Friday, July 8, 2016

Wonderful Wisconsin

What an interesting summer with real Wisconsin weather. Rain, sun, humidity, wind, and repeat.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Rootbeer Remembrance

A couple of years ago at the small town 4th of July celebration we love to attend, an extended family had their own parade entry.

They walked alongside a truck that held kegs of homemade rootbeer made from their mother's recipe and gave out samples to the crowd. The mother is departed, but the tradition of their lake time rootbeer making and spending time together lives on.

What a wonderful legacy.

And we think Hazel would be very proud and pleased. We would be.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Eaty Sheep

One (or maybe two) at a time.

Ewes with triplets have a hard time making everybody happy at once as sheep have only two teats. Don't laugh, but this cityish  girl did not know that. Goats and deer have just one pair also. Perhaps being raised in pig country we had a skewed model of farm animal mammary gland allocation.

Sometimes one triplet is introduced to another ewe who has one or none mouths to feed. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

But the best thing about little lambs eating is the way their tails wag in contentment as soon as they latch on. Sorry. No video. You will just have to trust us that it is incredibly cute.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Castle Keep Sheep

Natural born groundskeepers.

Brougham Castle. That's Brougham, like the sweeping brush. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Electronical Living

Last time we got together with friends to sew we were so impressed with this ever-so-modern (in the 80s) ELECTRONIC sewing machine foot pedal. That is until it kept shorting out, the usually lovely air off the lake became blue due to the operator's frustration, and we decided that even a human powered treadle machine would be an improvement over the electronic performance of this piece of perhaps not-so-modern equipment.

Wikipedia has a lot to say about electronics (the science of how to control electric energy, energy in which the electrons have a fundamental role)  but the very best fact is this:

Rasberry crazy ants have been known to consume the insides of electrical wiring, and nest inside of electronics; they prefer DC to AC currents. This behavior is not well understood by scientists.

And some further googling about electronics led us to the very interesting Urban Dictionary answer to the question, "Is electronical a word?"

Well, yes, guess so, kinda. Definition #1 is - A drunken reference to electronic equipment.

So, after that second cosmo during sewing studio cocktail hour you might hear some bragging about the amazing electronical foot pedal. Even if it doesn't work so well. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Amish Modern



Let's see that again.

Before - Amish Butterprint.

After - Vintage Charm Rise 'n Shine.


Pyrex is celebrating 100 years with some fun updated products.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Garden All-Stars

Allium provides a burst of color in the spring garden

like fireworks exploding over the lamium

And lasting briefly just like the real thing.

Ooh ah. Ooh ah.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

We are almost ready too. 
And eager to add this nursery with an optimistic attitude to our list of ways to waste time while coming and going over the river and through the woods.

When danger of frost has passed, we will be off the blocks and in the garden plot. 

Patience saves seedlings.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Go Get 'Em

Lots of happy fishermen this weekend.

Not so sure about the fish. The ones above look a bit 
feisty. "Go ahead, catch us if you can."

Fascinating fishing FAQs here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quick, There They Go

Mertensia virginica

Virginia Bluebells

Some years they come and go while we are gone. This year they obliged by showing up early to wish us bon voyage.

Love those ephemerals, but they are true to their name and don't hang around forever waiting for a person to show up and admire them. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Since You Didn't Ask

It is time to formalize the unasked for advice we give to travelers whenever not asked for it. 

Yes, it's NDL's Top Ten Travel Take-a-Long Items.

1. Tape. 

Not just any tape. 3M Transpore. If you think there is even the slightest chance of a shoe or sandal giving you a hard time immediately put a piece of this miracle product on the suspicious spot. Really, preventative taping is the key to avoiding blisters and rubs from footwear you may not have worn in awhile (it's been six months since your Sorrel clad Northern foot saw a certain sandal) or that you may not have properly broken in in advance of a trip. We all know we should not be packing new shoes, but we all do it. Once. Keep a roll in your bag. You will be using it and doling it out to all your grateful tour mates. Hero time!

