Monday, July 14, 2014

Diva Challenge and The Madison Zentangle Expo

This week's Diva Challenge was to be inspired by your favorite drink, in whatever form that took. One of my favorite drinks is a cherry French soda, a coffee house specialty that has cherry soda and half and half so I decided to use a hand died pink tile background and tangle it with red pen, and white Jelly roll and shaded it with red colored pencil. Ouila! Cherry French Soda!

Where did the hand dyed pink tile come from you ask? Why I dyed it myownself at a class at The Zentangle Expo this weekend !   It was held at The Monona Terrace Convention Center on Lake Monona in Madison. It was an overcast day but there still was an amazing view! 
 There was a gallery of beautiful work from the teachers and attendees.

 You'll want to biggify those. Beautiful, beautiful pieces!

And I took 5 classes; Using Watercolors, Hand Dying Backgrounds, Shading, and Zentangling on objects.  Here are some seashells that the teacher did. She is a calligrapher as well. 

 I can't wait to do some of my own and leave them on the beach face down for others to find!
The last class was called The Master Class- each of the Certified Zentangle Teachers for the weekend got up and gave a tip, trick or pattern. It was awesome. The entire weekend was! I was very impressed at the organization and professionalism. I learned a lot! Now I'm counting down the days until next 's Expo!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Diva Challenge: Crux and Molly The Hedge Warrior

Business first. I haven't done a Diva Challenge in a while so I settled down last night to tackle this week's UMT (Use My Tangle). The entire tile is one tangle pattern called 'Crux'. It's so versatile and there are so many variations that 20 people could sit down and do it and get 20 results. Just pop on over the Diva's post and check out all of the entries at the bottom of the entry. Diversity at its finest!

I'm happy with the 3D effect I was able to achieve with the tips and tricks I learned at my last class with Katie Butler. I'm looking forward to playing with them lots more. 

We are the proud owners of a new electric hedge clipper at our house. This is a very good thing because after the past three weeks of heat, humidity and rain, it was beginning to look like a jungle out there. 

The WhateverThisIs growing by the steps was oozing over making the Big Doggie scared to come out of the house.
The dreaded lilac had grown up over the windows and the air conditioner again! I love lilacs, but that is not the place for that one; too small a space. 

So we drew straws and I got to be the Hedge Master. Those without opposable thumbs laughed and laughed. I put the new trimmers together. Screws, safety guard and handles were involved and went out Thursday night to tackle the hedge monsters. No electrical cord provided. WTH?!?!? So we piled in the car and went to Farm and Fleet and got a cord. By this time it's dark so the whole deal will have to wait until tomorrow. I vow to get out there early as it's supposed to be hot.

I go out the next morning at 8:00 (out of respect for our neighbors, as I was raring to go at 6:00). On the way to the garage to get the trimmer, I notice that the leaf lettuce has gotten way out of hand, so I cut that and put it in a big bag to take out to the farm. Since it was breakfast time for the animals, I decided to take it out right away. ADD at it's finest.  By the time I get back it's hotter out there but I'm still fairly enthusiastic. I fire up the trimmer and tackle the step-eating shrub. Up one side. Cool! Up the other side. Nice! One long cut across the front and silence. I'd cut my own extension cord. Damn. 

Back in the car and over to Farm and Fleet only to find that they are closed for the 4th. Down to ACE hardware where I find a new cord...for $5 more than they have them at F&F. Damn. Get back home and now it's blazing hot. I plug in the new cord, fire it up and ...nothing. Down to the basement to check the fuse box, flip the switch, back up the stairs and out to the garden and ...nothing. Damn. 

Finally I decide to give up the entire enterprise until later in the afternoon when the sun is on the other side of the house and the garden is shaded. During the afternoon, I try to turn on the downstairs bathroom light and discover that it won't come out so I know I've missed a circuit breaker. Back down to the basement I go and switch it over. 

