Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anticipation, one of the greatest things in Life! - What's New Wednesday

Today's I want to talk to you about anticipation. When I was in HS back from the 70's, Carly Simon had a hit song called 'Anticipation'. The main line was:

'Anticipation, is making me late, keeping me waiting now.........'

And it starts out with:

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway.................................................

Thinking is the beginning action of Anticipation. Thinking about something in the future which could be only minutes away or days, months or even years.

Anticipation has a negative and positive side. It can mean to take into account a prior action that may forestall a future action. An example would be found in the adage, once bitten twice shy.

But the positive side of it is an act of looking forward to something pleasurable, that's the kind I like!

I once read somewhere that you need three things in life to live (not the 3 of Food, Clothing and Shelter) but instead these 3 are more for the soul, what makes you feel alive.

1. Someone to Love
2. Something to Do
3. Something to Look Forward To

I wrote those three things down and posted it in my studio at the time. That was about nine years or so ago. I would look at that little piece of paper now and again and think, 'that is so true', if any one of those three is missing it seems to make life not worth living.

1. 'Someone to Love' is obvious.
2. 'Something to Do' is something we can feel productive at, a job, taking care of a family, helping others with volunteer acts, or making music, making art, it helps to fulfill us to know we made a difference.

But the third thing:

' Something to look forward to' can sometimes be elusive because it speaks of the future.

But to me, it is what carries you forward each day. No matter how bad the day has been, tomorrow is always another day and another chance to do better. Think about that last vacation you had been wanting to take, the planning, the dreaming, the arrangements, all that provides you with the bits and pieces of anticipation that usually bring as much or more pleasure than the vacation itself. That is the wonder of Anticipation of something to come.

When I begin a new art project I like to plan ahead. Ideas like clouds in a summers sky travel through my mind late at night. I reach for my notebook/sketchbook and write these fleeting ideas down or make a quick sketch so I don't loose it. When the creative mood strikes I go to that sketch book or one of many others and page through, looking to see what I actually want to take the time I have at hand to start on. More elaborate drawings may be made or I may go by what I envisioned and take it from there. The excitement begins to arise as I think of what I can use to bring my idea to reality. That reality is in the future and the anticipation of what will be created.

I gather supplies, tools and whatever I think I may need and more, just in case. Then must put on some music that will not distract me such as Nora Jones or even an instrumental CD and sit down at my workbench. Sometimes I just sit there for awhile contemplating what's in front of me, the sketch, the tools, the supplies and I think about what mood I want to express with this piece. Color is always my first consideration, color sets the tone of the piece . Second I always look to include texture. Texture in an art project to me is what makes it become more real, it changes it from a two dimensional art piece into a three dimensional part of life.

As each step falls into place the anticipation grows, will it turn out like I pictured in my head? or in my sketchbook? Or will it take a turn on it's own and become something totally different? Will I be happy with the results? Will I be so thrilled with it I will want to try a variation? Will it go into the 'Try again' bin, not able to throw it away, yet not wanting to let anyone see it? All that too, is part of the anticipation.

This is my entry for March's Art Bead Scene Challenge, Vincent Van Gogh's Almond Blossoms.
You can see my design Ideas I sketched out on March 12th in the photo above of my sketchbook and the challenge painting on my laptop screen . I did not complete this until early this morning! As I began with a simple sketch the anticipation was two fold, what if I can't do this and how to do it and what will I end up with? When you wait till the last minute there's no time to go back and redo and this is what I got. :)

As an artist, Anticipation fuels me along more-so than anything else. The bead store is having a sale, what new beads will I find? And when I find them, what can I make with them? Do I have the right other 'ingredients' at home or do I need to look around to match something up?

I can get lost in the bead section and forget all time. All those glittering beads, the different materials, the sparkle, the shape, designs swirling through my head, it's like a penny candy store of old, I stare like a child for hours, enthralled. Which some of that has to do with my failing eyesight which makes it harder to see those little beads................................

Which is why I love the internet, the beads are lit up on the screen, all by themselves and not in a package, photographed like a precious jewel. There is such a plethora of art bead makers out there now. And if they are like myself they sometimes sit down to create with their materials at hand and may not know how the bead will turn out, that too is such fun anticipation, not knowing but waiting to see what your hands create. Sometimes with clay or glass you can have many surprises, sometimes happy ones, others unexpected. But as you go through each step the anticipation grows until you have that end result and experience the feeling of surprise and delight just as if you hadn't made it yourself!

I love to use botanicals in my artwork and my bead making. Sometimes I use them directly, but mainly I make a mold first, so I have to wait to see how that texture will come out. I have to cure the mold first and then I can try it out on various designs. More often than not I am surprised how it came out and as I add paint and patinas to the piece even more is revealed. I think that is why I have not grown tired of this yet because something new always appears when using botanicals, something unexpected, like this brooch I made with a dried morning glory pod, it turned out looking like a space man in a marathon! Or the one at the top I call my Citrus Sea Barrel Bead. It started out just a plain white porcelain mix I made and textured with one of my hand made molds of an orange skin. The painting and patina I gave it turned it into this very interesting focal bead, in fact it was the first one sold in my New Art Bead Shop StudioARTBEAD when I opened late last year.

