Monday, March 31, 2014

Comfort To The Sick 3/31

Somehow animals seem to know when someone is not well, or even just feeling a little off, and take the opportunity to help them feel better.  William has a cold today (the same one that's been making the rounds through our household since last week), and fell asleep on the couch during our morning literature read-aloud.  Rufus, of course, is never far away during sleepy time.  BooBoo joined the snuggle team to offer his comfort and support.  Or maybe just to get warm ;)


Tribble Trouble 3/18

Michael is a big fan of the original Star Trek series, and his favorite episode is . . . of course . . . The Trouble With Tribbles. 

This is what happens when Tribbles get into a young man's lunch . . .


"There are Tribbles in my lunch!"



Light in a Squeeze 3/19

I took this . . .


Mike and an orange . . .

. . . and I made this . . .


Mike and a light . . .

He Thinks He's A Dog 3/22

This is one of our two brother cats.  They look almost identical, but this one happens to be BooBoo.  Due to the naughtiness of his brother, Bagheera, both cats have been mostly confined indoors for the past month or so.  (Bagheera had been stealing into a neighbor's house through their cat door, eating their cat's food, and terrorizing the timid little creature.)

During cold, wet, and icy days, both boys have been perfectly happy to stay inside.  Mostly.  But, once we got a day of spring-like weather, they both bolted outside at the first opportunity.  And, who could blame them?  We moved our morning literature read-aloud to the back deck to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air while we feed our brains, and the cats joined us.  While the human boys wrestle over who gets to lay in the hammock first, the cat boys spit over who gets the dog bed.

BooBoo won the contest this morning.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Seen in the Garden 3/23

We managed to spend a much-needed hour or so in the garden today, mostly tending to the much-neglected bulbs that are already faithfully putting up shoots and blooms.  Pulling away the bed of leaves which have kept them cozy all winter, I found this little guy. 




He was as surprised as I was.  And, being pretty chilly outside, was not moving very quickly.  Eventually he managed to stretch himself out and be on his way.




This is a better depiction of his actual size compared to my hand spade.



Not ten minutes later, I came across a buddy of his.

Later, as I was hunting for a hose to water the newly-fed and re-mulched bulbs, I came across this guy in the back yard.



No, he is no longer with the living.  At least the cats didn't bring him in the house.

And, why is it that every new garden hose, when you try to unwind it, ends up looking like this?



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Variations on a Tatting Theme

It was a busy week for tatted earrings, with four pair being delivered and/or sold today.

Last week I was featured as Artisan of The Week at our LocallyGrown market, and a customer placed an order for custom earrings.  I ordered the requested thread from Handy Hands (where I get most of my "nice" threads), it arrived yesterday, and I was able to make the earrings in time for market delivery today.


Custom earrings - "Snow Flower" or "Celebrate Spring!" design
At the same time, a dear friend ordered the same design in this lovely variegated blue thread.  It is such a pleasure to work with really nice material, and they turned out lovely.


Lovely blue variegated

This particular design I developed late last year, looking for something fairly simple, yet elegant, to give as holiday gifts to friends and family, and I called it "Snow Flower".  Looking for something to do for Spring, I used the same pattern in a lovely purple/green variegated thread and called it "Celebrate Spring!"  This simple little pattern has turned out to be my most successful to date.

What color will you chose for your earrings? :)





Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday

Could this cat be any more settled in?




This is how Bagheera and I spent our quiet Saturday morning.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Thief?!?

Michael has Spring Fever almost as bad as I do, wanting just about every day to plant something outside.  As part of Spring preparations, and to give him something to put his outdoorsy energy into, I picked up a new bird feeder and seed.  Michael loves feeding the birds, and is pretty good about keeping the feeders stocked as long as I keep us stocked with seed.

But, as every bird-lover knows, where there's a bird feeder, there are squirrels.  I spent a few minutes today watching this guy perform acrobatics until he was finally able to get to one of the little doors to steal some seed.  What's really impressive is that this feeder is pretty close to the ground (only about three feet up), and we've got two hunter cats prowling the property.  The cats are pretty good at catching squirrels, even when the squirrels aren't distracted with stealing seed.

Brazen bugger ;)


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Egging On Spring

I finally managed to get these photographed and posted on Etsy.  I've been wearing them for a couple of weeks, even giving them as gifts, but somehow the weather and our crazy schedules have not been conducive to taking pix and writing descriptions.

