Saturday, May 2, 2015

Glen Magna Farms

Glen Magna Farms is on the same land as Endicott Park in Danvers, Massachusetts. 
This mansion and its gardens are used for weddings and other gatherings.
Built in the late 1800s, it is full of architectural beauty.
The gardens were still dead when I was there but the summer wedding photos on their website while everything is in bloom are stunning!
The grounds are full of nooks and crannies for amazing photo shoots.
The morbid part of my soul sort of enjoys these dead gardens. This one is a rose garden.
My favorite statue was this one. This dude has quite the expression on his face.
There are a couple of really cool twisted trees.
Columns are always beautiful.
 This is a summer house between 2 gardens.
Of course there is a gazebo. What would a wedding site be without one?
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Glen Magna Farms. It reminds me quite a bit of the Stevens-Coolidge Place in the town I grew up in.

I plan on visiting again during the summer to enjoy its blooms!

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful week ahead. ~Val

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Endicott Park With A New Camera

I got a new toy! This is the Sony Alpha 5000. It comes with a 16-50mm lens and if desired, I could purchase another lens for added depth. Until now, I have only had a point and shoot so this is a big, intimidating deal for me!
So I've been playing around with stills only to get my bearings.

Endicott Park
Endicott Park is in Danvers, Massachusetts. It is a great family place with a huge playground for the kids and barn animals for them to check out. 

I went off the beaten path to soak up some nature. My visit was towards the end of April and was my first viewing of flowers this year!
There is a bit of swampiness here too.
It was a beautiful day of reflections in the water. The camera does a great job picking up colors in nature as I see them (usually a problem with the point and shoot).
I only explored a fraction of the 165 acres.
There are stunning trees here.
Below is an old weeping beech tree.
I must go back in the summer when everything is showing life!
It was my first sighting of crocuses!
This pony was quite far from me and the photo was taken with the lens completely zoomed in. Not bad.
Same goes for this bird.
With my old point and shoot, these type of photos did not come out to great!

How great is this tunnel carved from a tree? If I was a kid, I would have been all over this even though it looks like splinter city!
I'll be back next week with part II which is a beautiful historical mansion and gardens (although dead at the time) on site where weddings and other events are held. 

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great week ahead! ~Val

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pookie Bags, Eggplant and Birthday Flowers

Walker Bag
I asked one of my oldest and dearest friends of Pookie Bags if she could make a walker bag for grandpa!
It is perfect! There are easy on and off snap straps. The multiple pockets are easy to use with no zippers or other difficult closures. I suppose at age 100, one does not want to fiddle with zipper and buttons!
How fun is the mustache fabric? I know he will love it. He is popular with the ladies at the assisted living home and this will make him even more popular!

So I celebrated my 41st birthday! Jim brought home a bouquet of lilies. It was the first time he gave me a bouquet of lilies only. 
It is stunning and the fragrance it amazing!

The flowers open up to be really huge and dramatic! They are still going strong a week later.

I remember being young thinking 40 something is so old! Now that I'm there I actually feel better than ever having reached all my goals I set out for. I'm even in better shape than ever thanks to yoga and healthy eating! I get better and better each year dealing with anxiety which has always been challenging for me. Meditation is on my list of things to learn.

Roasted Eggplant
I have never been a huge eggplant fan with the exception of Parmesan style with the skin removed. Then I saw eggplant "bacon" being prepared on tv and wanted to try it. Well that was an epic fail! 

I decided to roast the rest of the eggplant.
I was surprised how delicious it was, even with the skin! 

I tossed them with olive oil and equal parts cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Now I have an urge to roast them with other veggies for a delicious sandwich!

Thank you for stopping by. Wishing you an amazing week ahead. ~Val

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Past Week

I recently made a plain strand of crystal quartz for a customer so I decided to make one for my shop too!
Crystal quartz is a powerful stone associated with spiritual development, healing and raising consciousness. It resonates with the third eye and crown chakras.

I made another custom Live Your Dream necklace featuring snowflake obsidian!
More skull lanyards were shipped out for an upcoming Monsters of Rock cruise. 
Jim made some delicious vegetarian Shepherd's pie. The "meat" is a combo of lentils and mushrooms in a delicious homemade tomato sauce. We put cheese on everything that it goes with.
I received this card for grandpa's upcoming 100th birthday this month!
The fun milestone card is from Daizy Blue Designs on Etsy.

Thank you for stopping by! It still doesn't feel like Spring yet but this weekend is supposed to warm up. Fingers crossed! ~Val

Saturday, April 4, 2015

This Past Week Update

Custom Lanyard
This request was for a lanyard using the 7 chakra colors. My customer loves the fancy jasper here and wanted the chakra colors to be muted to compliment this particular stone.
The charka colors are stacked near the bottom of the lanyard.
I used for the following stones to represent the colors:
violet - fancy jasper
indigo - lapis lazuli
blue - blue lace agate
green - fancy jasper
yellow - calcite
orange - fancy jasper
red - red jasper

This was a fun project to take on and I'm thankful to my customer for asking me to do so!

This was the backyard on February 15.
The deck furniture was completely buried! Luckily the deck didn't collapse.

This is the yard on April 1. We have had more melting over the past few days too!
I don't think we will be seeing much of the early spring flowers this year. The bulbs will likely be confused!

It would be nice to put the shovels away but being a New Englander I'm well aware of the possibility of an April snowstorm. Of course I'm hoping for none!

Almonds and Chocolate
I had a bag of these roasted salted almonds.
My taste buds felt they were way too salty, hence inedible! The solution?
I coarsely chopped them and mixed them with melted chocolate. The result? Very edible salty almonds!

Jewelry Making Journal
Here is my latest post seen in the most recent issue of the Jewelry Making Journal!

Thank you for stopping by. Happy Easter and Happy Passover if you are celebrating! ~Val

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Custom Orders and Some Sushi

I had a couple of more fun custom orders this past week.

This skull lanyard was made for someone attending an upcoming Monsters of Rock cruise.
These skull are creepy and perfect! I have silver ones on order for 4 additional ones I will be making!

These hand stamped tags went to a jewelry designer for creating canine jewelry.
I look forward to seeing what she creates with them. I also stamped a dog ID tag but since it has a phone number on it, I will not be showing that on social media!

I also added some sweet new sterling silver bead caps to my shop this week.
Veggie Sushi
I came across this recipe from Sweet Potato Soul for sushi made with hummus. I have never heard of hummus in sushi before so of course I had to try it!
For veggies I used zucchini, carrots, raw cabbage and arugula. So delicious! 

Jim usually handles the roll making part but I was alone for this one. These were the only photo worthy pieces. I should have taken pictures of some of the others that totally fell apart! Luckily that did not affect the marvelous flavor.

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead! ~Val

Monday, March 23, 2015

Up to Lately

I've been having some fun in the office lately.

One thing I have been wanting to add to my shop is simple gemstone pendants so the stone is the star! 

These are my first additions including riverstone, rhodonite, black onyx, fancy jasper, white howlite, turquoise howlite (dyed) and mahogany obsidian. They will come with a black cord.
This inspirational necklace was a custom order. The request was for a handstamped Live Your Dream necklace with purple incorporated into it. 

So I dangled amethyst in front of the message with sparkling sterling silver. I love the result and now feel inspired to create more necklaces like this!
I also cooked with coconut oil for the first time. We recently purchased a huge vat of organic coconut oil to use as a moisturizer but then a bloggy friend sent me this recipe from Sweet Potato Soul. It called for coconut oil! 
They are roasted with coconut oil, paprika, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sweet and spicy!!!

Well that's it for now. Still waiting for Spring! Thank you for stopping by and have a great week. ~Val

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chronicle Appearance and Massachusetts State Symbols

So I got the clip! Unfortunately I couldn't embed it, but it can be found here:

Segment on state rock, mineral, gem and fossil.

An ad plays first (of course) then I come in at about 2:30 on the counter underneath. 

I was happy with how they edited it! 

