Sunday, November 30, 2008


.....and that's one of my favorite holiday songs! Christmas has landed at Straw Mountain Studio and I am just loving it. This year the tree is in my studio so I can see it while I am doing my art work.I love the decorations, I love the music, I love the baking and the gift giving and I love having my family near. I hum Christmas songs while I do housework and while I do art work. I plan baking projects and table settings. I love all things Christmas! Here are some photos for you to enjoy with me.
For many years my Mother made little wooden houses and trees and cars. In addition to the row houses, many of the individual buildings resemble homes and farms and businesses from my hometown. She has generously spread them around the family and putting them out is one of the most important parts of our holiday decorating. This year we added some small figures and two lamp posts that have tiny light bulbs in them, powered by batteries. Next year we will add Roy's toy train that has been boxed up for many years. Time to set those rail cars free, don't you think? I have presents wrapped and more hiding under the bed to be wrapped. I have a turkey in the freezer and ingredients for pumpkin and mince pies, as well as assorted cookies. This is my favorite time of the year! Off to wrap more gifts!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Yes, there is a connection here. Really, there is!
I just finished my very first weaving project. Mother gave me a wonderful loom and I finally took the leap and started. I love it! I wove a floor rug that measures 21 inches by 4 1/2 feet. This is another "green" project from Straw Mountain Studio. The rug is woven from half inch strips of old and very thin T-shirts that were languishing in our drawers. I used the colors as they were, with no particular pattern. To make the weaving strips, I cut the bottom edge off the shirts and then cut them in a circular fashion up to the armholes. This provides one very long piece. I wound them in balls, stretching them as I went along. This makes them curl some which allows them to become almost tube-like when they are woven. The rest of the shirt becomes a cleaning rag. Nothing is wasted. Roy had already warped the loom so all I had to do was sit down and begin the weaving process. These photos show the beginning of the weaving.

Here you can see the actual process of moving the shuttle through the warp. After taking it off the loom, I braided the fringe on both ends to finish it. Then, I went over the rug and secured all of the ends where a different color was introduced. And here is the "memory" connection. As I sat and braided, sweet memories came to me, of braiding my little sisters' hair. There are four of them and someone always needed hair braided. Then later in life, I braided my daughter's beautiful long hair. You never forget how to braid......

And this is the finished rug. My first effort and I really like it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


On a recent trip into Mountainair, I took a quick walk on Broadway Street; the street that intersects Highway 55 , where we have our only traffic light . In truth, it is a blinking light, not a real one with 3 different colors! Here are photographs of some of the buildings on our "main drag". They are fun aren't they?
This is a vacant building that a visiting film company painted to look like a bank. This is our only drug store that has a wonderful original soda fountain. This is our local hardware store. The front windows are full of stuffed animals and geraniums. There are more animal heads decorating the walls inside. I think the whole animal thing is a little more than creepy. This is another vacant building painted by the film company. I'm glad the property owners are leaving these faux impressions. I think it looks much better than just another vacant building front. This is our antique and collectibles store. It isn't open very often but when it is, and we are in town, I always stop in and look around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Every morning I feed the birds and animals as soon as I get up (note to self: it really is way too cold now to go outside in sleepwear). The bird seed, which apparently also works just fine for rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks, is kept inside in a large plastic bucket with a lid. I put 4 cups of seed on the lid and take it out into the courtyard and spread it on the bricks near the gate. I call the birds and rap on the lid to let them know breakfast is served. Before I can get back inside, birds fly in from wherever they were hiding and attack with vigor. There is one bunny who shows up immediately with the birds. I think he must sit and wait just out of sight around the corner of the gate. When the big jays swoop in the little birds scatter, but only for a moment. Then they are all back eating as before. The ring-necked turtle doves and the mourning doves are still shy but also hungry. They pace back and forth in the entrance, waiting for all of the commotion to ease up before they timidly attempt to get food. The squirrel shows up and begins his methodical sweeping of all seeds in his path, filling his cheeks in his very intent and determined way. When he leaves, they are so full! In a few minutes, he is back for more, taking way more than his share. As it gets colder, they seem to eat more. Of course, every morning now their water receptacles are frozen over but a quick shot of hot water and they are able to drink.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Feel free to hum along as you read...
This is the road we see when we leave our driveway. Partway down the road is a ranch gate that we need to open and then close behind us. This gate is entrance into Mile-O-More Ranch, ( local lore has it that this name came about because the ranch is about a mile or more from Highway 60) It's what we drive through on our way to the paved road and then on into Mountainair. Actually, I am the gate operator since Roy is the driver! A confession: as a lifelong city girl this whole gate thing required a bit of training. The first time I jumped out to "do the gate", in my excitement I ended up on the wrong side of the gate when I got ready to latch it. Pretty embarassing! Never happened again though!Often we have to slow down to allow various livestock to move out of the way. The horses are sure we have apples for them and have no problem coming up to the windows in hopes of a treat. The cows, on the other hand, just stand in the middle of the road and look stupidly at us. The calves are funny, suddenly getting scared and running awkwardly to find Mom before they get run over! This bull was quite unconcerned with our presence. It was a staring contest and I think he won.

