Monday, October 28, 2019

Toadstools and Burlap Pumpkins ... must be Halloween!

Good afternoon!

How was your week? We've been good here at The Hedgehouse. I finished up a few projects, started a couple more and have been enjoying having my mom in town for a few days.

Bliss!

Mom and I went to a rummage sale on Saturday that benefited a local botanical society. There were plants and books and odd little antiques; in short: it was a perfect morning! I brought home a black elephant ear and a rice paper plant. It's in the papyrus family and - from what I've been told - will get really, really big! I'm excited. Never even heard of one until Saturday so it will be an adventure to grow. And I'm going to do some research into the possibility of making paper from it. I mean, it's in the name, isn't it?

Pictures will follow as soon as I get them planted. For now, here's a lovely shot of some toadstools at the botanical garden. Aren't they adorable? I'm sad to say I did not see any fairies that day. Perhaps they were elsewhere in the gardens. Cavorting around the roses, I wonder?

I'm still stitching away!

While I finished the sweater last week, the jeans are taking a bit more time than I anticipated. It is a bit more difficult to get in there and stitch on a pant leg than it is an open sweater! But I'm enjoying it. I just hope I can get them completed before we go out of town next week.

Speaking of which, I won't be posting next week because we'll be in the mountains! I can't wait. I haven't seen mountains in a while and I'm aching to get back to my roots. The Woodsman and I will head out to see some friends in the metro-Atlanta area and then we'll be up in Ellijay for some mountain air and (I hope and pray) cooler temperatures. It's back up in the 80's today and it's awful.

Seriously.

The jack-o-lanterns are going to melt.

Mom and I did a little off-the-cuff crafting today. Last night talk turned to crafting when we saw some darling little flannel pumpkins at Ye Olde Target. I casually mentioned I should use some fabric stiffener and a balloon to shape a little pun'kin and she divulged that she'd make some out of burlap. I was immediately intrigued!

We went to the craft store and got some stuffing. The Woodsman works in the coffee industry so we have no shortage of burlap coffee sacks. We cut a large circle out of one (using a cafe table as a template) and ended up with two circles - the front and back of the sack.

Then, we did a running stitch all along the rim of the burlap making sure to leave enough edge to it so that the burlap fronds didn't come out, undoing all our hard work. Then it was just a matter of stuffing the little shower-cap shape, continuing to sew around the top and gather it up until we could stick a stick in the top and hot glue it in place.

I had to get fancy, of course, and cut out some leaves and then glued a few acorns on them. They are DARLING! I fully intend to make some more. I might even end up with a burlap pumpkin patch of my own. Wouldn't that be adorable in the front yard?

Now, I'm sitting at my worktable taking a break from some sketching. I've got a bunch of projects up my sleeves but they're going to have to wait until after we return from our vacation. I always get inspired when I'm in the mountains and I hope to return refreshed and ready to craft my way into the holidays and right on into the new year!

Have a wonderful week and a Happy Halloween.
I can't wait to share the journey to the mountains with you! Take care and see you in November xo

With Heart in Hand,

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Day Late but Here, Nonetheless

The basil has been remarkable this year. I've grown it before, years ago, in a pot and had marginal results. But HERE, in the ground, it has grown to over 3 feet tall! I've harvested it four times and it has yet to give up the ghost. Seriously. I have a huge thing of frozen pesto, so much dried basil I could start an herb shop, basil tincture and vinegar. The only other thing I could do is make MORE pesto or just chop it down and give it away as bouquets to friends. It has gone to flower and I'm hoping that those busy little bees that still hover around them are scattering the seeds to the four winds and my yard next year will be a small field of the stuff.

Speaking of pesto, that's what I did with this bunch to the left. I decided that I just couldn't let the plant all go to waste. I mean, seriously: I've got more of the stuff then I know what to do with but we are stocked with plenty for the winter.

The pesto recipe I use is from Bon Appetit and it's super simple. For this batch, I didn't use the pine nuts just because I didn't have any. It tastes great either way:




Best Pesto Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 oz. Parmesan, grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 6 cups basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once halfway through, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool. Add cheese and garlic and pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add basil and place the top back on. With the motor running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until pesto is mostly smooth, with just a few flecks of green, about 1 minute. Season with salt.
    Do Ahead:
     Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Top with ½" oil to prevent browning. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface, and chill.
    Cooks’ Note: If you want to use this with pasta, cook 12 oz. dried pasta (we prefer long pasta for pesto) in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.
Here's the basil in full-bloom glory!

