Monday, August 27, 2007

Long, Lazy Days of Summer

We haven't gone anywhere...just enjoying some long, lazy days at the beach... It is hard to believe that summer is quickly coming to an end. I suppose I say this at the change of each season, but there is something about summer that makes you take one more glance squeeze a few more sun-drenched days with nothing to do.

Around the house, we are preparing for the first day of pre-school! Nikolai has been strutting his stuff with his new backpack and school clothes. In celebration of being such a big boy, he also moved into his new bed. It is a flashy red fire truck complete with a light! Very cool in his 3 year old world!

I'll leave you with some pictures of Lucas basking in some beach sun. This dog KNOWS how to kick back...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Reinforced Bases

The Nataliya Bag received an update this week... new reinforced bases. All future Nataliyas as well as the ones in our shop will have this added structure insert in a matching or coordinated the bags more structure so that you can stow more of your daily necessities.

Our new Irene tote is in the works, so keep your eye on the shop for its arrival in the next month.

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri

Last night we had the Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri...a slight variation on Susan Spungen's recipe in Recipes, a collection for the modern cook. This made Jason's top ten list and a must for the next time we have guests. It was fabulous and I prepared Spungen's Potato Tostones and an organic vegetable medley to accompany it. I loved the grilled chicken balanced with the cool chimichurri...perfect for a summer evening meal. Though, I must warn you...major "shallot breath" afterward. Jason and I decided this must be said with a Scottish accent ... picture Shawn Connery...sounds much more sophisticated that way.

Chimichurri...garlic, shallot, parsley, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, white wine vinegar, olive oil

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tea for Two

Nikolai and I are on a baking spree inspired by Jennifer Appel's Buttercup Bakes at Home. It includes over 75 recipes from Buttercup Bake Shop in Manhattan. I popped by the library the day after receiving some heavenly cookies from Levain and had to grab this book off the shelf. Below are pictured the Banana Blueberry Muffins...blueberries fresh from my parent's garden...featuring the subtle zing of lemon zest. Mmm. These are absolutely delectable served warm. (As a side note, I'm beginning to wonder if Nikolai things it is completely normal to take a picture of your food before you eat it. The little guy is always nipping at my heels waiting for a taste of something we have cooked up and I'm futzing with lighting, props, etc. I can just picture him at pre-school in the Fall waiting for his teacher to take a picture of his snack before he eats it... Oh, golly.)

We have also tried the Caramel-Topped Toffee Pecan Blondies...heavenly. With the smell emanating from the oven, these guys just didn't stand a chance of getting photographed. I'm thinking the almond extract stole the show with these.

Nikolai and I have also been working our way through Susan Spungen's Recipes, a collection for the modern cook. Tonight's dinner will be the Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri and Potato Tostones. I prepared the chimichurri last night so that some could be used as a marinade. However, when I took out the steak that I purchased on Sunday it had spoiled. So, I substituted it with some chicken breasts I had on hand. I think the flavors will still work with the chicken. Earlier this week, we made the Little Black Dress Cake shown in the second photograph. This cake features ground hazelnuts and a Sour Cream Ganache as well as a combined total of 18 oz. of bittersweet chocolate. It is decadent to say the least and worth the various steps to make.

Custom Monogram Onesies

These cuties were a custom order last week for a new set of twins. I love taking custom orders because I enjoy thinking of the recipients while I make something. It reminds me of the Amish custom of quilting bees when all of the women gather to sew a quilt for a soon-to-be-married couple. I like to think of all of the love and good wishes that are sewn with each stitch. Welcome to the world "N" & "K"...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Glass Photo Mirrors

I made these two pocket mirrors and fabric cases as little gifts for my girls night out the other night. I made these using the same technique as the necklace. I cut the glass to match the 3 x 3 mirror tiles that I picked up at my local craft store. These two feature some of my photography...

I was surprised at how relatively easy it is to cut glass. For some reason it has been a skill that has intimidated me. The tools needed are rather inexpensive and include a cork-backed ruler, grease pencil, safety goggles ($4.39 at Dick Blick), glass cutter ($3.95 at Dick Blick) and scorer/breaker($9.56 at Dick Blick)...I prefer using a separate glass cutter. I like to work on a small carpet mat as it allows for the right amount of give for scoring the glass. For larger pieces, I just turn over my glass after scoring, fold the mat over and apply a bit of pressure to break along my score line. Sheet glass can be easily found at your local hardware store, but also look out at yard sales or in your basement for unused frame glass and recycle!

