Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tillandsia or air plants...




I was out shopping last week and mainly looking around in a local store that I hadn't had time to explore very much.  The owner sells and uses the Annie Sloan chalk paint and she sells many of her up-cycled creations along with other items like handmade jewelry and clothing.  I passed by an area that had some rocks and plants and woodsy things and it caught my naturalist's eye.  Upon deeper inspection, I realized that none of the plants were in soil but appeared to be just plopped into  natural vessels so I asked the owner what type of plants these were and she said, "Air plants, also known as tillies, short for Tillandsia."  I was immediately enchanted by these unusual plants.  The only air plants I remember from my childhood were those "air ferns" which people sometimes grew in their bathrooms.  I never thought they were very attractive, but these plants have much more substance and character to them than the air ferns did.  Some are of the succulent group of plants, but all need no soil to live and thrive.  Some of the air plants like to eventually attach their roots to woody objects like drift wood or an old chunk of shaggy wood.

As I asked more questions, the store owner explained that all of the plants would bloom the most exquisite and colorful flowers.  That also intrigued me, so I decided to make a purchase then and there.  I bought the Ionatha at the top.  It is green with orangy-red colors coming from within it and is said to produce lovely little purple blooms.  The grass-like air plant in the second picture is called Juncea and right beside it in the rock is another Ionatha.  In the white vase is one called Funckiana.  Another plus to growing Tillandsia is that they will reproduce and pups will form after they bloom or after they reach a certain size.  I love it when plants have babies!

Air plants are considered "easy care" because all they really need is a dunk in a bowl or tub of water every 7 to 10 days depending on how humid it is in your home.  And that's it.  Some people spray-mist them and others I've read say it's better to saturate them by dunking them underwater for a few minutes, so I guess I'm of the dunking theory so far.  Did you know that Spanish moss is considered an air plant?  Some people combine the Spanish moss with the air plants in their arrangements.  I am so fascinated by these plants that I have been doing a little research online to learn more and I have discovered some beautiful ways to display air plants that really appeal to me -- rocks, wood, even hanging suspended in mid-air.  I will add some links for you to browse below.  I also have found that you can buy air plants on Etsy as well as other online stores.  They are, after all, easy to ship with no soil, and very little weight.  However, if you live in the north like me and it's a very cold season, shipping might not work so well.  It might be best to find a local plant seller or wait until warmer weather comes to purchase tillies online.  So my gardening continues through the winter months  indoors with my new-found plant love -- Tillandsia!

OK, now for the links to some fun stuff!

 How to Display Air Plants (video)
Air Plant Care 101 (e-How) 
Air Plants Care and Design Made Easy
Wedding Worthy Air Plants

If  you dare to go on Pinterest and search for air plants, you will be overwhelmed and very tempted to try them for yourself.  There are such gorgeous ideas out there.  Do you grow air plants or have you seen them growing wild in trees in temperate climes?  Do tell!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Creche...




Our very small creche sits table high so our grandkids can enjoy it and imagine the awe of that Christmas night.  The figures are set in some bark to make it look somewhat crude and cave-like along with tiny lights.  The creche is a Fontanini and the tallest figure is only 2.5 inches in height.    I'm thankful I have the main characters in the manger scene.

The Star on the Barn is up and lights the dark near the county road that goes by our ranch.  These two things are my favorite Christmas traditions.

I've been doing a very little baking, mainly two kinds of cookies so far -- soft molasses cookies and snowballs.  I will make a few cut-out sugar cookies before the big day comes.  It sounds like our fair weather is about to change and cold days are coming.  They will be good days for being indoors and for baking, but while it stays so nice, I'm out walking every day.

How are your Christmas days going?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December...





I like December for so many reasons.  Days are short and indoor living is long.   That could be considered a bad thing to some, but to us it feels like we are resting from a very busy year of outdoor work.  It feels cozy and homey.   The sheep and cattle are in their winter pastures and  although these pictures show a little bit of snow on the ground, the grazing is open and that means a longer time without feeding hay and cake.  We still go out to the cows and sheep to gather them up, inspect them, and give them a little something to eat as their reward for coming to us.  Everything is looking good and healthy right now.  The ground is bare again and thus far, our winter has been mostly mild, save the wind which has been anything but mild.

We are enjoying the joyful bustle of Christmas with friends and family. Christmas cookies and coffee was our treat at the neighbors' yesterday afternoon. Our home is "lightly decorated"  with mostly greens and cones and candles.  The Christmas tree is up and shining and so is the tiny creche.  I have one of those Fontanini  nativity scenes that are both beautiful and durable which allows our grandkids to touch and imagine with the figures.  I like that part so much.  Singing Christmas hymns at church warms my heart and lifts my spirits.

I have a few embroidery projects going, nothing difficult or extensive, but they keep my hands busy while watching a football game or a Christmas special.  Sometimes I just enjoy embroidering in the quiet with candles burning and twinkle lights glowing and a cup of hot tea to sip.

I hope you are enjoying these December days, appreciating the little things -- noticing the quiet of nature, appreciating the warming sips of coffee or tea on a cold day, enjoying the familiar Christmas hymns that you memorized through many years, lighting the second Advent candle, holding hands.

I wish you JOY.  Take JOY.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Spiderwebs and Stars, a quilt




A couple of Littles helped me show off the latest baby quilt I finished for our 10 month old granddaughter.  I joked around that I hoped I would complete it before her first birthday and I made it!  This was a string quilt called Spider Web made from bits and pieces from my scrap bag.  I got the pattern idea here  where there's a pretty good tutorial. Each scrap of fabric holds a tiny memory from all of us -- old shirts, handmade skirts and dresses, blankets and aprons. There are so many fun prints in this quilt that it could be considered an "I Spy Quilt" too.  I hope she enjoys many hours with it --  making it into a super hero cape or a tent or just a cuddly place to nap.  God bless you little Hunny Bunny.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Nature journal -- Deer...

 I've added new pages to my Fall Nature Journal --
the dear deer.
We have a lot of deer roaming on our ranch, and the harvest is on.
Our hunters are getting some prime hunting here.

As for me, I enjoy capturing deer with my camera
and now I'm using my paint brush.
It's all a learning experience for me and that keeps it fun.

The Christmas (all holiday) Cactus is in full bloom.
It just missed Halloween, but I am sure it will be blooming
full-tilt for the remaining winter and even spring holidays.
I've seen it bloom all the way to Easter,
all in the quiet and humble laundry room where it thrives.

Are you gearing up for Thanksgiving?
I am.
We'll have a nice houseful of guests,  although not the entire tribe this year.
I'm cooking the major stuff and our guests will fill in with their favorite dishes.
It's always nice to see how the dinner rounds out.
I wish you a week of humble and joyful preparation
and a day of true thanks and giving.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

November...

 No sun—no moon!
        No morn—no noon—
No dawn—
        No sky—no earthly view—
        No distance looking blue—
 No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
   No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
        November!

~Thomas Hood 
.........................................
November days have been colder than usual, and suddenly quiet.  I am such a bird lover and always have a listening ear for them, and suddenly there is silence. The birds have gone -- almost no birds as Thomas Hood says.  Canada Geese flying south in high Vs overhead are still on the move.  Last night we got home around 10 pm and there were geese flying above us.  Such an odd thing to hear the geese calling to each other at night. 

The cold has come down suddenly too.  Last night our thermometer registered -1* and that just feels so icy for November.  The sudden cold and a dusting of snow inspired us to get busy and cut wood for the wood stove.  Although we were below zero this morning, the temperature climbed all the way up to 36*.  That sounds chilly, but it was perfect weather for cutting wood.  I kept unzipping my jacket and then took off my hat, but quickly zipped up and put my hat back on when we stopped for a coffee break.  Hubby and CarpenterSon used the chain saws while two granddaughters and I carried logs to the pick-ups.  It's good, satisfying work, and I really like end result -- the warmth of a wood fire burning on a cold day.  

I'm still finding things to sketch and paint for my nature journal, but with all of the "No" of November, it's getting harder and harder to do it, but  I will persist!  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Time to hunker down...

 Fall Nature Journal entry.

The daylight hours are becoming less and less and our autumn days are growing colder and colder.  We had our first snow squalls on Thursday along with crazy winds.  Today was cloudy, chilly, and windy too, but the coming days promise even more cold with highs near or below freezing along with snow and wind, of course.  This will be one of those Halloweens when the trick-or-treaters will cover  up adorable costumes with heavy coats, mittens, and hats.  Living in the north, we experience blustery, snowy Halloweens a lot. Sometimes it's just best to buy a funky stocking cap for a Halloween costume or dress as an Eskimo! 

I rather like that it's getting dark earlier.  After a very busy summer and fall, I am ready for some slowing down.  The dark evenings mean that the menfolk will be in early from their work and we will have some long nights together inside where it's cozy and warm.  We start playing cards -- Canasta or Kaluchi or Cribbage or Hearts, depending on the number of players.  Hot buttered popcorn is a favorite cold-weather snack,  and I start making cups of tea in the evening and spend time with my embroidery, hoping to have a few handmade things to give as gifts.   Have you tried the Yogi Bedtime Tea?  It's very good and has a spicy, sweet blend of herbals.

Tomatoes ready to be roasted.
Today I share a couple pages from my Fall Nature Journal.  My Black Star chickens are doing so well, and all of them are laying an egg a day so I usually find 25 eggs when I go collecting.  I figured the girls deserved a page in the journal for their generous gifts.  I thought I ought to add the tomato in my pages since I complained so much about only getting green tomatoes all summer.  I picked SO many green tomatoes and ripened them in the garage and well... here's yet another pan of beautiful tomatoes ready to go into the oven for roasting.  As I was slicing, I kept on grabbing a slice and shoved it into my mouth.  Each perfect, red slice was just too irresistible.  So I gave in and gobbled down many a perfect tomato slice.  These were the last of the tomatoes, save 4 others that didn't fit on the baking sheets.  I'll eat those myself.  Lastly, I've been noticing a great influx of ladybugs.  I'm not sure why we have so many ladybugs now, but I suppose they are trying to find  their way inside for the winter.  