It's been a bit of a trying day today. Didn't sleep well all weekend and felt like I stumbled my way to work. You ever drive somewhere and get there and thing, "Whew! Thank goodness I made it!" Well, that's how it was this morning. I feel like the panic/anxiety disorder is creeping in again and not sure what that's all about. I mean, it never went completely away, but the chiropractic care I've been under for the past four months has taken a majority of the stress off my body so it's not a constant state of living anymore. That's definitely something to be thankful for.

But I feel myself craving the wild places, something that I've never really done before. I mean, I've always loved the forests and the woods; I used to go hiking all the time, years and years ago. My friends and I would take a day and drive up to North Georgia or North Carolina and just ramble around the woods for hours. We discovered a gorgeous waterfall off the side of the road in N.C., down a steep embankment that we wondered how in the world we'd ever get up again! I've been longing for a wild place I've never had, unless, of course, it was in my childhood when my parents and sister and I would go to the mountains. My sister and I would wander around the cabin we rented for the weekend or week and while we were never more than 100 yards from civilization in the form of electricity and indoor plumbing, it always felt as if there was this "other" watching us, beckoning us to run free. Nothing creepy; just something that spoke to a deep part of me. Something I didn't know was there until very, very recently.

so wild. so free.

We got some gorgeous, gorgeous rain over the past week and weekend. There was one day where it just seemed like it would never let up and I rejoiced by  putting on my wellies, grabbing my umbrella and going for a romp in the back yard. Of course, not long after that, the rain stopped and the sun came out! How's that for Georgia weather?

Then there was the tropical storm that wasn't. I cancelled my weekly writing meet up because it was predicted that we'd get 4 inches of rain in just a few short hours and there'd be wind gusts up to 40 mph. Well, in Savannah, if it rains just an inch, some places are impassable for a half hour. I knew if we got four inches dumped on us and I was out, I may not get home for hours. Perhaps we got four inches in total, but I doubt it. And those wind gusts? Hmmm...I think we lost some acorns. Maybe a few leaves? It was kind of funny to be honest but I hated cancelling my writing date. It helps to be held accountable by a fellow artist/writer.

Plus I only seem to be able to focus on my current work for about four hours at a time and these Saturday sessions are perfect for getting a bit of flow going, getting the next segment of the story completed and having it wait for me, nice and tidy, for the next week's session.

Oh! I did get one of my sewing projects completed last week! I finished up the sweater that I was working on and here it is :

a little life-style setting, if you please :)

I had SO MUCH fun doing this little lady. The sweater is super soft and lent itself quite nicely to a medium-sized tapestry needle and some beautiful embroidery thread. Here's a little bit of me wearing it and attempting to model. Look out, Vogue! Here I come : 


That's about all I got today, Dears. I'm finally at home, sipping some Earl Grey with a splash of vanilla creamer, hoping to finish off my very first knitting project! Woo-hoo! I call it: the little scarf that became a cowl-esque creature. She's lovely soft and rainbowy. I can't wait to show her off to you all.

Have a wonderful rest of the week and do let me know what you're up to!

xo

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Bit of Pottering About

Good afternoon!

You know, I always have this vision of me getting up early on Monday, making tea and sitting down to blog before I start my day. Ha! That doesn't happen. It's more like me tumbling out of bed, getting dressed hurriedly, popping an English muffin in the toaster and then - whoosh! - out the door! Ah well, the intention is there. Then again, isn't there an old saying that goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"?

* shudder *


Things have been a bit quiet around here this past week. The garden is slowly, slowly turning into bare patches of earth which will soon be smothered under a layer of rich compost. How do I know how rich it is? Well, we tossed out some butternut squash seeds back in January after using the veg to make soup. THIS is what grew out of the compost heap!!!


I planted butternut squashes. Not a ONE turned into anything. This one - uninvited and unbidden - took over half of the back yard and produced six GIGANTIC butternut squashes. Alas, however, the heat here split them apart and they weren't edible. Frowny face. But, at least I know that the compost is top notch and I'm hoping for herbs and WANTED veg to flourish even half this good next year!

The cats are being lazier. Even they know it's slowing down season. Not that it's gotten that cool yet. Sure, we wake up and tiptoe outside in the dew and, AH! It's 68*! So I put on some flannel and then sweat my way home mid-morning because it's all the way back up into the blasted 80s. So it goes in the deep South.

I've taken to putting pumpkin spice creamer in my tea. Don't judge. It goes really well with pumpkin spice tea! Seriously, I have no shame...


And, yes, that IS a ball of yarn and some knitting needles. Don't get too excited, though. I'm just learning and all I can do is a knit stitch. BUT I have a rather lopsided cowl in the making that I'm ridiculously proud of. I'll post a picture when it's done. You just have to promise not to laugh...too much!

