Saturday, October 14, 2017

Conversation Pieces

This is a new line I have started with conversation pieces meant to initiate a fun chat for its wearer.
This phrase below is popular in our house after watching The Leftovers which had a great cover of the song!
Another phrase we love since people are not quite sure how to react to it! The line made famous by Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener.
One of my personal favorites is Under Construction. It has multiple meanings. Sometimes we are simply restructuring ourselves through education, a life change, etc. For others it always applies! Most small business owners can totally relate.
 At times we need to remind ourselves that this too shall pass.
So there are a lot more ideas being thrown around.

These necklaces hang as 18 inch on a stainless steel chain but can be adjusted to shorter or longer lengths. They come in kraft box ready for gift giving in my Etsy Shop

I hope you enjoy seeing some of my new items! They certainly are fun to make. ~Val

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Magic Love Crow

Today I am sharing a darling package of stickers I received from the ever so talented Stacy of Magic Love Crow.
She paints crows. 😀
Some are baby crows. If I had a little one I would love to decorate the nursery with a collection of these cuties. I can see children loving them just as much as adults!

How stunning is this one below?
Then there are these magnificent paintings that evoke so much emotion.
There is such strength and inspiration in these piece!
I think this one below is my favorite. Although picking a favorite is next to impossible!
So Stacy is in the process of adding merchandise to her shop with her artwork on it. That is going to be an amazing way for her work to be showcased! The stickers are a great size at approximately 3.5 inch x 2.5 inch.

Stop my Magic Love Crow on Etsy to enjoy her beautiful works!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sesame Candy

I saw this sesame candy being made up an episode of Lidia's Family Table and I just had to try them!
At first I was not going to blog the recipe because it was kind of a pain in the butt at the end! However Jim (and I) loved and devoured these yummies.

1 1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup of sugar (I just used 3/4 cup since I was worried they would be too sweet)
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons of butter
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ground

Also needed are a rimmed baking sheet, a small saucepan, pastry brush, metal spatula and either parchment or wax paper.

Preheat oven at 350F.
Spread the sesame seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until golden brown shaking occasionally (approximately 8 minutes). Set aside. While the seeds were toasting I got the rest of the ingredients ready.

Put sugar, honey, butter and 2 teaspoons of water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon frequently as the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Let this come to boil, then simmer until golden brown (about 5 minutes).
Brush with olive oil a non-porous cool work surface (I used a metal baking sheet). Coat the spatula as well.

When caramel is ready, turn off the heat and add the sesame seeds, almonds, zest and cinnamon. 
Pour (and scrape) this mixture onto the oiled surface quickly. Spread to about 1/2 thick with spatula. 

Allow to cool slightly for about 1 to 2 minutes then start cutting with a serrated knife. This is where it becomes a pain in the butt. I was not fast enough maybe because I wanted to cut them in pieces. Hence the mess in the first photo! 

Lydia actually cut them in strips and pieces can be broken off to eat like a brittle. I would recommend using oiled parchment paper to put the mixture on since not being quick enough led to some of this sticking to the oiled pan!

The strips should be put in layers of parchment or wax paper in an air tight container. 

This recipe was challenging for me since I am not used to this type of candy making! Hard and sticky! It was a great learning process so now I feel a little more confident to try other candy like recipes.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. If you give it a try, let me know! ~Val

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Flame Oxidized Metal

Oxidizing metal with a torch has been quite entertaining for me lately.
The flame colors the metal (this is copper above) which so fascinating. Intense colors can be created. However it changes as soon as the flame is pulled away so I never know what color will ultimately occur!

I start by annealing (heating to soften and give it color) strips, then by cutting up pieces and piercing a hole in them. 
I love how the heat pretties up these patterned copper pieces.
Then is it time to hammer to flatten the pieces as well as give them texture. Also file the corners so they are not sharp.
Every piece yields different results so each is one of a kind. Then I seal them so the patina stays.

I have no plan for any of the pieces as I go through these steps. I wait for inspiration later deciding how I want to piece things together.

Now if I can just figure out how to recreate my favorite below it would be fabulous! Yes that intense color and blackness was all created by the flame. So cool! 

I love how the natural copper color is peaking out on some of the edges. This one is named Confidence for its bold color and a reminder for the wearer to believe in him or herself. 
I am also in love with Balance below. How amazing are the effects on this piece? The metal is thinner on this piece so the result is completely different from the thicker ones. This is for the person who lives a balanced life (or at least strives to.)
Cosmic came out awesome too! This triangle is thin brass with an end result that is outer space like. This is for the individual who thinks with intensity.
I am also quite fond of Simplicity below for its minimalist look. Rich colors came out in this piece. This unisex piece is to inspire to live a most uncomplicated life as possible.
I would like to create more earrings but it is tricky creating 2 pieces that work well together. These came out beautifully though.
Named High Road for the woman who always remains classy. The earwires are sterling silver which I also flame oxidized to darken them but also give them bits of color so they are not perfect matches either. The overall look is great for wearing with both gold and silver.

Well that is just a glimpse of what I have been up to (obsessed with) lately.

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Marginal Way

Last Maine post.  😊
This was a walk on Marginal Way.
Located in Ogunquit, this shoreline footpath is a little more than 1 mile long.
It connects Ogunquit Beach to Perkins Cove. 
It has plenty of nooks and crannies for beach lovers to enjoy away from the typical beach scenery.
The walk actually started conveniently by the hotel we stayed at.
So at the end we stopped for cocktails and took a lazy bus back! So relaxing and perfect. Although you can't see from the photos, the path was loaded with people.

I hope you enjoyed this coastline walk. It was a beauty as the weather was finally breaking for us.

Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Stuffed Avocados

For years I have been saying that I need to try baking avocado after seeing so many delicious looking images online. So I finally did!

I was looking for a dinner dish for this huge avocado that was ready to eat.
Below is the actually recipe. I used used more ingredients due to the size of the avocado. This recipe is likely for the little Haas avocados.

1 avocado
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped tomato
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pepper jack or cojita, shredded or crumbled (I used cheddar since it was handy in the fridge and to be honest I have never heard of cojita!)
hot sauce to serve it desired

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cut avocado in half and remove pit.

In a small bowl, combine the onion, tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (ok, I forgot to buy cilantro so there is none in here).
Season the avocado halves with salt and pepper. Divide the veggie mix on the halves. Sprinkle the cheese on top.

Crinkle two pieces of foil under and around the halves to keep them from rolling on a baking sheet (and make clean up easier!).
Bake until cheese melts. This will take 8 to 12 minutes.
Enjoy! Healthy, filling, and yummy!

If you love avocados but never baked them before like us, give it a try. I see many recipes online with eggs baked in them. I will be trying that in the near future.

Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Hartley Mason Reservation

While taking a ride up the coast of Maine we stumbled upon the lovely Hartley Mason Reservation.
This area was developed by Hartley Mason in the 1800s who had a vision for this beautiful coastal location. There is a beautiful beach yonder that was being enjoyed even though the weather was not at it best.
He built a number of summer homes (now gone) here for guests to enjoy. 
Back in Victorian times, bathing suits were not allowed to be worn off the beach so this property also included many changing rooms to keep within the social norms of the time.
Arriving at the park you are greeted by this whimsical piece of art titled Pleasure Ground by Sumner Winebaum (my favorite part of this site).
It is full of scenes you typically see on a beach set on this gorgeous rock.
Full of charm!
I just have to show our hotel bathroom as it is like nothing I have ever seen before with all this ceramic lilac and mint!
I am guessing these pieces were made for hotels back in art deco days since I have never seen these colors in a home bathroom. The toilet tank was extremely large. Even the faucet handles had the matching lilac details! It is so much more fun staying in a place with character rather than a boring hotel. 

I hope you enjoyed this bit of Maine! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fun with Solder

So I am making it a point to set time aside each day to play around in the studio and have fun! 

Since I don't like to work with a plan I am always curious to see what the outcome will be.

With this wavy copper coin focal I randomly added solder.
Distinctive result letting it go crazy with the flux!
It is quite unisex too.

Here I had a mess up glob of solder.
It was too neat to toss so I found this agate focal in my stash and here is the final look!
I am trying some different finishes and textures to come up with pieces that speak to me. This one has been cleaned off completely.
However sometimes I think a pre-cleaned piece is really cool like this one below. The solder and copper are a little burnt and the coloring from the torch is beautiful. I will be trying out a sealant in hopes of maintaining such a finish!

I was also playing with this ring shape. I am loving it as is, all rustic.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed these free form funky pieces! ~Val