Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New Conversation Pieces

I just want to let all my fabulous customers know my shops will be closed Friday March 30 and re-opening Sunday April 8. I apologize for any inconvenience. Orders received by Friday will ship with my normal shipping schedule of twice a day. 

I started making conversation pieces in a vertical manner.
Viva La Vida Necklace

Every Moment Matters Necklace
One phrase I say to myself often is life is short. It really seems to fly by faster and faster as I grow older! I constantly need to remind myself to do the things I have been wanting to do!
Life is Short Necklace
Here is one thing I get better at as the years go on. Keeping life simple. It is just better and easier that way.
Keep Life Simple
Let it go was popular one at the holidays so I wanted to make one in the vertical style.
Let it Go Necklace
Clearly my head was in one place when stamping these out but they all seem to be phrases we need to remind ourselves of each day.

These do come in a kraft box for easy gift giving. 

I love the kraft boxes because the gift giver can decorate them if they choose. However they also look fantastic on their own with a simple ribbon!  Necklaces are available in my Etsy Shop.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Homemade Skin Care

Homemade Lotion

For the last 6 months I have been using the recipe below for various skin care needs. Since I am very happy with it, I thought I would share for anyone else out there who may be thinking about using less chemicals on their skin.

It started with my body lotion since I cover myself head to toe every day. 
This simple recipe is actually edible (although I imagine it would taste gross). The ingredients are easy to find online.

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup shea butter
4 tablespoons of beeswax pellets
1 teaspoon of lavender oil

Since it is edible there is no need to purchase separate cookware or measuring cups/spoons.

Melt the first 3 ingredients together over a double boiler. The coconut oil becomes liquid quickly, next the shea butter, then the beeswax takes a while. Once all those pellets are completely dissolved it is ready.

Pour into glass jars.  I found these cuties at the dollar store and they look lovely on the bathroom vanity.

Let cool slightly before adding the oil for fragrance. I have since got more creative here and use 50% lavender, 25% frankincense and 25% rosemary. My husband uses this lotion too and it makes a perfect, delicious, unisex scent.
The color is quite vibrant but once it cools it takes on a pleasant tone.
Is it greasy? I would say so when over used. I thought I would hate that but after a couple of days, realizing a little bit goes a long way I got used to it (I over applied at first). It absorbs quickly into the skin so it is only temporary. My skin remains super soft for the 24 hours before my next shower.

It does not work well as a hand lotion because of the oil so I only put it on my hands at night. Knowing that I am no longer covered in crazy chemicals I can not even pronounce makes it very pleasant.

Homemade Deoderant
We have all heard that there are possible links between deodorant and cancer.

After reading many recipes on this I realized that the above body lotion is basically what I needed.  The only difference is I keep a little container of baking soda in the bathroom (an odor fighter). I put a pinch in my palm then scoop up the same amount of lotion and mix them in my palms. 

Then apply. Done! 

Some people don't like the homemade deodorants like this because they have to apply it with their hands. For me I simply apply it before putting the lotion on my body so it is convenient.

Does it work? Shockingly, yes! I think it actually works better than chemical filled ones. The heat of the summer will have to be the true test.

The only drawback is that this it not an antiperspirant. 

After shoveling cement like snow recently though causing a sweat filled shirt (too much info, I know) about 24 hours after applying, there was 0 odor! Deodorants I used to use would not have been able to handle that.

Homemade Sunscreen
I also bought zinc oxide for safe homemade sunscreen. So simple and not stinky like the stuff you purchase in a store. Zinc oxide sits on the skin and does not absorb into it making it safe. It can be added to any lotion or face cream. 

The formula is basically the percentage of zinc oxide being the SPF. So 5% zinc would be 5spf and 20% zinc would be 20spf. With my last batch of lotion I made a portion that is 20spf. I have yet to try its effectiveness but will soon! I will be able to use it on my face and body. 

The above is great for use on children too to cut back on chemicals getting into our bodies.

Anti Aging Face Cream
I am actually using the above wonder cream as the day cream on my face as well as an eye cream! 

The ingredients all have amazing benefits to the skin, doing the things I want an anti-aging cream to do. It is perfect under my makeup although I sometimes need to dab my face with a dry face cloth before applying first if it looks too shiny from the oil.

I also apply a thin layer of jojoba oil on my face under the lotion both day and night.

One would think applying tons of oil to the face would cause breakouts. It has been the opposite for me and my skin is much clearer than it was using chemicals. These ingredients used have amazing anti bacterial properties and jojoba oil actually balances oil on the face (perfect for combination skin).

After reading about the benefits of almond oil, I decided to try something different for my face at night.

My night cream now is as follows:

1/4 cup almond oil
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons of beeswax
1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
1 tablespoon shea butter

This all gets placed in a jar.
Then in a pot of approximately 3 - 4 inches of water.
Heat until completely melted.

Pour in a glass jar. I saved one of my jars from a previous product and refrigerated the rest. Some say this has a shelf life hence chilling some of it.

This is an oily lotion but as long as only a little is applied, it absorbs well. The first couple of nights I used it my face was funny shiny! Then I learned I did not need to use as much as commercial stuff.

I hope I have not bored you too much with this verbose post! I am just excited to have eliminated a bunch of expensive chemicals from my daily routine and learned that natural really does work.

