Monthly Archives: September 2011


Introducing the Tree That Ate Seattle

My tree is in the middle, in this shot the trees are all installed and ready to roll for 2010 just before the public opening. They are between 8 and 10 feet high although they look small in this shot.

Last year my Christmas Forest Contribution got tagged with the working title, “The “Tree That Ate Cleveland”. This year I am sticking closer to home with “The Tree That Ate Seattle”,  but I have the same high-flying aspirations. The tree’s real name is  “A VictorianTeddy Tea Party”, but I kind of like the concept of a project so huge it could devour a city.

Last year's tree topper was a globe, this year's will be a giant teddy filled tea pot.

Christmas Forest is this marvelous fund-raising Christmas-kicking-off-magical-forest of Christmas trees. Providence St Peter Foundation is the power behind the throne here in Oly and in other cities and other states there are similar events, some with absolutely huge budgets. I’m almost jealous.

Mooshka is posing in his winter coat with some of the tree prezzies. It snowed last year, perfect!

We are a bit more modest here and our designers, including I am proud to say, the Artful Rabbit, accomplish miracles between begging, pleading and very small budgets. In my hunt for supplies for a spectacular tree this year I have to give props to the incredibly generous citizens of Olympia.

Close up shot of last year's tree, everything on it was hand made and repurposed/recycled. Hard to top this one (pun alert!) but I'm sure going to try!

An entire roomful of beautifully decorated themed trees  and wreaths are sold at a gala auction annually to raise funds for services like medical care for moms and kids without insurance, and a lot of other things too.

One of the other trees last year had this great Barbie and Ken, loved it!

I love being involved with this charity. Last year I spent quite a bit of my own money on the tree, but you know what? I can’t think of anywere I’d rather spend it than on making something beautiful to be enjoyed by a lot of other people–especially little kids at Christmas! Absolute magic.

Toy Story characters were my fave in 2010. Too funny!

I have been prowling garage and estate sales for a full year for just the right ‘jewels’ for my tree and I have found a few beauties. Like the tiny little antique school desk I got for a song, and the darling antique bed frame that my darling husband is laboriously sanding for me so I can repaint it. My wonderful friend Linda is going to sew the linens for my tiny bed- and boy is she ever talented! I cannot wait to see what comes out of her atelier.

ha ha ha! Terry is doing the sanding this year. This is from 2010, Teddy Bears are much more user friendly and snuggly than old metal.

The Christmas crew is lined up and ready to roll. My faithful trio of Jamie, Linda, and Carolee are ready to start. I’m trying not to panic.

Last year my friend Faye did a beautiful woodland themed tree AND a wreath. Wow.

My goal is to create a beautiful tree that has all the kiddos and the parents absolutely in love with it. I am working extra hard to make sure all the pieces which include Teddy Bears and tea sets can be disentangled, glue and goo free, and shared with children or adults who are kids at heart.

Why no glue which might make life easy? I would love to see the tree taken down after Christmas and know the pieces would be given to kids. That is why I am avoiding a ton of hot glue and figuring out how to fasten things securely without it.

Another shot of Santa in a tree from last year, 2010. All the trees were gorgeous, and if you live in Thurston county you should definitely pay the admission fee and see these stunning trees.

The rule is: the tree has to be able to be wrapped in plastic while fully decorated, put in a truck and carted to its new home when it is sold. This is after a week on display with all the other trees and topped off with the auction. We get to go its new home and “fluff and buff” to make sure its as pretty as it was when sold.

Moosh is on the team too. He makes a great furry elf...

The tree designers’ part is well underway and the installation has to be ready to roll and open to the public on Thanksgiving day. Let’s see, what is that seven weeks from now? YIKES!

Last year's labor of love, this year? Even better!



crystal head

Rabbit Falls Down the Vintage Rabbit Hole

I'm currently loving clear things; crystal and glass. The light shines through them and they just glow. Most of these pieces will be leaving me and go up for sale as soon as I get over my clear phase.

Everyone who knows me knows I love a good tschotske, knick knack, trinket, dust catcher, fill in your own favorite word. I am like my hero Edward Gorey in my delight in collecting Stuff. He loved round things, ratty stuffed animals, rocks, pieces of glass, old bottles and STUFF. So do I. My husband is bemused and patient ( thank you Jeezus) with all of it.

Round things. A very tall glass jar of round things. Dust free with a lid no less. I do love round things. I just acquired some ancient shot put balls. I think I'll leave them outside...

In my living room I have a seven foot tall cabinet with glass doors that holds various collections dust free and contained. I am organized, I will give me that. I don’t think super organized folks who live  in a house with under a thousand square feet become hoarders.

