Needle Felted Autumn

Thought I would share some photos of the pretty shelf my mother-in-law recently purchased and hung in her dining room.  She saw it in an antique shop and knew it would be perfect for this collection of china.  (Click to enlarge the photo.)  These very few pieces were her grandmother’s and now have a perfect place to be appreciated.


After one of our fun Saturdays spent running around the countryside, trying to find a certain barn sale, which we never found, and a quick apple cider donut at an orchard, we stopped at Esther’s Place in Big Rock.    She waited in the car with P, who had fallen asleep, while I poked my head in.  But I knew they both would enjoy it as well, and before we knew it an hour had passed.  After I narrowed my choices down to four balls of wool (all in shades of green), we arrived home and decorated the shelf with the little pumpkins we bought at the orchard.



I thought the shelf could use some needle felted acorns (with real acorn hats) and pumpkins, so I made more and delivered them to her the next day.



A fun reminder of the day.


Happy Friday!

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 9:11 am  Comments (1)  
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Brookfield Zoo Visit

Last Monday, Columbus Day, we went to the zoo, along with everyone else.  And though I knew there would be a lot of other families with the same thought, being a holiday and a gorgeous fall day, it wasn’t epically crowded.  The animals were particularly active too since it was quite comfortable for October.


Spent a lot of time saying hello to the camels.  We really like camels.



But the giraffes were our favorite on this day.  They are so beautiful and graceful.



Not afraid to come over and say hello before bending to take a nibble.




Oh, hello again.



The autumn grasses were just beautiful in the sunlight.



Of course we visited the  new bear habitat.   The polar bear jumped in the water for a cool-down and swam right up to the glass where P was standing, but of course that photo didn’t turn out.  It was amazing though.  After a visit to the veterinarian’s office in the Hamlin Children’s Zoo,



it was time for a ride on the merry-go-round.  I think that is P’s favorite thing at the zoo.  And we are very specific about the animal we ride.  This time, a penguin and then a kangaroo.




It was a great day out.

Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 9:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Late Summer At the Farm

We all know it’s coming, we can feel it.  And though we haven’t had that first frost, there is a definite change in the air.  Out here, in the country, just 14 miles west from our home, the scent of burning leaves has already permeated this Sunday afternoon’s air.  Really, doesn’t everyone like just a touch of that smell?  Just a touch?  Though the trees haven’t begun to turn, you can just tell the trees are ready for their annual show.  What kind of color will this summer have produced?  I can’t wait!

There are just a few daylilies left in bloom, like these four.

Our favorite afternoon activity, swinging in the 100+ year old trees.  There are 13 different places to swing, or hang upside down, and endless chances for trees climbing,

Some hidden surprises if you know where to look.  These tasted just like grape juice.

And by mid-afternoon the shadows have grown long.

Published in: on September 15, 2010 at 5:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Growing Place

Yes, another garden inspired field trip, this time to the Growing  Place in Montgomery.  More cool ideas for your, or my,  garden.  Here, and old window painted bright green is framed between fence posts and mounted with a planter box overflowing with succulents.  What a great garden-room divider.

Loved these rusty iron “branches” strung with colored crystal (plastic) beads.  They bob and sway when the wind blows and catch the light.

P loved the fairy gardens so we will have to make one.

More rusty iron, this time mounted on a barnwood door.

And a very cool laser cut spade.

Think I shall work in our garden a bit now that the weather is more comfortable.  Enjoy your day.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sycamore Steam Show, Part 2

This is perhaps one of my favorite parts of the Steam Show, the chance to see from start to finish, how things were done 100 or so years ago.   The owners of these giant and really quite beautiful farm implements come from all over the area for the chance to share a bit of their farming history and to see, in this case,  their steam engine  in action.

We followed this “iron horse” as it pulled up to fill with coal and then silently rolled over to be inspected before having a chance to thresh a wagon-full of wheat.  The entire family was involved.  Mom was a spotter making sure no one walked in front of this quietly rolling hulk of iron.  Dad shoveled coal.  And daughters rode along.

See that black horizontal stripe?  That is an enormously long , thick canvas (?) belt that is attached to the smaller wheel on the side of the steam engine.  You can see it in the photo above.  When that wheel turns, the strap which is attached to the thresher (or corn shucking machine or wood saw) on the other end,  gives it power.  There is still a lot of man-power involved with all this technology.  Someone had to cut the hay and bundle it and stack if on the wagon and then fork it onto the thresher.

Ancient and rusty gears and pulleys on the thresher.

Black coal smoke from the “iron horse” in action and freshly threshed chaff.  The wheat is separated from the stalk in the thresher and collected in the red wagon.

The pile grows,

And grows.

The wagon is empty.  It took perhaps fifteen minutes.