Another joy of Anticipation is when you send away for something. You've shopped online, found a perfect bead or clasp. You wait for it to arrive, dreaming of what you could do with it, you just had to have it with no plan in mind but you count on yourself to come up with something to justify your purchase. ;)

And then the day arrives! The package found in your mailbox or delivered by a package service. You set it on your table and wait until you have the perfect time to sit down and enjoy the pleasure of opening it, well I do, I try to show Some restraint!

I love the feeling of anticipation so much and want to enjoy it to it's fullest that sometimes I've forgotten about a package that got brought into the studio and covered over. And once discovered, the joy of the gift of the package as well as the anticipation of what it holds begins all over again,(sometimes blindly as you may have forgotten what you ordered or won if you've been in any giveaways) and that third thing required to really Live Life is gifted to you once again.

So anticipate, and hold precious any chance you get to fully enjoy the dreams, the planning, and wonderment that anticipation can bring to your life!

Take time to enjoy the Anticipation of that something special, it is half the fun of it! And if you haven't had anything to look forward to today, there's always tomorrow! Enjoy the Joy of Anticipation!

For those who love flowers, there is a flower or flowering bush that symbolizes Anticipation. After a dreary, brown and gray winter in the Northern Hemisphere there is nothing like the bright ray of sunshine the flowers on the Forsythia brings! Symbolizing the Anticiaption of the best to come, new life, the Spring! Happy Spring to you all!

Please check out Anticipation - Part 2 posted April 14th to see some fantastic beading work.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One World One Heart Update

Hello, It is still Passover for me so I scheduled this post for you. I thought you might enjoy an update on my OWOH goings on. If you remember I got in on this event the last week (actually 9 days before it ended), so visiting all those blogs was like a Internet marathon and I still have not gotten to all of them, but I will! I decided, (because I always over-do), to have nine winners. I could have just given any of my completed pieces of art work but in the spirit of the event, that of coming together, sharing, learning about and meeting other artists I wanted my offerings to be special.

So I had a mystery giveaway, which turned into a custom giveaway. I decided that I wanted to make a special something for each winner. I had visited their blogs, and some had shops so I visited them, read profiles and website and then wrote to each one and told them that I wanted to make something special for each of them and would they share a bit more about themselves with me that I may not be able to find on their blogs or elsewhere. And they all were very happy to share in the spirit of this event. I was overwhelmed learning about all these fabulous women from around the globe. There were many things we had in common but I was also enthralled by our differences. The drawing gave me winners from here in the US to Canada, Finland, Scotland, Israel and all the way to New Zealand . I was thrilled to be able to connect with these talented ladies that I most probably would never have met otherwise.

But I knew it was going to take some time to make something special for each winner and I didn't want them to think I'd forgotten them so I decided to make a little something for each of them to remember the event by. What I came up with I especially liked because it allowed me to be eco-friendly at the same time. Since the event was called One World One Heart I thought what better way to commemorate this event than to make hearts with the world? Well not really the world but a vintage world map I had. So that is what I did. I cut out the map and then cut it into sections that would fit on some card stock backing. I choose blue, like in the oceans and also gray and white card stock. I used gel medium to join them together and then put under a stack of books overnight to dry and to keep from curling.

The next day I took about 7 of my own heart stencils and went about tracing hearts on the map pieces, making sure to capture the countries my winners were from in at least one of them. I had a bit of trouble with New Zealand since I had two winners from there so one winner had to have a heart of the adjacent country of Australia. The US was a bit tricky too as my Canadian winner was located not far from the border of one of my US winners but at least they got the right country's!

To these country hearts I added others from around the world and many were ocean hearts too, even some of the south pole, Antarctica. Then it was time to take all these and to make a heart string for each one. I laid out the countries first and then had to balance the rest of the string by color and shape and size of the remaining hearts. That took some doing but they finally all fit. Now I needed a way to join them together and make it easy to hang. Good old fashioned cafe curtain rings were my answer and I just happened to have enough. I sewed most of them with heavy cotton thread and then tied the top to the curtain ring. On the bottom I had taped a little paper strip with the country name on it so I could keep them all straight. When I saw them all hanging there like that I knew that I needed a 'flapper' but not one made just of paper. So I thought about it for awhile and decided on making them from metal, aluminum which is lightweight and could catch a breeze easily.

So I set about making these. I got hubby to cut them out for me but I drilled them using my new dremel and bench vise. Then I stamped each one with the country of origin ( from me so the US) and then the country of the recipient winner. Then I textured each one all around with my ball peen hammer and sanded the edges to make them safe. Just making these tags took me two hours, the time was adding up.

Then I wanted to make a special envelope for them, so I made each one a recycled magazine envelope that I cut out and sewed together from six carefully selected pages. Then to make sure that they wouldn't be crushed in their travels I cut out squares of cardboard from cereal boxes and carefully taped each string around the square with the flapper charm on the left. These were then put inside small ziplock bags to protect from any moisture on their travels and then inserted into the envelopes. Each was then hand addressed with little notes to the mail lady (she loves my envelopes and sometimes makes my husband late for work because she has to look at each one and ogle over it!) on where to attach the postage and where on the envelope to attache the customs slip.

