Gratitude Friday – Spring Has Sprung and… New Technique Video Posted!

Wherever you, dear reader, are currently seated, I hope you are getting at least glimpses of warmer weather.  Here in Las Vegas, we’ve had a string of warm, gorgeous, seventy something degree days.  The dogs and I have been sunbathing a bit in the yard, and while they have occupied themselves sniffing, rolling, and wrastling, I’ve started poking around in our small but lovely nearly one year old garden.

Before I share with you some lovely surprises I encountered there, let me tell you that last summer, I ordered about 100 worm egg casings to help nourish some pretty lame, rock-ridden soil.  I watered them well for the first few weeks after I planted them in the soil and then forgot about them. Through the fall of 2011, I carefully dug up patches, sifting out the many rocks.  Sounds fun, huh?  Actually, I found the practice to be very zen, and what with spring already having arrived here in February, I’ve been inspired to do some more rock sifting.  A wonderful surprise as I’ve begun digging – worms galore, worms big and small, all doing doing fabulous work.  Considering transplanting one or two of them to my lazy composter. I have to confess, knowing that no one is watching, I have more than once actually picked up a worm, gently cupped it in my palms, thanked it out loud, and then lovingly placed it back in the soil, nestling it in with new seedlings.  I know, totally cheezy, but I can’t help myself.

Anyway, I moved a bazillion times in the last 20 years, and if any of those residences had less than ideal soil, a good dose of worm eggs, come the next spring, if I were still living in the same place, the soil would magically have transformed into a soft, loamy, thing of beauty.  You can order worms from Gardens Alive – I’ve been a big fan for years!  NOTE: If you do buy worms, remember that heavy tilling will harm/kill them.  I till as little as possible, going in there with a fork in hand and gently working the soil if absolutely necessary.

My Mister Lincoln potted rose bush made it into the ground late last fall – it wasn’t happy having had to endure the hundred degree summer in a pot, but it seems to have recovered having spent the winter in the ground.  A not so lovely surprise as I ventured into the garden a few days ago – I noticed the new growth on the bush was being attacked by aphids – tiny green suckers that amass on the tender new shoots and suck out their life force!  In an effort to be environmentally responsible, I do not use insecticides, and have often just submit, allowing nature to run its course, waiting to see which plants thrive.

But, this rose bush has some extra sentimental value as it was a gift from a former student and had been hauled over from LA, spreading ants throughout the moving truck!  So first, I tried shaking them off by flicking the canes.  Didn’t work.  Then, I tried spraying them with a strong jets of water – within twenty-four hours, they were back.  Finally, I decided to pick up some ladybugs – diminutive yet excellent garden predators – and see if they’d eat up the aphids.  I placed them on the bush, loosely covered the bush with a bag, removing the bag the following morning.  Well, it’s been days, and the ladybugs have not only stuck around, but they are managing the aphid problem –  diligent, and as equally valued as my beloved earthworms.

Some shots of these lovely ladies!

Actually, they’re mating like crazy, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for a second wave!

In honor of my ladybugs and the wealth of inspiration that nature provides, I prepared a new papercrafting video for you which features a gorgeous ladybug stamp!  Click the link:

Gratitude Friday Episode 3: Natural Granite Technique

We will utilize cardboard egg cartons!!!  Upcycling, baby!!!  And my medium of choice – watercolors!!!

I ripped up my carton weeks ago, mounded the pieces in a pile on my craft table, sat around and looked at them on and off during the last few weeks, and finally decided to do this with them…

I’m very pleased with the results – I hope you’ll try it out or play around with this well- textured material and come up with something entirely different.

In addition to the egg carton, I used…

Cardstock: White and Ripe Olive, Papertrey Ink
Tissue paper left over from a gift that I received

Watercolor Paints from HWC, Daniel Smith, Da Vinci, and M. Graham – each brand has different qualities.

Stamp: Mindscapes, Inkadinkado (Check Joann’s and Michael’s for awesome deals on papercrafting supplies!)

Ink: Peeled Paint Distress Ink from Tim Holtz

Modge Podge Gloss
Glossy Accents, Ranger
Glue Dots, Dot N Go
Scotch ATG

Die: Scallop Squares, Cuttlebug
Die-cutting machine – Sizzix Big Shot

Ribbon: White, Celebrate It 360 from Michaels

Feel free to comment, subscribe, show me what you’re making/cultivating!  Have you made it into the yard yet this year?  What are you planning on growing?


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