About Fred - a store

I opened FRED - a store in 1995 as a retail gift shop in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, as the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to own my own business. It was a tough decision to close the brick and mortar shop in 1997, but as any artisan can tell you, the urge to create will not be denied! I continue to design and craft many styles of original costume jewellery and gift items one piece at a time, for sale on Etsy, as well as through the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada venues: *Textures Craftworks, 236 Locke St. S., 905-523-0636 *Bold Artiste, 6 Bold St., 905-902-2219 You never know what creative items I might come up with next, so stay tuned... Sandra Rodwell

My Little Chickapea

I enjoyed a lovely, breezy walk in the sun today on my way to join a friend for lunch. It was glorious after such a gloomy week! Of course, that didn’t stop me from getting caught in the pouring rain without an umbrella and getting soaked to the skin on my way home. Sigh. I decided to stop off to pick up a bunch of cilantro on my way, so I guess it was my own fault.

Folks either love or hate cilantro, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Luckily, my husband and I BOTH love cilantro, so I don’t have to start looking for a new spouse.

The acquisition of cilantro in our household usually means several things: before it goes black and slimy in the fridge, we will be having cucumber and chickpea salad; mango salad; and guacamole!

First up tonight is the cucumber and chickpea salad which will be a great side to our roasted chicken, and then tomorrow we will have to pick up a couple of mangos, and of course avocados when we get groceries.

This is a recipe in three parts and one should make the chickpeas first since they take the longest to prepare, followed by the dressing, and finally the salad itself.

Sandra’s Cucumber Salad with Roasted Chickpeas:


1. Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Preheat oven to 400F.

  1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place onto paper towel. Cover with additional paper towels and roll the chickpeas around until completely dry to help them crisp up in the oven.
  2. Add the chickpeas to a mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated, then stir in the seasonings.
  3. Discard paper towel and place chickpeas on the baking sheet.
  4. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. I roast for a full 40 minutes because I like them on the crispy side, but keep an eye on them as oven temps vary.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes or so before eating them or using on top your salad. They will lose their crispness quickly so these are best enjoyed immediately. You can also freeze the chickpeas once fully cooled and reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes or so to bring back the crispness, or store in an airtight ziploc bag. 


*Alternatively, I came across The Good Bean All-Natural Roasted Chickpea Snacks, and found them to be a great time-saver if you don’t have the time or inclination to roast your own chickpeas. Use the sea-salt flavour so the seasonings don’t conflict with the flavours in your salad!  Check their website to see availability in your area:  http://www.thegoodbean.com/sea-salt/


2. Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2  to 2 tablespoons sugar (or Splenda artificial sweetener), to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


Place dressing ingredients together in a cruet and shake to mix. Adjust to taste and feel free to add more sweetener if you prefer. Set aside.

3. Salad:

  • 2 English cucumbers, skins left on
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow or orange pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced onion (I like a sweet Vidallia onion, but a red onion looks pretty too)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

(Optional, but recommended if you don’t have nut allergies:)

  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas


1. Remove plastic and slice off the ends of the cucumbers, and slice in quarters, lengthwise, then cut into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl.




2. Dice the red, green, and orange/yellow peppers and onion and add to bowl.


3. Roughly chop cilantro, discarding stem ends, and add to bowl.


Pour in all the dressing and toss to combine. Let this salad sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, tossing every 10 minutes or so to help the dressing soak in.


Portion into bowls and top with peanuts and roasted chickpeas if using. Serve immediately.



With lots of fibre, plant-based protein, low fat, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, this salad not only looks great, but is great for you!







Fred – a store – handmade gifts & costume jewellery design

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Rock On!

October already…and there is something that Emma wants to let out of the bag:


Emma is letting something out of the bag…

it’s the time of year when my bag of rocks (doesn’t everyone have a bag of rocks?) begins to transition from this –


bag of rocks, don’t you know!

…into something like this…


…and then this…


…and then a table full of THIS…


But after standing up for a moment to stretch my legs and get a drink of water, I come back to find my spot has been claimed:



What? The chair was free, and it was also warm!

Once Nelson vacated “my” chair, I was able to put the finishing touches on this year’s crop of stone pumpkins…




And there you have it – the 2014 stone pumpkin patch by Fred – a store!







Fred – a store – handmade gifts & costume jewellery design

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fredastore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fredastore
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/fredastore/
Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Fredastore

Go Ahead – Make My Stuff!


Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”. – Charles Caleb Colton

Imitation may be flattering, but stealing is not!

I am often inspired by the beautiful work of other people, but one should NEVER steal someone else’s ideas and recreate them exactly – one must always take inspiring ideas and use them as a jumping off point. Change them enough to make them your own.

If you have ever sold things at a craft sale, you would probably be very wealthy if you had a dime for every person who visited your booth and admired your work before walking away and telling their friends, “What a great idea – I think I’ll go home and make one!”

I have always found that the more things you make, the more new and ORIGINAL ideas come your way…for instance:


This necklace features hand-crafted floral cluster made with white beans, pumpkin seeds and crystals and is strung on multi-strands of crystal, glass and candy jade with 18K gold plated embellishments. I have admired various necklaces I have seen with floral focal points, but never have I seen another made with seeds and beans!

