Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!

I just wanted to drop a quick note I jet out to do some last minute things.  I wish you all a warm & safe holiday, hopefully spent with loved ones.  I'm almost ready to call everything "done".  Christmas really isn't about tons of "perfect" gifts.  It's about so many other things, but sometimes we seem to forget & get caught up in the frenzy.  I'm planning on just letting go & give all the love I can to friends & family.

I'll be giving a little blog love after the holidays.  I'm going to post a tutorial on how I made a few etched copper pieces & I think a small giveaway.  I'm not sure what I'll be giving away, so I'll ponder it & try to come up with something that someone may like.

Until then, enjoy your friends & family.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Once upon a time........

This year I decided to "do" a handmade Christmas.  Money is very tight so I knew I had to make do with the things that I already had, so no budget busting trips to the craft store.  Luckily, I'm a bit of a pack rat who used to enjoy lots of different crafting so I dug into my craft trunk & had a look around.  

Oh boy!!!  It had been so long since I'd looked inside the old trunk that it was like shopping because I'd forgotten why I bought all of that "stuff".  (I'm still not sure what I was planning on doing with a gazillion wooden balls.)  My recent free art class with Tam, aka Willowing, opened my eyes to mixed media & I really had a lot of media to mix.

I've knitted a few fingerless gloves using some yarn that I already had or that Grandma gifted me while I was home for Thanksgiving.  I also knitted a hat for an ex-neighbor as a "Thank You" for everything he did while he was living next door.  I'm a new knitter, so nothing complicated.

Aaaanyway............  Grandmas are always so difficult when it comes to gift giving.  Mine doesn't need anything & if she does, she goes out & buys it.  I didn't want to revert back to jewelry (though I did with Mom) so I had to come up with something different.  I decided to make a collage for her to hang on her wall.  I wasn't sure about the direction I was going to approach the collage, but as it turned out, it pretty much made itself.

When I was home for Thanksgiving I collected a few old photos & a few letters that Granddaddy had written to Grandma while he was in the Navy.  I scanned the photos & tried to fix them, but soon gave up because I'm no whiz with photo editing.  

I came up with the title, then started telling the story. 

I included pics of my Uncle Eddie, Mom, on the bottom left is Mom holding me when I was 3 days old  (look at that head of hair) & me on the bottom right.  

I used a stretched canvas & matte medium to adhere copies of his letters to the background.  I smeared white paint on top of the letters to obscure them a little & push them into the background a little more.  

I wanted to include parts of each of their lives, while they were apart & while they were married.  

Granddaddy was drafted into the Navy while he & Grandma were dating & spent his time aboard the USS Brinkley Bass.  I found an old photo of the ship & included it here, below a picture of Granddaddy.  A friend gave me a box of old jewelry so I snipped the back off of an earring & glued it above the "Hope" ticket that I distressed.

This is my Mom's brother who died when he was 22.  He was very much "snips & snails" kinda little boy so I had to include part of the quote.
  My Granddaddy owned & ran a general store  so I included the name of his store along with a few buttons as a little nod to Grandma's abilities as a seamstress.  

The flowers were pretty & added more dimension to the piece, but Grandma also used to have beautiful flower gardens.  She always had fresh flowers in her house & supplied flowers for her Eastern Star chapter & sometimes the church.

 Mom was a little lady so "sugar & spice" was very appropriate for her as well.

I glued an old keyhole cover that I had with the intent of gluing a key on Granddaddy's side, but didn't have a pretty key.  I wanted to convey the "key to her heart" thing, but couldn't quite pull it off.  I still like it, though.

I made the "Family" embellishment by using rubber stamps to stamp into Sculpey, then distressing.

The piece still felt disjointed so I added the pearls to pull everything together, but there still seemed to be an empty space at the bottom.
Granddaddy & Grandma used to go dancing almost every week, so I made up a dance card with some of Granddaddy's favorite songs & forged his name to all of the dances.  I distressed it, glued it down & I love it.  

