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Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Work

moissanite sapphire ringCustom wedding set - Moissanite engagement ring with moissanite & lab-created sapphire wedding band; recycled sterling silver

moissanite sapphire jewelryThe same band on its own

moissanite silver ringAnother custom engagement band - a slight variation on this one.

Turquoise & sterling silver earrings

Swiss blue topaz & sterling silver ring

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yummy dip

I tweaked Bella's original apple dip recipe today and I like the results... give it a try!
Creamy Peanut Butter Dip

1 block firm silken tofu (I used 'lite')
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Cover, chill, and serve with sliced apples for dipping. Enjoy!

More New Work

Sorry I've been so silent lately. I have been SWAMPED!!! Here are two rings I finished a few days ago...

My first white gold ring!!!

recycled white gold ringMoissanite & recycled white gold wedding ring

white gold moissaniteThe little flush-set moissanites go all the way around, with a light blue sapphire on the back.

recycled mens ringSatin-finished sterling silver and 14k gold mens ring (all recycled metal, of course).

mens wedding bandAnd a detail shot showing my new initial stamp next to my usual hallmark stamps.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Work

I finished this custom wedding set this morning - brushed sterling silver (recycled), moissanite, and ruby...

recycled wedding ring
recycled moissanite ring
recycled engagement ring
ethical wedding ring
ethical moissanite ring

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And one for my bro...

My brother showered the world with bloggity goodness when he posted earlier this week about Tom Selleck chest hair and really bad tattoos. I know his preferred form of repayment is pictures of Chuck Norris so here you go, Shelby, some Chuck-butt just for you.


I realized it's been a while since I've posted pictures of the birds, so here's a bunch... enjoy!



Clarabelle and Rosa fraternizing with the flamingos


Blossom again... there's something about this angle that gets me every time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well, I've been considering this for months and months, and I've finally decided that in order to focus 100% of my time and attention on my growing jewelry business, I need to sell the bead-selling portion of my business. If you are interested in purchasing an established, profitable business that you can operate part-time from your home, please email me for details.

Thanks so much to all of my amazing family, friends, and customers for supporting these endeavors of mine over the past two years. Those of you who have purchased from my bead shop have helped to provide me with a stable income that I could rely on while my jewelry work gained a wider audience.

VitaMix Update

I'm so glad I posted about my VitaMix yearning the other day - one of my fabulous customers saw my post and wrote to say that she had a rarely-used VitaMix that she would be happy to trade for jewelry. Mere days later, my new toy is in action in my kitchen!

Today I made this basic but yummy recipe from the VitaMix website, substituting blood oranges for the navel oranges. It turned out so frothy and pink and yummy!

Orange Juice Plus

Yield: 2 1/2 cups (600 mL)

Speed: Variable to High
Time: 1 minute


2 (260 g) medium navel oranges, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
3/4 cup (180 mL) ice cubes
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener, to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in Vita-Mix container in order listed. Secure 2-part lid. Select VARIABLE, speed #1. Turn on machine and quickly increase speed to #10; then to HIGH. Run for 1 minute or until smooth. Serve immediately.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple with juice.

Note: For plain orange juice, omit vanilla and sweetener.

Health Classification: Low Fat, Low Sodium, Low Cholesterol, Heart Healthy, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part Four

Here it is, the fourth and final post in my 'Making Responsible Food Choices' series. I hope I've been able to shed some light on the ethical problems that go along with some common vegan foods, as well as provide some solutions. In case you missed them, feel free to check out parts one, two, and three.

Today I'm going to discuss palm oil, a substance often found in crackers, pastries, cereals, and microwave popcorn. Keebler, Oreo, Mrs. Fields, Pepperidge Farm and other companies use palm oil in some of their cookies. Of particular interest to vegans, palm oil is a major ingredient in our beloved Earth Balance buttery spread.

According to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), "Though not as unhealthy as partially hydrogenated oil, palm oil still promotes heart disease." Going beyond palm oil's consequences at the individual health level, the cultivation of oil palm is a major factor in the destruction of the rainforests in Southeast Asia. These rapidly shrinking forests are home to the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, Asian elephant, and Sumatran rhinoceros. CSPI reports "Each of those species is endangered, with the three eponymous Sumatran species critically endangered. They once flourished in precisely those areas where rainforests have since been cleared for oil palm."

Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas has been studying orangutans in Indonesia for nearly forty years. According to a recent AP report, "the red apes she studies in Indonesia are on the verge of extinction because forests are being clear-cut and burned to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations." Galdikas has established a non-profit to help protect these threatened animals - Orangutan Foundation International - and has published an autobiography detailing her many years working with these amazing creatures.

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any fair-trade, environmentally-friendly versions of palm oil, so the best solutions I can think of are as follows:

1. Contact companies whose products contain palm oil and let them know that you support the elimination of palm oil from their food lineup. (You can start with Earth Balance!)

2. Reduce or eliminate your use of palm oil. Personally, since coming across this disturbing information, I've been able to drastically reduce my consumption of Earth Balance (probably a good thing for my figure too!) - there are a lot of ways I used to use it that were easy to give up... jam instead of butter on toast, always using olive or canola oil for sauteing rather than Earth Balance, and choosing recipes for baked goods that call for non-palm-oil fats, to name a few (be careful though, and be sure to actually check the label - the other day I thought, 'oh, I'll use non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening instead of EB for these cookies,' but when I checked the shortening label, it was 100% palm oil!!! Eek.)

If anyone else has suggestions for ways that we can advocate to end the habitat destruction currently taking place for the sake of our collective palates, please post 'em here!

PS - Be sure to read the comments; Richard Zimmerman, Director of Orangutan Outreach, posted some very valuable, albeit sad, details about the plight of the endangered orangutans in Indonesia.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Work

prehnite earringsPrehnite & sterling silver earrings
{ custom order; sold }

birthstone ringBirthstone trio ring - crystal, amethyst, & green tourmaline with recycled sterling silver
{ custom order; sold }

nevada variscite ringNevada variscite, recycled 22k gold, & recycled sterling silver ring, size 6.5
{ to be listed soon in my Etsy shop }

And now begins the parade of labradorite...

An intentionally-unflashy labradorite set in recycled sterling silver
{ custom order; sold }

Labradorite & recycled sterling silver ring
{ custom order; sold }

Labradorite, recycled 22k gold, recycled 14k gold, & recycled sterling silver ring
{ custom order; sold }

Labradorite & recycled sterling silver ring, size 6.5
{ to be listed soon in my Etsy shop }

Labradorite & recycled sterling silver ring
{ custom order; sold }

Labradorite & recycled sterling silver ring, size 8
{ to be listed soon in my Etsy shop }

And last but not least - I got a new punch so now I can stamp my teeny-tiny initials on all of my work.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Beads

I just received a few new cabs, which I'm working on listing in my bead shop now...

Faceted smoky quartz cabs, 7mm

Square cushion cut lemon quartz cabs, 8mm

Square labradorite cabs, 10mm

Square cushion cut labradorite cabs, 14mm

Teardrop crystal cabochons, 9mm

Friday, February 6, 2009

New-ish Work

I finished this ring a couple of weeks ago but didn't post it right away because I didn't want to spoil the surprise in case the recipient might read my blog. (Hi Maggie!) Anyhoo... without further ado, here is my first oxidized silver moissanite ring -

black moissanite ring
As is often the case, I think it's prettier in person than in the picture; oh well. This one used a 4mm stone on a 4mm band. Someday when (if) I get caught up on all of my work, I'd like to try it using a 5mm or 6mm stone.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

VitaMix Lust

Oh, I have been pining for a Vitamix for so long... and now I see that you can get refurbished ones! Still not cheap, but they look SO amazing. And you can make three monthly payments... hmm.

A Must-See

Please take a moment to watch this incredibly moving video, then add your signature to the letter to the state Supreme Court demanding that Prop 8 be reversed, and that the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted between May and November of 2008 in California not be nullified.

Making Responsible Food Choices, Part Three

This here is the third installment in my four-part series* examining the ethical issues surrounding a few vegetarian diet staples. Today's subject is rice.

* In case you missed them, you might want to read part one and part two first.