After supper I go back out and start again.  This time everything goes swimmingly. I remember to lay down the plastic table cloth to catch the clippings. I remember to plug my cord into the outlet BEHIND me so I won't cut it again, and off I go. Although things have been going well, by the time I get to the dreaded lilac,  I'm hot, sweaty and tired and losing enthusiasm fast. I whack away at the bush, whittling it down to a more reasonable size.  I even hack a branch that's about 3/4 inch in diameter and marvel that the trimmers can handle something that big. Then it's time to go around behind and cut the back. I hate that part, there's no room back there, it's right next to my neighbor's fence and  and I can't see what I'm doing but I plunge in anyway. Remember that branch that I, just 30 seconds ago, marveled at? Yep. Impaled myself on it, but good. 

So, to review, now I'm hot, sweaty, tired, injured and TICKED. I start swinging the weed whacker wildly yelling, 'DIE!!!!' until I wear myself out and have to stop. It's quiet. I turn around to see my neighbor standing over me on his doorstep looking concerned. 

"I hate this lilac." I state quietly. 
"I would seem so." He replies before trundling off to his garage.
But despite all of the trials and tribulations, I fought the foliage and aside from one minor flesh wound, I won!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wild Ride

To say that the last week has been a wild ride would be a vast understatement. I reconnected with my birth family and found out that I have a whole slew of sisters and a brother, who have welcomed me with open arms. It's been an overwhelming, wonderful, roller-coaster ride putting all of the little pieces of the story together.

With the good comes the bad. A tornado hit just up the street from our house. We didn't get any damage, but have been picking up tiles, insulation and pulverized dry wall (tornado loogies) all week, It's been crazy weather with storm after storm and we've had 3 tornado warnings so far, flooding, mudslides. Wheeee! So far no one has been seriously hurt, just a lot of property damage and things can be replaced. 

I was playing with Knightsbridge the other night and came up with some new tangle patterns. At least I think they're new. I have't seen them anywhere before. They are really 'variations' on Kightsbridge but I named then anyway The tiles are quick and dirty with little to no shading in most places.  But I wanted to see what it looked like to use the new patterns. I think there is a lot of possiblity there. Possibilities that it's obvious I didn't explore with these tiles! :-)




Feel free to use and enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Baby Animal Weekend

Saturday was 'Girl's Day Out' for friend, Klara, and I. We were on the road from Stoughton to Oregon and saw a sign that said 'Baby Animal Weekend'. Huh! No brainer!

The first thing we acquired was this. Who could it be for?

Nope, not this guy.

Not this guy either although he would have taken it if offered. He was very unsatisfied with just my thumb.

It was for THIS guy!  Teeny tiny baby goat!

 We saw Highland Cattle, Catfish, baby turkeys, lambies, horses, donkeys and various birds. They also had New Zeland Pigs, called Kunekune (Say it 'Cooney-Cooney'), which were the most adorable things ever!

We also spotted an escaped bird of some kind on the lamb on the grounds. People had tried to catch him but he was too wily. He was groovin' out on being  a fugitive from capture.  I told Klara to hold my purse and nabbed him without too much difficulty.  Lots of practice at the barn!

After that, we went to Heartland to say hi to all of the animals there before heading off to lunch and Last Saturday Knitting. As we were pulling out of the restaurant parking lot, we spotted two turkey vultures circling low and pulled over just as one landed on the sandstone right by the road. He then proceeded to pose for us!

We had a wonderful Girl's Day Out. Klara was a charming companion.
 At the end of the day, these are the two beasties (Wee Beastie and Beastie Grande)  that always meet me at the door and make me feel like a rock star. 

                                                     They are my favorite animals of all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Diva Challenge: Circles

I decided to do this week's Diva Challenge as a true meditation; no noise or distraction, with healing thought focused on someone special. The challenge was to use a circle as a string. The compassionate meditation was for my friend, Joey  who has to say goodbye to his best friend, Dakota the Boxer Extraordinaire. Dakota has been an amazing friend, always ready with a smile and snuggle. You will be sorely missed friend. My tears , thoughts and prayers are with you Joey T.

Thanks again for the wonderful challenge Diva, an the opportunity to spend some time in quiet contemplation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The One Where I Wax Poetical About Fiddleheads

This time of spring in Wisconsin, it's all about morel mushrooms. Folks hunt them in the woods and jealously guard secret spots where they grow in the leaf litter. But where I come from, the Northwoods of Maine, this time of year means FIDDLEHEADS!

