Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Tulips are blooming

I drive by these tulips on a daily basis, year after year. It's always such a lovely sight to see. Today we took a walk past them with camera in hand. I brought my camera especially for this shot. A beautiful combo for your spring garden is a patch of these yellow tulips and a neighboring group of muscari (Grape Hyacinth). You could also plant some daffodils with the purple flowers and would look just as nice. Tulips are one of those flowers that don't do that great for me. The main reason being that the moles and gophers love tulips. I literally saw one drop down into the earth like it was a cartoon! But I don't give up on any plant. I'll keep on trying (and sadly killing) a plant until I get it right! So every year I see this pairing of flowers and say to myself, "I must plant a container of these 2 flowers." Well, again another year, and I haven't done it. So I guess until next year I'll just have to enjoy my neighbors beauties while they last.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Etsy Pick-O-The-Week - AmeliaMakesArt

This week's Etsy Sellers Pick-O-The-Week is AmeliaMakesArt. This talented girl does a variety of things. This is such a fun shop to visit! She has original paintings (of a very fine quality I must say!) some of which are reversed painted on glass. She's also got prints of her paintings. The prints are also used to make some really nice jewel boxes with the print under glass, and mirrors and buttons. In addition to her imagination coming out on the canvas, Amelia also does some incredible things with felting - soaps, bags and scarves. ...AND the thing that caught my eye to begin with... these so fantabulous needle-felted dogs!! Not only are they the most precious things, but they can be customized and made to look like your own special friend!! How unique! They are made of Merino wool and range in size from 5-8". Amelia writes that she is in love with making these little needle-felted dogs. Well, Amelia, I am in love with the little needle-felted dogs that you make! What wonderful work this girl is producing!! Read her blog at

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

Finally the Earth is getting some real big-time media coverage. Earth Day's been going on since when? Like 1970 or something like that. It's only taken close to 40 years for more people to actually take it serious. Well I'm glad to hear it.

We live in a society of convenience, and I agree it can be hard to always do the best thing for the environment. We all can't afford a hybrid car, or have solar paneling for our power. Riding a bike to work just isn't possible! Here are 10 simple ways that can help to save the environment.

1. Paper or Plastic?...Neither. Reusable cloth bags are not that hard to use. Especially for just a few items. I can see that it would be harder for your major trips to the grocery store. A Trader Joe's near by had some for only $.99. I'll make sure to get a few next time I'm there. Of course, you can readily find more expensive canvas bags.

2. Buy Organic whenever possible. Not only are the pesticides bad for all species, they also use more energy to produce the final product. Non-organic cotton uses a whole lot of chemicals, so if possible buy an organic cotton t-shirt. A fabulous blog on the subject of organic is Vegetarian Organic Life. Even better than organic is biodynamic farming.

3. Plant a tree. My fave of all! We need more oxygen! Go to for more info. For each $1.00 spent there, 1 tree is planted. Pretty reasonable price, really.

4. Don't let your car idle while waiting to pick someone up. Turn the car off. Walk whenever possible for short trips.

5. Use Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Replacing 5 regular bulbs with these can save you $60 annually. That's so easy!

6. Instead of bottled water, use a reusable "good" plastic bottle with filtered water. Naglene, and SIGG make some nice reusable bottles. There's also a cool corn resin bottle with built in filter that you can refill up to 90 times and biodegrades in 80 days. It's at New Wave Enviro. I want one of those!

7. Eat less red meat. Even just one less meal a week can help. For every pound of meat it takes 840 gallons of water to produce. This is easy for me since I've been a vegetarian for 20 years. Now a days it's so much easier to go vegetarian with all the mock meat available. Most are very tasty and make a wonderful substitute.

8. RECYCLE. So much more easy to do than it use to be. You can find ways to reduce your junk mail at Pangea Organics makes skin care products with packaging that uses 100% post consumer paper. On top of that you can simply bury the box and grow a plant. There's seeds in there! Also, you can find a lot of hand made items made with recycled products on Etsy!

9. Get a powerstrip that stops the electric flow to your appliances. This is just a waste of energy. I need one of these, because really now, it is just sometimes impossible to unplug your appliances constantly. One I've learned of is a BITS Ltds Smart Powerstrip.

10. Use more environmentally-friendly cleaning products. You can even use baking soda and lemon juice for a lot of it. Some good products are Method, Mrs. Meyers, and Seventh Generation. I found Method products at the Target nearby. They have some great scents too!

For more information on saving OUR EARTH go to :
Nature Conservancy

Now as for the little froggie!! While we were driving the lonely Hwy 395 this summer up in Oregon, we luckily found a place to stay the night! It was pretty slim pickins up there for any kind of business. Well, at this Mom-and-Pop RV Park, there were a large group of these little frogs all around the restrooms. Don't you want to do what ever you possibly can to try to save these fragile guys? I know I do.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Snow

We had a much needed snow yesterday. Making today one of those warm, drippy mid-spring thaw outs. My pictures can't caputure the scent of the wet forest, or the millions of drips of melting snow falling from the trees. I also couldn't capture the sight of the warm ground steaming in the sunshine. You can see my spring buds unharmed by the snowfall.

