Saturday, August 28, 2010

Things That Made Me Smile- August

It's been a busy week. No, I didn't get everything done and I worried about way too many things that are out of my control. But there were things this past week that brought a smile not just to my face but to my heart as well. Some were big things, most were small but they were each a nice little surprise to enjoy and cherish. Like a sudden butterfly.  It's good to smile, on your face and in your heart, and it's good to remember the things that make you do just that. I would like to share.

Surprises on my phone camera.

Silly Bandz
This crazy bundle of Silly Bandz on the bathroom vanity.

This really cool rope of cloud that rolled in with a storm front.

Finally making this skirt. It took me 6 months and 45 minutes.

Finally finding a dishwasher powder that would do its job! I miss phosphates.

My Brave Kid
My really brave kid.

Ostrich Sanswich
Ostrich sandwich from Cabella's.

Hummingibrd Wars
Hummingbird wars at the feeder.

New Faucet
A new faucet- I was happy with the old one but it developed a fatal crack. So a surprise kitchen update.

New Babies
The mommas and their new babies turned out into the field.

Tons of bees workin' the basil.

Sharpie Rainbow
The Sharpie display at Office Depot.

Fairy Circle
A little Fairy Circle that appeared in our yard, as if  -gasp- by magic. Could there really be fairies?

The apples starting to turn.

Mixer Beaters

kite flying
Finding this picture of my dad with his kite.

Hubby Man

The Brownies From Rising Creek Bakery
The brownies at Rising Creek Bakery.

What made you smile this week?
I would love to smile with you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food & Housing For Butterflies- Late Season Business

You know we love our butterflies here and I just had to share this nifty Butterfly Home from Pam at Gingerbread Snowflakes. You can spend more money on a fancy "store-bought" home, but why?

Have you ever checked out  Dollar Store Crafts? It's a super cool site for the thrifty and creative. Go look- it's neat.

Butterfly Milkweed 蝴蝶乳草花
Photo by Shihmei Barger via Flickr Creative Commons

A great plant for attracting butterflies to your garden is Asclepias tuberosa, or Butterfly Weed. A member of the milkweed family, you've probably seen it in rock gardens or growing wild out in fields. It produces huge amounts of nectar, which makes it so attractive to a variety of butterflies, including the Monarch. Common milkweed, however, is your best bet if you specifically want to attract Monarchs. Butterfly Weed blooms from June through September.

Photo by milesizz via Flickr Creative Commons

You may be tempted to sneak out into someone's field and dig up a plant for your own garden. These are pretty prolific plants and surely no one would miss one little plant, right? The whole trespassing/stealing conversation aside, Butterfly Weed puts down a deep tap-root and does not transplant very well. Ask the property owner if you may collect seeds in the fall from the pods or find a seed company that sells them. An Internet search will turn up something for you.

Butterflies on what else, . . . Butterfly Weed
Photo by Richard Bonnet via Flickr Creative Commons

August is a good time to get some Butterfly Weed of your own started from seed. Direct sow the seeds into your flower bed or planting area. This will get them started this year and allows for the cold period the seeds need. You will get some flowers in the spring and even more the following year. If you start your seeds in the spring, you will most likely not get flowers the first year but the plant itself will get nice and full and bushy. The second year will give you a good batch of flowers and lots of butterflies. These two sites have some good information on the plant: from the University of Texas at Austin (Gig 'em Aggies)

Butterfly Gardening and Conservation

Photo by Danny Barron via Flickr Creative Commons

There are many herbal, Native American, and folk uses for this plant, some legitimate, some not. Keep in mind that as a milkweed, all parts of this plant are toxic.

A word or two about handling butterflies ...

the butterfly whisperer
Photo by Bruce Tanner via Flickr Creative Commons

It's kind of a myth that touching a butterfly will rub off the wing scales and cause it to be unable to fly. Yes, touching the wings will rub off some of the scales. However, butterflies shed wing scales across their lifespan just doing regular butterfly things like nectaring, mating, puddling, and brushing against plants. Butterflies cannot replace lost scales, which is why you see clear patches on the wings of older butterflies. Rough handling, however, can break the wings or damage internal organs.

