Mother’s Day – Quick!

You may or may not be aware – but this weekend coming up is Mother’s Day! I have 3 mothers to prepare a gift for – and while all three genuinely do not want gifts, they still deserve something. What’s better than a homemade/handmade gift? It’s made with your effort, your time, your love, and most of all, your appreciation.

I saw this fabulous gift from one talk show host to another of different jarred items in a basket with a pretty dish or hand towel- and my lover, aka husband, said that looks like a great idea for our moms. Yes, he came up with the idea. Props to that boy.

Nothing developed until this weekend since we have been a bit busy – but these easy, easy, easy things came to mind. At first, I was going to center all the gifted items around food – spice mixes, etc. Then I thought, “How is that centered around the mom? What about something special to make the mother feel special?” I had fun with natural, homemade scrubs and facials as a kid – so I applied that here.

My ideas (after my lover’s initial idea): A hair mask. An exfoliant of some sort. A spice mix. A house scenter thingy (see Oxford English Dictionary). I researched things online – tons of resources. I made everything detailed below my own with big modifications to the original ideas. I will list supplies for you at the bottom.

First – a hair mask: moisture and breakdown of hair residue – hairspray, conditioner, shampoo.

I used 3 little mason jars – 4 ounce size.

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First, add  3 tablespoons of brown sugar to each one.

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Then, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. And it gets real dark, like this:

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So luscious. Next, mix it up with a fork to really get in there.

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Done. Seriously. Lid it. NEXT.

Spice mix. I went with tacos – tex mex – what have you. I wanted something to add to potatoes, to add to ground beef or turkey, to mix in with sour cream, mayo and milk or a tex mexy ranchy dressing. Errrrbody love a taco.

First, 3 little mason jars again.

Add 1 tablespoon of onion powder and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder or granular garlic powder- whatever ya got. 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder on top of that. Stand back and look at your colors.

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That layering screams ready for eatin’.

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Chili powder is key for color, for flavor, and for trust. Don’t ask why, just trust me.

Next, 1 tablespoon of cumin. 1 teaspoon of paprika on top of that and about a teaspoon of cracked pepper. Now, what’s missing? Heat and salt. I stopped here because everyone has different spice levels – if it were for myself and my lover, I would add in red pepper flakes or cayenne and salt – or all three. But, since everyone has different taste buds and health issues (salt sensitive), I left it alone and will make a little directional letting them know. Finish up:

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Seal it. NEXT.

Hand scrub. Elbow scrub. Foot scrub. Wash me off in the shower after I shaved my legs, conditioned my hair, had a dance party scrub. Take away my rough winter skin or hydrate my sad yet happily sun drenched dry skin. Mix this one in something that measures 2 cups or more and pours or a medium sized bowl that pours….it’s easier than splitting up the ingredients like we did for the others.

1 cup of sugar. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Teaspoon of lemon extra for an extra zeal.

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Mix.

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Mine was pretty liquidy, so I added sugar a tablespoon at a time until it was slightly  thicker.

Like this:

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Now, pour into your 3 little mason jars.

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Oh. Oh this is decadent. The smell is fresh and spring inspired and the consistency is luxurious….shouldda made more for myself.

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So cute! Now, seal it up. NEXT.

Scenty things for the house in place of a candle/air freshener/plug in that I always break and spill oil on my walls or my in-laws’ bathroom walls. Oh yes. It was a magical moment.

Take 3 LARGER mason jars – pint size.

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Now, here I have oranges. I have oranges because I was going to make an orangey scented one. And forgot the rest of my ingredients. But, I bought limes at the grocery store, and I have peppermint extract on hand, so I made something else instead:

You need 1 lime per jar you are making. Zest the lime. Thinly slice the lime.

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Oh goodness…this zest…mesmerizing.

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Put zest and lime slices in a jar.

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Add 3/4 of a teaspoon of peppermint or mint extract or essential oil (if you have) to the jar. Add water to the jar, I filled mine a little less than the lid line, or with about 1 and 1/2 cups of water.

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Lid it. It is ready to be used with the addition of one more jar full of water. I am going to include instructions to let this bad boy simmer on the stove in a small pot as long as would like, checking every little bit to add more water if need be. They can also put it in a small crock pot (the one for dips and such) all day, again, adding water.

Now, wrap your amazing gifts however you want! I chose a wire basket from TJ Maxx (like 5 bucks) that each mom could use again. I like dual purpose, always useful gifts.

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Here’s a little idea of the size – I put in a few small jars and a vase so you can see it’s depth.

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and we bought these pretty hand towels to go inside the basket:

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I like it a little rustic/homey lookin’…cushion for the glass jars. I folded it in half and kind of crunched it up in there.

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Now you can stack your jars inside of it…

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Here’s what it will look like when we give the gifts away….card inside, plus little yet simple instructions for each of the gifts such as:

Hand scrub – I will melt away your dry skin

Hair mask – use me for moisture and luxury

Seasoning – use me for roasted potatoes, taco night, or in a ranch veggie dip

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So sweet. So heartwarming. So much love.

