Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

 

The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is “From Lines to Patterns” (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/lines-patterns/).  Today we went to a pop-up sculpture garden in a nearby orchard called “Art in the Orchard” and had an amazing time.  (http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art)  I took this photo of a shed that was covered in mirrors on the outside and the inside was a huge, walk in pinhole camera obscura.  It was amazing.  I think this fits the theme with the lines on the reflected image from the seams of the mirrors (part of the cool part of the mirror panels was that they were all different sizes, seemingly “found mirrors”).  I took pictures of several of the little signs detailing info about the pieces and the artists, but am kicking myself for not getting this one.  All I can find about it on-line is that it’s called “Shed” by Maggie Nowinski (http://maggienowinski.com/)

Here are a couple of my favorites from this week’s collection:

Illuminating the Invisible posted a series of black and white photos from the Otago University campus and wrote about her experience in such a beautiful way: http://illuminatingtheinvisible24.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/from-lines-to-patterns/.

Women Who Think Too Much has a few, very different, entries.  One groups is of aerial photos, which I love.  This one is a pattern of palm branches and maybe some kind of starfish?  I can’t tell, but it’s beautiful (and reminiscent of a mandala).   http://womenwhothinktoomuch.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/weekly-photo-challenge-from-lines-to-patterns/

And these, from WryGrass, are of Fort Macon.  They really remind me of a fort that we had an amazing time exploring on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico (El Moro in Old San Juan).  I took several pictures with similar angles and viewpoints.  I love her perspective.  http://wrygrass.com/2013/09/21/weekly-photo-challenge-from-lines-to-patterns/

Hope you enjoy exploring some other photos from these week’s prompt.

Mandala Monday

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Happy Mandala Monday!  I stole some time away from dinner tonight (it’s actually Sunday, don’t tell) to work on this mandala before the sun set.  My boy’s a notoriously slow eater, so his other mom sat with him while I puttered in the garden clipping some of my beautifully blooming plants.  Here’s what I used:

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The marigolds are from a huge bush that I put in my garden to help ward off pests from the tomatoes, but it’s kind of taken over (it’s okay, though, it was in the corner with the cucumber and that’s done for the year).  I love how vibrant the orange is and I really love the way it looks with the purple.  And the vine is growing up the side of my back porch. I love the way they look, but I know they’re not at all good for the siding (which was pretty poorly constructed to begin with).  When I first tried to shape it for the outside of the mandala, it made a kind of a loose heart shape.

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Have a beautiful week!

 

 

Building a little garden and an upcycled planter

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We’re hosting the family reunion this year, so on Labor Day weekend about 25 people will all descend on my parents’ house.  My mom is getting a little worried, though, because they’d planned on having landscaping done this summer but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be even started by then.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents have a beautiful, big yard, but it’s just not everything my mom wishes it would be.  So, today I went over and helped brighten up a little corner of it, by the front of the house, as a little eye candy when people were coming in.

This little area off the driveway used to be a little flower bed but has long-since been filled with weeds, grass, and 3 black-eyed susans.  I, of course, forgot to take a “before”, but trust me when I say that it was not pretty.  We dug it up with the help of my handy-dandy Fiskars weeder and a little old fashioned elbow grease.  My mom and I went shopping at the local garden center (I love it there, especially when I’m not spending my own money) and picked up some mums to put in 3 pots my mom had (since they’ll be in full bloom right around the time of the reunion) and some pretty ornamental cabbage as accents.  Here is is before the mulch:ImageMy folks had the sandstone in the backyard and it made a perfect border. My mom’s going to see if there’s any more at the garden center to replace the random rocks we put along the driveway.  They were kind of an afterthought but made a nice addition.  Image

And these were the finishing touches:

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The petrified tree chunk was hidden behind a bunch of bushes in another garden bed.  It had originally come from a huge tree in our church lawn that was cut down a few years ago, much to may people in the congregation’s dismay.  And I discovered the little frog when I was putting the gardening tools away in the shed.  He was my grandma’s and fit in perfectly.  It’s almost like we had unknowingly saved a spot just for him.  Maybe she had some part in that, looking down on us.

