It’s been awhile…

I’ve been busy…mostly relaxing over the weekend but also a bit of running hither and yon enjoying a few fun adventures!

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One activity I enjoyed this weekend was visiting a craft show and a new little craft  shop with my sister. I MUST shout out to “Walter’s Old Rustic Ave.” in Middleburg, PA! Such a tiny little shop but filled with all things rustic and VERY good prices! I purchased a small, but quite heavy, hand made, shabby wooden planter and an old rusted snow shovel that will likely be incorporated into my winter decorations. I will definitely be going back to that craft shop for more great deals and good service!

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We then headed to Grace Covenant Church’s craft show. I mostly ‘looked’ at the crafted items. So much of what I see, I think, “I could make that myself”, so I don’t buy too many crafted items unless they are really unique. I DID find some really cute and practical open fingered crocheted mittens that I bought. The mittens were hand made but I don’t know the woman’s name. Her family business is “Ducks, Birds & More” from Mt. Pleasant Mills, PA. They were older folks and don’t seem to have an online presence, but I did get her card with a phone number if anyone wants it. It was a good bargain for a nice hand-made item!

Anyway, the real point of this post was to share a new product that I just ordered from Amazon!

I mentioned the weekend craft show because that experience inspired me to do some crafting!  I am going to paint some rustic barn board signs! These signs, that I’m sure are very familiar to those who follow and love the “Farmhouse Decor”, have been inspiring me for some time. With Christmas decorating approaching, it seems like the time is NOW!

So, the product I ordered from Amazon.com is a supply that I need for these painted signs..the PAINT! I found the Posca Oil Paint markers to be the most highly recommended for the money. I ordered a two pack of white paint pens in both the fine and medium tips. I’ll expand my inventory if my interest in ‘sign painting’ sticks around! (Most of my inspirations are fleeting!)

If you have any interest in the art of hand lettering, I hear the Posca pens are excellent!

I will be looking forward to my Wednesday delivery! And now…to head to Airy Dale Farm Market in Beaver Springs to see if they are still selling old barn boards! They had them for sale last week for $1.25 each board! Pretty good price, I thought!

I’ll keep you posted on my highly anticipated new product AND the new art / craft projects!

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Rustic Sign – Stock photo for example

 

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51 Days and Counting…

I read a post on facebook this morning from a woman who begins her Christmas decorating early in November! Of course, I can’t find that post to share when I now want it, so hear me out…

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The blogger commented that she found December to be more free, easy and enjoyable if all her decorating was completed in November. She makes a tradition of packing away the ghosts, goblins and jack o’lanterns and hauling out the holly every November 1.  The writer added that she DOES reserve decorating her Christmas tree with her grandchildren until after Thanksgiving!

I thought about this idea and it made some sense to me. I really enjoy the holiday seasons….both Thanksgiving and Christmas so I questioned, why not prolong the seasons and maybe even enjoy them MORE by beginning early?

It always seems that the first weeks of December just FLY BY…and the simple pleasures of the season become, too often, diminished and even overlooked when there is an endless list of “to do’s” nagging in our minds. People become exhausted and drained with the myriad of tasks that they face during the holiday season. By December 25th they are frazzled and stressed, unable to rest and are barely able to enjoy the holiday! Even though the busyness often stems from unrealistic expectations and obligations, we still dream and plan and yearn for those special holiday moments that will go down as the best in family and personal memories! We add just one more gift to buy, one more cookie to bake and one more tree to decorate, onto our already over-committed schedule, in hopes of creating that perfect holiday in our homes!

Nudged back to reality, I realize I’m dreaming and writing about the future, whilst around me remains some ‘end of summer’ work that still needs to be done outside! Lawn furniture to store, flower beds to clean out…and on and on. I’m reminded also that before Christmas goodies can be hauled out from storage, the fall decorations must be taken down and put away and…I’m not sure I want to rid my home of the beautiful colors, textures and scents of AUTUMN just yet!

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The facebook poster’s November 1st deadline has come and gone but her post this morning, at the least, has helped me consider the idea of how I can best create a “SIMPLE” Christmas season this year! I’ve concluded that it has less to do with WHEN I decide to ‘haul out the holly’ in my home and more to do with being aware of the opportunities that come before me, rising to meet each occasion well and savoring every moment of each day in my heart.

