Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Arwednesdays with Arwen - A Winter Walk

Hey it's me again! Arwen the Wonder dog to show you a neat little thing that happens to our roads in the winter.
Notice the grooves? The pretty little lines that make you want to follow them and sniff all the way to the end, wherever that may be?
They are there, according to mommy, for traction. See, I have nails and paws that spread out like snowshoes in snow and ice, and they keep me pretty stable, but cars need extra help on these dirt roads. In winter they get very, very icy, which is good for me, 'cause it keeps mommy walking fast so she can't stop or turn around and make me go back inside, but bad for the cars since they don't have nails to dig in, just big tires.
The town brings out these big machines that I like to bark at, that mommy calls graders, and they scrape the road and put grooves in them to provide traction for the cars.
Pretty nifty, eh?
Here's another shot - mommy thought it was very pretty to see the roads and snow and grooves, but I just want to get back to walking, so I'll see you next week!
and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday's Treasures: Cleopatra's Blue Goddess Necklace

Cleopatra's Blue Goddess Necklace
Today is such a treat, I've been waiting to unveil this little beauty for over 2 weeks! This is the newest necklace for my NeoAmour designer collection. It is inspired by the enigmatic Cleopatra, ruler of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians are very well known for their beautiful ancient jewelry - many pieces are found to have multiple strands, along with talismans and decorative pendants (seems they were quite ahead of the times in more than just architecture). Jewelry is depicted on many of the ancient tombs. It was a symbol of power, wealth and standing, and Cleopatra's jewelry would have been no different.

This necklace started out with this dramatic and unique focal bead, purchased from Louise of Fireseed ( She makes the most amazing beads, and I usually have a hard time sticking to a set spending limit (but it is ALWAYS worth going over budget to get her beads!!). I saw this incredible goddess bead over a year ago and fell in love with it, though I didn't quite know what to do with it until chance brought a few bags of stone beads and the pendant bead all in the same place at the same time. 

I started doing inventory in December (I still haven't finished, don't remind me, haha!), and as I pulled out a few bags of beads to count, they spilled into each other. I was about to curse when I took a second look and, well, Eureka! is the word that comes to mind now. A vibrant mix of turquoise, amber, lapis lazuli (Cleopatra used to grind up lapis lazuli to use as her eye makeup!), black Czech glass beads and brass-plated pewter findings all came together to create this 3-strand masterpiece.

I had been reading a brief history of Cleopatra and was thinking how brave she must have been to have accomplished everything she did. I wanted to make a necklace that would show her love of her country, her bravery, yet also show her vulnerable side. These beads spoke to me and said, "Make us into something Cleopatra would have loved..."

Cleopatra's history is long and the accounts vary depending on who does the telling - many were simply trying to discredit her for their own ends, as was (and is) common. Many said that she was an evil seductress. More likely is that she was a powerful, intelligent woman trying to find a powerful, intelligent man to help her stabilize her rule in a very unstable time.
Cleopatra's Blue Goddess Necklace

The goddess has always been a symbol of femininity and fertility, and I thought that this would be a perfect fit in a necklace for a young Cleopatra. By the time she was eighteen, she had witnessed her two sisters assassinations (they had each tried to take the throne from their father), her father's death, the decline of the Egyptian empire into perilous debt to Rome (thanks to her father) and had been forced to marry her own 12 year old brother. When Caesar came to Egypt to try to sort out Egypt's problems, I can see Cleopatra wearing a necklace like this to symbolize her fertility and womanhood. At that time, one of the only ways to stay safe on her throne would be to have outside help, and a strong man like Caesar would have been just the person to help her (he did, and she had his son, Cesarion).

This is a one of a kind necklace. I can never get the exact same goddess bead again, so if you like this necklace, please get it while you can.

This necklace is now available for sale on my Etsy site: Please take a look and get it while you can. I may have enough beads to make a matching necklace or earrings, please contact me if you are interested.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday: Easy Vegetarian Chili!

