Monday, December 10, 2018

Santa Claus Snowglobe Synchronicity

Ms. Pauline's snowglobe. 
After stopping at an estate sale this summer, I was reminded of the magic of snowglobes and of what a magical holiday decoration they can be. 

In my review of snowglobes on Review This! I highlight some of the many different seasonal pieces to choose from. And why they make great gifts and holiday decorations. But in this post, I want to talk about the synchonricity that has fanned the embers of my snowglobe passion.

Snowglobes of Christmases Past

Many years ago I had a small collection of high-quality, Christmas snowglobes. Over the years, and for a variety of reasons, that snowglobe collection dwindled. I was very young when I received my first snowglobe. And my children were so young when I owned my collection that they probably don't even remember the globes featuring Santa and his magic (flying reindeer, bags full of toys, and trips down chimneys).

Over time, I'm left with only one or two snowglobes. And they've been put away in storage for safe keeping. Add to that the fact that I'm not much into holiday decor. I just don't bring out decorations. I never decorated very much when my kids were young. Now that they are grown and flown from the nest I've gotten very lazy when it comes to decorating. I just don't.

Recently, during a drive home from The Shack, I impulsively stopped at an estate sale at a home on a winding country road. The road was so curvy that I missed the sign and drove past. Having never stopped at an estate sale before, I surprised myself that I felt the need to find a place to turn around and go back.

It was clearly the estate of an older woman who had loved Christmas. Among the household items for sale, the entire livingroom was filled with Christmas items. This collection included a beautiful collection of snowglobes. 

Her snowglobes were all beautiful. The one that caught my eye is quite large and solid. It features Santa Clause reviewing his list of children's names - surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the Elves working with the toys. I shook it and watched the snow fall and wondered how many Christmas family gatherings this globe had been a part of.

If only it could talk.

As I purchased the globe, I felt the need to ask the previous owner's name. My intention was to be able to remember at least her first name at Christmas and not let her become forgotten.

I guess I should not have been surprised that her name was Pauline. And that it just happened that I noted the estate sale alongside a winding West Virginia road that particular day I was driving home from a camping trip. I nearly didn't pull over - feeling dirty and stinky after an extended camping trip in that rustic, off-grid cabin of mine. But I did stop. And I bought Ms. Pauline's snowglobe.

My grandmother was also named Pauline. And Christmas was important to her too. She gathered her very large family around her at the holidays, all of us who would and could come. Family and holiday gatherings always a priority to my grandmother.

Both Paulines lived in rural homes on pieces of land surrounded by barns and fields. Both clearly with large families. It was not just coincidence that brought me to Ms. Pauline's snowglobe. 

I think I'll decorate for Christmas this year.

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November at The Shack

Mother Nature: artist extraordinaire 
I took advantage of the long holiday weekend and drove up to The Shack. I had spent some time on Thanksgiving Day with some very special people. And even that was cut short by my migraine. On Friday the dogs and I headed up to my spot on a West Virginia ridge and spent the night. Today, Sunday, I'm back at the apartment. I am behind on chores; laundry, dishes, etc. And I am WAY behind on my paperwork. I have a long list of "to do" things today. 

Recently, work has been beyond busy. Headaches have been constant. I've been trying to stay productive and focused on my goals. Unfortunately, the thing I let slide most is this blog. I have many things I want to share about - just not the creative time and energy to share. And I am concerned that I won't be able to write a coherent sentence. Until I get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd say a quick hello and brief update.

Friday was beautiful weather at The Shack. I buried some acorns that I had gathered previously. I worry about my woods. Many of the mature trees are being pulled down by the invasive vines. I've been slowly but surely hacking away at the vines. But in reality, it is too little - too late for those trees. My plan is to plant new trees to replace the ones that have died. 

I had gathered these acorns from one of my favorite places - acorns that appeared to be sprouting. I brought them up to The Shack with me, dug little holes, and planted them. I have no idea if they'll come up or not. But it won't hurt to try.

While wandering around my woods - gathering dry kindling for the woodstove, I found this delicate little nest. The photo doesn't show how delicate it is. Made entirely of grasses. It is only 2 -3 feet off the ground. I'm going to do some research to see if I figure out what tiny momma raised her babies there.

The bluebirds, who raised their family in my rafters, are still there. One of them perched on a piece of rafter and watched me as I warmed up dinner.

