Friday's Feature: Val of Miss Val's Creations

Meet Val.

AE:  Who are you and what is it that you do/make?    
VB:   Hi, I’m Val of Miss Val’s Creations.  I have an online jewelry business consisting of both finished pieces as well as findings and supplies for other jewelry designers around the world.
AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
VB:   My business started as a hobby back in January 2007. After coming home from Michael’s Craft Store one day with jewelry making supplies and tools I was instantly hooked on the craft. As many of you know, most crafts are quite expensive to have as just a hobby! That was when I decided to try selling on ebay. Back then I was just making necklaces, bracelets and earrings, typically gravitating towards gemstones accented with sterling silver. This is still my first love but competition is fierce out there. I also had fun doing jewelry parties and receiving face to face feedback!
Over time I started adding lanyards and eyeglass chains. I love being able to make fun accessories that women adore and wear daily! I also like to offer affordable prices which was when I started purchasing supplies at wholesale.
Then it dawned on me that I could earn some extra money selling supplies and tools to other jewelry designers. Luckily this allowed me to leave the work force back in May. It also made my dream of being self employed come true. What an amazing, rewarding ride it has been. If you have an attainable goal, just go for it! I thank my customers every day for allowing me this opportunity. In the future I hope to expand into gemstone beads and focal pieces, although it will be difficult to part from that inventory!
AE:  Where can we find your work? 
My main store is on ebay at:

My finished jewelry can be found on Etsy at:

Jewelry making supplies can be found on Etsy at:

AE:  What is your website/contact information? 



I am delighted to finally be able to share Val's beautiful creations with the AEE community.  It's always exciting to me to hear of an artist who is able to pursue her art full time.  Please stop by Val's shops and check out her wonderful creations or her supplies so that you can make your own adornments.   

Peace & Love,

Bathroom Renovation Project: Phase I (Gutting It Out)

So, Phase I of my bathroom renovation project is complete.  The tiles and all the yucky cement has been removed.  Because I had so much tile, basically the bathroom was gutted out.

I enjoy stopping by my home after work each day just to see what differences have transpired while I was away.  So far I am super pleased.  The project is a slow-go and I don't have a projected end date, but I'm not in a rush.  When people are working for you and their work is steady and they pay close attention to what they're doing, oftentimes that means that you will love the final product that much more.  I'm not worried about whether something got missed because of being too hasty.

Check out the video below to see the gutting out phase of this project.

Happy Monday!

Bathroom Renovation Project: The Background Story

Hello my lovely readers!

If you recall, I mentioned that I was embarking upon a bathroom makeover.  Well, it's been going on for a little less than 7 working days, although those days have stretched over a couple of weeks.  Interruptions have been due to weather, family emergencies, and weekends, but we're trudging along.

I wanted to present a bit of a background story, so you'll know why I chose to renovate my bathroom - my only bathroom.

I feel that I will love my space when it's done, but let me put this on record by saying this - renovating your only bathroom takes careful planning.  I'm a family of one so I cannot imagine what would happen if I were not.  Thankfully my mom has graciously opened her doors.  I think I'll be curled up in my brother's old twin bed for quite a while though, but it's worth it to be able to bathe and use the toilet on a regular basis.  I'm just saying.  :-)

Before Pictures:
 Towels to catch the water that runs behind the tub (and yes, there is a hoop shower rod behind the standard one)
Cracked bowl on the pedestal sink
  4' walls of tiles (some tiles are original and some are newer - mixmatched)
There is a small closet in the bathroom.

I Won!

Yes, I won something.  The other week, Cherie and her daughter Sicily hosted a giveaway on Youtube for a tasting set.  There would be three winners.  I entered and was one of the three winners!

This past weekend, a box from Amazon came.  I couldn't even think of what it could be and lo and behold my prize had arrived....a 25-piece set of mini dessert bowls.  They are so stinking cute!

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Thanks Cherie and Sicily (from the blog, LiveLoveLatte!)


