Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ladybugs in the Greenhouse

While I have been taking best advantage of our unseasonably warm March weather by working outside in the rose gardens for the past couple of weeks, the warm conditions allowed aphids to infest the new growth on the roses in a small section of the greenhouse.  (some of my large roses that I ordered from Eurodesert Roses last year)  The rest of the 300+ roses in the remainder of the greenhouse are fine.

Pests in an ideal environment like the greenhouse can get out of hand really quickly.  Fortunately, while I was distracted in the garden, ladybugs were on scene to help clear up the problem.  There have been ladybugs hybernating in the greenhouse all winter.  With the arrival of warm temperatures, the male and female ladybugs did their thing, and now the infested plants in the greenhouse are covered with larvae ... voracious little things that eat, and eat, and eat ... and they love aphids.

Though they look spiny and scary, these little orange and black alligator-looking bugs are DEFINITELY the good guys.  The rose shoot in the photo above was particularly full of aphids, and these two little larvae babies were busily eating their fill.  (all of the white things you see are aphids they've already eaten)

I have spent the past two days in the greenhouse ... potting up the few roses that will be available in the nursery in May, and tidying up my own roses that are wintering over in there.  It was hard to keep my concentration at times, because I was so fascinated by the ladybug circle of life that was happening in that one corner.

In addition to the hoardes of larvae, I also found two pupae ... each stuck to the middle of a leaf, just like I have read that they do.

I didn't find any eggs.  Truthfully, I didn't take the time to look all that closely.  I was trying valiantly to stay on task ... to tidy up as many of the potted roses as possible.

It's weird that there is hardly an aphid to be found on any of the other roses except these few.  I'm not complaining, because these larger roses are better able to handle any damage caused by such a concentration of nasty sucking insects. 

If the aphids are still a problem when I'm finished grooming the rest of the roses in the greenhouse, I will probably have to do something about them ... capturing the ladybug larvae, washing the plants with a hose, and returning the larvae to finish off the remaining aphids.  In the meantime, I'm putting my money on the ladybugs.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's a Cat Thing

I use a lemon box from Costco to store and transport small items to my booth at the antique mall.  Dorothy thinks that this is a great cat playhouse.

While she was in there, she tried for a long time to pull the little plastic package of string tags through the ventilation hole in the bottom of the box.

I'm not sure what people without cats do for entertainment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ruby Works the Wine Festival

Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg (our nonprofit charity that raises money for canine cancer research) has a booth at the "Rites of Spring" wine festival this weekend.  Ruby and I volunteered to work the afternoon shift yesterday.  It was her first real outing in public (except for riding in the car and limited exposure to the folks at Lowes and PetsMart).

Ruby did really well.  She was apprehensive, of course, because she's never been to an event of this size.  There were hundreds of people, and lots of noise and activity ... and she seemed to enjoy everyone giving her attention and treats (slipped to them by me, so she continues to learn that strangers are a good thing.) 

Denny, and his sister Evey, worked our booth, too.

After a while, Ruby decided that she had had enough attention, and she crated herself for the rest of the afternoon.  She came out occasionally for pets and treats, but I mostly left her alone while she was in there.  (Intended lesson:  she gets treats while she is OUT of the crate, and quiet time without treats while she is IN the crate.)

The humans working the booth spent most of our time talking to the festival goers, explaining what we do, handing out business cards and brochures, and offering our goodies for sale. 

Everything we sell is made by one of us, and we have fabulous stuff ... if I do say so myself.  These are the collars that I make ... I've shown them to you before.

My friend, Gale, makes amazing beaded jewelry.  It's so intricate and precise and GORGEOUS!

We debuted a new item at the show ... hand-knit felted wool leashes.  These drew quite a bit of attention, because no one had seen anything like them.  I love mine (you can see it in the bottom of the photo of Ruby at the top of this post) because it's colorful, soft, strong, and totally different than anything else I have seen. 