But, at last, a new listing ...




Celebrate Spring! Beaded Earrings.  Photo by Thomas H.



Are you ready for Spring?!?   Entice Mother Nature to bring it on with these blossoms!

Tatting is a traditional form of crafting lace by hand using thread and shuttles.

Based on my “Snow Flower” design, these sweet little blossoms will bring a bit of Spring even on the chilliest day.  Layering and beading give them a three dimensional feel.  Made of 100% cotton tatting thread accented with clear green glass beads, they measure approximately one inch across. Flowers are attached to surgical steel French wires and come with soft plastic keepers.


You can order a pair of these little Spring gems here.

Oh, yeah ... and you can have this, or any pattern in my Etsy shop, in just about any color your heart desires.  Leave a comment and we'll talk about options :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spaghetti Monster???

This is what a tatted table topper looks like when it's "in progress."


This is actually about five separate medallions joined together.  Most of the time I'm tatting a medallion; it's only in the last bit of the medallion's progress that it gets joined with her friends.



Once all of the medallions are joined and finished (all the little loose ends tucked in and clipped), I can spread it out and block it.




And, once blocked, it mostly lays flat on a flat surface.




And, one can finally appreciate the loveliness of the pattern.


Here is the finished piece in its new home - my dear friend, Mimi's dining table.


Monday, March 10, 2014

First Sprouts

It is NOT Spring.  It is NOT Spring.  It is NOT Spring.

That has been my mantra the past few weeks, each time we have a deceptively (though seemingly regularly scheduled) warm, pleasant, Spring-like day.  But I know.  It is NOT Spring.  And we WILL have another freeze.  I know, because we have every year we've lived here.  The first Winter we were told "Never plant your 'maters before Easter," and that has pretty much been dead-on advice every Winter since.  You can't even count on the bulbs and shrubs and trees to know when to bloom; how many pictures do I have of daffodil blossoms poking through the snow?

And I'm not the only one bitten by the Planting Bug.  Michael has been poking at me just about every day for as many weeks as I've been repeating my mantra, to let him have some seeds.  Or seedlings.  Or SOMETHING to PUT IN THE GROUND!

So, to temper my flaming desire to PLANT SOMETHING, I have settled for starting seeds inside.  I let Michael grab a bunch of seed packets at the grocery store, and I grabbed a few myself.  We stopped by ACE Hardware for a bag of potting mix.  We already had paper cups at home.  We popped some soil and seeds into the cups, labeled them with a Sharpie, and popped them into the Magic Window.  And because we didn't have quite enough room in the Magic Window, we used a disused bathroom rack to hold more seed cups in the Magic Window Two (in the LR, facing the same direction).

Today, the first little wee ones appeared.




Can you see them?  Alyssum.  Always quick to please.

Oh, and about the paper cups.  In addition to being handy for a quick seed-planting fix indoors, I had one of those "I might just be able to beat it" moments that led me to use them.  

In California, we had plenty of weeds, which required persistent attention and effort to keep from taking over your garden.

Here in Georgia, weeds grow in a carpet.  Everywhere.  A dozen types of weeds all at once.  In a weed carpet.   Everywhere there is even the saddest, lowest, most pathetic little patch of concrete-hard red Georgia clay, you will find a plethora of weeds gleefully sunning themselves in 90 degree heat and 90% humidity.  Nevermind in a patch of beautiful, lovely, dark, rich, loamy, carefully-tended garden bed soil.  The average suburban gardener doesn't have a chance against The Georgia Weeds.  It is a Darwinian Struggle every year, and most years the weeds win.  And, I'm not the only one.  I've heard this wail of despair from countless heart-broken home gardeners.  It mostly goes like this:

"I can't tell the difference between the seeds I planted coming up, and the weeds coming up.  And the weeds outnumber the seeds about 100 to 1.  How am I supposed to know which little sprouts to rip out, and which ones to lovingly tend to, when I can't tell them apart?"

Thus ... the cups.  My brilliant idea is, once these lovely little seedlings are ready to be planted, I'll cut off the bottom and put the entire cup, seedling and all, into the planter.  As the planter comes to life, anything that is not in a paper cup gets unceremoniously ripped out of the ground.

We'll see how well that works.  I'm pretty sure The Brotherhood of the Horrific and Voracious Weeds of Georgia have already discerned my plan and are working on a counter attack.

More photos of the War of the Weeds to follow ... 



