Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mosaic Monday - travel edition II

(click image to enlarge)

My aunt and uncle moved to Arizona and have made it their mission to have everyone in the family come down for a visit. I haven't enjoyed myself that much in a long time! We visited Tombstone, Old Tucson, The Gaslight Theatre and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We even survived a "major winter storm" which is Arizonian for rain. Rain! Ha! You can't frighten us Willamette Valley Oregonians with moisture!

Be sure to visit Little Red House for more beautiful mosaics!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The promise of spring

It wasn't but a few weeks ago I was waking up to mornings like this:

And despite the horrible weather elsewhere it has been very mild here. Mild enough for me to do quite a bit of gardening and yard cleanup.

I took a tour of things the other day to take inventory of what would need some cleanup and found the promise of spring popping up all over the place.






Maybe if I leave them half covered by oak leaves the deer won't find them? *crosses fingers*

I am looking forward to flowers but I'm really looking forward to going outside without an umbrella!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My creepy terrarium

They have CraftFail but do they have Decor Fail? They really should! And I have a couple posts they could use! For some reason when I Decor Fail I always seem to do it with moss. Why moss, why?

First I found this little lidded jar at Goodwill for 99 cents. I was quite excited! It's cute and will hold cute things! And then I decided to clean my dresser and I needed a place for the mole skull. Yep, you read that right. (I showed it off here)

Before you look at the photo of the mole skull let me explain one thing. A friend once talked me into watching The X-Files and when I did (By myself. At night.) it was about some guy who caught some thing and everything he touched got covered - covered - in this white moldy webby stuff.

Scared the pants off me! I never watched that show again! I practically cry if there's mildew in the shower now.

When I decided to use my cute little jar to hold my mole skull so it wouldn't break, I decided to cushion it with moss from my yard. I forgot about it for a while and then I looked at it the other day. Guess what?

Do you see the mold fuzz growing off the top of it!! Ohhhhhh that got thrown out so fast. Right after I hyperventilated.

What was I thinking?!
I was kinda sad to lose my strange object because, from a scientific standpoint, I found it completely fascinating. But from a sanity had to go.
You can see my other disgusting moss decorating fail here. If you're brave enough!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Orange you glad I let you in on this secret?

I bought a huge bag of oranges a couple of weeks ago and I realized I finally had my materials for making candied orange peel! I'd been wanting to try it since Thanksgiving but never got to it. And then Vanessa tried it so I used the same recipe she did.

I love being able to use the peels like that instead of just adding to my enormous mulch pile. Sure, it likes it but I like sweet treats too!

From eh not so much

To yum!

As per the recipe's suggestion I used the leftover syrup to make a pitcher of iced tea. I don't care how cold it is, iced tea is always drinkable at my house! I LOVE TEA.

I've also been known to dry the peels of oranges and mandarins for later use in potpourri.

You can mix it with things like cedar or even put it in a little pan of water to simmer on the stove with cinnamon and cloves - best air freshener ever!

I was also reading that dried orange peel makes a great additive to hot tea - haven't tried it but the leftover water from blanching the orange peels did smell pretty good. Homemade orange tea...ooh I'll have to try that with my mint leaves this summer.

A chunk of orange peel thrown into your garbage disposal and ground up also freshens it - and we know they always need that.

So what clever uses for orange peel have you found?

Linking to:

Because it really is trash to treasure!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mosaic Monday - travel edition

(click image to enlarge)

In the spring of 2000 I had the pleasure of joining a group of fellow students and some alumni on a trip to Israel. You can't imagine a more different place from an Oregon spring! Here it was drizzly and cold and there we had 100+ temperatures every day. Ohhhh it was nice. :) It was my first time out of the United States and I was a tad....overwhelmed, but I had an absolutely wonderful time. With all the airline hoop jumping you have to go through now I'm glad I went when I did!

Be sure to visit Little Red House for other beautiful mosaics!

