Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flutter by, Butterfly

Sadly, it isn't true that the word "butterfly" came from a metathesis (the changing around of the order of syllables) of flutterby, but it is still a nice idea.

The old English word was "buttorfleoge" - combining butter and fly, but there seems to be no agreement on why there is a butter reference.  Some say that butterflies will go to butter if it is left out and uncovered....but I've never heard of that!  Any ideas? 

Maybe because they are attracted to butter colored flowers?.....but then they seem to like all different colored flowers... One of life's mysteries I guess.

But it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of seeing butterflies flutter by.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

26/52 Bird a week challenge - Gouda, the happy bird!

This week I'd like to introduce you to Gouda.  Unlike so many birds you hear about lately, she is a happy bird and definitely not an angry bird - although I think the camera startled her a little! She's not used to having her photo taken.

Her favorite place to hang out is in the kitchen - especially in the fridge.  She definitely doesn't like hot weather as she gets a bit sweaty and smelly, so keeping cool is a priority of hers.

She is 4 inches tall, and many describe her as "tasty"!  When you look at those feather markings on her chest, you begin to understand why!

She is delighted to join the rest of the birds in the bird a week challenge - especially this week as we are half way through the challenge! Yes, week 26 of 52.  There is still a group of us keeping up with the challenge so if you want to see their 26th bird, please click on the links below. The linky tool isn't always working right so the Flickr group shows all the birds we've completed so far.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crawling through the grass

We've had rain ALL day today!  That may not sound like much to many of you, but since we've lived in northern CA, we've never had any rain after the first week of June, at the latest.  So to have a full day of rain is most peculiar.

So today isn't a day for crawling through the grass - not for me anyhow - but this little ladybird doesn't seem to mind the rain.

A new customer commissioned this bracelet from me. I hope she likes it. What do you think Lucie?

How is your weather? Is it unseasonable and odd?  Our vines are in flower which is just the time we don't want rain.  If it rains when they are in flower, all the pollen can just be washed off and then there will be no grapes.  Fingers crossed most have pollinated already.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Flower filled days

Isn't it just a wonderful time of year!  Everywhere you look there are flowers.  All different colors, all different varieties, all different sizes, all different scents....  How cheering it is to have flower filled days.

And so today's new bangle is flower filled too, in bright yellow with resists used to create flowers on the aluminum and a silver flower attached.

The flower is modeled loosely after plumerias.  Not local flowers, but their overlapping petal design is an important feature when sculpting in silver, so the overlapped petals have strength.

The silver flower is riveted on, but it still spins, so you can fiddle with it, as you wear it!  A little toy to play with on your bangle!

I hope your days are flower filled too.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finally some sunshine in the Vineyard

BY GUEST BLOGGER JOHN (Ruth's husband!)

After a rather miserable April and May with cool temperatures and rain, we finally got some sunshine on June 6th.  Now, some 3 weeks later, we have been blessed with sunny skies and a few quite hot days. This has produced fast growth in the vines with the established Merlot up over 6' high and even the Godello now at around 5'.

Merlot vines now over 6" high
We re-grafted some of the Godello as the original grafting produced poor results. The re-grafts were done in May and we are now hoping for much better success. Many of the more established Godello seem to have very little fruit which is disappointing. A farmers life, as I'm sure you must have heard by now,  is not an easy one!!

Latest re-graft of Godello showing a green shoot on the right hand side, in the binding
The very cool and wet spring has given rise to predictions of a late harvest with a low yield but we remain optimistic that this year will give us plenty of grapes.

Godello vines showing vigorous growth
Right now we haven't got a buyer for the Merlot grapes but do have a few ideas so that we can sell them once again and, with luck, at a decent price. The Godello is part of a joint venture with 2 well known winemakers and it will be at least another year before we see how that works out.

The vines have been dusted with sulfur to prevent mildew and next month should see more growth.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

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

I've run out of "bird in the hand" photos so here's a "Dance of love" photo by Kjunstorm

  • My Dad. It was Father's Day last Sunday so even though I'm grateful for him every day, it's nice to have one special day for him.
  • The Merry go round group. You may have read yesterday's merry go round blog post. It's a lovely group of artists and it's fascinating to learn, support, be inspired, create etc with them even though I've never met any of them face to face. 
  • Cashew nut butter.  You can tell I didn't grow up in the US as I absolutely detest peanut butter and popcorn.  The only reason we have peanut butter in the house is to put on mouse traps!  A couple of weeks ago however I did try homemade cashew nut butter. What a different product that is from yucky peanut butter!  Occasionally I now have a little on my toast, as my portion of nuts for the day.  Who'd have thought I'd like that! Just shows you that you have to keep trying new things!
  • Seeing Quentin and Queenie (our California Quails) this morning on the driveway with a new big family. Big in number but absolutely tiny in individual size!  The little chicks looked like they were less than an inch tall!
  • My new iphone! Yes, I got an iPhone 4 this week and I'm loving!
  • A reliable internet connection.  I know I said a few weeks ago that I thought Comcast had sorted us out.....finally....after years of bad service...but it turned out that they hadn't and the connection only lasted a few hours.  Thursday however, fingers crossed, they seem to have made progress..... Let's hope it lasts.....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Merry go round - Be inspired by another "merrier's" photo

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 follows on from last month's topic.  Last month, we each had to choose a photo that interests us - whether taken by ourselves or by someone else, and then describe what attracted us to the photo.  Each photo was then "assigned" to another person from the merry go round and they had to use it as their inspiration to create something. 

I was selected to create something using inspiration from Monika's photo. Here it is:

The photo appealed to her because of it's "simplicity" - in "'color, pattern and design".....there was "no beginning and no end"...... it looked "effortless"....and "full of life"......"calm", "organic", "natural" with a "bit of drama".

As soon as I saw the photo it reminded me of a heart beat - and then all her descriptions of it seemed to go so well with that too - for example the "full of life", "effortless", etc. And so I created a bangle entitled "In a heart beat".

I switched the light and dark colors, and continued the EKG all around the bangle.

I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I find I can view the bangle in a couple of different ways too:    firstly, yes it looks like an EKG; secondly you can also see it just as a line pattern; and thirdly, I also see it as a cityscape.  What do you think?

I thought of a couple of names for it, but went with "In a heart beat"  as if this was given as a gift, the title has a lovely sentiment of  suggesting that the giver is always there for you - instantly. And you know how much I like my creations to have a sentiment attached to them!!

I really enjoyed this "challenge" we gave ourselves.....looking at something that someone else likes and finding our own inspiration and unique style in it!

I hope you'll take the time to see how the other merriers' photos inspired each of us. Samantha gets to create something from my bald eagle photos.   We all live in different places around the world, so time differences may impact when we all get our blog post up.

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 (can't join us this month) -
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, June 23, 2011

More garden seats

Following on from yesterday's "garden seat" earrings in burgundy, I also made a couple of blue pairs. The two dyes were totally different, but the resulting colors were both very  similar turquoise colors! 

The blue!
The turquoise!
All three!  At least in this photo there seems to be a slight difference in the blues!

I'm looking forward to putting these up for sale for the Farmers' market on Sunday. It'll be great to get some feedback on my aluminum work.  Fingers crossed it goes well! Don't forget, if you are in the area, it's in Glen Ellen at the Jack London village from 10 am - 2pm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

25/52 Bird a week challenge - Garden seat

Gosh - we are nearly half of the way through the year and therefore half way through our "bird a week" challenge, where a group of us challenged ourselves to make a different bird each week of 2011.

To me it has seemed that we were nearly half way there for quite a while!!!! 

This week's birds are earrings using a design I first used last year in a "month of earrings" challenge. They were one of the first style of aluminum earrings I made.  Little birdies taking a seat in the garden on different flowers.

Each earring depicts a different bird on his seat. The circles are gently domed too.

I love this rich red color.  The dye calls it "burgundy".  I don't think it's quite that yet....but it's definitely got the richness of wine!

If you'd like to take a look at what other birds have been created here, click on the links below. Unfortunately, linky tools hasn't been working very well lately and it's not been able to add all the links.  If that is the case today, here is the flickr group.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leaves of green...(and pink, yellow, black......)

I made some new earrings for my upcoming farmers' markets. I wanted a lower price point and an item that was a good intro to color anodized aluminum jewelry.

Aluminum is such a perfect material for jewelry. It is very lightweight - you can barely feel these earrings when you wear them - but it is tough too.

So today's little series is entitled "leaves of green"..... but with a bit of artistic license, I added some other colors too!

My favorite is the pink/purple pair. What about you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Glen Ellen Farmers' Market

I've signed up to sell my wares at the new Glen Ellen Farmers market.  It is on Sundays from 10 am - 2pm.  I'm not doing every week - just occasional weeks from this Sunday through August.

It'll be nice to get my aluminum out there in front of people and get some feedback. Of course, I'll be selling some of my silver pieces too.

The Glen Ellen Farmer's market has only just started - this may be it's 4th week?  Anyhow - it's sweet and local and if you are in the area, I hope you'll pop in and say "hi"!

See you there!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Sorry, too busy with my singing workshop - "Chanticamp" - this week to blog about one of my followers!  Will be back tomorrow with regular blog posts again.

That's me - far left at the front, waiting for rehearsal to start at Chanticamp
The concert is this afternoon.  Fingers crossed it all comes together!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekly bird in the hand

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

  • Singing
  • Singing
  • Singing
  • Singing
  • Old singing friends
  • New singing friends
  • Singing
  • Singing.........
I've spent most of the week singing in a workshop with Chanticleer. It's been great seeing friends that I've sung with at the workshop at previous years; meeting new singers; and being able to allocate all that time to singing.  The music has been challenging - and continues to be challenging, but we are getting there! We end the workshop on Sunday with a concert.  It'll be an accomplishment, I'm sure it'll be fun too, and hopefully it'll also be entertaining for our audience!

You know that feeling when you've been able to indulge and just immerse yourself in something you enjoy - well that has been this week for me!!!  How nice is that!

I hope you've been able to indulge in something this week too, even if it wasn't for 5 days.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Five little birds in a vineyard nest

Look who is hiding in the vineyard: 

Five little baby birds.  Mummy has found a pretty shady spot but with temps in the 80's they were getting a little toasty.

I don't know what type of birds they are as I haven't seen a parent go in. John just saw the nest as he was wandering the vineyard.

Can you see how they carefully poop over the edge of the nest so as not to make a mess where they are sitting.  A "lovely" edging of poop all around the nest! Mummy is training them well.

Aren't they just the sweetest!  Makes me want to be a birdy mum!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Smoothies - "Berrylicious Recipe"

I briefly mentioned in Saturday's blog post about my new found love of green smoothies, so I thought I'd share a little about them with you today.

Green smoothies are a new addition to my life - in fact any smoothies are.  I read about them in Dr Fuhrman's "Eat for Health" book and also the book "Green Smoothie Revolution" by Victoria Boutenko.  Since I bought these books however, I rarely follow their recipes! But that's because Victoria's book gives great outlines on the do's and don'ts of making green smoothies, so you can just create a great tasting smoothie with the fruit and vegetables that you have on hand.

So what is a green smoothie?  It is a highly nutritious drink made my blending lots of fruits together and then adding green leafy vegetables to the mix. The taste of the fruit dominates over the taste of the vegetables, so it tastes like you are drinking a lovely fruit smoothie, but at the same time you are also getting a large serving of healthy greens and thus micronutrients.

It should be noted that when you mix certain fruits and greens, the resulting smoothie isn't always green in color however even if it can be termed a "green" smoothie! For example, if you use a lot of berries with greens, you may end up with a red smoothie, but if you use less berries with greens, you may actually get a brown smoothie.  Even though the green and brown smoothies may not look as appealing as the red smoothie, look past that and enjoy the taste!  Whatever the color, they still taste good.

An important factor to remember is that the "green" in a smoothie is green LEAFY vegetables - it is not all vegetables.  Those green leafy vegetables that work well in a green smoothie
  • INCLUDE  kale, collards, spinach, parsley, romaine, salad mix, chard, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, celery,dandelion, arugula, dandelion greens, mache, watercress, carrot tops, radish tops, beet tops,...etc, etc and also a couple of vegetables that aren't leafy, namely celery, cucumber and avocado.  but  
  • DO NOT INCLUDE cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, beets, peas, corn ie any starchy vegetable. If you add these, it won't taste good!  Some hardy green smoothie drinkers include these, and Dr Fuhrman has them in his recipes, but in my experience, they don't taste good!  However, you can add these to a smoothie and then make it into a soup instead.
The goal is to make a highly nutritious drink that tastes good, so stick to leafy greens and you'll be more inclined to make green smoothies and drink them everyday.

One more thing you should note is that you should rotate the type of greens you include during the week.   Greens contain alkaloids and in small quantities, they don't bother you.  But if you keep consuming the same green everyday without rotating, alkaloids will accumulate and can be toxic.   Fruits on the other hand contain very few or no alkaloids so you don't need to rotate them - but it is much more fun and interesting if you do!

To make smoothies, the higher the powered blender you use, the better. The top of the line blenders are Vitamix - but they are expensive.  If you use a lower powered blenders it just means that you have to chop up more of the food yourself before putting it in a blender and then blend for longer.

Here is this week's favorite green smoothie (which is actually red!):
Berrylicious Recipe
1 cup of strawberries
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups of water (you can increase this if you feel it needs to be more runny)
1 banana
2 cups of kale

If you don't have kale, substitute spinach or a salad green. This yields enough to be shared with the family or else, any that's left over can be refrigerated for a couple of days!

Let me know if you give it a try.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

24/52 Bird a week challenge - Come fly with me.....

This week's bird(s) is printed on one of my aluminum bangles and is entitled "Come fly with me".  It shows a rather lonesome bird sat on a branch and a group of other birds flying past him.

I hope he takes off and goes flying with them.  It seems sad that he is there alone...unless he is about to break forth into song?

Talking of breaking forth into song, that's what I am doing this afternoon. I'm singing in a 5 day workshop with Chanticleer and this afternoon is our first get together.  It's always a wonderful workshop - so I have high expectations for the next few days! They are full days - starting at 9am and finishing around 9pm (...or when the wine runs out!!!).

In the meantime, I hope you'll take a look at what other birds have been created this week by other members of our bird a week challenge: