Mushrooms Galore

It’s been a strange summer here in Michigan. We’ve gone weeks without rain and then we get 2-3 inches in a single day, followed by another dry week or two. It’s a bit challenging to keep my pots watered and my tomatoes growing, but I’m told the hot, dry summer will lead to an incredible showing of fall colors. ((fingers crossed))

Anyhow, we’ve discovered some unusual mushrooms around the yard. Mushrooms are nothing new around here … we have at least a handful of different kinds on any given year in the grass alone. But these two were particularly unique (at least to me).

This one is about 10-inches across — about the size of a small dinner plate. I am told it’s edible, but my father-in-law is keeping this one safe, hoping it will lead to additional mushrooms in the future.

It’s amazing when you get closer and notice all of the details. It really isn’t just a large, white mushroom.

I found this one growing the steps on the west side of the house. I fell in love with the texture of it. I attempted to identify it, but there are so many varieties, my ADD kicked in before I could be sure what it is.

I didn’t even touch it, since my father-in-law told me there are some growing around here that are lethal if you touch them and then touch your eyes. It’s allergy season for me, so I’m always touching my eyes.

But, it is the most beautiful mushroom I have ever seen.

Playing with Birds

I spend a lot of time looking out the windows.

My desk/table sits in front of two huge picture windows. I’ve placed bird feeders in front of each, partly to feed the birds, but mostly to entertain myself by watching creatures visit. My cats and I spend much of our day in front of these windows watching birds, squirrels, bunnies and even ducks while reading, drinking coffee or playing online.

Today, I was lucky enough to see Mrs. Hummingbird. I’ve seen her before, but never long enough to get my camera and never while resting. I’m told because hummingbird legs are weak, they don’t often perch, walk or stand. Flying is actually more comfortable for them, so they rarely rest.

Mrs. Hummingbird has her own feeder, but she doesn’t like it. Instead, she insists on fighting with the bees for the remaining jelly in the oriole feeder. No one, apparently informed her that she isn’t supposed to perch, because I’ve watched her perch and eat grape jelly three times today. The bees finally decided she wasn’t a threat and let her perch as long as she wanted.

Unfortunately, a quick rain storm covered the windows in raindrops, so I couldn’t photograph her on her second and third visits. And, the first visit’s photos aren’t the best because the window was open so I was actually taking these through two windows. But until Matt builds me a bird blind, it’s the best I can do.

Michigan Sugar

I admit to being quite fond of industrial brick buildings. I love the coloring the brick takes on with years of coal dust, dirt and grime. I love that detail that was placed in the buildings, the leaded glass windows and the general feel of the building. Some windows have arches. Others have scallops. There are insets and columns and ledges and wow … you just don’t see this detail in modern architecture.

This building, built in 1902, has been in continuous operation since it’s construction. While it is cluttered with sheds, utility poles, fences and other eyesores necessary to get the job done, you can look through the mess to see the original building standing tall in all of its elegance.

I love the windows that prop open on the middle floors of the building.

And, if you enjoy Pioneer or Big Chief sugar, it just might be made right here in Sebewaing, Michigan, from locally grown sugarbeets.

I’m Still Standing

Yes, I’m still here. Or at least a part of me is.

I still do not know what is wrong with me. The doctors have given up. They’re calling it fibromyalgia for lack of any other diagnosis.

The good news is that I have nothing “serious” like ALS, RA, MS or cancer.

The bad news is that I still have limited use of my hands and arms, need help dressing and am in constant pain — although it varies from extremely light to near crippling depending on how much I am using my hands.

Fortunately I have found a wonderful pain management and rehabilitation doctor who is turning to some alternative forms of medicine for treatment. He assures me that once the pain is gone and toxins are removed, function will return. I don’t believe him. I think something is wrong and the doctors are looking in the wrong places, but I am told any further testing would be futile — by two different specialists.

In fact, I’ve been told to ride it out and see if the pain management doctor can help me and then we’ll look into it again in another six months …

So, my disbelieving self is going along with the plan, because there are no other options. My intellect has given up hope, but I believe my deep inner emotions still have some sort of faith because without some hope, what is the point of continuing?

We begin acupuncture and cupping today and aqua therapy tomorrow. We shall see how it goes.

For now, I am enjoying summer without my two favorite outdoor hobbies — biking and kayaking.

Matt put a few tomato plants in pots for me to watch grow. He also planted a couple of cucumber plants, some swiss chard, two mini sweet pepper plants and a couple of green onions, along with a few herbs. Everything is in either a pot or a small raised garden right outside the back door, so there is no weeding. Obviously it will only generate enough food for a dinner here or there, but it is something.

On a good day, I am able to water the pots and fill my bird feeders. On a bad day, my husband does it for me.

Speaking of birds, I spend a lot of time outside just sitting and watching them.

Last week, I happened to have my camera with me and was privileged to witness this red-wing blackbird putting on a marvelous display. All of the photos were taken from my back porch, where I was sitting. He was prancing and showing about 20 feet in front of me on my swing and around one of the bird feeders. He went on for about 10 minutes, with lots of breaks in between to call, dine and rest.

It was so incredible to see. I so thankful I had my camera so I could record the moment!

Take care.

Traveling Centerpieces

I was put in charge of the centerpieces for my sister’s June wedding. She wanted everything super simple, so I designed a two-sided card, made from photos of her travels around the world.

For each table, she selected two photos from her trip to that location.

I took each one, made it into a 5×7, pulled it into Microsoft Word and added the location and the year she visited and then printed them out.

Together, we cut a sheet of black cardstock and then adhered a photo to each side.

Some were horizontal and some where vertical … we didn’t care which was which as long as both photos on that table went in the same direction.

