September 21st, 2012
I’m probably the only one that will truly appreciate these before & after photos. It’s not really something that’s going to be impressive to most. It’s weird to get excited about a patch of plain old grass, but when you started with a pile of gravel topped with a tangle of snakes and ivy (both english and poison) grass is something to celebrate!
Daniel and I try to DIY as many home projects as we can, but we let the professionals handle this section of our yard with a bulldozer. They cleared the brush, removed the thick layer of gravel that was underneath, and brought in topsoil to level the area out a bit. We don’t even have sod in our front yard, but the landscaper said it would help hold the new soil in place on the hill. Supposedly this is a new sort of bermuda grass that is specifically for shade areas. Fingers crossed! We still have a bit of clearing to do under the deck, but I think it looks a million times better. It’s so nice to reclaim another section of our overgrown yard!
Just a little public service announcement… don’t ever plant english ivy in your yard. It is pure evil. Sure it’s a great ground cover, but it’s also a great everything-else-in-your-entire-yard cover. A previous owner of our house planted it, and it has taken over. We’re constantly fighting it back as it tries to smother our house in vines, and the roots are so strong that they actually damage our siding. It grows so quickly that you can almost see it moving. Consider yourself warned!
September 20th, 2012
A while back I got this copperplate calligraphy instruction book by Eleanor Winters. After flipping through it, I realized I would need one of those funky-looking oblique pens to achieve the super skinny and big fat lines characteristic of copperplate. I just got the pen, and it’s so strange! Using it is like learning to write all over again. I now have even higher respect for the calligraphy-saavy. I’m plagued by wobbly letters, but I really like dipping the pen in the ink. I pretend I’m signing the Declaration of Independence every time I dip. Eleanors’ book looks great, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use it except for learning the technical stuff like how to hold the pen, what kind of ink to use, etc… I think I want to make up my own way to write with this funny pen, rather than learn somebody else’s way. Any objections?
September 17th, 2012
For seven years the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has organized an annual farm tour event in our area, but this is the first year I’ve heard about it! There were 23 farms (producing everything from vegetables to honey bees) offering tours over the weekend. Daniel and I only visited one farm, Prodigal Farm, a 97 acre former tobacco farm that is now home to a herd of 200 well-loved dairy goats. These are lucky goats. They’re living the goat dream!
This little girl kept trying to nibble my cheek with her funny goat lips.
Instead of barns, the goats shelter in empty school buses filled with hay. Herds are rotated each week by loading the goats into the buses and driving them to fresh pastures. So clever!
The super old farm buildings on site make Prodigal Farm a historic landmark, so it’s protected farmland.
After getting our fill of goat snuggles we toured the dairy to see where they do the milking and cheese making. I can’t wait to try the cheese and chocolate goat cheese cheesecake we got!
And this is just to prove that I accomplished #1 on my 28 by 29 list.
September 14th, 2012
Here’s my final lettering practice post! These 5 weeks flew by, didn’t they? I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my process. I think I have improved a lot since week 1, and that makes me just a little bit giddy! I’ve fallen in love with hand lettering, so I imagine my sketchbook pages will be filled with it from now on.
Thank you to everyone who joined me and shared your work over on Pinterest. You guys are amazing! I’ll be leaving the community practice board up for the foreseeable future, so feel free to keep lettering. I know I will!
September 13th, 2012
I’ve been searching for a good storage solution for my rubber stamp inventory, since stuffing them in a drawer in a messy jumble wasn’t working out for me. I ended up ordering a bunch of these jars, and they’re perfect for my purposes. Now my stamps are quickly accessible, and I can easily see how many I have left of each design. The added bonus is that my studio now has a bit of a candy store vibe!
September 10th, 2012
I finally tried Deborah’s Red Velvet Cheese Ball recipe over on Taste and Tell. If you love red velvet cake you have to taste this. It’s all the goodness of the red velvet and cream cheese icing rolled into a big ball and covered in chocolate chips. I served mine with vanilla wafers and chocolate graham crackers. Yum to the max.
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups red velvet cake mix, dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
assorted cookies and crackers
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. (I used my hand mixer and it worked fine.) Add in the red velvet cake mix, the brown sugar and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined. Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Put the chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll in the chocolate chips. (This might get messy!) Place on a serving plate and serve with cookies or graham crackers.
Recipe from Taste and Tell
September 7th, 2012
I’ve been working on my holiday cards this week—figuring out which designs from last year I’m keeping, and coming up with some new offerings too. I’m pondering making this sketch into a postcard printed on heavy brown kraft card stock. I think someone might like to send Christmas postcards rather than traditional folded cards with envelopes. What do you think?
What is figgy pudding anyway, has anyone seen or tried it?
Here’s the community hand lettering practice board!
September 6th, 2012
This time each year our home is shrouded in spider webs. Hundreds of spiders flock to our house at night to build webs in the light of our great room window where there are moths aplenty. It’s kind of inconvenient to walk into a spider web every time I step out my door, but I have to admit that spiders do beautiful work. Don’t get me wrong—I’m still going to scream every time I end up with a web wrapped around my face, and any spider that crosses our threshold will most certainly be squished, but I can appreciate their creativity. Have you ever watched a spider build a web? It’s quite mesmerizing.
This 3″ long fella is loving the chevron stripe trend!
September 4th, 2012
I get excited for Christmas when September arrives, so I’ve been craving a Christmassy dessert lately. Peanut Butter Balls are my holiday go to, but my recipe makes a zillion and calls for an entire pound of butter (no wonder I start every new year with muffin top). After a little experimenting I’ve found the perfect peanut butter/butter/powdered sugar ratio to make only THREE peanut butter balls! It takes 5 minutes, and they’re perfect for when you’re craving a super rich dessert, but don’t want a bunch of leftovers hanging around to tempt you later.
A plastic fork with the center two prongs snapped off is the perfect chocolate dipping tool. It allows the excess chocolate drip right off.
The chocolate isn’t nearly as shiny and smooth as it is when I melt it in my double boiler with a little paraffin wax, but it really doesn’t matter what they look like…
because I’m going to promptly eat every last one of them.
Just for the record, dear Ohioans, these are not buckeyes. To be a buckeye a peanut butter ball must have part of the peanut butter center left un-chocolate coated, and I think that is a wasted opportunity! ;)
Here’s the recipe!
4 teaspoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon softened butter
1/4 cup (slightly heaping) powdered sugar
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Stir together the peanut butter and butter until they are well combined and smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar. Roll the dough into three balls. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, and coat the peanut butter balls in chocolate. Let the chocolate set and harden a bit (stick them in the fridge if you’re impatient), and enjoy!
August 31st, 2012
I have an ever-growing list of greeting card ideas on my laptop. Some of them are quite terrible, but there are a few keepers in the mix too. I write all my ideas down, even the bad ones (just in case they spark something better later). This weekly lettering assignment is great motivation for me to make some of the good ideas a reality!
Don’t forget to check out everybody’s new work on the hand lettering practice board!