And Now For Something Completely… New

 

Melted Pocket Watch
Tubbs Fire Melted Pocket Watch – photo by J. Morgyn White

A few of you know that the Santa Rosa Tubbs fire destroyed the Hunting Dragons Etsy shop.

The business cards? Gone. The packaging? Gone. The raw materials? Gone. The tools? Gone. The jewels in progress? Gone. The pieces I had yet to list? Gone. . .

I’ve had nine months of healing and introspection. It’s hard to start over, and it’s harder to decide what a fresh start should look like. I’ve spent years curating a collection and to have it disappear overnight is—well, crushing.

I like to think of myself as a positive person. In that light, I wanted to re-launch HuntingDragons but to make it a phoenix rising experience. I had to wait until I was ready.

Here’s my vision to begin:

It’s going to being small.

A few exceptional pieces of vintage and one or two personal creations.

It’s going to be precious and thoughtful.

I see stories in material items. I’ve always loved a good story. Some may come with one, some I may create.

It’s going to be about unique and eclectic.

Don’t expect more of the same. I’m creating one-off pieces and offering once-in-a-lifetime finds. Think about hunting dragons…

It’s going to be personal.

Every piece I will offer had hands on it, either in creation, re-creation or the hands that pass through the years.

Mark your calendars for August 26th. I’m launching with the full moon energy.

If you would like a preview, I’d love you to sign up to the left for my newsletter. Either email at huntingadragon at gmail dotcom or sign up to the right.

Newsletter followers will have a shop preview a few days before the launch.

Interested in being teased?

Follow HuntingDragons on Instagram – Hunting Dragons or Facebook – Hunting Dragons.

See you in August, with full firey flaming feather wings stretched.

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In the Writer’s Toolbox – Programs and Apps

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With the New Year freshly turned, I’m looking for ways to increase productivity and organization in 2016. It’s not a new goal, but because of technology, every year there are more choices, and with more options it becomes harder to find things.

I’ve started a list of apps and programs to help, support and assist writers that I’m exploring or already using.

 

For Desktop: The hammer, screwdriver, and saw of writing.

Scrivener – literatureandlatte.com – This is the program that I mainly write in. It’s cross platform and works very well with my need for visual organization. There are many things to love about Scrivener.

Grammarly – I’m a new convert, and while I’ve taken it out for a test drive, I think what I like best about it, is that it brings focus to potential problems. I don’t always agree, and that’s okay.

Hemingway – The best way to highlight your overuse of things. Less intensive than Grammarly and because of that more friendly, IMHO.

Slick Write – Stats. Did I mention I love stats? Have fun, but carve out at least an hour to play.

Aeon Timeline – I have yet to sit down and use this, but I keep hoping to backtrack and plug all my notes and paper data into it.

 

For Mobile: The goal on mobile is to keep track of word counts on the go and set daily goals across projects. What I dream of is an app that stacks sprint counts, but I’m still searching for one.

Writeometer (Android only) – Jury is out. Wish it was on iOS.

5000 words per hour – I downloaded it today so we’ll see if I use it.

Ink on – seems like it could be useful, but the interface is clunky. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to it.

 

Sparkling White Sangria with White Peaches and Basil

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I really like Sangria. After Beginner’s White Sangria and Red Sangria Adventures, I thought I’d try a Seasonal Sparkling White Peach version.

There’s plenty of basil in the garden so I decided that would be the pairing.

Master Ratio: of 1 bottle of white prosecco wine to 1/2 cup of sugar syrup to 1/2 c of alcohol/brandy/liqueur and 3/4 bottle of sparkling water.

To make the Basil Lime Simple Syrup:

1/2c of stems and leaves of fresh basil (packed)

zest of 1 lime

1/2c Organic Cane Sugar**

1/2c Water

Boil 1/2c of water with 1/2c of sugar and the zest of 1 lime until the mixture boils and the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the basil leaves. *Cool. When cooled strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the filtered bits. You can do this in the microwave and it takes just a couple of minutes depending on the power of yours.

