Saturday, August 29, 2009


I just saw the coolest thing on Miz Mollye's blog! She'd seen one of these

on Art in Red Wagons, from a puzzle piece art swap, but missed the swap. So she created her own solo version, doing all the pieces for it herself:

I thought the puzzle piece art was so cool, I did a Google search. Turns out the things are all over the place, with swaps going on pretty regularly. I still haven't run across an entry that tells how the swaps actually work, but there's sure to be one out there somewhere. Anyway, here's another one from Alcoholinky:

And another from Art Chicks, featuring Cindy McMath:

I can't help it. I think these are totally cool. Oddly, although they're closely related to ATC (Art Trading Cards), they appeal to me more strongly. It has to be the shape, because I can't think of any other real difference--both are small artworks created to trade or give away, both often feature collaged images and words, but the ATC are always the size and shape of a playing card.

It just hit me: The only thing missing from this blog is a picture of my own puzzle piece art. That most likely is the result of my not having done one yet, an omission I do believe I will take care of immediately.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I did something unusual today. For me, anyway. In a moment of self-indulgence, I went out to the swing in the yard, set between two trees, its frame half-covered with wisteria, and sat. Just sat. Bare feet swinging in gentle arcs, I enjoyed the shade, on this 93 degree Thursday.

When the guilt of just sitting was too much to squelch, I headed back inside, but not before noticing a tiny arm lying nearby. I had to smile at the contradiction it implied: I threw away the fairy figurine it used to be attached to, but kept the arm itself.

So I picked it up, and carried it to one of the big bowls of flowers, and gave it a new home:

Another sight that made me smile: our little Ceili finding her own way to stay cool, by lying on the grass in the shade, with her chin resting on a concrete step:

Monday, August 24, 2009


It isn't politic, I realize, to love morning glories. In fact, two years ago, if you'd told me I was going to turn into a morning glory fan, I'd probably have laughed myself into a prone and helpless position.

That was before Grandp Ott. You're wondering who the heck Grandpa Ott is, aren't you? Well, apparently, he's the guy who walked out into his yard and discovered a gorgeous purple morning glory with a lovely pink center:

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I watched a friend plant those first Grandpa Ott seeds at the base of the rose arbor, some years ago. She promised me it wasn't invasive, and sure enough, not only was it not invasive, it barely grew. But it sure did have a beautiful flower.

It grew and bloomed exactly once.

Then, year before last, I noticed a little vine over by the clematis. One of those garden miracles had occurred: twenty feet at least from where the seeds had been planted, and a good three years since I'd seen it last, there was another lovely little Grandpa Ott. The vine stayed small that year, and the next.

Last week, I looked out the kitchen window, and saw the top of the clematis arbor awash in a wave of purple:

I'll have to confess, I can't seem to get a really good shot of these. My camera refuses to "see" them as anything but navy blue, and I get the purple into them only by virtue of knowing how to monkey with the color in PhotoShop.

After Grandpa Ott, it was only a matter of time before it occurred to me morning glories might come in other colors than white or purple.

Look what I found!

That's a Japanese Morning Glory assortment. I found the photo, with seeds for sale, at Onalee's.

Further exploration brought me to Hirt's Gardens and this Picotee Blue:

Never again will I think of Morning Glories as only a vegetable snake in the grass, and next year...who knows where the glory will shine?

Friday, August 21, 2009


I went over to my daughter's the other day, to visit, love on the grandkids, play Scrabble, and make Tea Kettle Characters dance. We did it all, and on top of that, I got some great fences!

Triangulated Picket


Painted Zigzags

Like Stained Glass

They have a great barn for the camera, too. Here are a few shots, and I'm looking forward to getting more sometime, as the possibilities seem to be limited only by the time available.

You can click on the photos to see them full-size and at full resolution. With the Zigzag series, differences show up that aren't apparent when you're looking at the smaller version.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This is almost a recipe, but just almost. It starts with (shhhh!) a mix. I prefer to think of it as "altered cuisine". After all, altered couture is really big right now; why not wrap a whole 'nother group in a big bear hug of inclusiveness? Altered! It's not just for dresses any more!

So. Take your favorite brownie mix.

The one I use calls for the addition of eggs, vegetable oil, and water. That's the first point of alteration.

