30 December 2008

Pippi's infamous Chocolate Chunk cookies

I baked up a batch of cookies this morning, and posted a comment on my Facebook page. Soon, I had over 12 comments from my friends asking me to send them some, save them some, make more, etc. My husband is a cookie monster, and so I end up baking cookies a lot. His favorites (and mine) are my chocolate chunk cookies. I adapted a couple of recipes to come up with a cookie I never get tired of eating, and so many of my friends have asked for the recipe, I thought I'd share it with all of you, as well. I always try to use organic ingredients in my cooking, not only to lighten my carbon foot print, but because I think organic foods taste better, and I know they are better for me. (I worked for 13 years for an organic farm in Oregon, too.)

So, here is my recipe. If you try it, let me know how they turned out!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, cream together thoroughly:

1 c. softened organic butter (salted)
3/4 - 1 c. organic cane sugar (to taste - I usually use 3/4 unless the chocolate is unsweetened)

Mix in:

1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Sift together and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, mixing thoroughly:

2 c. flour (I use 1c. OG whole wheat pastry flour and 1 c. OG unbleached white flour)
1-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

After the dough is mixed, add the following ingredients, one at a time, mixing well after each addition:

1 c. OG oats
1 c. finely chopped pecans
4.5 - 5 oz. (1/2 bar) of finely chopped Scharffenberger bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate

Spoon the dough onto greased cookie sheets (I grease mine with a little bit of OG olive oil) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes 24-30 cookies

26 December 2008

Into the new year...

It is hard to believe that this year is almost over already! I hope you all had a joyous holiday season! The snows in the Pacific northwest wreaked havoc with our holiday plans, and our daughter was not able to make it here for the holiday, which saddened us all. We did, however, have a very white Christmas. We got over 2 feet of snow in one day! I spent a couple of hours yesterday shoveling out our driveway, and today, my husband and I went skiing.

After we returned home, tired but happy, I spent some time in my studio, finishing up a few projects, and assessing what I want to get done before the new year. I have several pieces in the works that I would like to have done before 2009 arrives, so I can start with a clean workbench. The first project on my list to finish is the bracelet my younger daughter requested I make. The second is the partner to a very ornate, tribal-inspired hoop earring I made, and a necklace I am working on using a silver Ganesha pendant I traded for with another Etsy seller. I also need to make the second of a pair of earrings based on a Roman gold earring with pearls that was recently found in a dig in Jerusalem. You can read about the original earring and see a picture here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27643317/

I love it when pieces of jewelry from thousands of years ago are found. Much of my work is inspired by these beautiful, ancient works. When I was a little girl, I used to pour through National Geographic articles about ancient jewelry. I remember thinking then that I wanted to be able to make such beautiful things, and now that I have realized this dream, I smile to think that one day, centuries from now, someone may find a piece I made, and be inspired by its beauty. Of all the art I have made over the years, none is as durable as my jewelry. My quilts and cloth dolls will eventually decay, as will the things I have crocheted. My paintings may last a bit longer, but they, too, are subject to the elements. Metal and gemstones, however, can withstand time and the elements far better, so there is a chance it could happen. This is something I think about with every piece I make. It will, more than likely, out live me, and if it is found far in the future, I want the people who find it to be amazed by it!

So, here's to an amazing new year! Let yourself shine!
All the best,

12 December 2008

Demystifying Gold

This is an article I wrote for JewelryLessons.com

Gold is a popular metal for jewelry making, but there are many different colors, alloys,etc, which can sometimes be confusing for people when they trying to decide which to use for their work, so I have written this article to shed some light on this beautiful metal.