Once complete, we tucked each one into a strong photo clip and placed it in the center of the table.

We surrounded each one with blue lights, keeping the centerpieces elegant, but simplistic.

This is one a guest took of their table, with the coordinating placecard.

There is only one continent my sister has not visited …

She is going here, along with her new husband, in December for their honeymoon. I “borrowed” these photos off of some online travel sites and we put them in the trunk that held the card box, to show the guests what their generous gifts were going to pay for …

My sister and her husband loved the centerpieces, as did the guests. She told me later that a few took them home as souvenirs from the big day.

Just goes to show you, art doesn’t have to be time consuming to be beautiful!

From Boyne Highlands

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Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, MI is one of my favorite places to visit.

It’s a ski lodge and features some of the best golf courses in the state, but I go to work — and relax. The place is truly magical. Less than four hours from my house, I feel like I am in another country every time I visit. The buildings have a Tudor vibe and are covered in ivy. Inside, the decor is quite Scottish — which I absolutely love. There are rustic log tables in the lobby, vintage Scottish posters in the halls, and lamps with antlers in many of the rooms. The hotel has a tower, although I still haven’t gotten my Rapunzel photo from it, with beautiful stone, spiral staircases. The bar has amazingly comfortable chairs to relax in and the carpet is red tartan. The rooms have robes to borrow and the hot tub and heated swimming pool are open the entire time we’re there. Every employee — from the front desk to the cleaning staff to the security staff — is polite and happy and they will go out of their way to do whatever you need. In the fall, you can ride the ski lift to look at the colors — more on that to come later. There are many other amenities to enjoy, but we never have the time to enjoy them.

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I love this place. I feel like a fairy princess living in the castle with a beautiful room I get to call my own for 3-4 days, twice a year. Honestly, I never have to make my bed or my own coffee and wine is available by the glass or bottle. What more could a girl ask for?

candyscraps_boyneThis year, we got to go three times, since they added an additional Girls Just Wanna Crop weekend, the weekend following the traditional fall one. For me, these two October weekends were monumental.

candyscraps_boyne3On a professional level, I developed a new business plan limiting my products to Mosaic Moments, Elizabeth Craft Designs and my unique page and card kits. My husband built me some new displays to showcase my new lines and Boyne was the first time I got to try them out. I also worked out a deal with another vendor while I was there (you’ll see more about this later). And, I taught Mosaic Moments, in the form of a two-page layout, for the first time to a group of 15. The class sold out quickly, I had to turn many away and I was very nervous … but the ladies loved it. (Of course, I forgot to take any photos the entire first weekend)

candyscraps_boyne4As usual, I did free make and takes to show new techniques throughout the weekend. Here’s a card one cropper made after learning to use Elizabeth Craft Designs glitter and peel-off stickers.

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And a pair of sweaters my new Canadian friends made with the Elizabeth Craft Designs Sweater Die.

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Another created this amazing page with Mosaic Moments … the empty spot will be filled with a photo, once it is reprinted. It suffered a slip of the knife …candyscraps_boyne5

And, in the last few minutes of the second weekend, Sandy Wilkinson and Tami Migda came to show me these amazing pages they made … They liked them so much, they bought frames from another vendor and framed them! (Naturally, they were the only ones I managed to remember to take a photo of and get their name … you would never know I was a journalist for decades.)

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I did not get a photo of a winning layout … one customer bought one of the Mosaic Moments dies from me and then created a two-page layout. During the crop, they have a contest and her layout was voted the winner! I had nothing to do with it, other than showing her how to use the die, but I felt pretty darn proud!

On a personal level, the second weekend at Boyne was also monumental. I drove there by myself — the longest drive I’ve ever done alone. And, on the way home, I drove with a custom-designed rack on the back of the car to hold all of my products. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was something I had never done before, so it made me feel pretty good.

For the first time in my life, I got out of the hot tub and pool without feeling self-conscious. This was a huge moment for me in my personal growth. I was so calm going from one to the other — even with others around and all of the hotel rooms looking onto the area — that I didn’t even notice I wasn’t uncomfortable until the third time I did it. I guess I’m finally learning to accept myself for who I am — well, and losing 75 pounds doesn’t hurt either.

Finally, I actually rode the ski lift to see the fall colors. I was scared to death — especially before we figured out there was a bar we could pull down in front of us. I held onto that bar with white knuckles, but I didn’t have a panic attack and I did manage to take pictures. (I have yet to download them, but I’m hoping the stabilizer on the lens combated the shaking in my hands.) From someone who a few months ago couldn’t climb up a step ladder, this was a HUGE deal! Thanks to the guys operating the lift for slowing down and even stopping it so I could get on and off.

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So now I’m back down below the 45th parallel and getting special orders ordered and shipped, restocking my inventory and getting ready for my next crop … I have lots of samples I made for Boyne to share … stay tuned!

Mom’s Garden

momgarden_candy_spiegelMy mother has a beautiful garden, with her house in the middle of it!

 

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Really, she has dozens of gardens around her house, garage and sheds.

 

 

momgarden_candy_spiegel3Her garden has been featured on a local charity garden tour fund-raiser twice.

 

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Many of the gardens are separated with fencing, sheds, tall grass and other items. And many of them have themes … there is an outdoor room, a water garden, multiple fairy gardens and a miniature golf garden (built for the grandkids). My favorite garden is a hidden garden. Once you find it, you see it is filled with pink flamingos made from all sorts of materials.

momgarden_candy_spiegel2 During the summer, I took some evening pictures of her garden. Of course, I had forgotten to wipe my memory card clean, so I didn’t get very many pictures, but I did get a few …

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I’m sure these photos will find their way onto a scrapbook page or card at some point …