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Cleaning Brass Tools Without Chemicals Or Harsh Abrasives

wpid-wp-1442632799541.jpegAs a glass artist, I use a lot of brass tools because hot glass doesn’t stick to brass.  They tend to get tarnished (patinaed) when left sitting unused, which really isn’t a big deal, as this doesn’t generally affect the use of the tool, but it’s not very pretty.  Recently, I’ve come across a bunch of antique brass German fruit knives, which are AWESOME for moving hot glass! They’re over 100 years old, so some (most) of them have a lot of tarnish. I’ve been reselling them, so if you’ve purchased one, here’s how to get it all nice and shiny, like new, again.

These methods work on ALL brass, so if you have some old presses, doorknobs, buttons, etc., that need a good cleaning, here are a couple of inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to do it.

Method #1

Ketchup (Catsup or however you want to spell it.)

Yep. That’s right! Good ol’ Heinz isn’t just for hotdogs & hamburgers. Just spread some wherever the tarnish is, let it sit for a while and then rub it off, rinse and dry. You may have to repeat a few times, depending on how bad the tarnish is.

wpid-wp-1442632835652.jpegSmear ketchup on tarnished area. Let sit.

wpid-wp-1442636412826.jpegRub ketchup off. Repeat, if needed.

Method #2

Lemon juice

Put your tool in a container and pour enough lemon juice in to cover the area to be cleaned. Let it sit for a while and then wipe off the tarnish. If needed, repeat. Once all tarnish has been removed, rinse and dry.

wpid-wp-1442636146075.jpegPlace item in container. (baggie or shallow dish. wpid-wp-1442636159644.jpegPour enough lemon juice to cover item. Let sit.
wpid-wp-1442636429091.jpegWipe off tarnish and repeat, if needed.

Once the tarnish has been removed, there might be a little discoloring (orangey or pinkish color). This can be removed by polishing with super fine steel wool (000 or 0000). This will give your item a nice shine and won’t scratch it as long as you don’t press too hard.

If you would like to purchase a knife, I have them listed here.

Tips:

1. Vinegar can also used, as well as citric acid dissolved in water.

2. If your item is really bad, you can add some salt to your lemon juice or vinegar to make the reaction stronger. Make sure the salt is completely dissolved in the lemon juice or vinegar BEFORE you put your item in the container.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza: Low Carb, Low Cal, Gluten Free Deliciousness!

wpid-dsc_0168.jpgOn my never ending quest to maintain some semblance of slimness, I’ve been trying to cut back on my carb intake, so when I saw a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza I just HAD to try it! The original was a little bit bland and didn’t hold up that great so I tweaked it and this is what I came up with.

It’s FABULOUS! I promise you, no one will know it’s cauliflower!

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(Measurements are approximate as I rarely measure anything!)

1/2 large Cauliflower (raw) (1.5-2 cups)
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheese (Italian, mozzarella, etc. Whatever you like)
2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp Basil
2 Tbsp Dehydrated Minced Onion
2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Pepper Blend
1/2 tsp salt
Note: Use any seasonings that you like, but only DRY seasonings. Don’t use anything wet, other than the egg.

Preheat your oven to 400F

If you have a juicer, juice the cauliflower and then squeeze out any additional liquid, using cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. If you don’t have a juicer, just grind the cauliflower in a food processor or blender and then squeeze out the liquid using cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag. You want to remove as much liquid as possible. The goal is for the cauliflower pulp to be dry or as dry as possible.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower with all of the dry ingredients, including the cheese. Make a hole in the middle and drop in the egg, beat it slightly and then combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Once everything is combined, press it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicon baking mat. Press it as thin as possible, but not too thin. (I know, how thin is too thin, lol?!) About 1/8″ (2-3mm) thin is perfect.

Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes (crispy edges). Remove from the oven, flip over and top with your sauce & toppings.  (My sauce recipe is below.)

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Tips:

1. I don’t really measure anything. When adding the seasonings, I keep adding stuff until the “dough” smells yummy.
2. I roll my crust between 2 sheets of wax paper until it’s the size that I want. I then peel off the top sheet and flip the crust onto my baking surface. I then peel off the other sheet of wax paper. (Peel carefully to the side, not straight up, or you may tear the crust.)
3. Coconut flour absorbs liquid. If you don’t have any, you can leave it out, but I suggest you just go get some.

Pizza Sauce:

1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
Italian Seasoning
Minced Garlic
Onion powder
Salt
Pepper

Combine all ingredients. (Season to taste.)