Hanging it put me in a quandary, until I looked through a bag of hardware that I'd kept when I remodeled my house.  I found the painted "thing" that was used to wrap the string from the blinds to keep them up & thought it was perfect.  It was already painted & shabby & it resembles a cleat used to secure boats, etc so I screwed it into the top.  I'm going to look for some old chain to hook around the "cleat".

I didn't have boxes to wrap the knitted items so I made these.  I got this great idea from Mystelle at Little Glimpses.  Mystelle & Tam at Willowing have been so inspirational to me I can't stand it.  It seems like they've opened a door such that I can't keep up with all of the ideas & things I want to do.

For these little gift pouches I used grocery bags, pages ripped out of a phone book, fabric & paper.  I used a glue stick to quickly stick the items down to the bags, then struggled with my sewing machine to free stitch everything down, then I sewed up the sides.  The bottom left is just a grocery bag wrapped around the item & tied up with butchers twine.  He's a no nonsense kinda guy, so no frills for him.

If you've made it this far, you're a trooper & thanks for hanging in with me.  I'm currently working on an owl collage & a pair of copper etched earrings for Mom so will post pics when I get them completed.  

I'm also going to post a tutorial for copper etching.... keep an eye out for that.  

I hope you all are able to gear down & enjoy the the holiday season.  I know that everything seems to be rushed as the days tick away, but just slow down, take a breath & look around.

I know we all want to find that "perfect" gift for those special people, but don't forget to take the time to enjoy those special people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow & Sleet & Freezing Rain...Oh My!!

We've had an unusually cold "fall" this year.  We had a tiny bit of snow a couple of weeks ago & had a little more this morning, but our winter wonderland was quickly replaced by our more typical sleet & freezing rain.  Even though our previously confection-topped landscape now more closely resembles mud pie, I was able to capture some of the beauty still quiveringly clinging onto whatever it can.

Nature's tinsels dripping from a cedar tree.

Dogwood buds encapsulated in their frozen shell.

   Hopefully, the ice will soon succumb to the warming temps & no power lines will assaulted.  
No power + cold weather = no fun

I hope you're all safe & warm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ode to My Willow Oak

We've had good times & we've had bad.  I remember how you stole my heart when I first saw you.  You stood tall & sheltered everything beneath your wide, strong boughs.  As the days & years have past, you've gotten weaker, but remained a haven for all who needed refuge.  Today we said goodbye for the last time.  I watched as your diseased limbs were removed & taken away.  

I mourned for the homes that were lost as I saw the last of you leave. 

You'll soon nourish the ones that come after you, so you will continue to live.

A little too sentimental over a tree that had to be removed?  Probably, but I've been working on a collage for my Grandma using old photos & letters that my Granddaddy wrote to her while he was in the Navy so I'm feeling a bit tender & weepy.  My Granddaddy's been gone for over a decade, but I still miss him so.  He was the best man I've ever known & like the majestic oak, he was always our shelter from the storm.  I'm so gad that he & Grandma picked each other so that I could have both of them.  They also gave me my Mom, who is the shining light at the end of the tunnel when I feel so lost & alone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hey Bunny!!

My yard bunny.
I have a real one that doesn't like so much that I've been cutting trees & clearing the underbrush.

One drawback of not having a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner is not having all of the yummy leftovers for sammiches & pot pies & all of those other wonderful things that can be made from the myriad of dishes usually gracing a holiday table.  Friday night I decided to make dinner for Mom & Grandma, if Gran was willing to try something new.  I was surprised when she accepted the invitation for a couple of reasons.  Grandma, like most, I assume, feels that she has made it this far in life without trying Indian food so why try it now & it was Friday night...her dancing night.  She still hasn't made it back to the dance floor since her misstep while doing the Electric Slide which left her with a broken hip (now hip replacement) & a broken shoulder, but she still goes to "tap her toe & drink Coke-Cola".

I decided to make Butter Chicken, naan bread & rice.  Butter Chicken is a really good Indian dish that's not too spicy, not too curry-y, but a nice little mix of spices that mingle together to make a sauce that's just complex enough to be pleasing on the palette.  It's barely enough heat to bring a little warmth to your tongue without having to reach for something to ease the tingle.

