Friday, January 30, 2009



My name is Mzz Thang and I'm a chocoholic (giggle).

Ahhh...Chocolate. It's my favorite food. I have a passion for chocolate that far exceeds a simple love of sweetness. In fact, I personally believe that chocolate should be in it's own food group. It's the everyday "feel good" food (although you may not feel too good if you eat too much of it), and has been linked to maintaining a healthy heart. Who knew?

Anyway, this months artisan collage is all about chocolate: its color, taste, aroma, etc. This is but a small sampling of some of my favorite handcrafted chocolate pieces. Support these fine artisans and enjoy!

CHOCOLATE GIFT TAGS - by Pie Safe Paper Goods
Wouldn't this be adorable attached to a box of chocolates or a great tag for that chocolate lover? Chocolate is always a good gift and this tag could be used at any time really. Check out the rest of Pie Safe Paper Goods creative crafts here.

CHOCOLATE DOUBLE DOT RIBBON - from Timeless Paper Arts

The printed dots on BOTH sides of the grosgrain ribbon allow crafters to tie bows or knots and not lose the dotted look. Yummy! Visit Timeless paper Arts for more crafting supplies here.

CHOCOLATE CAKE LIP BALM - by Adamsboro Sundries
Get your chocolate "fix" and moisurize your lips at the same time! MMmmm!
For more wonderful soaps, lip balms and fragrance oils, visit Adamsboro Sundries here.

SISTERS AND CHOCOLATE - by Lisa Ashby Designs
Show your sister how much you love her by sending her this unique handmade card. The sentiment reads "Sisters and chocolate make life bearable."
For more cute handmade cards, visit Lisa Ashby Designs here.


Who can resist these? Perfect for a simple "thank you" gift or just to say "Hi", these big chocolate chip cookies are available in quantities of two, each measuring approximately 4-4 1/2".
To taste Laura Lees Tasty treats, visit here.


This soap looks so real! It smells like the real thing too. This soap is made with Goat's milk which is very gentle and great for your skin.
For lots of fun ways to get clean, visit Crazy K Bath & Body here.

This little slice of chocolate cake with strawberry slices is made from polymer clay, and is a perfect charm for a necklace or anything else that needs a little sweetness!
For more polymer clay fancy food charms, visit Fancy Guppy here.

CHOCOLATE DROP EARRINGS - by Bijoux Designs For You

These fun hoops are accented with striped glass chocolate ovals and topped with a sparkly dark chocolate seed bead.
To see more of Bijoux Designs For You fantastic jewelry creations, visit here.

Just the thing to keep your lunch money handy! The outside of this adorable little change pouch is made from a recycled mini oreo cookies package and clear vinyl. Fabric lined and zipper closure.
Check out more of MoJo's recycled craft items here.


Imagine decadent, sinful chocolate flavor without the calories!The rich flavor of the chocolate in this tea is very prominent, as well as very subtle hints of vanilla. For more delectable delight from LiberTeas, visit here.


Made from high quality cotton quilting fabric and reinforced with cotton interfacing to give the bag shape and structure.
For more cute tote Bags By April, visit here.

BUN IN THE OVEN MATERNITY TOP - by Jellybean Apparel

I almost wish I were pregnant again just to be able to wear this! Polyester/Spandex/Rayon blend. The material is soft and stretchy, so it will grow with you! For more moms (& dads!) maternity clothing from Jellybean Apparel, visit here.

And, the last one for today is:

LE CHOCOLAT - By Mzz Thang (me)
Lustrous chocolate and creamy white pearls along with "drizzled" coco jasper make up this triple-strand bracelet. For every chocolate goddess, this piece is delicious, fresh and refined.

To visit my Art Fire store, please click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Ahhh.... love is in the air!

So in honor of Valentine's Day, Fo-Shizzle Design Studios is giving away free jewelry!

Your free jewelry can be anything you'd like from our Art Fire store or Fo-Shizzle website ( valued at up to $50.00 -- or -- you can choose to have a piece custom made specially for you!

To enter this free jewelry giveaway, simply fill out the form here
by noon pacific time, February 14th, telling us what your favorite piece of jewelry is and why -- and -- don't forget to follow us on our blog to stay informed of our next giveaway!

Good luck and lots of love!

~ Mzz Thang

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Perfect Gift, Anytime of Year!

Last October, as I was just finishing up the "basics" to my web store (, I decided to think ahead as to what special item or items I could offer for the Holiday Season to help promote my new online store. The idea that I came up is an "Earring of the Month Club" -- which is certainly nothing new to the typical online shopper -- however it was a huge success over the holidays, so I decided to keep it as a year-round product.

