Friday, July 5, 2019

Victorian Aesthetic Initial Pendants

I'm down to the last of my vintage ephemera initial
pendants - these are all Art Nouveau or aesthetic Victorian
typeset initials. 

Each is sandwiched between two pieces
of glass, soldered with silver jeweler's solder and comes
on a long chain. The reverse side of each features floral papers. These are available on my website at

Front (above) and reverse side (below)

Here are some of the ones I did years ago (below) these are all sold but I have some of the same initials in my new pendants.

Front (above) and reverse side (below)

Have a great week!

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2019 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Upcycled Garden: Garden Totems

Ceramic totem by Kathy Gregg

I am in love with totems. Ever since I was little I thought totems were so cool and unusual, and sort of mystical and magical as well. Anything that is so personal and that has a special, deeper meaning, something that is so distinctive—deserves a special place in your personal space—and isn't the garden the perfect spot?

Whether primitive and simple or artistic and expertly crafted, totems are each as unique as their owners. Crafted from all sorts of materials such as wood, glass, ceramic, and mixed media, totems offer an unexpected and very pleasant touch to your outdoor landscape and garden decor. 

Think about all the different materials you could use to create your own totem. Repurposed salvaged glassware is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Readily available at thrift shops everywhere, old florist vases, bowls, decanters, lamps, and containers can have new life when repurposed and upcycled into a garden totem. Flower pots can be stacked to create totems. Use plates and vases between tiers to add visual interest and texture.

Spray paint or enamel outdoor paint allows you to customize your colors. Add bits of tessare, broken vintage china mosaic tiles, glass tiles, and small found objects such as bottle caps, old buttons and pretty stones to create a mosaic of your own on your own special garden totem. Use a strong adhesive suitable for outdoors (I love E6000 adhesive, it's my fave), and be sure to allow your components to completely dry before adding more tiers. 

Take a look at some amazing garden totems that I've collected here to share for inspiration and to get those wheels turning. I'd love to know if you've ever made a garden totem before, so be sure to leave me a comment below and let me know what you think. Be inspired! 

Rainbow ceramic totems by Russ Vogt (image by Russ Vogt)

Garden totems by Paula Barry Ceramics

Mosaic flowerpot garden totem

Garden totem made from old lamp bases on rebar with DIY by Little Vintage Cottage

Create a mosaic totem

Creative ceramic totem with faces 

Paint a wood post like these from Lisa Frick

Ceramic totems are constructed by creating holes in the ceramics that are then threaded onto a pole or length of rebar

Colorful ceramic characters are in this totem by Christie Beniston

Peace poles are wildly personalizable!

Red Crow Studio in Washington offers Garden Totem workshops! 

Kids craft idea: Create plastic milk jug totems. Spray paint the milk jugs yourself and then have the kids decorate them with acrylic paint. Image by Howard County Library

Inspired? Get your friends together, go thrifting and collect your supplies, then throw a totem making party complete with refreshments. Invite me! 

What do you think?

Have a great week!

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2019 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link corrections please leave correct info in comment area.

Baguette French Toast

If you are a fan of French Toast then you will absolutely love this version—especially if you are a bread lover like me. A good baguette is best when eaten fresh. Don't eat it fast enough and you will soon find that your tasty French loaf has started to turn stale and become hard. That is the perfect time to turn it into some amazing French toast. Golden, crispy, and buttery on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside, this French Toast is like no other.

This recipe is super-easy, even if you have never made French toast before. All you need is a day-old loaf of French baguette bread, and egg or two, milk, and some incidentals that you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. 

Here is what you will need:
Loaf of French Baguette bread
1-2 eggs
3/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups milk
Powdered confectioner's sugar for garnish
Maple syrup for serving

Use a sharp bread knife to cut the baguette into slices. I aim for slices that are about 1/2" wide and no larger than about 3/4" wide. Cut all the slices and set aside.

Prepare the batter by whisking an egg in a medium sized bowl. Add 3/4 cup of milk to the egg and whisk together until completely blended. This amount of egg and milk is enough for two people, or a half loaf of baguette. 