Monday, November 17, 2008


This shows 84 circles handstitched to seven black quilt squares. Additionally there are four of the curvy triangles sewn on. The black squares are not stitched together, just placed side by side to see how it's going to look. It will certainly be colorful!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


and apparently a very thirsty one!


Well, in our house this is certainly the case. I LOVE baking holiday cookies and every year I try one or two new recipes. As you probably know, there is an endless supply of cookie recipes!
Recently I bought (as I do every year) a copy of "Best Holiday Recipes" published this time every year by "Taste of Home" magazine. Of course, there is a large section devoted to Dazzling Desserts. And, naturally there are lots of new cookie recipes for me to try!
This morning I baked "Noel Cookies". They are fabulous! The recipe makes about 3 dozen and two dozen are already safely hidden in the freezer. If I don't do that, well, you know what will happen. I will share a photo however and the recipe. I urge you to try these; very easy to make and reportedly freeze well. Wonder if I will ever know that for sure....
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (any kind)
1/3 cup raspberry jam (or whatever kind you have)
Cream together butter, shortening, egg, sugar and vanilla. Combine all dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls and roll in the nuts. Place on greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the middle of the cookie and fill with jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Friday, November 14, 2008


It really had much more color...more red and electric pink.

ROY'S OLD DENIM JACKET...... now my new denim vest! This was just so much fun! I removed the collar and sleeves and cut the bottom edge to fray. Then, I just assembled many colors of acrylic paint and got busy. I used a mini muffin pan for all of the colors and watered them down. This way you can put down color but the garment won't be real stiff. It took me about 10 hours to complete it but I just LOVE it! You could do this too! Just give it a try on an old piece of denim clothing. If you don't like the results, it was going to be thrown away anyway, right? You will surprise yourself. Go ahead, have fun with your clothes!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Or, yarn as Roy's scarf. And, not too soon! Last night the temperature dropped to 20 degrees.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Yes, voting has happened. I love the whole "go to the polls and vote" thing! It is a bit different maybe here than in more cosmopolitan areas. Our polling place is in the local catholic church. We drove there and entered the polling place about 8:20AM. As I looked around I noticed five volunteers and 4 people at the table ahead of us. No line! There were 12 cardboard box voting "booths". Some were set up on a long table and the rest you would stand to use. Here is a photo of me voting in this most special of elections.
Here was the process:
I walked to the table and the first lady asked for my name and year of birth. She looked through a sheaf of papers stapled together, found my name and asked me to sign next to it. Then I was passed along to the end of the table where I was handed a slip of paper and the ballot. I was instructed to give the slip of paper to the lady protecting the actual voting machine and she motioned me to a "booth". The ballot was about 14 inches long; political office seekers on the front, bond initiatives on the back. I was directed to make my selections and completely fill in the oval next to the name. After I completed my selections, the lady protecting the voting machine told me to just "slip the ballot into the machine". It could go in right side up, or up side down, or top end first, or bottom end first. It didn't matter. I thought this machine was to read my ballot but it seems it should have been inserted a certain way for that to happen (?). I don't know. It was curious to me that I didn't have to provide any form of identification. Is that a good idea? And, I was disappointed not to get an"I VOTED" sticker to wear. After we voted we both completed an exit poll form. Very smooth, very low key, very quiet. Did I really vote?
This is Roy completing the exit poll survey.
Yes, the votes are counted. I am relieved. I am encouraged. I am hopeful. I feel lighter.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Huh. Maybe it won't take me all winter to complete this quilt! Each circle is hand-stitched to the next one and the biggest one is hand-stitched to the quilt block. Hand stitching is one of my favorite things to do so I am really enjoying this, even though it is a slow process. So, 34 more to go!


During the Tree Removal Project yesterday Roy uncovered hidden treasure. Growing up right in the middle of that very thick juniper tree is a very tall and very skinny pinon tree! We LOVE these trees! Beside it is a smaller one. Roy managed to remove the juniper and save both of them although we will need to leave the stump in place. It does look a little bit like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree. Now that it can see the sun and breathe lots of air, maybe it will fill out. Yeah, we love Pinon trees.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008


When your "yard" is 41 acres, Sunday yard work takes on a whole new dimension. It was a beautiful fall day here in New Mexico and time to tidy up a bit before Winter really sets in. The plan today was to move/level out a large mound of dirt on the north side of the house. The best way to do this is to use really big machinery. (Thanks Jim!). So Roy on the "big machine" moved the dirt around and I finished it off with the garden rake. Then it was on to the east side of the house where the fire pit was in need of cleaning out. All the debris has been removed and additional rocks placed around it for fire safety, a big concern here. It looks much better! You can see the view we have of the mesa in the background. Today Roy also removed a juniper tree that was too close to the house. It's a party when Roy has a chain saw with a new chain and a tree to remove! It has opened up our wonderful view of the mesa. We still need to cart off the branches which will be finished this week.