Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Adopt ALL the Kitties!

I was so very moved by all the condolence comments I received on the blog when I posted about Magellan's passing recently. Thank you all so much.

We also got some lovely condolence cards from the vets who cared for Magellan.

I had a difficult week after Magellan passed. I couldn't seem to stop myself from looking for her every time I came in from the grocery store or from running errands. Although at first I thought I'd like to wait much, much longer before we adopted another kitty, it seemed that perhaps the only way to circumvent that urge to look for her was to actually have a kitty to greet!

I started poring over all the websites of local pet adoption agencies, and on Petfinder. If I could have adopted every cat I saw, I would have. Despite having some picky criteria, there were still plenty of possibilities, which makes me a bit sad to think about. We wanted to adopt an adult cat, at least 5 years old, long-haired, in good health.

Introducing: Ronin

Ronin, on his first day in our home, not too sure yet about this adoption thing

On the cat tree a few days later, surveying his domain

"Hey, can I get some sleep here?"

Giving me a bit of stink-eye

Fluffy paw

Fluffy tail

We found Ronin at the Homeward Pet Adoption Center in Woodinville, WA, and I have to say that the adoption process there was one of the most pleasant adoption experiences we've ever had. Our adoption counselor was so helpful, supportive and friendly.

We just adore him, and he seems to adore us too. He follows us from room to room, and is a real cuddlebear. He just loves to sit on our laps and be stroked. When I pick him up, he boops his nose against mine. We don't allow kitties to sleep in our bed, but so far he has been waiting right outside the bedroom door to greet us every morning. When I posted a photo of him on Facebook, my blogger friend Laura of Gravy Lessons, said "He doesn't realize he just won the pet adoption lottery!"

In all truth, I think we won the lottery too.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!

I seldom decorate at Christmas any more. But this year I received a Christmas decoration as a gift, from my good friend Peter The Outlaw Gardener, and wanted to show him off for my Christmas post. I was so very touched that Peter thought of me.

This kilted Scottish Santa was the most fun thing ever!

I just adore the wee Scottie dog! There was a second larger one that also came with it, to sit at Santa's feet.

I'm afraid the only gift I have to offer Peter, and to all of you out in Blogland, is the gift of my friendship, such as it is. I hope you all have good friends and family to share this holiday with.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Vignette

For my Wednesday Vignette, I'm sharing a photo of Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch,' heavily weighed down with dewdrops. The sparkly backdrop is another nearby clump of the same grass.

Water-laden Panicum virgatum

Anna at Flutter and Hum hosts Wednesday Vignette. Check out her post here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday "Craps"

I considered calling this post Christmas "Craps," but worried some might take offense. That title appeals to my Scrooge-like tendencies, though. If you read my previous post about winter "craps" using old book pages (here), you'll know what it refers to.

I've been making poinsettias out of book pages. Poinsettias are pretty flowers, and they have so many different varieties now. But they're still not a favorite of mine. Loree at Danger Garden posted a Christmas Poinsettia Challenge, but I didn't feel like live plants were my thing at the moment. So I'm entering a paper one in her challenge, along with some instructions, just in case you might like to do some holiday "craps" too.

I found a petal template on the web that I thought would work (here), but it didn't have any instructions that went with it, so I adapted instructions from somewhere else. So if you try to use that template, ignore the directions on it for how many to cut out. Just cut out eight large, eight medium and eight small ones.

I made three different sizes of the petal (small, medium, large) by printing it, first with two per page, then four per page, then six per page (hope that makes sense.) I printed each template out on heavy card stock, and then cut out eight of each size from book pages that I had torn out of an old, not very good, YA book from the thrift store ($1.99). Once I had all the petals cut out, I colored the edges with a scarlet stamp pad and a sponge dauber. My daubing is rather inconsistent, and the final color is more like a sort of coral pink rather than scarlet, but I figure it's not bad for a first-timer.

Anyhoo, once you've daubed those edges with color, fold the large and the medium ones in half length-wise so the petals have a crease down the middle. Don't fold the small ones! Then start gluing the large petals onto the little circle that you've also cut out using the template (you only need two circles). Glue the first four in a cross, like in the picture below. Ignore the paper plate and the bit of foam, that was just to keep the glue from getting on my kitchen counter.

Then glue the other four, staggered between the first four, like in the picture below.

Below is what you end up with, once you've glued all eight large petals.

Now, start gluing the eight medium petals, again staggering them between the petals that you've already placed.

Glue the first four in a cross, and then the next four.

Finally, with the small petals, curl them with scissors, like you would curling ribbon, but curl the two ends in the opposite direction. They should look like the picture below.

Now, glue those small petals, again the first four in a cross, then the other four staggered between them. Below, you can see how the first two curled small petals should look. Because you curled them, they'll stick up.

Once you've glued on all eight small curled petals, glue a second circle over the center of the flower.

I'm a messy gluer. Be prepared to get glue on your fingertips

Then glue some tiny plastic gems (or you could probably use sequins too) into the center of the flower.

Here's what your finished poinsettia should look like.

Now you get all the fun of trying to figure out how to use your book page poinsettia. If you're cleverer than me, maybe you can figure out how to attach a stem to that big gaudy sucker. I used mine to make some different sort of Christmas wreaths made out of picture frames.

