Mayflower Bean


Some historical background

The story goes: The Mayflower Bean arrived in the US in the 1620s, on the Mayflower. After being introduced to the Americas, Mayflower Bean was cultivated by the people of the Carolina region of the country. The Mayflower Bean is a pole bean plant that produces cut-short beans. Cut-short beans are a type of bean where the seeds outgrow the hulls and the developing seeds push against each another making them appear square, rectangular, or have flattened sides. Mayflower Bean seeds are a beautiful creamy color with dark-red speckles that look spray painted on the edges. Use the young beans as snap string bean or use as a beautiful dry bean.

Just look at them now!

These beans may have been around for over 400 years now, but their muted colors are just beautiful. Shades of cream and rust and brown, make for a wonderful bracelet.

I was rummaging for a while in that strange space I call my workroom, and came across the PERFECT spacers — little cream and rust and brown shell “thingies” that matched perfectly — voila!





I just love the way the triple-stand memory wire bracelet turned out!

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These are NOT lima BEANS!

No, these gorgeous beads are NOT lima beans — even though they look perfectly delicious!  They are called “lima beads” and I found them at

They were even fun to create the necklace:

I rummaged around and collected all sorts of little green treasures. The colors just seemed to call out to each other. Even the pendant was perfect. After experimenting with the sequencing of the big and little beads, they all seemed to come together.

Now for the clasp

This picture is right after finishing the crimp beads on both ends and attaching the clasp. You can see the ends of the beading wire before snipping them off.

Then the final step: earrings

First of the three pictures shows the three beads on the golden “stick pin”. Then the addition of the hook portion of the earring. And finally the finished pair.

I love the way they all turned out. Hopefully, you will too!


Penquin Bean Bracelet

Little black and white beans

These little black and white beans just make me think of cute little penguins (actually I think real penguins aren’t that little but anyway). Their proper name is Black Calypso Beans and I purchased them online from Manitou Trading Company, part of Woodland Foods. They have all sorts of beautiful beans!

Black Calypso Beans (a.k.a. Penguin beans)

The Black Calypso Bean is a bi-colored member of the legume family, offering nutrient density, mild flavor and a creamy texture that performs well on its own or as a component among other ingredients.

  • 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length
  • Half black, half white with contrasting speckles
  • Mild, earthy flavor, often compared to potatoes

beads getting ready to be drilled beans getting ready to be drilled





Similar to the Anasazi beans, these beans are really little. You have to anchor them between two fingers to hold them still enough to drill. But it’s worth it.

Memory Wire Info

Memory wire comes in a variety of metals and sizes. One thing to remember is that memory wire is specialized and requires a different tool to cut it. Trying to cut it with your regular cutters will ruin the cutter.

The memory wire I used was silver and wrist-sized. I once upon a time had the little metal balls to glue on the end of memory wire, but I need to rummage some more to find them in the self-imposed chaos of my workshop. So I just twisted the ends of the wire to keep the beans and beads from falling off. Not terribly attractive, but functional.

The final (sort of final) bracelet:

Finished bracelet Finished bracelet

Haven’t listed these yet (still looking for those little balls), but this is how the bracelet turned out. I just love it — maybe I’ll just keep it to wear myself!

Please take a look at my web site anyway, though. Thanks.


Who were the Anasazi? Where did they live?

Anasazi Beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi Indians.  Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning “ancient ones”. The Anasazi Indians are best identified by their architectural achievements known today as cliff dwellings and inhabited these structures as early as 130 A.D. Today these structures can be seen at areas such as Mesa Verde National Park, located in Southwestern Colorado.

Source: Adobe Milling Co., Inc., Dove Creek, CO

Who would have thought these beans would make such a stunning necklace? Well, here’s how the necklace came about . . .

Now to make a necklace . . .

First, the beans . . . Aren’t they beautiful?!





These little beans present a little bit of a problem because they are so small. I had to hold the bean between my middle finger and pointer finger to hold it stationery enough to pierce it with the dremel. Drilling results in a little powder but that’s no problem — just rub the bean with your fingers as you’re stringing.