Instead, they become People Who Must Sell Things. I can’t help it, I absolutely adore vintage trinkets. I have been trying to define my own esthetic. The things that attract me have to be somewhat odd, unique, cool, and have a quirky cute factor.  I’m not terribly fond of frou frou, but I make exceptions, like the Woodland Ceramics dog I just found. The dog has a porcelain polka dot bow on his cute neck, I mean really?

I love old metal stuff more than fluffy stuff, so ancient locks yes, ancient china shepherdresses no.

Check out that cute dog with the porcelain bow, he seems to be saying, "The sixties called and they want their cups back." Coffee cups headed for sale to someone who loves kitschy 60's stuff. Right now, they are just stored in my garden window with ten thousand other things and my orchid collection.

Metal stuff yes, simpering figurines not so much. The little thing with zig zags is a Walter Bosse hedge hog ashtray set I found for a buck in a box at a garage sale. Its worth $30. Score! The lock is from New Mexico, the door knocker from France and the big key I found in Philly. I do love souvenirs.

I have had a cat collection of cat statues and cat trinkets forever, since forever is age 12 for me, ditto tiny boxes and foxes.

My catz, the pink one one the far left bottom shelf is the first one. My grammy got it for me in Tiajuana a very long time ago.

The white kitty is a replication of a cat given to Monet by Japanese friends. I found it in Giverny at his home. The front kitty is Bakelite, I found him for 2 bucks at an old junk store in Pioche, Nevada. Guess what I like to do on vacations?

I adore these Mexican animals, I don't think I'll ever stop collecting them!

..and somehow I managed to acquire two boats. I need to be on guard or the universe will manifest more I can't resist when I'm least expecting it.

I have a shelf stuffed with brightly painted Mexican wooden animal figures, and one with sheep that started out with the wooden sheep I got in Germany at the age of 8. Yes, I still have it and a fondness for things small and sheepish. I also have to admit to guilty pleasure in books, clear crystals, blue glass, and now vintage clothes.

The two sheep that look rectangular are my German sheep, the first and best still. the funny looking one at the rear second from right, was made by a famous French artist. We stayed at his house in France. What an amazing memory!

In my defense, the vintage clothes and a lot of the recent acquistions are definitely just moving through my hands and into the world.  My son is terrified I’m becoming a hoarder because I repurpose broken jewelry and bits into new art. Relax, Tor, I am not going down that path, I promise.

..and since I started hitting ghost towns for glass, I have developed a passion for old glass stoppers. They fill so many bills: round, clear, funky, old and cool.

Let me also mention that my Iphone is my tool of choice and the devil’s advocate. With that phone in hand I can whip up a Google search and determine that moose pitcher that someone wants $2 for is actually worth over $20. Score.

Strangely wonderful Moose creamer. Can you imagine taking tea or pouring gravy out of this guy?

Well, sort of score. These “valuable” finds are piling up like something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Solution: My best garage sailor and estate sale crusing bud has an antique mall stall in which she does biz and does it well. We are joining forces and attempting to expand her space into a double wide. How trailer trash can you get? Its just a case of waiting for a bigger ‘hole’ to open up and moving in to it as fast as we can get our paws on it.

Of course as Running Rabbit, my allegiance to all things fun bunny is necesary. Luckily, most of the buns reside in the garden hidden by the leaves. I have a LOT of rabbits...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. My back porch is now full of furniture that has either been refinished and repaired or is waiting its turn. I am doing a reno on my eldest son’s house and  beautiful repurposed perfect stuff for his kid’s rooms is parked there awaiting installation. My window sills and shelves are filling up with product for moving into the space we hope to have by sometime in October. (Please Lord, send us a space…)

Two birds, one stone, rabbits and round things sit beside the stove in the living room.

This weekend we are going out to find us a storage unit because we can’t stand it anymore. Her garage is full and my whole house is full. Its actually funny but its crazy making too. You have to have the product but where the hell do you put it until you can debut it?

And then there are the clothes…that’s a whole other entry or six. I have discovered there is a serious market of rabid collectors for vintage clothes. Who knew? Two of the three things I put on my Etsy site sold in 24 hours. Okay, they got reserved. That is a term that means what else you got? I might want more before I pay you.

This is the incredible 1940's suit that got me in dutch with a collector of Lilli Ann suits. I started out my day apologizing, lesson learned.

I am losing what is left of my mind balancing all this stuff. Its like juggling houses, I’m fine unless I drop one.  The upside is that I am learning an astonishing amount. Evergreen State College, my alma mater, teaches serious research skills as part of going to school there. Its never been more valuable than now.

