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31 March 2011

Spending 40.

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The Pie-Near Woman suggests THIS JEWELRY ORGANIZER.  It is $40.  
Don't believe me?  Here's the AMAZON LINK...it is seriously $40.

So did I buy it?
 Ummmm...NO.  
I bought a weaving frame (?) as part of a $1 bag full of stuff at my favorite market stall.  
So I paid about 40 cents instead of 40 DOLLARS.  Yes, I'm proud :)  

This is the before...a perfectly functional weaving frame. (I think?)


A little spray paint and flip it sideways and DONE.  Necklace storage accomplished.  
You obviously hang things on the top pegs, but the bottom pegs are useful too.  
They keep long necklaces from tangling around themselves and are the perfect width to stick little barettes into (see on the bottom?).

...and when I'm sick of it, I can weave something. 

Learning from a master...

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I saw some classic Picasso sketches at IKEA this weekend and was inspired to try my hand at his one line puppy sketch.

I used my classic drawer front and burning tool to create the sketch.

Any ideas on names?  Sammy?



30 March 2011

Cherry Blossom Festival

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After living in DC and visiting a multitude of times, I had never once seen the cherry blossoms in bloom and for someone who got
engaged at the Jefferson, that's kind of a crime.  So, inspired by Paradise Under Glass, we went to DC this weekend 
...and the blossoms really are this beautiful...


Yes, those are cherry trees along the entire border of the the tidal basin...

We kept thinking about the people of Japan and what an incredible gift the cherry trees were.
They must be proud when they visit and see the beauty they have blessed our country with, don't you think?

...and although I was tempted to take a cutting, I headed the warnings
not to take the branches and instead just hopped over the barriers to get some photos.
Do you know how hard it is to get photos of the cherry blossoms without people in it?
This was was the best I could get of the Jefferson Memorial with the crowds of people swarming it...
 ...and the spot we were engaged?  
Well, I couldn't even get close because it was covered in fences due to a construction project.
Sad...

...on a happier note, I have lots of DIY projects and CHICKENS to post about the next few days
...no more gardening posts (for a few days at least...)

Paradise Under Glass

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This weekend, the kids were away, so I went to the library and checked out about a thousand books...and then I actually started reading them.  I was still in the "read as fast as you can because you don't know how long you'll actually get to be drinking words" mode as I flew through 2 or 3 books.  Then I started reading "Paradise Under Glass" and I slowed down.  Her words seemed to cut through my frantic pace and made me stop and actually READ.  Within the first 4 pages, I was so entranced by her description of the US Botanical Gardens that I wanted to go right that second....and we did!  We can never do such spontaneous stuff anymore, so it was such a treat to act like we were 20 years old again, pack a bag and drive to DC...to look at a garden.

Crazy?  A bit.  ...but it was fun (for me...I realize it was a bit of torture for my husband and appreciate his willingness to go look at plants when he would much rather be doing...well...anything else.)  Are you curious about the words that inspired me to drive 2 hours for some plants?  Indulge your curiosity, but be prepared to want to go visit a garden if you read slowly enough....

"In the instant before a wave of moist warm air fogged my glasses, I was overwhelmed by a view of a vast and dense jungle of greenery.

When my glasses cleared, I looked up, following the trunks of the palm trees to the roof, 
an arching structure of curved glass crisscrossed with metal frames and struts. 
Several stories above me, through a scrim of palm fronds, I could see pieces of sky.

Vapor languished in the air, and the mugginess after the biting cold outside made me feel almost drugged.

I wandered along the sinuous flagstone paths, crossing the stream that wound through the understory. 
There were so many variations, it struck me
on the theme of the Green Leaf: sculpted or feathery; veined in white, grey or maroon;

edged in pink, or backed in a somber purple;

shiny or dull;

vinging, spreading, or gripping the ground;

as small as shirt buttons;

or as big and wrinkled as an elephant's ear.

Only a few bright flowers pricked the backdrop of foliage;

Anthurium with lipstick red flowers that looked as if they were made of plastic,

and bromeliads with spiky blooms in garish shades of orange and magenta.

I hiked up an accordion of a metal staircase that led to a catwalk that circled the Palm House. 
Here was where most of the flowering plants lived, out of the shade of the palms.