All in all when I finally finished them I realized it had taken me 4 days to complete with about 15 hours total to make them all. But I was pleased with the result and thought it would be a meaningful remembrance. Oh, part of that time was in writing to each one individually a fairly long note explaining what it was and that I was working on their special 'something' which would follow as soon as I had it ready. Now these were sent out on March 11th and I've heard back from about half of them that they received them, I hope the others got theirs as well. I have also begun to send out the special gifts and will update you in future posts about what they are as some who entered my drawing were interested in what the mystery may be! so look for those posts in the future. If you've missed any about the OWOH I always try to label them with that tag or you could just look up in the search bar at the top OWOH and you will see all the posts regarding it!

I sure did love this event and am kinda glad it is stretching out a bit, if there's one thing that can be extended and shared in this whole wide world it's love, don't you agree? :)

All nine envelopes Custom Addressed, and ready to mail out. Notice I found a use for all these CD stickers I had laying around, they make cool address labels!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Chag Samaech - Passover

To those Celebrating, if you are the firstborn, may you have a good fast.

Today is Passover and at sundown it is time to celebrate with a family Seder. I wish all who are honoring this ancient tradition of our Journey out of bondage a sweet and meaningful Chag Sameach!

My heart cries out that this may be true - L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim!

This year I was smart and didn't wait until the last week to find parsley which if you wait too late it becomes almost impossible. In the one store I shop in I had barely taken notice of some herbs near the tomatoes and across from the temporary Passover isle. But last week while shopping again I took notice. They were ORGANIC! and they had Parsley! So I grabbed one and shall have fresh parsley for my table tonight.

And for those of you who barely take a bite of it while dipping in the salt water, here's some info that might make you eat up the whole thing and ask for more!

More than just a garnish, parsley if full of wonderful things (I even take a Kosher supplement of garlic and parsley from Frieda). Parsley is not only the worlds most popular herb it is one that once established in your garden will come up year after year. I even have some growing in my shady yard in a pot and it comes up each year, although sadly not in time for Passover!

Here are some nutritional facts, per 2 tbls

It is full of Vitamin K (something very important to those who have trouble with blood clotting) well over the RDA.

It also contains Vitamin C, A, Folate and Iron, all for a mere 2 calories!

But there's more! A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on your plate. Parsley contains two types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits. The first type is a volatile oil component of myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. The second type is flavonoids-which include apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin. You can read what this means here.

And don't forget the freshness it gives your breath after a meal or between courses!

So don't leave it on your plate as a garnish, that's not the only reason it's there! I even make cool beads with it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

And you thought you had trouble....

and I did too. I love my squirrels and think they have as much right to eat from my offerings as the rest of the birds so I don't try to deter them too much. I have only one baffle on one safflower feeder so the cardinals, nuthatches, titmouse and goldfinches can eat in peace. The other feeders hang freely and the squirrels visit them over and over despite how much food we scatter all over the ground as well as cover our whole picnic table with. You can see in this photo their 'free range'.

But one year I had a strange visitor to my bird feeder. It was summertime and after dark so I'm guessing it was about 9-10pm. We had our French slider open off the living area and were watching TV. You know how sometimes you hear a noise but you are so used to it that it doesn't register in your brain right away? Well I had a garden ornamental sculpture that had brass bells attached to it and I had hung one of my feeders from it. It was too heavy for a wind chime and only the strongest gusts of wind would cause it to sound, so when it did it meant I had a critter (squirrel) in the feeder. This feeder looked like a white gazebo and they would sit in there for hours cleaning it out.

I had become accustomed to hearing the tinkling of the bells telling me it was occupied. Too accustomed it turned out.

See that sound happened during the day. But this time it took me a few minutes to realize that I was hearing this sound at night.

I quickly whispered to my husband that there was something messing with our feeder. Now this tree it hung from was no more than 10-12 feet from my door. So I grabbed a flashlight and we tiptoed over to the door, opened the screen and threw on the porch light and flashlight at the same time. I had aimed it well and saw this critter with huge eyes looking up at me from the feeder. We only had a few seconds to take it all in when it disappeared, never to be seen again.

I had to find out what this was, so I searched, and searched and finally, in one of my books (didn't have internet back then, it would have been so much easier!) I found a picture of it.
It was one of these.

You most likely have never seen one as they are nocturnal and are called Flying Squirrels. A really cute creature and since we lived at the time in a remote area near a river with farmland and woods around, it was a perfect habitat for it.

