The Eco-friendly, Affordable, Beautiful Wedding (your ideas are welcome!)

Emily will not let her dad and the officiator (her dad’s friend) wear their kilts to the wedding.  The child is like 98% Celtic origin.  She wants what she wants.  She (like most of us) has been planning her wedding since childhood.  Pinterest is well used.  The wedding is going to be beautiful, all spring desert colors of blushes and mints.

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Weddings are costly numbers.  Venues are pricey, and photographers are even more than the venues!  There are ways that my family has kept costs down in the past.  My sister was married in a park at the base of the foothills with the fall colors blazing in the trees.  We then went to a rec center and had a potluck, our great-aunts busily working in the kitchen.  We love potlucks.  This wedding will feel like a destination wedding, however, because it is in the mountains west of Pueblo in a spectacular park in the woods, in the morning, so folks won’t be able to get up and cook and drive to the mountains.  There is no kitchen in the lodge where the reception will be.  So, we are looking at catering.  But…

What if we did huge batches of spaghetti and garlic bread and salad?  Could we get them up there and keep them hot?  How do you make enough to feed a hundred people?  Any ideas out there?  We are a creative lot in this blogging world, I am all ears!

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A bright, rust colored fox shot past us nearby as we got out of the car at the park.  Auspicious, I am sure.  The hawks and crows gather and the frogs sing from the river below.  There are deer tracks.  The lodge is made of stones that are a couple of feet thick, built a hundred years ago.  The wheels from the wagons that were used to transport granite from the quarry here to the state capitol have been turned into lantern chandeliers in the high vaulted wood ceiling.  A fireplace with its elaborate stone face stands prominently, taking up nearly an entire wall.  The heavy, wood doors open to the magical woods and picnic tables beckon.  There is an old bar and steps to a choir loft.  The worn wood floors are heavy and long to be danced upon.  Parks are an affordable option for any event.  They are scenic and lovely and support a good cause.

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I am realizing that weddings are quite easily not eco-friendly.  Emily wants succulents and roses.  They are fifty cents a piece, plastic and from overseas.  They are affordable.  The succulents are five dollars a piece at the store.  We have opted for real tablecloths and chair covers.  It is cheaper to buy them then to rent them.  I found that odd.  Emily says she can always resell them.  It is cheaper still to do plastic.  Then there are plates, silverware, glasses, containers for food…

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Succulents are on sale right now so I think I will purchase them and keep them alive until the wedding in July.  I just cannot bring myself to buy plastic plants!  Maybe we can get compostable dinnerware.  Ideas?  Thoughts?  How do you keep the cost of a wedding down while still making it an elegant and memorable affair without destroying the earth in the process?  We will be figuring out all this and more as we go.

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I would love to hear your ideas and I will report back through the planning process as we master the eco-friendly, affordable, beautiful wedding that I will certainly share with all of you readers out there.  Many of you have been with me since Emily was fifteen years old.  How wonderful to see her marry the love of her life!

 

Painting 101 (just for the fun of it)

It doesn’t matter if you think you are a good artist or not.  Art is subjective.  What might affect my emotions in a painting may not be the same as what style someone else is attracted to.  I have stood adoring many a painting in museums and in homes and I am in love with southwest oil realism.  Or anything from the sixteenth century.  My friend has a painting in his dining room of blue brush strokes that he no doubt paid hundreds for.  See, none of that matters.  We are painting because it is fun.  Creating and using your right brain helps your brain function better, breaks up the daily schedule, and helps us be like children again.

First grab a canvas, acrylic paints, and a set of brushes.  These things are found easily and inexpensively at Walmart.  Acrylic is easy to clean up.  I adore oil but I do not love the fumes or clean up.  Watercolors are also nice.  I have carried watercolors with me with a small canning jar of water in my purse before for a stint, capturing moments in coffee shops and parks.

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Find a photograph that you love or something out of a magazine.  In your mind, imagine a cross through the photo evenly splitting the photo into four blocks.  Now do the same on your canvas and use that as your scale.  Use pencil.  Here is a great trick that my seventh grade teacher taught me and I will use it forever: if you get stuck, turn the photograph or picture upside down.  That’s right, turn it upside down.  You will start drawing it as you see it not as your mind sees it.  Big difference.  You will be astounded by your accuracy!

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Use an egg carton as a palette.  It’s easy clean up and you can blend twelve to eighteen colors at a time!  Start with the background.  You are building from the back to the front, otherwise it will look confusing to the onlooker.

