Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lavender Cookies: Recipe


This is a great old-fashioned butter cookie with an herbal kick: lavender.

The key to cooking with lavender is to experiment. Start out with a small amount of flowers, and add more as you go. Note that adding too much lavender to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish bitter. If you prefer, these cookies are delectable without the herb.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Bluebird Grain Farms' flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp dried (non-sprayed) lavender
1 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and lavender.

2. Beat the sugar and softened butter separately in a large bowl with an electric or hand-held mixer. (Tip: If the butter is hard and needs to be defrosted, cut it into small pieces and let sit util malleable.)

3. Once the mixture is creamy and fluffy, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.

4. Add the flour and baking powder mixture and fold in with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture is evenly blended.

5. Make a 12-inch roll and wrap it in a sheet of plastic. Keep it refrigerated for about 2 hours or until it becomes firm.

6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Grease baking sheets lightly.

8. Roll the dough into small balls and place them on your baking sheets. Keep the cookie mixtures about 1 inch apart from each other. Press lightly with a fork.

9. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.

10. Take your cookies out of the oven and place on sheets to cool for a few minutes.

Enjoy (with vanilla ice cream)!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Chain Link Necklace: Tutorial

One of my favorite things to do as a silversmith is create kinetic art - wearable art that moves. Figuring out how to link one piece to another, giving art freedom to dance, creates a fascinating and satisfying challenge. I cheer to myself when I come up with a new idea or when I've made a unique chain without soldering it into one blob. Every chain is entirely different.


After I have created a pendant, somehow I can't bring myself to place it on a pre-fabricated chain unless my customer is requesting a lower price-point. I don't mean that to be judgmental. The art feels incomplete if I don't make the entire wearable piece.

Here is an example of one of my chains - a visual tutorial for metalsmith and insight for customers on my process. Enjoy!

Chain Link Necklace: Tutorial

1. Cut 18 gauge sterling silver wire into 20 1" lengths.


2. Using round-nose pliers, form a loop at the end of each wire, ensuring that the wire joints are connected. They must fit snuggly together.



3. With your torch on a small tip, just barely heat the silver wire until the loops fuse (no solder necessary). I use a metal tip to gently push the metal loops together to ensure the snug connection.



4. Once your loops have cooled, use your flat-nose pliers to bend each one into an arch (see picture below).


5. With your torch, as you "thread" each link, melt the end of the prior link into a ball. Bend each newly threaded link into an arch, making sure it's bent in the same direction as the original link.




6. I like to get creative with the links as they connect with the pendant. Here, I've made a jump ring to thread through the loops of each hand fabricated link. Maybe the picture will help you understand how all of the links are joined.


7. Play with where you place your clasp. My preference is hook clasps, but you may like toggle clasps. For this piece, I placed the hook toward the front of the necklace to break up the chain and add another random focal point. I'm not sure it works.

The pendant is made with sterling silver (3 sheets deep) and natural shell from my beach combing week on Kauai.



9. As always, have fun, and enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Live In Art: 2014

At this time last year I could not have predicted how 2014 would unfold. I figured it would be a typical year, forever striving to find a balance between family, work, art, garden and exercise. Personal goals included losing a little weight, saving $10K from jewelry sales (part of my 3-year plan to pursue a career as a full-time artist), building a root cellar, processing enough produce from my garden to last all winter, running 20 mile distances by the end of the summer, and a few other high-maintenance tasks.

Well, that didn't happen.


What did happen was a whirlwind - the largest wild fire in Washington state history. The loss of our home and my studio. We were left with a wood shed (filled with wood), hoola hoop, stunted potatoes and carrots. Apparently there was no need for a root cellar.


As a result, our year was filled with intense loving, embracing, community, breathing, walking, crying, searching, and rebuilding. My 3-year plan to save funds unexpectedly fast-forwarded and I was handed an opportunity: an ability to downsize and leap.


Quickly thereafter I received a generous grant from CERF+, purchased new equipment, and opened my jewelry studio in the greenhouse of Local 98856.


My studio - my art - became my rising Phoenix. In the months that followed my business flourished. Each creation offered another opening, a new beginning. Although I struggled to keep up with orders, I encountered nothing but patience, support, and appreciation.


