Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gourd Classes Offered at NC Gourd Festival











I'll be teaching two classes at the upcoming NC Gourd Society's Annual Gourd Festival:

67th Annual North Carolina Gourd Festival

"The Four Seasons" is our theme this year

September 6-7, 2008

Saturday 6th, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunday 7th, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m

This will be held in the air conditioned Kerr Scott Building at the North Carolina State Fair Grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Please sign up for classes. There are several very interesting classes being offered both Saturday and Sunday. For more information go to this website:

http://www.ncgourdsociety.org/2.html


Upcoming Craft Novel: Casting Spells






A new crafting novel is coming out November 4, 2008 . This will definitely be on my to read list. Here is a tease:

Sugar Maple looks like any bucolic Vermont town, but when the tourists go home it's a different story inhabited as it is with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches, and an ancient secret. And I know all about secrets. I'm Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & String, a popular knit shop where your yarn never tangles, you always get gauge . . . and the knitter sitting next to you comes out only after dark.

I'm also the sorcerer's daughter--a single sorcerer's daughter with Sugar Maple's future in her hands which means the whole town is casting spells meant to help me find Mr. Right. Who'd have guessed I'd find him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple's very first murder? Bad news is he's 100% human which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like me--in love, in danger, and in way over my head.


You can read an excerpt at this address: http://www.barbarabretton.com/casting_spells.shtml

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Podcast Airing Tuesday

I'm planning to try my first podcast through Talk Shoe tomorrow, Tuesday, July 29 at 1:30 pm. Please join me at talkshoe.com for the show. It's a participatory website, so you can call in. I'd love to hear from you. See you then.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Podcast Host

This is the e-mail I finally received from mypodcast.com. Yes, they sent me an e-mail to tell me they can't e-mail me. In other words, don't bother us with your problems. I'm in the process of switching my podcast to Talk Shoe. I'm not sure when the podcast will be scheduled, but hopefully this week. I'll let you know when; it'll be live and under the name Craft Write. Sorry to my listeners. I haven't forgotten you.

Dear MyPodcast.com User,

This is an automated reply to inform you that in order to keep MyPodcast.com as a free service to our users, we are no longer able to accept and respond to support requests by email. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Should you face any problem or have a question please try to find an answer in our Help [http://www.mypodcast.com/members/help.html] and FAQ [http://www.mypodcast.com/faq.html] sections. If you fail to find answers to your questions in Help and FAQ you can post your messages to MyPodcast community forums [http://forums.mypodcast.com/].

We ask that you please not reply to this email address, as this is an automated response and incoming email to this address is not monitored.

Thank you for using our services.

--
Best Regards,
MyPodcast.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Wolf Protections Approved

A Big Win for Wolves -- Thank You!

Wolf Pup, black phase (Photo: Corel)

A court ruling issued Friday could save hundreds of wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies by halting planned wolf hunts. You helped make this victory happen!

  • Read the Press Release: Read our statement on the court ruling.
  • Learn More: Visit our blog to learn more about our efforts to save wolves.
  • Support Our Work: Make a secure online donation now to help us save wolves in the Greater Yellowstone region.
I received this e-mail today from Defenders of Wildlife. Great news to end a
good day. Congratulations, DoW.

Dear Kathryn,

I was at home in Boise when I heard the news Friday: A federal judge has restored endangered species protections for wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.

The ruling by a district court judge in Montana could save the lives of hundreds of wolves by stopping this fall's planned wolf sport hunting seasons in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

I want to thank you for the crucial role that caring people like you have played in this initial victory.

It’s a huge win that couldn’t have happened without the thousands of Defenders activists and donors who have worked to support our efforts here in the Northern Rockies by contributing money to our Wolf Legal Defense Fund, supporting our on-the-ground work and much more.

But we still have a long fight ahead of us.

Idaho Governor C.L. Butch Otter -- who said last year that he wanted to be one of the first in the state to shoot a wolf -- immediately criticized the judge’s ruling to restore protections for wolves. Wyoming’s Governor has vowed that his state will fight the ruling.

Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition leader Ron Gillette was even more direct, telling a local reporter that "[i]t is going to be all-out war."

Rest assured, Defenders of Wildlife will keep fighting for wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the rest of the Northern Rockies by continuing to...

  • Make the case in court to restore full protections for these endangered wolves;
  • Pay for guard dogs, range riders, turbo fladry fencing and other non-lethal wolf management strategies to keep livestock and wolves safe; and
  • Combat distortions and misperceptions about wolves to build tolerance and understanding for the vital role that wolves play in healthy ecosystems.

Kathryn, we have a tough fight ahead of us. For now, please accept my sincere gratitude for all you’ve done to help us save wolves.

Suzanne Stone, Defenders of WildlifeFor the Wild Ones,

Suzanne Asha Stone
Northern Rockies Representative
Defenders of Wildlife Boise Office



P.S. I take pride in know the important role Defenders of Wildlife plays in protecting wolves. If you would like to support our work, please consider making a secure online donation now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fantasy Novel Workshop


I attended a Fantasy Novel Writing Workshop yesterday in Asheville, NC with author K.G. McAbee. This was hosted by Karen Ackerson, Exec. Director of The Writers' Workshop. This was a very informal, relaxed workshop with all participants coming together to discuss sci-fi/fantasy and our interests in learning to be better writers of the genre. Gail McAbee was very well-prepared with helpful hand-outs from where to find good character names to suggestions for finding publishers and contests. She listened to our excerpts and gave suggestions as to character development and ways to tighten up the flow of the manuscripts. There was a great sense of give-and-take between all of us and I came away with good direction from not only Gail, but also the other writers. Gail and her husband Jerry live in Spartanburg, S.C. with their myriad of animals. It was fun to talk to other persons who are also sci-fi/fantasy geeks. This is not a genre often understood by other writers who concentrate on just fiction, so this was a real treat for me. Gail is extremely well-read in this genre in which she has been published as well as in others. She is published across many different genres, including graphic novels and historical writing. This was just the kick-in-the-pants I needed. My summer is flying by (well, I have been on excusions for about two weeks now) and I need to get serious on the writing path again. Thanks so much, Gail for the workshop and Jerry (for picking up lunch for us). I look forward to talking with you again soon.

How Long Will My Plants Grow? (formerly posted on Tiny Green Thumbs)


Plants in your garden are called either annuals, biennials, or perennials. Annuals only live for one season. Biennials take two years to grow flowers, and perennials live from year to year. Perennials may "disappear" during cold winter months, but will regrow when the Spring returns.
Annual flowers, like Marigolds, Sunflowers, or garden vegetables such as tomatoes, will grow from a seed, produce flowers, and fruit and or seeds, all within one growing season. The seeds may drop onto the ground and will grow a new plant during the next season, but usually you will have to plant them each Spring to get new plants.
Biennials grow only stems and leaves the first year after their seeds are planted. They will die back during the winter months and will regrow new stems, leaves and flowers
during the next Spring. Their flowers will produce seeds during this second season and the whole plant will die at the end of the growing season. A good way to keep these flowers blooming is to plant seeds each year, so that after the first year, you'll have some flowering plants each year. Some biennials you may know are Foxglove and Sweet William.
Perennials are plants whose leaves and stems will die back during the winter, but the roots or bulbs will continue to live underground. They will produce new stems, leaves and flowers year after year. Examples of perennials are Coneflower, Lantana, and Hydrangea. A few may even keep their leaves and stems during the year, like Shasta Daisies.
Even perennial plants will sometimes die. This will depend on the health of the soil and the plant itself. Read the seed package carefully to decide where to plant the seeds. Does the plant need a lot of light or does it need part shade? Does it need a lot of water or not much? The package should also tell you if the seeds are for annuals, biennials or perennials. If not, go to the internet and look it up. There may be extra information not on the package. The next time you're in a garden center, try guessing which plants are which. With a little practice, you'll start recognizing the differences.

