Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wind Wolves, March 29, 2009, Part 2

Today continues yesterday's day of photos from the Wind Wolves Preserve.

Starting off there were a lot of these brown beetles everywhere doing their best to help with the pollination.

If you look carefully at this picture you'll see my least favorite bug of all, an arachnid. This one has a fairly large body with very long, very thin legs. Ech!!!!

Here's a not very good picture of a ground squirrel.

And speaking of not very good pictures here is a King Bird, probably Western or Cassin's.
And speaking of birds, this is a really good shot of a Western Meadow Lark. This bird was cooperating with me by not moving a lot, which is why the picture turned out better than the other bird.
And finally here are a few pictures of the area in general, some showing better color from the wildflowers than others. You can almost get an idea of how it might look if you were to be there at the peak wildflower time.

Right now everything is still fairly green. It won't be long before it all turns brown though. I'll have to try and remember to get out there earlier next year.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wind Wolves, March 29, 2009, Part 1

My husband was eager to get out of the house yesterday, and I will do anything to get out of doing housework (in particular the laundry), so we packed up my camera and took a drive. It's a little late in the season for the wildflowers but we decided to take a chance and we headed out for the Wind Wolves Preserve.

Well, word must be getting out about one of our favorite "secret" retreats. Normally we'll be the only car there, or there will be no more than two others. Yesterday there were at least 15 other cars parked in the lot. In one way that's a little disappointing, but in another I guess it's a good thing for the Conservancy. I still can't help not liking it though. Yes, I'm a little selfish like that.

Anyway it was obvious that we missed the main wildflower display but we were fortunate enough that there were still quite a few around. Enough so that I took about 40 pictures! I tried picking out the better shots and I'm going to post some today and the rest tomorrow.

I put the name of the flowers where I knew them (or think I know them). As always, if anyone knows one that I don't please let me know so I can put the name to the flower.

One of my favorites, this is the Sky Lupine (lupinus nanus).

This, I believe, is Blue-Eyed Grass (sysyrinchium bellum).
Of course the Fiddleneck (amsinckia intermedia) was in abundance as usual.
Looking into a flower of the Fiddleneck.
This is one I haven't found the name for. It's some kind of what's commonly referred to as a "belly flower" because they are so tiny you really need to get down close to see them.

Here it is blown up. The flower is maybe about half the size of my pinkie fingernail.

Even the lichen patches on the rocks were colorful.

Here's another of my favorites, the poppy.
This is Purple Owl's Clover (castilleja exserta).
Here's another pretty lavender-blue flower that I can't identify.
And finally today's last rather faded flower. Try not to snicker too loudly. This is called a Blue Dick (dichelostemma capitatum). (Who comes up with some of these names!)
More tomorrow!

PS-I found a great website that lists the names of common western wildflowers. Go to www.westernwildflower.com . The plant index is on the left sidebar at the bottom. You can click on the name of the plant and it will show a picture. There are a bazillion listed plants and I didn't feel like going through each one right now to find the names of the flowers I didn't know. Feel free to do so yourself and then you can tell me what they are! ☺

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't Hate Me For My Bizarre Sense Of Humor

Children are so easily amused. Remember when your favorite "toy" was a big cardboard box?

Here's a nice Okie toy...

And how about a nice Okie hair extension?
The end.
PS--No children or lambs were injured in the making of the previous photographs.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finished Projects

I finished a few projects I've been working on somewhat simultaneously. There are two mosaics and one hypertufa trough.

The first mosaic I did was a quickie. It was something I've been thinking of doing for a while that involved hearts in the basic primary colors and secondary colors. I've just been waiting for the perfect time to do them, which meant when I felt like doing something fairly simple and uncomplicated.

I had a little piece of backerboard left over from previous projects and thought it was the perfect size. I just hate to waste any kind of material! I measured the width and divided it into six fairly equal sized spaces to put the hearts. The hardest thing about this mosaic was trying to decide the order of the colors. I went ahead and started with red, then orange, yellow, etc. It probably wouldn't have mattered really, but I liked the way the lightest color ended up in the middle.

