Monthly Archives: December 2012

I Want To Thank You…

With all the issues needing urgent attention in the past few weeks, I admit that my faith was wavering a bit in the department of “You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle”. Especially given the irony that my upper body strength was plummeting…just one more piece of baggage to shoulder that I couldn’t even grab hold of. Not that all the life changes that are happening are bad, but all of them do require attention and persistence, like a litter full of hungry, wiggling puppies. You just can’t pick one or two to devote time to, and hope the rest will voluntarily enter suspended animation until you have the energy for them. So I admit to feeling run down and less-than-enthusiastic about even the simplest activities. Keeping with the hungry litter analogy, even snuggling in to get puppy kisses involves somehow getting down on the floor without crushing any puppies, and strategizing a way to get back up again…looking for the good in this recent batch of Life Stuff has been exhausting in itself.

Gratuitous puppy cuteness.

Gratuitous puppy cuteness. Bouncing = Happiness, although unstable surfaces can be a bit unsettling.

So I’d like to thank the strangers who have conspired with the universe in the past few days to make it So Darn Obvious That Life Is Good, that I haven’t even had to look twice to see the truth in that.

For example, there was the manager and technician at the local radiology center, who gave up precious time on Christmas weekend to work past business hours, and probably against policy. During an urgent-but-not-emergency procedure, the fire alarm went off. Although it was found to be a malfunction and not a danger, the department was still required to be evacuated. Unfortunately, the maintenance staff had already left for the holidays, and no one else had the code to shut off the sirens and flashing lights. After waiting outside for 30 minutes, the staff was officially free to go. I thought we’d never come back from that one before Christmas, but understanding my anxiety, the manager found ear plugs for us all, and the technician volunteered to sneak back in to finish the procedure in the dark. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I was to have one less unpleasant task looming over the holiday.

Thank you to Terry, a fellow WordPress blogger, whom I have never met, for sending me personal notes of encouragement just when I needed them the most. Despite, or maybe because of, all the changes going on in her world right now, she noticed that I have been a little less effervescent lately, and reached out to me. It’s nothing short of amazing to me that a total stranger would not only read what I have been writing, but also what I have been not writing, and wonder about it enough to ask.

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My imaginary friend Terry, and her brother Al. This picture gives me the warm fuzzies. (photo courtesy of Terry1954)

And thank you, too, to Sue in Australia, who writes The Crafty Pioneer. Out of the blue, she nominated Beyond Back Creek for the Versatile Blogger Award. Is it too trite to say “I’m so honored”?  I love Sue’s blog, and all her adventures in crafting.   (I am especially tickled by her Yarn Bombing tale…I’d never heard of this before, but I admire the idea of guerilla art-making! It seems especially meaningful, given recent events, to rekindle the sentiment of ‘Make Love (or  more generally, Create Love), Not War”

Yarn bombed tree - Hampton Street

Yarn-Bombed Tree. I am in awe of the work involved.  And I have so many questions.  Do you take measurements of the tree and knit at home?  Or do you brazenly make this out in the open?  (photo courtesy of The Crafty Pioneer)

So, long way around, here is my acceptance of the Versatile Blogger nomination, wherein I am strong-armed (a funny word for me, lately) into sharing seven things about myself as one of the rules of the game.

  1. I have a 2-burner range and no dishwasher. My longest run of countertop is 18 inches.  Don’t let a lack of kitchen appliances get in the way of home cooking!
  2. I truly love people, their stories, their mannerisms, their customs.  But I am happiest spending an evening in peace with a cup of herbal tea to drink and an old English mystery to read.
  3. I don’t believe there is such a thing as Too Much Pizza.  Even gluten-free.
  4. I prefer well-mannered dogs to rambunctious puppies. (Odd, but true.)
  5. If there is a ‘next life’, I hope to come back as one of my own cats.
  6. I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up.
  7. I prefer sunrise to sunset.

As part of paying it forward for the Versatile Blogger nomination, I would like to share the following blogs that have inspired me over the past year that I have been blogging.  There are many others that I admire and follow, but I have tried to pick some undiscovered writers that have not gotten a lot of recognition already.

Chesapeake Journal (this is the first blog I ever read, and I still look forward to reading Kathy’s view from across the Bay. {Waving at you from Annapolis}.)

