It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States. It’s also the fifth anniversary of a tiny kitten named Tessa finding her way into the battery compartment of Mike’s Tesla.
Five years ago, freeing her from the car required a trip across town to the service center, 45 minutes, and three experts. You can read real the full story here.
We instantly fell in love with this striking little love and named her Tessa. Now the feline count is three.
Like many felines, Tessa can be aloof, but she also surprises us with sweet hugs. She climbs into your lap, then places each paw across your neck or chest, emitting a soft purr. It’s endearing and worth the wait.
This weekend also coincides with my 11th blogging anniversary. It’s been a journey of love and laughter, loss and support, and an unexpected wealth of deep friendships I could never have thought possible. If you’re a blogger, you need no explanation. If you’re reading and thinking about starting a blog, please do.
Blogging has enriched my life. But, I miss it like an old friend when life’s demands put out the call as they have of late. Thanks for joining me in this space. Your presence means more than you know.
It’s December 15, or in Kate’s speak, time to gather lingering scraps and give them a new life.
I enjoy the challenge of Kate’s ScrapHappy days. Even in December, with the holiday hustle in full swing, it’s nice setting aside some time to craft. I had a sewing project in mind this month, but it will have to wait.
Tis’ the season, so a Christmas card seemed the obvious choice. I used leftover aqua-colored paper strips, gluing them at an angle on scrap paper. After trimming the raw edges, I ran the piece through my paper embosser using a snowflake pattern.
Assembling monochromatic hues of aqua, then embossing them with the snowflake pattern created an interesting texture for the card. I’ve made strip cards before, but I generally use complementary colors.
As luck would have it, I found a scrap of shiny silver paper to frame the card sentiment and the embossed background. This challenge has inspired me to make more monochromatic cards in the future.
It should also inspire me to keep the door closed, but where is the fun in that? One of my embellishments went missing, later recovered and removed from the underbelly of a particular cat. I’ll leave it to you to sort the outcome of the Sticky Kitty Caper.
Kate, thanks for keeping us organized and engaged.
Stress is the enemy, and crafting is the cure…or something like that. I’ve had a lot of stress in my life this past month, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my card-making distraction.
I cut several paper scraps into half-inch strips and tossed them in a box. Rhythm is great for reducing stress.
Time permitting, I then sorted the strips by color. Some of my scraps are printed on both sides, offering lots of variety. Still no actual cards at this point, but sorting by color is cheering.
From there, I looked up some simple quilt designs for inspiration. Who doesn’t like looking at beautiful art and quilts?
At the suggestion of my friend Dawn, I bought an embossing folder that imprints a quilt-like texture on paper. A little retail therapy for the win.
I love the embossing folder. It feels like a bit of magic each time the folder imprints on the card. Here’s a closeup:
After assembling a few cards, my colored strips were in disarray. So I cut a few wax seed envelopes in half and taped the open side. Now the strips are contained but still easy to see.
Here’s my collection of cards:
I’ve made cards using this simple pattern before. I enjoy the blending of color, pattern, and texture.
Here’s a similar card, but using the strips of paper at different angles.
I enjoyed using one solid and one pattern on this card. The sentiment is printed on the reverse side of the fan-shaped paper.
This card loosely follows the colors of the rainbow. The dark purple is too saturated in color for this combo, but it’s all about using scraps so there you go. It’s the only solid purple scrap I had.
This might have been the last card of the day before the Tessa interlude. I used 18 different paper scraps. It reminds me of some of the heritage quilts I’ve seen over the years assembled from old clothing pieces. I’ve always admired the history and beauty of those quilts.
This pattern primarily exists in my imagination. I call it the tea party. The light pink along the bottom represents the table; the gingham is the tablecloth and above that is the tea service. The fourth layer represents flowers outside the window. Along the sides are lace doilies draped on the back of the blue chairs. Still don’t see it? Try switching from tea to wine.
