Thursday, June 30, 2011

Copper Lilac Leaf Brooch with a Fire Finish

 Well, I must say I am so excited to show you all this newest piece of jewelry that I just finished last night! About 5 weeks ago I started a metalsmithing class to learn some new techniques (and refine some old ones!) and, after taking last week off due to a stomach bug, I have now finished my first piece. This beautiful pin/brooch is made from a copper sheet which I traced my design onto (a lilac leaf in this case, with the veins in the center). I then used a fine jeweler's saw to hand saw the outline of the piece, and then punched a teeny hole in the  center so that I could saw out the veins, giving a bit more dimension to the piece. Then I used files to file the outer edges until they were nice and smooth. I then used 400, 600, 1000 and 1500 grits of wet/dry sandpaper to carefully sand in one direction, then the other, until all of the previous marks were gone. Once the marks were gone on one side, then I'd sand the other. Once both sides were done in 400 grit, I would then move onto 600 grit and so on, until it was smooth, even and soft.

I then used a spoon form to lightly hammer my leaf to give it the rounded shape and make it look more lifelike. I had to be VERY careful not to scratch my piece or I would have to start the sanding process all over again!

I then soldered sterling silver wire onto the back of the pin to make a pin and clasp section. That was the first joint I had ever soldered! The torch was a little scary (ok, it still is), as it makes a rather loud POP! when it turns on and off (it is acetylene), and I am always afraid of burning myself or the house down around me when the flames start to go, haha. I managed to do one practice solder joint, and then I did the second on the leaf. It turned out great!
Then I had a dilemma: should I go with a mirror (shiny) finish, or should I break out the torch and give it a more lifelike (though unpredictable) fire finish, using flux and the torch to burn the flux away, and then continuing to burn the copper until it makes the fire pattern you see on the pin. You then quench it in water and, once dry, lacquer it to a beautiful shine. I could have gone with the mirror finish, and perhaps in the next piece I will, but I went with the fire finish. I went with the fire finish partly as I like the more natural look of it on the leaf shape, but also because I wanted to get more comfortable with the torch in general.

I know I am probably biased, but I think it turned out incredibly well. I even signed the back of it with a flexshaft tool (like a Dremel, but thinner and with foot control). It is a pretty messy signature, but this pin, this first piece, is all MINE, and I don't mind if it looks like a 5-year-old Meghann signed the back, I know it was made by me, and I'm pretty proud of it, if I do say so myself. I would like to make more of these beautiful leaves, in copper and sterling silver, with both mirror finishes, and with the torch finish. I'll also do different types of leaves; oak, maple, birch, etc. Keep an eye out for those!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Low Allergy Kitchen Website is Now Live!

After getting more and more requests for a Low Allergy Kitchen website over the last few farmer's markets, I have, finally, started a website for my Low Allergy Kitchen baked goods! You can visit at: and see a few of the goodies I have available. The site is still under construction, so please be patient while I photograph and upload images of all the wonderful gluten free foods that I am making, and then add ingredients lists and descriptions. I'll get there eventually!
It was, to be honest, much easier than I anticipated. Brennan finally got me on his iMac and showed me the iWeb program to make websites. Seriously idiot-proof, which is perfect for me when it comes to website design. 'Course, the bottom of every page has the stupid "Made on a Mac" logo, which bugs the heck out of me, but I suppose I can't have it all for a free program that I can actually use without looking like too much of a web-tard, lol.
Right now I'm working on getting photos of my muffins, cupcakes, breads and such to add to the site, along with prices. I'm only going to be able to take orders from people in Canada (sorry international folks, but rules are rules), but I think that will be enough to be getting along with for now. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me, or stop by the Merrickville Farmer's Market on Saturdays from 9-3 to talk to me in person!
Have a great day,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Artisan Gluten Free Bread

Say that title three times fast! Yes, my house smells so incredibly delicious. Fresh cinnamon raisin artisan gluten free bread aromas are wafting through my house still, though I baked it last night until 11PM to try and save on electricity costs. We are on Time of Use prices now and the best time to bake is before 6AM or after 9PM, as the oven has to go up to 500F for almost an hour for these little beauties. Since I am NOT getting up at 4AM to make bread (I'm a morning person, but not THAT much of a morning person!), I need to wait until 8-9PM to start this bread. I found a really cool recipe on that I have been playing with to make egg free and taste the way I want it. After giving out little tastes at the Farmer's Market last week, and selling out of the regular artisan bread that I had made by 11AM, I think I have a winner.
Well, I thought I did.
You see, I experimented again yesterday. I added some cinnamon, some organic raisins, and a little extra organic agave nectar.
Oh holy crow, this is the best bread EVER! Even better than the classic artisan gluten free bread, hands down.
My mouth is watering just writing this, and the 3 little slices Brennan and I shared last night went down so fast we had to practically run out of the room to get away from it so that we wouldn't eat the whole 1 pound loaf in all of 3 minutes.
For anyone going to the Merrickville Farmer's Market this weekend, you're in for a treat if you want some amazing gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, 'cause I have got some of this just for you.
What could be better, you ask? Well, it is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, corn free, soy free and vegan. and tastes like heaven on a plate.
Maybe I could have another little piece....NO! I must save it for the market... but, just a little one? NO! I must save it for the market....
I think it might be a long day ;-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

