“It’s Never Too Late To Reinvent Yourself”.

Good Morning Sunshine!

Be excited because today is the day you get to start reinventing yourself.

Put on some Reiki, Zen, Piano, (whatever resonates with you) music, maybe something to evoke your spirit which will help you find your purpose.

Fix yourself a cup of tea.

Light a candle or burn your sage smudge stick while your tea is heating.

Open a window to help release negative energy from your home.

Find a quite, beautiful place to sit and listen to the music while you sip your tea. Maybe on your porch or outdoors so any negative energy can dissipate and you can absorb the beauty of nature.

Clear your mind and breathe (takes practice).

After this do a few stretching exercises to show your body some appreciation.

Grab a paper and pen/pencil/paint marker; something pretty to write on and with, maybe even one of your color book pages you can jot down thoughts along the edges.

Without thinking about your current circumstances; where you live, what you do, what you’ve done, your age, your health; write down your dream life; the career that will make you happy, where you will live, where you will travel, who you will be with, people who make you happy (known or not yet met), how you will dress, items that make you happy, activities that make you happy, how you carry yourself. Everything you can think of you can do. This is where you’ll start.

It is never too late to reinvent yourself and become the person you’ve always dreamed of or get back to that person that you once were.

Change starts from within and your thoughts become your reality.

When/if any negative, destructive, or self doubt creeps into your mind, go back to your page and doodle, draw, color, write, read and remind yourself what a STRONG, CONFIDENT, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN/MAN YOU ARE!

I believe in you and can’t wait to see you blossom through this new challenge in your life.

Be invigorated, enthusiastic and excited as you rediscover yourself.

And, just so you know, just writing this note to you is giving me the same incentive. Let’s do this together!!!!!!!! Have a terrific day!!!!!

Peace Love and Joy

Judy

Hippie Chic Jewelry

Deep down inside we all have a little Hippie Soul…….what color is your inner hippie? Check out some of my handmade Peace Sign and Flower Jewelry. You can find these and more of my handmade Boho Bohemian Hippie Style jewelry, decor and gifts in my second shop on Etsy,
https://www.etsy.com/shop/JudysTreehouseToo

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mismatched sun moon dangle earrings
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peace sign chokers by JudysTreehouse
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Hippie Chic Style Jewelry, Peace Sign Necklaces, Handmade Jewelry Shop USA

Thank you!

Peace Love and Joy

Judy

“Where Does Your Creative Spirit Take You”

creative spirit judystreehouse

I love to write!  I’ve always loved to write!   I want to write a novel…….someday!     I’d love to have my novel published someday……

So you’d think that with such a strong desire to write, I’d at least keep up with blogging on a more regular basis BUT…….(insert excuse(s) here).

Writing is hard!   I’m in awe of every writer who has not only finished a creative, thought provoking composition but just plain started on a journey of combining words with intention to begin with.    Getting started is the hardest part!    No, finishing is the hardest part.    Or, maybe believing in yourself is the hardest part.

Back in the day, when I was working in the corporate arena, I remember sitting in one (of many) business meetings.   (Most of them a lot of talk with no action; just going through the corporate motions….I digress).   Anyway, at the start of one of these meetings, when they go around the table and have you introduce yourself and then say one thing……like; what college did you attend (me:  none); your favorite singer (me: Barbra Streisand: at that particular moment, that got some eyebrow raises); one thing you want to accomplish in your life (me:  write a book) to which the head of the meeting looked at me and said, “well, doesn’t everyone want to write a book?”

I’d never thought about it…….the creative spirit of others.   And, everyone has a unique, creative spirit although some may not have tapped into their’s……yet.

I still want to write.   And, I do from time to time; I have a pen pal (I met her through etsy when I bought some of her beautiful handmade pottery, and we made a connection that created a bond.   We’ve been pen pals for over a year now).  I write/make a lot of my own birthday, Christmas, note cards (snail mail).   I write when I list an item in one of my etsy shops.  From time to time I drop quick posts on my Facebook page and/or Instagram account.   And, then, not so often I do write here on my blog.     Not too often do I blog because……writing is hard!…….because I “think too much” (according to my husband).

But, I still “want to write” a novel.

I have some story lines in my head (one in particular is on continuous “feed” in my thoughts).   From time to time something will spark an idea for another story line…….something I’ve seen; something someone says; someone I meet…….there is a plethora of story fodder/fuel out there (and in me) just waiting to come to life.

But……..I’m still on the thought page, kind of like those old corporate meetings I used to attend, all “thought” no action.     Oh, I have books on how to write (developing plots; developing characters; purple prose; finding editors/agents/publishers)…..did I mention that I love to read, too!  But, the “research”…….could it be just another form of procrastination!

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So, all these ideas swimming around in my head with plots and characters and dialog why don’t I just sit down and write!   Because writing is hard.   Besides the story line and characters and suspense and romance there’s those nagging voices in the background saying things like….that’s not the right word, does the comma go before or after and, when should I start a new paragraph, people will criticize, no one will like it,…….the excuse list is endless.

