Passion for painting

I have had a lot of hobbies in the last four decades. You name it, I’ve tried it.

One hobby was wood-working.  I sold enough products to buy all new power tools, to make, you guessed it……more product.  I took tole-painting classes so I could decorate everything I made. This particular hobby lasted at least 5 years, so I got pretty good at painting and some of the techniques have stayed with me.

Because of my recent success at the last three craft shows, I have segued my succulent container business into crafts, mainly because I have run out of plants and no-one is buying plants at this time of year anyway. They’re all hibernating in their houses, much like me.

I started making deco-mesh tomato-cage trees (see earlier post)100_3628_Fotor

And then wreaths.5_Fotor_Fotor_Collage

I was already selling planter boxes, made out of  pallets/skids by my hubby12359910_10204219502521691_7356852425435028543_n so when I came across a smaller version that I could use to plant succulents  in at next years Farmers Market, I had him make me some of those. He was dying to use the belt sander recently acquired at a garage sale.

 

 

At first, I just stained them and filled them full of candles, pinecones and greenery. Then I decided to jazz things up a little by using a bit of colour and stencilling random words on.

He even made a rustic tree. I stained it and  added some fake greenery, balls and lights. Instant Christmas Tree.

IMG_20151218_161237

Because I had been spending time at the craft store buying supplies it wasn’t too long before I saw something else I could make…….Weathered wooden signs!!!!  Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. You’d think I’d just won the lottery. Now, my days are filled with trolling the internet looking for ideas, sanding wood, painting wood. And, last but not least posting everything online, hopefully to sell.

All those painting classed have finally paid off!  This is also the reason I’m not posting anything here, I’m consumed with making more and more signs.

Advertisements

2015 Year review

100_3543I haven’t posted very much in the last two months, what with  the market, craft shows, and Christmas preparations.  I had every intention of blogging about all the Christmas shenanigans, took loads of pictures, and then, never actually seemed to have time to sit down and write. On top of everything else I got sick on Christmas day and that laid me up for six days.

Anyways, I’m on the mend now and thought I would review the amazing year I’ve just had. Things started happening around the beginning of June when I decided that I would finally retire after working at the same company for thirty years.  Six weeks later all the paper work was finalized and I spent my last day at work on July 18th.  My co-workers threw me a party and presented me with a gift basket full of gardening goodies, since they know that gardening is my passion.

100_2885

On July 21st I set up my very first exhibit at the Fort Erie Racetrack Farmers Market. I decided to go with my strengths and sell plants. Mostly succulent planters and some perennials.

100_1415

I was amassing quite the collection of succulents through propagation and needed a good sturdy work bench, so my husband Pat built me a great potting table.

Woebegone. Did I really just write that?

In early August we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  I know its a cliché, but I seriously don’t know where the time went. Good times.

100E1906

I spent a busy week with two of my grandchildren during the summer holidays. They always know I will have lots of crafts for them to do and they get stuck right in.

100_2041

Morgan with some of her artwork, that she is about to apply to that painting on the wall behind her

Kevin with his lego creation

Kevin with his lego creation

Fort Erie celebrates the War of 1812 every year with a re-enactment taking place on the grounds of the Old Fort. We always take Kevin to it because he loves to see all the soldiers. This year I made him a Red Coat costume, and we spent the day wandering around all the displays.

He’s definitely on the side of the British!!

In late September we took some time and flew out to the west coast to spend some time with my daughter, Becky. Thoroughly enjoyed two sunny weeks in the  San Francisco area.

Becky and Betty

Shortly after our return, I had a mishap with a piece of glitter and spent 14 hours in three different hospitals, but these three girls took good care of me.

Florence Nightingales

Florence Nightingales

The Market, ran right  thru to Thanksgiving Sunday.Since it was so close to Halloween, a couple of us dressed up and had quite a good time.

IMG_20151020_193538

I’m the one in the black and red cape

One of the girls invited me to be an exhibitor at an upcoming craft show, so I thought why not. Good opportunity to sell my left-over stock. I had also been selling wreaths and Christmas trees the last few weeks of the market, so I went in to over-drive  and produced enough stock for a two-day show.

I did so well, I exhibited at another two shows leading up to Christmas. Because I had pretty much sold out at the first show, I had to fire up the production line again. Luckily for me the weather was unseasonably warm and I was able to make quite a lot of bespoke products outside.

Halloween was just around the corner as well, so Morgan and Kevin came over to help me decorate.

100_3369_Fotor_Collage

they did a fine job

Before you know it, December 1st rolls around and its time to decorate and get ready for Christmas.  I always go all out and this year was no different. Well, except for the fact that I decided I needed one of the “flocked” Christmas trees. Two weeks before Christmas they came on sale, so I treated myself. Best tree I’ve ever had.

IMG_20151207_152219_Fotor_Fotor_Collage

All in all, a great year. See you in 2016

 

 

 

I

Mincemeat Pies (the easy method)

100_3730_FotorSome people might think they are in the festive spirit when they have trimmed their Christmas tree and decorated the rest of their house.  Not so. In our house it’s not Christmas until there’s batches of mincemeat pies and sausage rolls on the table. Today was that day.  Pat smelled them as soon as he walked through the front door.  Within four hours we have pretty much polished them all off and I will have to make some more tomorrow.

Here’s how I make mine:

Turn stove to 450 degrees

Gather everything you need

100_3685_Fotor

Jar of mincemeat, rum, pastry, icing sugar, flour

I always add extra rum to the mincemeat ahead of time, so it’s got time to infuse into the mixture. I never make pastry anymore, I buy ready-made pie crusts (makes about  18).  That’s not lazy, its smart

My mother gave me these pastry cutters when I got married (40 years ago) and I still use them.  Little bit of nostalgia there

100_3685_Fotor_Collage (3)

Lets get started then:

1 – Lightly sprinkle flour onto board before starting to prevent pastry sticking. Using largest pastry cutter, cut out 12 pieces. Then, using the smallest cutter, cut out the same number.  Put large rounds into baking tray.

Do not discard the left-overs, you can knead them into a ball, roll it out and make another 6 tarts.100_3685_Fotor_Collage (2)

3 – Put one heaping teaspoon of mixture into each tart round and then top with the smaller cut-out.  Place into the pre-heated oven  on middle rack ( I use the middle rack  for everything, it’s the only  one I’ve got!)100_3685_Fotor_Collage (4)

4 –  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown

100_3719_Fotor

5 – I put the baked tarts on a cooling tray and then lightly dust with icing sugar before putting them in festive cupcake cases.100_3685_Fotor_Collage (5)

That’s it.  Some for us, some for family.

100_3685_Fotor_Collage (6)

Presentation is everything though, so I set up the Christmas goodie station on the dining-room table. You just never know when you will need a little snack.

100_3733_Fotor

 

 

 

Christmas Displays around the house

100_3676_Fotor

I love Christmas and I love decorating, so, the last week of November I haul out all the storage totes from under the stairs, pile them up in the family room and try to organize what goes where. At the end of the season I try to pack away according to displays in different areas of the house, thinking it will make things easier next year. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

100_3549_Fotor

Greens, tulle, glass jars, deer and ornaments all nestled in a tote

This year I started a bit earlier because I’ve been an exhibitor at a few Christmas Craft shows and I decided to re-purpose some of the stuff that I haven’t been using. Turns out, I’m guilty of being a Christmas decoration hoarder, even I couldn’t believe the amount of decorations that filled the family room. There was no room to move, it looks like someone has dropped a bomb in there.  I should have signed up for ten craft shows.

By the time I had thinned out the supplies I still had fifteen totes left. After much humming and hawing I decided to put out the display I usually put on the dining room table, that way I will stop using the dining room as a crafting area.

The base for this display is a restaurant-sized pizza tray (garage sale find).  We also use it to serve pizza!

100_3551_Fotor

Glass jar with tulle for snow

I actually bought these two blue trees from the dollar store this year, even though I really didn’t need them.  If you’re on a budget and don’t like to pay the prices at Michaels Craft Supply Store, the Dollarama has some good finds.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the crafting  supplies at Michaels. I just can’t justify their prices, unless of course, you have a 25% coupon off already reduced at 70% merchandise.  Anyways, I stuffed some tulle into the glass jar and nestled one of the newly acquired trees in there.

Next, I joined three branches of greens into a circle, fluffed them out and laid on the tray, adding the other tree and some battery operated lights (also from the Dollar store).

100_3551_Fotor_Fotor_Collage As usual, even though I pack the deer into boxes, the antlers always get broken.  Try and use porcelain glue to repair, not the glue gun, otherwise  you won’t get a good join .

