Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumn Roses in Burnt Orange Silk

This is a quick craft, an hour or less from start to finish.  I used faux "silk" roses from the dollar $tore to cover an 8-inch Styrofoam ball, except for the bottom that I pushed flat against the table to allow it to rest evenly without a vase or structural support.  I used wire cutters to trim the stems to about 1.5-inches.  Then poked a lead hole in the Styrofoam with a bamboo skewer,  applied Elemer's school glue to the hole and inserted the bloom. Simple as that. I placed it on the top shelf of my crystal curio where it is illuminated and reflected in the back mirror.  A complimentary felt bunting trims the opening,  as seen in the reflection. 

And the autumnal decorating continues.  How Fun!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Celebrating Autumn: Leaves, bunting, and wool

Fall decorating is therapy as Mother Earth tucks in for a long winter sleep.


Oh how I love autumnal color.

The rich russet, yellow, and gold of the season compliments muted moss green and woodsy brown punctuating the iconic change of seasons. At our high altitude (7000 ft. above sea level) the autumn is fleeting, just a week and maybe two, of gold tinged leaves before the wind blows them asunder obliging winter's threatening arrival. How sad the bare trees of autumn make me feel.

Above is an image I captured last week in the Bridger National Forest where the quakin' aspen trees intermingle with the lodgepole and ponderosa pines. Fall comes early in these mountains and this view shall be blanketed in snow before the next full moon. For now the forest prepares for rest, for winter's long sleep. What better way to nod off than painted in spectacular color, a triumph of a season well lived.

The fall spectacle that  nature gives freely only to take so heartlessly is breathtaking and too short lived. Like so many home decor crafters I try in a small way to halt the fleeting season, to stall it, and savor it for just another day with my indoor displays. Silky faux leaves, mini-pumpkins and gourds, twigs and wreaths and branches entwined all serve the season well when arranged in artful displays festooning the autumnal home. Candles (flame or flameless) lend a warming glow. Woolen fibers in plaid and felt evoke a cuddle-me-softly comfort for which the season yearns. Warm embers in the fireplace and tea in the kettle invite lingering, conversation, quiet reflection, and pause. Perhaps autumn is Nature's call for time out: I am listening respectfully.

I have freshened my traditional autumnal decor this year with festive felt buntings in rich colors of warm wool. The raffia wreath on the summer deck door is strung with two pennant swags and tied with lavender and natural raffia. This is the first year I've used lavender in my autumnal color palette and I think it a fresh and complimentary addition. Above, the 4-inch embroidery hoops are stretched with mustard color wool felt, tied with lavender raffia and trimmed with wool pennants. They shall be hung from burlap ribbons adorning the antique hutch in the dining room.

And so the autumnal decorating has begun!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Halloween Kitty

This is a cross stitch I made a few years ago for KeepHerKitty's Halloween treat bucket. She enjoyed the treats quite well. The costume and trick-or-treating,  not so much.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn: Pumpkin Bouquet

Autumnal flowers arranged in a hollowed-out pumpkin have been a popular trend the last few years in DIY seasonal decorating. Here is my attempt at the trend. I found the colors richly pleasing and the pumpkin vessel rustic. The simple mums - button mums and spider mums - are from two inexpensive supermarket bundles, so the cost was quite affordable. I used a plastic container with floral foam inside the pumpkin which helped the flowers stay fresh. The pumpkin vessel lasted about a week displayed on the dining table. I can understand why this trend is so popular as it provides so much seasonal beauty for low cost and low effort. Give it a try!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Carmel Applesauce

Who says working girls don't have time for canning? This morning, before work, I peeled and chopped 8 pounds of apples to make a remarkably easy applesauce. The apples go in the slow cooker with brown sugar, corn syrup, a cinnamon stick, cloves, and allspice. Low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, stir once or twice. The cooker will shut off but the sauce will stay warm and ready for boiling water processing when I am done with work! How easy is that?

I can remember my grandmother Rhoda standing over a kettle of apples all day stirring and cooking, stirring and cooking to make her traditional applesauce. I bet she'd be dancing on the peels if she found out about this modern day shortcut to a very good put-up applesauce. The brown sugar adds a hint of caramel flavor to the sauce which I prefer over granulated sugar which tastes a bit flat.

Added bonus, I'm working from home today so I'll get to enjoy the delectable autumnal aroma of baked apples and cinnamon!  Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Slow Cooker Caramel Applesauce

8 pounds tart apples, peeled and chopped (not to small of a chop)
1-2 lemons, juiced
1 1/2-cup golden brown sugar
1/2-cup corn syrup
1 4-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Chop apples and place in crock of slow cooker. Toss with lemon juice as you go to acidulate the fruit to keep it from turning dark. Fill crock completely, the apples will shrink. Top with brown sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon stick, salt, cloves, and allspice. Cover and set on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally, but not too often. Maybe once or twice during cooking. Process in a boiling water bath following current recommendations from  Ball Blue Book 1997 by Alltrista Corporation.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today Inspired: Sunflower

Sunflower reaching from the shadows to smile at the the sun.