**Because this syrup was going into a white sangria I used Organic Cane Sugar which nets a golden colored syrup.

*Cool it fast in a metal bowl in the colder part of your fridge or in the freezer.

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White Sangria Recipe

3 White Peaches peeled cut into cubes (you can not peel them if you wish)

1 lime juiced. You can use some of the pulp if you wish.

Basil leaves – to taste. I used 2 large sprigs of leaves only – and I used Purple Opal Basil and Green to give extra color

1 Bottle White Sparkling Wine – I used a Prosecco

1/2c of Elderflower Liqueur (I used St. Germain)

3/4 bottle of Sparkling Mineral Water (to taste)

1/2c of Simple Syrup – I used the Basil Lime Simple Syrup recipe above.

 

To a large pitcher add the white peach pieces and basil, juice from the lime, Elderflower Liqueur, and the cooled basil lime simple syrup.

Add the bottle of  White Wine. Mix Well and taste.

Add Sparkling Water tasting after 1/2 the bottle. If you want the Sangria lighter add some more water.

If you are making this a few hours ahead for a party then don’t add all the sparkling wine and water. Macerate the fruit/basil in the syrup, liqueur and 1/3 of bottle of the sparkling wine. Then add the water and the rest of the wine before serving.

I think Sangria is best served fresh. You can make it a few hours ahead but if you have to make the night before, leave the fresh fruit out until a few hours before serving.

Cheers!

Notes on ingredients:

St. Germain’s Elderflower Liqueur

Another option for color would be to add a handful of raspberries and use yellow peach/nectarine.

A variation would be to add another flavor element of mint or switch the basil for the mint in both the syrup and the leaves.

Choosing a Wine: You want a sparkling wine that’s not too sweet but has some rustic bubbles. This is the perfect use for a prosecco or cava.

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Mini-Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Finishing Vampire Academy, I consider an accomplishment. It was tough not to throw it at the wall. I trudged on mainly because I was reading it out-loud to my husband. In between my wtf commentary, it was a fun out-loud read. The 3 stars should really be 2.75 stars.

***Spoilers from here on:***

The Good: Richelle Mead‘s writing is polished and flows. Reading it out-loud showcases the smooth prose.

The Not-so: Too many named characters. Many times I had to page back to figure out who was being talked about. The high-school crowd blends together. You don’t really care who is who – or remember. Check-your-brains-at-the-door was in full mode in the later part of the novel.

The inside track:
Rose and Lissa’s relationship at times seems romantic, which really threw me off at the beginning of the story. It didn’t strike me as a relationship of friends or sisters. Rose is so intensely interested in Lissa at times I wondered if her character was originally written to be a male. It throws the relationship between Lissa, Christian, Dimitri and Mason into strange murky waters. The Christian and Dimitri characters never get real guts and flesh. The outline is good, but I never got enough of them to sink my teeth into. Far too many times I’m asked to buy what’s being said and follow along sheep-style. I am not a sheep. The ending was downright ridiculous. Outrageously poor story crafting.

Would I read another? I would start a real sequel to see if the character development improves. I know there are other novels in this series but I also know the next book does not focus on these characters. I am not interested in reading another story in this world.

Bottom line: Some interesting vampire story ideas but the world does not compel me to dive in for the long haul.

View all my reviews

The Conundrum of Repairing or Restyling Vintage Jewelry

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If you have been following me, you’ll know that I love old things. Vintage and antique jewelry is a long time love of mine, and something that I find inspiration from. It’s not just about wearing jewelry; it’s the history and the story. Materials which followed a location or design that followed fashion. Lately I’ve been focused on learning some repair techniques for vintage pieces. The passion to restore and repair is strong, but when presented with an old piece which is not quite at its best, I’m faced with a dilemma: do I restore the piece to as close to its original state as possible, or do I modernize it and make it more wearable or do I turn it into something completely different?