Putney Farm (yeah, they may be Big Time. At least, they were featured on Freshly Pressed.  But the recipes are so relevant, and so do-able.  How could I resist the subtitle ‘Get some good food.  Cook it. Share with friends. Have a cocktail.’ )

Stefania Wine (yes, there are wineries on the East Coast.  But I actually know these people.  Paul and Stefania are wonderful human beings, and they make award-winning wines, the old fashioned way.  Yes, I mean stomping on grapes…)

Ian Rodger Photography (no matter what he takes a picture of, I find it soothing.  Something about his perspective makes me slow down and take a few deep breaths.  Ian…hint…post more often! The world needs more occasions for serenity.)

Things My Belly Likes (another gluten-free, food-adoring soul.  But so much more than just healthful recipes. Can there be too many gratuitous cute puppies in one post? No, I think not.)

this pretty much sums up my Christmas

“This pretty much sums up my Christmas” as per Cat (photo courtesy of Things My Belly Likes)

Outlaw Garden (the second blog I ever discovered.  Cristina, I found a kindred spirit in your adventures in front-yard gardening, despite the rules and regulations of the community association.  Sister, please keep writing about your subversive vegetable-growing deeds!)

There are so many more bloggers that have inspired me this year.  I sincerely promise to revisit this list and add to it.  But at this point, I suspect I am straining the tolerance of the most avid of readers.  (If you are anything like me, you are eager to move on to the food and libations portion of the evening.)  So, I raise a glass to toast my fellow bloggers, this writing community, and share my gratitude for your acceptance, and my wishes for a joyful New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year!

I’m going to skip the resolutions, recollections, and any wishful thinking today. Cheers to things that make us smile.

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Wishing you a delightful 2013, filled with good health, good food, and abundant happiness.

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Still Shopping? I’m Listening.

I wish I had the resources to grab my displays and put on a full-out trunk show for everyone who is asking about Angel’s Share fused glass. What a fun whirlwind that would be! And the appreciation and support is really heart-warming.

My glass-making skills outstrip my photography skills.  Still, you may get a glimpse of the deep color and glow of these handmade gems.

My glass-making skills outstrip my photography skills. Still, you may get a glimpse of the deep color and glow of these handmade gems.

Alas, once again I am constrained by both the laws of physics and my own physical limitations. So for those of you in Anne Arundel County and neighboring areas, who are still looking for last-minute gifts, and would love something made locally and by hand, by a real person with a face and a name, I’ve added links to the right sidebar  where my work can be found. Hopefully, that list will grow, as each outlet has its own vibe, and they’ve chosen different styles to showcase.

Lillie Pad Studios features my Artifact line, with raw edges and mixed materials.

The Angel's Share Artifact series is always changing, depending on what materials I've foraged. These three pieces include salvaged window glass, copper mesh, electrical wiring, steel cable, and ground glass powder, as a start.

The Angel’s Share Artifact series is always changing, depending on what materials I’ve foraged. These three pieces include salvaged window glass, copper mesh, electrical wiring, steel cable, and ground glass powder, for a start.

There’s a lot of repurposed inclusions in these pieces, scavenged from houses undergoing renovation. And owner Michelle Lillie is an amazing glass-blower, with a great variety of her work available as well. The upstairs Gallery features work by several local fine artists, including paintings and sculptures. For a really unforgettable gift, package a pair of Angel’s Share earrings with a voucher for one of the glass-blowing or ceramics classes offered at the Studio.

Ridgely Retreat in West Annapolis is showcasing my Angel Stacks this winter.

I try to nudge the colors for the Angel Stacks, but really, the outcome is up to the whim of the kin gods.  Yeah,  I know there's science in there too, but I prefer to believe in magic.

I try to nudge the colors for the Angel Stacks, but really, the outcome is up to the whim of the kiln gods. Yeah, I know there’s science in there too, but I prefer to believe in magic.

Tailored in shape, yet full of fire and color, these pieces will bring a sparkle to the grayest of days. Ridgely Retreat is such a warm and peaceful place, consider it a gift to yourself just to drop by and enjoy a cup of herbal tea while you shop. And in the spirit of loving-kindness, couple an Angel’s Share pendant with a certificate for a massage or a yoga class offered on site.

And both locations have abundant, free parking! How’s that for taking the stress out of last-minute shopping?

