Creative Collaboration

The NCalSBA Sketchbook Exchange is officially underway and I’m working on the title page for my sketchbook, which will start traveling soon and then return to me containing entries from 10 other botanical artists next June.  Meanwhile, I will be adding one botanical sketch each month to a new sketchbook belonging to someone else that arrives in my mailbox before sending it on to the next artist.  

I made some discoveries about working in a little accordion journal that I post here:

  •   The accordion book is hard to work on without adding some kind of support underneath whichever side is highest on the page spread you’re working on.  Originally, I ordered several different sketchbook options before settling on the Etchr model and you can see in the photo above that one of the other journals turned out to be just the right size for providing that support and it’s peeking out from under the left side of the Etchr sketchbook on my work table.  I also tried using a stack of 4×6 index cards and that worked well too because I could make very fine adjustments so that both sides were equal in height and therefore my working surface was flat.  This is very important if you’re working over the folds on 2-page spreads.    
  •   I also noticed that the book was unwieldy and tended to unfold itself as I shifted it around until I thought to use the built-in elastic band to hold the rest of the accordion together while I was working.  You can see that band on the right side of the image.  Luckily, I was not planning to work in that area near the band today.  I will make a couple more bands from some 1/8″ elastic as that narrower elastic will not interfere as much while I work and bands that are not attached to the end boards will be easier to shift as I move around while working in an open page spread.   
  •   I wanted to make that circle on my title page and it was bigger than the largest circle my handy circle-making template had to offer so I needed to use my compass.  I did NOT want to make even a very small needle hole in the middle of my paper where I was planning to put my echinacea blossom.  I have a roll of some white “artist’s” tape that features post-it note-like adhesive.   I love that stuff, I think I bought it at Utrecht years ago.  After testing carefully, I stacked 3 small pieces of the tape in the area where I needed to place the needle of my compass.  It worked perfectly.  The hole is in the tape stack, but the needle did not penetrate to the actual paper and the compass did not slip or skip.  You can also see a piece of that tape off to the top right on top of my mock-up page spread.
  • The creamy hot press paper in this Etchr book is excellent for my Micron Pigma 005 Sepia pen plus colored pencil style of sketching.  Graphite pencil marks erase beautifully.  
  •   Finally, I noticed…this is FUN!  

2022 Harvest Begins

Those first few barely mature zukes and summer squash are so wonderful just steamed and that’s on the menu for lunch today with a shrimp, avocado and cucumber salad for dinner. Tomorrow is the ultimate slow comfort food: stuffed vegetables featuring that round 8-ball zucchini you see in the basket, upper right.

Technical difficulties resolved so I give to you a portrait of my gardening overalls. With me in them. At the garden. Overalls are are having a fashion moment, actually, but possibly not these railroad stripe overalls from Duluth Trading Company with the neoprene knee pad inserts installed. Nothing is more comfy than a slightly too-large pair of overalls.

Comfort food and comfort clothing. I’m all in.

How Does Your Victory Garden Grow?

Five weeks after planting the corn is not as high as an elephant’s eye, but it’s growing!  Notice some seed got dropped in a clump there in the middle.  Thinning has never been my strong suit in gardening.  Every seedling deserves its chance.

We’re growing corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash (8-ball for stuffing, Black Beauty and Yellow Summer), green beans, Thai eggplant and another variety of eggplant that was on hand when were at the nursery, 2 surviving shishito pepper plants and some struggling sunflower seeds.  Please be aware that if you live nearby you may find orphan zucchini on your doorstep in a few weeks.

Our first pumpkin.  Check back around Halloween.

That first tomato seems to take forever to ripen.  These are Beefsteak.  We also have Ace tomatoes in a nod to my gardening Grandpa Corbett and 2 Celebrity plants to replace some of the Ace plants that withered and died inexplicably.  Come July Caprese Salad will be on the menu.  Homemade Mozzarella might be in order.  Excuse me while I go over to New England Cheesemaking Supply and read up on making Mozzarella.  

You can find me in the early mornings in my red gardening shoes, gardening gloves, sun hat and railroad stripe overalls (birthday present to myself–with padded knees) wearing my gardening tool belt on a weed seek and destroy mission.  I am particularly focused on ridding the area of the dreaded puncture vine.  The weeds always win, but the battle must be joined nevertheless.  Why is there no picture of me in my overalls?  Technical difficulties.  Really technical.  Honest.  

 

In a real jam…

As I try to decide which is better: the no-cook freezer jam, on the left in the photo above, or the old fashioned cooked jam on the right. Certainly they look different at this point just after completion. Although the freezer jam is not technically complete since it sits overnight at room temperature so possibly the color settles down and darkens to look more like standard jam.

Conveniently, a small flat of strawberries (8 baskets) is the perfect amount of fruit to make one batch of each kind of jam so I thought I’d take a flyer on freezer jam this year as I’ve heard people singing its praises over the years but never tasted it or tried making it before. The p-b and j school crowd has no comment on this thorny issue other than a previously stated general preference for Grandma’s homemade jam over store bought.

A very limited straw poll among adults indicates that whatever one’s mom or grandmother makes or made is what people seem to prefer. If I start making both consistently, it will be a quandary in the future for my grandchildren. I have a sneaking suspicion there will be advocates on both sides with a slight edge for freshly made cooked jam.

All I know for sure is that anything made with the wonderful strawberries to be had at local stands all around us right now is going to be head and shoulders above what’s on grocery store shelves for berry-liscious good flavor.

Biscuits anyone?

Mother’s Day Traditions

Setting out tomato plants and attending an A’s game on Mother’s Day are two of our favorite family traditions for celebrating the day. This year we decided to follow the gardening tradition.

As you can clearly see, Ryan wears 2 hats: berm raker supreme plus watering in expert.

Logan gets some expert gardening advice:

When not supervising, grandma carried water for everyone:

Water, dirt, kids and kids at heart. Nothing could be better to celebrate Mother’s Day!

Connor helps out:

As the song says:

Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow!

Assuming the gophers can be kept at bay. Stay tuned.