October 18, 2009

Photography on Etsy

By complete chance I was able to snag a treasury this morning. I always seem to end up going with photography. Check out some of these fabulous photos available on Etsy!

October 3, 2009

Holy septic system batman

So this is what a drain field looks like. Had to remove a few trees, but we were able to keep the huge Oak on the left.

October 2, 2009

Well, well, well.

A view of part of our driveway and the well-drilling equipment being set up.

September 29, 2009

Haba na haba hujaza kibaba

Little by little, fills the pot.

It took awhile, but our wonderful excavators broke apart the ledge, and finally! Here we are -- in front of our pet rock, standing below what will soon be our front entry.

September 27, 2009

The cliff in our basement

This is where our basement should be. They discovered we have rock. Not rocks plural. Just rock. A rock. One rock. One BIG rock. I believe it is most likely connected to the center of the earth.

Jackhammering first. Hopefully not dynamite. But two things are certain - what was supposed to take a day or two has now turned into a week or two. And this is going to be one big EXPENSIVE rock!

P.S. These photos are from earlier this month, so I do know how this turned out, but thought I'd post the play by play anyway. :)

August 30, 2009


All permits obtained. Financing received. Perfect weather ordered. 

Hopefully we'll have a basement within a couple weeks!

And a new piece for fall, which is also included in my 25% off sale!

August 25, 2009

Too soon for a Fall sale?

I miss my Mac!!!

Without having access to my beloved Mac, I also do not have access to my beloved iPhoto. So I'm limited in the photos I have at my disposal. That's why I thought I'd let you all know about the sale I'm having in my little shop. My oak leaf items are 25% off!

Your piece will start as a blank sheet of metal and be carefully cut by hand to produce a rustic reminder of fall that you can wear year-round.

August 22, 2009

I'm Back

Wow -- the last few months have been a blur. We sold our house and had to be packed and moved quickly. We didn't have a place to go, so we stayed with various family members. I went through computer withdrawal. I was able to get my studio set back up. There's a possibility we may break ground on our house before the end of the month. That about sums it up!

Actually, it's been quite an adventure and I wish I had regular access to a computer so I could blog daily. Even if no one reads it, I'd really like to be able to look back at this some day and laugh.

The photo above is a little frog I saw one night on the door of my studio. It was dark so I couldn't see him very well. I was surprised when I loaded the photos onto my computer to see that he was looking right back at me. I've leave you with a couple photos of our progress, and a few things I've learned so far:

Coyotes can be extremely loud.
Mud is slippery. Very slippery.
Mice like cashews.
A toaster requires a lot of wattage.
Some days are better than others.

June 5, 2009

Closing soon!

I finally sold my house! It's not a done deal yet, but the closing is just over a week away and we are running around getting packed and such. So that's the good news.

The bad news is, I will be without a home and studio for a bit. I don't have a place to live yet, but I do have a place that I can set up my studio temporarily. I will still need to remove any custom/made to order items from my shop soon, and then close it temporarily--probably from June 17th through July 1st.

So if you've had your eye on something, now's the time to buy! :)

June 1, 2009

Black-Eyed Pea Masala

I love this recipe. Could eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Have eaten it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And very inexpensive to make!

(Ingredients and simple instructions are at the bottom.)

First thing you need to do is soak your black-eyed peas for at least 4 hours. Dump your 2 1/2 cups of dried black-eyed peas into a bowl that seems too big for that amount and fill it to the top with water. I will do this before I go to bed and put them in the frig. When I get home from work the next day they're all ready to go.

After they've soaked, you'll notice they're taking up a lot more space in the bowl now! I usually don't drain them unless there is a lot of water left.

So now you can get your garlic, onion, and ginger ready. I am not really the gadget type, but I do love my onion chopper & mini food processor. Makes this go so much faster.

Saute the onion for about five minutes. You can use oil, butter, ghee, or even water. Just so that they start to soften. Then add your garlic and ginger and saute for another minute or so.

Now add your spices. The amounts can be done to your taste. I don't like to add too much garam masala, especially if it's a mix with a lot of cinnamon. Stir that up and let it saute for another minute. It will look very, uh, appetizing, like this:

Then you can dump your tomatoes in, fresh or canned, pureed or chopped, whatever your preference. I stir this around and let it cook a few minutes and then add the peas along with 4 cups of water. I'll usually add some salt at this point too. Bring it to a boil and then reduce your heat, cover, and cook for about 2 hours or until the peas are done.

Once it's done you can fold in a can of coconut milk, or I prefer to use unsweetened coconut to flavor it (canned coconut milk just tastes funny to me). Buy a package of unsweetened coconut flakes from the cooking aisle. In a blender, combine 2 cups of coconut flakes with 2 cups of boiling water. Hold the lid on tight, using a pot holder so you don't have boiling water flying in your face, and blend. I let that sit while the peas are cooking. When I'm ready to add it, I strain this through cheesecloth and use the liquid in place of the coconut milk.

That's it! Eat as is, or serve over brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat groats, or barley. So good!


