My elegant dining table

Is not a thing. 

Though sometimes I wish it was. I see pictures of other people’s beautifully decorated homes with everything in its place, fall themed table runners and centerpieces… I wish sometimes I were one of those people.

Alas, I am more the scramble around the living room making sure no dirty underwear are lying on the couch because someone showed up without 3 days advance notice.

We don’t even HAVE a dining room table.  We don’t have a dining room. The kitchen island I occasionally try to decorate,  but mostly it’s just a catch-all for everybody’s crap. Like right now,  I have the pumpkins from our garden displayed for fall.  They looked nice, but slowly became surrounded by some library books, and inhaler, random vitamins,  deodorant,  a lighter,  a can of Dr Pepper from yesterday,  a random spoon I don’t know if it’s clean or dirty,  a lint roller,  dog meds… it is NOT elegant. It’s functional, lived in and messy like my life.

We have no dining table, we eat on TV trays, watching HULU at dinner against all parenting and family advice.  I am at least,  currently working on our TV tables.  They were pretty when we got them 3 years ago, but the finish had chipped on several and some of the edges were peeling. My daughter helped me chip all the formica coating off with a razor blade. 

I painted the tops with a heavy bonding primer and now I’m sketching scenes to paint on each one. We’re going to epoxy the tops when I’m finished, to make them durable. I have the first sketched out and ready to start painting.

I’m not nearly as brilliant an artist as my friend Jennie, who can sit down and while looking at nothing but the image in her head, make things just come alive from 2D white nothingness.

I have to do some planning first. I go look at my photos, outside, browse the web a bit. My kid even screen captured a bunch of stills from Red Dead Redemption II (they are really quite gorgeous!). I gather stuff I like, then start sketching out individual elements. Those I lay out on the table like a puzzle In putting together, so I can try the dog in different places, or move the cows to a different position on the fence. Once I’m happy with layout, I do a very quick drawing of the basic shapes or outlines to show them in their proper place. THEN I actually start re-drawing them on the table top.

Lol… I approach art like I’m writing a novel.

After I sketch everything, I take pictures of the sketch, in case I lose my bearings by painting over something. After all this, I finally start to paint. The painting part I think I actually approach like most painters- background, lights and shadows placement, layer details over all that.

Once paint is finished, I’ll let it cure for two weeks. Then it will go to my new She-shed and get a flood coat of epoxy over the top to protect the painting while we’re eating on it.

I don’t expect they’ll be all finished until next year, since this is more or less my nighttime TV watching project. I’ll try to remember to post pictures as I make progress.

B

The bad thing about gardening blogs is…

When you’re hard gardening,  you’re too busy to blog and when you aren’t,  there’s not much gardening to blog about. 

Again I haven’t posted anything in ages, which means I’m pretty much a fail as bloggers go. Thank the gods I don’t do this for money,  all my sponsors would desert me.

My original idea for Dirt was to share projects I’m working on in the yard or garden. I was pretty good for a couple years about taking pictures and even writing down brief notes on what I was doing or how I did it so I could share later. We had 40 acres,  but I only actually paid attention to about 3-5 of it, because the rest was steep wooded hills and valleys only accessible by hiking. My vegetable garden was the size of a postage stamp, our functional yard was not much bigger.

… then we moved HERE. Suddenly I have 40 acres that is almost all accessible by ATV, if not my regular vehicle.  The garden is now “holy hell what do I fill all this space with sized”, there are hayfields, a pond and 5?  outbuildings that all need some sort of attention. And ya’ll, I have freaking COWS. And we’re talking about getting MORE.

So in the 4 years we’ve been here,  I’ve done a TON of stuff, but not much of it is all that garden blog worthy.  And when there is something blog worthy,  I’m often too busy doing the thing to consider blogging about it.

This is why I started adding crafting and painting projects- so my poor, neglected site isn’t just left to die. 

I did take a picture of the pumpkins I grew this year and our dogs finding the only bit of shade in the garden while they waited on me to finish picking tomatoes. 

Maybe when my daughter is grown, the outbuildings are finally organized and I’ve turned the front trailer into a She-shed- I’ll have time to really dedicate to blog. That’s probably a well intentioned lie though. By then, we may have decided we need to go off grid and have a full on hobby farm or something.  I’ll be building windmills and not posting about how I built them.

At least you know I’m living my best life.  🙂

I’ll get something on here this fall/winter, even if it’s just remodels and painting projects. Until then. 🙂

B

I’ve Decided I’m Cheap

Ok… I’ll give you two minutes for jokes in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….

