Friday, December 31, 2010

Take Each New Day -- Bird by Bird

Several years ago I bought a book.  A little paperback book with a funny title..."Bird by Bird."  I bought it because it was about the creative process of writing and because the title intrigued me.  As it turned out, the book was about much more than writing.  It was about work and creativity, and laughter and even a little sadness.  Basically, it's about life.

There are indeed lessons for writers about plot, character development, endings and beginnings.  There are also lessons for living -- about finding humor and beauty in the world around us; about sticking with the task at hand; and yes, about endings and beginnings.  One of the biggest lessons, and hence the name of the book, is about taking things one step at a time and not letting yourself get overwhelmed by time, or rather lack of it; or by the scope of the task at hand; or even the road blocks that life, and some times we ourselves, put in our way.

So I thought I would end this year of ups and downs, sidesteps and backtracks by reflecting on the "birds" of 2010.
  • Great new friends, a couple really special ones.
  • A new place for creativity.
  • The challenge of new technology -- good and bad, LOL!
 And in the coming new year, here's to taking each new day "Bird by Bird."

 Happy New Year!


Friday, December 17, 2010

A Happy and Bright Christmas in the Mail

If you've read my previous two posts, you'll know that we had a snow storm here earlier this week.  It wasn't the blizzard that hit Minnesota, but still, it made the roads quite difficult.  The rule of thumb for mail delivery in my neck of the woods under such conditions is this...

The mail will be delivered to your box as soon as the mail trucks can get through.  If you receive a package that won't fit into the mailbox, the driver will bring it to the door, IF you have your driveway plowed. 

As it turns out, I did have package in the mail - a very special package.  And no, the driveway had not been plowed.  So instead of finding a cute little box at my doorstep...I found a note directing me to present myself at the post office to pick it up.

By the time the roads were cleared (Tuesday) and the wind stopped blowing the snow right back on the roads (Wednesday) -- I was sick.  I've got infections in both my ears and my face is swollen up so much that I look like one of Alvin's chipmunk friends.  So the only place I went (Thursday) was the doctor's office to get big "honking" (a technical term) antibiotic pills that look like they were made for horses not people.

So it wasn't until today that I made my way to the post office to retrieve my package.  I had no idea who would be sending me something, so it was quite a mystery.  Imagine my delight when I discovered my package was sent by Lynn at A Little Blue Sky.

Look how cute the box is.  When the outside looks this good,
you know what's inside will be really special.

Here's what I found under the bubble wrap and tissue...

A darling brown paper package, stitched up with string.
One of my favorite things!
  Look Here to see why I'm glad Party Girl didn't get her lips on it.

And, wrapped in a bit of burlap and tinsel, with a glittery S...

A beautiful ornament! 
Soldered, glittered and embellished with beads and a jingle bell.

Here's the other side; just gorgeous!

Lynn posted about making these Here.
 This gift means even more to me because I know
how much love went into making it.

Thank You sweet friend!

For the moment my precious gift is hanging on the cabinet
in my dining room, along with a few treasured Christmas cards.
Eventually, it will adorn my tree in the living room.
I will get it decorated before Christmas!  LOL.

One of the best things -- inside the card you see peeking from
the wrapper is a sweet message from Lynn and
a big hug sent from her darling Brenna.

I'm so grateful for Lynn, her daughter,
and the blog that introduced me to them both. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Winter Storm Rescue

The sun came out briefly and shone on our new fallen snow this morning.

So pretty.  Its supposed to stay cold,
so we're sure to have a white Christmas.
But before there was this....

There was this...

The elves were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
When out of the north there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter! 

The wind it did howl and the snow fell in drifts,
I knew in a moment that rescue must be swift.
Out to the porch my size seven feet flew,
with a  shovel, my mittens and a rescue tub too. 

Into the house they came with a bound.
As soon as its safe they'll be turning around.
They'll head back outdoors and take up their stations,
to greet Christmas guests and sing salutations!

Merry Christmas to all...
and to all a good night!



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Elves in Wonderland

I was going to call this post "An Elfin Wonderland;" but when I heard it in my head, it sounded too much like something that should be bleeped.  So, with a little grammatical tweak it becomes "Elves in Wonderland" and it is part 2 of my front porch decorating adventure.

This little guy has found a comfortable perch in the nest filled with Sumac berries.

I've been collecting these little knee-hugger elves for the past few years.
I never expected them to take up residence on the front porch though. 

He looks so cheerful in his red striped pajama's, surrounded by snowballs.

I think this one is settled in his nest for a mid-morning nap.
He looks quite comfortable resting on a bit of tinsel.

I made these snowballs out of a variety of cream and white yarns
wrapped around Styrofoam balls.  I love the way they look and plan to carry
them throughout my decorating this year -- inside and out.

I have two vintage fireplace grate boxes and they are my favorite planters.
This one is guarded by a couple of rusty chickens,
created by a local artist from salvaged iron bits.
I think maybe they need stocking caps.  What do you think?