I created a line of jewellery 20 years ago which I named Seeduction, and I am pleased to say I have never seen anyone else work with these natural materials in quite the same way. Will that change now that my work has gone online? Only time will tell…







Fred – a store – handmade gifts & costume jewellery design

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fredastore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Fredastore
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Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/Fredastore

Going Bananas!

Creativity does splash over into all areas of my life. I can’t always be making jewellery even though I enjoy it, and sometimes I make other things – like food, for instance.  I am a fan of food in all of its many forms.

Yesterday after making a bunch of sterling silver clip on earrings to boost my stock levels in that category, thoughts turned to making dinner. Since I have been laid off from my admin assistant “day job” for a while and a new job is proving elusive, I have a lot more time on my hands to plan dinner for my husband, Andrew, and myself, but I don’t always get very elaborate, and very rarely do I make a dessert. However, the mood for something sweet struck and I decided to make one of my favourite things – banana bread!

My late aunt Elaine was well-known for her banana bread recipe, but alas, it was never passed on to the family, so I had to go online and search for a reasonable facsimile. I think the secret to her banana bread was more bananas than most recipes. Having found a suitable substitute recipe, I of course could not leave well enough alone and I made key changes and additions to the recipe to make it my own!

Because Andrew likes bananas in his lunches sometimes, and because we flirt with the idea of dieting and making smoothies for diet breakfasts but then never make the smoothies, we often have a lot of bananas ripening faster than we eat them. Rather than throw those blackening bananas out, however, I toss them into the freezer until they reach critical mass. Since one loaf of banana bread requires 3 or 4 (read: 4) bananas, I am now making two loaves of banana bread.

So, I take 8 frozen bananas out of the freezer to thaw in a bowl.


Keep in mind that once a banana has been frozen the peel often turns completely black, and once the bananas thaw they are truly disgusting to look at and mushy in consistency. This is EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT for making banana bread! I wouldn’t suggest it for anything else, namely because they are so disgusting, but for this one purpose they are PERFECT!

Once the bananas are thawed, preheat the oven to 350F (175C) degrees, and then cut off one end of each banana and squeeze from the opposite end like a tube of toothpaste. The bananas will slither out of their peels along with some liquid, and will splat into your large mixing bowl. DO NOT BE ALARMED. Once all bananas are in your bowl, mash them gently and incorporate the accumulated liquid into the mixture of mashed bananas. Because the bananas are already mushy this is very easy to do.


Melt the butter in a microwave and then mix into the mashed bananas.


Mix in the egg, vanilla and sugar. I prefer to use a brown sugar substitute like Splenda (or no-name brown sugar substitute) since we try to watch our sugar consumption around here, but you can use regular white or brown sugar for good results.

IMG_4403Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and thoroughly blend in to avoid clumps. Once that is blended in, add the flour last. It is easier to do if you blend it in a bit at a time.


Once the flour is all blended in, you should be looking at something like this:


If you were following the original recipe you would stop there and pour the mixture into two buttered (or silicone) loaf pans. However, I already told you that I could not leave well-enough alone. So, from here I would add not only chopped walnuts (which make everything better, and they are good for you!), but I also add chocolate chips for good measure. After all, bananas and chocolate are a famous pairing!


I prefer to buy shelled walnuts that are not chopped and then chop them lightly myself since there are fewer shells in the mix to break your teeth! Slightly larger chunks of walnuts yield a more pleasing finished product, but use your own preference to guide you.

The chocolate chips should be semi-sweet.

Fold the nuts and chocolate chips (if using – and I think you should) into the batter until they are evenly blended.


THEN pour the mixture into two buttered metal (or silicone) loaf pans. I got silicone pans a few years ago and they release the finished product like a dream! But because I also worry about the flimsy nature of the silicone pans, I put the two filled loaf pans on top of a flat baking sheet for stability and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until centre of loaf is set.


Use a toothpick to test the centre of the loaves to make sure they are set in the centre – if the toothpick comes out clean they are done. But if you hit a chocolate chip while testing pick another spot because the chocolate will be melted and moist at this point!


Cool on a rack and remove from pans to slice and serve!


The second loaf freezes well if you wrap in plastic wrap and put into a plastic bag once cooled, or you could invite some friends over to share!

Sandra’s Banana Bread Recipe:

  • 3 or 4 (use 4) ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (I reduce to 3/4 cup and use brown sugar substitute like Splenda)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Optional: (but I do advise it)
  • 1/2 cup lightly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix butter into mashed banana in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mixing in. If using, fold in chopped walnuts and chocolate chips and blend evenly. Pour into buttered 4 x 8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Makes one loaf.






Fred – a store – handmade gifts & costume jewellery design

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fredastore
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Welcome to fredastore.com!

I have finally unlocked the mystery of the ages, and here before you is the new website/blog I have set up for Fred – a store to present my jewellery creations to the world!

sandras glasses

Please come in and have a look around, and tell me what you think. This is a first try at a website, so I am open to constructive suggestions going forward!

In future, I will offer personal blog posts on the creative life and whatever captures my attention, so please come back often!



All the best-