My pen pal friend once told me that you can be a writer without being an author.     Good advice.    If I want to write, I should just write; not worry about who might read it, who might edit it, where my comma’s should be, where a paragraph should end or begin, what a critic might say, will someone like it.   In the end all that matters is writing something from my creative soul, my heart, my spirit.

A while back I stumbled across some great advice.   Something I’d never thought about before.   It resonated deeply and inspired me so I copied, pasted, and hung these words where I would see them often.  (I’ll add it to the end of this post just in case this is too small to read here).     Well written because someone had something to say and so they did, in their own unique way, their own style!   It’s the meaning, the intention, the spirit, the soul put forth into any creative endeavor that is the heart of the creation that adds the value and character to the piece; whatever it may be.

creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

Everyone has to start somewhere      So I say to myself just write; because that’s one of the creative outlets my creative spirit keeps prodding me towards.

And still I sit, pen in hand, blank page.

creative spirit judystreehouse

Over the years my creative spirit has taken me down many beautiful paths.   I’ve learned to garden, create jewelry, sun catchers and dream catchers, paint, move furniture around to create our unique living areas, electroforming copper elements, etching on copper and glass, weaving dream catchers.   I’ve tried my hand at acrylic flow painting, acrylic painting on canvas, soap making, candle making, lotion bars.    I dry herbs and forage, create herbal tea blends, take long walks along creek beds looking for and collecting cool rocks and treasures from nature………I have an endless list of creative catalysts.

So where does your creative spirit take you?    No matter how big or small your creative dreams may be I hope you take the time to go there; start your creative journey if you haven’t already.    Realizing and embracing your creative spirit is the first step; talking about it, reading/learning about it, visualizing it may be your second step……BUT the greatest step of all is doing it!   No matter how big or small; no matter how talented you may or may not “think” you are (you are talented, never doubt that), no matter what obstacles you may have or perceive to have that may be keeping you from starting, don’t let a potential negative keep you from creating positive vibes with your creative spirit!     Share yourself!    You are a beautiful, creative spirit!

Here are a few of my creative ventures over the years; some complete, some in the works, some good, some ehhhhh, all inspired by creative spirits, in me and around me!

Some of my ever changing landscaping projects.    Each year it’s different.    Working outside; it’s uplifting, meditative, healthy, mindful, invigorating, if not a little messy.

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Shadow Art!   I love when I’m stopped in my tracks by a beautiful shadow creation.  A combination of nature, things, and timing!

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Creating with herbs, flowers, and plants foraged from my gardens and the woods and fields around our home.  (Don’t be a poacher; get permission before heading out to forage on property you don’t own…..)

judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse

Soap, lotion and candle making.   Creating unique scents and textures.   Utilizing and sharing handmade items brings a deep level of satisfaction to my creative spirit!

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Here’s my father-in-law and his creative project.   In his 80’s and restoring this old Farmall Tractor!

creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

A chalkboard I created from an old dresser mirror frame we found in the attic.

creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

Paint and wine night I attended with one of my daughters-in-law a few years back.   Hoping to host a paint night someday with friends and family!

creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

Little stories and rhymes I’ve written over the years for my grandsons.   Self published for each of them!   Well look at that, I am published!!!

creative spirit judystreehouse

Always creating good eats!   Simple or complex……a little love is always mixed in.  Creative dinner parties are fun!      Have fun hosting a pop up potluck party….spontaneous events are my most cherished events and extremely creative……on the fly!

creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse

Creative canning recipes……food from the garden fuel for the body and soul!

creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

Creative Shares!     Love creative gifts from friends and family throughout the years!    Unique!   Near and dear to my heart!

creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehouse creative spirit judystreehousecreative spirit judystreehouse

Egads!    This beautiful piece of handmade pottery received some rough handling.   Couldn’t part with it so I’m trying my hand at a kind of kintsugi.   Still working on it……along with my patience which is one attribute that pairs well with a kintsugi process…..I have some ideas (if not patience) for finishing this!!!!

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Music for my creative spirit.   Having my own piano and learning to play have been a long time desire of mine.    I now have the piano ($15 at an auction…..score!)   Playing and practicing…….in due time.

creative spirit judystreehouse

 

Found this old set of wooden stairs in an old barn.     It called out to me.    Set it up on a hillside next to our home.   People ask, “where does that stairway go?”  …….   To wherever your imagination takes you!

creative spirit judystreehouse

Find your inspirations and let your creative spirit soar!

creative spirit judystreehouse

Someday I’ll finish that novel I want to write.   In the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy my creative ventures and hope you do, too!

creative spirit judystreehouse

The joy is in the creative journey and the destination!

