Heather Bullard has a wonderful tutorial on turning any wonderful jar into a soap dispenser. If you click on the link in the title, it will take you to that page...also, check out the new magazine that it set to hit the newstands on February 23rd. It looks quite lovely.
May each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. It often seems that this holiday is lost in the rush toward Christmas merriment. I find this holiday to be a good time to reflect on the riches presented to me in my life. My husband, my daughter, our pets, my home; I could go on for quite some time.
While this past year has been filled with challenges, it has also been showered with blessings. My husband was laid off a year ago this past September. It has given him a time to be here at home with our creatures while he works on a software product. It has brought a certain kind of peace where he does not feel the oppressive presence of a harsh manager every day. I'm thankful he can be here. I was diagnosed with diabetes a little over a month ago. It has given me a chance to wake up and get healthier with the support of my loving family.
I am thankful that I have a job and good benefits. I am thankful that our home is paid for, that we carry no credit card debt and that we own our cars. I am thankful that we have a beautiful, loving, intelligent and generous daughter who lights up our life. I am thankful that our nation took a good turn and we now have a leader who I can feel proud of and respect for. I am thankful that my husband loves and supports me even when I am prickly. I am thankful for the support and love I feel here on my blog and the blogs of those I frequent.
Four weeks ago Saturday, Clyde (on the left) and Bonnie showed up in our yard. It appeared that someone had dumped them and they were left to fend for themselves. We noticed that Bonnie was favoring her front left paw, not putting weight on it Upon closer inspection, we found that there was a huge gash in it. We scooped them up, jumped in the car and drove to our vet. Saturday at the vet's is a circus since it is a walk-in day. Four and a half hours later we brought them back home with medications. The vet said it looked as though Bonnie's paw had been caught in a trap but the wound was some days old and he wanted to let it heal by secondary intention rather than suture it up. Antibiotics twice a day for fourteen days was the answer. They also had worms, so an additional three days of worming medication was needed and on top of it all they each had fungal infections in their ears, so another fourteen days of ear ointment for good measure! Quite soon, we discovered that Clyde is totally deaf.
They are the sweetest little couple and totally devoted to each other. We asked the vet to check for a microchip, but of course, there was none. Yesterday, they both went in for their spay/neuter party. Bonnie had to have a little more extensive surgery as the vet found one of her ovaries was necroted. He believes it was cystic. Her convalescence will take a little longer than usual. Between Richard and I and my daughter who lives next door, we now have two new family members. They have taken to crates beautifully and enjoy their dog yard here. We've kept them sequestered right now but hope once they heal from surgery we can introduce them to the rest of our pack. Between us all, we now have six rescued dogs. I'm hoping we can fully integrate them, but if not, Richard has spent the last several weekends putting up a new dog yard at Sarah's. She wanted one there anyway and this was a compelling reason to do so.
I hope to have more pictures later. Sarah generously gave me permission to use this pic that she took to share. I'm so glad Bonnie and Clyde found us as they each had special needs that others might not have cared about. They are wonderful dogs, full of love and trust even during their darkest hours when she was limping on three legs and Clyde couldn't hear danger. I hope we can be a beacon of light in their lives. I also hope others will consider taking in those who have been discarded, neglected or abused. It's not the creatures who are unlovable, it's the humans who are incapable of loving. It has been years since our two miniature dachshunds whom we loved passed away. Since that time we have adopted into our home dogs who need a second chance and have found so much love through them. I doubt very much that we will ever own any other kind of dog than those who need a second chance at life. I just can't bear the thought of one suffering and hoping someone will see their potential, only to be turned away or euthanized.
I so love making these little houses of ticky-tacky. Quite therapeutic. I've done this little group to follow seasons. The two in the foreground are Spring followed by the two in the middle representing Summer with Halloween in the background. My photography leaves a bit to be desired since these are more charming in person. I've taken some close-ups of each individual house. I'm not too sure these photos are any better. Well, I just wanted to share some of what I have been doing in my creative time with everyone.
If I'm able to take some better photos, I'll post them. In the meantime, I would so appreciate your thoughts on these; suggestions, critiques, etc. It's been a beautiful day in my neighborhood today!