Our Earring of the Month Club is a great way to give the gift that keeps on giving, with a 6-month subscription at the low price of only $90.00, with free shipping! The customer chooses what color metal they prefer (gold, silver or both), as well as bright or neutral colors. Each pair of earrings are on
e of a kind, so no two customers will ever be sent the same pair or style.

If you would like to become a member of the Earring of the Month Club, or know someone who's celebrating a birthday, anniversay, or any special occassion, visit us at today, and click on the link "Join the Earring of the Month Club".

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Potato Chowder

Tonight I'm making an old family favorite, Potato Chowder. It's one of those soups that are the perfect "comfort food" during the cold, rainy season.

4 strips bacon
1/3 cup chopped white or yellow onion
2 cups diced raw potatoes
1/2 cup sliced fresh carrots
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
2 tablespoons diced green onions or chives (optional)

Fry bacon until crisp in a saucepan large enough for making soup. Remove bacon and crumble. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add potatoes, carrots, chicken stock and salt. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add seasonings. Blend flour with milk and add to the vegetable mixture, stirring constantly. Heat until slightly thickened. Serve in bowls, sprinkling crumbled bacon over the soup (optional: sprinkle cheddar cheese and green onions over soup before serving).

This is where the Magic Happens!

My father was a sign painter for over 50 years before retiring. He did everything from hand letting and hand painted pinstriping on vehicles, gold leaf on windows and sandblasted redwood signs, among hundreds of other styles. I worked for him throughout college and he taught me much about the business. My favorite of all time though, was doing the sandblasted signs.

I stumbled upon a seller at Art Fire yesterday, who does the most incredible sandblasted signs (almost as good as my dads - lol!) and I was taken back to the days fondly remembering when I worked for him.

The seller is lorienmalacek, also known as Words in Wood. Fantastic custom sandblasted signs, for any occasion. Weddings, home address, special events, new businesses, whatever the need, they can customize one just for you. Their prices are far more than reasonable too! So visit them at Art Fire and let them create a custom sign for you!

3 Weeks - 9 Pounds

It's day 21 of my "diet".

Yup, I made that once a year resolution to start eating better and hopefully to lose a few pounds. No more late night bowls of ice cream with my hubby, no more trips to grab fast food when I don't really feel like cooking, no more baking a cake or a pie, and having it totally devoured by the next day.

So far so good though. I've renewed my love for cooking and at the same time, lost 9 pounds. It's really not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I have a few friends who have undergone the bariatric surgery, only to regain much of their weight back because they wouldn't stick to the new method of eating. One of them was under the impression that once she had lost all the weight she wanted, she could go back to eating a whole large Roundtable pizza, or enter a pie-eating contest at the local school carnival. She gained back more weight than she had lost, after spending over $15,000 for the surgery (including having fat liposuctioned out of her uper arms)!

I decided to try something different. I am not a candidate for bariatric surgery due to having SLE, but decided that if the total results from the surgery depends on making a life-choice of eating better, with smaller amounts, then why couldn't I just do that without having the surgery?

I started a method of eating more food, yet still lost weight. I eat every two hours. That's it. Every two hours I have a small portion (no larger than the size of my fist) of food -- good food, like carrot or celery sticks, yogurt, fresh fruit, etc. Then for dinner I have a small portion of whatever I've made for dinner that night (again, no larger than the size of my fist). Feeding small amounts of food to my stomach every two hours keeps me from ever feeling hungry, and I don't totally gorge myself around mealtime. I also make sure to drink the full 8 glasses of water each day.

I've found that not only have I lost some weight, but I'm sleeping better, have more energy and am generally happier with myself. Only 40 more pounds to go.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Tonight I'm making my hubby's favorite dish for dinner. Pastitsio is a greek layered baked dish which consists mainly of a tubular type pasta, cheese, egg, ground meat, tomato sauce, and Bechamel.

The greek word Pastitsio takes its name from the Italian pasticcio, otherwise referred to as "lasagna al forno" in some regions of Italy.

For this dish I'm going to use Bucatini, which are long hollow tubes of pasta, slightly thicker than spaghetti. This dish freezes well and can be easily reheated in the microwave.

Makes 8 servings
# Filling:
# 1 pound uncooked bucatini pasta or spaghetti
# 1 pound ground sirloin or lean ground beef
# 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
# 3 garlic cloves, minced
# 1/2 cup dry white wine
# 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
# 1/2 teaspoon salt
# 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
# 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

# White sauce:
# 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
# 1/2 teaspoon salt
# 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
# 2 large eggs
# 2 large egg whites (additional)
# 5 tablespoons shredded kasseri or aged white cheddar cheese, divided
# Cooking spray
# 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare filling, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Rinse with cold water; set aside.