Substitute good, strong, brewed coffee for the water. Even better, if you have a coffee liqueur on hand, such as Kahlua, use that.

Now grind some coffee beans extra fine, and add one teaspoon of that ground coffee to the brownie mix. I guarantee you won't get a gritty brownie, just one with an extra mocha punch.

Once you've mixed the brownies and put them in the baking dish, sprinkle the top with chopped nuts. I used pecans; whatever you have on hand will work just fine.

Bake as directed.

Did you use the coffee liqueur in place of the water? Mama, not the kids, gets to lick the bowl!

P.S. These brownies taste great with a glass of red wine. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Lovely weather today, the kind to entice a person out of doors, the kind that makes you smile and slip on gloves, and those rubber shoes that keep your feet from getting muddy. The DH was outside ahead of me, but I joined him soon enough.

There is now a new iris bed:

Not exactly impressive, but the soil is right--so thick with rocks and pebbles that spades and trowels bounce off it in disbelief. No worries that the iris will sink themselves in cushions of soil. The corn is a volunteer, sprouted from a stray cast off from the bird feeder. I'm hoping to get an ear or two of corn from it!

Schreiner's, the iris gardens I ordered from, has new tags for their rhizomes, a color photo instead of the just name, which is a wonderful thing. As I planted the rhizomes, I stapled each label to the front pages of the the latest catalog, so I can refresh my memory on the varieties.

I always think I'll remember, but it's a long time between now and the bloom season, and there's something delicious about knowing the flowers' names, being able to say, "Oh, look! The Edith Wolfords are in bloom, and so are the Beverly Sills, and the Batik!"

These are the varieties in the new bed, from farthest away in the photo to nearest:

As you may have noted, they had to substitute Fade to Black for the Swazi Princess I'd ordered. Princess seems to be a lot darker, nearly completely black, so I'm a little disappointed not to get it, but maybe next year they'll have it again.

Things are progressing all over the yard. I can't wait for there to be grass, but DH is doing just a great job on the rest:

This is the view from the front walk, just inside the gate. We've been sheltering the little Japanese maple with the umbrella, but we probably moved it at exactly the wrong time, just as scorching weather hit. Poor thing shriveled up like it had been hit with a blow torch. There are still some soft, pliable leaves, though, so we're hoping it will recover.

Those are castor bean plants in the pot. We'd gone to someone's house to pick up some pavers advertised on Craig's list, and the full-grown plants were out front, huge, with big, red flowers. I exclaimed over them, and the home owner told me what they were and gave me seeds. These three plants are just a couple of weeks old. Next to the pot: lavender, sword fern, and curry plant. There's a lovely pink rose in that bed, too, and a volunteer unidentified shrub, with shiny, dark green leaves, and clusters of black berries borne under them. I'd love to know what it is.

My DH planted the boxwood today. You can't tell, but there are two varieties, a dark leaf, and a lighter leaf. We plan to trim them into little globe shapes. The other side of the path is lined with them, too.

The low wall bordering this bed, DH made of brick taken from a planter he decontructed out front. Said planter had run along one side of the carport, making it too narrow to get both our cars underneath. The big pot we got at an estate sale, part of a fountain. Unfortunately, it leaked, but I love the bamboo we put in it today, a clump transplanted from a big concrete washtub we buried toward the back of the yard. The grass waiting to be planted is another Craig's List find, free from a young couple who wanted to get rid of everything in their yard and start over. The young owner told me the grass was a fountain four to five feet high when she cut it back. Maybe when it grows back to its full glory, someone can tell me what it is.

And this is the view from the other front walk, from just inside the other gate. There's a house between the two gates, so that isn't as weird as it sounds. Click on the photo to see it full-sized. It's going to be so beautiful! Someday soon. Soon...

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Yesterday was one of those days, and I mean that in the best way possible. I needed to make something. Really, really needed to put my head, heart, and hands into an art or craft project. Does that kind of craving ever hit you?

Luckily, Kimbuktu, on her wonderful blog, was ready with the answer to Well, what are you gonna do then? I took her instructions on making a tiny coin purse from an Altoids tin, and ran with them. Thank you, Kim!

