Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomato Season!

It’s nearly the 4th of July, which generally means: 
our tomatoes are ripening!

As previously mentioned on this blog,
I decided to grow my tomatoes in pots this year,
and have really enjoyed it.

I must be crazy, though, to try to keep a vine upright.

(I do use a lot of tomato tape.)

And I guess I hadn’t been very good at monitoring the vines,
because 2 branches fell from the weight of the tomatoes
on them, and tore away from their main stems.


Instead of throwing them in the trash,
I stuck them in a jar of water.

And believe it or not, 
I've even harvested a couple of tomatoes from them.

“Never surrender! Never say die!”

The vines have outgrown the tomato ladders (supports),
so I’m not sure what will happen next.

I had hoped they would all grow on top of each other for support,
so we’ll see.

If I remember correctly,
they’ll kinda self-destruct in a few weeks, anyway.

Who knows?
It’s been over 100° 4 times already.

When it gets that hot, 
sometimes the tomatoes seem to cook right on the vine. 
At the very least, their skin gets a little tough. 

But that’s okay! 
It doesn’t stop us from popping them right in our mouths!

I counted 46 tomatoes on this little saucer.
I’m growing Sweet 100’s.

And there were about 6 more that were turning color,
but I left them on the vine until tomorrow. 

Gotta ration the fun!  J

It’s not like a few years ago, 
when Mr. Man actually picked 400 tomatoes on the 4th of July!!
Every year is different. And that’s most of the fun.

And I think I will do the container gardening again next year. 
It’s worked out really well.

If you have a spot of sunshine, even if it’s on your driveway, 
you could try it, too!  J

“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts 
while eating a homegrown tomato.”
-- Lewis Grizzard

Lucky Dog

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lace Swatch

Here is a little sample of lace that I knitted.

It’s a new pattern that I just wanted to try it out
 and see how it looked knitted up.

And I also wanted to see how easy the pattern was.  
Or not.  J

For just a sample, I used some yarn that I don’t mind using up.

This yarn was an eBay purchase, and I don’t like it at all,
and now I have tons of it! 

No wonder it was such a good deal.
 Live and learn!!

But I can use it for this trial run just fine.

This new pattern seems to be very nice and easy,
although it does use some K3tog stitches. 

So I would definitely use super pointy lace needles for this,
when I get around to knitting it up.

It’s nice to just try things out, isn’t it?
It’s kind of the knitter’s equivalent to doodling, I suppose…

Lucky Dog

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raccoon Babies!

It’s that time of the year!  J ♥ !!

After feeding the raccoon mamas
that were pregnant and then nursing,
we are rewarded with finally getting to see their babies!

It’s so hard to get a photo that isn’t blurry! 
They all scramble around and want to investigate everything!

Our glider is their new jungle gym
and the water bucket is now their pool! 

Isn’t this little one sweet-looking?

And this one is even younger!

Here’s a photo of one raccoon that comes
that seems to be their grandfather.  LOL 

And here is a nighttime shot of 2 adults and 1 baby.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed!
I’d better go get a part-time job!
J  J

Lucky Dog

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Too. Much. Fun.

I've been playing with my new
Marvy Le Plume II markers and PanPastels!

I ordered some new markers:
5 different shades of grey!

I just love the balance of the neutral letters
with the colorful pastels.

It's not too too.

Like, orange or red letters would've been too much,
don'tcha think?

It's funny.

I haven't ever used much red or yellow in my work
until I started playing with pastels.

It's just something I've noticed...  J

Have a CoLoRFuL day!!!

Lucky Dog

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spacing Letters

To expound on the Prestianni Letter Spacing concept 
that I mentioned yesterday…

(Gosh, I hope John doesn’t ever read this!  LOL)

I have a photograph of a Welcome sign that I will use 
to demonstrate how to view the letters in groups of 3.  

Hopefully that way we won’t get bogged down 
with lots of  words, but can visually “get it”. 

Here is a photo of the complete sign.

It’s just a photo I found on the Internet 
that I have up on my computer screen 
for the ease of covering up parts with post-it notes.

Now in this next photo,
I have covered up all but the first 3 letters with post-it notes. 

Let’s look at the Wel.

Can you see that the e is not centered? 
It is further away from the W than from the l

Not a major problem, but you can spot it fairly easily this way.

Okay, going on. 

Now I moved the post-it’s over,
and isolated the next group of 3 letters:  the elc.

These look fairly equidistant from each other to my eye,
and the l looks centered between the e and the c.

Moving on,
I’ve shifted the post-it’s over again
and next 3-letter group is:  the lco.  

Good enough spacing, I suppose.

And now we move over to the next group:  the com

Here you can see that the m is further away
 from the other 2 letters. 

It’s off by itself, instead of being evenly spaced. 

To correct this, you would place it closer to the o
 so that the o looked to be in the middle of the other 2 letters.

And now the last group of 3 letters:  the ome.  

They are even enough,
but once you corrected the m (as stated above),
you would need to make some adjustments. 

And while they look even,
they are wider spaced that the other letters.

Besides, once you corrected the m
(as stated above),
the e would need to be adjusted likewise.


Using post-it’s like this is a neat way of
checking a draft of some lettering to check the spacing,
giving you an opportunity to correct it before the final inking.

