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A few months ago a coworker dropped a humungous jade tree off on my front porch, saying something about how it probably needed repotted. I scratched my head in puzzlement how I would accomplish such a feat. Honestly, this thing was HUGE. I should have taken pictures of it. It seemed to be fine in it’s current pot so after much deliberation I hauled the thing upstairs to keep it out of the direct sun.

A few months later the poor guy seems to be dying from the outside in. I thought, crap now I’m going to have to figure out how to repot this. I had a large pot on reserve for whatever needed it so I did some research and ordered a couple of bags of bonsai soil.

In the meantime the tree’s health rapidly declined. Half of it was dead. The inside of the branches was a slimy and brown instead of crisp and green. This was quickly becoming an emergency room situation. I found myself begging the tree to hold on just a few more days.

Then last night the soil arrived!

Bonsai Soil LabelBonsai Soil Texture

It has a very course texture made up of volcanic rock and tree barks so it has good drainage. I began repotting by pulling the dead side of the tree out of the pot. It broke right off at the root and the roots were all dried out. I know I watered this thing.

On the dead side, I found some living jade so I planted them in their own little pots.

Baby Jade Plants

The Babiest of the Jade Babies

Succulents like jade are awesome because you can break a piece off, put in some moist dirt, and it will root.

While I was digging around in the pot trying to get the good side of the jade out safely, I found all sorts of clumps of clay and other debris suggesting my coworker simply dug soil out of her garden to repot this tree. I’m not sure that was such a good idea. Succulents (and all potted plants) need good drainage. This garden soil was all compacted in the pot making it hard for the moisture to escape. I think this is what was happening and causing the roots to rot and then shrivel.

Anyway I pulled the good side out in tact and repotted it with the bonsai soil and a bit of potting soil to give it a nutrients boost. And here he is! I’m going to keep a close eye on him and all the babies for a long while.

Repotted Jade

Salvaged PieceThis is another salvaged piece of the dead side. t was still green and has tiny leaves growing from the top. I’m hoping I can coerce it into become a tree. It’s planted in the clay pot to my VitaClay slow cooker that cracked. An example of reusing something that most people might throw away.

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Eyes of LIghtningIn my sudden spurt of blog activity, I decided to write book reviews. This is something I haven’t every done before so here it goes.

First a bit of boring detail.

Eyes of Lightning
The Thunderbird Legacy Book 1
By Erin Keyser Horn

Self Published
2012
9781480256583
Cover Design by: Rod Karmenzind
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

My first review is for “Eyes of LIghtning” by Erin Keyser Horn. I am thrilled to report that Erin is a local to Galena and this book is great. To say I have been disappointed with many books by local authors, is an understatement. Again and again I tried. I even made Local Authors a topic for my book club, but finding something I truly enjoyed reading seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.

I was given “Eyes of Lightning” as a gift by my manager at the book store. Erin is lovely in that she signs every book personally to the recipient, not something that effects how good the book is but something I appreciated nonetheless. Looking at the book in my hands, I was pleasantly surprised to find the cover art so wonderful and intriguing. THe illustrator, another local by the name of Rod Karmenzind, did a fantastic job. It looks like something you would find on the self of a bookstore. What a novel idea!

My eyes gazed further down past the title and I noticed “Lightning” is the first book of a series, interesting . .. Book One of the Thunderbird Legacy. Hmmm . . . what is a Thunderbird? Come to find out it is a part of Native American Mythology, something I really have no idea about, nor every had any interest in learning. But the beautiful cover, combined with the fact that this was a gift caused to to crack it open and start reading.

And BAM! I was introduced to Ivy Nimiki, unsatisfied fifteen year old girl taking her life into her own hands. Slowly by surely more characters were introduced either in person or in Ivy’s mind’s eye. The first thing I noticed, gleefully, was the very clearly different voices of each character, even though they are all told from Ivy’s point of view. Erin did a superb job defining each character both from Ivy’s perspective and the reality of the person. I am a stickler for character development to the point where I would rather have inner monologue than plot and I came love Ivy and her friends.

About a quarter of the way through, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Ivy is her own character. She is sarcastic, intelligent, and fiercely prideful and independent. The reader watches her become somewhat humbled in her quest and realization of her heritage. She learns to accept friendship and guidance as well as to be more accepting of herself.

Reading a book that took place in Galena was a lot of fun as well. I recognized landmarks and will have to visit the Thunderbird Effigy at Casper Bluff (the location on which Erin based NImiki Bluff) I am even finding myself wanting to know more about the Thunderbird and the mythology surrounding it and of course I am anxiously awaiting to come out in the Fall.

Hello again! I am feeling very bloggy.

I realize it’s after Christmas, but knitting can take a long time and since I am (or was) inexperienced at knitting hats, it took a a while to finish the gifts for my parents. Now here they are and I am proud!

