Tuesday, December 31, 2013

January 2014 PC Desktop Calendar - FREE DOWNLOAD!

Alas, the New Year is finally upon us! I hope yours is filled with abundance and joy, and that you remember to share a bit of that with the little soft creatures in this wonderful world of ours. If you reside in an area like I do where winter weather can be quite harsh, please remember to set out water for our feathered friends from time to time.

To download my January 2014 PC Desktop Calendar just click the image above, and either save to your computer or as your desktop background for immediate use. To be notified when new calenders are made available and to receive notifications of new posts, please join my blog or follow by email! (See forms over to the right.)

Please feel free to share my FREE Downloadable PC Desktop Calendar for January 2014 using the links below.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blessings This Christmas and For the New Year

The scene outside my studio window this morning is a winter wonderland. Red cardinals stand out in sharp contrast against a sparkling white blanket of snow. The air is quite chill – in the low 30’s today with a wind chill in the low 20’s, but its warm and cozy inside our new home here in West Virginia. I hope this message today finds you all enjoying the comforts and joys of the season inside your own homes.

 Last Christmas Papa Crane and I were knee deep in a remodel of our home, so we made do with a make-shift kitchen in our laundry room. After looking at over 70 homes here, we finally just “settled” on one that “would do”, but it was in need of a serious make-over. I now have my “dream” kitchen (more on that in a future post) and can cook up a storm this Christmas, but our little laundry room kitchen will always serve as a reminder of the sacrifice we made to bring this dream into reality. 
We are still trying to get settled here, but are ever thankful that Papa Crane has been able to remain employed in a career that began in 1980, and has seen a steady decline over the past 32 years. When he graduated with a degree in printing from a small college in West Virginia, and we then married and moved to Richmond, VA, we had no plans of ever moving back here. But fate has a way of turning the tables on you, and so here we are. So when you open that lovely, glossy new magazine or sit curled up in a cozy chair with a cup of tea and your favorite book, know that you are supporting an industry that employs thousands upon thousands of workers all over the US, and no doubt all over the world.

A very Merry Christmas to all of you and I wish you Many Blessings this season and all throughout the coming year!

NOTE:  I'm currently reading "Stories From a Small Town - Remembering My Childhood in Hedgesville, West Virginia" by my new friend and local author  Roger Engle, and "A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside", by the immensely talented artist and writer Susan Branch.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Special Dinner for My Feathered Friends

Well Hello beautiful! 
I'm so glad you could join me for dinner today! 
What's on the menu? Why, it Kush Kush Crumble, of course!

Oh, its your favorite?!!! And you would like the recipe? Why certainly, its oh so easy!

Bye bye now! Come again soon won't you?

 Kush Kush Crumble

3/4 cup bacon or other drippings
2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups water

Melt the drippings in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining ingredients.

When drippings are hot but not smoking, pour in the batter. When it has set a bit around the sides, stir and turn the mixture with a spatula for 2 or 3 minutes, until it resembles scrambled eggs.

Cover pan, lower heat and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer, until the grains have swollen and the mixture is stiff. Spread on a platter to cool.

Optional additions: Add a 1/2 cup chopped peanuts to the batter or stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter at the end of cooking.

Crumple and scatter on the bird tale or over the ground-feeding area. Refrigerate leftovers up to a week or freeze up to 2 months.

FOLLOW UP: Initially I added some birdseed (black oiled sunflower) over the Kush Kush to encourage the birds to visit. Then I scattered some on the ground to entice them even more. Only problem was, my dog found it so I will not be doing that again!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

FREE DOWNLOAD - December 2013 Desktop Calender

My December 2013 Free Downloadable Desktop Calender is extra special this year thanks to a dear friend of mine - the wonderfully talented Cackie McCarty of Glittermoon Cards, Photographs and Vintage Christmas. Her lovely photo of a winter woodland covered in a blanket of snow made the perfect backdrop for my Holiday Deer watercolor painting. We hope that we have created a little bit of Christmas Magic here for all of you to enjoy!

Be sure to check out Cackie's gorgeous blog which is simply full of the loveliest stories, photos and images of the exquisite wreaths she makes from vintage ornaments and decorations. Cackie also participates in some of the very best art shows along the east coast, including the upcoming Country Living Fair HOLIDAY BIZARRE in Tarrytown, NY (Dec. 6, 7 and 8). Cackie's complete schedule is available on her blog.

To download the calendar just click the image above, and either save to your computer or as your desktop background for immediate use. To be notified when new calenders are made available and to receive notifications of new posts, please join my blog or follow by email! (See forms over to the right.)