This last card is for a special friend who suffered an unimaginable loss. I made this card by laying down half-inch strips in a simple square pattern before cutting a heart from the center. Next I raised the heart with small pieces of foam tape, then replaced it in the heart-shaped opening. The raised heart adds some interest and texture, though it’s hard to see in this photo.
That look on Tessa’s face put an end to my crafting for the day, but that’s okay. Kitty’s are great stress-busters, too.
I learned something new in the Block Editor today. I saved the list of ScrapHappy bloggers as a reusable block. Now I drop it into my post without the need to cut and paste each month. Welcome, Jule, our newest ScrapHappy Day blogger.
My garden serves up minor amusements now and again, little surprises that make me grin. Here’s a recent one:
Something ate a hole in this California poppy making me think of a tent for a traveling snail.
Equally amusing but more annoying, is the weed that gets a foothold in the center of an established plant. There is no way to get the weed out by the roots without completely uprooting the shrub. I manage to get my gloved hand under the low branches of each perennial, only to come away with part of the weed and no roots.
The weeds aren’t thumbing their noses at me, are they?
Some amusements are more along the lines of quaint, like this self-seeded lavender. Planted by the wind or a bird, the starter plant grows in a small pot surrounded by succulents. It’s nice of the container to host this little upstart, but now the plants are probably intertwined. Stay tuned for updates.
This photo is reminiscent of my girlhood. I was taller than average, rail-thin, with bright red hair. I longed to be one of the pretty-in-pink-petite girls, but alas I only grew taller. I’m at peace with my uniqueness now, but I wouldn’t want to relive those early years.
A praying mantis is oddly amusing, but startling as well. They show up during the summer months in shades of brown like this one, or green. They pivot their head giving you that odd feeling of being watched. The mantis is good for the garden, as long as they leave the hummingbirds in peace.
This ceramic lizard was destined for the trash. Like a lot of children, my son loved creating art. Then he reached adolescents and decided it wasn’t worth saving. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, so I moved a few pieces into the garden. It was amusing to discover that a plant had taken root in the center of the lizard’s tail.
I’ve shared this tip with some of my organizing clients, who are reluctant to part with ceramic pieces from their child’s grade school. The ceramic holds up well in the garden, it frees shelf space in the home, and it creates a wonderful conversation-starter when guests happens upon the garden treasure.
My favorite amusement of all is finding Tessa incognito.
Who doesn’t like a game of hide and seek?
I hope you find ways to amuse yourself this weekend.
I haven’t had much success growing tomatoes these past few years, but I refuse to give up. Fresh garden tomatoes off the vine are a treat.
My dad grew tomatoes in our garden in Canada. I grew up eating tomato sandwiches for lunch. In California, people add tomatoes to things like salads and sandwiches, but we enjoyed eating tomatoes as the main event.
When I write or type the word tomato, I can hear my mother pronouncing it tuh-mah-toh. Most Americans use the hard a or tuh-mey-toh. Are you saying it in your head now, too?
A year into the pandemic, my husband Mike, is showing an interest in gardening. Who knew? We headed to the nursery together and diplomatically chose two plants each. I frequently buy the brand Bonnie Plants, a company that has been around for over 100 years.
We decided on two cherry tomato plants and two Early Girl. For some reason, the term Early Girl gets on my nerves, but it didn’t stop me from buying the plant. It sounds vaguely patriarchal somehow.
I have a raised bed in the back garden which has grown a variety of things over the years. I planted geraniums at the end of the summer a few years ago so that Tessa wouldn’t use the raised bed as her personal “litter” box. We eventually transplanted one geranium to a pot, a second one in the front garden, and I think I may have taken the third plant downtown.
With the bed cleared, and the tomatoes planted, I covered the plants with a mesh netting intended to keep out bugs. It won’t be in place for long, as the plants will need to be staked, but I had hoped it would serve as a deterrent while the plants get established.
A few days later my son found Tessa sleeping under the mesh canopy. That cat!
