Crafting with Paper Scraps: A June Birthday

I’m joining our host Kate for another monthly crafting challenge. Kate, who blogs at Tall Tales From Chiconia, encourages bloggers to dust off their scraps and turn them into something new.

My dear friend has a birthday later this month, so she’s received instructions NOT to peak at this post.

I used what remained of a 12 x 12 scrap of paper to make gift wrap and a card.

We both love fairy gardening, and my friend is also partial to aqua and teal so the colors are spot on. I cut a 6 x 8 section of the paper and adhered it to an envelope. Used alone, the scrap isn’t big enough, but attached to the envelope it made the perfect wrap for this small book, a copy of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem.

I used another section of the scrap to cut a circle to seal the back, stamping “hi” just above the bird.

It’s gratifying making something pretty from scraps. It challenges your creativity and your ability to work within certain parameters. I’m not sure why that floats my boat but it does.

I used the last little bit to mat the “happy birthday” sentiment on the face of the card.

Birthday Greetings
Wrapped book photographed in the garden
I wish I could capture the garden shadows in the photo and transfer them to the back of the envelope. It looks like the bird has a long set of tail feathers.

Do you have scraps laying around the place waiting for a new life? Come join us for future scrap-happy posts.

Thanks for hosting, Kate.

Be sure to check out the blogs listed below for other scrap-happy posts.

Kate, our hostGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

As Weeks Go

I thought we were immune.

So it goes in a country that celebrates gun ownership. Gun rights usurp human rights.

Last week, a disgruntled worker living with serious and untreated mental health issues, opened fire in the work place right here in San Jose. He had easy access to automatic weapons because I live in a country that thinks that’s ok. He shot and killed nine coworkers, before turning the gun on himself.

I feel sad and numb. I’m heartbroken for the loved ones whose lives shattered into a million pieces last week. All the talk about “healing” is meaningless. You don’t heal from gun violence. You don’t heal from the shock, the terror, the sadness. Women lost spouses, children lost their father, and several lost the family bread-winner.

Local and state politicians said all the things they always say at times like this. There have been many. California, thankfully, has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but that is not enough. One in five people in my state owns a gun.

I’m tired of the platitudes. I’m exhausted by the pain and suffering of those around us. I feel powerless to bring about meaningful change beyond casting my vote at each election.

And the beat goes on.

Paul Delacruz Megia, 42

Taptejdeep Singh, 36

Adrian Balleza, 29

Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35

Timothy Michael Romo, 49

Michael Joseph Rudometkin, 40

Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63

Alex Ward Fritch, 49

Lars Kepler Lane, 63 

May they rest in peace.

Having Fun with a Paper Shopping Bag

I’m joining our host Kate for another monthly crafting challenge. Kate, who blogs at Tall Tales From Chiconia, encourages bloggers to dust off their scraps and turn them into something new.

My inspiration this month is a paper shopping bag. Pretty scrappy, eh? I fell in love with the artwork, which is different on all four sides of the bag.

Anthropologie shopping bag
Reverse side and bottom of Anthropologie shopping bag

The bag is originally from a trendy store called Anthropologie. It arrived filled with donations where I volunteer. I couldn’t bring myself to recycle it, so I brought it home for a crafting project.

The paper is a nice weight, with a different design on the front and back and two additional designs along the sides. I fell in love with the black and green cat pattern, but all four sides are interesting.

I made a notecard using my last scrap of black paper, a border die, and the cat side of the shopping bag. I would have done a few things differently, but part of the challenge of using scraps is that you have a limited supply of materials.

Scrappy greeting card

I used another section of the cat paper to make a gift tag for my son’s birthday. He loves Chipotle, so I bought him a gift card and wrapped it with a scrap of green paper. I added a fussy cut paper cat. We all love cats around here.

Gift tag wrap

On the subject of cats, after completing the tag, I took a brief recess so that Tessa could finish her nap on the bag. She rules the roost around here. We adore her.

Tessa
Tessa napping on the shopping bag
I’m doomed

After Tessa’s catnap, my crafting resumed.

I had a lot of leftover cat paper, so I papered an ugly postcard and stamped “delight in life” in black ink for some interest.

Postcard

I recovered my ever-changing bookmark tin for the Little Free Library and used some of the smaller patterned sections of the bag to make two-sided bookmarks.

Covered bookmark tin
Bookmarks made from three of the four sides of the bag

The pattern on the opposing side of the bag didn’t interest me as much, so I used it to line the drawer in my laundry room. It’s been 17 years since I last relined it, so it was time for a refresh.

Laundry room drawer

The sides of the bag are narrower, so I had less paper for crafting. I love the snails, so I fashioned a few bookmarks, then stamped them with black ink. I made more bookmarks using the purple pattern on the opposing side.

