Watercolor Hummer

lexi hummingbird

I signed up for a banner-making class a few weeks ago at locally owned A Work of Heart.  They’re a mixed-media art studio, with the wonderful tag line: Where everyone is an artist.

I went for the Christmas banner, but  left with so much more.  I met the wonderful,  Lexi Grenzer of The Shabby Calavera.  She led the class at A Work of Heart and teaches additional classes at  Scrapbook Island.  We connected on Facebook where I spotted this ethereal watercolor.

My dad was a painter and my mom a great sketch artist, but that level of talent didn’t trickle down. We had plenty of watercolor paint sets growing up, but I never got any good at it.  I have great admiration for Lexi’s skill.

Lexi Grenzer is a teacher, jewelry designer and animal advocate in the Bay Area. She has a great love of all things Shabby Chic and Day of the Dead, which lead to the creation of her blog and business, The Shabby Calavera. Lexi’s days are spent creating in the studio, teaching classes, snuggling with her four fur babies and doting on her son and adoring husband. She attributes her love of art and hand crafted beauties to her Grandmother’s amazing influence.

So in addition to appreciating her art, I really appreciate her heart, and her contributions to our local Humane Society.

And the banner…here’s what me made in class:

Joy Banner

Organized at Heart

I’m posting a series of articles featuring organizing around the holidays this week on my blog Organized at Heart. If the subject interests you, please go take a peak.

Crafty Watering Can Brings Flowers to Life

Several months ago I attended a weekend scrap-booking retreat and fell in love with the Silhouette Cameo™. In fact, one of the designs, featured today over at Boomdeeadda, uses the Silhouette. Check out the clever lantern designed by Despina Boettcher.

Over the years I’ve admired all the various die cut systems, but never jumped in. Where would I store them all? Then along came the Silhouette. Simply attach the Cameo to your computer via a USB port and download (or create) designs. The watering can design below was only 99 cents. Most of the designs are under two dollars. If you’re a designer, you can make your own creations and even sell them to other users. So darn cool!

This weekend, while hiding indoors from the current heat wave, I had fun making this paper watering can.  The design, by the clever husband-and-wife team at SnapDragon Snippets was a great way to combine my love of crafting and gardening.  Since it was my first attempt, I used paper leftover from another project to see how it turned out.  I love it!

paper watering can

Paper Watering Can designed by SnapDragon Snippets

Since none of my real watering cans look this good, I decided to age my paper one for an authentic flare. I used a water-based dye ink called ‘garden green’ and brushed on a coat of gold and copper leaf flakes, originally used on a Craft It Forward project earlier this year.

Distressed paper watering can

Distressed watering can

Then I waved my magic wand to make it waterproof (or for the less gullible I added a small jar inside).

Garden flower bouquet

Garden flower bouquet

In an effort to beat the heat, I raced around the garden early this morning snipping hydrangeas, anemones and for height, a few snips of flowering basil. (Since the flowers take away from the flavor, I could snip to my heart’s content).

pink hydrangeas and anemones

Anemones, hydrangeas and basil

It’s easy to forget how relaxing it is to pursue a creative hobby. Cutting and arranging flowers is soothing too. Note to self (and anyone else reading this): remember to make time for your favorite creative endeavors.

Searching for inspiration? Here are a few:

Craft it Forward: Secret Garden in the Round

This month’s  Craft it Forward creation will soon be flying over the pond to The Pyjama Gardener.  PJ’s always witty and entertaining blog features ‘simple organic gardening and seasonal living.’  No need to take my word for it.  You can go have a look here.  According to PJ:

A Pyjama Gardener is anyone who is too impatient to get dressed before venturing outside to check the plants… it was only meant to be a quick look (honestly)… but before you know it an hour or more has passed and you’re still wearing your pyjamas!

What a thrill it was to find this beautiful paper on the shelf of Scrapbook Island!  Graphic 45 has an entire line of Secret Garden paper, featuring a PJ-clad girl on the cover!  Kismet.

