Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I must confess that I have a bit of a brown thumb. I am not overly gifted with plants and quite honestly I consider yard work a form of cruel and unusual punishment. I have no desire to garden in the least. I make a tiny effort each spring to fill my pots on the porch with bright blooms and I did plant my lavender plant last year that I purchased from Art in the Park (which is already green) but aside from that I really try to avoid all things that involve me on my hands and knees in the dirt. I have also been banned from attempting to grow vegetables because my one and only attempt ended with gophers taking over our yard. Who knew we had gophers in the neighborhood? I have never seen them but they sure found my artichoke plant.
As strong as my aversion is to cultivating our yard I have one huge success that I can boast. I grow baby birds. I know that seems like a strange statement but honestly I have a bumper crop of baby birds in my yard each year. I provide shelter (bird houses) that we clean out every winter, I have ample seed in three feeders in the back yard, two sources of water that I clean and fill every morning and I even put out scraps of ribbon and nesting supplies in the spring. And low and behold these minimal activities bring forth rich rewards in my very own yard. The baby birds give me a green feathered thumbs up.
In addition to the baby birds that I grow (okay the parent birds do have a wing in the process too) I also have noticed that our back yard is a host to many feathered and furry friends who visit each day for a bite to eat and quick bath. Many of our feathered visitors do stop by all year long but some only pop by depending on the season. Two of our seasonal visitors are featured above. The ducks usually only show up in the spring before they nest and then we don't see them again until the following year. The bright yellow birds also only visit during the spring and summer and then vanish. We also have quail, humming birds and lots of squirrels. You have not really lived until you have watched baby quail running through your yard. They are adorable and make me smile each and every year.
The guilty pleasure here is not only the enjoyment the birds and squirrels bring but the cost of the food to keep them visiting each and every day. The squirrels received peanuts in the shell each morning and make a giant mess out of the back yard. All year long I find them buried in every conceivable place you can think of. Their antics are hilarious and Raisin loves watching squirrel TV out the back door. Jay is not quite as captivated as Raisin is but it is a scream to watch the squirrels taunt the dogs from the back porch. And they entertain the Pei's for peanuts.
The lot that our house is situated on had awful soil. Anthony has worked and worked on attempting to maintain a green yard and has even paid lawn companies to take a stab at our grass with very marginal results and a lot of money out of our pockets. When I first started feeding the birds in the back yard I did not realize that bird seed dropped from the feeders would sprout. All of a sudden we had this patch of incredibly thick and vibrant "grass" under the tree where one of the feeders was located. Mr. Dally was not impressed. Although I was thinking that if we just spread bird seed all over our lawn that we would have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood. I have now sworn a blood oath to Mr. Dally to only purchase "no sprout" seed that is sold at Zamzows and let me tell you they get a premium price for that seed. I do chuckle to myself each spring when I note that the seeds are still sprouting under the tree even though the feeder was moved from that particular location years ago. Funny how Anthony is not quite as amused as I am.
The best part about my furry and feathered back yard friends is that I can combine two guilty pleasures into one. As I lay out in the back yard on my hammock I can enjoy their antics with a front row seat.
Monday, April 22, 2013
When you think of hammocks on a sunny day in a back yard I am sure a man on Father's Day comes to mind immediately. I think half of the cards in the Hallmark store feature this image on them for men. But not for this gal. Years ago I asked for my very own hammock for Mother's Day and was thrilled to have one waiting for me at home after brunch. My portable hammock was made by Coleman and I enjoyed it in our back yard and even took it camping. As busy as I am with work, home, hobbies, church commitments, pei's etc. the hammock to me is an ultimate guilty pleasure.
Fast forward to the end of last summer. Nick my step-son was home after school and had a wild hair that he would slip out back and enjoy my hammock. I know the temptation only too well myself. In all the years that I had owned my hammock I had never actually seen any members of my family in it so imagine my surprise when I arrived home after work and found the material of my hammock shredded in two. Nick laid on it and it ripped clean down the middle and dropped him to the ground right on top of the frame. Ouch! Fortunately he was not injured.
Anthony got on line and searched to see if we could replace the material but instead of replacement products he found an item recall for my hammock due to the exact rip that Nick experienced. I guess I had been very fortunate to get so many years of use out of my hammock because the recall was over 6 years old. Since the recall did not have an expiration I took a chance and followed the instructions and sent in my form and the slice of material they requested and in about 3 weeks I had a $50 Coleman gift certificate in my hands from the recall.
Sadly I searched and searched the Coleman web-site month after month this winter and they never featured hammocks again on the site which was the only place I could redeem the gift card. I was heart broken that I could not use the gift card towards a replacement but I figured that they must have gotten out of the hammock business after the recall.
