"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tea & Crafts With the Cats

I poured myself some tea to sip from my Gracie Chintz china cup while adding some finishing touches to a flock of little sheep . I had some help with my crafting.

Yes, after finishing some of the sheep I took them into my sun-room to photograph in natural light so I could post them for sale in my Etsy shop and look, peek-a-boo ! Miss Marple was supervising the whole procedure making sure none of the little sheep strayed from position. She is very good at whacking them around if they do. Sometimes she even helps them get away , to their detriment. Good thing there is a shepherd there to guard them. ( And I don't mean the little porcelain one. )
On the very same day I finished up a few wool needle-felted balls. I had help there too.
Blizzard personally checks each and every wool ball out by batting and rolling it around. If the ball has jingles in it he double and triple checks it , enjoying my game of seeking it out after he is done. You can see Blizzard is sitting next to a blue bin where the wee little sheep are placed for their protection after they are completed. I have learned the hard way NOT to leave the little sheep unattended if the cats are prowling the house.
Just minding her own business ? Hardly, she is supervising the terrarium projects I have going on...
...with some help from Blizzard. I'm not sure if they think the resin mouse in the terrarium is real, but I do know they'd love to sink their paws into the mosses . If you look closely at the window behind Miss Marple you can see the cats have thoroughly decorated the window with little nose prints, the higher row of prints being those of Blizzard. I suspect the terrarium will be thusly dotted soon.
And then there are my weaving projects. I completed 3 rugs last week all with plenty of help from Blizzard. He holds the loom down for me. At 16 plus pounds, he's very good at this.
"Cats can work out mathematically the exact place to sit that will cause the most inconvenience." Pam Brown  ~ But that being quoted, you can tell I love having my cats in, out, and round-about me. As I write this Blizzard is holding my husband down in the recliner , stretched full out on my husband's lap. They are taking their evening nap together. "Dogs have their days but cats have 365." Lillian Jackson Braun
I enjoy this teacup, one of a set of 4 rose-chintz patterns from Gracie China. It is not only beautiful, with it's rose patterns, but when I hold it up to the light it is slightly transparent. Also, this is a sturdy teacup , a quality I need when working around my cats who love to check out my dishes but pay them no mind if they decide to have a spat about who gets to sit closest to me. I have had to remember to place my teacups firmly toward the middle of the work table to spare them such disasters. We don't have too many broken dishes from the cats, I am the klutz, but several close calls taught me well.

I would like to mention a blog I love, written by a cat lover who also enjoys her tea time. Deb at  'Just Cats'* writes not only about her cats, but also about the cats she encounters in her cat-sitting business. She also has some very good tips and info regarding cat care, and some common problems people face with their cats & kittens. "The smallest feline is a masterpiece." Leonardo da Vinci

I am linking up once again with these ladies for Tea-Time Tuesday :

Monday, January 27, 2014

Terrariums ~ Part 2 ( An Inexpensive Pursuit )

 This is one of the terrariums I received from my husband for Christmas. I said in the last post I love terrariums, and I do. This is the terrarium I put together using inspiration and items from around Cedar Pond. The terrarium sits on a metal enamel ware tray. I gather lichens whenever the winds bring them down out of the trees onto our lawns and orchard. I put many of the lichens in front of the terrarium, on the tray, because I think each lichen is a small miracle unto itself. Have you ever closely examined the mosses and lichens so taken for granted ? Little intricate beauties, each seeming to hold it's own tiny world.
 The little resin mouse is one I have had for years. I place it in random areas of the house whenever the mood strikes, and my sweet little mouse has startled a few people over the years because he looks so real. I think he has finally found a permanent home in a terrarium. I placed a small battery powered votive candle in the terrarium to add some interest to it in the evening. You can see not only the moss I have gathered for the terrarium , but also 2 of the African Violets I planted in it. I have many African Violets. They thrive here because I ignore them, only watering them when the soil is dry. Since I have so many I put a few in the terrarium after some serious leaf pruning. I also put last March's shamrock plants in the terrarium and they have already grown and stretched themselves toward the sunlight.