Random Selfie With Boys

It was one of the first really nice days we'd had in a while.  So I went out back to lay on the trampoline with William for a while and enjoy the view of the blue sky through the budding trees.  Michael joined us.  And, of course, Rufus is ever-present.  It's been a long time since I posted anything, so here's a Random Selfie With Boys.


Enjoy the lovely days as they come!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tatted Earrings for The Market

So, having told you the "story" yesterday, here are some pictures.

Yesterday while I was dropping off an order at The Market, I asked Thomas to take some pictures of the display I have set up, and which travels from Market to Market throughout the week.  Each Market has a Farmer's Table where producers can leave goods to be purchased by customers, in addition to their orders.  The Girls are kind enough to take my display to each Market throughout the week, so folks can see them first-hand.  Thomas has been photographing most of the earrings as I finish them, so I have a picture to post on the Market website.  He got a little artsy with the angle, but it gives you a pretty good idea of the colors and styles currently available...

Interesting angle...

So, these are what I am offering so far at the Market, in chronological order.  Each one is made to order, so I can be just about any color you want.

I started out with a Celtic Snowflake pattern.

Celtic Snowflake







Then added beads for those who like beads.

Beaded Celtic Snowflake


Then came a five-pedal flower.

Five Petal Flower (photo by S)





I didn't like how it looked with beads, so, no beads for this one.

Then, I added pansies, in either light or dark lavender (again, no beads).

Two-Tone Pansies (photo by S)






Then I switched seasons, and came up with Autumn Leaves.  These I didn't like without beads, so I only offer them with beads.  I also just found a brilliant orange that will look great in this pattern.


Beaded Autumn Leaves


And, my last offering:  Demi Autumn Leaves.  A smaller version in a lighter-weight thread, in variegated colors.

Demi Autumn Leaves





So, that's what I'm offering so far.  I've got lots of ideas for other items - more ideas than time to implement them - and have another little project I'm working on commission, in addition to the table topper.  So, I'm almost as busy as the Heirloom Girls ;)

You can check out the Lilburn Market here, and see my current listings here.







Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A New Endeavor

I learned to tat from my mom about two years ago when William and I flew to California for a visit with her.  Since then I've been practicing it off an on, and have slowly gotten better at it, more confident in taking on new projects.  Last year I managed to knock out several Celtic flowers which I framed and gave to my girlfriends as Christmas gifts. 

After a long stretch of not tatting, I picked up the shuttles again and began working on a new piece, quite bit larger and more ambitious than I have done before - a table topper.  I have it in mind for a small, round table with a dark finish, and think the colors will be lovely.

Table Topper - only needs about a dozen more medallions       











Earlier this year, David met one of the founders of Heirloom Living Market, and started selling his fresh-roasted coffee through their "LocallyGrown.Net" website market.  If you don't know about LocallyGrown.net, you can read about them here.  Basically, each market serves its local area by providing a way for customers to find and purchase produce and other goods produced by local farmers and artisans.  It is an on-line market system whereby you order the stuff you want, and then go pick it up on Pick Up Day.  It's the easiest way to get hold of local, fresh foods that are raised without chemicals, pesticides, etc., and support your local farmers and artisans.  The Heirloom Girls (as they are known) currently run four markets in our larger area.  They are very busy.

Soooooo, I told you those two stories to tell you this story. ;)

Shortly after I had started on the table topper, I was dropping off a coffee order at The Market, and I was introduced to the "Artisan of the Week" as she was setting up her display.  Heirloom regularly sets up a "Farmer/Artisan/Producer of the Week" during pick-up hours, so customers can meet the folks who raise/produce the stuff they are buying.  David has been Producer of the Week a few times, and that week's Artisan was a nice lady who sews aprons, pillow cases, etc.

Once I got home, I plopped down and started working on the table topper, and suddenly thought, "Huh, I didn't know they carried non-food items."  I pulled up the Market website to see what kinds of non-food stuff was there, and, lo and behold, they have an entire category for hand-crafted items.  So, I shot a note to the Heirloom Girls asking if they thought their customers would be interested in tatted items.

They were very enthusiastic.  They actually knew what tatting is, and wanted me to offer pieces through the Market.  They even wanted me to teach classes over the winter when the Market slows down a bit.

So, for the past couple of months, I've been busily tatting away, mostly finding and modifying patterns to turn into earrings.  I'll post pictures and links tomorrow....