At the end of the day, Ruby and I were pretty well spent.  It was a long afternoon for both of us, and I was very proud of how she did at her first event.  As you can imagine, she was glad to get back home and she slept really, REALLY well last night.


We announced last week, on the Greyhounds Rock Fredericksburg web site and Facebook page, that we are honored to have Fabien Cousteau as our guest for our "Take a Bite Out of Canine Cancer" benefit, November 3-4, 2012.  I'm so excited ... I can't hardly stand it!!  More details are on the GRF web site, with registration info coming soon. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Morning Moments

The first thing I do after I get up in the morning is let the dogs out into the backyard to do their 'business', then I feed them and the cats their breakfasts.  This was at about 6:30 this morning, and the sun wasn't quite up yet.  My neighbor's pond was shrouded in mist, the forsythia at the corner of our properties was ablaze, and I thought the colors and textures would make a nice photo.  While the dogs waited patiently to be fed, I was outside capturing the moment with my camera. 

Our fantastic warm weather continues ... it's in the 60s this morning, with bright sunshine and lovely breezes.  The windows are open, and the cats are enjoying the birds and squirrels outside.  The weatherman says that today is the last day for this, as a rain system will arrive overnight and bring cooler temperatures. 

Alice is in the family room side window getting in a last little bit of bird watching while she can.  It's great that this old house of ours has such deep windowsills.

I'm on my way to the store, to get another bucket of Preen so I can finish treating the Rose Field before the rain arrives.  The only way to get the upper hand with the weeds will be to attack them on a number of fronts ... pulling, spraying, and preventing.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ruby's Most Recent Accomplishment

Please tell me that you're not tired of Ruby stories yet.  Since she's new here, and we are still very much in the getting-to-know-her stage, things happen and I really want to share.

Yesterday afternoon, I left Ruby in the care of The Husband while I headed to the grocery store.  I put Ruby in her crate, because The Husband was on a long conference call and had to concentrate on the call, not the dog.  After his call, Ruby was set free and she proceeded to nap on the couch ... or so he thought.

Who would have thought that half a dozen pieces of kibble on the kitchen counter (that I took out of my pants pocket before I left for the store) would be within Ruby's reach.  She jumped onto the counter, ate the kibble, and jumped off.  The Husband heard her, but was wasn't fast enough to catch her in the act.  As the photo above shows, she left behind conclusive evidence of her crime.

Note to self ... never leave any amount of kibble on the counter again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making Room in the Workshop

For the past few weeks, I haven't had a whole lot of free space in my basement workshop.  This latest project of mine is so big ... it was in the way of everything.  Now that I'm finished, and I had The Husband's help to load it up and move it to my shop, the workshop seems so much bigger now!

What was once a dated, but hefty, solid wood dining hutch ... is now a stylish, colorful flat-screen TV cabinet.  (The TV in our family room sits in a converted hutch.  You can see it HERE.)

I knew from the moment I saw this hutch sitting on the sidewalk at Goodwill that it would be perfect for a TV cabinet ... but it's classic, 1970s style wasn't part of the picture.

The doors were the first thing to go.  I installed trim to cover where the hinges had been.  New wood panels fill the sides where glass was originally.

With these modifications made, now what color should it be?  I knew that I wanted to use two colors of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, so I stared at my handy color chart for inspiration.  (seen in THIS post)  Initially, I was drawn to Chateau Grey and Duck Egg ... but my new can of Olive was the winner.  I am continually amazed at how much I love the way ASCP colors combine with each other.  (I don't think I've found a bad combination yet.)

The original door pulls look like door knockers from a medieval castle ... they're gone now, too.  In their place, I found knobs at Hobby Lobby that are perfect!  Look how well they coordinate with the Duck Egg.

Inside those doors are two drawers and LOTS of storage space.  Everything in this hutch shows quality materials and construction ... dovetailed drawers!