Peace Love and Joy

Judy

 

‘Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.’ {Ira Glass}

“Herbal Tea Time – Good for the Soul”

Of late I’ve really been getting into and enjoying herbal teas.     I guess you could say they are my newest addiction.   There’s just something about the “mystic” of the blends, the “calm” in waiting for the water to heat, the “melodic” whistle of the tea kettle calling your attention, the “clarity” of the hot water as you pour it into your cup, the “anticipation” of good things to come as the leaves and flowers “meld” together to become a “unity” of unique, earthy flavors and aromas, the “vision” of nature as I add a drop of raw honey to sweeten the moment, the feeling of “peace” that engulfs me as I wrap my hands around the warm cup and  bring it to my lips to enjoy the fruition of my preparations.

Image may contain: coffee cup, drink and indoor

Truly a zen moment and one I enjoy at least twice a day.

I’ve grown herbs, dried herbs but never really started growing and harvesting herbs for the purpose of medicinal and culinary uses.

drying herbs 2018 judystreehouse judystreehouse herb garden

Most of my herbs and tea blends I purchase on line from MountainRoseHerbs.com.     I love their blends and their huge selection of herbs and more.     And, I’ve quite the supply on hand.

For quite a while I’ve been on the lookout for a cool, vintage storage cabinet type piece to create an apothecary cabinet to display and store my earthy treasures.   Every now and then I would stumble across something that I thought might work but never got that “this is it” feeling so I’d continue my search.

Recently, on a trip to Lisa’s Antique Mall in Auburn, Illinois I found another piece, actually three pieces, that I thought would be perfect.    Now, Greg doesn’t share my enthusiasm for old, vintage furniture.    So when I would point them out to him he’d just shrug and say, “get it if you want it”.   Hmmm, that doesn’t help solidify a “this it it” feeling.    So I hemmed and hawed with indecision.   Greg went out to the jeep for a fit measurement to be sure we could haul it home.   He came back and gave me the thumbs up.   We put our heads together to discuss an offer and came up with a number.    But in the end, as usual, I had talked myself out of it.

Well, all this took place about two weeks before our wedding anniversary.    Imagine my surprise when Greg disappeared for a few hours and upon returning told me I “had” to go out to the jeep, he had something he wanted to show me.    Yep, the cabinet.    So cool but the real gift is the gem of a husband I have.

judystreehouse
My tea and herb apothecary cabinet

So now I have the start of an apothecary cabinet.   I love it.    And, I think MountainRoseHerbs.com has been loving me lately, too, as I fill my shelves with herbal goodness.

Now my goal is to expand my herbal knowledge and continue to work on creating my very own herb and flower garden that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also with culinary and medicinal benefits and regenerative in nature.   Not to mention more foraging for beneficial plants that grow wild and untamed.    Cool places in which to further enjoy some Zen moments.

foraging judystreehouse
out on a foraging expedition

Then there’s my love of incense which has piqued my creative curiosity with thoughts of blending and forming my own little cones of sensory delights.    But I’ll save that for another day.    Right now I am very happy with the incense from LeftOverHippies.etsy.com.     Hazel’s blends are perfectly earthy and spicy and the best I have ever enoyed.   And, enjoy them I do on a regular basis.

incense
my cool incense burner

As I grow older I find myself changing my ideas and ways of living in ways I’d never imagined.    It’s refreshing and peaceful and amazing this life.    And, change can lead to growth and experiences and joy you’d never imagine.

judystreehouse
Let your free spirit soar!

And, so I leave you now with Blessings for a joyful journey, a few ideas for perfect Zen moments, and a fruity herbal iced tea recipe…..

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an early walk down our lane

  • daily; read inspirational, deep, thought provoking books.   I am currently reading Wayne W. Dyer’s “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem” Great read!
  • have a tea ritual like the one I explained in my opening here
  • take a walk in the country, breathe deep, look beyond what you seen in front of you, and listen for the sounds that aren’t obvious
  • think of someone you know, maybe even someone you don’t know well,  look beyond their appearance and the little you know about them; think of their spirit and send them blessings

This recipe is from “The Medical Medium” by Anthony William and an excerpt from a recent post from his Facebook page.

“Lemon Balm Wild Blueberry Iced Tea

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp lemon juice
4 lemon balm tea bags https://amzn.to/2FyeF04
4 cups of water
Ice, to serve
Handful of fresh lemon balm, for garnish

Directions:
Place the wild blueberries, maple syrup and lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan. Cook over low heat until the wild blueberries are mushy, about 5 minutes.

Add the water and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat off, add the tea bags and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Pour everything through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or bowl, using the back of a spoon to squeeze out juice from the blueberries and tea bags. Chill the tea for about an hour in the fridge, then serve over ice with fresh lemon balm for garnish.