Cook beef, onion and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Add wine, tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until thick.

To prepare white sauce, place flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; set aside. Combine eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in 1 tablespoon kasseri cheese until blended.

Spread 1 cup beef mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of pasta over beef mixture. Top with 1 1/2 cups beef mixture. Repeat layers with remaining pasta and beef mixture. Top with white sauce. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons kasseri and Romano cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Two More Glass Displays

I Just found two more of the large glass Ikea Detolf displays on Craigslist. The seller used them to "stage" his home when trying to sell it. They have only been opened/closed twice, to place/remove a few small knicknacks. He bought them new 4 months ago, and now that the home has been sold, he has no use for them. I was able to purchase the pair of them for $80.00. A savings of approx. $119.00 (including tax).

Glass Displays

I found these great glass displays on Craigslist. Although I had to drive for an hour to pick them up, the seller did throw in a couple of "bonus" display units too. The two large displays are from IKEA (Detolf model), and retail for $95.00 each with the overhead lighting.

The two small displays are also from IKEA and are a discontinued item. The seller stated that he paid $60.00 each for the small ones new and had the locks installed at an additional $12.00 a piece.

There's not a scratch on any of them. This person took extremely good care of these display units. By doing my shopping on Craigslist, I managed to get all four display cases for $100.00 total, saving approximately $261.50 off of the retail price (including tax). These displays will be a great addition to the new store front!

Preparing to open a store front

I'm preparing to open a store front for my jewelry design business. Until now, I've been using two rooms in our home -- one filled with Gorilla racks -- you know, those heavy duty metal shelving units - filled with shipping and postage supplies, most of the office equipment, fax machine, scanner, etc., plus other assorted items too large to place in the "main" room. The "main room" has a wall-to-wall desk, with two computers (PC and Mac), two printers (color and laser), a large paper bin to hold assorted types of papers and envelopes, and on the opposite side of the room is my main design area. A 5' x 4' table is my workspace. On the wall behind it are several small parts bins filled with beads, gemstones and findings. There's an additional gorilla rack next to the table which holds additional boxes of beads and supplies. The side wall near the entry door is covered in peg board and filled with strands of assorted beads and pearls.

The move into the new storefront will definitely be a challenge. You see, the new store is only the size of a walk-in closet. It's 9' x 13' in size and is finished in rustic dark wood. The landlord will not allow any painting or major modifications to the room, so I am having to figure other ways to make the room work. It definitely will be a work in progress, and I'll keep you updated on how things go along the way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You see an over-sized loaf of bread, stuffed to the hilt with meat and cheese, lettuce and tomatoes on the television commercial. Just then, you notice a tiny drip of juice falling from the amazon sized sandwich, and you're off -- jumping in the car to go buy one. You order the fabulous creation which is also displayed on the plexiglass sign outdoors and await anxiously to ravish the delectable feast. Your mouth begins to water as you feverishly unwrap your sandwich only to find... doesn't look even half as good (or half as big) as the one on TV.

We all want our products to look their best. Afterall, most of the reason a piece sells is because of the way it is displayed or advertisied. However, if you do art shows or have a storefront, purchasing display props can also take up a huge chunk of money that can be better spent on other materials.

While roaming around our local dollar store yesterday (one of my favorite places to shop), I came across these 10" plate stands. There was an assortment of shapes and styles and they are well constructed with tight and secure welding and sturdy back bracing. I bought all that they had (19 total). They are ideal for displaying my jewelry, and the price just couldn't be beat! I also bought some ceramic vases to add extra color to my displays and each item I purchased was only .99 cents! Overall I spent a total of $26.79 and have props that can be used in multitude of ways. Since the average retail price of a "cheap" jewelry display is around $8.00 (plus shipping), I figured I saved a MINIMUM (roughly) of $175 to $200 dollars.So if you have a dollar store or discount store near you, stop in and take a look around every once in awhile. You just never know what your going to find that can enhance your art work and save you a lot of $$$!
~ Mzz Thang

Monday, January 12, 2009

First bar of soap.

I experimented outside of my "safety zone" today and made a bar of soap.

No, not the real difficult kind which uses lye and assorted oils -- I only used the 'melt and pour' kind -- and although I would like to make the difficult kind of homemade soap some day, my experience with this so called "simple" method proves that I should in no way be anywhere close to dangerous chemicals such as Lye.

The melt and pour method is supposed to be so incredibly simple: melt the soap base in the microwave, stir in the fragrance, coloring and any other additives, pour it into a mold and let it sit for about an hour.

Is it really possible to screw something that simple up?

