Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mid June 2015 Garden Journal

This month the garden is looking beautiful. Flowers are blooming all through the garden, and the colors are very pretty. Below is a picture of my favorite snapdragon, it blooms in pink, coral and yellow and shades in between. This plant grew from a volunteer that popped up last summer, and made it through the winter at which time I transplanted it to one of my flower pots, I love volunteer plants, they are always such a surprise.

The sedum is blooming as well, we have many different varieties, as well as other succulents that are blooming, some are pink and some are white, I really loved the flowers on the two plants below.

I had to take a picture of my holly bush, it has been having a rough couple of years, I transplanted it from a corner of the garden that was too hot for it, and it has spent the last couple of years recovering, right now the leaves look so vibrant and a rich glossy green, so I'm happy it seems to be making a comeback. I also love all of the yellows and oranges in the garden right now, the marigolds, day lilies and nasturtium are so pretty.

I didn't realize I got such a nice variety of nasturtium this year, most often I only get one or two colors, but this year just about every plant is a different color and they are all stunning, I also am enjoying my happy pink cosmos, it is nice having so many flowers this year!

The grapes I planted this spring are doing nicely and growing very well, I don't expect any fruit this year, and hope I prune them correctly for next year, they are a bit of an experiment, but it will be fun to see if they do well in containers. My garlic is very nearly ready, the elephant garlic as well as the smaller variety are just about to bloom this week, I thought the elephant garlic flower with its little cap on looked a bit like an elf with a little pointy cap, I also love the pinkish color of my Killarney Red garlic flower.

The petunias are starting to fill out their pot nicely, and the maidenhair fern is also doing well, I had extra marigolds and decided to plant them in a pot that had a little space left, I was going to plant them in my veggies, but something keeps eating all the leaves off of my Marigolds near my veggie patch, not sure if it is a bird or a bug, but I'd be curious to figure out who is nibbling them, I thought they were supposed to deter pests? Either way, these marigolds seem to have escaped being nibbled.

My hydrangea was very late in blooming this year, and it is no longer blue, so I think I will need to fertilize it properly soon. I know there is something to add to make the flower blue again, which I will have to google. For now, however, I am enjoying the soft pink blossoms, with a hint of blue, they are really very pretty.

The green beans are doing well and the pepper patch is getting going. The zucchini are a bit slow to start, and only about a fourth of the seed germinated, but I am hoping they will catch up. We have had very warm temperatures this June and hardly a speck of rain. Since I was off gardening duties during my recovery from surgery, the watering got neglected a bit, as did the weeding. But I am back at it, and the plants seem to be responding to the attention.

My squash and onion patch is doing okay also, the pumpkins are a bit slow to start, and the best squash plant of all is the mystery squash which was a volunteer, I wonder what it will be? The Walla Walla Onions are doing well also.

The beginning of blueberry season has arrived. I have both early and late varieties of blueberry, and the early variety are ready for picking. The kids have been nibbling on fresh berries and I will hopefully have enough for a small blueberry crisp or some muffins and pancakes this week. :)

I also thought I'd show a picture of the wonderful flower pots the kids painted for me back in grade school. My kids are now young adults, I had these pots put away for safe keeping for the longest time, last year I sprayed them to make them weather proof, and I decided that this year I would enjoy them more if they were planted and in use in my garden. I put a little heather plant in each one, and I love the way they look. :)

We also had a very interesting visitor to the garden this week. I had the curtains open during a girls Bible study I host, and just as we began our lesson this bird lands in the garden. I was sitting directly across from the window and was definitely surprised. I had to grab my camera and get some pictures, the bird stayed in the garden for at least ten minutes. I suspect it was hunting my small bird feeder birds, I most often have at least a dozen little birds hanging out at the feeders. They were all smart to scatter while we had this visitor.

