Monday, September 30, 2013

What's New Monday

Ta-dah!  This is the latest bracelet I crafted using all the leaf charms I received in the "Falling Leaves" swap through my ArtCharms group.  I happened to have an extra length of copper chain with little leaves all over it, as well as a leaf toggle clasp, so it came together quickly.  The variety of colors and materials made it a real joy to put together.  I'm sure I'll enjoy wearing it too!  Happy Monday, everyone!  What's new with you?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Garden Accessories

I couldn't resist ordering two more aceessories for the garden (which were on sale for the end of the season, and had free shipping of course!  Both came from  The first is the little mushroom stool you see in the foreground.  I found myself standing next to  the pond, leaning over to see and feed the fish.  Now I can sit there and watch them!  It's particularly nice as the sun is coming up as you can see in the photo.  The sun also lights up the mosaic gazing globe I chose.  It's covered in small pieces of blue and green glass and almost looks like a real globe.  You can gaze at it from either the bench or the stool and contemplate your place in the world (or pray for world peace!).  The bulbs I ordered should be coming next week, and once they're planted, we'll get ready to deal with the leaves (aghhh!).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Is it Thursday again?  Already?  I think I missed a couple of thankful posts - I find myself pretty much being thankful for the same things over and over again.  I guess that's a good thing, right?  Anyway, here's my list for today.
  1. Autumn:  These brisk sunny days just make you feel happy to be alive, don't they?  And autumn also means that Mallomars are back!  I'm trying not to eat too many...
  2. My job:  I can leave the house at 8:52 and make it to work before nine.  The job is varied, fun, and low-pressure - I get to sing, interact with families, and read great children's books aloud.  And I get paid for it!
  3. My husband:  I sure couldn't do this alone!  I'm glad he's here - every day!
  4. Creative time:  I feel fortunate that I'm able to work creativity into many areas of my life.  I'm not sure why this is so important to me, but my mind seems to need the stimulation and challenges that are required to be creative.  
  5. Relative Wealth:  I haven't recently won the lottery or anything, but relative to the rest of the world, I'm extremely fortunate.  This morning the house was warm, I had a hot shower, and electricity to make breakfast. That's a pretty good start.
What are you feeling thankful for?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jazzing up a plain tee

I bought this plain emerald green long-sleeved tee last fall with the intention of adding some leaf prints in metallic colors.  Well, I finally got around to it!

Here's what I did:

Find some nicely shaped leaves - I chose maple leaves in a variety of sizes.  Apply a thin layer of acrylic paint to the back of the leaf with a foam brush (using the leaf back gives you more veining detail).  I used basic craft-store paints and premixed them with fabric medium so they don't impart that stiff, plastic feeling onto the shirt.  Take the painted leaf and place it paint-side down on your prewashed 100% cotton shirt.  Cover the leaf with a paper towel and rub it smooth to get a good print.

Carefully peel the leaf off the shirt and voila` - autumn has arrived!  Heat-set the dried, painted shirt with a hot iron (iron on the reverse or cover with a piece of baking parchment) and it should be safe for washing.

Here's my completed shirt.  I'm looking forward to the leaves changing so I can start wearing it.  If you've never tried this printing technique, give it a try!  If you want to start small, a scarf would be an easy and smart seasonal accessory.  I've done leaf prints on table linens as well, which makes a nice accent for a holiday table.  Have fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Paying it Forward

Last year in this post, I promised to "pay it forward" to my first three readers leaving a comment on this blog.  Well, I'm finally making good on my promise and sending off these little gifts.  The one above is for Norma, a very talented quilter in my FANE group who has been reading this blog faithfully for a long time and always has a supportive comment for me!   It's a little charm cluster necklace, with a spring green button from which the four charms dangle.  I made one special fabric leaf charm, since fabric is Norma's medium of choice for her art, and used other components that I already had in shades of green and blue, colors that are prevalent in her wardrobe.  Wear it in good health!

The earrings, below, are brass rings with purple teardrop crystals.  Mary R. in my Artcharms group will be receiving these.   Thanks for playing, you two, and now it's time for you to pay it forward to someone elsc!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Nature Hike

It was a beautiful, cool fall-like day, so we decided to get out and enjoy a hike up nearby Nimham Mountain, which is named for a Wappinger Indian sachem who aided the patriots in the Revolutionary War and lost his life.  Along the route, there is an ancient "stone chamber," as you can see below.

For some unknown reason, of all the places where these pre-Columbian chambers are found, Putnam County has the highest concentration of them.  Carbon dating of artifacts found in the chambers indicates they are much older than even the Native Americans who lived here.  No one knows for sure what their purpose was, but they are usually oriented so the door faces due East, so the sun enters the chamber at dawn on the winter solstice or spring equinox.  It is also a mystery how the large flat rocks used for the roof pieces were moved without the aide of sophisticated tools or machinery.

 As you can see, this one is about 20 feet deep.  Apparently, many colonists who found them made use of them as storage cellars.  I've heard some local groups are trying to preserve these sites for their archeological interest.  There are also rumors that the ghost of chief Nimham has been seen in the vicinity of this chamber!

We continued up the mountain to the fire tower on top.  It has been restored and is well maintained, so many people climb it to take advantage of the views, which were spectacular.  There are many small lakes and reservoirs in the area, and the skyline of New York is even visible on very clear days.  Today it was visible, but minimally.

I believe this is a view of the nearby town of Carmel and Lake Gleneida.  We'll have to come back in a few weeks, when the fall colors are at their peak.