Then came the question of what to combine with the beads. First, I thought of a clear faceted crystal bead to contrast with the colorful bean. But that looked really weird. Then I tried to find a red stone or something contrasting, but never could find the right shade of red.

My Secret

(One of the things that I have to admit is that I do all my work restricted to my workshop due to having had a stroke. So all my supplies to choose from are right there and that’s what I have to work with. Except for Amazon but sometimes that’s not fast enough!)

More rummaging . . .

So after rummaging through the stacks of boxes, I came up with these interesting-looking little beads. Of course, it helps to have a cat assistant — this Walter.







These little grey pearly beads ended up working very well with the colorful Anasazi beads. Now what about some sort of center focal point to reduce the monotony of just the beans and beads?

Back to rummaging.


So here, finally is the finished necklace.

Check out the listing

Horrors!!  I’m running out of beans!  Stay tuned . . .

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Susan Gibson-garfe


Fava Beans and Goddesses

Love Affair with Fava Beans . . .

I’ve always loved fava beans. Their shape is so fluid and sensual. They start out as pretty placid looking beans at Central Market. I bought these in 2011.

BUT! When they are sprayed gold, they turn into something beautiful. (Of course, that happens to most things when they’re sprayed gold.)

Next, add some bling

Add black and rhinestone spacers, and you have something spectacular.





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But, how about some tiny goddesses?

Then, not content to leave well enough alone, why not add some goddesses? These are adorable little goddesses are hand-made by an artist from Portland, Oregon. Each one is individual and precious.

What better frame than some golden fava beans?






Check out the little fava goddess necklace at

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Thanks for visiting — more “Beans can be beautiful” stories in the works.

Susan Gibson-Grafe


Kidney Beans

Another adventure in “Beans can be Beautiful” . . .

Kidney beans are such a beautiful shade of reddish-brown and the red jasper nuggets matched perfectly. The vintage Tibetan temple beads were a wonderful foil.

Back to drilling!

The hard part was drilling the holes in the kidney beans — they’re tiny! Not all of the beans passed the test with the hole landing in the middle of the bean.

Limitations of photography

It’s almost impossible (at least for me) to capture the rich colors of these beans and beads — believe me, they’re awesome!

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All readers are hereby sworn to absolute secrecy as to the following:

John’s Kidney-bean Chili recipe

Brown 2 pounds 80% hamburger meat along with 1 medium-to-large yellow onion. Add salt and pepper as meat is browning. Make sure to thoroughly cook the meat. Add two(2) 15-½ oz. cans of diced tomatoes, one(1) 15-½ oz. can of tomato sauce, one(1) 15-½ oz. can of red kidney beans, and one(1) 15-½ can of pinto or chili beans. Add two(2) packets of McCormick or Lowry’s Original Chili Mix. Simmer for a minimum of 1 hour. Enjoy!

Remember: if you get tired of wearing the necklace, you can always make chili!

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Stay tuned for more “Beans can be beautiful”

Susan Gibson-Grafe


Christmas Lima Bean

I just love these beans! Sometimes they’re called Christmas Beans (usually the color is more brown than red though) or Calico Beans. Each bean is unique with its own color patterns.

Step 1: Drilling

The first step is drilling holes in the beans. I bought a handy little battery-powered Dremel from Amazon and then had to special order a drill bit small enough for the tiny holes needed for stringing.





First try:

The pictures below were taken of the first version of this necklace.

I never did really like the horn center-piece but that was all I came up with to start.
Several days later, I was rummaging through my “stuff” and re-discovered this piece of bone. Perfect!

Back to try again

Of course, this meant re-doing the entire necklace since the center-piece was truly in the center and the two ends of the clasp had been finished with crimp beads and the excess stringing wire cut off. So, another longer piece of wire. My work table seems to have many of the “un-done” pieces of wire.
First, cutting off the clasp end and starting to undo. No specific order in
sequencing this necklace, so re-stringing it is easier. Just have to be sure the center-piece ends up in the middle.