The final make from the shopping bag is another card. I used a daisy die to cut the purple paper into the lacy flower pattern you see below. The purple lost some of its vibrancy, so I wanted to punch up the color. I used daubers and assorted ink and placed color on a scrap of paper below the punched surface.

Card-making process

I assembled the pieces into this finished card:

We all need a good hug

Thanks once again for hosting, Kate.

Be sure to check out the blogs listed below for other scrap-happy posts.

Kate, our hostGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

Procrastination Tuesday

Do you ever procrastinate? There are several reasons why we put things off, and even a pithy saying that admonishes us:

“Don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today.”

I’m pretty good about getting things done, but the things I put off fit into one of these three categories:

I’m overwhelmed by the task, I’m anxious about completing the task, or I have task aversion, in my case, usually boredom.

This past Tuesday, knowing that I had an unscheduled day, I hauled out my “one-day” projects and evaluated them with a hard eye. I started with several easy tasks, then graduated to the area in my craft room where projects lurk. They haunt me, they taunt me, yet I’m the one that gives them power.

First, I started with simple tasks. My son is coming home from university in a week, so I needed to ready his room. I had a stack of my unread books on his nightstand, packaging I wanted to recycle, and bedding that needed washing.

Easy peasy. You can see the clean bedding in the corner. I’m hoping that the cats don’t notice.

Small successes can motivate you to keep going. My son’s room is ready to go.

My son took the photo of Tessa, and we made it into a poster

I had items to return, but I misplaced the receipt. I used Procrastination Tuesday to find the receipt, but then I needed to drive to the mall. Driving to a deserted mall to return two items is a bore, but it’s Procrastination Tuesday, so on the list it goes.

At the mall: small alcoves for photo-taking. Mike obliged

Now to the hard stuff, the things that overwhelm me and why. Three years ago, I bought some beautiful purple fabric for my sister Sharon. She wanted me to make a bolero-styled shrug. We found a used pattern online, I washed the yardage to remove the sizing, and then life got busy. Enter the pandemic when we all had time. Determined to get it done, I hauled out the pattern and prepared to cut and sew. The pattern pieces are too big for any of my surfaces, so I took them downtown, where I volunteer. None of those surfaces were large enough either, so I brought it back. I have three painful labrum tears across my right and left hip, making crawling around on the floor painful, so I gave up. I used to sew in high school. I also sewed in the theater department in college and beyond. The procrastination part of all this was feeling overwhelmed that I could no longer complete a once so simple task, coupled with a sense of sadness about all of it.

Purple Minka for Sharon’s shrug, purchased in Portland while visiting fellow blogger, Marlene

On Procrastination Tuesday, I drove to an alterations place, checked my ego at the door, and dropped off the fabric and the pattern with the purveyor. I’m providing income to a small, local business, and I will finally be able to deliver on that soft, purple shrug. I took along my sister’s beloved wool coat, which is now too long for her to wear. They’re going to shorten it so my sister can wear it while using her mobility chair. Relief!

Procrastination Tuesday continued with a Kiwi in the Koru pieced cushion kit. I bought the kit in Arrowtown, New Zealand in a moment of confidence and bliss. I call it holiday fever. I’ve never pieced a quilt before, but one cushion couldn’t be that hard. The colors are gorgeous. The finished cushion would be a nice reminder of a great trip.

Somehow, I couldn’t get started. I felt overwhelmed and out of my league. I procrastinated, thinking that I just needed to be in the right frame of mind to try again. As part of my Procrastination Tuesday, I made a plan. I’m going to offer the kit to someone that will enjoy the task and the finished product. It can be a stand-alone cushion or part of a larger quilt. I’m feeling good about letting it go.

Purchased at The Stitching Post, Arrowtown, NZ

As I continued with the “one-day” projects, I unearthed my crochet tote. Remembering how relaxing it is to move the soft yarn around a hook, I placed the bag near the couch. I’m a beginner, so I won’t crochet anything complex, but it will be nice to pick it up again. I also have this gorgeous case hand-crafted by Kate to keep me motivated. Isn’t it stunning?

Gorgeous color and texture

Two more items in the stash took less than five minutes of research! So it goes with procrastinating. The length of time needed to complete a task is only a tiny part of why we put things off.

Tomorrow you’ll see the outcome of one last item from the stash. I brought home an oversized paper shopping bag from a trendy store called Anthropologie. We received a donation of clothes in the bag for our program downtown, and even and even with a torn handle, I couldn’t bring myself to toss it.

Anthropologie shopping bag

My small reward at the end of Procrastination Tuesday included some time at my crafting desk. The biggest prize, of course, is making decisions and getting things done. It felt great dropping off the packaging material for reuse at the UPS store, returning bras at the mall, making decisions about all my sewing projects, and seeing all that space under the desk.

Look at all that space!

