And here, I confess

July 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, flowers, food, gardening, gifts, health, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, shopping, socks, summer, travel, weight loss, yarn | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had determined not to talk about this, but I changed my mind because telling you what I am about to tell you might help someone who reads my blog.  So, here goes.

I am doing Weight Watchers, the online program.  I am not particularly into diets, and favor instead lifestyle changes as being the only really viable means of addressing weight and health related issues.   I was nice and trim when we got married five years ago, but each year since I have put on an average of five pounds which usually happens over the winter months (big surprise).  Don’t want to talk about it, but I’m doing so out of consideration for any of my readers who may be experiencing something similar and who, like me, might want to turn that boat around.

In the spring of 2010, dissatisfied with my new weight at that time,  I somewhat confronted the issue and started eating better and I cut off about six pounds by the beginning of summer.  It wasn’t great weight loss, but it felt good.  Unfortunately, I was a little to happy with the results and did not lose anything else.  This winter the six pounds I lost in the spring returned and brought a few of their friends with them.  About a month ago I knew I needed to return to something that had, in the past, yielded better and long lasting results so, I typed in “www.weightwatchers.com” into my browser address bar.

I am very happy I did so, because their latest version of their program is very easy to follow and easy to live with.  It is also structured in a way to promotes workable lifestyle changes rather than anything drastically different.  The only issue I have with their program is that I disagree with limiting people to two servings of protein per day.  From my own personal experience, two servings of protein a day does not promote healthy metabolism.  The cool thing, however, is that with the way their program works now if you want to eat more protein you can do so and still stay within their point system — you just have to figure things out correctly and try to use less “expensive” carbohydrates in your meal and snack planning to make room for the points that protein selections will take up.

Back in 2003, while still living in Los Angeles, I did Weight Watchers online and it worked pretty well.  I lost about two pounds per week steadily until I had lost twenty pounds total.  Then I stalled, and I had trouble feeling motivated to go further.  A month or two after my stall, my daugther asked me to do the Zone diet with her.  She needed to do it for her metabolism, not to lose weight.  I decided to do it to be supportive of her and I was really happy I did.  That’s when I found out how much better I felt if I had protein with each and every meal and snack, and I learned to have three medium sized meals and two snack sized meals per day to help keep my metabolism on an even keel.   Doing the Zone diet and going on walks with my mother in the evenings, I lost another 24.5 pounds and I also felt wonderful.  I stopped eating dairy products and all refined grains and sugars and I increased my protein intake (which had always been a challenge before, as I am vegetarian) by using some of the great new (at the time) soy-based products that had become available.

Until I moved to Upstate New York, to the farm, I kept that weight off.  However, being in a colder climate, writing a blog that includes sharing recipes and photos of baked goods (I love to bake), and attending a church where people do love their pot-luck dinners and coffee hours all added up to my weight going back up again.

I’m not having it anymore, I’ll tell you that right now.  Enough is enough, and 25 pounds is too much.

I am enjoying doing Weight Watcher’s online, and have lost eight pounds so far.  My husband and I have started taking walks together, which is a wonderful bonus.  I am already feeling much, much better physically and emotionally.  My spirits are lifted, and I believe I can get this new lifestyle on a farm in upstate New York under control to where I no longer have those winters of gaining a few pounds in cuddly comfort.

And, I will share my weight loss wins with you here in case anyone out there wants to do something similar and would like the moral support.  We are, all of us, beautiful and divine creatures and our physical form can be reflective of that fact.  I will also continue to share recipes and photos of pretty foods but they are likely to be more on the healthy side and designed to inspire others to celebrate good health more than they celebrate beautiful foods.

Something delicious I discovered a few days ago was that I could cover my Cuisinart Griddler with sliced mushrooms, close the cover, and in a few minutes have grilled mushrooms that are very flavorful and beautiful to behold — but lack the olive oil (and calories) I would have used to saute them previously.  I toss them on a salad along with chunks of grilled extra-firm tofu I marinated in soy sauce and rubbed lightly with olive oil.  The mushrooms and tofu add a delicious layer of flavor as well as protein to make a filling, healthy meal that sets me up for a nice energetic walk a little later.

