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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Have you missed me?

I've been busy, busy, busy. I have a bunch of new rings made, but my buffer needs new wheels and until they arrive, I can't finish all of these new rings - grr. Here are a couple I got done before my buffer went wacky, plus a couple of beaded necklaces.

Olive tourmaline & sterling silver ring

Labradorite & sterling silver ring

Simple hammered & antiqued sterling silver band

Multicolored tourmaline & sterling silver necklace

Tundra garnet, tourmaline, & smoky quartz necklace
(I've posted this one before but I got better photos taken today.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Birth of a Christmas Tradition

This morning I made cinnamon rolls as a special holiday breakfast treat. I know I've raved about this recipe before, sorry to be repetitive, but really, if you haven't tried them, you MUST. They are amazing. I suppose it would have been more festive to enjoy them on Christmas morning, but Matt's working on Christmas day, so we had them today instead.

Merry Christmas to all my real life and bloggy friends. I hope your holidays and the coming year are filled with many sweet and wonderful things.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beady Goodness

After several months of having little interest in working with beads (preferring instead to play in my new metal workshop), I suddenly felt inspired over the last few days. Here's what I made...

Triple strand iolite necklace with lapis lazuli pendant

Tundra garnet necklace with tourmaline and smoky quartz centerpiece

...and another view of the same (sorry for the blurriness; I need to re-photograph this one; I'm not doing it justice here).

Multicolored sapphire necklace with shaded citrine pendant

Chunky tourmaline nugget bracelet

Cloudy aquamarine and sterling silver dangly earrings

'Shades of Grey' Swarovski simulated pearl and sterling silver earrings

Chrysoprase and antiqued sterling silver necklace (including my first time making my own headpins)

...and another view of the same, although the chrysoprase pendant didn't photograph too well.

Labradorite and sterling silver bracelet

Friday, December 21, 2007

The boy has an APPETITE.

Matt was working on our actual Family Day anniversary, so we went out to dinner last night instead to celebrate. We went to a Japanese restaurant, which is Carlos' favorite (we like it too).

Carlos seemed hungry before the food actually arrived so we experimented with giving him some ginger. Perhaps you can't tell from the pictures, but he liked it a lot, just like his mama.

Then the food came. And came. And came. He ate tons of agedashi tofu, plus more than his fair share of edamame, and a healthy serving of avocado.

He left the restaurant a very happy boy. We then proceeded to the mall (woo-hoo) so he could go on the slide for a while. Too cute!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One year ago today...

Our lives changed forever.

We were given the most precious gift imaginable, our son.

One year ago today, we were united forever with Carlos, the most amazing, lovable, hilarious child I have ever known.

To commemorate this momentous occasion, here is a photograph from that day, December 18, 2006, of Carlos looking fairly freaked out by the scary red-lipped Santa Claus at the Marriott Hotel in Guatemala City.

Life will never be the same. Thank goodness.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Rings

Green tourmaline and sterling silver ring, size 7.5
(The dots are fabricated and applied by hand and they go all the way around the band; I should have photographed the back too but I didn't.)

Pink tourmaline & sterling silver ring {sold}

Peridot & sterling silver ring, size 6.5

Purple sapphire & sterling silver ring {sold}

Enormous blue tourmaline & sterling silver ring
(I think this one might be mine.)

Better late than never!

Here are some gorgeous pictures of some beautiful brides wearing my designs earlier this year (I think one was August and one was September - correct me if I'm wrong, ladies)...

Ginger Lime Cookies (vegan, of course)

Ginger Lime Cookies
These are really yummy!!!

3/4 cup vegetable shortening (preferably non-hydrogenated)
1 cup sugar
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or I'm sure all purpose flour would work too)
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup molasses

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice (or however much it takes to reach desired consistency)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar, then mix in flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, applesauce, and molasses, until fully combined. Form into balls, slightly flatten, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes. After cookies have cooled, combine powdered sugar and lime juice in a shallow bowl and dip the top of each cookie in the icing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More cabs

My problem just got worse...

Assorted olive green tourmaline,
mined right here in California...
these are so clear and gemmy!

Peridot - I've never found it in cabochon form before!

By popular demand - more bubble gum pink tourmaline,
also mined here in California...

...and another view to see the shapes better.

Afghan tourmaline - can you believe that color?

My personal favorite - a HUGE (17+ carats) blue tourmaline cab.

Chrysoprase cabs

Green cat's eye tourmaline (from the same mine in Southern CA).

And one more green cat's eye tourmaline.

