Saturday Simple Pleasures

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Inherited Garden Chives

Of all the things I have planted over the years, either ornamental or edible, I find myself wondering why not once did I consider chives. It is truly a mystery. They are both wonderful in egg salad, and beautiful as an ornamental.  I have always enjoyed the thrill of seeing crocus emerge, a promise of warmer weather, but never considered chives.

This particular bunch has been bringing me some simple pleasures each morning since early spring when this picture was taken. It is a plant I inherited when we bought this house. Most of the grounds had been left to go natural, but bordering the upstairs deck there were nine planter boxes hanging from the edge. The winter snows had completely covered their contents and I assumed had obliterated any possibility of plant life. How delighted I was when the daytime temps started to rise to find that I had an early start to a spring garden.

These chives are the star of the show but there are also dianthus, pansies,  delicate columbines, and a couple yet-to-be-unveiled surprises. I love surprises! There are even a few baby pine trees that have popped up in my planter boxes. If I had tried to grow a pine tree from seed I would have surely failed, but here I have nearly half a dozen that were possibly planted by a squirrel that are thriving!

The bees are frequent visitors to these planters and I love watching their non-stop activity and dedication to their goal. They provide early inspiration and a sense of peace to the beginning of my day. They are just one of the simple pleasures in my life that I try to take time to appreciate. What are yours?

Easy Crochet Bead Bracelet

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Simple Crochet Bracelet_Mary Williams Designs

Simple Crochet Bracelet

There are a ton of simple crochet bracelet tutorials on the web so this is definitely not something new. As a child I spent countless hours sitting with my mom crocheting yards (possibly miles) of single crochet chains before moving on to more elaborate designs with her guidance. I will never possess the amount of knowledge my mother had with crochet, but if there was a “comfort craft” for me, crochet would be it.

When I crochet I picture my mother on the sofa, feet curled up under her, glasses just slightly down her nose, leaning her body toward the old brass lamp on the side table, crocheting row after row of bedspread cotton into the most amazing bedspreads for the people she loved. I remember the unmatched patience and willingness she had in teaching others. I remember that all a person had to do was admire something she made and it, or a duplicate of it would be theirs. Tomorrow my mother would have been 97. She passed away many, many years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her and her gentle spirit and recall what a true treasure she was.

Chainstitch bracelet in teal

Teal with Luster Opaque Green Beads

The version above is much shorter with a couple more chainstitches between beads. I’ve
used Opaque Green Luster facetted beads, C-Lon cord in Teal. and a matching czech glass shank button I’ve had for years.

This is not a complete tutorial, but just brief information on how my bracelet was made. It is a simple crochet chain (many tutorials for this stitch are just a google search away) fastened onto a button (I used a 2-hole button but a shank button or any other style would work just as well). The bracelet is nearly 2 yards long and has 200 czech glass beads. I crocheted right off the spool of C-Lon bead cord, but kept track of how much cord it took. Using a size 7 crochet hook (very small) it took about 10 yards of C-Lon to make nearly 2 yards in length. I crochet very tightly, at times so tight it is like trying to wrestle an elephant through a keyhole, so your results may vary. There are two chainstitches between each bead. I have a very small wrist and the bracelet wraps ten times around it.

The most tedious part was stringing 200 beads onto the cord before starting the chain. For this bracelet I chose to use a part of the chainstitch to loop through the button because I felt is was more decorative, but you could also just loop a single strand of cord through the holes 3 or 4 times and knot it at the back of the button before beginning your chainstitch. After every two stitches I pushed a bead down close the crochet hook before making my next stitch, thus locking the bead in place. I made sure the stitch fit snugly against the bead.

At the end of the chain, after all the beads the beads were used, I continued with a short section of chainstitch. I formed a loop with this section of chain just long enough to barely fit over my button, passed my crochet hook through the stitch at the base of the loop, picked up the cord with the hook and worked a single crochet back through several of the stitches. I then cut the cord leaving a short tail and pulled the tail (using the hook) through the last stitch to lock the stitches in place. You could make a knot here if you wanted or use a little glue to secure the end of the thread. I used a tapestry needle to weave the tail through the chain.