What did you do this weekend?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Tour around the Garden

My new shade garden continues to bring me much pleasure on a daily basis, as Cassie and I start and end our days down there.  During our visits, I might spread a little mulch, add a new plant here or there, or rearrange some of the rocks lining the path.  There have been some setbacks too, as the pond has filled with muddy water three times in recent heavy downpours which necessitated complete emptying and refilling (luckily it's small).  Some of the plants have died back for the season (or died altogether, in case of a few annuals), and I had to return the solar pump I was so excited about.  It worked for about a month and then completely quit.  At least I got a refund from Amazon.

I recently moved the fern below from another spot in the yard.  I'll add more next spring.  I also ordered the little "mouse ears" hosta shown in the lower right of the photo below.  I picked up the colorful little dragonfly decoration at the Hershey Gardens. This area is on the border of the "fairy garden"...

...which is under and around the trunk of the great tulip tree.   I transplanted moss for a lawn, and added a path made of small ceramic tiles.  I bought the little fences and bench online, but fashioned the door and little well out of things collected in the yard.   I have to say, I am rather delighted with how it turned out.  It adds just the right touch of whimsy and magic, not to mention it's supposed to attract fairies, which will help keep everthing green and growing.  Now I just have to keep Cassie from grabbing the items, carrying them off, and chewing on them!

 The pond is still delightful to watch, even without my waterfall.  I did buy a couple of these "comet" fish, which supposedly can survive the winter in here (I'm still not sure if I'll risk it...).  I feed them goldfish food just about every day and they've kept the pond free of mosquito wigglers.

Occasionally, a frog wanders in for a little swim.  This afternoon I found this one resting on the stem of a lily pad.  Isn't he handsome?

I also transplanted this hosta from another spot in the yard.  I put it close to the bench, and decided to place this statue of two cute, cuddly kitties just beneath it.  The statue was a birthday gift from my two best buds at the library, Joan and Gail.  What a perfect gift!

The little flowering dogwood tree, below, was also a birthday gift.  I was going to transplant another little red maple (they are coming up everywhere) but thought something flowering would be nice, and dogwoods do well in this dappled sunlight.  It was a heck of a job moving the tree from the car into the ATV and then getting it into the hole (it must've weighed a couple hundred pounds) but Mark managed it!   It already looks at home here.  I can't wait to see it flowering next spring!

Finally, I added some edging along the left side of the garden where we had pulled out the 6x6 wooden beam border and incorported the tulip.  The new irregular shape looks more natural, and the edging should keep the grass from encroaching into the mulch.  

It certainly needs some more plants, but it's really come a long way in just a few months!  I have a few more things I'd like to plant this fall, including some bulbs, especially snowdrops and grape hyacinths.  I'm already looking forward to next spring!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thankful Thursday, 50th Birthday Edition!

Yes, it's true - I've reached the half-century mark!  (Boy, that really sounds old, doesn't it?).  Although I have to face facts that most of my life is probably behind me, I'm confident that I still have much to look forward to.  I believe you're as young as you feel and I still feel like I'm in my mid thirties (still look it too, right?  lol!).  Anyway, an attitude of gratitude also keeps you young!  Here's what I'm thankful for today:
  1. 50 Healthy Years:  That's saying a lot!  I've never broken a bone, had root canal, or been hospitalized for anything other than childbirth.  Here's to many more healthy years!
  2. Life in These United States:  I feel very fortunate to be a citizen of the US, with all the benefits, creature comforts, and freedoms we so often take for granted.
  3. My Faith:  I feel fortunate to have been baptized into the church and to have kept up a relationship with God, which keeps on growing.  It truly helps me deal with life's little daily challenges and keeps me on the right track.
  4. My Husband:  I guess it's true that opposites do attract!  Seriously, as different as we are, we balance each other out and somehow manage to keep each other going.  We're so fortunate to have found each other!
  5. My Girls!  It's hard for me to imagine my life without my three amazing daughters.  Sometimes I take for granted the wonderful people they are - beautiful, healthy, talented, intelligent, creative... (we're so much alike!  LOL)
What are you feeling thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Autumn Inspirations

You may have noticed that I haven't been as creatively productive lately as I usually am.  I guess I've been busy with the garden and trying to make the most of the lazy summer days (in other words, I've been reading!).  But the ArtCharms Yahoo group recently started an Autumn Leaf swap, and it sounded too good to pass up!  I ordered the small copper leaves, shown above, and enhanced them with some color.  They look as though they've been enameled, but I actually used something much more mundane and common - can you guess what it is?  Not acrylic paint...    It's plain old, drug-store variety NAIL POLISH!  My girls have boxes full of nail polish, in many colors, including orange and yellow, so I thought I would take advantage of the supplies at hand.  I'm pretty happy with the results;  I need to make a total of 21 charms, so this should keep me busy for the next week or so.

I also decided to enter another challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine - a mixed-media stitched challenge.  The finished piece had to be 6"x6" and have three different media.  My friend Norma has been posting about her adventures using copper sheeting, and it reminded me that I had some in my stash that I hadn't played with in a while.  I guess my wandering mind combined the thoughts of autumn leaves with the copper and I came up with the idea below.  The backgrounds are fabrics, the tree trunk is paper layered on fabric with gel medium, and the leaves were cut from copper sheeting tinted with alcohol inks.  I decided to turn the square on point to make the tree fit better.  What do you think?