I'm not completely sure what this small hawk is, after looking through books and online I suspect he/she is a Cooper's Hawk. I also read it may be a sharp-shinned hawk, apparently even long time bird watchers have trouble telling the two apart. But since Cooper's Hawk are closer to the size of a crow, which was about the size of this hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk are a bit more the size of a jay or pigeon, which this hawk was definitely bigger than that. So I'm leaning toward Cooper's Hawk. If anyone of you is familiar with birds in the Oregon Valley, and recognize what this bird might be, I would love if you would let me know in the comments. This bird is definitely a hunting machine, his talons and beak are pretty imposing. He/She ran along the fence line hunting for birds, I tried catching a few side pictures, but it was too fast so they all came out blurry, you can see in the bottom picture how long his tail feather is. Between the Kestrel and this new Hawk, my little birds had better be on the lookout!

I really love the large variety of birds the garden has had this year, it really pays off to put out a wide variety of bird foods and have fresh water dripping from the bird dripper. Seeing this hawk up close was quite a treat. 

Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Flaunt it Friday

ICAD Week 2 Summer Art Project

This week I have had lots of fun working on my summer art project taking part in ICAD 2015- Index Card A Day Challenge, where you do art on an index card every day from June 1st through July 31. You can follow weekly themes and daily prompts if you want. You can read more about ICAD 2015 on my post about Week 1 or at the ICAD website. This weeks theme was painting- using mediums such as watercolor, watercolor pencils, gouache, or acrylics. Here's how my cards turned out this week.

I had fun using different paints this week. I also have given myself the added challenge of finding a bible verse for each card, so I can start my art Bible journaling. This week I mostly went with joyful and inspiring verses, and a couple verses that the prompt made me think of. Day 8's prompt was grapefruit and cherry, I used Prismacolor Watercolor pencils for the first time, as well as accent white Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen. I really love how the Prismacolor watercolor pencils work, they sort of remind me of those watercolor activity books I would get as a child, the sort you just add water to and the color spreads, but in this case, you get to draw on the initial lines, they blend really well, and the colors are pretty vibrant. Since it was a fruit theme I chose the fruits of the spirit verse.

Day 9's prompt was carrot and lemon, I used my watercolor pencils again, and embellished with Sakura Glaze pens.

Day 10's prompt was eggplant and ginger, for this prompt I decided to go with eggplant and ginger colors and try out my new Gelatos. Gelatos go on almost like a cross between a crayon and a tube of lipstick, then using a mini mister you can spray them with water and the colors blend using a blending tool. To prep the surface of the card I painted it with a thin layer of acrylic gesso, then added and blended Gelatos, I did the center with chalkboard paint and wrote in white Sakura gel pen, and added a champagne glitter to the surface. It was fun experimenting with a new medium, I was starting to get the feel for how Gelatos work.

Day 11's prompt was lime and mango, I used watercolor pencils and drew limes with a mango colored background, and again did my verse on chalkboard paint with white gel pen.

Day 12's prompt was parsnip and kiwi, I chose to go with the colors of parsnip near the middle and kiwi toward the outside of the card. I wanted to practice blending the Gelatos more, I prepped the surface with gesso, and got a lot better feel for the Gelatos, I can see how they would be really fun to use for all sorts of projects. Again I did my verse on chalkboard pain. I was happy I had a little bottle of chalkboard paint, I purchased it a few months back from the Target dollar bins, and it has been fun to use.

Day 13's prompt was blueberry and plum, I used watercolor pencil again, and drew a representation of my little blueberry pots that I have in my garden as well as the the decorative plum tree I have in my front yard. I was going for a more red/purple leaf on the tree, but I only have twelve colors and my blending didn't go as planned, but I still liked it overall.

My day 9 and 13's cards had matching trees, I thought it would be fun to try the tree a second time.

Day 14's prompt was salt and pepper, I decided to go with a black and white color scheme and only focus on the salt, I did a chalkboard paint background and drew with Sakura white gel pen, and I used some white and iridescent glitter for the salt. I had fun with this picture, I really like working with the white gel pen on black.

