Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wild Gatherings

I have been out walking in the gardens and surrounding woodlands and have gathered some of nature's beauty to bring inside.

Here I have used moss wreaths to frame some gatherings. Grapevine wreaths are easy to cover with moss. I covered an oval wreath with green moss, placed it on an oval basket and tucked some wheat grass pots from the market inside.

The urn has a smaller round wreath covered in pale 'reindeer' and alder moss placed on top, with a small jar of poppy and other small pods, tucked inside.

The small basket has a tiny wreath tucked inside with some moss in the middle and painted wooden 'Robin's Eggs'.

To make the moss covered wreaths, simply buy bags of dried moss and hot glue small sections at a time to cover the front and sides of the grapevine wreath. If you want to hang them, hot glue a paper clip that you have opened up to form a hook, to the back.

A seldom used chair is a perfect frame for a pale moss wreath.

Grass plumes are simply placed in an old clay crock.

Poppy pods in a paper covered jar keep company with a ribbon tied stack of old books.

Pearly Everlasting peek out from an old burlap rice bag and hung on the kitchen door.

Dried Mums and pale Snow Berries fill a moss green metal urn with two Pheasant feathers.

Another moss covered wreath sprigged with bits of hydrangeas, pods, pine cones and other gatherings grace the inside of the front door.

Blue Hydrangeas dry so beautifully and are easy to gather in large bunches to fill a galvanized trough. They are best left to dry as is, in a large bucket, with a small amount of water that will evaporate as they dry. They look lovely on top of large cabinets or in big baskets on the floor.

I do hope you get to take your own gathering walk. This is the perfect time of year to decorate with woodland finds and dried pods from the garden. It's free for the taking and inspires a creative approach for display. So look around and have fun showing off your treasures!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hopes and Dreams and best Wishes, too.

As we prepare to attend my Son's wedding this upcoming weekend, my heart is filled with Hopes and Dreams for them. Every wedding brings out these happy thoughts, but more so when it is the wedding of loved ones.

I began to think about what Hopes and Dreams really mean, and wishes, too.

Dum spiro, spero (Latin) While I breathe, I hope - Latin Proverb

Websters defines them as such:

Dream: to indulge in day-dreams or reveries; give way to visionary thought or speculation.

Hope: To look forward to with desire and more or less confidence. Expect with desire, or desire with expectation. Promise.

Wish: hold dear, desire. Longing.

'Where there's life - there's hope' - Terence

Everyone has Hopes and Dreams. They are tangible, in that you can 'feel' them, 'desire' them, 'wish' for them.

But they are like clouds, or mist or rainbows. You know they are real, but you can't touch them.

We speak of 'having' them or 'losing' them, as in possession or ownership, yet they can't be experienced unless they 'come true'.

We can 'give them up', yet they can't be sold or given away.

'Nothing happens unless first we dream' - Carl Sandburg

But a Dream without action can never come true. A Dream is personal. You cannot Dream for someone else, but you can help someone's Dream come true.  

You 'Follow your Dreams' and 'Keep your Dreams alive'.

'Hope costs nothing' - Sidonie Gabrielle

Dreams need to be grounded in reality, but Hope springs eternal. A Hope is more generous. You can 'give' Hope, offer Hope. Hope is something you release like a prayer.

'Hope is the dream of a soul awake' - French Proverb

Each person has their own unique Hopes and Dreams. They represent a yearning, a seeking.

There are some more noble than others; The Hope of a Nation - The Dreams of a child's future - Dreams of Peace

'Learn from yesterday, live for today, Hope for tomorrow' - Albert Einstein

A Wish is like a Hope - You wish and let it go, leaving it to the universe to decide. Yet a Wish can be 'Granted' by someone else.

We offer 'Best Wishes' to those we love.

There are 'Wishful Thinkers' and 'Hopeless Dreamers'; people not grounded in reality.

'To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe' - Anatole France

'If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours' - Henry David Thoreau

'You see things; and you say, "Why?"
But I dream things that never were;
and I say, "Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw

And so, while we await the Happy Day, our Hearts are filled with Joy and Hopes and Dreams for the Happy Couple. And Best Wishes, too.

Hope that all their Dreams and Wishes come true.
'The Future belongs to those who believe in the Beauty of their Dreams'
Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer Fruit Salsa

This is an easy to prepare salsa that can be served with chips or over BBQ chicken, shrimp, or fish. This recipe can also be halved or doubled, depending on the size of your crowd. I make it whenever I have a summer BBQ, and there are rarely any leftovers. Everyone seems to like it! Not only that, it is  very healthy and low in calories.

