Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Feeling brave enough to show you the oil painting of my daughter. It's called, Bron Daydreaming. I signed it, so I think it's finished. But then again it might not be, and I'll pull it from the wall a month from now and change something I can't see yet. Art imitating life I guess. The song below inspired her portrait. It's one of Bronwyn's favorites, and mine too, especially the part about the Holy Spirit burning in the trees. Smile

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Long Live Queen Nefertiti!

Yes, that is her name, Queen Bee Nefertiti. The name, by the way, means "sweet of love." So we have dubbed the hive the "Suite of Love."

Behold! The wee box, holding the queen and her attendants.

"Her name shall be Nefertiti", said the beauteous Mimosi. "As you wish", I replied.

One look at her face will tell you that I couldn't have chosen a finer bee-christener than my dear young friend. Miss Mimosi has a bit of the royal look herself, don't you think? Well, you know what they say, "Once a queen in Narnia..."

With my first hive, the bees were installed for me. So this time, introducing ourselves was just a tad more nerve-jangling. It was suggested that we mist the bees down with a sugar-water solution to calm them, so mist we did.

And here we are, gingerly prying the lid off a box of 12,000+ buzzing bees.

Attaching the queen's tiny apartment to a frame. She's kept in with a plug of candy, which will be eaten by the worker bees so to free her in time for her coronation.

I thought at this point it'd be a good idea to put my veil on, as I had to violently vigorously shake 12,000+ bees from their cage into their new home. Egads! Long live the Bee Keeper, please!

And they all lived happily ever after. Thank you, Mimosi! I love the name Nefertiti, but don't forget, I love you more.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Go Make Something (as seen on Pinterest)

Pinterest is addicting. Especially for distractable, "ooooh, shiny!" people like me. I have to check myself, otherwise I could spend a long LONG time perusing. I don't feel so guilty when I'm actually inspired to make something from it instead of just looking and pinning. Ok, let's be honest, I really don't feel guilty at all about just looking and not making. But here's some look-and-makes I've been playing with.

Project #1 - making a storage table out of a vintage suitcase
from Pinterest, Ashley Poskin,

my version - the man kindly put on the phlanges (I think that's what they're called) to attach the legs. I got those and the table legs at Home Depot.

Next, wrapped the suitcase in a plastic contractor bag and screwed on the legs.

Do you know you can buy these spray paint trigger handles in a craft store? They make spray painting anything a dream - so easy to use. Seriously, I had a brief fantasy about becoming a graffiti artist. That's how much I enjoy using the thing.

Done and done.

Now I have a cool place to store all the paper junk I keep for collages and what not.

So much more attractive than the cardboard boxes I was using.

Project #2 - mending jeans
from Pinterest, Mending Jeans, linked from

my version. It's not easy to photograph your knees.

Project #3 - food mill planter
From Pinterest, DIY by AshleyAnn,

Eeeek! When I saw this on Pinterest I was so excited because I have one of these food mills that I kept simply because I loved the shape of it. Now I know what to do with it.

How about you? Have you seen Pinterest and have you been inspired to make, cook, or decorate from it?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Someone's knocking at the door, somebody's ringing the bell

I hope it doesn't seem irreverent, but when I see this painting by William Holman Hunt, I think of Paul McCartney's song Let 'Em In. I'm not overly fond of many old fashioned, religious paintings. They are often too saccharine for my taste. But this one I love. First, it shows Jesus clothed as a King. Second, have you ever noticed that there's no knob or latch on the outside of the door on which He knocks. I love that. The artist is telling us that the one on the other side of the door must open it. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

I'm glad I opened the door to let Him in.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm crunchy and I like it

Yes, indeed, that is raw milk. I’m becoming “crunchy” in my old age. It's a pleasant surprise. You see, I had a faint distain for "food au naturel” born out of my experience working in a health food store as a teen. It was my first honest-to-goodness collect-a-paycheck job. It was memorable, but mostly not in a good way. More about that some other time. I will tell you this--the word ‘carob’ still makes me twitchy. And don't get me started on brown-hued goat cheese (shudder). Moving on…

Thanks to my daughter-in-law Niamh, I’ve learned to make homemade yogurt, yay! And I vow never to buy store bought, overly sweet pudding-like yogurt again.

The very first time I tasted authentic yogurt was in the 1st grade on a school bus. The girl sitting next to me popped open her lunch box and said, “Look! This is yogurt. Wanna taste it?” I did. The taste was strangely amazing. So was this little girl beside me who shared, with a complete stranger, a taste of her school lunch. I guess that’s what you call random.

