Soup Search

 DH let me know that the supply of homemade soups in the freezer is running low so I went in search of recipes a little different than my usual standbys  and DH favorites.. Over the next 2-3 weeks I'll try these with the extra goal of adding more beans and grains to our diet.

1. An Italian sausage meatball   soup using a dried 15 bean mix and lots of veggies (and maybe a couple extra cans of black beans or kidney beans as well).

2.  A Moroccan chicken/sweet potato soup with chick peas and spiced with turmeric and cumin..

3. A cauliflower/cod chowder.  I don't  have cod but do have rockfish in the freezer which needs to be used.  This recipe uses lots of leeks and cherry tomatoes as well.  I will sneak some white beans into this as well..

4. With the garden in mind I am making a Pea/Pea/Pea soup.  To a base of dried peas and ham hocks I'll add fresh peas, pea pods and frozen peas.  Best of all I'll add lots of the abundance of fresh tender pea vines in the garden.

5.  And last but not least a Squash/Kale/Brown Rice soup to use up the  the squash from the fall harvest of spaghetti squash.  The recipe I found had apple added and was spiced with cinnamon and allspice. I will add some cooked wheat berries as well.  A big batch of each of these soups should carry us into the winter.

There are an abundance of squash blossoms now and one night next week we'll have squash blossoms stuffed with shrimp and ricotta cheese dipped in batter and deep fried... Yummy.


Some bold, some quirky but all OOAK!

So far so good with the jewelry venture and it has not only been fun using stash but also combining painting and jewelry. At the moment working on a piece for which I painted a hummingbird.. Not a clear vision on this one so it has been fun trying a lot of different approaches.

On the other hand this project has a long history and a pretty clear vision. I have had these handmade beads for about 50 years.  A friend brought them back from Africa as a gift for me.  They were strung on a piece of hemp and for some time I wore them that way but then I restrung them and have never been too pleased with the result..  This time I'd like to combine them with the distressed beads in that bracelet, part of the yellow seed bead necklace I bought at a market in Germany and these precious red lacquered wood beads..plus maybe some yellow lampwork beads..  I definitely have a vision for this one and eager to start and hope to make two necklaces from this pile..

I have finished the bear necklace and am pleased with it.. It is a "statement" necklace and would need a very specific person to want it.

But all my jewelry is a little on the quirky side..

And I finished the roses on the slice of purple agate.  It sort of chose its own beads... This one is large and bold but not too quirky..


This plant made my day,week,month etc.

I haven't been able to get down the path along the greenhouse because a large tree fell on it early spring.  Dh got the tree cut up and cleared away so I was able to spray the path this am  and see what was still surviving..  Seeing a mass of butterflies I knew one of my favorite plants had reappeared -  Eupatoriaum purpureum. I was sure I had lost it.  I have tried to move it by the house twice and failed.  I even bought a plant online and it too didn't survive. It's common name is Purple Joe Pye Weed and is a butterfly magnet.   I have marked it with a red ribbon and will hand water it through the up coming drought and will get it by the house this fall if it is the  very last thing I do..   Plus give a start to my best gardening friend.  A great cut flower also..

Another superb unusual cut flower surviving
 is "giant scabiosa" (Cephalaria Giantea) and it is indeed a giant at 7' tall and makes a huge clump.  I do not have space for it by the house... but it is happy in the wild garden.

A little self-seeder I never see in gardens (but should) is a delightful 18" perennial pincushion "Knautia Macedonia" It is not long-lived but seeds politely and is not the least invasive.  It is darker maroon than this photo... Love it. I once posted a bouquet of unusual perennials and this one stumped everybody.

I used to remember both botanical an common names of all my plants and now I'm lucky if I can remember either... But any name for this plant escapes me this morning.

Could see about a half dozen huge clumps of this salvia in the deepest weeds (where I seldom venture  often because these particular weeds which have nasty little burrs.) But it will be worth it to get a clump or two next spring.  The yellow flower you see is a small flowered verbascum which is spectacular in bouquets.  Again not long-lived but is a polite self seeder.

I speak from experience that if you venture into these weeds in sweat pants you might as well throw them away because you will NEVER get all the burrs out.. Definitely jean territory.