Hats for Mom and Dad

They are actually not knit in the round. I’m not really a fan of wresting with double pointed needles or trying to find the right length circular needle. These hats are knit on size 15 straight needles. I started with 60 stitches in 2×2 rib stitch, knit 25 to 30 rows, then started decreases by knitting two together.

The pattern would go something like this:

Yarn: Bulky (I used LIon Brand Wool Ease)
Size 15 straight needle

Cast on 60 stitches (or less for a smaller hat. 60 creates a hat that will stretch to comfortably fit a 22 inch head)
K2 P2 for 23 rows for a hat that does not fold or 30 rows for a hat that does fold or however big you want the hat.
After row 30 make sure you are on the RS or the side that starts with the two knit stitches. If you are on the side that starts with 2 purl stitches, then knit/purl that row and start with the next row.
Now you need to shape the crown. To do this you k2tog P2 until the end of of the row.
Next row you will K2tog P1 until the end of row.
Next two rows K1 P1
Last row K2tog to end.
Now what you want to do is cut a 20 inch tail and pull it through the remaining stitches, cinching them up.
Sew up the seam with your tail and weave the ends in.

Voila! How easy is that? If you sew up you seam nice and neat you won’t even notice it!

Needle Felted FlowerThe flower design on the gray hat is done with needle felting. I appliqued it using wool roving and a special barbed needle. The fibers in the yarn and the roving matte together causing it to stick to  the knitted fabric. This was the first time I appliqued to a knitted fabric and I’m thrilled about how it turned out.

Oh and Happy New Year! Wishing you a fantastic year.

Hat!

I am so excited for the new year, I am going to blog! It’s been a very long time, but I feel like I need to get back into it and also vent about how awesome 2012 ended up being.

This past year flew by me with the speed of light. Seriously I cannot believe it is over. Thinking back I am really quite happy with it. Ellimena turned two! She learned to count to five and some of her letters. She loves to read books and can name all the characters in Doctor Who. She says EXTERMINATE and makes the TARDIS sound! I am proud of my “nerd in training” She also makes her own scrambled eggs (with close supervision) and loved to be an independent yet loving human being. I am so proud of her.

Ellipsis has grown! I am now making the jams and jellies in a commercial kitchen at Ramona Sunny’s Bakery and Delicatessen in Galena. They are also for sale there and have been selling quite well. Jelly for sale at Ramona Sunny'sI am planning to approach other retailers in the area soon.

I made a great friend, Rachel O’Neil of Ayerish Designs. She does amazing knit-work and upcycled jewelery as well as sells vintage clothing. Rachel and I set up at craft shows together this holiday season. I’m looking forward to setting up at more in the Spring!

Business was great this past year. It is the first year I turned a significant profit. Not only did I run Ellipsis, but I also ran two other Etsy shops, Dodge Street Antiques and SisterCollective.Dodge Street is a place to vent all my vintage obsessions. I love vintage games and miniatures, but never indulge myself, now I can help others indulge themselves! SisterCollective is a collaboration between my sister and I. We create different forms of fiber art. Thea makes beautiful hemp jewelery with high end materials and I make needle felted wool sculptures and well as knitted items.

I want to really delve into fiber art and upcylclinNeedle felted owlg fabrics. I have loads of ideas for felting, I am becoming more of knitter, and my new sewing machine should be here soon (thanks mom) I bought a book on crocheting, The Happy Hooker, and I want to pick up that skill as well. I am so happy to be working in fiber again. I love tactile arts.

I am amazed and proud of my sister, her jewelery is beautiful.

Amber Piece with Troll Beads

Necklace with Shells and Blue Glass Charm

I worked my butt off this year, even with all three Etsy shops aside, I added 400 books to my Alibris shop and sold close to 200. I served on the steering committee for the Northwest Illinois Food Co-op and designed their website, maintained their Facebook, and set up their Paypal. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and the efforts were abandoned. I worked two part time jobs as a server in a restaurant and a clerk at a book store. Right at the end of the year I was blessed with a new job offer. I will start at the Galena Public Library as a Page this week. No longer will I be serving schnitzels and frites!

I am also very proud of my garden efforts! We put up the green house this summer and grew seedlings in it. I revamped the garden and even though we had a horrible drought, I think we did pretty well. I learned a lot about how to deal with drought conditions. This Spring I plan on extending the gardens and growing more fruit. Huckleberries and ground cherries as well as some other interesting varieties. And a big shout out to Rachel O’Neil! She allowed me access to her wonderful property where peaches, wild plums, apples,mulberries, pears, and pumpkins were to be had and they made delicious jams, jellies, and fruit butters.

Fortunately, the world didn’t end last week! Bring on 2013!

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