Sunday, January 31, 2010


It's very early in the year for me to be making China Blossoms, but there are two new, early, shows for me this year. So here I am, making them inside, whereas normally I'd be making them outside. It's a bit different, and my living room floor has a brand new look.

Not sure what the dog thinks of it all, except that she normally sits on that bit of rug you see in the corner. The big front window comes all the way to the floor, and she watches all the neighborhood goings-on from there.

Here's an unusual one, made special for the Say it with heART! Show:

You probably didn't notice one way or the other, but the China Blossoms in that top photo are sitting flat on the floor. That's because they're in the first stage, where I glue the pretty parts together.

While they dry, I cut the copper tubing, mash one end of it, and then weld the tube to big fender washers. I got sixty-five of those done this afternoon, and thought they looked really cool all lined up:

After that step, they go to the wire wheel, and get buffed up a bit, and then they're glued to the backs of the China Blossoms. That's done, too, so I'm feeling very productive right about now.

Friday, January 29, 2010


It's been a while since I did a Friday Fence Post, mostly because I'm such a temperature wuss. There was this one day, though, misty but not too cold, and I saw the fence....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

YUM! Baked Chicken Ranchero

Played with my food this afternoon, and came up with a new recipe that was really yummy, so I'm going to share it. Here's the finished dish:

Not very instructive, since you can't tell what's under all that sauce and cheese, but doesn't it look absolutely good enough to eat?

Here's what you'll need:

  • Four nice pieces of skinless chicken (I used thighs; boneless breasts would be nice, too.)
  • Four whole chili peppers, split lengthwise
  • One 4-oz can sliced mushrooms
  • One 24-oz jar of really good spaghetti sauce (more on that later)
  • About 1 1/2cup uncooked rice
  • Enough grated cheese to look nice when it's melted over the top
Start by spreading the rice in a 9"x13" baking dish. Lay the four pieces of chicken atop the rice, and spread a split chili over the top of each one. Drain the can of mushrooms and sprinkle evenly over that. Pour the spaghetti sauce over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until the rice is done and the chicken juices run clear. (I'm vague here because mine had been baking for about half an hour when the DH called to say he'd be home in about an hour. That was later than I'd anticipated, so I lowered the oven to 200 degrees and let it cook until DH was home and everything else was ready.)

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and return to the oven just long enough to melt.

We had tossed salad, apple slices, and a glass of sangria with this. SO good.

Now, about that spaghetti sauce. I wouldn't normally name names, but this was a new (to me) brand that I picked up the other day at The Grocery Outlet. It was amazing--all natural, and full of sliced mushrooms, thick tomato sauce, red and green bell peppers, garlic, fresh basil, and even white wine. The brand was Rao's Homemade Southern Italian Pepper and Mushroom Sauce. If you can find it, it's definitely worth picking up!

Other news: Still working on that organization thing, and actually beginning to think I'll succeed.

I've spent the last two mornings working with paper, doing the 4th quarter report, totalling up my business sales for 2009, and revamping my filing system. In the process of that, I went through every paper in the files, and got rid of anything that wasn't something I needed or wanted. There was one moment that was kind of funny, too. The last file folder I labeled said "Financial/Quarterly Reports", and when I'd finished writing that, I picked up the file and looked at it, and dang, if I didn't all of a sudden feel official!

Then I started working on the calendar, filling in the dates of shows I know I'll be doing, and beginning to schedule the steps that would lead up to each one.

You know what's nice? I'm starting to feel like things are under control, and my stress levels have gone WAY down. And it feels so good to see my craft room looking tidy(er), that I actually am enjoying going down just to see what else I can do!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Do you remember this chest? I showed it as part of my clean-up/organizing efforts, downstairs in my craft room. It was a really good buy--100% metal, in nearly perfect condition, for just $12.50--but beautiful, it was not.

I had already decided I was going to use it for button storage, assigning a color per drawer, except for yellow and orange, which get to live together.

As I put the buttons into their new digs, the colors ran through my mind, and pretty soon songs were, too..."Yellow bird, up high in banana tree..." "Blue, Navy, blue, I'm as blue as I can be..."

I've been reading a wonderful book, Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern, and one of the things she says in it is that you're more likely to use an organizational tool or item if it's attractive. I know that to be true from past experience. It was a small leap, and only an hour or two, from the dreary chest above to this:

It makes me smile when I see it, and has an added benefit: If I chance upon a button that has fallen to the floor, or been slipped into a pocket, a small gift from Mom, I know without thinking what drawer it goes in! (Black, white, and gray are in another chest. The drawers of this one weren't large enough to hold them.)

Monday, January 25, 2010


This month's featured Etsy Blogger is Erika, otherwise known as Nico. She has a blog, and an Etsy shop, NicoDesigns, and they each merit the attention they're getting this month.

At her blog, you'll find tutorials, photos and descriptions of her new art, features on other artists, and her determination to help children and their families who are suffering from cancer. Some of the proceeds from her shop go to the Ronald McDonald House in her home state, which houses the families of children undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. In addition to that, Erika has begun sewing quilts for the children. I think that is so lovely and wonderful of her!

