Sunday, July 31, 2011

In the Vineyard - July

By guest blogger John

After all the rain in May and then some in June we have now, since mid June, had sunshine every day and some quite warm weather. This has produced quite exceptional growth in the vines and even at this early stage we will have to start cutting back some of the canes to let more light into the vines and to make it easier to get around amongst them.

Lots of growth in the vines. You can see them stretching across the rows

The grapes are are fairly small as yet but some good sized bunches can be seen in the photo below. They will continue to swell and in August should start to change color in the Merlot vines. We always note the date that occurs and last year it was August 20th before even 20% had changed.

Large bunches of grapes
The re-graft of the Godello is a bit disappointing and of the grafts that survived last winter only a small number have produced any fruit. Hopefully we will get enough to make some wine and as the season progresses I'll get a better idea of how much we might get.

Great Blue Heron next to x-large flowers!
We often get Great Blue herons in the vineyard and perhaps you can guess the large flowers next to him in the photo above.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

Here is this week's "bird in the hand" - the things I am grateful for:

Photo by mikebaird
  • The safe flight for my sister Mary, hubby Fin and nephews Matt and Pete, who arrived from the UK yesterday.  They stay with us until 7th August so we are really looking forward to having time together.
  • Good docs and medical staff. 
  • Our friend Dennis, whose birthday it was on Sunday. He had a fun party!
  • My friend Andy whose birthday it was on Tuesday. Look forward to celebrating with him soon.
  • The arborists for making all our trees look happy and neat again.
  • Catching with a friend over a wonderful salad lunch and hearing her good news about a new job. Congrats Jo.
Hope you've had a good week too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Merry go round - Do you take a holiday from your art?

It's the last Friday of the month, so join us on our merry go round for a quick spin.  The merry go round is where a group of 11 artists/craftwomen link together around the world and tell you a little about their art and craft, through blogging on the same topic.

This month's topic is "Do you take a holiday from your art/craft?"

When I travel, especially back to England etc, I do take a break from my art. Metal clay and anodizing aluminum aren't things that are easily portable, so they stay behind.  My mind however doesn't take a complete break. When I see or hear something inspiring, ideas develop and I try to find a way to incorporate that into a design that I can work on when I get home again.  But it does feel like I have a holiday and a break from it.

I do find however, that I don't tend to take a holiday from my business.  When I'm not at home, and not creating, for the last  20 months or so, I've still kept up with my daily blogging. It is very rare when I don't blog everyday.  I enjoy it a lot - otherwise I wouldn't do it...So even if I'm not creating, I'm still "working" in that I'm still publicizing my work and my online stores are still open and I respond to queries etc.

Photo by © Ahmed Amir
Today my sister, her husband, and my two nephews arrive from England for a vacation with us, before going on to Yosemite and SF for a few days.  We are going to be busy doing lots of fun things and so I am going to take a break this week from my daily blogging.  I'll still have my bird a week challenge to do - but I've created him early, in preparation.

But while I won't be blogging daily, I am selling at the Farmer's Market on Sunday so it's not a complete work holiday!  I actually booked it intentionally while my sister was here, as I thought it would be a fun thing for us to do together.  And I won't be closing my online stores....

Hmmmm.....It's made me think....maybe I should take complete breaks from all business related things, as well as creating. I wonder what the other merrier's do?  Click on the links below and find out:

Samantha at Vintage is for lovers -
Jen at Painted Fish Studio -
Bethany at Dirksen Dabbles -
Laura at Blue Terracotta -
Monika at Red2White -
Mitsy at ArtMind -
Kim at Vilt a la Kim -
Sara at Crafts of Texture -
Mariana at Florcita -
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent -
Ruth at Birdland Creations -

Or else you can click on the blog hop below.  If you are a merry go round participant, please add your link if it's not already included. You can then copy the code and put it on your blog post too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Riet Birdie

Look who arrived in my mailbox yesterday!  Little Riet Bird!