Serves 4-6

Lemon balm: Kills viruses, bacteria, and other pathogenic microorganisms inside the liver. Makes a better environment in the intestinal tract, which supports the delivery of cleaner nutrients from the gut to the liver. Lemon balm calms the nerves of the liver, causing it to be less spasmodic, agitated, and angry, while also calming the nerves inside of the intestinal lining, which lowers toxic heat inside the liver. It also supports the adrenals, which makes the liver less toxic.

Wild blueberries: Contain dozens of undiscovered antioxidants, including anthocyanin varieties. There’s not just one pigment inside a wild blueberry; there are dozens of pigments not yet researched or studied. The wild blueberry is to the liver as mother’s milk is to a baby. Not only do wild blueberries have the ability to grab on to plenty of troublemakers, they also hold on to them as they leave the liver, in a way that most other healing foods cannot. The pigments in wild blueberries have the ability to saturate deep into liver cells and cross cell walls and membranes inside the liver, spreading their blue everywhere. Wild blueberries enhance the intestinal tract, feeding good bacteria there, which benefits the liver greatly.”

So, let your wild self free, enjoy new journeys and adventures and always look beyond for the glory of each and every moment.

judystreehouse
From My Sunflower Garden 2018

Peace Love and Joy

Judy

 

Nothing changes if nothing changes…….

 

JudysTreehouse
JudysTreehouse

Since opening my JudysTreehouse shop on Etsy in 2014, I can honestly say, “I’ve come a long way, baby” to get where I’ve gotten today.     When I look back at what little I did know about opening an online business and what I’ve learned and put into action I’m pleased with myself and thankful to those who have helped me.    Especially my husband, Greg.

Here’s a quote that has stuck with me over the years.    I’m not sure who coined this phrase but I picked it up from a manager I once had……

“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

After a few years with Etsy I realized the effort and hard work that marketing requires.   Creating beautiful, unique, quality handmade items just isn’t enough.   To help the people find these beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts it takes quality photos, informative descriptions, great customer service, ongoing education around the internet and online businesses, positive thinking, an upbeat attitude, and faith!…….to name a few….

There are hundreds of thousands of online businesses.    There are hundreds of thousands of jewelry and gift shops.     There are hundreds of thousands of people who are looking for beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.     How can I help them find them at https://www.JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.

I am constantly researching and learning and adapting to the ways and whatnot of having a successful online jewelry and gift shop.     I’ve learned a lot.    I’ve implemented a lot.    I’ve changed a lot.      Things were beginning to pickup but still, was I doing enough?

Here’s another quote that has stuck with me over the years.    Again, I’m not sure who coined this phrase but it’s another I picked up from a different manager I once had…..

“Complacency is the antithesis of excellence”

Etsy has a remarkable number of jewelry and gift shops.     There’s a plethora of beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts you can find on Etsy.    I, however, was frustrated (oh, bad negative energy) with what I thought wasn’t enough traffic to my shop.   I make beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.   I was trying but it was slow going for me trying to be found on the great big web of Etsy.      What am I doing wrong?

So rather than just sit and wait and keep trying (throwing mud at the wall and hoping it would stick), I ventured out a little further on the internet sales platform, found an e-commerce website and decided to give it a try.

In late May, 2017 I opened my second shop, JudysTreehouse.myshopify.com.     I set up what I thought to be a nice, user friendly shop with quality photos and good descriptions of my beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts.     It was a new platform for me, very different from having my shop on Etsy.    I was researching, paying for advertising, posting on my blog, Facebook and Instagram, utilizing tips and techniques to help people find my shop.    But, what I was doing wasn’t enough.

After three months with a few headaches, no sales and pretty much no traffic to this second shop I’ve decided to close it.    I did learn a lot more about online business and marketing during those brief few months so not all efforts were lost.  Someday, I may decide to give it another try but for now I feel my best efforts are directed at having one online shop.    This way I can focus on continuously improving and implementing ways to help those people who love beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts find that something special at https://JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.

And, on a positive note, visits and sales are picking up at https://JudysTreehouse.etsy.com.     I’ve topped 100 total sales, I’ve had great customers and great feedback.    Perhaps my mud throwing efforts are starting to stick.

I am very grateful for all of the people who visit JudysTreehouse.   To have someone who loves beautiful, unique, quality handmade jewelry and gifts find that perfect something they’ve been looking for at JudysTreehouse is a pleasure beyond belief.    It is such a delight to send something I’ve loving created to someone miles away all across the USA.     I am very thankful and blessed.

So, in closing, I’ll offer a third and final quote.    And, yes, you guessed it, I don’t know who coined it and it did come from a different manager I once had…..

“Nothing endures but change”

And, with that said, I endure to change whatever I can to help those of you who love beautiful, unique, handmade items and gifts find what I have created and continue to create at https://www.JudysTreehouse.etsy.com

Peace, Love, and Joy

Judy

Some of the places where my creations have found home!
Some of the places where my creations have found homes.

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Pickles?? Yes Please!!!

On today’s agenda……Yep!   It’s pickle time here!