1910 Ford Car (Sorry I don't know the model exactly)
Well, I must say, the Farmer's Market in Merrickville is going incredibly well! The jewelery is selling well and the gluten free, low allergy baked goodies are almost all selling out. It is so wonderful to be able to meet the people purchasing my goods, and so neat to see the different sights in the diverse little village of Merrickville. Take the photo above, for example. Not one, not two, but at least a handful of antique cars were spotted cruising around Merrickville yesterday. And it wasn't even the weekend for the big car show and cruise! That happens on July 11 this year. If you like cars, you had best be in Merrickville early that day.
Looking at that above photo got me thinking about Father's Day as well. My dad loves cars. I think he dreams about them when he isn't fixing or racing them. When I saw this car and another park right in front of my Market tent, I knew I had to get a few shots.
I think these antique cars are alot like fathers in a way. They may not always be flashy, brand new and full of the latest techno-wizardry, but if you take cherish them, love them, they give you love and happiness back for many, many years (and maybe even teach you a few things about cars somewhere in there).
Here's to all of the great dads out there. We love and thank you for being you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Nose Knows

One of my favorite parts of Arwen, aside from her soulful eyes, is her cute nose. It is out of focus as I was roasting a chicken for Brennan's dinner and she was sniffing very hopefully.
She got her wish.
The nose always knows, when there is food and a cute dog, inevitably, if the food is healthy, she'll get some :)
I love my little fifty-pound doggy. How blessed I am to have her!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sorry I'm Late, It's Been a Busy Few Weeks!

Some of My Farmer's Market Gear
Wow, 2 weeks went by in a flash! Sorry about that, I've been a busy little bee. I've started working some mornings at a veggie farm down the road from me to earn a little extra $$ and to help out my friend who has a TON of planting to do. We've had a really wet early spring so most farmers are just getting things planted now. Last week we planted a ton of tomato, basil, melons, red and white cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sunberries, ground cherries, peas, beans, carrots, beets ad probably a few things I'm forgetting. she starts all of her seeds herself and they have been taking over her entire house! What is more amazing is that although I am only there for a few hours at a time, I'll be exhausted and SO ready for a shower and a nap, and yet, she keeps going for HOURS at a time, I mean, this woman should replace the Energizer bunny, it is incredible. I'll try to take some photos to show you the progress of the farm.
Goodies in the Fridge, Ready to Go!
In other news, Arwen the Wonder Dog and I have been doing obedience once per week for the last month or so. I really can't believe the changes in that short amount of time. Arwen has always been a great, friendly dog, but she's had her issues (as we all do, I'm sure). The four or five classes we've had have been just amazing and she is really quite a star (Though I knew that all along!). Arwen is now so much better behaved when people come to the door, she hardly even barks now, except for a few barks to let us know there is someone in the driveway. She isn't pulling me into ditches or across the dirt roads when we go for walks now either. The biggest thing so far? The instructor and my veggie farm friend, Kathy, brought their dogs last week for socialization. Initially Arwen was a real pain, but, knowing that she is really lacking in the social bits, she calmed down remarkably fast and went about her obedience as if very little else was happening. Amazing! We're doing another class this morning with the other dogs and I know she'll be good.
Breads, and Scones, and Cookies, Oh My!
And of course, what has been keeping me the busiest is doing the Merrickville Farmer's Market each Saturday. Initially I was only going to sell my jewelry, but after telling a few people that I eat gluten free, egg free, corn free, etc., etc., I was convinced that I needed to add my GF baking in the mix too. I've been busy baking, packaging and coming up with labels, ingredient lists and displays. Busy Busy!
The first weekend was two weeks ago and went very well, especially as it is a very small market (only 5 vendors) and no one knew that I would be there. I am very lucky to be sharing my tent with Louise of Fireseed. She makes amazing glass beads that are featured in a few of my pieces. She's ducking behind her display in the above photo, silly Louise!
Here's my table from the first week. This past weekend I toned down the jewelry a bit (I think there was too much for people to look at the first week) and added more gluten free vegan goodies, with sample plates for people to try things before the commit the money to a full bag of cookies. GF baking is SO much more expensive, though I am going to be getting my flours in bulk soon to cut costs. This past week went even better than the first! I sold a bit more jewelry and the gluten free vegan goodies just about flew off the table (And not only due to wind, people LOVE my goodies!). For this coming weekend I am working on some crusty breads, oh my gosh, there are some in the oven now and they smell SOOOO good!
Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately, I'll try to correct that this week!
Have a great Monday!