6:30 a.m. Saturday morning...awakening to the distant sound of what? Running water? Yeah, yeah, water. Sleepily, sluggishly stumbling out of bed. Making our way through the house tracking the curious sound. Pausing just outside the door to the little bathroom the kittens are staying in we hear the unmistakable sound of RUSHING waters. Open the door. Oh yeah, water pouring out of the faucet which has been carefully turned just so that much of the water misses the sink and instead pours onto the counter and waterfalls over the edge to the floor below. Better than the whitewater in the Nantahala. Possibly better than Niagara. Splendidly falling into the 1/2" deep pool of water standing on the floor. Three kittens sit primly on the commode fascinated by the pool they are creating. They're pleased with themselves.
Mops, towels and buckets at daybreak. Twenty minutes later, the floor is quite clean and the kittens are amused. They've enjoyed watching us scurry about. They decide to get back up on the sink and are saddened to see the water has stopped running.
7:30 pm on Saturday evening...the kittens watch as Richard constructs a wily device to prevent more waterworks in the morning. Caspurr refuses to budge as the drill connects pieces of wood that cover that shiny metal toy that is so much fun to turn...drats!
Caspurr joins Purrl and Smudge in one corner to formulate a plan to get that water going again. Surely that nasty wood contraption can be removed. Hmmmmm.....lets think about this. We'll have maybe 10 hours to come up with an alternative.
I found these clogs online but all of the shops are Scandinavian and I'm not sure how I would ever be able to purchase them, but I think these are some of the most beautiful clogs I have ever seen. Dorothy's slippers can't hold a candle to these beauties! Well, I just had to share these juicy shoes with everyone; this is probably as close as I'll ever get to owning a pair...eye candy to be sure!
About three weeks ago now, we were successful in catching three feral kittens and their Mama who had decided to bring them into this world via our garage. We have been working to catch and neuter a number of feral cats around our home. People drop off cats out where we are and we have a neighbor down the road who is irresponsible and keeps strays who continue to have litters. We've decided to try and stop this situation. The Friends of Feral Felines near us have assisted us in finding veterinarians who will neuter at a reduced cost and so we have been able to neuter two adults! We're going to keep the kittens out on our cat porch along with the seven we have already taken in and made part of our family.
Here are the girls first pictures! They have calmed down enough now so I thought I could get some good photos without hissy-fits!
Miss Caspurr was the last of these girls to be caught. She's quire wily and a bit wilder than her sisters. It took two weeks longer to nab her in the humane trap, but we finally were successful. She's a bobtail. She's calming down a good bit now but still prefers the high ground of the windowsill in the little bathroom we have them in until they are old enough to go out to the cat porch.
Now, little Miss Purrl is somewhat anxious. One evening while I was spending some bonding time with these sweeties, Richard let our dogs come down to the level where the bathroom/kitten nursery is located and Sweet Pea barked, scaring Purrl who in turn bit my thumb! I flushed it out good with soap/water, bled it a good bit, poured on the H2O2, applied antibiotic ointment and headed to the "MinuteClinic" at the nearest CVS. Unfortunately, the NP on duty that evening overreacted and sent me on to the ER. All I had wanted was some Augmentin to ward off infection. They offered to start me on rabies shots which I declined. I just new Miss Purrl did not have rabies (and she doesn't). I was glad I got the antibiotic because that thumb puffed up and was SORE for about four days. Purrl has not exposed a tooth since and I think is quite sorry she caused so much trouble!
Lastly, Miss Smudge; so named due to the fact that she has a tiny, thumb-sized gray shadow next to her left ear on the back of her head. She is a real lover and the only girl I've been successful in having purr. She truly melts my heart and snuggles down with me without hesitation.
These little ones have kept both me and Richard quite busy over the past month. I hope to get a photo of their mother, Licorice. The ones I took today didn't do her justice...maybe later.
Thanks to wonderful Carrie of Snippets fame for all of her supportive emails throughout this process. If you haven't dropped by her blog, you must. Her dedication to helping feral cats and her love of all animals is an inspiration. She also has a fabulous ETSY shop that you should also visit. Her sculptures are fantastic! You can tell she puts a great deal of love in to each one.
I recently took some photos of three of our dogs. Sweet Pea just loves to have her picture taken. She's at least 15 years old and came to us starving and barely able to stand up. Thor and Zeus are about five years old and are brothers. I've blogged about them before. Their former owner set them on fire. Animal control was going to have them euthanized, but they were spared and we were able to add them to our family. They bring us such love and joy; I can't imagine life without them...
