Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oriental Lily

Exploring a lily bouquet I got at Trader Joe's last weekend.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Monday Mosaic - Garden Ornaments

Mary at the Little Red House is such an inspiration to me. Her blog is always a nice place to visit because she takes such beautiful photos and shares her travels to gardens, parks, and thrift shops. Lately she has been hosting Mosaic Monday in which I've been participating. I'm secretly hoping some of her talent will rub off on me so my mosaics will improve.
On Friday she asked about favorite garden ornaments so it just seemed natural to incorporate them into my Monday Mosaic. I have lots of garden ornaments in my yard: three bird baths, two lichen encrusted benches, a "Stockton" brick, a gargoyle, an old watering can, two urns by the front door, a sundial, a gnome, and an old man taking a nap. I'd have to say the old man taking a nap is my favorite garden ornament. But the gnome is pretty cute too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

China Mosaic

Mary has inspired me to make mosaics, so I've delved into my archives to look for themes. For this China one I made a unique pattern and used red borders. It was fun fitting the photos into the different shapes to show them to their best advantage, but I think I like the squares better.

Starting with the red door and going clockwise: Door to Forbidden City, Sidewalk Calligraphy, Yao Woman washing her hair, Lunch in the Hutong, Panda Bear, Summer Palace, Terracotta Warriors, Gold Buddha at Wild Goose Pagoda, Artistic Dumplings, Li River Valley, and in the center The Great Wall.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ancestors in 1869

The Lord of the Manor's cousin in France recently sent us this photo of the family taken in 1869. I showed you the same family back in February. The other photo was taken twenty years after this photo, but they are sitting in the same locations! In this photo the mother is 43 years old and has had eleven children. She has her last about a year after this photo. What a woman! (And here I am at 54 with only two teenagers whinging about my troubles. What a wimp.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Drip Irrigation

I think I've shown you our hanging baskets here and here. We saw them in Europe and England and brought the idea home. The first year I tried to water them with a wand, but in our hot climate, they needed constant attention and soon shriveled up. Because I didn't water them enough. It was sad.

But this year they are looking pretty good. And it was over 100 degrees on Sunday. They are looking better because the Lord of the Manor has extended the drip irrigation to them. Yippee! I'll show you how he did it.

Warning: This will require a trip to Home Depot or OSH or one of those big box home and garden centers. So arm yourself with a list and a Starbucks and lots of patience.

Most of us in arid climates have automatic sprinklers in our yards. So I'm just going to show you how to tap into an existing circuit and make it into drip irrigation. (If you don't have existing sprinklers, you can put a "Y" on a faucet and just turn it on when you need to. They have fittings to do that on the same aisle as all the drip irrigation stuff.)

You'll need one of those couplings shown above. It's the white thing with the green end. It glues onto the 1/2" PVC sprinkler pipe using that special PVC glue. After it dries you push the 1/2" black tubing into the green end. Once you get to the black drip irrigation tubing you won't need glue anymore; just push the pieces together.

Just a word here about the colors. If you use 1/2" tubing, use couplers with the green ends because they are made to fit the 1/2" tubing. Make sure your tubing size matches your coupler size, because it's darn near impossible to fit 5/8" tubing into 1/2" couplers. Not quite impossible, but very difficult. I've done it. With a lot of cussing. Trust me on this; get all 1/2" from the get-go.

Now using the elbows made for the 1/2" black tubing, you need to get the water up to the baskets or window boxes. We ran ours up some pipe, then up the brackets. LOM secured it with zip-ties. (You'll have to look in the electrical department for those.) One could paint the black tubing to match the house but we haven't done that. Yet. If ever.

Then in our case we ran it all the way down the side of the house hiding it just behind the fascia board. That's the trim piece that your gutters are connected to. You can also see the screw eyes holding the baskets in the photo below.

Below, in the upper right, you can see the clamps for holding the tubing to the wood. They just nail in. You can also see the connector for the 1/4" tubing. It simply pokes into the 1/2" tubing. There is a little tool to poke the pilot hole. No glue required.