The next strange thing I found on my bird feeder was a few year ago, about this time of year at Passover. We were having our first night Seder and were about half way through (mine usually last 6 hours, I love to really play up the 10 plagues! ). It was warm that year and we had the door to the living area open as well as the side doors. As we were eating I heard a noise outside, actually more of a crashing sound. I was glad there were lots of people there with me or I might have been a bit scared. I went to the door and flipped on the porch light and what did I see hanging from my bird feeder? A huge Raccoon! Yes, he must have wanted to join in on our Seder too (didn't know Raccoons were Jewish! ;) ). The light scared him away but we saw him a few more times that Spring. They don't bother me, I actually raised two orphans whose mother had drowned in a spring flood years ago. They both got sick, one got well the other didn't. I raised him up to adulthood and then gave him to a place nearby called Animal Actors. They had all kinds of domestic and wild animals they trained for movies, commercials and such. They even had an Elephant that I would see occasionally down by the same river I lived next to , having a drink and a bath! (They were most famous I think for owning the Tiger from the Exxon ads from years ago).

So, although I've had surprises and interesting discoveries at my feeders, I can tell you this, I NEVER want to see THIS (click link) in my Yard, that I Guarantee! Make sure to scroll down and enlarge to see the whole thing! (In Firefox I just hold down the control button and use the scroll button on my mouse. )

Wishing you some exciting sights at your feeders but nothing too scary! :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

If you are in and about NYC and organic and green minded this should interest you!


Eco-Friendly Design, Products Made From Waste Headline the Port Authority Bus Terminal’s Earth Month Pop Up Shop!

NEW YORK, NY, March 15, 2010 – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in conjunction with the Times Square Alliance and the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, has reinvented the corner of 8th Avenue and 41st Street at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. What was once an empty retail space is now an exhibition area and boutique shop for some of New York’s finest design and fashion. In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, the space is being transformed into what could be one of largest, most eclectic collections of sustainable, responsible products and companies.

“We are thrilled to have a fantastic company like TerraCycle anchor this pop-up Store in Blank SL8 to celebrate Earth Day,” said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins. “Since its inauguration in 2008, Blank SL8 has introduced creative products to shoppers along 8th Avenue and to commuters at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and has become a destination for people interested in the forefront of design and fashion. Now, they will find the best in innovative, sustainable products under one roof.”

“Since its inception, Blank Sl8 has played a vital role in the transformation of 8th Avenue into a destination for innovative art, design, fashion and retail,” said Barbara Randall, president of the Fashion Center BID. “I can think of no more appropriate anchor to Blank Sl8 during Earth Month than TerraCycle, a company built on innovation and sustainability. TerraCycle will be a spectacular addition to 8th Avenue.”

“This facility is no longer a place where people come just to catch a bus. It is at thriving destination where people can buy fresh produce, dine at a nice restaurant or visit a unique store. The pop up shop once again reinvented, this time as an eco friendly store, highlights the diverse interests in the world’s busiest bus facility,” said Chris Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY & NJ.

The TerraCycle ‘Green Up’ Shop will officially launch March 27th and will run through early May. The shop will feature TerraCycle’s full line of over 100 products literally made from common waste materials such as chip bags, food wrappers, yogurt cups, glue bottles and writing instruments.

In addition to selling its affordable, fun products made from waste, TerraCycle will use the space to collect over 30 different non-recyclable waste streams, turning the store into the world’s largest ‘Upcycling Center.’ Consumers who drop off waste will be entitled to a discount on the products they purchase! TerraCycle is also proud to work with a unique line up of NYC-area designers all as socially and environmentally responsible as the rest.

Included in this survey of green design and products:

RESTORE™CLOTHING a mid-town based clothing company that makes a full range of eco-friendly clothes that feature organic and recycled materials and socially responsible manufacturing. RESTORE™CLOTHING is partnering closely with TerraCycle to help organize the green design themed pop-up shop and will find sponsorship and co-host the many events planned for the space in the month of April including some with our friends at SAVE THE GARMENT CENTER.

Brooklyn-based RePlayGround creates eco-gifts and DIY products that enable consumers to use household waste to make, eco-friendly products lamps and trivets! RePlayGround and TerraCycle are partnering to sponsor a free DIY table at the store that will allow children to make a fun, free item from drink pouches or other food wrappers. Stop by weekly to collect the various products you make yourself!

TerraCycle Green Up Shop

The store will also featured one-of-a-kind, hand made jewelry from Garbage of Eden, a design company that collects used plastics in the NYC-area and turns it into unique jewelry and accessories.

Coffee sleeves, drink cozies and key holders are among the Abby Valentine products made from scrap materials that will help you replace common, disposable products we often throw away.

Running FREE lunchtime yoga sessions and offering their beautiful handmade Yoga Mat Bags is Earth Spirit Yoga Bags. Their bags are made from upcycled fabric scraps discarded in furniture manufacturing.

To keep with the fitness theme, the Green Up Shop will also offer a full range of fitness and yoga products from Natural Fitness.

Finally, some of the larger items to be offered at the Green Up Shop will be EcoSystem’s furniture, shelving and other products and services which can be ordered at the store and delivered straight to your home!

In addition to this collection of sustainable products and services 1% of sales from Green Up will be donated to RIVERKEEPER the leading “clean water advocate for New York”. Riverkeeper is an approved 1% for the Planet Non-Profit recipient. Earth Day NY, which host the city’s Earth Day Celebrations will also partner in the festivities.

In addition to showcasing a wide range of the green products, services and companies that New York has to offer, the space will be activate every week with unique, one-off events to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.