Next time down the rabbit hole I’ll have to explain why I have a full clothes rack in my bedroom, a new garment steamer,   a beautiful model (Debbie), and an entire book full of notes already.  I now know the only cleaner worthy of trusting with vintage stuff is an hour away from here in Aberdeen, Washington, but I learned a ton from him too.

Next time around, how to make a vintage clothing collector really mad.



Scared Sacred: For Lisa

My friend Lisa got some terrible news last week. Her only sibling, Mari, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung/lymph/lymphoma cancer.  I have never met Lisa face to face, the connection was through a mutual friend and a blog. Still, she is my friend.

Lisa lives somewhere in the south where it is humid and hot and she struggles with health issues on a daily basis, but you would never know it from her wise and charming blog which is called “Cheap Therapy”.

Lisa chooses a word that is the theme for each year, love that, and this year it was “Experiment”.  I love that we are invited to add our experiences too.  Lisa turns her blog into a place for all of us to have a voice, we are the Lisa community for lack of a better descriptor.

This week was different. She asked us  in the Lisa blogosphere how we coped when we were hit with devastating news about people we love.  I had to think about it for a few days. I really did.

I think I know how I cope. I am a doer, a maker, a changer. Last year a dear friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was a rider and is a bon vivant and has the best laugh ever.  I felt helpless to help. I didn’t know what I could do? How do you offer you love and support to a friend when you are unsure of what is appropriate?

What I am sure of is that I need to do something in these situations.  I’m a maker, an artist, a craftsperson, a cook, a gardener. I do things with my hands. That is how I express my love and care for others. I didn’t know exactly what to do but I wanted to let R. know how much I cared while she was alive. What good are flowers if you can’t smell them or see them? I made her a painting of her beloved horse, her dog and details from her life. I framed it and gave it to her. It made us both very happy, that was a year ago and she continues to fight the good fight agains the enemy, cancer.

The person I lost that was the most devastating was Danny. My first real love and the father of my three big Snow boys. They are all grown up now with children of their own. The family baby is already  in his 30’s. Dan and I loved each other a lot; hell we got married twice, and it still didn’t work out. It is true, you can love someone and not be able to be married to them. I’m living proof kids.

Several years ago Dan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and he beat it. Sadly, it recurred and this time we were going to lose him.  When the boys told me their dad’s  cancer was back, I sat down and cried my eyes out.

I am a doer, a maker. I thought about it, and then I  asked Dan and his wife  Dorothy if he felt like coming to the best dinner party of all time. He did. I called  all of our friends from the halycon days of our lives. The times of the brightest future and the best memories. Back then the kids were little and the wonder of our lives was still ahead of us. Evereyone came, Some even flew in from other states and brought memories and pictures to dinner.

When we were in our 20’s and  30’s and just starting out, one of the things we did most with friends was to  cook and eat together. I remember those meals today in a haze of golden happiness. I know it wasn’t always a summer evening and the candles weren’t always lit, but that’s how I remember them.

Dan’s dinner was the best one of all. Sherry flew in from Oklahoma to be my sous chef again, and we cooked all day. We had fantastic wine and a bottle of Dan’s favorite scotch. We jammed all 8 of us around my table in my tiny house and we laughed and we ate and we told stories and we remembered. After dessert, Dan was getting tired and it was time for him to leave. We all hugged him hard and said good night and he and his wife left.  Most of us never saw him again.

We sat in the living room and we broke down and sobbed. Not a tear was shed while he was there, that time was for memory and happiness, but the sadness hit us when he left. Dan died at home a few months later with his boys and his wife  with him.

The funniest thing happened after he passed away. I could see the young Dan clearly again, so many memories came back. Memories DO come back you thought you’d lost.It’s like a secret gift you don’t get to unwrap until you get through losing someone you love. I love this poem, it sums it all up for me:

It is not the ones who throw roses on your grave who realize your life didn’t die…it is the ones you rode the roller coaster with, who you made love with, it’s the children who learned from you to laugh exactly the way you do..they are where your life went. Norman Laliberte, The Magic Box

So, my friend Lisa, I know you have a journey ahead of you someplace you never thought you would go. Take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time.  All I can say from where I am standing is make memories, share joy: MAKE AND DO. Ask Mari what she wants to do that she has not done and do that with her, have an adventure! Save sad for later, right now, this minute find the immense distilled sweetness in every minute you have together.

I wish you both love, strength and so much joy together.

(note: these are my photographs, I’m addicted to changing them into affirmations, I hope you enjoyed them too. rox)

Hope and Believe tag this pink vintage element bracelet

The Rabbit Thinks Pink for a Great Cause

September has become the lodestone for so many things in my life.  It’s odd that events seem to come to along and just stick in September.  Of course we all had the shared national tragedy of 9/11, but I’ve had a few personal chickens come home to roost in September too.