So basically you run the 1/2" tubing along the area where you have the baskets, poke a 1/4" connector above each basket, add a piece of 1/4" tubing long enough to reach the basket and then...
You connect some sort of tiny sprinkler. Over the years we have tried various emitters, drippers, and tiny sprinklers. We've settled on these. They are called adjustable full circle sprinklers, and could probably shoot out about 10', but by turning them way down and hanging them upside down, they emit a nice little 10" circle of water. We support them with these wire stakes that are made to hold down the 1/2" tubing when you run it through a flower bed.

So there you have it; Drip Irrigation 101 from Amongst The Oaks. Now go out there and do it! Your flower basket and window boxes will thank you. For more information and to see everything they make, check out the RainDrip site.

Monday Mosaic - Roses

As usual I am running late, but finally here is my contribution to Mosaic Monday hosted by Mary at the Little Red House. I certainly hope I get better at this as I experiment more. Please check out Mary's blog (for some really great mosaics) and all the others she is hosting.
click on mosaic enlarge

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pink Saturday Peonies

It's Pink Saturday again folks and today I am sharing these bright pink Peonies. Hop on over to Beverly's blog and check out all the other Pink Saturday posts, too.
I just love, love, love Peonies and wish I had more of them. These are so bright they almost look fake, but they are real, I assure you. Enjoy.

We went to the movies last night, LOM, me and Teen2. We saw Star Trek. Wow! Great movie.
Of course, I loved all the Star Treks starting with the The Original. Teen2 actually called me a "Trekkie" when I started reciting the words: "Space... the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...." And you know what? I'm proud of that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Iris Season

Iris Season Amongst The Oaks

I used one of Pioneer Woman's free Photoshop Actions on these. It's called Quick Edge Burn. She's real generous with photoshop techniques. Thanks Pioneer Woman.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Milestone

What have I been doing that kept me from blogging yesterday? I've been busy helping prepare for a milestone in Teen1's life.

I've known this day was coming for almost 18 years, but it always seemed like I had plenty of time. And then in the blink of an eye, it was here: my little baby's high school graduation! So we've been making lists, getting announcements and photos, designing invitations, addressing envelopes, and preparing for the big day and all the celebrations that accompany it. There's the senior prom, the Disneyland trip, the commencement, the All Night Party, the Open House, and then the flying off to England for the summer.

I can't believe my little baby is this beautiful young woman now. Where did all the days go? They seem to have just slipped away like water through my fingers. And now here she is ready to step out on her own. I feel like the mommy Phoebe - do you think I should follow her to England and feed her bugs, and keep her safe?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Avian Empty Nest Syndrome

For two years now Black Phoebes have been nesting on our front porch. They make a nest of mud up close to the ceiling and usually lay five eggs. In three weeks or so the naked little babies hatch out and beg for bugs, grow and grow, and poop ALL over the porch for another three weeks. Then the day arrives when they suddenly all fly away. We witnessed it last year and again this year on Mother's Day morning as we returned from our walk. The last one was fluttering around inside the porch as we stepped in, but it finally figured it out and took off with the others.
So now you might think the Mommy bird can rest a bit, maybe sit on this bench under the roses relaxing, maybe start a new hobby, volunteer at the hospital, finally learn how to play golf, or go back to school and get a degree.....but you'd be wrong.

Instead, she and the Daddy bird try to keep the kids together and safe and they continue to feed them. Yesterday at lunch the babies were in this Pittosporum bush and the parents were nearby, swooping down for bugs and feeding them to the kids. The parents' actions, and the soft cheep-cheep-cheeping from the bush alerted us to their presence. There are five babies in the bush. Can you see them? Hard to spot, aren't they?

I lightened the background so they'd stand out against the foliage. Now you can see them better.

So maybe Human and Avian Empty Nest Syndrome are more alike than we thought. Even though they've left the nest, you still provide for them, try to teach them how the world works, try to keep them safe from danger, and worry about them forever.