This one has become a perfect little woodland scene
for a couple of vintage pine cone elves.

Who knew elves were so fond of living in abandoned bird nests.
Here's a bit of trivia about me... I collect knot holes. 
I know, its weird, but you never know when one might come in handy. 

Isn't this sweet.  I bought this little flocked doe and fawn several years ago
as a package topper and never used it.  It came to mind while I was setting this scene.
See what you can do with a little moss and fungi.  LOL

I wonder what's down that knot hole? 
Do you think its a tunnel to Santa's Workshop?

And how does a snowman manage with so much green and so little snow?

Supervisor Bob says its really cold and starting to snow again. 
And could we p-l-e-a-s-e go inside now.
He really has four legs, but apparently its too cold to have them all
on the ground at the same time.  Okay, okay...we're going in.

That's all for now dear friends. 
There's a big snow storm starting, so the rest of the porch will have to wait.

Stay warm and snugly,

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Country Cabin Christmas

Our house looks like a little log cabin, so I try to keep my outdoor decorations simple and natural.   A snip of this and a sprig of that; mother nature provides so much inspiration that - although I'm just getting started,  it doesn't take long before a country Christmas starts to take shape.

This space is outside my studio. 
We converted our two-car garage into a studio/workshop
and put french doors in one of the garage door bays.

My mom painted the Santa face on a piece of slab wood
that we got from a neighbor who has small sawmill.
I just love the combination of rustic and old world.

This old cement urn sits in the same spot year round. 
Every spring I replant it with different grasses and annuals. 
But for the winter, I fill it with greens and twigs. 
With a bow tucked in I think it looks really festive. 

Here is Mom's bucket all filled with greenery.  I guess I'll have to give it  back to her now.
(Although, just between you and me - I think it looks better on my porch... 
...Shh, don't tell her I said that.)
That's Bob, one of my studio kitties, in the background. 
He thinks he's "supervising."

I'll show you more pictures as I go along. 
I hope to have the porch done this weekend and then move inside.
Its a long porch, so I have several vignettes planned.

Thanks for stopping by dear friends.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby Its Cold Outside

After a fairly mild autumn, winter has arrived by way of frigid temperatures and brisk winds.  Unlike some of our Midwestern neighbors, my neck of the woods in mid-Michigan only has a dusting of snow.  That could change this weekend with a forecast for snow and wind on Sunday - but we'll have to wait and see.

The other day I piled on extra layers, grabbed my basket and unleashed the hounds to go in search of nature's bounty to begin decorating for Christmas.  I'm a little behind this year, but then I say that ever year so I guess its really the "new normal."  

Everything is still laying in a heap next to my studio, but its a pretty heap.

A little moss, some red twigs, golden twigs from a cotton wood tree that blew down during a storm this summer.  A bucketful of Euonymus, some hollow stumps, and some pine boughs, of course.

My mom painted the Chickadee, I'm supposed to fill the bucket with greens and return it to her front porch.  But I don't know, I kinda like it.  (Just kidding Mom.)

Doesn't everyone decorate with moss and fungi?  Oh, I forgot about the milkweed pods. 
I'll probably spray them gold or silver for a little shine.

   This is one of three nests that I found, its filled with Staghorn Sumac berries.  I don't know why.  Maybe the previous tenet was using it to store her winter stash.  The stumps and nests will go on my porch, the rest will be divided between outdoor and indoor decorations.  I'll be taking more pictures as I go along.

Speaking of pictures...

There's a new girl in town and she's been quite a handful.  I'm still trying to get the hang of taking pictures with her, and her software doesn't like the computer software so there's been a real battle  going on.  I'm calling it a "learning curve" because anything else I said to describe it would have to be censored.  LOL!

Before I go, want to say Thank You to everyone who left me comments and sent emails of encouragement and good wishes.  This past month has been a real struggle and I can't express how much your kind words have meant to me.  Things are finally looking up and so I'm looking forward to Christmas and a little holiday cheer.  In the words of Tiny Tim..."God bless you everyone!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar? Really?

Sometimes it takes more than a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

I'm not sure I truly believe that absence does make the heart grow fonder, but I guess I'll find out in the days to come.  I've truly missed blogging, but the past month has been so full of illness and sad days that I just couldn't bring myself to log on and dump all, or even some, of it into the ether.  Hopefully things will be back to normal soon and I'll have something lovely to share.

Before I go, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who stopped by to leave a comment about Brenna's pumpkin pie recipe.  I finally got it finished and in the mail, and I hear that darling Brenna was excited to have a surprise package in the mailbox.   I'm already thinking about which recipe to do next.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Very Special Occasion

I'm not one to cook everyday.  In fact, I thank the lord that my sweet husband, known affectionately as Bad Rooster (his initials are B.A.D.), likes to cook so we manage to eat pretty well around here.  What I do like to do is bake, particularly on special occasions.

