New Leather

The cyber world has officially taken over the Monday after Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of my sales yesterday. Giving a 25% off discount really works. Awesome!

After packaging up my orders late last night I finished 4 new leather journals. These have been sitting in my studio nearly finished for a few weeks as I waited for metal eyelets to arrive in the mail. I am adjusting to living in the country after living in St. Paul for a few years - there were so many art supplies stores within minutes before and now I need to plan ahead for a trip to the city or else figure out a way to get things online. I found these great metal eyelets in an Etsy shop. Did you know that Etsy has an entire category of art and craft supplies? It's a great way to find unique supplies as well as tried-and-true items.


Cyber Monday

Save 25% in my shop on Cyber Monday when you use coupon code "cyber25" at the checkout!
This was the view outside our patio door Friday morning. It's not exactly the red and green holiday colors you associate with this time of year but they certainly were intense. The lake was glowing pink.

We enjoyed our "Black Friday" at home eating swedish pancakes, playing and working outside, organizing the barn, and feeling cozy inside our house with the early nightfall. It was great. No crowds around these parts.

Hopefully everyone participated in "Small Business Saturday" by supporting a favorite small business. It is wonderful to support local small businesses, but also those of us found on the web :). Etsy is great place for holiday shopping, so take some time to browse on "Cyber Monday."

I decided to offer a pretty drastic discount on Monday. I have about 20 new brag books in my shop and quite a few hardcover albums and journals.



What? Work? Me?

Well, not really. I am just getting things ready for an art show at Levandowski Pottery in October. To my amazement, there were over 30 necklaces in my stash that I had yet to photograph. Huh, I guess I forgot with the new little one around. I will have brag books, albums, and journals there as well. I'm running short on leather journals but will try to make more before Christmas.

I recently cleaned up my studio a bit. Since I haven't been using it much I moved my work table into the kitchen as an island. Basically, I do all of my creative work in the kitchen now - cooking that is. I am using our old August Earth sign as my work table now. So aesthetically pleasant.

I am much more motivated to spend time in my studio now that things are out of boxes. I have collage on my mind, so hopefully this winter I have time to tinker with all of my mixed mediums that I've been collecting over the last 12 years. I want to start with some wall art for over our couch. Right now there is a painting I made in 10th grade in that spot. Yikes. I keep stashing it in the basement but it ends up back on the wall. The husband likes it. It's a tree in front of a pink and purple sunset. It is just so...pink and purple.



Ivy is two weeks old today! She is doing well and she's ready for her blog debut. Here are some highlights of her life:

Her last hours in the womb. Yes, I am in labor here. Obviously I'm between contractions.
And she's out:
Visit from GG:
Tiny hand:
FGH finally held her after she was home for a week:
Well, the baby awakens. More later.


New Website

I have again started a new website/blog. I feel weird posting all this farm stuff on my "art" blog, so I've set up an August Earth website again. Check it out! I have a handful of posts on the blog, some farm photos, and a ton of recipes from our old CSA newsletters and some others I've discovered since then.

I DO plan on making art still. It's just so wonderful to be working outside again. It being Minnesota and all I know that winter will come and it will be long, and my little art studio room will beckon me. Plus, I just signed up for an art show for the late fall which is a motivating factor to get some work made.

No baby yet. I'm due. I don't want to think about it. It will happen eventually.

Oh, the above photo captures the 3 acres of buckwheat that is just starting to flower in our field. It's so pretty. I blogged about it.

Happy August!


Blubarb Pie

We made a pie today! This is a feat, something I have not tried yet as a gluten-free citizen. We used a mix. It worked pretty well and tasted super - 5 tablespoons each of butter and earth balance margarine. It's blubarb. FGH enjoyed it immensely. Actually, none of us really wanted to eat supper because we knew pie was coming. I think the crust might have covered a little better if we used something besides a play-doh rolling pin.



Things really like to grow here! It is quite a joy to walk around our little farm and see things thriving. I can't say we've really put in that many hours of labor, either. We've used some older-than-the-hills seeds (5 years old in some cases) so even when things germinate I've been excited. Hurray for low standards! That's some napa above, with a lone green cabbage plant and some Red Russian kale.

I have two gardens growing, one up by the house where the previous owner had a garden and a plot in the corner of our 3 acre tilled area that was in corn/soybeans in years past.

This is the plot by the house, any bare area you see is where I am expanding for next year. We just planted buckwheat in these areas to act as a ground cover and to add fertility. I wanted to avoid planting in sod. My vision is to make this into a large asparagus and raspberry patch. We got quite a bit of asparagus out of the existing row that has just in the past week gone into the huge healthy fern stage.