Summer Fruit Salsa

Serves 12

 Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving, or up to 24 hours

2  20oz. cans crushed pineapple, drained
0r 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple

2 large firm nectarines, peaches or mangoes
1 pint strawberries

chopped into itty bitty pieces

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow or white onion

1 cup (packed) chopped Cilantro leaves, stems removed (approx. one bunch)

1  7oz. can diced green chilies ( these come in 'mild' and 'hot')

4-5 dashes hot sauce (or more if you like it 'smokin')

(If you want to make a 'sweet salsa' you can eliminate chilies and hot sauce and substitute 1-2 tsp grated fresh ginger)

4 Tbsp lemon or lime juice (fresh or bottled)
(if using fresh lime, you can add a tsp or so of shredded peel)

4 Tbsp honey

Some fresh cracked pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Cover and chill 2 -24 hours.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Concert at the Amphitheater

Last night we went to the Carlos Santana Concert! It was definitely right up there on my bucket list! And we only had to drive 20 minutes to get there! Because you see, we have the most amazing amphitheater right in our own backyard, so to speak!

This amphitheater was built in 2003 on Tribal lands right along the White River in the middle of virtually 'no-where'. Right smack in the middle of cow pastures!

But in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. With a view that takes your breath away.

Every year Hubby and I go to at least one concert here. Last year it was 'Sting' with a full orchestra. To say it was sublime would be an understatement.

It is a beautiful facility, covered, but open air. You can even smell the cow pastures wafting in on the evening breeze.

We waited in line an hour in the hot sun, inching along towards the gate. We could hear crickets in the tall grass. There were wild roses along the way, done blooming, but with large rose hips already formed.

I had my camera with me to record the wonderful night.

And then we got to the gate. They said I couldn't bring my camera inside. We had to walk all the way back to the truck and leave it. We had to stand in line, once again. But this time, the line was moving and we got right in.

The show was about to start. We had great seats. I had bought the tickets for Hubby for Father's Day. It was greatly anticipated.

We only had Hubby's cell phone camera.

Carlos came out, dressed completely in white, his trademark fedora on his head, his pale guitar strapped to his shoulders.

Black Magic Woman.

Can you hear his guitar?

I have goose bumps.

But much more than that, Carlos had a message. In between songs, he spoke.

And this is what he said. In his beautiful lilting voice.

No matter what race
No matter what religion
We are all one - Humanity
Living on one precious planet

And we should unite to form
Only one army - Salvation
That fights only against hunger, poverty, intolerance, hatred, greed, violence
With education

And as humanity, we should live for
Peace, Harmony, Brotherhood, Love, and Kindness

It all starts with One
And that would be you. And me.

What kind of World do we want?
For our Children

It's Love and Light
That's what we are

Don't you agree? I do.

Thank you, Carlos.

For your beautiful Music
For your beautiful message of Hope

We Hear You

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Lazy Day

It was a lazy day. I decided to take the day off from the endless chores, painting and sewing projects. In the last few weeks I have stained the deck, painted my floors in the living room and kitchen, stained the front and utility room steps, sewed three tablecloths, two bench cushions, and a party banner,  hosted a party, endlessly watered my flowers (we hadn't had rain in a month!), and shopped till I dropped for food, the upcoming wedding of my son, and the birthday party. I also did pet-sitting duty a few times and they were with me again, took my own dog to the vet to have an abscessed tooth removed, cooked every night for my hubby, and I just needed one day to relax!

So, I grabbed my favorite magazines, gathered together some nibbles, and made my way to the deck.

Oh, yummy, yum, the fruit this time of year is so amazing! I am like a child in a candy shop when I am in the produce section of my favorite market. We have had fresh local cherries well into late Summer due to the late Spring this year. These California grapes are called 'Midnight Jewels'. They are so large and sweet, and I look like a chipmunk, popping them into my mouth two at a time.

We are so fortunate to live where we can get fresh produce from all along the West Coast. I have been eating fruit and yogurt or cottage cheese instead of breakfast and lunch and have lost nearly 10 lbs this summer without dieting! I never feel deprived.

My sweet daughter 'J' arrived at my door the other day with this beautiful bouquet of locally grown flowers. I brought them out with me to admire while I enjoyed my lazy day.

Is there anything as blue? Flowers are love and joy all rolled into one beautiful creation. If they have a lovely scent, you are transported to the heavens!

I was not the only one having a lazy day! What is the old saying? 'Let sleeping dogs lie?' Anyone who has three rambunctious dogs around, knows how true that is!

I had nothing better to do than watch the clouds rolling in over 'The Mountain', as we call Mt. Rainier around here.

The sky was so blue that it cast a blue haze over every other color! The lazy clouds would drift by and get caught in the mountain's atmosphere. There they would circle around and around, eventually transformed from the white fluffy clouds coming in, to sleek strands in their attempt to escape...