This is a Three or More Tuesday post. Please visit Tam at the Gypsy's Corner to see the other participants.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shed Chic

I read a blog called Shedworking nearly every day. Not long ago I entered a contest there and SURPRISE! I won. The prize was a new book published in England called Shed Chic. It arrived Saturday just in time for Mother's Day. What a perfect gift!

I opened it that night and spent two hours pouring over the beautiful photos of amazing sheds.

I thought of Lucy at Attic24 when I saw this colorful photo of the gypsy caravan. See, it's got bright crocheted throws like she makes.
I like this idea too. They have simply hung what looks like a sheet from the roof as a sun shade. And little table with its flowery cloth is so homey.
Or if you are so inclined, you could make a fantastic Wendy House for a lucky child. Isn't this tiny timbered cottage just too cute?

The book is full gorgeous ideas for turning a shed into a more usable space. Apparently sheds aren't just for men anymore. I am suddenly inspired to get out there and finish my shed. Yes, that is this summer's project: FINISH THE SHED!

Thank you Shedworking for the wonderful Mother's Day gift.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

Teen2, Me, Teen1 in 1997

Teen1 recently asked, "What do you want for Mother's Day, Mommy?" And I pondered the question wondering if I should answer with a politically correct thing like: a big party with my family...or the truth: a quiet day puttering in my garden and someone else to do the cooking.

So what exactly should Mother's Day be? A day to surround yourself with people or a day to sidestep your responsibilities and nurture yourself? It's every mother's dilemma, isn't it? If you say you'd like to be alone, they will be hurt and feel like maybe you don't really love them. If you say you'd like to have a party and invite lots of family, you'll be working on your special day.

Luckily some of my favorite Mommy Moments have been the little daily ones; playing peek-a-boo, teaching them walk and talk, sharing my love of art and nature, meeting up in the afternoon to discuss our days, cooking together, sharing meals, laughing at ourselves. So maybe I have been celebrating Mother's Day in the best possible way all along: just enjoying Teen1 and Teen2 in those little snippets of every day life. So my answer to Teen1's question was the politically correct one: "A lovely day with my family" because after all, there's no need to be greedy, I've already celebrated 6438 wonderful Mother's Days since Teen1 was born.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Now It's Peonies

Look! I've found something new to take photos of -Peonies.

I've had these plants for years and even moved them from our previous house 13 years ago. And every year they get a little bigger and give more flowers. I love peonies, don't you?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High School Musical

We went to the theatre last night. It was the high school's production of Once Upon A Mattress, and it was marvelous. One of the leads, Queen Aggravain, was played by a sophomore and she did a wonderful job. We used to carpool with her, and I never would have guessed that she could act and sing so beautifully; and her facial expressions were priceless! And soooo many words to memorize because Queen Aggravain is very talkative. Yeah Sarah!

Another lead, Princess Winnifred, was played by a particularly enthusiastic and funny girl who just happened to have shaved her head for St. Baldrics Day, so she wore this ridiculous red wig, and kept shifting it around throughout the play. At one point, her darling, Sir Harry, pushed her wig back and kissed her on the forehead. Hilarious.
Another knight was played by the local rabbi's son. You know how knights have emblems on their chests? His was the Star of David, and unless you know Jory, you would just think the costumer picked a random symbol for his vest. I love these little inside jokes.
If your local high school has plays I would highly recommend them. Not only are they inexpensive entertainment, but they are so unique and entertaining on so many levels.
We also got to meet Teen1's prom date because he was one of the knights. Her knight in shining armor? We'll see....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Just Can't Stop

I can't seem to stop taking photos of roses. Like this bouquet I made for my office. It just looked so pretty that I had to share it with you. And it smells so dreamy! I can't quite describe the scent, but it's sweet and soft and just so flowery. No hint of citrus, spice or tea like other roses.
I used Pioneer Woman's Lovely and Ethereal Photoshop action and I really like the dreamy quality it gives. And I like this sparkly Fenton vase too and the way it reflects on the desk.

But, seriously, I think I need an intervention on the rose photos, don't you? Any suggestions?