O.M.G. Yum.

>> Sunday, July 31, 2011

I was reading the awesome blog The Victory Garden yarn & curiousities when I saw her post about Tomato Pie.

WOW. It sounded delicious.

image courtesy of Victory Garden Yarn & Curiousities

It looked even better. So I followed her link to the recipe at Country Living.

And then I made it. Actually I made two of them.
With tomatoes and basil all fresh picked from my garden.
Tomatoe-y, cheesy, gooey goodness. I am in love.


Custom sea glass ring a photo documentary of sorts

>> Saturday, July 30, 2011

First, the client asks me to view sea glass pieces in certain colors. In this case, aqua, olive green and shades of amber

She selects her color and we discuss how it will show up against the silver backing- will it be too dark? I think it looks lovely. She agrees.
The basic setting is made. We discuss optional embellishment.
But ultimately decide against it. Sometimes it looks perfect. This chunky piece of glass stands up on its own with no need for further decoration.
The ring is completed and polished to a high shine.

But we're going for an oxidized finish, so after applying some Liver of Sulphur and buffing it back, the end result is a bold and earthy looking ring.
Gratuitous glamour shots- because I love this ring so much I'm going to use it for my custom ring listing on Etsy!


Stand mixer plus hot day plus house full of kids equals cookies!

>> Friday, July 29, 2011

I don't know why, but it seems to be a recurring theme around here that when it gets too hot to go to the beach we stay inside with the AC and make cookies!

This year instead of making up our own, we decided to pull out my BHG cookbook (a gift from my mom at my bridal shower) for a tried and true recipe.

photo courtesy of bhg website

We chose Lime Zingers, which fortunately BHG has posted on their website, so if you want to try these yummy little bites for yourself, you can!

I was gifted this (new to me) Sunbeam stand mixer about 8 months ago from a friend who never used it- who got it from her mother-in-law who picked it up "somewhere along the way". So the thing sat looking worn, filthy and unloved in my basement for ages because I didn't have the motivation to clean it up and see if it even worked.
Finally my slacker behind wandered downstairs and lugged it up and into the kitchen. Well let me just say "WOW". Once I gave it a good scrubbing, it didn't have a mark on it. It looks like it was hardly ever used!
And oh! The joy of making dough without having to use my 12 year old (also a bridal shower gift) hand mixer! I showed the kids how to slowly add the flour so we didn't make a snow storm in the house, I had one bowl to use to mix the frosting and a seperate one for the dough. All the parts are dishwasher safe and the best part- it actually works really well!
I'm so excited I decided to try it out. Oh and the cookies weren't too bad either. ;)


Work in progress Wednesday. Errr, I mean Thursday.

>> Thursday, July 28, 2011

While waiting to hear back from a client on a custom order this afternoon, I decided to play around with some wire.

What resulted was a funky little set of bangles. Each bangle has been hand forged and hammered with a different texture. I also made the little sterling "sea" charm.

This set hasn't been polished or given its oxidized finish yet, but it will tomorrow!

What do you think? I'm pretty happy with them and think I'll be selling them soon.
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We've done a lot in two years and I'm thrilled!

>> Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thrilled that the flowers in my front garden are finally blooming large enough to take cuttings and enjoy some indoors. I even harvested my lavender for the first time!

Which I've stuck into little containers in our bedroom and bath to keep things fresh.
I hate when it's so hot that you must have all the AC's on and no windows open to circulate the air!

When we moved in, we had no flowers.
We had no flower beds. What we had was a giant pine tree that dwarfed our little house, an ugly 1970's style shrub on the corner and some unkempt roses on a trellis over the garage.

In the two years since we bought our house, we have begun slowly changing the yard to make it our own. The first year we took down the pine tree and turned the area along the street into a bed.
We had very little money, so we didn't have much to fill the bed in with. A tiny ornamental pear tree, a few junipers, some candy tuft plants, lavender and beach grass. Oh and a large piece of driftwood husbando lugged off the beach for me. It was seriously sad, lol.

Little by little I have invested in a few perennials (mostly bought on clearance once they'd finished blooming for the season) And I've spent a lot of time transplanting.
Before we moved from our old house my mom and I took some of the zillions of day lillies I had growing there and moved them up to her house. We let them recouperate there for a season and have since been slowly bringing them back home to my house. In addition, I've harvested seeds from friends and family to acquire some silver dollar plants, black-eyed susans and a host of other flowers.

