Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Miniature Potagere

If you live in an urban apartment, you can still create a Potagere...in Miniature!

Images Via Pinterest - Doll Houses Past and Present
As usual the doll, although wonderfully executed, spoils the illusion just a bit.  But look at those cunning little wicker cloches!
The gardner's own little outdoor toilet...hmm, where is the sink?
 Click on "older post" below comments box to see some real potageres.  Happy Earth Day!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Round looks a bit formal
Potagere, a French word for kitchen garden sounds so much more elegant than what it describes.  However, a potagere really can be elegant. 
The wicker obelisks are lovely
The French design their kitchen gardens on a grand scale.

Villandry, France - Image via
It is starting to warm up and my perennials are making an appearance.  I have been thinking of what vegetables to plant this year.  We have to plant in pots or raised beds to keep the ground squirrels from decimating our efforts to raise a few vegetables.  This year I am considering these...

Unless they have little squirrel sized grappling hooks, I am hoping the slick sides of these will deter the depredation!  Have any of you used these watering troughs for planters?

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Breaking Bad" on the Mountainside or "One Terrible Tuesday"

After a an interesting evening dinner party at my house with folks from the New Mexico Wildlife Federation who are working with my husband to try to keep a diversion project from being built on the Gila River in Southwestern New MexicoI collapsed into bed a full hour earlier than normal. 
Photo by Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal

At 3:00 a.m. I was awakened by noises outside our bedroom french doors.  From the bed, I could see Tar, our large black dog, whining with his nose pressed against the French doors from the living room to the deck and wagging his tail.  Thinking perhaps we had left the cat outside, or the neighbors' dogs had dug under the fence and were coming for a visit, I opened the drapes to see a young man looking into the living room.  Paralyzed, I stood for a minute, trying to decide what I should do...slowly dropping the drapes back into place.  I then heard footsteps going around the house and woke my husband.  He got up,  turned on all the outside lights, and told me that neighbors had emailed (after I had gone to bed) with a warning of a young man approaching several houses, acting and talking strangely.  Checking to make sure we had locked all the windows and doors, we got back into bed.  After a minute or so of tossing and turning, we decided we should call the sheriff's office.  While we were talking with the sheriff, we saw a vehicle at the top of our driveway turning around and driving off.  The sheriff's department came and checked the neighborhood and did not find him.

In the morning we awoke to find our Sportsmobile with its trailer and our raft gone from the driveway.  My husband was distraught!  He loves the Sportsmobile because it hauls his rafts to rivers all around the country.  Last summer he spent two months in it in Idaho enjoying a retirement celebration.

In the van's place was a somewhat decrepit green Outback with a cat's litter box on the ground next to it.  Called the sheriff again!  Spent the morning with  a Sandoval county deputy trying to find all the necessary documentation for the value of everything that was stolen.  (Note to self...more organization of files critically needed).  By late morning, a Sandoval Sargent and Detective had arrived to continue the investigation and began to go through the abandoned Suburu only to find methamphetamine's and syringes inside.  I was then sent to the neighbors' house because of the remote danger of explosion.  

Walking up the dirt road, I heard something that sounded like our Sportmobile.  Quickly ducking out of sight as the van and trailer passed by,  I tried to call 911 on my cellphone to warn the sheriff personnel....no service without being close to our repeater!  Not to worry, however, they had heard it as well and were coming out to apprehend the suspect.  I scampered into the neighbor's house in case shooting might ensue, which it did not.  Only lots of shouting.  "Get out of the vehicle!  Hands over your head!  Get down on the ground!  Hands behind your back!" 

Sandoval county deputy picking up suspect's belongings.

Two days later we have learned that the young man who took and returned the van has mental health issues, and some drug dependencies.  Even the sheriff's department is concerned enough about him that they are making sure his belongings (left in our van) are returned to his father and that we, and our neighbors, will look for his cat which was lost in the fray.  Sati, our cat, and the pinion jays are enjoying the food and water I have left out in case the lost cat has survived the coyotes and owls for the last two days.

My friends are joking that "Breaking Bad" is rather more real than fantasy at our house, but in reality we are all praying for this young man as he struggles to regain more positive possibilities for his life.   

Kudos to the Sandoval Sheriff's office for the professional, polite, and kind way in which they handled this incident. We are glad they are on the job!

Oh, and we are discussing sending Tar for barking lessons.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Painting in the Grand Canyon - Day Three

We move camp on day three and I am reminded that it is still winter.  I really would be more comfortable with two layers of fleece under the dry suit!  We travel twenty miles today. 

Two canyons...one real and one reflected.

Oh no, Butch and passenger, Tony, look as though they are heading into the hole.

Nope they just glide on by on the right!
Not a good spot for a kayak or a raft!
Late afternoon and the sun is dropping lower in the sky.

We all are now hoping the camp spot is just ahead.

South Canyon just ahead...our home for tonight and the next.
Glad that I am not cooking tonight.  Quick sketch of our camp kitchen. My model, Butch kept moving and then dinner was ready, so this is not finished.  As you can see the tablecloth was more cooperative.  I, fortunately did not see or smell the skunk who visited in the night.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Hare-brained Idea

Image Via Aunt Peaches

Easter is Around the Corner!