Happy Holidays, and wishes for the most wonderful of New Year’s.

This sign from an Annapolis shop says it all. (photo courtesy of South Jersey Locavore)

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Crafters for Newtown

It’s hard to know what to say or do during times of tragedy. This idea, from the Connecticut PTSA, is a way for those of us who are better with our hands than our words to show that we care.

The PTSA hopes to create a winter wonderland for the Newtown children when they return to classes. Just as no two people are alike, neither are any two snowflakes. So any way that you can make a snowflake will be welcome.

The PTSA site has the information and address for mailing. I plan on making some glass snowflakes. Does anyone have other ideas to share?

Wishing you all a peaceful New Year.

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Repurpose This: Coffee Cans, Festive Decor Edition

I am happily surprised at how much interest you have shown in repurposing coffee cans! When I wrote the first post, I promised more installments, since I stockpile ideas almost as fast as empty coffee cans. Given the holiday season, here’s some ideas for up cycling cans, coffee or otherwise, into fun and festive decor.

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I wish I had thought of this rustic wreath myself. I would have used it exactly the same way, on the fence, near the bird feeder outside my kitchen window. (photo courtesy of Starling Ink)

 

 

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This goes well beyond just peeling the label off (my technique for using a coffee can as a gift box) With packaging like this, a bunch of tube socks would be fun to get. (photo courtesy of Spoonful)

 

 

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I know this is not very Christmas-y, but just imagine how festive this would look with pine branches, holly sprigs, and mini ornaments. (photo courtesy of Sweet Paul)

 

 

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What’s not to love about this reuse of coffee cans? Sparkly, eco-friendly votive holders, and on the beach, to boot! Although you could easily use them to light the front path to your door through the snow…(photo courtesy of Design Sponge)

 

 

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The grande finale of this holiday-themed ‘Repupose This’ article….the entire Christmas tree is made out of recycled coffee cans! (photo courtesy of Trendy Tree)

 And don’t forget the best use of all…cookie tins for all those scrumptious homebaked goodies!

Happy Holidays, and happy repurposing!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

I think we’ve all been feeling fragile lately. Here’s something ‘delicate‘, but sturdy. And definitely heartwarming.

Brand-new puppy paws that have not yet walked outside. Beyond smoochable. I’m so glad I thought to take a picture of them before romping and scampering toughened them.

 

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For more photographic interpretations of the word “delicate”, please visit the following blogs:

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Miljo Anne
  2. weekly photo challenge : delicate | bodhisattvaintraining
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Chronicles of Illusions
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | My Thoughts like Balloons
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge “Delicate” « Web Design through one Student’s Eyes
  6. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Little Yaris Photo
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « abujibryl’s Blog
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Four Deer Oak
  9. WPC: Past the Delicate Phase – Oliver the Cat « Advocacine’s Blog
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Create A Beautiful Life
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Pawuhan
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Bams’ Blog
  13. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Express with Photos
  14. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Learning to See Light
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Here & Abroad
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | Angel Frouk
  17. Photo Challenge: Delicate | Sue Ann’s Balcony
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Beijing Daily Photo 2
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | The Good Villager
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate (somewhere under a rainbow) « What’s (in) the picture?
  21. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate… | Mirth and Motivation
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge: DELICATE « Smart n Trendy MOM
  23. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate « Max510′s Blog
  24. Weekly Photo Challenge – Delicate | breathofgreenair
  25. Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate | The Serenity Space
  26. weekly photo challenge : delicate « Time To Be Inspired

 

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The Way Things Are This Morning

Since discovering the WordPress Daily Prompt, I’ve thought about all of them, but shared very few. Beyond Back Creek is not the kind of blog that lends itself to much introspection, and I’d rather spend my time here sharing my experiences trying to create homes, in multiple senses of the word. But today’s question had been on my mind for a few days. (Funny how that happens with the WordPress crew…should I be worried that you know me too well?) You see, my usual ideal Saturday does not involve sleeping in or watching cartoons or going to yoga class. I wake up early, get dressed in the dark, and pack a lunch. I feed the dog, prep food for the next few meals, and leave Mike a note. And then I head off to work, for a weekend job that I love, despite the uncommon schedule.

