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Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Award, A Thank You, & A New Garden


Rue of Rue and Hyssop has very graciously bestowed a Blog Award on me. THANK YOU Rue! She is the sweetest!! You must stop by her blog for a good read! She (and her blog) are like a breathe of fresh air!

Here are the seven rules of the award:
1. Thank the person giving the award.
2. Copy the award to your blog.
3. Place a link to the blog of the person who passed the award to you.
4. Name seven things people don't know about you.
5. Nominate other bloggers who you admire.
6. Place a link to these bloggers.
7. Leave a comment on their blog notifying them of the award.

So.........Here goes........

1. I don't like to eat fish.
2. But I LOVE shrimp. (they're a crustacean not a fish!)
3. I have a terrible temper (but most red-heads do!)
4. I don't like having my photo taken.
5. I suffer from motion sickness - no carnival rides for me!
6. I need at least 9 (or 10) hrs of sleep every night.
7. I am a packrat but am trying to overcome my habit!

And now to nominate some Bloggers who I admire and who inspire...

1. Grace of My Year in Haiku - I admire anyone who can write Haiku. And her's is great!
2. JoyceAnn of ~~~Feather Spirits~~~ . I admire her simpler way of life.
3. Grimdeva at Cauldron Craft Miniatures . I admire anyone who has such nimble fingers to create such miniature things!

Please stop by their blogs to say, "HI". You'll be delighted you did!

* * * * * * *

And now for a THANK YOU to Frog Queen of Frog on the Pumpkin for an awesome mousepad (compete with a calendar and very cool pic of some of their tombstones) which I won in a giveaway that she was having. Stop by her blog for some nifty reads on old Amusement Parks!



* * * * * * *

And now for news on a NEW GARDEN. Actually it's more like a community garden.
Suzie of Cat In The Moon was inspired to create a blog about gardening and things Halloween. She has invited Becca of Magickal Seasons, the Frog Queen, and myself to help cultivate and nurture this little spot. It's just a seedling now but I do hope you'll stop by The Haunted Gardens now and then to wander the paths and see what a Magickal, Mystical Menagerie of Earthly Frights and Delights it is!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spring Cleaning..

It's that time of year when many of us are beginning to think about (if not already doing) our annual Spring Housecleaning. (Though personally I wait until July when it is so ghastly hot outside that I am forced to stay indoors in the a/c!)
And so I thought I might post some hints & tips to make that ritual a bit easier. These are MacGyver style cleaning tips (remember MacGyver?? You know...Richard Dean Anderson. What a hunk he was in MacGyver and even hunkier in Stargate! Anyhoo...let me wipe the drool off my chin and get back to the post) that are also very 'green'.

Baking soda & vinegar ~
1. Great for defunking towels or rags. Run your towels through the washer in hot water to which 1 cup of vinegar has been added. Then run them through another wash cycle to which 1/2 cp of baking soda has been added. Do not add bleach or fabric softener or detergent to any of the cycles!
2. Great for clearing out drains. When combined, these two ingredients create a minor volcanic foam which is good for cleaning minor gunk in the pipes.

Lemonade Drink Mix (powder) ~
Great for cleaning a dishwasher! Just empty a packet into the soap dispenser and run the dishwasher (empty of course!).

Cola ~
1. Polish chrome. Apply cola (any brand will do) and take some aluminum foil and polish away!
2. Clean a toilet. Pour one can into bowl & let sit for an hour and then scrub.

Lemon juice & baking soda ~
Great for removing nasty stains from whites! Wet stained area with lemon juice and rub in baking soda. Let sit for an hour or so. Rinse well. Launder as usual. **Drying clothes in the sun is also a great way to whiten your whites! **

Click here for more hints & tips for Spring cleaning. Or just Google Green Cleaning.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Illusions







Saturday, January 23, 2010

Need a Halloween Fix??


I think about now we are all ready for a Halloween fix! Here's some cake ideas that might just satisfy that need.....