I love Spring and all the beauty it bestows upon us. Its a time of renewal and rebirth; a time of joy and hope. Eggs are wonderful anytime of the year, but in Spring, the hens really get into the spirit and lay some of the most beautiful eggs. We have Americaunas who lay blue, green, pink and tan eggs and Marans who lay chocolate-brown eggs. They are so beautiful that they really need no other embellishment. We are headed to an Easter get-together tomorrow and I'm going to bring some of these beauties along. I photographed them in one of my favorite hand-made baskets. I think they complement their nest wonderfully. Wishing everyone a season of peace. I hope you find the spirit of the season in whatever way you celebrate it!
I found this video while visiting another blog and found it to be quite funny. I think these guys might have just a wee bit too much time on their hands. The sheep don't appear to mind too much and I guess they're used to herding by now, so what's so bad about an LED saddle? Anyway, it was so much fun to watch I had to share it here...
We've had rain since this past Wednesday. Last evening we were blessed with an incredible sunset and rainbows. There were actually two rainbows but I was unable to capture the second, less prominent one. Clicking on each photo brings up a larger version where the rainbow becomes more obvious. Since we live in a wooded area, it makes it challenging to get good sky photos.
The sunset made the redbud at right glow. It's the same redbud I blogged about on Friday. My flash made the dogwood on the left pop. I love how the contrast accentuates the brilliant colors of the evening. Finally, one last photo with my little Beetle glowing in the light of this radiant sunset...
We've had a good bit of rain here this week and that's a good thing because it quenches the thirst of the flora and fauna and makes everything look fresh and revitalized. I spent a few minutes this afternoon taking some photos of a redbud in our yard that grew from seed. We have lots of redbud trees now because we keep letting them reseed. I love these trees so much and was thrilled that I could catch some of the raindrops on their petals. There were honeybees buzzing about among the flowers, but they were camera-shy and didn't want to pose. I was so excited to see them looking for nectar and pollen since there is a nasty little mite that has threatened their well-being.
The photo above shows several of the trees next to our drive. I tried to capture the effect of their branches so laden with their beautiful flowers. I loved the way the pink of the petals plays against the gray backdrop of the overcast day.
I came back inside and took a photo of a little niche in our dining area that I have decorated for Spring. Through the window you can see some of the dogwoods that are just now beginning to come out. I took the second picture a little later this afternoon and turned on the little lamp I have in that niche.
I've been so inspired by all the little houses I have seen cropping up on ETSY and Flickr. I decided that I had to make some for myself. So, I started humming "Little Boxes"...you know, the theme for "Weeds" and got my fingers moving to the music and these are what came of it. This first one above is a little Valentine gift for my daughter and her paramour. I had such great fun making it that I was inspired to make a second to give to a coworker who loves gnomes. I think I'm going to have to make some more. They're addictive.
Unfortunately, I took the pics late one evening and the shadows are a bit harsh, but I wanted to get these done so I could give them. Well, these are great therapy and the recipients seem to like them so all is good.
This is what we woke up to yesterday. I was supposed to be at work, but 5 inches of snow fell overnight and since I live in the Piedmont of North Carolina, that kind of precipitation shuts us down. It necessitated my calling out for the day and using precious PTO time.
I reflected as I stood on my front porch taking this photo around 7:30 a.m. that the white blanket covering all I could see was a metaphor for the fresh start I anticipated later that day. Barack Obama would be sworn in as our new President and I was jubilant. This snow afforded me the opportunity to watch the inauguration as it happened rather than recording it as I had planned to do.
A fresh start, a new beginning. Hope for our country and a prayer for the future. A clean slate upon which to write new commitments and plans for service. A new resolve to do what we can; to do what we must. Build a new foundation to support our leader in effecting needed change.
I stood on my porch in the extreme quiet that morning, thankful for the time it allowed me to reflect on all this day promised and all this new leadership expected from us as a nation. And though I had not planned on being home this day, I was thankful that by being snowed in, I was given the opportunity to watch as a new era in our nation was ushered in. For the first time in many years, I was proud to be American and hopeful for our future.
Thank you President Obama. Thank you Michelle Obama for the sacrafice of sharing your husband with our country. God bless and hold you and your family close as you serve us and lead us into the future that is now bright with possibility.
Holy smokes...I just found this beautiful pendant on ETSY! You may also view more of Sue's wonderful PMC work on the link to her blog in the heading for this post. If I had some money at hand right now, I'd be snapping up this lovely piece. I love her use of resin as a substitute for enamel on this pendant. The interplay of the glossy red and the textural finish of the silver is exquisite. Please go visit Sue's blog and shop to drool over more of her fabulously crafted wares!