Start Your Fall Gardening Dreams with Mary's Birthday Giveaway!

Ok, all my gardening buddies.  How is your garden growing?  Have you started?  Made plans?  Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, here's a chance for you to really start garden dreaming!  Mary from Back to the Basics and Mary's Kitchen, is having a giveaway!  Yes, a seed giveaway.  Imagine this.  Heirloom seeds.  Non-GMO seeds.  3 winners.  Sounds like a good deal to me, so keep on reading for the details below.

Isn't it fantastic that Mary is offering a giveaway on her birthday?  September is a great month for birthdays.  (hint hint)

Welcome to Mary's Birthday Celebration Giveaway!  
I'm participating in a HUGE bash to celebrate and YOU 
get a chance to win one of 3 prizes from Mary's Heirloom Seeds.
That's "Auntie Mary" on the right!
2 Winners will receive an assortment of Heirloom, Non-GMO seeds as well as organic gardening supplies totaling over $60 in value.  Each prize pack Includes (but not limited to) Radish, Golden Beets, Squash, Chinese Cabbage, Culinary and Medicinal Herbs, Beans, Peppers and Tomatoes as well as Coconut Coir Pellets for seed starting made simple AND Organic, Vegan Plant Nutrients.
**Seed Varieties will be tailored to the winner's planting region*

Mary's Heirloom Seeds
1 Winner will receive the Baker's Dozen heirloom seeds variety pack. 
Easy to grow and wonderful to eat.  This pack contains a large variety of seeds  for a very low cost.  13 seeds from 13 varieties.  Includes:  Calabrese Broccoli, 5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard,  Black Beauty Eggplant,  Waltham Butternut Squash, Tam Dew Melon, Bloomsdale Spinach,  Cal Wonder Bell Pepper, Marketmore Cucumber, Pink Oxheart Tomato, Atomic Red Carrots, Self-Blanching Snowball Cauliflower, German Giant Radish,  Detroit Dark Red Beet.

At Mary's Heirloom Seeds, all of the seeds listed are open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid, non-patented, untreated, heirloom garden seeds.  All of are seeds are sourced from small, family farmers and seed growers.  
Mary has signed the Safe Seed Pledge!

Mary's Birthday Giveaway opens 9/12/2014 and closes 9/20/2014 at midnight EST.  
Open to residents of the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Gardening and Good Luck!


No, not the Disney Movie that I keep hearing and seeing everywhere.  I guess I may be the only one who actually hasn't seen the movie.  Or maybe not.

This post is more about how I preserved a few of my goodies through freezing.

Through the produce box, we got a couple of rounds of okra.  Shamefully, I must admit that on occasion some have gone bad right in my refrigerator.  I had good intentions.  I even had a meal planned for them, but the box came during the right wrong week and I may have put the items in the refrigerator but when I came back a few days later, it was like, what happened here?  So I decided to start freezing.

I don't know if this is the proper way to freeze okra, but this is what I did - I flash froze them.  I washed them, removed any debris, placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and popped them in the freezer.  Once frozen, I placed them in a gallon sized freezer bag.  I plan to use them in soups or stews or gumbos.  Any sounds perfect right now.  It's almost that time of year.  :-)

I also decided to preserve the peaches by freezing them.  However, with one of the later batches of peaches, I decided to make smoothie packs.  These packs are premade with all the fruits and veggies for the smoothie.  The only thing to add is the liquid like coconut water or almond milk and perhaps a protein powder or chia seeds or something like that.  These packs have a little bit of this and that - spinach, peaches, bananas, and cantaloupe.

And even though I didn't freeze this, I just wanted to show you my current frozen treat - Outshine bars.  A perfect blend of fruit and veggies.  Yum!