And speaking of lovely and wonderful...I am in love with the baby shoes Erika makes! They make me yearn for a little one to give them to. Do you have a baby girl in your life? Look at these two examples:

Aren't they adorable?

And if you need a Valentine that's more than a card, NicoDesigns has some darling new pincushions in her shop, including this one:

Stop by and visit Nico/Erika. She truly deserves it!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm going to give this "Picture a Day" thing another shot, and thought yesterday, my birthday would be a good day to restart it. Wish me luck!

Today's shot is of what I hope will be a solution to a bit of a problem: People laugh at, smile at, and rave about the Coffee Pot People, and little Tea Kettle Characters, but way too often, they walk away without buying. Now, I love the idea of Art for Art's Sake, but aside from the fact that I don't know who Art is or why I should create art for his sake, if I don't sell what I make I'll run out of places to put it. Worse than that, I might actually have to get a "real" job!

It occurred to me that the China and Mega Blossoms do sell well, and they're in the same price range as the Tea Kettle Characters. What's different? Well, for one thing, they have stems, and you ca "plant" them anywhere in the yard or garden you want. What if I gave the Tea Kettle Characters stems, too?

Today, I gave the first bunch fixtures into which stems could be inserted. If a person would rather they sat on a table, or on the ground, they can still do that, but now they can be placed on a stem instead. Here's a inside look:

Hope that's the key to my little puzzle!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


2010 is well started, and I’ve just had my birthday. Our Etsy Blogger Carnival choices are to look back at 2009, or forward to 2010. I want to look forward, and picture my hopes and plans for this year.

In the fall of last year, my Mom’s home was burglarized. I’m convinced she came home while they were still at it, because of what they didn’t take—two of three drawers in the china cabinet were emptied, but not the third, and the valuables on top of Mama’s dresser were taken, but nothing from the drawers. It seemed that they heard the garage door opening and bolted out the front door while Mom was coming in the back.

My nephew is Mama’s (and our) insurance agent. I was sitting in Mama’s living room with her, discussing insurance forms and claims and the like when, with Ryan on the speaker phone, when he said, “So,Grandma. When are you going to move up to the (Hood River) Valley?” That would put Mom in the same town as her siblings and a whole flock of nieces and nephews and friends.

Mama answered with some acerbity, “When my kids and grandkids come down here and help me pack up, and sell my house, and find a new one, I’ll move!” Well, then.

We let that ride through the holidays, and then the first week of January I got a bit of a bee in my bonnet. I wonder what I could find if I just Googled “Hood River Real Estate”, I thought. No sooner thought than done, and scant minutes later I was on the phone with Mom, with three possibilities. Several days later we were in the Valley with a real estate agent, the next day we’d put an offer in on a place that seems to be perfect, the seller countered on Monday, and we’ve countered that offer, and now have an acceptance.

I think we’re all a bit stunned at the speed of it. And now my head is full of plans, and schedules, and trips, and packing. That is my plan for 2010, to get Mama moved to her new place, and settled. Easy. Not.

Mom currently lives in a BIG house. It has five bedrooms, four and a half baths, a big family room, living room, separate dining room, office, and five car garage. She’s 84, and you’d think she’d be rattling around like a marble in a Red Flyer wagon, but no, she’s all over that place, and while she might not do an awful lot in the daylight basement, with its two bedrooms and baths and family room, let me tell you, she fully inhabits the rest of the house! And it is stuffed to the brim with the accumulation of twenty-five years in one place, much of it while Dad and Mom ran the place as a bed and breakfast.

Mama’s head is now full of check lists—what she’ll take, who gets what that she’s giving away, what goes into a moving/garage sale, what gets sent to the Goodwill, what repairs my DH will need to make before selling, what remodeling projects will take place in her new home. We spend hours on the phone every day, discussing everything.

My other plans for 2010:

"^"Add several new shows to my line-up. My least favorite thing is doing new shows. They make me tense, as I’m always worried I’ll get lost, or will forget to fill out some form or other, or do something stupid, so I like to have shows I can do every year, and be comfortable with.

"^" Work with my oldest daughter to come up with new ways to use the Coffee Pot People. Melody is full of ideas, more than I can keep up with, and I can’t think of anything but to try them out!

"^" My DH wants to add a sixth house to our property. Thankfully, I don’t think that will involve me much.

"^" But he also wants to buy another property we’ve found, and move to it! Picture me crawling under the table screeching “NO! NO! NO!!!” I’d probably like the new place. It looks from the outside like a 1970’s split level, and is nice and big, but I love this house. However, the property is a real fixer-upper, and we’d probably do better to rent out this house and live in the new one. eeek. We’ve stuffed this house almost as much as Mom and Dad did theirs.

Just one part of DH's collectibles

"^" And there’s my other goal: to empty this place out, whether we move or not. The DH has finally decided his collections need to go. The sheer volume of things is depressing him, and I can only sing Hallelujah! Over the years he has collected paper weights (not the pretty ones—the clear glass ones) antique pictures and frames, Scotty dog figurines, poker chip sets, bird cages and radio cabinets. The camera is ready, Craig’s List is bookmarked. Let’s clear the decks!

