"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Friday, January 30, 2009

Toile In A Days Work

The walls in this dining room had a very thick Japanese toile paper on it. The colors and design were terrible and it had glitter embedded in the paper. It also had a plastic feel to it. Really, it was a mess, probably circa 1960. I wasn't about to try and remove it so I painted over it with cream colored latex paint which worked swimmingly - much like a blank canvas. I then decided to paint my own toile mural with acrylic paints. I soon forgot about patterns and instead had fields, mountains, valleys, houses, a church and volcanoes. Ha! The volcano was for my son who thinks the Yellowstone super volcano is going to erupt any day now.

This is a built-in corner cabinet where I keep blue and white pottery and china. You can see it better if you click on it.

Of course, I got paint on the moulding so now, I have to repaint all of that, floor to ceiling. That will just have to wait until I finish painting three more wall murals. I think it would have been easier to buy a few rolls of wallpaper, don't you?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Iceman Cometh

Looks like the geese are stuck in the center of the pond. They have kept a circle of water clear of ice, but would not walk on the ice to come for food. The wild ducks walked around on the icy surface of the pond without fear, but my geese are really chickens.

I counted 31 deer this morning, waiting for me to feed them corn. They wait for me in the morning and evening. I cannot fail them. The little yearlings just stare. My son says I am mother nature, but I am much kinder; I think I have to try and save the world. Up on our rooftop, it sounds like the deer are jumping around with all the ice melting and falling off.

Looks like fun? Not for me and the other states that are suffering from an ice storm. This is one of our Aristocrat Pear trees. Luckily, we received about 3/4 of an inch of ice and thankfully, did not lose our electricity. Last ice storm, it was out for 8 days. No heat, no TV or internet, the list is too long to write here. It is a nightmare, not to mention the millions of trees and branches that were down. To all those suffering with outages, I feel your pain.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Crows, Crowing, Crowed

I have a thing about crows.
Why, I do not know.
Crow, crowing, crowed.
A little nonsensical haiku for you. It is late, AND, a big ice storm cometh. I need to sleep and rest up for the days ahead as an impending ice storm makes me ill. We have had two major (they said 200 year) ice storms. One in 2001 and again in 2007. Anyone with the misfortune of living through these terrible acts of nature will know why I ramble on about this. I would rather have tornadoes around my house than ice storms. Now, the indians (I think the Cherokee), think of crows as a bad omen. I just like them. I have them all over the house in various forms; collect them for some reason and also paint them or sculpt them. Maybe I used to be a crow. The first pic is of a large oil painting I painted, The Crow's Picnic. Click on the pic to see them closer up. The second pic is a crow decoy; who would think of hunting crows? I have many decoys and was shocked that someone would hunt a crow. The third pic is a baby crow sitting on a yearling horse's mane, holding on for dear life. The horse is bucking to try and get it off its back. It is one of my life-sized paper sculptures I told you about. I'll show pics of the pony later. The fourth pic is a wool wall hanging by an artist named Earlene from Coweta, OK. Crows are very smart, except for one. Years ago, I saw a crow bothering an owl in a tree out in front of my house. Would not leave that owl alone. Next morning, the crow was on the ground, deader than a doornail. Another bad thing happened to a few more crows. The old meany that lives down the road (the original old crow) shoots them and hangs them around in her trees upside down. Guess it is supposed to scare more crows away. Oh, I guess enough said about crows. Love you guys. And I'm so happy to have you virtually in my life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Indoor Planting

Well, I can't plant anything outside so I decided to plant some edibles inside. At least I can get something growing as the garden catalogs just don't seem to be exciting enough for me. Lowe's has the microgreen seeds and little planters with peat pellets. I think the packages contain radish, beet, broccoli, oh I don't know exactly. Anyway, they will be tasty atop salad soon. It is supposed to only take 10 days before they are ready to eat. Successive plantings will keep the greens coming. Okay! And only 70 more days until I can start planting outside. Maybe.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Garden House

This little house is made from old windows on all sides. You can prop them open in the summer or close them in the winter. The floor is flat rocks. One winter I had geranium plants and root cuttings from them and they were doing great until the propane tank ran out of propane. Lost them all. So, either build your little greenhouse close to an electrical outlet for a space heater or rig up a solar heating system to overwinter plants and don't forget to have water nearby. Learn from my mistakes. My little garden house is now filled with all my garden implements; tools, tiller, pots etc. It sits right behind my garden so it is handy. Jenny wrens also love to nest inside the boxes and pots that are stored inside. It's a way to recycle that is useful; a giant birdhouse.

PS - this doesn't really look as bad as it photographs. It actually looks pretty when you can see through all the windows and I guess when the crabapples are blooming and the garden is bountiful...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Butter Love

Just a tip for those of you not watching their cholesterol -

Run don't walk to your nearest Whole Foods Market and pick up a block of Meyenberg's Goat Butter. I know. At first I thought GOAT BUTTER! Almost sounds like camel butter or something like that. Not very appetizing was my first reaction. Then, I thought what the heck and bought it. It was love at first bite. Let me tell you, if you like real butter, you will never have any better. It ruined every other butter I have ever tasted for me. I haven't used margarine or the like in centuries and only cook with butter. Alas, this butter is too expensive for me to bake with. I heard Martha Stewart say on one of her shows that they only use goat butter for baking now so I guess she tasted Meyenberg's too. Anyway, it is wonderful to savor on a cracker or toast points. It's like, butta.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sprouting Window Boxes