Supplies/Ingredients:

Mason jars for each item you are making

Basket/bag/holder to present everything

Hand Towel/Dish Towel/Large cloth napkin to decorate/cushion the jars

Lemons – Limes – Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or maybe coconut oil?)

Brown Sugar – Granulated Sugar – Lemon Extract – Peppermint Extract (or mint)

Spice List:

Onion Powder – Garlic Powder – Cumin – Chili Powder – Paprika – Pepper

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I Saw the Sun.

and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sun…ahem, excuse me. 

I saw the sun the sun this weekend. Don’t tell anyone, but it was warm and made the temperatures warmer than 50. It made me want to create some jewelry with some metals, but I needed to brighten up the metals and not just make full metal pieces.

I went ahead and made earrings since I am afraid to make earrings. I will post about this dirty, dark secret at a later time…but I’ll give you a hint: usually a little wine or a piece of chocolate is involved.

First, because of the beautiful blue sky, I made these:

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I used silver connector rings to offset the soft blue of the dyed turquoise howlite beads. The gray crystal bead helps to connect the pieces together and add just a touch of shimmer. Ok, I’ll say my favorite caption for a jewelry piece: day to night. These earrings can be worn in the day and take you into the night. Wear them casually to dress up a weekend outfit or for an interesting earring with your work business suit.

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Then, these came along:

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Inspiration: a group of gorgeous red anemones blooming in a front lawn. The chain brings the brighter ring and the pop of the beads together.

…and I think I am using all these larger, circular connectors and jump rings to achieve the look because of the glorious sun. If I don’t post, it’s only because the sun has got a hold on me.

Hope you all can enjoy some, too.

Spring?

An annual ritual in the Northeast is happening. Tis the season, or lack thereof, where we can honor this tradition with the utmost reverence and humility. All participate in some way. Few are able to escape. This, my friends, is weeping season. At this point every year, no matter how beautiful the snow is, allll in New York go, “All right. OK. We’re all set snow. Goodbye cold. Hello flip flops?!?!” 

Generally speaking, April sets in, and we all start to inappropriately wear flip flops. Buds are new on the trees, the birds are now chirping so helpfully at 4:22am, and the temp are in the 50s. Yep, sounds like flippies to me.

Maybe one of the best things besides busting out our sandals, with a sweatshirt and long jeans, of course, is the green color that accompanies Spring. I begin to notice little patches of new grass in between some dead spots. Some buds on trees and bushes are brown, some are a deep reddish brown, and some are green. Those green buds stop our Northeastern weeping. Those green buds say, “Hang in there! Nice flip flops.”

IMG_8566Like these little brown buds beginning to form on my wisteria vine….They’re saying, “It’s OK, the weather person is wrong about the next few days being in the 40s.”

One nice thing about this is all my backyard bamboo (yep, you read that right) is beginning to turn back to green from its winter yellowing.

IMG_8568Like this stuff in the back of the house is beginning to look like the bamboo in the front of the house:

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In a month or so that bamboo will be beautiful, lush, and even taller. Don’t ask about all the bamboo. We rent. 😛

All this Spring green has me seeing green:

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Just a little green accent to a silver pendant…a simple but interesting low hanging necklace.

IMG_8588Now this one. This one packs a big punch in a small package. It’s perfectly dainty. It’s perfectly lengthed (am I taking a liberty with that one?) Just a little pop of color neck to a business suit…or the perfect accent to a basic tee on the weekend.

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This piece has the perfect Spring and summer color against gorgeous brown chain. It’s the perfect thickness to wear during the day and bring you into the night time. I want this for my casual outfits, and I also want this for my business casual days.

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This has me talking. I’m not sure to whom yet, but I’ll figure that crap out later, I gotta worry about these gems! I lightened this shot up a bit so you can see the contrast with the rose gold and the shimmer of the beads…if it helps. All are glass beads wire wrapped and attached to a very thin brown chain. Look at these gorgeous Spring colors up close:

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Too pretty.

I wonder what color out there will grab me next?

What’s your favorite part of Spring?

Lowcountry Travels

You have to admit that there is something about the city of Charleston, South Carolina. I’ll admit it for you. First, there is a beloved friend that beckons a visit. Second, there is an otherworldly culinary scene. And finally, there is weather to welcome….so, naturally, all three are a near perfect – if not perfect, combination. We traveled there recently for a rest from all this snow and cold. Just a little rest.

How do you get over the winter blues we have been having in NY? With live oak trees that look like this:

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…and tea based cocktails with spiced rum from a fabulous restaurant called Tavern and Table that look like this:

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…and homes full of history that look like this:

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and this:

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…and these aren’t even the Rainbow Row homes, or the mansions on the water, or the plantations…

…or old store fronts revealing their former, and now current, glory:

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and desserts that look like this:

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…and BLT sandwiches from Prohibition that look like this:

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…and more glorious architecture and details:

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…and the charm of all the porches with roofs painted the mandatory haint blue.