Thursday, January 21, 2010

Such a Tease....

The weather has been SO NICE the last couple days. A real tease ....... so much like Spring with warm temperatures and sunshine.

My daffodils are peaking out to see what all the fuss is about.


And I have been working on a small garden area I have next to my greenhouse. Doing some weeding and placing pavers along the edge of the growing area. When the time comes, I'll plant my peppers in here. They co-habitate quite well with the parsley, leeks and garlic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Year of Enchantment Swap

I am participating in Yarnigras', Year of Enchantment Swap. This is a year long event with one swap taking place every month. January's Swap theme was pine cones & acorns. My partner was Gin of Keepsake Moments. She spoiled me with pine cones!!!


She made me these Chorus Line Cuties! The cutest chorus line garland of girls made from pine cones! And she painted me a pine cone on a piece of clear acrylic. I think it will have to go up in my kitchen window - Christmas ribbon and all! And if that weren't enough, she gave two pine cones shaped glitter candles. Thank you Gin!!!!


I made her a pine cone ornie (pattern courtesy of dear ol' Martha!). And sent her one of the lingerie bags that I like to make.

And I also won the January doorprize that is part of the YOE Swap. It is the most awesome calendar of work done by Charley Harper. And a bookmark - most useful for a bookworm!
Thank you Val!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What do you see?







Friday, January 15, 2010

Latest Artwork ....


Looking for something to add some LIFE to your walls? Here are two leaves that will surely give your home a little personality! Click here!

Hurry!! Before someone else rakes them up!




And I have a new snowman picture in my Etsy shoppe. He is a mixed media picture that will bring a smile to anyone's face. Click here.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January's Give-away Winner is......


Because I am needing a Halloween fix, and I'm sure you are too! This month I am giving away a set of three Enchanting Faery Pumpkin Houses.

And the winner is


Brenda makes the most wonderful crocheted everything! And she has recently ventured into sculpting with wonderful results. Be sure to Blop on over and say 'HI'.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Wind


Winter Wind
from a journal written by
Donna Turnbull

The winter wind is a lonely wind.
A frigid, invisible force on a desperate mission to nowhere - wailing and shrieking and leaving behind a trail of frozen grass and naked trees shivering in the cold light of the moon as it sweeps across the land without a backward glance.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Halloween Goody!!


Look what a got in the mail! The most wonderful book by Cindy Tevis of the Shabby Hag! She recently had a give-away at her Halloween Poetry blog, I Dream of Halloween, for a Halloween book of her original Halloween poetry and illustrations. And it is marvelous! Thank you Cindy!! I feel very lucky to have won this little treasure! Now if I can only talk her into selling some....

You really must stop by her blog - she is having a virtual open house at her blog, The Shabby Hag, on Tuesday She has been clearing out some closets and will be offering up goody boxes of art/craft supplies for the cost of postage. Can't wait to see what she has!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice Sculpture

Quite often, artists are told to think outside the box when it comes to creating. Ice is not an everyday medium and the conditions under which an artist must work to create can be, uhmm, quite frigid, to say the least!


There are numerous Ice Festivals around the globe where a person can view incredible sculptures all made from ice. But the Harbin Ice Festival in China stands out. Harbin is located in Manchuria where temperatures can reach -40F.

Just think of the amount of work and talent put into these temporary pieces of art!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wonderful Griddlecakes!


Hubby is a wonderful cook. And one of his specialties is Griddlecakes (pancakes). The recipe he uses is from a 1943 edition of Woman's Home Companion Cook Book which belonged to his Grandmother.


Griddlecakes

1 1/2 cp Flour
3 1/2 tspn Baking Powder
3/4 tspn Salt
3 TBLSPN Sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cp Milk
3 TBLSPN Shortening, melted
Water - just a dab


Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Combine egg, milk and shortening (slightly cooled). Pour liquid into flour mixture. Stir just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. DO NOT OVERBEAT! Add a little less than 1/4 cp water to slightly thin batter. Bake on a hot griddle. Serve slathered in butter and syrup or honey or jam.


