Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apple Butter

I've had these apples sitting on the shelf calling to me for weeks now and finally found some time to make them into apple butter.  It's really not that hard, just time consuming.

First, wash the apples and quarter them, don't bother with the peels or the seeds.

 Put the quarters in a big pot, add just a little bit of apple juice.  I probably used a cup.  Heat and keep tossing the apples until they are all soft.
 Mash them through a sieve or a food mill.  This is probably the first time I used just enough liquid to cook the apples and not so much that my puree was too liquid.
 The recipes say to add 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of puree.  I had 20 cups of puree but only used 7 cups of sugar, plus some cinnamon, ground cloves, some lemon juice, juice of 1/2 a very juicy orange and the orange zest.  I prefer to simmer the butter long and slow, stirring every 15 minutes or so until the butter is much reduced and mounds up on a cold plate.
 Put it in clean jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Ta da!  Lots of very yummy apple butter.

Peace and sweet dreams to you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great junk

Yeah, I know the axle is a little bent, but can it be fixed?
This has been a mining community continuously from 1849 to 1959 and during that time over 17 million ounces of gold have been dug, blasted, crushed and hydraulically washed out of the ground.  I love finding the left over bits of machinery, often they inspire my jewelry designs.

I took these photos almost two years ago, never thinking that I would own a house that has the Empire Mine in it's backyard.

The connections and heavy handmade hinges are superb.  I wish I could step back in time and watch them being forged.

We spent the whole day yesterday walking and visiting with a friend.  I'm feeling restored, ready to start up in my studio again.

Enjoy your day.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day

If you had told me I'd spend Christmas Day alone and happy I would probably not have believed you.  Then I spent the last several weeks moving and unpacking and in consultations for custom jewelry and working and delivering those pieces, whew!  I was so mentally and physically exhausted I could barely speak.

So, on Christmas Eve I cooked for my family and a dear friend and I took Christmas Day OFF.  I slept in and around noon I took the boys for a hike.  I was planning on a mile or two but the day was glorious and we said "what the hell" and hiked the whole four mile loop at the Independence Trail.

It felt so good, water to play in, views and blue sky forever, happy laughing dogs and me, no stress, no rush. Make sure to click on these photos so you see the big version.

Bode doesn't think it's worth drinking unless he gets all four feet in, too cold for me.

What a great gift.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Opening Presents

Bode and Dandy had a great time opening their presents.
It's a beautiful day, we're heading out for a hike.

Merry Christmas, peace to your and yours from me and mine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A week ahead...

I'm trying to get lots done but it seems I can't make everyone else go faster.
My gutters look like porcupines having a bad hair day.  I was expecting the leaf guard gutter guys to show up this morning and waited and waited and waited.  Then I called them and found out my appointment is for next Tuesday, oh bother.
Some days nothing seems to go right.  So I took the boys for a long walk and emptied a few more boxes and now it's nap time as I have a shift this afternoon at the gallery.


Friday, December 16, 2011


It hardly gets any better than this.  Every day I love my house a little more.  Every day, every box unloaded, every small detail attended to make the rooms more beautiful, more comfortable, more cozy and welcoming.

A friend was teasing me about not having Christmas lights up, hopefully those will still happen.  I'm playing elf in my workshop to get some last minute things done and the lighting elf hasn't made an appearance, oh well.  I do have to go to the hardware store today, maybe I can get some light to dress up the boxwood on the front porch.  And maybe hang some icicle lights around the porch soffits and drag the potted tree up on the dining room porch and light that too, and get a little Christmas tree for inside...

It's rather like when people ask me how I get my ideas for jewelry.  It's not getting ideas, it's having the hours in the day to make the things floating around in my head.  It's not how to decorate, it's having enough hours to actually do what I'd like to do.

I'm so excited about my new housemate!

This little piece is going to a great girl for her birthday.  I used 20 gauge fine silver for the moon, it's a pretty piece.

