Friday, February 20, 2015

Brush & Palette Club

Yesterday was the second demonstration of the year for the Brush & Palette Club in our town. Dani Tupper showed her techniques of applying watercolor paints diluted with water, using spray jars filled with the watered paints. She introduced, new to me, the idea of using spray webbing over her paper.  She said one could also use the Halloween type webbing available in bags at hobby stores around that season, and that it would give the same effect.  She would pull apart that type webbing and cover the paper with the wispy material prior to applying the paints. 

Tupper applied spray webbing (available online) to the 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper, securing it onto her paper with tacks.  Then over the webbing she sprayed on her colors, allowing them to dry. The webbing was then pulled off the paper, and various pools of color emerged with textures giving differing effects.  

You can access Dani here at her home website and see some of her beautiful works.

Below is one of her paintings in process.

Linking with Fiber Arts Friday and Freshly Finished Fridays, I have made several crochet book covers for writing journals.  The inside of this one uses Mardi Gras material in like colors of purples and greens and blues. The flap is convenient for holding my mechanical pencil.

The journal cover is an idea with some directions given on Elizabeth's blog, and she even has one featured on Google images.  I tried to channel her crochet talent, but did not end up with one nearly as pretty as hers using granny squares shown here.

I leave you with lemon yellows and pictures of a pie and lemon water from organic lemons shipped from a Florida backyard directly to friend Norma, who shared some with me.  When one is given lemons, after all, one MUST make a pie.  This one I made just before Brush & Palette Club, and it haunted me throughout the demonstration.  It had to be tasted (after dinner of pot stickers, I must say it was pretty palatable).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ending the Day in Arizona

This evening I am writing from Tempe, in a rather chilly hotel room.  I can't seem to get the temperature just right, as it seems either too hot or too cold.   The regulator is set to 74 degrees but it seems confused.  So the fan is blowing away.  It will make a nice white noise for sleeping.

The Scrabble tournament is finished and sweet friend Linda came in first place in our division.  I fared rather poorly while having a strenuous time of it.  I'll show you a picture of one of my games after its completion.  The fun part of it was my opponent, Erik, made a most excellent find when he put down the word " birdcage" and then my next move after that was "bird" because it looked symbiotic.  Not many points, however. 

Erik won the game.

After the tourney ended this afternoon, Linda and I took a metro bus northwards and saw the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.  It was beautiful weather for viewing cactus.

Chihuly glass purchased for their gardens on permanent display.

We had a nice lunch at Gertrude's.  Home tomorrow.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Scrabble in Tempe

A Sonnet to a Scrabble Tournament

It's off to Scrabble Thursday I will go
To Tempe where the clime is very hot
To try and put together words that flow
And maybe use some words that I'd forgot.

Surprising those opponents ever new
Using high value tiles, oh please, oh please!
With words that from their mem'ries maybe flew
To fling down on the board...effortless ease

Just let him challenge esoteric words
Only to see the challenge not prevail
For nontheless we are all wordy nerds
And each time Z Z Va might say "no fail"

So wish me luck on February games
And also bring to others goodly fames.

* (Z Z VA is a computerized word judge showing either "acceptable" or "non acceptable" words in play)

More about the make up of a sonnet here

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Contented Owl

We are pleased to report that the owl has taken residence in his house over the past three days.  He hardly leaves it during the time the sun is shining.  It makes me wonder if there is some sort of avian rule with nests about the first bird to find a ready made habitat and leaves its scent is the one who gets to keep it. He has definitely claimed it for his own.

Olly Owl, either a western screech owl or a saw-whet, has his eyes open just for a bit during the day. His orbs are yellow, almost like cat eyes.  I have yet to see him blink, but he must do that or his eyes would become dry.  We have many questions of the owl but lack ways of communicating.  It is much easier to talk with our dogs, and they answer readily with their body language and their yips; not so with Olly.

Looking up information on the internet, I can't seem to find if putting cedar chips in the base of the owl house might be helpful for nesting, or if he would rather bring in twigs and leaves without human help.  We will let him sort that out for himself.