REMEMBER! I love and appreciate your comments! And please share my FREE Downloadable PC Desktop Calendar for December 2013 using the links below.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Passion For PURPLE: Art and Gardening with One of My Favorite Colors

My birthday was yesterday and I celebrated by taking myself to one of my favorite antique malls in Hagerstown, MD – Beaver Creek on Rt. 40 – where I had the pleasure of gifting myself with the loveliest garden book, “The Gardens and Accoutrements of James Cramer”.  James has several booths at Beaver Creek and thanks to his wonderful vintage collections my purse is now a bit lighter and my new home and gardens are enjoying the benefit of his practiced eye.  I was lucky enough to find him at the antique mall so I came home with a signed copy!

“A must have for any gardener, OR for any country antiques lover,” according to Amazon.com. And I could not agree more!

The photography is magnificent and the text is alive with the voice of one who gardens from the heart:

"The first fifteen years of my childhood were spent living with my great-grandmother in her white farmhouse at the edge of a small town. Her large garden, mainly vegetables, started at the back door and took up the entire yard. There was a path down the middle that led to the old chicken house. I later came to realize that this was a victory garden and my great-grandmother wanted to be self-sustaining during and after the war.”

But it was the Allium Purple Sensation on the front cover of James’s book that really caught my eye! The photo above shows some Purple Sensation Alliums that I planted at my previous home. I even spray painted them with purple floral spray after the color faded – right there where they were growing! I simply could not let them go! And of course, I’ve just planted some of them in my new home in West Virginia so I can enjoy them here next spring.

I just love purple in my gardens! In my Richmond house I started the season early with a mix of species crocus to greet me when getting in and out of my car. I like the species variety since they are not favored by rodents, same as with the allium (so I’ve read). These are Blue Pearl, Ruby Giant and Spring Beauty, and this photo was taken the first year of bloom. No doubt by now they have multiplied and filled in nicely (for the new homeowner, that is!)

The purple crocus was then followed by my favorite miniature daffodil – Tete-a-Tete - surrounded of course by purple viola.

 Even my front door in Richmond was purple!

 I also enjoy growing purple viola and pansies in flower pots…..

as well as purple miniature African violets on a sunny window sil. Yes, this is a mini – not your typical full size African violet at all. I adore the minis and blogged about them here.


 And of course I include purple flowers in some of my painted pottery pieces


 and purple sheep, too.


I even painted a purple birdie once, believe it or not!

Well, its not too late to plant some of those gorgeous Allium Purple Sensation if you hurry! I planted mine earlier this month, but here in the Mid Atlantic Zone 6b we’re having unseasonably warm weather lately. I purchased my allium and species crocus from Van Engelen  – great quality and the very best prices – and they’ll ship them out to you pronto! Order qualities are quite large to get their best prices, but do what I did and split the order (and shipping cost!) with a friend! As of today Van Engelen still has several varieties available.

And don’t forget to grab a copy or 2 of James Cramer’s new book before it sells out – what a wonderful gift it would be to give this holiday season!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FREE Downloadable PC Desktop Calendar - November 2013, featuring "Lil Punkin"

Now that I'm finally settled in my new home in the beautiful "Mountain State" of West Virginia, I want to celebrate by presenting you with my free downloadable PC calendar for November 2013. Made from my "Lil Punkin" watercolor painting (original painting available in my Etsy shop - "Lil Punkin") and a photo I recently took of a lovely farm near my new home.

To download the calendar just click the image above, and either save to your computer or as your desktop background for immediate use. To be notified when new calenders are made available and to receive notifications of new posts, just join my blog! (Scroll down to see form over to the right.)

REMEMBER! I love and appreciate your comments! And please share my FREE Downloadable PC Desktop Calendar for November 2013 using the links below.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Welcome to My New House.......I mean Home

I've been living in West Virginia for a whole year now and I'm finally beginning to call it "home". For the longest time when planning a trip back to Richmond I would say "I'm going 'home' for a visit."

Little Miss Yorkie is settling into her new home. Her ivy and boxwood topiaries are all neatly trimmed. Learning to garden in a cooler climate zone brings new challenges, but also many new possibilities.

Such as native wildflowers...like these.

And these.

Or a peach orchard.

Apparently, even buffalo (ooops, I mean bison) like peaches.

But, choosing just the right "house" to call "home" proved to be quite difficult. Too many shapes and sizes!

So we settled on a ranch home that needed a serious makeover. This was our kitchen one year ago. That fridge now resides in our garage, and the wall behind was removed to make room for a large island.

Here is a tiny peak at what the kitchen remodel looks like now. It will be a few weeks before I'm ready to reveal the entire project, so be sure to follow my blog (see email form at right) if you'd like to receive notifications of new posts.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

NESTING INSTINCTS .... "Proud Parents" An Owl Family Watercolor Painting

I am happy to say that after far too long I am now settled in my new home nestled within the mountains of West Virginia. I am busy as a squirrel gathering nuts for winter as I create new paintings, many inspired by my beautiful new surroundings here.

I recently blew the dust off my paint brushes and created the owl watercolor painting below. The original 11 x 14 painting and prints in two sizes are available now in my Etsy shop.