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
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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

Peepers, willows, and geese

March 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Posted in country life, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, photography, recipes, shopping, travel, yarn | 5 Comments
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My husband’s grandfather had a saying about the peepers freezing three times before spring officially arrives … we heard them last week, then there was a freeze and we heard them again this week.  I don’t know if this counts as them being frozen twice already, or only once.  What I do know is that once you start hearing peepers the glowing green grass and flowering fruit trees are not too far behind.

Between now and then we will hear more and more peepers until peepers is about all we can hear, there will be so many birds singing that they will wake us in the morning and charm us during the evening hours, the geese will create an ever increasing symphony (I think of it as a symphony, though some might consider it a cacophony) of calls and honks as they feed in the fields around us and fly overhead at dusk and dawn.

The willows will transform from their lean, graceful golden winter state to a plumper green-gold of early spring as the buds of their little leaves begin popping to the surface up and down their slender whips.

This in-between time when the peepers are freezing and thawing and the world is slowly waking from a long, cold winter nap is a time of sweet anticipation of warmth and beauty we know will come.

I wanted to thank everyone who participated in the drawing my son and I held last week going into this one. When I asked people to visit the Love Letters Treasury at Etsy and from there to visit my son’s store then go back and leave a comment at the Treasury I didn’t know what to expect. It was so fun to read the various comments people made, coming up with creative ways to mention something they had seen in his store.

If you didn’t check it out, you might enjoy reading through their comments … somehow it seems like a walk in a park to me. I don’t know why. Check it out and see how it impresses you.

Using a random number generator, I selected three winners from those who left comments. I contacted each of the winners via the “convo” feature at Etsy and have heard back from two. The winners are:

phqueenb = Grand Prize
nuttywifery = First Prize
sandyp218 = Second Prize

By the way, you should check out Flying Junction’s new “Keep Calm and Carry On” vintage style print, available in 32 decorator colors. I will be hanging one of these in my dinning room shortly to remind us all to do just that … keep calm and carry on.

And, I notified one reader who participated in last week’s survey that she is a winner in another random drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate — congratulations Linda H. She tells me she will be picking up a new knitting book from Amazon, how sweet is that.

I have another survey for the same client this week, and there will be another random drawing of all participants for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. If you are willing to help, it is a brief survey–only four questions–so if you can take a couple of minutes to participate you can get into the random drawing. Note: To be eligible for the drawing, you must complete the survey by midnight tonight, 31 March 2011.Check it out here.

Tomorrow I will post Stage 3 directions for my Summer in the Country Cotton Blanket Knit-Along, so be sure to check back if you are participating. If you aren’t in the knit along yet, check it out and look at some of the photos members of the group are posting on their blogs, Ravelry, etc. to show their progress. It is a lovely pattern, with some cool surprises as you go along.

Next week be on the look out for two recipes for Pimento Cheese, a delicious and refreshing sandwich spread. My son and I will share the down home southern style spread my mama used to make when I was a kid along with his updated urban gourmet style spread that I have yet to try. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Hope you have a great day!

Best wishes,
~firefly and son

My son is a designer, graphic artist and photographer (Etsy seller: FlyingJunction at http://flyingjunction.etsy.com, specializing in vintage look subway signs and bus scrolls). He has worked as a professional artist and graphic designer for more than ten years. His t-shirt designs, sold both online and in exclusive boutiques, have been worn by celebrities around the globe and are frequently spotted at major sporting events, in celebrity photos, television productions, and music videos. He commutes between Los Angeles and the family farm in upstate New York, calling both places home. We collaborate on many things, including recipe development and the Knitter’s and Crocheter’s Eye Chart prints and other fiber lover art prints I sell in my Etsy store.

Spring sprang a pond

March 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Posted in country life, country living, crochet, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, travel, yarn | 6 Comments
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Each year when the snow melts away a vernal (vernal: 2. appearing or occurring in spring: vernal migratory movements-ref: Dictionary.com) pond reveals itself out by our willow tree. It is always a little bit different in shape, range, and depth. Sometimes it lasts for a very long time, sometimes it goes away too quickly.

This is my fifth spring here on the farm, and the vernal pond is one of my favorite elements of early spring and summer. This year’s pond is the largest we have had, and what you see in this photo is actually not the largest it has been this year; quite a bit of it has already drained into the earth. During the colder part of winter we could have gone ice skating all back around the willow tree because there we had several inches of frozen water in quite a large area.

Today is a beautiful day to share a photo of the willow and the pond, with the gorgeous blue sky and fluffy white clouds as a backdrop. Canadian geese have been flying overhead in large flights each morning and birds of every voice are filling the air in song from early morning to sundown. There are two ducks that appear in the vernal pond each year and they have already returned — I assume it is the same two ducks because it is always just two ducks, never more.

The snow drops have already pushed up through the ground and blossomed, while the alliums have come through the ground but have quite a long way to go before they are tall and skinny with bubbles of color atop their graceful stems.

I have had a cold much of this week and am needed some extra rest today, so I will not be writing a very long post today. There is knitting progress on my Summer in the Country cotton blanket, and the knit-along has gotten off to a nice, friendly start with some very sweet friends making up the group. If you would like to join in, have a look here to get started.

Other news is that my son (designer and Etsy seller FlyingJunction) and I have decided to host a give-away this week. There will be three prizes as follows:

1. Grand prize will be one set of three subway signs from from his shop, shipped directly from his studio with his very special, awesome packaging

2. First prize will be winner’s choice of either a Knitter’s Eye Chart or a Crocheter’s Eye Chart (new!) from my Etsy store

3. Second prize will be winner’s choice of any three knitting patterns from my library as online downloads

Here is how this drawing will work:

1. You must be on my email mailing list to enter — so if you are not on the list yet, sign up here.

2. I created a Treasury at Etsy titled “Love Letters”. Go to that Treasury list and be sure to click on Flying Junction’s item in the Treasury. After viewing his Etsy shop, return to the Treasury and leave a comment at the Treasury — not at this blog, but at the Treasury — using at least two words from one of his prints or signs.

You have from now until 12:00 midnight, Sunday March 27, 2011 to do this. I will hold a random drawing Monday the 28th of March to select our three winners. Winners will be announced here on my blog Tuesday March 29, 2011 and will have 48 hours to get back to me with a their valid email address. Winner’s email addresses will be cross checked against my email mailing list, and if not found there a new name will be drawn — so be sure you are on the list.

One other thing, I have a client who is working on coming up with a name for a new radio show he is doing. I have posted a survey to help him narrow down the names he has come up with so far. If you are willing to help by filling out that survey you could win a $25 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com. Survey entries need to be completed by Sunday evening March 27, 2011 at midnight to be eligible for the drawing.

Now I must go get some more rest … cough, cough, sneeze. I need to get my energy back.

~firefly

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