Easter

Easter
Lily in Autumn

Tigress by Ellen Tsagaris

Tigress by Ellen Tsagaris
This is a story of Jack the Ripper with at Twist!

Ellen Tsagaris' The Bathory Chronicles; Vol. I Defiled is My Name

Ellen Tsagaris' The Bathory Chronicles; Vol. I Defiled is My Name
This is the first of a trilogy retelling the true story of the infamous countess as a youn adult novel. History is not always what it seems.

Wild Horse Runs Free

Wild Horse Runs Free
A Historical Novel by Ellen Tsagaris

With Love From Tin Lizzie

With Love From Tin Lizzie
Metal Heads, Metal Dolls, Mechanical Dolls and Automatons

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The Legend of Tugfest

The Legend of Tugfest
Dr. E is the Editor and A Contributor; proceeds to aid the Buffalo Bill Museum

Emma

Emma

Like My Spider

Like My Spider
It's Halloween!

Moth

Moth
Our Friend

Little Girl with Doll

Little Girl with Doll
16th C. Doll

A Jury of her Peeps

A Jury of her Peeps
"Peep Show" shadow box

Crowded Conditions

Crowded Conditions

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Opie Cat's Ancestors

Opie Cat's Ancestors
Current Cat still Sleeps on Victorian Doll Bed with Dolls!

First Thanksgiving Dinner

First Thanksgiving Dinner
Included goose and swan on the menu!

Autumn Still Life

Autumn Still Life
public domain

Boadicea

Boadicea
The Original Bodacious Woman

Angel Monument

Angel Monument

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Kiowa Doll

Kiowa Doll

Sketch of children playing

Sketch of children playing
Courtesy, British Museum

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Small Dolls, Clay and Cloth

Small Dolls, Clay and Cloth

A Goddess

A Goddess

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Countertop Gardening

Tip for today: I bought some tiny peat pots, and had a lot of fun creating a small kitchen counter garden. I planted the wildflower seeds received as wedding favors; they are sprouting. I also planted pumpkins, and kohlrabi. When they are tall enough, I will transplant them, but for now, they reside in cake box container on top of a Corelle dinner plate. They get plenty of sun from the window, and I keep the peat pots moist.

Easy tomato sauce for freezing: I use five to six medium to large ripe tomatoes. I chop them up, or blend them into a rough puree. I don't peel them or core them. I love the seeds. I just wash them very carefully and remove any blemishes. I salt about 3 tsps. or to taste. I add some sugar to taste, or leav it out. Think pasta sauce; I love to season mildly with oregano and basil. I bring it all to a boil, then let it simmer. I also cheat; I add a large can of tomato sauce, any size, to thicken it. It is good to add about 1/8 of a cup olive oil, too. Let it simmer about an hour. Cool it, then freeze what you don't use. Then, reheat,use for pasta, pizza, vegetable casserole, baked eggs, bruschetta, bread stick dipping, etc.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Plastic Sailboat

Go, Plstiki! This is the ultimage in recycling!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips and Trips

Today I had a rare day off. My dad and I travelled the river roads in northern Iowa; these are the small river towns nestled in the bluffs overlooking the Mighty Mississippi. The view is magical, and the hills were all green and gently rolling. I couldn't get over the beautiful houses in some places. They were made of brink with natural stone incorporated into them, or of logs mixed with stones. They looked like some of the farm houses I used to see in Canada.

We visited Dyersville, and stopped to eat at Country Junction, which we always liked. The Plaza Theatre Antique Mall was still there, which is sort of a comfort. So is the Farm Museum and the Ertl store. I made it home in time to start dinner for my family, and I have a couple of tips.

1.Navy Bean Soup; this was a quick recipe. Saute in half TBSP butter and enough olive oil to coat a large Dutch oven about half a chopped onion. Add half can Herdez salsa casera, mild. Add 3/4 can chicken or vegetable broth. Add one 12 oz can navy beans. I threw in dried vegetable flakes and a few pinches cilantro. Last, I crumbled some dried mint. This was from an organic bouquet I had purchased. I brought it to a boil, and let it simmer for half an hour. It has a nice, savory taste.

2. Read this in the latest Doll Castle News, July/August issue. Use vinegar to clean old dolls, windows, the toilet, various surfaces. Check their site. Just Google their name and you will find them. Some very good cleaning ideas.

3. I made brine for my Feta cheeses, both sharp made with sheep's milk and the typcial store variety made with goat's milk. It was very easy. I just put the cheese in a deep bowl, and added cold water a quarter of the way up. It made a very good brine, and moistened the cheese the way I like to cook with it. Add fresh basil leaves, and sliced homegrown tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, and you have a great salad.

4. Simple, refreshing and healthy dessert. Open one small, chilled can mandarin oranges, any brand. Take one small container Greek yogurt. I like Athenos honey. Layer the bottom of a small, maybe six oz. round class with the yogurt. Top with mandarin oranges. Garnish with fresh blue berries. Chill.

For anyone out there interested, the KU Paralegal Studies Craft and Cooking Encyclopedia is out!

Have a Happy Week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Simple Things

I spent part of my evening folding clothes, and noting what needed to be hung up and ironed. I thought of my grandma, and my mom, who sprinkled clothes with water, and realized what a simple, green, and good idea that is. No starch, no spray can, no chemicals, just water. I remembered my simple little figurines with the sprinkler head and how great they were for this task. Laundry and laundry day reminds me of relatively good times when I was able to hang up clothes outside, and the air was fresh and a warm, clean scent pervaded everything. I still like to wash things by hand and hang them outside, if only on the rung of the mailbox. It makes me think of my mother, who ironed whenever she could, and how proud I was to help her fold clothes, match socks, and mend what needed mending. I loved fixing up drawers when I had time, and rolling socks, and organizing. Summer was for late spring clean, and picking flowers, and family trips, often to a National Park, more often to California, the CA of Dragnet and other 70s and late 60s shows I grew up with.

My simple green tip for the day; don't litter. It was our mantra when we were growing up, and it was a good one. Live Green and Prosper.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Amazing Gardens

Toured a beautiful garden in a house built on our local river bluff. The house was built on the top level, and the garden descended and twisted down to the street. There were flowers of every type, and garden statutes, gazing balls, stepping stones, a veranda surrounding the house, and a whole collection of rabbit statuary. There was wicker furniture and garden furniture arranged in conversational groups, and the veranda had pictures on the walls of the house and was encased on one side by antique, weathered shutters. There was an outdoor coffee table with appropriate bird statutes andother knick knacks, a gargoyle living next to a hosta, a rabbit wathervane, etc. At one turn, there was a little red wagon full of clam shells. Charming! We visited the home of American Pickers, and antqued a little, too. Everything was well-mulched, and there were many plants suited to shade, a great idea for gardeners who dislike too much sun. A "vampire's garden," perhaps!

It was swelteringly hot, but no one's enthusiasm wilted. My friend next door hosted a party as well; her lovely house is all white, and full of space and great seaside and river decor. Pictures will follow, but it was a lovely day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Plantings

Planted my 4:00's today,and picked up an Isabel Bloom flower pot. Would like to weed when humidity goes down, but we like some of our prettier weeds.:)

Would appreciate tips on miniature roses;mine are not doing great, but they do come back.

Continue to recycle, and today, I nearly dumster dived, very nice 30s style veneer end table waiting by the curb. It will find a home, but I resisted.

Tip; cheer yourself up at work. Pick yourself a bouquet. I use my great tiger lilies and day lilies, hosta flowers, ferns, echinachea daisies, a geranium or two for color, you get the idea.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Black Dahlias and Rain Barrels

If anyone out there knows where I can get seeds or seedlings for black flowers, please tell me. We teach a famous cold case in school, where the victim, a young girl, was nicknamed The Black Dahlia by the press as a comment on her movie star aspirations and as an allusion to Veronic Lake in The Blue Dahlia. I always find artificial black flowers to give out to my students, but a local nursery actually had black pansies one year. I'd like to know where to find some to use for class, but I also would like plant some in memory of Beth Short, who really wasn't that fond of the nickname when she was alive.

A few tips; there was a good story on rain barrels and using them to store water for plants during drier times in the summer and fall. These cost $63.00 and also had covers and a place for a hose so you could actually use them to water. One was light blue, win paintings of bees and echinachea daisies. These were certainly an improvement over the rusty oil drum my John Muir wannabee neighbor has rigged up, no cover, mosquito breeding, etc. Cheapness and a little knowledge are two very dangerous bedfellows. Oh well.

Another tip for buying local; look for what is grown locally, or for what an area is known for. I know this is true of berry farms. Even local flea markets have great samples and examples. There are many farmers markets everywhere; I like to stumble on a few new ones now and then and watch the local news, variety, and morning shows to get ideas. It reminds me of our great trip to Boston with its open air green grocers, and of shopping for fruit in Europe when I was young.

At home, the spiders are winning the terrarium race. Let them have it, I guess. I keep thinking of the German tale of the spiders and the tannenbaum. The other pots now contain basil and miniature roses, a few pansies and violas, a marigold. Now is a good time to visit the local nurseries for bargains. The annuals are less than a quarter per plant,and the big pots are less than four dollars. The petunias and begonias fairly glow in the hazy, wet weather,and they are lovely.

I also spied a deer again,and many,many rabbits scampering about. I still like them, and forgive them what they eat. I have a mysterious flowering vine in one pot, and am contemplaint some more hydrangeas or flower bushes. I am enjoying watering and primping here and there. I have a secret desire to be the Yard of the Month!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Robin Woest and US

To my good friend Robin Ann Woest from high school; I've never forgotten you. Happy Belated Birthday July 2nd. I still remember swimming at the lake and the birthday parties we had when we turned 17 and 18. Also, belated Happy 4th to all

The spider saga continues; that what I get for writing stories about an artist named Arachne. Now, they are fascinated with the one terrarium I have left in tact. There is a miniaure sandcastle in it, and a silk rose, and some trees made from twigs. The spiders love it. Reminds me of the old German story of the spiders who have to climb the Christmas tree to see it, and leave webs that get turned to silver and gold. I almost feel sorry for them. To be so persistent, they must like it.

I saw a fox on the way WI this weekend, and there are still deer in our neighborhood. I have put my indoor plants out, and am gently watering on a regular basis, which I recommend.

My tip today for every one to follow Woolf's sound advice and find a room of one'sown; even if it is a web page, or a tiny corner. Ironically, I tried to write a class for Woolf's classic about 4 years ago; I couldn't.I used to live and breathe her as well as teach her, and I froze and didn't enter the contest. That's when I knew I was in trouble, and slowly got back to writing, and to doing things that make me, me. Even if no one else lkes me. I came across my Norton Anthology of Nature Writing today. I recommend it,and the Romantic Poets, especially Wordsworth. Read, plant, grow, enjoy.

Natural Dolls Fennimore Doll Museum

I saw a touching African doll made of two corncobs dating from 1957 at the Fennimore Doll Museum, Fennimore, WI. They have other folk dolls and dolls from natural materials, including a German Prune doll. More later.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Squirrel Wars

They are at it again, scattering my organic potting soil and trying to bury their nuts. A grey one nearly as big as my cat was sitting parallel to me on the deck. I will prevail!

I do miss my terrariums with their miniature plants; they gave me a lot of inspiration. You could almost hear the rustle of fairy wings moving among the tiny buildings if you listened very stilly . . .