Last but not least the lavender everywhere is in full bloom.  I mentioned recently that years ago every time I planted a rose I surrounded it with lavender but most of the roses are long gone and mega clumps of lavender are throughout the wild part of the garden.  It is a super dark variety Hicote.  If it is a moist spring I can lift long branches  and find new plants growing underneath.  I haven't done that for 4 or 5 years so must mark the calendar and do it in the spring for plants to put by the  peony garden.  Some elderly ladies from a church used to come and pick carloads of it and dry it to sell at their bazaar. 

Our resident hummers are calliopes and black-chinned but this week we were treated to a visit by colorful rufous passing through.

And  large batches of baby quail are finally  emerging from the safety of the juniper and mahonia.  Here they are basking in a warm patch of sunlight.  It will be nonstop parade from now until fall.

Must let you know that Morris is not one be denied his creature comforts.  In fact I believe he invented the term "creature comfort"  Every dog deserves a pillow for his bum and two pillows for his head... so civilized...


Upcycling, power tools and little yellow bells....

Things are moving along nicely with the jewelry projects and enjoying it more and more as I move ahead.  Just starting to do the beading for this slice of rock I painted.  I have no idea what it is but the roses look lovely on it.  When I did CQ I loved to use tiny metal spacers on my seams.. I will use some of them on this necklace.
And as I continue to sort and organize I am finding more possibilities for painted pendants.  Some I'm finding at thrift stores and some like the piece on the lower right were in my stash.  I cut the beads from this piece and now I filed it smooth  on the corners and drilled new holes and will use it with my bear.  I've replaced all the black beads on it as well.
Next to the reciprocating saw my favorite power tool is this drill press. I bought it years ago in a special parking lot sale at Harbor Freight for about $50.  The motor sound terrible but it works great.  I had a hard time with breaking  tiny bits in a hand drill and this is super cool woman friendly tool.  I recommend it without hesitation. 
 I said this when I planted this clematis and several times since..."I will regret planting this aggressive plant in this spot."  But I did  and now I'm in love with all the tiny yellow bells planted by the path I walk many times a day...  But down the road I'm sure someone will rue the day I planted it as it envelopes both the house and garage and the forest . But meanwhile I say "Good day" each morning to this lovely Bill McKenzie clematis and all his yellow bells."
I didn't think I'd find the right color of flowers  for the table Sunday but I did and again forgot to take a picture of the dim sum..  I'm getting quite clever at folding them... With them I served fried rice using a mixture of  brown rice, wild rice and wheat berries....delicious.


Getting in the groove......

As I am making headway I'm moving in several directions.  First before I started any new pieces I had a few that needed repair or redesign and this is one for several reasons... first the metal chains weren't hanging like I wanted... second the bird wouldn't stay flat because of the way the charms were attached it kept tipping out... third I used a magnetic clasp which wreaked havoc with the metal parts and was a magnetic tangled clump the minute I took it off.  But I liked the concept well enough to try to remedy some of these problems.

First I removed the magnetic clasp and chains... then I added a filigree piece to the backside of the bird which stabilized it and then hung the charms from the filigree rather than the bird which solved that problem.

I added cones to the end of the pink beads which looked nicer than just the wire guards. Now I'm deciding   if and  how I want to reattach the chains.. 

I'm trying to quickly learn about all the techniques, tools, and supplies.  Doing crazy quilting I always tried new materials and techniques on each new project and will do the same with the jewelry.

On the painting front I have made  little progress on my bear and when I was looking for possibilities for mounting it I found this  crescent shaped acrylic piece  and with some repair I think it will work. 

You can see where sometime ago I cut off a chain and the holes are still in the corners.  A little time with a file will fix that and I will drill some new holes.  The black hanging beads have to go.  But it will be next to be finished.

