Category Archives: Favorite Things
I’m having so much FUN this afternoon! About two months ago I saw an ad on Facebook (I know, but there it was) for a “light box” or “LED tracing board.” Since I’m currently trying to learn new techniques for adding fur and feathers to animals, being able to trace a few outlines and distinctive features of drawings or pictures I like and then being able to concentrate on the techniques for making feathers and fur more realistic in various media seems like a wonderful idea.
It doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to try to draw the animals and birds from scratch as time goes on, but – to be honest – I’m intimidated and it will take a while to work through that. With the light box or tracing board, I can bypass my insecurities, learn, and have fun!
This gives you an idea of what I ordered. It came today and I’m like a kid in a candy shop. It’s ultra thin and you plug it into your computer. There are three intensities of LED light settings.
I hooked it up, then ran upstairs to get my sketch book, tracing paper, carbon paper, pencils, plus my “Keys to Painting Fur & Feathers” edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf, and plopped down in front of my computer. I’ve now traced a bird and am now using carbon paper to transfer it to my sketch book. I have the outlines of two drawings I did years ago already in the sketch book. When I get several sketches (tracings) added, I can then concentrate on the suggestions for adding feathers to these beautiful creatures in colored pencils, watercolor, pastels, acrylics, pen & ink, and mixed media.
Here is my drawing of a kingfisher
And my drawing of a parrot
and this is the first step in the tracing of another bird I found that I like. This is being transferred to my sketch book using carbon paper.
I know this isn’t easy to see, but you can get the idea of what I’m doing.
I have to stop and get lunch for us now, but I’ll get back to this ASAP. :0)
I’m split right down the middle emotionally this morning – one half is jubilant, the other feeling very, very humble.
I officially hit 1100 subscribers to this blog the day before yesterday. Half of me is joyously dancing around the room. The other half is feeling very serious.
THANK YOU to those of you who signed up to receive the blog. People see my posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, but 1100 actually signed up to receive my posts every day. I gain and lose subscribers on a regular basis. That’s normal and to be expected. To have this many people actually stick with me – many for several years now – is such a beautiful compliment. My goal is to provide a place free of politics, outrage, bad news, and other gloomy, depressing things. We all get more than enough of that in our regular, every day lives. I’m trying to provide a break, focusing on beautiful things, funny stuff, posts that might bring you a smile, or that you might identify with. Above all, I hope to never bore you.
THANK YOU to those of you who take the time to hit ‘like’ or write to me. Feedback is a wonderful thing. Otherwise, I feel I’m throwing a bottle in the ocean. I appreciate feedback on what you enjoy, what made you smirk, what touched you in some way. I would love to know what you would like more of, as well as what you hope to never see again. :0)
When I told my husband that my subscriber list had reached 1100, he insisted that he take me for a meal of my favorite food in all the world – lobster tail! We’re doing that tomorrow!!!! So THANK YOU, also, for giving my husband a reason to spoil me once again. :0)
As I wrote this post, my stats told me some wonderful news: I just hit 1101!
We went from a cooler and wetter-than-usual spring immediately to HOT summer, with record-setting temperatures for this time of year here in Arkansas. Consequences: it has wreaked havoc with my poor veggie garden. It was nice and lush just a bit of a week ago and then the lettuce started to bolt.
This is what lettuce bolting looks like. When the weather is in the high 90’s, there is little one can do to avoid this. When lettuce bolts, the leaves get bitter, so there is nothing to do but pull the plants out and put them in the compost barrel.
I’m going to be pulling plants today. I’ll take pics of what’s left when I get things cleaned up a bit. A week ago I found a few more head lettuce plants and what is called, “Stir-fry broccoli” that I planted. The jury is still out on whether these will live or not.
If you don’t know what you’re looking at here, these plants look healthy. Lettuce plants are supposed to be lush, but NOT tall, like these are.
It’s sad to come to the end of so many things at the same time, but I’m hopeful I’ll still have many plants remaining when I finish the clean out.
Do you realize that May is almost over? We just started 2018 and it’s almost half gone! What happened? Where did all the days go?