Tiny yellow orchids, bougainvillea with flowers that shaded from pink to peach;

a rainbow of hibiscus, bleeding heart with drops of blood at the end of their white blossoms, 
and indigo passionflowers clung to tree branches and railings or perched on the ledge that ran around the perimeter.

There were the smaller conservatories off the main jungle: a desert garden with cacti and grasses, 
 

an orchid collection, and, most appealing to me, a misty "garden primeval" carpeted with mosses 
and filled with what looked like Jurassic-era tree ferns and strange squat palm trees.

It was always hard to leave this place where I felt so thoroughly revived."

...but leave we did, but not without leaving a little bit of beauty ourselves at the gardens as part of my little jar project.

Inspired???


All text is taken from Paradise Under Glass by Ruth Cassinger and all photography is from Allenaim Photography.  
I am certainly not paid to write this post, but if you would like to buy the book, you can do so here:



29 March 2011

Winner!!!

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....and the winner is....

jude Thursday, March 17, 2011 12:11:00 PM



The wood block is too sweet! Also loved the "upcycled" idea...The bag that could be an easter basket was very interesting. I will be looking more at LittleMe123's site.....I must say the detail clear in the creation, AND in the descriptions of size and materials used impressed me!! I feel like I would know EXACTLY what I was going to get....not always true in buying online! Thanks LittleMe for your thoroughness!



Congrats Jude!  I will get you in contact with Nikki at LittleMe123 to start discussing your custom artwork!!

The Jar Project

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Do you ever feel like all of the little projects you are doing are really pointless? The spray paint and thread starts to seem like a chore instead of a joy?  Your motivation just goes bone dry?  Well of course you do, everyone does. 

I work in phases (like a child...).  When I get on a photography kick, I take countless numbers of photos, countless numbers of hours editing, you know the drill.  When I get on a blogging kick, I have to store up posts in the queue so I don't hit readers with 6 in a day, for 6 days straight.  When I get on a painting kick, I ruin every single pair of yoga pants I own with paint splatter because I run out to paint first thing before bed and every hour thereafter.  When I get baking, I run out of butter.  When I get gardening, my fingernails are never clean.  Are you like this?

Once in a long while, the crazy phases, the wearing myself out on a craft before I move on to the next and back again makes me tired.  So I take a break.   ...and while I'm taking a break, it never fails...I start thinking.    I start to get inspired and the cycle begins again.

I could say I wish the roller coaster would stop and I want to get off, but the truth is, I like the ride.  No matter how tired I make myself, it is better than the boredom of doing nothing.

So during this break, I noticed the amount of jars collecting in my cabinet and was inspired by THIS JAR PROJECT  (and if you search, you'll find plenty of other jar projects around the country.)  My project was simple...put something beautiful in a jar and send it out into the world with a message of hope, a reminder of God's presence.  I don't know who will find them or what words they need to hear, but the hope is God using these silly little jars to bring strangers a little joy...a little hope.

Can you see what is in there?

I put a few rolled flowers, a few paper flowers, a few notes and a few photos in the jars....

...and I took them along with me on a drive to Ohio to drop the babies off at their grandparent's house for their own vacation.


The jars were dropped off pretty much everywhere...with McDonald's getting the lion's share at various Pennsylvania and Ohio locations.

I figured moms changing poopy diapers are most in need of a bit of beauty, right??
More jars were dropped in libraries, in gardens and a few made the trip a few days later to DC.  

Does anyone recognize this location in DC???

This little project is over, but only because I ran out of jars.  
As soon as I get more recyclables, I can't wait to get going on more. :)
What do YOU do when your inspiration goes dry?

oh...and if you are visiting this blog because you found a jar, please let me know your story!!

26 March 2011

2 more days...

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2 more days until the winner of THIS GIVEAWAY from littleMe123 is announced....


Want an extra entry?  
Click on the fences below or vote on babble HERE and then let me know you did for 2 extra entries!


25 March 2011

Tell me you don't want one of these.... | Tecolote Ranunculus

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Ranunculus. You know you want one.

While I would like to start this post with a gorgeous photo of one of my own ranunculus flowers,
I can’t, so I have to borrow this one from ENGAGEMENTAL

This is the thing. I’m going to be honest and tell you that I have never been able to successfully grow ranunculus. I fell in love with them about 2 years ago when I was walking through a nursery and saw a yellow one in bloom. I almost cried. Well, not really, but I did actually ask the nurseryman what it was and I am so absurdly shy when it comes to talking to salespeople that I knew I really, really loved it. Not to mention it was yellow, and I’m not a yellow fan. So, make that flower peach or purple or cream or LIGHT yellow – I’m sold! Unfortunately, it was one flower for like $12, so I was not buying that day.