This tiny ‘album’ pops open to reveal several panels. I’ve added photo mats and stickers inside, with bits of ribbon here and there.  The circular book is now ready for small photos and memorabilia.

mini scrapbook

Cover (and view of closed album)

Clam Shell Folds

Clam Shell Folds

top view

Album, top view

Inside Pages

Inside pages featuring Secret Garden

Panel View 1 of 4

Panel View 1 of 4

Panel View 2 of 4

Panel View 2 of 4

I made a similar version of this album in early March. It has a Valentine’s Day theme, so I plan to feature it in a give-away closer to the time.

I hope PJ loves this little pop-up book as much as I loved making it.

Circle Explosion Album

Craft it Forward:

Here’s how it works. The first five people to comment on the original post receive a handmade item with the gardening nirvana touch. In return, they agree to pay it forward, crafting their own unique item for the first five people on their list. Craft it Forward encourages community, creative spirit and camaraderie. It also encourages flexibility, so I expanded my list from five to seven based on interest in the project. Isn’t it fun making your own rules?

craft it forward button

Grab the button for your own Craft it Forward

Further, in the era of the internet, who doesn’t like ‘real’ mail? If you haven’t started your own Craft it Forward, today is a good day to get one going.

Craft it Forward: Living Journal

Craft it Forward Button

Craft it Forward Button: Grab it for your own blog

In early February, I launched my first Craft it Forward.  Here’s how it works.  The first five people to comment on the original post receive something handmade with the gardening nirvana touch.  In return, they agree to pay it forward, crafting their own unique item for the first five people on their list.  Craft it Forward encourages community, creative spirit and camaraderie.  It also encourages flexibility, so I expanded my list from five to seven based on interest in the project. Isn’t it fun making your own rules?

Further, in the era of the internet, who doesn’t like ‘real’ mail?  If you haven’t started your own Craft it Forward, today is a good day to get one going.

First up: A Living Journal

This manilla-covered journal has heavy-duty art paper, appropriate for ink, paint and pencil.  You can see the original, unadorned journal here.  Recipient #1 is a talented artist in her own right.  She paints, sketches, sculpts fabric ‘dolls,’ along with myriad other projects.  I’ve been on the receiving end of her own talents, including a set of tie-dye tea towels and a hand-felted, one-of-a kind, purse.

I crafted the cover, using as assortment of ribbon in rainbow order, with some peace signs thrown in (her favorite) for additional interest.

Ribbon Journal: Craft it Forward

Peace and a rainbow of ribbons

Ribbon Journal Closeup

Closeup

An attached, expandable envelope lines the inside cover, great for collecting bits of inspiration.  For now, I’ve tucked in a few seeds she can plant in her garden.

Journal Interior

A Peak Inside…

The journal came wrapped in a sleeve of silky-strong paper too nice to toss, so I fashioned it into a simple bookmark, using other scraps on the face of the envelope.

Creative Journal

Creative Journal by Dyan Reaveien of dylusions

Packaging Bookmark

I trimmed the wrapper and used it as a bookmark

Personalization, gardeningnirvana style

Personalization, gardeningnirvana style

Finishing touches include her first initial made from a balsa wood letter, then covered in paper and inked along the edges.  It’s embellished with flowers (of course)!

I hope she enjoys filling it as much as I enjoyed crafting it. Perhaps a year from now she’ll let us take a peak into a few pages and I can feature her work on gardeningnirvana.

Life is art, live yours in colour!

Life is art, live yours in colour!

What's inside?

What’s inside?

Are you Crafting it Forward?