This is a quick look at a second bed that I put in along the side of my front yard. I called it my "freebie" bed. Everything in it was gifted from someone else's garden.

I've since expanded the bed and curved it around to meet the new bed that runs along the front of the house.

My mother-in-law has given me irises, tiger lillies, bee balm and several varieties of sedum.

I recently added the small stepping stone path made from a weird flagstone "patio" that was in our backyard when we bought the house. BEFORE:
I use quotes because seriously, do you see that silly area? It was at the base of our back porch but not even large enough to hold a grill muchless any furniture! AFTER:
The solar lights on the path were brought with us from our old house and the stones we are using to border the beds are being picked one by one by the members of my family and brought home from our many walks along the shores of RI.

So all in all, not much money invested. Just lots and lots of time!

It's still very much a work in progress- this year's big investment was three white hydrangea bushes that are so small my salvia virtually hides them from passers by! But I am patient and hopefully some day they will be 5 feet around and filled with gorgeous white blooms!
In the fall we hope to get the house painted. We were going to do it this summer, but it's just too dang hot out there! One final photo for you. A "then and now" shot of my front yard. What a difference two years makes!
Anyway, this has turned into quite the rambling post when I initially only started it to show you all my pretty little lavender bundles, lol!

Soon I'll take you on a tour of my insane vegetable garden in the backyard. I have mutant tomato plants. I swear it.


As usual, I'm late to the party, but here you have it.

>> Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My version of homemade laundry soap. I know this has been floating around for about a bazillion cyber years now, but I'm finally on the bandwagon. I made a batch of laundry soap using some easy to find ingredients at my local chain grocery store.

These ingredients make a 48 load batch:

3 cups finely grated soap (I used plain old Ivory. 3.1 oz bars, which amount to about a cup each when grated)
1 1/2 cups Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 1/2 cups Borax

I grated the soap right into my storage container (something with a lid that seals to keep out moisture) and then mixed it together with a fork. The Borax had some lumps in it, and the fork really worked well to combine it to a fine consistency.

It sorta looks like the shag rug in my living room, lol!

Based on my research, it seems that 2 TBSP is the "serving size" per load of laundry. So according to my math, I have 6 cups of product, which amounts to 96 TBSP or 48 loads.

If you want the price breakdown on how this compares to store bought detergent. Here's what I spent:

3 pack of Ivory Soap bars: $1.29
55 oz box Arm and Hammer Washing Soda: $3.29
76 oz box 20 Mule Team Borax: $3.89

I can get 1 batch per 3 pack of soap, 4 1/2 batches per A&H box and 6 1/3 batches per box of Borax.

I hope I don't lose anyone with all my numbers here-
The A&H breaks down to $.49/cup
Borax $.41/cup
Ivory $.43/cup

So it's $2.64 per batch or $0.055 cents per load

Even if I use cheap old Purex laundry detergent (which is what I did use fairly regularly) purchased at $2.99 on sale, it's $.09 cents per load. So I'm saving $.04 everytime I do the laundry!

I imagine if I can hit some sales and/or get coupons for any of the products I used to make my own, I could get the price down to $.02 or $.03 per load.

Now, this all being said, how does it work?

First, the smell going in is lovely. Fresh and clean, not perfumey at all. Coming out of the washer there wasn't really any smell at all. Not bad, not good. Just neutral. Which is fine with me.

I started with a load of moderately dirty clothes, nothing heavily stained, no big bulkly items, just to do a test run. I had a cotton sun dress in the load that had some white deodorant marks on it- which can sometimes leave residual marks/smells behind.
My homemade detergent got it all out and it just smells clean!

Oh and I also didn't use any fabric softener or dryer sheets, I wanted to see how this stuff works completely on it's own.

Next I got bolder and tried a load of beach towels.

And then finally- a true test for me- I did my whites.
Without bleach. Every load every time so far has come out smelling clean and looking bright. Even my bath mat- which takes a beating over the course of the week.

Oh- and I didn't miss the fabric softener sheets, even on my towels. They were still perfectly soft when they came out of the dryer.

So there you have it. My version of homemade laundry soap and how it works for me. Let me know if you decide to try your own!


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