** Fruit (chopped) may be added . Increase sugar to 1/4 cp if adding fruit.

{patiently waiting for her griddlecake}

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Seed Industry ~ Part 2


What can we, as Gardeners, do to Save Our Seeds? To prevent those wonderful heirloom varieties from becoming extinct?

To begin, we can save the seeds from heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. The seeds from these two types of plants will grow true to the parent plant. Join a seed exchange. Many of these can be found online or even start a seed exchange in your local neighborhood. One of the largest is the Seed Savers Exchange.

Or purchase your seeds from companies that are part of the Organic Seed Alliance. The"Organic Seed Alliance is founded on the belief that seed is both our common cultural heritage and a living natural resource fundamental to the future sustainability of food production."

Grow NATIVE plants.
Plants which are native to your own locale are much easier to establish and can handle what Mother Nature throws at them. Native plants will divide easier and will generally bless you with seeds that grow true. All too often those 'pretty plants in the catalog' can become invasive species and crowd out the Native Flora. Check with your local Extension Office or search the web for a list of invasive plants in your State. You might be surprised what you find.

Almost every State in the Nation has a Native Plant Society with local chapters
that have regular plant sales. Many wonderful and sometimes rare heirloom plants can be found at these sales. Search out the nurseries in your area or online that sell Native Plants. It is well worth the time spent in this search. You will be rewarded with glorious plants as well as helping out a small business with your purchases.


** Thank you everyone for the wonderful links you gave yesterday! **

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Seed Industry ~ Part 1

This is the time of year, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, when Seed and Plant catalogs begin to arrive in the mail. How easily we can be mesmerized by the gorgeous palette of colors and the luscious greens. Especially when we look out our window and see snow and ice covering the landscape.


The varieties of plants seem to be endless in those catalogs - but if you will notice, the catalogs are all beginning to carry the same plants. The diversity of plants and seeds that are available to the public is dwindling. Why?

Because the top seed companies now control about a third of the worldwide seed trade. As these giant companies buy out smaller companies, only top selling plant varieties are kept. It is the open-pollinated, heirloom varieties that are most often dropped from the sales list. These companies only want to sell the plants that they own. And yes, it is possible for a company to own a plant.

Laws were passed in 1930 and 1970 allowing certain plants to be patented on the basis of their genetic coding. Now anyone who grows a patented variety without holding a license from the patent holder can be sued.


Farmers and Gardeners traditionally saved seeds to grow next year's crop. But if the plant variety is patented, then the seed saving is illegal. And seeds collected from hybrid plants do not always grow true to the parent plant. A throwback to a genetic ancestor may grow from one of the seeds. Fresh patented seeds must be purchased every year. Thus causing the cost of seeds to rise. And quite frequently a Farmer must raise a certain type of plant because the cannery they sell to requires it.

Tomorrow, what we can do to Save Our Seeds.
If you would like to read more on the Seed Industry, Click Here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

La Befana ~ A Holiday Witch

A friend, Suzie of Cat in the Pumpkin Moon, recently wrote of La Befana. I, too, would like to share with you the history of this Holiday Witch.

La Befana is a character in Italian folklore who delivers presents to children throughout Italy, in a similar way to St. Nicholas or Santa Claus. The character may have originated in Rome, then spread as a tradition to the rest of Italy.

A popular belief is that her name derives from the festival of Epiphany, but there is evidence to suggest that Befana is descended from the Sabine/Roman goddess named Strenia, who presided over the new-year's gifts which were called 'Strenae. Strenia's presents were of the same description as those of the Befana—figs, dates, and honey.

In popular folklore La Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the 6th of January to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. Being a good housekeeper, many say La Befana will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food for the Befana.

She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broom through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children's houses through the chimney. She is often smiling and carries a bag or basket filled with candy, gifts, or both.