What I mentioned yesterday on my blog,
 is using the concept of a 3-letter group as you write. 

It is more difficult
because the 3rd letter isn’t there yet,
but only in your mind’s eye. 

But with attention, practice and gobs of concentration,
better spacing is possible. 

(in only 3 or 4 lifetimes--I’m sure!  LOL)

Lucky Dog

Monday, June 11, 2012

Back to Basics

Click on photo to see it bigger.

Today I decided to go back to my roots, broad-edged calligraphy.

I have been playing with pressure/release lettering and colored pencils a lot lately, and I promise to blog about that soon and show you how much fun they are.  But today, for some reason, the broad-edged nib was calling my name.

Isn’t it nice that we have all different kinds of lettering to use?  I personally need that VaRiEtY so I don’t get bored.  (Just bein’ real, here.)  J

I actually haven’t done much traditional calligraphy lately, using gouache and a broad-edged pen, and that’s because I lean over a ton when I letter so I can really see. 

And my back has been hurting when I leaned over that much for that long, so I had adjusted by habits by lettering in more whimsical and forgiving styles. 

But since my doctor took me off Vytorin, my daily back troubles have gotten tons better.  Isn’t that wonderful (!), but at the same time, soooo scary?? 

(My back still gets mad when I overdo it or even use it very much (then I have to ice it), but at least I don’t hurt just because I’m awake and alive.)  <whew>

ANYway, since my body will perhaps permit me…  I prepared to letter and see how out of shape my hand was and just to see if I could still do it. (!)   J

First of all, I got out a new sheet of fine art paper.  The good stuff. 

Why?  Because the surface is perfect for crisp letters, with its internal sizing and toothiness.  For daily practice, I use Ingres Antique (AKA German Ingres).  I also adore Arches MBM Ingres.  It doesn’t “ding” as easily, is super crisp, and can take more fluid without buckling (like Textura/Gothic).

Then I lined it the way Marsha Brady taught us:  with a steel ruler and a sharpened-to-a-needle-point pencil, leaving very generous margins.

Where would we be without Marsha Brady???  We all learned so much from her before she retired from teaching.  Ahhhh, the good ol’ days of Marsha Brady workshops... 

♥  Good times.  ♥

So!  Then I needed some fluid to write with.  Most serious calligraphers use gouache, which is an opaque watercolor, diluted with distilled water.  (Distilled, so mold doesn’t grow.)

I decided to use a beautiful Cerulean Blue gouache, lighten it to a tint with Dr Ph Martin’s Pen White, and then dull it with some Walnut Ink, just for fun.  J

And then I got out my favorite nib, which I think is a 2½ mm Tape nib.  After using it a little, I could tell it wasn’t acting right.  It wasn’t grabbing the paper enough and needed crisping up on some 600 wet/dry sandpaper.  Not much, just a few light strokes.

And then, off to write a few words.

Did you notice that I work on a padded surface?  I have a few sheets underneath my good paper for a little resiliency -- not too many.

And did you notice the “guardsheet” in the photo?  That’s to protect my paper from the oils in my hand.  Otherwise, the ink might spread when I get there and write on it.  So prevention is simple with a piece of paper under my hand.

I also use a bright light (coming from my left, since I’m right-handed) and mega reading glasses.  LOL

And I try to enjoy each stroke.  That’s critical for me and helps me slow down and focus on my letters and on my spacing.

Ahhhh, spacing…
That’s could be a whole ‘nother blog post, couldn’t it?

Spacing is such an important topic, and I am so not worthy to write about it, so I will just relay what I learned from John Prestianni:  view your letters in groups of 3.  Your next letter (that you haven’t written yet) is Letter #3. 

Now place it so that your previous letter, Letter #2, is spaced evenly between Letters 1 & 3. 

Oh my, is that as clear as mud?    Okay, here’s an example.  If you’re lettering “abcd”, and you have written “a” and “b” -- when you write “c”, aim for visually centering the “b” between “a” and “c” so that they look evenly spaced.

Then, shift over to the next set of 3 letters:  when you write “d”, it should be placed so that “c” is evenly spaced between “b” and “d” and so on and so forth.

Now keeping this up and concentrating like this is a bit difficult for me after too very long, but it is a good place to start.

Isn’t this crazy to try and write about?  It would be so much easier to just show you at my drafting table.  Sigh.  But suffice it to say, viewing them in groups of 3 really helps me.  I think it’s one of those things that’s easier to do than to read or write about.  J

Okay, so I hope that helps, and Happy Lettering!!

Lucky Dog  J

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fresh Basil and Tomato Pasta


It’s June and unofficially Summer now. 
(That time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.)

And that means fresh basil!!!

Oh my, there is nothing like fresh basil, is there?

And fresh basil means it’s time to make my favorite pasta dish!


I cut back my basil every week
and then use it in this delicious dish.

This is a no-cook sauce.

You cut up the tomatoes and basil,
add the other ingredients and let it sit and meld together. 
(at least a couple of hours)

Then you serve it on cooked pasta,
usually angel hair in our home, and there you go!


Nice and light and summery.

Is summery a word?


Lucky Dog

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Look what Mr. UPS delivered!!!
 J   J  J

Lucky Dog