These events will include appearances and book signings from TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, eco-friendly design-guru David Stark and The Lazy Environmentalist, Josh Dorfman; documentary airings featuring the National Geographic series Garbage Moguls, which profiles TerraCycle; and documentaries from the Cousteau Family explorations and conservation work. A Riverkeeper Educational Seminar will be included in the curriculum. A complete calendar can be viewed at

About TerraCycle

In 2001, Tom Szaky, a Princeton University Freshman, founded TerraCycle in hopes of building an eco-capitalist company built on waste. After winning countless business plan contests, Tom dropped out of Princeton to pursue his dream of founding the world’s most environmentally friendly company. Seven years later, TerraCycle’s eco-friendly products have received a myriad of social and environmental accolades and are sold at major retailers like The Home Depot, Target, Wal*Mart and Whole Foods Markets. TerraCycle’s business plan and products made from waste received a Zerofootprint Seal of Approval, won The Home Depot’s Environmental Stewardship Award twice and recently won the 2007 Social Venture Network Innovation Award. Please visit us at to learn more.

THE TIMES SQUARE ALLIANCE (, founded in 1992, works to improve and promote Times Square. In addition to providing safety and sanitation services, the Alliance coordinates many major events in Times Square including New Year’s Eve, manages the City’s busiest Tourism Center and advocates on behalf of its constituents with respect to a host of public policy, planning and quality-of-life issues.

The Fashion Center Business Improvement District (, a not-for-profit corporation, was established in 1993 to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of Manhattan’s Fashion District. Through programs in the areas of streetscape improvements, sanitation and public safety services, marketing and promotions, economic development, and community service, efforts are aimed at promoting the district as a strategic midtown business location and ensuring New York's position as the fashion capital of the world.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Rain Rain go away

What has that to do with Feeding your creativity Friday? Well we are approaching that time of year that brings those April Showers that in turn bring May flowers and I just got a look at some very inspiring rain gear I thought I would share with you.

Most artists are sensitive people and are affected more than others by weather changes. Gray days seem to stifle our creativity. I know I find myself wanting to be in the studio on a bright or sunny day rather than a rainy day. So rainy days can be saved for house cleaning or shopping or doing chores that aren't so fun and save the good days for being creative. But no sense in getting too depressed doing those things. Check out those great rain boots from

All I have are a pair of pink snow boots (and I am defiantly not a pink person but in the snow they look fun, happy and feminine even though they are very huge, like for the arctic or something, the pink is the only thing that makes them look like they belong to a woman! ) . I can get away wearing these in late winter and very early spring if it's cold enough but really don't have any rain boots. So these are worth taking a look at, funny thing, I've got my eye on those pink ones there, even though the black and white hounds-tooth is appealing, I am thinking when I wear these it will be a colorless day so the more color the better! :)

What about a rain coat, need a new one? Here's a few to choose from and there's more, just click on the picture.

I love these set, keep your head dry and looking great with these rain hats and the rest of you with the matching umbrellas. As you know I love green but they all look good to me, having a hard time deciding!
If you really don't want to be noticed running out in the rain they have Camo styles too!

And to top if off if great savings on designer wear and accessories isn't enough, they also offer only $2.95 shipping on everything no matter how big your order is! That alone is worth taking a look.

So don't be blue over the earth being watered to bring us those lovely May, June and July flowers, enjoy it and be ready to create when the sun comes out!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Speaking of Eggs........Green Eggs, no Ham

Green Eggs, no Ham
Originally uploaded by OrganicOdysseys
I finally got my entry done for Erin Prais-Hintz's Inspired by: Dr. Seuss Challenge for March.

Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite book as a child and after seeing her challenge, going to the book store and looking through all the Dr. Seuss books I realized it still is! I think I can still recite it almost word for word, which is easy as it only uses 50 words total. This was because Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss's Publisher made him a bet of $50 that he couldn't write a childrens book using only 50 words.

Theo won (Dr. Seuss' real name). :)

It's not like other books that have a moral or a theme or political statement (did you know that Yertle the Turtle was about Hitler?), but just that it's pure fun.

I guess if you'd have to pinpoint a moral or lesson from this story it would be that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and you should not make hasty judgments without knowing all the facts.

In this case you can't say you don't like something unless you tried it first!

You can check out other entries at the Flickr Pool.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Recycled Breakfast! Coffee and Eggs

Following up on Yesterdays scheduled post I thought I would write a bit more on this. You know how I love to recycle, reuse and help to keep the planet green as well as myself and those around me healthy. I also like to multi-task (and have always done so before they even coined a word for it) but I also love things that can also be multi-taskers, especially if they are organic.

Yesterday I made a post about nesting time and to remember the birds by recycling your sweaters, old saved bits of twine, and yarn to help them build strong nests. Also to recycle your clean egg shells by crushing them up a bit and placing them around where the birds can find them. They in turn will eat them (the females) which will help them during laying season. They are greatly depleted by the act of laying so it's great to help them build back up but I like to get these shells out early so they can start ahead of time and this will actually help them to lay stronger eggs. This in turn helps to protect the developing chick from predators and accidental cracking before hatching time.