Peace to you and yours.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some say...

No, no, no, don't paint the wood.  I tend to be a bit heretical about that, figuring that eventually things have to change. This wood was cheap pine, nothing really special even 60 years ago when it was installed.
From this:
To this:
I liked the wood, loved the texture of the old boards with their knots and grooves but hated the dark and gloomy feel of the rooms.

So, Chris Sgambati and his painting crew came in and transformed it into a light filled space, airy and bright.  At my request they filled the million little nail holes but didn't seal the wood so the knots may still bleed through.  There are two coats of paint,  under the white is a rich coffee creamer base, which will peek through with a little hand sanding. It looks like a seaside cottage hidden in the mountains.  I'm completely happy with it now.

My long time house sitter is moving in with me this weekend, this will be her space.  I'm excited to have a young one around again. The boys will be ecstatic having her here.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A day off...

...from unpacking and arranging.  My friend is here from Minnesota.  Yesterday we wandered down to the South Yuba, it was beautiful there.
And we shopped and ate and wandered some more, it was great!


Thursday, December 08, 2011


What's a guy got to do to get some attention?
Looking adorable works eventually.  I'm actually in heaven having so much to organize and arrange.  Of course, I need to get the blankets into the closet but need shelves installed in there and can't do that because the closets are full of artworks, but can't get those moved out until the display shelves are installed and that requires me to actually decide where to put the shelves and find a talented volunteer to actually put them up, oh boy.

We did get outside to the park this afternoon and hit the new Grass Valley dog park for the first time.  It was a hit, lots to sniff and some big friends to chase.

With every day and every box emptied this house feels more mine.  I knew as soon as I saw it that it needed to be mine so it's very satisfying to make it so.  My bed is more comfortable at night, not surprising since I practically crawl into it but the sense of peace and comfort is there.  And getting up in the morning is sheer bliss,  making coffee in my sunny kitchen, eating breakfast and listening to the boys chase each other around their yard.  I love cooking in my kitchen, the range is exquisite.  I do tend to get a bit distracted playing with the fiestaware though.

I'm watching Ghost tonight, mourning the passing of Patrick Swayze and grooving on Unchained Melody.


Monday, December 05, 2011

Moving Monday

It's all gonna be here today.

I put my new drill to the test and managed to hang this glorious art piece by Michael Larson.  He's a fellow coop member at the Art Works Gallery and makes these fabulous chimes, plus smaller ones and some amazing garden art, metal and glass.  The metal on this one is reclaimed auto springs and a bike chain is wielded on to hold the glass.

This is the view out the door on my back porch now.
The property beyond the fence is state owned, part of the Empire Mine.

Well, time to get going, the floor is vacuumed and cleaned, ready for furniture.  It's hard to remember to breathe.


Sunday, December 04, 2011


I'm pretty sure I'm winning.  Just tonight I got my internet and phone connected, lots of things are moved in already and the big stuff will be here tomorrow.

I'm in love with my Dacor gas range, which so far has produced pancakes on it's griddle and a couple of outstanding if simple meals.
I'm not really sure if I want the extent of my fiestaware addiction out on display but what the heck.  Of course, there's lots more still in boxes and a couple of new colors I don't have yet, marigold?
I think every home owner needs one of these, a sexy little cordless Dewalt drill.  It's posing on the "absolute noir" kitchen countertop, which has sparkles.
And here are the very contented pups, they are loving having their own yard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For no reason...

except it was running through my head this morning.  It's amazing the amount of junk that bounces around in there.
Of course, you can substitute packin' for rollin' and get a general idea of my world right now.


Monday, November 28, 2011

New house

I can hardly stay away from the new house.  It's being painted right now, the warm gold walls perfectly complementing the golden floors.

I spent a night there this weekend and woke to sunlight pouring into the three kitchen windows facing the Empire Mine State Park.  It's glorious.