Thank you for stopping by!  ~Val

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Spicy Spaghetti Squash Curry with Roasted Chickpeas

Oh this recipe is delicious if you are into spices!
The recipe is as follows:
1 spaghetti squash
8 ounce can of plain tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 tablespoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric 

For the roasted chickpeas
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Pierce the squash all around with a knife and roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Flip once around 30 minutes. The total time depends on the size of the squash. Once the skin is soft enough to pierce easily with a fork, it is done.

Turn the oven up to 450F for the chickpeas.

While the squash is cooking, combine well all the curry ingredients in a bowl.

Prepare the roasted chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy. These are addictive!
Once the squash has cooled a little, slice in half and scoop out the seeds and that dark stringy stuff in the center.

Then scrape out all the spaghetti into a dish.
Combine everything and enjoy!
Yum, Yum!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Designs

I am loving this simple striped patterned copper wire!
Here are a few pairs of earrings I have made with it.

A simple pair. These sold the night I listed them but I will be making another pair when time permits!
This sweet pair has the contrast of shiny sterling silver and rustic oxidized copper.
Life is What You Make It Earrings

Turitella agate earrings. This stone has gorgeous natural markings.
Turritella Agate Earrings
Another favorite of mine lately is this hematite pair. The copper was stamped with the number 1 to create the free form pattern. The oxidation on these came out quite chocolatey! 
Stay Cool Earrings
I love these triskelion symbol in the key charms so I thought they we be fantastic in mixed metal earrings. This pair is also stamped with the number 1.
Triskele Earrings
I hope you have enjoy this glance at some of my latest designs.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Couple of House Details

Some of you may remember my blog post about our fake fireplace. We had said that if worked on the living room floor, we would tear it out. However over time its charm grew on us and we opted to keep it!

This was the before. Totally dated!
Here it is now.
We decided not to put the accessories back on. This will allow for more decorating options. 

We have kept the kitchy fake wood that lights up and makes fire sounds. This is too funny to get rid of.

Then there was a kitchen cabinet issue. I stained the cabinets before the old counter came off. That counter had a lip so I was not able to get up to the top. So after the granite was installed, there was a section that looked really sad.

Jim's brilliant, super inexpensive idea was a piece of corner moulding.
He made the cuts and I stained it using a foam brush to get in those nooks and crannies. This took a few coats.
Big improvement! It looks rich and custom.
The espresso stain shows every little water drip but I am still in love with it!

I hope you enjoyed our minor improvements. Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Getting Creative With Stamping

I have started looking at my metal stamping kit in a different way, particularly with the stamps that I rarely use.

Here is the number 1
The number 5
The letter X
The ampersand symbol (I think this creates my favorite effect)
 The letter Z
The number 0
 My second favorite, the number 8, like little bubbles
Since the banging of metal is a fun activity I will continue to make more pieces with one of a kind patterns.

My latest favorite creation is these earrings with the number 8 stamped. I love the unique hand cut shape of the copper on these which I need to do more of!
Karma Earrings
I hope you have enjoy this glimpse of a new technique I have been playing around with!

Thank you for stopping by. ~ Val

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Cheesy Mushroom Pie

I love having a husband who doubles as my personal chef! This is his original creation. There are probably like recipes out there but I have not looked. Luckily I wrote it down so it can be recreated. 

It is a savory, cheesy, delicious mushroom pie.
We normally cheat when we make anything needing crust so we used 2 store bought ones. The oven was heated to 375F.

A mushroom and bell pepper saute was started with olive oil, sliced mushrooms and chopped red bell pepper. To taste he added soy sauce, salt and pepper, a little veggie bullion for an added boost and some cornstarch to thicken.

Since this was a spur of the moment thing I do not have quantities. If too much saute is made, the leftovers would be perfect over rice or quinoa.
Then most importantly some red wine was added. A must with mushrooms! Yes I was having fun drinking wine and taking pictures. 🍷
The cheese used was a combination of shredded mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and asiago.  The mozzarella was put on the bottom of the crust. Then the mushroom and pepper saute was poured in the shells. The remaining cheese topped it. Some mushroom and pepper were used to garnish the top.
This was baked for approximately 30 minutes until the crust was golden brown and the cheese was melted.

It is totally scrumptious (although not photogenic) on its own and would be perfect for a brunch. We also decided to add a little marinara sauce for dipping on the side. Great addition for the red saucer lover! 
With the buttery crust and all that cheese, this was so NOT healthy!

It is always fun to wing it in the kitchen, particularly when it is a success!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Metal Work Earrings

Finally replenishing my edgy metal earrings inventory since the holidays! Here are a few pairs.
After annealing the copper (which creates those bright colors) I start with hand cutting free form pieces. 
Then hammer to flatten.
Since the tips can be quite sharp I then trim them. The 2 on the left are untrimmed on the 2 on the right have trimmed corners.
Then I file all the edges so there is no discomfort for the wearer.
Time to punch the holes.
Sometimes the pieces are also hammered for texture. This just depends on my mood.
They are given further texture with steel wool. This also helps remove some of the patina that showed up upon heating the metal. This makes the darkening patina work more effectively.
Then there is some soaking in stinky liver of sulfur.
They come out like this.
I seal the patina with some glossy goodness that protects the metal and the finish as well as giving it a shiny and smooth feel. As you can see it also darkens the finish and helps bring out the bits of copper that show through.
At the end is the most fun part of deciding what to do with each pair and assembling them.

I started trying some different metal stamping ideas this past week so I will soon have some more one of a kind pretties coming up!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val