My husband has always told me – usually when I’m complaining about having too much on my to-do list – that “if you’re busy, you’re happy – and the days go flying by.”
We have been retired for quite a while now, and we honestly don’t know how we managed to work full-time most of our lives. The day starts and it’s over. The year starts and it’s over. We move from one thing to the next, enjoying living our lives, and the time passing makes our hair blow.
I honestly have trouble understanding boredom. I’ve been so lucky to always have WAY more to do than I have the time or energy. And mostly, I love what I’m doing. How’s THAT for a nice life?
I never expected that my husband and I would create ‘critters’ out of metal. We have trouble now finding scrap metal, since the junk yards and metal places are saddled with liability issues in letting people wander around finding treasures in the piles, but occasionally we find old small propane tanks and old farm implements, etc., and a critter is born.
This is a sample of a critter made from scrap metal. He weighs a TON (or seemed to when we were trying to hang him on this tree at the top of our driveway.) All of our critters are one-of-a-kind, since we can’t ever find the same scraps, but we really enjoy seeing a ‘critter’ emerge from pieces we find. Some of our biggest disagreements now are about what to make, how to make it, and what colors to use to paint it. :0)
We also love making metal decorations for our mailbox at the bottom of the driveway.
This Calvin & Hobbes decorations is one of my favorites.
We make stained glass and mosaic pieces when we can make the time.
We have a raised bed square foot garden where I’m trying to raise a bunch of our own salad stuff, as well as tomatoes. We built a greenhouse last year and I’m experimenting, trying to lengthen our growing season. We built brick planters – 14 of them – all around our yard so that we can enjoy flowers as much of the year as possible.
My husband is trying now to record our DVD collection onto a special bunch of equipment. If he’s successful, he wants me to sell most of the physical collection. This is a big project, and will take some time.
I’m trying to go through our 30-year-old + home, purging/giving away/throwing away/cleaning/reorganizing. I do this every 30 years, so I’m hip deep or more in ‘stuff’ right now.
You get the picture. We’re happy as clams, busy as bees (and any other cliché’s you can think of) to describe two people loving life and loving living it together. The days, weeks, months and years whiz past our heads – going faster and faster as we get longer in the tooth….
Today after a nice time at Lunch Bunch, we stopped at the co-op on the off chance that they might have a few plants for our garden. I found a couple of lettucy type plants that I hope will fill in where my romaine is bolting and not long for this world. I also found a plant called, “broccoli stir-fry.” Since I’ve harvested the majority of the main part of the broccoli plants and I’m not sure if I’ll get more from any of these, I’m happy that I may have another chance for more broccoli this season.
The fact that we’ve gone directly from winter to summer this year is hard on the garden, particularly for the cool-weather plants like broccoli, spinach, and lettuce.
This is one of the lettucy plants and two cantaloupe plants at which my husband was looking longingly. Since it looks like a lot of the rest of my plants have a very short life span remaining, I’m happy to try these. (The last melon type plant I tried took over the whole 4’x4′ box, so I’m going to plan for this.)
It’s WAY too hot right now to be trying to work in the garden, so I’m doing other stuff while waiting for the sun to tone it down a bit. (We’re having a high of around 90 with humidity at 61% right now – way too hot for this old lady.) I’ll try to take some pics to share later.
I’m grateful for the harvest yesterday. In the picture above you can see that my spinach plants are not enjoying the heat. Lettuce and spinach are cool weather plants and I usually enjoy quite a harvest before the too-hot begins. I’ll harvest as much spinach as possible because I can freeze it.
The head lettuce leaves are still okay, but looking a bit stressed. These plants are happier than anything else, with the exception of the radishes, in the square foot garden right now.
I’m sad because the really hot-too-soon in the season weather we’ve been having is causing the romaine lettuce to bolt. I’m not sure how much more I can harvest before the leaves taste bitter and I have to compost the plants.