2014 brought us a new understanding of love.


It gave us friendship.


Laughter.


Forgiveness.


Gifts. Generosity. Community.


Empowering decisions.


Creative collaborations.


A strong mother-daughter bond.


I fell in love with my husband again. And again.


Fresh air, and an ability to breathe.


A warm home.


Encouragement.


We found a balance. We lost it, and found it again.


Compassion.


Gratitude.


Health.


2014 will live within me forever. I admittedly don't wish to relive it, but do want to recognize that our challenges gave birth to blessings.

In sum: thank you.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

1-100: My To-Do List In Chronological Order

As I lay in our cozy new bed listening to Derek's soft snoring (not loving the snoring but happy he was finally sleeping), I realized that I needed to document the last few months. Three months at full speed has fallen into a heavy, blurry heap at my feet, and I’m trying to wade through it all. If I don’t, the fog will slip into the past and our experience will grow hazy.

So, here it is.



1-100: My To-Do List In Chronological Order


  1. Cry. 
  2. Embrace one another. 
  3. Find a temporary housing situation, preferably one that’s furnished. 
  4. Buy enough food for a few days. You’ll probably find the grocery store overwhelming. 
  5. Buy a dog bed, bowl and dog food. 
  6. Grieve. Grieve. Grieve some more. 
  7. Pick yourself up. This part is challenging - you may need a scraper. 
  8. Contact insurance and submit a claim. 
  9. Accept the gifts that come to you. 
  10. Go to the store and buy ONLY the necessities: underwear and toiletries. 
  11. Contact insurance and submit a separate claim for the truck. 
  12. Get the truck towed. 
  13. Cancel services: all utilities, phone, internet, garbage and recycling pick up, Netflix… 
  14. Figure out what resources are available to assist you: Red Cross, volunteer crews, etc. 
  15. Breathe. 
  16. Cry. 
  17. Laugh. 
  18. Figure out what bills are due. 
  19. Order new checks. 
  20. Order birth certificates. 
  21. Order new passports. 
  22. Check in with one another. 
  23. Buy more clothes. 
  24. Sleep. 
  25. Go back to work. 
  26. Navigate paying off the bank. 
  27. Sift through the debris. 
  28. Consult environmental gurus to determine how best to restore your land. 
  29. Get a computer. And printer. And paper. 
  30. Replace your daughter’s gear first - her soccer uniform and Taekwondo Gee. 
  31. Pick one or two of your favorite hobbies and try to pursue them again. 
  32. Buy a bike (or running shoes)…or something. 
  33. Go for a bike ride. 
  34. Listen to music in your car. Loud. 
  35. Don’t buy anything for your home, but start a wish list. 
  36. Begin to figure out a more permanent housing situation. Should you build? Buy? Rent? Squat? 
  37. Breathe. 
  38. Cry. 
  39. Hug one another. 
  40. Eat. 
  41. Sleep. 
  42. Buy food for a few more days. 
  43. Make the bed. 
  44. Contact the auto repair shop - where is your truck? They won’t know. They’ll have to check their records. 
  45. You’ll need a second vehicle if you don’t have public transportation. So, go ahead and buy a gas guzzling Land Cruiser because you’ve always wanted one. Name it “YOLO”. 
  46. Remove the debris. 
  47. Grieve. 
  48. Get a referral from your doctor to go to therapy. 
  49. Find a therapist and schedule an appointment. 
  50. Take your daughter to therapy. You’ll probably be told she’s ok, but it’s a good idea to check. 
  51. Have your property reassessed by the county. 
  52. Contact a real-estate agent. 
  53. Cry. 
  54. Look at tiny homes. 
  55. Cry. 
  56. Look at homes off the grid. 
  57. Go to therapy. 
  58. Look at more tiny homes. 
  59. Make an offer. 
  60. Arrange for an inspection. 
  61. Arrange for an electrical inspection. 
  62. Call the auto mechanic again to check on the truck. It’s probably ready. Coordinate logistics to go pick it up. While you’re there, go see a movie. 
  63. When the purchase of the little home goes through, get insurance. 
  64. Fill the propane tank. 
  65. Have a builder friend remove the TV cabinet and install a wood stove. 
  66. Install snow breaks on the roof. Hurry because winter is approaching. 
  67. Refinish the concrete floors. To do so, you’ll need a mop and bucket. 
  68. Change your address everywhere. 
  69. Buy some basic tools, i.e. a shovel, hammer and screwdriver. You’ll need some nails and screws, too. 
  70. Paint your walls fun colors. 
  71. Explore the trails around your new home. 
  72. Start buying EVERYTHING: beds, pillows, mattresses, linens, a table, chairs, a couch, kitchen wares, shelves, a rug… 
  73. Stay within your budget. 
  74. Track packages. 
  75. Send back anything you accidentally ordered two of because there was a hiccup transferring things from your wish list to the cart. Or you could stash them away to give as Christmas gifts. 
  76. Return items that arrived broken. 
  77. Clean your new home from floor to ceiling. You’ll need to get sponges. 
  78. Take time moving in and making your home YOUR home. 
  79. Aak - recycling! 
  80. Take time moving out of your temporary home. 
  81. Clean your temporary home from floor to ceiling. 
  82. Breathe. 
  83. Sleep. 
  84. Have wood delivered. 
  85. Borrow a wood splitter. 
  86. Split wood and stack it. 
  87. Call to begin services: internet, garbage and recycle pick up. Connect with your plow guy to make sure you’re on his radar. 
  88. Have your friend the Arborist come stay with you for the weekend to take down dead trees. Leave some standing for bird habitat. 
  89. Sit on your property and stare. Say goodbye. Let go. Breathe. 
  90. Buy winter clothes. 
  91. Acquire new skis, poles, boots. Three sets. 
  92. That tree that fell down in your driveway - go cut it up. But first you’ll need to go buy or borrow a chainsaw. 
  93. Ants? Your new home has an ant infestation? Ok, go deal with that. 
  94. Vacuum up the dead ants. You’ll need to get a vacuum. 
  95. Go for a walk. 
  96. Breathe. 
  97. Look up from what you're doing.
  98. Hug one another.
  99. Be thankful for what you have.
  100. Laugh.
I've wondered why I'm tired. Sleep doesn't solve the issue of fatigue. After writing this list, I get it.