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Have some fun with it!  There are no rules with art.  These koi fish could have been purple and blue and maybe would have looked even better!  Look for sparkle paint to highlight pieces of your painting; the scales, or a sunset, or fireflies.

My paintings take about two hours.  If I have to create them over months, they will end up in the pile of unfinished knitting and other projects.  Remember that your painting will never look like you imagine.  Art has a mind of its own- even for the great artists of the world- and art looks like it darn well wants.  You cannot manipulate it.  Just go along for the journey and see what creates itself.

Spray with a protective spray for paintings, sign, and hang on the wall!  Be proud of your work.  We are all artists!

The Yarn Weasel

We walked by the mounds of junk looking for treasure.  Cups of coffee in our hands, my husband and I looked among the stacks of items in the tents.  Broken tools, old dishes, and VHS tapes crowded overpriced lanterns and cast iron.  Then I saw it.  I have never seen one before but I knew it instantly.  I looked sheepishly at the price then let my jaw fall slack.  I picked it up in case anyone else recognized it.  Of course,  it was twenty dollars because no one knew what it was!  A Yarn Weasel.  From the 1700’s.

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One could take their freshly spun yarn and spin it directly onto the yarn weasel from the spinning wheel then pull it off the side, twist, and make a perfectly lovely skein of yarn.  Or spin it onto the weasel and knit from it.

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I tied the end of the skein of yarn to one dowel and spun the contraption to unravel the yarn.  It was easier and much faster than carefully winding a skein into a ball for crocheting.  Once it was on the wheel, I began crocheting a blanket for my granddaughter who is expected to be born next month.  Without stopping to untangle or rewind balls of yarn that have toppled off of my lap, I whipped through the skein quickly and was onto the next.

The wood is very dry so now that I am done with the afghan for Miss Ayla Mae, I will oil the wooden relic with walnut oil to seal the wood so that it won’t crack and will give it a beautiful color.

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Yarn weasels can be found for well over a hundred dollars on Ebay, but look for a good deal online or at flea markets.  A lot of folks don’t know what to do with them, or wouldn’t use them anyway and you may be able to get one for a song.  This yarn weasel does look ever lovely next to the wood stove in our little, old fashioned home on our little, old fashioned homestead.

Paint and Friends (transforming a hundred year old shop)

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Some of the greatest transformations come from friends, a box of donuts, and a couple of gallons of paint.  One such transformation took place Saturday at our new store set to open in less than two weeks.  While the great state fair parade marched down the main street, we gathered with friends and began painting.

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When I first stepped into the space I saw through the looming clutter, the holes in the walls, the bedding in the back.  I saw past the white drywall  and the forty year old linoleum that destroyed the wood floors that are over a century old.  I could see it.

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My daughter, Emily, and I are on a great adventure opening a homesteading supply shop two miles from my house in Pueblo, Colorado.  We are taking our beloved farm name, Pumpkin Hollow Farm, as its moniker.  My first thought was to paint the walls a light orange but that was quickly vetoed.  We brainstormed old fashioned colors, ones that might have been seen in an old hotel.  Grey/blue fit the bill and a broody, crisp grey became the trim.

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We began to paint the trim around the huge picture windows grey and found that it was quickly diffusing the light.  The whole front end of the shop became cream colored.  We brightened cobwebs and grease stains and a hundred years of paint.

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The doors needed a little showcasing.  We agreed on a lovely adobe orange.

20180826_163029Emily went to work creating a pumpkin patch along the front of the building.  You can see it from blocks away and it adds whimsy and character to our store front.

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Oh, there is much to do still, but we were able to hug friends, step back and look at the change, the honoring of an old store, and envision a lively shop with memories to be made.

Giving Outdated Throw Pillows a Second Life

It occurs to me that sewing might be one of those lost arts.  My cousin and my youngest daughter have expressed a desire to learn.  My older daughter zips away on her machine making pillows for her house that is being built.  It is probably a little unusual for her age.  I can certainly sew, but I am limited in what I know how to do.  I don’t often use patterns and wish I knew more so that I could make elaborate clothing and such.  Anymore though, you can purchase a machine from a craft store and they will throw in sewing lessons.  If you do sew, it is time to take your machine out and freshen up the house for autumn.

Throw pillows always add a dash of personality and color to a space but they begin to look tattered or out of date fairly quickly sometimes.  Today we are taking old throw pillows (or new pillow fills) and giving them a new look.

These are very simple and can be done by hand if one does not have a machine.

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I used a new pillow because these are going into my new shop, but I will be doing this with my old pillows for my house as well.