Faye took this picture on a hike in the Cascades last year. The squirrel was after their food! They hike. I stay home and eat bon bons while reading a trashy novel.

September matters to my friend  Faye Barnes too, because that’s when the Susan G Komen 3 day walk takes place.

Every single time I have needed her, she’s been there. Words aren’t enough, so I’m making “thanks”, and like throwing a rock in a pond, the ripples from this thanks could spread with some help.

Artist and photographer Faye in an alley getting the perfect shot during the Lavender MG run this spring.

The back story: Faye is the one I called when I got the word about Terry. She dropped everything, took time off from work and drove to Montana with me the same day, non-stop, and stayed for two weeks. She kept me sane and she helped me stay focused. When it was time to go home, she flew back to Montana and drove my car back to Olympia when I got on the plane with Terry. She is Terry’s favorite hiking partner to this day and she is a big part of my extended family for many reasons.

Long ago at St Martin's with the gurls. From left to right: Jen, Kathy, Sally, Linda, Faye and me. A lonngg time ago!

Faye was always my partner in getting things done at Saint Martin’s College. We were always tapped to throw huge fun parties for no budget at school events, Benedictine Catholic universities=no money. We have had so much fun together doing things from those parties, to my wedding,  to our own annual burn piles, and our annual pilgrimage to cut Christmas trees.



As artists, we can make the same thing with the same materials and because we are so different so is the thing that emerges.

I am in awe of this woman who does the Susan G. Komen 3 day walk. That’s 60 miles! She did her  first one three years ago and signed up for the second one before it was over.

A month after her first walk she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. “I was in the right place at the right time. I believe the Lord put me there so that I could meet and share the stories of these amazing women and breast cancer survivors. It gave me hope and got me through.”  Three months after her final radiation treatment, a weak but determined Faye completed her second Walk. And as usual, she signed up for number 3 before number 2 was over!

Three months after finishing chemo and radiation, Faye's hair is coming back!

I asked what it was like this year and she said, “This year I had a different perspective, it was about celebration and helping others as a team.”

This year's team celebrating the Susan G Komen 3 day in Seattle, Faye is second from left, all smiles too.

This is where I come in and you readers too. I have just designed some very pretty pink themed jewelry. THINK PINK in honor of Faye and the legion of breast cancer fighters she walks to support. Every dime of anything I design and sell that is pink from now until next year’s Susan G. Komen 3 day will go to Faye’s fund raising efforts. To participate, every walker has to personally raise $2,300.00. They all say its worth it and they’d do it if it cost twice as much.

Pink Tibet available now!

The Walk in Seattle this past weekend raised 5.3 million dollars for breast cancer research.Every significant advance in research for the past 29 years has been affected by a Komen grant, which is pretty cool.  456,600 women die every year from breast cancer worldwide and we are all working to stem that tide.

Cool, swingy blingy Swarovski and PINK crystal earrings.

I am hoping to sell a lot of pink jewelry this year to say my own special thanks to Faye for all she has done for me. Anything she fundraises goes right to the Susan G. Komen  foundation, so anything you purchase helps, like that rock dropped in a pond, ripples, spreading to eliminate this awful disease.

Footnote: I do this to honor Verna Snow, too. Verna was my sons’ amazing grandmother, and I loved her dearly. She had a double mastecomy and went on to live many more years cancer-free and if something I can do help more women, even better!

So: every penny from THINK PINK goes to Faye Barnes and the Susan G Komen foundation. Visit the very affordable Think Pink collection  is on my Etsy shop at and on my website, (same price, two venues) This is the direct link to the gallery inside my website.

I hope you can help and enjoy a little pink in your life too.





ben franklin grave

My 9/11: Coming Home

Everyone has a 9/11 story. We all remember where we were and
what we were doing that day.  Our memories are like a quilt stitched together from our shared history of the event that changed this country in a lot of ways, forever.

My experience was a strange one. The events of the week arched
over me like a black rainbow and changed parts of me forever, in a good way.

I flew to southern California on September 10th,meeting Steve R., flying in from North Carolina. We were planning to spend a week visiting the long list of the California universities and colleges that were our clients.

Our hotel was right across the street from the Orange County Airport, AKA, John Wayne Airport.  That location put us smack dab in the middle of Southern California and located us  where we could get to all our schools easily. The rental car company gave us a baby blue Lincoln Continental. I was horrified and all for returning it, but they were having a run on cars and the Stinkin’ Lincoln was the only game in town, so we would be making our calls in the rich old lady Sun City Special all week.

After the car shock, it was nice to find the hotel rooms were great.  My room faced the airport and I was up high enough to get a great view of the planes coming and going. Steve
and I dumped our luggage off and met for dinner to finalize our schedules for
September 11th.