I first made the naan bread & while that was resting I marinaded the chicken.

Mom doesn't have a tandoor oven (who does?) so I cooked them on top of the stove on a screaming hot griddle.  There was some smokeage going on...enough that it brought Mom to the kitchen to open windows & doors (sorry Mom)..tee hee.  Anyway, it worked pretty well, I just should have made sure that that the griddle was well scrubbed & well seasoned before using because it was a new cast iron griddle that hadn't been "broken in" yet.  Well Honies, I broke it in alright.  

The naan bread was just plain, no garlic, but I think they turned out well.

I only have this picture of the Butter Chicken cooking in the skillet.  When I make it again I'll take more photos as I go along.

I served it with plain rice, but would have been better with basmati rice & maybe a little dal on the side, but wanted to ease Grandma into the whole Indian experience.  I was pleasantly surprised that Grandma loved the dish.  Grandma is a good sport with trying most of the things that I make, but is pretty transparent when it comes to somethings that doesn't she like.  If it's something she'd rather not have again, her feedback typically starts with "Weeeeellllll........"  spoken in her soft accent.  Only a true Southerner can drawl a one syllable word  into one which lingers on the lips long after the first consonant dissipates.  I knew it was a hit when she told me how much she liked it as I walked her out to her car.

It was the first time I'd made Butter Chicken, but will be making it again.  I'll take more piccies during the process & post the recipe the next least I'll try.  I'm not great with recipes because I really don't measure anything, but if you'd like, I'll try to be a good girl & measure everything so you can try it too.

Y'all stay warm & cozy.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boy howdy, that's a lot of bugs!!!!

I returned home a few days ago from a wonderful little respite from the mean streets of the Dirty D.  I went back home & spend lots of time with Mom & Grandma.  I came back feeling more balanced & more loved than I did when I left & also with the habit of waving to everyone I meet while driving around.  In the country, everyone waves because everyone knows everyone else.  If they don't "know" you, they know you must be Miss Venell's granddaughter because she was coming into "town" from Durham for Thanksgiving.  As much as I love Durham, I do love my original home place.  I wish I could somehow move them closer to each other, yet keep them separate...make sense?

I spent a lot of time with my Grandma talking about old times & her "holding" my hand while I tried knitting with circular needles for the first time.  Even though she's a leftie, she was a huge help & laughed at me when I asked her how to get the stitch marker out of the knitted piece.  Hey,  I know I can't be the only one who didn't grasp the concept of a stitch marker.  Anyway, she stitched up a seamed 1030's hat that I made & inspected another cap that I'd made for my neighbor.

We had Thanksgiving at Mom's house as Grandma's house was waaay too far to travel (about 150 yards).  We usually have our holiday dinners at Mom's because it's easier for Grandma & for us, I think.  Grandma always brings several dishes ...especially dessert.  We rarely have traditional turkey.  This year we had "backbone", but it wasn't really backbone, Mom used riblets because backbone wasn't readily available at the grocery she was in, but salted them as if they were backbones & they were yummy.

I guess I should maybe explain.  I'm from Eastern NC where a lot of the food cooked is the same as it was 50 years ago......typical "soul" food.  Pork backbone is, quite literally, the backbone of a piggie.  As you can guess, it's mostly bones, but because the backbone is right above the loin, the meat that is there, is very tender.  Mom salted down the riblets...I don't mean salted them, I mean salted them down.  Lots of salt (non iodized, please) on each side of the meat & stack the meat in layers in a glass or plastic container.  Don't be prissy with the salt.  I asked Mom how much salt she used & she said that she didn't use the whole box of salt.  That's how much salt needs to be lavished onto the unsuspecting piggie.  The container sits (covered) in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  The meat turns a little gray, but that means that it's started to "cure"  After a couple of days, (in this case, the night before Thanksgiving), rinse off the salt & soak the meat in a container of water, changing the water several times to leech out the salt that you spent days getting into the meat.  