Friday, January 22, 2010

For the birds

My neighbor has spent several years transforming her yard into a beautiful combination of blooming beds and little spots for the birds. When she got a pair of dogs she had her husband build a fence in one corner to create a "bird sanctuary.' In the spring and summer their place is the spot to be for seeing birds!

For Christmas I made her this little sign.

I drilled holes and made a ribbon hanger, cut the image from a magazine with a craft knife, used a pair of real feathers. (I did not do anything to any of the sweet little birds around here. However, the same cannot be said for my cat. Actually I think this bird lived because all I did find was a little pouf of feathers and I'm sure she would have left me something considerably more disgusting had she actually killed it.)

And because my printer is perpetually out of ink I hand wrote the words and flourishes.

When I delivered it I asked if she'd mind of I did a "tour of her yard" for my blog. She asked me why I was showing her ugly winter yard rather than...well the pretty blooming one, haha! But despite the lack of flowers it still looks lovely.

Just around the corner of the house you can see her fenced area in the corner with the lovely arbor entrance - and the reason for the fence! That is either Sissy or Sally - I can't tell them apart.

She even has it marked! :)

She has a flower watering fairy too - I need one of those about July.

There are all kinds of bird houses - some on fence posts, some on tall poles.

And they have several fountains which run all the time during summer. The birds LOVE them. I love how the base of this one is going to be covered in greenery one day.

You can see one of the tall bird houses peeking over the top of this fountain.

I like how this one is in a naturally diveted rock.

She is also a painter and she and her husband converted their garage into a painting class/studio so she can work and teach.

It has so much more room than her old studio - now she can hang her work gallery style!

And over the cement floor? It's the peel-and-stick "wood"! Isn't it fabulous?!

Thanks for coming on the tour with me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

These are my confessions

I hope everyone who is as much in love with home decor as I am can forgive me for what I'm about to say.

(image from here)
I could just cry that wallpaper is back "in." Do you know how many hours of my life I have spent peeling wallpaper? If I counted them all up I'm sure it would amount to months of my life. I so wish I had a photo of the wallpaper in my friend Karen's house. Peel back the 80's wallpaper and have your retinas scorched by the 60's!

I think what gets to me is all the pattern. I opened a decorating magazine from the mid 90's and my eyes almost melted. Highly patterned wallpaper, highly patterned window treatments, highly patterned furniture fabric, highly patterned rug, ad infinitum.
Wallpaper is a pain to put up, it's an even bigger pain to take down. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sure there are circumstances where it might be better to hide wall flaws than paint over them, but oh man.....wallpaper?!

I may have them thrown at me when I say this but throw pillows are next on my list. I use throw pillows to prop up a book in my lap or to clutch desperately when I'm watching Criminal Minds or something intense. (how many times did they have to make me think Hotch was going to die? That poor throw pillow on the couch is all misshapen now.) I realize they add "pops of color" or even texture to a room but I hate seeing a show where they decorate a room and there is nowhere to sit on the couch or bed because it is completely covered in pillows.

I didn't actually care for the movie Along Came Polly but I was cheering through this scene.

Well...I feel better now. :)

(About that title - I'm not usually listening to Usher, but I have been listening to {guilty pleasure} Glee)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mosaic Monday - the critter edition

(click image to enlarge)

I visited a few mosaics a couple weeks ago and was introduced to some family pets which I thought was quite cute, so I decided to do the same.

Calliope (aka Cali - the calico cat, approx. five years old) is so named because of her tendency toward loquaciousness. I've never had a conversation with a cat before, but you totally can with this one. She answers you back. And it sounds like words. Kinda freaky. She follows me everywhere, sits on me every time I hold still and kills all the mice, bugs and spiders that are anywhere around. Very handy!

Spudnik (aka Little Spud - rescued stripey monster, approx. 6 months old) was so named Ventures? It sounded good? Who knows? Spud was found abandoned in a friend's neighbor's barn and was completely wild when he was brought home. I'm not sure I wouldn't call him wild now (haha), but he's very cute and snuggly and makes you forget what a brat he was five minutes ago.

