Saturday, July 31, 2010


The wild blueberries are ripe!  Time to harvest!  It's too bad that ours are this big...

and we only get one or two per plant.  In a way though it makes them really special and we all, chickens included, race to see who can find them first.  The plants like to position themselves at the base of larger trees so it's not uncommon to find us all wandering from tree to tree looking for treats.

I pulled out our old ice cream maker last weekend and made vanilla ice cream with honey...(local, and delicious honey, from Sapsucker Farms here in Minnesota to be exact).  It was so good that I'm planning to make more this weekend for our Sunday barbecue.  Maybe if we gather up all the tiny blueberries, red raspberries, blackberries, and juneberries that are ripe, we can have a berry medley ice cream!  Tiny berry medley, but a medley nonetheless.

Now that sounds goooooood.

Wishing you all a great weekend.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Angel Trumpets

A few moments spent photographing the lovely Angel Trumpet flowers in our yard lead to a surprising little discovery.   Hubby and I purchased a single plant a few years ago at a small greenhouse near us.  Neither of us had seen one before and thought it was so lovely that we had to have it.  It grew well the first year, even in our sandy and poor soil, and yielded many prickly seed pods which we harvested to plant the following year.  Since then, the plant has spread and grown back on its own, despite being an annual, and despite our wicked winter temps.  It's hardy and beautiful.

 It's one of my favorite photographic subjects, and out of curiosity I looked it up and found that this lovely and prolific plant goes by the name of Datura, Jimson Weed, and Moonflower, and is poisonous and hallucinogenic.  All parts of it.  Yikes. 

I have small children at home and though they've never bothered with the plant, I can't help but wonder if we should pull them.  To put thing in perspective though, we have a lot of poisonous plants around here... and dangerous things like bears and whatnot (it is the woods after all) so I'm not quite in panic mode. 
It does make me wonder if this hallucinogenic quality is why the little green frogs love to hang out on it so much...

Clearly this little couple find them rather moving.

You may recognize that Georgia O'Keeffe did a number of paintings of these plants. 
Poisonous or not, they are beautiful though, aren't they?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crafting For Ourselves

A smattering of goodness from the Crafting For Ourselves group on Flickr this week.  I think it's wonderful that we are giving of our time and talents...for us!  Thank you to everyone who takes part in this group, and to those of you who haven't joined, come on over!

1. sunny circle and sc dc cloth, 2. Untitled, 3. summer lovin'..., 4. My own stone, 5. necklace, 6. ok, 7. Anti-bunting work in progress, 8. button pendant, 9. Orange You Glad?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nesting - Busy Birds

Though the softness of spring has passed and we're firmly into the sweating-my-hams-off summer, it seems the birds are still quite twitterpated around here.  The family of Flycatchers that had built their nest on our downspout has flown away, and another family has moved in above the window on the barn.  Likely, it's the same father with a different mother.  He probably started wooing and building his new family when his other fledglings were almost ready to leave the nest. 

They're messy nest-builders, but adorably cute.  Just check out the look that baby is giving me.

I noticed a Cowbird trying to get into the nest a little over a week ago or so, and the Flycatcher pair was doing their best to scare her off.  I normally make it my policy not to interfere with mother nature, but....  I took a walk over, you know, just to look around, and the Cowbird flew off.  I don't see any Cowbird babies in the nest, so that's good.  If you don't know, Cowbirds are a brood parasitic who will lay their eggs in another bird's nest.  When the egg hatches, the much larger cowbird baby will require most of the food brought to it, often starving out the other babies.  Sometimes the larger chick will even push the smaller ones out of the nest.  Not nice.

The gutter birds I wrote about a few weeks ago have left the nest, and the nest itself has begun to sprout.  I should take it down, but I rather like the imagery.

A new family of robins has made its home under the eaves of the barn, in a location maybe even more curious than the gutter birds.

pile o' junk behind the barn

I know it's a little hard to see, but there are three impossibly tiny, wobble-headed fuzzy babies in there.

Wow, faces only a mother could love? 

The Blue Jays have raised their babies and I miss them defending their territory.  They were an amazing warning system against incoming hawks.  I like hawks, don't get me wrong, but they've wreaked havoc on my chicken flock so I got a good chuckle out of seeing momma Blue Jay chase them out of the yard.

Lastly, I noticed this nest on the ground as I walked back from the barn.

They're everywhere!

I've been getting very little crafting time, but can you guess what I've been working on?  You'll never guess.  haha
With luck I'll have some photos to share soon.

Thanks for joining me on my little bird-walk. 
What have you seen in your neck of the woods lately?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Move Over Buttons, It's Movie Monday Today

That's Brainerd there in the middle!

Sorry folks, no Button Monday today.  Instead I'd like to introduce you to a project that is planned for my town, Brainerd Minnesota. 

I bumped into fellow Brainerd resident Phil Holbrook and his movie-to-be, Tilt, on Twitter.  What started as a nightmare is now being made into cinema by Phil, filmmakers/screenwriters Julie Keck and Jessica King and Cinematographer Jeremy Doyle .  

How exciting!  A movie in my town that isn't related to Fargo!

Here's a little about the film, from the Tilt website:

THE STORY: Paul hasn't connected with his daughter for over 10 years, but when their world is turned upside down by an unthinkable act, he has to decide what's more important: doing the right thing or setting things right? TILT is about revenge & forgiveness, betrayal & redemption, and second chances...small town style.

Cool, right?  Well, what I also found cool was that this group is raising the funding for the film themselves.  With help from backers, as of this morning they are only $4000. short of their goal.  They have a deadline of August 6th to meet their goal.  I hope they make it.

Want to help them out?

Become a backer - if you become a backer of the film, you're pledging a dollar amount through Kickstarter.  If  you have an Amazon account, your sign up is super simple so check it out here: 

Help spread the word - follow Tilt the movie on Twitter here:  Tilt on Twitter 
and visit the blog here:  Tilt on Wordpress 
Tell your friends!  Be sure to check out some of the moviettes on the site too, they're great.

And wish these artists luck while you're at it.

Happy Monday!

Brainerd icon - the scariest animatronic Paul Bunyan ever, terrorizing small children for generations. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Crafting For Ourselves

Take a look at some of the beauties found in the Crafting For Ourselves Flickr group lately.
 Have something you've made just for you? Come join us!

This was my contribution this week, a quick paint job on a couple of thrift store scores.  I got this basket/shield/wall doo-dad for 36. cents on ladies day at my local Sal. Army.  Woo hoo! 

My husband and yes, even my dog doubted that this thing should be salvaged but I see potential.  I ripped off the dusty fake flower ornament and got to work.  I had some leftover brown housepaint downstairs so I grabbed it and did a quick brush-over and then wiped it off partially. 

I wanted this piece to look old and used and not just outdated so I added a layer of thinned-out black paint over the brown and wiped it off again.

and here we go, a new old-looking basket/shield/wall doo-dad looking much more my style on my mantel.

Since I had my paint out, I decided to paint up one of the .25 cent baskets from the thrift too.  It was a faded mauve and now it's a worn brown.  Much better.

What have you made for you lately?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Interview With Tiffany Wang From Sodalight Creations

Today I'd like to introduce you to a talented Etsian who has a wonderful grasp of movement and color and translates it into beautiful works of art.  May I introduce Tiffany from Sodalight Creations...  Read on, be charmed. 

Tell me about you:

Hello, my name is Tiffany and I live down under in the land of Australia. I have traveled and lived in a few cities because of my work as an animator, but I am originally from Brisbane.

What do you make?

I love to create things from reclaimed materials. It is fun to dream up possibilities for a pre-loved shirt or create an item from a bit of felt leftover from another project.

Is there a particular theme in your work?

Bright colours, nature and dance.

Where do you find inspiration?

In the world of digital media, I find my greatest inspiration from etsy, craft blogs and pictures. The colour, style and work of all the fantastic people out there can really get the creative juices going (even when it’s unrelated to what I am creating).

I also find inspiration from:

Movies and animation

Music (soundtracks and songs that paint an imagery)

Dance and performance, I use to do chinese dance and I will always turn to it for inspiration.

Documentaries: Nature, history and animals. I especially love watching the way an animal investigate the world around it.

What do you love about what you do?

SodalightCreations is my chance to get away from the computer screen (after staring at it all day doing animation). I love to snuggle down in my chair after work and turn bits of brightly coloured fabric into cute, colourful and/or mood evocative pieces. I love animation, but it’s nice to balance it out with crafts.

Tell me about a favorite piece that you’ve made

My favourite piece is my Fabric Painting called ‘Ballet’, sculpted from fabric dipped in glue, and painted with fiery colours. Fabric sculpting was taught to me by my artistic mother (who was my first art teacher), and I incorporated my love of colour and movement to make my own version of 3D pictures.

What I love about these pieces is they are 3 dimensional, like a picture this can be seen from all angles. It’s is sculpted from one piece of fabric and it’s amazing what fabric can do when you tuck, pinch and press it. I just love how the tutu of the ballerina turned out. ‘Ballet’ is my favourite because of this tutu, I wish I could wear it.

What do you do when you’re not creating?

Between creating animated children’s television and creating for SodalightCreations, I only have time left for… sleep, hehe.

When I want a change, I love cooking and baking. I also love going on drives to wine regions with my boyfriend, catching up with friends and family, making my own animation, and… enjoying a cup of tea and watching the world go by.

Can you share with me something interesting? A favorite quote, a good recipe, a funny story?

I wish to share one of my inspirations, a song from the Miyazaki film ‘Laputa: Castle in the sky’.

Here is the song on youtube. Click, close your eyes, and let your mind wander:

English translation:

The reason why the horizon shines so
Is because hiding somewhere beyond it is you
The reason why all those many lights seem so nostalgic
Is because within one amongst them is you
Come on! Let's set off, with a slice of bread
A knife and a lamp all stuffed into a bag
The burning emotions father left to me
The sharp gaze mother gave to me
The earth revolves, hiding you
Shining eyes, glimmering lights
The earth revolves, carrying you
Carrying the both of us, who will one day surely meet
The burning emotions father left to me
The sharp gaze mother gave to me
The earth revolves, hiding you
Shining eyes, glimmering lights
The earth revolves, carrying you
Carrying the both of us, who will one day surely meet

Isn’t it beautiful? Laputa: Castle in the Sky is highly recommended if you love a story about nature, industry and adventure. Hayao Miyazaki is the director of the academy award winning Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky is one of his earlier films. The music for his films were written by Joe Hisaishi, I could listen to his music all day and never get sick of it.

How can people find you?
My etsy shop - Sodalight Creations 
My second etsy shop - Crafting Movement
My blog:

Is there anything else you would like people to know about you that I haven’t asked?

If anyone is interested, here is my animation website:

As a fun bit of promotion, I am offering a giveaway. Pop over to my blog to enter!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mmm Lobster Mushrooms...

You may have guessed already that I have a love of mushrooms.  I do.  I definitely do.  Among my most favorite is the Lobster Mushroom, and we're lucky enough to have a few up here in my woods. 

They're kind of complicated, these guys.  See, they aren't actually a true mushroom...what happens is a mold attacks another mushroom, and turns it into a Lobster Mushroom.  This mold likes to attack Russulas, which are very common in my yard, and Lactarius.  Both of which are edible species, but not "choice" edibles.  Mushrooms can be classified as edible but not exactly tasty... kind of like sand or Grandma's turkey, you could eat them but you probably don't want to. 

This is a Russula.

This is a Russula that has been transformed into a Lobster Mushroom.

If you've never had one, let me assure you that these babies are delicious.  When cooking they give off a slight seafood smell, and have an almost nutty flavor to me.  The flesh is firm and not at all slimy, and they impart a beautiful orange color to sauces. 

Think that's great?  Hold on to your can also use them to dye wool!!  I know!  You can mordant with ammonia and supposedly the dye will look like a cinnamon pink color.  If I could only resist eating them I might be able to test this.

This small specimen was clobbered on one side so I tore it up and sprinkled it around.  I'm not sure it will help, but I'll keep watching the area for more mushrooms. 

Isn't nature awesome?

Monday, July 19, 2010

In The Pits - Exploring Close To Home

One of the places we visited on our vacation was right here in our state, the iron pits in the aptly named Ironton, a mere 20 minutes from our home.  Mining for iron ceased in this area years ago, leaving an area formed from by man, but reclaimed by mother nature.  What started as mine pits and mounds of tailings has become an area of clear water, fauna, and flora. 

We drove to the top of the "mountain" on a narrow dirt road, spitting an orange rusty cloud behind us.  Even the trees had a rusty hue, and I couldn't help but wonder what the wood looked like on the inside.  When we reached the top, we looked out over the lakes as an eagle flew overhead.  The string of lakes is where the mines were following the vein of iron.  Looking down, it was easy to forget that these were not formed by ma Nature herself.  It was quite beautiful.  

Of course, I had to do a little rock-picking and came home with a small group of beauties.  Each looks like a landscape in and of itself.  They ranged in size from these small pieces to giant boulders.  Quartz dotted the rocky landscape and I even found an agate or two.  The iron of course is what gives my beloved Lake Superior agates their color.

Plant-wise there were many sumacs, currants, and even prickly gooseberries.  Down by the lake we saw milkweed being munched by a Monarch caterpillar.  The boys dipped in the clear water and we all watched the loons.  It was a fantastic day and I'm eager to go back with my good camera and field guide and spend more time.

Don't you love it when you discover something like this in your own backyard?  What have you discovered lately?


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