2 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 inch ginger, minced
5 tsp. curry powder and/or garam masala
2 1/2 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup chopped tomatoes or a can of diced tomatoes
salt, to taste
4 cups water
coconut milk

1. Soak peas in water for 4 hours.
2. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger for about 6 minutes.
3. Add spices and saute 1 minutes.
4. Stir in tomatoes and cook 1 minute.
5. Add peas, salt to taste, and 4 cups of water.
6. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cover.
7. Cook 2 hours or until peas are done.
8. Fold in coconut milk (or combine 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes with 2 cups boiling water, blend, let sit, drain through cheesecloth and use that liquid)

May 28, 2009

I heart my tumbler

One of the last things I do with almost everything I make is to tumble them. Jewelry is placed in a tumbler with water, shot, and a burnishing agent and it comes out harder and shinier and gives your pieces a nice "finished" look (if that makes sense). I have a single barrel Lortone.

And I use 2 pounds of stainless steel shot that has a mixture of shapes. I think the little pin shapes are important for getting into tight spaces, but some people say they leave little marks on flat pieces (I've never had that problem). Stainless steel is good so that it doesn't become a rusty mess, and I think the easiest way to store it is in water.

So I pour my shot into a sieve and then pour it into the tumbler barrel. Put your jewelry pieces in and add water so that it just covers the shot.

Make sure that the lip of the barrel is completely dry.

Everyone has their own favorite burnishing agent. Dawn is popular, but I think you have to use the original Dawn, which is really hard to find. You can also purchase burnishing compound. I personally like to use flakes of Ivory soap. I just use a cheese grater to shred it into a container so I have it on hand. I put in probably something around 1-2 tablespoons of shavings.

Now making sure that the lip of the barrel is dry, fit the inner lid so that it sits snugly into the barrel. If the area where these two pieces touch is wet, you're not going to get a good seal, and you'll most likely have leaking.

Fit the outer lid on, making sure it's pressed all the way down.

The washer goes on next, and then twist the little nut on. Not too loose, or it will work its way off, but not too tight or it will distort the inner lid and break the seal.

That's it! You can tumble for any length of time, depending on what you're tumbling and what you're trying to accomplish. I tumble almost everything overnight. Then you just drain your shot and admire your jewelry!

So here's an earring that's done. It's hardened the ear wire portion so that it's still flexible but not flimsy, and gives the whole piece a nice polished, smooth look. It's especially nice for my hand-sawn pieces so that the edges are perfectly smooth.

Tumbling is NOT a final step and is not going to do major finishing work or take out scratches. It WILL harden your pieces, give them a nice shiny glow, and make your jewelry look better. After tumbling, I do my final finish on the piece. I use progressively finer grits to sand them and then progressively finer polishes. If the final piece is to be shiny, then I'm done. If I want to do a matte, satin, or brushed finish, that actually happens after I bring the piece to a decent polish to be sure that there are no scratches. Just because a piece is brushed doesn't mean I want a scratch lurking in there!

Definitely a must-have for any jewelry studio. :)

May 26, 2009

The FURminator, Part II

Last week I posted a review of the FURminator after using it on Lars. I was shocked at how much fur came off of him, since he's not usually the one who sheds. That would be Wilson. He apparently has been genetically-engineered to propel hair up to 12 feet in order to make sure I arrive at work with some on me, despite my best efforts to avoid him in the morning.

He's also a little high-strung, often ornery, sometimes elusive, and always defiant. And he hates to be brushed. So I decided to introduce him gradually and used the FURminator on him for just a couple minutes each day. A week later, I have a pile of hair and a surprisingly tolerant Wilson.

And he's not only tolerating it, but I think he's also liking it!

Lars had to examine my haul. 

So, to sum it up...

Removes a lot of hair
Gentle, well-tolerated
Quality, heavy-duty

Potential for bald spots if you're not careful

I'm pretty picky and generally unimpressed by most products, but this is one that got by me. :)  I'd definitely recommend it!

May 25, 2009


I started on a new earring design the other day and thought I would try to take some photos of the process. Some of them turned out better than others. :)

So first I draw my design on the sterling silver sheet. In this case the outer shape was pretty simple, so I just wanted to get them both cut out first without worrying too much about the design.

Using the first one I had cut out, I traced the outline for doing a second one. Using a jeweler's saw, I cut that one out as well.

So now that I have both earring blanks, I cut out the portion of both to create the posts of the earrings.

Now it's time to drill the holes. In each space that needs to be removed, I use a flexshaft to pierce a tiny hole. I like to tape the piece down on a scrap piece of wood to keep it stable. I usually dip my bit into the pro-cut in the photo, which helps maintain the life of your bit, lubricates, and makes the hole easier to pierce.

So now that I have my holes drilled, I remove the blade of my saw from the upper portion of the saw frame and thread the blade through the hole.

After re-fastening the blade to the frame, I saw out the portion that needs to be removed. You might notice I changed my design from what I had drawn at the beginning. :)

I repeat the process to pierce out all of the pieces of the design. I then draw the design on the second piece and do it again.

Here I have both cut out. You maybe can't tell, but the one on the left has had some initial sanding done. You can see that the edges don't look quite as raw and sharp as the one on the right.

Here's my helper, Lars. Stay tuned for their trip to the tumbler.