The meat is then, simply boiled in a pot of water on top of the stove. 

Potatoes & cornmeal dumplings can be added, but Grandma had made the collards & cooked the taters & dumplins for us.  Of course, no Southern table is complete without a bottle of pepper vinegar.
Sorry I don't have pictures of the other Southern staples, collards, taters, cornmeal dumplins & baked sweet potatoes.

Here's Mom's mac & cheese:

Crunchy, crunchy on top, but creamy & cheesy under the surface.  Not the typical mac & cheese, but my favorite.  Just a few ingredients & I think it's actually less bad for you than others...maybe not.

Potato salad that Mom had in the fridge:

Holla to the sweet potatoes in the back.  Yes, they're just baked in the oven & served on the table in their skins.

Grandma's cake...oh yeah.  She usually makes chocolate meringue pie, but I forgave her this time.

When I was driving back on Saturday I ran into a huge herd....pack(?)  maybe swarm, of bugs in Wake Forest.  What in the world????  Further down the road, the bugs turned onto snow.  By the time I arrived in Durham, the lawns & roadside were heavily dusted with this rare confection.  I can't remember the last time we've had snow this early because for us to even get snow is a bit crazy.  It would have been less of an anomaly had it been a giant swarm of bugs.  If you've been to North Carolina in the summer, you'll know what I mean.

I hope you all had a great week.  Now, back to gift making.  Times are hard, so I'm making a lot of my gifts this year....I guess I should get to it, but I have a few jewelry orders that I need to get wrapped up.  I have most of the designs sketched out, which is something that can sometimes take me a while.  I'll post my things as I get them completed, plus I have little sneaks of my home to show you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of my fellow Americans a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Even in these hard times, when it doesn't seem that there's a lot to be thankful for, we can always find something.  I can't express how grateful I am that I have the wonderful loving family I have in my Mom & Grandma.  I'm excited to see them & spend time with them & cook up something.  As usual, we're not having the typical "turkey" Thanksgiving but something yummy nonetheless.  I plan on taking lots of pics & sharing them with you.  I hope you all have a great time doing whatever it is that you choose to do.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Day in the Life

It's another beautiful day in the Ole North State & I'm here in front of my computer...well, why break traditions. We've had a little rain this week which has caused a blizzard of colors to drop from the trees.  My truck was covered so I decided to take him out & let the wind brush the adornments from his face.  My first stop was to see Tyrone for a quick holiday cut & for him to cover the natural "highlights" in my hair that keep popping up with more frequency as the years (maybe weeks) go by.  Ty gives me great cuts & color (for a fraction of what I'd been paying) & who doesn't like to be called Princess & kissed on the head when they leave??  I'll take it.  

Then I ventured over to Whole Foods for a few bulk items, then to the yarn shop to get the skein of yard that I bought last week rolled into a ball.  It's so much easier to have them do it than to try to make Dakota hold out her little paws while I do it.  

Then off I go to look at things I can't buy, but like to hold.  Why is it that when I don't have money I see sooo many things that I want, but when I do have a little extra, I can't find anything?

I stopped by a local establishment to see a few friends & to do a little art.  I love this place because I can go in with paper, pencils or yarn & knitting needles & do whatever I like to do.  Drink juice or water...or maybe something a little more recreational, & catch up with the news.  I chatted with friends & ended up with a couple more commissions for jewelry for Christmas.

I came home & noticed a big pile of limbs & branches in my yard.  Aaawww, Earl had been here while I was gallivanting & had cut down the 3 trees in the front & had filled up my yard bin.  I knew he was going to come by & do it, but wanted to be here to help him.  He did  great job & I think I'm going to have to throw in something a little extra in exchange for his help along with the necklace...I wonder if his wife wears earrings?

I worked on the last assignment for the online art course I'm taking here then realized that I had accomplished more than I had planned except for the most important.  I'd forgotten to get my little sweetie more food.  Poor, little, neglected puppy.  

(BTW, she's laying on a flannel sheet, a wool blanket & her down duvet, yes, it's her down duvet.)