The other two plants are in an Earthbox in the front garden in one of the few sunny spots. Earthboxes are all-in-one growing systems, intended for growing vegetables in small spaces. They’re great for moving around. The box has casters, a watering tube, a perforated watering tray, and even comes with a bio-degradable cover. You stuff potting mix into the bottom corners and soak to create a wick of sorts. Then you add potting mix, some lime, and some fertilizer, mix it all together and plant. You can plant seeds or small plants in the box. I’ve used mine for several years.
Now we sit back and wait to see if our plants will produce those delicious red tomatoes of my youth.
It’s the autumn equinox here in the northern hemisphere, or in simpler terms, the first day of fall. It’s also our wedding anniversary.
Today (September 23) sees the 2019 autumn equinox, the moment when the planet’s northern hemisphere swaps with the southern hemisphere to become the one furthest from the sun.
Autumn is a good time to reflect, especially in the garden. While the perennials remain robust year-round, summer annuals are closing up shop.
We had a second year of disappointing tomatoes. Despite my best efforts planting the EarthBoxes with fresh soil and fertilizer, moving them to a new location and ensuring they got full sun, production was blah. My garden mojo took a hit.
This stripey variety took months to set fruit. While they look interesting, I didn’t care for the thicker texture. All in all, one plant produced half a dozen tomatoes. Sigh.
This was also my first season without pumpkins. We’ve relied entirely on the squirrels to plant them each year, even if their planting methods are unconventional. By the time I fully noticed, it was too late to plant on my own.
I had brief hope. After amending the mix in a planting box with heavy, sandy soil, a few pumpkin plants appeared. It seemed unlikely that they would amount to much, but while I was traveling in July they took hold. Alas, they didn’t establish in time. Although the plants became vines and proffered a few blooms, there was no time for setting fruit.
On a brighter note, I received this gorgeous yellow calla lily in a pot last year. Mike transplanted it for me in the front garden and it’s spreading its proverbial wings.
It’s flowered twice and is now showing off its interesting seed pods as the plant goes dormant.
Our garden is densely planted now, requiring careful thought when a new plant joins the mix. This calla lives in the shadow of the Magnolia tree, not far from the deck. I love the cheerful display.
Nepeta, also known as catnip or catmint reseeds every year. It’s an herb, pleasing to cats, and humans alike. It produces a subtle scent in the garden unless of course, you’re a cat.
Our cats become quite possessive of the plant near the patio, though Mouse likes to visit the plant in the side yard as well. We all have our favorites.
As the temperatures change, the nasturtiums return
End of season for the pink hydrangea
Succulents and nasturtium
Anemone in full bloom and really tall this year
The path is passable once again
As for anniversaries, I married this wonderful man 24 years ago today.
It was the first day of autumn that year as we wed on the grounds of Wente Brother’s winery in Livermore. The day went by in a blur, so I’m grateful for the photographs that help solidify the memories. I’m grateful for Mike every day and for our life together.
I’m grateful for you, too, dear reader, for continuing to show up and read my posts.
We’re quite spoiled living in California this time of year. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing, and we’re frequently treated to several days of unseasonably warm conditions.
While much of the country is dealing with weather known as the polar vortex with insanely cold and hazardous conditions, I’m wearing a t-shirt as I go about my day. I wish I could send all my mid-west and eastern seaboard friends a bit of warmth and sunshine. Come June, I’ll be looking on enviously at your summer rains.
I’ve been popping into the garden at the end of the day, pulling young weeds before they get a foothold. It’s a joy to observe the daily treasures nature has to offer.
When fall arrives in late October, my garden cleanup includes pruning, grooming and dead-heading perennial plants and shrubs. Last fall, I consciously let things go. This wasn’t born of laziness. In fact, it took some resolve to let things be. My propensity for organization and a tidy garden are nothing new, however my awareness of the benefits of a garden to all the visitors comes with a sense of responsibility.
Letting perennials go to seed means there are seeds available for birds passing through. Allowing a bit of leaf drop to cover the garden floor provides cover for some beneficial insects, while at the same time providing a natural mulch. Mulch keeps the soil warm and moist, while reducing weed growth and protecting roots from uneven temperatures. Leaves breakdown quickly, feeding the worms and improving the overall health of the soil.
