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New England, United States

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pine Cones and Trials

I love the bounty of Nature! And Fall is full of wonders...brightly colored leaves....gourds, pumpkins & squash! One of my favorites is the pine cone.

As I began to wire together a couple of pine cone wreaths, I became curious about them. Great to start fires ... filler for for animals...and that's after they've opened and released their seeds to start new evergreens!  Tucked away inside each section is a seed capable of growing more 50-60 foot tall trees. It's amazing when you think of it.

The closed cone keeps the new seeds safe from being eaten and completely protected from the rain (unless you crunch them underfoot). They stay shut tight and no seeds can come out. The cone has to be ready.  If it has not grown big enough and is not completely formed, the seeds will not make good trees.  To see if a cone is ready to open, drop it in a jar of water.  If it floats, it is ready to open. Such a simple test!

In the same way, Jesus makes sure we are ready for a trial when He sees our seeds are ready. During the trial, the heat is on and it causes us to open up and let out seeds. These seeds are a symbol of sharing our Christian experience. As we lean on Jesus during trials, we gather up the promises and comfort that God has given to us. Then we share our story with others. As we share, new trees are planted. Always something to learn from God's creation!

As you can see in the 2nd picture (above), I had a photo of a wreath I wanted to create. Fortunately, at my work there are many evergreens and I was able to pick up enough pine cones to make this one large wreath and a smaller one for a cousin.

First ,I wired the cones on a 24" wire wreath form going in one direction all the way around. Once all were wired on, I flipped it over and made sure all the pieces of wire were pushed into the wreath so they would not scratch the new paint on the front door. I also attached a wire loop to the wreath form as a hanger.

I spray painted the wreath with a light gray. When dry I added a layer of spray on fake snow and quickly dusted with white glitter. This combination allowed for a lot of definition and depth. I allowed it to dry for the night and then gave a coating of clear gloss spray. We had a wonderful, warm morning, so I set it outside one the steps to hopefully dry quickly! Patience, schmae-cents!

Then it was time for the fun stuff! I hot glued some cardinals, shatterproof balls, greenery with little red accents and sprigs of pearls.

Looking nice on the table!

Oh, yes! Just as I'd pictured and THAT is a miracle! My apologies for the cell phone is having hurricane sand removed from it :)

The real test is coming up...what about when I shut the door? Will it look okay through the storm door?

Yes! Fist pump!  Nothing got crushed!

Let's step back a bit and recheck...

OH yes, oh YES, OH YES IT WILL!  It will show up from the road 75' away! Out by those trees in the reflection!  My neighbors only saw a crazy lady turning in circles with the occasional fist pump! Eh.

Best of all, it can stay up all winter if I so choose!

I then did a repeat on a 12" wreath form for a cousin who has a hard time getting anything to show up on her brick red door.  Everything just kind of blends in.  Hers looks spectacular and  IT SHOWS UP! Even cooler - her door knocker is verdigris and adds just a bit of green to the center.

Now that the door has been dressed for Christmas and Winter, next up is planning the annual craft night I host at my home for some friends and relatives....always good for a lot of laughter!

I hope your Thanksgiving (for USA friends) was full of warmth, friends and family and may your Christmas (to all) be filled with peace (and patience), joy and the Wonder of Christmas!

You can find me linked at Home Stories A2Z, Setting for Four, Centsational Girl  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Without black, no color has any depth."

"But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there's shadow - no, not just shadow, but fullness. You've got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that's real." Or so said Amy Grant! Finally, the front door is done!  Okay...maybe a small fix in the Spring, but for now done. Warn you now this is a bit wordy.

Just a little look back.  Remember the Wineberry? Uhmmm...well...very Wineberry or Whine-berry in my case.  Just. Not. Me. 

So I started a little adventure that involved painting the brass lights and the shutters...and the frame of the storm door. So much better! I was on a roll!

Then I asked a group of DIYers what color to paint the front door. I knew I didn't want yellow or orange or brown. Ahem...I really wanted Periwinkle Blue! But no one agreed with me. 

Several people mentioned black. I resisted with "That would leave me with a black rectangle blob in the middle of my small house" or "Would that not be as boring as white?" Because I acknowledge I have no design degree, I went to Sherwin Williams paint site where you can upload a picture of whatever space your painting and try out different colors. I tried reds, blues, greens, even some oranges...of all shades and intensities. I even tried a Raspberry.  Uh-huh...I did. Nothing was giving me the "Oh my! This is it!" response.  Even my favored Periwinkle Blue has lost its charm. (Hear me sob.) So what did I do?  Well, of course, I went to another paint site (Benjamin Moore) and did the same thing.  Guess what? No "gotcha" moment. Don't ask why I thought a different site would make a difference.  There's no nice answer. 

That left me with very reluctantly trying black in the wee hours of the night. One particular person (from that group of DIYers) said that(gloss) black would look "rich and elegant". Okay...I', very skeptical stubborn, but because I am who I am, I had to give it a chance.  

"GOTCHA!"  Seriously? Maybe I'm just tired. Not trusting myself, I dragged my cousin to my house the next morning telling her the WHOLE story on the way over.  We stood in the middle of my large front lawn and stared at the front door.

We looked at each other. Then...looked at the door again.

Audible sighs from both of us.

"Yeah, black is it."

"Yeah...I know."

So here is the I-never-thought-it-should-be-black front door. Please ignore the dying gardens...we had a hurricane ya' know!

And a close up. The panels still show! 2 coats on...1 to go!

