We received the most thoughtful beautiful handmade gift for Christmas this year. A hand painted wooden ornament of Tank, referenced from one of my photos.
see more at handmade at Sunday Stills
Anyone remember my big ol' Christmas Cactus? My hands down favorite house plant, with a loong family history. Shirley??
I searched for the last post I wrote about it ~ wow ~ that was ten years ago...where does the time go? I've been growing it for 42 years, but the original plant is older than that. My cactus still lives in the same basket. It has grown fuller and a little wider. Currently about 48-50" all the way around, without extending any branches.
After our last move, it continued blooming sparingly around Christmas time. It has been shifted to different spots in our house, in an effort to find the best location. This year, for whatever reason my cactus is completely covered in buds and has been blooming for weeks!!
You can read about my plants interesting past here. It includes getting split, gifted, re-split and regifted, burned alive, thrown outside in the yard and spent many days in a closet. It is a survivor.
My plant full of blooms, memories & love
Crescent Moon aligned with Venus
Wed. Dec 6, 2021
The crescent moon caught my eye, while walking past our windows. I grabbed my camera, switched settings and went outside to take a few night sky photos. That is not a speck of dust on your computer screen, that is Venus! Not very exciting to look at a white dot, but it's so cool that we can see something 38 million-ish miles away!!
After shooting the moon, I had to google to find out which planet was directly above it. I learned this was the beginning of a special week of planet/moon alignment. Each evening from December 6-10 the moon would line up with a different visible planet. First Venus, the next night Saturn and then Jupiter. The last two nights, all three planets and the moon would stretch in a long straight line across the southwestern sky.
I had planned on doing Sunday Stills on your left challenge as a night sky series. From my vantage point, the moon is on my left at this time of year. However, it was cloudy the remaining nights. I was able to see a little of the moon/venus/saturn/jupiter alignment on the last night, between the break in the clouds.
I switched my minimalist photo to black and white. Simplicity is always best viewed enlarged.
If interested, here is a link with a great moon phase graphic and explanation.
Have you ever noticed how bare entrances look when flowers fade, pots are emptied and stored away? Boring. I have always admired the rustic inspired evergreen winter arrangements that grace the entrances of some dwellings.
I learned they are called Porch Pots. In my case, they are more like Barn Pots. I've never gotten around to making my own. Until this year.
I waffled between the idea of trying to decorate our barn pots, or not. I looked for natural things among our tree lines that could potentially be added to an arrangement. Red dogwood branch accents look so nice, but all we have are purple prickly branches. Not dealing with those!
We have plenty of pines to choose from and I spotted a few remaining milkweed pods. I knew those would make pretty accents. I had visions of red or wiggly, or some kind of cool stick natural thingee as an accent. Nothing caught my eye.
After looking at garish floral picks and really expensive natural decor meant for indoors, I found one last package of willow branches on sale. Hmmm? Those might work. While standing in the checkout line, I noticed a second package behind the counter and asked if I could buy it. I have two barn pots. I lucked out, someone had returned a package of
sticks willow branches. I cannot believe I bought sticks at a store, even if they were cheap!!
I made the first pot with Cedar branches that still had blue berries on it, and cut some smaller white pine branches to mix in. I added the brown willows to the pot. Blah! That didn't work for me at all.
So I did this:
my winter barn pot/s
I dressed both pots up the same with willow branches, milk pods & dried sedum heads from my garden. I also repurposed a couple larger pine cones on a stick. Not bad for a rookie.
It was once again a creative learning process. Next year I plan to start gathering natural accents much earlier and keep my eyes open for any down birch branches. I would much rather use natural red accents, then spray paint them. Note to self: add Dogwood to my planting list!!
I absolutely love being able to see our horses outside our window!! I catch the most interesting herd interactions. I have no idea what these two were really doing, but from a human perspective it looked like this:
Cierra: I don't like it when we fight.
Koda: Me either.
My camera recorded all five photos above as taken at 1:16pm. It all happened within ONE minute!!!!! One of the many reasons I LOVE action photography. It captures unique movement.
Like the interactions that went on forever, between these two:
I had grand plans for this weeks theme, framed. It was Tank's birthday week, he turned three. It would be fun to do a photoshoot with the empty clearanced frame I bought specifically for portraits years ago. Before I discovered I didn't want to be a portrait photographer.
My plans went to hell in a hand basket when I couldn't get my remote trigger app on my phone to connect to my camera. It worked last time I took a photo with myself and the dogs. Without a remote or a second helper, the action photoshoot I planned was a bust. Plan B went like this:
Lie down. STAY. run run run. I think I am back far enough? Turn around to shoot, Tank pops up to a sit annnd Remi had turned around.
Sit. STAY. I mean STAY! run run run, further. Turn around to shoot, both Labs come running.
The Diva is framed.
Ugh! STAY. I MEAN STAY (hand cue hand cue)!! run run run. Turn around to shoot, both Labs come running.
You are ALL suppose to be BEHIND the frame!
STAY. I REALLY MEAN STAY (hand cue hand cue, and hand cue)!! STAY. run run run. Turn around to shoot. I've lost the young ones attention. All dogs come running.
Remi is still framed.
ONE more time...STAY! run run run. Turn around to shoot, annnd give up.
Dogs enjoy treats for their efforts.