Low and behold for my Birthday in March we went out to dinner. I was the first to arrive home as the men folk were on an important cheesecake run. I snatched the mail out of the mailbox and was going through it on the kitchen counter. I lifted my head to look out the back door where Raisin was sitting and there in the back yard waiting for me was a brand new hammock! My new hammock is not portable like my old one but it is twice as wide which is great for books and magazines and it gives you plenty of room for blankets and pillows too.
Once again I am back to enjoying the totally guilty pleasure of doing absolutely nothing when the mood tickles my fancy. Raisin, Jay and I head out back with my Kindle Fire, beverage of choice, a blanket and pillow and enjoy the fresh air while listening to the wind chimes and birds. I will be honest that it is not quite hammock weather yet. Most visits to my new hammock have involved sweats, socks and even my beanie. But heck if you have a hammock you have to be willing to brave the elements. On a couple of occasions we have conceded and been forced into the house when it has started raining or storming. I think everyone needs a hammock and a Pei or two to guard you in case you drift off to sleep. Of course that never happens to me. Simply delicious!
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I was recently thinking of the guilty pleasures that I find myself enjoying when no one is watching. I thought I might share a few this week since I am unable to post any of the letterboxing projects that are currently under construction. Yes, all is silent on the western front. One guilty pleasure I stumbled upon in 2012 is not something I have ever been a huge fan of. Last year my sister endured a very painful gum surgery process and was on a liquid diet for weeks and weeks. As a get well gift I sent her hot chocolate mixes (her favorite warm beverage) and artisan handmade marshmallows from 240Sweet. 240Sweet had been featured in one of my magazines and I knew that my sister would really love their creations being the hot chocolate expert that she is. Her surgery was the perfect excuse to send her 240Sweets’ hand blended hot chocolate mixes and delectable marshmallows.
A few months later I received my monthly 240Sweet newsletter and they had a special featuring one of their specialty marshmallows. Although I have never been a huge marshmallow enthusiast (except over a camp fire) I decided to order myself a bag to see if they were significantly different from the bag of Jiffy marshmallows that have always accompanied our summer camping adventures.
I am here to tell you not all marshmallows are created equal. 240Sweets’ marshmallows and hot chocolate mixes are out of this world. I found myself actually finding excuses at night to curl up with a warm mug of hot cocoa and one of their amazing confections plopped into my steaming mug of comfort. All I can say is that their marshmallows are seriously addictive and insanely unique. Guilty pleasure? You bet! Bring on the marshmallows camp fire or not!
Marshmallow Nirvana Can Be Discovered Here: http://240sweet.com
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Happy Easter! The Pei's of Adventure and I started out day at Eagle Island for an hour walk in the cool mist of the morning. While we were out there we were treated to two hot air balloons taking off from one of the fields. After a quick visit to our local Batista it was home for a shower and off to church. The picture of Jay and I above was snapped right after I returned home. Jay is a very hard dog to get pictures of. First because of his coloring but second because he shuts his eyes all the time. He really does have these beautiful brown eyes but in most pictures you just can't see the color of them since he is almost black. Heck in most snap shots he is just a black blob. You can see in the picture below that his eyes are closed as usual the minute we try to capture him on film. Silly Pei! And of course Miss. Raisin is too busy watching squirrels to even consider having her picture taken. It is an absolutely perfect spring day here in Boise. I have been blessed to spend it with my family. I hope you have been able to do the same. Easter blessings today and always!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I met Pixie Dust Gal (Kelly) for lunch this week and I was not expecting her to walk in the door with two giant birthday packages for me. Since my birthday is not until next week I was really caught off guard. It was funny because the server at the restaurant kept coming by to see if I had opened the gifts yet. They were so beautifully wrapped that she was dying to see what was inside. We also had a slightly awkward moment when our server gushed about how good I smelled.
To my surprise Kelly had been seeking the guidance and wisdom of our local faeries and she amazed me with the most magical set of birthday gifts I have ever received. Since we are both sworn to hold the confidences and secrets of the Fae until our event in October I am unable to share most of my charming and delightfully magical gifts with the human world at this time. But I did get special permission to share one of my most sacred gifts. It is not every day that you are treated to the viewing of such a unique piece of the Faerie realm. If you are looking at the picture and are questioning the magic you are seeing then it might just mean that you are not ready to enter the enchanted world of the Fae. Never fear we will take you by the hand in October and will lead you down the path into the world of the Fae. Until then enjoy this special glimpse of their world and share in my delight at such an amazing and unique gift. Thank you Pixie Dust Gal for all the magic and friendship you add to my life!
