Sunday, December 27, 2009

Putting the Finishing Touches on 2009

How can it be that 2009 is nearly done? Didn't I just finally start writing 2009 instead of 2008 on my checks? (Well, actually, yes, but that's another issue...) So, it's time to tie up the loose ends of 2009 and start planning for the new decade. Wow.

I guess it's kind of exciting. The next several weeks will be ones of planning. It's too cold and nasty outdoors to do much outside here. Actually that prevents a lot of inside "stuff" too, because we can't leave windows open to air out a freshly painted room, nor do I care to deal with all the mud and ice (and more) that would be tracked in should we try to replace the floor in the "studio". (That's what the artsy daughter calls it - it's the room where my desk and PC and files are. And ALL her art stuff and tables and storage and more.) So, I'll plan out the 2010 garden, order seed for new veggies I want to try, sew, create, dream and plan some more. I'm already in withdrawal because there are no yard sales for the next 8-10 weeks and then only few and far between until April really.

But, back to the creating. I got bit by the "create" bug just before Christmas. I made the daughters and DILs each a therapy bag (corn-filled). Soooo easy and so useful! Then I made these stuffed Owl pillows for each of the granddaughters. It was so sweet to see the little 5-year-old hug hers tightly and not put it down all Christmas morning!
I hope to get a bit more creating done before the week, and the year (and the decade - yikes!) ends. Maybe some earrings....or wrist warmers...or glass-painting...or....

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The moment our Thanksgiving festivities died down, daughter #2 and I dove into our work for her holiday jewelry push. With her magazine article hitting stands on Dec. 1, Cyber-Monday just a few days away, and the Christmas gift-buying frenzy well-underway it was time to pull out all the stops! Plus, she is doing her first arts/crafts fair on Thursday and Friday of this coming week. She is busy measuring, clipping, hammering, oxidizing, wire-wrapping...creating all the beautiful designs seen below plus many more. I am busy creating earring cards, bags for customers to carry their treasures in, business cards, displays and all the other behind-the scenes bits and pieces to market her creations. We are both happily exhausted. Just a few more hours and then, let the sales begin!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Working in Circles

I'm SOOOO proud! My artsy sophomore-in-college daughter has her first published article! She submitted some of her handmade jewelry pieces to Belle Armoire Jewelry Magazine and on the very first try - she's got her own 2 page article! It's titled "Working in Circles"....sounds more like ME than her! Of course, that's just a play on words since the pieces in this article are based on hammered copper circles.

She has been trying to teach me how to create my own jewelry pieces. I'm confident I'll never reach her level of artistry, but still it's been fun.

If you enjoy making jewelry, or want to learn, or just love to look at the work of some amazing jewelry artists - get this magazine! Belle Armoire winter edition, available at Barnes & Noble or Borders on Dec. 1, 2009. Oh, and my daughter's article is on page 63... :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Products of Neglect

In spite of best-laid plans, my garden was neglected this year - a lot! So I marvel at all it is managing to still produce. Those striking purple Asters have bloomed a whole month later than normal thanks to the unusually cool, wet summer we had - and are prettier than they ever were before. The once over-abundant cucumbers have dwindled to the point that I'm rather surprised to find one as nice as the one shown here. The tiny yellow cherry tomatoes grew volunteer in the melon patch, where they are just now ripening, and should give us more than we can eat right up until frost. The light green squash isn't a zucchini, but a baby neck pumpkin. I'll use it like I would a summer squash, since it wouldn't have had time to fully mature before frost now. And the mini-pumpkin was lurking amongst the marigolds this evening. Next post I'll share photos of what I've been doing with the okra - what an amazing plant!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Simple Pleasures

I love autumn.
And sunrises.
And sunsets.
And so many, many more simple pleasures.
Today I was up at my usual time (early!), but it was by chance that I stopped my morning routine long enough to glance out the window just at daybreak. I grabbed my camera and ran outdoors. I almost felt as though I should tiptoe; as though the magic might dissolve instantly if 'it' knew I was trying to capture it. Of course the photo doesn't really do justice to the moment. Seeing it, feeling it, breathing it in person is what makes the experience so wonderful, so spiritual. But, still...just look at those gorgeous colors. Can you see the lone star still barely visible? And the outline of the old hay barn alongside the trees on the horizon?

Monday, September 7, 2009

September in the Garden

How did a month slip by me without posting? I kept thinking I'd find a minute, or get a really great idea for a post. I guess I finally found a minute :)

Thought a mini-tour of the garden might be nice, to show a bit of what is going on now.