Three coats later and with some Fall decor! It certainly looks more colorful this year!

And finally the night shot with the orange lights on! Gotta love battery powered lights.

I didn't take any "during" shots because I wanted to get it done and quickly before Nature could derail my plan...again (and which created the little fix-up in the Spring).

I used Sherwin Williams "Tricorn Black" in gloss. The first coat went on with a brush (Purdy) and the 2nd & 3rd coats with a 4" foam roller. The only difference in color for the storm door and the front door is the sheen.  The storm door is a satin sheen and the front door is gloss - both are Tricorn Black.

I'm actually loving the formality, elegance & richness of the black - Yeesh! Did I really say that?! Gonna have to let the DIYers know they were absolutely right! Now to get the white pinecone Christmas wreath made that I've been drooling over for a few months! Got the the the cardinals for some red ...I'll soon be immersed in that!

The little fix-up in the Spring will be peeling off...yes, I said "peeling"...the black from the plastic frame around the arched window. It will most likely survive the winter, but it peels off like a piece of cellophane. My plan is to get it off...tape all else off ... and get my trusty Krylon Fusion for Plastic out and spray paint it. A couple of light coats and it'll have plenty of time to cure as it's protected by the storm door. By the way, the inside of the door remains risk at a time people. The next update on the outside will be window boxes!  Ooh...lots of red wave petunias (or hot pink) and lime potato vine - maybe a bit of white something or other! Be still my heart!

So what do you think? Rich & elegant or black blob?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

And The Anchor Held

I'd been hearing about a storm named Sandy that might come up the coast, but no one knew where it would land. So I diligently checked the weather twice daily through the week to see what was forecast. When I learned landfall would likely be NJ/NYC, I initially thought, "Okay. We'll get a Nor'easter-type storm.  All's good." Then I got a good look at the size of Sandy and realized the Connecticut coast was in for some major weather...some said it would be a "Nor'easter on steroids."

Whoa. That was on Friday, October 26th. So that Saturday after putting in 4 hours of overtime at work, I rushed home to "mulch" (as in mow) my leaves.  After 3 hours of that I headed to my cousin's for a few quick pics of her party guests. Home, relax, appreciate power. Sunday up and to church and the rest is a bit of a blur.

I live abut 15 minutes in from the coast and where I grew up and lived for most of my adult life.  With relatives on the immediate coast, I opted to stay with a cousin. They have 4 houses in the area and one or all of them might need help bailing water out of basements if the sump pumps couldn't keep up. Okay, and the total truth is I love storms...they are a magnificent display of God to me. There is always destruction, but also good things come out of the ashes so-to-speak.

Adrenaline builds on the coast as you ready for the storm...batteries and lanterns, water, medicines, rain gear, non-perishables, full gas tanks, cameras & lots of memory because some people sneak out in the storm, clothes and running around to family houses to check on everyone.

Monday morning my cousin and hostess, Janine, and I were up and out taking before pictures. High tide was hours away when these were taken.

On the waterfront early Monday at DeBiasi's dock.

The Town Dock where I spent many summers rock crabbing and diving off of the pilings. Woosh!

Can't resist playing in the wind!

Rathbun's, Anderson's & DeBiasi's Docks before the bad part! High tide still hours away.

Looking toward the mouth of the Mystic River from the middle of Snake Hill. The big, red buoys were tipping over due to the wind and current.  It takes a lot to tip those guys over!

We had been without power since 9:30 a.m. on Monday and at this point all I wanted was a hot coffee. We found a Dunkin' Donuts still open at noon and got some extra large hot java before cruising around Mystic, CT for before shots. If the worst of the storm had occurred during daylight hours, I'd have some "during" shots.  However, Sandy was not cooperative and even though Janine and I took a ride to determine how to get into the village where her mom lives if we needed to, it was total darkness. I'll just say it was an interesting ride. So I'll just take you to the After The Bad Part shots.

Town Dock...going to need a little work, but not bad.

Granite bench at the Town Dock. Took some powerful water to lift that slab!

There must have been quite a wind gust and suction to pull the curtain between the plate glass window and the wood frame.

Defying gravity on Elm St.  The pine was leaning, not down...yet. The problem with evergreen trees on the coast is their root systems are wide, but very shallow.

Two trees, side by side, each about 70 feet tall went down.  These are their root balls.  Fortunately, the house they fell toward was set back and sustained little damage.

Sand clean up on Pequot Avenue in New London.

Floating docks from the yacht club (building on the right) floated out of the parking lot and blocked the road.


What lays across the road is the branch of the tree you see on the right.  We had really hoped the whole tree would come down and be done with it! The property on the right with the stone wall and For Sale sign is my Aunt's home.

Couldn't resist a bit of hurricane humor in Downtown Mystic!

Yep! We ate healthy without power! Gotta always have chocolate...that's in a survivor's guide is.

And the anchor held.  This is actually my favorite picture.  This home has always had the ancient anchor on their rock outcropping.  In spite of the fury of the wind and water, the anchor didn't budge. This reminded me that Jesus is my Anchor....He doesn't budge, fail, get knocked around by wind or water.  As long as I have Him as my anchor, neither will I.

So that was Monday and Tuesday. This small part of the Connecticut coast fared well all things considered.  There was no loss of life. Water damage to homes and belongings, yes. Without power, yes. Inconvenient and uncomfortable, yes.  Serious destruction to the west and east of us.... but the Anchor held in my little corner.