But not today. Today, I jolted awake after 6 and took a few seconds to realize I wasn’t late for anything. I stayed in bed with the cat and the iPad for an hour, catching up on emails. By the time I got up, Mike had made coffee, and the heater was on. We both remarked how lucky I was to be able to spend this morning watching cooking shows and looking over the seed catalogs. And I am lucky, especially in light of the news from Connecticut that I try to avoid, or the updates from New Jersey where families are still homeless after Sandy. I am here, we are here, the house is here. And everyone we know and love is safe. But not all of me feels like things are okay.

Today, once again, I don’t have a job to go to. Despite all the good things about this life, I am still anxious about This Thing. And no, it doesn’t help when (I assume) well-meaning people say “You are so lucky you have free time now. I wish I didn’t have to go to work!” Funny, I think. If you couldn’t work, I bet you’d wish you could. But I watched TV, and soaked up the heat, and drank far too much coffee. And I pondered today’s Daily Prompt.

So here’s what I decided to do.

I will think about my usual, ideal Saturday. The one I am not having right now.

And then I will write about the way things are this morning, and how this will be The Best Saturday Ever. Because I do have power over that. And taking the time, and the control over the computer, to write this is part of the good thing that today will be.

I will channel the Kitchen Goddess, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Carla Emery. And combine them all together. We have a bit of corn meal, and some pork bits. And I will make food out of thin air, and call it Scrapple.

There is a beautiful, fresh duck egg on the counter. I have no black pepper, but I have paprika, and mustard powder. So I will make a devilled mayonaisse to add to fresh foraged greens from the No-Acre Homestead, and we will have the world’s best Scrapple sandwich for brunch.

Homemade scrapple, mayo, and fresh garden greens....yummmmm.

Homemade scrapple, mayo, and fresh garden greens….yummmmm.

And I will take a leisurely stroll in an upscale neighborhood with the pup, and enjoy their oh-so-tasteful Christmas decorations.

I will take glass out of the long-cold kiln, and turn it into jewlery. And I will have the time to document what went right, and what went wrong, and what I will do differently next time. And I will have the time to make today ‘next time’.

Handmade glass pieces, just waiting for me to have the time to turn them into jewels.

Handmade glass pieces, just waiting for me to have the time to turn them into jewels.

And I will write a list of garden chores that I used to be able to do myself, but now need to ask for help. So I will ask for help, and I will supervise. And I will be grateful, but will try not to feel in debt.

And then I will plan for Spring.

Another seed catalog, with promises of abundance to come in a few months.

Another seed catalog, with promises of abundance to come in a few months.

 

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Me Time « Natalie Elizabeth Beech
  2. Me Time « twilightsteffie
  3. Me Time | Renato Vasconcellos David
  4. Daily Prompt: Me Time | Lady J’s Library – The Desk of Julia Dina Blackowicz
  5. What do I do with my ‘Me Time’? | Beautiful Sin Webmaster Photoshop and Paintshop Pro Resources
  6. Daily Prompt: Me Time | writinglikeastoner
  7. Daily Prompt: Me Time | Stuph Blog
  8. A Day Like Any Other Day « jaschmehl
  9. Ideal Saturdays [Daily Prompt] « Q the Adult
  10. Daily Prompt: Me Time « The Eclectic Eccentric Shopaholic
  11. Daily Prompt: Me Time | Edward Hotspur
  12. Daily Prompt: Me Time | The Cat Chronicles
  13. My first Daily Prompt from WP « Living in Maine
  14. Daily Prompt: Me Time | Daddy’s Naughty Little Girl
  15. Daily Prompt~Me(us) Time « The Cheeky Diva
  16. Daily Prompt: Me Time | Beefy’s House o’ Fun
  17. Me Time | Tangled Up In Daydreams
  18. My ideal Saturday morning: Coffee and Sunrise « oh, this and that
  19. Twenty Stockings | Live-Blogging Love and Loss
  20. WordPress Daily Prompt : Me Time / How Are We This Morning? – Virginia Photos
  21. Daily Prompt: Me Time | …and she writes
  22. The Way Things Are This Morning | beyond back creek
  23. Daily prompt: Me time « Hope* the happy hugger

 

 

 

 

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Local Treasure Update: Habitat for Humanity SALE

ReStore, the retail outlet for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, is having a HUGE sale this weekend. Among other fabulous deals, there’s 20% off all donated items.

If you are going to squeeze in a quick redecorating project before Christmas, or need a furniture upgrade before company comes, be sure to check them out. They have some great treasures (did you see the granite countertops for $999 ?) and proceeds go to improving our community in Anne Arundel County and neighboring areas.

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A three-piece queen-sized bedroom set for $145 at the Pasadena Restore (photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake)

If you are  not in the Chesapeake area, look for a ReStore near you.  It’s a great way to do good, for yourself and for the neighborhood.

Happy Holidays.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

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Growing up, winter was gray. Cold seeped up from the cracked concrete, through cinder block walls, through single-paned and oh-so-cold metal framed windows. Cold, and gray, until the snow came sometime around Thanksgiving. The snow was sparkling and beautiful, even as it became layered with city grime. No matter how caked in dirt, snow still had some mysterious way of collecting bits of light and bouncing it back. Winter was my favorite season. Once the snow came, everything was hidden, so anything was possible.

Moving South, living in the suburbs, putting in time on the planet and maybe even global warming have changed what winter looks like for me. It seems the cold comes from my bones as much as anyplace else these days. Snow is infrequent, fleeting, and cause for alarm down here. Where winter once was defined by shades of white and gray, softened shapes, and muffled sounds, it now is a season of heightened contrast.

Even where I have tried to control my environment, I haven’t been able to create softness. Instead…Sticky mud and shards of ice. The backyard shorn of its low green billows, sharp outlines of man-made structures at center stage. Most plants are rightly dead or dormant in December, yet the Nandina and the Camellia have burst into life. I didn’t plan to have red berries, pink flowers, green leaves and a blue door stack up like that in our tiny space. Despite my calendars and graph paper, Nature still had her way.

Winter is still my favorite season. It’s just the colors are not what I expected.

(This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge)

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Sue, This One’s For You!

“Are we there yet? ”

“Are we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?”

Ok, it hasn’t been like that at all. But you know the feeling you get when your conscience is bugging you about doing something and yet you keep finding ways to avoid doing it? Even though you know you would feel, and be, a lot better if you just got yourself organized/brave/virtuous and did the blasted thing?

Well, Sue has been my Jiminy Cricket for the past (sigh) few years about sharing more of my glass work. Specifically, my jewelry. And I kind of have a love-hate relationship with my jewelry. It gives me so much joy to make, but that Yankee angel on my shoulder tells me I really should be doing something more beneficial to the world. I can sell it, which is good because it’s therefore not too indulgent of an activity. But it’s not Serious Art with capital letters or any underlying meaning, and that Art School angel whispers that it’s not a very worthwhile pursuit. So I dither on about sharing it or hiding it, until someone like Sue ( although there’s really no-one like Sue) baits me by saying she has already promised someone, two people, a whole conference room full of people, that she will have some pictures of what I am working on by Monday afternoon.

So welcome to Monday afternoon.

This is just one of the piles of scrap glass that lives and grows at Angel’s Share Studio. (aka the back porch) This glass forms the foundation of all the jewelry.


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The glass is cut, smashed, and splintered…yippee! It is stacked 4 to 6 layers tall and covers about 4 square inches. Then it is set into the kiln for about 8 hours. When it comes out, it looks like this slab, minus the magic marker lines. I drew those in hopes of cutting the slab into maximally-useful pieces. Or something.

 

I use a tile saw with a very thin and very expensive diamond coated blade to cut the glass into smaller shapes. They have to soak in water until the next step or they will get scummy the next time they go into the kiln. Here’s a bowl full of good intentions.

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After the rough cut, the pieces are shaped on an electric diamond grinder, and then kept wet until they are hand-sanded on a diamond sanding block. (Yes, I do love to keep myself surrounded with diamonds, although it’s not exactly what I imagined as a little girl.)  Then the pieces are cleaned again, and put back into the kiln for fire-polishing. This is what they look like after that stage.

What happens next?  Depending on the individual piece, it may be time to set it, or I might decide it needs some more work, in which case the cutting, firing, grinding, cleaning, sanding and fire-polishing repeats.

I had a great pop-up event last week.  The good news is I sold a lot of pieces.  The bad news is I don’t have any in the final stages to show you today.  (If you’d like to see some jewelry that has been re-homed, look here.)

So Sue, go ahead and flash this post on the Jumbotron at work.  Thanks for your encouragement.  This one’s for you.

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