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Do you listen to music when your creative vibs are working?

I do.

Whether it’s slinging paint, weaving a basket, printmaking, collage….the very best music I’ve found is:

John Williams Plays Bach

Trust me on this one. You can’t go wrong. You will thank me.

Check it out on Amazon or your favorite site & see what you think.

I’m open to suggestions. What music do you prefer when your creative spirit is moving?

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This basket weaver was more than a trifle unhappy with the previously posted flat-bottom basket.

There were many mistakes in it that I simply could not stand.

Therefore, last night, I took the scissors to the basket and whacked out  all the reeds – leaving nothing but the two hoops. Boy did that ever feel good! :-)

I started again and made every attempt to follow the directions to the letter. In spite of that, I still could not get all ten ribs (per side) worked into the basket. I had four..FOUR sets left over. Never-the-less, I’m much happier with this effort than the first.

At least now, I can concentrate on a new one. I won’t be whacking this one apart….It can stay.  ;-)

I stained it with a mixture of instant coffee & tea. Marcia Balleweg, owner of Oklahoma Basket Supply, shared her recipe for this stain:

  • 3/4c. Hot Water
  • 4 tbs. Instant coffee
  • 3 tbs. Instant tea

According to her directions: “Mix together and heat until all coffee and tea granules are dissolved. Put mixture into a spray bottle and spray your dried basket. Add water to spray bottle if you like a lighter color. I usually lightly spray the first coat and let it dry. It will dry lighter in color. You can spray again and let dry if you want your basket to be darker.”

I followed her directions for mixing. I took the basket outside to the patio and sat it in a large box & sprayed. I left it out in the breeze & sun to dry. I’m very happy with the color now, but we’ll see how it looks tomorrow when it’s completely dry. I really like the thought of  using a natural, non-toxic stain. Wait,  are coffee and tea “natural?”  Yeah, I think they are.

Now, I need more reeds! I want some big ones this time. :-)

Postscript:

Again, I must add that the above photo was shot with my beloved Nikkor 85mm 1.4D. The bokeh it delivers is beyond delicious. :-)

I have learned two things about basket weaving in the last five/six hours. You must do one or the other.

  • Follow the basket weaving directions to the letter.
  • OR abandon the basket weaving directions completely.

Here’s where I apologize to Lyn Siler. Lyn is the author of the book I used today. Lyn’s Flat-Bottom Egg Basket is beautiful.

MY Flat-Bottom Egg Basket is ….. is…… well, I think you could put eggs in it. :-D

One of the first and important steps was to assemble two hoops – one would provide the handle & the other would provide the top rim of the basket. It was important that the handle hoop be on the outside when they were fastened together. To assure this, we were to put our initials on the inside bottom of the vertical (handle) hoop. I did that. The reason is so the handle hoop will not be able to move. It was after I became so engrossed in weaving the “ears” on the sides of the handle, that I forgot about the “initials.” Oopsie. ;-) And after the ears were woven & the basket weaving started, I saw the initials on the side of the horizontal hoop. ;-) I left it that way. Sorry, Lyn. I promise to do it right next time.  Here’s what it looked like at that stage.

The thing about a ribbed basket is that you are supposed to add ribs as you weave. I found this to be more difficult that I thought it would be.  In fact. I had a few ribs that I trimmed. And a few ribs that I stuck in at random…and a few ribs left over. Sorry Lyn. I’m determined to do it right the next time.

It was at this point that I completely abandoned the instructions. Obviously this is not recommended.  When I finished the weaving of the basket, I was tempted to leave off any trim that was to be around the top of the basket. However, having nothing to lose at this point and all to gain, I added the trim. I’m rather pleased with the trim.

Tomorrow I will stain the basket with a coffee/tea concoction, as I like the richness those colors that add. Plus maybe all the mistakes won’t be so noticeable.

 

Post Script: I need to add  that these photos were shot with my beloved Nikkor 85mm 1.4. I dearly love how fast that little lens is in low light & also the delicious bokeh (shallow depth of field = blurry background.) OH, and the top banner shot was done with it as well.

Update: FYI, this basket was chopped to shreds last night…and re-woven. You may see the new one here.

Who doesn’t love baskets?!

We all do. I bet you have at least ONE basket in your house. I have several. I’ve had them over the years that have served both utilitarian and decorative purposes.

I recently saw a beautiful basket in a gallery that had an antler handle. As I looked at it…I was like, “yeah…I can do that.” I hope I can at least come close.

So before I even had books or supplies, I was collecting drift wood and antlers for handles. I really like the thought of incorporating natural materials into the designs.


So off I went to the local Hobby Lobby to pick up some basket making supplies. I walked all over that huge store – through aisle after aisle of household decoratives. Alas, no basket making supplies. Apparently Hobby Lobby needs to change its name. Not only my local store, but four others in the state had no basket making supplies. Nor did a hobby store called Michaels. Interesting. Sad.


With no other recourse, I went to the internet. I first ordered a book written by Lyn Siler entitled, “ The Basket Book: Over 30 Magnificent Baskets To Make and Enjoy.” After a bit of searching, I found Oklahoma Basket Supply. And fortunately for me, it was a mere 80 miles from where I live. I made my way there yesterday. Marcia Balleweg is the owner of Oklahoma Basket Supply. She has been weaving for 17 years and has been teaching for 12 years.  It was so nice to meet her and see her gorgeous baskets. She’s won awards for them at Fiberworks and at the Oklahoma State Fair.  Marcia was very kind and helpful in setting me up with some supplies for my first efforts in basket making – plus a couple fantastic books! Thank you, Marcia!  I’m eager to pour over my new books & get started on this adventure.