Another failure

All re-strung and ready to go — BUT! The center-piece bone now doesn’t (or won’t) lie flat. How can you have a center-piece that doesn’t lie flat??

Back to the drawing-board. The more positioning I tried, that bone thing would not lay flat. Tried making the necklace shorter, but that didn’t work either. Thought I might hang it vertically, with something tangling from it.

Here are a few of the options being considered.

Nothing seemed to work. More rummaging. Found this pendant in a box down underneath several other boxes. Voila!





Back to re-stringing — hopefully finally!

To see the finished product in all its glory, go to

Just ordered some more beans, so keep checking for more stories. Just finishing a kidney bean necklace!

More about the Christmas beans.

The Christmas Lima Bean is a large, flat, heirloom-variety pole bean with a swirling maroon pattern on a white background. These markings remain visible after cooking. Its chestnut-like flavor and flaky texture make it a distinctive bean for a variety of culinary applications.

  • Colorful pattern remains after cooking
  • High in fiber and protein
  • Naturally gluten free
  • Heirloom variety

The Christmas Lima Bean (Phaseolus limensis), also sometimes called the “chestnut lima” due to its similarity in taste to the nut, is an heirloom-variety pole bean related to the standard lima bean and the giant Peruvian lima. It is quarter-sized, flat, and white, with a swirling maroon color pattern that remains after cooking. The bean’s chestnut flavor, combined with its festive coloring, led to the name Christmas lima.

Accounts of the Christmas lima bean’s use in gastronomy date back to the 1840s in the American Southwest, and they became particularly popular around the turn of the 20th century. The hardy plant grows well in the hot, dry conditions of the high desert, producing large yields.

Christmas lima beans have a flaky, baked potato-like texture when cooked. They are perfect for countless variations on traditional succotash, salads, fresh vegetable-based soups, stews and casseroles.

Christmas lima beans are members of the larger family of legumes, plants used for their edible seeds and pods that boast a high nutrient density with low-maintenance production and storage. They contain high levels of protein, essential minerals and fiber while maintaining a low level of fats.



Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

About the Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

Have you ever heard of Giant Peruvian Lima Beans? I hadn’t either until I found them recently at Central Market. The shape of these strange looking beans is just wonderful.

The giant version of the regular lima or butter bean, Giant Peruvian or “gigantes” as they’re known, have the same creamy texture and sweet flavor. They’re about 1 inch long, flat and white. Hearty and filling, use with salads, soups, casseroles, rice dishes, or puree into a dip or spread. Soak overnight before use, drain and rinse.

Before you start to drill

They have a thick shell that apparently can crack so you have to check them individually to make sure they’re whole.

Then you can start drilling a hole in each one for the stringing wire. Of course, having a cat supervising always helps.







Next you have to decide: leave the bean alone or embellish them  – Oh! the artistic choices that must be made.

Well, let’s embellish them. This is where my husband, John, comes in – with the glitter.










We’re still experimenting with different kinds of lacquer and spray but haven’t solved that problem yet.

Back to stringing the beans

 I started stringing the “un-shiny” beans. I wasn’t sure at first what to use as spacers between the beans. The little green leaves didn’t do much, so I decided against them.

Next I tried some little red coral branches and I liked the contrast. Then I started looking for a coral stone for the center. I decided on a deep red center stone, but this required restringing the whole thing with different coral branches that were more red.

Finally decided on the coral “twigs”

The necklace was starting to look good. BUT I had messed up. I was stringing the beans one way, but evidently got distracted or just plain not paying attention, and had reversed the direction of the beans about three-quarters of the way through. I had already closed both ends of the clasp with crimp beads, which meant having to start all over again with another piece of wire. I seem to have problems with dimensions and persistently try to make due with a piece of wire that I’ve cut off the spool, only to find that it’s too short. I have all these rejected pieces of wire lying around and try to make use of them on other projects to no avail.