For the next year, I tried to find them everywhere. I trolled garden centers and big box centers and catalogs and websites. I told my husband the only thing I wanted for Mother’s Day was a ranunculus. (They were already out of bloom that year and they tried to sell HIM a $12 bulb that I could hold onto and plant next year…no thanks) Eventually I found Wayne. Wayne made me happy because he told me all about ranunculus. He made me sad because he had hundreds and I wanted hundreds. He also made me sad because he had found his at Home depot for like $5 for a giant bag and the cheapest I was finding was online for way more money than that. 

Of course, I bought them anyway. I bought them for more money than I should have from a specialty nursery. I bought them even though everything I had read told me they needed cool temps to bloom and it was already April. I bought them even though we were moving into a townhouse with exactly 2x3 feet of planting space…in the shade. 

They grew. They did not bloom. Of course they didn’t! I planted them in the wrong place at the wrong time! I was desperate though…I wanted ranunculus flowers SO BAD!

After the colossal failure and loss of money, I decided to give up on ranunculus. Of course, everyone knows that when you give up is when you find exactly what you are looking for (does this sound like a college girl on a husband hunt to anyone else??) Anyway, right there in Lowe’s, in the front of the store was a bag for $5. FIVE BUCKS!!! Just like Wayne’s! I swooped them up and looked over my shoulder as if that giant man with 2x4’s on his shoulder was going to sneak in and steal the ranunculus deal from under me (girly shopping habits die hard).

Perfect timing….early March will give me plenty of time to get them planted and blooming before the 90 degree temps swing in and I hope to show you some true ranunculus blooms this year!

How to plant them?

They are pretty easy. One of the most important steps is to soak them a bit before planting. 
When you get them out of the bag, they look like shriveled up, dead little bits of nothingness.

Let them soak for a little while in some tepid water and they will start to plump up again. 
(Don’t leave them in longer than a few hours because they will start to rot!)

Letting them sit in water also allows them to be a bit more flexible, 
so you can spread the roots into the soil without risking a break.
See how I am gently squeezing the bananas outwards?
See those little bananas? Those are the roots and they face DOWN.

Put your trowel into the earth, pull it up and place the ranunculus, bananas DOWN, about 2 inches under the surface. 
Make sure you spread the roots our GENTLY as you place it in the dirt.

Replace the dirt, tap it down a bit and water.

Label and wait.


…to be continued…


Which plants do YOU have questions about??

24 March 2011

Who is going to Relevant? ...and Every Boy Needs a Truck

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So how many of you blogger girls are going to be attending the Relevant Conference in Harrisburg this year?

I have an idea, and I want to know if any of you girls would be up for it. I have been wanting to do a DRESSES FOR AFRICA party like Ashley Ann did last year, but I need some help!! I need some blogger girlfriends to come and hang with me for an afternoon, sipping sweet tea and lemonade, chowing on some lunch and making dresses for little girls in need with me! Are you game??

Basically, I would provide lunch and whatever sewing supplies and fabrics I can rustle up, you bring your willing hands and whatever sewing notions and fabrics that are sitting unused in your sewing basket (or old clothing we can cut up!  or hot glue guns!  or YOUR sewing machine!  or whatever!).  We spend the day in the garden piecing together dresses, eating lunch and spending a little extra time together outside of the conference...and believe you me you will probably end up with some seeds or divisions or cuttings if we are hanging out in the garden all day!

I live in the Harrisburg/Hershey area, so I am thinking of hosting this party the afternoon before or after the conference - any suggestions?

...and the 'Every Boy Needs a Truck'?  I was thinking (since I have 3 boys) that it was a little sad to do dresses for the girls, but nothing for the boys, so I wanted to round up all the extra matchbox cars everyone has to send a big old box of trucks and cars for the boys to play with while the girls dance around all beautiful in their new dresses.  The boys would rather be covered in mud playing with trucks anyway, right?

So who is up for a party???  Comment or email me if you are interested!

22 March 2011

If you like babies and you like Pottery Barn...