Cucumbers from this year's garden
Cucumbers from this year’s garden

It’s amazing what a little rain will do.    Friday I just found a few little guys out in the garden.   Now it’s Monday and Wowzer!   I picked a peck to pickle!   And blooms galore!   Some of these guys got almost too big.   But not to worry, they will find their way into one of my pickle jars.

We have a few favorite recipes and I’ll share the links below but today I am making Claussen Copycat Pickles!    It’s one of our favorites and an every year must make!

And, another bonus!   I am totally thrilled.    My dill came in just as my cucumbers started producing!   Yea!     In years past, my dill patch, which I continue to struggle with every year trying to get an abundance, was usually ready before my cucumbers resulting in…….sigh……having to use  dried dill weed or dill seed.     But, not this year!     This year I will have these pretty little dill heads to showcase in my pickle jars.     Flavor and a lovely, earthy presentation!

this year's dill patch
this year’s dill patch

And, while I’m on the subject of pretty and presentation; while picking cucumbers this morning I noticed that one plant was producing funky shaped cukes!    Not that I mind but I was curious as to causation.

This year's vegetable garden.
This year’s vegetable garden.

This year I planted late.   (and, whoa is me because I didn’t start a garden journal this year as I usually do so I don’t have specifics at my fingertips to help me analyze…..note to self, next year, document!)

I planted four hills with three seeds each.    (Those are my cucumber plants on the right along the fencing.   I planted my rows north to south.   Last year, this area had tomatillo plants.   I rotate my crops every year).

The first planting didn’t take except for one small plant at the north end of the fence.   I left that plant and replanted more on that hill and the other three hills.

This area of the garden gets the same amount of sun throughout the day.    The same amount of water when I water (which was twice this year with a sprinkler.   And, of course, when (if) it rains, the plants get the same amount of rainwater.

The seeds were old seeds (two or three years old).     Same variety from the same package.    (Boston Pickling Cucumbers are usually what I plant…..again with the lack of journaling…….smacks forehead here!)

Anyway, just found it interesting that all of the cucumbers from the three hills on the south have pretty, straight cucumbers.    That one hill to the north has more curved and a funky one or two.    Not that looks matter, mind you; the taste is still delish.     Just an interesting observation this morning.

The funky bunch!
The funky bunch!

Enough about cucumbers and gardens for now.    Back to the good stuff!

Here are some recipes I’ve come across over the years.    I did not create these recipes; I take no credit; I am merely sharing.

These are just some of our favorites.    Of course when preserving and canning make sure you follow the proper guidelines.

Claussen Copycat Pickles!     Our most favorite.      These stay crunchy because they aren’t processed.    They are crisp and sour and salty perfection.    They keep for a long, long time.    We are still eating some from last year; over a year in the fridge (Yep, we have more than one refrigerator.   It’s a home garden/farm necessity here).   I pretty much follow the recipe exactly except I add a few peppercorns to the jars.     Cut the cucumbers however you like; sometimes I do slices (thick and thin), spears, chunks, halves, and small whole.

http://www.food.com/recipe/claussen-kosher-pickle-copycat-249520?soc=socialsharingpinterest

This is a recipe for sweet pickle relish.   Makes me want to fix hotdogs for dinner every night!   It is very similar (if not exactly the same) as the one I use.   Mine is from a “Ball” cookbook (my cookbook is definitely showing signs of wear and tear; I’ve had it for ages).      Sometimes I add jalapenos to my recipe for a little sweet heat!

http://www.food.com/recipe/sweet-pickle-relish-130781?soc=socialsharingpinterest

This recipe is for Sweet Lime Pickles.     This is Greg’s favorite; “like Grandma Ida used to make”.    These are a must have for Greg each year.     The lime makes them super crunchy and these pickles are super, super sweet, almost like candy.

http://www.cooks.com/recipe/yw2666u4/sweet-lime-pickles.html

This recipe for refrigerator pickles I’ve had for years.   I don’t know where I found it or who gave it to me so I can’t give credit where credit is due.     There are similar recipes out there but I couldn’t find this exact one so I’m just going to jot it down here for you.

These are sweet but not overly so.    I make them in a big glass jar (looks pretty).   Good all on their own as a side salad.     I don’t make these with the intention of preserving them.      Just make a batch and eat ’em till they’re gone.

Refrigerator Pickles

  • 7 cups sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 green pepper cut into thin strips
  • 2 TBSP salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard seed (I’m a freak for mustard seed; I always add more)
  • 1 tsp celery seed

Mix together the cucumbers, onions, green pepper, and salt.   Let them stand for one hour.   Do NOT, do not, do not drain off the liquid that forms.

Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to a boil to dissolve sugar.  Let cool.    Pour over cucumber mix.    Let stand in fridge for 24 hours.   Enjoy.

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Make someone’s day!    A gift from your garden or something homemade from your kitchen is an unexpected delight!     Share the joy of gardening and abundance!