Now all the beans are facing in the right direction–finally! Just for the picture — when you wear this necklace all the beans will go in their own direction and look much more interesting.

Of course, IF you get really hungry, you can eat them!

To see the finished product, go to

Check back for more “Beans can Be Beautiful”. I just ordered more beans!!


RED Kidney Beans

The kidney beans in the bracelet are truly spectacular! They almost look like jewels. The Dark Red Kidney is a famous dry bean, the biggest and best of baking beans! Matures in 95 days. Popular for its excellent flavor and many uses, this variety can be stored dry or canned.

Red kidney beans hail from Mexico and Central America, where they filled critical nutritional needs in the diet of the native peoples. Explorers and sailors also appreciated them for their dietary value, and because they could be stored for long periods of time. The traditional cuisine in Northern India uses red kidney beans, as well as food in the tradition of New Orleans.

See planting information at end of this blog. We ordered the beans from:

I found the little reddish spacers in my stash in my workroom.

They are always full of surprises that I had even forgotten until I rummaged through them looking for just the right bead. Having this wonderful supply in my workroom because I had a stroke a few years ago and don’t get out that much.

Except for the day after tomorrow when John and I are driving to Enid, Oklahoma for a retirement celebration for Margaret (John’s daughter #2). She’s retiring after 21 years as a pilot for the Air Force. The retiring pilot has a farewell flight and John is going to be in the control tower during the flight.

But, back to the beans

The kidney bean bracelet is strung on silver-plate memory wire with little silver end caps. The bracelet has a little over two full rotations.

I think it’s quite stunning! (Even if I do say so myself.)

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If you want to grow your own large red kidney beans, here’s how:

Dry Bean – ‘Organic Red Kidney’

Red Kidney Bean Germination:
Direct sow seeds in rich, well drained soil in full sun at least a week after the last expected frost, since beans are quite sensitive to cold. If you have never planted beans in your garden before, treat the seeds with a powder inoculant to allow the process of nitrogen fixation to begin.
Plant them 1″ deep and 3-6″ apart, in rows about 2′ apart; press down the earth above them for good soil contact. These seeds rot easily in wet soil, so do not over water them. Germination should take place 7-10 days after planting.
For companion planting benefits, plant beans near carrots or beets; avoid planting them near onions.
After germination, maintain soil moisture; beans have shallow roots, and need water at least once a week if the weather is dry. Mulching the plants helps conserve moisture and discourages weeds.

Harvesting Red Kidney Bean:
If frost or inclement weather threatens before your beans are fully dry, pull them and allow them to continue drying under shelter. A good method for drying is to hang them upside down from their roots until the seeds rattle in the pods and are very hard. They should be completely dry 10-15 days later. Remove the seeds from the pods by hand, or thresh them by putting them in a bag and applying a heavy weight.

Saving Red Kidney Bean Seeds:
Thresh the beans by removing them from their pods. Store them in a dry, cool place; for best germination, use them in the next growing season.

Materials: garden,heirloom,red Beans,healthy,nutritious foods,plant,seeds,Dark Red Kidney,Organic LARGE,Dark Red Beans,Chili Beans,Dry Bean

Jacob’s Cattle Beans




Gorgeous colors

The colors in these beads are spectacular! Burgundy and white combine to make wonderfully artistic beans. There are some interesting color variations among Jacob’s Cattle Bush beans and the ones in the bracelet seem to have more white than most.

This bracelet has been strung on silver memory wire and will fit on any size wrist and will be a great accessory for almost any outfit.

These Jacob’s Cattle Bush Beans came from:

The finished bracelet has silver balls glued to both ends. The two bracelets are different sizes: One is two-strands around and the bigger one is four-strands around. Both are beautiful!

Memory wire is a wonderful invention, but if you use it don’t forget to use strong clippers designed for memory wire.





Finished bracelets

There are two bracelets in two sizes. Size refers to the number of rotations around the wrist. The small one has two rotations and the larger one has four. Either bracelet would make a wonderful accessory for almost any outfit.





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