I had fun with the painting theme of week 2, next week's theme is collage. I haven't done much collage, but I do a lot of paper crafting so I am looking forward to working on collages this week. I stopped by Michael's this Sunday, I needed a few supplies, I picked up some new ink pads, and a couple new stamps, and found some fun things for collage week. I bought a pack of book pages, I love using book print for backgrounds, but since I'm allergic to old paper I don't keep a stock of old book to use, and of course the books I do keep I don't want to use them, in the past I have made copies of book pages, but I thought this little pack would be fun to have around, it was fairly inexpensive, and the pages are in all different sizes with different printing and some cute images. I also found some mini word flashcards, and some very cute mini button brads. It's always fun to add to my art supply stash. :)

Week three has been going on now for a few days and I have been enjoying working on my collage cards. I also really love checking out all the art work that other participants in ICAD post, there are some amazing artists who take part in ICAD, as well as people doing all different types of art, it is really a great learning experience. If you are interested in taking part you can jump right in, stop by and visit the website for instructions if your interested by clicking the link below, it is definitely a fun way to practice art every day! :)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Graduations and a Ceramics Display

This first half of June has been all about graduations around our house. The first graduation was my youngest son's high school graduation.

We got the house all decorated in the school colors black and orange, with lots of flowers and balloons. I made a cute banner for the fireplace in the living room with black and white photos of my son and his girlfriend and cute chalkboard style 2015 clothespins I found in the Target dollar bins.

Gifts were wrapped and food was ready and waiting in the fridge for my son and his girlfriend's graduation luncheon. Many of the kids had decorated their grad caps, Joe went with school colors orange and black with drama and music decorations, I loved all the grad caps, they were very creative and fun. During graduation my son and his girlfriend performed for the last time with their high school concert choir, the performance was beautiful.

Graduation went very nicely and afterward we walked around the commons a bit, and said goodbye to teachers and friends. Here is Joe with his sister Sarah, and Dad Gary. :)

Here is Joe and his girlfriend Lorene proudly holding their diplomas. Afterward we all went home and had a nice little luncheon get together with some of our family and Lorene's family. Then the kids got ready for their senior all night party. It was a very fun weekend. The following Monday my son started his full time summer job and will start college in the fall to work on his communications degree.

Here is a picture of me with both of my graduates. My daughter was the next graduation of the month. She just finished up her two year associates degree.

Long time readers of my blog may remember that two years ago, shortly after my daughter Sarah graduated from high school, she was in a terrible car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately she has made wonderful progress in healing from her injuries, and entered college right away. Anyone who has suffered from a brain injury or severe concussion, or has a family member who has gone through one, knows how a healing brain struggles with extreme fatigue and can be bothered by loud noises or memory issues. Sarah pushed through all of this and worked extra hard to do her school work. She graduated with honors and has maintained a high GPA. We are all very proud of how hard she has worked, and felt very blessed that she has healed so well from her injuries. Here she is below with Dad and brother.

Since Sarah's school colors were red and blue, we decorated the house in red and blue, with pretty red tulips, and bright blue balloons and red polka dotted streamers. We celebrated with a BBQ and had a fun time with friends and family.

During Sarah's last term of college, since she had finished the majority of her required classes, she decided to take a fun class and explore ceramics, which was something she had been interested in trying out. She really enjoyed her class, and brought home a beautiful collection of her first collection of ceramics projects. I was really eager to see her work as I had been hearing her describe them all term. So I decided that it would be fun to set up a little art gallery of her work in the dining room, so that during her graduation BBQ everyone could check out her art work.

Here is her work- the class started off with some basic pinch pots, and also practice throwing cylindrical pots on the pottery wheel. I love the colors of all the different glazes, and each pot is so different and pretty, I can imagine them all holding little plants or pens and pencils.

She had another assignment where she had to create a functional and non functional object- so she made a bird house and a bird figurine. I absolutely love them, the bird house is especially wonderful, Sarah plans to hang it outside and see if any of our backyard birds move in. Also in the picture below are some rocks she made from some of her extra clay, as well as a small pinch pot that was fired using an interesting process called raku that uses lower than normal firing temperatures, it was interesting to hear about the process.

