Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pumpkin! and Crafting!

Pumpkin hack: a pasta server makes it easier to separate the pumpkin "guts" from the seeds.
Happy Craftsgiving Everyone! We're keeping it pretty simple here because I'm way behind on my Etsy store launch, which is supposed to happen tomorrow, just in time for the holiday season.

My mother-in-law gifted me with about a ton of vintage jewelry, along with some of her beads and findings. She's spending her winters in the South now and so she's starting to downsize, and I'm the lucky benefactor! However, it means I have been spending much of my time for the past two days sorting and organizing.

I wanted to share a few photos of some of the...interesting, I guess is the word, pieces of jewelry from days gone by before dismantling them and Upcycling them into beautiful new pieces. 

This probably belonged to my husband's late Grandmother, whose grandson Pete Mitchell played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for several seasons. Her loyalty to her grandson is admirable, but brooch styles have changed since the 90s.

I think this brooch as well--the pin back is kind of dull, so maybe it is a scarf fastener? It actually doesn't look so bad in the photo, but in person, I just don't dig it that much.

This is a clip-on earring. I kind of like the organic shape, but the whole idea of the peekaboo earlobe flesh showing in the middle--I don't know if I could make that one work for me.

This is a button necklace, made of plain white buttons like the type you find on men's dress shirts. Don't expect to see many of these in my Upcycled pieces. On the plus side, we will never run out of replacement shirt buttons in our house.

Check back to see what all of these things become!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I'm looking to launch my Etsy shop for the upcoming holiday shopping season, so I plan on spending a quiet Thanksgiving at home crafting and blogging.

Of course, I'm still going to make a delicious home-cooked meal (including my stuffed pumpkin) and a beautiful table with a crafty floral arrangement I made from things I already had around the house and the yard.

This was super simple. I hallowed out a tiny pumpkin I got for less than a dollar. Then, I filled it with some Oasis floral foam. I let the foam protrude about an inch above the top of the opening. I used part of an old plastic pick from an edible arrangement to spear the top and stuck it into the floral foam on one side. Then I filled the pumpkin with groundcover greens from my yard, two different types of rosehips from my rosebushes, and some wild bittersweet.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2014


I've been a hat lady for...well, almost as long as I've been a lady.

I'm old enough to remember when this was in style for women the first time.

Hats do women a world of good. They frame our faces--especially our eyes.
This is from the 1950s but this photo makes me look like a character in Downton Abbey

They cover up bed head, bad haircuts, and unfortunate dye jobs.

Some of the most famous beauties in the world, from Princess Diana to Lady Gaga, understand the power of a beautiful hat.
The double wedding from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Featuring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

They make young women look more polished and put together

And older women look more fresh, fun and youthful.
And--oh yeah--they can even keep you warm when it's cold outside.
And they can put you in a holiday spirit!

I love hats. I make them, buy them, wear them, and now I sell them!

Vintage Fascinator

Knit cap with matching mittens

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Upcycled Dessert Stand

I had seen photos of Upcycled Dessert Stands and I wanted to create one as a focal point for my dad's 80th birthday party. I had already created some Upcycled yard ornaments, so I figured I would use the same basic procedure--obtain some glass pieces, stack them, and glue them together.

Part one went pretty well--I went to the local second-hand store and spent some time in the housewares department stacking glass items. I figured I was onto something when the other shoppers stopped to admire my handiwork.

Then, I purchased the items, washed them, and stacked them in my house.

That's when it hit me--did I really want to schlep this huge crystal thingamajig to Ohio in the back of my car?

My mom always said that necessity is the mother of invention, so I put on my thinking cap and decided to try--Industrial Strength Velcro.
I had a coupon and purchased it at JoAnn Fabrics, but I think it is cheaper at hardware stores.

 Yes, Industrial Strength Velcro is totally a thing. Best of all, it is self-adhering, so I didn't have to use any glue.