We’ll enjoy the fresh lettuce and spinach for salad each day for as long as possible. I’m not sure whether I’ll get more broccoli, but the hope is that I’ll get more from the shoots from the main plant after the center has been harvested. The radishes and onions are doing fine, although some of the green tops of the onions are shooting up and trying to make seeds. The tomato plants on the other side of the house are growing rapidly. They like the heat. I have a few blossoms, so I’m hopeful we’ll enjoy a nice crop this year.
Isn’t this a great photo?
We saw our first hummingbird of the season yesterday morning when we were eating breakfast. We have two feeders out, and he checked out both of them, sitting down at one and drinking his fill. He also checked out our hummingbird bird bath, but didn’t stop for it. Maybe tomorrow.
My sister-in-lay, Mary Lou, sent me a subscription for Birds and Blooms Magazine, and I’m enjoying it very much. Today I saw an article titled, “Beyond Feeders: 5 More Ways to Attract Hummingbirds”
The article suggested that you provide a place for them to take a bath, leave the bugs they like to eat alone, let spiderwebs remain, plant sap-rich trees, and provide places for them to sit and rest.
This is the hummingbird bird bath we made.
And one of the feeders we have is this kind.
I hope the one we saw yesterday comes back with all his friends and relatives!
Our son’s music room in Thailand is coming together nicely. He says he’ll probably get a keyboard and guitar next. He has to keep buying, selling and changing his stuff because he needs to travel light in his lifestyle. I’m glad that he can play with his goodies now.
I have no idea what the stuff is in the ‘magic box,’ but he sent us a short video of him playing with things, learning some of the wonderful sounds, rhythms, and tunes he can create (if not distracted by all the blinking lights!) I loved watching his head bob in time with his music. :0)
Our raised bed square foot garden is doing well so far this year. We have six 4’x4′ boxes on metal ‘tables’ at about my chest level. I can just walk up to them, planting, weeding, or harvesting without having to get up and down from my knees or bend over double – a thing I can’t tell you how very MUCH I appreciate!
We are growing iceberg head lettuce, romaine lettuce, sweet onions, radishes, spinach and broccoli. We have two converted planters on the east side of the house with tomato plants.
I’m going to go out and harvest some things today, but I wanted to show you how nice the plants look before I do.
I have some celery started in the kitchen that I’m hoping I can transplant to these empty squares soon.
On the lower right, you can see the start of radishes in the square.
Okay. We were in the middle of a drought and it even caused bad problems with our water supply, making the turnovers in the lakes cause our water to have a bad odor and taste. Wildfire danger was high. Warm, windy days were worrisome. I started doing mental and physical rain dances, trying to get our area over the problem.
Mother Nature listened. I’m not sure if she saw and heard ME, or if a whole lot of people were also doing rain dances, but she delivered. Big Time. We’ve had rain, rain showers, heavy rain, storms, sleet, and more rain. I’ve definitely STOPPED even thinking about rain dances, but now I’m thinking Mother Nature is saying, “You wanted rain. Okay. Here it is!”
Today we’re due for MORE storms, particularly between 11:00 and 3 this afternoon with possible severe weather. We did a group of errands this morning, paring our list down to one appt this afternoon, in an effort to be ONLY blown away, rather than blown away and DROWNED trying to get our stuff done.
The doggies came and demanded that I take them out a couple of minutes ago, insisting they would blow up if I didn’t take them out NOW. I complied, then came back for my camera, to record some of the beauty I found while walking around the yard. The storm today might wreak havoc with our yard, so I wanted to try to catch Mother Nature at her BEST – first.
Every day the wisteria gets more lush and more purple.
It SMELLS wonderful, too!
We have purple iris blooming in planters, in clusters around the yard, even off the edge of the civilized part of our yard, plus down our driveway.
We have buds on the three new Rio Samba rose bushes, and now some of the buds are starting to open up!
A knock out rose bush is starting to have blooms.
This is the north side of our square foot garden.
And the south side.
The winds really picked up while I took pics and walked the dogs. We’ll probably be right in the heart of the thunderstorms this afternoon, since we have to be out at 1:30. It’s a good thing we don’t melt in the rain. We’re thankful for our warm, dry home. Our doggies have already snuggled down for a nap, and even the two cats came in with us.