Are you quite finished? Good. I had been paying for a the business add ons to Dirt and decided that it’s not really worth what WordPress is charging, so I had them revert things back a freebie site. Perhaps it is not quite as elegant as the previous version, but it’s $300 a year cheaper and I can’t say as I was getting anywhere NEAR that kind of value out of having it. So it’s gone the way of our cable TV. Poof. I don’t miss that either. Especially the news being on half the day. Ignorance is bliss this past year and a half.

I have noticed since the switch that some of the pictures on posts have broken, I’ll eventually try to find time to fix those, but there is a decades worth of posts here, so I may just get to it when I get to it (meaning possibly never). If you find a page that’s broken and it’s annoying you, then message me on FB and I’ll make fixing that one a priority.

That’s my exciting news for the week. I’m currently procrastinating cleaning house for the weekend. It’s going to be a very people-y weekend, with friends and family coming Saturday and then fireworks with the neighbors on Sunday. I will be completely exhausted and want to find myself a cave by Monday. I may need to go check trees or something random that requires wandering acres away from the house on Saturday. 🙂 I’ll just need a little alone time to recharge my batteries.

Haven’t done much yard except watering this past couple weeks, then it started raining and hasn’t stopped. My daughter blames the abundance spell I may or may not have cast while doing dishes. I should have been holding $20 bills or something instead. Yard is really just in maintenance mode from now until fall. I’m working on some crafts projects and trying to shuffle around things in the garage. Hopefully will have some paintings or something to post soon.

I did a really cool farm painting on a gourd for our neighbor on his birthday, I’m a goose and didn’t even get pictures of it before giving it away. It had cows and a barn and everything. I sketched out one last night, will maybe start painting on it this evening.

Ok… fine. Back to house cleaning. I’ll stop procrastinating.

-B

therapy

I cannot be friends with these cows.

Been a while since I’ve posted any kind of an update. I’m s-l-o-w-l-y trying to get gourds painted and I’ve got some new nettle salve in the crock pot as I write this, but it’s been months now since I’ve felt like doing much of anything.

Early March I landed myself in the Emergency Room twice in one week. Blood pressure sky high, having arm/shoulder/chest pain. Found out (after spending $6000 plus and going through many tests) that my heart was not the problem at all. I have degenerative disc disease in my neck, which was causing pain in my shoulders, down my arm, headaches, stiffness I didn’t even realize I had, oh yeah- and chest pain. Blood pressure is better now.

I spent a month doing therapy twice a week at Sullivan hospital. I didn’t have a great attitude going in to this- I’ve always thought therapy was just what the insurance company forced you to do so they could put off paying for surgery. First couple sessions were rough. I didn’t realize how weak my muscles had gotten from sitting around in chronic pain and not doing much unless it was from the couch. I’m back in the garden now, I’m digging and planting and doing all those things I love and it’s thanks to the Physical Therapists at Sullivan Hospital.

I couldn’t even turn my head all the way to the right when I went in there. My arm woke me up nightly, feeling like someone was stabbing me with a thousand little needles at once. I’d put ice on it ( the only thing that helped at all ) and try to fall back to sleep. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I didn’t. I haven’t had that since my 2nd week of therapy. My strength is starting to come back. I still have headaches, but not 24/7. I went in there feeling like it was hopeless. (My previous doctor had told me I was getting older and it was just to be expected, I needed to learn to live with it) Two weeks before I started therapy, I was writing letters to my daughter, telling her what I thought I’d like her know before I died. Yes, I felt THAT bad.

These girls gave me my life back. Now I’m not saying I still won’t have issues in the future- this is a degenerative condition and I expect time will not improve it, no matter how many stretches or exercises I do. But they gave me perhaps years before I reach the point of having to turn to surgery. They helped stop the chronic pain and the debilitating headaches.

It’s very hard to be creative or care about being creative when you are in constant pain. I feel like they de-aged me by years! And if any of you read this, I’m sorry I doubted you. I’ve never been to therapy. I had no idea what to expect. I’ve just heard people grumble about having to do it before surgery. I’m hoping to avoid surgery for as long as possible and I don’t function at all on pain meds, so this was my best alternative.

SO>>>> I’ll have new stuff coming out on the shop soon and new art to share and hopefully some more snazzy pictures of our new cows that I am not allowed to be friends with. 😉
I’m very glad to feel a bit more myself again.

B

Birdhouse Gourds

Remember all those gourds I grew over the summer and have been drying?
I wound up with about 40 of them that dried properly, so one of the projects I’m doing with my 4-H crafts group this year is to make birdhouse gourds.

