Saturday, December 22, 2012

more recycled Christmas!

This one is blurry, it is a garland I made for over the bathroom mirror. Much less work than the real tree one. No pine needles in the sink!
These two decorations pictured are special. The greenish garland (I really need to spruce up the color next year!) is the one pictured in the Recycled Christmas post. It is a favorite since that doorway is horrid and looks bare all year long. The balls garland next to it was made by  our neighbor. She used some old Christmas balls, yarn, and Mardi Gras beads to create this. I was very impressed. 
 I made tiny decorations to put around our light fixtures in the stairwell. Kind of Dicken's in a modern sort of spin!
 I particularly love this garland. This is in an area with Ford decor, so the blue and silver and white matches perfectly! Making the bows is not as difficult as I thought it would be-I may have mentioned that before!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recycling Christmas!

 I wanted garlands this year, but wasn't sure I'd get any. Jon is now an Eagle Scout and over 18 and is not working with the troop anymore, so I was skeptical as to where I'd get greens. Then, I had an idea! Why not use OLD FAKE tree parts to make things? I googled a bunch of sites and decided to try it for myself. So, for a whole $5 we picked up a bag of tree pieces that had gotten donated to the Salvation Army (without stems/trunks or bases--amazing what junk people donate!). In the bag were zip tied bundles of branches as well as two tree toppers. One of the toppers had ornaments on it and after looking at it, we realised it was a fiber optic set up. So, we stuck a flashlight under the bottom and WOW! The whole tree lit up in white. Now, being proud owners of much misc debris, we actually had a fiber optic panel thing. It plugs in and spins around and changes color. Steve made a base for the light panel that would hold the tree top and made a lovely Christmas tree for his mom. But the other stuff......oh my, oh my!

Here is Jon tearing apart one of the branches. On the floor are smallish metal rods, which are what make up each branch. Also on the floor and in the boot are what looks like curls of green doll hair (for those of you  who have played with doll making). I called it elf hair and am keeping the 'clean' stuff. This is the fiber wrapped around the rod and tree bits. Jon used an Xacto to shred down the branch and removed bits very quickly. 
When finished, we ended up with lots and lots of stem bits. I wasn't very pleased with the color, but I did find some greenish glitter to spruce a few up! (pun intended!)
All you need to do is take one longer bit and twist others around it. I used gloves because the trees were dusty and the wires inside were a little pokey. 

 As I added the bits, the garland started to take shape. I made a 4 foot garland in less than 20 minutes (the twisting/weaving part). Once I got one side as long as I wanted, I started the other side. Joining the two together in the middle made for a bulky center, but those I was able to cover up with ribbons. I think I have 7 inside far! (only one is from real trees)

 This is one half of a garland. The circle was an experiment  I was trying to make a wreath, but alas..Adding bits to the circle made it look extremely odd! I'll keep working on it! However, making this circle clued me in to yet another way to make a garland. I took the 'string' of greenery and twisted the other bits around the string. Much like you do when making a real green garland, only the wire is already in the greens!

 Here you can see one half done and the other part being worked on. This actually went a LOT faster than just twisting the separate parts together one by one. I will most likely do all of my others using the 'string' method.

Here we have a 'swag' made from an unaltered tree branch (ok, I did add a couple of extra green stems to cover up the metal hook that you slide into the fake trunk on the tree!). It is adorned with a bow and an ornament. I thought it turned out rather well, but Jon doesn't care for the glitter on the bow! He added the lights. Also recycled! He had seen a shotgun shell light strand elsewhere and wanted to try his hand at it. He skipped the cleaning the shells step (cuz he is a fairly neat shooter, picking up other people's brasses and shells when he finds them on the ground) and he drilled out the proper size for the lights in the base of the shell instead of just crimping the tops closed. He liked them better this way. It took him longer to find a pattern of shell colors than it did for the rest of the project! The second photo is a finished garland. I liked that if it was not balancing properly on the curtain rod, we could squeeze the wires in the greens and MAKE it secure!
This wreath is a combination of inexpensive decor, some real tree greens, and a couple of hangers. The base of this wreath is hangers duct taped together. I used green yarn to hold the branches on and then added the rest of the decor later. (the bear thing you see is a pot  holder--I hang seasonal pot holders inside the door cuz they just  look fun!)

I hope if you find an old tree this Christmas on the side of the road ready for disposal, you save it and make something out of it. Fake trees take an incredible amount of time to decompose and it is better to recycle and reuse! 

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Eastern Oregon Word Round-Up

I was undecided about attending, but finally determined I needed to. This is the first time Pendleton has hosted an event like this and I wanted to be in on the opening act! First, the venue was interesting. It was held at the Wildhorse Resort and even though the facilities were varied and the staff was helpful, I didn’t like it. It took ages to get from place to place and you had to hike past cigarette smoke and confusion. Other than that, however, it was GREAT fun and I can’t wait til the next one!

