The Essentials

Functional and Ornamental Metalwork, Jewelry and Jewelry Tutorials


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Introducing the Kingfisher Designs Official Pace Car


When I get on a bike I am like a 10 year old boy.  I want to jump every bump and ride through every puddle.  A bicycle lets you go back in time to those summer days when you could ride anywhere.  As a kid  we lived in small towns and I would ride to the library or over to the swimming pool. That feeling of freedom never left me.

IMG_3576Like most people we need more exercise also, we work at home, so we get kind of isolated.  Our remedy was our new quadricycle.  My balance is not what it once was, and I can’t really afford a fall, so armed with all of those good excuses, we have a new toy.

Since we live between the woods and the water we have a lot of places to ride and a lot of people have golf carts.  We noticed that many of those golf carts don’t actually run very well not to mention that no exercise is involved.

We looked for a year and decided on a Rhoades Car quadricycle.  Of course in our usual way of things, we needed to “personalize” and trick it out a little bit.  It already weighed about 175 lb. or so, but we added several things that brought the weight up closer to 200 lb.  It will carry about 700 lb.

Even though we have not really ridden in a while, we are able to ride 5 miles about 5-6 mph pretty comfortably.  With the 7 gears, we can climb very well and ride through grass.

It came with 7 speeds and we added a second disc brake and the bimini top.  From there we haunted all of the bicycle shops within 200 miles and Amazon to add an odometer, reflectors, a bell, headlights, tail lights, drink holders, a phone holder, folding arms for the seats and rear view mirrors.

There were a couple of unforseen issues, so the engineer went to work. I am very short and could not reach the pedals even with the seat all the way forward.  Don put blocks on the pedals which helped, but would roll on me when I pedaled.  He did some adjustment to the seat and I can put a folded towel behind my back so we took the blocks back off.

Don is very tall and with the seat back far enough for his legs, he had to stretch to reach the steering wheel.  He ordered a stainless steel tube that the steering shaft would fit into and cut the steering shaft.  He tapped screws in to hold the tube in correct position and was able to have the steering wheel distance so he can lean back and cruise comfortably.

But for us, that was not enough.  It is very cool as it is, but we had an idea to make it even more our own.  We needed a place to carry lunch and an ice chest.  Don built a bed for it so it almost looks like an old pickup and being the metalsmith he is, he created copper corners and findings for the bed to give it just the right touch.

We are fortunate to have several bike trails nearby, so he set up the trailer so we can just pop it on and take it where ever we want to go.  We’ll take some pictures along the trail and write a little more about the Kingfisher Designs Official Pace Car.


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Great Apps for Your Phone or Tablet


It is hard to imagine, but in the four years between 2013 and 2017 phone apps available have gone from 130,000 to 2.2 million. Is it any wonder our phones are overloaded and chaos seems to reign on our screens.

I recently did a survey among my Facebook friends (on my Facebook app) and asked for their very favorite apps. The following list of apps have been recommended and may help you find your way through the chaos. Most of the apps are free, but some are paid.  Not all apps are available for both IOS and Android so you may not be able to access all of them

  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Pinterest
    • LinkdIn
    • Instagram
    • WordPress
    • Twitter
  • Productivity
    • Transfer – Lets you transfer photos between your devices and your computers
    • Scan Pro – Favorite all time app has replaced my own free standing scanner. It allows you to scan documents or images and send them
    • Office Suite – Free version allows document editing and creation, spreadsheet editing and creation and editing, viewing PDF files, presentations editing and creation.
    •  Greenify closes all of your apps
    • Mr Number – Blocks and identifies scam calls
    • MC Backup – Back up your contacts
    • Nomorobo – Block robocalls and calls from telemarketers
    • Wunderlist – easy list app that helps you remember deadlines
  • Images and Video
    • Adobe Photoshop Express – Edit images
    • Adobe Clip – Edit videos
    • Snapseed – Photo editor from Google
    • Rhona- Add test to your images or create text on backgrounds
    • 1SE – Video diary that stitches videos and photos in your life
    • Travel
      • Gas Buddy – Find gas stations directions and pricing while on the road
      • Google Earth – Go anywhere in the world by satellite
      • Google Maps – Mapping of businesses, eateries and more to let you find them when you are traveling
    • Weather
      • Weather Channel – Simple weather app
      • First Alert Weather – Lets you know when severe weather is headed your way
      • MyRadar – Highly recommended weather app
    • Health
      • Pilates Coach – Pilates sessions with health advise
      • Yoga.com – Leads you through Yoga poses
      • Insight Timer – Meditation guided and unguided
      • Map My Walk – Track your walking progress
    • Design
      • Paper 53 – Constantly expanding drawing app
      • Brushes -Realistic drawing, painting and sketching
      • Amaziograph – Kaleidoscopic drawing app
      • Drawerings – Kaleidoscope mandella drawing
    • Communication
      • Skype – Connects you with friends and family anywhere in the world
      • Kik – Messenger app
      • Facebook Messenger – Messenger app
    • Shopping
      • Amazon – Shop for anything
      • Groupon – Deals and coupons
      • Out of Milk – Shopping list app
      • Ebay – Buy or sell on Ebay
      • Etsy – Buy on Etsy
      • Sell on Etsy – Sell your work on Etsy
      • Scan & Go  – Sam’s and Walmart real time
    • Entertainment
      • Pandora- Music app
      • YouTube – Thousands of videos
      • Audible – Audio books
      • Cloud Storage
        • Google Drive – Google cloud
        • Dropbox – Dropbox cloud
        • iCloud – Apple cloud

