should share my wedding plans with you all, here on my blog.  (Emily- :) - thanks for the pushes!)  And I'm going to do just that- but don't worry, I'm not turning this site into a "wedding blog" in case that is what you fear.  But I would love to share the many DIY things I've done and plan to do for our special day.  I hope you'll stick along for the journey!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this very special post.


Overnight Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats

I can hardly believe that today is the first day of March!  The year is just whooshing by.  Before we know it, spring will be here and all will be well again.  To be honest, this winter is really grating on my nerves and recently, each day it just seems harder and harder to pull myself out of my warm bed and into the angry cold of the winter morning.  During the week, I get up fairly early to catch my early morning train (between 4:15 am and 5 am- sometimes later, which in turn, completely sabotages my morning commute in to work.)   Usually, I allot myself the most minimal amount of time and my morning pans out to be a quick shower, a wild rush through the apartment getting everything together, running out the door with wet hair and then a sprint for 3 blocks, up three flights of stairs, and down a train platform allowing me to barely make my train.  It's not pleasant.  Of course, in my haste, I never seem to prepare anything for breakfast and usually end up eating yogurt and granola later on in the morning.  Don't get me wrong- I love a bowl of plain Greek yogurt topped with granola and honey.  It's my go to breakfast of choice.  But sometimes, especially at the tale end of winter's cold mornings, I crave something a little more comforting.  And warm.

Recently I found just that.  Steel cut oats, my friends.  Prepared during the night, while you sleep, in a crock pot.  They are the easiest thing to pull together and have such a delicious, simple taste to them. I've made two recipes so far- the first had dried apricots in it that plumped up deliciously over night and offered just the right amount of sweetness to the steel cut oats.  Recently I started making apple pie steel cut oats that sort of taste just like - you guessed it - apple pie.  Doesn't that sound like just the thing to pull you out of bed on a winter's morning?  It does to me!

Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal topped with almond milk and raw, local honey.

The steel cuts oats are paired with chopped apples; warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg; a bit of almond milk (or whatever sort of milk you prefer), a bit of brown sugar; raisins; chopped nuts, if desired; and chia seeds.  They come together in about the time it takes you to peel and chop up two apples- less than five minutes.  Once mixed together the mixture is heated in a crock pot for 4 hours on low.  It is as simple as that.  In addition to them tasting delicious, the scent of warm apple pie wafting through the air in the early a.m. is a fabulous incentive to drag yourself out of bed.  Trust me.  And better yet- one cup of steel cuts oats gives you at least four servings so all you have to do is reheat them each morning.  And boy do they reheat well.  

Do you have any favorite recipes that feature steel cut oats?  If so, I'd love to hear about them!

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal
The following recipe inspired by Closet Cooking, with a few additions.
(makes 4 servings)

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water or apple juice or apple cider -I used water
2 cups of milk (or 2 more cups of water) -I used almond milk
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into bit sized pieces 
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 cup of raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional)
1/4 cup of walnuts or almonds, chopped (optional)
Milk to taste (optional)

*I serve mine topped with almond milk and raw, local honey.  The second batch that I made was much sweeter than the first, perhaps due to the natural sweetness of the apples.  Taste your oatmeal before adding any additional sweeteners (such as honey or brown sugar) because you may not need them.  My second batch was sweet enough that I did not need to add the honey but the first batch worked quite well with the addition of honey.  It's all up to your taste preferences, really.

Project 52: Week 1

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe and happy holiday season. I definitely did and I'll admit, I was a little sad to see it pass by us. But now, as we are 11 days deep into 2013, I find that I'm okay with the closure of 2012 and I am so looking forward to the many, many wonderful things that the year ahead will hold.

When this time comes around next year, and we are writing the final chapter of 2013, I don't want to find myself looking back and forgetting all the crazy, quiet, happy, sad or meaningful moments the year brought me. This is why I am beginning a new project for my blog. Called "Project 52", this new venture will encourage me to share one moment from my week here, with you all. I'm certainly not the first to do this- there are so many interesting Project 52's out there. I'm excited to contribute my year's story to this larger photographic conversation.

This first shot is of our dear Heidi catching a bit of rest on a lazy Sunday morning. <3 br="">
*i apologize if any of the formatting is out of whack- attempting mobile blogging!

Holiday Giveaway Winner!

One of my most favorite photos of my two loves: Dan and Heidi at the Christmas Tree Farm last weekend. 