Sunday, March 10, 2013
I didn't want to frighten anyone off the trail as the Kolchak Series made it's limited debut here in Idaho but as I was planting the series I did find true terror on the trail. Hidden just under a bit of bark and snow I found the weapons pictured above. This was the first time I had unearthed anything along these lines while letterboxing. I didn't want to leave these items to chance with inquisitive children and curious dogs on the trail so I brought the arsenal of knives back home for safe keeping. You never know what demons, werewolves or vampires may have owned and used such hideous weapons. Only Kolchak can solve the crime before the boxes disappear!
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a childhood favorite of frykitty’s, and she has long wanted to do a series of boxes based on the show. She hopes that the Idaho contingency of Letterboxers enjoy this special series, and if you aren't familiar with the 70s television series (and are not allergic to polyester), check it out!
This is a 2 mile walk (round trip) with no significant elevation, though there are some brief, small slopes when accessing the actual boxes. You will crawl over and/or under fallen trees if they have not been removed. This non paved section of the Greenbelt can be high traffic in the warmer months with kids, dog walkers, fishers and an occasional transient. However, at this time of year the trail has been very deserted and is not overly muddy or icy. At any time, you are probably more visible than you think you are. Be extra sneaky and re-hide each box exceptionally well as these boxes are on loan and we do not want any of them to turn up missing.
The Pei’s of adventure have enjoyed this trail immensely and have been off leash during all of our walks once away from Eagle Road. Please also print the clues to Roots and Shoots BOM as two of the boxes are on this trail (in the same container). It would be a shame to miss them while you are there as all of these boxes are only available for a very limited time. They will all be pulled at the end of March.
A mental note that there are 14 boxes in the Kolchak Series. Be sure to look for bonus box clues inside the boxes you find. Also Kolchak has shared some of his tool of the trade with you. Depending on when you visit the boxes there may or may not be some of his favorite charms for you to collect. If there are multiples of any one particular charm please only take one and leave the remaining charms for others. If you are fortunate to find the whole set you will have five different charms for your collection.
Thank you to frykitty, Sahalie, Dancingpecan and The Wolf Family for sharing your amazing carvings and creativity with the boxers in Idaho.
Have a terrifying time! Blackvelvetrav
Friday, February 8, 2013
I feel incredibly blessed to have art that I have created featured in the Spring 2013 edition of RubberStampMadness (RSM) Magazine. I am posting this entry on both my Letterboxing and Crafting blogs since the article includes both stamped cards and letterboxing LTC’s.
I discovered RSM Magazine in 2008 at the Live and Breathe event in Oregon thanks to my one of my 30 cabin mates (Yikers). Yikers had copies to share in her suitcase and I snatched one up to read on the plane back to Boise. I really appreciate RSM’s commitment to the art of rubber stamping and sharing stamping resources via the companies that purchase ad space in the magazine. I love to find stamps that are unusual and interesting and many of the best vendors can be found advertising in RSM.
I was approached by the editor of RSM in early 2012 about being featured as LTC’s of mine had ended up in her hands. I was shocked as the inquiry came totally out of the blue and was very humbled that she thought my creations were worthy of being published. I discovered that a little elf named Angela was responsible for my LTC submissions. Per the editors request I created additional stamped cards and submitted them for consideration. They were mainly focusing on hand carved images but they also selected one of the cards I created that was stamped exclusively with store bought stamps.
Unbeknownst to me RMS was just preparing to feature Steampunk in an upcoming issue. My timing for the article was really off because I was neck deep in Steampunk after our local Letterboxing event and almost all of my submissions contained Steampunk elements, images or flair. I offered to start over with new submissions but because Steampunk had in fact gathered so much steam they held over my submissions to feature in 2013.
The whole process was incredibly interesting from this end. Their writer would send me e-mail after e-mail of questions and I would do my best to answer them. They varied from who I am and what I do personally and professionally, how my cards and LTC’s were created, how my creative process works etc. I swore that she must have thought I was a real nut job based on my replies but upon seeing the article I was amazed at how she pulled it all together without me sounding completely insane. Although personally I know that my sanity level is often just a little off center.
Personally I would like to thank Angela for believing in me and my ability with stamps, pens and glue. I am so critical of my own creations that I would have never imagined that my art was worthy of being featured to the extent that it has been. And also a big thank you to RMS for the wonderful publication that consistently inspires and challenges those of us who are addicted to rubber stamping.
If you have not had a chance to pick up a copy of RSM be sure to order a subscription on-line or check out your local craft stores for the most current issue.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
How can anyone ignore the suave and sophisticated magnificence of the grand master of romance Pepe Le Pew? Pepe being humble as ever really wanted his LTC to of course feature him most prominently while expressing his sincere love and affection for his fair lady love. I took all of Pepe’s suggestions to heart and surrounded him with terms of endearment thanks to several very small store bought stamps. I think I mastered a good balance of expression without taking away for the true star of the card. Viva Romance!