I hope my honesty and willingness to share on this subject is helpful to you, my friends.

As for knitting, I completed one of the slouchy toddler socks I designed for Sweet Pea, and am on my way knitting the second one.  I will be writing up the pattern for publishing within the next week or so.  These look so cute on her, because the legs are made a little wide so that they are chunky and do a little bit of slouching.  They’ll be great for the fall and winter, keeping her feet and legs warm when cold drafts are in the air.  I am making these from yarn left over from her Christmas stocking, which I made … wow, almost two years ago.  This is FootNotes sock yarn from my favorite yarn artist, Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns.  She does these low-contrast colorways in hues that I just tend to love, love, love.  The sock pattern will be available soon as its done in my knitting-related Etsy store or directly from my website.

By the way, in the sock photo, there is a little bear I needle felted some time ago.  Some years ago while sketching I created some pretty little characters — teddy bears with little costumes, wings, and then a little beaded headband that was supposed to serve as a halo of sorts.  I called them Wish Bears at the time, and later called them Moon Bears so as not to intrude on the Care Bear trademark (there is a Wish Bear in the Care Bear series of characters).  Recently my grand daughter saw some little cards I had made with a variety of my characters printed on them and she fell in love with the little bears.  She dubbed them “Princess Fairy Bears”, and it revitalized my interest in doing something with them some time.

It will be fun, when she is older, to create a cast of the characters as needle felted sculptures, much like the one photographed here.  She is too young for them now, because at two and half years old, she handles them a little too roughly and they can’t hold up to that kind of play.  What fun it will be though to create some more drawings and paintings of the little sweet characters, write more stories featuring them, and do the needle felted sculptures for her as well.  I don’t have any of the images of the drawings and paintings on my current computer, but at some point I will find some of those images and share them so you all can see how much the needle felted sculpture favors the actual drawing of one of the bears.

Such fun.

News of what is happening with my son’s Etsy store, Flying Junction He is featured for the next few weeks in the very cool, very stylish online curated handmade market, Poppy Talk Handmade.  The theme of this exhibit is “On The Road”; his vintage-inspired NYC (and other cities) subway roll signs and bus scroll prints were chosen because they represent the places people travel to and through while on the road.  His custom signs are also a beautiful and classy way to commemorate life’s markers — places where special events took place, landmarks that create a particular feeling of nostalgia, and neighborhoods you  grew up in, worked in, visited or dreamed of visiting.  The custom signs are made using his unique, careful reproductions of hand lettering from original NYC subway roll signs and include the wonderful distressed-look finishing touch that is a trademark of his beautiful work.

And now on to my “garden”.  Two or three years ago a friend of my husband’s from work gave him three unknown plants she bought at a plant sale.  He brought them home and planted them out along the west wall of our old garage foundation, which seems to be the chosen spot for orphaned and adopted random plants and trees people give us.  The following year, one of the mystery plants turned out to be a lily of some kind and gave us one or two pretty blossoms.  The next year, we got a few more blossoms.  Well, this year we have two four-foot tall lily plants that were loaded with buds.  They finally blossomed recently and the blossoms were so healthy and beautiful it caught my breath when my husband cut one to bring in the house for little Sweet Pea.  She danced with joy, and I gasped in delight.  A day or so later I got out there with my camera on a somewhat overcast day and did some photography that I was very pleased with.  I have posted prints of one of the best photos for sale in my fine art Etsy store, and will add a couple more shortly.

I suppose this will conclude today’s blog post.  If you didn’t read the post from earlier this week, it is brief and you will find it directly under this post.

Hostas, my vista baby

June 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, flowers, gardening, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, shopping, summer, travel | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do you remember when I wrote about planting hostas back in June of 2008? Well, take a look at how those hostas have grown.

There are plenty more around the house in various locations, but those we planted by this old, quaint but out-of-use back porch came in with gusto this year. Since planting them, I have often seen other folks’ hostas, some quite huge and lush and longed for ours to attain such grandeur. Imagine my delight when I looked outside one morning after many days of rain and saw how wonderful abundant our hosta display had become.