Riet is a lovely friend who lives in the Netherlands, whom I persuaded to join the "bird a week" challenge this year.  I fell in love with one of her birdie creations earlier in the year, which was a nuno felted bird scarf. I told her how much I loved it and wanted to buy one from her - but she made me one as a gift instead!!! 

Of course, the color is perfect! And I just love these birdies feet! And with their beaks open, it just looks like they are talking:

Thanks sooooooooo much Riet.  I love it and will enjoy wearing it and thinking of you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30/52 Bird a week - Jump for Joy

Last week a customer asked me to make one of my "jump for joy" necklaces as a birthday gift for a friend.

She said her friend was such a happy soul that this piece would just be perfect for her.  I haven't made a "joy" necklace this year, so this cute happy little birdie is my 30th bird this year, for my weekly bird a week challenge.

This design for the necklace actually came about from my cartooning class that I did last year. I was trying to get expressions with a beak and as beaks are hard, not soft like lips, they don't express as much emotion as mouths. Therefore I tried incorporating emotions into the wings and feet as well!   I haven't tried my cartooning in a while...maybe I should do some more....  

Check out the other birds made in this challenge by following the links below:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leafy Hush

While I was doing my own bangle yesterday, I also made a couple to sell. One was in the same colors as mine - Orchid Hush (soft lavender) and pink, and the other was Orchid Hush and green so I've called that one "Leafy Hush".

The colors do seem so appropriate for "hush". I find them very gentle, quietening, and calming.  Wearing these colors really does make me feel tranquil and at peace.

What do you think? What colors do you wear that are calming?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orchid Hush

A few months ago, I bought the book "Colorstrology: What your birthday color says about you". It's a fun book and identifies a color for each day of the year, to corrolate with birthdays and then explains what the color indicates about you and how the color can help you.

My birthday color is Orchid Hush and it is, in fact, a color I like a lot and wear quite often. It's a kind of soft lavender but with a little grey in it.....   Since I found it's my color, I've been wearing more of it - but sometimes what I wear is a little more lavender than "pure" Orchid Hush, aka Pantone 13-3805.

Orchid Hush
This morning I put on an "orchid hush" tee shirt and decided, while I had some aluminum earrings in this color, I didn't have a bangle!

Gosh! What is a girl to do, but make a new bangle for herself! And thus, my birthday bangle was born, with a little pink included too!

The Colorstology book says "How this color benefits you: Your personal color helps you vibrate to your highest frequency.  Wearing, meditating or surrounding yourself with Orchid Hush helps you stay magical and lighthearted as you build your dreams into visions of glory". Now you can see why I had to make this bangle for myself!!! Visions of glory........just bursting to come out!

If you are interested in what your birthday color is, let me know your birthday and I'll check it out.  It's a fun and interesting book by the way.  Worth a browse.  By the way, it says that my compatible birthdays are February 28th, March 28th and December 20th. Let me know if any of those dates are your birthday...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Silly Sunday

Thought I'd share something silly with you on a Sunday!  Don't these look wonderful:

Kitty Cat Macarons
I love creating animals etc out of food (as well as metal clay)...maybe I'll just have to give them a go!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

Here is this week's things that I am grateful for:

 (A birdie photo for all of you who had birthdays this week and are feeling their age):
Photo by digitalART2
  • My friend Andy in the UK who is 50 today.
  • My friend Diane in Sonoma whose birthday it is today.
  • My brother in law Bro Bert whose birthday it was on Monday.
  • My friend Dunx in the UK whose birthday it was on Monday.
  • Good sales of jewelry this week and two new commissions.
  • Being asked to be a featured artist in a new book that Dawanda is producing
  • Have Vitamix, will travel. I took my Vitamix to my friend Jennifer's house yesterday and made a healthy smoothie lunch for us.
  • Finding new fruits to try, like the mango nectarines.
  • The search feature on computer! Where would we be without that? 
  • Friends coming up to visit for the day.
  • Having fun in a warm swimming pool on a hot day

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quentin and family take a stroll

Quentin has been out and about a lot today. First we saw him down by the pond, then he and his family have just been strolling along the lawn.

