Wednesday, October 26, 2011

STJ Sneak Peek!

Updating on the 13th of November.  Two gourds; a buffalo gourd and a mini bottle are joined to form this ornery Party Animal.  Cat is 11" high to the tip of his tail and 10" long (base measures 7" x 5½").

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

STJ Preview for October!

Eeek!  It's almost that time! 

My October offering for Spookytime Jingles is a Fright Night Special with a vampire that's got a few bats to peddle. 

And I've spiffied up Septembers' Pixie and transformed him into Santa, the Little Helper.
Hope you like them!  See you there!

Wild Mushroom Hunting

So I’ve taken a (very) strong interest in wild mushrooms. A year ago my I saw on my son-in-law’s facebook page pictures of morel mushrooms that he, my daughter and two of their friends went hunting for. My curiosity was piqued as I am a nature-loving hiker. What a great combo, I thought: hiking with a purpose. I told my daughter to let me know the next time they go as I would like to join them to see what I should be looking for. Since morel grow in the spring the opportunity to search for them is limited and was passed at the point I asked to join them.

I googled morels and read up a small bit on edible wild mushrooms. Then one day this past September, shortly after the heavy rains here in the northeast U,S. of Tropical Storm Lee my husband & I went on a hike to a scenic overlook with a pasture-like setting near the Susquehanna river. Coming back down the hillside to the car I spied a giant puffball mushroom and plucked it from the ground remembering what I’d read about this type being edible. It was absolutely divine after I sautéed it then added it to our roast beef gravy. Needless to say, I’m hooked.

Now I had to educate myself as to how to identify the edible from the poisonous. Hubby is way more cautious than I and falls into the easily-scared off category concerning my mushroom finds so I usually have the majority to myself.

Several books later and numerous hikes since, I have found & sampled Hen-of-the-woods (too bland), Chicken-of-the-woods (too chewy/tough-may have been getting old) and my latest find: Bear Head Tooth or Lions Mane mushroom. We were on our bikes on a paved trail that borders the river near Marietta, Pa. All of this area was underwater for several weeks following Lee so I thought it may be wet enough to foster an outcropping of mushrooms despite a lack of rain. I was having no luck other than finding small artists conks – inedible bracket fungi that grows on the trunks of trees and a few others that I thought were probably poisonous but now suspect (I only took one so I could take a spore print) were honey mushrooms.

So this trail is about 2½ miles one way & the first time we ever went from one end to the other. About 2 miles in & on the way back I was going slower and really paying attention when I spotted a huge stump with the side covered in these bright white growths that look like ice formations.
I suspected what they were instantly and hopped off my bike to investigate. I ended up using a broken portion of a Styrofoam cooler to cradle my huge find and had to balance it on my handlebars to get it back to the truck.

After cleaning it I looked up how it should be cooked: broken up into nugget-sized pieces and sautéed in garlic butter. Yum! The description was correct, it has a bit of a seafood taste.

Apparently I was very lucky as my find was a rare one. Usually they grow up high on dead tree trunks so maybe the river flooding brought this particular hunk of tree trunk down to my level.

I’ve yet to find any chanterelles of horn-of-plenty’s but hey, I’m just getting started!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So I realize I 've been severely neglecting my blog.  I can only say in my defense that summertime finds me outdoors a good deal of the time.  I'm not overly bothered by the heat & when I am I simply retreat into the air conditioning.  I am one of those die-hard cold weather haters and wonder every winter what we are still doing in Pennsylvania.  And of course, as it starts to cool down it's time to kick into high gear creating more art for the Halloween season.

Some of the things that kept me busy this summer were the rebuilding of my pond by ripping out the stream bed and building a real waterfall mound.  I also built a gate for our deck to keep the dog around.  I DO miss my old Jack Russells, Rocco and Pippi who could be let out onto their ungated deck that leads into our unfenced yard & I could trust them to do their business and return in due time.  Willow, just over a year old, tends to be more like the traditional Jack Russell with way too much prey-chasing instinct so unless bound by fence or leash would take off  into the wild blue yonder chasing rabbits and squirrels.  Before I built the gate we used a pain-in-the-butt baby gate & once or twice forgot that it was not in place before leaving Willow onto the deck.  He ran to another block in our development & stole the ball a grandmother was tossing to her grandson.  I'm sure Willow thought he'd won a grand prize by thieving that ball and bringing it back to our house.  Thankfully the grandma-grandson duo thought it was 'cute'.  Regardless, we now have a gate that swings and latches -Yay!

I also built a ladder for our new shed.  We (finally!) bought a new barn-style shed with overhead storage on either side so I made a ladder that can be moved back & forth.  Hubby asked why not just use the step ladder?  To me that would mean that is where the step ladder would have to be stored & not in the attached garage where it is now & we can conveniently retrieve it for use around the house. The ladder is not perfect but it will do the job.

He has finally begun to work on changing our electrical service from 100 amps to 200 so that should allow him to finish the room that is SUPPOSED to become my art studio. Then I can vacate the spare bedroom/computer room and make it into an actual bedroom for the grandkids's sleepovers.  I've got my second on the way & due in February!

And as usual, aside from my day job I've been busy creating art.  I've been redoing some of my unsolds and offering them on eBay.  I just don't have the room to store them so it's either sell them at bargain basement prices or redo them & try to make them more appealing.  Here is my current redo, a little witch - I've repositioned her eyes and traded her cat for a pumpkin.

 Li'l Witch on eBay