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

Luscious Green Fava Beans

These fava beans are an unusual but gorgeous shade of green. I must admit they’re hard to separate out from all the “normal” color beans, but worth the search.


The fava beans (all the different colors) were a Mother’s Day gift from Ann (John’s daughter #1) and her husband, David. I just couldn’t wait to get playing with those gorgeous beans.

Play time!

Once I had separated out all the green fava beans, I started rummaging again in that chaotic space I call my “studio”. What a giggle.

Those round plastic bead containers hold all kinds of treasures gathered over the years. There are also more storage boxes in the shelves along the wall.

More rummaging . . .

Well, somewhere in there, I found some antique brass flower-shaped beads that were a perfect compliment to the fava beans.

Then I discovered the perfect turquoise bead for the center bead.

From there on, it was pure serendipity. The clasp turned out to be perfect too!

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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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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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Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans look a lot like pinto or pink beans, but they are much prettier.  Hearty, mild and colorful, they are very versatile and complementary to other flavors.

  • Mottled dark red to purple and black
  • Approximately 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in length
(Phaseolus coccineus)
Vigorous Scarlet Runner Bean plants twine into showy full-leafed 10 to12 foot vines as quickly as Jack’s beanstalks. They are soon covered with sprays of brilliant scarlet blossoms that attract hungry hummingbirds. Flowers are followed by wide, meaty edible pods. Left on the vines, the fat pods swell with fascinating big black and purple swirled “magic beans” to treasure (or cook up), or save and plant for another summer’s fairy tale garden.  Source:
Now, back to making beautiful jewelry from beautiful beans . . .
Drilling these glorious beads isn’t as hard as some of the smaller beans — it’s hard not to get lost in the gorgeous coloring though. I managed to get the little holes in the middle of most of the beans, but there are always a few that end up askew.

What to put with the Scarlet Runner beans?

The next challenge was to find the beads that could hold their own when paired with these eye-catchers. Lots of experimenting and I finally came up with a wild assortment of purple glass beads. This provided just enough variation to balance out the colors of the Scarlet Runner beans.

Not only great for chic and affordable jewelry, but good to eat too!

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In Mexico, scarlet runner beans are known as “ayocote beans,” and are often served in a deeply flavorful chile sauce – their meatiness offering the perfect compliment to the sauce’s richness. Try this bean-and-chile mixture as a vegetarian taco filling, or spoon it over rice for a completely vegetarian dish.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 105 min

Total time: 115 min

Popular American heirloom beans with a dense texture and nutty taste. Cook and serve drizzled with herbed-flavored butter.


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 . . .

Thank you for visiting our blog. Please check out our web site to see all of our goodies:

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