At the shop, The Husband and I rearranged a few things to make this baby fit.  As tall as it is (7 feet!) the footprint is surprisingly small ... four feet wide.  That's a lot of function in a relatively small space.  The TV space is wide enough to easily fit a 42" television.

Why settle for ordinary television furniture?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Road Trip with Ruby

Sunday afternoon, Ruby and I hopped into the Jeep to run to Lowes for supplies to fix our backyard fence.  A few of the panels are a little iffy, and we don't want them to actually come loose ... thus allowing Ruby and Daniel the opportunity for an impromptu, unchaperoned tour of the neighborhood. 

It was a pretty afternoon, and the actual fixing of the fence could wait for another day, so Ruby and I headed south to visit my favorite junk store, Class and Trash.  (Daniel was happier left at home ... he isn't a very good car rider ... he stands and pants and drools almost the whole time.)

Ken and Lisa always have the most wonderful assortment of stuff for sale!  It's a delight to walk the store and marvel at all of the things they have.

Even if I don't need something, it's still great to get ideas for future projects.  This corbel, for example, is huge and beautiful, and would be pretty simple to replicate.

One of the upstairs vendors made a breakfast table from an old paneled door.  I would have done it a little bit differently, but the idea is a good one.

This bench looks like it is made from leftover scrap wood ... I have scrap wood, and I need a few benches in the garden.  This photo definitely goes into my Projects file to store the idea away for later.

In all the years I have been shopping at Class and Trash, and before when it was The Hanover Thrift Shop, I have never left without buying something.  Even if I go in intending to just browse, there is always something that I have to have ... it's just that kind of store.  On this trip, I am thrilled that I bought two things that I have been searching for ...

... a set of Homer Laughlin restaurant dishes.  We need new everyday dishes, and I figured I could only dream of finding a reasonably-priced set.  I love this pattern, and it has enough pieces to even have a bunch of friends over for dinner.  Eventually I may hunt down a few cereal bowls or salad plates ... but not now.

... and two cast iron porch columns ... with ROSES!!!  I have to do something really special with these ... I'm not sure what yet.  The columns had to stay behind at the store with 'sold' tags on them, because there wasn't enough room in the Jeep for them and Ruby.  I will pick them up the next time I go to Richmond ... which shouldn't be too long.

On our way home up I-95, when we were about 20 miles from home, we hit a solid wall of traffic.  This is not unusual for the weekend around here.  Ruby didn't mind, ... she's a great car rider.  I relaxed and listened to the Nascar race on the radio, and we bided our time till we could get off at the next exit to take an alternate route to get home.

It felt good to take a few hours away from home and garden projects ... especially when I came home with such useful stuff.  Rested and recharged, I arrived home ready to get back to it.  There are weeds to spray and/or pull, roses to trim and train, gardens to prep ... and I'm getting it done a little at a time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Snapshot ... Ruby Week 3

It has been a total delight watching Ruby's personality emerge.  We knew when we got her that she is a sweet, friendly dog ... and this is still very much the case, but now she is so much more.  Over the past week, she is showing how much she loves to play in the yard. 

At first, she was a bit unsure of her surroundings, and she figured that her job was to be stuck securely beside me no matter what.  She would trot off to investigate her yard, but ignored any attempt to play ball.  This week, with a little inspiration from Daniel (who loves chasing balls but hardly ever brings them back), Ruby is becoming a champion tennis ball retriever.

This photo above is a very happy, very tired doggie ... who chased that tennis ball till my throwing arm gave out.  Good girl, Ruby!!

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

(Sharing this post with 'Your Sunday Best' at A Rural Journal.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I am Thankful

This is the view I see as I stand outside on the deck in the morning while the dogs are in the backyard doing their thing. 

(I tweaked the photo a little bit using PicMonkey.  Have you tried it yet?)

It is a seasonal view.  When the bare trees you see leaf out in a few weeks, the barn will disappear.  In the meantime, I am thankful for cool, misty mornings and sunshine, to get my day off to a beautiful start.