Here's a bit of fun! Last night, I finally finished painting the outside of the covered patio. It's been too hot since May to do much of anything outside and with my weekday mornings filled with chiropractor appointments and work, I wasn't able to get out early and complete the project. So the patio has looked like this for five months:


Thanks to my wild Woodsman, however, who graciously moved the two ton ladder out into the salvia bed for me, I was able to finish the top portion of the shed.

Viola!


Isn't that just the most delightful color? It's called Beehive. I'm in LOVE!

Hmm...let's see. I'm still sewing, of course. I've got some jeans in the works - patches, not me making the actual garment. I haven't jumped into that deep end yet. I've also almost finished the pockets on a sweater that I found abandoned at work several months ago. Poor thing, left hanging around the office since the beginning of the Summer. I left it there with plenty of time for the owner to claim it. They didn't, I did, so there!


Those are the first couple of patches on the jeans.


And that's the sweater, stretched into an embroidery hoop so I can get those patches and pockets sewn on! Don't worry. When they're all done, I'll post an "after" picture. Even if they aren't that great. It's what keeps me accountable, you know! Plus, I know you'll all be kind and gentle :D

Oh, I've been reading again. Don't ask me why, but during the Summer, I just can't read. I haven't been able to since we moved to Savannah. Ever Summer, my desire to read just dries up like the rest of the rain around here and I don't read until September rolls around. Now I'm happily losing myself in a re-read of Susan Wittig Albert's "Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter" series. They are glorious! They are cozy mysteries that take place in the Lake District of England (or as I like to call it, Heaven). Beatrix Potter is the main character and there are all sorts of small village antics that happen and of course there are talking animals! They don't talk to the people, mind, just to each other and they are charming! Don't turn up your nose! They are wonderful books, cheerful and delicious like a cup of sweetened Earl Grey and a blueberry scone.


Which reminds me : I found a recipe for molasses bred from the Foxfire Organization. Now if you're not familiar with them - and most people who weren't raised in the South with parents who are all into old Appalachian ways of living aren't - they are a group in North Georgia who started when a school teacher decided to have his students start collecting local folk tales and folk ways from the older residents in their area of Rabun County.

Anywho, they posted a link to a recipe from their book Appalachian Cookery for molasses bread and I'd planned to make it today. Looks like I'd best get on with it if I'm going to enjoy a bit tonight with some of that sweetened Earl Grey. I might even watch The Corpse Bride while I nibble.

I'll post the recipe link and some pictures next week. When I know that it turns out. Of course, with Foxfire backing it, I'm pretty sure it will be amazing.

What do YOU intend to get up to this week?

Happy Spooky Season!
I'll chat with you next Monday.

With heart in hand,


Monday, October 7, 2019

A Girl and her Granny Boots


Hello!

How was your week? Ours was good. Aside from a little set back with a late summer cold (how does THAT work, anyway?) I've been working away with needle and thread and even managed a couple of dye experiments. The turmeric and tea one worked out really well - I'll show that one after I decide what on earth I'm going to do with it! The coffee and vanilla ones, however, are a bit...well...in the works. But that's why they're called experiments, right?

But the sewing. It's been wonderful! I feel as if I have finally chiseled my way out of a stone casement in which I've been hiding for so long. It's odd, really, and rather funny. I learned to sew when I was little, just enough to get by, mind. I learned how to put on a button. I cross stitched a goose. That was that. I didn't want to sew. I was a tomboy and tomboys did NOT sew. We climbed trees, skinned our knees and played baseball. I remember my sister sitting at our mom's sewing machine telling me that I'd better learn to sew because "One day you'll be poor and you'll have to sew on your own buttons and you won't know how and I won't do it for you."

She was about five.

Well, I've never been so poor that I had to sew on my own buttons but I have since learned to sew simply because I like being able to repair my own clothes and make new things. I've yet to dive into clothes making but that is in the future.

What I did tackle was the first project in a book I bought two years ago called Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida. It is a beautiful book filled with happy projects, the first of which is an Origami Pillow case for a throw pillow.

Friends! I did it! I conquered my fear of my machine, of following a pattern, and I did it!

Behold:


Here is the pillow in situ. You can't really see the origami pattern but you can see the size and confirm that it does, indeed, look like a pillow.


Here are the origami folds at an angle. It looks pretty complicated but it wasn't. It just took time and a willingness to stop between every single fold and iron everything as suggested in the book. The book is wonderfully written! She makes everything very simple and explains everything in detail. I had no problem making this. Trust me when I say that is SOMETHING!