The best source I have found for soldering materials is actually Etsy. Check out Stained Glass * Mosaics * Collage Jewelry Art SUPPLIES. They also offer great instructions and will answer any questions you have once you begin working with the materials. They carry lead free solder, which is very important when making jewelry. I already owned a soldering iron, but ordered Canfield SILVERGLEEM, a burnishing tool, locking tweezers, lead-free flux paste, glass rectangles (they carry nice thick glass perfectly sized for pendants), flux and patina remover, block of Sal Ammoniac and flux brushes. I would also highly recommend a small vice that you can attach to your work surface. The glass heats quickly and it is nice to have your work held in place while you solder.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Holy Cookie!

This bit of indulgent sweetness arrived in the mail today from Levain Bakery in NYC and was sent by my dearest friend "O". These are serious cookies...four cookies weighing in at 1.75 lbs. (Yes, I weighed them...) Such a delectable taste of New York. I had every intention of sharing them with "O" and Tim when they arrive on Friday, but... Seriously, could you stand the temptation? I'm lucky to have made it until Jason arrived home...

Thank you "O", you made my day as always.

8 Random Things

Dear Mindy at The Wish Studio tagged me, so here is a little about me...

*We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
*Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
*People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
*At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and they should read your blog.

1. I love to travel and have had the opportunity to visit many parts of the world including Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Fiji, Mexico, Greece and Russia. I hope to add many more to that list.

2. I played the violin and cello while growing up and toured the world with a youth orchestra.

3. I love watching movies, but can almost never remember their endings.

4. My list of life goals includes having a book published. I'm a firm believer in stating your dreams so that they come true.

5. I am completely drawn to the Amish lifestyle and love to read books about it. However, it would be just about impossible for me to give up my camera...laptop...blogging...

6. My husband and I have both been interested in adoption since we were children and our dreams came true when we adopted our son Nikolai from Russia last year. We later found out that Nikolai was born the same time we made our decision to adopt.

7. I love to go to country auctions. I love the excitement of bidding...the atmosphere...chatter of the auctioneers...

8. I had to borrow this one from Mindy's list, but I really connected with this one. I love to read, but I have to own the books...there is something about the connection with the stories and the comfort of being surrounded by them...

9. I'm a pack rat. I believe it is somehow ingrained in me that I need to keep everything. I'm really fighting this now and learning to purge all but my favorite, most treasured objects.

10. I have an enormous fear of clowns, but happen to have a friend who is a professional clown.

Now I'm tagging...bfmomma, Artsy Fartsy, Patty's Design Blog, Lamplight Designs, The adventures of cassie, Designs by Jamie, Sweatpeas, Grow Wild...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Photo Glass Pendant

I have been admiring these beautiful soldered glass pendants by many designers. Jewelry should be one way to express yourself artistically. I have looked at many pendants for one that speaks to me...tells a story...expresses a piece of me... and of course like any crafster I decided I needed to try this technique out myself. So, here is a self-portrait of my new pendant. The photograph was taken in my Aunts' house in Greece. I doctored it a bit in Photoshop to desaturate the colors of the chair and hat and really saturate the blue door. I then strung some turquoise beads to really draw your eye to the door. The back of my pendant reads

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God."

- Marianne Williamson

This piece will be a reminder to live those words.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Floweret Pins

Some days I seriously need an assistant. I can barely keep my life in order. I think I would get so much more done if I had someone to tell me what to do, where I was supposed to be, etc. Pre-toddler I was totally on top of things...well mostly, but it was a lot easier to fudge things back then. I'm thinking this assistant would have a pretty easy job. I'm eager to please. Then on the other hand, they would probably start nagging and well...I'd have to fire them. Scratch that idea.

Nikolai and I drove out to Hudson today to do a little thrifting and antiquing. Lots to see and experience, but nothing made its way home with us. We took a nice long stroll along Main Street, window shopping along the way. We took a quick stop in a sweet little Italian bakery only to find that they could not make change for my $20. What!?! We strolled back to the Jeep to hunt for loose change only to come up short. Our raspberry twist and coconut puff still sitting on the counter... how sad.

Well, there are some new Floweret Pins in the shop. They have been blooming around the studio and were just a bit camera shy until now...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Trinity Treasures

My sister-in-law, Karin, gave me this beautiful fused glass pendant for my birthday this year. I put it back on the card for the picture because I loved the presentation too. This fused glass pendant has an ethereal quality and you have to check out indie designer Jeanne Lee's other work at Trinity Treasures. I love discovering the work of other indie artists and reading about how they got started and their love for their craft...very inspiring.