Queen Isabella (aka Izzy - English Springer Spaniel, approx. 15 years old) was so named because of a History Channel program being fresh in the mind. Izzy was the cutest puppy who ever lived and grew into a clever, loyal and loveable friend. She now forgets how old she is and still runs about like a pup when her old legs will cooperate with her enthusiasm. She hates raccoons (because they eat her food, haha!) and once killed a skunk in front of the house the day before a big party. Lovely. Just lovely.

Be sure to visit Little Red House for other beautiful mosaics!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Felt Conversation Heart ring

Give your Valentine a little sugar without the cavities!


-Two colors of coordinating felt (I used craft felt but wool felt would also be fantastic)
-heart and circle templates
-hand sewing needle
-embroidery thread (approx. one 8 inch length for the entire project), divided into three groups of two strands each
-tacky glue
-hair elastic

To make my template I used a tiny cookie cutter and traced around it on the back of a cake box I dug out of my recycling bin.

When I compared the size of the heart to the size of my finger I knew it was too big so I simply used it as a guide to draw the size I needed within. The heart I used ended up being a hair shy of an inch wide and about 5/8 of an inch tall.

I have a huge bag full of felt scraps and as you can see it's not going to take much to cut out the heart.

I traced my template onto the felt using a regular ink pen but be sure to trim just inside your markings so you don't end up with this dark fuzz on your final product.

Once the heart was cut out I also cut two circles - one approx. 3/4 of an inch (18mm) and one approx. 1 inch (22mm) - out of my coordinating color of felt. (I used two cake decorating tips as my templates)

The hair elastic was an old one I had my bathroom drawer and was one that just didn't hold my hair back very well. I wasn't sad to put it under the knife, so to speak. :)

To make the ring, cut a section of the hair elastic just a bit smaller than the actual size of the finger (remember it is going to stretch when you put it on). Use the smallest of the two circles and tacky glue it to your cut section of hair elastic. I secured it with clothespins to hold it in place while drying.

While you're waiting you can make the "conversation" part of this project. Conversations hearts have brief and horrifically spelled messages so I chose "Luv U" for its brevity and because I knew it would be easy to stitch. :)
You could probably draw on a guide for yourself but I didn't want to chance there being dark marks not hidden by the thread. Freehanding is possible (as evidenced by mine!) but make sure to start in the top center and stitch the "u" for "luv" - this will assure your word is centered. Of course there's always the chance of a little crookedness (I knew you'd be too polite to bring it up yourself) but just remember that real (candy) conversation hearts aren't perfect either!
I centered my messaged heart onto the center of the large (1 inch) circle and stitched around its border.

Once the glue on the small circle and hair elastic was dry, I took a leftover scrap of embroidery thread and put a couple of stitches across the elastic. I don't know that it's necessary but it made me feel better.

Then I applied plenty of tacky glue to the top of the small circle and placed it in the center of the large circle (this should hide all of your stitches from securing the heart). I again used clothespins to secure it while drying, placing four total around the circle.

When it dries you'll have a sturdy, wearable token of affection for your Valentine made with humble scraps and throwaway items, but more importantly made with love!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Living Lovely - read a poem

Living. Lovely. is back! This week Heidi challenged us to read a poem.
First I have to choose a poem.

Oh my. I think I need a cup of tea to get me started.

Let's take a closer look. The Book of Scottish Verse has some serious brogue going on. I know poetry can confuse some people but at least I can usually figure out what all the words are!
Major British Poets was for a class I took in college...Songs of the Sage belonged to my grandfather...Emily Dickinson I gave a presentation on when I was in college...
How am I ever going to choose anything out of these anthologies? And I didn't even bother adding my Norton Anthologies to the stack.

I went with Emily Dickinson - she's been a favorite since I was introduced to her work in junior high. And with little gems like this, I may not stop with just one.

You can find many (if not all) of her poetry available to read online here.