How exciting it was to find a comment left by a very talented artist by the name of Nancy Tobin. You may follow the link in the heading of this post to find her beautiful blog. Her lovely mixed media paintings and prints can by found on ETSY. I am in love with the way she uses transparent layers to build a rich pools of color.
Nancy has "tagged" me to divulge six things about me and pass this challenge to six others. I'm not sure these are quirky, but I'm sure they will bore you! So, here it goes...
1...unfortunately, I grind my teeth at night 2...my lovebird, Dumpling, insists on sitting right on top of my head 3...I eat sardines almost every day for lunch, sitting in my cube at work and looking at ETSY 4...I'm an adopted only child who had only one child (neither of us are spoiled!) 5...I like to watch Dexter on Showtime 6...I can never decide what my favorite color is...I'm immediately attracted to a rainbow of colors 7...I never know when enough is enough (see what I mean...this is already one too many here)
Okay...enough of that. Now I'm going to go tag six other wonderfully witty and talented women whose blogs I love to follow. Again, thank you Nancy for your kind comments about my wee, little blog and for "tagging" me. Now, anyone else who stops by, go visit Nancy's blog and look at all her beautiful work for yourself!
We have a lovely little greenhouse that Richard built for us a few years ago. It opens out off of our family room. Here in North Carolina, anoles are quite common and they love to stay in the greenhouse during the late fall and winter. The other evening, when I went out to fertilize my Meyer lemon trees that I keep out there when the weather gets too cold outside, I found one of our little tenants nestled among some very small lemons that are just beginning to form. I love the scent that the flowers impart. They are some of the most fragrant, aside from lilacs and peonies. Anyway, I couldn't resist clicking a picture of this little guy who might argue that it is indeed easy sometimes being green!
It's been a busy few weeks for me and I haven't had any time to get on the internet. Today, I was going through mountains of email when I discovered a link to CraftStylish.com. I had not seen this site before and browsed a little.
I came upon Jeffery Rudell's wonderful Origami reindeer made of interfacing and thought it was genius. His entire collection of contributions to the site are inspiring and you've got to see all the amazingly creative ways he uses paper! I absolutely love the garland of ringlets he made using hole punches. I've added a photo of both projects to this post to whet your appetite to go to his profile there and learn how he accomplished these. Thank you Jeffery for the elegant ideas and your generosity in sharing your techniques! I think I've got to find a bit of time and make some...
As a nod to the season, we sat down to watch a couple of bewitching films. I had to work late Friday and also worked on Saturday so it was a short weekend with just enough time to watch a movie or two. I forgot how much I adored the house in Practical Magic. I'd love to come home to it. Diane Weiss and Stockard Channing are great as was the entire cast. I made a homemade braided chocolate/cherry bread with a glaze. It was really very tasty and complimented the movie quite nicely. A little Dunkin Donuts coffee added to the treat.
The rest of my very short time off this weekend was devoted to learning how to move around in HTML to get my blog looking more like I want it to. I took a few photos of Dumpling perching amongst some miniature pumpkins we grew this year for an autumnal header. I had a great deal of fun trying to get the layout working for me. I like how it all turned out. There is still much to learn, but I think I'll get the hang of it.
Calamity Kim sent me a wonderful little Halloween card that was waiting for me after work on Friday. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. Thank you Kim!
My dear daughter and her wonderful partner brought over this film for us to watch last evening. I made homemade, from scratch chocolate chip cookies. Richard brewed a wicked pot of Dunkin Donuts coffee; we're addicted to the stuff...no Starbucks for us, mind you. It was so pleasant to see older, "normal" women on the screen. While Hollywood is the peddler of "eye candy", Great Britain offers a little something more enriching and Calendar Girls is a perfect example. Helen Mirren and the entire ensemble were credible tributes to the spirit of real women and what we can accomplish if we set our minds to it. The English countryside was idyllic and this true story was told with humor and joy. I'd love to meet the original calendar girls; I believe I heard they raised over a million dollars for the local hospital! If you've got a few hours, sit down with your family. Nibble a cookie, sip your coffee and enjoy. I know tea might be a more appropriate choice of beverages considering the film's origins but somehow I know Chris and Annie would approve. So then, raise your cups and say "cheerio" to a wonderful time well-spent!
I felt like doing a little baking today. It's a bit coolish outside and overcast. A good day for baking! I got out my recipe binder and settled on a yeast roll recipe I found some time ago. I found a jar of unopened bread machine yeast in the cupboard that expired in March of 2007. I warmed a little water in the microwave and added a little sugar. When the water cooled to 100 degrees, I added 4 teaspoons of the vintage yeast and found it proofed just fine! An omen to start baking and see what comes of it. Out came my KitchenAid mixer and the dough quickly took shape.
