Monday, September 19, 2011

Contest Results

Congratulations to Catherine Puls!  She is our contest winner and will receive this groovy pair of earrings:  



Thanks to everyone for participating!  

I'm headed off to New York later this week for a whirlwind trip.  First, I'll be toasting champagne and dancing the night away at my friends' Steve & Jon's wedding!  I love them both and cannot wait to watch them get married after 10 long years!  Matt and I adore them and wish them nothing but love and joy for the rest of their lives together!!!!    


While I'm in New York, I'll be making a trip to market!!  Whoo hoo... I'm so excited!  In preparation, I need to clear out a lot of my current inventory.  (Did I mention my house is only 1300 sq ft?!?)  In an effort to make room, I'm offering all of you lovelies a coupon this week.  Use the code MARKET to receive 30% off your entire purchase.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  I'll try to keep you updated on my activity and look forward to giving you a full report when I return! 

xoxo,
AKB 


Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Happenings

Despite this lousy weather, I'm super pumped about my weekend!  I have so much to look forward to, starting with the Argenta Art Walk tonight!


The Argenta Art Walk is held on the 3rd Friday of each month in the lovely Argenta Arts District.  There are artists with booths set up all along Main Street, in downtown North Little Rock, and all the galleries and shops are open.  If you haven't been, you should come out tonight!  The Art Walk runs from 5 - 8 PM.  

My Saturday morning will be a lazy one, I'm sure, but I always try to drag my butt out of bed in time to make it to the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market in Argenta!  One motivating factor is the booth that Ashley's sets up every Saturday with yummy breakfast goodies made from the local produce sold at the market.  You can read more about CAFM, and their other locations, here:  http://www.arkansasfood.net/cafm.php

I won't give away what I'm spending my Saturday afternoon doing, but here's a hint:



The remainder of my weekend I'll be spending with good food, good wine and most importantly good friends!!  How will you spend your weekend?


Woot woot! Friday Giveaway Alert!!!

It's Friday, y'all, and I'm pumped about my weekend!  To celebrate, let's hold a giveaway!  For each person that registers through the end of the day as a "Follower" of my blog, you'll be entered to win these fabulous earrings.  Upcycled from vintage lucite, they're both green AND groovy!  Good luck!


If you want to read more about these lovely earrings, check out my store:  dimestorediamonds.etsy.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shine like the real thing...

I had a hard time deciding what to name my line of jewelry.  I thought about trying to play off my last name... There were so many possibilities!  But I realized that wouldn't be genuine.  I thought long and hard about the image I wanted to create with my jewelry, the inspiration behind it.  


I was inspired to create jewelry after my Great Aunt Lillian and my Grandmother Nellie Mae both passed away.  My mother shared some of their costume jewelry with me and I was enamored.  I loved looking through some of these gems and imagining where they had been.  There was one drop necklace in particular that really caught my eye.  I dreamed of the dinner parties in the 50s and 60s where my Aunt Lillian played the perfect hostess in her home in Newport, Arkansas.  My aunt and my grandmother did not have a lot of money by an means, but they certainly had class and style.  Style is something you possess regardless of money.  


I chose to name my line of jewelry Dimestore Diamonds after I song I love, written and performed by Beth Ditto of the Gossip.  Beth Ditto, for those of you who don't know of her, is from Judsonia, Arkansas - a town not far from the towns of Uno, Grubbs and Newport , where my aunt and grandmother grew up.  In this song, Beth sings about being a "dimestore diamond".  I encourage each of you to be inspired by this song, as I have been.  Lift your head high and shine like the real thing!


I've put together a video with some of the footage I shot during our fall collection photo shoot.  Emily Karnes did an incredible job and I cannot sing her praises highly enough.  Check out this video and watch her shine! 


video


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6pu5x-hIXc

I have a confession...