I scoop butterflies off of our screened-in porch almost every day during the summer to keep them from thrashing themselves silly against the screen. Just cup them gently with both hands, holding them securely enough to keep them from fluttering wildly. When you open your hands they will generally fly away quickly but sometimes they will just sit there and you get a little surprise of being able to visit for awhile until they are ready to go. I would probably discourage most folks from handling butterflies. Just because ...

Butterflies will sometimes land on you either not realizing you are any different from any other handy perch or they may be attracted to the salts and minerals on your skin, generally from sweat.

So that about does it for today. Thanks for landing here today and hey- go out and enjoy the butterflies.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well, It's Not Zucchini ...

But cucumbers are in the Cucurbitaceae family. Yes, they are also a fruit and another prolific crop of summer, so you know we're going to cook up something today.

This comes from Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans, and Other Good Things: A Cookbook For When Your Garden Explodes by Lois M. Landau and Laura G. Myers. I use my copy regulary in the summer.

OK, let's just get to the recipe so we can eat.

Cucumber Soup

I know, it seems weird- Cucumber Soup, especially if you've never had any cuke soup before or if you have not been introduced to cold soups. And then I tell you to cook the cucumbers! What kind of weirdness... ? Trust me- this is a really nice summer soup.

3 cups sliced cucumbers (about 3 medium)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth (1- 14.5 oz can)
juice of 1 lemon (3 tbsp)
Sprinkle of dill
1 cup sour cream
1 extra cucumber, peeled and grated.

Saute the cucumbers, onions, and butter in a large skillet.

Slice and Saute

Add the salt, flour, lemon, dill and broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add Broth and Simmer

Let it cool for about 10 minutes and then puree in a blender. Chill well in a covered container.
You can also freeze at this point if desired and have ready for a later time. Just thaw it out and finish the recipe.


When you're ready to eat, add the sour cream and the grated cucumber. Serve cold.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Faux Stained Glass

Stain Glass
photo by Timothy Smith

I love glass- stained, fused, blown, etched, whatever. I've played around some with fused glass (jump over here to see a bit) but stained glass has always seemed just out of my reach for some reason. I have a couple of friends who are talented and fabulous glass artisans and I love to see their work. Even though I understand the principle and the process of creating a stained glass piece, something about it just says, "Behold, lowly knave-girl, you are unworthy of cutting your fingers on my glass parts." Or something like that.

So we'll just do what all good faux artisans like myself do in a pinch-
we'll fake it!


Go ahead- guess what this "stained glass" is made out of.

Yes- tissue paper!
Throw in some Mod Podge and we're good!

This project is easy, cheap, and colorful. That's like the trifecta of the perfect craft, especially given that even those who call themselves craft-impaired can do this project. So let's get going.

This will be our project for today.

Go to where ever it is that you keep your wrapping paper and dig out all the colored tissue paper. If you only have white (really?) go get some cheap, non-bleeding tissue paper. Seriously- don't spend bunches of money on it. You'll also need:

Mod Podge (cue angelic choir -- Laaaaa!)
Black electrical tape (go ahead, take it. Your fella won't miss it for days)
Black scrapbook paper or construction paper in a pinch (construction paper will begin to fade sooner)
Acrylic sheet

You can get these at one of my favorite stores for craft supplies- Lowes. Cheap- $1.79 or something for an 8 x 10. They come in all sizes (8 x 10 being the smallest). Just remember as you are looking at the selection (in the glass cutting area), you will one day see a post here at The Butt Jungle (OK, my kid made that up) of a project made using the very biggest honkin' size they have available. Just wait for it.

And a drill. I used a Dremel. Get your won't so you don't have to share with him.

Drill a hole in each top corner, about a half inch in from the edges, using a 3/16 inch bit. The acrylic drills very easily. I asked one of our facilities guys at work to drill holes in a bunch of sheets before a class and he stacked about 6 of them together and used a larger drill and bit size.


Don't do that- it's too much juice for our little piece of acrylic.

After you drill the holes, remove the protective sheeting from both sides of the acrylic.


Protect your work surface. I use waxed paper. In the above photo, I've placed a piece of white paper cut to size under the acrylic. When I do this with patients at work, this helps to define the acrylic size better as the design is worked out since some of my folks have trouble seeing the acrylic. Actually, it is best to put your acrylic aside and work out the design directly on the paper. This step saves alot of frustration when it comes time to Mod Podge everything down to the acrylic- no need to gingerly slide the tissue off your acrylic or try to remember how it was placed. Just move the tissue onto the acrylic as you go.