The answer to that is...yes. I followed the instructions on the soap base packaging to a "t", but ran into some difficulties when putting in coloring and additives. You see, I decided to make the soap a slight pinkish-red color, and was going to add some fresh diced cranberries to it as well. The fragrance oil smelled spicy like cloves and allspice, so I figured the cranberries would be a perfect match for the oil. I melted just enough soap base to make one bar of soap, but when I went to add the red coloring, I mistakenly picked up a bottle of blue instead. Placing a drop into the soap, I cringed; and now racing into the next room to grab the bottle of red dye, decided to add a few drops of it anyway, which turned the soap a slight grayish-purple. I added the diced cranberries and thought all was going to be ok...until I remembered reading somewhere that if you add a couple of drops of coloring on top of the soap and use a toothpick, you can achieve a marbled effect.

Yeah, RIGHT. Here's my first attempt at soap making:

Now if I can just remember not to light
a cigarette anywhere near a gas filling station...I might just survive long enough to make a bar of soap turn out right.

~ Mzz Thang

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Store Front

I'm sooooo excited!

This year I will be opening a new storefront (which actually means I will get two of the bedrooms in my home back! LOL!)

Although it's not the "ideal" location, it's amongst a plethora of people, and I can't beat the cost of the rent!

My new store (which will be opening mid February) is a 300 (+) square foot quaint little place inside our local bowling alley, where there's an average flow of 800 to 1200 people every day. When the bowling alley was built (1942) this room was originally built as a dress shop so that the owners' wife could have her own business, as she loved fine clothing. With her dress shop being inside the bowling alley, the owner and his wife could both be at work at their separate jobs yet still be "together". The front double doors of this room open right out into the main floor of the bowling alley and is not easily missed.

Over the years, this "walk-in-closet" of a room has been a number of different types of businesses: Dress shop, Craft shop (x2), Breakfast shop (serving only coffee and pastries for the early morning bowlers), Dart store, Bowling Pro shop and will be the new home of Fo-Shizzle Design Studios. It's going to take a little bit to set it up though. The previous business in that room was the pro shop, in which the owner and all of his friends would meet and get drunk, spilling their drinks all over the white carpeting. And all of the dust from drilling bowling balls has seeped into the crevices in the dark wood-slatted walls, so it's definitely "clean-up" time!

When the pro-shop gets completely moved out of there, I'll have to post some pics of it. YEAH!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"High" speed internet connection

After dealing for 8 months with AT&T, I now, more than ever, make sure I provide my customers with the highest form of customer service I can. If I have to kiss their toes, I will, simply to not put them through the kind of torture I've had to deal with.

I've been fighting with AT&T (as I states) for over 8 months. It all started when my modem started "taking a dump" on me. I called their customer service department and was whizzed through a series of questions and online tests, and assured everything would be alright. And it was...until the next day. The same thing started happening. My modem would keep "rebooting" itself, and web pages would take forever to load. By forever, I mean 3 to 4 minutes per page.

Again I called AT&T's customer service, in hopes of explaining what the symptoms of the modem were. But before I could get a word out, I was again taken through the question and test mode by the customer service rep. I began getting frustrates, because when I would try to explain the situation, my words were drowned out by the CSR speaking louder. He would not listen. I hung up pissed off, and figured I would wait and try again some other day.

I believe that part of AT&T's CSR training is to make sure the customer feels belittled, that they are not given time to speak, and make sure that the customer gives up and deals with the crap they've been given. Because over those 8 months, I dealt with exactly those type of people.

It wasn't until a week ago that I to speak to a person who, after the same stupid questions and testing, decided to take a breath....whereas I could actually peep out the words "MY MODEM IS BROKEN!". The CSR said, "broken?" "You mean like cracked or something?"

OMG, I thought. I finally get to explain to someone what's been happening! So I did. The CSR tells me that he'll send me out another modem -- no charge (there'd better not be a charge for it! I haven't been able to use my 'high speed internet" for several months, I've been paying the bill regularly, and had to deal with their crap... no...they'd better not charge me).

The new modem shows up a week later on my doorstep. It's all shiny and new, and comes with a yellow installation CD so I can get back up and working at full speed again. Now, you have to intall the CD in order to use the modem. And the installation program jumps right up on the screen of a PC, eagerly awaiting its "next" button to be clicked.

But I have a Mac.

I remember explaining that to the CSR as well, because I wanted to make sure they sent the correct materials to me. But they didn't. So in order for me to get the modem working, I had to set up a PC, insert the AT&T CD, download the modem software and switch everything over to my Mac.

I'm pretty sure that the few hairs left that I haven't already pulled out are completely gray by now.