All these pendants just have a hole and I have been looking at pendants on the internet and have found many very creative ideas for attaching the pendant to the necklace rather than just using a simple jump ring.  So I will start a file on "attachment variations"

I had a rude wake up call this am.  When I tried to upload pictures from my camera to my old computer it wouldn't work.  At first I thought it was the camera but after some testing discovered my USB port was malfunctioning. I had to reboot it twice to get it to work.  All my favorite editing and photo software are not compatible with the new computer and I depend on the old system for all that.  I did buy another computer months ago with the old color bit mode but have never transferred the files.  Not only had I better load the other computer and transfer files, I had better save all the pagemaker files to a cloud..  It is so easy to put that kind of stuff off as it is no fun at all.


The next wave of color!!

 My mother and I were very different in so many ways and one of them was gardening... a passion for both of us.  In early spring her basement was full of tables under grow lights growing endless trays of annuals.... petunias, zinnias, pansies, etc.  She planted them in patterns and it was spectacular.  People always stopped and photographed her garden....BUT even though it was a show stopper  it was the same show from May to September. She was on county water and could keep this kind of garden happy.

On the other hand, being on a skimpy well I have a huge drought tolerant perennial garden which is mostly green and a continual change of color and plants. 

It evolves like a kaleidoscope from spring until fall with just enough gap now and then to make you appreciate the newcomers...

Now is just such a gap.  The huge old roses and lush peonies have uttered their last gasp for this year and are ready to be deadheaded and tucked in for the season.

The good news is the next show is just beginning and my favorite are the clematis everywhere.  I have planted 16 new one in the last few years...some are just getting established like this one.  These are in addition to older ones already around the farm.  Once established (which can take 2-3 years) they never need water or care and live forever.

But others are matured and spectacular.

The very first blossoms have appeared on my lavender.  All the lavender is inside the fence and grows through it.  I have gigantic clumps of lavender all over the farm.  The deer don't eat it so every time I planted a rose I put 3 or 4 lavender at its base.  Over the years the roses died and the lavender is still thriving...

And the first buds of daylilies are starting... The first variety to bloom  are the ditch lilies by the hummingbird porch. We had so much rain this spring that they are almost as tall as I am.

An extra bonus is that this is the year for the wheat farmers crop rotation and it is canola which is just blooming...miles and miles of it.


I have a plan !!!

Not only am I a compulsive list maker, I am compulsive about things I use often having a place and that place have a label.  After years and years of CQ I had it all worked out...  Since I only did jewelry once or twice a year,  things were stored here and there..... work room and living room and in with CQ stuff.  There was never a designated spot and I was never serious about supplies as I usually was just upcycling  stuff.

   Years ago I started buying  beads by the kilo for about $5 ..(not available any more) and they were very nice beads with some slight imperfections.     I  had to wash the glass dust from them and sort but it appealed to me more than any thing I could buy at a bead store..   All these beads for $6 and I am sure they were swept up from the floor from some bead factory in India.

Over the years I have used them to make some of my favorite pieces of jewelry. There were rarely any two beads alike and that's what I loved... the same random eclectic concept as CQ.  When I first started ordering there were many larger fancy beads mixed in but as time went by the beads were all smaller and finally they were not available at all.  I still have two unopened bags.... enough to last me as long as I as I will be doing this I'm sure as this does not include all the used costume jewelry I've collected from thrift stores.

  Glass beads though did have a home of their own in the utility room in this old map chest where I used to keep art paper stuff...... gradually taking it over.. 

So where to consolidate all this jewelry making stuff?   In my work room I had these two tall chests containing MOP buttons and  CQ laces (lace flowers, lace leaves, lace motifs, fillet lace, colored laces, etc.) and ribbons (silk ribbons to dye, folded ribbon samples, novelty ribbons, ribbons from London, etc. ).  I emptied about 16 drawers into  bags, labeled them and put them in a laundry basket.  Out to the barn it will go and if I should ever need any of it, it will be easy to find.

I had a lot of drawer dividers already plus some new ones I found at the $ store which had a rubber lining.  So the big reorganization project commences.  I look for it to take most of the summer until I get it tweaked. I'm not relabeling the drawers until I have everything to fit my needs...

I felt pressured to get the necklaces off to Alaska before their season was over.  So now that is done and  I have a plan I can move forward and not feel so frustrated trying to find things and feeling so disorganized....  Let the beading begin?


Well why not!!