Have a terrific day!

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Here is the first batch today!

Scrubbed and ready to go. I do cut both ends off.
Scrubbed and ready to go. I do cut both ends off.

The jars and lids have been washed and sterilized. Waiting for the brine to cool.
The jars and lids have been washed and sterilized. Waiting for the brine to cool.

Jars are packed and ready for liquid.
Jars are packed and ready for liquid.

All jarred up and absorbing flavors. Now the wait! But its so worth it!
All jarred up and absorbing flavors. Now the wait! But its so worth it!

Ended up with 5 quarts of Claussen Copycat Pickles, one batch of refrigerator pickles, and of course some munching along the way!

Creating – Handcrafted Necklace

What goes into one of my handcrafted necklaces?    Well, it all depends.

My workbench on a not so creatively cluttered day
My workbench on a not so creatively cluttered day

If it’s a piece that is commissioned from my own creative muse, it all starts with a flicker of an idea; maybe from seeing a unique pendant I’ve come across, or a pop up idea with something I already have in my abundant stash of gemstones, pearls, charms, and pendants and such; or, an urge to create something wild and unruly and rustic where I create starting from scratch such as one of my sun catchers or dream catchers.

If it’s a custom piece requested by a customer, it all starts with getting a solid idea of what that person has in mind.     This can be challenging.   It’s kind of like reading a book; two people can read the very same story but have a totally different idea or picture in their mind of what the characters look like, the scenery, and how the story ends.    So to be very clear on things we’ll send some notes and pictures back and forth until I feel confident that we both have the same outcome, or close to it, in mind.     That’s the beauty and challenge of creating a custom piece.

I’ll then determine the cost, set up a custom order and once the purchase is made I’ll get started.

If I have the supplies on hand, I start right away.        How long it takes to get it done depends on the style.    I’ll give a time frame with an expected completion date and my goal is to exceed that expectation but without rushing just for the sake of getting it done quickly.   I won’t compromise quality for a quick finish.     If it takes longer than a week, I’ll send updates along the way so the customer knows I am diligently working on their order.

Here are some pictures and the process that went into a custom order I recently received and completed.

Jewelry by JudysTreehouse
Long Beaded Necklace

This is a necklace that wasn’t exactly what the customer had asked me to create.   Why?  Because initially the request was to replicate a necklace.     And, out of respect for other artists, I don’t copy other designs.     I guess in the grand scheme of jewelry making, a necklace is a necklace; a string of beads or trinkets in different lengths that may or may not have a pendant at the end and may or may not have a clasp at the back.    But, still, I start from scratch:   how long, what kind of beads, how will I string them, pendant or no pendant, clasp or no clasp.    Of course, creativity breeds creativity but in the end I take pride in knowing that my creations are not copies but pieces that start from scratch and develop into their own unique finish.

After a few notes and pictures of pieces I had previously created, we agreed on the design.     A long strand of beaded links.   Long enough to create a triple wrap necklace.    Color was to be black, dark blue or purple.   Beads, type and style, were to be the same.     Pendant was to be one of my etched copper pendants with a dandelion design, no dangles below.    Wire was to be copper.   Clasp was to be something simple that the pendant would hang from.    The customer indicated her fashion style was minimalist and simple.

I created a price sheet, set up a custom order.    The purchase was made and I got to work.

Initially, I thought I would create the necklace with black onyx gemstones in a smaller 6mm size to better fit a simple/minimalist style.     Got out my bead stash and my copper wire and got to work on hand wrapping.

But, snafu #1; I didn’t like how the copper jump rings were working with the beads.   In my opinion, the jump rings I had on hand were a bit too thick and too big for the size of beads I wanted to use.      So, I placed an order with one of my most favorite and dependable suppliers for a more suitable jump ring.

This, fortunately, did not create a delay in the making of the necklace for in the meantime I would work on creating the pendant.

Made to Order Jewelry
Creating a custom order at JudysTreehouse

My copper pendants start with a sheet of blank copper.   I use 20 gauge.   Not too thick and not too thin.      I cut the desired shape by hand with heavy duty tin snips.    This leaves behind a rough edge on the metal.      So, after cutting the metal, I use a fine grade sand paper to smooth the rough edges; once again, by hand.

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After the shape has a nice smooth edge, I smooth the front and back flat surfaces with steel wool to create an even surface to apply the etched design.     The surface has to be clean of oil and dirt so I scrub the pieces with Dawn dish soap and Comet cleanser.

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Next comes the design application.     I’m still working on my artistic skills with drawing and painting.    In this case, I used a rubber stamp and ink to apply the dandelion design on the metal.   Here’s an example from a previous custom order.

applying the design to be etched into the metal
applying the design to be etched into the metal

After the design has been applied, the metal is put through a process which will etch the design into the metal.    There are several ways this can be done.   You can find them by searching the internet.

