July 12, 2014

some random on a saturday

Thanks for the kind comments about my sunflower sketch!  There was a time in the not too distant past when I would never show my sketches to the www.  

You know when they say gardening is a relaxing hobby?  They lie.  They are damn dirty liars.  Well, dirty for sure; it is relaxing to a point but it's also hard, smelly labor too.  Just so you know.

I am probably the last person in the whole country to read Where'd You Go, Bernadette.  Holy Crap!  I can't remember the last time I read a book in two days!  I loved it. Now I'm on to The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.  So we'll see.

Wineberries? We got em.  Don't know where they came from, but they're here.  A bird probably pooped the seed in the yard.  Don't be squeamish...you know that's how berry bushes get spread from place to place.  Like raspberries but sweeter.  Sweeter?  That doesn't look right.  More sweet?  Whatever.  Yum! 

And that big girl up there with the green dot on her back?  Her Majesty Jezzzebel, the Queen.  Actually, I found out from my aunt that my grandpa use to name the hives too.  We named one of the hives Claudie, for my mom and the other Fugate, my grandpa's middle name which was also a family name (I hope think?).  Jezzzebel reigns over Claudie and Ezzzme reigns over hive Fugate.  Don't judge.

July 5, 2014


Yesterday, I was in the bee yard deadheading some flowers and this spent sunflower was just begging to be drawn. I had a bit of trouble with color in the center, but I like it!  It looks like an old sunflower!  Holy crap!

June 30, 2014

summer school


Class starts tomorrow!
 Book-making! Sketching! Cocktails! Who could ask for more?

June 29, 2014


We have these big, beautiful, black walnut trees in the backyard; we lived here for five years before they started bearing fruit and we figured out what they were.  Lucky us!  I love that earthy, slighty-bitter-but-also-sweet flavor, we look forward to the harvest every Autumn.  But. They're a bitch to get out of the husk and they turn everything black, then we cure them in the shell for a month or more and using a vise and a metal rod, crack the shell to then dig out the teeny-tiny bits of nutmeat. My husband is the crazy one who does all this. Not me. The trees produce nuts every year, but the crop is bigger every other year.  We should have realized last winter how cold it was going to get when the squirrels took every single nut to be found. But. I digress.  This is not a big crop year, however,we did manage to gather enough young nuts to make nocino. It's a black walnut liqueur that we've been reading about.  In Italy they make it with 24 nuts on the 24th of June, we did ours on the 26th and with 23 nuts in each jar, we're dangerous like that...We went to the liquor store and purchased a gallon of good vodka, collected our nuts, procured the spices, and started the infusions.  We began with a basic recipe of vodka, sugar and quartered black walnuts and added spices to our liking, ending up with 5 different varieties.  It should be ready to try around Thanksgiving.  I'll let you know. This summer, we also discovered black raspberries growing in the backyard, so I popped those babies into gin while we were at it.  And also?  A gratuitous photo of the bees!  Happy weekend!

June 14, 2014

Garden Journal

I give up..I can't get this freakin' one to turn

This one either.  Just cock your head and you'll get the idea.

I needed a garden journal for the year so I could document the plants I started from seeds I saved last year and the happenings in the bee yard.  I had some signatures leftover from the Remains of the Day class I took online a few years ago so it was pretty quick to make a few more and sew the signatures together.  The pages in the signatures are mostly neutral, two of the signatures are frames from a Victorian photo album (the brown bit up there that won't turn properly).  The covers are made with vintage papers and I added a stem of fever few I pressed last year to the front cover. I added packing tape on the front and back cover to protect the delicate papers and the pressed flower.  This is the first time I glued the book block in with end papers instead of sewing the book block directly to the spine.  I'm not sure if I care for the gap that's created between the end paper and the back of the book block.  I do like the book with a smooth spine so there you go.

June 1, 2014

where the bees are

For years my husband and I have talked about doing something with the backyard.  Lots of trees back there, which is nice, it makes the deck feel like a tree house in summer. The problem is, you practically have to be a goat to get up and down the slope in some places; but now that we've lived here so long, it doesn't seem as bad as it once did.  Last spring we figured out where to put the garden and this past winter we figured where the bees will go!  We make mead so it seemed like a natural progression.  My grandpa kept them as well.  This weekend we are adding an electric fence outside the pickets to keep the bears away.  We added a planting area and built a stand that will hold up to 5 hives.  We have 2 now and we'll top out at 3 or 4, but it's nice to have room to grow if we change our minds.  Since it's the first year we won't get much, if any honey, we'll need to leave it for the bees this winter as they build the wax and grow the hive.

When you walk into the bee yard it's surprisingly calm and quiet, if we aren't opening the hives we don't wear any protective gear. As you get close to the hives you can hear the humming, it's very relaxing to be around the bees, even when we're in the hives working.  We often take a glass of wine down to the yard in the evening and watch the girls come home.   The bees are happy to tolerate you if you are quiet and don't make any big gestures.  They don't like anyone to stand directly in front of the hive, and really do make a beeline for the entrance and will, what's euphemistically called 'stack up',right on your back.  They are miraculous. 

May 30, 2014


I've been thinking about re-re-restarting the blog.  Maybe this year I'll be able to post more than three times.  Lets see...last year was...great!  Right up until August 31st when I fell.  It took a long time to come back from the concussion, but now, finally, my brain is right again.  Well, as right as it ever was, anyway.  But. I'm not as sweet as I use to be.  Just so you know.

My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly in October, still reeling, but getting better.  I think of her every day.  I always feel like I should call her on the phone and I have to admit that I sometimes talk to her.  I think though, as difficult and unexpected as it all was, it was exactly what she would have wanted. No lingering illness or memory loss.  No nursing home.  She lived her life every day just as she chose.  We were lucky, there was nothing left unsaid between us, we talked daily and had had a lovely visit in July.  I remember telling Dale that that visit would be the thing to sustain me when she was gone, and it's true.  The last thing we said to each other on the phone the day before she died was I love you.  She was 86. She was a force all her own.  Beautiful.  Powerful. She was, is, loved.

On an unrelated note (or maybe not, as it speaks to fulfilled dreams); the past several years we've talked about keeping honeybees, so late this past winter we started preparing the bee yard.  Weeks of work later it was done, the bees were ready to be picked up and on Mother's Day we installed them into their hives.  So happy we finally took the leap!  Here's a sneak-peek.

  There it is, my toe back in the water.  I hope everyone is well!