Several days ago, I read a post by my friend Lynn (
about how hard it is for her to bake with her daughter Brenna, who has some vision issues.  Lynn was commenting on how difficult it is for Brenna to follow recipes that she can't see very well.  Basically, Lynn needs to read her the recipe and Brenna "just has to trust that Mom is getting it right."  Well, it got me to thinking...

What occasion could be more special than baking with the intention of providing instructions in big print and lots of step-by-step photos to guide Brenna through the process.  So then it became a question of what to make.

When I was in college my boyfriend at the time loved pie and his mother, Glenrose, made the best pie crust I'd ever had.  So I asked her if she would teach me how to make it and she agreed.  I still make pie crust the same way today and have sort of become known for my pies.  So that is the lesson I chose to pass on to Brenna.

Earlier this week I gathered all the ingredients to make pumpkin pie.  I recruited Bad Rooster to stand on a stool next to me and take LOTS of pictures; his payment was the finished pie and pumpkin is his favorite so it wasn't hard to talk him into it.

I'm still in the process of pulling it all together -- editing photos, taking a few additional pics of tools and ingredients and writing the instructions, but its coming along. 

Here's a few pictures from the big photo shoot, and the finished product:

Basic tools...

and ingredients...

a little elbow grease...

flute the edges...

into the oven it goes...
 don't forget the decoration...

sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, please... and voila!

We have pie!  Looks yummy, doesn't it?

I had some extra pumpkin left over, so tonight I made this...
I have a feeling the treadmill and I are going to be
spending a LOT of time together this week.

Thanks for stopping by to share my special occasion dear friends;
I hope you enjoyed baking with me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What To Do On A Perfect Day?

The sky is blue, the air is crisp and what I am I going to be doing on such a beautiful day?  Cleaning my studio!  Not really what I'd choose to be doing, but it has to be done and apparently the studio fairies are off enjoying the glorious day so its up to me.

I'd take some "before" pictures so that I could then brag about all my hard work later, but all you would see are:
  • stacks of plastic tubs;
  •  messy litter boxes, although I do clean these at least once a day, my kitties just love to throw litter everywhere;
  • garbage bags filled with fabric, so I can move the cupboard that it is normally stored in; and
  • a big mess on my paint table. 
So instead of a messy studio, here are a couple more pretty pictures from Autumn in the Country:

Have a lovely day dear friends.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn in the Country

The weather was marvelous, simply marvelous, darlings!  There were lots of really nice people stopping by and saying even nicer things about my booth.  So went the Autumn in the Country event I attended this past Sunday.  The event, held at one of my favorite shops in a nearby village, was small but quaint and really reflected the Autumn in the Country theme. 

Okay, so sales could have been better...but remember this is mid-Michigan where the economy isn't exactly thriving yet.  And the show is in its first year, so word of mouth hasn't had time to spread.  After the show, Bev,  the shop's owner and show organizer asked me what I thought and whether I would come back next year.  I answered as honestly as I could and told her that I had a really good time and MAYBE I would do it again. 

She seemed okay with that answer, after all, she's a business woman and knows that until you look at the numbers you really don't know where you stand.  So I spent all day Monday and Tuesday unloading, reorganizing and crunching numbers.   Oh alright, not ALL day Monday... I was exhausted!  What can I say, I'm getting older and I just don't spring back into action that quickly anymore.

Anyway, the bottom line is I just about broke even, especially when you factor in the handmade soap and dried botanicals I bought from other vendors, yummy smelling things.  It's true, there are things I could change, like the mix of goods I offer, that could positively impact my sales.  But there are things that I can't change that may have just as much impact on the shows potential; things like the size and location of the venue.  So, I'm not sure yet whether I would do it again.

This huge pumpkin was carved while still attached to the vine in the field,
and left to heal-over and form scar tissue that turns a pretty buff color.
There were more for sale in the booth next to mine.

The one with the pie recipe is my favorite.

She also sold dried botanicals, old canning jars filled with feathers,
and a few collectibles.  I couldn't resist the Bittersweet and Sweet Annie.

The vendor on the other side of me had mittens for sale...
cozy, soft, colorful mittens made from recycled sweaters. 
They almost made you wish it was cold enough to need them.

There was one other vendor selling antiques and collectibles.
Don't you love the sign in the photo below?
I think it was originally part of a shipping crate.

And here's some of the things I brought to sell...
We made memo boards from vintage feed sacks.  I absolutely LOVE them.
The Little Pete Northern Bean sack is one of my faves.
I don't know if you can make it out, but he's dressed like a
little cowboy complete with gun and holster.
My mom contributed the Halloween art, including some cute shakers.

You can see a few more of the memo boards in this picture...
Betty Zane Popcorn, Sunshine Biscuits and Alfalfa Seed.

I'm currently in love with silhouettes and brown transfer ware.
It just about killed me to sell this pitcher, but I did.

I'll share a few more photos soon.
Until then, dear friends...