Etsy Shop: New Items–Sweet Spring card and Antique Elegance candle

A few new items at Ash & Acorn on Etsy:

First, a mini-greeting card, Sweet Spring.  It is 2.75″ tall and 4″ wide, and comes with a matching green envelope, ready to carry a sweet message from you, in any season of the year.

sweet_spring_wm3

sweet_spring_wm2

 

Second, a “new” candle, Antique Elegance, which has been in my Etsy shop before, but has received a design update.  It is an 18-inch wedding or baptismal candle, and has a very similar style to my 12-inch Antique Grace candle (they would look wonderful used as a set!).

can_ant_elegance2

can_ant_elegance5

can_ant_elegance_ant_grace2

Advertisements

Drops of Glass

A few beading projects.

First, a series of wildflower greeting cards.

The forget-me-not and white clover were raffled off as part of a benefit for the library where I work.  I like them, but am going to keep tweaking the patterns.

forget-me-nots1_wm

I was very pleased with how the clover flower came out.

white_clover1_wm
The black-eyed susan is my most bead-intensive work yet.  It also took the longest–almost four months of off-and-on work.  I’ve gotten pretty attached to it, and will probably keep it for now.

black_eyed_susan1_wm

Second, two graduation gifts, both based on Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.  I love her artwork, and the lupines from the book were the inspiration that evolved into the wildflower cards.  Both pieces were beaded freehand, with no pattern, so each is unique.

The first was beaded on cardstock, and framed behind glass.

jori_lupines_wm1jori_lupines_wm2

The second was sewn on cotton, and left framed in the embroidery hoop (and yes–that is beaded cursive!).

katie_lupines_wm

And finally, a re-discovered card which was made last summer.  It was intended to be used as a baptismal card.

seedling_wm

Everything Green and Growing

I’ve never thought that I would like gardening much.  Kneeling in the dirt until your knees ache, the sun beating on your back, swatting at insects, yanking up weeds only to have them return as soon as you turn around–no, thank you.  A succession of dried-out, dead houseplants from my year in Texas seemed to confirm my brownthumb.

So I am still surprised when I go out into the garden and spend hours kneeling (on a really cushy pad), in the cool shade, with insects kept away by lemongrass spray, meditatively yanking up weeds–and enjoy it.  Surprised enough, in fact, that I reflexively procrastinate on gardening until it must be done.  I hope that the enjoyment will become a stronger memory than the distaste.

***

In case I forget why I put up with six-month, subzero winters laced with multiple feet of snow–this is why:

IMG_1124

IMG_1130

IMG_1132

A happy thyme plant on the sunny kitchen windowsill.  Its neighbors are oregano, basil and chocolate mint.

photo 3

Last year, for better or for worse, we planted strawberry plants as groundcover in our front flower garden (a.k.a. “edible landscaping”–we are always either early or late to these trends).  They have enthusiastically filled up the available space, and this year we are getting our first real harvest.

They are small, but delicious, and have deep flavor ranging from candy-sweet to tart.

Picking strawberries is like a treasure hunt.  Only the thought of seeing how many I can gather “this time”–and love for my husband–keeps me from popping all of them in my mouth as I go.

A bowl of summer:

photo 1(3)

When G.I. Joe Moved In

While Shaun and I were dating, I found a book in the library called Married to the Military* It’s a handbook for military spouses, sort of a bootcamp-in-a-book on everything from how to read an LES (and what that stands for), to what to wear (or not wear) to military functions, to how to stay sane while PCS-ing (at least you can try).  The summary states that “Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married to an active military servicemember or reservist—or you’ve just signed up yourself—you may feel as if you’ve somehow married the United States military!”  Yes.  That handsome man may be wearing a uniform, but sometimes the uniform wears him…and it comes with a whole bunch of strings–and more uniforms, and boots, and field gear, and paperwork–attached.

More than once over the six years of Shaun’s Army career, we felt as though there were an extra, unseen person hitched on to our relationship.  “The Army” was something like an extra spouse or an invisible child to both of us–right down to waking us up in the middle of the night (hello, recall).  It even took up as much space in the house as a third person might have, from two extra sets of boots at the door to a whole room which, at various times, was more or less dedicated to housing military gear.