I try and let the piece speak. In the case of some Art Deco pieces which are mostly intact, I fully intend to restore them to their original splendor.

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Vintage 1920s Neiger Bros Czech Beaded Necklace in need of repair

But what about the necklace which is too short, or too dull, for modern tastes?

In this particular case I rescued a broken necklace with beautiful brass spacer beads. The purple glass is lovely but frankly I thought a bit dull. At just about 15″ it’s also too short for me – and for most people to wear elegantly.

Enter the redesign. Some lovely genuine Swarovski crystal aurora borealis bicone beads picked up the brass and the purple tones and allowed the length to creep closer to 16″ After considerable thought I decided to go with modern softflex wire in a purple hue which would show through the clear glass seed beads in the original necklace, and definitely show that the piece had been restrung.

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The last decision was to whether to replace the clasp. It was in excellent original condition and stamped with Czechoslovakia. Again, I while I have no interest in misleading anyone, I think the clasp looks lovely with the piece, so I chose to retain it.

Here’s the finished necklace.

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It’s available in the Hunting Dragons Etsy Shop until I realize that I can’t really part with it and put it into my jewelry box. 🙂

Two others I’m working on are going to be completely redesigned into new necklaces that incorporate vintage beads. A black and amber one features genuine Whitby Jet and carved Carnelian.

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Whitby Jet and Carved Carnelian Beads

Another is going to be wedding cake yellow beads are vintage Art Deco and I’m likely going to pair them with freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals, but I haven’t settled yet. It takes a while to make the final decision… I choose some designs and then I let them sit for a while. When I come back I tweak the pattern or change out the beads and then let it sit again. It may be months or days or hours.

In this case I took a family heirloom amethyst crystal necklace and restrung it exactly as it was – but I added a new clasp.

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Here is another project which I recently completed.

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These gorgeous amber glass beads are really heavy.  The necklace came to me broken and I’m guessing it is from the 1930s or 1940s. It was originally strung on silk and knotted in between each clear space. I considered restringing it on silk which would make it slightly longer, but I decided the weight would really suit the more modern heavy wire. The clasp took a long while to decide upon. Sterling Silver or Vermeil were my top choices. I thought pure gold to be too much and in the end went with silver. The 2 part barrel shaped hook clasp has this great lotus leaf pattern which I really think makes this beautiful necklace even more special.

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Vintage Graduated Amber Glass Beads 28″ Necklace – Sterling Silver Clasp – original vintage beads – ginger rootbeer – honey –

Would love your thoughts!

A Mini Review of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by Elizabeth Lee

Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite BrotherhoodYoung PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by Elisabeth Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Full disclosure.

I came to this book fresh off the BBC series, Desperate Romantics, on the Pre-Raphaelites. The mini-series wove the period story around Elizabeth Siddal, John Ruskin and Annie ( a model for Holman Hunt). It surprised me and captivated me. I was left wanting more and thus set on a quest for a good novel set in that world. The novel that the series is based on: Franny Moyle’s factual book about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre-Raphaelites, did not catch me from the reviews, so I sought out another option.

I found Young PRB to fill only a bit of that gap. I really love the story that Ms. Lee brought to life. By the end I realized that it was more the history than her particular telling of the story that I was in love with.

The characters here, always came a little short of whole. The smaller roles were thin and at times without much life at all. That said, I appreciated the research done which ever-presently made the main characters more rich. Elizbeth Siddal and John Ruskin are almost not-present in her story. What Ms. Lee did really well was create the backstory of the artists. I was left with a much better sense of where they came from. I didn’t get the depth or perspective that I was hoping for.

I tore through pages to get to the scene that would sustain me. The scene that never came. While left still wanting more, I can honestly say I enjoyed my time with the characters in this novel.

I’m still not satisfied. Off to find another better novel set in this period. Do you have a recommendation? Please leave me a note!

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