There is something about the holidays that makes me want to create my own things. Special and unique to me. The gawdy cheap looking overpriced decorations flying off the store shelves only fuel my desire.
To slow down, and find meaning.
My frenzy holi-daze are long over. I was surrounded by it and got caught up big time!! The boxes of unpacked
junk decorations prove that. I've been freeing myself from excess meaningless baggage for years. Holiday and otherwise. I've got a long way to go. My cleansing is a work in progress.
Who has the most lights on their house? Who has their tree decorated first? Who can...the most...the soonest...the bestest...and what does that mean now? One word, nothing.
I have felt this seasonal creative yearning for as long as I can remember. As time passes, the holidays have become the only time of year I make stuff by hand. Birthday cards would be the exception. I do enjoy creating the occasional card with an intended individual in mind. However, I rarely make birthday cards anymore.
Thinking back, I've always gotten my craftiness on during the holidays. Every year we made ornaments. My mom started that tradition. She was a master seamstress and also helped me sew the hard parts of the matchy-matchy holiday dresses made several years in a row for my young girls. I can't make good button holes or sew a decent zipper to save my soul. I dislike sewing, but that is another story.
I made gingerbread houses several years with my girls from scratch. We kept one and gifted the other to someone who needed an uplifting visit. There were other annual handmade goodies (ex. cookies) but these are the treasured crafty ones that stand out.
Our third kid came along and more involved hand made things became a thing of the past. Times were a'changing at a fast pace.
Now, it is me myself and I getting my holiday creative on. Not that what I make is that creative, it is more like working things together, the way I like them.
This is the first year I made an arrangement for the Saloon. I used our family tree topper. It hasn't served a purpose for too many years. We no longer do the family tree cutting thing.
I miss having a real tree.
Saloon window arrangement
Horse tree topper in my mom's sympathy flower container, with bale twine as filler. The berries are votive candle decor gifted from a hockey friend, sooo long ago. Accents are pine cones from our woods, and one of my jewelry craft stones dangling.
Additional window decor by Tinkerbell
Both female cats insisted on "helping" me decorate. Pretty sure the attraction was the in floor heat, not me. It is very peaceful in the Saloon and their kitty antics kept me smiling! I love hanging out in the Saloon and was in good company.
I gathered branches that had fallen off the pines and used them on my next project. Decorating two old sleds I've been saving for a looong long time. One is Brad's childhood sled and the other is our kids old broken Radio Flyer.
Originally I had planned on painting a scene on Brad's old sled, but decided it is perfect the way it is. I might eventually oil/stain the sleds. I decorated one of Harmony's old shoes as the focal point. Don't look too close at the wire wrapping, let's just say I learned a few things.
I dressed the pine branches up with some old greenery picks I had, and added pine cones. This sled was suppose to go in the barn, but I put it by our front door.
The second sled was much easier. I used the strategically placed jingle balls that used to hang from our roping dummy at our previous home. No one found it funny but me, so I repurposed them. The sled is dressed up similar to the other.
I've never decorated sleds before. It was fun, but I really need to do a better job of securing decorations. Can you say duct tape and twist ties? The pine cones are just wedged in there. It will be a miracle if everything stays intact. I was going to hot glue the pine cones, but they are staying put for now. I found my pipe cleaners after the fact.
These couple projects are just the start of things to come. Or not. I just might stop creating & decorating for the year. Less is more. I was really hyped up to immerse myself in meaningful decorating in November, but that feeling is quickly fading.
I need something to keep my mind busy...
For now, I think I'll just go for another walk.
If you missed it, the first half of my November in photos looked like this. The second half is more or less the same, with nature filled days.
The second half started with shorter walks closer to the buildings during opening deer hunting weekend. After that, we (the dogs & I ) went back to our usual hike wearing orange and using caution. There is only one side of our land with any potential hunters that could be of concern. The lower pasture is closed off all hunting days, just incase. The horses stand at the gate and wonder why. We saw zero hunters on surrounding property, and only heard a few shots this year way off in the distance. Better safe than sorry.
some of our Burr oak leaves are huge!!
Leaf starts where my jacket cuff ends, about 7.5" to tip of fingers
I transplanted even more daffodil bulbs from our previous home
Ugggh!!! I got one more bucket in the ground.
My second year of transplanting Spring & Fall.
I want to be done!
This old body can't handle high volume.
There are still hundreds of leftover smaller bulbs...sigh.
I might try one last time in the Spring, if they overwinter.
bright yellow saucers
(and some pink stuff lower right)
click to enlarge & see the funky stuff
our son had to fetch and tow a very pokey Harmony
Nemo followed him all the way out, and escorted them back
Jameson & Tank
I ran out of the barn to catch this incredible fleeting late Fall light.
It makes the tree tops glow = love!!
the horses came in underneath this amazing Western sky
one last November walk
"Ugh, Tank. Not another branch!!"
Tank picks up every single fallen branch.
It is problematic. He wants to give them to you, in hopes of playing fetch.
Have you ever tried fetch with a branch?
I said no.
His solution? Find a shorter one. And he did.
Maybe I'm weird, don't answer that ;)
I find the way nature combines elements together so fascinating!
That's a November wrap folks!
I have been happily working on getting my creative on,
with various simple projects.
I will share those separately. I don't want you to get scroll finger ;)