And here’s my latest upcycled gardening planter, compliments of Heather at Whipperberry.  http://whipperberry.com/2013/07/hanging-succulent-garden.html#_a5y_p=767637Image

She used International Delights creamer containers, which I certainly have plenty of, but I wanted to go with something a little more natural looking (as natural as plastic can be) by not painting them.  So, I used a couple different sized Powerade bottles (my wife loves that stuff) because they’re clear.  (Little Rufus wanted in on the action.)

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I cut holes in them with my X-acto knife, making a little flap for the plant to rest on, and cut small triangles in the bottoms for drainage.  I filled the bottle about half full with a loose dirt mix and not-very-delicately shoved the roots into the hole.  I had picked up these little Hens and Chicks from my favorite farm stand a couple weeks ago just for this project.  To hang them, I used some LAN wire that I saved from taking apart a computer keyboard about a year ago.  It totally went with the upcycle theme and it was green.  What could be better?  I just tied it onto the ring left over from the top and hung them from our gazebo.

At the garden center today, I got this cute, tiny little succulent and I’m planning to put it in a third bottle (the smallest size).  Three is a very good number in feng shui, representing creativity, family, and self-expression.  You can also see the threes in the plot at my folks’.  I know that at least family will be in abundance in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to it!

Upcycled chair planter going away gift

A close friend of mine is moving away, from where I live in Massachusetts (where she’d been for the past few years for grad school) back to Mississippi (where she was from). I’ve already got all the travel web sites set to e-mail me when there is a good fare from here to there, but, in the meantime, I had to make something as a going away present. She rented a truck to drive everything down herself, so what better, then, than a new piece of furniture to throw on board.

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But, seriously, this was really fun to make and it’s not too big- just made out of a kid’s sized chair. I’d actually been eyeing the chair for a long time and had finally decided that my boy had officially grown out of it. I started off by drawing around the top of the pot I wanted to use and cutting a hole through the seat about 1/4″ in from the circle I’d drawn with my handy jigsaw. Of course, the boards in the center that I cut all the way through then got a little wobbly because they were only being held on by a staple. So, I used the scrap pieces from the hole I cut and some wood glue to shore them up.

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This was my second attempt ever at using crackle, and I went with Martha Stewart’s (mostly because that was the one that came in the biggest bottle at Michaels). I started off with a nice, soft green acrylic, then did the crackle, then went over it with a deep blue outdoor acrylic. I applied them all with sponge brushes and a thin bristled brush to get into the cracks. It actually worked really well and I only had to learn once not to try to touch up the top coat after it had started drying (because the crackle effect only works on the first coat over it). I also had to learn that when you use crackle when it’s humid in a room without air conditioning it takes a REALLY long time to dry.

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I used my new white Pitt pen to do some doodling on it and write the phrase “Keep out of the Weeds”. It was kind of a cross between “Keep off the grass” and being “in the weeds”- an expression she uses when she’s overwhelmed with work (which was pretty frequent during grad school).

I lacquered the heck out of it with both brush on and spray on polyurethane. I’m hoping it will stand up to the elements outside. Part of why I made this is because she’s moving from the apartment she’s been renting back to the home she owns, so she’ll have some more room for outdoor decor.

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I did a crackle finish on the pot I put in it, too. The sad flower in the photo is actually just a seed I started not too long ago. I didn’t give it to her with a plant in it (I figured that would add insult to injury in terms of her packing responsibilities).

The finishing touch was the bottlecaps I attached with little brad nails I had pulled out of the dresser drawer I made into a shelf. We might have spent one or two nights drinking Mike’s hard lemonade in the past few years. Just sayin’…

Anyway, I’m really happy with it but really sad about the occasion for the gift. I heard Mississippi has a great St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Our garden (the flowers)

ImageLast summer we got married in our backyard.  It was the wedding of my dreams and our yard has never looked better.  One of my bridesmaids is an amazing gardener, so she helped us make it beautiful.  This summer, I’ve been more focused on the vegetable garden (which I had to forgo last year in the interest of space), but there are still some lovely plants and flowers left over.