"^" Last, I want to get organized. Of course, I say that every year. What would I resolve to do, if I ever managed that one? I ask you.

Today is my birthday. It’s been a wonderful, quietly productive day, and I’ve felt less stressed than I have in some weeks. Last night, I went to the pub sing. There were probably thirty raucous singers lining both sides of a very long table littered with beer glasses, pitchers of beer and water and plates of French fries. I didn’t tell anyone my birthday was coming up, but I’d been there only a few minutes when one of the guys turned to me and said, “Isn’t it your birthday?”

“You know that?!? It isn’t until tomorrow,” I was surprised, and laughing a little, “so you can’t sing to me!”

“Oh, I’m not so sure about that.”

Sure enough, late in the evening, along about 11:30, John said, “We need a dirge. We need a DIRGE!” and began to sing that birthday song that goes to the tune of Volga Boatmen—“Happy birthday, happy birthday, now that you’re the age you are, your demise cannot be far!” and other such edifying verses. As that one was ending, they segued into “Happy birthday, happy birthday, we love you” (can’t remember what the tune is from, but it’s a waltz). And when they were through with that, Hugo stood and sang, “Whyiiiiiieeee…” which got everyone’s attention, and immediately they were all singing, “Why was she born so beautiful? Why was she born at all? She’s nobody use to anyone! She’s nobody use at all!” It was lovely wonderful, and I will not soon forget it.

Ee Mai Ling, Coffee Pot Person

One of my favorite ladies:

There was a time, way way way back a long time ago, when personal computers existed primarily in the minds of young geeks with dreams. A lot of people thought they were pipe dreams. Most people couldn't imagine that one day virtually everybody, from small children to elderly grandparents, would have access to a computer and an email account. Email accounts? Don't think they had been invented yet.

So when Ee's parents named her Ee Mai Ling, it was just a beautiful name. It took thirty years for it to become a joke, she has heard it before, and if you have any sense at all, you won't make the quip yourself. Don't go there. Just do not go there.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Allow me to introduce Ollie, a dear friend and former movie star:

Ollie used to play a lot of Canasta, and then that went out of fashion, so he switched to Pinochle, and then Pai Gow poker, a casino game that sucked him in because of its 50/50 odds. You ask why Ollie was in a casino to begin with? He had that movie star ego, and took to drinking and gambling after everyone forgot his starring role in “The Cookie Jar Mysteries”, and started using him to store their work gloves for easy access when the weeding impulse suddenly swooped over them.

Not to worry, though. Ollie has a great analyst, got over the come-down, and actually learned to love being an accessory to gardening. He doesn't drink so much anymore. Still plays Pai Gow, though. It's a pleasant game.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Okay. Time to let a little more of the cat (poor thing!) out of the bag. There was a reason I showed just my sewing table in “Chagrin and Bear It, Pt 1”. I didn’t have the courage to show the whole room!

I’ve been working on that room for days, and I’m starting to think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And it is not the headlight of an oncoming train, either!

Ready? Here's where I next took action:

It went from that to this:

And from that to this:

That top tub is going elsewhere!

After that, I figured it was time to tackle some floor:

It soon looked like this:

And then this:


Now, there were some comments on that first post to the effect that the mess wasn't so bad. I suspect that is truly because I'd shown so little of it! The good news is, I'm making real progress. The bad news? The worst is still to come!

PS Did you notice the lovely chest in the third picture, the one with the unusual drawer hardware? DH and I picked that up at an estate sale for $2.50, delivered! It had a badly broken drawer, and a missing drawer pull, so my lovely DH shortened the dresser, turned it from a five-drawer chest into a four-drawer. I love the chest, and ardently admire the DH's talent!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


This is embarrassing, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Have I mentioned I'm organizationally challenged? Or that my New Year's Resolution is to get over that? One of my problems, frankly, is motivation. Housework, cleaning, straightening, whatever you care to call it, is very low on my list of priorities. It's never been something I enjoy, and I have lots and lots of stuff I can do that I do enjoy, so, well, I fall behind. A lot.

And then that gets in the way of the things I want to do, right? I mean, I can sit down and sew when my sewing table looks like this, but...

Well, this is embarrassing!

It's not exactly an easy place to work. That's obvious.

So today I decided to expose myself to untold ridicule and show the world this mess. Why? Because if I do that, I'll have to clean it up in order to get unembarrassed!

And I did:

Ahhh. I feel better now.

I do feel better. The thing is, if that were the only disorganized place in the house, or even that room, it wouldn't be too bad. Everyone has a bit of a mess somewhere at sometime. I think. Maybe not my Mom...No, even Mama occasionally, once in a blue moon, makes a mess. Okay, so everyone is messy sometimes, and that's no problem. But my messes seem to just go on and on and...

Brace yourself, because this is just the beginning. I'm just going to have to keep going at this until I straighten up and fly right!

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