Happy Tuesday,

Cornmeal Coo Coo {Recipe}

My cousin married a Trinidadian guy.  His mother comes to our family reunions.  Two years ago she and I were chatting it up and I asked her about some dishes I wanted to learn to make (remember when I was going through that Jamaican cooking phase? here and here)  Anyways, fast forward to two years later (this past August), she brought me one of her cookbooks and showed me a variety of dishes to try.  Most were from Trinidad and some were from other islands in the Caribbean.  Yesterday I finally tried one of the dishes - Cornmeal Coo Coo.

Thankfully I still had loads of okra from the produce boxes (oh yes, the last box was last Tuesday but my life has been so hectic that I didn't even realize my mom picked up the box and so I never asked what was in it!)  Ok, now to the recipe.

Cornmeal Coo Coo

2 1/2 cups of coconut milk (I just used one can)
1 cup of thinly sliced okra
1 cup of cornmeal
salt and pepper

In a saucepot, add the coconut milk and okra.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until okra is tender.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in one cup of cornmeal.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place saucepot back on the heat and continue stirring until mixture has thickened.  Grease a pan, then pour cornmeal coo coo into the pan.  Sprinkle with paprika.

And you're done!

When I first intended to make this dish, I planned on serving it with fried fish.  But, to be honest, last night I just whipped it up and served myself a small bowl.  In my defense, I did have some salmon earlier for dinner.  I just didn't want my okra to go bad so I needed something quick and easy.

So, so good!

Bon Appetit,

Life as I Know It: A Long Overdue Update

Whew!  Where have I been?  It feels like ages since I've really written on my blog, and I do love blogging.

The tail end of my summer was a blur, and it seemed like school started so fast.  Actually my summer was shorter because our work calendars changed, but I made the most of it.  My summer was spent working on my house.  Getting rid of excess stuff.  Organizing.  Making life better.  My goal was to have my house decluttered by the time school started, but I was unable to meet my deadline.  I'm not discouraged, but I realized just how much stuff I have and I realized that it's truly hard to go from having all this stuff to being a minimalist.  Kinda extreme.  What I did realize though is there is an art to organization and it is essential to have the organizational tools/systems in place so that all of your items have a home.  That has been my biggest challenge.

Youtube became my other best friend over the summer because of my drive to organize and clean house.  I've found so many great channels that focus on organization without borderlining a disorder.  I enjoyed this video on how to purge sentimental clutter.  Maybe you will too.  The other cool thing is that Kathryn is a teacher and her stuff is organized...and she lives in my state (like an hour away).  Might run into her at the Dollar Tree one day.  Who knows!

In terms of my weight loss goals for the  The first attempt earlier in the summer just didn't work for me.  At all.  Like not one single bit.  Then my mom and I started this program at the beginning of August which is not a diet (they don't really work I hear), but is more of a lifestyle change.  If you follow the guidelines your metabolism will be turned around in 21 days and then you continue for as long as you need to to meet your goals.  What I discovered is that you really start eating on a consistent schedule and your body does adjust accordingly.  But what happened to me is that as soon as I went back to work, the schedule I had established crashed.  Now I'm having to rethink how to make this work for me.  I'm definitely more conscious about the food choices I make and the hidden enemies to weight loss.  My attempts to exercise had been thwarted by an overactive sciatic nerve for the last months, but some recent physical therapy appointments, stretches for my specific condition, and a love for ice packs have proven to be helpful.  I feel I'm on the upside now!

This video is not from the program, but I found it to be interesting as well.  I could relate to so much of what Sarah said.

And as if it life weren't crazy enough with going back to school and going back to work, guess what???  I'm finally going to get my bathroom remodeled.  Yes, my bathroom will be torn down in a matter of days.  Thankfully my mom lives nearby and I can use hers.  It's a crazy time for it to be happening, but still it is the perfect time.  I have been waiting for this moment for years now and am looking forward to having a place to truly relax.  I'll definitely keep you posted on that process.  So, you know how I spent my Labor Day?  At Lowe's.  :-)

Of course there's always more to share, but that's enough for now.  I don't want to bore you.  :-)