Monday, May 31, 2010

A Memorial Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend, while troops fight in a complicated overseas conflict, we:

watched our garden grow

celebrated a special girl

and dipped our toes in the water

Thank you to all the service men and women, past and present, who sacrifice(d) moments like these with their own families. Remembering those who have fallen on this Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Eight things I love about you, on your eighth birthday

1. That you have been completely obsessed with horses since you were one and a half
2. That you still like to rub my belly, even though your sister isn't in there anymore
3. How you call your daddy "Lil' Doe"
4. That you invented a whole new Mama language
5. Your new dance
6. That you write spelling-word sentences like this one: "My neighbor is as grumpy as a bull who planted his horns in the ground."
7. That you find ticks on your sister and pets
8. That you defend me from Dada's tickling

Happy birthday to the sweetest, horsey-est, goofy-est, smartest girl I know. I'm lucky to be your Mama.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bear With Me...

In a effort to encourage more conversation within the comments on my blog, I installed Intense Debate. Turns out, installing it seems to have disabled any commenting at all (on the most recent post, anyway). humph. So much for conversation.
I'm working on it and will have it remedied soon!

UPDATE: I ended up removing Intense Debate all together. After I encountered the bugs associated with it, I read more and found that ID problems are very common.
As far as keeping the conversations going, I think I'm just going to have to start leaving comments of my own in response.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Family of Four...

Once, we were a family of four, plus a cat.
Then, a family of four plus a cat and 4 hens.

A family of four plus a cat, 4 hens, and General Hop (photo courtesy of my talented photographer sister)

...and Woolly Bear, our very own Isabella Tiger Moth in the making

... and three new chicks, named Han (as in Solo), Ambroult Ambroult, and Poofey.

That makes 30 legs, as the girls like to say. (Oh wait, I guess it's 44 legs. Or 32, depending on how far along in metamorphosis the caterpillar is.)

What, or who, is next? I could not predict. But I really hope it doesn't have too many legs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Paintings From (not so) Long Ago

It's nice to go back to art I made long ago, when my perspective was so different, yet still much the same.

With each piece I revisit, I am transported to that time—where I sat, what I was listening to, how I was feeling, even the weather that day. Such strong associations with each work of art must mean that the process for each of them was significant to me, in some way.

These laundry pictures were painted when we lived in San Diego, I was unemployed, and pondering an attempt at making a living through painting. A few weeks after these were completed, I was pregnant, employed, and feeling vulnerable from the September 11th attacks.

I wonder if, in 9 years, I will look back at my works in metal, and remember my world as it is today, in May of 2010?(A mother of 2 girls, trying to make a living as a metalsmith, and hopeful for the future of my family.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moss Platter Tutorial

It's hard to be completely original when it comes to craft show booth design. Seems like it's all been done, or is beyond my resources. I've been wanting to add new features to my display tables, including a new way to display my rings, so when I came across instructions for a moss garden, a switch was flicked. I had an idea.

Here's how to do it:
Use a shallow pan, platter, or tray and fill it with soil. I found a good reason to use the silver platters that once belonged to my mother's cousin. You do not want your container to have holes in the bottom.

Next, moisten the soil but don't get it completely wet—no puddles.

Now you need some moss. You can find it on the ground or growing on rocks in damp, shady areas. Place your moss on top of the soil, and gently press it down.

Spray the top of the moss with water. You'll want to keep it moist by misting it every other day. If you can collect rain water for this purpose, that's best, but tap water will work fine as well. The moss will continue to thrive as long as it is kept damp and out of direct sunlight.

My moss platter ring displays drew a slew of compliments and I found myself giving this tutorial verbally many times throughout the weekend. The dishes of emerald greenery have now found a new home on our table. They are gorgeous as is, but I am pondering the addition of flowers, pretty rocks, and whatever else the girls can dream up to add (think: tiny horses). There is so much potential here...