and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thankful Thursday - So Glad it Turned Out the Way it Did

An Unexpected Visitor

 You know those days that start out so well, anything could go wrong? You know those days that start out well, and then go wrong, but then right themselves so you can go on and have a great day anyway? Yesterday was one of those days. It all started out so innocently. It was humid, hot, the kind of day that quickly becomes incredibly hot and melty, but in the beginning of summer is still very welcome. I got out of bed with only a little help from the alarm and managed to get the dog fed and watered, Brennan's lunch, breakfast and tea made, got myself fed and watered, and all in good time. I was laughing that the dog had gone back to (my) bed, and I was about to sit down to write yesterday's blog post when I heard it...
Ting, ting-ting-ting. scratch.
It came from the top of the chimney. I wasn't worried, but Brennan immediately thought that a squirrel had climbed onto our house and was in our chimney.
"Don't be ridiculous! The squirrel would have to climb twenty feet of siding, and then another 2 feet of smooth metal to get into the chimney. It is just another bird catching bugs on the top of the chimney, I've heard it before." I grab my tea and a glass of water and put them beside my laptop, which is in the living room, right in front of the fireplace.
"Babe, I'm telling you, it is in the chimney!"
"Brennan, it is not in the chimney, it is at the top of the chimney. If it was IN the chimney, you'd hear a Whump and a clatter" My last words are, of course, interrupted by a "whump and a clatter" and then a little screech and flapping sounds.
Crap. There's a bird in my chimney, right above the flue if I am hearing things correctly.
Brennan says, "QUICK! Grab a box to grab it!" and gets a shoe box (which I'll have more details on later, LOL) for me to put in the bottom of the chimney to "catch" the bird. How I'm going to close the lid on it, I have no idea. But, I put the box in the bottom of the fireplace and then close up the doors.
The Unexpected Visitor Tries to Get Out

 I pray a little bit, something along the lines of, "Please God don't let this actually be happening," and then, "Please God don't let me kill the poor little bird," and then, "Please God, don't let me get my eyes pecked out or get rabies from this damned, poor little bird."
I open the flue.
A rather sooty little black bird comes clattering into the fireplace and starts to panic as it finds its way blocked by the doors and screen of the fireplace.
Okay, next plan.
"QUICK!" I say to Brennan, "Grab a big recycle box, close all the curtains, get the dog into a bedroom, close all interior doors, and open all the exterior doors!" I'm telling him this, of course, as I'm doing it, and he is staring at me like I'm crazy.
"If we close the curtains, and the interior doors, it won't have anywhere to fly but out the doors!"
Comprehension dawns on his face.
I grab the giant recycle bin and my gardening gloves, just in case. I curse myself for not being fast enough to grab my sunglasses so that I don't get my eyes pecked out, or rabies, from the poor, damned bird.
I pray.
"Please God, don't let this poor little bird die from stress in my house." and
"Please God, don't let this bird crap all over my house."
I open the doors to the fireplace...
The Unexpected Visitor, Gone

And he flew right out the door, no scrabbling or freaking out at all. Just flew out like it was the way it was supposed to be all along.
Which it was.
And it allowed us to have a really good day after that.
Especially because I didn't get my eyes pecked out or get rabies from that poor, damned bird ;-)
Have a great day,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday - My New Baby!

 Woo! I got my new baby yesterday and I am so happy! I have never had a new one before. Can you guess what it is?
 YES! It is a brand new tripod! I know it sounds horrible, but though I have 2 old tripods, neither of them work and they are VERY old. Not that old ones aren't good, but man, having a new tripod where all the levers and twisty-things work is soooo nice :)
 Here it is! Well, in the box anyway. I got a stupendous deal on - it was around $50 with shipping and taxes, and it got here in about 3 days! SO impressed.
 *sigh* look at it, it's so preeetttyyy. Came with a case and an extra mounting plate and goes to up to 72" high. wooooo!
And look! In the evening, in dim light, with NO flash on my camera, I got a perfect, crystal-clear exposure, no shake, no blur, just a great little photo. All thanks to my new baby, my tripod. YAY!

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