Some things to remember:

  • Make sure the eggs are clean, if you aren't using shells from hard cooked eggs ( the best and easiest to use) them make sure to wash them and dry in oven as in the previous post.

  • Use only natural egg shells (one commenter suggested using Easter egg shells for this, and it's a great thought but I would suggest to only use easter eggs dyed with natural food coloring, meaning for pink eggs, beet juice, yellow, turmeric, but even these have not been tested on birds and are not part of their natural diet so I would still hesitate to use even those).

  • Scatter them near where the birds congregate, I have mine near feeding areas, the ground bird bath, and on the bird feeders, so they can easily find them.

If you would like an innovative and recycling idea for Easter Egg Decoration ( I wouldn't recommend eating these or giving the shells to the birds) here is a great blog post by Secret Agent Josephine on how to tie dye eggs using silk ties, two different ways.

Here's some other things you can do with your 'garbage' besides sending it to the landfill. I know not everyone has a garden or even a yard. But most people have indoor plants. Eggshells can be used in various ways with those too.

One tip I read was to put eggshells (just cracked open and washed, not crushed) in the bottom of the pot before filling. A lot lighter than stones and will help to keep from root rot as well as feed the plant.

Tomatoes I mentioned love the extra calcium and will quickly deplete soil of it if not grown in different areas or pots each year. If they don't have enough they will develop blossom end rot, which actually happened to me last year.

Practically all plants will benefit from the ground egg shells as they are composed of 93% Calcium Carbonate which is just what is in the 'Lime' you buy to nourish your lawn. There is also a bit of nitrogen and phosphoric acid which is also needed for healthy plant growth.

So if you have a lawn, garden or even house plants and live near birds you should never have to throw another egg shell away again! Indeed it is the Incredible Egg!

One other thing that the 'lowly' eggshell can do can help to save you even more money. Not only will the crushed (crush like to feed the birds, and then pulverize in your processor with the cutting blade or in a blender) shells nourish your plants and help to prevent some diseases but they can also save them from critter attack as well.

I've been talking to a lovely blogger Kella, I met on the OWOH tour who lives in the UK. She was lamenting the problem she has with slugs in her garden, which can be awful pests and ruin your crops. I found out that eggshells may actually be able to help her too!

If you take your egg shells, just washed, dried as above and broken up only slightly so that there are many sharp points and scatter these around your tender plants such as peppers, tomatoes and those that are attractive to cutworms and slugs and this may cut down on the damage as they don't like crawling over such a dangerous surface and may back off! Remember though to also put some finely crushed shells around the plant to so it can break down quicker and be used by the plant.

How about a nice cup of coffee? Did you know if you put some of those cleaned egg shells in with your coffee grounds that the grounds will help to soak up any bitterness from the coffee? Try it, it works! Now what about that java you made? Don't throw the grounds away! There are so many uses for them that you would be amazed at the money you save!

First, dry out the ground on a plate if you use a paper filter. Just spread out the filter on a plate with a paper towel underneath. This will dry too and can be reused over and over, so don't waste it and throw it away.

Better for the environment is to use a filter like I have, it is a one time purchase and will not only save you money, but it will save many trees! It is plastic with a gold mesh that will last for a long, long time. I've been using mine now for over 8 years! Think of all the filters that is even if you only make one pot a day! Taking time off for vacations, weekends you grab coffee out and more, using only 300 days of the year for 8 years that is 2,400 filters!!! AND it still is working perfectly! It also makes better tasting coffee too! Yes, I've tried the natural ones, the brown filters, unbleached and those are better than the bleached ones but still use the same amount of paper and trees and then go in the trash. So unless you are an artist like this woman, Lucia Matzger and truly are recycling them in this way I suggest you try the reusable one.

Oh and the cost for those filters? I will use the natural ones for price comparison, the #4 Melitta was what I used and the cheapest I found was $84 for 2,400 filters. That may not seem like much to you but do you only make one pot a day? What is $8.40 a year?

A Penny Saved is a Penny earned and in this economy we need to watch all our pennies, wisely!

You can get a gold reusable filter on Amazon (the same place I priced the filters) for as low as $8, well really, $7.75. I am sure you can pick them up in a local WalMart too and you won't have to worry about the shipping.

So now that you are saving on the filters and not cutting down one tree for your cuppa, why not have totally guilt-free coffee? So, What do we do with those grounds? There are many things.

I like to save some dried grounds in a small jar by my sink in the kitchen. Or you could put them in your mud room, laundry room, basement. Places where you would wash up from dirty jobs, art work, garden work and for kids playing in the dirt and hubby changing the oil or doing some other greasy job. It works like a pumice soap but it gentler. Just shake out about a tablespoons worth of grinds into your palm, add a squirt of hand soap and lather. It will use soft abrasion to get the grime off as well as to help neutralize any smells that may be associated with the grime.

This really does work, even better than soap made with coffee grinds. My husband works with a material that leaves a really nasty smell on his hands that I can't stand. One washing with the grinds and a bit of liquid soap to move them around and it's gone, better than any other soaps, cleansers I've ever tried.