We must have been in different grades, because aside from sitting on the bus together, I never saw her. I vaguely remember her telling me that she hadn’t been born in the States, and I recall that she had exotic looks that I admired. She also told me she came from a wealthy family. "Yeah, me too", I lied. And I think she believed me until I described the marble fountain that we had in our living room. That's the thing about tall tales - it's hard to know when you're six how tall is too tall.

So wherever you are, school bus friend, thank you for broadening my culinary horizons. And thank you Niamh for the know-how, and bringing back a nice memory.

Making yogurt at home is incredibly easy. You don’t need any fancy equipment apart from a thermometer to keep from overheating the milk. A candy thermometer worked very well for me. If you have a pot, a colandar, a tea towel, milk (doesn't have to be raw), and some yogurt culture, you can make your own Greek-style yogurt. The taste is tangy, sour in a good way. There's nothing like a bowl full with honey drizzled over it. Yum! The directions on the yogurt culture package are pretty straightforward, but I’ll be happy to email anyone who’s interested with more information.

My next adventure - kombucha tea - woot!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Good earth + bread = happy hobbit

"He passed fields, which still slanted, as in his boyhood. On the far hills hung the soft blue, remembered mists of abundance and fertility. The country had hardly changed. The grazing cattle inclined as always, their heads to the earth while the church steeples of his people still pointed to Heaven."
--Conrad Richter.

Our excursions through Fleetwood and Oley, PA bring to mind the words above. I find riding on back country roads very calming and restorative. We make a trip once a month. Our first stop will be Echo Hill Country Store.

I wish I could bring everyone with me who loves to cook and bake, especially those who keep a gluten-free diet. This shop is amazing. They have just about every flour known to man. And a huge selection of exotic spices, like African Red Bird pepper. I bought a jar mainly because of the name. It's hot as hades. Not sure what to do with it yet, but I'll figure it out. It's fun making new culinary discoveries.

This is our haul, sure to inspire some serious bake-ish-ness.

Next stop, Glick's Greenhouse and Nursery, new to us, and recommended by a friend (thanks, Toni). I'm so glad we checked it out.

They had acres and acres of plants, flowers and veg. And the place was so quiet and peaceful.

My only disappointment was not being able to photograph all of the gorgeous barn swallows that were wheeling through the air above our heads. They were too swift.

The haul for some serious digging in the good earth

We made a new friend

We enjoyed rustic views

And rusty ones

Happy hobbit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

She lived three doors down

Well, her books did, at the Stemler’s house. I remember the name Stemler because that’s when I fell in love with Eloise Wilkin. I would knock on their door a lot, on the pretense of wanting to play with their children, but I really wanted to read their Eloise Wilkin books. They had a stack of them at the kid-friendly level on their bookshelf. I could sit there for hours, eating up the illustrations. I’m embarrassed to tell you that I don’t remember if Mr. and Mrs. Stemler had boy or girl children. But I do remember their last name, and their Golden Book collection.

Mrs. Stemler remarked at how much I liked the books. “You sure do like those stories, don’t you?” Without looking up I answered, “Yeah, I like their smushed up kissable faces.” I didn’t know the word 'cherubic' yet. I remember this conversation only because Mrs. Stemler told my mother. This did not, however, inspire anyone to buy some for me. Can you hear the violins? I did own a collection of Childcraft encyclopedias, though, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Anyway, back to Eloise.

I wanted to live in this "happily ever after, the end" world, and was determined at a young age to create it for myself one day. Our children did indeed have their own collection of Eloise Wilkin storybooks. Our two favorites were We Help Mommy and We Help Daddy.

See this illustration where mom is waving to the children, shouting, “Hello, busy bees!” I would do that with my own kids whenever they were outside working with their daddy.

And they would shout back, “Get in the house and bake gingerbread!”

Truth be told, the daddy of our house wasn’t particularly fond of the daddy in We Help Daddy. “This guy makes me nuts,” my husband would mutter under his breath. Why, you wonder? Because the Wilkin daddy on a single Saturday afternoon:

Fixes the attic door, weeds the garden, trims the hedges, waters the lawn; bathes the dog, paints the kitchen garden fence, hangs a picture in the den; builds a birdhouse from scratch, chops firewood, washes and waxes the family car, repairs a broken handle on a dresser, and (as if that weren't enough) repairs the bathroom door, all the while smoking a pipe in a contemplative manner.

Holy cow. Good thing he had the kids to help. Who says you can't get things done with little children under foot? You can--with Wilkin children

Regardless of how unrealistic or idealistic a world that Eloise Wilkin’s illustrations depicted, it was a place that exuded coziness, peacefulness, order, safety, constancy, and wholesomeness. I do believe her art played a big part in inspiring my grown-up homely love.

So happy, THE END.

How about you? Were there any books you read as a child that influenced your grown-up life?


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