Measure the pillow, then measure your fabric, adding 1 inch on all sides.

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Iron!  I am the type of dreaded housewife that does not iron.  Lord, if it needs to be ironed, it doesn’t get bought or it ends up in a pile of ironing for close to five years.  But, as my grandma taught me, you must iron in sewing.  Period.  Now, iron your fabric so it looks all pretty.

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Fold fabric in half inside out.  The folded edge is one edge you don’t have to sew!  Pin the sides, leave bottom open.  Sew each side, giving it about a half inch seam.  Take out pins and run your hand along side to make sure you got them all!  (Camouflaged little suckers.)

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Now flip right side out and use a chop stick or the like to gently push out corners.

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Place pillow inside and fold in bottom seam and pin tautly together.  Hand sew or machine sew.

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Easy as that!  Now, I took that pillow before we started and used a large needle and yarn to pierce all the way through the pillow and back out, tying securely to create a crease in the middle.  So when the pillow is done, you can see that little indentation.  I carefully wove a piece of yard through the fabric and top layer of the pillow and brought back through and tied a ribbon.

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But then I found a pretty button so fastened that on!  You could also hem the open bottom instead of sewing it closed and sew on adjacent ribbons to tie closed.  That way you can change your pillow covers and wash them.

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Throw pillows can generally be washed in the washer and floofed and dried in the dryer.  If a fabric is particularly fine, place it inside a bigger pillow case and wash and dry it that way.

Simply Crafting a Spring Wreath

20180226_141926We tiptoe towards March.  We are almost there!  Spring, I see you!  Tiny dandelion leaves and grasses push through winter’s brush.  The finches breasts are turning rouge and father sun greets us earlier.

Yesterday I noted the large plastic poinsettia wreath still gracing my door and the pine swags sweeping around the porch.  Time to welcome spring, I thought, as I gathered the remaining yuletide greetings and put them away.

I have been planning on creating a spring wreath to share with you all.  I had plans to go to the craft store and pick up a glue gun and plastic daffodils, maybe bells, and this and that to display.  Even though a lovely jumble of faux flowers would look sweet and welcoming I didn’t want to purchase more stuff.

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I have a grapevine wreath.  Its natural woven texture preferred over more plastic.  Then I scoured the house.  I uncovered a purple ribbon that will just highlight my door.  A feather from the hen house that parades as a hawk feather (Araucanas have the loveliest feathers).  And finally baby’s breath from the bouquet of two dozen roses my husband gave me for our anniversary.

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It is much more simple than I would have imagined.  Yet graceful and organically welcomes spring.  Nothing is glued on so I can change it in a few months if I wish.  A wreath on the front door symbolizes welcome.  The circle being the universal sign for family, community, and strength.  Adorning a simple wreath with seasonal finds is satisfying and welcomes our dear friend spring back to the land.

How to Clear, Protect, Increase Positive Energy, and Set a Shield with Incense

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Whenever you have people over.  Whenever something amazing happens.  Whenever a fight occurs.  All these things leave impressions on the energy of your home.  Have you ever walked into a home, particularly when you are house hunting, and you can feel the energy, good or bad, in the place?  Some shops feel great to be in.  Some homes feel comfortable to be at.  That is the energy.

I think we can all agree that the world we live in is not black and white.  It’s not spiritual realm verses physical realm, but rather a more interspersed and parallel existence we share.  I have people at my house often and I work as a medical intuitive and a medium.  Things can get funny around here.  I had set up a good perimeter around our yard and for a long time it worked, people walking by me could not see me wave, never came in the gate without being invited, they would just walk on by.  Recently I keep getting strange folks coming to the door.  Electronics have been acting weird.  A raven…a raven y’all (not normal)…was cawing so loudly in front of my house it drew me to the porch to see what he wanted.  Then I felt something touch my back.  Time to smudge!

Now traditional smudging is how I was taught but it is not that easy to keep it lit and balance a feather, a lighter, and a shell.  My husband and I have used incense with great success and it is far easier to wield and has a lovely glowing tip which just feels like magic as you swirl the smoke.  Never use just sage to smudge with.  Such a common myth.  You have to combine herbs.  Sage itself opens portals and you will end up with a house full!  We used incense sticks of sage and lavender.