Well, I did have enough food for a couple more days, but must run out to get more today.  I don't want her calling anyone & telling on me.

Here's my little angel painting.  

Still practicing, still have a long ways to go.

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Messenger Bag & Project Love

I don't know how many of you are aware of the wonderful community that exists on Youtube.  I thought Youtube was full of tutorials & the funny things that someone's dog did at the latest family reunion until I stumbled upon this certain group of vloggers.  They have an annual party (called South Tube) where they gather, chat, eat, dance & just basically enjoy looking at each other in person instead of through a computer monitor.  It seems like a family reunion.  Aaaanyway.  I "met" this great person named Beth.  I've mentioned her before but it was a while ago, but felt like it was time to do it again.  

A few weeks ago I received a package.  I opened the package only to see the coolest most awesome messenger bag ever!!!  I'd been wanting one to carry around my plethora of various notebooks, sketch books, cabochons..whatever, because I'd been walking to nearby places instead of driving.  I carried my cabochons, my sketchbook (in case I get a brilliant idea for a new piece)& all of the other goodies that I like in my purse, which wrecked havoc on some of my purses.  I had drawn out a quick pattern for a messenger bag using old jean, but then I got this from Beth:

It's really lovely!!  It's soft & huuuge!!!!  Here's what in my messenger bag right now.

That's my 11x14 drawing pad, watercolor crayons, watercolor pencils, pencil case & that's my art journal peeking from behind my crayons.  It's only a composition book so I haven't really changed the cover other than adding some kraft paper to the front.  I really like the size, so I'll use the cover of one for my next journal, but something more substantial for the pages.  Notebook paper really doesn't like a lot of paint & water.

I love, love, love, my messenger bag & am sorry I didn't show y'all how wonderfully she lined the inside with nice little pockets on the side.  It's so well made & Beth's finish work on her pieces are very professional & sturdy.  

I mentioned the Youtube community earlier & wanted to take a moment to tell you about Project Love.  It's something that was started in this little YT community to help others who were having a hard time.  Sometimes the funds go to help someone who couldn't pay their power bull one month sometine it's to havelp a family have a holiday dinner.  Earlier this year they arranged an online bingo game with the proceeds going towards getting someone a wheelchair lift for their van.  There was also a little "drive" to help some get schools clothes & supplies for their little ones.  The holidays are coming up & there are some who have had a hard year, through layoffs or illnesses that may not be able to sit down & have a nice holiday dinner or buy a few pressies for the kids.  

Here's a way that you can help someone while picking up a few handmade presents for yourself or for someone else.  Beth sews the cutest makeup bags, camera bags, stockings, bucket totes, aprons...just about anything you can imagine & sells them on her weebly site for very affordable prices. have to go take a look.  She has several sections, so you must check them all out & you can even pick out the fabric that you like from the looong list of fabrics that she has.  There must be well over 50 fabric choices.  I'm not saying that that she has a "fabric" problem...I'm just saying.  

coffee cozy

fleece hat & Beth's purdy face

I could go on & on about how some of her fabrics are made from Hawaiian fabric (sorry Beth, I don't remember what you call them), or that you may get a bag that's been lined with Japanese kimono fabric (if she still has it), but you should just go check her out.  

travel set

camera bag

She has a separate section for her Project Love items, but be sure to look at all of the purdies she's made.  I know you know someone who would loooooove some of her handmade things & if you're nice, maybe Beth will run through her yard with your items, gathering all of the the nice warm Hawaiian air she can before she seals them in the box.

makeup brush roll (fabric is no longer available :(

Thanks again, Beth!!!

Beth's Weebly site for the goodies
Beth's Youtube channel where she sometimes takes up for a ride along while she meanders around Hawaii.

I'm headed over there now to start my Christmas list.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Friday

Friday has rolled back around, very quickly, it seems.  I don't have any special plans, just working around the house & continuing my battle to gain control of my yard.  It's been a pretty uneventful week, but that can be a good thing.  Excitement isn't always positive, sometimes bland & boring is a good thing.  I'm still struggling with the time change, but I think most everyone is.  How can one hour be so disruptive??  I guess we're more of a creature of habit than we realize.  