This bloom is from a Vinca Minor - (Periwinkle. Myrtle, Creeping Mrytle, Vinca) A very easy to grow ground cover that blooms purple flowers in the spring. They are pretty drought tolerant and can cover a hillside if left to go. They do well in a pretty shaded spot. I have fond memories of these plants growing profusely in the Canyons of Orange County. My only complaint about them is they can be hard to clean of pine needles. You have to pick them out almost one at a time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Etsy Sellers - Pick-O-The-Week - corsetfactory

Here you have my first Etsy Sellers Pick-O-The-Week, as I mentioned yesterday! I've decided to make Wednesday the day I share a seller that I've found on Etsy. I'm usually volunteering in the classroom on this day so it seems easier for me just to browse etsy and find cool stuff. Being around the kids all day, and not enough sleep, makes me a bit non-productive. This will give me a focus rather than trying to dream up something new.

The first Pick-O-The-Week is corsetfactory. I found this shop from browsing the Time Machine 2. This girl makes some very adorable corsets, and they look to be so beautifully made. And some very cute fabric and I love the little details. I can truly see my skinny, little sister in one of these pieces. She's a little pin-up girl herself and these corsets look to be made just for her! I know there are many girls out there that would be just as comfortable in one of these as she would be. I think these would make a great gift for that special girl in your life. There's also a website you can check out for this girl's fabulous corsets. It's

Look for another Pick-O-The-Week (also known as POW) next Wednesday!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Plum Wine - fingerless gloves

The colors of these arm warmers/fingerless gloves scream to be called "Plum Wine". They are crocheted with 3 types of yarn - a dark plumish soft chenille-like yarn, a wine colored yarn that has a bit of bumpy texture to it, and a mixed fluffy, fuzzy yarn in the colors of green, brown, and small amount of teal. These are funky and chunky and fun and oh-so-soft and warm! I just couldn't think of an idea for a painting so I did some crocheting last night. It can be very theraputic to me and it's nice to do something productive while watching TV. Especially when it's something so mind numbing as "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Bachelor". Did I just announce that I watch those shows? Yes, I'll admit it, but at least I was working at the same time!


Soon I'm going to start an Etsy-Pick-Of-The-Week. This will be focusing on one seller each week. I'll try to do it weekly, on a certain day of the week, which is to be determined. I love so much stuff I see for sale there, and I love the site, so I wanted to do some promotion for it. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Illustration Friday - fortune

Madam Mew The Fortune Teller is very talented at seeing the future. But she only seems to the see the mice in your life. I guess she has a one track mind.

This week's theme for Illustration Friday is "fortune." Pretty easy for me to come up with an idea this week. Amazing! If you've never checked out Illustration Friday, you should do it! It's got incredible art and so fun to participate in.

This is ACEO size (2.5x3.5 inches), watercolor and pen and ink.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Art Lesson - Child-friendly Batik

I'm finally catching up a bit... I did this lesson with 46 sixth graders a week or so ago. I'm able to do this lesson with the middle-school sixth graders because we can fit it into their curriculum. They are learning about India, so I steer them in the way of Indian-type of designs. They also get a little bit of history on batik, which could also be incorportated into lessons on Indonesia, or even China. Actually if you researched, you could probably find some more countries where batik is a big art form.

This is pretty child proof, at least for responsible, or older children. It takes two sessions. I first have them draw their design onto paper, then trace it on to a cotton fabric. We usually just buy some white bandanas at Michaels. Then they draw over their pencil markings with white glue (instead of the usual hot wax). I add a tiny bit of water to the glue so that it flows into the fibers of the fabric easier. It's a fine line of too much water and not enough. Not enough will give a less white contrast once rinsed. You must stress to make sure to almost over-do the glue, and to keep the design simple, and bold. This first session takes the most time and I have to really push the kids so that they get done in the 50 or so minutes. I learned about that the first year I did this project. A lot of kids didn't get done, and my helper and I had to finish the glueing for a bunch of the kids! A lot of work!!

The next day is the painting process. Because it's water soluable glue, you must paint over it, not submerge into a dye bath. And you must not scrub too much over the glue once it's wet. At the school I use a watered down acrylic paint instead of dye. The cheaper "craft"-type of acrylic works better than the "artist" type - it just mixes in with the water better. Dye seems to be very irritating to the eyes, and I didn't want to chance a problem. If you were doing this at home, you could use dye with eye protection. I also have to emphasize wearing bad clothes, because of the permanence of acrylic. They have the option to wear a smock, but it's good to tell the kids this. There is also a fine line with the acrylic. Too much water will give a pretty weak product. Not enough and the fabric is kind of stiff. You have to really mix the paint up and get the pigments mixed in. I remind the kids to mix once and a while (I do the same with the glue). They just paint over the fabric, and they can use more than one color. So many kids overdo it and add too much color on top of each other, which really muddies it up. And next year I'll just have a brush per container of paint, rather than rinsing the brushes between colors. When they do this too much, it causes the paint to get too watered down. We hang them to dry. Then I take them home and hand wash them. I just worry that the washing machince will fade them too much. It's a lot of home-work for me, but when it's one of the few art projects our sixth graders get, I find the extra work much worth it. And they turn out just gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Illustration Friday - Green

This week's IF Challenge is "green." A somewhat easy challenge in that a lot of ideas come to my head. But not so easy to narrow down. I decided to just do a doodle in my little journal (6.5x4.5 inches). When I think of green the main thing that screams at me is a message about saving the planet. Yes, I am, and always have been, a tree hugger. I can't stand the idea of the loss of a species on account of human foolishness. I hate the thought of nature being paved over and no longer available for future generations to enjoy. Let alone the fact of the weather patterns changing and having no water on account of massive drought -which is very likely to happen out here in California. All these things terrify me and I wish for a new administration to help move our country in a better direction toward a more Green way of living.