The first two classes I wanted to take, I missed. Thankfully, I didn’t pay for anything, I just decided what I wanted to attend. On the whole, I was glad I missed the first one. Others who DID get to attend said it was badly done. The author didn’t know how to talk and said he wasn’t sure what he was doing! The one on Nature Writing I think I would have liked, but alas—I managed to miss that one as well.

Once I finally figured out where I was, it was too late to attend the Satire writing class (the bad one) and so I browsed the exhibits. Which were great fun! I found a couple of books, including a 1950’s script in book form for The Pajama Game with photos!

Then, I was able to attend an excellent class given by F.I. Goldhaber called ‘What’s right for what you write?” I didn’t realize how much an author lost by having an agent, a bad agent, and publishing the traditional route. I also didn’t realize how the readers are often left out of the publishing picture. Often the books get left behind if they are not thought ‘good enough’ for publication. Even if they might be books the reader wants. Our presenter assured us that publishers feel vampires are a passé subject, so don’t write about them. The presenter ALSO reminded us that readers are not aware of this, so DO keep writing vampire stories if you want! All in all, it was a very short hour of tons of information on writing and becoming an indie author.

Then, I attended a class called ‘Writing the West’. Which took me a great deal of time to find and when I did, I was slightly disappointed. I anticipated it was a class on writing about the west---it wasn’t. Rick Steber is an author who wrote stories set in Eastern Or and areas like ours and he read from those stories. He is a wonderful reader as well as an author, so it was entertaining.  From there I went across the hall to one of the best classes I visited all weekend.

Writing Contemporary Fairy Tales by Ki Russell. She is a new professor at our local community college and I would love to take a class from her. We had a great deal of fun in her class and it was just that. She talked about how to use fairy tale themes in a modern story and was personable and fun. One of her comments, “You are making a brand new world: but it HAS to work.”

I skipped out on the rest of the day, fully intending to come back on Saturday. But, once again, I was late. Not only was I late, I was an hour behind!!!!!! So, I missed a class I really really wanted to take about blog writing and finally figured out where another class was that opened my eyes in a wonderful way. That class was called the Art of Imitating and Shadow writing, by a poet by the name of Jerry Brunoe. Now, I am certain I can write the story for Rod and Rick! Tales of the Mountain Ranch are on the way!!!

The next session I was able to attend was interesting since I was so unaware of the topic. Libraries and Intellectual Freedom. WOW!!! I had no idea librarians ever used to try to ‘be the stop lights’ for the ‘well being of the youth’.  Not all of the librarians thought this way, but it happened. The presenter gave us examples of good and bad and ugly librarian practices and made me very thankful that I have  had good librarians in my past. This was a fascinating class and I was very sad it was only an  hour. It was attended by many librarians from our area and I would have liked to hear how they practice being ‘good librarians’ to their patrons. Libraries are a neutral place in our community and I’m proud to be on the board of a library who stands there.

The last class I attended this weekend was a forum on the future of publishing. This was eye opening. Writing has so many different genres in it and not all of them are geared for e reading. For example, one publisher from Portland publishes mostly non-fiction and although, they do sell them in e format, they sell maybe a couple a month. Which makes sense. If you have a how to book, you would like to be able to haul it around in areas that may not be conducive to an ebook format. Like if you need to look something up and you are outside in dirt or water. One of the authors on the panel was a young woman from Pendleton, Sarah Woodbury. She tried writing and getting published the traditional way and couldn’t. She went indie and now—well, check out her website!

I am really glad I was able to attend this workshop and even more impressed I was able to meet so many authors from the Umatilla County. I had no idea there were so many published writers out here~

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fabulous Fall Fun! (or what I did while the guys went deer hunting)

I saw someone post a fall wreath on FB and when I clicked the image, it looked very pretty and fun. It was made with Japanese Lantern flowers and other assorted fall decor. I googled more images and saw the prices on some of them and decided, "hey, I can do this!" So, I gathered up a bunch of materials.
 On the table you can see the grapevine wreath (which I have had around for ages!), some 'berries' on metal wires (also things I've had for ages), Japanese Lanterns (which grow in my yard and are a very unusual and interesting plant), some poplar stems with changing leaves (from the front yard), ribbon, Calendula (which is a flower I grow for the herbal properties and dries very nicely), hops (which I are growing EVERYWHERE this year!), and pheasant feathers (which had been in the window for several years gathering dust). Under the hops you may see some purple plums. I did not use those in my wreath project. I was going to use pods from the dollar plants, but decided it might be too much.
 I twisted the hops around the vine and was impressed at how it looked. As the leaves die, I'll snip them off, if needed. I then clipped up my Japanese Lanterns and stuck those in the wreath. I didn't use any glue and only a few wires--I reckon if it falls apart, it will be time for a different holiday decoration! I then added the poplar leaves and Calendula. The bead berries looked nice, but I had to add one more thing. It is a tad overdone, but the feathers are for my teen. He has always wanted me to use them somewhere and now I have!