Next her assignment was to make a piece based on one of the artists they studied. Sarah chose artist John Mason. He does some interesting very geometric pieces and Sarah has always been drawn to geometric art. I absolutely love how her piece turned out, the pictures hardly do it justice, the color is wonderful and the shape is so interesting!

This next vase was a project that took her the longest, it was a coil vase, and took an incredibly long time to make. Then just as the vase was nearly done and ready to be fired, a student moved it and accidentally took off part of the top. Her teacher helped her repair it with some paper clay, and after glazing and firing it turned out great. I love the shape, and the colors of glazes she chose are really pretty.

Another project was to make two lidded containers, they turned out so cute, but unfortunately there was glaze on the inner lid and when they were fired they stuck together, so they can't be opened. She hopes to remake them in the future. If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. :) I love the two little birds as a handle, and the brown container looks perfect for holding coffee.

This was another vase project, this time made of slabs. She was inspired by the game Minecraft (Sarah, Joe and Gary all play Minecraft together) it is a Minecraft bookcase. I love the shape and colors, and think it would hold tulips nicely! :)

Currently it is on our dining room bookcase, and it looks wonderful with all the books.

I put her vase and artist sculpture on the top of one of our taller bookcases so they wouldn't get knocked over, they are hanging out with my fox cookie jar, and they look great in my dining room! I am so proud of her art work and think she has a real knack for it. Her teacher encouraged her to come back next year and take more ceramics classes, and Sarah has decided she will. This next year Sarah will be taking a bit of time off from academics and pursue other interests, so it will be nice for her to delve into art a bit more. She has definitely earned a break! I look forward to seeing her future art work, I absolutely love it!

Now that graduation season is over I am looking forward to spending a nice summer with my family, out in the garden and exploring nature. I am a very proud mom, and look forward to watching my children grow into their new roles as young adults!

Linking to:
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Be Inspired

Monday, June 8, 2015

ICAD Week 1 Summer Art Project

Last week I was catching up reading some of my favorite blogs, and over at Rustic Pumpkin's Garden in the Shire blog I read about this wonderful sounding summer art project called ICAD, short for Index Card A Day. After visiting the ICAD website, and reading about what it was all about, I decided that it would be such a fun art project for summer. So I got out my art supplies, and a stack of index cards (I love index cards and always keep a large supply, they are so useful), and got started working on my first card. Here is my first week of completed cards.

The wonderful thing about the ICAD project are the lists of prompts, there are weekly themes suggesting what medium you work with, and daily prompts to help get your creativity flowing, however the prompts are only there if you want to use them, you can do whatever you like as long as its on an index card. The project goes on for 9 weeks starting June 1st, but you can jump in anytime and join the fun, sharing your daily work each day on the Facebook page and Instagram #icad2015.

The first week's theme was drawing and doodling with ink, markers and pens. The first day's prompt was chevron. I love chevron patterns, so I thought this was a fun one to start with. Then, I had the idea to add a verse to my card each day as sort of an added challenge, and because I have really been wanting to do bible study and verse memorization along with art journaling.  For my first card I doodled chevron patterns with gel pens and Pentel markers, with a crayon background, and chose one of my favorite verses to kick of my set of cards.

Day two's theme was carnival, and I immediately thought of old fashioned carnival tents, and found a verse with joy as the theme. Again this card was done with gel pens, Pentel Markers and crayon, the dark yellow color is actually a metallic gold which really looks neat in person but unfortunately doesn't show up in my picture. This was one of my favorite cards of the week. :)

Day three's prompt was Map, and I decided to get out my stamps and ink along with oil pastels which I used to blend over the background. I have had this map stamp for almost a decade and have always wanted to use it but never had a project for it, so I was glad to finally use it! I added dots to accent some of the map lines with Pentel markers and embellished with copper mini brads.

Day 4's prompt was mailbox, I had a hard time at first finding a matching verse, but them I found the perfect one, and was really happy how it turned out.