What else? Well Coffee is acidic and there are many plants that like a more acidic soil, especially those that bloom in the Spring like, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and evergreens. As well as edibles such as Blueberries, Avocados and other fruit trees and Roses like a bit of Java too!

I remember that my Grandfather used to have two compost bins. One was for acidic food scraps and the other more alkaline. I can still picture all these years later, the bins with the orange and lemon rinds on it and the eggs shells as these were the most prominent of the scraps and took the longest to break down. And he always grew wonderful fruit, veggies and flowers, especially roses and never bought one single bag of fertilizer in his life!

Make sure to test your soil first so you know what it needs, you don't want to kill your plants!

To start you off one plant that likes a little coffee with it's eggs is the tomato plant, so if you feed your tomatoes breakfast you will sure to be rewarded with wonderful Lunch and Suppers!

Here's a recipe to get you started How to make Organic Tomato Fertilizer

And if you have some leftover coffee? Don't dump it, you can use this also (from the coffee pot, not your cup) to water these same kinds of plants with. Or for a more artistic use, try, Coffee painting, like this wonderful couple has. Or use it to 'antique' fabric, paper or fibers such as wool or cotton yarns.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tie One On - It's that time of Year!

No, not what you think. ;)

This time of year, spring is in the air, trees are budding, daffodils and tulips are popping their heads through the leaves, the sky is blue, and the birds are singing.

They are doing more than that though, this is nest building season, time for eggs to be laid, chicks to be hatched and fed constantly, all in all a very stressful time for the birds, especially those in cold climates that have suffered and survived this past harsh winter. I get exhausted just thinking about all they do and go through sometimes!

Anyway, how about giving them a (FREE) helping hand? got an old sweater? moth eaten perhaps? Don't toss it, unravel it. Cut small pieces, about 6-10" and some smaller ones too for the tiny birds, like hummingbirds which should be arriving soon. Now go and Tie them on, to your trees of course and bushes. . Basically just wrap them around the branches so they are easy for the birds to 'harvest'. They will welcome this material to make a nice cozy warm nest for their little ones and if you use a bright colored yarn you may even be able to spot them!

Want to help the birds even more? After your morning eggs, or better yet, when you shell your hard cooked eggs, save the shells (better than raw egg shells because they could contain Salmonella*). Dry them off on some paper toweling and when dry, you can put them in an old bread bag and beat them up! Then place them in spots around your yard where the birds can find them. The females will be ever so grateful as they get drained of calcium during egg laying time.

Put them near the feeders, on a rock or on the corner of your patio. You may be surprised at the variety of new birds you attract with this simple and free treat!

* If you use shells from raw eggs, first sterilize them by washing and placing on a cookie sheet in in an oven at 250 degrees until they are dry looking but not browned. Then let them cool and crush, they should break up easily. If you have lots to do at once, you can put them in a food processor with a metal cutting blade to pulverize them, but be careful not to let it go too long or else you will end up with a powder, this if you do , you can put around the top of the ground where you plant your tomatoes, they will love it!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Feed Your Creativity Friday

Have you heard the latest in the Crafting world? Donna Kato has been putting together an online 'College' of professors in many art and crafting fields in a joint venture to allow you to study under these masters from anywhere in the world via the internet!

In her words:

The Journey is the Goal.

Vernon and I are announcing a new and very exciting adventure,! We call it a "Creative Powerhouse" because that's precisely what it is.

On our state of the art browser based platform, we will replicate the in-person workshop experience. Unlike most articles, books and even DVDs, we will offer in-depth, high value content.

Our faculty members are extraordinary artists - leaders and innovators - and gifted, generous instructors dedicated to leading their students to maximum artistic growth and personal achievement. You will be able to take classes in our virtual classroom, learn at your own pace and communicate with your instructor and other students.

Our faculty now numbers 70, and is growing. Artists like Robert Dancik, Maggie Meister, Lindly Haunani, , Jean Campbell, Gordon Uyehara, Judith Durant, Ronna Sarvas Weltman, Jana Roberts Benzon, Beth Wheeler, Forest Rogers, Gail Crosman Moore, Angela Baduel Crispin, Leslie Blackford, Sherrill Kahn, Sarah Shriver, Michele Yamaguma, Judy Belcher, me (Donna Kato) and more teaching at

We'll launch soon so, to secure an invite for the Beta launch, please sign up to our newsletter at Follow our daily blog (where you can see the work of our faculty members) at blog.craftedu and follow our Facebook fan page .

See you online!

Vernon & Donna

There are all kinds of artists there, Jewelry, Polymer clay, Folk Art, Beading, Glass blowing, Stained Glass, Needle arts, the list goes on and on. Be sure to check it out and become a subscriber to the blog to see who's added next!

A little cross over from Team T Tuesday, someone I've introduced you to before here, Pey from Peylu whom I bought the print of Cedric from that reminded me so much of Jazmine, and who made me a heart like these she sells in her Foreverinmyheart Shop at etsy. She also owns FolkArtVision and will be teaching in this media as CraftEdu. and just introduced on the CraftEdu facebook page yesterday. She is also a new member this month of Team T International . It is great to have her on the team and even greater to discover that she is part of the faculty at CraftEdu!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday - From the Mouth of Babes

Still at work in the Studio but thought I would share this with you, from an email I received.