I started tomato plants in St. Paul, and my in-laws had some extra plants, so I now have over 40 tomato plants growing here. I might have to take some trips to the farmers' market this fall to get rid of some of them, as they all look awesome, even the pathetic 2" plants I transplanted are a good 3 feet tall already and full of blooms and little green fruits.

We've been eating basil like crazy. And the purslane. Wow, can't eat all of that. Purslane is a "weed" that is super tasty and high in omega-3s. It also looks prehistoric, which is fun.
The other garden plot has been put mostly into buckwheat but we saved this corner for some personal vegetables. We've had some pressure from cucumber beetles - oh how I hate them - and also deer, but I think we've gotten past the point of no return and will end up with some bounty. I think our first zucchini will be ready to harvest tomorrow and we're going to have buckets of green beans in no time. And beets. We had a lot of beet seed.
A rogue red lettuce seed made it into the green beans. Sneaky fellow.

Orange day lilies are everywhere right now. I look out any window and see them so I feel I need to coordinate my paint colors and fabric choices.
Ahhhh, blue skies after a day of rain.

This is our chicken coop, the old milk house attached to the barn. We've let the chicks out for a 1/2 hour or so, but we're worried the dog and cats will bother them, so I suppose we'll have to build a fence. Wonk wonk wonk....


Chest Adornment

For about a year I've been tinkering with the idea of necklaces. Well, the broader idea is to branch out from book arts while still holding on to the fundamental skills I've acquired while making all of the hundreds of books I've made in the past few years. I've done some collage items (still to be extensively tweaked before a reveal), and I've done some things that fall under the category of jewelry. Some necklaces have finally made there way into my shop and I've officially settled into a production routine for making more. To me, this is the most fun part of Swirling Tree, the moment when I am happy with something and ready to go into production mode.

Some of these new pieces are pendants, some are mini (and I mean teeny tiny) leather journals and some are miniature versions of my brag books (like a locket).

All of the new jewelry items in my shop are pretty affordable, everything is under $30 and some just $12. Eventually I plan on making some a little more high-end with fancier jewelry hardware, etc. But hey, who doesn't like a good deal on a clever casual necklace?


Local Frittata

We have eggs up the wazoo right now. Our chicks aren't producing yet (October), but we've found some local sources so I loaded up.
There's a (non certified) organic farm very close to us, Windjammer Farm where I bought a few dozen. These were added to the two Larry Schultz cartons of eggs that I actually found at Cash Wise. My MIL brought me some "Fertile Eggs," from Fertile, MN then Freddy and I visited the Mankato Farmers' Market on Thursday (which seems like a decent market). I bought some eggs and frozen OG chickens as well as some produce -like a quart of homegrown strawberries for only $4! It was a good trip. In general, I'm still in the exploring stage of moving and, so far, that is really focused around food sources. I still need to make it to the new St. Peter Food Co-op. Maybe today if it rains.

I'm considering selling some produce next year at the Mankato Farmers' Market, so I talked it up a bit with the vendors there. It has been a tough spring for growers which makes me want to put up some high tunnels and do things with a little more control over the elements. I'm still deciding what it is I'm going to plant next year. I'm going to see how things grow here, and so far, everything is coming along wonderfully in my garden plots. That said, there is plenty of time for disasters to arise this growing season. Weather and bugs being the most feared culprits. And deer.

In the meantime I'm enjoying my food searching. Suddenly, I found myself eating an almost 100% local frittata for lunch yesterday which must mean the season is moving along. Eggs from Windjammer, asparagus and steamed nettles from here, green onions from the farmers' market, and cheese from Wisconsin. Not bad! If only I had used some local butter instead of olive oil.

Aside from frittatas we are eating eggs as swedish pancakes, egg tortilla wraps, and egg salad in addition to our scrambled dishes for breakfasts. We will have them taken care of in no time.


Farm Fun

Our new kubota tractor! It is awesome. We went for a brand new diesel compact tractor with a 60" deck, huge snow blower attachment, and a cultivator (not a tiller). I don't know who is the biggest fan around here. My mom says it is the the "Cadillac of mowers."
Madi and Freddy at the Lake Hanska beach, about 1 mile from our house. We can walk there through the woods.
Gma Margie from Anguilla visited this week with her sister Vinette, Peter's parents and sister, our nephew Aksel, and Vinette's son Lyle. It was a little chilly compared to the Caribbean but it was a fun visit.
Roz and Aksel looking down at the paddle boaters about to shove off.


Hot Baking

I would like to bake my favorite cake but I'm wondering if it's strange to turn on the oven when it is 100 degrees outside. I might wait for the morning when the temp will be down 30 or so points.