I also got some really pretty little round hessonite garnet cabochons but I can't find them at the moment. Grr.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Organic Dilemma

Whenever I go grocery shopping, I always go to two stores. I get as many basics as I can at the local discount supermarket, then for the harder-to-find vegan necessities I head to the natural foods store. I'm always torn between paying less at the first store for conventional produce and ponying up the extra cash for organic produce at the natural foods store.

I know this list has been around for a while but I just found it and thought I'd share. It lists the twelve most heavily pesticided (I know that's not a word) types of produce; the idea is to help you prioritize which foods are worth paying extra for the organic version. (More power to you if you buy all organics; I'm too cheap/poor.)

12 most pesticide-laden produce items

bell peppers
imported grapes
red raspberries

Now, because I am a total nerd, I made up some business card sized printouts of this list so I could keep one in my wallet. My plan is to buy the organic versions of these things and stick with conventional for the rest of my produce. If you are also a nerd, feel free to download my file (which is, of course, designed to print nicely on those blank business cards you can buy, or, if you are slightly less nerdish, just use regular paper).

So, tell me - do you buy organic?

I have a problem.

Well, actually I have lots of problems. But the one that's troubling me today is the fact that I have SO many gorgeous stones and so many ideas of what I want to make with them, but so little time to actually create anything... sigh.

And to make matters worse, more arrived in the mail today...

really big teardrop shaped smoky quartz cabs (mine, all mine)

8mm faceted rainbow moonstone cabs
(sorry for the icky picture; white is so hard to photograph)

...and some new labradorite beads for my bead shop (plus I restocked on a few things I'd run out of - rhodolite garnet rondelles, amethyst marquis briolettes, and vasonite rondelles).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Baking Adventures

I baked a lot today. I like to give tins of holiday goodies at Christmastime, so I thought I'd better get started.

First, I made the chocolate chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance. I think the only substitution I made was to use white whole wheat flour instead of regular white flour. They turned out good but not as good as my own chocolate chip cookie recipe. (Not to toot my own horn, but it's true. Toot.) To be fair, the flour change could have had a negative impact... who knows. Anyways, they are good, just not fantastic.

I also made Mocha Almond Biscotti from The Glad Cow Cookbook.* They are fantastic! This was my first attempt at making biscotti and I'm really happy with how yummy they are. Once again, I used white whole wheat flour and it worked well with this recipe. I thought they would have looked prettier if they were dipped in chocolate instead of just smeared with it, but my melted chocolate chips were kind of too thick for dipping... I was afraid to add soymilk because I thought thinning it might make it not harden up like it should - anyone have any tips?

* You should buy this cookbook; it's tiny but packed with awesome recipes.

Finally, I made a Cinnamon Swirl Loaf from the Love Like a Vegan blog. I think for this one I used half unbleached flour and half white whole wheat. I think I must not have cooked it long enough because it came out doughy in the middle, but I can tell from the edge pieces that this is an awesome recipe and one that I will definitely try again - next time though I will either cook it longer or use mini loaf pans or perhaps a small cake pan.

So... that was my day today. Oh, and Carlos and I went for a walk in the beautiful winter sunshine. I was hoping to get some workshop time in this afternoon while Carlos napped but he decided not to sleep today. Hopefully I can get him down for bed early tonight and go get some work done after that... I have some patient customers who are waiting for rings.

Vegan Fudge Recipe

I haven't made vegan fudge yet this year, so I don't have any pictures to share, but I generally make it every year for Christmas and it's so easy and so good. I thought I should get my butt in gear and post it in time for you all to enjoy it. Nothing makes me sadder than thinking about some poor fudge deprived vegan feeling sad about their lack of holiday chocolatey goodness...
Easy Fudge

6 tablespoons vegan margarine
3-1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup chopped nuts (0ptional; I usually leave them out)

Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan, using a little of the margarine (I actually prefer to line the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; it makes the fudge easier to get out of the pan).

Place the remaining margarine, sugar, cocoa powder, and soy milk in the upper part of a double boiler (or just use a smaller bowl in a large pot of boiling water). Stir ingredients in bowl over simmering water until smooth. Add vanilla, and nuts if desired.

Pour the mixture quickly into the prepared pan. Chill thoroughly and cut into squares. (If you don't want to eat it all right away, I've successfully frozen this for a few weeks; just wrap it well and put it in a freezer bag or other airtight container.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More new rings

I'm really happy with these! What do you think?

Sweet little pink tourmaline surrounded by hand fabricated sterling silver dots. I love this one!

Special order for Denise; labradorite and sterling silver

Labradorite and sterling silver, size 6

Purple sapphire and sterling silver, size 7
I love this one so much, I think I may make one for myself as well!