Have a wonderful day. Stay warm and dry!
This is the Joseph’s Coat climbing rose bush that my friend Kay bought for me for my birthday. It’s putting on new growth, so hopefully it’ll be happy in its new home.
We planted three new Rio Samba rose bushes recently. All are showing nice buds, and SOME are about to open! Here’s bush # 1
Bush # 2
Bush # 3.
“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~ Kate Morton
“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view. ” ~ H. Fred Dale
“In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.” ~Robert Brault
We’re due for rain starting this afternoon – going from “Thunderstorms,” to “Heavy Rain,” to “Showers,” to “A.M. Showers,” to “Thunderstorms” through Monday of NEXT WEEK! My biggest concern now is that my sweet plants will come up out of the ground and flow out of the squares and boxes and end up on the ground below…
“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~ Author Unknown
One of the many reasons we love living on top of our ridge line outside the city limits of Greenwood, Arkansas is the privacy. We have our space without having to speak to lots of neighbors or having them look harshly at us because we don’t make sure each blade of grass is cut to the neighborhood specifications. We have created out own little world up here and we love it.
We can pretend we own all the land we can see. :0) We own about 8 acres. Our land goes down to the street in the front. Picture a hill with the top part cut off horizontally. That’s our land. We keep a small part ‘civilized’ and let the rest be natural.
We absolutely love our view from our back yard. We can watch the seasons change. We can enjoy the firework displays of our neighbors in the valley below.
If we can SEE it, it’s OURS, isn’t it? :0)
Our spring raised bed square foot garden is off to a good start. We have six 4’x4’x8″ boxes at about my chest level in our vegetable garden. (We also have two brick planters on the other side of the house we use for our tomato plants.)
You can see the sprinklers and hoses that run over the top of the boxes on either side, making up the irrigation system. I added the timer a few days ago to the outdoor faucet, so the garden gets watered for 10 minutes each morning. There are drain holes in each box so that excess water runs out freely. I’ve planted onion sets, iceberg head lettuce, romaine lettuce, broccoli, and spinach so far. I’ll plant some radishes later, plus bring out starts of celery from the house.
This year, except for the onion sets and radishes, I decided to only plant one plant in each square. There are only two of us eating salad in our household, so 4 lettuce plants to a square is too much for us to eat and the plants grow rapidly, crowding each other. I’m experimenting to see if this spread out version works better for us.
The spindly plants around this lettuce plant are onion sets. The tops of the onions don’t look great, but I’m hoping that the actual onions are doing well. I won’t know for a long time.
Here you can see broccoli in the foreground, a spinach plant in the middle, and lettuce toward the back. I’m planning to start the tomato plants we bought very soon.
The daffodils are starting to fade now, but the hyacinths I planted last year are bursting forth now. Such a showy, happy flower.
It’s a good thing I planted several purple hyacinths, since Amber ate one of them.
We devoted 3 hours today to driving to Fort Smith, each of us getting teeth cleaned, and driving home. On the way home, though, we stopped at a local plant nursery, looking for the Rio Samba rose bushes we wanted. We FOUND some! We got three of them and stopped to grab some lunch to bring home
This planting was HARD. We had a yellow forsythia bush that had been here for years. It grew like a mad thing, spreading branches and rooting in all directions. It produced fewer and fewer yellow blooms for a shorter amount of time each year. I spent a lot of time trying to keep it from taking over everything in the planter. I finally got tired of it and asked my husband to take it out and replace it with one of the three rose bushes. He used a shovel, an axe, and a pry bar, then got a come-along from the shop and attached it to the trailer hitch on the truck to pull the plant out. We still had to cut back roots and keep digging, but we finally declared victory and planted the rose bush in its place.
Unless I was needed to help get the forsythia out, I was digging holes and planting the other two Rio Sambas. It was a straight forward job, but I had to dig all the way down to the concrete floor to get the hole deep enough for the gorgeous plant’s roots. This one is beside the top of the driveway, beside the garage.