Sometimes I've just got to doodle, and not try to make some kind of "masterpiece" - not that my art is any thing nearly close to a masterpiece! When I'm not creating something to try to sell, I usually do some kind of doodling. All in the hopes of a new brilliant idea to be born that will one day make it into a creation that is saleable. This is the first I've shared a journal entry with the web viewer. This is a little flashback to my younger days -just a hodgepodge of ideas thrown onto a page. It was very fun, and it's nice to not be pressured and to just doodle.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

We spent part of our Easter out in nature. We usually go on a hike on Easter, and most any holiday when we're in town. I find being out in the beautiful woods is the best place to feel closer to God.

This is an ancient manzanita. One of the largest I've seen. Such beauty, even after it's death.

The marine layer was thick today. You could still see the mountaintops through the clouds. Clouds, yet still a lovely Easter Day. Hope yours was wonderful, too!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Jenny's Vintage Kitchen Swap - 2007

I participated in the lovely Jenny's Vintage Kitchen Swap last month. I love anything vintage, and my entire house is basically filled with old stuff, except for my electronics. But vintage kitchen has got to be my favorite. I like my kitchen to look very cheerful. Maybe it's a way to try to make myself seem like I'm an old fashioned housewife who makes lots of homemade bread and other goodies, and always has an extensive, healthy meal at hand. Which I'm not! But it's nice to dream! So I decided to join in on the fun with the other wonderful girls and get myself a swap partner, and hopefully be able to send something her way that she would enjoy.

This is the package sent from Melissa out on the Jersey Shore all the way out here to California. Very Spring-like in it's packaging!

This is the oh, so fun, collection of goodies sent to me from my swap partner. How much fun to open and find the surprises! There's an old tin box, vintage inspired yellow bowls (so very cheery and always needed!), a muffin tray that I can always use for sorting my supplies, a very old pie tin, very quaint recipe cards with an adorable crochet flower, three vintage inspired cookie cutters (some that I don't have-amazingly!), and my son's favorite - a goody bag of yummy Easter chocolates (those didn't last long). What fabulous stuff! Thanks so much Melissa! It was so wonderful meeting you!

I love this sweet tin box the most! I have an extensive tin box collection. I'd rather store all of my supplies in an adorably-old tin box, than a new plastic box with no personality. No matter how many I get, I can always find something to put inside of them. So I put my collection of tiny boxes inside this cute one from Melissa!

Phoebus really liked the leftover tissue in the box from Melissa! What a cozy bed!

These are the goodies that I sent to Melissa. She collects Mexican floral batea trays and I wanted to get her one. I know I have one floating around in my shed or somewhere lost in my house. I looked, but no luck. Just couldn't find it. I was bummed about that. Instead, I decided to paint my own batea-inspired little plaque. I like how it turned out. I hope she had as much fun in this swap as I did! And thank you, Jenny, for organizing the fun event. Hope to do it again!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Illustration Friday - Snap

The IF theme this week is "snap". So here you have a bunch of "snap dragons."

The brightly colored flowers are so named because of the way you can snap the flower heads and make the little dragons open and close their mouths. I've never actually done this to one of these flowers, even as a kid, but I guess many kids enjoy doing this. I remember these flowers growing in my mom's garden when I was young. I've always loved their bold splash of color, but I personally have never really had good luck with them. I've tried growing them from seed before and they took 2 years to finally bloom. The ones I planted from the nursery never seemed to live long. I think they needed more organic matter in the soil. Something that mountain dirt lacks sometimes - too much decomposed granite. I'm sure I'll try again some day, and I'll be sure to add something to the soil. Then I may get to see these little dragons snap!

  • Here it is on ebay.

  • It's an ACEO (2.5x3.5 inches), watercolor and pen and ink.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Bloomin Daffodils

    Look at how cheerful this guy (or gal) is! I've got a few daffodils here and there in my yard. If any flower has a true personality, it's the daffodil. They are one of the plants that can survive the many moles and gophers I've got. They don't eat daffodils! I don't know if my bulbs are lacking nutrients, but only a small percentage bloom each year.
    I'm starting the annual chore of cleaning out the garden of it's fallen pine needles and cones, acorns, branches, and dead growth. It takes me a long time because I do a pretty small amount at a time. It is still a little early, so I can take my time.

    This is a more rare variety of daffodil. I missed it's prime. I think it got snowed on last Tuesday.