Monday, June 28, 2010

Strawberry Margaritas and Fried Squash

Yup, today's harvest was long on strawberries and squash. And since we're committed to eating (or drinking!) as much of the harvest as we can, we have had to get creative.

I breaded the sliced squash in panko crumbs for an appetizer (nearly a meal, actually!) and tossed the strawberries in the blender for a really intense strawberry margarita.

We've still got more squash to use; I think we will have zucchini bead and muffins in our future. I'm determined this summer!

(I'm cutting this short because my daughter has brought home a chick flick on video. We pulled the plug on television reception today, so it's movie night!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I've got my mojo back

. . . now I just need to figure out how to keep it!

I've been having lots of fun playing with beads and chain; there are three new tutorials in my Etsy shop:

I've started on a necklace today, with the same technique, but in copper. I'm hoping to incorporate a lampwork pendant into it; using lampies with seeds is another of my goals this year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My little town

I live in a town that has often been rated as one of the most livable towns in the United States. Tonight was one of the reasons why; in the summer, we have weekly concerts in the park.

They're free. Anyone can come, bring a picnic or buy food from the sponsoring restaurant; bring their own bottle of wine, or purchase a glass or two from the sponsoring vineyard. Most of the town turns out; there are children running around, seniors strolling, and couples dancing.

The bands aren't famous; many of them are locals. But they're enthusiastic and there is something so sweet about sitting in the park, under big old trees, eating a picnic dinner, sipping on a glass of wine, and listening to music in the company of neighbors.

It's one of the things that makes this town special.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thank you, Mother Nature

We had the most glorious sunset tonight; nearly the entire sky was lit up in shades of orange and red. I could have photographed it and shown it to you, but hubby and I decided to go for a walk instead.

It was so beautiful; the colors just kept changing, and we ended up walking quite a lot further than we usually do. But the air was cool, the breeze was fresh, and the sky was gorgeous.

And then . . . a complete surprise: it actually started to rain on us. Not a heavy rain; just enough big, fat, drops to scent the air and make us feel reckless. So we took another turn and walked an even longer way home, in the rain.

We got home just as the sky went completely dark; just in time to see the full moon light up the sky.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Less is more

Several years ago, we decided that we wanted to scale back and decrease the number of things we owned. They were beginning to own us; taking care of them took more time than we had to enjoy them. Books were an early casualty; we had so many, and all we did with them was dust them. Off they went, a box at a time, donated to the library. We only kept the ones we truly used for reference, or which were out of print and unlikely to pop up at the library.

That opened up so much space and time; we culled out the decorative items next. We only kept the things that truly made us happy; we decided that if taking care of something wasn't worth the enjoyment of it, out it went. Sure, there was guilt, at first, but the more we let go, the better we felt. Taking care of all of those things was weight we were glad to lose.

When we moved cross country, we did one more round. Everything now had a monetary weight to overcome; it wasn't enough to like it, we had to be willing to invest another dollar a pound in it in order to keep it. It was amazing how many things were just not worth it to us.

But now we're going after even bigger guns. We're talking about eliminating television reception from our lives. It's gotten dreadfully expensive, and the programming is not very good. We don't really enjoy it; we just fall into it because it's there, and we're tired or in a lazy mood. We're still discussing it; we haven't pulled the plug on it yet. We're not talking about eliminating the set; we'll probably rent movies when we want to watch, and maybe we'll even use the Wii more often.

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to losing it. With what it costs, we could eat out twice a week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Classic cars, kettle corn, and a walk on the beach

Does it get any better than that? Yup, we took the day off and went down to Pismo Beach to see the the classic car show. Today was the first day, and it was pretty relaxed. It will get crazier this weekend; there will be more cars, more vendors, and lots more people.

But today was more our speed. We had plenty of time to really get a close look at the cars and chat with the owners and other car fans. There were no lines at the food stands, and the kettle corn was fresh and hot. The pier was uncrowded and we strolled until the wind pushed us back to the shelter of the buildings.

There are some days that are just too California for words, and this was one of them. I was more than ready to grab a board, hop into a Woody, and hit the waves. Where are the Beach Boys when you need them?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No more PTA

My youngest graduated from High School this year.

The school calendar is officially none of my business anymore; I no longer need to know when school starts or what time the bus arrives, and did the route change from last year? No more frantic runs for school supplies that weren't on the list and are sold out at every store within a 20 mile radius, and no more calls asking me to find something under the bed and bring it in right now to keep a kid from failing one subject or another.

It's amazing how many final grades over the years have come down to a poster that was stored under the bed.

No more Back to School nights, Open Houses, teacher conferences, and calls from an automated system that says, "Your student was absent one or more periods today," that always seem to come to our house by mistake, or so I've been told. It's amazing how many teacher seem to have trouble taking attendance.

But never mind all that; the truant officer never actually came to our door, and all three of our kids have high school diplomas.

Life is good.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Playing with chain

I've been intrigued with mixing metal with seed beads for a long time; lately I've been playing with beads and chain. There's no getting around it; it's fiddly. It's also very delicate and pretty.

That's what gets me; it's just so pretty.

I know that everything I've done so far is just too fiddly to teach; it's driving me crazy, so I know it would have the same effect on others. I keep having new ideas; sadly, I'm moving towards more fiddly rather than less.

I'm actually toying with the idea of making a pattern anyway, and calling it, "Some Like it Fiddly."

Don't try this at home unless you're as mad as me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wild things

I'm making friends with a Blue Jay. We started with me tossing a peanut in his general direction, and him flying off. Eventually, he would fly off and wait for me to go back into the house, at which point he would swoop in and get the peanut. I knew it was him, because I watched from the window.