My apologies for the bad photo - it was dark and I was hungry!
Today I thought I would diverge from the normal Monday posts of progress reports and share with you a great recipe that is so delicious and easy (and fast! It takes about 15 minutes of prep, and an hour of cooking that only needs stirring every 10 minutes) that everyone should really do it. Meat eaters can add ground beef or chicken, but I like it vegan style, with 3 different beans, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and lots of goodness. Did you know that the original chili was actually vegetarian? With the combination of brown rice and beans, this chili packs a protein punch that is pretty easy to digest.

This is my take on my family's version, and I sort of add as I go, a dash of this, a dash of that, but I've tried to be as accurate as possible. I probably added quite a bit more of the spices, as I like my chili incredibly flavorful and make-your-nose-run spicy. Given that everyone has their own tastes, I've put recommended amounts of items, so please take the recipe and run with it! Add more or less of the ingredients I listed here, add your own ingredients to your own tastes, and Enjoy!

Meghann's 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Corn Free, Soy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian)
Main Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 med-large sweet onion, chopped
1-4 cloves garlic, minced (add more or less, depending on your tastes)
1 10oz can organic sliced mushrooms, well drained and rinsed (or fresh if you prefer)
1-2 cups brown rice (add as much or as little as you like, just change the liquids to suit)
chili powder to taste (2-5 tbsp, depending on how spicy)
ground cumin to taste (3-6 tbsp, depending on your love of it - I LOVE cumin, so I add lots!)
1-2 tbsp dry oregano
4 tbsp dry parsley
2 tsp paprika (or to taste)
1-2 tsp dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
2-3 cups broth
2-5 tbsp tamari sauce, to taste
1/4 cup organic ketchup (yes, it sounds weird, but it makes the chili thicker and more delicious)
1 15oz can navy beans, well drained and rinsed
1 15oz can black beans, well drained and rinsed
1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), well drained and rinsed
1 small can chopped chilies

freshly sliced avocado
sour cream (vegan or not)
cheese (I use Daiya Mozzarella and it is DELICIOUS!)
tortilla chips on the side
OR soft tortillas for wrapping
OR chopped romaine lettuce for a healthier version

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onions until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Add brown rice, herbs and spices, stir until onions, mushrooms and rice are coated with seasoning mix and toast until the rice is starting to get fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, broth, tamari sauce, ketchup and stir, making sure to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot (That is where the flavor is!). Add the beans and as much of the chopped chilis as you dare! I added the whole small can (it's about 1/4 cup), as the huge amount of beans, rice and vegetables take up the chili flavor and mellow it quite a bit. Stir and make sure everything is combined.

Bring to a slight boil, turn heat to lowest setting (1 or Low), cover and let lightly simmer for about an hour. Stir every 10-15 minutes to keep things from settling too much on the bottom. Make sure you scrape the bottom so that nothing burns on the bottom.

Add more liquids if necessary, to achieve your desired chili consistency. I added a bit more broth towards the end as it was getting too thick for the rice to cook properly.

When the rice is cooked, turn off heat and serve!

This is great with tortilla chips with your desired toppings, is also amazing wrapped in a soft tortilla. For a lighter dinner, I put mine on a bed of lettuce, topped with avocado, salsa and Daiya cheese.

This is incredible the first day, but it keeps getting better each day (don't let it sit in the fridge for more than 3 or 4 days though, or you risk food poisoning. Obvious, I know, but you can never be too careful).