So, if you'd like to do this, too, here's what you'll need:

  • Empty tins. Altoids are great, but others work well, too.
  • Paints
  • Protective coating or decoupage medium
  • Stickers
  • Magazines, books, pictures, etc.
  • Doo-dads (That's the technical name for those little bits of this and that like tinsel or buttons or beads or broken jewelry or the like.)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Tape
I started by selecting several tins I wanted to play with, and painting them. I figured a basic cream color would work well. I had the bright idea of making a color copy of the tins, to use for templates, but ended up using the tins themselves. Well, some things seem like better ideas than they are, I guess!

It took several coats of paint to cover the tins, and after I'd painted them I put on a protective coat of clear. While each coat dried, I flipped through old magazines and sheet music, a book or two....

You can use the original images and words cut straight from your source materials, or copy them, if you have a scanner/printer. The magazine and music I used the originals. The little girl and the elf riding a frog were in an old children's book, and I couldn't bring myself to lay the scissors to them, so I copied what I wanted onto some thick, creamy, textured paper acquired at an estate sale.

The Altoids tin was my first project:

The Value of Enthusiam

Then one using a Celestial Seasonings tin:

Dive Right In!

Then one using a bitty little Starbucks mint tin, that opens at the top:

A Coffee Hallelujah

And last, and probably my favorite, a barn-shaped tin a little magnetized toy had come in:


On that one, I've done the back and inside, too. The others are waiting for that step. The back:

Wee Folk, Good Folk

And the inside:

Kimbuktu's tin has handles, which I haven't done. Yet. I'm thinking of a wire-wrapped bead handle, but that's going to have to wait for later today or else tomorrow.

When I'd finished the little collages, I protected them, with decoupage medium for the magazine pictures, but the "Little" tin, it was small enough to cover with wide packing tape, and I opted for that. My copier is an inkjet, and I didn't want to risk the ink running when I brushed a liquid coating on.

The edges of the tins, which I haven't shown here, I covered with strip stickers meant to be used as scrapbooking borders, which gave a nice finished look.

Are you ready to make yours? I'd love to see the results, if you do!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I started fixing dinner this evening, and thought,This is going to be really good! I ought to share it!, so I got out the camera and took two, count 'em, two pictures, which will have to do.


  • Six pieces chicken (I used drumsticks and thighs)
  • Six red potatoes, cut in quarters
  • Several handfuls of baby carrots, or larger carrots cut in 2" lengths
  • One large onion, cut into chunks
  • One clove elephant garlic, sliced, or four cloves regular garlic
  • One jar Alfredo sauce (I used Classico's)
  • Herbal rub, to taste
Put all the ingredients in a 13"x9" baking dish, pouring the sauce over all and sprinkling the herbs on last. Bake at 350F for 45-69 minutes, until the veggies are done and the chicken is tender.

Serves four-six

It was tasty. I added cantaloupe and blueberries, but didn't bother with a salad, as we'd have plate-sized salads for lunch.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


More photos of the new Tea Kettle Characters:

That's all! Not much of an entry, so here's just a smidge more: My kitchen is CLEAN! Oh, bliss. And the dining room is looking a whole lot better, and both cars are actually parked IN the carport. Tomorrow I will finish the dining room, and plant all those pots of lovely plants that are patiently waiting for earthly homes.

G'night, all!

Monday, August 10, 2009


It feels so good to be back! Not that I went very far, since North Plains is just about half an hour away, and I came home every evening, but being home for the day, with nowhere to rush off to is a complete bliss. I plan on doing some housework!

The Elephant Garlic Festival was good--nice people all around me, pleasant weather, and decent sales. (Is it crass to mention sales in my blog? It is the reason I do shows, and I have to say that Friday had me thinking I'd made a huge mistake. Others who'd done the show before, though, said Friday was always like that, and the weekend would make up for it, and they were right.) I even got to hear some of the bands in the Battle of the Bands, though only from a distance. I brought home plenty of garlic, too, to roast. Yay!

At some point, I realized I was quite likely to sell some of the Tea Kettle Characters I hadn't had time to photograph, and that the back wall of the tent was a pretty decent backdrop, so out came the camera. Here are the first three:




All righty, then! It's practically the middle of the day, and all I've done is fix breakfast and this entry. It's time for an audio book (Twilight sounds good...) and a clean house!

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