Friday, December 23, 2016

Cross Country Xmas

Wherever you are, whoever you're with, however you got there, for whatever amount of time you are together...

..have a very Merry Christmas with the ones you love.

Julie Paschkis card from Artists to Watch.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Really! They Were Just There a Minute Ago!

At the time we visited the quilt exhibit at the American Swedish Institute this delightful space was in place for the small visitors to the castle.

We entered the village walking past friendly trolls,

crossed over the old troll fishing hole,

stopped by the roaring felt campfire,

and finally arrived at the 

quilter's studio.

It was all very charming, but apparently we dreamed it or are seeing things.
Exhaustive attempts to search both the ASI website and the internet show no traces that the lovely little troll village does now, or ever did exist and is as imaginary as Gus the Griffin.

Oh well. You will just have to trust us that it was cute. In our dreams!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


The American Swedish Institute housed in the beautiful Turnblad Mansion

There were many interesting and provocative pieces on display,

but our favorites were the quilts of Minnesotan, Mary Chalmers

located and filling entirely the upper level ballroom.

This one is made of wool and intricately hand-stitched.

This one also.

The jewel tones of this garden lattice quilt are very pleasing

and the combination of contemporary Bali batik on a traditional ticking type stripe very clever and effective.

Sadly the exhibit ended in October, but in case you did not get a chance to attend we thought you might enjoy seeing a small selection of what was on display. 

In future will try to inform you in a more timely manner of events that might be of interest.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

There is a Balm in Bromeliad

The title of this post makes no sense, but it is what we think when we see or say "bromeliad".

Anyhoo.... this weird plant came from a a craft fair about five years ago. 

We were assured it would eventually bloom.

One day when giving it a drink down the center as we were instructed, and as it would naturally capture rain and dew, we saw this.

Which became this.

And then this.

And soon it was a real flower-like thing.

This pretty pink emergence is just an extension of the plant leaves as are the colored "petals" of the poinsettia plant.

But soon it started to send out true little flowerlettes from the bracts.

Multicolored no less.

Our reading about the life cycle of the bromeliad tells us that this lovely event is actually the beginning of the end.

The plant will start to slowly die, but if we are lucky it will send out some side shoots called "pups" that can be re-potted to start new plants. That is how we got ours. Apparently the lady who sold it to us has raised many litters of pups and finds good homes for all of them. No paper training or shots needed. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sheep Wreath

Sheep in the holiday spirit?

Can you guess how the farmer got his friendly beasts into this orderly formation?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Squash Justice

We had just three little Delicata squash on the vine in our community garden plot.

At the going rate of 68 cents per pound we thought we would at least break even on our investment in the two squash plants we had purchased at the clearance price of 79 cents each.

But then there were only two.

Squash thievery! 

We were very upset. More upset, some thought, than the situation warranted.

With our new, amazing, community garden "wildlife enclosure" (which is actually a "produce enclosure") it was unlikely the usual suspects, the Duncan Creek whitetail herd, were the culprits.

The generous soul in the household supposed someone hungry was benefiting from the free food.

The suspicious soul in the household who has observed youths pass through the garden on the way to the skate-park, basketball court, and swimming in the creek, felt that the oblong squash's resemblance to a football, and an overwhelming temptation to spiral one into the crick for a teenage version of Pooh Sticks was the likely motive.

In any case, the generous soul, when assigned to cut down the massive clump of comfrey growing next to our home compost bin found, hiding under the tangle of leaves, this beautiful little bonus, volunteer Sweet Dumpling sprouted from last year's discarded squash guts.

In telling this tale to another generous, wise, if only politely interested soul rooted in this household, he proclaimed it "Squash Justice". Hear, hear!

And so, whether a full belly from eaten squash, or the thrill of the toss of same was the mystery history of the Delicata, we wish the "borrower" well and hope it is the first in a series of pay it forward events.

Cucurbit Karma, if you will.

Peace, man.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Shotgun Wedding

We were at the John Michael Kohler Art Center and the event in their auditorium looked to be classy.
No air of hurriedly made arrangements.

Just a hint of true Wisconsin crept in with the golden shotgun shell boutonnieres.

But the exhibit of the season was Wisconsin through and through. 

"Seeing Wisconsin" had elements of the old curiosity cabinet.

And a long view of what the deer sees while the hunter is trying to see him.

But the famed art center attractions that people come from near and far to see. 
The ones that remain as the galleries undergo change of artist and theme several times a year are the washrooms

Artists, with support of Kohler and use of their foundry were invited to create the washrooms of their dreams.

This one near the main entrance is called simple "The Women's Room".

If you go to Sheboygan to go to the Art Center make sure you "gotta go" cause you are going to want to see them all.

And, this is one place where gender will not keep anyone out of the "ladies" or "gents" as a kindly docent would be happy to help you investigate any of the facilities as long as the "coast is clear" of anyone trying to actually do their business in any of them.

Go! Have a look in the loo. And then go some more.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Withdrawn, But Not Forgotten

The library book sale.  $6 a bagful! 

It is a great time to try authors you have been meaning to read, own old favorites, or take a chance on something that might be too quirky or, wonderfully quirky.

Sometimes you find just the book that speaks to you in multiple ways. Badgers. Check. Great illustrations. Check. Heartwarming narrative. Check!

We cried.

We laughed. 

We cried some more.

If you choke up too much to read a book out loud you know it is a winner.