        I hope this helps tame the monster in your phone, though I have to admit that it added a few legs to mine.  Please add your favorites in the comments.


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Be a Clutter Busting Superstar


“You never know how clutter free you can be until being clutter free is the only choice you have.”  Where have I heard something like that before?  Accumulating things (clutter) is actually easier than giving up your ” collection”.  We definitely get attached to our things and keep them for many different reasons – we loved it once, it was handed down to us, it was given to us by a person we care about, we have always had it – just pick a reason.

I started out life as a collector – not a clutter buster, but after moving 43 times since 1968, living for years on a boat and in campers where there is no choice except to keep it simple I learned a lot about how to keep the clutter down.  The boat and the camper would only hold so much.  It is the same in our small house here on the river.  Anything that we don’t use or love has to go.

Those of you who live with someone else probably know that what may seem like clutter to you doesn’t necessarily seem like clutter to someone else.  A butter tub of random screws is clutter to me, but not to my DH and bags of yarn or a box full of art supplies are pure clutter to him.  So you can see the need for compromise.

Clutter Busting SuperstarYou can see the two pictures of my work area in these pictures.  I have to admit that most of the time it looks like the one on the left, but I get a lot more done when it looks like it does on the right.  Here are just a few tips to make you a champion Superstar Clutter Buster

  1. Don’t bring it home to begin with – A dear friend told me years ago that a shopping trip was like a trip to a museum for her.  She would visit it, enjoy it and put it back on the shelf.  If she took it home she would have to dust it, pack it, insure it and find a place for it.
  2. Pick up once a day – We tend to try and use flat surfaces in our house as storage, so the table, desks, kitchen counter or bathroom counter collect clutter.  We try to clean them off once a day.
  3. Clean one shelf or drawer every week – Keep a bag for things you don’t need and once a week clean out a drawer or shelf.  Once the bag is full, drop it off at one of the local charities who do resale for fund raising.
  4. Junk Drawer – You have one, you know you do.  My take on this is fine – just make it just one drawer and it is small.  Ours actually only measures about 12″ x 14″ x 3″ so I don’t worry about it.  When it doesn’t close I take something out.  Hey, you’re allowed a little leeway.
  5. Magazines – With digital magazine availability many of us don’t take as many print magazines as we used to, but those we do take can pile up.  Clear them out every few months – you aren’t likely to ever get back to them.  If there is an article you can’t do without either scan and save it or cut it out and file it.  Take the magazines to a nursing home, hospital waiting room or other places where people are waiting.
  6. Saving things – This one is probably an entire article on its own.  Yes, you might need that box of unmatched screws, those stained napkins, that 6″ piece of green wire or that tool with the broken handle, but will you be able to find it – not likely.

It’s a lot easier to prevent clutter than to get rid of it   It took time for the clutter to seep in, and will take a while to get it under control, but you can be a Clutter Busting Superstar

Oak Leaf Salad Set


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Asian Salad


Salad SetOur garden was amazing this year.  We picked over 80 lb. of tomatoes out of 8 hay bales.  We ate the last tomato out of our garden today.

We had a wonderful Winter Salad with an Asian twist. We made both the salad and the dressing. We also tested out a couple of our Kingfisher Designs sets while we were at it.

Asian Salad

Spinach and spring mix leaves

2 Tomatoes (last ones of the year, but the salad would be ok without it.
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chopped in small pieces
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 Clementine sectioned
2 T. Sunflower Seeds
1 chicen breast cut in cubes and sauted in olive oil
Greens – we used mixed spinach and spring mix.

Leaf Salad SetAsian dressing

3 T Olive oil
1 T Ponzu Citrus sauce or squeeze 1/2 an orange
2 T Red wine vinegar
1 T Rice wine vinegar
2 T Panda sweet Pepper sauce.

Shake well and chill

It is nearing the end of January and we are beginning to make pieces for the spring shows and plan the garden.

This is a favorite time of year when we can bring the ideas we have been drawing and writing during the year together and see how they work.  We hibernate and create.