Here’s to making a simple and joy filled November!      

How about your plans for the holidays? Anyone else do their decorating before Thanksgiving?

Listening to the rhythm of the falling rain…

A face book friend reminded me of this day’s weather in the year 2011. I was living in CT and I well remember receiving a rare October snowfall sometime near Halloween! I found a web site that shares weather history for any given date and my friend’s reminder was confirmed! Following is copied from WeatherForYou.com:

2011 – New York City received one inch of snow, the earliest they had received that much snow since records began. It was also only the fourth times since the Civil War snow had fallen in New York City in October. The storm also left over three million people without power including 62% of the customers of Connecticut Light and Power.

Today in central PA we are being deluged with rain, which I love to listen to and to watch. I went to church this morning but am now quite happy to be ‘holed up’ in my home relaxing and watching the rainfall.  I’m also VERY glad it’s not snow!

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Though it’s not April, this poem conveys my thoughts today.

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri.

He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City.

 

 

 

Bittersweet…

I moved to my new house last August and was surprised, last fall, to find some bittersweet vine growing amid a honeysuckle bush in my yard! I harvested the bittersweet and used it in a wall decoration for my laundry room.

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This year I searched once again to find the same bittersweet vine and though there were not as many vines as last year, I was able to harvest a few trails of vine that I could use for fall decorating.

If you have bittersweet growing in your yard, in my opinion, you are lucky! The fall berries of the bittersweet vine are beautiful and little else compares to it’s use as a natural decorating element. If the berries are left on the vines, your winter birds will be grateful as they love the berries for winter fuel!

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Writing this post prompted me to do a little research. Turns out, there are three different varieties of the bittersweet vine and people are often confused when discussing the plant.

  • One variety,  (Oriental bittersweet) you probably DO NOT want in your yard as it is very invasive and more of a headache than a benefit.
  • The second type, which is what I have, (“American bittersweet” or false bittersweet) is the variety you WANT to have in your yard or in a nearby landscape. This variety is much more rare and in some places is deemed a protected species.
  • The third variety, (Bittersweet nightshade) is actually not a TRUE bittersweet but was so named before the other two varieties were classified. This plant is not even related to the other two varieties of bittersweet and is poisonous if ingested…at the least will make you very sick!

For an excellent article on bittersweet origins, uses and growing tips, visit gardenguides.com website.

Now, I just need to study more to learn how to protect and encourage my American bittersweet vine to grow so I have even more next year!

Do any of you know where there is an abundant growth of wild bittersweet in central PA? Please share with me, if you dare! Most people, understandably, will keep the location a secret and save the stash for their own use!

If you want to decorate the ‘no hassle’ way…here’s a link to some bittersweet from Factory Direct Outlet (available through Amazon.com) that will last for years! Check it out and add some bittersweet to your Thanksgiving decorations!

Painted Porch Steps!

One year and two months since I moved to this house and yesterday I finally got the front porch steps painted! (porch floor is just plywood now…waiting ‘to be determined’!) I chose the paint colors of the steps based on what paint was ‘leftover’ at the house when I moved in! That makes the total cost of the painting project…FREE! (Except an achy body today!)

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Here’s what the unpainted steps looked like (September) before I tackled the job yesterday.

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Searching for a ‘before’ photo of the steps, I found a few photos from August 2016 when I moved to this house. Here are some “before and after” photos!

I’ve definitely made this house ‘my own’ over the course of this past year. I love how different people have different tastes and we each have a little corner of the world to claim and call our own. I love my corner and I hope you are as comfortable and cozy in your corner as I am in mine! I am very thankful, grateful and blessed!

Don’t forget to play…

I love this photo!

I love the simplicity of the photo, I love fall and…I love to swing!

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I actually have always wished I could fly! How fun it would be to float above the earth…just high enough to miss the trees but still able to see the ground below! Like a bird!

I can FORGET ABOUT bungee jumping, hot air ballooning or parachuting so swinging might have to be next the next best thing! Well, a jet pack like George Jetson had would be really fun, but reality says…a swing will have to do!

I recently saw a post somewhere of an adult swing incorporated into a patio/outdoor space. It looked like so much fun and something I would definitely like to have! I looked around on the web a bit and found some interesting styles of swings.