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Lavender Burn Gel

pinkyburnWorking with hot glass can be a bit, um, hot at times. Soft glass has a tendency to pop and land in places you’d never want to have hot glass land. Sometimes, your hand just ends up in the flame. After a while, though, you just don’t scream any more…

4oz Aloe Vera gel
20 drops pure Lavender Oil

Mix well and store in a cool place.

Tips:
1. I use the sunburn aloe that has Lidocaine in it. It helps to numb the pain a bit.

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Yogasm!


I like yogurt. Preferably whole fat or 2%. A few days ago, there was a discussion about Greek yogurt over at my favorite hangout, Lampworketc.com and I’ve been craving yogurt every since. Weird because I eat yogurt almost every day, anyway. Well, I’m of the opinion that Greek yogurt is by far the best yogurt around. Or so I thought, until today.


After dropping Tyler off at school, I decided to stop and get some Fage. I found it sitting next to Liberté Méditerranée. I’ve never heard of this brand before but it was wayy cheaper ($1.19 6oz vs $1.67 5.3oz) and it’s whole fat, not 2%. The name sounded kinda Greek, so I figure what the hey. Picked up 3 flavors: Strawberry, Blackberry & Coconut. The stocker guy said the Plum Walnut is really good, but I’m not into nuts. (At least not that kind, *wink*wink*…)

I am not a big fan of plain yogurt or Fruit at bottom but wow! Holy CRAP!!! This stuff is the SHIZZZZZZ! Have you seen the Yoplait commercial where Heidi Klum is moaning and licking her fingers? Well, that’s totally what I felt like. I had my very first Yogasm!

By the way, it isn’t Greek. It’s Greek & Turkish style, made in Canada with milk from Vermont. Deliciously creamy and just the right amount of sweet and tang… OMG. I need more!!!!
(Funny how my 1st post in 3 years is about food, not glass. I’m such a slacker…)
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Coconut Oil Moisturizer

Remember Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer? I say remember because anybody with any knowledge about natural hair care knows to stay far far away from that stuff! Mineral Oil City!! Not to mention the fact that it is funnnnnky! I hated the smell of that crap but I LOVED the way it made my hair feel. So so soft! I was a little sad when I found out that mineral oil is bad for your hair, but since I couldn’t stand the smell of LPOM anyway, it was an easy habit to break. What’s my point? Well, being the ingredient junkie that I am, I bought some Lanolin (pure, natural) a few weeks ago without knowing how I was going to use it. It’s just been sitting around, looking all lonely because once I opened it, I found that’s it’s just a bit more sticky than I anticipated. I tried mixing it with some aloe to use on my feet and the result was not pretty at all. It was a clumpy mess! So it sat for a while longer…

Well, after a while I had the brilliant idea to see how it melts. So I melted a little and started adding some stuff and viola! I made my own oil moisturizer, minus the mineral oil and stinky smell. In fact, it smells quite delish!! A word of warning though. Some people are allergic to lanolin, so if you have issues with it or sheep’s wool, this is a recipe that you may want to avoid. (And for all you anilmal lovers, the sheep are not harmed during the lanolin extraction process. Lanolin is extracted from the shorn wool.)

For once, I actually measured the ingredients. Yay me!!

6oz Pure Aloe Vera Gel (like for sunburns, but clear. I use FOTE)
2Tbsp Pure Lanolin (beeswax can be used as a substitute. See tips below)
2Tbsp Coconut Oil

Melt the lanolin until it’s liquid. Add the coconut oil and aloe and stir well. Mixture will be a creamy lotion with a consistency similar to the vanilla icing that you drizzle over cinnamon rolls. Apply to wet or damp hair to seal in the moisture. (You’ll be amazed at the softness and the shine!)

Day 3 hair:
day3hair

Tips:

1. You can use whatever type of oil you like. My 1st batch was made with Olive oil, but the coconut version smells wayyyyy better.
2. It’s a bit oily, but if you’ve ever used LPOM, you already know that. Day 1 was the worst, but after a couple of days, a lot of the oiliness went away. (Soaked up by the pillowcase, no doubt, lol!)
3. Lanolin can build up, so this is not something I would recommend for frequent (daily) usage if you’re a no-poo (like moi). Every few days with a co-wash between uses and you should be fine. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to clarify. I’m likely only going to use it after my henna / bentonite treatments as a leave in moisturizer. (Once a week)
4. If you’re sensitive to lanolin, beeswax can be used as a substitute (I used 1/2 of a 1oz stick). You’ll need to add more oil and mix it with the beeswax really well before adding the aloe and you’ll probably need to use a handmixer to get it nice and smooth (I did).