If it's cold where you are, I hope you are sporting your wool socks and slippers and a large cardigan.  Or perhaps you have a favorite afghan or soft blanket that you like to wrap up in on these long, dark nights.  It's been "nice" long enough, now it's time to hunker down, stoke the fires, light the candles, and put the kettle on.

"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, 
small (and yet really not small) gifts." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A week of doing...


I made one white and one with wheat & flax seed. 
Both were delicious and easy!

 Here's another easy recipe from Jenny Can Cook.
I've made lots cinnamon rolls in my day, but these are the BEST.
I like that this is a small recipe and only makes a 
9" round pan of eight rolls.


Today I spent the morning making
"Grammy's Lotions and Potions" as my kids call them.
This is my toothpaste.
 It's got dirt in it (bentonite clay).
I like dirt. 
I like cinnamon, cloves, and peppermint in my toothpaste.
 Homemade Toothpaste  from Wellness Mama.
I also made
and my favorite...

Bee Butter

(or Non-Petroleum Jelly)



2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil (4 T.)

1/2 ounce beeswax pastilles (1 T.)

1-2 t. raw honey (opt.)

Essential oils -- 12 drops (opt.)



In double boiler over simmering water, combine the olive oil and beeswax and slowly heat until wax has melted.  Remove mixture from heat and cool about 10 minutes, then add honey and/or essential oils of choice.  Beat with small whisk until creamy.If it separates a little, just stir it up.

Makes: 1/4 cup of bee butter.  Store in glass jar with screw top lid.  Keeps up to one year.


Uses:  Face cream, hand cream, body cream, chapped lips, dry feet, eczema.  The beeswax gives the skin a protective barrier from the elements:  weather, dry air, wind, sun, and pollutants. 




These are the pumpkins I decorated.
 I know... who spends time painting flowers on pumpkins
or making a patchwork pumpkin?
I do.
I like to create. 
 I just do. 
 So I do.

Do you see my rolled up hose on the porch?
I still haven't put it away because it's been warm here.
But it is supposed to get cold again.
 Oh, and speaking of the porch,
I finally oiled it!  
Another project ticked off the list!

We sold our steer calves this week at the local sale barn.
 
What fall projects are you doing?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

She's a Frisbee dog!




Heidi has been our summer boarder.  I think we've had her living with us since June when our youngest son came to the ranch to work on fence for us.  Now she's become a permanent resident.  One of her favorite things to do is to play Frisbee.  She carries it around with her most of the day or at least she knows right where it is in case someone comes along who is willing to throw for her.  If you have a dog, I highly recommend the Kong Flyer.  They are made of the toughest rubber known to human or canine.  This dog cannot bite through it which is a miracle.  We've had the Kong balls too and they are great, but they tend to get lost in the tall grass between our houses.  

Today I thought I'd snap some shots of Heidi playing Frisbee.  She can catch it in mid-air which I think is quite a feat for a large German Shepherd.  I've never had a German Shepherd before, but I've read that they have lots of energy and need to play hard so we play.  Heidi has also been a super walking friend.  She keeps me in a swift gait while we walk.  I'm working now at teaching her to heel as we walk along.  She's doing really well until she sees a rabbit or deer running in front of her. This evening we walked in a pasture where some lambs were grazing and she walked right beside me as we strolled on by them.  I was so proud of her!

It's been a beautiful fall day here this Sunday -- 56* and sunny with a little breeze.  It sounds like the coming week will actually be hot for us --  maybe up to 80*.  That seems crazy since most nights we drop below freezing right now. Many of the trees have lost their leaves, but the Cottonwood trees are the prettiest yellow-gold right now.  It's been a wonderful fall.

"Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles Shultz (cartoonist, Peanuts)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall Nature page: Seeds


I was inspired to put some seed pages into my Fall Nature Journal when I discovered the journal pages that Heather and her children were making.  I remember making seed charts when I was a 5th grader in school.  It was so much fun hunting for seeds around the neighborhood and then labeling and gluing them to my chart.  I think my chart was fairly "freestyle" compared to some of my friends' charts, but doing the project was probably way more fun to me than the end result. 

I have a pile of zinnias and marigolds that I pulled up last week that have dried out.  I'll dig through it for some of the seeds to save and plant in next year's flower beds.  The grandkids planted Forget Me Nots in their tire gardens and so I gathered up a few of those seeds to scatter in my beds.  

I felt like a 5th grader again collecting seeds and pods and sketching them into my nature journal.  Fun!  Are you a seed saver or a seed appreciator?

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