Blooms are still abundant. This nasturtium got a real late start, with the first blooms finally appearing in August.
In addition to the various squash and okra blooms, I found some volunteer peas flowering. Evidently I lost a few of the seeds I tried to gather from the Dwarf Greys I grew in the spring. Only a couple of plants, but those sweet young pods will be a welcome addition to fall salads.The watermelon patch was a success! Look at this beauty! It measured 31 inches around and weighed in at 16 lbs. We had a little help from something - rabbit? possum? skunk? - not sure what - but a couple of the ripe melons had the most perfectly round holes eaten into them. Maybe fencing the Great Dane out of the melons was a bad idea...Wonder what I've got here...seriously, I'm not sure. I sowed some seeds for both winter squash and gourds, and I'm sure this must be a squash (tucked in amongst the weeds! I failed seriously in keeping the weeds at bay this year!). But what kind? I thought I had sown Blue Galeux here. And since I haven't grown it before, maybe this IS B.G. But if that's the case, it sure doesn't look like what I was expecting. ID from seasoned squash growers would be welcome!
And the final image is my pride and joy of the fall season. A Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash. I purchased what appeared to be a Butternut squash with an extremely long neck at the Farmer's Market a couple years ago. The man I bought it from referred to it as a "Neck Pumpkin" and claimed it would make the best pumpkin pie. He was absolutely right! It was amazing how much wonderful orange "meat" there was in it, so I saved seed. Didn't get them sown last year, but happily this year I did. I've got 10-12 of them and most of them are just HUGE! I think a couple will join my other fall harvest decorations (dried colored corn, corn stalks, mini-pumpkins, gourds, etc.), and the rest will go into the freezer for soups, pies, etc. for the winter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Cucurbit Patch

I promised myself that this year I would grow some fun decorative things for fall, as well as try my hand at winter squash and melons. The result is a jungle of vines with leaves in a variety of hues, shapes and sizes - really quite pretty from a distance.
Among the decoratives will be this mini white pumpkin - I've noticed 4-5 so far.
And orange mini pumpkins - again 4-5 are visible. And this is a baby! It's already the size of a ready-to-pick zucchini and it's only just begun growing! I saved seed from a squash I bought at a farmer's market a couple of years ago - the seller called it a "Neck Pumpkin". It looked just like a butternut, but with a much longer neck. Which was really wonderful because the seeds were only in the bottom of the squash. Made an amazing "pumpkin" pie as well as squash soup with it if I remember correctly. I've noticed 4 of these, and expect lots more.
Here is a view of the patch. With the variety of leaves and randomly spaced marigolds it really is a pretty little space.And I couldn't finish this post without a couple of shots of my watermelons! This is the first time I've successfully grown melons. (I'm assuming I've waited long enough to claim success anyway.) This is the one I've named 'monster' - it is already bigger than a basketball! And, here are the 'Triplets'...can you see all three of the Wilson Sweets? I've been told to pinch off the blooms after 2 or 3 melons start growing, but I've got such a crammed-full patch of these that I can't tell which is growing from which vine! I just figure I'll start pinching off blooms and small melons now that I've located about 10 nice-sized fruit, and hope for the best!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Worth the Wait

This project was long overdue to be done - and thanks to my two favorite handy-guys (hubby and son #3) it is finally complete! My inspiration for this came from a wonderfully talented lady whose blog I love to follow - "Beyond the Picket Fence". She created her shutter planter back in May of this year, and I've wanted one ever since I first laid eyes on hers.Once I decided I was going to make one, I started watching for shutters and wire basket-things at yard sales. By mid-June I had found both for a total of $5.00. I even found three brand-new terra cotta pots in the perfect size, complete with drip bowls for another $1.50.First I removed the small knobs and cleaned and lightly sanded the shutters. Next I painted them with dark brown spray paint. (A can I had bought at a yard sale last year for a quarter!) After that dried I started layering acrylic paint (brushed on) and candle wax according to directions my inspiration blogger has posted. You roughly slap on a coat, let dry, rub a candle over random areas, paint the next color, scrape away a bit of the paint where the wax is, then rub on more wax and paint again. Continue until you have all the layers you want.

After the brown spray-on, I used this blue, then yellow, then green, and finished with a burnt umber glaze I had left over from a previous project.I thought I would have this done and hung by July 4th, but it kept getting put on the back burner. At last, I finished the painting and with the help of my handy-guys got everything securely attached together and hung by our front door. Cost - about $8 (not including plants). Best of all, I finally replaced that tired old wreath I had in this spot with something really eye-catching!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Imposter tomato ripens

Those "Imposter" tomatoes that were supposed to be German Red Strawberry tomatoes have finally ripened and we're enjoying some every day now. They are pretty good - nice and big so they are great for sandwiches or burgers. But, I was really looking forward to the Germans....oh well, maybe next year. On a scale of 1-10, I'd rate these a 7 or 8.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My New Best Friend is a Hoe!