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Shae’s Gelly

I love my pudding, but sometimes I want something a bit lighter, so I started playing around with recipes and I came up with my Jojoconut Gel. It works great, but still not quite what I’m looking for as it performs much better on silkier hair than my locks. It’s awesome on my youngest son’s hair, but my hair is coarse and very coily. Except in the front where I have this semi straight wavy patch. WTF??!! It’s like that spot spiraled wrong so the Curl Nazi said “No curls for you! Next!”

Anyhooo, I’m also not lovin’ the glycerine as much lately so I started ‘spearmintin’ again and this time I’m pretty sure I’m there. I did a bentonite mask last night and afterwards, applied this custard and today my hair is like butter (soft) and the curls are poppin’ like crazy. Lots of definition and zero crunch. It almost looks like uber curly weave, lol! (Not that crappy dead hair, either. The good stuff that they keep behind closed doors.)

The recipe (You know the deal. No measuring going on over here, so amounts are approximate.):

3oz Aloe gel (jelly, not liquid)
3oz Flax Seed gel (thick)
2oz Shea butter
2tsp Agave Nectar

Mix Aloe and flax. Melt the shea and fold it into the mix. Stir in Agave nectar.

021409

Tips:

1. If shea is too heavy for your hair type, you can substitute another oil. I’ve used jojoba & coconut.
2. You can also use honey or molasses instead of Agave. Agave is less sticky and doesn’t stink to high heaven like molasses.

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Jojoconut Gel (Lightweight Curl Custard)

Ok, so I was checkin’ out Gypsycurl’s youtube video on Jojoba gel a few months ago and it was good, but not quite what I was going for, so changed it up a lil bit. I’m pretty pleased with the results. I get pretty good curl definition and softness with a light hold. If Shae’s Pudding is too heavy for you, then you should try this recipe. It’s especially great if you have a silky hair texture (which I don’t, lol). It’s not really heavy and has just enough oil to control frizz, but won’t make your hair greasy. It’s awesome on my baby boy’s hair.

Normal disclaimer: All measurements are approximate. I just dump stuff in and guess at the amount. I’m pretty good at guessing, though.

jojoconutgel

3-4oz Vitamin E Gel or Pure Aloe gel (you can get Vitamin E gel at Walgreens, it’s with the Aloe Vera gel)
3-4oz Flax seed gel (very thick)
1oz Jojoba Oil
1oz Coconut oil (optional. my hair loves coconut oil)

Mix ingredients well and apply to damp (or wet) hair. (I spray my hair down with my leave in, then apply this gel, twist and seal.)

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Can I get a hit? (of Henna, that is.)

Hennaheads Unite!!
My name is Shawnette and I am addicted to henna. There. I said it.

I freakin’ love this stuff!!! Hate the smell, but love, love, LOVE the results. I could spew on for days about the shine and softness and strength, yada, yada, but I won’t. I’m just going to get to the nitty gritty and post my mix. And I invite all of you closet henna heads to step forth and embrace your madness like I have.

I’m sure you all know by now that I don’t measure anything… Fair warning: it’s very messy!!

150g Karishma Herbal Henna (Primo stuff, man!)
2Tbsp raw honey
2Tbsp whole fat yogurt
2oz Aloe gel (or juice)
2oz Amla Gold Oil
1Tbsp Coconut Oil
2Tbsp Sheacocoa
2oz Lemon juice
1c Hot Espresso
Rubber Gloves (Henna will stain your hands)
2 Plastic Baggie Caps

Pour henna into a bowl. Add lemon juice and hot espresso and stir well. Should be thick, like mud. Cover tightly and let sit overnight for color release. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Put on your gloves. Section your hair and work the henna through from root to end, making sure to coat every strand. Put on your baggie cap and let it soak in for at least an hour (conditioning). If you’re doing it for color, at least 4 hours. Rinse well and then deep condition with baggie cap for at least 30 minutes.


Tips:
1. Wear 2 pairs of gloves in case one gets a hole. Don’t ask me.
2. If you don’t have any disposeable shower caps, plastic grocery bags work well. (Recycle!!!)
3. Use towels that you don’t mind getting yucky because henna stains. I bought brown towels just for my henna nights.
4. I use a cheap conditioner to get the henna out. I can usually pick up some VO5 for less than $1.
5. If your henna has twigs, use a strainer to sift them out.
6. You can get henna cheap at your local Indian grocery. No need to spend goo gobs on shipping.
7. If you buy it locally, make sure the package specifies that it can be used on hands and feet. If not, don’t buy it.
8. There is no such thing as “black henna”. If the package says it’s black henna, don’t buy it. (“Black henna” contains PPD, a very harmful chemical.)