2. Ziploc bags. All sizes. 

Good for undies clean or dirty and especially nice to keep the two separate. If you suck the air out of them (recommended for clean laundry bags only) they act like the expensive vacuum packing bags you can buy on fancy travel gear sites. Additionally: they can hold different currencies as you move from one to another; small purchases are safer in them; they are really good for keeping your travel guides and leisure reading books from becoming tattered in your backpack; if you are hiking rural trails where there are no facilities they can be your mode of packing in and out the bit of toilet tissue you will be very glad to have in your pocket when you are behind that gorse bush; and of course they are perfect for snacks!

3. Immodium and Calmoseptine Ointment

This dynamic duo delivers a one-two punch to what ails you where the sun don't shine. New and different diets tend to do interesting things to the digestive tract. Internal and external problems can be "inconvenient". 'Nuff said. Also, consider above uses for Ziploc bags in your packing for a day trip on one of "those days". 

3a. Did you know they sell individual packs of prunes that make yummy snacks? Just sayin', in case the opposite condition occurs.

4. Headlamp

You might feel silly packing one of these on your trip to Paris until you find yourself trying to read in bed by the light of a horrible overhead light fixture or when you can't even find the switch for that sad light fixture. Can be used in hand as a flashlight for rural or poorly lit urban paths. Is less disturbing to a roommate if insomnia hits or your bedtimes and wake times aren't perfectly synced.

5. Adapters

Be prepared so that you may use the devices you have carefully packed. Know your country and your adapter needs for it. That's all. 
Well maybe there's a bit more. Most lodgings these days provide hairdryers,but if they don't the available outlets will probably fry yours. You have been warned. Consider sporting a natural look coif for the duration.

6. Bags 

Within bags, within bags. You don't want to be carrying lots of stuff, but you should be ready in case you need to. Collapsible shopping bag, inside day pack or shoulder bag, inside regulation backpack or large tote. One of the main uses for the bigger bag is to carry clothing layers shed as the day goes on. Smaller bags are good for the things you need minute to minute. Maps, umbrella, snacks, water.

6b. Folding, zipped tote that can be used as carry-on on the trip home. We often carry-on only outbound to make sure our stuff gets there with us and to keep from over packing, but on the way home.... check those bags and have another to serve as carry on for anything you may have acquired along the way.

6c. Same goes for purses. All the important stuff close to you, not in a big, easy to set down and be picked up by the wrong person bag. Crossbody is great. Keep it in front of you and keep a hand on it. We switch to a smaller wallet than we use at home. One that can accommodate more coins and fewer credit cards. 

7. Washcloth 

If you use one take one. Most countries will not provide them with the bathroom linens. Buy a pack at the dollar store and leave them like breadcrumbs across the continent. Or see #2. 

8. Umbrella

If you are climate control sensitive as is NDL you will appreciate being able to pop an umbrella up and down as squalls alternate with sunshine rather than be confined in a stifling rain jacket all day long. Especially if that day is of the warm and humid variety. Of course if torrential rains are expected, by all means do keep yourself dry as possible, but consider a collapsible umbrella even if you resent the space it takes up in your luggage (it may just be your insurance that you never see a drop of rain the entire time you are away from home). And go for a fun one. Polka dots, flowers, Impressionist paintings will add some color to a rainy day. If you have a desire to fit-in bear in mind that you are more likely to see locals using umbrellas (even as they are turning inside out in the driving rain) than wearing rain coats made for gale force Nor'easters. Unless you are touring on a whaling boat.

8b. Is not an option. NOTHING says TOURIST more than the plastic rain poncho from the historic site gift shop, so please, do not hold that as plan B. 

9. Layers

Sadly, a person who is trying to travel with a carry-on bag only cannot take the wide variety of outerwear options they are accustomed to having for adapting to every five degree weather or precipitation change. This is not too much of a challenge if you are visiting one zone smack in the middle of a season. However, if you are crossing climates or spanning weather transition times it gets trickier. These are times to rough it. You may need to purchase a temporary layer, or layer with what you have in a way that you usually wouldn't. Yes, you may look like you are trying to leave the country with all the clothes you possess on your person if you are wearing your sequined, floral cardigan as long underwear with a windbreaker and a rain jacket over it, but if the alternative is being chilled to the bone and miserable so what? More, thinner layers are better than toting around one bulky layer you may never use.

