Friday, February 27, 2009

Signs of Spring

Ahh Spring. My favorite time of the year. The days are getting warmer, the grass greener , flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are starting to bud.

Oh and its time to start thinking about getting the garden ready for planting. Some of my seedlings are starting to sprout. Here is some of my tomato seedlings peeking out...

and my cucumber seedling have gotten large enough to transplant into a larger container.
It was so nice yesterday that me, the kids and Pop planted some onions in one of my raised beds. We planted Sweet Georgia sets(on the right)that I'm hoping will make larger bulbs to store and use over the winter and some white onions (on the left) to use as green onions (scallions).

I'm hoping to keep a blogging journal of our backyard garden and it progress and all the yummy veggies that we (hopefully) will get to harvest, eat and preserve.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Featured Artist and Giveaway

AND THE WINNER IS: Rosemary. Congratulations.

Laurel from Ellemardesigns is our new featured artist. Laurel is generously giving away this simple yet striking year-round Mountains & Pines Ornament . This ornament was hand-decorated on a hollow ceramic circle that is 3" wide and 1 1/8" thick, then fired to cone 06. It is quite light weight. The front of the ornament features a mountain landscape with trees in the foreground, while the back of the ornament is glazed in glossy dark brick red. It is totally one of a kind, and would make a great gift for yourself or someone special in your life.

Laurel has been creating art for most of her life and enjoys creating intricate freehand black and white glaze patterns on ceramics, as well as more naturalistic designs.Like this great expresso cup and saucer.

I recently had a chance to "talk" with Laurel via email and ask her a few questions about her inspirations, work and being a WAHM, homeschooling mom.....

What inspired you to begin creating your ornaments?The ornaments are a fairly recent endeavor for me – as of last November, actually, when I saw some in my local ceramics studio and wanted to try doing them. Certain shapes are a real pleasure to work with, and give me a variety of small “canvases” to be creative on. I've only been seriously working at my art for the past two years or so, although I've always enjoyed drawing and painting. The drawings came first (my college notebooks are full of the abstract stuff in the margins – it's a good thing I can listen and draw at the same time!). I started decorating ceramics about a year ago, and was hooked. Here is one of her stunning drawings...

What inspires you?The natural world, with its patterns of symmetry and texture, inspires me more than anything. But I like to see and learn from all kinds of visual art. My work has echoes of some Native American design (like Acoma Pueblo pottery, which I greatly admire but would never try to copy), and I love textiles and ceramics. Finally, my Christian faith inspires me to share the Gospel through my life and art.

Why do you homeschool? And what lead you to that decision?Oh, that's hard! It's been a tough year, I can't give a pat answer. I home school mostly because it's the best environment for my kids to learn and grow. I started home schooling after our son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (usually called a mild form of autism) in an Early Kindergarten program. He had some sensory issues that made being physically in a school very trying for him, and we realized that teaching him at home would relieve many of his difficulties. Socially, home schooling allows him to learn with and from a wide range of kids and adults, in many situations. It also allows our kids to explore their own interests through school activities – unit studies have been very useful to us.

How do you balance running a home-based business and homeschooling your children?My Etsy shop is very new (opened just last October), so this is a learning process for all of us. Since I haven't had a large number of sales, I'm not spending a lot of time away from schooling. I work on my art projects mostly in the evenings, after the kids are in bed, and I do the administrative/networking/chatty Etsy stuff on a catch-as-catch-can basis during the day.

What has been you biggest handmade "oops"?Probably just the learning curve of decorating on ceramics, using different techniques. I have quite a few “seconds” at home because I only want to put my best work up for sale. I have high standards for what I sell, and if it's not something I would buy myself, I won't sell it to anyone else. So, I have NOT made a profit on my shop - yet.

How do you spend your time when you are not creating?Besides taking care of my husband and kids, I'm an avid gardener, a total bookworm, and a history nerd. If I had cable, I'd be sure to have the History Channel on every evening while doing my art. Before staying home with my kids, I was a Special Education teacher. We are in the process of moving since my husband recently started a new job in another part of our state, so life is a bit unsettled now, to say the least.

To enter the giveaway simply visit Ellemardesigns shop, comeback here and tell us in the comments what your favorite item in her shop is (please don't forget to leave contact info). This contest ends on March 12.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Featured Artist & Giveaway

I recently met Donna ,a WAHM homeschooling mom through our ETSY She team (a group of homeschooling mom's that own home-based business on Donna has two wonderful shops CellChic and Huebsch Designs and she is generously sponsoring this week's giveaway of a beautiful Cell Phone Charm similar to the one seen below. Donna will let the winner choose which charm they prefer from her CellChic Shop(9.99 value).

I've had the pleasure of talking with Donna via email and got to ask her some question on running a homebased business and homeschooling...

What inspired you to begin creating cell charms and open your homebased business? I've always loved crafting of all sorts. I started beading about 5 years ago, and it really stuck! I made and gave away all the bracelets, earrings, necklaces and jeans jewelry that I could, and then I discovered the little straps for making cell charms...I was hooked! I made and gave them away until everyone I knew had one of my charms. I was interested in selling my crafts, but knew that weekend craft shows didn't mesh with our lifestyle. I placed my items in several boutiques, but having to sell them at wholesale prices made it difficult to make a decent profit.A few weeks ago, I discovered Etsy and thought I had died and gone to heaven! It was exactly the venue I wanted. It's like having your items in a 24/7 craft show with the entire world as potential customers, and you never have to leave your house!

What inspires you? Almost anything - I'll see something where the colors catch my eye, and think about how I can use that in a piece of jewelry or a decorative accessory. For example, I was making a pumpkin pie yesterday, and when I had dumped the sugar, ginger, and cinnamon in a bowl, I thought, "Ooo-o-oh! Nice colors. That would look great in a cell phone charm." Check my shop - I'll be adding a charm called "Sugar and Spice" soon :o)

Why do you homeschool? and what lead you to that decision? We homeschool because we feel it offers the best educational oppotunities for our very bright child. I guess what led us to that decision was the experience of having our child in public school for grades K-5, and realizing that we wanted something different.

How do you balance running a home-based business and homeschooling your children? With our eclectic style of homeschooling, it all kind of blends together actually. Starting the home-based business is giving lots of opportunities for practical, real-life educational experiences.

What has been you biggest handmade "oops"? There are probably lots! The first to come to mind is when I decided I just HAD to try working with PMC (precious metal clay). I made one attempt at a pair of earrings -- the clay dried way too quickly as I tried to work with it. I finally fired the pieces in my little "hot pot", and then promptly broke one of the earrings in half as I tried to finish them. Before I could try a second project, I broke the lid to my hot pot, so I have shelved my interest in PMC for awhile!

How do you spend your time when you are not creating? We love to camp, so every now and then we pack up the people, the 3 dogs, the cat and the Abyssinian guinea pig and head off to the wild blue yonder.

To enter the giveaway simply visit both of Donna's shops CellChic and Huebsch Designs and tell us in the comments section what your favorite items from her shops are. Giveway ends February 23.2009.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Baked Hamburger Stew

Soups are one of my favorite winter comfort foods. Baked Hamburger Stew is one of my faves. Its easy and quick to put together and is loaded with wonderful veggies and flavor. This is great to make ahead and freeze for a quick dinner or lunch.


3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

3 medium carrots, sliced

3/4 lb lean ground beef

1 can(14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 medium onions, sliced

2 tablespoons of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

In a greased 13"x9" baking dish, layer potatoes and carrots. Crumble beef over carrots. Layer withe the tomatoes, peas and onions. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degree for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is no longer pink and potatoes are tender.
Serve with homemade French Bread or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


New York Memos!!! Congratulations on winning BatCat Jewelry's Pink Stacked Earrings!! My daughter, Sarah chose you name out of the hat.I will ship them as soon as I get your shipping information.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest! Keep checking I will be having another giveaway soon!