The only reason I'm even considering baking is because we have central air for the first time ever. When we started farm shopping almost a year ago Peter was choosing listings that were extreme fixer-uppers, and I told him I wanted a house a little more...fixed already.

"Like what?" He asked

"Central air would be nice." I replied.

"Central air? How much is central air? How do you install central air???" He exclaimed, not realizing that it's not THAT big of a deal. But today it does feel like a big deal, because when I open the door it feels like a giant hair dryer is blowing across the county. Oh, those poor little plants trying to survive out there!

So, the cake I want to make is this one. Again. It's my favorite and so easy to substitute for gluten free. I'm thinking I will pair it with a tart rhubarb sauce and some fresh whipped cream tomorrow for a visit from my Mom (happy belated birthday!) and Grandma. I'm anxious for visitors...feeling like we're in the boondocks a little bit after living in the big city. Hint hint to anyone reading this post that wants to come visit us!


Naked Root Beer Break

We are officially back into the good old fashioned farm fun business!

We are able to catch our breath this beautiful Saturday afternoon thanks to all of the folks who helped us move and start some home improvement projects during the past two weeks.

Thanks, people!

We've torn out carpet, sanded floors, removed wallpaper, taken down paneling and even a wall. There are new chicks peeping in the barn. We've been harvesting rhubarb, nettles, and asparagus. There is a garden plot with new raspberry bushes, chard, kale, basil, herbs, and tomatoes. There's another garden plot with squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, and melons. We have plans to invest in a tractor on Monday. My studio is again up and running, and Peter is studying away for the bar exam. Phew.

We are hungry and tired and ready for the next thing.

I can see why you're supposed to keep your stress levels down during pregnancy. I have been worn out nearly every day during the past month so I'm hoping things soon get, well, boring. Decisions like which lawn mower to buy are enough to send me over the edge. It's frustrating to "take it easy" when there is so much to do. But wow, even an hour of planting or weeding and I am shot. Freddy and I have been taking lots of breaks, though I haven't had a naked root beer break yet.

Runnings, our local farm store, won't have chicks for that much longer so we decided to just jump right in and buy 12 last weekend. Inside our milk house there are four each of Barred Rock, Aracauna, and Production Red chickens running around in Fredrik's kiddy pool. The plan is to get a coop built (by sectioning off part of the milk house with a little chicken door to the outdoors) this weeked (or next it is seeming).

Freddy wasn't 100% about the chicks. Their feet were too "pokey."


Tom's Thumbs

A million months ago I drew some drawings for Mike Van Auken from Forest City, IA. They are now printed in a children's book called , "Tom's Thumbs."

It was a fun and challenging project. The biggest challenge for me was finding the time to get into the creative zone. I'm racing around here with a mile-long to-do list every day, sometimes I have 7 0r 8 subcategories of ideas and tasks scrawled into my journal. It's absurd, but things do eventually get finished.

The Tom's Thumbs drawings were eventually in the "done" category and then it was just finding the best file formats for blurb.com. Mike used Blurb to publish the book which are for sale at blurb, or contact me and I can hook you up with a 7"x7" paperback copy for $15.

You can page through the digital version of the book here. (Click on preview the book).

We are officially still buying a farm on a lake. We have been jumping through hoops since we are using the USDA Rural Development program for our financing. What a surprise that getting a federal loan for real estate would be so hard! Things are set for May 20th. We're going to work on a few projects for a week then move on the 27th. That seems like a long time to me, which is ridiculous, I know. I should be packing but I still have some work to do in my studio. But really, after that I need to start packing boxes. REALLY.

We're also killing some "extra" time by starting some seeds for our big vegetable garden at the farm.

Here's my helper with some of our seeds. We reused some produce clamshells from the co-op since we're doing smallish amounts of things. They look nice. Real nice. T'would be nice to get them outside when the snow stops. Groan.

Lastly, a photo by Fredrik. He also took a picture of his sister, which was a very flashy picture of my shirt that looked like white light, so it didn't make it to the world wide web.



I've had a few commissions lately that resulted in some very interesting books. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, commissions are really fun. I love working with other people's visions. It's challenging and I always learn a thing or two.

"P" Book: 10x12 coptic bound with collaged P.

Wish Book for the Clay Coyote Gallery: I used a screw posts for this one, so the pages will be refillable. It's a new binding style. It worked well and I well use it again. The pages are lettered in the upper corner. I used "carbon" paper with the Papyrus font (there logo uses that font) and prismacolor pencils.

5x7 Wedding Album: A sweet little guest book for a wedding. I used watercolor pencils for the names on the first page.

10x12 Swirl and Star Album: This one was sent off this morning. It was a fun project. I love the heft of the 10x12 books, I use two boards for each cover. Thanks, customers!