 The Norfolk pine in this terrarium and the other one in this post were bought at the discount section of the local store after Christmas. There were many pots of the little pines decorated with Christmas balls, sparkles, and wrapping paper. They were under $2.00 each. Norfolk Pines are another plant / tree that thrives on neglect around here and for the price, a bargain ! I simply had to take off the well tied ornaments and plant it in the terrarium. Since the terrarium was a gift, the items collected were free from around our home and property, the only money spent was less than $2.00 for this terrarium
 These IKEA terrariums are not only pretty, but functional. They have little props to hold the lid open when needed. The terrarium got a little steamy when the sunshine poured in through the window so I opened the lid.
 This terrarium sits on my coffee table and I really do enjoy looking at it every day, many times. You can see the other terrarium in our living room on the sofa side table. ( left of sofa)

 The red plaid on the terrarium is a reflection of a blanket on an ottoman.
This terrarium is actually an outdoor candle holder I bought very cheaply at a Target sale a few years ago. I placed another of the Norfolk pines in this one, along with mosses, lichen -covered branches, and a small resin Big-Horned sheep figurine bought at a local wildlife park. If you  count the price of the pine and the resin animal ( can't count the price of the cheap candle-holder because it was one of those house-hold items I snatched for another use after years of being a candle-holder ) this terrarium cost me less than $4.00 The Norfolks don't need much humidity so a tightly lidded terrarium would not be a good thing unless it can be lifted like my IKEA terrarium. I have so many more glass containers to be turned into terrariums, and many others already holding small plantings under glass. The creative possibilities are endless for these little worlds and my mind is ever-thinking about them as I go about my days. How can anyone ever be bored when life has so much to offer, so many ways to be creative , and so many people to enjoy them with ? Goodness, you can even use a free-after-use glass peanut butter or pickle jar to make a terrarium. If you're even the slightest bit interested in terrariums , even if you've no money to spare for it, terrariums are possible. I say just be creative, use what's at hand, and JUST DO IT ! Happy planting.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Terrarium Inspired by Real Life

 I was given 2 terrariums for Christmas , thank-you Jim ! I restrained myself and asked for only two. I love terrariums and knew I would easily fill them with plants , moss, and whatever else struck my fancy to add to them. Ever since I can remember, glass containers of any kind with even a hint of greenery or a small wiggling creature contained within just drew me in and captivated my attention and inspired my imagination. They still do. As you can see ( above ) from my planting table where I have unused pots & outdoor stuff waiting for me to put to use, moss just crept in and made itself at home, as it is wont to do in the western part of the Pacific Northwest I call home. Moss is magical to me because it thrives in almost any indoor planting , and if it doesn't , I can go outside, grab some more and replace it. ( Did you know dried moss makes a great fire-starter for the woodstove ? )
 Here is a miniature garden I made almost 3 years ago with my granddaughters. I leave it outside all year and it sits by the fire-pit near the pond. The plants are getting so large I might need to replace them  in the spring. But look at the moss that moved in with the fallen leaves.

 Here is a birdhouse that sits on a very old Cedar stump overlooking the fire pit and surrounded by the branches of a young Cedar tree that has probably sprung up from the tree the stump used to be.
 I found this little mouse in the front yard. It was already dead, probably played to death by our resident mouser, Miss Marple . I don't know what kind of mouse this is, but it was a very cute mouse with extremely large pink ears and the most exquisite feet. Each dainty foot had such pretty toes and fine, almost invisible silver-white fur covered the legs. I could not get a picture of the face to do it justice, but for a mouse, it was a very pretty face. She ( for it was a she ) probably left behind a lot of little mice hungry for her milk , but what is that to a cat ?
My treasure hunt around Cedar Pond garnered me many little treasures and a lot of inspiration. I gathered moss, plants from outside, soil, rocks, a little resin mouse, my terrarium, and happily set about creating a terrarium . If you are interested in the finished result you will be able to see it in my next post.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Comfrey Balm ~ Green Goo of Goodness

 Step into my herb garden and you'll see my blue-bottle tree , a blue bird bath, a dovecote my husband built me that houses a pair of white doves, and many herbs that grow abundantly all year long with little tending. Comfrey is one of those herbs. Sometimes it is considered almost a weed for it's ability to thrive and take over a flower or herb bed. I don't have a problem with that though because any comfrey I don't keep for our pantry or medicine chest is promptly pulled up in the fall and fed to our sheep and chickens. They LOVE it ! We can't grow enough for them.
 Comfrey ( Symphytum officinale ) ointment for bruises and cuts. It encourages the growth of scar tissue. " 'New Book of Herbs ' by Jekka McVicar.   Here is a comfrey plant that grows in the shade of the dovecote. You can see the slugs love to eat it too. I am going to show you a simple healing balm recipe using comfrey. First I cut baskets' full of comfrey, washed it and then dried it all in my small dehydrator. After I had a few gallon ziplock bags full I stored most in my pantry for future use, then I began to make my healing Comfrey Balm. You will need 1 pound of petroleum jelly or soft paraffin wax  and 2 ounces of dried or 5 ounces of fresh comfrey leaves.
 Melt the petroleum jelly in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Add the comfrey leaves and simmer, stirring constantly for about an hour.
 Here you can see the petroleum jelly is dark green and the simmered comfrey leaves look like spinach.
 Pour the mixture into a jelly bag or strainer , squeezing and smashing the leaves to get as much liquid out of them as possible, after all, it is the healing properties of the comfrey you're after for the balm.
 I poured the comfrey balm into the jar the petroleum jelly came in and store it labeled and covered in the refrigerator. It can be kept and used for about 3 months. So there you go, some wonderful Green Goo of Goodness !

I use this balm all the time for my feet. I have always had very dry feet that crack and bleed all year around and this truly soothes and heals them. I also use the balm on my other cuts and bruises. For years before I made a balm I would cut the comfrey, chop it up and simmer in a pot of boiling water, cool a bit, and soak my hurting feet in it. You can do that too, but this balm is so simple and affordable, much better than so many other healing creams you pay a lot for in the stores.  Comfrey grows very well in city lots and suburban yards too.
 A baby comfrey plant popped up in the oregano & thyme.
Comfrey : " This invasive plant may be considered a weed by many, but the nutrients it contains are useful to an organic gardener. The leaves are naturally high in protein, potash, and potassium, and make a wonderful mulch or liquid fertilizer. Medically, its potential for healing external wounds and broken bones is unchallenged, hence its common name "knitbone" and "boneset". Currently one of the key constituents ,allantoin, which stimulates the growth of new cells , is undergoing research. Do not take comfrey internally unless it has been prescribed by a qualified herbalist. "  'J McVicar  New Book Of Herbs '

I am linking with *
 photo thehomeacrehopsidebarbutton_zps8b9a26f2.png

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Inconvenient Truth

 This past Thursday the Thursday Ladies met once again to study I Samuel using 'After God's Heart ' by Myrna Alexander as a guide . As I studied and read I just wasn't "feeling" the study. Usually I get very excited studying the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I knew at least one of the ladies would have something to share that would be insightful and thought that would have to do this week.
 I thought about this as I set the table the night before the luncheon, and I prayed yet again that God would bring just the right ladies to the table and they would be uplifted & encouraged , as I know I am when we gather round His word.
It was not until I went to bed the thought came to me ( of course, why didn't I go to bed before 3:00 a.m. ? ) the key to King Saul's rage and repeated attempts to kill David, and also his own son, was that Saul was consumed by jealousy & rebellion. The two go hand in hand . I thought about the many instances in my half-century plus lifetime that jealousy & rebellion reared their ugly heads and wreaked havoc and ruin in not only the lives of those under the merciless tyranny of these sins, but also the path of destruction they left in the lives of their families and friends. Jealousy and rebellion ... Satan's downfall, Cain's downfall ,Saul's downfall, and on & on. I know I have succumbed to their lies with woeful consequences. "jealousy : Unpleasant fear ,suspicion, resentment, arising from mistrust of another, grudging envy " Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

We ladies began to discuss this as we continued on in the study , and I thank God and praise Him for how He reveals Himself to us in simple stories of long ago tragedies , knowing if we read them, think about them, ask for His wisdom & discernment regarding them, He will honor us with His truth. Unfortunately, His truth is often uncomfortable, convicting, and if we accept His word as truth, we are obligated to act upon it. God's word is an inconvenient truth. This causes many to turn away. Please God, may I never turn away from Your ways and Your wisdom when You've revealed it to me through Your word.
If you've never read the stories in the Old testament about the kings and prophets, you've been missing out. If you prefer plain American English ( is this an oxymoron ? ) then read a paraphrase. It is so worth it. There really is nothing new under the sun and if you enjoy ongoing dramas on t.v. with murder, intrigue, romance, heroism, valor, war, scandal...well, you ain't read or seen nothing yet until you read the Old Testament !

Anyway... we had one of the best studies ever, and these ladies are so encouraging & uplifting I am thanking God all the more for them and for His word ! "A godly perspective transfers to present circumstances what God has taught us in the past ."  & " For a problem to be met correctly , the challenge of Scripture is to confront the difficulty with a divine perspective in the strength of the Lord." Myrna Alexander

"But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart , do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth... for where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is disorder and every evil thing." James 3 : 14, 16

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pinecone Tea-Time

Pinecones or pine-cones , I am not sure what the proper spelling is, but I do love pinecones. I bought this hand painted teacup & saucer 2 years ago and it is still one of my favorites. Maybe because I love pinecones of all kinds. In case you can't see it clearly because of my inadequate photography, each and every bit of the hand painted pinecones is outlined with gold paint. The teacup and saucer shine brilliantly when tea is sipped from the cup or the saucer is moved ever so slightly. Even the needles of the painted pine branch are so illuminated.

In celebration of my teacup and the season I decided to make a cheese ball for my husband & myself . I was inspired by a cheeseball my husband's sister Jean brought to a family celebration last year. A pinecone cheeseball * ! Very easy to make and so pretty.
I am not a football fan, and don't enjoy football games at all ( please don't hate me for that ! ) but this cheeseball is a good snack for those get-togethers with friends to watch a sport's game of any kind. I was perfectly agreeable to my husband sharing this with friends while they watched a game together during a power outage here , causing my husband to drive to their home so he could rejoice in his team's victory with appreciative friends.
Pinecone teacup (Norcrest Fine China , hand painted, made in Japan ), pinecone cheeseball, good snacks shared with friends....priceless, especially when shared with those you love !
I love linking with these ladies for Tea-Time Tuesday ~

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The History Maker is the Same Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow !

 "God of the ages , History's Maker , planning our pathway, holding us fast , Shaping in mercy all that concerns us : Father, we praise You , Lord of the past."
 " God of this morning , gladly Your children worship before you , trustingly bow ; Teach us to know you always among us , quietly sovereign - Lord of our now."
 "God of tomorrow , strong overcomer , princes of darkness own Your command ; What then can harm us ? We are Your people, now and forever kept by Your hand."
 "Lord of past ages , Lord of this morning , Lord of the future , help us we pray ; Teach us to trust You, love and obey You, crown You each moment Lord of today."  'God Of The Ages ' lyrics 1982 Margaret Clarkson Christianity Today.
" Before the mountains were born , or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting , Thou art God. " Psalm 90:2
" Thou Lord , in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands ;..As a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same ,and Thy years will not come to an end." Hebrews 1 : 10-12 
* The pictures were taken by me in the secret places around Cedar Pond.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spotted Chickens , More Eggs, & A Plan

 Spotted chickens seem meant for me don't you think ? After all I have spotted sheep, spotted ducks, and a blog called Spot on Cedar Pond ! These are my new chickens, Paint Silkies. They are immature half-grown chicks,  and I am pretty excited about them.
My hens are finally laying more eggs . Next month I can begin to expect lambs , order my new chicks, and begin thinking about..... well, check out some of my goals for my poultry here* and tell me what you think !

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Winter Tea-Time

 Winter weather around our home calls for hot tea to warm the tummy, a cookie to tingle the taste-buds, and greenery to soothe the eye. Ahhhhhh, now for a break . A Tea-Time Tuesday break !
 This Colclough china cup was made in England in the 1940's. I believe the pattern is Grape Vine. The cucumber mint tea was a Christmas gift and I am hoping the tea really proves to be "green tea for youth recovery " ! It is delicious tea.
 I gather a tray I bought before Christmas. This tray really can serve all winter though, don't you think ? The scene on the tray is one you can see in many rural areas of the U.S. this time of the year.
 I chose the chickadee teapot my husband's parents gave us for Christmas one year because I love the sprigs of greenery and pinecones surrounding the little chickadee on the pot. The teapot is Winterwood by Pfaltzgraff. I grabbed the last three Berry Butternuts * my husband made before Christmas. He only makes these cookies once a year and their rich buttery taste improves when they are stored in a sealed container. The trick is to hide them so they last long enough for me to enjoy  AFTER Christmas !

"The first weeks of the year are often a time of quiet reflection for many people ~ days when the wintry white landscape outside sets the tone for thoughtful contemplation inside." Tea Time Magazine

I am linking with the ladies below for Tea~Time Tuesday :