When I look out with the binoculars during the day, I can focus in on him pretty clearly.  Sometimes he is gone for up to half an hour, and then he is right back there looking out from the hole.  It makes me think that he is either down in the box, or out for a mouse snack.  I have seen him on the branch near his house only once, and then he immediately flew off.  He is not afraid of us and when the pups go out in the yard, it does not faze him one little bit.

Our birder neighbors said that in this valley they were contacted by local Audubon Society volunteers who came into their yard and counted their birds and cleaned out their nest one year.  We are afraid we have stolen Olly from their own back yard.

From Why We Love Owls
Owls are some of the most beloved raptors, and their silent flight, large eyes, mournful calls and nocturnal behavior makes them both magical and mysterious. Because owls are not highly active during the day, a backyard owl can coexist with other backyard birds, and as excellent hunters, they can help control squirrel and rodent populations. Because they do not eat birdseed, they are also inexpensive to attract compared to birds with hearty appetites. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

We Have an Owl

A Christmas present made from a gentleman crafter in North Carolina, made from cedar, a present from my husband:

But last evening THIS is the picture of our very own backyard owl who made a visit.

We are so happy he came around and stayed over half an hour.  Maybe he or she will start a family there up in our tree.  We think it is a saw-whet owl.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yarn Bowls in Crochet

My friend Mrs. Tittlemouse, whose name comes from a Beatrix Potter character, is quite a crafty gal. She wrote about making crochet bowls on her blog here.

Being one to follow the leader, I was spurred on to copy her in trying to make similar ones.  Mrs. T's are prettier, but mine came out OK, too. Using these instructions for a crochet bowl, I made two different sized bowls.  This is a smaller one:

And this is a larger crochet bowl:

I sorta cheated on the second bowl, making it larger and without a pattern, but it worked out just fine. It is now holding yarn.  See?

Mrs. T. uses beautiful pale pinks and lavenders and and celery greens and cherry reds, her favorite colors I think, for her crochet and sewing projects.  Her pictures make me happy just gazing on them. Please take a look here at the lovely bowls she made.

I am going to use the larger crochet bowl as a roll basket on the table at Easter because the colors whisper spring to me.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Selling the Family Silver

We rarely use sterling silver flatware pieces, and it requires constant polishing. Entertaining around food centered themes?  We usually do that in the back yard in the summer, sans formal table settings. Then throw away plates and plastic forks and spoons are the usual cutlery.

We have an embarrassment of riches in sterling silver. So now it might be the time to sell those three sets (my grandmother's, my mother's and my own),  Each of the patterns has complete settings for eight. That is a lot of sterling silver flatware.

I decided to do some research about how to undertake this task of selling silver without being robbed blind.

Mr.Money Mustache.  Have you heard of him?  He was a wealth of information.   Regarding selling old silverware: unless it has sentimental value, go ahead and ditch the silver plated stuff is his advice. Or give it to someone who can make jewelry from it, like my dad did in his day.  (I have a blog post about dad's jewelry business written in 2010 and you can read it here.)

(some of my dad's hand crafted key rings and jewelry he gave me)

Back to Mr. Money Mustache and his article about selling silver.  He says
Silver flatware actually comes in two varieties: 
Silver Plated, which looks and feels just like silver, but is actually only covered with a thin coating of silver. Other, cheaper metals lie within. This stuff is not worth much in this context 
Solid Sterling, which is always stamped “sterling” on the handle. This stuff is 92.5 percent silver metal.
Today's silver price is $16.86 per ounce, down from a ten year record high in 2011 of around $48 per ounce.


So now might not be the best time for selling the solid sterling, but I can get the silver pieces cleaned, sorted and piled into the sell-able silver, the 92.5 percent sterling pieces, vs. the sentimental pieces (mostly my grandmother's from the 1920's).

Let the polishing and sorting begin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cottonwoods Are Thirsty

Old Trees (NM)
Old trees
Cottonwood shade.
Leaves fall in summer time
We are alarmed to see this change
Why now?

They thirst
Nature's moisture
From mountain snow is less.
Last year they needed supplements
To live.

Times past
They thrived with creeks
Sending mesa snow melt
Supplying water from nearby.
Not now.

(Cinquain poetic form described here)

(our cottonwood trees last spring)

In Colorado, last summer we were in extreme drought:

Our cottonwood trees in the back yard required much more water than in previous years.  The news for the summer of 2015 may be better.  More here.