Throwback Thursday: Baby Toy

For Throwback Thursday I'm sharing this little soft sculpture toy, now nearly 50 years old, that my great grandmother on the paternal side of the family made for me as a baby. All of my grandparents and great grandparents were crafty -- not for pleasure, but for necessity. After all, they were of the depression era. This little soft sculpture turtle is made of remnants and hand stitched. I have treasured it all my life. Thank you great grandma Mary Ada.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gardening: Hanging Geraniums

I mentioned in an earlier post that I outdid myself with container gardens this year. Two of my favorites (okay - they are ALL my favorites) are the coco fiber lined hanging planters that hold magenta Martha Washington geraniums. These are hung under the eves on the east side of the garage where they get gobs of gorgeous morning sunshine and cool afternoon shade. They are also well protected from the infamous Wyoming wind and they thrive. I captured this image in the early morning light with my big Canon camera. The exquisite detail of the flower petals and fuzzy deep-node leaves make these container gardens true show stoppers. I have not had a problem with non-blooming on these two lovely ladies. I keep them indoors over winter and have had them since 2012.

 From one of my favorite gardening resources, GardenGuides.com:

"Martha Washington geraniums (Pelargonium domesticum) produce large, showy blooms in shades of pink, white, purple, red and yellow early in spring. Of all types of geraniums, Martha Washington is the most difficult to grow, and often won't bloom after the first spectacular display, especially if summer nighttime temperatures exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, they work best as an indoor plant. Native to South Africa, they are also known as "lady geranium" or "regal geranium."

Read more: How to Care for Martha Washington Geraniums | Garden Guides

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paper Crafting: Butterfly Shadow Box

This is another Marji Roy file from the Silhouette Online Store. It is a 3D Shadow Box with a butterfly. Marji's original design has three butterflies. Mine has one enormous butterfly because I made an error when I was adjusting the sizing. I think with butterflies, there is a certain point when the beautiful insect that stars in so many stories of transformation becomes a bit sci-fi and just a little creepy. I may have come in just under the threshold on this one - one bit bigger and that butterfly is scary!  Still, I was pleased with the project, it was completed in just over an hour.

SVG Design ID: 44808
Marji's Tutorial: Butterfly Shadow Box

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Apple Harvest Season!

At left, honey crisp apples in my orchard in fall 2013. They were caught in an early season snow late September last year which is not entirely unexpected in our climate. Still they were delicious and beautiful.

Apples are an excellent selection for weight loss surgery patients because they rank medium on the glycemic index therefore impacting our blood sugar only slightly. In addition apples are fat-free and a good source of dietary fiber, pectin, potassium, and Vitamins A and C. Apples are a healthy choice at any time of year, at any time of day.

"An apple a day" may keep more than the doctor away. In fact, apples may keep a whole host of illnesses away, from heart disease and asthma to cancer. New research has shown a wide range of apple health benefits. Apple pie hasn't been declared a health food just yet, but nutrition researchers around the world are discovering there is more to the apple than meets the eye. Long known to be a great source of fiber, apples are now poised to take their place among such super foods as garlic, broccoli and red wine, thanks to a growing body of research documenting potential health benefits provided by other apple nutrients.

Find and Apple Orchard Near You

To learn more about apples go to All About Apples. There you will find a national orchard listing with many links to orchards in your area that host festivals and pick your own events.

United States Orchards Directory

Gardening: Hanging Violets

Over the last few years I have taken a shine to container gardening. The containers are such a fun and easy way to add spots of color and foliage to any yard. This year, when I did a count, I was authentically shocked to learn I had 82 (that's EIGHTY-TWO folks) containers scattered over the decks, the gardens, the entry, and the plant house. How did that happen? Quite frankly it was too many and challenging to keep up with sometimes twice-daily watering, not to mention the deadheading and trimming. But wow do they add some lovely eye candy to the world! The little birds and butterflies liked them as well.  Next year I shall try to contain myself a little better and not get so carried away.  

This is one of my favorite hanging gardens this year, a living globe filled with violet, sweet alyssum, and nasturtiums. I caught this image from underneath when the sky was perfect blue with oh-so-gentle clouds. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Sublime Thoughtfulness

A couple of years ago I became interested in felt crafts and launched my study of that medium.  I like working with fibers and there are multitudes of fine felt projects on Pinterest and other craft idea websites.  I found the idea for this Thank You card made in paper and felt (get it?) the clever word-image play would be splendid in felt.  Thanks for looking,  I think you're sublime!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corn Husking Done Easy!

