Friday, November 5, 2010

Semi-Homemade Cooking: Jazzing Up Store-Bought Pesto

As some of you know, I had my wisdom teeth out not too long ago, and I was eating soft foods for ages. Eventually I got sick of eating mashed potatoes, oatmeal, pudding, and V8 fruit/veggie juice. I wanted to cook something, but I still didn’t have a whole lot of energy. I was craving pesto, so I came up with a super quick veggie meal. Here’s the recipe:


  • 16 oz bag of pasta
  • Small amount of olive oil1 clove garlic-minced
  • 1 medium zucchini (courgette, for those of you in the UK!)
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 container of store-bought pesto

Cook pasta according to package directions. :-p While pasta is cooking, dice zucchini. Remove seeds from tomatoes. Dice tomatoes. Put small amount of oil in a frying pan. Add minced garlic and diced veggies. Cook until soft. Add entire container of pesto to veggie mixture and cook on low heat for a few minutes until mixture is hot. If pesto begins to dry out or stick add a little water (water from the pasta, if it’s still cooking, works well).  Drain pasta and toss with pesto mixture. Serve and eat!

A few notes: I used Buitoni reduced fat pesto with basil, that I found with the fresh pasta in my grocery store. I looked at the ingredients/nutrition info and didn’t see anything weird in there like you sometimes find with reduced fat products-loads of extra sugar or salt for example-and it tasted pretty good even on it’s own. For the pasta, I used Trader Joe’s vegetable radiatore pasta because I love the colors, but any pasta (especially one with nooks and crannies to hold the sauce-like rotelle/rotini) would work.

This meal was from a few days ago, and I’m sorry I didn’t take any pictures. It was actually really colorful and pretty!  We ate it for 2 days.  The first day we tossed in some fresh mozzarella, which wasn’t bad, but I think it was overkill.  The BF did take some to work as a sandwich with some of the leftover fresh mozzarella, and said it was great. It could easily be made without the added garlic if you like, with different veggies, or with homemade pesto. I love modifying recipes to create something a little bit new, and jazzing up prepared foods. Let me know if you like this post and I’ll keep blogging about these recipes when I come up with them!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Hippo's Quest: My Etsy Finds, Dragon Edition!

Hello readers, and welcome to the long-delayed and long-awaited (by me, anyway) second edition of The Hippo's Quest, my 'etsy finds' series. This edition's theme is perfect for the pre-Halloween madness. Halloween conjures up themes of myth and fantasy, and one of my personal favorite myth/fantasy creatures is the dragon! Dragon-like creatures were found in both European and Asian folklore. Their image and meaning varied widely from culture to culture. They could be winged, snake-like, scaly, or feathered. They have sometimes been seen as intelligent, as benevolent and powerful or as evil and destructive. Today they continue to fascinate fantasy-lovers, and are found everywhere from Harry Potter books to plush toys, so it should come as no surprise that I sorted through TONS of dragons on Etsy. Here are a few of my favorites. Please click on the caption below each picture to go to the actual item listing on etsy

Lately I've been fascinated by all of the different scrabble and glass tile pendants on etsy. (I think I want to try them out as my next major project) There are a ton of different ones, even just counting dragon-themed pendants. I thought the ones made by mrooart really stood out from the crowd because they were made using her original artwork. And not only that, the tiny artwork is gorgeous and detailed:
Dragon Tile Pendant

Also on the jewelry front were two stunning wire examples of dragons. (I admit to having a bias towards wire, as I love to work with it!) First this little silver dragon, intricately wire-wrapped and suspended in a wire circle by ylfdragon:

Silver Dragon Pendant

And then this example made of copper wire complimented by a green amazonite bead, by serpentsdancedesigns. Just loving all the spirals in this design!

Copper Dragon Pendant

I also found lots of cute (or scary!) handmade dragon figures, in every material you could think of. The polymer clay dragons were all so colorful, it was hard to pick a favorite but I really liked the ones I found at DragonsAndBeasties. This shop has dragons of just about everyc olor or description, along with unicorns and other beasties. This cute little orange guy holding a gem (makes sense, as dragons have sometimes been described as hoarders of treasure in some stories) looks kind of cuddly. The listing notes that it can be made in other colors, too!

This second one, by the same seller, is a little more edgy, in black and orange for halloween!