At times I complained about all the extra space taken up by “The Army,” but I had no idea how much space it had actually claimed until Shaun was discharged six months ago.  Army green and ACU digital camo–which, by the way, seems to camouflage with nothing but itself–was so much a part of our domestic landscape that I took its presence for granted.  Cleaning out, I have been astounded by the volume of gear, and the way it has worked its way into every nook and cranny of our home.  Moving it all out of our house is still an ongoing process, in part because I keep finding tiny items that were hidden away and forgotten, like acorns buried by a squirrel.

So far, the total for reclaimed space stands thus:
-Half of one closet
-One underbed bin
-Two bureau drawers
-Three small bins
-Five 18-gallon totes
-One 32-gallon tote
(And a partridge in a pear tree…)

Please note that this includes only gear, and not paperwork, which is a whole different can of worms which I am currently not even thinking of opening.  Except to say that when I do, there will be a mighty big bonfire (for reasons of catharsis as well as security).

This kind of explains to me why the two of us have felt inexplicably cramped in a 1,200 square-foot, three-bedroom home for the last four years.  It’s because G.I. Joe had basically moved in and spread himself around.

Time to move out, Joe.

*Link goes to Amazon.com, in case you are curious about the book, but just get it out of the library.

 

Boxes

photo(1)

Life lately feels like a continuum of boxes.

Mentally, we are checking off the many boxes that will enable us to move to another town, another house: find a new job, find renters, find financing, find a new house, find a way to move between houses.

Our conversations have more frequently consisted of verbally checking off boxes:  “I did a, b, and c today.”  “Were you able to do x, y, z?”  We make a list of tasks and split them between us, and proudly report on our progress at the end of the day.  It’s very romantic.

Most noticeably, we are surrounded by physical boxes, of the cardboard type.  I spent two and a half weeks sorting through and packing up the items which we had stored on the unrented side of our duplex, in preparation for persons yet unknown to fill it with their own possessions. Those few weeks have made me into something of a cardboard box connoisseur.  I am collecting them, in various sizes and shapes, from a variety of sources–book boxes from my work at the library, paper boxes from the office of a family member, Easter candy boxes from the local convenience store.  I am becoming quite adept at eyeballing a heap of variously-shaped items, carefully selecting a box of just the right volume and shape, and packing everything so the contents fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  Sturdy boxes with pre-cut handles are gold, the Holy Grail of packing supplies.  My enthusiasm for them may border on the effusive.

I have also started packing up on our side of the house, choosing the least-used items to pack first.  We have no idea when we will be able to move (this depends on the person(s)-yet-unknown who will hopefully want to rent out our apartment), so I try to keep in mind that I might not have access to the items for months or, possibly, for more than a year. This sort of rigorous selection process has resulted in another round of de-cluttering–“if I really won’t need it for a year, will I ever need it again, and in that case, do I want to spend the time and energy to move it?”  Sometimes, unfortunately, I can’t recall if a certain item has been packed up out of sight in a box, or has been gotten rid-of altogether.  I’ve also started “losing” items, in general chaos that is my house lately, and I’m never quite sure that some necessity hasn’t been accidentally slipped into a box and sealed up.  I regularly check on the cats for this reason.

There are stacks of empty cardboard boxes scattered around my house, waiting to be either broken-down or filled up.  I’m starting to feel like a hoarder.  I try to remind myself that this is temporary, but then I remember that I don’t know how temporary.  I also know that when the time to move actually arrives, it will be much, much worse.  A sea of boxes.  A forest of boxes.  I’ll be wading through them, in every room.  I myself may wind up swathed in newspaper and sealed inside one with packing tape.  If you help us move, be sure to carefully check my labels scrawled in Sharpie, and be mindful of This End Up.

 

 

 

Etsy Shop: Yes, We’re Open!

Ash & Acorn on Etsy is once again open for business!  Below are the items currently available.  Coming soon: two more candle designs, a vintage wedding dress find, and greeting cards.

The shop had been open only two days when I received my first order, a request for a customized candle for an adult baptism:

The candle is 18-inches, a variation of “Antique Elegance” (coming soon), the larger version of “Antique Grace.”  The request was that a bow and cross be added to the existing design.  It was a pleasure to create!