While most of the white and brown rice we eat in the US is grown domestically, the majority of the aromatics, such as basmati and jasmine, are grown in Thailand, India, and Pakistan. It is mainly harvested by hand on small farms in rural communities. These small-scale growers are at the mercy of a volatile market and are often exploited by middle merchants, who frequently underpay the farmers.

In addition, profits for these small family farmers are diminishing due to the use of expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which are also, not surprisingly, adversely affecting workers' health as well as polluting the water and eroding the topsoil of these rural communities.

If this topic interests you and you'd like to learn more, you can read more about the issues surrounding fair trade rice here.

So as I mentioned before in the case of bananas and chocolate, the solution to these problems lies in supporting the growing fair trade market. You can buy fair trade rice online or find it at your local natural foods store.

I'd like to take a moment to discuss what you can do if your local store doesn't carry the fair trade products you seek, so this applies equally to rice, chocolate, bananas, and a whole score of products with growing fair trade availability. Personally, I spend a fair amount of time (and money) at our local natural foods store, and I make an effort to be friendly with the people who work there. They are generally a nice bunch of people who care, like I do, about eating responsibly, and in my experience, they are very open to stocking new products to meet customer demand. The key is to take the legwork out of it for them; find the product you want them to carry (the specific product, brand and all, not just a general idea), print out the name of the product and the details of how the store can contact the company who distributes the product, then pass this information on to a manager at the store, either in person or with a hand-written note explaining why you would like to see it in their store. Only through customer requests like these will stores learn what is important to us, and by helping to bring these fair trade options to the grocery store shelves, we can expose many other shoppers to the choices that exist for eating in a way that supports humane ways of life on this earth.

This post wraps up the information I wanted to share from the 'Food, Inc.' article in the Jan-Feb '09 issue of VegNews magazine. This is an excellent article that goes into more detail than I have provided here, so if it's something you care about, I highly recommend getting your hands on this magazine, or better yet, subscribing. (They just added a tree-free subscription option, so you can get all the good stuff without wasting paper - hooray!)

Stay tuned for one final installment in this series on making responsible food choices within the framework of a veg*n diet...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

January Jewelry For Charity Recap & February Kick-Off

Thanks again everybody! I'm excited to announce that with your help, I raised a whopping $520 for Save The Chimps during the month of January. It makes me so happy to be able to send a nice big check to such an awesome organization.

For February, I'll once again be featuring one of my all-time favorite charities, the amazing Animal Place sanctuary. This is the last of four special donations to Animal Place that are going towards their new sanctuary. I'm so excited to attend the grand opening of their new facility on July 4th!

Hoo Hoo

We have an owl who hangs out around our house sometimes and we often have the lovely experience of listening to him hoo-hoo-ing at night. Tonight as we pulled into the drive after a quick dinner out, I spotted him for the first time, sitting atop a tree just beyond our yard. I know this isn't the best picture, but I feel compelled to share. Isn't he cool?

New Work

Yesterday I was playing around with an idea that's been bouncing around in my brain for a while... with most of my wedding ring designs, if the stone is wider than the band, it won't stack nicely with a wedding band because the setting for the stone protrudes beyond the edges of the band. But some people might prefer a narrower band, even with a large stone, so I had the idea to offset the stone, which would allow a wedding band to sit snugly against the bottom of the engagement ring.

This is just a mock-up, with the stone resting in the setting, but not permanently secured yet. It shows a 6mm moissanite on a 3mm wide band.

moissanite engagement ring
I like it, but I think for the final version I'd like to try it in white gold (this one is sterling silver) with a matching band below. I didn't want to waste the practice piece though, so I set this gorgeous fair-trade sapphire in it instead -

sapphire engagement ring
I think it turned out pretty cool. :-) I also just finished this chunkier version of a ring I've made before - this one features another fair trade Australian sapphire (also 6mm, as compared with the 5mm stone I used in the original).

sapphire jewelry
It's a custom order - already spoken for, but I have another similar stone on hand in case anyone else wants something similar.

fair trade sapphire
Hope you all had a lovely weekend - I've been housebound with a sick toddler for nearly a week and am finally getting out today to do some leafleting at the local junior college, so that should be fun.