Last weekend I went to visit with a friend of mine.  He lives in the same town & we do see each other quite often, but it's been a long time since we've something as "everyday" as grocery shopping.  I stopped by his house on Sunday & went to the grocery store with him.  He's a total man in the grocery store so it was go in, get what's on the list & get out.  I think I actually went over to visit with his cute little doggies & hang out at his house for a bit.  Do you blame me?

This is his garden shed.  I think it's almost as big as my house, or maybe I should say that my house is just a little larger than his garden shed.

Here's his front yard.  As you can see, he doesn't spend a lot of time behind a lawn mower.  That great sculpture was made by his step son.  I'll have to get a better photo of that one & some of the other artwork he's created.

That's his house at the very back.  It's kinda hard to see from this pic, but it's embedded into Duke Forrest & just about a mile from Duke University.

I told you I would post a pic of the Christmas cards that I had made so far, so here they are. 

I had fun making them with bits & pieces of things I had around the house.  I'm no card maker, but I enjoyed making these.  It's good to have something that you can knock out when you're feeling creative, but don't have the patience for a 2-3 hour project.

This is one of my favorites......I don't know why.  It's not the typical Christmas colors, but I think it's the pine cone border at the bottom.

Well, that's all for now.  I hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hump Day

I haven't really created anything new in the jewelry department in a while & I thought that it was because my muse had run away (again). Well, he/she has been wrecking havoc on the silver market. I really haven't kept up with the spot price of silver, but decided that I needed to send in some of my scraps & order a little more silver wire & silver sheet. I go strolling (not literally, I just like to use an active action verb to describe me sitting on my booty & looking at the computer) over to one of my favorite silver suppliers. Holy what????? Wow!! $28.00 an ounce for silver?? That's just the spot price, I still have to pay for the fabrication which takes it to about $32.00 an ounce. I was going to order a small sheet of silver & it would cost about $115 for that one little sheet. I remember ordering the same size sheet maybe a year ago & it cost me about $40 for the sheet. I don't see the price of silver going down any time soon, so I'm going to hold onto my scraps for a little longer before sending them in. It wasn't that terribly long ago that silver was down to $8.50 an ounce...maybe 2 years ago. Did I stock up?? Noooooooo, because that's not what I do. That would require forethought & planning, something I've never been accused of abusing. I hope it doesn't get to $50 an ounce like some are predicting, but it keeps on marching upwards.

Not much happening around here. I've been doing a little more yard work & have managed to fill up my yard waste bin every week for the past 3 weeks. As the weeks go by, I'm slowly exposing my house & I think now people can actually tell that there's a house behind the nandina, azaleas, squirrel landscaped trees. Hopefully I'll get 2-3 more trees taken down this week because a friend of mine is going to bring over his bow saw to help. He told me not to try it with my little miter saw....I think he's afraid I'm going to hurt myself, then he'd feel all bad & everything. I don't mind, I managed to get him to accept a gift of jewelry for his wife in exchange. I think he wants me to do a teddy bear necklace for her, so I've been working on a little design. I don't want the standard teddy bear silhouette, but want to keep it somewhere between traditional & style. What good is making a teddy bear if I can't take a torch to it?

A dear friend of mine took me to dinner last night. It was a local seafood place & they have $5 appetizers on Tuesday nights. I had the mussels & the beef carpaccio. The mussels were really nice in a chile & lime broth....perfect for bread dipping. The mussels were cooked nicely as well. I was very disappointed in the beef carpaccio, especially after the accolades I'd read in various reviews. It was very, very bland & seemed to be missing the acidic element that was necessary for seasoning & balance. It looked to just be a little pile of lettuces, parm cheese and a couple of onion ringlets placed onto the beef with an herb olive oil drizzled around the plate. It desperately needed the balsamic glaze as was mentioned on the menu. Maybe it did have the glaze & my palate is not delicate enough to pick it out, but it tasted like lettuce, onion & raw beef with herbed olive oil. I had eaten there before & was pleased, but this one just fell short for me. Although not on the $5 menu, the next time I'll order the mac & cheese with crabmeat. I think that would make my tummy happy.