I pre-prepped a little before they go there, bleached them and scraped that thin slime coat off with a flat razor blade and let them dry over night. The girls drilled holes yesterday, cleaned out the insides and saved whole envelopes worth of seeds to take home and hopefully grow their own gourds. I’m posting the instructions I gave them before. (Pictures aren’t mine, they are screenshots from the tutorial I used to figure all this out at https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/structures/how-to-make-a-gourd-bird-house)

HOW TO MAKE A BIRDHOUSE FROM A BOTTLE GOURD

  1. Grow and dry a gourd.

You can buy birdhouse gourd (bottle gourd) seeds online or at your local nursery. They take 6-8 weeks to grow before the last frost, so you’ll want to start seeds inside and transplant into your garden, or get them in the ground right after last spring frost (around Mother’s Day in this part of Missouri)

To dry your gourds, you need to hang them in a place where they will get air flow on all sides and if inside, warm and dry. Do not hang them in a basement or cool, damp area- they’ll just rot. You can leave them outside, but make sure they are in a sunny area with good airflow on all sides. I trim the stem long- leaving about 6-8 inches- then run a needle through the base of the stem and poke a thin piece of wire through to hang the gourds from a nail or fence.

Your gourds are ready when you tap on them and they sound like a tight drum, or you can shake them and hear the seeds rattling around inside.

  1. Clean your gourd and drill a hole.

Using a hole saw, drill a 1 ½ inch hole into your gourd. We use 1 ½ in particular, because this will keep bluebirds safe if they nest in your gourd. A larger hole can allow aggressive European Starlings access to the bluebird’s eggs or young and the starlings will destroy them to take the nest.

With a long knife or spoon, clean out the seeds and pulp left inside. It doesn’t have to be spotless, the birds wont mind.

Use fine grit sandpaper to smooth the outside of your gourd, then soak for about an hour in a bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Wipe clean, then let your gourd dry completely.

  1. Use an exterior latex paint to seal and prime the outside of the gourd. (Avoid oil based paint- they take WAY too long to dry) If you prefer the natural look of the gourd, you can also seal it with wax.

If using paint, do two coats, let both dry completely, then spray with a clear coat of outdoor polyurethane to protect your paint. If you’re going to decorate your gourd with designs- you’ll want to paint your design before the polyurethane step.

  1. Drill some small holes in the bottom of the gourd for drainage so it doesn’t hold water if rain gets inside. You can also drill a couple small holes through the neck of the gourd to add a bit of wire or a strip of leather for hanging.

*Painted designs will last longer and stay brighter if you choose a spot out of the sun. The birds will also appreciate a shady location when it starts to heat up outside! 🙂

Been busy

I really, really, really hate listening to myself talk on camera. Lately, I’ve been so freaking busy getting stuff on the store and doing homeschool with Ely that I just don’t have time to make regular posts. Which sucks, because I think of stuff I’d like to say all the time, but it would take a couple hours to write it all out with pictures.

So as much as I hate listening to myself on video and as terrible as I am about not rambling when I have to talk, I may still start throwing a few vids on here. Because even rambling, I can still say in 5 minutes of video what it takes an hour to write.

Ha… maybe if I get better at them, Dirt can have its own YouTube channel.

Happy Solstice friends.

Stay safe out there.

-B

Christmas ornaments

Hi folks,

Hope you all are at least TRYING to have a Happy Thanksgiving, in spite of all the crazy in our country right now. I’m going to miss our annual trip to the theater this year. Since my daughter was 3 or so, we’ve gone out to eat on Thanksgiving and then to a movie. All of the theaters here have been closed since March, so no movie this year. Our plan is to go to Country Bob’s, which is a local restaurant with a really great buffet and then probably home to Netflix… of course, I’ll be painting while watching TV.

Very seldom do I just sit and watch television anymore, I’m almost always doing some sort of craft, painting, drawing or researching the next thing I plan to craft, paint or draw. LOL

The past couple weeks I’ve been working on ornaments, trying to get as many of them up and listed on our Etsy store as possible before Black Friday, or at the very least before Cyber Monday hits since we’re an online only store right now. I’m also having to take a break from creative stuff to work on lesson plans for my daughter- who is going to start homeschooling in December- the school here just went “hybrid learning” for Covid and she wasn’t interested in doing that, so we decided to just homeschool- at least until the end of the school year.

Anyway, I’ve managed to get a few of these listed, a couple of them have been sold already- (Thank you Carina and Momma!) I have more to finish up and post in the next couple days.

So if you want to go check them out, they are here:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/CordesFarmLLC
Look for the “Ornaments” section on the site.


The prices vary by size mostly. Some of them were on the smaller side of 2″, I grouped those in 3 packs, so you get 3 little ornaments for $15. Some of the bigger individual ones come with a free organic cherry chapstick that I made a few weeks ago. The ornaments are almost all different, some are very Christmas-y looking, others are just countryside or barn scenes. I did a couple with the Northern lights, the larger of those has been sold already. Since they are wood and I didn’t want them to stink like fresh paint, I put a drop of peppermint oil on the backs of them. Now my whole living room smells like a candy cane. I guess there are worse things it could smell like with 3 dogs. 😉

Happy Holidays friends, stay safe out there.