I know it seems a bit out there - but it's true! My new best friend is a hoe - as in garden tool - as in "I can weed without breaking my back!" Love this baby! I read about the Circle Hoe last summer and thought it was probably a nice tool to have, but not to the tune of $30. That was before I hurt my back, and had weeds up to my eyebrows. This simple gadget has one small flattened area that is sharpened. The rest is dull edged - so only the sharp part digs in under the weeds and everything around it goes unharmed. And it's more of a pulling exercise than hacking, so it's easier on me too. I am thrilled as are my Okra plants, who no longer share their bed with a tangle of weeds.
So, while we're speaking of Okra, have a look at the Burgundy. Isn't that color awesome? It adds eye appeal to my veggie garden, not only with color, but with the blooms, which when unfurled remind me of Hibiscus. This bud hasn't opened yet and has an almost reptilian look to it!My Tomatillos are heavy with husks! I love these - but cannot for the life of me figure out what to do about the insects (or worms?) that eat a whole in each and EVERY one! I can't find anything on the internet about it. This happened last year and I hoped that was a fluke...but no, here we go again. Guess its time to give the Missouri Extension a call.
And to finish up for tonight, have a peek at my lush and laden Marconi Pepper plant. I have very few peppers this year - only 2 plants are really producing so far. I'm determined to wait to pluck any of these beauties until they ripen to a nice rich red - so delicious!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vintage Fabric Finds

Did your mom make clothes for you when you were young? Many of my clothes were handmade. And while I didn't appreciate them like I should have then, I have fond memories of the clothing and the fabrics mom so lovingly made for her daughters. I remember my first mini-skirt - it was actually a dress that was made to look like a top over a skirt. And the dress I wore the first day of fifth grade as I started at a new school - a beautiful lime and light blue dotted swiss number that I was sure would "wow" the other kids.

Recently I got the chance to purchase a few pieces that remind me of "back when" which was the 1960's-70's. Love this cotton print with daisies scattered about.
And how about this paisley stripe...I remember using fabrics like this in the early 1980's to create crafts.
This retro print reminds me of my grandma and the 60's. Mantle clocks and vining flowers - who came up with that?
There are several other pieces in the batch I bought, but I think my favorite is this abstract rose print. The colors are so vivid on the pure white background. It would have made the perfect 1960's sheath dress (think Jaqueline Kennedy) with a colorful belt and handbag and heels to compliment the colors.
Not sure yet what will happen with all the pieces - I've posted a few for sale on Etsy. And I have plans in mind for a darling pink dotted swiss piece to become something sweet for my granddaughters. And, my youngest daughter has been eyeing another daisy print with a turquoise background. (I knew she would probably stake claim to some of it!) Hopefully I'll eventually get some of this made into fun new items and post them here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Odd Lobed Tomatoes and More

After a couple of weeks with a minor back injury (but it felt BIG!) I'm back in the middle of things! Like my job, my garden, and finally, my blog. Catching up in the garden has been a real trick, but I feel like I'm starting to get there finally. With help (drafted, but help none the less!) from family, and a stool to seat myself on while I work so I'm not bent, I may just get back on top of this.I'm a little puzzled by these tomatoes. My sister started them from heirloom seed, and told me they were German Red Strawberry tomatoes. The are fun looking - pear shaped with multiple lobes. Funny thing though - I can't find an image online of that type of tomato that looks like mine....hmmm. Wonder what I have here - maybe a cross of some sort? As long as they taste good, I don't care one bit. Just curious.The crookneck squash always amazes me - the leaves are simply HUGE! You can see blooms and a couple of tiny yellow squash under the monster leaves. They grow so quickly, I hope to harvest our first squash sometime over the weekend. That is if my battle against squash bugs is successful. I've used wine in bottles to attract and kill them (no captives yet, but I'm not ready to give up yet). Also a concoction of cayenne pepper, garlic, onion and dish soap. And by simply picking them off and crushing them! And I sprayed eggs and hatchlings with a dose of hairspray. I'm serious about this! I love my squash.
Happy little watermelon plants. Actually they're well on to a growth spurt. And I am hopeful onward to a nice blossoming of flowers. This plant is growing in our newly created watermelon patch. A huge tree blown over during the May storm created a deep hole. Hubby filled it in with soil from the old cow yard. Then I added some sand, blood meal and mounded it all up. Grandson poked the seeds into the mounds and we watered it. Hopefully we're on the right path to get a bunch of juicy sweet melons in August/September!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Inspiration Corner

I should have taken a "before" photo...but I think I can explain. This little wall is just one section of a fairly large room that serves a variety of purposes. My desk, filing cabinets, computer, printer, etc. take up nearly 1/2 the room. A TV, VCR, DVD player and toy chest create an area for the grandkids to enjoy. One tiny spot is the workout center - for the treadmill. And the closets are filled with out-of-season clothing, wrapping paper, craft supplies, and so on. Needless to say it can be a bit distracting for someone (namely artsy daughter) to focus on her jewelry design, sculpting or paintings with so much going on. So, I encouraged her to make this spot her own. I didn't have to say it twice! Naturally it had to be done on a bare-bones budget. Not a problem for a junk-savvy kid with plenty of imagination.