We have a winner!  Congratulations to Autumn Elizabeth!  Autumn's favorite thing to make are German pancakes with homemade syrup each Christmas.  That sounds lovely. :)  
I loved reading over all of your responses and I am happy to say that I got many new ideas for holiday treats.  Also, welcome to my new blog readers.  I hope you'll enjoy yourselves here!

One of my favorite things to make are snickerdoodles- mostly because they are simple and delicious, but also because it is the only treat that Dan really craves.  He's a no dessert kinda guy, unfortunately.  

Once I wrap up this post, I'll be popping these in the oven and starting on another batch of these snickerdoodles for a holiday party tonight.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Holiday Giveaway - Minaret Earrings

I'm so happy to announce that it is time for Sew, Mama, Sew!'s Giveaway Day!  (It actually began on December 3rd, but I'm a little late in the game.)  However, it's not to late for you to participate.  If you are new to my blog, welcome and thanks for visiting!

I'm giving away one pair of my Minaret Earrings in your choice of either Green Czech glass beads OR Red Czech glass beads!

How to enter:

*Participation is quite simple- all you need to do is leave me a comment telling me:

 "What is your favorite dish and/or baked treat to make especially for the holidays?"

In the comment, please also include your email address if one is not connected to your account and whether you prefer the Minaret Earrings in Green or Red (or a mixture of both!).

*To get a second bonus entry let me know that you are a follower of my blog, or become one and let me know. : )

Hand wrapped Minaret Earrings feature hammered brass teardrop hoops with either your choice of green Czech glass beads or red Czech glass beads.  They will be made by me especially for you!

The giveaway closes at 5pm PST on Friday, December 7th.  A winner will be chosen at random no later than Sunday, December 9th.  The earrings will be shipped no later than December 14th.

And finally, this giveaway is open to international participants as well!

To enter more giveaways, be sure to stop by Sew, Mama, Sew!.

-This Giveaway is Now Closed-
Thank you to all who entered!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend and a Sale

I wanted to wish you all a wonderful (and belated) Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.  I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday surrounded by loved ones and friends!

I also wanted to tell you about a sale that I am running in my Etsy shop now through Monday, November 26.  From today until Monday night at midnight all orders will receive 15% off with the coupon code Holiday15!

In addition, all orders of $65 (after coupon code and before shipping) and up will receive a free pair of Resin Dahlia earrings in your color choice!

I've been busy getting lots of new listings up in the shop and plan on continuing to add more throughout the weekend so keep checking back!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces right now:

Kilim Earrings - Geometric Carnelian and Emerald Tassel Earrings

Rosa Earrings - Rose Quartz, Geometric Relief Brass and Aquamarine Earrings

Minaret Earrings in Smokey Quartz

Handmade in PA post- Ryann Thompson's Photo Jewelry Keepsakes

Good morning, friends!  Be sure to hop on over to Handmade in PA for my most recent write up on the very talented Ryann Thomspon of Designs by Ryann.  I've featured her handmade Photo Jewelry which is really worth checking out.

Here are a few examples of her work with Photo Jewelry:

An assortment of Ryann's handmade photo pendants and bracelets.
Unique keepsakes featuring a loved one's handwriting or special message.

Photo Ornaments to trim the tree with this season!!

Warby Parker! Decisions, decisions!

Dear readers,
Your opinions are greatly needed!  I received my Warby Parker home try on selections earlier this week and I am completely stumped as to which frame to choose or if perhaps they just aren't right for me?  I really love the Sinclair and the Marshall frames, but I worry they don't suit my face.  I'd greatly love to hear your opinions.  

I might just select another few for another round of home try-ons or perhaps I'll pop into their showroom in Philly to confuse myself even more! :)

Do any of you wear Warby Parker?  If so, which frame(s)? 

Thanks so much and have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!!

Oh Happy Day!  Warby Parker Home Try On Selection!

And here I am, posing in all of the frames (in black and white to cut down on the lens glare):

UPDATE! 11.15.12: Thank you to everyone who offered their opinions either on my blog, on twitter or in person.  It seems that Sinclair and Marshall are the obvious winners! (They also happened to be my top choices, as well.) :)  I'll be purchasing the Marshall frame in the near future since they seem to be a great everyday frame.  My old pair (~5 Years old. yikes!)- which are purple and lime green Anne et Valentin frames- are a bit on the funky side and I am in the market for a more neutral frame.  Marshall fits the bill!  I plan to purchase the Sinclair down the road, since I love them so much, also!  Thanks again!  Also- the Warby Parker Home Try On was such a great experience.  I highly recommend it if you are in the makert for some new frames or sunglasses.