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Bentonite Hair and Face Mask

As you may already know, I’m a glass artist aka lampwork artist. I make small sculptures by melting and shaping glass rods using a torch. Most times I work off-mandrel, but I started off as a bead maker. Apparently, I’ve always been a mixologist because I also make my own bead release (a type of clay that you dip your mandrel in so that the melted glass won’t stick). Well guess what? Two key ingredients in bead release are Bentonite and Kaolin, both of which are SUPERB deep conditioners for your hair. I had no clue!! I’ve actually never used Kaolin in my hair, but if Bentonite were a man, I’d marry him! As much as I love my henna, I must say Bentonite is closing the gap pretty darned quick!

Anyways, on to my recipe:

(Keep in mind I don’t measure anything, sooo…)

Bentonite (Green Clay, Mutani Mitti, Fuller’s Earth)
Plain Whole Fat Yogurt
Coconut Oil
Coconut Milk
Deep Conditioner (your choice)
Baggie Cap (or plastic bag)
Medium Size Ziploc bowl (or snything similar, because they’re cheap, disposable and have lids)

Put about 2oz bentonite into a good size bowl. Moisten with some water. Some people use distilled, but I used tap. Use enough to get it thoroughly wet. It should be extremely thick. Add 2Tbsp or so of cocnut oil, 2oz yogurt and 4oz coconut milk. Mix well. Mixture will be very thick (soft clay, not quite runny). If it’s too thick, add a bit more water or milk. If it’s too thin, add a bit more clay, but not too much because the clay really swells up.

Hair:
Spread through your hair, making sure that ever strand is coated. Smooth lots on the surface and smush it down so that it gets on your scalp. Let air dry for at least 30 mins. You can leave it on for as long as you like as it won’t harm your hair. Rinse well and follow with a deep conditioning treatment with baggie cap.

Face:
Smooth over face about 1/4″ thick and let dry for 5-10 mins (any more than 15-20 mins may cause irritation). Rinse well.

Tips:

1. I use the Glad/Ziploc bowls because they have lids that fit tightly so that leftovers can be stored for future use. This mask will keep in the refrigerator. Just add a bit of water to rehydrate.

2. When I used the mask on my face, I left it on for 20 mins. Way too long for my skin! I had a sort of red/rashy thing starting up but I just rubbed aloe all over my face and it went away immediately.)

3. If you have shorter hair, you can use less ingredients. Again, I don’t measure anything so just use what you think will be enough. (You can also use just straight Bentonite with nothing but water and a bit of oil for slip.)

4. You can mix it with just water, if you like. Whatever works for you.

5. Sometimes, I add  Maka (Bhringraj) to the mix. I buy Hesh brand and use half of it. It’s really good for your scalp and skin.  I’ve noticed my hair is a lot softer afterwards when I add it in. I also add it to my henna mix, if I’m not using Karishma.

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Flax Seed Gel (my way)

I guess if you’re going to make flax cream, it would help if you knew how to make flax seed gel, huh? Lol! (BTW, flax seed gel is an all natural hair gel. The thicker you make it, the better/stronger the hold. It doesn’t flake and if you accidentally ingest some, so what. People eat flax seeds all the time.)

I’ve tried and tried to make flax seed gel and it never turned out thick enough whenever I tried to follow someone else’s instructions, so I think you need to just keep trying until you get it right. Now, on with the How-To:

1/4c Whole Brown Flax Seeds (approximate)
3c COLD water
Large Tea Ball (see pic)
Empty container for your gel

Put the flax seeds into the tea ball and lock it. Put 3 cups of cold water into a sauce pan. Drop in the tea ball and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30mins or so. Remove the tea ball and pour the liquid into your container. It will thicken as it cools.

Tips:
1. I boil mine down until I have 1-1.5 cups of liquid. I like it thick.

2. If it’s not quite thick enough, you can use a thickener like guar gum or xanthan gum. Mix the thickener with some Vitamin E oil (preservative) before adding because it clumps. (You’ll only need a tiny bit if you use Guar. I have no experience with Xanthan).

3. You can also mix it with Aloe Vera gel to thicken it up. I usually mix mine with aloe, even when it turns out perfect. My aloe has preservatives in it and it adds a bit of moisture so that it doesn’t make your hair “crunchy”. (Straight FSG makes my hair a bit hard).

4. You can use pantyhose, cheesecloth or anything else as a strainer, but I found that the tea ball works the best and is the easiest for cleanup.

5. I reuse my seeds for at least 2 batches. After each batch, i put the tea ball in the refrigerator. When it’s time to toss the seeds, I just stick the ball back in the fridge to cool and then pop it open and dump the seeds in the garbage. They’ll be all clumped together.

6. If you don’t use a preservative, you need to keep it in the refrigerator or it will go bad in a couple of days.