Gold has been used for ornamentation since prehistoric times throughout the world. Ancient Egyptians described it in hieroglyphics more than 2000 years BC, it is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, and was used for coins in China as early as the 5th or 6th centuries BC. Early, primitive methods for mining gold included fire-setting; where fires were set against the rocks, then quickly doused with water, causing the stones to crack open, and making it easier to extract from the surrounding rock. The Romans developed large scale extraction techniques using large volumes of water to dislodge rocks and sediment. The exploration of the Americas was fueled by reports of golden ornaments worn by the peoples of Central America, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

Gold is dense, soft, shiny, and extremely malleable and ductile, meaning it can be deformed plastically without fracturing. One single gram of gold can be beaten into a sheet one square meter in size, and it can be beaten thin enough to become translucent. These qualities make it highly suitable for jewelry making. Pure gold has a beautiful, bright yellow color. In fact, gold, copper and caesium are the only metals that have a natural color other than gray. Because if its atomic structure, it resists corrosion, and it also readily creates alloys with other metals. The chemical symbol for gold is Au, from its Latin name aurum.

Pure gold is generally too soft to be used for jewelry, so other metals are almost always added to it, and the colored alloys are just as 'real' as yellow gold. Different metals can give the gold different colors. For instance, gold alloyed with mostly copper will give the gold a pink or rose color. Gold alloyed with iron will give a blueish colored gold (though this alloy isn't used much, as it tends to be brittle, and difficult to work). When alloyed with nickel or palladium, it takes on a white color, and green gold is made by alloying it with silver. 24K gold is pure gold. 18K gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals, 14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metal(s), making it 58.3% gold. 12K gold is made from equal parts gold and other metals, making it 50% gold. 10K gold is the minimum karat designation that can be still called gold in the United States, and has 10 parts gold and 14 parts other metals, making it 41.7% gold

Rolled gold, or gold filled, is a laminate of gold sheet (usually between 12K and 18K) which is fused to a base layer (usually brass). The quantity of gold used is sometimes indicated by a fraction, such as 18K 1/5, which would indicate a laminate that is 1/5 18K gold by weight. With gold filled, the gold layer is much thicker than the microscopically thin layer laid down by electroplating, and is, thus, more resistant to wear. Often the layer of gold on gold filled is thick enough that it can be engraved without exposing the base layer. Vermeil, which is sometimes called silver gilt, is sterling silver covered with a coating of gold. The gold content must be at least 10K, and at least 1.5 microns (millionths of a meter) thick for an item to be called vermeil. It is usually produced by fire heating or electrolysis, the latter being the most common today, as fire heating can emit mercury vapors, which are harmful.

Whether you choose to use solid gold or gold filled for your work, know that you are joining countless artisans throughout history in incorporating this beautiful metal in your work. Enjoy!

08 December 2008

Snowflakes and Seahorses

I read the most fascinating article the other day about snowflakes, and how they form. There was also an interview with an artist who is working on a series of mandala paintings of snowflakes as a study in sacred geometry. In the interview, the artist spoke about how the water vapor that becomes snow is part of the God Mind, and forms into six-sided crystals as an expression of sacred geometry. It made me think about my artwork, and how all the ideas for pieces I have floating around in my Mind crystallize as they fall through the atmosphere of my hands to become a solid form in this world, sparkling and beautiful like snowflakes!

My dreams have been full of my seahorses lately, both those I have made, and those still waiting to be born. I decided to look up the symbolic meaning of seahorses. Here is an excerpt of what I found:

The symbolic meaning of seahorse is quite intricate and diverse as this little creature itself is full of surprises.

The seahorse is quite a unique creature, and thought to have mystical significance among the Ancient Greeks, European (alchemists) and Asians.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed the seahorse was an attribute of the sea god Neptune/Poseidon and as such, the seahorse was considered a symbol of strength and power.

Further, the ancient Europeans believed that the seahorse carried the souls of deceased sailors to the underworld - giving them safe passage and protection until the met their soul’s destination.

Chinese cultures believed that the seahorse was a type of sea dragon, and as such they were revered for their power and thought to be symbols of good luck.

Sailors have long viewed the seahorse as a good luck charm too.

Symbolic meaning of Seahorses carry the following significances:

  • Patience
  • Friendliness
  • Protection
  • Inflexibility
  • Perspective
  • Generosity/Sharing
  • High-Perception
  • Persistence
  • Contentment
Sounds good to me!

wishing you winter wonder!