I woke up to the sun shining in my windows and staggered off to put the tiny hotel coffee pot to work. Half asleep, I sat on the foot of the bed and flipped on the television to the Today Show. I thought I had gotten the wrong channel, and for a few seconds I thought I was watching a horror movie. I remember clearly being really confused.  Yes, that was Katie Couric on the screen but that couldn’t be real.  When I finally came to grips with the
unreality of what I was seeing, it felt like I had stumbled into War of the Worlds.
Was this Armageddon? What was happening? Was it everywhere?

I called Steve’s room. We didn’t know what to do. We were in California at an airport and this seemed to involve unknown numbers of airplanes with unknown destinations. We simply carried on. It was all there was to do. The universities were open for business, but I remember our first visit at Cal Tech was like going to a ghost town with everyone in the office clustered around a television set.

By that afternoon, there were no planes or helicopters in the sky and the police presence was high. Police cars and security were everywhere we looked.  When we got back to the hotel and climbed out of the Lincoln that evening, I went up to my room and walked
out on the balcony. Across the road at the airport there were airplanes parked all over on the runways. Not pulled up at terminals, just parked everywhere and abandoned .They looked like children’s toys scattered up and down the runways.

We talked to our families and wondered how we would get home. No planes were flying for who knew how long? Businessmen in the lobby of the hotel were talking about trying to find cars or any form of transportation to head east.  Suddenly, that blue Lincoln
looked really good to me. We coped, we made our calls, we got through the week
and we decided we would set a company record for the most clients called on in
one week. It was a way to stay focused and stop worrying about home and what
happened next?

By Friday, Steve was working the phones to get home. He was a platinum frequent flyer with a zillion miles, so the first plane out had him on it headed east.  The guys in the hotel
lobby had actually rented a bus. They sold seats on it and it left full of people in suits with briefcases, everyone wanted to go home.

I still had the Lincoln and I wasn’t giving it back. I called Hertz and explained I would be returning it in Washington State instead of Orange County.  I was terrified. I had
never driven that far all by myself but it was the only way to get home to my family.

I filled the gas guzzling rocking chair with an engine and headed out on a sunny afternoon. I discovered that at some point in my life I had actually driven almost every mile in that route. just not all strung together at once and all alone.  I found that my comfort zone travels with me.  You don’t drive all those miles at once; you drive them one at a time surrounded by people who are mostly local. Everyone on the road  is not flying south, or in this case north, like homing pigeons.

I relaxed and began to enjoy the drive and I discovered something else. I like traveling alone. I can play any music I want as loud as I want and sing along annoying no one. If I see something interesting, I can go look at it without asking anyone.  I can
eat what I want and stop when I want. That trip was the beginning of my love of
long solo trips.

I’m not saying it wasn’t grueling.  18 hours home, two very long days with a stop
in Redding for some sleep before I headed home with a car so covered with bugs
it was no longer blue.

The most important thing I discovered on that trip was that it was okay to be an American and proud of it. After Vietnam, being patriotic felt wrong and most people were not overtly patriotic because of the politics of the preceding years.  The one place I saw
patriotism in action was in of all things, local parades in my town of Olympia.

Along with everyone else, I stood and cried and cheered when our rag tag band of Vietnam vets proudly marched by carrying an American flag.  It was finally okay for them to come home all these years later.  I had friends returning from Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s who went into airport bathrooms and changed into civilian clothes. They didn’t want anyone to know they had served in Vietnam; most of them did not volunteer either. We still had the draft.

I thought of those soldiers when I headed up the California freeways and discovered almost every overpass had an American flag draped over it. In a lot of cases, people stood with their flags and waved to the cars below. It felt like it was finally okay for all of us to come home and be proud again of this amazing country.

As for me, I discovered with that trip that I am stronger and more independent than I knew and it felt so good to be home in America, even if it was just for a little while. Sadly now, I believe Congress and the people we have elected to represent us are taking that pride away again, leaving dissension and fear in their wake, another black rainbow over us

I saved all the jointed pieces, they will make a fun project later.

Rabbit Takes an Inch: Inspiration and a Fun Vintage Necklace

A carpenter's dream? Inch by inch? Fun by any caption!

I made a version of this fun necklace today, and it was so much fun I had to share it. I used vintage buttons in addition to my cut up carpenter’s ruler, but you could use tiny red hearts or little bells or enjoy it without any additional bling.

I am one of the ‘squirrel girls’. What that means in English is that my friend Lynn and I both love discovering wonderful old Stuff to repurpose. Garage sale and estate sale season are winding down and  we are busy laying away those ‘nuts’, aka, bits and pieces that will get us through the winter with lots of creativity. One of my favorite things  right now is carpenters rulers and really old measuring tapes.

