Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lake Quannapowitt and an Anklet

I treated myself!
Since I'm barefoot 90% of the time in the summer now, I decided to make myself an anklet. It will complement most of my summer outfits!
It's full of gemstones including white howlite, turquoise, hematite, onyx, jade, autumn jasper, rose quartz, chrysanthemum stone, crazy horse stone, green aventurine and red mountain jade. 

Although I don't have anklets listed in my shop, they are available by custom order. 

Lake Quannapowitt We took a walk around Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, MA. This lake has a paved walkway 4 miles around it for a great workout! 

We took a detour through a large cemetery by the water. 

We saw this really cool old tree starting to grow through the fence.
These lucky residents get a water view.
While the lake itself is not too picturesque, it is great for people watching!
This pretty plant was growing along the water.
We also saw turtles sunning themselves.
We've walked the lake twice so far and I'm sure we will do it again. However, not on a hot sunny day since it is a shade free walk and I thought I was going to pass out the first time we did it!

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Yard Update and a Turquoise Eyeglass Chain

Eyeglass Chain
This turquoise magnesite is always a summer favorite with customers. Magnesite is a combination of carbonate and magnesite that takes dyes very well. The eyeglass chain is available in my Etsy shop (also with gold accents). 

The Yard
The chipmunk is continuing to entertain us.

I grabbed my camera take a picture of mommy and baby feasting on the grass and didn't realize that little rascal made his way into bottom left of the frame too!
The lilies bloomed beautifully.

This is the yard bully. A bluejay. I never knew bluejays had a nasty demeanor!
Forgive my grainy photos. My camera is nothing fancy but does take good jewelry photos!
He bullies all the other birds away. Even the larger blackbirds!
He is so mean, but still beautiful.
His bulliness is why there are no other birds munching on the bread!
Feeding the birds has become almost a daily thing. They LOVE bread and popcorn! I'm learning more and more of which bird is which and the sounds they make. A great pastime! 

It does feel like self employment has made me a little lazy. But I tell myself I have worked my butt off my entire adulthood and it is now time to enjoy the simple things in life. Maybe I'll become a workaholic again in the future, but for now I'm enjoying life and the beautiful weather! 

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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quinoa Pesto and a Classy Lanyard

Elegant White Pearl Lanyard
This classy white pearl lanyard is available in my Etsy shop. Perfect for year round wear!

Quinoa Pesto
I was intrigued one day when I saw a jar of quinoa pesto in Costco! So I mentioned it to Jim and we went online looking for dish ideas. This dish is only for the pesto lover. Jim realized he's not a huge pesto lover, but I am. More for me!
I have always loved pesto but am sensitive to garlic. We actually made a garlic free version and I didn't miss it. It's funny when you think something can't be made without a key ingredient, but a little creativity can change that! 
We put the following in the food processor for our pesto which made a huge batch:
a bunch of fresh basil from the grocery store (probably about 5 cups packed)
1/2 cup of walnuts (pine nuts are what are typically in pesto)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Then we added harissa and sea salt to taste. This is where the creativity comes in. Since we are on a harissa kick we used this to give it a zing!

To make a more traditional pesto, use 4-6 cloves of garlic with the above portions depending on how strong you want it.

We actually made a dish to recipe from We doubled the recipe and baked it in a larger casserole dish. The original is here:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups of veggie broth
1 cup of pesto
1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes
2 cups of asparagus cut into 1-2" pieces
olive oil
sea salt
mozzarella, shredded (about 1 cup, but this is where Jim and I always go overboard when making something since you can never have too much cheese)

First, cook the quinoa in the veggie broth.

Then roast the tomatoes and asparagus at 400 degrees in the oven drizzled with some olive oil and sea salt. We added zucchinni too. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. 

When at the desired texture, toss the veggies with the quinoa (we mixed the pesto and quinoa together first) and pesto in a 9" x 9" pan.  We used a larger pan since we bulked up on the recipe. 

I think this photo below is funny. The way Jim's hand is in the forefront, it looks like the pan is a miniature!
Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is brown.
Then enjoy! Portions reheat great in the microwave.

Thank you for stopping by! Enjoy your week ahead! ~Val

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Joseph Carr Winery and New Jewelry Findings

New Findings 
I've been adding new jewelry findings to my shop in recent months. I try to look for items which are not as easy to find online. 

Those kidney ear wires are sterling silver filled and the screwback earclips are solid sterling silver. I've also added some antiqued finishes which are popular for that vintage look. I've come across some cool brass and copper wires to make findings and do wrapping. 

I also added copper and brass cuff bracelet blanks (not shown). They can be stamped, textured, painted, soldered and more for custom cuffs!

Josh Wine
One of Jim's favorite wines is Josh Cabernet Sauvignon. So we recently went to BJs Wholesale to see what wines they stock. Well Josh wine was at the door when we walked in. So Jim says, "there's Josh" meaning the wine. Well an employee said "here is Josh". The actual "Josh" was right there for a tasting to promote this tasty goodness. The timing could not have been more perfect!  
His actual name is Joseph Carr which is the name of the original Napa County winery which also creates delicious bottles.  
Our signed Josh bottles.
The Josh Winery is called Josh Cellars in honor of Joseph, Jr's dad whose nickname was Josh.  The wines are described as "bold and expressive, but unassuming and approachable". I would describe them simply as delicious! We brought home signed bottles of the cabernet savignon and merlot. Merlot is not something we typically drink but when we tasted it, we agreed we needed a bottle of it! 