All in all, I think it turned out pretty well. And hanging it outside was an added benefit since the hops are covered with juices and aphids, the Calendula always have tiny bugs in them (those are a very sticky flower), the hops and lanterns were also cobwebby, and the feathers were a bit scraggly since they had been in the laundry room for a very long time and had also been used as cat toys! I can totally see why someone would purchase these things from a craft store. Although, I did compost what didn't get used.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bug Blog

While driving tractor,  Jon has found many a bug-he said sometimes it is almost as if there are frogs leaping out of his way. He has mostly found praying mantis and rather huge crickets. He often catches them and they ride in the cab with him. He almost always brings them  home in his lunch box. 

 This first one was actually IN his lunch box. Thankfully, he took the critter out before I opened up the box!

 This one, as you can see, rode with him and appears to be telling him which direction to drive.
 Below is the rather creepy cricket he has found in abundance. These, thankfully, were in containers in his lunch box. I still was rather startled. He said the thing was so large it lost a leg as it was put into the empty Gatorade bottle. It has a very large 'tail'--which Jon is holding it by for the photo shoot.

 This is the mantis that he caught with the cricket. He did not put them in the same container, so as to keep them both alive to 'show' us and to photograph when he came home. We rather liked the alien look in the one picture. The bottom one which shows the mantis ready to fly is pretty fun, as well. Hopefully, all these creatures fare well in our yard. Steve did wonder why they weren't around when he was a kid. He said he would have loved these as a boy.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


One of the most amazing creatures over here in the Eastern part of the state are the birds of prey. With harvest in full swing, you are able to see many different kinds out hunting. Earlier, Jon photographed a Kestrel, but I forgot to load that photo on. The ones below were not afraid of the tractor Jon was in and as you can see, he was able to get pretty close to them. Hawks and falcons are very hard to tell apart, especially when they are young. We think this may be an immature red tail, but are not positive.

 Here, the young bird found a snack and devoured it in the field. Later, it sat around looking for more.

 This is a different bird as far as we know, and it also is devouring a snack on a 'stick'. The bird below is a totally different type. It's eye is dark instead of golden like the ones above. It also found something to munch on in the cut wheat.

Jon has had a great deal of fun watching these beautiful birds hunt each day. He has been especially impressed by their talons. In the photo of the bird on the fence post, you can see the birds legs and the immense feet. They are definitely a bird not to be trifled with! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Spray Painting Space!

Sally Sundin, a retired Elm Ed teacher who loves to teach kids about reaching beyond themselves, came to the library to share a project with us. She had done this with many different ages and was excited to bring it to our town. What is it, you ask? Spray painting shapes on a canvas. Simple and stunning! 
 Prep work was the hardest part. We made sure all the cars were moved away, put down tarps and made sure we had garbage cans available. We had many different colors and choices for paint and we were excited to see what the kids would create.

 First, Sally suggested the kids choose a shape. There were several round containers and some space shapes. Once the shape was chosen, the kids sprayed one color on their canvas which was about the same size as the shape. Then, they added another color and for planets, it was suggested to put white on top. It looked like a goopy mess of color until the kids got a wadded paper towel to daub in the goo. After it was daubed to their satisfaction, the artist put their shape on TOP of the mess. Then, they sprayed black spray paint around their shape. It was magical what was revealed when the shape was removed!

 Some of the kids got a little too much paint on their canvas, but the best part of art is there are NO mistakes! After the initial project was dry, the kids then got to add comets of various color by putting the can tip down on the board and pushing on the can's bottom. A spritz of color makes a super comet shape!
This was an incredible project and you don't need to use a fancy canvas like we did. Sally used whatever paper she had around and one of her demonstration sheets was on the back of a huge out dated calendar!

Caledonian Weekend

The second weekend in July is set aside for Caledonian Days. This year our parade went a different route, but it started with a color guard and one of the Athena fire trucks. 
Pipe and Drum bands are very popular during this weekend and our Tiger-Scots play, too.
Pendleton Round-Up ALWAYS brings a crew over to advertise the up and coming Round-Up. I am always impressed by the tiny ones riding in the parades. 

 This young lady is AMAZING. She is a dancer and I've been fortunate to see  her every year. I love to watch her dance and her smile just makes you want to smile back!
 This chain mailed gentleman is actually someone we know! He is the man who helps facilitate Eagle Scout applications in our district. However, we didn't recognize Dale til Sunday when we saw him sitting in a booth before church. It appears this particular clan, and I don't recall what name it had, saved a king. They are always a draw since they have the best weaponry and costuming!

 Jonathan was in the last truck. He didn't even get to toss any candy!
Sunday morning, the churches get together and have a service in the park. They introduce any clans who may be in attendance and it is a fun gathering.