Time passed, many peanuts were exchanged, and at last he would wait on one of the porch beams for me to toss a peanut; he'd look around and come get it while I sat in my chair. Very gradually, I tossed the peanut closer and closer to where I sat; he would let me know when I'd gone too far by refusing to get it until I'd gone back in the house. The next day, I'd start out back in his comfort zone, and then keep trying to lure him a little bit closer.

Every day, he did get a little bit closer; and each time I could see that he was really thinking about it. He'd skitter in and out very fast; grabbing the peanut and flying off to safety. Then, after a few times, he'd suddenly relax. Getting the peanut was easy for him; he seemed to understand that he was not in any danger.

One morning, I woke up very early, and Blue Jay was already on the porch, as if he were waiting for me. That morning, I coaxed him up onto the table next to my chair and he took a peanut from my hand. We've been doing that for a few weeks now; he's grown very comfortable and today he stood on the table and squawked when I didn't get him his peanuts quickly enough.

So I decided to up the ante; I held the peanut in such a way that he would have to perch on my knee to get it. At first he was not amused; he stood on the table and made all sorts of noises in an effort to get me to bring the peanut to him. I held firm, and the lure of the peanut won. He hopped onto my knee and got his prize.

He repeated this performance at least a dozen times today; we were both very pleased with ourselves.

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's finished! (maybe)

I finished it yestereday (unless I decide to make some changes, of course) and installed it, but by the time the cement had cured, and the last leaf was put in place, the light was gone and I couldn't take any photos. So, this morning, I got up at dawn and took these. The first photo is looking east. I've placed it on a ridge in our backyard; we've got multiple levels, so it's not on the highest ridge, but it does command a good bit of sky when I'm down below it, as in this photo.

It's a kinetic sculpture; the leaves act as little sails and the entire top part whirls around when there's a stiff breeze. It's very capricious; sometimes the least little puff will move it, and other times, it resists. But when the wind is coming from the right direction, and the sails catch it, it really gets going.

It's made from copper; copper pipes from the plumbing department, and copper sheet which I chased and dapped to form the leaves. I wanted to give it a more organic feel, so I added some wire-wrapping; as far as I'm concerned, there's no reason why outdoor sculpture can't be considered garden jewelry. The little light fixture at the top is a solar light; it was fun watching it from my bedroom window last night. As the sculpture spun around, the light winked and danced.

In the last picture, I took the photo facing west, from the top of the ridge looking out across the valley to the mountains. It's a beautiful spot; we have a pair of lounge chairs off to the left of this picture on the same ridge as the sculpture. I love to sit out there and enjoy the view.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A change of scale

I do a lot of small-scale work, and it's fun sometimes to change it up and work on a much large scale. I've taken it into my head to make a copper sculpture for the garden; it will have moving parts that will, I hope, spin in the wind.

I've admired kinetic sculptures for many years, but I've been a bit afraid to work on that scale. My beaded jewelry is often on a large scale for seed beads; but with this venture, I'm talking feet, not inches. I think the finished sculpture will be between six and eight feet tall and probably about three feet wide.

Of course, I have no hard and fast plan, just a general idea of what I want to do.

I'm free-falling on this one.

Does that surprise you?

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's the tomatoes again

Some day I will find a way to support tomatoes. We're already onto the second method this year; last year I tried cages; they fell over, and I tried to prop them up with stakes, but it wasn't pretty.

It was a mess, in fact.

So this year, I got some really large stakes, dumped the cages into the shed, and tied the tomatoes to the stake every few days. I was feeling really good about it; they were growing tall and strong, though I did have a bad feeling about how big around they were getting.

This morning, one of them took a dive. The stake - which I had driven two feet into the ground - gave way. Luckily, no damage was done to the plant, but it did tell me that my method was already failing.

So I went to the hardware store and bought steel fence posts. I drove them into the ground and wound wire between them at six inch intervals, the entire length of the row. Then I untied the tomatoes, one by one, and tied them to the wires, espalier fashion.

We'll see. It's awfully early in the season to be on plan B already.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

While I was hiding from the world, the lovely lady behind Releases by Roofydoof gave me this award. Thank you, Karyn!

I am very late in accepting, but I am deeply touched and honored. You see, this month I have not been feeling terribly creative.

I've started and abandoned ever so many projects, and, well, I've been doing a lot of wondering about my life and how I've spent it.

I won't bore you with the details - well, not today, anyway! - I'll just get on with the pleasant task of accepting this award.

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
  1. Post the award on my blog.
  2. Thank the person who gave it to me.
  3. Link to the person who gave this to me.
  4. Share a list of 7 things that you probably don't know about me.
  5. Choose 7 great bloggers to give the award to.
  6. Share a link to their blogs.
  7. Leave a comment on their blog.

Seven things you probably don't know about me:
  • I'm five feet six and three-quarters inches tall, but I like to say that I'm five foot seven.

  • I don't like to be surprised by garden worms, though I no longer shriek when I do see them.

  • I will use a nut cracker to open unopened pistachio nuts.

  • I put garlic in everything that isn't a dessert.

  • I have already picked, cooked and eaten all 14 artichokes that my plants have produced (so far!) this spring.

  • I planted twelve more artichoke plants this year in the hopes of getting enough to actually freeze some for later.

  • Cream cheeses are my dietary downfall.

Here are the blogs I've nominated:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In case you hadn't noticed . . .

May was a difficult month for me.

My father was in and out of the hospital; and two brain surgeries later, I'm happy to say that he's doing very well. It was utterly unexpected; he's been very healthy and active; in fact, he's in better physical condition than a lot of people half his age. You just never know what's around the bend.

Anyway, it was something I just couldn't blog about; and it was something that filled my mind so completely that I couldn't think of much anything else to write about, either. So not much blogging in May.

I'm hoping to do better in June.