Their chicks have grown a lot.  When we first saw them, they were each about the size of dime! Now look at how big they are.

They started out with 11 chicks and today we saw 9, so that's pretty good going.  Always nice to see Quentin and family!

Mango Nectarines

I found a new fruit yesterday - a mango nectarine.  They were for sale in Whole Foods so I thought I'd give them a go.

They look like golden plums, have the texture of nectarines and the fleshy color of mangoes.  In fact, the mango part in the name is misleading as they are not derived from mangoes - but the inside color is that of a mango.  I think they are only grown in CA.

In my taste trial, I didn't really taste any mango flavor in it - but my hubby did. But it did taste good.  And it's a beautiful color, so I can see myself adding it to salads, making salsas with them, and then just eating them as it.  They weren't as juicy and sweet as the nectarines I had from the farmer's market at the weekend and looking at them, I don't think the juiciness is related to ripeness, I just don't think they are such a juicy fruit. But I'll try a few more and let you know.

Have you tried them yet?  What's your favorite "new" fruit you've found the last couple of years?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

29/52 Bird a week - Enjoy the journey

For my 29th week - ie my 29th bird this year...... I made an inspiration bangle in aluminum. I have been playing with some fonts and thus decided to try words on a bangle..with a soaring bird also.

The bird flies in the center of the bangle and the words are:
  • enjoy the journey
  • discover
  • explore
  • escape
  • experience

I think it would make a nice gift - maybe even to oneself, to remind you not to get bogged down with the minutiae but to explore and discover.

I hope you'll take time to discover what the others who are also on this year long challenge with me have created.  Here are the links:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Give a little love

You've got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun come shining through
We'll know what to do-oo...

Do you remember the song?  Does this really date me?? Yes, it was the Bay City Rollers.  For some reason, I remember my sister and I at a bus stop in Grantham (where we used to live), singing this Bay City Rollers song! Yes, we were still at school and young....but I'm not quite sure why the bus stop comes into my memory!!!

As I mentioned yesterday, pink and purple seemed to be the colors at the farmers market on Sunday so here is my second bangle this week with these colors.  Two styles of hearts printed in pink with a bright violet/purple background.  Definitely worthy of the title "give a little love". But OK! I confess. It is a little sad that when I looked at the bangle and tried to come up with a name, the first thing that came into my mind was the Bay City Rollers song!

And for all those Bay City Rollers fans - or maybe those who don't even know who they are, here is a quick glimpse!  Check out the tartan (plaid)!!  Maybe this bangle will have to be a gift for my sister, for those happy bus stop memories!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grow where you are planted

I had a fun time again yesterday at the farmer's market.  It seemed pink and purple were popular colors so I have done a couple of new bangles using those colors today.

The first I've entitled "Grow where you are planted".  I guess as I moved around a lot growing up and then also before arriving in CA, I've been one to follow this motto.  You have to make the best of wherever you are and find some roots and get growing!

Hope you like it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekly Bird in the hand

Here is this week's things that I am grateful for:

Harold, my pet parrot.
  • Fin, my brother in law who celebrated his 60th birthday this week.
  • My friend Marion from Germany who is celebrating her birthday in her new home.
  • My Vitamix.  I bought a Vitamix a few months ago and I absolutely love it.  I use it at least twice a day.  I'm loving my homemade hummus and just now, I made my own cashew nut butter!  And that is in between all the green smoothies I'm making with it!  Yes, it was an expensive machine - but it brings me a lot of joy!
  • The fun of mixing paint colors!  (see yesterday's post)
  • Meeting new friends and catching up with old friends.
  • Getting excited about my sister and her family coming to visit in 2 weeks.
  • Finding some unusual greens at a farm stand - including amaranth, sorrel, purslane....and then finding micro greens at the farmers market - including purple amaranth, sunflower, kale, beets, broccoli.  They were all so colorful with so many shades of green and purples.  A delight to the eyes as well as the taste buds.  It's made me want to try growing some of my own micro greens....
I hope you've had a colorful week too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A week of painting

I haven't been making jewelry this week. Instead I've been re-painting a table of ours.  It's a dining table that we use outside but the sunshine/UV rays had taken it's toll on it and the paint was flaking off badly.

The table and chairs were made by Sticks and we have a few of their pieces around the house.  We bought the table when we lived in Sanibel, FL - and it's lovely bright colors certainly suited the sunny seaside island.   But it works well here in CA too.

The repainting of it didn't use a lot of artistic talent. I wasn't creating the pattern myself, only following what was already there.  But I really enjoyed doing it. It was a little bit like "paint by numbers".

It was interesting to follow someone else's style too.  The whole table was first painted black so then all the colors go on top of that.  It reduces the 'glare' from the bright colors and makes a really nice effect.  I'll remember that when I'm next painting something.  So often we think of white as the starting background, but the black gives a really nice effect.

Anyhow, I had fun painting. The chairs were fine so didn't re-painting, but that meant that I had to match up the paint colors so it still all worked together.  I loved having my paper palette and adding a bit of this color, and then a bit of that color......The trickiest part of the project was the writing around the edge of the table - but that's also my favorite part of the table.  It is sweet, happy little phrases - with the best one being "kiss the cook!"

We've now sprayed the table with UV protectant and hopefully it will last a few more years.  Maybe that means the cook will continue to get kisses???? I do hope so :=D xx

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Using Square to accept credit cards.

Before I started selling at the Farmer's market in Glen Ellen a few weeks ago, I checked into the latest ways to accept credit cards.  I was looking for something that didn't have a big monthly fee but was secure.  I had previously use ProPay but just wrote down the credit card information then entered it into my computer later when I got home.

But now I've found Square.  Its a little square that you attach to the audio outlet in your mobile phone (I use an iphone). You then swipe the card and fill in the price info on your phone (plus tax if necessary).  The person signs on the phone and then you have the choice of sending them a receipt by email or text.

It works brilliantly!  It is free and you don't pay any monthly charge.  They just add a small percentage on top of the usual credit card percentage.  This means that when I don't use it for a few months, I won't be charged anything.  After use, the funds are sent to your account that same evening.  It accepts Visa, Mastercard and Amex.

If you want to start accepting credit cards (or want a better set up than you already have), you really should check it out.  You can also use it to accept cash, so that it keeps all your transactions in one place. You just by pass the credit card swipe part and enter the cash details and send a receipt or not.  When you accept cash, Square makes no charges.  They then produce good spreadsheets of all transactions accessible either on the phone or on your computer.

And the bit that the customers like the best is that I bought a little Pogo stylus to sign on the phone (or else you can use a finger).  It's lime green - of course - my favorite color!!!

The Square is quick and easy to sign up for; I received the Square in a couple of days; and it was easy to get started.

And it works wherever you can get a phone signal.   Take a look at Square's website for more info. Let me know if you give it a go. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

28/52 Bird a week challenge - Perched

At my recent farmer's market in Glen Ellen, a lady asked me to make her some owl earrings.  So they became my 'bird a week' - "Perched". Two cute little owls perched on a branch - or your ears!!

I'll see her on Sunday and hopefully she'll like them.

To see the other birds that have been made in the bird a week challenge, please see the links below:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Secret flower

My latest aluminum bangle shows pink Camellias.  I originally was thinking that they looked like chrysanthemums, but now I've decided that they are Camellias - and I love Camellias. 

We have lots of camellias in our garden - all different types - some with just four petals, some with 6 petals and some with loads of petals. 

This pink camellia is obviously a multi-petaled one, like the one shown below:

This type of Camellia is known as a formal double with many rows of petal imbricated (overlapping) in symmetrical form, never showing stamens.

Isn't it amazing how nature arranges everything so perfectly...each overlapping petal in the correct place. Such geometry and design. 

You'll see from the following photo that I also added an extra flower on the inside, for just the wearer to see.

A little secret flower.