Are you a basket maker? Do you have a site or blog?  If you are, I’d love to hear from you. Just point me to it.

Basket Weaving 101: My daughter tells me, “You know, that’s the oldest joke of all time, right?” I said, ‘YES! And I’d love to take that class.”

Stay tuned for followups. I’ll be posting photos of the process as it happens.

Blogging

One thing I recently (okay 5 minutes ago) noticed about blogging.

 

  • If you’re really going to write a blog, you should make daily entries.

 

Wowzer. So see…seriously, I have no idea why it’s been eight months since I’ve written anything for this blog.  I’ve written a lot of posts in my head…but none here. I don’t think I’m really a blogger. Maybe I’ll try the daily thing and see how that works.  Wish me luck!

 

Oh, and Happy Weekend!

Here’s a treat for you, my ‘Weight Watching’ friends!

I recall ADs that showed up around the same time the Atkins diet came onto the scene. The potato industry was trying to keep their followers (many who had opted to follow the low carb diets.) The Ads said, “Don’t Blame the Potato!” I thought it was a pretty good AD campaign and still do….since apparently it stuck with me. Now I say to you, don’t blame the Sweet Potato either!

If you haven’t tried a baked Sweet Potato yet, then you don’t know what you’re missing. Sweet potatoes are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Nosirree Bob! My dear Mother was talking about them long before I tried one. I absolutely LOVE Sweet Potato fries, but the fried part = bad and is not good for my  eating plan – which is Weight Watchers. A Sweet Potato has only TWO POINTS. That’s right, TWO.  And they are so good for you! Check out these facts:

  • One baked sweet potato (3 1/2 ounce serving) provides over 8,800 IU of vitamin A or about twice the recommended daily allowance, yet it contains only 141 calories making it valuable for the weight watcher.
  • This nutritious vegetable provides 42 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, 6 percent of the RDA for calcium, 10 percent of the RDA for iron, and 8 percent of the RDA for thiamine for healthy adults.
  • It is low in sodium and is a good source of fiber and other important vitamins and minerals.
  • A complex carbohydrate food source, it provides beta carotene which may be a factor in reducing the risk of certain cancers. (Info from http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu)

Tonight I did the following to prepare the Sweet Potatoes:

  • Scrub with a stiff brush & remove any eyes, blemishes, etc.
  • Do NOT remove the skin. The good stuff is in the skin.
  • Wrap loosely in plastic wrap. (My Mom puts hers in a zip lock bag, but leaves the bag open.)
  • Place in the microwave and push the “Baked Potato” button. I really don’t know how long that took for 2, but when it stopped cooking the sweet potatoes were perfect. I would say it was 6-8 minutes for two. Probably 4-6 for one. I don’t like them too soft.

In addition to the Sweet Potato, I decided on a broccoli & cauliflower mixture – it was one of those “micro in the bag” offerings. One cup of that mixture is zero points. Oh yeah!  I followed the directions (6.5 to 7.5 minutes) and chose 6.5 minutes because I don’t like those to be too soggy either. They turned out perfect. And they were the Great Value brand. I normally shy away from off brands, but I’m finding that Great Value is just that – due to the cost and the TASTE. Nice work, Great Value! (It’s a Wal-Mart offering.)

Now, instead of piling on any butter or other spread, I sprayed “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” spray on everything. ZERO points – again. And it really adds a nice flavor. So hear this…a delicious baked Sweet Potato and about a cup of broccoli & cauliflower. TWO POINT DINNER. That’s what I’m talkin’ bout!

You will thank me.

And I leave you with this:

A man goes to the doctor with a leek sticking out of one ear and a sweet potato out of the other ear. He asks the doctor what’s wrong.

The doctor thinks a lot then tells him “Well, for one thing, you’re not eating correctly”.

Ba-Da Boom!

*

Loons!

It was a day for birding.

The temperature was 37° Fahrenheit.
The mister and I took a drive to Sooner Lake in northern Oklahoma. We saw the usual Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Coots, Cormorants, Scaups, and Gulls – plus a few Harriers. Oh yes, and one Canada Goose acting strange…swimming around with his neck level with the water and his head in the water…we had to watch it for a while to figure out what it was. And the ducks are definitely pairing up…lots of head bobbing & squabbles among the Buffleheads.

But the one surprise for the day came when we heard a Loon – even before we saw it. We watched it swim and dive for a while before we eventually saw it come up with a fish. And here was the kicker, that fish (possibly a Hybrid Striped Bass) was at least as big as the Loon’s head. The drizzle and fog did little to help me out with photography. The poor Loon wrestled that fish for at least 15-20 minutes – even stopping mid-way through to do a little wing-flap. Part way through the tussle, a gull checked in to see what was going on. The Loon finally gave up and went away hungry. But perhaps it learned a little something. ;-)

Here are a few Cool Facts about Loons from All About Birds.

  • The Common Loon swims underwater to catch fish, propelling itself with its feet. It swallows most of its prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
  • Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small.
  • Loons are water birds, only going ashore to mate and incubate eggs. Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, allowing efficient swimming but only awkward movement on land.
  • The Common Loon is flightless for a few weeks after molting all of its wing feathers at the same time in midwinter.

I can’t wait until the Loons come into full breeding colors. They’re such beautiful birds & their call is mesmerizing!