Salad Sets available in our Kingfisher Designs Etsy shop.


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Mardi Gras King Cake – Topping


Cheese MakingThe King Cake is all finished and there is a wonderful smoked sausage inside.  It needs to have the traditional Purple, Green and Gold topping.  The Purple is for justice, Green is for faith and Gold is for power.

A traditional King Cake with the pecan, brown sugar spicy filling would be topped with icing, colored sugars or sprinkles, but we needed something very different.  Don came up with the great idea of making our 30 Minute Mozzarella cheese.

In the picture to the right we are straining the whey to separate the curds so they can Making Cheesebe pressed and kneaded to make the cheese.  This gives the cheese a great texture.  During this time we also added basil and garlic to give a great flavor to our cheese.

This is also when we added the food coloring – Purple Cheese?  Why not!  And while we were at it,
we made green and gold cheese just to be accurate.

I do have to say that purple cheese was a little different at first, but it is very tasty.

We cut thin slices Outside the Box King Cakeof cheese to put on top of our King Cake to give it just the right look – looked like frosting actually.

The cake didn’t last long when it arrived at the local Mardi Gras festivities.  It was definitely an Outside the Box King Cake.   Next time we might saute some breakfast sausage, onions and bell peppers.

The sky’s the limit!


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Mardi Gras King Cake – Outside the Box


2/26/17 – Mardi Gras King Cake – Outside the Box

Dough for rolling outKing Cake is that beautiful pastry we have during the Mardi Gras season – or is it.  Does it have to be sweet with colored sugar and filled with pecans and cinnamon?  Not here – we took the King Cake outside the box this year. We made a whole wheat bread using out own home ground flour.

King Cake Rolled outFor the filling there are many versions, but for the most part the pastry is stuffed with varying combinations of  brown sugar, nuts, raisins, spices, etc.  As you can see, ours was just a little bit different.  We used a smoked sausage.

After we rolled the dough and shaped the bread it had to rise a little more before we put it in the oven.  It did not want to stay in the traditional shape, so we used a wooden skewer to hold it.  Dough Shaped for Rising

Home ground flour takes a little while longer than store bought flour to rise, but it is so much more flavorful and healthy that it is worth the effort.

While we were rising and baking the King Cake, we had some other important tasks to perform.  Tomorrow we will add those important steps and show you just how our Outside the Box King Cake turned out.

Recipe for the Dough

Mix and Disolve

1 Tbsp. Yeast
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 C Warm Water

Add, Mix and let set 1 hour

1 Cup flour

King Cake in the ovenAdd Mix and Knead

1 Cup Flour (plus probably about 1/4 c to make the dough right for kneading)

Rise one hour

Roll out the bread dough, add the sausage (cooked breakfast sausage could be used – maybe even with peppers and onions)

Rise 1 hour (or until doubled)

Bake at 350 F for et minutes (could take longer in other ovens)

Check back tomorrow to see what happens to our King Cake next.


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Pickle Day at the Kingfisher Designs House of Chaos


cucumbersWe alternately work with metal and raise vegetables as they say “in the dirt”.  Today we were over run with cucumbers, but that’s ok because we have been planning a pickle making day for a while.  When we harvest more cucumbers we plan to make more sweet and dill relish and some bread and butter pickles.  It is hot outside to can, but doesn’t heat up the house and we will be glad in the winter when we open jars of home made pickles.  Today’s hot pickles are a slightly sweet version with a smokey essence.

We raised these particular cucumbers in straw bales and it has been quite the experience.  The bales have to be prepared (composted) for about 2 weeks before you plant.  We don’t have weeds to deal with and have not had fertilize at all.  The plants are huge and the cucumbers are plentiful.

We had already put up 7 jars of sweet relish and some hot sweet pickles, but these were to be something very brinedifferent.

We have been growing jalapenos and smoking them for our own chipolte peppers.  The peppers were grown in raised beds and have been one of our best performing plants in the raised beds.  The peppers were smoked 12 + hours very low in our Komodo oven (like the Green Egg cooker).

The dill relish and sweet relish came from Old World Garden Farms.  If you are interested in gardening, canning, self sufficiency or minimalism visit Old World Garden Farms They have so much practical and usable information on the site and a great newsletter.

canning-kitchen

So we got the cucumbers all cut up (8 lb. cubed for dill relish and about 3 . for pepper pickles).  We brined them in the shower in pots (salted and  chilled them for 2-3 hours).pickle-relish

Meawhile we set up our canning kitchen on the porch.  We are very lucky to spend our canning time on the river watching the water.  It all went pretty smoothly once we got the pickles ready to can and while the dill relish was processing we prepared the pepper pickles.  Can’t wait to see how they taste in a few weeks!