Halloween Dragon Figure

And last but not least, some examples of glass dragons from a shop I've had my eye on for some time. The glass figures by Glasmagie are some of my absolute favorite etsy items. They're attractive, detailed, and just have personality!
The mini dragons are my favorite thing in her shop but she has several dragon figures, a dragon pendant, and dragon orchid rods.

Mini Glass Dragons

That's it for this edition of the Hippo's Quest. Hope you enjoyed looking at the finds, please check out these lovely etsy shops! I haven't decided on a theme for the next Hippo's Quest. Is there a theme you'd like me to cover? Just leave a comment and let me know!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Monday, October 4, 2010

Handmade From Top To Bottom

Hi all! I haven’t made any new jewelry in a while, so I’m pretty excited to have something new to show you today! I bought these interesting beads with a blue and white bulls-eye pattern quite a while ago at my local bead store, and hadn’t come up with any good ideas to use them. So, I was staring at them and trying to get inspired again a few days ago until I got a whim to combine them with some of the Swarovski pearls I have left over from custom-designing a friend’s wedding jewelry. The blue and white combo is perfect! I played around with a few combinations until I had a combination of beaded links that I liked (made from 22 gauge sterling silver wire).I’ve also been determined to create something that was completely handmade, apart from the beads, that is. I used a couple of books I have on hand to get ideas on forming the chain and clasp. I connected the beaded links, and created the chain using small, simple figure-eight shapes made of 20 gauge sterling silver wire. Then (and this is the part I’m most excited about) I figured out how to adapt some of the hook-and-eye clasp designs to make this necklace expandable! (I do this for most of my necklaces and bracelets, but using store-bought lobster slasps). I started out making a regular hook-and-eye style clasp, but instead of simply making a hook and a wrapped-loop version of the eye, I made a short extra length of chain with larger loops by creating three links similar to the wrapped-loop eye. Now the clasp can be fitted into with any of the larger loops, to adjust the size of the necklace for the buyer!So, what do you think? It’s definitely a more complex and time-consuming piece than the others in my shop, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out! If you’re interested, click here to see the Etsy listing!

If anyone’s interested in what books I am currently using for inspiration, they are: Teach Yourself Visually: Jewelry Making and Beading, and Inspired Wire, by Cynthia Wuller. I got them both at the library!

Also, a quick update-I know I told you all quite a while ago that I was working on an 'etsy finds' post featuring dragons! I'm going to try and get moving on that this week, so you can let me know on twitter (@HyperspaceHippo) if you know of any listings anything you think I might want to include!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Monday, August 9, 2010

Creating a Gift

I’ve just heard from my friend Melissa, known to most of the online world as Dr Snit that she received the bracelet I’ve spent the last several months (off and on) designing and working on as a special gift for her. I’vewanted to blog about it for some time, in part to share a little bit about Melissa with the world, and in part to express the thoughts and sentiments that went into designing this bracelet.

Just to give you some context, I met Melissa on Facebook a couple of years ago via a little application called (fluff)friends. Unlike many of my online friends I have since had the fortune to actually meet her and her adorable little doggy in person. (Or, ok, full disclosure, she was determined enough to push me not to be too shy to give meeting up in person a shot!)

She is a comedian, writer, geek, poet, lifelong student, improv-er, and a friend and supporter to many people near and far Since meeting her, I’ve also seen her living with a seemingly endless parade of life-changing chronic and auto-immune illnesses. She has become an active advocate and supporter of others coping with similar illnesses through her writing and social networking, including her blog Living With Lupus-But Dying of Everything Else, and her Chronic Snarkopolist column on the Dear Thyroid website. Visit her links if you're interested in a very unique, open, raw, and real portrait of a person living with lupus and auto-immune thyroid illness. Not to go any farther into the most personal details, let's just say she’s been having a difficult year. Beyond trying to be an emotional support when possible, I really wanted to send something tangible her way, a token, that would let her symbolically carry the support of friends with her, to pull out when she is sad, or lonely. To that end, I spent a long (some might say an insane amount) time choosing just the right materials for this piece.
Jade animals: I’ve been told that the year 2010 has the potential to be rocky for those, like Melissa, who were born under the Chinese sign of the tiger. To counteract that, I have included jade versions of the tiger’s ‘allies’ (the horse and dog) and ‘secret friend’(the pig or boar) as focal pieces in the bracelet.
Tiger’s eye: Tiger’s eye used in jewelry has been thought to bring good luck and protection from the evil eye. It also works as a grounding stone to bring calm and clear thinking. It is also supposed to alleviate physical pain and stomach problems. The tiger is also a very meaningful animal for Melissa. I love tiger’s eye, and bought these beautiful round tiger’s eye beads at a little bead store in Connecticut, especially for this project.
Copper: Copper has often been used as a healing metal, and some sources say it is especially good for arthritis, rheumatism, and blood or metabolic disorders. Copper is also thought to help enhance the healing effect of other stones. For this project I used beautiful bright red-orange copper magnet wire (a type of enamel-coated copper wire normally used for electrical applications) that I found on etsy to make the beaded links. I made the bracelet extendable with beautiful solid copper jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and a short length of chain (and some copper advice) from A Beaded Affair. I’d also like to give some appreciation to Bailey Belle for copper advice and support via twitter.