This is a picture of a window box on the north side of my house. I have tried impatiens, ivy and many other shade loving plants but to no avail and so, I have many many birdhouses, antique and new, clustered up telephone poles, hanging in trees, on fence posts.... Anyway, the two window boxes on this side of the house now sprout birdhouses and a few of my bird garden antiques too and the best thing is, I don't have to water them. Can you tell I just cannot stop thinking or wishing for spring and summer and I'll even water too! And as icing on the cake, little Jenny wrens go into these little cubbies to sleep at night. So cute.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Garden Ornament

Here is a piece of yard art at the side of the house by my goldfish pond. He has been watching over the place for 15 years now. Got him as an anniversary gift. He's made out of an old Ford truck and is so scary that birds roost on him and have even made nests in his lower jaw. The deer come right past him to feast on my bulbs and pansies.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Summer Dreams and Gumbo

Today, in my neck of the woods, it was 73 degrees. Tomorrow, the high will be in the 30s. It just about kills me. I know some people love the cold and snow; I'm not one of them. Oh, I do like to see it snowing, but that's about it. Give me the snowy mountains or beach side in Barbados and I'll choose the beach every time. So, I'll just have to be content thinking about summer - gardening, warmth and the like.

This is my bay laurel tree. I've tended it since it was a 6" slip. It is now over 8' tall and still growing. I repotted it this past summer into the largest pot I could find and it seems to be happy. It is now residing in my barn until late April or the first of May.

I have a recipe for Gumbo that a friend from New Orleans gave me years ago that uses bay leaves. It is very very good and freezes well.


Make a roux with bacon grease and flour. Add 2 lbs. of sliced okra. Cook down about 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of chopped onions and also a bunch of green onions chopped. Next, add 1 cup of fresh chopped parsley, 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper and 1 TB. of minced garlic. Cook about 10 minutes more. Next, add 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes. Add 1 lb. of smoked sausage and mix thoroughly. Now, add 2 quarts of cold water and 1 cooked chicken that has been pulled from the bones and the following seasonings: 3 whole bay leaves, 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 5 tsp. salt, 1 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 4 tsp. lemon juice, 10 whole allspice, 1 tsp. mace and 8 whole cloves. Raise heat slightly and bring mixture to a boil., then lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir from time to time and scrape across the bottom of pan to prevent scorching. While still simmering, add 1/2 quart of water and stir. Remove pot from heat and let stand a few minutes before serving.
This recipe will turn out perfectly delicious. I must add here that I rarely measure anything, meaning, don't be afraid to put your own spin on this dish. Oh yes, and you can add shrimp toward the very end of cooking; crab too. I serve it in a bowl over jasmine or brown rice. I guarantee you are going to love this soup.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Collecting Stuff

I began collecting chintz many years ago. It wasn't cheap when I started. Nevertheless, I loved it, so I was willing to spend what I could afford. I'm told that when it first came out, it could be found at Woolsworths and in cartons of laundry soap. Very cheap in its time. It comes in many patterns and colors and well as varieties of flowers. I have some with black backgrounds, deep blue backgrounds and russet colored backgrounds. I think I am partial to the pastel backgrounds with my favorite piece being a Shelley cup and saucer. The saucer is the palest pink as is the outside of the cup. The inside of the cup is a stunning full floral pattern. It is visible in the second pic; the cup behind the little ram on the bridge and the saucer on the shelf above it. I think they show up if you click on the pic. The mint green pottery at the bottom of the cabinet is a California pottery (Weilware) that my mother had when I was young. After she died, my father used it and broke it, so I found pieces on ebay and started my own collection. I only use it for special holidays, etc. When I started collecting chintz, I looked at majolica, but thought it very ugly. Then I started seeing it in a different light and thought it rather endearing. It has usually been much more expensive than chintz, thus I have fewer pieces, but I keep looking anyway. I saw a pitcher once with a rooster protecting a hen and her chicks from a hawk flying overhead which I have seen many times on my farm. I think it was only $175. so I didn't get it which I now regret. I must also mention Japanese chintz which is very affordable and I am not above collecting it when I see a piece I like. I'm not a real girly girl; I don't like to put on makeup and usually just pull my hair on top of my head in a clip rather than spend the time styling it (I'd die if I had to spend the time on my hair and makeup that my sister does). I also don't wear much jewelry, which is funny because I make it. Nonetheless, I think my chintz collection is the closest to the feminine I'll get. Besides, the animals at my Peaceable Hill Farm don't care how I look anyway, except oddly, they notice the difference when I have a hat on.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Picasso Redux

Here are some pics of one of my paper art sculptures titled Picasso Redux. It is stored in a back room of my barn and being a big girl (she's over 8 feet tall), I couldn't photograph her in one shot without hauling her out of the barn which I wasn't going to do. Anyway, here are a few views of her. These sculptures start with a roll of chicken wire and sometimes a tomato cage. Also, I use newsprint, Elmer's glue, roofing paper, paper towels, foil, styrofoam, wooden dowels, paper clay and acrylic paint with a satin varnish to finish it. Other times, I am at the plumbing section of Lowe's, gesturing and trying to explain to the help that I need a little thingy that goes into another little thingy... Believe it or not, these large sculptures take longer to make than clay sculptures. I really do like Picasso, though historically I have been into realism. She was fun to make and after trying to photograph her, I am thinking I might chop her up and add some more angles, a new base, maybe use a pallet knife to load on some more paint for texture...It never ends.

To see some other paper sculptures of mine, hit the arts and crafts index to the right. I hope this post doesn't put me in the naughty category or anything like that.