Baking always makes me think of my parents. My father used to make the most delicious whole wheat bread when I was a child. Later, mother discovered the magic of bread machines and baked nearly every day in her later years. She would take loaves of bread to the neighbors along with homemade peach butter.
While the dough was rising, I poured myself a cup of steaming hot coffee and sat down to begin reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It is beautifully written and has me hooked. I luxuriated in the quiet as the aroma of bread dough wafted througout the house. My own dogs at my feet. It's been a while since I just sat down and read. I have missed doing that. Over the past few years I have found it difficult to relax and just "be". I feel guilty if I am not doing something. Yet today I so enjoyed that quiet time.
Once the dough had risen, I cut it in two, pressed each half into a rectangle and spread sugar and cinnamon over the rectangles and shaped each rectangle into a jellyroll. I cut each into 12 pieces and placed them into some old cake pans my mother had that I had poured a butter/brown sugar/corn syrup mixture into. I let them rise again for a time and put them in the oven. Mmmmmmmmm...the aroma!
Twenty-five minutes later I turned them out of the pans and pulled one of those little delights away from the edge, sat back down with my book and savored the warm gooeyness. What a great way to spend the afternoon; I'd forgotten how wonderful that could be. I'm thankful I allowed myself to enjoy that simple pleasure.
A few years ago, Richard decided he'd like to raise chickens. He put great effort into constructing what I call the Taj MaChickenHal. Sometimes I think those chickens live better than I do! He puts a lot of effort into making them happy and comfortable. In return, they give us lots of tasty eggs. I love eggs. I love Richard for giving the girls what they want so that, in turn, they give us those delicious little nuggets of tastiness. We have chocolatey-brown eggs. We have green eggs - hold the ham. We have pink eggs. We have blue eggs. They all taste delicious!
I call the girls DixChix. I was inspired to paint a little something commemorating their hard work, so I took an old piece of plywood and sketched out a few of the girls. I wood-burned it and painted it with acrylics.
Speakeasy was a skinny ginger tabby who came begging one Spring around 10 years ago. He was bedraggled and sad. We already had taken in six other little drifters, but my daughter Sarah pleaded for us to take him in. We named him Speakeasy because he talked a lot. He settled in and made a place for himself among everyone else and grew. Actually, he grew and grew and grew! Poor Speakeasy had weight issues; while his compadres remained svelt, Mr. Speak grew to great proportions. He moved to live with my daughter who was better able to ration his meals than we could with all of our brood. For a little better than a year he lived with her and relished his sofa-time spent with her. About a month ago, he had some issues and she took him to the veterinarian. She was told he had colitis and was given an injection of antibiotic. He appeared to get better, but then about a week ago he stopped eating altogether and was wobbly on his feet. We took him to the emergency vet last Saturday where he passed away. So, Mr. Speak left us. He drifted into our lives and drifted out in much the same way. We'll miss him and remember his comical ways and his funny lumbering walk. He was feisty and loved his kibble. He looked forward to any time he could snuggle and share the sofa with his humans. Till we meet again, Mr. Speak. We grieved when you left us. You're in our hearts.
I decided to go to Summerville, SC with Richard when he had business there. It was a wonderful trip and I so enjoyed it. While we were there, we went to Middleton Place. It is a plantation that dates back to the 1700s. The grounds are beautiful as were the creatures who live there. I discovered this peacock in one of the trees by the stables and took a few pictures of him in it.
He seemed to enjoy my taking his picture and flew down and followed me around the side of the stables. Guinea hens piqued his interest and he tried to get their attention by displaying for them so I took advantage of his vanity and got some more photos of his beautiful plumage.He totally ignored me as I moved around him while he showed off his magnificent feathers. The hens were not impressed, but their indifference seemed to make him try all the harder to get their attention and he began to stomp and dance back and forth while shaking his tail feathers, causing them to make loud clicking sounds. Here's a behind the scenes look at his act!
Just like crows, I love all things sparkly and shiny. I love feathering my nest with all kinds of delicious baubles and treasures I've found on my journey. Some of my passions include lampworking, painting and creating adornments for my home. Richard, the man I have been fortunate to have as the love of my life for these many years lights up my days. Our daughter, Sarah is the other joy of my life. I welcome you to stop by and visit me here anytime. I hope you find something you enjoy!