Do you procrastinate? Where do you find the motivation to move ahead?

House Finch Happenings

The House Finch pair are back. I’m so excited.

Not the best photo, but here they are together on the curtain rail

The female of the pair started a nest on our deck last month. You can catch up here. Mama finch had been building the nest for a while before we noticed. Once we noticed, she disappeared. I’ve since learned that house finches build several nests before deciding where to lay their eggs.

Friday morning, I looked out the kitchen window, and there she was. She had a mouthful of tree twig, which she deposited on the nest before immediately taking flight. Her red-breasted mate remained close. Together they flew to our Magnolia, then back to the neighbor’s tree for more twigs.

Mated pair of house finches in the Magnolia

I captured a few photos from a safe distance, not wanting to disturb the process. Eventually, I had to head downtown.

They’re singing to each other in the afternoons, so I’m hopeful this is a good sign that they’ll stay. If not, it has still been a pleasure watching this simple act play out.

Male House Finch, the object of her affection
A well-protected nest on top of the stacked curtains
Closeup shows how cleverly she’s hidden her nest

In other potential nesting news, I finally saw a bit of stuffing pulled from my squirrel offering cushion. I somewhat belatedly realized that a bird might also dip down for some fluff so I’ve moved the nesting material to the nearby orange tree instead.

I nervously watched a hummingbird either teasing Tessa or warning her off. Tessa likes lounging under the patio table A hummingbird flew from a nearby shrub, dipped toward her, and then flew away. I held my breath through that transaction.

Tessa lounging under the table

Life in the back garden is a balancing act. Squirrels and birds visit by day. At night we see opossums and the occasional raccoon. The kitties come in at dusk and stay inside until 8 or 9 in the morning. At 18, Lindy spends most of her time at rest. Mouse, the cat, is overweight, despite our best efforts, so he’s not much of a threat. I worry about Tessa, though. I want to keep all the garden visitors safe.

Thirty Days in the Garden: Spider Plants and Bloggers

Once upon a time, I hung three spider plants in baskets under the eaves of the house. Our boys were young, so I needed something low-maintenance and green. I enjoyed watching the spider plant flower, then send out off-spring like runners on a strawberry plant.

Mourning Doves
Nesting Mourning Dove

One spring, a mourning dove took up residence and built a nest in one of the plants. We couldn’t believe our luck! We could watch nesting activity from our living room window without disturbing the occupants.

Within two weeks, I noticed that mama dove sat higher on the nest. Shortly after, a pair of young ones fledged.

Mourning doves spend a lot of time on the ground, which is nerve-wracking when you have cats. When the fledglings first left the nest, they spent time in the back garden. Not realizing they were spending time in the garden, we sat outside to eat lunch on a warm day. A distressed mama kept flying low and away, low and away. She didn’t want us there. We eventually spotted the young ones and went inside.

Spider plant camouflaging the back-end of a squirrel

A few months later, we started a long-planned remodel on the back of the house. All three pots had to come down. They limped along for a while, but the house remodel dragged on for nine months. At some point, I unceremoniously dumped one out of the containers in an area I refer to as the back 40. It’s sink or swim back there, where sadly some plants go to die. Not the spider plants.

Spider plants don’t mind all those pine needles
One becomes many

They swam! One spider plant became many. The first plant set roots on the spot, then propagated under the tree and along the fence. They’ve filled the garden beds with a lush and lovely shade of green. They feel like an old friend.

Spider plants and blogging have a lot in common. You start with one, but you quickly follow many. In the early days, you’re happy that anyone wants to read your posts. You follow bloggers, they follow you, and before you know it, you’ve found a community. You find yourself moving from “don’t trust anyone on the internet!” to “I’m flying to New Zealand for two weeks to spend time with my blogging tribe.” It’s extraordinary.

I’ve missed this blogging space. Last month I embarked on a thirty-day journey back to blogging. I posted every day for thirty days in a series I called Thirty Days in the Garden. Today I’m publishing my thirtieth post.

Thank you for reading and commenting on WordPress or through Facebook. Thank you to the readers who lurk. I know you’re out there, and I hope that one day you’ll leave that comment that’s rattling around in your head. It will be good to hear from you, too.

Thirty Days in the Garden: A Fraction of Rain

April 25, 2021 rainfall (source noaa.gov)

The promised rain arrived today, but it didn’t amount to much. Most of the news outlets are recording it in fractions. San Jose’s International airport recorded a trace.

We were home most of the morning but ran errands around 2. The seagulls pictured below flew inland during the storm, so I snapped a pic. Perhaps I’m presumptuous and the seagulls bank at Chase?

It’s all I’ve got as proof that a small amount of rain fell to the ground. Yawn.

I recorded a short video of the front garden with my phone. It’s looking pretty under the grey skies.