This planter is off the front porch. It was a fairly easy job, too, except that this old broad doesn’t dig a lot of deep holes these days…
I think I told you recently that my friend, Kay, from Lunch Bunch, got me a Joseph’s Coat climbing rose for my birthday. We planted it today right next to a wisteria at the far end of the house. The wisteria is pretty much a bust, not having produced like the one in the front yard, but hopefully it’ll be a dandy thing for the rose to climb on. I can’t wait to see all the roses bloom!
I got up to refresh my coffee a minute ago. My husband was asleep in his chair, probably not remembering we need to leave for the dentist in about 10 minutes. This is what I found on the divider between the dining area and the kitchen. He had taken the doggies out and cut these to bring in while they were out. He’s definitely a keeper, and this is only one of the many reasons why.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday. I had SUCH a nice day. You made me feel special and I’m truly grateful. I had lunch with my long time good friends and my husband, we finished getting the veggie planters ready, I planted onions, I ate some mashed potatoes with my dinner (YES! I DID! And I enjoyed every mouthful! :0) ) The only thing I didn’t do was get up to play in my art room. With any luck, I can make that happen today. THANK YOU for my special day!
I have enjoyed coffee since I was 12. At that point my mom insisted I have only one cup per day mixed with a lot of milk. I gave up the milk when my husband groused about having to put it in when he brought me a cup of coffee. (This was even though I was expected to add TWO spoonsful of sugar to each cup I brought HIM). I always drink it black now, unless the coffee needs help for some reason.
Over the years, coffee has been good for you or bad for you, over and over. I think right now the ‘experts’ are saying it’s okay. I’m glad they’re happy. I don’t pay attention. I drink coffee all day long. Now I drink a bottle of water in-between cups of coffee, which results in more exercise going to the bathroom several times per day…
I even drink it right before bed. It doesn’t keep me awake. I guess my system has developed a tolerance for caffeine.
I’m plebian when it comes to coffee. I don’t like the fancy-ness of Starbucks. I don’t even like special blends. I don’t like flavorings of any kind added. I just want good, black, plain coffee. My husband got a Keurig coffee maker that we use when I’ve drunk the pot of coffee we make in the morning and would still really like ONE MORE CUP. We got a really large cup and put in lots of water when we make a cup. And then I dilute it with hot water from the tap and put it in the microwave. The brand that suits me the best so far is Donut-Shop Regular.
Coffee is good for what ails me. I could even give up chocolate before I would stop drinking a good cup of coffee.
Hugs are one of my favorite things. They cure me of most ailments. They fill my heart. I guess one shouldn’t pick favorites, but I have to tell you that hugs from our son are the very best there are – anywhere. He draws me in, wraps his arms around me and squeezes – then squeezes harder if “I” don’t squeeze hard enough for HIM. Then he just holds me. It makes me cry. I try not to let him see. Whenever he comes to visit, he makes sure my hugs bucket is overflowing by the time he has to leave.
Somehow the ancient, old, chaotic feel of this photo reminds me of my art room right now. I’ve pretty much finished gathering things for donation, though I’ve started another bag. I’m down to the nitty-gritty of going through things carefully, getting ruthless about whether I actually plan to USE whatever it is, and then deciding its fate.
This is harder because I’m finding lots of things, like pictures torn from magazines, that get my juices flowing. I’ve decided to pare these down to about 1/4 or less of what I currently have. I’ll make files of what I keep so that I might actually be able to find them later.
I’m finding ‘treasures’ though – things I’ve had for years that have been buried. I’m loving this – but the finding of wonderful things makes it harder to make significant progress on my efforts to purge/give away/throw away/clean and reorganize.
I did finally uncover a chair, so I can sit in the middle of the chaos and go through things. I put in two sessions yesterday and will do at least that much today. I’m hoping to be able to share pics with you soon.
In the meantime, who knows what treasures I’ll find today!
Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humor sometimes. She has fooled our dumb daffodils into thinking it’s spring. We have all kinds of shoots erupting out of hibernation and bursting into bloom right now – and we’re SURE to have another 4 weeks of winter with likely freezes, ice storms, and possible snow through mid-March. The sweet flowers will be cut down by the weather without a thought.