A fiddlehead is the edible frond of the Ostrich fern.  It grows near streams and other wet areas and is picked as the first, spring shoots break the ground. They are still curled up in a spiral that looks like a 'fiddle's head' . There are many ferns that grow in the woods and some of them are poisonous, but the Ostrich fern can easily be differentiated by it's grooved stem and the brown papery substance that covers it's curl.

I think fiddleheads do grow in Wisconsin but they don't eat them here. I live in the city and don't have access to growing grounds.  I am fortunate to have some frozen ones when I go home to visit and on occasion have scored some cans of 'Bell of Maine' fiddleheads that hit the spot after a long time without the real thing, but I haven't had fresh fiddleheads for at least 20 years or so...until yesterday!

My Mum, who apparently loves me dearly, sent me a box of fresh fiddleheads in the mail! Emerald treasure! After  a quick tutorial on the phone with Mum on how to clean and freeze them, I set to work. First to get the brown paper off. Everyone has their own method for big batches. I remember, as a kid, batches being put in the clothes dryer to remove the chaff and or a blow dryer bring used. Friend, Billy Lane, apparently can assemble parts from the hardware to make and official 'fiddlehead cleaner' but I'm not sure what that it exactly. The vision in  my head of the possibilities (most involve a car battery, some welding rods, a leaf blower  two hex wrenches, and copious amounts of WD-40 and duct tape)  is entertaining though.  For this batch, or 'mess' as they are called I attended to each and every one personally, unfurling it and gently sloughing the paper away.

Here are some are with the brown paper removed and the stems trimmed. Well, most of the paper removed. That stuff is like tissue paper and the fiddleheads were damp which made for some fun trying to remove it! It's worth every moment spent. 

Once the paper is removed you rinse them in 'three waters'.  That is the exact term my mother used.; you put them in clean, cold water and 'schwizzle them around' (another Mum instruction) and drain the water and repeat two more times. 

I blanched a couple of small messes and froze them, then cooked up the rest. By this time it was going on 8:30 but I didn't care. I put a serving in a cereal bowl, added a pat of butter and a bit of sea salt, turned off the TV, closed my eyes and just savored every bite. 

Oh. My. Dog. Delish.  People describe the taste as a cross between asparagus and mild mushrooms. To me they taste like the stream, the woods and Maine spring home. Wicked good, Deah!

I highly encourage you to try them if you ever have an opportunity. You can get them on-line in the spring. They are spendy but worth it. Or if you're in Maine, you can check in with the FiddleHead Warden, Gerald Jackins, and he will let you know when the Episcopal Church Fiddlehead Supper is and you can sample Fiddlehead Quiche. Or you can get a canoe and try your hand at picking your own; just don't ask anyone where their secret spot is!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Memorial Day

I've been thinking a lot about the postings I've been seeing on Facebook about not 'celebrating' Memorial Day. Memorial Day in Wisconsin means getting the camp opened up, going to BratFest, taking the tarp off the pool and grilling out. It's celebrated as the official kick off day of summer.  But the more I read from veterans, and the more I think about the losses in my own life, the more I am tending to agree that Memorial Day should be just that; a quiet day to reflect and give thanks for the people in our lives who have gone on ahead.

I have a little ritual I on the birth and death dates of those I hold dear.  I write a note or sometimes a long letter, depending on the circumstance, then I take it outside in a fireproof bowl and burn it, hoping that the smoke will carry my gratitude and thoughts to wherever they are now.   I like the idea of setting aside an entire sacred day to turn off the phones, unplug the computer, maybe take a walk in the woods and reflect on bountiful blessings of the past. I'll have to get a much bigger bowl for my letter fire; there are so many people who have loved, taught, encouraged and cared for me. Folks I sorely miss and hope to see again one day on the next leg of this journey.

BratFest if going on Saturday and Sunday.The pool, the garden and the grill can wait until the weekend after. This year I'm going to 'commemorate' Memorial Day.