This also freezes well! Make a large batch, put individual servings in your freezer-safe containers of choice, and you'll have a quick lunch or dinner that is healthy whenever you don't feel like cooking :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Squee - National Hugging Day

Courtesy of
Because, really, there isn't anything cuter than cats hugging, unless it is on National Hugging Day :)

I am sorry that I didn't get to post this week's Tuesday's Treasures, Arwednesdays with Arwen or Thursday's Treasuries. Arwen jumped off my bed on Monday and really hurt her shoulder. We *think* she pulled a muscle or something in her shoulder or leg, but she was limping really, really badly and for a few days it was all I could do to keep her still (she might be 8-1/2 years old, but the Border collie in her makes her act more like a 3 year old). She could put her weight on it, and would run up and down the back stairs if she saw a squirrel, which was the only reason I didn't rush her into the emergency vet that very second I saw her limping. 
Anyway, I slept on the living room couch with her for a couple of nights to keep her from jumping up and down on the furniture, which meant I didn't really sleep for about 3 days. Plus, when she did jump up onto the bed or a couch, I had to lift all 53 pounds of her off of it so that she wouldn't jump down on her own and hurt herself even more. This ended up being the reason I hardly got into my workshop for most of this week, let alone spending undivided time with my laptop.
Fortunately, she is better now, she only limps occasionally, and even then, it is so minor as to be almost invisible unless you are really staring at her. I am hoping to get back to our daily morning walks, and even the weather seems like it will try to cooperate, as it is only supposed to be -14 Celsius tomorrow.
So after all of this, we are now, as they say, back to our regularly scheduled programming, and I will continue with the regular blog posts from now on. 
Barring, of course, any other major dog injuries, personal illnesses, or acts of supreme deity.
I have my fingers crossed for smooth sailing :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Feature: Sergeant Reckless

Reckless with the Recoilless Rifle, Courtesy of
While I normally feature an artist on Fridays, I thought that this Friday I would do something a little different. Anyone who knows me knows that I love horses. Immensely.
Anyone who knows horses knows that they are incredible creatures.
Then I heard of a horse who takes the word incredible to a whole new height.
Meet Sergeant Reckless.
She was a little Mongolian mare, sold by a Korean boy to American forces during the Korean War. The boy needed to buy a prosthetic leg for his sister , the American forces needed a horse.
She had been a racehorse, but she turned into a hero that all of us can admire, not just racing fans.
She learned how to carry loads of ammunition during battle, and to ignore the sounds of ammunition and explosions (anyone knowing horses will know how incredible that is in itself).
She learned to walk in certain directions all by herself to reach other troops. During battle.
She learned to get attention during quiet times in the most amazing ways - by eating hats, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and much more.
You can see her website, run by a fan and dedicated person who wants the world to know about this wonderful horse. The website is here: and the Facebook fan club page is here:
Still doubting the awesomeness of little Reckless?
Here is an excerpt from the Sgt Reckless website:
One of Reckless’ finest hours came during the Battle of Outpost Vegas in March of 1953.  At the time of this battle it was written that, “The savagery of the battle for the so-called Nevada Complex has never been equaled in Marine Corps history.”
Reckless Enjoying a Flower Arrangement, Courtesy of
During this five-day battle, on one day alone shemade 51 trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites, 95% of the time by herself.  Shecarried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! -- of ammunition),walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute.  And as she so often did, she would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain to safety, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns.  She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line.  Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down. 
 What she did saved the lives of many, and kept the morale up of many more. For her valor she earned two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, all of which she wore proudly on her red and gold blanket.

What's even better? She survived the battle, and the forces brought her back to California where she could live out her days peacefully. She had parades in her honor, and even had 3 foals. She lived to a ripe old age of 20 and was buried at Stepp Stables at Camp Pendleton.

In 1997, TIME magazine did a special collector's edition, "Celebrating Our Heroes", which chronicled the lives of many heroes, including Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and many others. Among them? A 900 pound, 14.1 hand high Mongolian Mare, named Reckless. 
I salute you, Reckless.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Project Sneak Peeks!