I'm still enjoying my art therapy class. This week wasn't as hard as the previous ones & I get to make a fun stuffed monster. I have't even started on my monstah, but I've been working with paint, gesso & glue; you know, the fun stuff. I'll post a pic of my monstah after I create him & name him. I did say I was going to post a pic of the Christmas cards that I'd made, but I forgot, so I'll have to do it later.

I think that's all for now. Sorry I don't have any pictures, but I'm going to charge up the battery & start clicking. I'm headed down to meet a few friends of mine, one of which is an artist. I'll try to get photos of a couple of his pieces & post them.

I'll try to have pictures the next time around.
Play purdy!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Friday!!

Fall has descended upon The City of Medicine, aka The Bull City, aka Durham. We've had a couple of dreary, rainy days this past week, but it did warm the air a bit & seemed to refresh everything. We're having a sunny Friday with temps in the upper 50's but it's supposed to be cooooold tonight. Cold for us anyway. It's cold here when it gets down to 32 at night.

I've been getting out into the yard to clear up a couple of years of overgrown bushes, shrubs & trees. Yep, I cut down a couple of small trees that were lovingly planted by my resident squirrels. I have the hardest time getting my plants to grow even thought I nurture them & love them, but a squirrel can "plant" something & the son of a gun grows up to 10 feet in a few years. If I could only train them to plant what I wanted.

I actually sawed down the trees...with a miter saw. It's the only saw I have other than my jeweler's saw & I don't even want to think how many blades I would have broken trying that. BTW, I don't recommend using a miter saw for small trees...nope. Just go out & get yourself a bow saw. On a positive note, my neighbors just got themselves a fire pit. Whatever will they do for wood since they only have one pretty little tree in their yard?? Jungle woman to the rescue!!!! I can saw down the trees & give the little trunks to Lee for their fire pit. Now that's teamwork!! I also won't have to worry about cutting the trunks down to size so I can dispose of them. I have enough dried limbs in my backyard to keep them in wood until the new logs dry.

I really haven't done much as far as jewelry & metalsmithing. I've kinda lost my muse, but have started drawing again. I'm taking a free art course from Tam at Willowings & it's been great. It's a healing art class, so it's kind of hard to get through, but it's been good. Go check it out!! Maybe I'll post some of my work. OK..I will, but be gentle. It's my first whimsy girl.

I already see several things that I should have done differently, but it's my first one. Hopefully, I'll improve.

I'd love to practice more & maybe next year create a few whimsies that I can have made into Christmas cards. I have been making Christmas cards this year, so I'll post the ones that I've made. Not today, but next week.

I'm going to include a few pictures that I've taken over the last few months...because I like to look at pictures. Some of my favorite books have pictures.

Not a great photo, but a great car. 1961 Chrysler New Yorker. How awesome is this car??

I went to the Duke/Alabama football game a couple of months ago. Yep, Duke has a football team, not a great one, but a team nonetheless. Alabama also has a football team, but most everyone knows that, & for good reason. Alabama has a great team unsurpassed by their fans. The fans were great when it could have been a really miserable day for Duke fans. I don't think there was a Duke fan out there that didn't know that Alabama was going to take the game, but the Bama fans made the losing less painful. The Alabama fans made me an Alabama fan. Still a little confused about the whole "Roll Tide" thing, but that's ok. Here are a few of the wonderful people that we met.

Just a shot of some of my friends. Aren't they purdy??? I have attractive friends.

Here's Joe

And just because I like fire:

Just a friendly bonfire, not to be confused with arson.

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend. I'm going to try to be a little more present from now on. I just took a little time out...besides, I gotta get a new blog header because my hydrangeas don't look like that anymore. I at least need to get back to the season.

((hugs & warm blankies))