Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sights and sounds of summer

Summer in Michigan is spent outdoors. Downtown is crazy busy, the restaurants and shops are full of people hanging out and the lakes and rivers are full of people boating, kaiaking and canoeing.

Each morning I am awoken by a multitude of different birds chirping and socializing and the squirrels talking to each other.

Yesterday I noticed the cicadas for the first time. The sound they make brings back memories from my childhood.  My grandma lived in an older part of Phoenix since the 40's and she had very mature citrus trees in her backyard. During the summers, we would spend lots of time in her yard playing in the irrigation and collecting the molted cicada skins from the trees.

Lots of time is spent in the yard here too. Since our yard has grass, I got us a Bocce Ball set. I have always wanted one, but playing it on desert landscaping really isn't much fun!

Hope you are finding ways to stay cool and enjoy your summer!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Strawberries and Festivals

Yesterday I went picking strawberries with my neighbor, Jen.

Strawberries waiting for their fate

Decided to make jam.
Strawberries cooking.

Finished jam!

I ♥ strawberries!
 Every summer Ann Arbor hosts the Summer Festival, tonight after enjoying dinner at one of our favorites restaurants downtown, we wandered around this evening's concert.
Yes, it is still that light out at 9:20 pm!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gardening Green

One of my favorite things about summer is being able to walk into your back yard and picking something fresh from the garden to eat. Here is our mini garden supplied with most of the plants we use on a regular basis. And yes, tomatoes. Biting into a tomato right off the vine, still warm from the sun, is still one of my favorite memories from childhood and continues to make me smile every time I get the opportunity to do it again.
This year we came upon a planter called an Earth Box. Its a self watering planter. You fill the planter with water that is stored in the bottom of the planter, when the soil needs water it is wicked up from the reservoir. So far it has worked wonderfully. We planted 3 tomatoes and they are getting big.

 Here are the first plants.  
Once we started getting tomatoes, I decided that 3 plants was not enough. I found directions on making your own self watering planter for about half the cost. The one I made is the grey and black planter. I filled with 4 tomatoes, Rosemary and Oregano.

Sage, Thyme, and Cilantro
Here is the Oregano and Basil. My garden would never be complete without Basil. We use Basil at least 4-5 days a week. It goes with almost anything. Once the tomatoes are ripe, Caprese salad will be a daily lunch special at this house! And a basil martini is delish too!
The Oregano and one of the silver spoon markers I made.


And our garden would never be complete without a chihuahua or two!
Speedy G

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Michigan Glass Project

Yesterday was Studio Day at my friend's studio; AnnMarie Stanesa Glass Art. A group of us get together to share our creative energy and melt some glass. There was another event going on this weekend, the Michigan Glass Project event, so we decided to take a trip to Detroit and support this great cause.
The Michigan Glass Project(MGP) is a non-profit that is associated with the Oregon Glass Project, Colorado Glass Project and the Arizona Glass Project. They are an awesome group of glass artists that come together to raise money for charity. The MGP is raising money for the re-opening of the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit. The Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest continually operating aquarium in North America. It opened in 1904 and closed tin 2005 due to lack of money. The Friends of Belle Island have been trying to raise enough money to re-open it since 2005. Here are some photos of the event and the Aquarium and a link to the Michigan Glass Project page.

Making pieces to be auctioned.


Pendants for sale


Here is the inside of the Bell Isle Aquarium



A tank full of Cichlids


The aquarium would let you sponsor a tank in need of repairs. The money would pay for the repairs so it could be filled with water again. 
This is the tank the MGP sponsored, it is full of glass creations that will be auctioned off and given as a donation to the aquarium. AnnMarie and I brought some of our glass to be donated. They put it right into the tank while we were there. It was really rewarding to be next to some great artists.

Here is my starfish pendant going in


Here is AnnMarie's seahorse pendant going in

This is AnnMarie. Her website is here:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New things

This weekend we went sailing; yard sales, estate sales and garage sales.
We went to an estate sale, which is something I have not done since I lived in California, and I forgot how strange and sad it seems. If you have not been to an estate sale before, they are usually held inside someone's home and everything is for sale. These sales are very organized, everything is marked, prices are reasonable, and most everything is negotiable. The strange part is that you are inside someone's home and it looks like they just stepped out for a bit, everything is still in it's place. The sad part is the person that lived there has passed on or has been taken somewhere else and will not be returning.
As I walked around looking, I thought about the person who lived here, were they young or old, alone or a couple, did they have children or pets..... After I decided on a bag of silverware for an art project, I waited in line behind a guy younger than me holding an old picture. The picture was a print named "Old Man Praying", it was in good condition and was in a really decorative frame. I commented on the picture and he informed me that same picture was on the mantle of the house he grew up in and he saw it every day. I was so touched by his story and I began to think about how the person who lived in that house would live on through memories of people they didn't even know. 

Here are my findings from a different yard sale. A dresser in need of some repair, a heavy old mirror (I have a thing for old mirrors), and a vintage purse. For the grand total of $14.00 and they delivered it!

More new things...
I have been inspired by the lakes in Michigan. I have been reading up on them in preparation for summer when we will be going to both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. They are natural, fresh water lakes with beaches, ports, docks and light houses. I wanted to express my excitement through my art, so I am working on a bead beach theme. Here is what I have done so far. 

Starfish pendants

And here are some more new beads.... 

My favorite beads to make.

My first try at these murini and twisted cane beads. Still working on the colors .

Friday, June 8, 2012

Home Improvement

I wanted to share the view from the kitchen window. The bird feeder brings lots of colorful birds, such as Blue Jays, Red Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Doves, Sparrows, Finches, and Robins. Since it has warmed up, we have been seeing less birds and I wanted to brighten up the yard, so I painted birdhouses. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Good morning beautiful

Gardening has always been one of my favorite hobbies. When we left Arizona, the plants were green and about ready to start blooming. When we arrived in Michigan, there was snow on the ground, something that is rarely seen in Phoenix. We had no idea what plants lurked under that white stuff in the yard. Now that it is summer, it has been really fun discovering plants and trees that I have never seen in person before. 
Here are some pictures of the plants in our yard.

These are Peonies, they are perennial and there are over 40 species. The petals are so complex and fragile looking, they look like paper flowers. The white ones are the last to bloom and are the most fragrant. They are virtually immune to diseases.  

 Lilies and Irises 

Bulbine Frutescens and Orange Honeysuckle

I look forward to the next set of plants blooming and will keep you posted. 

Those of you who generously found spaces in your homes for my precious collection of cacti and succulents, thank you again.