If there is one universal complaint about corn on the cob it is the effort of husking and removing the silks. Over the years I've tried all manner of methods to efficiently and effectively remove the husks and silk with very little success. So recently I saw this method of husking on the Internet. And we all know we can believe everything we read on the Internet. But I'm a gamer. I gave it a try. IT WORKS! This method has all the qualities of the good corn husking experience I've been chasing for years: low labor investment, quick, efficient, low mess factor, and stellar results.  Give it a try: this is one Internet legend you can believe!

  • Step 1: Cut the stalk end off the ear of corn, about an inch above the lowest kernels.
  • Step 2: Remove the first layer of leaves from the ear of corn, leave the silk in tack.  Place in microwave oven. My oven fit 3 ears perfectly when criss-crossed. Cook on high 2 minutes for the first ear and 1 minute for each additional ear. Four minutes on high for three ears worked perfectly in my microwave, but experiment with your oven.
  • Step 3: Immediately remove the ears from the microwave with a clean cotton towel, they are very hot. Holding the ear in one hand grasp the corn leaves and tassel and shake the ear loose. A little wiggling and it will release from the leaves and tassel.
  • Step 4: Done! A perfectly clean ear of corn that is blanched and ready to enjoy, no further cooking is necessary!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today Inspired: Smile

Look at the grin on my boy Charvie! He is a six-year-old Australian Shepherd with one blue eye, one brown eye. And he is wonderful.

Puttin' Up: Garlic

August and September means canning season in my kitchen. Both of my grandmothers were avid canners by necessity more than craft. When they canned it was a massive production with lots of relatives, tons of jars, boxes of produce, and a kitchen full of hot steam and busy women puttin' up for the winter. There were bragging rights for who put up the most tomatoes or peaches. And there were taste tests at the country fair for the chance to win the coveted blue ribbon for best raspberry preserves.
Times have changed and now most home canners put up goods in small batches. There is a focus toward specialty condiments and pretty packaging.  There are fewer food cellars boasting shelves lined with canned beans. In the larder of today's home canning enthusiasts we find small jars holding exotic pickles, unusual condiments, and mixed jellies that  my grandmothers would consider gourmet and superficial.

Still, the art and craft of preserving food plays an important part in my role as a nurturer.

Two of my specialties are garlic condiments: Pickled Garlic and Garlic Jelly. The pickled garlic compliments my famous Dilly Beans and is great for vegetable and pickle trays. Like the beans, it benefits from a good three to four month curing before enjoying. The garlic jelly is gastronomic delight with many uses. For soups and stews just a small amount lends a sweet garlic flavor to the mix. It works well in stir fry dishes and a little dab on a freshly grilled steak melts into the meat to enhance the flavor without a dominating garlic taste. I shared this recipe in my book Day 6: Beyond the 5 Day Pouch Test.  And with permission from my publisher I share it with you here:

Garlic Jelly

This may sound strange at first but when used in small amounts to moisten and season lean protein this jelly packs a powerful flavor punch. The slightly sweet garlicky condiment is good whisked into soups, gravies and sauces. One batch makes three half pints which store well refrigerated. Don't be afraid of the sugar in this recipe because it is enjoyed in such small quantities with protein that your blood sugar will not be adversely affected. In addition, enjoying a slightly sweet flavor with lean protein tends to increase the length of time we experience satiation.

3 cups white wine vinegar
1/2 cup garlic, peeled and chopped
6 cups sugar
2 cups water
6 ounces liquid pectin

In a 2 1/2 quart saucepan, simmer the vinegar and garlic for about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Pour the liquid into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover the jar and let stand at room temperature for 24 - 48 hours. Strain the vinegar and garlic through a wire strainer into a 6-quart kettle. Discard garlic. Measure 2 cups of liquid. Add more uncooked white wine vinegar, if necessary, to equal two cups. Add the sugar and water to the vinegar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the liquid pectin and return the mixture to a boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.

Pour the jelly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Cap and seal.  Process in a boiling-water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Metallic Monogram

Using the same Silhouette Cameo electronic cutting machine files from Marji Roy that I used for my SUMMER project I created these metallic letters layering the bronze, copper and gold papers from the Foil Cardstock by DCWV 6x6 Stack. They are lavish and elegant and look foolishly expensive. Materials cost just under $3 per letter - let's keep that our little secret!

Paper Crafting: Shadow Box Summer

This is the open shelving on the hutch I inherited from my Grandmother Flo. The hutch is Federal style and has glass doors on the front with drawers below. I had Jim remove the glass doors and use the shelves for seasonal display as well as glassware storage. The display is in constant change from month to month and over the seasons and I love it. The paper pomander's carried over from the spring display as did the crepe flowers. I know my grandmother would like the way I use this family treasure for seasonal display.