Perfect! A wooden folding carpenter's ruler is a good thing to find at a garage sale.

They are getting tougher to find but I had two I could sacrifice to today’s project. The third one is French and will be admired in one piece on my treasure shelf in the studio.

I saved all the jointed pieces, they will make a fun project later.

For this Carpenter’s Dream necklace, I used my heavy duty lineman’s pliers and whacked off one to two inch pieces cleanly. You can use a hacksaw or jigsaw or anything you can make a nice clean cut with on your wood. I saved the metal folding parts for another project and made a pile of yellow and white inches. How fun is that?

Glasses and mask are the gear of the day.

Before I took my stack of inches and sanded them I geared up. These are old and probably painted with lead paint. I’m not really fond on sawdust in my sinuses or eyes either so glasses and a mask are the uniform of the day.

I didn't make each piece a uniform size and I worked to preserve the numbers when I made my cuts.

I looked around and saw how small these pieces were, like an inch? hee hee hee. My small sander was overkill and the big grinder? Not in this lifetime. I hit on taking my dremel tool and putting a sanding wheel on it. I turned the speed to as low as it would go and secured it tightly in my little bench vise. I could have held it in my hand but this made more sense because I could turn each piece holding it  with both hands to sand and round the ends, making sure to get rid of any pointy bits. A  sanding block or a small sander would also work if you don’t have a dremel tool.

Sand all the pointy bits off and round the ends.

I took the sanding wheel off the dremel and fitted it with a small drill bit. It just took a few minutes to drill a nice neat hole through each piece, I made sure all the numbers faced the same way when I made the holes.  Notice the holes all over my work table? This is why I don’t have fancy work tables in my studio. I tend to make holes, drop paint and stains all over my work area and I don’t have to worry.

Drilling a hole. HOLD onto to the wood with one hand and drill with the other unless you want your numbers flying around and around the end of your drill!

I found oval jump rings recently, really big ones and the opening is on the side. These were perfect for popping on to the wooden pieces before I hung them on thelength of chain I chose from my ‘stash’ of chain. I went for something that looked old and vintagey since I was working with old pieces I wanted the feeling of all the  pieces to fit the concept.

I chose buttons with holes all the way through, I used vintage colors that worked well with the rulers, reds, greens and tans.

I chose a great big clasp and decided to make fasten it in the front on the right side for more visual impact. I thought about leaving the carpenter’s rule pieces as is, they were quite fun and made a wonderful noise when they clicked together on the necklace. Somehow, it just didn’t seem quite finished so I pulled out my button jar and picked out several that looked to have the same age and wear as the rulers.

I chose shiny brass wire, 18 gauge, but I dipped it in Novacan patina solution to blacken it. After I pulled it out I ran steel wool down it and presto, vintage wire.

Threading a button with wire.

I double wrapped the buttons in wire. I looped wire through the buttons-all two or four hole through and through buttons- and twisted it three times, added two or three slices of puka shell from an old scrounged necklace, and then twisted the back side too to make a button unit. I fastened on the buttons with jump rings, using red ones, green ones and tan ones.

Of course the office staff was snoozing through the whole process…

My office staff, moral support. Literally, underfoot.

The finished piece, detail

I hope you get inspired and look around to see what you have on hand that can make something as fun as this necklace. It’s not junk! It’s jewelry!

Another shot showing how pieces are mounted.

This necklace is currently available at Matter Gallery in Olympia, Washington.


Blueberry time in Washington!

Uncle Jimmy’s Blueberry Muffins

Uncle Jimmy's Blueberry Muffins

I made scrumptious blueberry muffins this morning as my contribution to a wonderful relaxed brunch with our dear friends Jim and Connie. Jim is affectionately known as Uncle Jimmy around here to my four sons and our family tales are the stuff of legends. Jim and the boys and I go back to when the oldest was only three and the youngest wouldn’t be around to cause trouble for another nineteen years.

Jim even lived with us for a crazy-making six months when he broke his leg wearing my roller skates on a Christmas day many years ago. That memorable day started out well  with too much champagne and ended badly with an ambulance ride to the ER and Jimmy in the spare room for his recuperation. We all survived, and through the years Jim has always been there for me through the insane roller coaster that has been my life. He is like the brother I would have liked. You know, the one that tortures you, completely gets you, loves you right through the b.s. and no one is allowed to kick his ass but you. That’s Jimmy, and now we have beautiful Connie in our lives too, which brings us neatly back to Jim’s favorite thing to eat that I know of: blueberries.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with amazing fresh fruit right from fields and orchards to our tables.