For additional Craft it Forward inspiration:

From There to Here, From Here to There, This Blogging Thing is Everywhere*

Shooting Star Hydrangea CloseupToday I surpassed a personal milestone. A year ago February, I set out to write every day for a year.  During that time, the earth made a complete revolution around the sun. Four seasons came and went. Garden squirrels came and went too, along with aphids, scale and thrips. Raccoons dropped by, leaving tell-tale paw prints next to the overturned sod before washing there ‘hands’ in the fountain.  It’s every critter for themselves in the world of gardeningnirvana.

Writing daily was sometimes challenging, but it was always worthwhile.  I gained confidence along the way. Dr. Seuss said it best:

“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ‘blog’ will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

The good doctor was right. Here’s what I won:

  • The ability to persevere through illness, fatigue and, yes, procrastination.
  • Discipline, in both writing and gardening.
  • Goal-setting.  It had been awhile since I set such a lofty goal.  It was important to me to see it through.
  • The most generous, thoughtful, gracious, intelligent and engaged readers a person could hope for. (You know who you are)

*With apologies to Dr. Seuss

Dedicated to my fellow bloggers who inspire me daily.

Birdhouse Gourd: Numbered Days?

The watched pot never boils, and the watched gourd never grows.  Or so it seems…

birdhouse gourds on trellis

Christmas lights in September?

Now that I’ve filled one of the planting beds with an assortment of winter vegetables, I’ve turned my attention to the runaway birdhouse vines (Lagenaria siceraria).  I have just two, 4 x 4 planting beds, so space is at a premium. The vines are occupying one of them.

birdhouse gourd buds

Still growing…

I read the fine print inside the seed packet today, and learned that some gardeners let the gourds harden on the vine all winter. I just assumed the plant would die off and we would harvest them much like the pumpkins. So…it’s decision time. Do I leave well enough alone and sacrifice the extra winter planting space? Will I face my disappointment gracefully if the vines die off a month from now, too late to use the beds till spring? Do I need to get a grip?

birdhouse gourd drying flower

Shriveled flower and otherworldly baby gourd

Mini hard-shelled gourds are forming along the vine, but before today, none of them seemed viable. I finally spotted one, twice the size of the others. I got excited all over again.

bridhouse garden large

How slow can you grow?

birdhouse gourd tendrils

Nature’s twine: super-strong vine tendrils

Should they stay or should they go? What do you think?

Resources:

Blooming Thursday: Garden Friendships

My friend Liz has been back in the States for several months, but it took her imminent departure for us to finally get together.  Our friendship is such that we can simply pick up where we left off, regardless of time passed.  Liz is also a gardener I admire and look up to.

Liz has the unique distinction of gardening through one spring and two summers.  She spends part of her year in California, the rest in beautiful New Zealand.  She taught me and some friends how to felt on one of her trips home.  I hope to learn how to eco-dye from her one day, too.

On her visit today, she came bearing gifts…and lunch!  So much for my hosting skills. We enjoyed delicious, home-made, vegetarian burritos while sitting on the patio talking shop.

You probably need to be a gardener to fully appreciate the first gift: a bag of worms and worm castings. I feel like a real gardener.  I have a worm bin, a kitchen scrap container, and soon my tumbling composter will arrive at my door.  I’ll be brewing garden goodness all winter long.

Worm Bin

Worm Bin

In addition to worms, I am also the lucky recipient of several eco-dyed pieces, one-of-a kind art made with natural dyes, leaves and flowers. The small pouch is made from reclaimed materials, printed with leaves, dyed, then hand-stitched.

Eco-dyed Pouch

Eco-dyed Pouch

The three pieces pictured below use a similar technique, but with paper. I love the artistry.

eco-dyed print

Eco-dyed Art Print

Eco-dyed paper

Eco-dyed Paper

My dear friend is not a fan of pictures, but she did let me take a closeup of her t-shirt. She bought the shirt at a thrift store, wrapped it around rose leaves, and dipped it in a natural dye. It’s exquisite.

Eco-dyed T-shirt


Eco-dyed T-shirt

You can learn more about eco-dying from India Flint.