Less exciting perhaps is the back but here it is! A little peek-a-boo at the pillow that currently resides in there. I need to get a new pillow floof so that the cover is filled and looks less frumpy. The Star Wars pillow, however, will do for now!

In addition to the sewing machine conquering, I've also dived head first into my folk art. It's WONDERFUL! I've sewn every single day this past week and I couldn't be happier. My back and neck may be suffering but that's why I go to the chiropractor :)

What started this all was a much needed clean out of my craft closet. It was very cathartic! After that was completed, I found some old patterns that I'd sketched out on a bunch of fabric. Lo, they were all autumnal in design and I thought, "What better time than now to get started!" I started with the very first thing I found: a stack of already cut out leaves. They were cut out of plain, cream colored cotton. Very dull. But I remedied that pretty quickly!


This first little leaf became an embroidered ornament.


Another challenged completed: I learned how to do the Lazy Daisy stitch and the French Knot!


Ta-da! And, yes, that IS a real stick sewn on at the bottom as a stem :)


This leaf has the same design on the front, minus some of the Lazy Daisy stitches, but it became a wall hanging instead:


As you can see, I kind of like adding twigs to my work. There's a twiggy stem on this one and I stuck a long stick through the tube I stitched at the top so that I could tie some rags to it in order to hang it up on the wall.  I'm super proud of this one!


Oh, and this? Well, it was only a matter of time before my folk art started leaking onto my clothes! This is a thrifted sweater and I can't WAIT to show you the progress on this one. But that will have to wait until next week...when it's done!

So just what does all this have to do with Granny Boots? Well, they're a bit rugged and I can wear them everywhere. I've been looking for a pair and today, in that big box store with the red circle for a logo there they were! I saw them. I gasped in pure delight! I tried them on and was smitten. I'd just happened to bring some cash from my savings pocket - yes, pocket - which covered the price with a bit left over. They are glorious!

But I digress.

You see, they may not be the most stylish of boots. Well, not on my feet at least. I'm sure someone infinitely more fashionable than I could put them on with just the right outfit and they'd be runway ready. But for me, they symbolize more than just a fashion statement or current trend. For me they are one more step to freedom. The freedom of being completely and totally at home with myself. The freedom of waking up in the morning and knowing that my jobs for the day revolve around my Hedgehouse and my Folk Art and my Tiggywinkle Tasks that make me grin like a Cheshire cat with glee. Simple things like harvest rose petals for tincture; keeping the sink rid of dirty dishes; dragging yet another pile of junk to the curb for the trash pick up; stitching the next stack of motifs (owls, this time) into something that will bring me and others joy; turning a thrifted piece of clothing into something unique. Little things that get dirt under my nails, pin pricks in my thumbs and require several cups of tea to keep me going.

At then end of a day like that, I can put up my Granny Booted feet, sigh with pleasure and look forward to the next day of simplistic bliss.

I hope you've had a marvelous weekend and a wonderful start to your week! And if you've been up to anything creative, I'd love to see!

With heart in hand,



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Comfort me with Nettles


Sure, I know that fall "officially" started on September 23 but for me, I don't get the Real Deal Fall Feels until October 01. And that's TODAY! If I had confetti I'd throw it through the screen and let it fall around you in a soft circle of rose petals and sage. Aaaahh, let that visual carry you through the next thirty seconds.


Spring was enlightening. Summer was pretty rough. September was wonky and I don't recommend repeating it. Hurricane evacuations, triggered anxiety and panic, a jury summons, a wee bout with depression: no thank you. BUT, it's all over and good and no one was harmed through any of  these ups and downs. Hallelujah.


This blog of mine has gone through its own shares of ups and downs, highs and lows. It's had many different names and has been abandoned, put away, spit shined and resurrected. And I love it. I love how it's evolved alongside me, with me, in spite of me. I love how we as a culture can put our hearts and our souls out into the world via the Internet and it's possible to allow those little cyber spaces to metamorphose along with our spirits and our dreams.


And boy oh boy do I have a lot of dreams. Always have. I think I was born dreaming. I'd even wager that just before I transitioned from The Great Beyond to my Mom, God decided that He'd had enough of me, wandering around babbling about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see so He decided it was high time I was someone else's issue for a while.

It didn't help. I still talk to Him on a regular basis but I don't think He minds too much.

Anywho, all that dreaming and planning and wanting and wishing really does a body harm. The stress it builds up, causing you to see the world through the tainted eyes of "but what about ME!" and "must be nice" and my personal favorite, "but that was MY dream, MY wish. Why are THEY getting to do it and I'm not?" It's ain't pretty and it ain't easy living with the likes of me, the Dreamer.