I thought I'd give you a sneaky peek at tomorrow's posting - I've been very inspired by Cleopatra lately and have created two beautiful necklaces, each inspired by a different time in her life. One of these babies will be featured tomorrow, once I get it properly photographed and listed on my Etsy store. I've been working really, really hard on rephotographing and styling my jewelry, as for Christmas my whole family chipped in and got me a macro lens. Now I can get up close and personal and have everything in focus, huzzah! It has meant many hours (so far) of bending over, crimping one eye shut (I swear I'm getting lopsided wrinkles from squinting through my camera with one eye), and taking hundreds upon hundreds of photos, trying to get "the one". I am going to photograph my new Cleopatra necklaces today and post one of them tomorrow.
For now though, you'll have to make due with portions of these two, badly lit and selectively cropped to whet your appetite.
I've also been thinking of posting DIY tutorials every once in a while - is there anything you'd like to learn from me? Recipes? Jewelry-making techniques? Tools and tips of the trade? Let me know, I'd love to share some of my DIY things with you :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday Squee: Baby Honey Badger

Baby Honey Badger
Ok, for today's Saturday Squee, the cutest photo on the interwebs, here I present you with: Baby Honey Badger. Posted by NayaH on, this is the cutest little fart that ever was...for now. Add this photo (in your mind) to the narration video on YouTube by Randall (caution: explicit lyrics), and you have the cutest and funniest thing for your weekend.
See you soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Arwendnesdays With Arwen the Wonder Dog

Welcome back to our Arwendnesday's With Arwen the Wonder Dog posts, where every Wednesday is devoted to my hyper, wonderful, ridiculous dog, Arwen. 
So there we were: on a walk during a very overcast morning last week, when I noticed this beautiful, snow covered field and decided to take some photos with my little camera.
Then the battery died.
Do over!
The weekend rolled around and we were on another walk on an even more overcast morning when it started to rain. Pour really. And snow. At the same time.
However, in my quest to not be completely boring to you, my wonderful readers, I decided to keep on going and try to take my winter field shot anyway.
That and Arwen was full-steam ahead and the roads were a little icy, meaning that to turn around would probably end up with me falling and breaking a bone on said icy road.
So there we were: Arwen and I reached the aforementioned field and I brought out my (now charged) little camera and proceeded to try and photograph the field, which in the above photo is not really looking like anything special, though I assure you it is beautiful in person.
I heard a "Yip!"
And I looked down...
And there was Arwen, prancing in the snow, thoroughly soaked (and loving it, I might add), and wanting me to stop taking photographs, and throw her some snowballs already!
Catching snowballs is her favorite winter pastime (well, that and eating her, uh, poo when it is frozen, but she's a dog after all, and I digress - with a shudder), and she will catch snowballs until she is panting so hard she has to sit or lie down in the snow in between each toss, or your digits feel like they will never thaw in this lifetime, whichever comes first (my fingers usually give in before she does, much to her disgust).
Notice the preemptive tongue sticking out here, as in between frantic barks that make it sound like I'm torturing her, she sticks her tongue out and tries to catch the snowballs with her tongue, snapping her jaws shut around it with an audible snap (I would think this might hurt, but she doesn't seem to care), and eating the whole snowball with a very self-satisfied smile. She smiles, I've seen her do it.
She's odd, but I love her so very, very much.
...As long as she doesn't kiss me until after I've brushed her teeth about a million times.

and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday's Treasures - Newest Necklace Inspired by Boudica