-B

Alley Mill

Thanks to Covid I’ve been able to drag my daughter on nature adventures on her days off school, since every other form of entertainment is currently closed/off limits/frowned upon, etc. Our theatre has been closed since March, there were no parades or festivals this year. 😦
We have to be careful to find bathrooms before we go on trails, because most of the state park restrooms and facilities are still shut down, but the parks and trails give us something to do on what would be otherwise another day in front of video games or the tv. – which I am both thoroughly sick of. If I stay home and go outside, I feel like I need to be working in the yard or garden, so I have to get out and get away if I’m to just relax.

I’m not a fan of crowds and some of the parks are quite a bit busier than I like them right now (Elephant Rocks and Johnson’s Shut Ins have been INSANE this year), but Alley Mill is less exciting, so therefore less busy than the more popular parks. It’s a few miles outside of Eminence, Missouri along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park. This includes the Current River and Echo Bluff which is another of our favorite places to go, especially in summer. We didn’t go tour the mill because we had our puppy in tow and you can’t take animals into state run buildings- or so the signs said. We did go walk the nature trail that circles behind the mill and along the spring for about 1/4 mile before looping back to the parking lot.

I’ve seen SO many pictures of this place on photography forums and Missouri parks forums that I follow and after seeing it in person, I understand why. The mill makes for impressive photographs, especially if you have good light ( I didn’t, it was too bright and my photos look washed out because of it) and can capture the deep red of the mill against the spring’s turquoise water. Yes, the water IS actually that color in person, I did not ramp the color way up in these pictures AND they were taken in mid-day in full sun! There were some cool little caves along the path, though not for human exploration. They were gathering up a big group of horses for a trail ride when we first arrived. We stopped to look at the hoof-prints in the mud on the way out and chat with a couple whose toddler wanted to pet Bowie.

The trails were pretty calm, there’s lots to look at, if you want a quiet little daytrip with lots of photo ops, I’d highly recommend it. If you have busy toddlers that like to run from you like the couple at the end, I would recommend keeping them strapped to you on the trail- it’s high up, narrow and the water below is running VERY fast over some rather large boulders underneath. You don’t want to have to swim for your kid (or dog!) in it.

I recently did a painting of the one of the pictures I took on a saw blade. You can see it on Etsy here:

Acrylic saw blade painting of Alley Mill

https://www.etsy.com/listing/891211240/alley-mill-springs-on-antique-handsaw
It’s of that same iconic shot below the mill that all the photographers like to take.

My daughter loves to visit anyplace with water. Have any recommendations for us in Missouri? We’d love your suggestions!

-B

New art available!

I have two new sawblades now available on Etsy. This first, I’ve already posted about, it’s my wild turkey painting on an antique handsaw, you can see it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/889423336/wild-turkeys-antique-painted-handsaw

The second is a winter snow scene of a child adding the final touches to a snowman as big as she is. The inspiration for this painting actually came from this photo, that I have available on Fine Art America:
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/snowgirl-belinda-cordes.html

My daughter was only about two here, she refused to wear gloves that day because she wanted to feel the snow. Look how red her little fingers are! (BTW, don’t judge. I didn’t let her get so cold it hurt her. We went in and warmed up with hot chocolate after) She loves snow, she still loves snow and doesn’t miss an opportunity to get out and play in it. She still doesn’t want to wear her gloves. 🙂



The painting that this photo inspired is available on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/903516457/building-a-snowman-painting-on-antique


I included my pre-sketch in the Etsy photos for this one too. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to get a little insight into the artist’s process and how they came up with what they made. The house in the distance in the painting is loosely based on my Great Grandma’s place in Clifton Hill, Missouri. We visited there several times when I was a kid. I can remember the inside of the house better than the outside and I didn’t have any photos of it, so it’s hard to draw from memory after not seeing it for many many years. I did get on Google Earth and looked, but unfortunately the street view wasn’t great and the satellite photos from above were new enough that the house had already been torn down in them. 😦

My daughter suggested my next one be of coyotes, so I’ll start working up a sketch for that one this evening. Please share with friends and let me know what you think!

-B

Turkeys

New painting from sketch to finish. (Pardon the color being off and the seam on the saw- I patched two pictures together to get it all in up close. I tested my Black-eyed Susans out on the sketch paper also. Wasn’t sure how to paint them at first to get the look I wanted.
Have to let this cure for a few days, seal it and then it will be available on our Etsy shop at Cordes Farm. I think my next project is going to be a snow scene. Another challenge, I haven’t yet had the experience of working with white scenes in acrylic, only colored pencil. I’m almost wondering if that one would be easier in oil. Even though the drying thing makes me nuts…