Duh.

Now hopefully I'll be able to snore alongside Derek.

Monday, November 24, 2014

River Rock Mosaic: Tutorial

We just recently closed on a little home and are taking some time to make it our own before we move in. For me, that includes art installations.

This past week my mom helped me with my rock mosaic - she's now excited to put some of these in her own home.


You can too! Here's how.

River Rock Mosaic Tutorial


Materials Needed:
Rocks - lots and lots of rocks.
Morter (I prefer pre-mixed). It's thin-set, or tile adhesive.
Grout (any color is fine, and I personally like sanded grout)
Rubber gloves
Bucket
Spatula (plastic or metal is fine)
Water
Rag
Grout sealer & small paint brush
A radio with loud music

Directions:

1. Collect lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. These mosaics take more rocks than you might think.


2. On the wall, sketch out the shape of the mosaic, or you can use painter's tape to create straight edges.


3. Using your spatula and pre-mixed tile adhesive, place a small lump of adhesive on the back side of each rock. One by one, stick the rocks to the wall inside your sketch. This part takes time. It's like creating a puzzle, trying to make the rocks look like they fit together.


4. Keep going.



And going.


You can see I changed my mind on which direction to take the mosaic.


And going.






5. Once you've filled in all the spaces, allow the adhesive to dry overnight.

6. Mix the grout according to the instructions on the box. Wear rubber gloves because otherwise your fingers will be rubbed raw. Massage the grout into the mosaic, in between the rocks. Let dry for about an hour. The surface of the grout will crust.


7. With your rag and a bucket of warm water, begin wiping down the grout. Your rag should not be soaking - wring it out before setting it against the mosaic. You'll make a dozen or more trips from the sink to the mosaic, refreshing your water, wiping, refreshing, wiping. Continue to do this until your water is no longer very cloudy. Also note, you'll want to pour the dirty water outside, NOT down your sink.


8. When you're done, wait about a week before painting on the grout sealer. Also, if your mosaic will be exposed to water (i.e. a back splash), you should line the edges with caulk.

I think that's it. Thank you for your help with this one, Mom!

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