Monday, August 19, 2013

Meet Cindy 8/18

Losing a beloved pet is one of the toughest things a kid has to face.  Thomas wholeheartedly loved and adored Buttercup, and her loss hit him hard.  Usually I suggest waiting a bit before jumping into getting another pet.  But, in this case, David and I agreed it would probably be good for Thomas to have a new friend sooner rather than later.  So, after spending a few hours doing some research, and making a list of requirements and pro's (no con's), and sleeping on it a couple of nights, it was off to PetCo.


Do pets look like their owners?
Thomas has wanted a ferret for a few years, now.  And, he certainly proved his commitment to caring for a pet with Buttercup.  A ferret is certainly taking it up a notch or two in terms of time and attention, but I am confident Thomas is up for it.


Hanging with William while her house is arranged
We already had a hutch suitable for Cindy.  Everyone pitched in getting it assembled, setting up her litter box, filling with bedding, and getting her food and water situated.


First snack in her new home
Because Cindy is still fairly young, she needs "wetted" food as well as dry food.


Bonding with Thomas

She and Thomas have already spent lots of cuddle and play time together.


Found a pocket

And she displays the typical ferret's knack for squeezing into small, cozy places.


It's been a big day ... time for a nap     









Sunday, August 18, 2013

Goodbye Buttercup 8/16

This is Buttercup.  Very sweet.  Very fuzzy.  She's been with us for just over a year.  David had taken the boys to WoofStock, an event for dogs and their fanciers, and Thomas came home with ... a rabbit.  Go figure.




Princess Buttercup

For a "prey animal" she was incredibly comfortable and trusting around the "predator/hunting" critters in our family. And, honestly, she never had cause to be wary around her furry sisters and brothers. Dogs, cats, rabbits ... They all hang out together at our house.

Grooming with the cat

Buttercup loved hanging out with her people and investigating whatever we were doing.

Workin' the iPad


I was in the parlor when I heard it.  "Bunny's not moving!"  That was Michael, who had taken a carrot upstairs for Buttercup to munch on.  Before I even got up the stairs, I heard the sobbing from Thomas and Michael.  She had been fine and lively in the morning when Thomas checked on her.  Now she was lying on the floor, not moving.

After an appropriate time for crying, we wrapped her up in a towel and laid her in a box.  David dug a hole in the back yard under the "pet" bush.  Michael put the ill-fated carrot into the box with her, and William added a flower picked from the yard.



Wrapped up and tucked in

Thomas and Michael, having been Buttercup's caretakers, filled in the grave.

Her boys performing their last service

Michael fetched a chunk of concrete from around the firepit, and I wrote on it with a large Sharpie to make a marker.

We will remember her



Final rest

This evening Michael made the best carrot cake ever, in honor of Buttercup.

We are not a religous family. We do not believe we will be seeing Buttercup or any of our loved ones in any recognizable form in the Afterlife. But we cannot deny the power of ritual and ceremony to soothe the breaking heart in a time of acute distress. We treat the inanimate, lifeless body with the same love, tenderness, and respect as we treated the living being. Not because we believe it matters to the departed loved one. But, because it matters to US.  It soothes US. It helps to fortify, strengthen, and burn into our memories the love and vital importance of this particular Life in our Lives. Like an emotional photograph that we can keep with us until it is our time to pass away. 

Goodbye, Buttercup. We will miss you.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mug Shot 3/15

This is Jenny.  We've had her for about six years.  She is sweet, loyal, protective, very large, and not too bright.




Her favorite game to play is "nibble the butt".  Anytime any adult starts tickling or wrestling with any kid, and the kids starts squealing and giggling, she will join in and nibble the kid's butt, causing them to squeal even more.  Jenny certainly knows how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Home! Eventually. 7/16

Today was my last day on Retreat at Kit's place.  I've missed my family and home, and feel ready to dash back into the fray.

Just a few parting shots....

Amazing moth

Beautiful sky


Baily's parting gift


Parting view of the lake

Gimli's sad good-bye


The garden


Stow-away coming home with me for a little R&R

But, before settling back in at home, I headed to our homeschool group's Park Day for some visiting.

L and J hangin'

"What's up?"

"Very funny!"

Da BOYS!

G and her mama


Snugglin' with mama

Once home, we had a little preparation to do for a visit from out-of-town guests who were passing through.

Friends passing through
And then, finally, tucked into bed after a long, fruitful day.