Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer's over already? Nope, not yet!

I'm starting to see things like mums and little round, pumpkin-like squash trickling into the stores this week. So it has me wondering, where has summer gone?  I have to admit, the image of pumpkins and falling leaves stirs some excitement in me.  Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, however I'm just not quite ready to give up on summer.  Yet.

I've been going through the photos on my camera and found some very summery pics.  These were from a day trip to Carlyle Lake, the lake in my home town.  We try to get there at least once a year for some sand castle building.  

 And of course I always seem to find my way to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis at least once (okay, several times) a year.  This summer was particularly a good one, because the Gardens began selling some of my hand painted pendants in their gift shop! (yay!).   

 This year they have a Chinese Lantern Festival at the Gardens.  It's truly amazing to see and well worth the trip. 

 I've included some photo samples of some of the hand painted pendants I sent over to the Missouri Botanical Garden's gift shop.  It was a fun challenge to create some new pieces for them.

I also found this photo on my phone.  It's interesting to see just what I can find on there, sometimes random pictures of sidewalks, etc. show up and I have no idea how they got there.  Although, there are lots of times I think I'm taking a picture and it turns out to be a video.  Phones can be so fun.  Anyway, I thought it would also be fun to include these "before" drawings of some summer items I painted and scattered throughout this post.  Some I painted in watercolor, some are acrylic.  Actually, there might be a mix of both here and there as well.

So for those of us living in Southern Illinois, close to St. Louis, MO (hey, that's me!), we know how August temperatures and humidity tell us we aren't even close to being into fall yet, no matter what the stores are selling.  Of course, come September 1st all of that changes and mums and pumpkins are fair game, no matter what the temp is!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Paris In Springtime

It's springtime, so these days my thoughts keep turning to Paris.  I was inspired to paint and create this new Springtime in Paris pendant, and I love the colors so much I leave it out in my studio and glance over at it every day!

I was even inspired to paint these macaroons with watercolor paints.  I've never actually had a macaroon, but the photos and colors make them look so yummy, I like them before I've even tried them!

I remembered this time to take a photo of my pendant in the middle of painting it.  For some reason this is something I don't usually think of.  In this case it kind-of looks like wintertime in Paris.

We actually had the opportunity to visit Paris about 9 years ago.  We were only there for almost 3 days, and believe me that's not nearly long enough!  We did get to visit the Eiffel Tower and rode to the top.  As you can see, it was a little foggy that day but still just as exciting as ever.

Not quite France, but these pink tulips are still all spring.  This is a new pendant that will be added to my Etsy shop soon.  I can't wait to see the real ones in bloom in the backyard!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Great Back Yard Makeover Before and (almost!) After

I'm so excited to show you the before and (almost) after photos of what I've named "The Great Back Yard Makeover"!  We've come a long way but there's still more to come.  What's interesting is how much I'm enjoying working on this project.  It occurred to me I might like working on it just as much as I'll  enjoy it once it's completed.  I know, I know, but I've accepted that I'm kind-of that way with yard work.  I have a feeling it might be an ever-changing, always-tweaking type of project, and I will love it!

After living in this house for 7 years (new when we moved in), this is the best the backyard has to offer for grass. Not too plush, you say? I agree! You can see the circle area where the trampoline used to be. This is the view from our back door, so you see the front of the neighbor's house in the photo.  

Side view, even the shady area under the oak tree has problems!  I couldn't wait to change this, make it something totally different.

I could begin to see the vision coming to life at this point, but it still seemed almost impossible.  Almost. But we forged on ahead.

Bring on the pea gravel!

When this is completed, our plan is to have a fire pit in the center of the circle surrounded by chairs. I can't wait to see the chairs filled with family and friends.  The fire pit was always the main idea but with all of the work and excitement of pea gravel, bushes and pathways, it started to take a back seat at some point!  But now that it's almost finished and fall will soon be knocking on the door, we can see the fire pit vision again.  Cool nights, crackling fire, marshmallows tanning in the glow of the heat and then smooshed between graham crackers and Hershey's bars.  Mmmm.
Just look at that sad patch of grass.  It appears to be grass but it fools us. It's about half grass/half crabgrass.  I'm so glad it's (mostly) covered up!
Ahh, the beginning of something new! Making this path was a lot of work, but so well worth it.

Yay! Here it is finished from the opposite side. From this angle it looks so long. We added a little half circle for a bench and possibly flowers around it someday.  I have a feeling this project will be ongoing and ever changing.  (Just how I like it!)

This is the second pathway coming off of the right side of the circle.  Do you see the extra pea gravel we still have to the center/right side of the picture?  Still a work in progress! You'll have to close your eyes with me and imagine the boxwoods as fully grown hedges. Oh yes, now I see it!

Now you'll have to imagine the tiny little bushes in back as they'll be when they're fully grown.  And ignore the bag of mulch I accidentally included in the picture. Oh, and the overgrown strawberry patch in the back.  The garden has kind-of taken a back seat at the moment.

Fall is knocking...come on in!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the Garden and the Super Cute Little Zoo

So I'm just digging away in the backyard, planting my impatiens in the big flower pot like I do every year, when SURPRISE!  I found a big white egg was already planted!  First I assumed it was a turtle egg, since we have several turtles that lay eggs in our yard every year.  

Then I wondered how a turtle would be able to climb a flower pot to lay an egg?  Okay, very unlikely. So I did some online checking and discovered it most likely was a sly little fox that probably stole one of the duck eggs from the pond a block away.  Apparently they like to do that type of thing and then hide the egg(s) for later.  I wasn't exactly sure what to do with it so I just left it right where I found it.

And yep, wouldn't you know a couple of days later that flower pot had been dug into again.  I didn't check to see if the egg was gone -- I didn't really want to know!

I was so excited to pick the first handful of strawberries from our garden...ever!  We planted these last year and whoa, they sure like to spread!  We've been getting about 8 to 10 strawberries a day which makes me sooo happy, I wish they were around all summer!

It's hard to imagine they come from such humble beginnings, then spread like weeds!  But that's okay, I love to see them branch out and take root.

We had a lot of fun visiting a sweet little zoo in Belvedere, IL recently.  Check out the animal sign.  Don't you just want to take that home with you?  It's so perfectly aged.  They did have one zebra but I didn't get close enough to take a picture. 
But I did get a photo of this little hedgehog!  Look at that face, don't you just want to take him home with you too?
They showed us several baby animals that we were allowed to pet.  These two are baby wolves, but they were too young to touch.  They couldn't stop yawning.  I guess we were too much excitement for them.

They called these llamas, but I've never seen animals like these.  These guys were pretty friendly!

This is Casanova, a horse that likes to be petted like a cat.

 He'll let you know exactly where he wants petted.  Pretty cool.

Okay, here we go.  This year's backyard summer project.  We've lived in our house 7 years and obviously still can't grow grass in the back yard.  When it rains, it stays muddy for 3 days.  Three days!  So we decided if we can't grow grass, then lets cover it with pea gravel and turn the area into a fire pit!  (Yaaay!)  And add some bushes and flowers!  (Yaaay!)  Lemons into lemonade,right?!

Here's the start of it...the pea gravel.  This is definitely a work in process so I will have to update more on this later.  And I'm sure again later.  I've decided to name it phase I, phase II, phase III, etc.

As you can see, my daughter thoroughly enjoyed the rock pile.  I don't blame her, I climbed it as well.  I just happened to have a shovel in my hand and called it "work".