Massachusetts State Symbols
Massachusetts may be a small state but we are second to Texas with the most state symbols! It was entertaining to learn them all. Yes I have lived in MA my entire life and never knew we had a state gem, let alone all these other symbols!

So many quirky things I learned like Dr. Seuss was from MA (how awesome is that?). That there is a state cat (tabby). The cute little ladybug is our state insect. So much more too as seen below.

designation of residents - Bay Staters

flower - Mayflower
tree - American elm
bird - chickadee
Game Bird - wild turkey (my parents get flocks of them in their yard)
horse - Morgan horse
insect - ladybug 
fish - cod
reptile - garter snake (one of these got in the pool last summer!)
dog - Boston terrier (makes sense)
cat - tabby cat 
marine mammel - right whale (this is a little funny since whales do not live on land in the state)

gem - stone (now I know)
fossil - dinosaur track (interesting)
mineral - babingtonite
historical rock - Plymouth Rock (where the pilgrims landed)
explorer rock - Dighton Rock
rock - Roxbury puddingstone (this is pretty cool looking)
soil - Paxton Soil Series 
shell - New England Neptune
building and monument stone - granite

song - All Hail to Massachusetts by Arthur J Marsh
folk song - Massachusetts by Arlo Guthrie
poem - Blue Hills of Massachusetts
glee club song - The Great State of Massachusetts
polka - Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts

muffin - corn muffin (love these)
beverage - cranberry juice (we have cranberry bogs)
bean - baked navy bean
berry - cranberry (again, bog city!)
dessert - Boston cream pie (makes sense)
cookie - chocolate ship cookie
donut - Boston cream donut (makes sense)

district tartan  - Bay State Tartan
colors - blue, green and cranberry

sport - basketball
inventor - Benjamin Franklin
children's book - Make Way for Ducklings
children's author and children's illustrator - Theodor Geisel/Dr. Seuss
artist - Norman Rockwell
heroine - Deborah Sampson I probably learned about this woman when I was young but don't remember. What an amazing person!

ceremonial march - The Road to Boston
Patriotic Song - Massachusetts (Because of Your Our Land is Free)
ode - Ode to Massachusetts
folk dance - square dance
folk hero - Johnny Appleseed
blues artist  - Taj Mahal

Vietnam veterans' memorial - Worcester Vietnam Veterans' Memorial
peace statue - orange peace statue
Korean War Memorial - Charlestown Navy Yard Korean War Memorial
Southwest Asia War Veterans' Memorial - Worcester Southwest Asia War Veterans' Memorial
MIA/POW memorial - Massachusetts National Cemetery MIA/POW Memorial

Anyway, this list will surely keep growing. There is currently a push for Aerosmith's Dream On to be a state song. I saw them live while in high school back in the Dude Looks Like A Lady days! 

It appears that if someone feels a symbol is lacking, with enough push, can create a new official symbol! 

I hope you enjoyed seeing our long list of symbols and it inspires you to check out your own local symbols what you may be unaware of! 

Thank you for stopping by and for your continued support! ~Val

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Up to Lately

My television debut is going to be this Wednesday on New England Chronicle! For those of you within range, that is at 7:30pm on channel 5 (ABC). 

I should be able to access a link to the segment online after it airs so I will be sure to post it, embarrassed or not! 

The episode is playfully titled "Keep it Symbol" since it is about the Massachusetts state symbols. 

Mixing Materials
I've had some ideas in my crazy head and had a little time to play around.

I love inspirational items and of course gemstones. So pairing them makes me happy.
Strength Necklace
I finally got to use some of the polymer squiggles I made.
Bold Necklace
Courage in life is so important. I never wanted to be on tv so I really had to channel some courage in order to not pass up such a great opportunity.
Courage Necklace
No rhyme or reason here. Just some pretty stones!
Multi Stone Necklace
I also found this ring base in my stuff. No clue where it came from. So I added a cabochon of white howlite. I love the simplicity and now considering making these for my shop. A perfect complement to my earring studs!

A Custom Order
I was asked to make 10 hand stamped strong charms for a customer who will be making mitochondrial disease awareness key chains. 

Thank you for stopping by. Have a creative, fun week! ~Val