Blueberry time in Washington!

Its blueberry season now, and we are enjoying them about 20 minutes after they get picked at our local farms. I love blueberries and I love this simple and yummy blueberry streusel muffin recipe.

Not blueberries, but my favorite cooking equipment! Terry made the adorable wooden lid after he broke one. The canisters were acquired in Morro Bay on Terry's first big trip from brain trauma rehab. They still make me smile!

I started out by rinsing 2 cups of blueberries, okay I cheated, I used two of the little green boxes in  the box, called a “flat”, and didn’t measure. I wanted to jam in all the berries I could. Rinse them, pick all the stems, leaves and green or mushy berries out and set the rest to drain while you get the batter put together. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get your pans ready. I like using paper liners, those little things that you use for cupcakes?

Greasing up granma's wonderful old cast iron pan. This thing is heavy!

I am a believer in grease and then grease again, especially when I’m using my granma’s fabulous old cast iron muffin pan. I used paper muffin cups BUT I still took my brush and oiled around the openings in the muffin tins. I didn’t want the tops of my muffins to overflow, making that nice ‘muffin top’ -in a good way– stick and tear the cooked muffin in half.  So, grease OUTSIDE where the paper will not reach and where batter might flow.

Dry ingredients mixed

Then get your dry ingredients  measured and stirred together.  3 cups of flour, 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, (yes, white nasty sugar works best, trust me), 1 tsp salt,  4 teaspoons of baking powder and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Fresh butter, fresh milk and fresh eggs, perfect. I love these brown organic eggs. Amazing how something so small can make you so happy.

Set the dry stuff aside and get another bowl out. I use one of those giant pyrex measuring cups, this is for your fluid ingredients. I use straight butter but you can substitute vegetable oil if you are not a butter fan.

Some of us making struseul topping with a fork.

I was going for deluxe muffins and nothing beats butter in my book. Melt 2/3 of a cup of butter in the microwave; cover the cup with a papertowel unless you really love cleaning butter spats out of your microwave. You can also just use a saucepan on the stovetop for melting duty.

And some of us make streusel topping by using our messy fingers.

While you let that cool a bit, make the streusel topping. 1 cup of sugar, 2/3 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of NOT melted butter and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. I also added a tablespoon of finely chopped candied ginger for a little gingery zip. Yummy! You can squash the butter with the tines of a fork and then work in the dry stuff, but I’m a get your hands dirty kind of girl when I cook and smooshing it with my fingers works best. Work the mixture until it is smaller than peas and a little larger than rice.

Go back to the butter bowl and  toss in two eggs and enough milk to make 2 cups. Stir it together and then put it in with your dry ingredients and mix it up well. At this point I put in about 3 tablespoons of French Vanilla liqueur. You could use any flavor that would go with the ingredients.  Rum, vanilla, orange, etc. I wouldn’t recommend peppermint or any flavor that would get in a fistfight with your tastebuds. I almost always toss alcohol into batters, it gives them a nice little flavor edge. State Secret, you heard it here.

Wet and dry all mixed together waiting for the blue berries. I like big spatulas, you can scrape and fold really well with them.

Time to gently fold in the blue berries. You don’t want to beat the batter at this point. Just take your biggest spatula and roll the blueberries in like you were an undertow and they were swimmers, once they are all folded in to your batter you can proceed to filling your muffin tins.

Use your big spatula to roll the berries in to the batter gently

Ready for muffin tins! All blended and berried.

I like using two teaspoons. No photo here, I couldn’t figure out how to use two teaspoons and one camera without getting me and the camera covered with batter. Basically, I fill one teaspoon with a big dollop of batter and use the other one to scrape it off and into the muffin paper. Teaspoon size glops give you a lot more control and you can actually get the batter into the paper liners  without getting all over the pan with a little practice.

topped with streusel and ready for the oven

Top each muffin with the streusel topping you made and pop them into the over for about 25-30 minutes. I let mine cool for about five minutes before I flipped the pans over and my well greased tins let go of every muffin.

I can hardly wait!

all done, hot and crunchy and juicy with berries

Enjoy with your besties!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
You will need 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

Stir together in a big bowl:
3 cups of flour
1 and 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
about 1 tsp cinnamon

In another bowl,Melt the butter, cool a bit and then add the other wet ingredients to your  cup or bowl:
2/3 cup of butter (substitute vegetable oil)
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of liqueur or alcohol such as Frangelico, French Vanilla Liqueur, Baileys, rum, etc.

For streusel topping mix in a bowl with your fingers or a fork until the size of rice grains or small peas:
1 cup sugar, 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter, 3 tsp cinnamon, 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger (optional)

Pour liquid ingredients into dry mixture and beat by hand until well blended. Fold in blueberries, try not to break them unless you like purple muffins.