During the winter when I was exploring making jewelry as an alternative to CQ, I painted these two MOP pendants.  I have worn them over and over this winter.. I enjoy making jewelry but there is a limit to how much I can wear and I have long passed it. 

But when my DIL was visiting this spring she asked if I would make some things for the gift shop at the lodge.... painted pendants...  Well why not!!!!

She wanted some suitable for Alaska and for a fishing lodge.  I couldn't quite imagine a halibut on a pendant but I could certainly do one of her eagles and some owls as well.  In addition to getting to paint on something larger than a button, it gave me a chance to play with all my beads and collection of costume jewelry.  I began disassembling a lot of old necklaces, bracelets, etc. and I came up with these.

I just couldn't resist some of my favorite bluebirds... For these I dipped into my  box of crystals and pearls..

I had wanted to finish in May but I am just today finally getting it all mailed to her.  It seemed at every step I needed another tool or supply but I think I have it all now if I want to do more... Of course a new venture needed a new name, business cards, display items, etc....,  etc. ,... all this in the works..  Wish me luck...


Name that feather!!!

When I first began walking in my forest I started collecting the interesting feathers I would find...I have a vase of them sitting on the fire place mantel.  Most were easy to identify but others took some sleuthing by us.

The other day I found this feather in the garden and a specific bird did not come to mind readily.  So I went to one of my favorite sites... Feather Atlas ..
 (  https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/   )  When you want to identify an unknown feather, you click on "Identify Feather." That  opens a tool allowing you to classify your feather by color, pattern, and other optional characters, and then run a search for feathers with similar characteristics.  It is amazing and we quickly knew our feather was from a juvenile mourning dove. 

We have a lot of wild turkeys in the forest and their feather patterns differ widely on various parts of their body and are so beautiful... But my favorite feather to find is from a red-shafted Northern Flicker which we have year round.

They are aptly named because their wing feathers do indeed have a red shaft.

When their wings are spread the red shaft make a great visual design.

And speaking of birds.....bald eagles nest in the trees near the lodge in Alaska.  I thoroughly enjoy watching them if I visit in the summer.  Especially seeing the young wobble about getting up enough courage for their first flight.  My daughter in law took this great shot just recently of one sitting on the post of their deck.. If you look very closely you can barely  see Mt Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt across the inlet..


The garden soothes my soul


I love the yellows of early spring.  The doronicums have just finished and now the yellow iris are stealing the show.  It's hard to focus on any other color.  I have no annuals because of the water situation so I am dependent on drought-tolerant perennials which are like a parade of visitors coming by for just a short visit and then they are gone for another year.  For now the iris are fabulous..
Another yellow I am anxiously awaiting is this yellow species rose "Harrison" It is impossible to propagate by stem cutting and not easy to get going by a root division.  But once well established it will last for years and years and in the future someone will wonder who was the idiot that planted this so close to the porch.  One small rose has opened near the bottom and you can see it is loaded with buds.

I have coddled and fussed over this plant for several years but I think I have it well established now...  Sometimes called the "pioneer  rose" and  old homesteads may have collapsed with age and this rose would live on.

Once established it is common for them to reach this size


The next glamor girl and just opening is this pink oriental poppy.  If you look closely you can see that it also has enough buds to keep it showy for a couple weeks at least.  The flowers are about 8" across.

Out in the old greenhouse which has a floor of rocks these columbine flourish with no watering or care.  I've transplanted them to the garden with no luck and gathered the seed to plant with no luck. But without fail they give me this dazzling display each spring and the only catch is I have to walk clear out to the greenhouse to see it.

The pink one in the foreground is double and reminds me of fancy bloomers.

I have been busy spraying the weeds and hauling around a 2-gallon spray tank is hard on an old body so I converted a golf bag cart into a carrier for my spray tank.  Whenever I find one at the thrift store I buy them and have several I have converted to different uses in the garden.

And last but not least...remember the collage of rusty tools I gathered last summer to be "garden art"  Well it is shaping up nicely and I occasionally add another old tool to the lot.  Even the clematis "Bill Mackenzie" is growing like crazy and I will probably be sorry I planted  it there.....

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