…and countless other meals, and, ahem, cocktails, that one could physically handle in 5 days.

…and how many people greet you (to a northerner, WHOA).

…and the sunshine in every one of these photos.

…and making memories with a friend and a husband.

…and…you get the idea…right?

Paying Homage

Oh man, big mistake. I underestimated these things. I’ve been so busy trying to challenge myself with, “use this bead, try that color, try this shape, use that stone” that I have forgotten the roots. For me, those roots were seed beads. Yep, good, old-fashioned, steadfast, true, and available in every shade seed beads. I “learned” to “bead” on these things. Stringing strand after strand of these little beads was fun and interesting.

On a recent trip to the bead shop I quickly discovered just how out of touch I had become. I drifted past all the findings, all the various skulls (maybe you know this obsession from my Instagram), all the many colored bars, all the strung semi-precious stones, heading straight for the chain. I got my feet upon feet of chain. On the way back, I thought, “Oh look, seed beads.” And then my eyes settled on a certain color….”Ohhhh, seeeeed beadssss.” A whole new perspective began to form. I bought this light rose color, and love what’s happening.

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These earrings are with the lightest rose colored seed bead, a glass champagne colored bead, and an awesome spike to offset the sweet.

Needless to say, I bought a lot of this bead. So, I gotta mix it up. Now, I want to stay sweet all the way:

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A seed bead bracelet that wraps three times over ones’ wrist with an iridescent yellow bead to bring out the color of each. Simple. Easy. Classy. Daytime. Simple night time.

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Can you tell, now, why these beads are so awesome? I hope you love them just as much, too.

Thanks for stopping by today 🙂

No Snow

In the country house, that is (not mine). Everywhere else is covered with gorgeous, beautiful, bright snow. I happen to really enjoy the snow. It brightens all the dark of winter. One might notice things that were once walked past. There is a fun anticipation and buildup to it. There’s all kinds of inspiration for jewelry. I like to use the backdrop of the snow to point out colors to me. For instance….

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…I loved finding these bright little berries under all the snow. Such a lovely muted shade of red, yet perfect enough to stand out. Ya gotta find the bright in the dark. Or, in this case, the pretty in the bright white.

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Would you believe there is a pond beyond that? I love the sign against the white abyss. No, I will not fish in the hard snow. This sign does so much good in the winter.  And here is the bridge over that abyss (pond):

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I never really noticed how pretty that masonry was until this picture. Not the artistry (HA! INSERT AMAZING SNORT OF LAUGHTER HERE) of the picture, just how cool the form of the bridge really is against the snow.

We ended the weekend with the most gorgeous sunset over the snow. And now, I have some inspiration for some new pieces to share.

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Until then …

A Colorful Meal

There is nothing more satisfying than a savory meal in the wintertime. It warms your soul. It happifies your heart. It makes you create new words in your food happiness delirium. I always imagine winter meals against the white of snow…which is not really how a sane person imagines his or her meals. You probably imagine them on a plate. I imagine them brightening up the winter months that are usually snow covered. As if I am going to take my food, throw it on the snow, take a picture, and then eat it afterward from the snow. That sounds very outdoorsy, very life on the range while on a hunting trip in the mountains. …how exactly did we get here?

Here’s how this meal started:

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These carrots were staring at me, asking me to buy them. So I listened. I peeled them quickly, and cut off a few inches of the tops still leaving some greens on there for flavor and the look. I threw ’em on a foil lined cookie sheet, then drizzled some extra virgin olive oil all over them. After a generous sprinkle of salt, a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and a bunch of cracks of pepper, I threw them in the oven at 350 until they were able to be pierced with a fork (about an hour).

 

 

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When they came out, I sprinkled some more chopped parsley on there for color and flavor. Love!

The protein for this meal was a pork tenderloin that I had marinating in my fridge for a bit. Here’s how I built the marinade and cooked it:

– 1/3 cup of pears, chopped – this is what I had leftover

– a few sprigs of thyme leaves (strip leaves from stems)

– 1 tsp of minced garlic

– 1/2 tbsp of honey

– 1/2 orange, juiced

– 1/2 lime, juiced

– pinch of salt

– 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

I put this in a bowl, and stirred, then added the tenderloins,  smeared all over them, and covered for a few hours. I would do this overnight for a night or two if I could, but I just didn’t, and it was still delicious.

When it came time to cook:

Preheated oven to 400 degrees. Lined a baking dish with some foil for easy cleanup later – and it’s also easier to pick this up later and get all the good bits and juices. Placed all marinade and pork tenderloin on the foil, and cooked for 45-55 minutes or until the center registered about 155 -160 degrees on a meat thermometer. I let it stand on a cutting board for 10 minutes after cooking.

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The juices and honey complemented the savory thyme leaves, pepper, and garlic perfectly. My husband loved this. My tummy loved this. My winter heart was warmed.