Excess leaves, swept from the sidewalk and deck, made it into our compost bin. After working my way through three different compost systems over the past decade, I finally found one that I like.
New habits take time. I’m itching to get out there so I can prune some of the dead growth. I’ve had a little chat with my inner gardener, and together we’ve decided this is best. After all, the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere is only 49 days away.
Serena hosts these challenges a few times a year. You can read about her April challenge here. Several of us sign up for the extra motivation that comes with a deadline. She even has a closed Facebook group where we can post pictures, ask questions and share in other do-it-yourself projects. It’s a lot of fun.
Today, however, I’m feeling the pressure of the challenge. We have college tours coming up this month and a weekend away chaperoning a school activity, so I need to keep moving. Writing this post will help me collect my thoughts. I have a good start thanks to Serena’s Outdoor Overhaul Makeover Journal.
These are my goals for my 30-Day Outdoor Overhaul
Goal #1: Clean, *repair* and paint my old potting bench
15 year-old garden/potting bench
Repair wasn’t part of the deal, but this morning I moved the bench on my own to the patio for cleaning and broke one of the planks. The bench is 15 years old and stays outside year round so it’s not that surprising. It looks like they used staples instead of screws to attach the top planks. I’ll need to sort that out.
The broken plank exposed a few startled silver fish. After they vacated the premises I employed my multi-step cleaning process.
I used my small leaf blower to chase away the large debris. I used a small brush to clean the crevices, then a larger brush and finally gave it a strong blast with the hose before one last scrubbing.
We have two more sunny days before a set of storms pass through, so I’m taking advantage of the weather.
Then, finally, the fun begins: repainting my old potting bench
Goal #2: Research gate options for side yard
Makeshift “gate” to keep Tessa and our other cats safe in the yard
This is a long story, but I’ll try to make it quick. We had to replace the damaged fence along our side yard over a year ago. It took nine months from the start of the quotes to a finished fence for a variety of reasons. We had cat-netting along the old fence to keep the kitties safe in the yard. I wanted to add a second gate so we could reduce the amount of netting which gets tangled in the vines, but one that you could see through. The fence company couldn’t do it. It’s now been six months and I still haven’t sorted out a quote or a DIY solution to keep our climbing kitten safe in the yard.
Goal #3: Outdoor sandbox for cats
Back corner of garden under neighboring pine tree
Yes, you read that correctly. When you have small children you keep your sandbox covered to avoid unwanted deposits from the cats. My boys are young adults and the sandbox is history, but our kitten, Tessa, prefers using the garden mulch to take care of business. I’m hoping to add a sandy area along the back fence to encourage her to use that instead. Cats like sand, so it should do the trick.
Goal #4: Camouflage and Beautify
Back corner of garden where things don’t like to grow
The back corner of the garden has always been challenging. A large, neighboring pine tree shades the area, drops pine needles and sends up roots. It’s almost impossible to dig in that area, and when we have managed to wrangle the roots out-of-the-way to plant other things, they struggle to thrive. I’m going to look for a planting box that sits on the soil at an angle. I’ll plant a shade-loving vine, then add a trellis behind the box. This will beautify the area, and at the same time camouflage Tessa’s outdoor facilities. Win-win!
Goal #5: Create a step up to the raised garden along the back fence
Raised garden bed along fence line. A few pavers should do the trick
Ah, age! It doesn’t look like much of a rise, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get up and down from the raised planting area along the back fence. It hurts my back, or my knees or my feet. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, but I’m going to buy a few pavers to create one or two steps to make it more accessible. After these last storms I can remove the cover from the table and chairs.
Tessa loves spending time in the garden. It will be nice to have her company as I work through this 30-day challenge.
Tessa lounging and playing on the potting bench
Thank you Serena for inspiring us.
Do you have a room, patio or deck in need of some TLC?