UPDATE: Do you recall the Remembery Capsule I made that got lost in the mail? Well I forgot to tell you it was finally delivered, in perfect condition! Where it had been, nobody knows. The woman who had ordered it even stopped by to say hello at the show this weekend. How wonderful it was to meet the person behind that special memorial.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Copper Garden Markers for Mom

"A" and I often make the gifts we give on Mother's Day. In fact we make most of the gifts we give year-round. But with so many giving occasions—holidays, birthdays, Mother's Day, one can only give so many pieces of jewelry or wooden items to their mother.

I had been mulling over making some garden markers for a while now. Both our mothers have herb gardens and I was glad to think of something more functional to give, but I was seriously procrastinating making them. A few weeks ago, Nicole at GardenMama, sent me a link to some garden markers she had seen, saying they made her think of me. Well, I was flattered, and that was all the motivation I needed to get moving. Before I knew it, I had bunches of them.

I used strips of copper and the silver wire writing I have so much fun doing.

A few of you know me too well, and actually suggested I make these! I was bursting and wanted to show you, but had to wait until Mother's Day passed.

Turns out, I could have shown you, because we still have not seen either of our mothers to give them their gifts. They were both away. (Ma, if you're reading this...surprise!)

I'm keeping a few for myself, too, and I'm curious to see how they weather. I'm hoping that, over time, they take on that gorgeous green patina.

Copper and sterling silver garden markers available in my shop.

I will be stepping away from the computer for the rest of the week, in preparation for the 2-day show this weekend. I'll be back next week, breathing a little easier, with lots to tell.
SoWa Opening Weekend boasts hand-crafted goods, a farmer's market, and an antiques market all in one place. For those of you in the Boston area, stop by and say hello!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Use It or lose It: French Toast Casserole

If you're like me, you have bread in your freezer. I save it all—those big crusty loaf ends, shamefully old hot dog and hamburger buns, sub rolls, and dinner rolls. Until recently, I only used that leftover bread for croutons or bread crumbs.

But oh, I have a new trick up my sleeve now: French Toast Casserole. It's recipe number three of the Use It or Lose It series.

Start with whatever bread you have. Stale or aged-in-the-freezer pieces are perfect for this recipe. Tear it up into small pieces and cover the bottom of your baking dish with it.

In a In a large bowl, whisk together 7-8 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour over the bread pieces and distribute evenly in the pan.

Next sprinkle 1 cup of grated cheese (whatever you have will do) over the top. If you're up for it, cook some bacon or crumbled sausage and sprinkle that over the top too. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 40 minutes until the eggs are set. Let cool for a few before serving.

So good served with a little maple syrup.

This is a great brunch dish, or a super simple recipe if you're feeding a large group for breakfast.

If eggs aren't your thing, there are plenty of good uses for the bread you have hanging around. I had no idea just how many recipes included old bread, and was pleasantly surprised when I googled "uses for leftover bread." Here's a whole list.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Making and Doing

It's show season! Or, It's show season, oh my. I have a million things to do including designing and fabricating an entire new line of products in addition to making lots of jewelry, new and old, to have on hand. Oh, and I also need to expand/improve my displays, locate another table, etc....

I'm relieved to have already been working on a few new products to offer. Until recently, I have made jewelry and jewelry only. But I came to realize that many shoppers who attend artisan fairs are just looking to browse, and maybe make a few small impulse buys. In my book, and $88 ring is far from an impulse buy, yet that's basically what I have had to offer.

So last fall I decided to expand my product line. I started with the bookmarks and Remembery Capsules and my newest product is magnets.

Silver wire was bent and twisted to form words or images that make a simple statement. A beat-up copper disc provides a background for the shiny wire.

I was inspired by Molly of A Foothill Home Companion, who made a dishtowel with the words "make" and "do." Making and doing—two verbs that sum up how I spend most days. They are uncomplicated words that can imply so much, while remaining so very common and practical.

I gussied up an old roasting pan to serve as a display for these, and hopefully a few more magnets will make their way out of my workshop in time for the upcoming show. I'd love some suggestions—is there an image or word that you would love to see on a magnet like this?