There will be lots of pics soon but right now I'm enjoying every minute of a very short visit from my children.  We've been having a great time.

My son and me at our Thanksgiving feast on Friday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


All done, got the keys!

I can't believe it.  I've got my own home.

Home, home, home...


Holding my breath...

I think that today the house will be mine.  Everything is signed, funded and processed, we just need that magic button marked "Recorded" to be pushed and I can go get the keys.

If you listen well you'll hear me squealing.

Here's a wonderful little Pelton wheel I saw in Sutter Creek last weekend.
I think it would go beautifully in my new backyard, unfortunately the generator attached to it is VW sized.

And a new pair of earrings, the bars are forged fine silver, with a beautiful cultured freshwater pearl.
Peace to you and yours this weekend of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


The loan documents are signed.  If all goes well I will get the keys the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Here are a few of the many pendants I finished this week.
 By Wisdom and Courage
 A Valiant Heart
Truth gives wings to courage.

Now off for some fun.


Friday, November 18, 2011


Signing loan docs today!

This is some of my work this week.
I saw these on a walk through the Empire Mine property, pretty strange looking.
Going to try to fit dog walking, studio work, loan signing, a Gallery shift and maybe make some apple butter today.  The weekend is for fun, relaxation, laughter, loving, maybe some yard raking, whatever we damn well please, thank you very much.  Can't wait.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting closer...

It's all coming down to the end.  My children are coming into town next week and the closing is scheduled for the Monday after Thanksgiving but may happen sooner.  They leave Tuesday and then I will have five days to stuff things into boxes for moving day on December 5th.

OMGosh! In between I'll be having the inside painted and a gate installed on the back of the house.  My studio is in major production mode to keep up with the Holiday rush.  My social life is rich and quite happily distracting.

No time to dream.  Well, maybe a little, after all, decorating for the Holidays in my own house is pretty exciting.


Friday, November 11, 2011


As an 18 year old I raised my hand and swore this Oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." 

Being a typical 18 year old airhead I didn't really think about what it meant and my years in the Navy didn't really seem that special.  This was right after Vietnam ended.  I remember a cousin saying she couldn't believe that such a nice person would choose to serve in the military.  I wasn't terribly patriotic, it was just a job.

But as I grow older I feel proud in knowing that I served my country, even in this small way.  I helped bring babies into the world and spent a year or two with those who had lost their way.  I still carry almost everything in my left arm so my right is free to salute.  I sing the National Anthem softly to myself and occasionally blink back tears as I think of those who have gone before me.  And I wear a small pin on my favorite jacket which says US Navy, Honorable Discharge.

The fresh faced 18 year didn't know the importance of what she was doing, the 50 plus woman does and thanks her for taking that Oath.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I want that job...

Pottery Barn Ultimate Bar

Well, the product isn't really weird but I've got to say I'd love to be on the Pottery Barn design team.  These poor bastards spent months watching professional bartenders at work before they could design this product.  What's next for this team? Hot tubs? Mud wrestling patio furniture?  And where do we sign up to help with their research?

Ah, research indeed...


Friday, November 04, 2011

Busy day?

Cheer up, you could be one of these cowboys.
I found this on one of my favorite blogs

It just cracks me up, yippee ky yah!


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Small Things

This Friday is the opening reception for Small Works in the Foothills, which is an annual art show and sale at ASIF (Artists Studios in the Foothills).
This is the first time I've been invited to display at this event, it's so exciting.

Here are some of the pendants I've been making:
Sub umbra alarum tuarum - Under the shadow of thy wing.