If you are serving three or more, or if you are very hungry or making an entire loaf of baguette or more, then use two eggs instead of one and use 1 & 1/4 cup of milk plus a little more if needed. 

If you add too little milk to your mixture it will become too eggy and when you cook it it will be like scrambled eggs cooked into your toast. If you add too much milk, your mixture will become too milky and your end result will be soggy, so you have to get the balance just right. Start with less milk and then add a bit more a little at a time as needed. In general it should be more of a milky consistency than an eggy consistency.

Once your eggs and milk are combined, add a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and a generous teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix until completely combined. 

Heat a medium to large sized fry pan on medium-low heat and then coat with about 1 teaspoon of butter. Right when the butter is about to brown, dunk a few slices of the baguette into the egg and milk mixture, turning them over to completely coat them on all sides and to allow them to soak up the liquid as shown in the above photo. 

Hold each piece above the bowl for a moment to allow excess liquid to drip from the bread and then carefully place the slices onto the hot fry pan. Do this with a few more pieces until your fry pan is full, but leave enough room in the pan so that you can turn them. 

Keep a close eye on the slices and turn down the heat just a tad so that they do not burn on the outside. Fry the slices for a few minutes, checking the bottoms every so often. You want the outsides to be golden brown and you want the insides to be completely cooked. 

Once the bottoms start to brown, carefully flip each slice over and cook the other side for a few minutes until golden brown and cooked throughout. 

Add more butter if needed. I usually add a bit more butter right at the time when I am flipping them over so that the pan stays coated. 

These slices are perfectly done! 

Once the slices turn golden, remove from pan onto plate and serve. Add a sprinkle of powered confectioner's sugar if you like, or serve with maple syrup. 

French Toast is great served with fresh fruit and either bacon or sausage on the side. This is never just for breakfast at our house—we enjoy it for dinner too!

Have a great week!

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2019 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

How To Make Homemade Bagels

I think most people don't realize how fun and easy it is to make  your own homemade bagels. It's not something I do all the time, since hello carbs, but when I do make a batch at home they disappear very quickly! 

Nothing compares to a hot and fresh homemade bagel. The outsides are golden and crisp, and the insides are soft and chewy. Add whatever flavors you like by way of herbs and seasonings to personalize them to your own tastes and the end result is perfection! Follow along and make a batch yourself. I'd love to hear how yours turned out so be sure to leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite type is. 

For this recipe I'll show you how to make Everything Bagels, which, like the title says, is basically a mix of all the classic bagel seasonings: salt, sesame seed, garlic, onion, and poppy seed. A lot of people don't realize that bagels are boiled - and you can't skip this step! After they are boiled, toppings are added and then they are baked. Let's get started!

Here are all of the things you will need to make this recipe:
Flour (bread flour if you have it)
Very warm water
Salt (regular and/or coarse/Kosher salt)
Active dry yeast
Brown sugar (light or dark)
One egg
Seasonings: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic powder, onion powder
Cooking oil - any kind

Wire whisk
Large pot of boiling water
Large slotted serving spoon
Cookie sheet or baking pan covered with parchment paper
Pastry brush (if you have one)
Tea towel for draining bagels on, non-fuzzy kind is best

For the dough you will need:

1 & 1/2 cups very warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast (can use quick rise)
4 cups flour
1 & 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
1 teaspoon salt

Directions for dough:

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in your mixing bowl, mix with a whisk or fork to combine, then cover and allow to sit for five minutes. (I use a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to make my dough but you can mix it by hand if you like.)

After allowing to rest for five minutes add the flour and mix well to completely combine the dry and wet ingredients.

Optional step: At this point you can add some of your toppings to the dough, or not. I added about a teaspoon of poppy seeds into my dough mixture at this point, but this was mostly just for looks.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface - be careful not to add too much extra flour to your dough because as with any baking, that will make your dough too hard and your finished result too tough. Knead for about five minutes. 