Lunch was a cheese quesadilla on the grill. Dinner was chunks of ham, a can of great northern beans, and a can of split pea soup - left to simmer on the top of the stove. The perfect, easy comfort food for the weather.

Friday night rained and sleeted. We stayed tucked in next to the woodstove. Everything outside froze over during the night. The trees looked like crystals. 

The rain was falling in sheets as I packed up Saturday to head back to the apartment. I had been watching the fog roll up from the valley and over the ridge. If you look very closely, you can see The Shack through the fog. 

I hope you found beauty wherever you spent this weekend. I hope you have many things to be thankful for - not just during this holiday weekend, but through out the entire year. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Treasures: I LOVE Tunisian Crochet !

I have very recently learned about a crochet technique called Tunisian Crochet. It is also called Afghan Crochet.  It makes a beautiful stitch that is very different than I normally imagine when I think about crochet. As someone who loves crochet, who has always wanted to knit but can't master knitting, I am thrilled to have discovered Tunisian Crochet.

Tunisian Crochet

I am no expert. Not in regular crochet and most decidedly not in Tunisian crochet. But I want to share the bit I know, in case there are other yarn crafters who have never heard of it.

Tunisian crochet is made with one long crochet hook - much like a single knitting needle. The project is started with a chain crochet stitch. Just as I would start a traditional crochet project. But then, the next row is made by using stitches that retain the loops on the hook - like knitting. Followed by the next row of yarn over and pull through loop - like crochet.

The resulting swatch has a very unique look. 

Because this Tunisian crochet material feels thicker than many of my crochet projects, I chose to use a yarn thinner than worsted weight.

I have been trying to find a project that I could use this amazing DK Colors yarn on. It is a size 3 yarn and so, so soft!  I LOVE the colors. And have been wanting to use a "self-striping" skein of yarn.

The project shown above was meant to be a practice swatch. However, it is so pretty that I may turn it into a scarf.

I'm thrilled to have discovered Tunisian crochet and hope to be able to make some beautiful items using this style of crochet. 

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Japanese Maples at Eastwoods Nursery

My Japanese Maple: Osakazuki.
Yesterday I drove 2 hours, one way, to visit a nursery that specializes in Japanese Maples. Was the long drive worth it? YES! The drive was worth it for a variety of reasons; I found the maple I've been searching for, the drive took me through beautiful countryside, and the folks at Eastwoods Nursery in Washington, Virginia were extremely helpful. I am now the extremely happy owner of not one but three Japanese Maples that will soon be planted at The Shack.

Eastwoods Nursery

I found information about Eastwoods Nursery via online searches. I was looking for a large Japanese Maple selection and a specific type of tree.  I also needed small plants (for easy transport to The Shack) and small price tags. 

Eastwoods Nursery is located west of Washington, DC and near the foothills of the blue ridge mountains. The road signs indicated that I wasn't far from Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. My drive included both the Baltimore and D.C beltways. But once I got beyond those, the views were amazing.

You can contact Eastwoods Nursery via their facebook page and their Japanese Maples website

The website lists the types of trees, a bit of information about each tree, and prices based on pot size. Their website states:
"Welcome to Eastwoods Nurseries on-line catalogue and information center. We are a small, family run nursery. We grow Japanese Maples and a selection of conifers and ginkoes on our farm in the mountains of Virginia. We supply the collector and connoisseur, the designer, the landscape architect and the everyday gardener with these beautiful trees and the information needed to care for them throughout their lives"

The nursery is not open daily to the public. I found dates and times of the nursery open houses on their facebook page. You will also be able to find dates that Eastwoods Nursery may be at a location closer to you, offering their trees for sale. Finally, they list their phone number, are open by appointment, and are responsive to messages.

A large and beautiful bonsai

Just a few of the small and affordable plants available

The day wasn't the best weather for photos but I still took many photos of both the scenery and the plants in the nursery. You can see more photos here.

The Mysterious Maple Backstory

For years I had been trying to identify a Japanese Maple in a friend's yard. I love that tree and have wanted one just like it. I've tried to start my own after collecting the "helicopter" seeds from their yard. I was unsuccessful. I've emailed various nurseries and and posted photos on social media attempting to identify the tree. Also unsuccessful. 

Until now.