Memor Esto - Be Mindful

Nolite Tradere - Never Give Up

These pendants come on a custom leather cord.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Power and Grace

I forgot I took some photos during the Pairs event.  It's really hard to get a good shot but this one turned out pretty damn nice.  This is John Coughlin and Caydee Denney.  She was National Champion with her partner in 2010 and he was National Champion with his partner in 2011.  They've only been training as a pair for about five months.  They look terrific and have a chemistry and energy that is very exciting.
Go Team USA!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weird and Wonderful

We went walking in between events in Ontario and discovered these strange trees growing all along the boulevard.  The trunks were covered with spiky little protrusions which were very hard and very sharp. Further on we saw the same tree with these gorgeous flowers in bloom.  It was pretty windy, the flowers were dancing all around, blurry pic.

Anyone know what they are?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photo of the day

Last night on my way to the Range this heavily laden vehicle was ahead of me.  As I got closer I could read the bumper sticker on the back.
It says:

CAUTION - This vehicle may be transporting political promises.

I got to fly Southwest Airlines this weekend.  They are always friendly and efficient and they try really hard to make things fun.

As we landed our flight attendant welcomed us to Hawaii, everyone cheered.  Then, as we taxied into the unloading bay she sang us the song, "In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight...".  You could hear folks whistling, humming and singing softly to themselves as they walked off the airplane.

Laughing still...

Monday, October 24, 2011


Spending time with my daughter.

We had another picture taken on Sunday, this one is better of me but she likes the first one of her best, oh well, equal time.
Back to Nevada City today.  I love the quick flights between LA and Sacramento, barely an hour from up to down, my legs don't have time to feel cramped.

Heavenly is being back in the clear mountain air.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011


...on a jet plane!  Heading out to LA for the weekend, back soon!  My house sitter is here and ready to take over, the boys are always a little sad when I pack a bag.

I get to see my baby girl, woot!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Weird product of the day...

Personally, I love Williams-Sonoma.  They have fabulous products, great service and even some great recipes.  I've spent a lot of money there on coffee makers, fabulous knives, beautiful linens and whatnot.  However, every now and then they come up with a product that makes me scratch my head and wonder who would be stupid enough to actually buy it.

Here's the link to the Clay Chicken Roasting Kit
It's only $14.95 unless you feel you need to put out another 20 bucks for the special olive wood mallet to break through the clay once it's cooked.

WTF?  This is a one time product to roast a stupid chicken.  What a waste of money and let's all dump some more trash into the landfill.  Now, if you could crumble it all up, add some water and reconstitute the clay to use again I'd say, "Yippee Skippy, go for it!".

Remember the clay roasters?  I'd bet there are a few hundred thousand of those sitting around on the "soon to be in a garage sale" shelf.  Along with the ice cream makers and those nifty little napkin holder ring things that no one ever uses.

Stuff we buy seems to fit into three categories:

First and best is the thing we use everyday and wouldn't be able to get along without.  For me it's my Wusthof Ikon Blackwood knives, well balanced, beautiful, supremely useful items.

Second is the stuff we buy and use infrequently but wouldn't part with because those few times make all the difference, things like roasting pans, my Ruffoni hammered stock pot, and the champagne cork.

And then there's the "what the hell was I thinking" product like the Clay Chicken Roasting Kit, the Monkeybread pan, the electric hot dog cooker and the make your own ice cream sandwich press.

I have to confess I own one of those products.  Tell me your dirty secrets, what have you got hidden way back in the cupboard, come on now, fess up!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pinch me...

It's almost too good to be true.  I LOVE this house, it's everything I want and need.  I got to spend a couple of hours there today while the inspections went on and my family and friends stopped in to check it out.  Being there just makes me happy, it's got that sense of serenity that I was hoping for.

The entry and on into the living room, all new wood floors.

Dining room and the glorious kitchen.

The dining room has a nice sliding door out to the peaceful side yard, with a fountain splashing.  The kitchen is in the back of the house with windows looking out at a huge maple tree and on out into the state owned Empire Mine property.

The downstairs bedroom, mine.
The upstairs, still old knotty pine, which we will paint, it will look like a seaside cottage.
And the outside back and side.

It's going to be really hard to be patient.

Happy Day!