Zen Garden (formerly posted on Tiny Green Thumbs)


My husband, Henry and I are putting in a Japanese Zen-style garden in our backyard. The landscapers are doing it piece by piece, then we discuss what's next, etc., etc. It's a labor of love for both of us, although we're really not doing much of the labor except a few plantings. We've also had a lot of dry weather lately, so we're having to be extra attentive to watering in the new plants and trees. We had placed a sprinkler hose (a hose with microscopic holes that slowly drips onto an area for a good soak) around some of the arborvitae, but I was having to move it to get both sets and the new cryptomeria. We stopped at Lowe's tonight to get more hose and I still didn't buy enough, so I made another trip back later. I bought a longer one this time and moved the first two to a group of azaleas in the side yard. I kept watching and waiting for the entire hose to become filled with the tiny droplets, but it just didn't seem to work. I finally realized that I had attached the garden hose to the lowest end of the plantings and was expecting our low pressure system to pump water against gravity to the end of the hose. Here I stood in the beginnings of a Zen garden which is designed to imitate nature and I was working against it. I pulled the entire hose out and relocated the beginning at the top of the slope, letting the end wrap around the coral bark maple at the lowest end of the strip. Instantly the hose began to fill with droplets. Each morning since school has been out, I've accompanied my cats onto the screened porch for breakfast and a nature break. Have I been one with the garden? No, usually, I've also hauled my iPod with me to listen to the latest craft podcast. I'm missing the point of this opportunity to experience nature fully. I'm tuning into craft blabbing instead of bird calls and wildlife interactions. The summer is supposed to be the time to recoup your energy and relax. I'm trying to cram in too much as usual. Tomorrow I'm going to take my binoculars, a notebook and a pen instead of my iPod onto the porch. I noticed a brown thrasher today near the bird feeders. I don't usually see them in this area. There's also been a catbird lately, another new visitor. My hummingbird feeder has been up for over a week (yes, I'm late with that), yet I haven't watched in the morning to see if it's being used. I need to take note of what is going on around me in "real life." I should take lessons from my cats. They can sit or lie for hours just watching through the screened porch at anything or nothing at all. If they get bored or tired, they simply sleep. The old adage "stop and smell the roses" keeps coming into my head. I think I'll add, "Stop and smell the roses, watch and listen to the birds, and above all, pay attention to your surroundings." Awareness increases when we simply tune in to what is right before our eyes, rather than streaming in from earphones.
6-17-08

Cat Garden Coming Together (formerly on Tiny Green Thumbs)


I bought a few more pots today, but I still don't have enough. I guess that means back to the store tomorrow. I planted most of the plants for the porch tonight so I thought I'd share some pointers. First, always wash your pots before putting new plants in them. There may be germs or disease left from plants that were in them before, or from people touching them in the store. Next, decide which plants go in which pot. Look at the bottom of the pots that the plants came in. If you see roots hanging out, pull these off. It's a good thing I'm planting this thyme; it looks like it's trying to grow out of the pot! If your new pot doesn't have a hole in the bottom for the water to drain out, put some rocks in the bottom before you add dirt. This keeps the roots from sitting in water which could make them rot. Now, fill your pot with good potting soil. Leave room for the plants. Very carefully, turn the plant over so that it will slide out of the old container. If it doesn't come out, gently squeeze the container until the plant and its roots slide out into your hand. Place the plant down into the new soil and gently, but firmly press down with your hands around the plant so that it is held in the soil. Fill in around the plant with more soil. Since these plants will be around my cats, I covered the top of the soil with aquarium gravel so that they wouldn't think they could use the pots for a litter box. Last, water slowly until some water comes out of the bottom. Place the pots where the plants can get enough sun. Now, you know how to start your own container garden. Thumbs up!