Reality says I will probably opt for a traditional porch swing for next summer (hint, hint for my children and Christmas gifting!) but it is fun to dream about an ‘old fashioned’  swing hanging near my patio for days when I just want to clear my brain, swing my legs a bit and drift into space!

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Who else likes to swing? How many readers have enjoyed a traditional porch swing? I remember some fun filled days as a child sharing a porch swing at friends house!

Preserving the last of summer…

After all the HEAT we have had well into October, I must say I’m happy for a chilly day today!

I will greatly miss my fresh flowers during the months ahead, though, so I have been researching the topic of preserving flowers!  I planted some Eucalyptus this spring and knew that preserving some mature branches of that plant (which did very well in my flower bed) would be on my fall ‘to do’ list.

Today was the day to begin the first stage of this preservation project! I harvested my Eucalyptus and also experimented with selected stems of assorted color zinnias, lavender, one sunflower, one cone flower, fern leaves and some cork screw type grass.  While I’m not sure how the preservation of these selected flowers will go, I am quite hopeful about the Eucalyptus branches! I had planned on cutting some juniper to preserve for Christmas, but my son didn’t know my plans and he tore out and burned the juniper bushes at his house a few weeks ago!

Today’s steps in the preservation process were very easy…you may want to give it a try!

For this project you will need: water, vegetable glycerin, vases/containers and your flowers or greens. *Vegetable glycerin is the same type of product used to make soaps and lotions and can be found at Amazon.com.

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Following are directions to begin the preserving process:

  1. Select some sturdy containers to use for this project. I used both glass jars and ceramic vases. If your stems are longer, you’ll want to use a taller container to support the branches. Plastic containers won’t stand solidly and will loose their shape when you add the hot water. One of these days I will find a use for those saved containers!
  2. Measure the amount of water you’ll need to insure ample amount for your containers. *Add extra so you will have some prepared mixture to use when you need to refresh the liquid in the vases. The process will continue for 6 weeks. Keep in mind, as you estimate the water you’ll need for your vases, that you’ll be using 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin.
  3. Place the WATER ONLY in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off burner or remove from stove.
  4. Add the correct amount of glycerin to the boiled water. Remember…2 parts water to 1 part glycerin. (So, for every cup of water you use, you’ll need to add 1/2 cup of glycerin.)
  5. Stir this mixture for a while to make sure the glycerin is well dissolved in the water.
  6. At this point I transferred the mixture into the jars/vases that I had set aside. I thought doing this may speed up the cooling process. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you transfer into your containers.
  7. Allow this mixture to cool. (I added a few ice cubes for faster cooling because I was impatient! If you plan to add ice, use a bit less water to account for the melted ice. I forgot this part!)
  8. While your mixture is cooling, you’ll need to cut your flowers and foliage. Cut your specimen stems (on an angle) and trim off all lower foliage, as you would do to arrange cut flowers. I had many branches of Eucalyptus so as I cut, I stripped the lower leaves and laid them out according to size and stem width.
  9. Bunch the stems of similar sizes together and secure with a rubber band twisted onto the bare stems. I placed about 8 cuttings of similar sizes together.
  10. After your flowers/greens are bunched, you simply place them into the containers of water/glycerin mixture. *Make sure the stems of all the branches are placed way down into the container (touching the bottom) so that the liquid is easily absorbed through the stems.  20171013_143203-1
  11. This step may be challenging, depending on your home, but you’ll need to find a cool, fairly dark and somewhat accessible location (so you can check frequently) to store your vases. The preserving process will take about 6 weeks! I have a laundry room that I walk through to the downstairs powder room but other than that, is used about once a week. My laundry also has a sink and counter so my preservation location was a ‘no brainer’!
  12. Next step is to WAIT and WATCH! Research indicates the process takes about 5-6 weeks. Indicators of a completed preservation are darker colored leaves and a smooth glossy feel to the leaves. *It is suggested is that you check the process from time to time as more water/mixture may need to be added to the vases or changed entirely if the water turns a nasty brown.
  13. The process was a bit messy, so I’m pretty sure clean up will be your last step!

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That was my early afternoon project today! I will anxiously be watching and waiting as my Eucalyptus and cut flowers go through the preservation process. *An added bonus…My laundry room smells wonderful!

I will be back with an update sometime in November! “Til then, Happy Fall!

*If you try your hand at the art of preserving flowers or greens, please leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to follow your progress also!