Image Via 013/02/10/how-to-make-an-easter-bonnethat-from-tissue-paper/
In planning the Resurrection Party for the children at St. Mark's I spent a little too much time on Pinterest!  I was looking for fun games to play rather than have the traditional egg hunt when I discovered these very cute tissue paper hats...
Via http://mamareebs-toastandjelly.blogspot.com/2010/04/pti-blog-hop-tissue-paper.html
Perfect for the little girls, but what should we do for the boys?  How about a Mad Hatter top hat?  

Image Via Children's Art.info

So off to search I went.  Everything looked a bit too hard or complicated, or I did not have the materials on hand and did not relish spending an hour going to town to get them, so I put on my thinking hat (pun not intended) and came up with these...

Paper Mache Hats to decorate.
 This tutorial gave me a basic idea of how to create the shape...

Imaga Via Quilters Gems blog
 However...I did not have large enough tag board.  I did, however, have some 8 by 11" card stock and two different sizes of paper plates, so I improvised...

I poked a hole in the smaller 10"plate and cut it eight times from the center to the first ridge.  This will become the brim.  The larger 12"plate's rim was cut from the outside to the second ridge of the rim and will become the top of the hat.

Then I folded down the tabs.
Next I stapled the two pieces of card stock together to make a long rectangle and then stapled those ends together to make a tube for the body of the hat.
Folding the tabs up on the smaller plate, I then stapled the brim to the body of the hat.
The first two I made with duck tape and then ran out of it.  Searching through my studio, I found some old fashioned masking tape (not the blue painters tape which will NOT hold!), which turned out to work much better.
Hint:  Center the top of the hat, hold it in place and use four pieces of tape opposite of each other to hold the top exactly in the center.  Then begin taping down the remaining tabs with horizontal pieces of tape.
Now into the project 2 and a half hours, I have twelve basic shaped hats.

Hmmm, a little shaping the brim would not hurt. 

Now for the really messy part.  Ordinarily I would do this outside, but the wind is howling, so inside it is. 

Now I cover all the tape and various colors of materials with brown paper bags cut into rectangles and circles.  Dipping the pieces into flour and water, I glue on the covers....
Because the top is larger, you must fold pleats in the bottom to make it fit.

And fold pleats on the top as well, which you will cover with a circle of brown paper.

Three hours to make twelve hats...good thing I am not being paid by the hour!  At least they were cheap!  The boys will add colored tissue, ribbon hat bands and perhaps some painted designs.  We have more than twelve little boys, so am thinking a few newspaper cowboy hats as well.  Hopefully they will take a lot less time to make!

And oh, by the way, I did find some fabulous games!  What a hare-brained idea to make Mad Hatter top hats!  Should have just stuck with the games.  Off now to clean paper mache off every surface of my kitchen.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Painting in the Grand Canyon - Day Two

We are finally rigged and floating down the canyon.  The most frustrating part of a raft trip is that you cannot paint fast enough to capture the scenery as you row down the river so you must wait for a hiking break, a lunch stop, or an early day stop at camp, but meanwhile, I hurriedly take my camera from its watertight case to snap a few reference photos for future paintings.

   The first major sighting of wild life occurred just four miles down the river at Navajo Bridge where several pair of endangered condors are making the canyon their home with a convenient high "perch" provided by the bridge....

Looking down, I found another flying creature hitch hiking on a dry bag.  This would not be the last of the unasked guests on the trip.

Peter and Vickie...still smiling after 15 miles of rowing.

Setting up the kitchen at Soap Creek Camp

And the quick sketch I made of this view while dinner was being prepared by the Idaho guys....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Painting in the Grand Canyon

Friend Betsy arriving at the put-in at Lee's Ferry
My husband and I just returned from a month long raft trip on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.  This involves carrying everything that you need on your raft or the rafts of friends..we carried the kitchen box with pots, pans, colander,dishes, spices, condiments, forks, spoons, knives, can opener...well you get the picture.  Some folks carried the stoves and propane and a fire pan for our nightly campfires which are very welcome on a winter trip. One boat carried the toilet seat and toilet paper and each raft had a, thankfully airtight,  "rocket box" (not too affectionately called "groovers"  by early boaters who did not carry a seat... due to the groves left in your bottom) to catch the poop (you have to bring all waste out with you).  Several of us had tables for the kitchen, and we all brought folding camp chairs.  One very popular guy, Butch, brought along a propane hot water shower! The food was carried by storing it in coolers and dry boxes which every raft had.  Our raft carried a hundred lbs. of pinion wood which smells heavenly, and we burned the paper trash and leftover food each night to reduce the amount of trash that needed to be carried out of the canyon.  Almost every day all this gear is unloaded from the rafts at different camp sites along the river's edge and reloaded in the mornings, which took about an hour each time. Not a trip for lazy folks!
"Doc" pulling gear from the trailer
"What do you mean, its not heavy?" exclaims Tony
"Sure I can get more in...just watch!" says Joanne.

Norm rowing his boat to the put-in campsite for the night as the sun starts to go down.

Vicki and Peter provide the breakfast for the next morning at the put-in and boat rigging goes on as we all try to get everything strapped down for the upcoming rapids

But the most important gear for me was my watercolor supplies which I keep in an airtight "captain's box" at hand for lunch stops, hiking stops, etc.  I have always used these trips as an opportunity for some plein aire painting.  While on this particular trip (my sixth one,  25 trips or so for my husband) I bought a watercolor journal and tried to sketch or paint on most of the days.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will share those pages with you.