Day 5's prompt was Owl, and since this weekend was my son's graduation I had to put a grad cap on the owl! :) For this card I used micron pens. Earlier in the week I got out my old micron pens only to find out they had been used for one too many of the kids' school projects, so along with some other supplies I picked up a new basic set of micron pens. How nice it was to work with fresh pens! For the color I used Gelly Roll Glaze pens, another new pen I kept hearing about. The ink dries shiny and they go on wonderfully!

Day 6's prompt was Taxi- I wasn't sure how I would do this card, drawing a car seamed a bit daunting, but I kept it simple and whimsical, and used my new Gelly Roll pens (boy, I tell you, I am so impressed with these pens, definitely a new favorite!). It doesn't come through in the picture but the whole Taxi is a nice glazed shiny yellow, I also found a fitting verse. :)

The last day of the week, Day 7's prompt was Periodic Table, I was really struggling to find a matching verse, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Then I thought it would be fitting, since I am a Sunday School teacher, and am always working on memorizing the books of the Bible in order ( I have the Old Testament down because of a great song, but have yet to find a catchy New Testement song that sticks in my head), anyway, I thought they would be perfect as a Periodic Table, I did one for each the Old and New Testament. I color coded the books based on their category, such as history, major and minor prophets, the Gospels, etc. , I really like how they turned out, it was fun making them.

So that was the end of week one. I have had so much fun doing a little art every day, it keeps you thinking, and really helps one exercise new techniques and practice. The other major benefit is seeing everyone else's work, there are so many different art styles, there are people with all different art experience levels, I am learning a ton more than I ever would just practicing art by myself. I have learned so much this week about different art mediums I never knew about, and I have been spending free time watching different techniques on YouTube tutorials.

Next week's theme is Painting! Gouache (which I had never heard about before), watercolor, acrylics, and water color pencils. Since I've been learning about new supplies I picked up some new ones to try this week, Prismacolor Watercolor pencils, which I just started using today, a product I just learned about this week called Gelatos, which I am super excited to try, some Gesso to prep the surface of some of my cards, and some white Gelly Roll Pens for accenting.

I am really looking forward to spending so much time with art this summer, it is the perfect summer project for me. These art projects are not about being the perfect artist, it is about just getting your supplies and practicing art every day, and I love that! Thanks again Deb from Rustic Pumpkin's Garden in the Shire, I'm so glad you shared about ICAD 2015! :)

If you want to learn more about ICAD 2015, or join in the fun, check out the website below. :)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Surgery Update and This Week's Happenings

Last Tuesday I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed. I thought I would share a bit abut how that went, and how I'm recovering, as well as all that has been going on this week.

My surgery went very well, I was quite nervous the night before and the morning of, since I had never had surgery, other than to remove my wisdom teeth, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. When I arrived at the hospital all of the staff was very friendly, and it set my mind at ease. My nurse was very wonderful, she kept the conversation light and made sure I was doing well both before and after the surgery. Of course once the anesthetist arrived all was definitely well after he gave me something fairly powerful for my nerves, then sent me off to surgery slumber land. :) The surgery went quickly, and I remember nothing but waking up in recovery, then being brought back to my room where my husband was waiting. The surgeon came in and said it was good I had my gallbladder removed, there was a stone the diameter of a nickle and signs that the gallbladder had been in distress for some time. After I woke up a bit more, I was able to get up and get dressed and was released to head home. I arrived home just slightly five hours after arriving at the hospital, so the whole procedure was pretty quick. A big thank you to my surgery team, nurses, staff, and volunteers at Silverton Hospital!! :)

I was quite happy when they removed my IV and had some really fun dinosaur wrap to keep the gauze on, I am a big fan of dinosaurs and this really made me happy, when my hubby saw I was getting dinosaur wrap he knew I would be pleased. :) If you are going in for gallbladder removal I would highly suggest bringing in a comfy outfit with soft stretchy waistband pants and a tank top and cotton T, I have been quite happy this whole week to wear my stretchy yoga capris, and I wore my bright walking sneakers for a happy pop of color. I was quite sore for the first few days and could barely get up and down. Laproscopic Gallbladder surgery requires four cuts in your abdominal area, so the muscles are very sore, you can't lift anything and can't twist around much. The pain medicine did the trick, although after day two I realized the pain medicine was making me jittery and anxious, so I opted to switch to just over the counter pain medicine, which was fine.