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The yard is a nice mixture of flowers, fruit plants (a peach tree, blueberry bushes, a raspberry bush), a small vegetable garden, and plenty of grass for playing (and mowing).  The front yard has a couple rock gardens (which I love).  I’ve been focusing more on some of the flowers in the past couple weeks.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of them:

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Yes, I do love lilies.

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And this was one of my favorite pictures from the wedding.  Courtesy of Brian Hale @ http://proofs.halechannel.com/:

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Mandala Monday (with a little Macro Monday for good measure)

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It was only in the high 80s tonight, so I worked on my mandala outside. I let some of my greens go to seed (oops) so I decided to use some of them for my mandala. My lily is full of blooms that are all about a day away from wilting, so I was willing to pick one of them, too. I took a few stones from my rock garden and here you have it:

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While I was working, a cute little pincher bug crawled up onto one of my lettuce leaves. He just kind of hung out with me for a while. And I love the close-up of the lily. ImageImage

When I was done, I just tossed the salad into my yard. I’m not sure what the dogs thought about it (I think it was too bitter even for them). Next time I mow it will just get mulched up with the clippings. The circle of life.IMG_6884 IMG_6883

My two favorite Mandala bloggers both had beautiful offerings this week. They almost make me look forward to Mondays (almost).

http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/mandala-mondayhoneycomb-mandala/ – I love Dawn’s detail and precision. I could really get lost in her mandalas (which is, I guess, the point).

http://bitze.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/mandala-monday-make-mine-a-double/ – Patty’s mandalas are much more soft and pretty. I also love the way she uses linens and china in the staging.

Fungus Friday (a la Woodland Whimsy)

Bonus post for today!  After seeing the neat post from Woodland Whimsy that this post is named after, I couldn’t resist.

http://woodlandwhimsy.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/fungus-friday-46/

I’ve just been finding myself noticing a lot of mushrooms around lately.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m noticing them more or there are more of them to notice.  The weather has been pretty perfect for fungus, though, so it’s probably that there are just more of them.  So… here goes:

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That’s all.

Mandala Monday- Best laid plans

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Happy Mandala Monday!  Just like I’d decided, I started my mandala on Sunday this week.  I actually cut one of my beautiful lilies (they die so fast anyway) and some flowers from giant hostas in my front yard.  I collected some blueberries and “mystery berries” from a bush that seems to be growing out of one of my blueberry bushes (I actually have to find out what that plant is because I’m debating whether or not to cut it down to save the blueberries or let it continue to grow).  Here it is, in case anyone has any ideas:

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So, I got my berries and buds inside and was thinking of using a plate as a background, like in this beautiful mandala post from Patty:

http://bitze.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/wet-july-mandala-monday/

I was starting to think about an arrangement when a little friend crawled out from inside my lily.  Now, I could have kept thinking and arranging, but I was in our bedroom and had this terrible vision of the bug flying around all night keeping us awake and my wife begging me to kill it.  (I’ve been doing all my work in the bedroom this week because the temperatures have been in the 90s and it’s the only room with air conditioning.)  I quickly scooped up the flower and brought it outside to try to free my new friends (there were actually a couple in there).  The mosquitos started eating me alive and those little buggers just didn’t want to abandon ship, so I gave up and left them, and the flower, outside.

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That left me with just the hosta flowers and the berries, so I made a simple design and called it a night.

I woke up the next morning, Monday, and was thinking what I could do with my mandala- print it and draw something in the center, try to recreate it, start over from scratch.  I had to drive to the eastern part of the state to go to the funeral of my pastor’s wife’s father, and I thought about my little empty mandala on and off for a lot of the trip.  It was a beautiful drive and I was able to stream Pandora on my phone the whole time (not always possible driving through some of the more remote areas).  As I was leaving the funeral, I saw this beautiful Peace Pole outside the church and knew at once how to complete my mandala.  They have always moved me, and today’s was no exception.

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So, here’s my offering:

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I’m wishing peace and comfort to my pastor and his family; peace and comfort to us all.

Perfect day for working on the lawn!

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Yeah, so I was being sarcastic. It’s been in the 90s all week. And before that it alternated between torrential downpours and heat waves. This has been quite a summer, and it’s only just begun. But, I’m having our new shed delivered on Thursday so I have no choice but to brave the heat and get the area ready.

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Here’s the “before”. I’ve been using it as a “junk corner”, partially to kill some of the grass and weeds growing there and partially because I needed somewhere to put my junk. Luckily, about 3 feet around the fence had already been part of my garden and had a huge pumpkin vine growing there last year. That just needed some basic clean up and weeding.

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This handy-dandy “Fiskars” weeder is my new best friend, compliments of my lovely wife. It’s super easy to use, doesn’t requiring bending over, and all the work is done by foot. There was a bit of a learning curve and it works on some weeds better than others (it’s a dandelion annihilator), but I absolutely love it. The best part is that it gets the whole root. And I have not been paid to advertise this thing. (Though I wish I had.)

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So, now I just have about 20 square feet of grass to dig up. The good thing is that I have about 20 square feet of ground that needs grass in other parts of the yard. The bad thing is that it’s 92 degrees and feels like 101. Did I mention that?

So, there’s no “after” yet because its not “after” yet. But it will be… soon. (Unfortunately, probably not soon enough.). I’ll keep you posted!

UPDATE: End of day two. I’ve certainly made progress but still have so far to go… and a busy work week to top it off. Well, as Dory would say: “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Swimming, swimming, swimming.” (Swimming sounds SO good right about now!)

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ANOTHER UPDATE:  It’s DONE!!!  I finished in the nick of time (and in the pouring rain- with a tornado touching down about 20 miles away).  Here’s the rest of my work:

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And here’s the wonderful contractors’ work:

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We Have a Shed!!!  (next step… paint)

Mandala Monday and Rainbow ICADs

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Another busy Monday and electronic Mandala.  I did have the foresight to take pictures of some beautiful flowers blooming in my garden before work (and before the torrential rain).  (Oh, and this isn’t being uploaded until Tuesday because of said torrential rain and nearby tornado knocking out the internet.)  I couldn’t have brought myself to cut them to make a 3D mandala, anyway.  I used my handy dandy iPhone and PicCollage app to play with the focus, crop, and arrange them.  The one in the center is from a bulb I planted a little too late last fall (I was afraid).  It grew and bloomed magnificently this Spring, though.  (Of the 60 bulbs I planted, only about 10 came up, but they’re totally worth it.)  This flower took my breath away when I opened my door this morning.

One of the prompts for Daisy Yellow’s ICAD last week was “rainbow” so I couldn’t resist using it as much as possible.  I made my first rainbow card last week in celebration of the overturning of parts of DOMA, but it was a quickie and certainly didn’t do the rainbow prompt justice.  Here’s the link to her challenge:  http://daisyyellowart.com/icad/

I also started posting all my cards on Flickr.  Tammy, from Daisy Yellow, made some great theme-based collages with some cards from the first month so I’m hoping she’ll pick one of mine if she does it in July.  Here’s the link to her Flickr page:  http://www.flickr.com/groups/daisyyellow/pool

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I tried this background using a leftover piece of wire fencing I used for my chair planter.  I put it under a card and rubbed over it.  Unfortunately, I got too ambitions and tried to used too many colors (to go with the rainbow theme).  It ended up getting really muddled.  The quote was nice, so I experimented with a few different scripts.  I did a couple others with the crayon rubbing technique and only one or two colors and those came out much better (keep an eye out for them in future cards!).

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I rather like this one.  It’s a simple magazine page collage with a quote written on a cut-up card stitched on.  The quote is from “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enough”, one of my favorite choreo-poems that was also made into a pretty great movie.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for looking.