Here is a picture of the supplies I used along with a list and link to where they can be purchased.

Crochet bracelet supplies from The Red Bead

Crochet Bracelet Supplies

All supplies from The Red Bead:

C-Lon bead cord in Lilac
Pewter leaf print button
Czech Glass Jewel Luster beads

Or, if you like more earthy colors, give this selection a try. It is next on my personal to do list:

Earthy bracelet supplies

C-Lon Bead Cord in Latte
Stone Picasso Czech Beads
Turquoise Luster Flower Bead 

Just who did you say invented dichroic?

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peahen feathers

"Dichroic" Feathers

Just a little Monday color inspiration. No one does color better than Mother Nature! What you are looking at are Peafowl feathers. Commonly referred to as peacocks, that is actually the name of the male while peahen is the name given to the females. Something I didn’t realize until I started investigating  the correct name, is that they are actually a member of the pheasant family.

These particular feathers came from a wonderful woman that raises show birds and pets. While I think peacocks are beautiful creatures, from what I understand they are NOISY, so I will resist my urge to add them to the household. I do understand, however, that they make great alarms!

For more information check out this article: Are Peafowl noisy?

No Bake ‘Comfort’ Cookies

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No Bake Cookies

It seems like everybody has this recipe, or some version of it, so this is probably not a new one for you. As a kid it was one of my favorites. I loved it so much that I did a cooking demonstration of the recipe for my 4th grade class. We were supposed to do an oral presentation and I thought what better way to a “viewer’s choice” award than through my classmate’s stomach.

We lived about a mile from school and my mother didn’t drive so I headed out in the morning with various cooking utensils, pre-measured ingredients and an old (very old) electric cook plate. The results? I didn’t burn down the school, (luckily) apparently none of my classmates were allergic to peanuts, there were no leftovers, and I got an A! Actually, the one thing I didn’t get my parents approval for was selling them at school at lunchtime. If I had, maybe I would have beat Mrs. Field’s to the punch. Darn.

If you like chocolate and peanut butter and don’t mind a cookie that is very sweet, you’ll probably give them an A too. They only take about 10 minutes to make. The calorie count? I know it, but do you really want me to tell you?

No Bake Cookies (about 10 minutes start to finish)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cocoa (I use Hershey’s)
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (in my opinion there is only one and its name is Skippy!)
3 cups quick oats

 (Before beginning to cook place a couple newspaper pages on the counter and cover with waxed paper or parchment paper.)

 Combine sugar,milk,cocoa, and margarine in a large saucepan. Heat on low until margarine is melted. Turn up the heat and bring mixture to a boil. Boil ONLY one minute. Overcooking will result in a crumbly cookie (undercooking will result in spoon candy which is actually pretty good but won’t hold a cookie shape and must be eaten out of a bowl!). Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Mix well and drop by soup spoons onto the waxed paper. Allow to cool (though these are excellent warm!) and store in an airtight container.

Beaded wire flowers….I think I’m hooked!

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beaded wire flowers

Beaded Wire Flower Decoration

beaded wire flower close-up

Beaded Wire Flower Close-up

(I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts long enough. Time to share!)

I made this package decoration for my (now) daughter-in-law’s bridal shower. She is so artistic and creative and I wanted to do something special. Little did I know that I would find a new addiction! Not only did I have the best time making this, I also discovered how much fun papercrafting was (THAT project will be in a future post).

This is the perfect “in front of the tv” project to do. Basically all it is is a fine silver wire, some crystal seed beads, a wire cutter, and your two hands. I planned to do a tutorial for making this before now (the reason it has been sitting in my drafts folder, accompanied by other incomplete posts) but that will have to come at a later date. You might even be able to figure it out from the picture. If you are interested in the paper tags I printed them from a free download at Design Corral.