This year I have also planted a bunch of annuals in various old, rusty containers I bought at a nearby junk — er, I mean collectibles — shop last year. We are getting ready for the second annual Artists of The Oak Art Trail event (Saturday, August 27th this year) and I wanted to have plenty of charming flower containers to use dress the farm the day of the event. For now, they live on the old porch, keeping good company with our lovely hostas.

We are excited about the Art Trail event, because last year’s event was such a beautiful day and this year is bound to be even better. Artists of The Oak is a group of artists from our county (Orleans County New York) that started forming up a couple of years back. My main primary contribution to the group, other than being an artist member, is to be the point person for the Art Trail event and try to do every thing I can to make it more and more successful. Last year I took up a collection for prints costs and designed a rack card to advertise the group and the 2010 Art Trail. This year everybody chipped in again and I was able to design and have printed an oversized postcard as well as a 2-fold brochure with a map on one side. My husband created the map, which was a wonderful contribution on his part.

A problem our artists have run into with attempts at the art trail in our county in the past is that the county is so large and everything is so spread out because of all the farm land and sparse population that only a handful of people, if that, would travel the art trail. That was very discouraging to any participants. Last year my husband and I volunteered to have several artists set up tents at our place so that visitors could see more artists with less driving time. Other members of the group followed suit and we ended up with four locations where visitors could see multiple artists.

We do this trail as a part of the larger event in our county, sponsored by GoArt!, called The Artist Road Show, which includes not only members of our group but other artists in the county who are not members. By creating our own trail (I will call our portion the “Artists of The Oak Loop” within the larger trail, we are able to create our own promo materials in whatever quantity we desire and get them out much earlier than the GoArt! materials get out. This gives us a greater chance of attracting as many visitors as possible through our own resources and efforts while also allowing us to benefit from the larger reach and budget of GoArt!’s promotional actions.

It must have worked last year, because attendance was about ten times what it had been in previous years (keep in mind that in previous years it had been literally three people who traveled the trail and last year we had about forty people who came through). This year, we plan to have even more and to keep increasing the numbers every year by getting better at promoting it.

If you live in the area, set the date aside and travel our trail. It will be a beautiful day, a wonderful opportunity to meet some very talented and interesting artists, and there will be opportunities to begin or add to your own art collection. We will all be making an effort to have some smaller, more affordable pieces available for anywhere from $20 to $100 along with more expensive pieces as well.

For those of you who do not live in the area, our county is a wonderful place to come to the country for a drive. We have an abundant supply of farm stands with ripe, tasty local produce at amazing prices, Lake Ontario is simply beautiful to drive along, the Oak Orchard River has world-class fishing opportunities (we are right on that river), and there is our wonderful art trail. If you enjoy my art in particular, Zambistro restaurant opens at 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays with a delicious comforting menu of affordable gourmet food plus their walls are adorned with plenty of my paintings.

You can download a map for Artists of The Oak Loop here.

Meanwhile, back to what is happening today on the farm.

Among the many annuals I planted in all of those old, rusty containers there is this lovely beauty … my new favorite begonia. Begonias have been my very favorite potted garden flowers since I was very young, in fact, my first potted flower I ever owned was a begonia. There is something deliciously old-fashioned about a begonia and this one is particularly lovely in my eyes. I love the bright yellow, over-sized flowers and the big rustic looking leaves. They grow and grow, and bloom and bloom all summer long and I just love them to pieces. This one looks especially wonderful set against the deep rusty color of the old container I planted it in. I met this variety of begonia for the first time last summer, and we became fast friends.

This is another completely lovely discovery from this year’s trip to buy flowers from my good friend, Lora Partyka. It is a Dragon Wing Begonia — is she not gorgeous! I love meeting new varieties of flowers and becoming good friends, and this one is a definite keeper. (Hopefully, she thinks the same about me.)

