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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Spinach Artichoke Spaghetti Squash Recipe

This was so good to eat that it felt naughty!
I was looking around for something different to try with spaghetti squash and came across this savory recipe.

Below is my take on it. I have found it better to bake a spaghetti squash first then put it in a casserole dish for final baking. This way the filling goodness really gets into the "spaghetti". It is more cleanup than making them in the "boat" halves but is easier to divide up for future meals.

1 spaghetti squash
3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt 
3 ounces less fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan, divided
3 cups packed baby spinach 
1 1/4 cups of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

We happened to have the marinated artichoke hearts handy. If using non-marinated, you may want to add 3 cloves of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste in the saute step.

First bake the spaghetti squash. I pierce the skin all over and bake at 425F for approximately 1 hour depending on the size. Once a fork easily pierces the skin, it is done.

Then let it cool for 10 minutes for so before cutting. 

While that is cooling, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender. If adding garlic, salt and pepper, this is the time to add it. Toss for 1 minute.

Then add sour cream (or yogurt), cream cheese, and half the parmesan. Stir in spinach and artichoke hearts. Cook until spinach wilts. Remove from stove top. 

Yes it is like a savory spinach and artichoke dip!

Then cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. 

Scoop out 1 halve of the spaghetti squash into a 9 inch square baking dish. Then mix in half the cheese/veggie mixture. I like lots of cheese so I sprinkled a little extra parmesan and mozzarella on top of this layer. Then repeat with other squash half. Top with the rest of the cheese.
Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted with a slight bit of brown coloring.

Enjoy!!! I was able to divide this dish up into 6 servings. Click here for the original recipe if you would like to make this in the boats.

I hope you feel inspired to try something new in the kitchen! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Year in Review

I'm back from an unplanned blog world absence! 

At the end of October we were affected by the horrible hurricane season and lost power for 4 days. After being shut down for those days I just never got back into my normal routine since the holiday season was in full swing then.

I thought 2017 was pretty uneventful but when looking back in my blog I was wrong! Just the second half of the year was mellow.

Our kitchen went from this:
To this after staining the cabinets, painting the brick, replacing the dishwasher, replacing 2 light fixtures and adding a granite counter. The vintage ceiling fan is still in place but we just can't seem to find the right one to replace it with.
We tore up the downstairs flooring and discovered beautiful hardwood.
We hired a professional who replaced some old pine inlays and refinished the living room, hallway and dining room. What magicians and his crew were!
We removed 2 layers of nasty old linoleum from the kitchen and half bath. This was after most of the top layer was removed. Way worse than all the carpet removal we had to do! The odor we uncovered was quite unpleasant too.
Then we had luxury vinyl tile installed. It is quite a product. Everyone who sees it thinks it is ceramic until we tell them otherwise.

We created a hosta garden that flourished as the season went on. These plants were happy to be upcycled since they were formerly in the front yard having to deal with way too much sunshine!
After the last of contractor help around the house I was able to settle down and get into some fun stuff like the flame painting of copper.
oxidized pieces
and conversation pieces
I did my first craft fair in 8 years this past holiday season. That was fun so I am hoping to sign up for more in 2018!

I hope you had a wonderful 2017 too. Wishing you an amazing, fulfilling 2018! ~Val

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