Gardening with Cats (formerly on Tiny Green Thumbs)





I feel bad sometimes that my cats aren't allowed outdoors. We keep them in to keep them safe from other cats and dogs and to make sure that they don't get sick. They go out on our screened-in porch, but there are no plants. I wanted to grow plants on the porch that would be safe for the cats to enjoy. They'd have to be safe, though, in case the cats wanted to nibble on them. I started reading about safe plants for cats on the internet. These are some of the plants that I bought today to grow on my screened porch: Petunias, Thyme, Sage, Parsley, Impatiens, Hosta, and Bee Balm. Part of the porch has sunshine in the morning, so these plants should do well. I'll be putting them in some big, heavy pots this week so that my cats don't bump the pots and knock them over. My large cat, Bunkai, weighs more than 20 pounds and likes to head-butt people and things. He doesn't know his own strength. Willow is only about 10 pounds, but she likes to jump into things. Do you see why I need heavy pots? Cats like to chew on plants. They don't always know which ones are safe. Some plants can make them very sick or may kill them. It's important to make sure that if your cat is around plants, that they're safe plants.
Another thing to remember if your cats go outside in your garden is not to leave sharp objects lying around. Remember to put away all of your tools when you're finished working in the garden. Pick up any pieces of glass that you might find outside and throw them away. Also, if you or your parents are cutting the grass, make sure your cat is inside or away from where you are mowing. A lawn mower can send small objects like rocks flying through the air. Your cat needs to be someplace safe. And if you or your parents are using chemical fertilizers or bug spray in the garden, put the cats in the house until it's safe for them to be outside. Like I said before, cats don't always know what's good for them. They may walk through fertilizer and then give themselves a bath. They may just lick their feet with the chemicals on them and get sick.
Our cats give us a lot of love and are good friends to us. We need to be good friends to them as well. If you garden safely, you can be a good friend to your cat.
I'm listing here some good websites that will tell you which plants are safe for your cat:
http://www.cfa.org/articles/plants-non-toxic.html
http://www.catscans.com/index2.htm
http://cats.about.com/od/hazardousplants/Plants_for_Pets_Hazardous_and_Safe.htm
http://www.thegardenfaerie.com/gardens.html
(The Garden Faerie website has some nice pictures of cat gardens and a very nice shelter/retirement home for cats.)
And did you know that the word ailurophilia means "love of cats?"