Last year we planted two peach trees, one Honey Crisp apple tree, and a cherry tree. While the cherry and apple trees did not bear fruit yet, the peach trees have lovely little peaches that are coming along quite beautifully. There are about two dozen peaches between the two trees and we really look forward to sinking our teeth into them by the end of the summer … a long wait, but well worth the patience that will be required.

There is something very profound (to me) in looking at a something we planted that has grown and is bearing food of some kind. When we grew pumpkins a couple of years back we all loved going out every day and watching the progress of the orange orbs as they multiplied and grew. Our “Sincere Pumpkin Patch” sign is still standing guard over that hallowed ground, and we will be putting in a few pumpkin plants shortly. Our little project to start 36 pumpkin plant in six different varieties indoors this year was a disaster, so I had to ask my Lora P. to start a few for me in hopes they would have a better chance of survival under her care — she is a real farmer, I just live on a farm and fantasize unrealistically about growing all manner of flowers and produce.

That having been said, we did have an opportunity this past weekend to feel like real farmers for a few hours. The farmer who works out fields was out plowing and planting all weekend, and while he was doing that we had to rake the three acres of lawn around the house and barn. This year we had so much rain, so constantly, during the spring that the yard stayed too wet for my husband to be able to get out on it with his tractor and keep it mowed. As a result, the grass grew too long between mowing, and that left a problem of far too much long, dead grass laying about on the lawn. We had to rake it up in order to keep our “grass” green (it is actually a mixture of some grass and many very green weeds of various varieties).

We raked Saturday and Sunday, making large piles of dry grass all over the place. Looking at them, though they were not formed into “stacks”, they looked like mini versions of hay stacks to us and that was enough for my imagination to get going for a time. On Sunday, my husband rigged up a large shovel type contraption that he hooked to the front of his tractor for loading the dead grass piles into so he could drive them over to a different area of the property. This shovel thing he made was about eight feet wide, and maybe three or four feet high — it was pretty cool, and I love it that he is clever and resourceful.

We made our way from grass pile to grass pile raking big piles of grass into his huge shovel and packing it down. Doing this while the farmer was working the fields, I told my husband that it almost felt as if we were real farmers. Silly really, because real farmers work very long hard hours day after day after day, whereas we worked for a few hours two days in a row and all we were doing in reality was getting rid of grass.

Still, it was fun to pretend …

No pun intended, but we have covered a lot of ground today. There is one more item I would like to share in parting though … I wrote a press release this week for my son’s Etsy store and we are getting it out to various media contacts and bloggers. If you are a blogger and would like access to the press release, you can find it here. Here also is a graphic he just started using in the store to help give people ideas about custom signs he could do for them–click on the graphic to see the full size image (so you can read the wording).

I plan on having him create a custom sign for I Live on a Farm, to track our journey and commemorate the fifth anniversary of our marriage and the blog. It seems appropriate right now, because we are on the verge of some very exciting new developments. I can sense, just as I did six years ago, that some important, positive changes are in the air and heading our way.

Well, I have much to do. Strawberries are in season, and I need to go buy a bunch of them so I can make my annual huge batch of strawberry rhubarb preserves. And that is just the very, very tip of the iceberg for summer activities around here.

Talk to you soon,
~firefly

Tree Peonies of 2011

June 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, food, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, romance, shopping, travel | 9 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You may have wondered where I have been.  After fighting off a flu back in April that lingered for several weeks, I took a bit of extra time off to recuperate and do some long needed planning regarding my blog, my website, the knitting patterns, my writing in general, my fine art paintings and photography … to mention a few items on my mind.  I have also had some on again, off again computer problems over the past two years that have been quite annoying at times and during my recuperation I had to deal with that.

With a very reliable, brand new computer securely on my lap I am ready to begin writing to you, my reader, once again.  Doing so, I feel at once as if I have returned home after a long time away.

I always have the feeling when I begin a blog that I am genuinely sitting down with a good friend, having a cuppa joe, perhaps a cookie or something tasty, and enjoying a pleasant chat.  As I begin to write I feel my shoulders relax just as they do when a good friend drops by and we sit down to visit for a while.  Sigh.  It is so sweet.