Once the metal has been etched, I clean it again with steel wool and soap and water.     Now I have a nice clean shiny copper pendant.

after the etching process
after the etching process

The next step is my favorite part of creating these pendants.   The patina!    There are different ways to develop a patina on metal and again you can search the internet to find out how (the internet is an amazing thing isn’t it!).        I use a heat patina which develops into beautiful colorful designs and patterns.    And, the lovely thing about the patina is no two pieces come out exactly the same.

after the patina process
after the patina process

Made to Order Jewelry
Creating a custom order at JudysTreehouse

After I’m satisfied with the patina I may or may not add an ink design to the back side of the pendant.

Pendants by JudysTreehouse
black ink stamping on back side of copper pendant

The final step on the pendants is to apply some type of sealant.   This will help to better maintain the patina.     In this case, I applied three coats of spray lacquer.   This was a three day process to allow each coat to dry between applications.

Now my pendants are done and I’m ready to start wire wrapping the beads.

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In the interim of making the pendants and waiting on the jump rings I had made another gemstone order and received these BEAUTIFUL dumortierite gemstones. These gemstones are a dark blue with some medium blue, black and brown inclusions.   I knew they would look marvelous with the copper wire and pendant.   So I opted for the dumortierite over the black onyx.

wire wrapped necklace
wire wrapping dumortierite gemstones.

What is dumortierite?    From the web:

du·mor·ti·er·ite
d(y)o͞oˈmôrdēəˌrīt/
noun
1.  a rare blue or violet mineral occurring typically as needles and fibrous masses in gneiss and schist. It consists of an aluminum and iron borosilicate.

(If you’d like to know more about these stones or may be interested in their crystal meanings be sure to google it for some interesting facts and/or opinions.)

I had estimated the length needed to wrap the necklace three times would be between 52″ to 54″.   That’s a lot of beads and wrapping but wrap I did.   85 times!

Hand beaded necklace by JudysTreehouse
Beaded Necklace before the patina

After wrapping the beads I put the necklace through a patina process.  This darkens the metal wire making it almost black.      So now we’ve gone from a too bright coppery wire look to a dark corrosive looking patina.

After the patina
After the patina

The next step is to hand polish the metal on each beaded link with steel wool. This process smooths out the metal and brings back some of the coppery shine while leaving enough of the patina so the metal has a more aged/antiqued finish; not too bright, not too dark.    I find this to be the most time consuming part of the process.   Earlier on I had tried to find different/easier ways of doing this; tried a vinegar bath which ruined some beads, didn’t buff out the scratches and brought the metal back to a coppery dull finish.      My husband bought me a Dremel which “chewed” up the metal.      In the end, for me, I find hand polishing the best way to finish my pieces and so that is my process.

Polishing by hand.
Polishing by hand.

Now I have the finished necklace.   It’s a very long 55″.    The clasp is a simple toggle clasp.    I had to try a couple of different ways to attach it to determine how it would best work with the finished product.   This resulted in a re-wrap and patina and polish of a couple of beads but that’s just my style.    If I don’t feel absolutely sure of the outcome I keep trying until I get it right.

Boho Chic Style
Custom Order created by JudysTreehouse

I also made a little “S” type removable/optional clasp.    Attaching this to the back of the necklace after it has been wrapped may help hold the necklace in place.

Now the finishing touch.   Adding the pendant.     Earlier on in this post I mentioned that each pendant will have a different patina.    I had created six pendants when I started this necklace; two different sizes, all with the dandelion design.     I liked the smaller pendants with the necklace and one of them had a more coppery finish with hues of purple and blue which looked fabulous with the beads and copper wire.

But…..

Snafu #2.   I didn’t care for the lacquer finish.   It was just too shiny.   Now I could have left it because it looked okay.   The necklace was finished and all I had to do was add the pendant.   But, I didn’t absolutely “love” the outcome.     So……

I decided to remove the glossy lacquer finish and apply a coat of Renaissance Wax instead.   This would provide a hard, protective seal will less shine.

Removing the lacquer finish was easy but it also removed the stamped ink design on the backside so I would need to re-stamp.   No big deal but I would want the stamping to set for a day so as not to smear the design when I applied the wax.

Pendants by JudysTreehouse
black ink stamping on back side of copper pendant

And, finally, after three coats of wax and a good polishing I attached the pendant. And voila!    The necklace was complete.    And done within my two week start to finish window.    And I LOVE how it came out.

Bohemian Style Jewelry
Bohemian Style Triple Wrap Layered Necklace by JudysTreehouse

Snapped a few photos.       Put it in some pretty packaging and sent it on its way to its new owner.

I hope she loves it as much as I do.

I do have five of these awesome dandelion pendants available.     I plan on making a few more beaded chains like this one to dangle them from.   Maybe you’d like one for yourself.      If so, you can contact me through my etsy shop and request a custom order or email me at judith_r@hughes. net.

Handcrafted copper pendants
Unique Copper Pendants

What do you think?

