Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Flowers

Skunk Cabbage. 
Trilliums.  I'm used to thinking of Trilliums as being rare, but they are actually quite plentiful.  They just don't last very long and they only come once a year.  Also, they grow in the woods and are not easy to spot from a moving car on a busy road.  I've lived here for more than a year and have never realized how many trilliums there are, growing just a few yards from my house, I guess because if you want to see them you have to be willing to tromp around the woods in the rain wearing muck boots.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meanwhile in Greece...

The weather here is cold and rainy.  Meanwhile in Greece, where daytime temperatures are currently ranging between fifty and sixty degrees, Mary has just sown her first tomatoes of the growing season. 

Mary lives in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece.  She maintains her garden plot in a location 68 miles from her home, amidst pine forests near the Mediterranean Sea.  I connected with her via her internet shop where she sells seeds for home gardeners.   Here are some of the tomato varieties that Mary offers:

Brown Berry

I plan to follow Mary's progress through the planting season.  I love knowing that there is someone on the other side of the globe living in tune with nature through gardening and I'm hoping to mix things up a bit by highlighting what's going on in her world in contrast to what's going on in mine. 

Half of Mary's one acre gardening plot is devoted to olive and fig trees and she takes pride in her exceptionally abundant stand of wild greek oregano.  She devotes a generous amount of her resources to growing corn.  She recently found an old greek variety of corn that can grow without much watering.  Watering requirements are an important consideration for her.  Since her plot is not connected to a city water supply and she has to collect rain water for irrigation.  She says, “Rain is important for me and for anyone who lives in Mediterranean. We love rain because we have sun the most days of the year.”

If only I could give Mary some of my rain in exchange for some of her sunshine!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

I spent the day planning a special dinner.  Unfortunately, the power went out around 5pm, so instead of sitting down to an elegant meal, I made sandwiches.  Then Mark and I spent the evening playing Scrabble by candlelight.  This morning I baked the dessert I had planned for our Valentine's Day meal.  Mark asked me to make him heart shaped chocolate chip cookies because those are his favorite.

I used a heart shaped cookie cutter for a mold.

I also made almond roca cookies using the same technique.  It's a recipe I got from my mom.  She always made these to put in the Christmas baskets she made for her friends around the holidays.

Here's the recipe:  1 c. butter, 1/2 c. white sugar, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Melt 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate.  Spread on top and garnish with sliced almonds.

Making Valentines

 I spent the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day making paper to use in my handmade cards. The part of this process I love the most is mixing the pulp.  It's kind of like playing in the mud, only the results are a lot prettier.  I'm never sure how the colors are going to turn out until the sheets are dried.  That's part of the magic of the experience for me.

Here's what the pulp looks like as it is being prepared in the blender.  What a vivid color!  Would you call that cerulean blue?

This is the end result of this month's papermaking adventure.  I have a special deckle so that I can make a single sheet of paper that is shaped like a heart.  I tied a piece of vellum to the back in order to achieve a legible writing surface and garnished the front with a bow and a  tiny decorative flower.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Icebird Records

My brother Stephen is a musician.  He writes and records his own songs.  Talk about DIY!  Stephen has been doing it himself, writing and recording his own songs since the early '80s, before there there was even a pat phrase to describe the concept.  Songs are words and music put together, but as a lover of words myself, Stephen's talents as a lyricist are what inspire me the most.  He doesn't write many songs about that most cliched of subjects, romantic love.  His songs explore varied themes, including reverence for nature and the desire for world peace.

One of my favorite albums that Stephen has produced is Birds of Winter.  Here is a sampling of lyrics from "The Crow," which is one of the most admired songs on the album:

"You can shoot crows with your pistol
You can kill them by the score
Old crow’s a survivor no matter what you do
He’ll keep coming back for more

When all of us have left this planet
All our survivors in their grave
They’ll hear the tale of our demise from the beak of some old raven
Who’ll say we got just what we gave"

Here's another favorite album that my brother has produced:

Taking Off is sort of a concept album about the years that Steve spent touring the wilds of Alaska, performing with his wife Kristi.  The album has some great story songs on it, including "The Fisherman Hardly Ever Sleeps" and "Change."  "The Fisherman Hardly Ever Sleeps" paints a pretty accurate portrait of what it's like to spend half your life out on the open seas;  "Change" describes what it's like to live in the crazy-making and isolated environment of a small Alaskan town.

To learn more and hear samplings of the recordings, go to:

Elizabethan Productions

My sister Elizabeth designs and manufactures greeting cards.  She always had a great sense of humor!  When we were teenagers, I can remember her looking through photos and making up funny captions to go with them.  Thirty years have passed and she is still doing it, only now she makes her living at it.
below is a picture from her husband's family photo album:

The caption on the front reads:  "Every man's fantasy is a young babe with a pair of big ones."  The inside caption:  "There's no limit to your Birthday Wish, so THINK BIG."

The next one is a picture of me (on the left) and Elizabeth (on the right.)  I'm 16, she's 23.  The photo was taken on Christmas Day.  I remember this because I am wearing a dorky hat and scarf that my mom gave me.  The caption reads:  "Who finds a friend finds treasure."  --- Irish Proverb

Elizabeth's cards can be found at many fine retail establishments in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  Check out her website:

She also carries an amazing series of cards cowgirl themed cards.  Check it out!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Found in nature.

The card in the top picture is made with pressed hydrangea blossoms and foliage from the asparagus that my boyfriend planted for me in our yard.  The bottom picture shows the asparagus foliage in its natural setting.  I posted these photos because I wanted to show the connection between the things I like to make and the natural environment that inspires me.