Monday, December 9, 2013

European Skull Mounts

Here's my latest project, one that I wanted to do for years but couldn't come by a European mounted deer skull. I live in a family of hunters, so you'd think this wouldn't be such a big deal, but the process to get the clean skull is an arduous one, and you won't find skulls or antlers lying around in the woods because varmints will eat them completely in a year's time. Then my son mentioned that he had one lying in a shed (one that he had boiled and stripped himself) that I could have! Long story short, my husband almost immediately came up with a second one, an embarrassment of riches for sure.

I could have taken photos of my progress over a couple of months (yes, it's labor intensive), but sticking mosaics and crystals onto a surface is pretty straight forward stuff. The hard part is narrowing down the bazillion choices of what materials to use and then having the patience to stick with it. A little tip that I happened on by trial and error for handling the crystals, is to take a small piece of beeswax and use it as a tool to pick them up and set onto the glued surface. It works perfectly, unlike the "tools" you can buy for the same job. I tackled the first skull (from my husband) and gold leafed the antlers, then began gluing shiny shell fragments I already had to it and then grouted it with white grout. Those antlers look spectacular and shine even better since I brushed a sealant onto them.

The second one, I silver leafed the antlers and then started with what I imagined to be a goodly amount of genuine Swarovski crystals. They're nice crystals, a tad pricey, and shine like no other, but lemme tell you, they don't go very far, even the larger ones. I reordered a ton of crystals in multiple sizes, three times! So needless to say, this skull is an expensive wall decoration, but I was committed and wasn't about to go cheap and use any other crystals. The silver antlers have been sealed, too, and look as if they're made of sterling silver.

I didn't want a lot of embellishments on them. I put a big dragonfly broach and a few pieces of turquoise on the golden buck; a sparkly, vintage choker necklace I picked up years ago at a yard sale made a nice addition to the silver buck. I'm really happy with the results; they're both more beautiful than the pictures show. The shell mosaiced one has tribal look to it, and the crystal skull is nothing short of fantastic, but it's the hardest one to photograph.

I plan to hang them over the mantle, and I ordered 2 hooks made just for mounting deer skulls. Hubby had a board of aged barn wood that he cut into two pieces, and I faux aged them a little more with streaks of acrylic paint that I mixed (antique white + black). Finishing a project is always a little sad, like finishing a good book, but I'll find my next art victims soon. This icy winter weather is perfect for sitting indoors and creating. Thanks for stopping by. Regards, Cat

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

One Month on 1,2, 3 Diet

It has been one month since I began David Buchholz' migraine diet. It hasn't been as hard as I'd thought, even though I began right smack dab in the middle of the Holidays. The most amazing discovery I've made is that I can eat white chocolate! As much as I want without triggering anything besides a shift in the numbers on my bathroom scales.

Even though this is the most hopeful I've been in many, many years, I didn't expect to become migraine-free instantly, and yes, I've had one migraine, but not a killer, and it was sort of an ah-ha! moment in this experimental journey. Jim and I always eat New Year's Eve dinner at Red Lobster. It just happened that way because on the day we got married, this was the only restaurant open in the evening, so it's "our place" by default. I played it safe and had boiled crab legs. They're legal. I pushed the envelope a bit by having a Cesar salad, knowing that the dressing most likely had MSG in it, otherwise I was a good girl.....I thought. You know those darn Cheddar Bay biscuits they're famous for? Jim and I both love them, and I had not one but two. Only later at home, when the migraine aura began to creep over me, did I think OMG! Cheddar! That's one of the big no-no's, not to mention the ton of MSG they probably sneak into the "natural butter flavorings". Anyway, I braced for the big one, knowing I was off the Triptans, at least through the 4 month trial, and took an Aleve. Amazingly, it calmed the approaching migraine storm enough for me to sleep. I still had a heavy "shadow" all the next day, Christmas Day, but I took an Advil and made it fine. On the day after, the migraine was gone. Whew! That was close.

There are no restaurants, at least around here, that are safe for migraineurs watching their diet, but you pick and choose and do the best you can, and we don't ordinarily eat out more than 3 or 4 times a month, anyway. Last week, we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant, a little hole-in-the wall called Coco's that always has great Tex-Mex and who know us so well that when we walk in, our waiter, Aba (pronounced Ah-bee), brings two frozen margaritas to our table and orders two fajita plates for us. In the name of science (of course), I decided to go ahead and have the margarita, even though vodka is the only approved liquor, but I did forgo the guacamole.....who would have believed I'd ever have to give up avocados? And I didn't eat the Pico de Gallo because of the fresh onions in it. I made it just fine, no repercussions. According to Dr. Buccholz, there's a threshold for each of us that involves the stresses we put on our bodies, other than and including food. When we reach that threshold, the migraine is triggered, so it's possible that once I get the hang of this, I could splurge occasionally and not spend days or weeks in bed with migraine. Wouldn't that be something?

Another thing to watch for is nitrates in foods like deli meat, sausage, bacon and Canadian bacon. I don't miss the deli meat, but the breakfast meats are a big loss. I love breakfast. So, I tried making my first batch of homemade sausage. It turned out pretty well, but I've got some tweaking to do on the recipe. It's time consuming but not hard. I soaked a pork tenderloin in water to get out some of the added nitrates that they stick in all the meat we eat. In my parents' and grandparents' day, a butchered animal went straight to the table, the freezer, or to be canned or cured with salt and sugar. Today it hangs in lockers for days or even weeks, then has to remain bright and fresh looking for several more days in the display counters, and that's why all the added nitrates. Anyway, I cut the tenderloin into strips, and we ground it in the electric grinder, then added olive oil and spices like sage, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. It doesn't taste like store bought sausage, but that's because there's no added sugars, colorings, chemicals or MSG. I like it, but Jim doesn't. He doesn't eat breakfast often, but when he does, I don't mind cooking 2 kinds of sausage. There also aren't any organic farms around here. That would be nirvana, to have a supplier of free range pork, beef, and chicken. We do the best we can.

If migraines were only headaches, none of this dieting would be worth it, but a migraine is excruciating and debilitating. In the US someone goes to the emergency room every 10 seconds with a migraine. I've been to the emergency room a few times, but even there they couldn't stop the pain, so I've stayed home and dealt with it. I wish I'd found this book, Heal Your Headache earlier, but there's a zen saying that when the student is ready the teacher will come. Maybe I'm just now ready.
Wishing you pain-free days and healing, restful nights,