If you're looking for me this morning, I will be in the bottom left corner of this photo ... continuing to reclaim my Rose Field from last year's weeds and neglect.  I am also thankful for the lovely weather this week, which makes working outside so delightful.

Slowly but surely, I'm making progress.

Friday, March 16, 2012

One of My Favorite Colors

Ever since I discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in 'Primer Red', I have had to fight the urge to paint almost everything this color.  I love red ... but it has to be the RIGHT red ... and 'Primer Red' with dark wax is perfect!

My most recent 'victim' of my love affair with 'Primer Red' is this once-dated, tired gilded gesso frame.  Its size and style instantly suggested that it would make a fantastic chalkboard.  I applied two coats of ASCP, carefully wiping the paint off the inner detail of the frame to expose some of the original gold.  After the paint was dry, I lightly distressed the edges and applied clear and dark waxes.

This frame is really big!  The chalkboard surface is 24" x 48", and I installed the hardware so it can be hung either horizontally or vertically. It's sitting in my shop now ... waiting for its next owner. Is that you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Basye's Purple

The weather this week is practically perfect ... sunny, 80 degrees, light breeze .... my, my my.  My energy level is high, and I am motivated to see how much pruning I can get done.  While working in the Rugosa section of the Rose Field, I made a weird discovery.

(Photo from last year.)

'Basye's Purple' is a rose that I look forward to every year.  It has reddish-brown bark, blue-green foliage, and beautiful velvety maroon-purple flowers.  As I was cutting off some small rogue canes, I noticed that 'Basye's Purple' has purple wood, too.

(Photo from this morning.)

On an unrelated subject ... how about those thorns?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Snapshot ... Ruby, Week 2

Ruby is settling into the family as if she was always supposed to be here.

This perfect "cockroach on the couch" position is proof.

Have a wonderful Sunday, Everyone!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oh, No ... This Could Be Trouble

Ruby and I were out earlier today, dropping the painted game table and some other things at my antique booth and running other assorted errands.  One of our stops was at Reigning Cats and Dogs, a shop in Culpeper, to get Ruby a tag collar of her very own ... basic black, to match her shiny black fur.  Another stop was closer to home, at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, to go to Michael's to get some yarn.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw this ...

What was once a Haverty's store in front of the mall is now going to be HomeGoods.  I love HomeGoods, and it's a good thing that the closest one to me is an hour away ... that way I can only go there a couple of times a year, and usually it's because I'm looking for something specific. 

Heaven help me when this new one opens.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Got Game?

I love it when a tired piece of furniture comes back to life with a new purpose!  My latest piece is a good example of this.

Originally, it was a tired old coffee table that looked like this.

I bought this table at the same time as the coffee table that I turned into the upholstered bench.  The original top of that table was in good condition, and I used it to replace this latest table's cracked top.  The new top is a perfect blank canvas for some handpainting.

Top, before.

Top, after.

This table is solid oak, well built, and it is perfect for some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint magic.  There's no need to strip the old finish or prime when using ASCP ... a quick going-over with a sanding block, and it was ready for the base coat of 'Old Ochre'.  The finish on the table was heavily distressed when I bought it, after I painted, it got a good going over with two grits of sandpaper to replicate that original wear.

The frame of the table was hand waxed with Annie Sloan's clear wax, so it's silky smooth.

It took forever for me to hand paint the top, using 'Graphite' and 'Primer Red'.  Since this was destined to be a game table, painting a checkerboard was a given.  To balance the composition on this long rectangle, I added backgammon to the ends.  After hand distressing and a wipe of antiquing glaze, I sealed the top with oil-based polyurethane for durability.

As soon as I finished taking these photos, I loaded the table into my Jeep.  Ruby and I will take it and a few other things to my booth in the morning.

No time to rest on my laurels.  My workshop is clogged with a really large piece that I HAVE to finish so I can get it out of there and have room to work on other things.  I'll show it to you when it's ready ... over the weekend, I hope.
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