Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back to blogging!

Ok.  I'm officially starting up my blog again - really! There have been a lot of life changes since I last posted, not the least of which was a partial remodel of a portion of my house for my mom to move in with me back in the fall of 2012.   We have both settled in nicely now, and are enjoying each other's company.  My mom is also an avid gardener, and we have split up the yard - she gets the front yard (I'm no dummy - this is the most visible part, and it's looking gorgeous now).  I have the back yard and vegetable garden.  The trees have gotten larger and larger, so full sun is a thing of the past now.  We have learned which veggies will grow in partial shade - and tomatoes are one of them, surprisingly.  The fig tree is also thriving, and we actually got 15 figs this summer!  No photo, we ate them all as soon as they were picked!

Perhaps the biggest change has been that both of us have lost tons of weight and gotten crazy healthy. We have become "nutritarians", which is a mostly vegan lifestyle heavy on veggies and salads.  I have invented many new salads, and make all my own salad dressings with nuts/seeds/herbs instead of oil. Cooking without oil is not as hard as it sounds, and nut-based salad dressings truly taste better than oil based.  Definitely not a low fat diet, as the nuts, seeds and avocados keep us very satisfied.  You can even make a fantastic chocolate pudding with avocados!  I'll definitely share some of our favorite recipes here shortly.  You can find out more here or here.  I started eating this way back in 2012, and have never missed my old diet or the weight that went away, lol!  One of my favorite snacks is apples dipped in chocolate tahini and pecans, yum!  You can make the chocolate tahini dip by mixing together 4T tahini, 1T cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and about 1/4 cup of date paste (made by whirring up water and dates in a high powered blender).  I will say eating healthy definitely requires a high speed blender like a Nutribullet or a Vitamix.  I use the Nutribullet, which works great for less than half the cost.  Someday I dream of owning a Vitamix, though.

The next biggest change is that with all the weight loss and health, I've gone back to riding horses, something I love, but hadn't done for 30 years.  I have always wanted to be a serious dressage rider, and am well on my way to making that dream come true.  I'm working with an instructor once a week, (2 hours away, unfortunately), but was lucky enough to come across a wonderful horse farm only 7 miles away from me where there was a horse that needed to be ridden. I get to ride Cloud Walker, a 19-year-old Tennessee Walker as often as I want on 65 acres of rolling hills and woods. It is a perfect complement to the long hours at my jewelry bench - allows me to breath fresh air and get exercise that is actually fun.  Yes, riding horses is every bit as much exercise as going to the gym!!  You can see Walker here doing what he loves best - sneaking in a bit of grass whenever he can.

Jewelry business-wise things are as busy as ever, and I still have tons of stones and not much time to make one of a kind pieces with them. But....I am working on that!  Here's the stone I think I am going to set next.  Soooo.... that is all for now.  I plan to fit in a post here and there to share horse stories, recipes, and news from my jewlery bench.  We'll see how that goes, lol! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hello Again!

 LavenderLatteCropThis is a quick blog post while I have a cup of tea with lavender to note that I have not permanently abandoned my blog.  My poor blog has taken a back seat to my increasing business (yes, I might be a workaholic) and to Facebook, Twitter, and now, especially Pinterest.  I love Pinterest!  Finally a place to store tons of recipes that doesn’t take up real space, ha ha…

Anyway, I have been very busy this last year, both on Etsy, and with my own new website and online shop.  I built the site using Shopify last November, and I really love it.  (I highly recommend Shopify if you need an ecommerce solution!)  It has kept me crazy busy since the holidays last year, and I have stopped gardening, cooking, and almost everything else.  I’m now taking a deep breath, and trying to get a bit of life balance going, where I can get back to creating new recipes and pulling my garden back together.

The garden has been doing fine without me, though.  I’ve learned that yes, I did plant way too many perennials too CardinalNest62012close together when I started out.  A few too many trees, too.  I kind of have a forest on my hands now. The birds love it, though – the cardinals raised two sets of babies this spring!  And lots of lovely English ivy (which came from nowhere, I did not plant it!)  preventing the weeds from from growing – yay!  I’m keeping it under control with the lawnmower, so it’s not taking over.  It’s  raining now, or I’d run and take a photo of  the great patch in my front flowerSoulFire1 bed.

I have also made quite a few artisan rings this year with my ever-growing stash of stones.  I even kept my favorite one for myself – I actually have a “signature” piece of my own to wear now!   I used one of my favorite deep blue labradorites, and and Ethiopian opal.  I’m loving the Ethiopian opals, which I think are just as lovely as the Australian ones.   I’m working on new opal pieces for the shop, and one of  the first  is the Enchanted Garden ring.  I think the opal looks really great with brass (or gold would be even better).

So that’s all for now, a lick and a promise before I get busy on orders down in the studio.  Who knows – I may cook something and post the recipe, or even *gasp* go out in the garden and take some photos one of these days.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Born from a Meteor, and Flashier than a Diamond - that’s Moissanite



I love custom requests from my customers because they quite often lead me in a direction I might not have gone otherwise.  I”m pretty firm on  using only ethically mined natural stones without additional treatments and dyes in my jewelry.  Because of that, I pay very little attention to anything created in a lab, and had never heard of Moissanite until my customer requested it.  It does occur in nature, but so rarely, and in such small amounts that it has never been available for jewelry in its natural form. 

Meteor Crater-2Moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan when he was looking at rock samples he had collected from Meteor Crater in Diablo, Arizona back in 1893.  He thought they were diamonds at first, but a few years later, he identified the crystals as silicon carbide.  (Years later, the mineral was renamed Moissanite in honor of Henri’s discovery).

The mineral was controversial for a long time, and many believed it was carborundum contamination from abrasive tools, and until the 1950’s it had never been found anywhere other than a meteorite.  In the late 50’s it was found as inclusions in kimberlite.  Moissanite is very rare, and has now been identified as inclusions in diamonds, kimberlite and lamproite in addition to meteorites.

In 1998, the company Charles and Colvard created a proprietary process to create moissanite in a lab, and it now regarded as an excellent diamond substitute, with optical properties and light refraction that actually exceed those of diamond.   I can vouch for this, it is truly a stunning stone with incredible sparkle!  This Moissanite video from Charles and Colvard shows a bit of the history and what it looks like.

IceFlower5I’m working on several pieces using moissanite that will  coordinate with the Iceflower ring.   Definitely some little silver flower stud earrings to start with, then some more urban linear designs, I think.  Anyway, just excited about a sparkly stone that’s a little more affordable than diamonds, and nowhere near as boring as that old standby cubic zirconia.  My main focus will always be ethically mined natural stones, but sometimes different is good!  (By the way, my photos here definitely do not do justice to the actual sparkle of these, just so you know.)