The 3D SUMMER is credited to one of my favorite Silhouette Cameo designers, Marji Roy. Her biography reads "I am Marji Roy and probably just like you, someone that loves to create and apply creative solutions to everyday living. I blog about all facets of creative living over at AshbeeDesign.com and share my Silhouette Solutions with you here at the online store." She is also the author of a blog and website called 3D Cuts. You must explore her tutorials, they are some of the best I've ever seen in the world of craft blogging. Her helpful hints are genius and her instructions are precise. And the projects are positively inspired, just take a look at the 3D Sunflowers.

The Alphabet Shadow Box designs had me at hello. I love words and I bought the entire alphabet and numbers immediately from the Silhouette Online Store. Link here for Mrs. Roy's fabulous tutorial: Shadow Box Alphabet Tutorial. "This tutorial is for all files in the Alphabet Shadow Box series. The construction of each is identical. Each is built from 5 box layers and one background. The finished box is 5" square. Each letter can be used as an independent monogram or combined with other letters for initials or words."

This is a closer look at the S. I used standard card stock for the letters, prints from a coordinated stack for the backing and glitter card stock for the frames. Originally I made the frames with craft paper thinking it would evoke feelings of a sandy beach. But quite truthfully it evoked feelings of doldrums. The glitter frames are much happier.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Paper Crafting: Autumnal Shadow Box

Paper Crafting using my favorite: Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit Bundle

I think I'm hooked on making shadow box collages. This is my latest creation for autumnal display in the kitchen. KeepHer loves her catnaps best when she finds that perfect spot of sunshine, and here she is with her own little calico rug. The foil cardstock adds opulent elegance and lends the rich feel of autumn.  I browsed my Silhouette library and the online store to get a general idea of the cuts and layout and scribbled a rough draft. From there I let it evolve as I made the cuts and played with the paper. The swirl in the upper box is the cut from the cat's body - it was a lucky scrap that fit just right in the upper section. I still need to perfect my skill in making the box itself and look forward to the practice.

Happy Autumn Everyone!

I highly recommend Lori Whitlock's files and website tutorials. She is a talented designer and an inspired instructor. This is the description on the SVG file for the 3D three-spot shadow box in the Silhouette Online Store:

File ID#30613:  11.3x5.8 shadow box 3 equal openings by Lori Whitlock

"Are you ready for a simply adorable 3D project?? With this file you can create a 3D shadow box. This project will take 3.5 sheets of 12x12 cardstock and the final shadow box measures 11.3x5.8. This project CAN be scaled down to fit 8.5x11 cardstock. Embellish the shadow box as desired. Look for more of Lori's 3d Shadow Boxes in her portfolio. You will want to watch one of Lori's Shadow Box Tutorial that you can find at www.loriwhitlock.com (click on her YouTube channel). Enjoy!"


  • Black cardstock 12x12-inch
  • Colored cardstock from the scrap file
  • Foil Cardstock by DCWV 6x6 Stack
  • Martha Stewart All Purpose Glue
  • Wool yarn in calico


SVG Files purchased from the Silhouette Online Store:

  • Life is Good: Design ID#45061  by Sophie Gallo
  • Sleeping Cat: Design ID#64503 by Rivka Wilkins
  • Love the Fall: Design ID#49550 by Echo Park
  • Sunshine: Design ID#18853 by Echo Park
  • 3D Apples: A Snapdragon Snippet Design
  • Miscellaneous cuts including leaves, 3D flowers, butterflies

Throwback Thursday: Reading is Fundamental

KeepHerKitty has always been eager to learn new things. As early as 6 weeks she was anxious to read and especially enjoyed the great story "Life of Pi" about a boy and his cat, Richard Parker the Bengal tiger. This is one of my favorite pictures of my little buddy, circa 2006.

Happy Throwback Thursday Little Buddy!

Monday, September 1, 2014

In or Out? Quick Craft

KeepHerKitty is known to her home family as Big Shot Night Cat. Though she is a house cat she is still a cat and night prowling is her purpose.  A night sleep for her mom and dad servants never goes uninterrupted by her insistent and persistent plea for access to the night world. With two of us opening and closing doors for the little prowler it becomes confusing to which side of the door she abides at the moment. 
In hopes to resolve confusion in the darkness I crafted these simple IN/OUT door hangers to serve as prompts. So far the system is working.  The cuts are from my Silhouette Cameo Library files using scrap or stash papers and all purpose glue. Sarah Hurley is the designer of the cat silhouette and cat font.
PS: I filed this under Quick Craft, which is quite clever since the craft took less time to complete than it takes for KeepHerKitty to decide to go out whilst I hold the door open for her!

Dilly Beans:Tagged for Holiday Giving

This year I used fun cuts made on the Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine to make tags and date circles for the Dilly Beans. I think they are fun for our home, but also make ready a simple holiday gift for those last minute opportunities to show someone you cherish and appreciate them.

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