There was more small driftwood on our beach this month than I remember seeing in a long, long time.
A gazillion tiny canvases waiting for tiny paintings.
At least that's how I see driftwood.
Every day the tide would cover it up with sand
or wash more sand away,
move it around a bit...
but it was always there.
Waiting for little crows
or a tiny version
of the drawing in my sketchbook
that Ted had so kindly posed for.
And there was one piece that just happened to be the perfect size and shape for a portrait of Edgar the white-winged crow from a book I thoroughly enjoyed pouring completely through my first couple days out there in the quiet...
...just what I needed to thank my amazing neighbor for taking such great care of my garden while we were away.
Update: thanks to you kind people buying goodies from the shop, $370 was donated directly from Etsy sales last month - every little bit helps! You guys are awesome!
By now you've heard about the tragic mudslide here in Washington State last weekend. You've seen photos like the one above showing a small rural community basically wiped off the map, and countless others of homes washed away and buried in mud and brave rescue workers, human and canine, searching tirelessly to recover survivors and bodies from the sludge and rubble.
So sad, and so close to home, just 50 miles north.
If you prefer to help in other ways, this article has a list of (and links to) verified organizations that are helping: United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and others - plus information on several fundraisers in surrounding communities.
I spent an awesome day with my even more awesome sisters last weekend visiting one of our favorite places: Dragonfly Farms over on the Kitsap Peninsula.
She's starting to wrap things up for the season, but as usual there was still a show
and lots of inspiration.
Some stuff I can't wait to try in my own yard
and lots of stuff I can't wait to draw.
(Get it - it's a horseshoe, it's a crab - ha ha ha...)
The nursery is tops: cool and unique plants, lots of locally-sourced goodies, amazing garden art, and the surrounding gardens are magical.
I'm pretty sure fairies live there.
Sometimes you just need to go to a place guarded by dragons
where anything can live in a tree
and scorpions are friendly.
Sometimes dry teasel should be blue
and frogs should dance.
Sometimes you just need a little escape to another world for a while.
Dragonfly Farms Nursery is open Thursdays through Sundays in March through October. If you are here in the Pacific Northwest it's worth a visit; I'm sure you'll find it a friendly and inspiring place that will become one of your favorites too.
But it did, and we spent a gloriously refreshing couple weeks at the cabin.
Ted got the hang of it pretty quickly.
Constantly inspired by everything surrounding me there
I started playing with beads.
Inspired by the golden glow of the sunsets
or maybe it was just my beads...
...even my drawings coordinated with it all.
With so few distractions
"Hey guess what, let's go to the beach."
I started making earrings.
and more earrings.
Like, a ridiculous amount of earrings (more on these soon). I couldn't stop. It happened sort of on accident, I hadn't set out to make that many. Really, I think it was the lack of distractions.
"Hey, I have an idea. Let's go to the beach."
Another thing that happened totally on accident: my finished necklaces caught my eye one afternoon
and a thought popped into my head
about all the super neato suncatchers and mobiles I keep seeing on Pinterest.
The challenge here was making it fit in the long window without distracting from the beach view. I built it in several shorter sections and fastened them together, some while they were laid out flat and others after hanging it up. For a mobile it's pretty heavy, and about as tall as me.
Glass, shells, rocks, even a small float are mixed together with the glass beads, jewelry wire, and some random rusty hardware from my Granddad's basement that I'd thrown in a bag to take with me, not knowing what I'd make with it.
It was good wire-wrapping practice. Some are swirly and nice, others not so much.
But it's the beach. The beach is supposed to be imperfect.
I made other stuff too and can't wait to share in more posts, but for now I'm just starting to settle back into home and studio, back to reality, where it is starting to feel like . . . fall.
Well, here we are already with summer in full-swing! I hope you've been enjoying yours so far. The weather's been lovely here but I seem to be getting a bit of a late start on the laid-back summer-celebrationy vibe myself, busy with work and other indoor distractions. This doesn't really make sense, if you believe this page of my little sketchbook from January.
But then, one of those distractions has been a new family member. Meet Ted, everyone. Ted is a shy, mature gentleman who will come out for scritches
or a little catnip
but for now, is mostly content in his hidey-hole in the corner of my studio.
He's had a bit of an unstable life in the last couple years and had been at the shelter for several months, but we're hoping he starts feeling more at home here soon. We've grown awfully fond of him in a very short time.
Outside the little studio, my funny little garden is in full-swing.
I'm gorging on raspberries right off the bushes daily.
They rarely, if ever, make it all the way into the house to be used in a recipe, or even washed, or shared for that matter.
We've been enjoying fresh salads
and other goodies
although the real stars, as far as I'm concerned, are yet to come.
I've enjoyed sitting in the back yard in the evenings, soaking in those moments between the sun disappearing over the trees on one side and the first stars coming into view on the other, watching our neighborhood bats quietly and gracefully working on pest-control (batspotting is a favorite summer-evening activity, and I'm a nerd about keeping track of what time and how long they flutter about nightly).
Everything around me is bursting with summertime goodness but for some reason, I have not yet been to the beach.
It's filled with 20 beachy-themed cards for whatever occasion might pop up this summer: birthday, friendship, thank you, anniversary, encouragement, even get well, for those seasonally-unfair ailments (isn't it the biggest rip-off ever to get a cold or flu on a beautiful summer day?).
What a bunch of great designs. These cards are all super colorful inside and out.
How much more summery can you get than this?!
Just leave a comment on this post telling me something that makes you happy about summer, this year or any, and you'll be entered to win a set for yourself. I'll draw 3 names from a hat 1 week from today, on Sunday the 14th, and announce the 3 winners.
And while we're getting into the summery celebrationy beachy barbequey fun-in-the-sun spirit, there's a party going on all this week over at the Henry Glass blog!