100_3551_Fotor_Fotor_Collage (3)

Add deer, ornaments and more trees

After you’ve repaired your broken ornaments (I cant bear to throw things away), start arranging them on a tray. Guess what other trees came from the dollar store?  I just keep adding things until the display looks ‘just right’, or, until I absolutely, positively can’t fit anything else on the dish

100_3551_Fotor_Fotor_Collage (4)

And that’s it, a Christmas ‘tablescape’.  #tinyflashesofdelight indeed.

100_3657_Fotor

 

 

Decomesh Christmas Wreaths

I love this stuff

I love this stuff

I recently discovered Decomesh when I was decorating the upside-down tomato-cage trees, see earlier post. It is definitely a must-have in any crafters box of tools. There’s no end to what you can do with this medium.

I’ve been extremely busy creating things for some Christmas shows just recently, but I took the time to record “how-to” make a simple  mesh wreath.   Its a little bit fiddly to work with, but once  you’ve mastered the ins and outs,  and depending on how much you want to spend on embellishments  you can create some fantastic wreaths.  Just google  ” decomesh” for inspiration.

1 – Start by gathering all the tools you will need.

mesh, scissors, pine wreath, wire and glue gun

mesh, scissors, pine wreath, wire and glue gun

2 – I bought my wreath from the dollar store for $3.00, but I’ve since taken to making my own out of grapevine to keep costs down. At first I spread all the branches of the wreath out , but, this proved to be too100_3460cumbersome when I started adding the mesh, so I bent all the branches inwards and this worked better.100_3465 (2)

3   Fold over the first four or five inches of the decomesh roll, making a loop, secure with a length of wire,   about ten inches long. (don’t snip off the ends of the wire just yet, it might come in handy later on).  100_3462

Position starting loop on the wreath and secure with the wire.100_3461

For the next loop use a length of 8 to 10 inches of mesh, (no need to wire) pinch it in and secure to wreath using one of the wreath branches.  Make sure to cinch it really tight.  100_3473 Using the same roll work your way  all around the wreath.  I left a 2 foot length of mesh at the end because I wasn’t sure if I was going to use the mesh or ribbon, for a bow.  Using the same method, add the other colours to the wreath, weaving in and out as you go.100_3456_Fotor_Collage

Any lopsided spots can be fixed by adding a single section of looped mesh, securing with a branch

.4 – Embellishment is the last step.  I kept it pretty simple for my first few efforts. I used both wire and the glue gun to add the extras. Sometimes you have no choice but to use the glue gun,  although  wiring is definitely the best method. (remember those long pieces of wire used at the beginning?  now is the time to use them).

9_Fotor (2)_Fotor_Collage

I used pine cones, berry sprays, ornaments and bows on this one

5.  Last but not least,  make a ‘hanging’ loop out of pipe cleaner and attach to the top of the wreath at the back.8_Fotor_Fotor_Fotor_Collage

 

 

 

Christmas Containers in 5 easy steps

I usually don’t make my Christmas urns this early, but I thought I would make a few for the craft show next week. Might as well go with my strengths. Instead of using the typical round container “drop-in”, I decided to use the wooden skid planters we had left over from the Farmers Market.

1 – First things first – gather some fresh greens. 7 years ago I planted quite a few shrubs and evergreens especially for the purpose of making my own planters, including a weeping nootka and a redtwig dogwood.  I also cut some curly willow branches and spray painted them white.

100_3408_Fotor_Collage (2)

Foraged from my garden

2 – Find a good workspace. We are currently experiencing beautiful weather so I was able to work outside at the potting table.  Lots of room to spread out and get stuck in.  100_3408_Fotor_Collage3 – Whether you are planting a round container or an oblong one like this skid planter, the rules are basically the same.  Thriller, filler spiller.  I start at the front with the spiller and work my way to the back adding the filler greens. I used the red twigs and painted curly willow for some height.

4 – The only thing missing from this planter is large pinecones. We only have those long skinny ones in this area and I don’t much care for the look of them, so I added a bow and some sparkly ornaments instead.100_3426_Fotor

I also added in some ice-plant flower heads and some holly until  finally, there was absolutely no room left for anything else.

100_3427_Fotor

Not too shabby

5 -If you want it to last thru the winter just make sure the soil doesn’t dry out.  Mine usually last until mid-February, and we live in a Zone 6 with some extremely frigid temperatures.