Monday, May 28, 2012

Tatting with sewing thread?

Seriously.  I never thought I'd be able to tat with sewing thread, but here's my first try.  Wow - is that tiny!  Now to attach the tassel to the top - where it should be.  In all my excitement I didn't realize my mistake until I was done.  Oops.

Michelle and I met yesterday for some tatting - finally!  We've both been so crazy busy that we couldn't come up with a free day to tat until then.  Michelle shared some beautiful Oliver Twist machine embroidery thread with me, and I couldn't wait to try it.  I was pretty sure I'd have too many tiny knots to actually complete anything, but it actually went pretty well.  Fortunately, I didn't have to pick out any rings (which seems like it would be impossible!) but sewing in the ends was tricky - even with bifocals  :)

Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day programs are held today in most cemeteries - 21 gun salute and all - and are very moving to me.  However, visiting big city cemeteries means big city crowds - so we visited yesterday.

Any visit to Fort Snelling Cemetery in Minneapolis is beautiful, yet humbling.  Seeing the vast amount of stones and thinking of the many lives represented is amazing.   My husband and I not only remembered all of the veterans in both our families, but thought about the fact that we could be visiting a son or nephew too. Thankfully, that is not our story.  And as we watched other families placing flowers, we could only wonder at their stories.  It made me sad to see an elderly woman sitting in a lawn chair while the young woman that was with her was cleaning around a stone and preparing a vase of flowers.  Her husband?  Her son? 

Thanks to all of our veterans today, and thanks to their families as they suffer losses we can only imagine.   I am enjoying this extra day off from work because of them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A busy time of year . . .

. . . makes for a crabby bluebird!

As much fun as outings  with friends and social events are, I am not a person that enjoys this run-run-run life.  However, I've been reading some wonderful articles like this one on being an introvert in an extrovert world.  The happy bluebird is definitely an introvert!  The crabby one  only comes out when I try to be an extrovert.

So, are you an extrovert or an introvert? Take this short quiz to find out.

**Updated to add: Click on the picture to see the Mad Bluebird's Mate and Brats :)
Just to be clear - the Mad Bluebird photo was taken by Michael Smith.  I love this photo!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Watching THEM Work!

Last fall, our staff moved to a temporary building while our office was to be remodeled.   It's now time for landscaping, which means we'll be moving back in soon - yay!  We are all crammed into this temporary location and getting to know eachother a little too well. (Fortunately, everyone is good about wearing their deodorant and brushing their teeth!)  I'm so anxious to move back to an office from the squished little cubicle work space I have now. With a pencil drawer that no one else has ever used! It's the simple things that excite me :)

Today was the day to plant trees and shrubs.  We had about 30 volunteer scouts, 4-H and high school students earning public service credit.  There were 4 master gardeners teaching the proper planting techniques, and earning their teaching hours as well.  Some of our staff was there to organize, run equipment, and serve up some hot dogs. 

It was a fun day, and we met some great kids along with some great parents.  It was chilly, but the rain held off for us.  We got some beautiful landscaping started, and everyone benefited!  It's nice to be a part of that kind of teamwork.

The next event has elementary and middle school aged volunteers to plant the perennial flowers and grasses.  I'm sorry I'll have to miss that - there always seems to be one "inquisitive" one in the elementary age group!  I can hear the questions already.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Birdbath Art

Whoa! It’s MAY already. I don’t know where that time went, but I know I’ve been busy. And there’s so much yet to do as spring settles in and my gardens are begging for attention.

One fun project my friends and I have done over the past couple of weekends is make a sandcast birdbath. Have you done this? It is SO much easier than you’d think.

First, you shape a nice pile of sand/dirt into a mound.  This will be the shape of your birdbath/bowl, so you have to think about the shape and how deep, even and round it is.  Cover the mound of dirt with plastic sheeting (or torn garbage/leaf bag).  This will keep the dirt off of the leaf and out of the concrete.

Next, you find a great big leaf with good defining veins.  (We used huge rhubarb leaves.) Cut the stem off about an inch from the base of the leaf.  Place the leaf right side down onto the mounded dirt and adjust to create an even bowl.  You will want to have an extra leaf to patch the area by the stem.  The stem will leave sort of a trough for water to drain out of your birdbath, so it needs that patch to prevent that.  You can see where the stem would have been and where I patched it.  (I forgot to take pictures of this fun, messiest phase, but my camera was in the house as we were playing with wet concrete!)

Mix up some concrete – we used a wheelbarrow.  The fun part is slapping the concrete on and shaping it over your leaf.  You want to leave an inch or so of the leaf showing, and we found it created a nice edge if we wrapped that leaf edge back up around the concrete.  The concrete should only be about 1-1/2 inches thick all over.  When you get it right, you place a fitting into the concrete, but you don’t want it deep enough to get to the leaf, or you will have a hole in your birdbath.  You then add some more concrete to build it up around that fitting. 

Now it has to dry for a couple of days – I think it took ours 2 days.  Once the concrete is good and dry, you can peel it off of the leaf.  If you wait too long, the leaf will stick to the concrete, and it’s harder to peel off.  This is what they look like now:

Then we got to the painting part.  I loved this part!  We used inexpensive craft acrylic paints – the bottles I’ve had for years worked just fine.  Squirt paint color(s) into a tub or cup (they wash up fine) and mix in a little water.  We experimented with how much water to add to get the color wash we wanted.

Some did multi colors, others blackened the veins.  (Of course I was the one that had to be different and used blues and greens instead of reds . . . )  We used a gold wash over it all to add a little sparkle.  I also put a pearl wash over mine.  I can never be done when I should stop.




  I think they are gorgeous!

The bluebirds are now waiting for me to give it a seal coat so it can go out in the yard. A piece of rebar will go into the ground, and a piece of galvanized tubing will slide over the rebar and fit into that fitting on the bottom of the bath. I will take a photo of it when it’s in the ground (and hopefully surrounded by some flowers)!

After this painting session, I attended a photography class put on by some friends who are fabulous photographers.  "How to Shoot Your Kids" was the name of the class.  More on that another time . . .