Selfishly, though, my heart soared when I saw these blooms this morning. A sign of hope that Spring will be here eventually.
We have some really good chances for rain all week – hopefully helping with the severe drought we’re having in Arkansas. If we do, there will be one dumb LADY dancing in it! :0)
“Where the tree tops glisten
And Children listen
to hear sleigh bells in the snow….” (“White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby)
I guess I never really thought about it before. I’ve sung the song a million times, but just glossed over the words. Today Mother Nature had iced and frozen the trees to the point I thought it had snowed for a minute, looking out the window. Then the sun came out, after a really dark, dank day yesterday, and the tree tops DID ‘glisten’ – spectacularly! You could almost see every branch as the sunlight hit the trees. We both remarked on how beautiful it was on our way to town. Multiply the sample above by about a thousand and you’ll have an idea what we enjoyed this morning!
The icing on the cake was when we rounded the curve and saw FOUR deer crossing the road! This picture gives you an idea of what we saw – 4 deer, one following the next in a parade as they crossed to the other side. There was no other traffic around, thank goodness, so we just slowed and watched them as they crossed safely to the other side, and then moved on.
Mother Nature was in a really good mood, smiling down on our part of Arkansas today.
My husband and I are not football people. We catch bits and pieces of games now and then, but mostly because we want to see “60 Minutes” which is often delayed by football games. We almost always watch the Superbowl, though, because we figure it’s THE game of the season – the best vs the best. I’m glad we watch it by ourselves in our own home because I would probably be killed otherwise. I like a good, hard-fought, close game when you don’t know who the winner will be until the last seconds. Therefore, I keep switching sides, rooting for whoever is the underdog at the moment. I know that people who are really fans of particular teams would happily squash me like a bug because they found me absolutely so annoying they couldn’t stand it.
I also love to watch the commercials during the Superbowl, knowing that advertising agencies really worked hard to come up with the most entertaining or special commercials they could create, hoping that people will play them over and over, talk about them and the products – as they should, in that Superbowl commercials cost a gazillion dollars or so for 30 seconds now.
I love all the half time ceremonies and performances, whether we particularly like the performers or not. The ‘show’ is usually over the top. My husband and I dropped our teeth when we heard Lady GaGa sing the national anthem awhile back. My husband taped it so he can hear it again and again on his computer. He cries it’s so beautiful.
We’re breaking our low carb diet for dinner today – enjoying a big bowl of frito chili pie – a long favorite comfort food we almost never have anymore. We’ll have it all ready – the chili in a huge bowl ready to be nuked back to temperature in the microwave, the onions cut up, the shredded cheese ready to sprinkle, the bowls and spoons out. We’ll leap up at some point of the game and put it all together quickly and gorge ourselves on a true low-carb no-no. Ahhhhhh!
I hope the game today is really the best of the best – a nail-biter to the closing seconds.
Recently we’ve received a wonderful gift of being able to look at lots of birds we don’t often see. When we’re eating breakfast, we love watching the birds come to eat the seed we put out. We’re not official birdwatchers, and identify most as just ‘pointy headed birds,’ ‘cardinals,’ bluejays’ (my husband tries to shoot the bluejays because he read they eat the eggs of other birds), and more.
Recently, though we’ve seen –
a wonderful roadrunner who looked like a baby. He sat in the dish of one of our deck planters, then finally made it over to the shovel bird and found sunflower seeds in the shovel part. We see full grown roadrunners from time to time in the summer, running in their characteristic, comedic way, where they put their head and tail down to form a kind of horizontal line with their body, run like mad for a few feet, then stop putting head and tail up – frozen as they survey their surroundings – and then the ‘horizontal line’ runs again as they cross the yard.
We also saw –
TWO robins! I guess we probably have a lot of these around, but recently was the first time we remember actually SEEING them on our deck railings and feeders. I realized that I didn’t know if we were seeing two males, or two females, or a pair. I found this –