We started in the basement.  He went with the sun (clockwise) and I went with the earth (counter clockwise) around each space muttering to ourselves.  Ask for protection.  Ask that only those that walk in the light remain.  Ask for blessings.  Express gratitude.  Raise the energy so that only love and positivity remains.  We then did the upstairs.  Then we went outside under the ink dark sky and dancing stars with the bright moon leading.  Around the perimeter of the yard we watched the bold red tips of the incense sticks and smoke swirl and permeate the air.  Create a barrier.  Create a force field, if you will.  It is up to you to keep the energy strong and protection in place.  The powers that be will help you when called on but you can’t just say a quick prayer and expect it to be done.  YOU are responsible and truly able to wield the power and wisdom necessary to have a safe haven and a positive energetic space.  The whole universe conspires to help you when you go through the process of raising energy for a purpose.

Some spritzes of witch hazel infused with essential oils like sage, cedar, sandalwood, lavender, rose, and frankincense around doorways and in the air will help set the blessing.

This should be done as often as needed.  You will certainly feel the difference.  It is empowering knowing that there is a way to protect your home and loved ones while cleansing the air and creating a beautiful, comfortable space to dwell.

Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 (now available on Amazon!)

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I never guessed back in 2012 what this would become.  I set out to chronicle our adventures in homesteading.  To create a template and how-to that we wish we had.  We weren’t able to find information on how to farm high altitude, or how to bottle feed a goat, or how to do any of the hundreds of things we did by trial and error on Pumpkin Hollow Farm.

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Those years on the homestead were some of the best times of our lives.  Re-reading the manuscript was like reading about an old friend.  I laughed and recollected.  I finished the book with a smile.  As if I had read it for the first time.

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This book is priceless, I tell you, it has everything a new homesteader could possibly need to get started on their journey.  Organic gardening, high altitude farming, canning, dehydrating, root cellaring, freezing produce, back yard chickens, bottle feeding goats, taking care of ducks, candle making, soap making, herbal remedies, recipes, homemade gifts….goodness, the list goes on.  The textbook we needed, but in a humorous storytelling method.

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I am so excited to see this book in print!  It is now available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/152077494X?ref_=pe_870760_150889320

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Wishing you many blessings on your homesteading journey.  See you ’round the farm!

The Music Filled Homestead

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The guitar was sitting next to the fireplace untouched.  My children can play various instruments and sing and we always had lots of music in our home.  We gave away the piano so we didn’t have to move it.  Oh, how I miss it.  We sold the violin and the mandolin.  Andy took the banjo and his guitar.  Doug gave me a guitar for my birthday a few years ago.  I wish I could say that I have Andy’s natural talent but I will forget what I learned musically pretty quickly.  Twenty years of piano and I would still need to reteach myself.  I can sing, but not as consistently as the contestants of the Voice.  But I do love music.

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This year we worked like crazy folks to rebuild.  I tend to hurry, hurry.  No time, no time!  But what harm does it do if I am ten minutes behind because I am singing loudly and strumming with chords and following a beginning guitar book?  All that does is add joy to my life!  And I’ll write about it more in the coming weeks, but my goals for 2017 are to live.  Really live.

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I will be on the search for a piano for our new house as well. The piano cares not if I am a maestro or not.  A home filled with music is a home filled with love and joy.

If you could learn any instrument, what would it be?

The Simply Perfect Gift

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When I was very young, perhaps five or six,  I received a gift.  It was a homemade box that my Great Uncle Lee had made me.  It was rectangular, small, but big enough to hide candies, or photos, or pens, or whatever treasures I should encounter.  It had a picture of me on the front with a little frame.  My small fingers could easily unclasp the latch to peer inside.   Such a simple gift but such a meaningful one.  In the world of mass marketing and advertising, in a world of throw away and break easy gifts, what a magnificent gift that box was.

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I thought of this as I painted a plain box.  I needed a box to hold sacred feathers in.  I picked up one at Michael’s that was plain and unfinished.  I suppose one could easily build one, but I have never been one to build anything easily.  I painted it a lovely turquoise.  I thought a white silhouette of a feather painted on top would be striking but it turned out looking spindly and unfinished.  Emily took the box from me and properly painted on a feather.  Perfect.  I could add a clasp or a ribbon to hold it shut but it closes so that is enough for me.

A box given as a gift, carefully embellished or painted.  Decoupaged photographs on front or vintage newspaper, painted flowers or magical glitter, all depending on whom the box is meant for, is a personalized gift.  A mother might have hers filled with photos or letters or notes of appreciation.  A graduate may have a journal and a bit of cash added.  A child may have a tokens of treasure or an empty box for the imagination.  Goodness, a box has infinite possibility.  A decorated box is a perfect gift.