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If you like babies and you like Pottery Barn...you'll like gardening.  HA, got you didn't I?  You girls that never want to look at gardening posts, this is for YOU!   I’m going to convert you!

Do you spend too many hours watching HGTV?  Do you have at least 3 magazines each month in your box that have gorgeous spreads of beautiful spaces?  Do you buy too many cute things on the endcaps at Target?  Are you a thriftaholic?  Do you spend hours sketching your new living room design or master bedroom update over and over and over again?  Do you blog about your home?

If you said yes to any of the above, prepare yourself.  I am about to convert you.

If you could take a time machine back 5 or 6 years ago and watch me open the current Better Homes and Gardens, you would see me flip past everything else to the section on home design.  I was obsessed.  I ripped pages out of magazines like crazy (I couldn’t even sell them in yard sales because I had ripped out so many of the pictures!).  I made design plan after design plan.  I started blogging about design.  I even taught a community college class on design.  I could think of little else besides designing my spaces (and wanting a baby…but that is a different post…).
Now, when I open the current Better Homes and Gardens, I open straight to the “outdoors” section.  They don’t even call it the “garden” section anymore because nobody wants to be a gardener…they want to be a designer.  I don’t even get very excited when I see Better Homes and Garden comes out of the mailbox…it is really Fine Gardening that gets me jumping up and down nowadays.
Why the change?  Well, like all obsessions, interior design was fun for a long time, but it kind of fizzled out.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still drool over a chance to go to IKEA and I love reworking my rooms and giving them new looks, but it has moved from being an obsession to just being a thing that I can do.
Gardening, though?  Total obsession.  Last night I sat in bed flipping slowly through the latest David Austin catalog, marking future rose selections and oogling the 3 that will arrive within days at my doorstep.  After flipping through the catalog, I moved on to a novel.   …about gardening…well farming really, but pretty much the same difference in my book.
You see, the tending of a garden, or “outdoor space” combines two of my great passions.  It is all about designing…arranging color, shape, flow, experience and it is all about nurturing.  Those baby plants need love and watching a seed grow into a seedling, and then into a flowering plant?  Well, it is akin to the feeling of watching your child grow from a tiny little infant to a man taller than yourself (oh may the day never come!).  The difference is just time.  One takes a mere growing season…5 months or so.  The other takes a lifetime. 

If you love babies and if you love design, you will love to garden.

I always thought gardening was for old ladies.  I never really understood the concepts behind their garden designs.  I always thought it looked cluttered.  I really hated all of the “garden plans” in catalogs with 16 different perennials that are supposed to “bloom in succession”.  I have since learned that ½ of my problem was realizing that there are VERY diverse styles of gardening (as there are in any design application) and I don’t have to make my garden look like the typical garden design.   My other problem was that I didn’t have eyes yet.
Our Aunt Mary took us to Longwood Gardens a few years ago and silly me didn’t realize that I was visiting one of the most famed gardens in the world.  I liked it.  I especially loved the room full of poinsettias.  (Literally full…like an acre of poinsettia at your feet, hanging from above, it was magnificent.).  That is all I truly remember though.  How childlike that I had to be hit over the head with an ACRE of red to even appreciate the design.  I can now say I am looking forward to checking out Longwood again.  Perhaps with better eyes this time. 
You see, gardening is just like interior design, except it is harder.  You can shuffle things around, but you can only really do it once a year, maybe twice without risking the life of your plants.  …and large things like trees?  They are pretty much there for good unless you want to go to huge hassle and expense of moving them.  Try telling an interior designer  that they have to leave the albatross brick fireplace where it is, they can’t paint it and it still has to function as a fireplace.  Solve that dilemma, and you have a really talented designer…or a gardener.   You see, gardeners have to solve problems.  They see flaws or attributes of the home and have to accent the positive or divert your eyes from the negative with plants.  Living, breathing plants.  They design spaces outdoors that make visitors feel wanted, calm, at peace, curious, ALIVE.  They do this with tiny little seeds that need pampering and coddling until they are strong enough to grow on their own. 

Gardening is for people that need more of a challenge than designing a living room can give.

Have you made it this far?  You are almost converted :)   If you think I’m ridiculous, just read my freshman, sophomore and junior year posts.  Spend $10-15, invest a little time, and let me know when you decide that you have become a gardening convert…because I assure you you will. 

I have so much more to say, but blogs aren’t books and I’ll save my wordiness for another day.

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