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was:

A four-year-old child, whose next door
neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his
wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old
gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his mother asked him what he had
said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, 'Nothing, I just
helped him cry..'

Other entries:

Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were discussing a picture of a family.
One little boy in the picture had a different hair color than the other members.
One of her students suggested that he was adopted.
A little girl said, 'I know all about

adoption, I was adopted...'

'What does it mean to be adopted?', asked
another child.

'It means', said the girl, 'that you grew
in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy!'


On my way home one day, I stopped to
watch a Little League base ball game that was being played in a
park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-
base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was
'We're behind 14 to nothing,' he answered
with a smile.

'Really,' I said. 'I have to say you
don't look very discouraged.'

'Discouraged?', the boy asked with a
puzzled look on his face...

'Why should we be discouraged? We haven't
been up to bat yet.'


Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.

Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen.

On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. 'Guess what, Mom,' he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to
'I've been chosen to clap and cheer!!'


An eye witness account from New York City , on a cold day in December, some years ago:
A little boy,
about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the
roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering
with cold.

A lady approached the young boy and said,
'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'

'I was asking God to give me a pair of
shoes,'was the boy's reply.

The lady took him by the hand, went into
the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks
for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water
and a towel. He quickly brought them to her.

She took the little fellow to the back
part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed
little feet, and dried them with the towel.

By this time, the clerk had returned with
the socks.. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him
a pair of shoes..

She tied up the remaining pairs of socks
and gave them to him.. She patted him on the head and said, 'No
doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'

As she turned to go, the astonished kid
caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears
in his eyes, asked her.

'Are you God's wife?'


Hope this put a smile on your face.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's New Wednesday?

Art Bead Scene's Monthly Challenge is a wonderful painting from Van Gogh. It is titled simply, Almond Blossoms. I love Van Gogh, probably more than any other master artist. I think it's his capture of color as well as movement that draws me in. One of my favorite paintings is one of just a chair in his little room in Arles, France.
Years ago I had done my own version of this in crayon on fabric, just a plain utilitarian object somehow elevated to prominence by being the subject of this artists gifted brush.

Simple knotty wood with a rush seat, an unglazed clay tile floor and the corner of what, a wooden crate? in the background and the walls are all we see in this one of a pair painting done by the master artists Van Gogh and Gauguin (Gauguin painted his in exchange). I wonder, were the walls really that lovely blue? like the Mediterranean sky..........

If you are familiar with this painting (if not the link above is one that will take you to the painting which is in the National Gallery in London, England) you will notice something is missing. There was a bit more in the painting besides the wall, the floor, the box and the chair. Something I still can't make out in that box and in the chair were Vincent's Pipe and pouch of tobacco.
I preferred the chair unadorned so did not include them. But for my first experiment with these special crayons on fabric I was happy with the result. This was done as a direct drawing to the fabric, not using a projector or a pencil drawing to start so I am pleased with this and have held onto it all these years, (and yes I have a chair addiction). :)

In case you were wondering, it measures about 4"x 7" and has a fabric frame around it which I can't seem to locate the photo that includes it, but you can see a bit on the top of the photo if you click to enlarge. I used a crackled wood print, and mitered the corners to simulate a frame.

Anyway, what has that to do with the ABS Challenge? Well doing this drawing of the chair familiarized me greatly with how Van Gogh used color, I won't go into all the details of what I learned but when I saw that ABS's challenge was one of the French period ones I immediately was drawn to it. Problem was, there were too many ideas springing to mind.

I finally got out the sketch book last week and made sketches of the two major designs I had in mind. This painting is a natural for a Polymer Clay artist because it just begs to be literally interpreted with flowers. I have not delved that much into flower making with my clay as some have but thought this would be a great inspiration to start. So I drew out this design. (Excuse the poor photo, I just grabbed my camera and took this under incandescent lighting, yuk!)

I wanted an asymmetrical design with the flowers on one side entwined with branches as they are so prominent in the painting, and a double strand of blue beads/pearls on the other to represent the sky. The flowers were going to be made from the clay and the striped beads in the glass tube were to be incorporated into the wire branches. A bronzed branch clasp would finish it off. I then made another quick sketch of the other idea and contemplated the time involved in both. I decided it was six of one......

Before choosing from the two designs I went over to Flickr to the ABS photostream and saw that so many more entries had been added since a week ago, and many were of polymer clay flowers. So many wonderful ones too. I guess this painting struck the same chord in many a PC artist and that has brought out so many great entries.

But I don't like to be a copy cat, so I'll save this design for another time and I think I'll get to work on my second idea. It will give me a chance to use a focal bead I've had for sometime and just didn't know what to do with, now I do. :)

In the meantime, join me in a giveaway at Heather Powers blog. She is offering a great goodie box of beads and findings and all kinds of wonderful bead goodness. To enter just go to her blog and agree to the terms and you're entered ! Click on link below to see this great giveaway!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Beads



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