And yes, "to Mod Podge" is a verb.

OK, moving on...


Start laying out your design. You'll notice that I'm not following what I just said about not working out your design right on the acrylic sheet, but please, do as I say, not as I do. Sometimes it's good to have an idea in mind as to how you want your piece to look but sometimes it's fun just to fool around and see what happens.


As you work on your design, keep in mind that the areas where the tissue overlaps will be darker and can be used as part of the design process. Overlapping different colors can create a third color but the tissue color on top will be the dominant color. Usually.


Once you get your design worked out, it's time to start fixin' the paper to your acrylic. Apply a good layer of Mod Podge to one area at a time. Don't coat the entire sheet but rather work in sections based upon the size of your tissue paper.


Next, place your tissue onto the pre-Mod Podged spot on the acrylic and cover with more M.P. Don't worry too much about wrinkles in the paper.


You can smooth them out with your brush but generally they add that textural quality seen in real stained glass. If you should tear your tissue while gluing it down, simply smooth it back into place as best as you can and add a patch of tissue on top. No worries. And it's OK if your tissue paper juts over the edge of your acrylic sheet. We'll take care of it later.

Once you have all of your tissue glued into place, it's time to add other elements. For this project I used these words that were left over from another project. These were cut out from black scrapbook paper with a CriCut cutting machine. Just go get one. You can also use any silhouette or shape that interests you: swallows, butterflies, flowers, leaves, a house, a horse, whatever. Oh hey, wouldn't your kid's silhouette be cool?

(Speaking of "faux", how 'bout that faux tattoo. It's a long story. But I kind of like it.)


For this project, I placed the words onto the tissue while the Mod Podge was still wet. Make sure everything has a nice layer of M.P. to seal it all down. Let it dry thoroughly before proceeding.


Once everybody is dry, trim any stray tissue that may be hanging out over the edges.


Next, wrap the edges of your project using electrical tape. Cut lengths slightly longer than each side and  center it over the edge before smoothing it down. Electrical tape is stretchy so don't pull on it- just let it relax and wrap it around the edges without stretching or tugging. You can find packs of narrow colored tape in the hardware stuff at the store or I'm just now thinking about Japanese masking tape. Hmmm...


Clear the holes at the top of your sheet. Shish-ka-bob skewers work well.


Finally, thread your ribbon, twine, embroidery floss, etc through the holes.


Ta-da !

OK, let's talk details. Once everything is dry, the tissue has a tendency to peel off the acrylic sheets with very little difficulty.


On the other hand...   that tendency to peel doesn't have to be all bad. If you do this project with kids, you can do the entire project on a mirror or spare picture frame glass, peel their art off when it's dry, and tape it onto a window.

If you're doing this with many participants and/or cost is a factor, get a pack of the clear binding covers that you use for comb-binding. Same thing- wrap the edges with electrical tape or peel it off. If you leave your project on these covers, keep in mind that the stained glass will be floppy, not rigid.

My kid did these two on the binding covers.


This one was done on acrylic but the edges were not bound. I cut 1/4-inch strips of black scrapbook paper to use for the decorative elements (the "leading") and the edging. It's OK but it looks a bit ragged.

I searched all over my town for copper tape. Now wouldn't that make a nice edging? And hang with a chain? Nice- but then I figured the copper tape edging and the chain would be so much more costly than the rest of the project...

The polka dots in the project pictured above are actually glitter in the white tissue paper.

This one, done on the binding cover, has glitter glue swirls.


This one has been hanging in my window for most of this very hot and sunny summer to see how quickly it fades. I'm assuming that it will eventually fade but so far it's lookin' pretty good. It is peeling though.


An under sea themed project ...


... with sparkly glitter glue waves and currents.

IMG_5055 2

For this project, I did let the whole thing dry before I started piecing the scrapbook paper "leading". I used a glue stick to tack the strips down and then coated the whole baby with Mod Podge.

One last thought. If you made these faux stained glass projects on mirrors or spare glass, perhaps even using plain white glue (from the Dollar Store of course) these can be made so inexpensively that you could make them for seasonal decorations. Just change them out when it's time to move on. So there may be seasonal updates to this post.

If you make this project, as always, I would love to see it!

Have a good day --and those aren't "faux" wishes.