The final element of the bracelet is the Hamsa, or Hand of Miriam: The hamsa has meaning in Jewish (especially Sephardic) culture, as well as some Middle Eastern or North African cultures. It is used to ward off the evil eye, and is supposed draw positive energy, happiness, riches, and health. It is often hung in the home or worn as a charm or amulet. Aside from its obvious positive and protective meaning, its relationship to Jewish culture symbolizes one of the many connections I feel with Melissa.
After months of choosing and designing just the right elements, and searching for the actual pieces, this bracelet has finally come to life and been delivered. This is why I so love making individual gifts, even when the specific meanings behind them are not as clear as this one. While I don’t believe that certain stones or materials truly have inherent ‘magical healing powers,’ as a student of psychology I believe that materials in a human or social context have meanings, that gifts, tokens and symbols can have a psychological and emotional effect, and that the mind and emotions have an effect on physical well-being. I sincerely hope this bracelet will help bring her joy, healing, and support. <3

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Really Good Excuses for Falling Behind!

I know, I haven't posted here in ages! I've had so much going on in life outside of the internet (what's that??) I went to Greece, I got a second cat (with one blind eye and a heart murmur), AND I've been dealing with family stuff and looking for a job! So busy . . .
But I've been just so excited to tell you all about Greece! First, we spent a week in Athens. We managed to get a cheap-ish hotel in a very central location, with a view of the Acropolis and everything!
Athens is just so much fun. A bit dingy in spots, and definitely HOT. But there are some really nice little squares, loads of history-very well-signed archeological sites and museums, and tons of shops and FOOD! The food was great, I've never had so much and such good feta cheese! Souvlaki, kebabs, pita, spanakopita, tomatoes, everything was delicious!

And then we went to Santorini! It was basically a full day's trip on the ferry, but totally worth it! It was much cooler there than in Athens, and everywhere you turned was a breathtaking view. We stayed in the village of Oia, which is gorgeous and perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ocean.
There are pedestrian streets and stairs and so many places you can't reach by car. The food here was amazing too-lots of things made with local tomatoes. There were also tons of shops all over the island selling jewelry made from local volcanic rock, but my absolute favorite shop was simply called "the Bead Shop." It was the only shop I found that sold mainly beads and not pre-made jewelry. Among lots of beads you could find anywhere were beads made of black and red volcanic rock, and also many of the little blue 'evil eye' charms. Of course I had to buy some, who could pass up the opportunity to make your own souvenirs??

The other thing I loved about Santorini was the unique beaches. There were lots of black sand and pebble beaches, and even a red beach with pebbles and sand made of red, black and white volcanic rock. The rocks are very light and full of holes and unusual shapes. I picked up quite a few of the smoother pebbles here and hope to find a way to use them in jewelry! I'd welcome any ideas on how to use them :)

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Poor neglected blog

I've just been way too busy to post lately . . . so much going on! I've got a temporary (but full-time) job, working a shift from 3:30 to midnight, and just too tired/busy most times to get anything done on the blog. I'm postponing my etsy finds: dragons post, because fairly soon . . .

I AM GOING TO GREECE! LOL Sorry to shout, but starting to get excited here! We've got most of our hotels booked but things will be crazy until we leave, a friend is coming to stay soon and will be here until right before we go!
In the meantime, I've not had a whole lot of time for beading, but I did make a necklace to wear to my cousin's wedding, that I think came out great! My first try doing a wire-wrap on a briolette type pendant like this, check it out!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Like Riding a Bike . . .

This will be a short post . . . but I'm so excited! I've basically not ridden (or owned) a bike in YEARS. My old bike had been too small for me for quite a while before I ever gave it away, but after I fell down the stairs and injured my knees I just never got a new one. I think it's probably been 8 years since I've ridden.