Eventually separating into venetian blinds, casting long thin shadows across the mountain's face as the sun drifted lower and lower, washing away the blue, and painting the skies with pastel hues.

My lazy day was over. I enjoyed my magazines, the lovely fruit and flowers, the sleeping dogs and beautiful view. Hubby would be home soon and dinner had to be prepared. There are busy days ahead, more birthdays, a concert, the much anticipated wedding, more painting and gardening and endless chores. But I love every minute of it. And so glad to have a day to remind myself how much I have to be grateful for. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Party Pennant Garland

This is a fun project to personalize your party in your favorite colors and have something permanent to use again and again. It is very easy to do if you have basic sewing machine skills or are a beginner and would like something fun and easy to start out with. It is also a good way to use up fabric scraps from other projects you have been working on. You can make it as colorful as you like!

I used cotton dish towels for my fabric. They come in so many pretty colors and you can even buy extra to use as coordinating accessories, such as napkins or place mats. I found these in my local craft store, but you can find them anywhere. These were 20"x28". I bought 4 to make a 16 pennant garland, which is about 11 ft. long.

You will also need  2 pkgs. large size rick rack or single fold large size bias tape for your 'string' and coordinating thread.

The first thing you will want to do before you even get started is to wash and dry the dish towels. You want them to be pre-shrunk so that later, if you wash your pennant, you won't end up with puckered pennants!

Next, you will want to make yourself a pattern out of paper. Measure a triangle with long sides of 9" and the top side 7". Then add an extra 3/4" to the top with straight sides. You can draw your seam lines in dashes 1/4 inch from the edges. (This is to remind you if you plan on making more further down the road and then wonder if you added in the seam allowance to your pattern!) 

Now fold your dish towel in half to make 14"x20". This will give you two sides to each of the pennants you are going to cut out and sew together.

You will be able to cut out 4 pennants per towel by alternating the pattern in the way I have shown. Draw around the pattern with a pencil for each pennant and then cut them all out, being careful to keep the double layers together evenly. Sewing pins will help. Continue to keep all of your double layers together for each pennant, as you will be sewing these together.

To sew, turn the fabric 'inside out' with both sections facing each other, right sides together. Start at the top of the pennant and sew down the long 9" side, around the point and up again to the top. Don't sew across the top, as you will need to turn the pennant 'right-side out' after you trim the seam to 1/8".

After turning 'right-side out', use a little chopstick or knitting needle to push out the point. Press the pennant to get the seams to lie flat.

Fold the top edges inside by 1/2", both front and back, and press flat.

Repeat for all of your pennants.

Pin your rick rack or single fold bias tape all along the top edge of your pennants, leaving a little space between each pennant by about 2", and leaving long ends of about 30" for hanging on each side. The rick rack is sewn across the front along the top edge. The bias tape is placed over the top edge, pinned in place and then sewn, catching the top edge inside the fold. Sew all the way to the ends of the bias tape. Make a little knot in the ends of the bias tape when done to keep from unraveling.  

You will need to join the rick rack or bias tape at some point to extend the length. Simply overlap the edges and sew across the ends back and forth two or three times to secure it.

And there you have it, a pretty little Party Pennant Garland to hang at your next celebration!

Now get that party started!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Daughter's Birthday Celebration

Over the weekend we celebrated our daughter 'H's 34th birthday. Our sweet daughter is not only the eldest in our family, but also the eldest Grandchild on both sides. When she was born, it marked the beginning of a new generation.

'A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future' - Author Unknown

Naturally we wanted her celebration to be special.

I worked all week, sewing tablecloths and garlands, tidying, shopping, cooking, decorating and wrapping for my special girl.

'A Mother's Treasure is her daughter' - Catherine Pulsifer

It was a beautiful day for a party!

I took a few precious moments to relax before everyone arrived. I reflected on how truly fortunate we are to have such a wonderful daughter. I thought of how quickly the time has passed since she was my little girl with bouncing golden curls and sea colored eyes, running in with a bouquet of wildflowers for me in her chubby little hands.


And now, so lovely and accomplished. She lights up a room when she enters with her beautiful smile. She is kind, strong, determined, cheerful, generous, and hard-working, with an amazing wit. She has the ability to turn anyone's most annoying trait into their most endearing, with her sunny and humorous perspective.

She is the perfect combination of girly-girl and tom-boy.
She has her own amazing style.

She's a role model for her siblings.

But we can't take credit for any of it.

She has been her own special person from the moment she was born. Her Father and I were simply there to fix the hurts and cheer her on.

And stand back and watch her blossom.

And so, we celebrated another precious year.

And we all made our wishes. That there are many more birthdays to come. That she knows how much we love her. That we never take her for granted.

Because that is how families are.

Tightly knit, but with different colored threads.

And her threads are golden.
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