Add about one tablespoon of cooking oil to a large bowl (again, I use a bowl from my mixer) and coat the inside of the bowl with the oil. I use my hand to do this. Place the dough in the bowl and then flip the dough over so that both sides are covered with oil. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap (so that the dough does not dry out) and then cover with a tea towel (to keep it nice and dark so it can rise in privacy.) Allow the dough to rise for about an hour to one and a half hours, or until it looks like it has close to doubled in size. It doesn't have to be exact. 

While the dough is rising:

Line a large cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. 

Ready your egg wash:
In a separate bowl whisk together one raw egg with two tablespoons water and set aside. You will coat each bagel with the egg wash before you dip the top of the bagel into the seasonings. Keep the tea towel nearby.

Ready your bagel toppings:

In the wide-mouth bowl combine:
4 Tablespoons sesame seeds
4 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon garlic powder or dried minced garlic
1 Tablespoon onion powder or dried minced onion
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt

Ready the boiling water:
Bring a large soup pot full of water to boil. Add a few tablespoons of honey to the pot if you have it on hand. (4 tablespoons or so is fine. Traditionally barley malt syrup is used in place of honey so if you have that you can use 4 T of that instead of the honey.)

Here is my bagel dough, ready to shape into rings, along with my mixed topping of poppy seeds, salt, garlic and onion salt, and sesame seeds.

Once your dough has risen you will now punch it down and make it into a smooth ball that you will divide into about 8 separate pieces. I used a butcher knife to divide mine like a pizza so that my sections were relatively the same size. Each section will be one bagel. One or two of the sections I cut in half to turn it into two small bagels instead of one large one, but the large ones are better to make. 

Roll each section of dough into a ball and then make a hole in the center with your finger, shaping into a ring or bagel shape. If you prefer, you can roll each section of dough into a snake shape and then connect the ends to form the bagel shape. Why not try both ways and see which you prefer?

Once you shape each dough section into a bagel shape, set them on the parchment covered cookie sheet while you get ready to boil them. The photos above and below show my raw, unboiled bagels waiting for the water to boil.

Once your water boils, carefully and gently place a bagel into the pot using your slotted spoon. Do not drop them into the pot or you might splash yourself with boiling water. I boiled only three bagels at a time so that they had enough room to move around a bit. Use the spoon to turn them over in the pot so that they cook on both sides. They will puff up! These big bagels make my big soup pot look small! Boil each bagel for about one to one and a half minutes on each side.

Have your tea towel ready on a counter close by to set them on when you take them out of the pot. Be careful! They will be slippery and boiling hot! Repeat this process until all of the bagels are boiled and on your towel and then turn off the burner. 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F

Now your bagels will be sitting on your tea towel ready to get coated with egg wash and toppings. Allow the bagels to cool off for a few moments so that they are easier to handle. Be careful not to burn yourself, they will be hot! 

If you have one, use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash on the top of each bagel. 

Once you have brushed the top of a bagel with egg wash, carefully dip the top of the bagel into the bowl of seasonings, coating the tops of the bagels. 

Then set the bagel onto the parchment covered cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all of your bagels are coated and on the cookie sheet. 

These bagels are coated with egg wash and seasonings and ready to bake.

You can see in the photo above where I made four smaller bagels instead of making eight large bagels. I liked the large ones better and won't make the smaller ones again!

Once your oven is preheated, bake the bagels for about 20 to 25 minutes, watching them closely as they bake. Allow them to turn golden brown and then remove from oven to cool.

If you have one, a cooling rack is nice to have for cooling the bagels. Allow them to set for ten to fifteen minutes before devouring them.

These bagels turned out perfect! The first time I made them I added much too much salt to the tops and we had to scrape much of it off. I learned by doing, and now only use 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt in my topping. 

Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to two days, or freeze.

Slice lengthwise, toast them if you like,  and serve with your favorite accompaniments: butter, cream cheese, or turn into a yummy sandwich with a fried egg, avocado, cheese, your favorite lunch meats or veggies or whatever you fancy. Save one for me!

Have a great week!

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Article copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2019 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. 
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