In the picture below you can see one of them, made with a poinsettia that I put some sparkly gold stamping ink on. The gold sparkle is subtle. I tried putting loose gold glitter on the edges at first, with Elmer's glue, but that loose glitter goes EV. ERY. WHERE. I did this in my kitchen, so I have no doubt we ate glitter in our dinner that night, and pooped glitter the next day. So I gave that up, and just went with the stamping ink.

Simple, but I like it.

I was tempted to keep adding to it, but decided this was enough. Hey, they have gold fern fronds at the craft store! I considered using them to make a little gold swag at the bottom of the frame,

Book page birdie nestled in the bow at the bottom

It's hard to really see the glitter effect till you get up close

Here's the wreath frame thingy that I made with the salmon pink poinsettia.

If I had more time I would have made lots and lots of poinsettias and put them on a round foam wreath. Maybe next year.

I'm going to enter one of those wreaths in Loree's Poinsettia Challenge. Technically, her post says that I'm supposed to give grocery store poinsettias a new designy twist, and if you're strict about rules, that might mean I should have used a real live one, but I've always liked playing fast and loose with rules, so boo.

Which one do you like best?

Saturday, December 19, 2015


At this time of year, when the weather is not conducive to gardening, my energy and creativity often turn to what Nigel calls "Craps" -- because it requires trips to the thrift store and the craft store for lots of "crap" in the form of supplies. In past years, I've been inclined to devote my time to making things out of cement, such as stepping stones and leaf impressions. This year, inspired by a November post by Loree at Danger Garden, I decided to have a go at creating things out of paper culled from old books. A little searching on Pinterest found me plenty of images and links to tutorials on making paper roses, feathers and Origami butterflies.

Paper butterflies, roses and feathers

Paper rose

Here's a link to the paper rose tutorial I used. I tried a couple of different ways of making paper roses, and that one worked best for me. I made them from a children's book -- The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White -- which I bought at the thrift store for less than a dollar. Compare that to the bag of roses that Loree found for $55. Maybe I'll bring some to next year's Garden Bloggers Spring Swap.

Paper butterfly

Here's a link to the butterfly Origami instructions. The butterflies were sooooo easy to make. The tutorial suggests adding wire antennae, but I opted not to do that. A few simple folds, a dab of Elmer's glue, and done!

Paper feathers

Here's a link to the feather instructions. Instead of using book pages I decided to print off some vintage sheet music from a website called The Graphics Fairy, where I often go for images that are in the public domain as well as craft ideas. Check out this link for plenty of sheet music. I'm not as happy with the sheet music feathers, because the texture of the printer paper is very different from actual book pages. It's not as easy to find sheet music at the thrift store as it is to find old books.

And, here's one more craft inspired by Loree's post -- a decoupage project. It's quite a bit smaller and simpler than the large art piece that Loree found, but it has a similar vibe. I made this project using an old shingle from the house of a friend back in Massachusetts. It started out gray, but I liked the black background on the piece Loree found, so I painted the shingle black.

Decoupage project

Decoupage supplies

Crappy shot of some of the botanical illustrations I used

I found the botanical images online somewhere, and saved the jpg file to my computer, then I printed them on my inkjet printer, cut them out, painted Elmer's glue onto the backs of them, then smoothed them onto the black shingle. I still need to put several coats of polyurethane on it to seal it. Let's see, what did this project cost? The price of a few pieces of printer paper, some Elmer's glue and the little vial of black craft paint. Oh, and whatever the polyurethane is going to cost. The shingle was free.

Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Foliage Followup -- December 2016

Today is Foliage Followup, hosted by Pam at the blog Digging, which occurs every month on the day after Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, with the purpose of celebrating the important role of foliage in the garden. When flowers fade, what do you have left?

Right now, after our recent frosty nights, most of the foliage in my garden is a mass of mess. Black, mushy and ugly. I am hard pressed to find anything worth sharing.

But there are a few things that are still unscathed.

I am so very pleased with my Eucalyptus archeri in the front garden, bought a couple of years ago at Xera in Portland. It has really taken off in just the two years since I planted it. It started out as a gallon-size start, not more than a few feet tall, and now it's over my head, way over my head. Ten feet or more. The instructions on the tag say to coppice in early spring to maintain juvenile foliage, but I think I may just let it grow to its full 25 ft. height. I don't mind if it gets long, willow-like leaves, and I really want the trunk to get mature enough to start showing lots of color as it peels.

Here are some other plants whose foliage is still looking good.

Not a Eucalyptus, but a perennial that is a Euc look-alike -- Parahebe perfoliata

Pinus sylvestris 'Nisbet's Gold'

Paperbark maple leaf cluster in the clutches of the Callistemon that grows below

That's about it for interesting foliage in my garden this month. Check out Digging here for more Foliage Followup posts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day -- December 2015

There is nothing flowering out in my garden right now. Normally, Mahonia x media 'Charity' would be about to bloom now, or just starting, but it bloomed early this winter, and is done. I can share some spent flowers.

Cardoon flower whose seeds have started popping out and floating away

Rosa glauca hips

Lily seedpod (usually I remove these, but I missed a few)

The birds have been enjoying the Echinacea seeds

There are only a couple of flowers in the greenhouse.

Euphorbia milii has been flowering nonstop for months

Aloe glauca

That's it for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted every month on the 15th by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Check out her post here.