[An aside: my husband, The Woodsman, should be canonized whilst alive. He shouldn't have to wait until death to be given the title of Saint. Seriously.]

During this last bout with anxiety and depression I was hit with a really severe case of the "but that was MY dream" and it clung on like wet wool on a lamb. Everywhere I turned, there was another person I knew scampering off to play in the fields of my wanderings. And then, after I announced that I was expecting someone I know to accidentally meet the Queen (no one did, however, someone DID manage to wrangle a trip to Egypt but I digress) I started laughing. I mean really laughing. Gut busting laughing and the strangest notion came to me:

What if my job - right now - is to just be happy for the blessings of others, to enjoy their trips and victories, and give them a place to rest, restore, and refill after their journeys. 



The Woodsman and I LOVE hosting dinner parties and gatherings. We love having people over to wander through the gardens, sit at our breakfast bar and eat, drink or just chat. I host a regular stitching group and we love to have friends and family come and camp out on our couches for a few days.

[And I promise we WILL get a dining room table and a guest bed one of these days. Not in the same room, mind, but they will coexist in the same Hedgehouse.]

Now this wasn't one of those, "Woe is me! I'm doomed to walk the same paths and never glimpse the beauty and majesty of the Unseen Realms of my dreams" weep fest. This was an honest to goodness belly laugh at my own pitiful pity party inclined thinking.

Everywhere I turned (and I mean everywhere) there were fabulous vacations and  personal triumphs and career victories and I felt I was left standing in a mud puddle without an umbrella while everyone around me was being transported to the ball in a horse and carriage.


Suddenly, amidst the laughter, I saw the wisdom in the ordinary. I got a little glimpse of Wisdom through the mud being slung in my direction from the carriage wheels. And I turned my head up and let the rain rinse and I squidged about while the carriages disappeared in the distance and I went chasing after hedgehogs under the nettles.

Photo found via Pinterest
Nettles are very common. They grow everywhere and spread and take over. And they're wonderful. They are nutritious. They are healing. They have a lot of wisdom to give if you can stand the sting. Suddenly this commonplace herb was speaking to me from more than just my teacup. I realized that the new name of this blog came to me for a reason and a purpose and it came to me about a month before I went through this sorrowful mud romp. Funny how that happens, isn't it? The Universe just flinging something at you and you catching it and saying, "Geez I like that. I wonder why it's here."

Be careful what you ask for...you just might find out.

I was gifted with a new vision, one that invited me into the nettle hedge, sting and all. There is so much joy and beauty in The Ordinary. There's so much wonder and wisdom. And I've decided to make it my mission to seek it out in all of it's patchwork glory.


No this doesn't mean I"m giving up on any of the aforementioned dreams. I'm a Leo. We don't back down easily. But what it does mean is that I'm going to start learning these lessons in the art of slow: slow living, making, being, doing, baking, cooking, reading, tea sipping. I'm going to remember what it was like when I was a child and my greatest joy was wandering around the backyard during a rainstorm. And I'm sinking those barefeet of mine deep, deep down into the soil of my home and letting the roots carry me back to the place I once belonged.

Again, photo found via Pinterest. The artist, of course, Beatrix Potter
So welcome! Welcome to The Hedgehouse. Welcome to the house in the nettles. Welcome to where The Woodman dwells with the Washerwoman, the Granny Woman, the barefoot Gelfling who'd much rather get her hands dirty than hop in a car and drive into town. The garden is being put the bed soon and the days are getting shorter. Soon the temperatures will catch up with the calendar and we'll start digging out that fire pit. There's food to be cooked out there. There's folk art to be made and stories to tell. There's odd things to discover and strange things to unmask. There are old wounds to mend and salves to be mixed.

And there are dreams, Dear Hearts, dreams to nurture and bottle and coax to grow while resting while I gather up my courage and see where the moss roads and the mud paths take me.



I'm happy you're here. I'm thankful to those who have stayed for this long and I'm thankful for those who wander by from Instagram. That's the only other social media platform I use besides this blog. Oh, yeah. And Pinterest. I'm hopelessly addicted to that little digital scrapbook making collection of lovely pictures. It's a delicious feast for the eyes! You can find links to both my Instagram account and my Pinterest boards on the contact & connect page or on the side bar.

Here's to many more years of sharing and connecting via this little blog. It's come a long way and so have I and I'm delighted that you've chosen to join me along the way.

With Heart in Hand,