A small dresser-turned-cabinet hides shelves for storing her supplies. The little table was a freebie from her brother's roomie - rough enough to be charming and allows her to work without concern for damaging the finish. Great space for bigger tools, paintbrushes and a lazy susan.

The window frame was 25 cents at a garage sale - it was horrible! Someone had sponged it with purple and green paint and glued plastic flowers to it. It's now a warm chocolate brown with cool pale green highlighting the openings. Old white porcelain insulators attached across the top ($1 yard sale find) serve to hold the necklaces she creates. An old porcelain doorknob (25 cents-yard sale) attached at bottom center will be useful as another hook of sorts.

The oak box with gold tone handle and corners, to the left of the table, is a wonderful little tool chest found at a yard sale for $7.50! It is even lined with felt, and holds some of her more delicate and treasured tools, as well as some finished earrings.

Brown curtains and rods ($34 total at a liquidation store) hide the closet openings. Robin's egg blue paint ($15) provides a calm, soothing cool background for the creation process.

Even across the room, deep in thought, clicking away at my keyboard, I find myself turning to gaze at it. Definitely a great spot for dreaming up new ideas and then bringing them to life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Planting and Harvesting

My kitchen garden still looks a little empty. I've been sowing and planting for weeks, but there is still lots of blank space while I wait for everything to take off growing. Most of the peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos are gaining steadily, with some even starting to bloom. Others, like this little okra seedling are still in the very early stages of growth. And I still have a few seeds I need to sow, like the edamame and corn.Of course there are some things we are enjoying right now - like leaf lettuce, pea pods and the green onions shown below. On either side of them are carrots and beets - I've never grown either one before - but I'm thinking I won't be harvesting from them for a few more weeks. The Magenta head lettuce is new to me. It's very pretty with it's ruffled, red-tinted leaves, and looks to be doing well as far as I can tell. I thinned this tub and transplanted the thinnings into the kitchen garden and I think they are going to grow for me. I'm tired of buying lettuce - hoping these will be ready to harvest in another week or so.
And beyond the garden is the mulberry tree. I loved those berries as a kid and still do today. No thorns to keep you from picking as many as you can reach! Unfortunately this is probably the last year for us to enjoy these. The big windstorm nearly 4 weeks ago broke this tree so badly it probably won't survive. Funny thing is, the fruits on the most damaged limbs ripened first. I wonder - is that some sort of survival mechanism?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Stroll

I just finished a week off the job - and worked way harder than usual! We had major clutter stacked up so a yard sale had been planned. It took 5 days preparation, 1.5 days of selling, and a 1/2 day to clean up. We got rid of a ton of junk and gathered a few dollars to go toward the new fridge I've been wanting. Then the last 2 days I've spent trying to catch up with mowing, trimming, weeding and planting! But I stole a few minutes today to stroll around the yard and snapped these shots of some of our current blooms...First, the peas that climbed my bedspring trellis are blooming (and producing delicious, sweet pods!).
Some uninvited blooming going on here....but I've always loved the beauty of Queen Anne's Lace. It always manages to spring up behind the barns, sheds and the perimeter of the yards.
Here we have one of my front porch planters - filled with violas in creamy yellow, midnight blue and tangerine as well as some pansies and petunias - and my new favorite grass "Ponytail". The way the wisps of it nod, flip and bow in the breeze is so relaxing to watch.
My first Hollyhock buds - it looks like they will have tons of flowers. I have no clue what color(s) they might be so I'm extra anxious for them to bloom.
And the rose bushes are laden with buds and blooms. These both were grown from those mini-bushes found in discount stores around mother's day. And both always bloom profusely - all summer long.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rustic Never Looked So Good

If you like jewelry - original jewelry - you need to see some of the pieces my darling daughter has created. She is inspired by rustic, natural, earthy materials - twigs, stones, antiqued metals to name a few. And, her proud mom is continually in awe of the pieces she creates.... Like these dangle earrings - both were custom made for a repeat customer. (Not me! - though I love them!)
How about this warm golden stone, wire-wrapped and dangled below twig, copper and red accent beads?This Geode is just gorgeous with its streaks of crystals intermingled throughout A great piece for guys or gals.
And sometimes she shares her whimsical side, like with this version of a bird in flight.

There's much more to see of this young artist's work - you can visit her etsy shop with a click right here and peruse some of her other pieces. (Tell her 'Mama' sent you!) :)
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