I was just fascinated.  Hope you enjoyed the process too.

Published in: on August 20, 2010 at 5:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday’s Field Trip

This past Friday we took our annual visit to Sycamore for the Steam Show and Threshing Bee.  I have come to really look forward to this day in the country, learning how things used to be done before modern technology made things faster and more efficient for farmers.   When I am  there I am always reminded not only of my husband’s family history of farming, but also of my uncle who was a fruit farmer in California, and my grandpa who worked on a farm in Michigan as a young boy.  They both would have enjoyed this day.  I miss them both.

If you remember the children’s books by Richard Scarey,  especially What People Do Storybook, the Steam Show will show you what the book illustrates from threshing wheat all the way to grinding it into flour.  Growing up I loved these books and it has been fun re-reading them with P.  We like to trace with a finger the “path”  the wheat takes in the story “Where Bread Comes From”.

Row upon row of tractors, and farmers and their families walking among them to see what’s old.  They gather here every year  for a chance to use their, in some cases, 100 year old farm equipment, as it would have been used when these were the height of technology.  My favorite part of the day is the “noon whistle “, when every implement with a whistle or horn or bell, sounds it for several seconds.  It is the coolest cacaphony of sounds, I can’t even describe it.  Back in the day though, this was the lunch signal for farm hands to come out of the fields to eat.

Farmers visiting and sharing stories, wearing denim and plaid, shirts tucked in always, caps on.

Hay wagon waiting to be threshed.

P fell in love with a five-day-old calf.

There is a flea market and gathering of artisans, soapmaking, loom-weaving.  This woman shared that her pieces are woven out of old clothing, blue-jeans and chenille bedspreads.  Recycled beauty.

This steam engine is being driven by father and son.  They have just filled their engine with coal (the black stuff in the foreground) and water.  Now they will take their turn threshing wheat, or shucking corn, or sawing wood.

There was even a steam powered water pump.  Couldn’t just turn on the faucet.

What a great lesson.  I learn something new every year.

Published in: on August 16, 2010 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Garden Inspiration

A couple weeks ago, my mom, P and I took a birthday field trip to Blumen Gardens in Sycamore.  My mother-in-law introduced me to it seven or so years ago on a cold, drizzly late spring day just before P was born.  It was beautiful then, even on that raw day.  And this time rain was threatening.  That sort of makes everything more serene and calming in a riot of blooming things, when colors and birds and bugs (good bugs, of course) could take over.   And now, with the changes and additions it is just that much more inspiring.

I am a visual  girl (really, I worked for a large Chicago based department store doing visual display), and this place just gets it right every time.  I love the mix of vintage and new, found and repurposed items to highlight a vignette.  (Ever been to my house?)  Here, gorgeous blue hydrangeas and concrete hearts.

An old manufacturing plant with exposed brick and steel beams and huge expanses of glass serves as retail space as well as for special events.

Oh. My.  If only I had a wall that large in my home.

This space was new to me this year.  Imagine hosting an event here.

There were  billows of hydrangeas blooming everywhere in great cloud-like tufts,

and goldfinches all over these sunflowers.  I wish you could have seen and heard them.  Such sweet little chirps.

Perfectly weathered doors and more hydrangeas.

Can’t wait to visit this fall, my favorite season, when everything is golden and harvest-inspired.

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 8:56 am  Comments (3)  
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“Crick Walk”

This is the property where my husband grew up.  His parents still live there.  It has been in the family for many, many years.  About 14 miles from our home, it is also our favorite escape, to visit family, see the beautiful gardens they have planted over the years, eat a delicious pie baked by my mother-in-law, swing under the giant trees and, of course, go for a crick walk.

So very pretty and peaceful.  Lately, in our Midwest summer humidity, just as you walk up to this point, hundreds of tiny frogs jump with a little “peep” from the warm edges back into the water.  Click on the photo below.

O, hello little peeper.

When P was littler (she’s still little), we used to float a pine cone in the crick, chasing it with a stick (remember the game Winnie the Pooh used to play?), until it went under the bridge by the “big road” and then I’d tell her it was on it’s way to China.  We’d wave goodbye and go find another pine cone or piece of bark and start all over again.

The perfect tree for swinging.

Poppies and irises in the spring and grape vines yet to grow.

Plenty of footbridges to cross over and back.

My mother-in-law’s favorite, star-gazer lily.  Get a little closer.  There.  Can you smell the intoxicating scent now?

Native black-eyed Susans and purple cone flowers line the road in welcome.

Daylilies everywhere.  These are especially pretty against the rustic grey barn wood of the chicken coop.

Can you see them?  Tiny blueberries, my very favorite.  The whole family knows this, so when these disappear, and there aren’t very many yet as these are new bushes, they know who the culprit is.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 8:57 am  Comments (1)  
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