Then I spied the railroad spikes I collected from our family vacation a while back. I really wanted to do something with them and I started to get an idea in my head. I found a piece of 2X12 board and played around with it a little, and ended up with a heartfelt coat rack! I ground the tips of the spikes down so they were thinner around, but they still split the wood a little when I put them in. I repaired the split with Gorilla Glue, made the pilot holes a little larger, and then used more Gorilla Glue to help hold the spikes into place. It worked great.

You may or may not have seen this picture from my now deceased flamingo flock (plastic doesn't hold up very well to our summer sun or dumb-a** vandalizing kids).For some reason I've always liked this photo. I thought I would attempt to transform it into a mosaic. Once I found the proper colors for the flamingo (I used three shades of pink and a shiny and matte black) I was able to get started on it.

I've been trying to think of how to frame the mosaics I make on backerboard. The spike-heart helped push me along in my thinking process. Whether for better or worse, I'm not sure! So without buying anything new and using just what I had on hand I was able to make a frame that mostly fit the flamingo.

The wood was fairly plain so I thought I'd spice it up a little and gave it a washing of the same colored grout that was very watered down. I let it sit like a wood stain, then brushed most of the bigger chunks off. After it dried I gave it one coating of a clear polyurethane product.

Now for a new problem. I had Gorilla Glued the hearts onto the wooden board, which means unless there is some serious prying going on, the hearts are staying inside the carved out board. I wanted something less permanent for the flamingo, so I had to figure out how to get it to stay in the frame without gluing it to the back.

I made a quick trip to Aaron Bros. Art & Framing to ask for suggestions. Besides, I needed to get some hanging wire and d-rings for my custom frame! When I explained my problem the solution was not what I thought it might be. I was thinking some sort of putty or rubber cement that could be peeled off. The man at Aaron Bros. asked if my frame had a "rabbet". He showed me what he meant. If you're like me and didn't know what a rabbet in the frame was then I'll attempt to explain it. It's a portion on the front of the frame that is cut or routered out so the piece fits inside without falling out. Then in order for it not to fall out the back, there are retainer clips to hold it in. For me that meant I had to essentially put another frame onto my original frame, making sure the opening was a bit smaller. I found some thin oak strips left over from neighbor Dean's boat makeover and treated them the same as my frame, with the gray grout treatment.

Here's a picture of my frame while it's being epoxied together (I don't have the proper size nails or clips to make a proper frame!).

And the end result! Oh, it's too bad the photograph doesn't do the frame or mosaic justice!

The third project I worked on recently was another hypertufa trough. This one is just a little bigger than the last one. It's big enough to fit a baby!

On this one I used a slightly different recipe--just one part cement to 1 1/2 parts each perlite and sphagnum moss. This made it a lot lighter weight than the first, even though it's bigger.

I also gave this one a little bit of a different look, scratching lines in the side. I just did that because it was done to a trough in one of the books.

So there you have it. It may seem as though I'm idle, but I'm really not!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seam Ripper As Knot Remover

I tried out the seam-ripper-as-cat-hair-knot-remover-tool and found it works fairly well. You still have to be careful to put the point in the knot and not the skin, but slowly but surely the knots can be removed using that method. Of course it helps to have a patient kitty who doesn't mind being held in awkward positions for lengths of time.

The picture above is after about 20 minutes of careful ripping through the hair with the seam ripper. Notice the cat lying calmy in the background. She still has a few knots on her underside between her front legs, a very bad spot. But eventually, with her willingness, I'll be able to get them out. Hopefully with no further trauma!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Temporary Fence Holders

Last week you may recall I was talking about fencing in the new fruit trees. I used t-posts and cattle panels, both inexpensive and sturdy. The only problem was the panels were attached to the posts with zip ties. That meant it would be a real chore to cut the ties to move the panels so the tree area could be mowed and then I would have to use more zip ties or twisted wire.

My original idea called for spring clips (like these). I have a few of those already laying around and tried them out. Well, turns out there was a problem with those that I hadn't anticipated. Once they are around the t-post they couldn't be opened to put the panel wires in.

My husband then suggested the large round "key chain holders". They have a hinge on one side and a clip that opens on the other. It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about but finally I "got it". Off to Lowe's I went in search of the circular key chain holder.

The obvious department to look for these was the hardware section, where the key machine was. There was nothing by the key machine. I wandered up and down the hardware aisles twice looking for the elusive rings. There were every size and type of nut, bolt, screw, nail, hook, wire, chain, rope, etc, but no rings that have a hinge.

Finally I asked a worker who had been called to make a key. He really didn't seem to know what I was talking about and gave the vague "if you don't see it here, we don't have it" answer.

I remembered a place further down the road called "Budget Bolt" and I knew they have all kinds of wierd things. I drove over there and asked the man behind the counter. He knew exactly what I was talking about but said he didn't sell them anymore because they weren't big movers. After he suggested Lowe's and I told him I'd already been there he told me to try Office Depot.

That was on the way home and right next to Home Depot so I thought I'd stop in to both places. Home Depot was first and I had the same results as with Lowe's: nothing. So I went into the Office Depot and after just a few minutes I found what I was looking for in the aisle that has the rubber bands, paper clips, thumb tacks, etc. They are called "binder clips".

I was very pleased to find they were way less expensive than the other clips I had been thinking of. They had two sizes of binder clips available. I knew the one size would be too small and I picked up two boxes of 2" clips, 12 in each box, for $2.00 per box.

You can see in the two pictures below that they do exactly what I had been hoping for.

They open easily and obviously I don't have to throw them away. They can be used again and again.

Now it's easy to get into the tree area to mow or take close ups like the next two pictures.

I just love it when we find simple, inexpensive solutions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Coffee For Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I hope your corned beef is defrosted!

In our family it doesn't matter if we're Irish or not. We'll use any excuse to celebrate an occasion with food and drink.

While I was thinking about this post in my head I couldn't help but think of my mother, who first introduced us to Irish Coffee. I've come to the conclusion that she must have had a certain thing for flaming foods! When our family came together for holidays she would pull out her Irish Coffee paraphernalia and let the flames begin!!!

I don't know which of us four kids managed to snag her special Irish Coffee glasses and burner, but it wasn't me. Still, I was able to figure out how to go through the process properly even without the equipment. So here is the recipe for Irish Coffee, courtesy of my memories and the Internet!

The ingredients are simple. You'll need brewed coffee (not pictured); heavy whipping cream; Irish Whiskey (of course!!!); brown sugar; and powdered sugar. Besides that you'll need a good glass or cup that can take the flaming.

First of all, have everything ready. Make your coffee. Then make your whipped cream. Whip about one cup with one tablespoon powdered sugar. You want a very soft whip, basically until the cream is thickened. I wouldn't even call it a soft peak, maybe just below that.

I used a thick glass mug one of my dogs won at a dog show umpteen years ago. I'm glad I finally decided to make some good use of it. Anyway, put about two tablespoons of brown sugar in your glass. You can adjust this to taste.

Then pour in about "two fingers" of the Irish whiskey and stir.Since I don't have the glass warmer contraption I put my mug in the microwave for thirty seconds, then stir again. I think the point of that is really to warm the alcohol, not the glass. It makes it easier to "flame".

Now for the fun part. Keep your face and any dangling things away from the top of the glass! Carefully bring your flame to the glass and stick it over and then inside until it goes "WHOOOF".
I keep the flame going by swirling the glass.
Sit back and enjoy the show!
You might have to do this once or twice to burn off the alcohol. Or not.

Now pour your coffee to about 3/4 full.
Carefully spoon the whipped cream so it's floating on the top.

At this point it will be very hot, so make sure you let it cool a bit. One internet site says to sip the coffee through the cream. MMMMMMM!