Etsy Shop: Coming (back) Soon

ashandacorn_business-card

Ash and Acorn on Etsy will be re-opening this week.  I’ve been finding spare moments here and there–like while waiting for my truck to have the oil changed–to work on my beading, and have dozens more ideas in my head for the future.  My shop will continue to have wedding crowns and candles, but will also have other items for sale which share the “cover everything in beads” theme.

Having the shop open while we prepare to move will be an interesting exercise; all my craft supplies are in boxes, but aside from that, are easily accessible.  Conveniently, as I mentioned, beading is a craft which is easy to transport, like knitting, and is easy to do anywhere you are going to have to sit around a wait a while–if you don’t mind a few curious looks.  And if your auto mechanic doesn’t mind the possibility of a few shiny pink seed beads being left behind in his shop….

A glimpse at some of my projects lately, some for the shop, some personal:

orn_starpurse_blue-flowerscan_rosbud-process

The Fairy House

“It was a blustery sort of day,” and the motley gray clouds were indecisive about rain.  Dampness and uneven light played weirdly with color, unnaturally brightening some hues while sinking others into murky shadow.  The trees swayed this way and that in the gusts of wind, whispering fiercely.  It was beautiful, and very eerie.

 

 

The trail was aptly named “Wonderland,” and although it felt that morning like an otherworldly setting for a ghost story or a dark fantasy novel, it was actually wending its way through Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine–a place less fantastic, perhaps, but to my mind, certainly not less romantic.  It was not well populated, except for Shaun and myself, and a few other determined hikers, likely due to the fitful weather.  So it was easy to feel the wind pull viciously at my hair, and see the strange play of light and shadow through the moaning trees, and believe that around any bend in the trail, one might suddenly glimpse a sullen ghost, or a fleeing dryad.  The goosebumps on my arms were not all due to the chilly mist.

We talked quietly as we walked, and eventually entered an archway of trees that formed a  lush green tunnel.  The floor of the wood was a genial tangle of rocks, undergrowth, moss and fallen leaves.  The wind dissipated among the trees.  It was an altogether friendlier place.

Rounding a bend in the trail, we saw a small, bare-headed, rain-coat-clad figure kneeling at the side of the trial ahead, just before the path disappeared around another turn.   The boy looked up at us as we approached, and we saw that he was around eight or nine years of age, golden-haired, with a small face and large eyes.  As we came closer, he stood up and looked at us expectantly.

“Would you like to see my fairy house?”

We assured him that we would.  He knelt down again and showed us his creation, which was built atop a bed of needles and twigs to the side of the trail.  It would have been easy to miss, had its architect not pointed it out to us.  The roof was a thick slab of moss.  The walls were all of stone, chosen carefully from the the trail, and an opening had been left for the convenience of diminutive house-hunters.

The boy looked at us with some concern.  “Do you think the fairies will like it?”

We assured him that we believed they would.  “If I were a fairy, I think that would like it very much,” I told him.  He seemed satisfied.

Another adult appeared around the next bend in the trail.  “There you are!” she said to the boy.  “Time to move on.”

“I was showing them my fairy-house,” the boy said proudly, indicating the two of us.  The woman held out her hand, and without a backward glance, our young acquaintance skipped away out of sight.

We admired the fairy-house for a moment more, and I snapped a photo.  When we continued on our way, the trail ahead was empty.  We never saw the fairy-house builder again.

IMG_0976

October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” -Anne Shirley

For the last few months, life has tumbled us around until I feel I barely know which way is up.  Just when I’ve found my feet, the floor is upended beneath me.

Outside my window, autumn at last has the landscape all to itself.  Summer was brazen and persistent this year, but autumn went about its work quietly, gently, using summer’s sunniness and warmth to highlight its jewel-box colors.  Winter is cruel and comforting by turns; spring is a celebration; summer, carefree; but autumn is content.

I have been re-re-re-(etc.)reading the Anne of Green Gables novels.  They are a welcome escape, a place where most problems are resolved to their rightful conclusions. Anne rejoices in each season at its turn, and I join her; but I have a special affection for autumn.  There is something about it that deeply satisfies me, like eating a good meal after you have been hungry, or snuggling down under clean sheets after a hard day’s work.  Autumn fills up my soul with peace and contentment.  It reminds me that however bewildering my circumstances are, there is still constancy in the world.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
~Maltbie D. Babcock