In Massachusetts you don't need a membership to the wholesale clubs like Costco and BJs to purchase alcohol. I'm not sure about other states, but if you have one of these stores nearby but don't have a need for a membership, your state may have a similar law. The prices are much lower than traditional liquor stores!

Feeding the Critters!
Wildlife provides us with plenty of entertainment. We typically have wine and popcorn each day while sitting outside (as long as weather permits).  
So we give the leftover popcorn to the other residents of the property. They love it! The chipmunk is always a riot to watch as he tries to stuff as much of the popcorn in his cheeks as he can! 
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you are having a beautiful summer! ~Val

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ecig Lanyards and Rhubarb Lemonade

Ecig Lanyards
I mentioned a little while back that I wanted to add some lanyards for electronic cigarettes after doing a custom order. So here they are!
I have no idea if they will take off or not so I started with 5 in my better selling beads. Only time will tell! They have a ring on the end that fits most vaporizers. 

I hope to make more ladies feel stylish while they are kicking that unhealthy habit! These are available at Miss Val's Creations.

Rhubarb Lemonade
Ok. This should really be called rhubarbade! This is something Jim saw on a cooking show and wanted to try it since there is rhubarb growing in his yard. If you have rhubarb growing in your yard, this is a fun thing to try!

Here is what it looks like growing.
Its leaves at the top can get crazy huge as portrayed here with my ghostly white size 7 foot.
Jim's dad told me that the leaves are poisonous so they are not to be eaten! Just the stalks.
So Jim cut them into a size that fits comfortably in a large pot. They were cut close to the ground with a knife. Pulling out the roots will destroy the crop.
This gets washed and then boiled to taste. This is where we don't have numbers. It has been made twice so far by basically winging it! Then strain out the rhubarb. Brown sugar was used to sweeten it and cut the tartness of the rhubarb. So the only ingredients are rhubarb, water and sugar.
The color is beautiful and it tastes quite a bit like lemonade! Jim waters his glass down to this beautiful champagne color.
I hope you are all having a beautiful summer season. It finally feels like summer with somewhat normal weather in Massachusetts!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pink Rhodonite Earrings and an Update

Pink Rhodonite Earrings
Rhodonite is associated with peace, generosity and attention to details. The stone is also pretty to look at! These sweet sterling silver dangles are available at Miss Val's Creations.

A Little Update
The pool is open!
So I'm thinking about doing laps in place of yoga on those super hot days! I've never had an in-ground pool before so this is a first. My dad gave us that itty bitty tree in the left in front of the fence. It is an eastern redbud!

I haven't cared for swimming since I was a little girl. I think a huge part of this was due to wearing contact lenses since I was 15 years old. Since having Lasik surgery a year ago I can now swim while seeing and not have to worry about lenses in my eyes! I may start enjoying swimming again!!!
The peonies are on bloom. I love this type! So gorgeous. It is also a flower I never had in my yard before.

Monday Blog Tour Questions

Duni of Duni's Studio passed the torch to me! These were fun questions to think about and answer!

What am I working on?

As many of you know, I just moved. While I’m settled in now it looks like we are moving to Florida at the end of the summer. This means I don’t want to get into anything new! However I have been adding new items each week to my findings shop. Nothing bulky since I will be moving again! I do have ideas for new eyeglass chains and lanyards but I think I will be waiting until I’m settled in my next home to start working on those.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

My signature style includes gemstones which have always been my first love when it comes to beads. Simple and classic is my personal style that carries over in my business. However I have been known to create some conversations pieces from time to time!

Why do I write what I do?

First and foremost my blog is a personal journal. While I don’t get too personal on it, I like to chronicle things I do as well as my time with Jim.  He enjoys the blog just as much as I do and reads it every week. So here you find things including my business, cooking, gardening, day trips and more.

How does my writing process work?

I simply write about what is going on. I just post once a week so sometimes I have a draft or 2 already written. Other times I feel like I have nothing to blog about but an idea always seems to turn up! I like having a working draft to go back to and make tweaks until I’m happy with it.

To see responses from fellow bloggers, the hashtag on Twitter is #MondayBlogTour.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a fabulous week! ~Val

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ring Bases and Fried Plantains

New Ring Bases
These ring bases are sterling silver. They have a hole on each side for wire wrapping. There are a lot of possibilities with these neat findings! Available in my Etsy shop in both size 6 or 7.

Jim cooked me some plantains! Mmmm!
They need to be super ripe, black...close to rotteness to be most delicious! It took 2 weeks of waiting for them to be ready after buying them.

The skins needs to be sliced first and then the flesh peeled out. 
It is not simple like a ripe banana! Then slice them to desired shape/size.
He fries them in vegetable oil which is how his Cuban roots cook them.
Cook until golden brown, turning over once. We are using the awesome, huge tongs from Woodent it be Nice on Etsy!
While these are not pretty to look at, they are like fried candy!!!
Fried on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. 

Johnny Depp
This is just a happy bit about Johnny Depp. We all like to hear about favorite celebrities being grateful to their fans. He has been in the area lately since he is playing Whitey Bulger in an upcoming film. 
Depp in character - not his most attractive role.
They were filming at a local pub this past week and used Jim's work parking lot for the trailers and such! Well when Mr. Depp arrived, he stopped the car to shake hands with the regular people. What a guy! Did Jim meet him? No. Like me, he does not care for crowds. Of course Depp attracts large crowds and security. It is fun to hear about and see the bits on the news with the sitings. 

Thank you for stopping by! Have an awesome week. ~Val