“Therapy”

It’s Springtime here in Central, Illinois.     The birds are nesting and filling the world around me with their beautiful song and happy chatter.     Bees are buzzing.     Trees are budding.     And beautiful things are popping up all around us.     Here are a few of my spring highlights……

My first outside adventure was to hunt for the elusive morel……..Did I find any?   Well, yes!    But, not enough to fry up a mess of cracker coated goodness…..perhaps next year.      But, here are a few of the treasures I found during my two day, 3 hour hikes in the woods…..

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Although Otis got to tag along on my first journey, it was only a short hike for him.   He was breathing too loud, chasing the mushrooms away, and then decided to take a roll about in the dirt and dust and cow paddies……so, home he must go!

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A week or so after my wild wood adventure I was able to traipse around my (so called) yard looking for signs of spring and trying my best to overlook the abundance of weeds and yard clean up awaiting me.

I found little blooms of wild purple violets  and golden dandelions.

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My phlox, a lovely light purple blanket spread about in my front garden.

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My lilac bushes in full bloom.    Beautiful white and purple blossoms with their heady fragrance.    (I have a lilac story for you but I’ll save that for another post).

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Only a couple of tulips and daffodils decided to unfurl their inner beauty.

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On the bloom front, my clematis are just about ready to burst and my day lilies are grassy and green preparing for their upcoming display.

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From my front kitchen/herb garden, we’ve already enjoyed some chives, the strawberries are in bloom, the rhubarb is up (although I have yet to make that strawberry rhubarb pie and/or cake), and the lemon balm and mint are spreading about.

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And, those were the fun part of my spring explorations!

And now, after appraising my situation, I’ve decided it’s time to get down and dirty.   I can put it off no longer.

So, for the past two days I’ve been weeding and hoeing and weeding and raking and weeding and tilling and weeding……did I mention I’ve been weeding!   Let me show you what I’m up against…..

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Not to mention Otis, who has to follow me everywhere and isn’t too proud about where he does his business (but I still love him like crazy).   And a few chickens and a rooster who love to free range and also aren’t too shy about their business practices…..

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And I haven’t even started on the back yard or vegetable gardens….

But, here’s what I’ve managed to accomplish in the past two days…..

First off, the chickens and rooster are now “cooped up” much to their dismay.   Unfortunately, this is how it must be while I am cleaning up the gardens and planting new seeds and plants.   But, fortunately, they have this nice “resort” for their safety and comfort!

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Otis, he’ll just hang out on the porch where he can keep an eye on me.   This is a picture from last year…..too busy right now to stop what I’m doing to take a picture of my napping dog!  (No matter how cute he is!)

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My wildflower hill has been tilled and planted.   And this morning, while I was blogging here, we had a little rain shower….hopefully enough to start some germination.

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The east side yard has been tilled and I’m working on a small drainage issue.

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I’ve managed to get some weed control in the front flower beds.

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I’ve tilled and weeded and planted more wildflowers outside of the side porch and Greg’s office!

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I managed a “rough” till on the west side of the house.   This is where I’m planning a “fall” garden with pumpkins, gourds, sunflowers (well, not really fall but they will look lovely here), and Indian corn.    And, I’m so excited…..I found some seeds for plants that are supposed to produce blue pumpkins!   And, I have some seeds for some funky gourds, too.    Joy, joy!

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A few herbs are ready for my kitchen garden….

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And I still have a few more weeds to annihilate.   Yea, like that’s ever going to happen……weeds are a never ending challenge!   And a lot more roses and flowers and herbs to plant….     And, yes, we need to redo the front sidewalk and fence but these I’ll need some help with.     They are currently in the planning stages……right, Greg?

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Does it sound like I’m complaining?    Well, probably does!    But, not entirely.    It’s a labor, yes!    But, it’s a labor of love!

And, it’s therapy……..for the Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul!

So, go ahead, plan your garden!   Pull your weeds!     Plant your seeds!    And enjoy all of the beauty that will grow, inside and around you!     And, don’t forget to share the glory!

I wish you a wonderful and Blessed day.      Blessed and Thankful are we!

Peace Love and Joy

Judy

P.S.  Hi Gail!

 

 

Things You Might Find In A Treehouse…….JudysTreehouse!

What’s Your Style?????       This and More at JudysTreehouse.etsy.com

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Art In The Park – Beardstown, IL

How about a visit to Beardstown.   This Saturday, August 27th from 10am to 4pm. Art in The Park and A Taste of Beardstown.   Good food fun and festivities for all.

JudysTreehouse at Art In The Park 2015
JudysTreehouse at Art In The Park 2015

Look for Judy’s Treehouse and stop by to browse and say hello.   I have some great jewelry to spice up your fall wardrobe along with my copper etched inspirisms, bright cheerful dreamcathcers, and more.    Look forward to seeing you there. For more information, checkout Taste of Beardstown and Art In The Park on Facebook.