Christian legend has it that La Befana was approached by the Magi a few days before Christ's birth. They asked for directions to where the baby Jesus was, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village with the most pleasant home. They invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the baby Jesus. She leaves all the good children toys and candy, while the bad children get coal or bags of ashes.

Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy.

Also, popular tradition says that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn't wish to be seen. This aspect of the tradition may be designed to keep children in their beds while parents are distributing candy (or coal) and sweeping the floor on Epiphany Eve.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Valentine Swap


The Prim and Whimsy GirLs are hosting a Valentine Swap.
Anyone can join in! This Swap is open to all Artists and Crafters.

You’ll be creating a heart shaped Valentine item - using any medium, any art style, two dimensional or three dimensional - as long as the finished piece is no larger than 5 x 5 inches.

Deadline to sign-up is January 15, 2010. Check out their website, Prim and Whimsy GirLs for more details!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Predicting the Weather ~ With an Onion?

I can remember my Mother using this old method of predicting the weather for the upcoming year.

On the 6th of January, late at night after everyone's gone to bed, cut an onion in half. Separate the rings and place twelve of the 'cups' in a row - January will be on the far left, then February, and so on with December ending on the far right. I personally like to place the cups on a large cookie sheet.


Place 2 tspn of salt in each onion 'cup'. Leave overnight. The next morning look at the salt. How wet or how dry the salt is predicts how wet or how dry that month will be.

** DO NOT talk to anyone from the time you cut the onion until the next morning. **

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Another way some folks predict the upcoming year's weather is to make note of the weather for the first 12 days of January. What those days hold in the way of sunshine, temperatures, & precipitation foretell what the upcoming months will be like.

Wanna compare notes in June???

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Orb update

Remember these?


I ask an amateur ghost hunter, MarZal of The Play of Light and Shadow, about the Orbs which appeared in the pics I took on Christmas Eve. (Spirits are known to visit favorite locations on auspicious dates)
She told me that in her experience, she usually does not see Orbs with her camera except where there might be spirit activity. But she was concerned about the air movement caused by the fireplace stirring up dust. MarZel went on to tell me that when wondering about the validity of Orbs as Spirit Energy, I need to keep in mind the 'feeling' of the House and if there has been any other sort of activity there.
The paranormal experiences in this house are more subtle than in many houses we've lived in. We find coins in odd places, shadows or movement can be caught out of the corner of your eye, and the most noticeable is the feeling of comfort that people get upon entering our house.
Personally, I like to think of these as Spirit Orbs and not dust particles. And that maybe we had visitors on Christmas Eve.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January

A New Year has begun. And along with the turning of the calendar page comes the turning over of a new leaf for many folks. New Resolves. New Habits. New Hopes.
I have no resolutions for this year. I try not to make them. If I see that I need to change something, I try do it then. I don't wait till New Year's Day to begin.

Though, I do have hopes for this year. Hopes that Hubby continues with his straight A's in school (so very PROUD of you ). Hopes that art sales pickup. Hopes that everyone we know and love continues to have good health.


Hubby and I took a walk down to the creek behind our house this afternoon. The weather was glorious. The sky full of sunshine. The air filled with the songs of nature. The creek was running high from the recent rains. And it roared over the rocks. It felt so good to let all of last year flow down the creek with the water. A cleansing you might say. A washing away of the old, the stagnant; making room for the fresh new beginnings that await us.


Anastasia of Deep Inside My Broom CLoset has ask what one little word we would use to make an impact on our life for 2010. I know many of you in Blogland have written about this or at least seen posts about this. So please bear with me while I share my one little word for 2010.

ACTUALIZATION. Meaning to make real.

This is the year that so many of the things that I VISUALIZED last year will become real. For it is not enough to wish and dream and visualize about what one wants. But a person must take action to achieve those goals and I have already begun. I have a feeling that it will be a busy year. But busy is good. (keeps me out of trouble!)