I spent the whole week taking it very easy, watching lots of television, and reading magazines and my Kindle. I also had lots of flowers to brighten my days. My husband brought me a bright bouquet of Gerber daisies as well as mini roses for my bedroom, my bible study group sent over the most perfect rose I have seen in some time, such a pretty color and fragrance! My son's girlfriend brought me pretty pink lilies from her cheer team, and my mother in law stopped by with a very pretty soft colored bouquet with hydrangeas and daisies. I was so thankful for all of my beautiful flowers, I think flowers really help people keep cheerful while healing. Thanks for all the flowers everyone!! :)

The night before the surgery I spent some time getting things ready around the house, and prepared some lime Jello (my favorite flavor) since my diet after the surgery had to be pretty simple the first few days. I found these absolutely fun Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle mini gladwares at Target last week and knew they would be perfect for single serve portions of Jello. These little Jello cups have been very nice to have all week, and having them in TMNT cups is super fun. This would be a fun thing to have made up in the fridge for summer snacking as well.

Since I was unable to attend the Senior parents locker decorating evening, where parents of graduating seniors decorate their students' lockers, I decided I would make some in advance and have my daughter deliver them to my son and his girlfriend's lockers. I had to keep it fairly simple because I was very busy getting things ready for my surgery, but I really liked how they turned out. I printed out a Congratulations message on bright orange paper, and made fringe from strips of black cardstock, which I glued around the back edges of the paper, then added some grad cap stickers, and some black and orange glitter. They knew I wouldn't be able to attend the decorating event because it was the day of my surgery, but I wanted to surprise them with a little decoration, which they were happy with. :) This weekend is their graduation, and we are all excited for the event!

The weather most of last week was beautifully sunny, I could not resist sitting out in my garden and watching my birds, as well as watching them from my window. The goldfinch and sparrows where very entertaining with their singing and flying about.

The Kestrel was flying over head one day and I caught one picture of him, a little sparrow was working on nest building, and at first I thought some of these new visitors with speckles where just some variation of the goldfinch, now I suspect they may be Pine Siskins, it was fun to see some new visitors to the bird feeders.

I took a few short strolls around my garden last week as well, to check on things and see what was blooming. The little white flowers have popped up on the moss, I love the little yellow flowers on these clovery weeds in the gravel, and a new variety of lavender is blooming.

The succulents in my new dry river garden are doing great, the hens and chicks are making chicks nicely, and some look like they are about to blossom, and one of my new succulents put out the most beautiful hot pink flowers, I was surprised by them, I had no idea they would be so vibrant. I am hoping they still have some at the garden center, because I would love to add more to my garden! It was nice getting out in my garden, and getting some fresh air.

All week I had been hoping I would be well enough to attend my son's last high school play. Luckily I was well enough to attend on Saturday night, his last performance. The play was Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which is one of my favorites, it was set in the 1940's. They all did a wonderful job, memorizing all of those Shakespeare lines was difficult, but they did great!

My son played Don Pedro, and I was so glad I got to see him perform. His girlfriend was also in the play, as well as many of his friends who have been in plays together for all of high school. The whole night was a real treat!

It has been one week today since my surgery, and I am feeling much better. I am still on light duty for another week, but I get to get out and about now, so that's nice. I am still on a restricted low fat diet, but little by little I will see how I tolerate some fats, the plus side is that I have lost about 15 pounds since beginning my lower fat diet. So overall pretty positive results from my Gallbladder surgery. :)

I'm looking forward to the rest of our week and getting ready to watch my son graduate this weekend! :) Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

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