10. Fill in the Blank

What do you use everyday that you would have to find immediately, and probably not easily if you forgot it?

For us it is Chapstick. We pack them in every pocket. And a migraine kit.

For you it might be dental floss, your favorite chewing gum, contact lens solution, or ???

But remember, unless you are going to the wilds of Borneo it is likely you will be able to replace an essential item  you may have left behind.

Pack light! Go! Have fun! 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Micro Greens

Before there were fairy gardens there were even smaller, more precious, button gardens.

Agnes, our button collector friend,  made this one.

This book from our button club library is available for check out.

We see bits of moss greening up on the shady side of the yard. They would be prefect for a project like this.

Perhaps today is the day to get out our tiny trowel and do a (very) little gardening while we wait for Spring to (truly) arrive.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hippity Hoppity

How does the Easter Bunny family relax after their early morning deliveries are made? 
By bringing left over goodies to a favorite neighbor in his trendy tiny house.

A sweet image for your enjoyment from the Graphics Fairy.

Hope it is not too late to give you our annual reminder to count the Easter eggs before you hide them. Especially if your hunt is indoors. If you don't, in a few weeks you may be hunting for the source of a very unpleasant odor.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. If you don't believe NDL when she says it is very important perhaps you will take it to heart when you hear it from Fight Colorectal Cancer or from the CDC.

And if you still don't believe that screening is imperative (especially if you are related to someone who has a history that indicates you take action) maybe you will believe an old hippy who knows what he is talking (singing) about. 

Please, don't die from embarrassment or for any other lame reason. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

England and Its Gardens

We are thinking spring today. And remembering one of the greatest garden adventures ever.
We saw so much on our whirlwind tour of English gardens five years ago. It was amazing!

We would love to go on the 2016 version of this tour which moves North and into Wales, and are a bit envious of a friend who may get to, but even while the price of gasoline is dropping like a stone, confusingly, airfare is not.

Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember says, "Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories." and she is so right. So for this year we will rely on memories of our brief affair with English gardens and be thankful for them.

When we need a little garden fix in the winter we watch, and watch, and watch again this little production made from our photos of England and Its Gardens. You might enjoy it too.

If after this you still need even more promise that Spring is on its way consider coming together with like minded people for this annual, perennially inspiring event.

Think Spring!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love Hurts

To mitigate the damage be careful where you step in matters of the heart 
(and on the winter landscape), but by all means go for it!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2016


.... is ready for love, are you?

Valentines signed, sealed and delivered?

While the mustache is cringe-inducing, the penmanship  is divine and totally swoon-worthy.

We give Alphons a perfect ten for style and hope it got him somewhere with Mlle. Marie Louise. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Available for Immediate Occupancy

Prime Location: Tasteful, no bedroom, no bath, unfurnished, newly landscaped clay pot with high ceilings, natural lighting and great view located in quiet neighborhood just steps away from downtown. Utilities not included or needed.* 

To get a garden fix on a winter day we took a little class at Down to Earth Garden Center and 
came home with a lovely little green oasis for a partly sunny indoor location

Many gardens like this one are inhabited by fairies, but most modern day fairies are not content to live in a hollow log or under a toadstool anymore and require stufflots of stuff. We suspect many of them will soon be in need of fairy storage units for all the diminutive merchandise they are acquiring for the new standard of living in the realm of pixies, sprites, and elves. 

We wanted to see who might show up to live in our garden as is, without need of a house or gazebo, arbor or patio set, or even an Adirondack chair.

First to apply for the vacant habitat was this guy, but being a bit of a swinger he decided this neighborhood was likely not "happening" enough for him and shuffled off, knuckles dragging.

Then these two showed up, but they were really hoping for something swampier. When they left they said they were going to check out a place on Tainter Lake.

It was love at first sight for this couple.They moved in immediately and were thrilled to be first occupants of  what they proclaimed would be "their own little Eden" .

Perhaps things will evolve and some companions will come along if no meteor hit (in the form of a lapse in watering) occurs.

Based on past experiences this landlord could make no guarantees of successful long term upkeep so the lease is month to month. We did however, waive the damage deposit. We have much confidence in these tenants being quiet and responsible. If they were on the second floor it would be an entirely different story.

* Tips on the art of writing rental ads here. Interesting and apparently effective.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


On our recent bonus trip to Florida we needed to choose a micro shell to collect as we were banned from bringing home our usual giant haul-o-seashells.

Darling, colorful little coquinas fit the bill.

So many on the beach this time. Even the one who discouraged the idea of taking home shells became addicted to finding the pretty pairs.

One of the only other bivalves to make the cut and join the coquinas in the carry-on bag looks like a Big Kahuna coquina, but it is really a sunray venus clam which we learned from our googling is tasty and may soon be more common on seafood menus near you (if you are in Florida).

Every time we think or type coquina we want to say Coquina! as in Tequila! The perfect, circa 1958, top hit of The Champs, soundtrack for sipping our Sunshine State vacation beverage of choice, the Grapefruit Margarita.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What's a Little Fussy Cutting Between Friends?

It is a true and generous friend indeed who will supply all the materials for, 
and teach you how to make a

quilt-as-you-go trivet, 

and then let you fussy cut a prime image right out of the center of some precious Spoonflower fabric.

Verily I say unto you such a friend is Jeri(sew(s)).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Must Go Here

Stitch Supply Co. kindly let us have a look around even thought they were still unpacking and not officially open yet. 

They have cleverly displayed

bright, contemporary fabrics

in a brand new, colorful, airy space.

A highlight for this sewist - designer fabric lines not previously available in local shops.

Beautiful yarn too!

Friendly (and tolerant) staff.

Temptations galore.

You have been informed and warned. Our job here is done.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

(Peach Pit) Loon Magic

There was a period of time when one could find in every discount retail store a kiosk with a motion activated device that would play clips of the CDs on offer from a certain easy-listening music/relaxation sounds genre label. We blame the regrettable '90s and George Winston in particular.

You would be walking down the aisle headed for the Rubbermaid bins, potting soil, or printer paper and all of a sudden you might hear waves rolling in and out of the ocean onto a beach, the rustling of aspen leaves in a gentle breeze, or frogs peeping in a pond at twilight. After realizing you were not crazy you would go way out of your way to avoid that aisle on all future trips, but if you forgot, as we usually did, and passed by it again you might be surprised by one of  those aforementioned sounds or, perhaps one of the many, varied, haunting calls of a loon. Our memory is that that particular CD was titled Loon Magic. 

Here at NDL studio we have created, with a little help and enabling, er, encouraging from a Canada-connected friend a little loon magic of our own.

 To do so we revived a craft first seen in Canadian Living magazine two decades ago to make a new flock, or as some sources call it, a raft, of peach pit loons. Yes indeed, these little cuties are at their core humble, naked, peach pits. 

Ta dah! Incredible, eh?

And, since the original instructions are lost somewhere in our archives of pages torn from magazines we have had a devil of a time finding any guidance for round two of peach pit loon making. So, to get this almost lost art on the Google radar (personified new technology meets old technology in this wording), in other words make it Googleable here is a visual of what is needed to turn a peach pit into a loon. And just to make sure a Google search can find it. Peach pit loon. Peachpit loon. Peachpitloon. (Google may appreciate this effort, but Spellcheck is having a fit.)

And why would one want to make peach pit loons? Well, can you think of even one reason why not?

Thank you to the relatives both American and Canadian for consuming a half bushel of peaches during Canadian American Friendship Days 2015. 

Loons are pretty magical. We never fail to be enchanted when we hear them.