And eventually, with practice, and the desire to share the story with your little badger, you will get the words out. And if he or she is snuggled on your lap, where all the best story times happen, they will not be able to see your glistening eyes even if they wonder why you are taking unusually long pauses between pages.

Can You Do This, Old Badger? - Two thumbs up, five teardrops, and five chuckles for this charming story of a little badger learning the ways of the world from his old badger grandpa. - NDL Review

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Keep On Keeping On

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.” - John Lennon

Whatever happens, let's keep looking up. It takes all of us to make and keep us great. 
We are a work in progress.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jelly Angels

Vintage Kerr jelly jars feature an angel above a crown image.

There are squat jars with the angel on the inside.

And slender jars with the angel embossed on the outside bottom.

We cannot find a really good explanation of why this image was used, 
but we like it very much anyway.

Maybe we like it even more because it is inexplicable.

Don't we all need angels watching over us in our domestic endeavors?

It is the most likely reason for our high success rate of jelly and jam setting despite our disregard for following directions to a T.

If only light bulbs came with a guardian to protect us every time we stand on a wobbly chair to change them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Highway Beautification

We went to a donut sale at a local church and came home with brooms.

The men's group was selling them and although it was not the main focus of the day's fundraiser they did a fine job with their sales pitch (that they were made in U.S.A. and that NAFTA has been hard on the broom industry was mentioned more than once), closed the deal,  and then ran to their broom closet to get the items we had chosen. The silver tongued deacon doing the selling even managed to convince us it would be sensible to go for the buy three, get a whisk broom free deal. And since we couldn't even remember the last time we saw a whisk broom for sale we succumbed to nostalgia and the deal of the day.

We were really after some big old brooms for use in garage, sidewalk and drive way, but fell for the Kitchenette on first sight. Who would not love a broom that boasts a sweeping distance of 97 miles?

So when you see us keeping America's Highways clean by sweeping our way to St. Paul one day move over and give us a little non-startling honk if you love a litter-free landscape.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Nature of Gardening Throughout the Year

Improbably, NDL is responsible for production of the Garden Club Annual Directory. After the meat and potatoes content of the publication is updated it is time to add a bit of fluffy filler. One year it was garden tips, another quotes, and this year... notes on gardening with nature by NDL her ownself.

You may notice that by the end of the directory year NDL was getting a bit punchy with editing fatigue, but we hope you may find at least one small uncultured pearl of wisdom here:

September - Designate an area in your yard to let milkweed and other butterfly host and food plants grow. Mark it as a butterfly friendly area so the neighbors will know you are growing “weeds” with the intention of being environmentally friendly.

OctoberAs you clean up the garden for winter, create, some natural bird feeding stations by leaving seed heads intact and encouraging small recesses for water to pool. Your fine-feathered friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

November - If you are interested in free plants don’t mulch too heavily under known reseeding perennials. Then, next spring look for volunteer seedlings to relocate or nurture in place.

December - While your memory is fresh make note of which of your plants need dividing for garden bed expansion, sharing with friends, or donating to a plant sale. If possible, before they disappear for the winter try to remember what color that iris, lily, or phlox was and write it down with a map to the plant’s location.

January - When the snow falls take a look at who is making tracks in your yard. Knowing which creatures are living in your garden and where they hide may help you to gently encourage their relocation, or continued presence in your garden habitat. 
Consider starting a nature/garden journal. Record your observations from year to year to keep track of when trees bud, birds leave and return, and when your first ripe, red tomato appears.

February - Armchair gardening has kept many a restless gardener going until she can get back in the dirt again. Get out those catalogs, books, and notes from last year’s garden efforts and start to dream and plan for this year’s garden campaign. Now is the time to review horticultural hits and misses and how to repeat or avoid them.

March -  If you are planning a vegetable garden consider planting a row to share. Programs like Grow a Row for the Hungry encourage us with helpful tips to grow extra produce to share with area food pantries or communal dining sites. Even a free basket on your curb during garden bounty time can help families add to their good nutrition efforts. Or extend this idea to growing a  row of lovely flowers for floral designs to share with friends, family, nursing homes, your church, or to grace the serving table of one of the above mentioned communal dining sites such as Agnes’ Table or the reception area of the Open Door Clinic.  Spread health and happiness, and smiles!

April - Arbor Day is a good time to hug a tree, but don’t kill it with kindness. Mulch around a tree trunk should be more like a donut that leaves the base exposed than a mulch volcano.  2 to 4” of mulch depth is enough to suppress weeds and show you care, without smothering it with love.

May - To avoid frustration protect your plants from baby bunnies who are trying out all kinds of greenery to see what is tasty. You can use this advice from February to October as rabbits have a 28 day gestation period and can produce up to seven litters per year. They are really cute, and very hungry.

June - Use your camera to help you remember good ideas from gardens you visit. Capture that lovely combo in a container planting or a particularly striking perennial pairing. Don’t forget to snap shots of your own favorite garden stars for your records.
July - If inviting friends to tour your garden it is a kindness to them and yourself to leave a few weeds, some undone deadheading, or an unfurled garden hose lying out. A garden is a dynamic work in progress, not a completed masterpiece. Everyone enjoys seeing other gardeners’ spaces, and no one expects perfection.

August - Invasives are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. Most were transplanted because of their beauty in the garden and only later discovered to be a danger to our native habitat. Weeding out invasives from our gardens and project areas calls for a “tough love” approach.

Photos from a 2010 Garden Club field trip.