Video of the front garden today

Here are a few other pictures from the garden this week:

Mystery plant near mirrors

I hung these thrift-store mirrors on the fence two years ago to fill the space and reflect the garden. Something self-seeded (or returned) in front of the fence, and the plant is now taller than the mirrors. It requires further investigation, but what a surprise.

Spring garden under welcome grey skies

I hope you’ve had a good weekend.

Thirty Days in the Garden: Waiting for Rain

I’ve been following the weather forecast all week, daring to hope for a bit of rain. When I drove downtown this morning, NPR reported possible rain by midnight. The forecast changed again, and we’re now hoping for Sunday at noon. The rain may pass us all together, but that’s too sad to contemplate. We need this rain.

Gathering storm

I walked through the garden at dusk, enjoying that special charge in the air when the weather approaches.

If you’re a weather nerd like me, you probably know that: “people can smell a storm from far away. A sensitive snout is smelling ozone, petrichor, and geosmin; in other words, the nose smells oxygen, the debris that raindrops kick up and wet bacteria.” Move over Chanel No 5: there’s a better smell in town.

Negative ions are also present when it rains. This WebMD article, Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes, explains the science behind the mood-elevating properties.

In anticipation of a bit of precipitation, I brought the outdoor cushions inside. I folded back the cover to the VegTrug, so the plants don’t miss a drop if it rains. The strawberries are producing fruit, and with the cover in place, they’ve been left undisturbed.

VegTrug with the cover pulled back
White flowers give way to green berries
Another strawberry

Unfortunately, I don’t think the tomatoes are doing as well undercover. They look a bit pale. I’ll have to stake them soon anyway, so I’ll remove the cover for good this week. Hopefully, Tessa behaves herself so the fruit can thrive.

Tomato plant in the background

Come on, rain!petri

Thirty Days in the Garden: Serbian Bellflowers

As the azaleas drop the last of their flowers, it’s time for the Serbian bellflowers (Campanula poscharskyanato) to put on a show. The bellflowers started to flower last week, and now they’re producing color in earnest.

2021, Azaleas and my “Dr. Seuss” succulent
2021, April, the same containers a month later

The plants are small, so I placed several under the azalea’s canopy. They took a few years to establish, but now the star-shaped flowers push their way through the azalea’s foliage when the azalea finishes blooming.

The bellflowers are a beautiful shade of purple to almost blue. We have several growing along the front of our living room window as well. They’re easy to grow, and unlike the azaleas, they bloom for some time.

I tried to get Lindy to look up at the camera, but she wanted no part of it. I snapped the photo anyway. Lindy adds charm to any picture, face-on or otherwise. She’s a sweet cat with a lovely disposition.

Lindy-Lu, almost 19

It’s Friday evening as I write this with an eye on the weather. We’re forecast for a 70% chance of rain on Sunday. We’re all doing our version of a rain dance, hoping that the wet weather materializes. Here’s hoping my next post is full of rainy day garden pics.

I hope you enjoy your weekend ahead, rain or shine.

Thirty Days in the Garden: Can You Spot the Imposter?

Weeds are imposters. They’re like a spy at a cocktail party, standing tall in their green suit, effortlessly blending in. To the untrained eye, they look like everyone else at the party.

They can’t fool this gardener. I’m a professional.

Not really, but as weeds go, I know things.

I’ve been uprooting the same half a dozen weed varieties in this garden for over twenty-five years. I know when they’ll appear in the garden, and I’ve learned ways to minimize them. Eradication, however, is futile. To garden is to weed.

Walkway to the right of the driveway, weeds running amok

I don’t mind weeding for the most part. I do it mainly by hand and at times find it therapeutic.

Walkway to the left of the driveway, more weeds

Oxalis, however, is a scourge. Oxalis grows along the walkway on both sides of the driveway. Dymondia grows between the paving stones. It’s described as “a dense mat that over time will choke out weeds.” Ha! The oxalis mocks me. It spreads its roots under the paving stones, then grows up through the dense planting. If flowers quickly, so if I don’t nip it in the bud, it quickly produces more weeds.

Weed-free Dymondia

Oxalis hides in other parts of the garden, but it’s easier to pluck when you can get at the roots. I have to be in a reasonable frame of mind to weed the walkway, knowing that the oxalis will live another day before I start.

Oxalis growing through the Dymondia.

Even the origin of this weed’s name sounds sinister:

Early 17th century via Latin from Greek, from Oxus ‘sour’ (because of its sharp-tasting leaves).

Lexico.com

Oxalis is native to North America. It grows in poor soil and needs very little water to survive. It flowers eight months of the year. It’s sounds like a garden darling if you’re fooled by this sort of thing.

Oxalis is easy to spot and remove when it grows elsewhere.

I know better. Yes, it’s a lovely green, but the oxalis has to go.