As I write this blog, I will share recent photos I shot of my wonderful antique Tree Peony — I just shot these photos three or four days ago when her blooms were at their most delicate moment of perfection.  There are also some shots of other varieties of Tree Peonies I shot at Linwood Gardens this past Saturday during their annual Tree Peony Festival.  At one point, while I was photographing the peonies at Linwood Gardens, I told my husband there was so much beauty I felt I was going to pass out.  A lady nearby heard me say it and said, “Yes!”

Another lady nearby was also photographing the blooms and I heard her gasp, just as I gasp over and over gain when I am focusing my lens on the spectacular blossoms.  As we made out way through the gardens I heard more and more people gasping in just the same way as they focused their cameras.  Oh dear me, their beauty just takes your breath away and it is so very, very fleeting it makes everything within me ache.

I am so thrilled with the photographs I have shot of my peony over the past five years, and now of the peonies at Linwood Gardens, that I have decided to work quickly and diligently to make professional quality fine art prints of the best I have selected out of hundreds and hundreds of photos I have shot.  I went through them in meticulous detail over the past few days and selected twenty four or so of my very favorite shots, and I have ordered samples of half of them for my review before I put them up for sale at Etsy.

Hopefully I will have the samples within three or four days — they will be printed at a professional lab on Kodak Endura Metallic paper and hopefully will be quite amazing.  I will let you know how that goes as soon as I can.  Hopefully, anyone who does buy one will gasp when they see look at their own print for the first time.  I want so much to share the astounding beauty I have had the pleasure of beholding, and if I can make others gasp when they see the photographs I know I will have accomplished just that.

Now on to news related specifically to my blog and all of the other items I listed in that first paragraph above.

My husband and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of April, which means this August will be the fifth anniversary of my blog.  Isn’t that something, that I have known you for so long.  When I wrote my first blog post on August 2, 2006 I had no idea where it would lead me.  It is funny how things come full circle though, because I started my blog on a suggestion from my son.  And now, five years later, he has started his new business which has an overlap with my business that grew out of my blog.  Neither one of us planned it that way, but it is interesting how it has all worked out.

Something I have decided to do, and I think the five year anniversary is a good time to do it, is I am going to consolidate my blog and my website into one online destination.  The url will be www.ILiveonaFarm.com, which of course already exists.  But, sometime in August I will release the brand new look, feel, and functionality of ILiveonaFarm.com with the blog incorporated into it.

This blog, the first five years, will remain right where it is.  I had thought of transferring it all off of WordPress and over to ILiveonaFarm.com, but I think that would be a mistake.  All of this content, located here on WordPress for people to find, is important.  It is the history of what  has happened in our lives and  with our evolving publishing business.  I don’t want to disturb it or move it and possibly lose contact with some people who might come back and wonder where it all went.

Once the new website is launched, you will go there to follow new blog posts but you can always refer back to this one for earlier content, knitting patterns, recipes, etc.

The new website is going to solve a problem for me and that is the fact that as things have evolved and meandered along here, I have ended up with a cumbersome assortment of websites, Etsy stores, and blogs to manage featuring my several different ventures — the blog, my fine art paintings and photography, my knitting patterns, my two Etsy stores (one for knitting patterns, the other for art).  And then there is Facebook and Twitter, which any serious online business person seems to need to involve themselves with these days.  It is quite a bit to manage, all very time consuming–especially considering that I am on a satellite connection which is not as fast as high speed Internet, no matter what the commercials say.

The new website will bring all of these elements together under one roof, so to speak.  Plus, it will be easy to tie in my son’s designs and Etsy store as well as photography and publishing from other members of the family.  It will all be cohesive and, I hope, even more inspiring than what we have been done so far.  By bringing everything together the way we plan to, I should be able to devote more time to writing, painting, photography, designing/knitting, and cooking … which will of course make you much happier and keep you much more satisfied and engaged.

That is my hope.  These are my dreams.

There are some very cool things coming up the pike. I hope you will enjoy them all!

Best wishes to you and yours, from me and mine.

~firefly

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: