Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Even though Jetta’s a puppy in training for Guide Dogs of America, she still gets to trade out her “service dog” jacket for a sweet Halloween costume.  Doesn’t she look delicious?


Making Ballroom Dance Jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, hair pieces, etc.)

Note:  First off, apologies if you were expecting a food related post.  In addition to baking, my other hobby is ballroom dancing, and I’m often crafting something for an upcoming ballroom dance competition.  This post is a brief tutorial on how to make silicone-backed ballroom dance jewelry.  And no worries, I’ll be back to food posts soon. 

Silicone backed ballroom jewelry can be expensive to buy.  If you’re a little crafty and have some patience, you can make your own.

Here’s a bracelet I made. It’s held up well and looks great on the competition floor.64370_10101657087590048_1736737903722999371_n

Materials Needed

You’ll probably need to go to the hardware store, a fabric store, and some place that sells rhinestone supplies to gather all your materials.

For Making the Silicone-backed Powernet (this is what supports the jewelry)

  1. Powernet (slightly stretchy material with small holes in it)
    Use nude or another color matching your skin color for bracelets and necklaces; use an  appropriately colored powernet to match your hair color for hair pieces.
    2. Silicone
    This is the kind I use, and I bought it at Home Depot for around $5. It’s usually in the section of the store for caulking supplies. It smells really strong so make sure to use it in a well ventilated area.
    3. Plastic putty “knife”
    This is used to spread the silicone. You can also buy this at Home Depot. spatula
    4. A thick piece of cardboard and parchment paper
    The cardboard from a cereal box will be too flimsy. Try to use cardboard from boxes that things are shipped in. It should be large enough so that you have room to work on your necklace, bracelet, hair piece, etc. on it. You can buy parchment paper at the grocery store in the area for aluminum foil.

For Making Your Jewelry

  1. E6000 craft or other rhinestone glue (I prefer E6000)
    Use a strong glue to ensure your stones stay put.
  2. Rhinestones
    Flat backed rhinestones are the easiest to work with.  I also tend not to use the absolute high end rhinestones like Swarovski for my hair pieces and instead save those for my dresses. I usually use mid-level stones like Preciosa or other Czech brands, but I tend to stay away from using plastic (often Korean or Chinese) stones as they’re too dull looking for me. On the slightly lower cost end of the spectrum but still passable quality, I like Clarus rhinestones from Nova Rhinestone located in downtown Los Angeles. Bohemian Crystal  in downtown Los Angeles also has a huge selection of Swarokski and Preciosa stones as well as other stoning supplies.
  3. Toothpick with one end covered in wax, or another other tool used to pick up and place rhinestones
  4. Scissors (to cut the powernet into your jewelry pattern)



There are several steps that you need to take before you can start gluing on your rhinestones and creating your jewelry. But once you do all the prep, things should go faster the next time around.

  1. Cover your thick cardboard with parchment paper.  Tape (scotch tape will not work) or glue the paper to the cardboard, so both pieces don’t move around while you work. Make sure your cardboard/parchment paper is large enough to fit your entire piece you will be making. It’s always good to leave a little extra room.
  2. Place a double layer of powernet on the parchment/cardboard. Make sure there aren’t any wrinkles in the fabric.
  3. Work in a well ventilated area, because the next part involves some strong fumes. Using the plastic putty knife, spread a thin layer of the silicone all over the double layer of powernet. Work quickly so that the silicone does not harden up and form clumps. You want a uniform, thin layer of silicone. Don’t worry about the silicone going through the powernet onto the parchment paper. Your powernet will peel off of the parchment paper when the silicone dries. Let the silicone dry for a couple of hours or even overnight. If you feel like the silicone powernet is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the stones you’ll be using, then one layer of silicone may be enough. However, it’s better to spend the time to put on a second layer of silicone to reinforce the powernet, especially if you plan to use some rhinestones that are larger than 20ss. The reinforced powernet will ensure your jewelry lasts longer.
  4. You might want to make extra silicone-backed powernet so that you have extra for the next time you make jewelry, and you can skip this step next time.

Designing Your Jewelry

  1. While you’re waiting for you silicone-backed powernet to dry, you can spend some time looking for inspiration and designing your jewelry. Some of my favorite inspiration sites for simple as well as beautifully intricate designs for bracelets, necklaces, and hair pieces are: https://ballroomjewels.com/ and http://shop.tzafora.com/
  2. Create a template by drawing an outline of your design on thick paper or thin cardboard (cardboard from a cereal box works well here), and cut the design out.

Making Your Jewelry

After all that prep, you’re finally ready to start making your jewelry. Read through all the instructions before starting.

  1. Peel your powernet from the parchment paper. Turn it over on the parchment so that the side that was originally facing down is now facing up. The side that was originally facing down on the parchment paper will now be the FRONT side of your jewelry. You will be gluing stones on this side of the powernet. The side that you spread the silicone on is your BACK side (the side that will be touching your skin or hair). Using the template you cut out, trace the design onto your silicone backed powernet. You can trace it on the back or front side, but remember to reverse the tracing if you trace it onto the back side of the powernet.
  2. Using your traced template as a guide, glue (using e6000 or other rhinestone glue) your stones on to the FRONT side of the powernet. Make sure to leave some room on the powernet for any attachments (Velcro, hooks, etc.), if needed. (Note: If you want, you can place your stones to get a sense of what they will look like before gluing. This can be an important step if you’re using some large or centerpiece stones that you need to be placed in a specific area. I tend to place and glue larger or centerpiece stones down first, and then I fill in the spaces with the smaller stones. But use whatever method works best for you.)
  3. Once you’ve finished gluing on your stones, and the glue has dried, carefully cut out your design from the powernet. I usually wait to cut out my design until after all the stones are on, because you never know quite how the stones will align themselves.
  4. Add any attachments or closures like Velcro (my favorite) or hooks, as needed.

Hope this is helpful!

My Excuse for Slow Posts

The holidays are always busy, but the end of 2015 was especially lively with the arrival of 8-week old Golden-Lab cross puppy Jetta.   Jetta is a Guide Dogs of America puppy who is living with us until she’s about a year and a half old.  Then she’ll return to Guide Dogs of America to undergo assessment and formal training and hopefully graduate to become a working guide dog for a blind person.  As you can see from her photo, Jetta is distractingly cute, but in between training and playing with her, I’ve managed to discover some delicious baking recipes.  So, more sweets to come soon.

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A Brief Interruption from Baking and Cooking…

During the past two weeks I’ve been totally consumed with my non-baking but equally enjoyable hobby, ballroom dancing.  I was prepping for the US Nationals competition in Orlando, FL (and also baking a bit here and there in between), and my preparation throughout the year was kind of like building a big, intricate multi-layered cake.  I’ve been working on the different layers of my dancing, and at Nationals, I was finally able to bring it all together into one sweet experience.

USDC 2015- 7

I competed in the pro-am open Smooth division with my coach, Max, and was really pleased with how I danced.

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Chipping Away at the Baking Backlog

Hello, I’m still here!  And I’ve been baking up a storm, but it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s been an uncharacteristically busy May for me with a big ballroom competition to start out the month, and then a week later I went on a long awaited Alaskan cruise.  But despite all the flurry of activities, I was still churning out treats from my oven in my spare moments.  Now that I’m settling back into my usual daily routine, I’m facing down a huge backlog of baking posts, but I’m motivated to get the posts up because the baked goods have been pretty ridiculously delicious.

Usually when I come back from vacation, I bring back food stuff and baking inspiration from my trip.  This time, my trip was less about food and more about the mindblowingly amazing Alaskan landscape, but I’m not complaining.  My boots were too heavy for me to do a handstand, so I had to settle for doing the splits while hiking the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska .


Loki and His Favorite Recipes

I’ve been baking and making quite a bit in the past few weeks but am ridiculously behind on posting.  I was also consumed by prepping for a big ballroom competition, but now that that’s behind me, I’m looking forward to catching up on some posts. Until then, check out how Loki lets me know which recipe he thinks is especially tasty.  Note, he also may have been licking some caramel that dripped on the recipe.