I am so thrilled to show you my latest necklace today, as today is Tuesday's Treasures, where I will aim to show you one completed jewelry piece per week. This necklace has been in the works for quite some time; almost a year, as that was when I bought this beautiful focal bead from my friend, incredible lamp work glass artist Louise, from Fireseed . It is a special bead, being one of a kind, and I knew it needed special treatment to do it justice. It took a while, but this is the fantastic result (if I do say so myself!).
Inspired by Boudica and the Ancient British Seas
I've long been inspired by the ancient Celts, as I've spoken about many times here on this blog, and beyond. When I recently took this bead out again and started turning it over in my hand, I was immediately reminded of the sea. I love the colors in this bead, as they are so vibrant yet still manage to be natural. I love how Louise managed to get so many different shades of brown, topaz, silver, black and blue into one bead, yet the whole bead does not look too busy. In fact, as I looked at it, I thought of the ancient English sea.
Simple, Yet Bold
Thinking of the ancient English sea, with its white foam, sandy stones and beaches, and vibrant blue of water and sky, I was suddenly, clearly inspired to create this necklace. I thought of, long ago, a young Celtic warrior Queen, Boudicca, as she prepared to take on the Roman Empire. She knew how important reserve forces would be for the Romans as they came over the channel from the Roman empire to Britain. I could see her planning her strategic attacks on British soil, against the usurping Romans, and thinking of how quickly reinforcements would come over the sea if the battles lasted too long.

This necklace was created for her. I used the stunning bead Louise had made, and then created a hand-blended mix of glass seed beads in shades to complement the focal bead. This necklace was made in a lariat-style so that you can wear it either choker style, with the bead hanging farther down your chest, or looser, with the pendant closer to your neck, depending on what you're wearing and how you like to wear your necklaces.

Please visit my Etsy shop to see the necklace here: and please let me know what you think!

For more stunning glass beads by Louise, please visit her Etsy store here:
or her website here:

Have a great day,

Monday, January 9, 2012

January's Charity of the Month and Laptop Issues

(Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on
It all started so innocently. I had planned to start blogging, if not daily, then nearly daily. I had planned posts in my new daily planner. I had taken, or planned to take, photographs. Life, as they say, is what happens when you are busy making plans. I had made many plans, all involving my lifeline, aka, my laptop.
Then my hard drive decided to start making funny noises, the day before New Year's Eve.
Many loud, funny noises that a laptop, or any computing device should not make, the day before New Year's Eve.
Then I started getting notifications from Windows saying that my hard drive was dying. That was the worst part of all - by the time Windows starts sending you notifications, you know your hard drive is pretty much pooped. I tell, you, the whole world is against me! Okay, not really, but it felt like it.
So enter Brennan, who has spent nearly all of the last two weeks, not only helping me move my workshop around (which was supposed to be posts January 2-4), but also fixing my laptop by replacing my hard drive, recovering all of my documents, etc., so that I could get back to my online life, which is pretty much my whole life (which I love, and am pretty addicted to. When I don't have internet access...well, it isn't pretty).
By the way, have I said how lucky I am to have Brennan lately? No? I am VERY lucky to have him!
Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled posts.
And go through the 120+ emails I received in the past week. "Delete all", anyone? No? Okay, I'll get through them all... eventually.
In other news, the first post for January was supposed to be to tell you all about the charity that I will be donating a portion of my sales to this month.
This month I will be donating 10% of the total sales in my Etsy shop (before taxes and shipping) to Polar Bears International. They are a fantastic, registered charity, that is devoted to saving our white giants of the north. Polar bear populations are declining rapidly and Polar Bears International are doing everything they can to educate us as to how important they are, and how we can do even the tiniest things to help them. Not just donating money, but small things, such as turning off lights when we are leaving a room, turning down our thermostats, etc., all in the name of saving these wonderful, enigmatic creatures.
I encourage you to visit their website, and see for yourself the wonderful work they are doing, in addition to the great photography that they have on their site (including totally AWWW worthy photos of a baby polar bear, TOO CUTE!), and some great tips on how you can easily help polar bears with small changes to your routine, and information on how to donate if you are able to.
I have symbolically adopted 2 polar bears so far, and I hope to adopt at least one more this year, if I get the sales to allow me to (again, 10% of all of January's sales, before taxes and shipping, go toward Polar Bears International).
Please visit my shop (at ) to purchase some beautiful pieces of jewelry, and help polar bears at the same time.
Have a great day, see you on the flip side (yo! LOL),

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