Finally, someone had helped me identify the tree. A helpful nursery owner told me that my mysterious, un-named tree is an Osakazuki (Acer Palmatum). Unfortunately, that helpful gentleman - owner of Honey Tree Nursery - is located in Canada and is not able to ship a tree to me. That is what led me to find Eastwoods Nursery. If you are in Canada, and looking for Japanese Maples, I recommend Honey Tree Nursery. If you are in the mid-Atlantic area, Eastwoods Nursery is the place to go.

I can't wait to plant my beautiful new Japanese Maples at The Shack.

A field of trees - at Eastwoods Nursery

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Travel: My Trip to Eastwoods Nursey in Photos

A leaf from the tree that started it all. 
I visited Eastwoods Nursery with purpose: to buy a small and affordable Osakazuki Acer Palmatum. A Japanese Maple tree. A specific type of Japanese Maple that I had spent several years looking for. 

I wrote about how I came to know the name of that mysterious maple the nursery here

The trip up to the nursery included a winding and scenic drive through a beautiful area of Virginia. Not far from Skyline Drive. The two hour drive to get to the nursery was worth it for the scenery alone.

It wasn't the best day for photos. It had been rainy and overcast. The sun didn't peek out until I was making my purchase and leaving the nursery. I decided to share the photos despite the poor lighting and weather. 

The countryside and the trees are the nursery itself are beautiful. And I want you to see a bit of what I saw.




*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.

Monday, August 20, 2018

August Trip to The Shack

I recently went camping at The Shack. The dogs and I arrived Tuesday morning and left early Friday morning. I ALWAYS have big ideas when I go up and I rarely accomplish as much as I think I should. I have to work hard to convince myself to enjoy and live in the moment rather than bully myself for not getting enough done. I'm slowly learning to enjoy the views and just being up there on my land.

Other than the experience with the Flying Squirrel guest, I didn't have any one thing worth blogging about during this trip. So I'll give a summary and a few photos. I am really proud of the few things I did get finished.

Tuesday. Arrival. Put the Jeep into 4wd and bounced down the "yard" to The Shack. I came to a screeching stop mid-way down in order to stare at my lilac bush that had been stripped bare. Little toothpick-like stems with partial leaves were all that remained.

Aargh, the deer !!  The deer have ruined everything I've planted but the Paw Paw trees. I could have screamed.

Instead, I parked the Jeep. Opened the doors and windows and aired out The Shack. Swept the floor briefly to get rid of some dust and any bug carcasses (in the fall, there are hundreds of those ladybug-like bugs to sweep up). This time there weren't as many bugs to sweep up. Thank goodness.

I unloaded the things I brought.  A few groceries, a small cooler, a plastic tub that holds my clothes, hygiene items, kindle, shotgun, dog food, etc. 

Went back outside and stared at the poor lilac bush.

I thought to myself, "what would Misty Raney do?" (Misty Raney is my shero and she's the daughter on the show Homestead Rescue.  I just love her work ethic, gardening, and livestock-tending).  

I dug my overalls out of a storage bin, changed my clothes, and got to work "gathering"  8-12' skinny trees/logs with the plan to build a fence around my poor lilac/flower garden area. After all, I brought along a fig to plant - but that would be a waste of time if the deer will eat it. I need to fence in that flower garden area.

I gathered about three 12' skinny trees and four 8' trees and somehow carried them up the slope from the woods to the yard. 

those trees will make excellent fence posts

I was hot and exhausted by then. So I puttered around, admiring the Monarch butterflies, pulling some invasive garlic mustard, and trying to identify the grass that I think is invasive Japanese Stiltgrass.  I admired the giant dying poison ivy vines that I cut away at during my last visit.

Then it began to pour.  Really, really pour. An afternoon gully-washer.

I put my baby pool and my dishpan out on the deck to catch the rain. And I put multiple pans on the floor inside to catch the rain. I used the water I catch outside for bathing, washing dishes, etc. And with it raining almost as hard inside as it was outside, I decided that no matter what, I needed to make an attempt to repair the roof.

I make use of any rain that falls - Fig in the green planter; waiting to be planted

I read The Language of Flowers during the rainstorm that afternoon. And during subsequent rainstorms. But when it wasn't raining over the next two and a half days, I removed 4 full and 2 part pieces of problem tin. And then replaced it.  It was not easy work for me. But I did it!  I felt very accomplished. 

There was another pouring rain storm before I left. And there were no observed leaks inside!  YAY! The rickety Shack has a temporarily repaired roof. 

roof repair in process

Thursday afternoon was insanely hot. The breeze had changed directions - the ridge blocking any chance of breeze from The Shack. It was 90 - 100 degrees inside. A migraine came with the changing weather. The dogs and I were all pretty miserable.

When it gets that hot, the dogs and I hop in the Jeep, turn on the air, and take a ride to either the river or a historic wooded area nearby. It's a delicate balance with the dogs. People give me dirty looks sometimes - for having the dogs in the Jeep in the summer. But little do people know that it's hotter in The Shack. 

We returned when the sun started to lower and the trees created shade. 

Friday morning, I expected that the day would be just as hot as the day before so I packed up to leave. I left the Fig plant in the planter on the deck and I hope I get back up there soon enough to plant it and erect some sort of fence for it and the lilac.

I planted two paw paw trees that I had successfully started from seeds. So far, the deer do not touch the paw paw trees.  I have two planted in the yard and now two planted in the woods. Yes, I have to use a pickax to plant things at my place.

Paw Paws!

Then I headed back to the apartment. Driving out slowly and admiring the view. I always love seeing the fog below. 

I was anxious for a good soak in the tub... but missing The Shack already.  

*This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you.  I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Flying Squirrel Visitor at The Shack

During this last camping trip at The Shack we had a visitor in the middle of the night. Noises in the night are nothing new up there. After all, it is a ramshackle, off-grid camping cabin on top of a West Virginia ridge. I find it very hard to believe that there hasn't been more than mice visitors inside already. And there are always noises underneath the building in the middle of the night. Those noises lead my imagination to think of opossum, raccoon, ground hogs, and one time I imagined bear cubs!  But thus far, the only furry visitors we've had inside are mice.

During this trip I woke in the dark of night and heard little scratchy feet pattering around inside. The noises were so soft that the dogs didn't even stir. I fell back to sleep.

A bit later, the dogs shot out from under the sleeping bag and started "hunting". (Willy is a squirrel dog and Daisy is a rat terrier - both breeds hunt/chase/kill rodents).  The dogs were alerted, but not frantic so I suspected a mouse and I went back to sleep.

Off and on through the night, the dogs alerted and hunted. Then I noticed, shining a flashlight around, that they dogs were "looking up" (it's what squirrel dogs do to alert to the squirrel up a tree).

OH MAN! That scared me. That probably meant a bat hanging from the rafters !!! I nearly fainted just at the thought (I love bats outdoors. Inside, they cause me a pretty severe panic attack). 

I shone the light and tried to focus my eyes - to see a big pair of eyes staring back. YIKES!  And.. fur. Not like bat fur. Oh no! Is it a opossum? That option is as scary as a bat to me. Opossums freak me out. After focusing my eyes... I see that it is a baby squirrel. Or a chipmunk. Up in the very corner of the ceiling. 

I called the dogs off and went back to sleep.

In the morning, the little creature ran across the ceiling (upside down at times) and ran to hide behind the mattresses that were left leaning up against the wall by the previous owners.

My dilemma was that I needed to go to town to get ice, to prevent my food from spoiling. If I left that baby squirrel or chipmunk alone with my rodent dogs, they'd kill it. I like that they kill the mice but I didn't see any reason for them to kill a chipmunk. The weather was too hot to take the dogs along and leave them in the Jeep while I did my shopping. So I focused on chasing the critter outside.

During that fiasco of trying to get it outside, I noted that the little squirrel had flaps - a little ruffle that looked like a skirt. It was a flying squirrel! I don't think I've ever seen one before. How exciting. 

It took me a long time to convince the little creature to go outside. It went out on the deck twice and twice came right back inside. I finally got it outside a third time and stood in the doorway telling it to go away. Several times, it looked like it was going to launch from the back of the porch swing to inside. 

But then the little guy (or gal) launched off the deck and flew down the hill to the tree.

It was a wonderful experience to meet this little creature. And I need to educate myself on the species. If it has a nest in The Shack I suspect it's nest is in the area between the plywood and the siding - and it found a way inside this time.

I hope it remains - I just hope it doesn't continue to expose itself to the dogs.  

the brown fuzzy blur near the center of the photo is the flying squirrel while flying

 *This article may contain affiliate links. If you shop via one of the affiliate links, I may earn a small commission - at no additional cost to you. I am very appreciative of every reader who visits my articles. Thank you.