My boyfriend really likes bike riding (he's a bit insane-rides to work in all kinds of weather-and this is all kinds of New England weather-so some intense rain and cold and snow) and we've moved to a really bike-friendly city, so we've been toying with the idea of getting me a used bike. There are bike trails and bike lanes all over here, like this one:

But last weekend when we left the house, we saw this absolutely beautiful bike with a for sale sign sitting outside a house only a few doors down from ours! Great condition, not used very much, good price, and locks included! And today we finally made up our minds and bought it, and I just love it! It was kind of funny-the woman selling it was clearly very attached to it, and glad it was going to "a good home." I felt like I was adopting a dog!

We just got it a few hours ago, but I test rode it, and although not quite confident with it yet, it really is, as they say . . . just like riding a bike!

Isn't it beautiful??

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Friday, April 30, 2010

Who doesn't love MAIL?

Anyone who uses Twitter has seen a million posts along the lines of "retweet this post to win a . . ." or "Follow me for a chance to win . . . " etc. Usually I ignore them, I mean, what chance do I have, honestly? Well, a few days ago one of my Etsy "tweeps" did a slightly different giveaway, and I WON! Her contest was for the next person to do . . . something unspecified . . . would win a surprise! Luckily she gave hints, and as the next person to favorite her Etsy shop, I was the winner! My surprise, from Tubby Tabby's Jewelbox arrived in the mail yesterday. I was so excited, I just had to make a post about it here :D
Everything about the packaging was beautiful (yes, I'm building the suspense on you, deal with it :-p . . . ) I opened the envelope (which looked as thought it was being reused-very green!) and found a little box tied with ribbon.
Wrapped along with the box was a kitty tag, made from plantable paper, that reads "Plant me, Water me, watch me grow!"

The two Tubby Tabby's Jewelbox cards inside were absolutely adorable, and so professional!

And . . . inside was a gorgeous necklace! It has a very dark red pendant, which is a color I absolutely love. There are silver swirls on the bail and also two separate swirls on the string. And you'll see, it looks gorgeous when worn! I've been wearing it all day, I love it so much!

I just can't even say how much I loved getting this little surprise in the mail. If you like it too, check out Tubby Tabby's Jewelbox, it's full of beautiful things, including more necklaces like this one, and beautiful pendants made from upcycled dominoes or scrabble tiles. You can also check out Tubby Tabby's SquawkBox (blog) and the Top Cat graphic design shop, or follow her on twitter.

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beading Experiments: Wire-Wrapped Wine Glasses

These were a wedding gift for a friend, so I'd been waiting to hear from her that she'd seen them before uploading any pictures . . . but now it's time!

This is something new that I was trying out. I made a set of wine glasses wrapped with silver-plated copper craft wire. Each glass has a different color of beads in the wire wrap, 2 crystal beads and one square bead with silver foil inside. The design of each glass is otherwise similar so they match as a set. Almost as though they've got built-in wine charms! They do need to be washed carefully. I made an open spiral at the top and bottom of the wire wrap, and hammered just a bit to harden them. In between the wire is wrapped fairly freely, so each looks slightly different.

I've uploaded more pictures to my website. I thought they made a great wedding gift, but I'd love to hear your feedback. If people like them, maybe should I add a set to my shop!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Late-night musings . . .

With the great help of my friend Becca, I've come up with a late night stroke of GENIUS!

Forget e-harmony, people should be matched by which chores they most HATE to do! That way, they can live together happily, each doing the other's most-hated chores! Laundry-haters can meet dishwashing-phobics, or those absolutely grossed out by toilet-cleaning can remove spiders for arachnophobics! It's the perfect recipe for a dating site! I could make millions!

LOL . . .

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Preparing for The Hippo's Quest:

Hi all! I'm preparing my second post in my "Hippo's Quest" series, where I showcase etsy finds! Click here to see the Hippo's Quest Earth Day post in my old blog.

The next theme I am working on will be dragons! Please let me know your suggestions for great handmade dragons listed on etsy! You can leave a comment here or convo me on etsy. Let me know what is special about your pick, and I just might show it off in the Hippo's Quest!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Old Blog, New Blog . . .

Welcome to my first post in my NEW Blogger blog . . . I've decided to switch here because it just seems like it will be easier and faster to post in than my Weebly site! Click here to see my old weebly blog which I will be keeping attached to my website so that people can find my old posts!

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo


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