We're all celebrating their summer releases with goodies and giveaways, head over to join the fun! Did someone say free fabric?! You know you want it! These folks know how to throw a summer party - it's going to be great!
Overlooked, and often grumbled about, by me. You don't have to look far within this blog to find me complaining about dumb old boring grey.
It gets a bad rap most of the time. It's the muddy shade you end up with when mixing all your old leftover paint together; the color of naval ships, scratchy old wool, parking lots, badly-done laundry, the ashes left after the embers have cooled. It's the color of winter in the Pacific Northwest: the dull absence of bright, cheerful color purportedly responsible for our high rates of depression, madness, suicide.
What grey does, however, is make every other shade around it seem that much more exciting, beautiful, and dramatic.
I was reminded of this recently on a visit to Long Beach, WA.
It says, "Hey, don't mind me, I'm just Grey. But check these other colors out!" It's sort of selfless that way. Thanks, Grey.
I've gone on here many times before about my love for our Northwest beaches in the wintertime. It's just part of me, inside me. I feel whole again when I hear the surf roar and that icy wind whips across my face, the wet sand and seafoam blows across my boots.
A few days later, on a ferry ride from Seattle, I was struck again by the beauty and drama of a dull grey day.
What a gorgeous Indian Summer we've been having here in the Northwest. The days have been clear and blue, the mornings and evenings especially golden and pinkish, and the nights crisp and cool. I'm not usually thinking about the garden this time of year, since pretty much the only thing that's happening is the last of the tomatoes and squash are ripening while the rest of the beds sit sort of neglected and dry, waiting patiently for someone to finally clean up spent blooms and do some pre-winter mulching.
I may not typically be thinking gardening in October, but for the past year my sister has been telling me about this amazing nursery over on the Kitsap Peninsula, and we've been saying we'll go. It's closed during the winter and this month is our last chance for the year, so we finally scheduled a day and I hopped on a ferry to meet her there.
It couldn't have been a bluer morning out on Puget Sound.
Everyone was taking advantage of the warm October sunshine.
Gulls and cormorants at the ferry dock preened and sunned themselves.
As I pulled into the long driveway toward Dragonfly Farms Nursery for the first time, I knew it was going to be cool. I parked my car under a fish in a tree
and started to soak in this late-season wonderfulness.
We wandered through the extensive paths and gardens before heading up to the retail area.
In October I expect to see dramatic grasses
interesting dried pods
and colorful foliage and berries
but I'm always surprised by what's actually blooming. Around my neighborhood and in my own yard, the roses are all having a second (or third) go at it, but wait, there's more...
...and if these tall and fabulous blooms and giant showy leaves aren't enough, you could always plant flowers made of big rocks and rusty metal. I am loving these and want a whole bed of them.
The beds at Dragonfly Farms are full of giant rusty machine parts turned garden sculptures; I can't get enough of that stuff. I just love it.
And this one surprised me by being the coolest birdhouse ever.
There were a few of these great benches built into raised beds.
Note to self, find some gargantuan pipe sections and a giant slab of slate and make a bench out of it. Yeah, I'll get right on that...
More fun surprises that pop up this time of year: cute little baby perennials and spreading pansies that just show up at the edges or even right in the middle in the garden path
and bottle borders.
I love bottle anything. It's a hereditary thing for glass, my relatives and I can't help it - we just came this way.
I also love spheres in the garden.
Gazing balls, armillary sundials, giant sculptures, floats, old bowling balls, anything round just makes me happy when it's nestled into the landscape. And there are plenty here.
the mother of all garden spheres
and then that sphere's mother.
Yes, the mother of the mother of all garden spheres. Really. There are quite a few amazing sculptures by this local artist scattered throughout the grounds.
And if rusty metal isn't your thing, there's always mirror glass.
I am also a big fan of Seussian trees. You know, ones that remind me of beloved characters from my childhood. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a tree that reminded me so much of Snuffleupagus.
I sort of want one as a pet.
But this one lives here with his whole family, so I wouldn't want to break that up.
Everywhere you look around here there is personality
and more personality.
Just look at the shape of this planter. I am afraid to build stuff because I think it will turn out this shape, but now that I see this, that wouldn't be so bad. And see the broken pot behind it? Placed as though that tree just busted out of it overnight.
There are hidden treasures everywhere,
many of them were once useful objects...
...hidden deep under this burst of growing goodies is a claw-foot bathtub used as a planter.
More paths wander through semi- to deeply-shaded areas
all filled with artisticly quirky treasures,
and growing ones.
Wandering through the subtle, dark, shady paths, you suddenly come across the most inviting doorway
to another little world, this one in technicolor.
An adorable old gingerbread-covered house peeked through the shrubs and trees telling us that we might have stumbled onto the owners' private space, so we headed back out through another path that meandered through more gardens and eventually brought us back to the nursery
filled with locally-sourced goodies
gorgeous fall color
and friendly and helpful planting advice.
I can't wait to go back in the spring and summer and enjoy a completely different kind of show of colors and textures.
After we had our fill of gardeny goodness, we enjoyed a delicious lunch outside on a deck overlooking the waterfront with a couple new friends who didn't seem to understand why we were both talking to them so nicely but not offering them food (it was way too good to share).
With my belly full of yummy food, my car full of new plants,
and that warm nice feeling from spending a great day with someone I love I headed home again across the amazingly blue Puget Sound.
What a great day!
If you are here in Western Washington and are into gardening, I suggest you head over to Dragonfly Farms Nursery between Kingston and Hansville and wander, discover, and stock up on great plants and unique garden art - you won't be sorry you did! The owner is super nice and has cute dogs, it's a woman-owned small business supporting other local small businesses, and one of the neatest places around.
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Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.