I simply cut narrow strips and fitted them to the top and bottom of each layer. I used hooks for the top, and loops for the bottom. For the narrow cup top edges I put a thin rim of hooks and then wider loops for them to grip. (I used white velcro, which I thought was less obvious than black.)  It worked like a charm! I did leave the stand in one piece for a while to allow the adhesive on the tape to cure (about 24 hours.) Then I just took it apart and packed each piece in an individual plastic bag, which stacks neatly and takes up far less space than the assembled stand.

The stand in action at a fundraiser for Team Ritter of the John Ritter Foundation for the 2014 New York City Marathon.
This stand will soon be available at my Etsy shop, along with other beautiful Upcycled items. 

Honeymoon Sea Glass

My husband and I married in 2001 and spent our honeymoon at beautiful Deere Isle, Maine, overlooking the Penobscot Bay. 
Low tide on the Penobscot Bay
Our vacation condo overlooked the bay and we enjoyed watching the tide roll in and out.  We only tried swimming once. It was freezing cold! 
I've been an avid beachcomber since childhood, so I reached down to see if there were any pretty shells, rocks, etc., under our feet, and discovered a treasure trove of sea glass.

Sea glass begins as normal shards of broken glass that are then persistently tumbled and ground until the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded. In this process, the glass loses its slick surface but gains a frosted appearance over many years.
Naturally produced sea glass ("genuine sea glass") originates as pieces of glass from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks, which are rolled and tumbled in the ocean for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the slickness of the glass has been worn to a frosted appearance.
The glass varies in value, but generally thicker pieces and rarer colors (anything other than the common beer/wine bottle colors of clear, brown or green) are worth more, as that generally indicates the glass is older.
I am not terribly superstitious but sea glass is special to me because I found my very first piece of sea glass the first time I went to the beach with my husband. It obviously came from an old brown beer bottle but I thought it was beautiful, and I fashioned it into a necklace that I wore at our wedding as my "something old."
I also made the matching pearl-and-crystal headpiece and arranged the flowers....
I enjoy created jewelry pieces featuring the sea glass. I often pair the sea glass with macrame', as it is a traditional sailor's art. 
I still have some of the honeymoon sea glass and use it in jewelry pieces.  I believe that it imparts luck and love to anyone who wears it.

Stuffed Pumpkin--it's what's for (Thanksgiving) Dinner

Everyone wants stuffed pumpkin--even my dog, Sasha!
I'm a pescatarian (I eat mostly vegetarian food, with a little fish) and my husband is an omnivore, but we eat a lot of vegan meals. We plan to eat a pretty traditional Thanksgiving feast, with Turkey and trimmings, but if you are looking for a great vegan main dish for Turkey Day, this would fill the bill. It's super simple to make.

350 degree oven (or you can prepare the whole thing in the microwave if you like!)

You need:
1 sugar (small) pumpkin
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or other oil
1 cup Kamut or other grain, such as brown rice or quinoa, cooked according to package directions (Kamut is an Egyptian grain, Bob's Redmill is a popular brand)
1 cup lentils, cooked according to package directions
Tandoori spice mix to taste, about 1 Tbsp. (or you can use curry, or a teaspoon of cumin and salt/pepper to taste)
1/2 cup stewed or dried cranberries to garnish ( stewed the cranberries in 1 cup water and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a saucepan for 5 minutes, then removed them with a slotted spoon, leaving behind some yummy syrup)

Prepare pumpkin: Cut in half, remove stem and roast, open side down, until done (I cooked it for 10 minutes in the microwave)

Saute onions (I also do this in the microwave, in a covered dish. Mix cooked Kamut/grain, onions, lentils and spice and taste; correct seasonings. Fill pumpkin halves and top with cranberries; Bake in oven at 350 for about 15 minutes or until heated through, or microwave about 3 minutes or until hot.

Serves two people and no dogs! (Okay, we did let him have the skin after we ate. A little pumpkin is good for dogs!)