I currently work two jobs.  I have my "day job" which eats up about 60 precious hours a week, and then I have my "fun job" - bringing fabulous jewelry to all you lovelies!  Since my day job does not allow me to work on jewelry during the day (boo) I spend most of my evenings crafting my gems, drafting my descriptions, marketing, etc.... Since I started making jewelry, I found myself with a LOT of extra TV watching time.  I must confess - I love TV.  Go ahead and judge... I know we are all supposed to pretend as though we hardly ever watch TV - we are all supposed read books, become better people, educate ourselves, because you know - TV rots your brain.  Well, since my jewelry venture, I am headed down a dark path, one that may leave me with a zombie-brain.  

Hear me out - I'm not your average TV viewer!  To start, I don't have cable.  This may confuse some of you.  Six years ago my husband and I bought our first home in the lovely Argenta Historic District.  Our home was built in 1913 and had been lovingly restored by the couple who sold it to us.  This couple were non-TV watching people - basically the kind of people we should all aspire to be.  Since they didn't watch TV, there were no cable outlets in the house.  My husband and I called the cable company to inquire about getting set up and we found out that it would cost us a whopping $150 per cable outlet.  At this point in my life I realized that my cheapness was willing to outweigh my desire to rot my brain.  Forgoing cable was the best thing I have ever done and here's why - I began watching BETTER TV.  

Okay, so now you're seriously confused, right?  If you haven't discovered it yet, there are a million ways to watch TV without paying for cable.  You're probably familiar with Netflix, and this is where my husband I retreated to when left without cable.  Netflix is a wonderful service and is constantly improving and expanding.  If you're not on the Netflix train, I'm not really sure how you are functioning since all of the Blockbusters closed.  So, one day I'm flipping through my husband's GQ and I'm reading one of those sections on what's hot and undiscovered and they mention this thing called Hulu.  Hulu provides you with most of the shows that are on major cable channels, for free.  Yep, people... Cable network shows - for FREE.  On the internet for anyone to watch anytime, anywhere.  In the past six years, my husband and I have come up with so many tech-geek ways to stream our shows from the computer to our TV but nothing compared to when we finally gave in to our curiousoty and bought the Apple TV.  Now, you're going to spend some cash on the Apple TV, but nowhere near what you would spend on cable.  This device allows you to rent or buy TV episodes and shows, and movies too!  I highly recommend it to people tempted to break that disfunctional relationship with their cable provider.  

Besides the financial benefits, here's why I recommend you ditch cable.  You will start watching better TV.  Seriously... You may think that you LOVE your reality TV - I used to think there was nothing better than some good trashy reality TV.  Once you have the option to watch anything,  you may not want to watch those shows anymore.  Once you are not scrolling through TV lineups, looking at shows Comcast/NBC/Universal would prefer you to watch at 7 PM at night, you may be slightly more choosy.  Even though I watch more TV now than when I actually paid for cable, I watch (in my opinion) better TV.  Call me crazy... I'm sure there's some real redeeming quality to all the Real Housewife shows, but I have no desire to watch them.  I could watch them, but there are many other shows I would rather spend my crafting time watching.  

Here's a few shows the Kelley-Bell household recommend you check out:


Wilfred (Benjamin Tatertot's pick)

According to FX, "Wilfred is a half-hour, live-action comedy about "Ryan," a young man struggling unsuccessfully to make his way in the world until he forms a unique friendship with "Wilfred," his neighbor’s canine pet. Everyone else sees Wilfred as just a dog, but Ryan sees a crude and somewhat surly, yet irrepressibly brave and honest, Australian bloke in a cheap dog suit. While leading him through a series of comedic and existential adventures, Wilfred the dog shows Ryan the man how to overcome his fears and joyfully embrace the unpredictability and insanity of the world around him."

I recommend this show because:  If you're a dog lover, be prepared to laugh non-stop for about 20 minutes.  You would think they would run out of dog-jokes, but I'm convinced after an entire season - the possibilities are endless!  Elijah Wood is deliciously dark and sullen.  You can't decide whether Wilfred is improving or ruining his life, but either way you love him.  

Bonus:  Tons of guest stars, each one better than the last.  