One Stroke CEC


I recently attended the One Stroke Painting Continuing Education Seminar in Orlando, Florida. What a great time! This is the first time I've been able to attend one of these due to scheduling conflicts with work. I hate when having to earn a living interferes with having fun. This year, it was in the middle of the summer, so off I went. Henry declined to accompany me, saying that Florida was the last place he wanted to be in July. My sister, Rheta, who is always a good sport and loves to travel, went with me. I took three classes: Studio Clay from Sculpey, Wall Painting and Faux Finishes with April Numamoto, and Painting Animals with Jane Zhao. The teachers for all of these classes were wonderful and extremely talented. I met Donna Dewberry, who created the One Stroke technique. She is a very warm and gracious person, and passes on the desire to share what she knows of painting and related crafts to all whom she teaches. The atmosphere at the seminar was very happy and open. One of my favorite features was the Do and Dash which was set up in a large ballroom. Vendors were set up for participants to move from table to table, making small projects and sampling the latest products. I made a small flower on cloth with puffy paint. This was extremely easy to do and I have already started embellishing my own clothes at home with the bottle I purchased. I'm including two photos from the booth with clothing that was done using the paint and stencils. We used a brush for the project and painted the puffy paint onto an already drawn picture. I also tried calligraphy and purchased a set of pen, inks and nibs (are you starting to see a pattern here?). This was fun and I did actually remember some techniques from, ahem, decades ago when I took a course in college. The pen is much more comfortable than the ones I used in college and I think I can make some progress using the techniques I picked up at this booth. I also visited a booth where the beautiful One Stroke fabrics were displayed. Donna now teaches a One Stitch Quilting technique. I think this is quilting I might have patience to try some day. We used a small square of fabric with some hem binding sewn on. The hem binding was cut along the edges. We used nail scrubbers and water to "fuzz" the edges of the binding. Once thrown in the washer, these become like chenille. There was a quilt on display with some features of "chenille". Very pretty and so soft; a great tactile feature for a kid's quilt. I stopped at another booth which also featured Donna's fabrics. We used Plaid glitter fabric paints to embellish the printed fabric. One of the most popular booths included using fabric paint and the new cork stamps to embellish a cloth tote. All items in the Do and Dash were free and I'll be using this tote for school. I made a luggage tag at another booth featuring Roc-Lan fabric. This is a unique fabric which is made from six layers of fabric pressed into one. It's very durable and can be painted on and used for floor mats, once sealed. There were other booths that I didn't get to, but I'm including a picture of the ribbon pictures here. These were beautiful quilt squares with ribbon that is ironed on. They were even more striking up close.
Every morning, we were treated to new techniques in painting with Donna and an opportunity to try new products coming out by Plaid, such as the new texture paints (in colors), chalkboard paints (in colors), new Mod Podge (glow in the dark and fabric Mod Podge). We were also given a new cork stamp to use and keep. We used these to make a wood frame with stain. We used the High Definition paints and fabric paints.
One of the most fun activities was a late night quilting bee. Donna was requested by Delta Airlines to make 200 small quilts for a children's hospital in Utah. She asked us to help with this project. We were given fabric, batting and thread. We divided into groups and started work. These were assembled by placing one layer of batting between two 72" by 45" pieces of fabric. We tied knots with yarn to hold these together, like making a comforter. The edges were folded in and hand-stitched to hem. My partners stitched the edges and I painted hearts in the corners. We all painted "Love, Maria" by the hearts. Maria Dewberry was one of Donna's children who passed away several years ago. Donna and her husband Marc began a foundation in her name. It sponsors a youth camp for underprivileged children. Donna said we brought the total number of quilts up to 60.
The hotel, the Caribe Royale, was beautiful. I'm enclosing a picture of the pool. I did make it in the water once for a swim. The waterfall is a fun feature to see, not to swim under I found out. I did hear complaints from some other participants about the hotel, concerning the walk from the hotel rooms to the Convention Hall where classes were held. I found the walk to be good for a little exercise after sitting for classes. The hotel staff were very friendly and the hotel offers several restaurants. Getting lunch or a quick bite was never an issue. I would definitely be willing to stay there again. I had a great experience this year and look forward to next year, hopefully in the mid-summer again.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New Podcast Not Working

I'm having problems getting my podcast published using the mypodcast.com software. I had this problem last time and ended up going through Audacity, converting it to mp3 format and then exporting it. I'm pressed for time before my get-away next week to the One Stroke Continuing Ed Conference in Orlando, then my cruise, so any help would be great. I wrote the guys/gals at my podcast support, but haven't heard back. That'll teach me to try this during a holiday weekend. If anyone out there podcasts and can tell me what the problem might be, please send me an e-mail. I keep getting this message that tells me to e-mail my podcast to the support team, but the podcast is too large for my computer to e-mail. Thanks for any input.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Blog

I've started a new blog today and am ending Tiny Green Thumbs due to not enough time. My new blog is Crafting for Animals, which is a cause near and dear to my heart. Please visit my new site and let me know what you think.

Welcome


This blog is an attempt to do my part for the animals in need on this planet. I'm a crafter who loves nature and wants to do her part to make this planet a better, more humane place. Here's how I envision this blog developing:
I will post different causes which pull at my heartstrings. You're welcome to submit a cause you have and I will consider placing it in my link section.
I will also post different craft items which will be listed here and on ebay to raise money for donation to different charities involving animals.
The money raised will be donated to these charities.
I'm concerned for humans as well, but my time and resources are limited, so I'm confining these to those unable to speak for themselves.
My cats, Bunkai and Willow were both rescue animals. They will be the spokes cats for this blog. They give their full support and approval to anyone involved in this venture. I'm jumping into this just before a week-long hiatus so bear with me. I'll be going full force when I return.
My first charity cause is our local animal shelter. It's a long time coming and is underway now (being built). Our old one is decades old, in bad repair and thoroughly depressing. Our local humane society has been very active in promoting fund raisers, even offering to cut their hair for donations. Their dedication is unbelievable.