Fill muffin pans to the top edge of the paper liner, and top each muffin with a good dollop of your streusel topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly before carefully removing by turning the pan upside down and tapping on it. Careful! use two pot holders, that pan is hot!

Cool and enjoy.



canyon head

Nine Mile Canyon Photographs: Part Deux

That's Pam's head and hat and the arrow shows the relative size of a glyph.

In which we discover stage stops, climb cliffs and generally have our minds blown by the surroundings in Nine Mile Canyon Utah….

Lots of shots of pictographs and petroglyphs along with pictures of the valley. Harper is a town that grew up from nothing and went back the same way. The cool thing is that as a stage stop with a boarding house, eating place, post office, ‘hotel’ and store, Butch and Sundance were even visitors here. The old barns still exist and everything else is mostly foundations.

Throughout the canyons there were hallmarks of ranchers and farmers, dead metal, rusting ancient trucks and falling down buildings. The historical peoples built better 100o years ago I’m thinking….

Click on any thumbnail to see each image full size, use your back arrow to go back to the entry.



Petroglyphs, Paula and Pam: Nine Mile Canyon, Utah

Pam was stuck in the back seat for the first part of the trip into 9 Mile, but we spent lots of time outside too!Before we entered the canyon, our fearless blonde with a perfect manicure no less, aired down her own tires. What a woman!

May 28, 2011. Today the Prairie Dogs headed to Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, the world’s longest art gallery. The prairie dog posse, aka Paula, Pam and me, jumped off for Nine Mile in Pam’s jeep. It was exhilarating, astonishing and exhausting and I’d like to go back tomorrow. Guaranteed, you will be sick of this entry before I’m all done. I highly recommend sticking it out to the end though.

Before we entered the canyon, our fearless blonde with a perfect manicure no less, aired down her own tires. What a woman!

This may be one of your last chances to enjoy these petroglyphs. Sadly, massive deposits of natural gas have been discovered on the Tavaputs Plateau, and now gigantic 16 wheelers roll in and out on roads never meant for them as the Bill Barrett Corporation extracts the gas. They are throwing magnesium chloride down to keep the dust down and it is thought the chemicals will destroy the rock art if the dust doesn’t.

The first thing we saw in the canyons was a corral full of unhappy cows, all bawling their heads off. There have been ranchers in the canyons with cows for well over 100 years.

Right now, a big chunk of the canyon is on the radar of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They are the feds who try to to protect America’s most endangered places. Let’s hope the need for the gas doesn’t eclipse our need to preserve these astonishing images.

Photo Op! Me taking a picture of you taking a picture of me. Old sheepherder's cabin in the background behind Pam.

The ranchers who settled there because of the year round access to water destroyed all the signs of the Fremont and Anasazi people who lived in the canyon from AD 950-1250 at best guess. Their irrigation ditches and earthen lodges are long gone but there are still metates (grinding holes), granaries and the amazing petroglyphs and pictographs.

Some are chipped in and a few are painted on, along with the occaisonal white boy graffiti. the Utes were relative late comers and some of my favor petroglyphs were Ute. How do I know? No horses until after 1680, so if it had horsies, it was Ute.

Early idiot leaving his mark on the canyon walls.

The first graffiti from a not-native American was good old Charles Grosbeck back in 1867. I found this guy myself, from 1881. There are over 10,000 images chipped, incised, carved and painted into the sandstone walls at over 1000 sites through the 40 miles of canyons.

Nine Mile Road was  built by the black Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry of Fort Duchesne, Utah. This was the first major road from Ft Duchesne to Price, Utah. The valley had water, the magic ingredient. Not a lot, but enough for travelers and ranchers to make Nine Mile the main highway through some pretty dry land.

Ute carvings of a hunt. Horses don't show up until after 1680

A moment of definition before we proceed: Petroglyphs are carvings in rock faces that are incised, chipped or abraded. Pictographs are images that are painted on rock faces. Nine Mile has both, but pictographs are much rarer and more fragile.

You can still see traces of the early people in the canyons because their granaries, pit houses and a few shelters are still evident in spots in the canyon. We were so excited to spot a granary way the hell and gone high up on a cliff! We spent an hour trying to puzzle out how they got the corn into it and then back out.

An early Fremont granary still in existence high on a cliff.

And here it is close up.

We started hitting site after site and three women with three cameras spent more time out of the jeep than in it!

Medicene man and big horn sheep

Wonderful hunter with bow and arrow

The canyons were beautiful, walls, scenery and all, so much to see!

Nine Mile Canyon

I will continue this post as a photo essay–make sure to view Part Deux!