Zombie-Brain Factor:  Four Paws Up.  

Watch It:  On FX, or Hulu.com.  They've been renewed for a second season, so catch up on the first while it's still on Hulu!


Misfits (Matt Bell's pick)

According to Hulu, "Meet Kelly, Nathan, Curtis, Alisha and Simon, five unruly teenagers forced to do community service as payback for their crimes. When a freak electrical storm hits their town, strange things begin to happen to them and they soon realize they've turned into superheroes. Each of them possess a power they didn't choose or want, a power which reveals each of their deepest, darkest insecurities. But while they just want to finish their community service and get through the challenges of everyday teenage life, fate has another task in store for them - they must save their town from the evil that has descended upon it. If you think life's tough for your average superhero, it's even tougher when you have a curfew..."

I recommend this show because:  These kids are some talented actors, and the show is witty, fresh and will keep your attention from one episode to the next.  You will care and wonder where their lives are headed. 

Bonus:  I love BBC shows.  I think my favorite part of British television are the actors.  They're talented and REAL.  They're not on the raw food diet or hawking you crystal face cream that will make your skin just as flawless as their airbrushed ads.  

Zombie-Brain Factor:  I will give this one four stars.  It's not The Wire, but a pretty entertaining show overall.  

Watch It:  On Hulu.com.  They just wrapped up Season 2 and Hulu offers both seasons in their entirety.  


Luther (My pick!)

Another BBC show!  According to BBC, "Luther is a gripping, psychological thriller driven by a brilliant and emotionally impulsive detective tormented by the darker side of humanity. A self-destructive near-genius, Luther might just be as dangerous as the depraved criminals he hunts. In each episode, the murderer's identity is known from the start, focusing the drama on the psychological duel between predator and prey. Luther shines a light into the hearts and minds of psychopaths and killers, and the shadowy spaces of his own soul."

I recommend this show because:  Who doesn't love a good cop/criminal drama?  You can't decide whether you love or hate him, but either way Luther keeps you sucked in.  This show is well written with talented actors and holds you in suspense.  

Bonus:  STRINGER BELL!!!  Yes Wire fans, Stringer Bell with an accent - which quadruples his hotness.  Eye candy at it's finest.  

Zombie-Brain Factor:  Two thumbs up!  I cannot wait for the second season to start!  

Watch it:  On BBC America, for you cable junkies.  Netflix has the first season in it's entirety.  Season 2 already began in the UK but won't hit our shores until sometime in October.  


I have many, MANY, other shows I could recommend to you, but I'll just leave you with these few for now.  Enjoy! 

xoxo,
Amy Kelley Bell
self-confessed TV junkie

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not Martha

As many of you know, my husband is a chef.  A fancy chef... A ridiculously talented chef.  Like one of those crazy chefs who actually understand the science of food, as well as the art.  For those of you who don't know him already, you can read about the restaurant he works at, Ashley's - http://newamericanacuisine.com/


So, what many people don't know is that I used to be a pretty good cook myself.  And yes, I say cook because god forbid I insult my husband's profession with my mediocre culinary skills.  My grandmother, Nellie Mae, taught me to cook when I was a young girl and there's nothing I love more than making a great meal for people I love.  However, shortly after meeting Matthew I retired my culinary skills.  Not only is he a far better chef than I could ever aspire to be, but it's a little difficult for me to share kitchen with him.  Don't get me wrong, I love him and I totally respect that our kitchen is HIS territory, but the few times I've dared to cook for him things get a little heated, and I'm not talking about the oven.  While some folks have a "one-ass kitchen", we have a "one-ego kitchen."  I'm a stubborn girl and I don't take kindly to criticism or unwarranted advice.  I can recall my husband once saying "You may be the only person in the world that doesn't care about my culinary opinion!"  I love reminding him of that... Thinking of it always makes me giggle.


My solution to our little problem is that I generally only cook or bake when The Chef is at work.  I spent my Saturday night last week with a good friend.  We went by the Razorback tailgate, had dinner at Cantina Laredo and then headed back to my place for a movie.  On our way home, my friend got a craving for something sweet.  I had found a recipe earlier in the week for these brownies and I was SO EXCITED to have an excuse to make them!  We made a Kroger run on the way home, put on Some Like It Hot on the kitchen TV and got to baking. 


Now this is not your typical brownie recipe... This brownie recipe contains all that is good and righteous in the world of baking - specifically, Oreos.  I don't have a sweet tooth - I usually have cravings for things that are salty and cheesy.  In fact, I'm not wild about chocolate.  Crazy, I know - how can I call myself a female if I don't love and crave chocolate?!?  But, I do love brownies and even more I lurve Oreos.  


So, I tried to be organized with my baking adventure this weekend... I wrote my recipe up on the chalkboard wall so I wouldn't have to keep referencing my iPhone with ooey-gooey all over my fingers.  I even set out a pseudo-mise en place.  But sadly, I am no Martha because I failed to pay attention to how-freaking-long this recipe was going to take.  My sweet, patient, gracious friend sat through all of Some Like It Hot and then some while I made these brownies.  Then we get to the end of the recipe, and we are ready to dig into this pyrex dish with our bare hands like Oreo-Brownie monsters and... SHIT - I'm supposed to stick this bad boy in the fridge for 30 MORE MINUTES?!?!?!  Now I'm cussing and cursing all those women who pretend as though this is all SO easy... So, I sent my friend home late into the night with a scoop of ooey-gooey.  It may not have looked like these lovely photos below, but it sure was tasty.  


My advice to those of you attempting this recipe, PLAN AHEAD.  Don't be like me and think that you can whip this shit together for your friends to have a late night snack to accompany your movie.  I took the rest of this batch to my other friend's house the next night and we chowed down while drooling over Alexander Skarsgard.  Also, if you want to cut these bad boys so they look just as awesome as the ones below, my friend - who is a pastry chef - tells me that you have to freeze them, not just refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Again with the smoke and mirrors!  Arrrgh... I'll never be Martha!


Dreamy Oreo Brownies
1 box brownie mix (I used Pillsbury Fudge Brownies) – with ingredients to prepare them according to the package directions
1 (16.6 oz) package Oreo cookies divided equally into 3rds all coarsely chopped
1 (8 oz) tub of Cool Whip thawed in fridge
1 8 oz block of cream cheese softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Prepare brownie batter according to package directions, folding in 1/3 of the chopped Oreos.
Bake according to package directions, until a toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.
Let brownies cool completely.
Meanwhile in your mixer bowl beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined and smooth.
With a spatula fold in the Cool Whip and another 1/3 of the coarsely chopped Oreos.
Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of cooled brownies.
Now in a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips and the vegetable oil on medium power for 1 minute.
Stir and repeat in 30 second increments until melted.
When chocolate is melted spread evenly over the cream cheese layer.
Now sprinkle the remaining Oreos on top of melted chocolate.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
[Freeze if you want to be a culinary badass!]
Cut into squares.



Recipe and photos taken from Cookies & Cups, you may find the original post here: 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who needs clothes when you have great accessories?

This past Saturday I spent my morning with two amazing women!  Stephanie Parsley is young, refreshingly energetic, and quite the talented photographer.  You can find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stephaniep24  I highly recommend her!!  Emily Karnes is a professional dancer, and a lovely girl who could have a serious future in modeling, if she wanted to pursue that path.  We met bright and early (7:45 AM... eek!) to capture shots of my new fall collection.  Stephanie has been kind enough to share some sneak peeks pics, and I cannot wait to see the rest of these lovely photos.  Stephanie will send me the rest of the shots in a few weeks, but in the meantime... Enjoy!!!

If you would like to purchase any of these items, you can visit my Etsy shop:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/DimestoreDiamonds?ref=si_shop,  find me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dimestorediamonds, or contact me directly at dimestorediamonds@gmail.com