TV Tray

Finally finished up that TV tray I started a few weeks back. We have four of these, I’m planning on putting scenes on each and sealing them in epoxy when finished.

I originally bought these little TV tables on Amazon, they were decently framed, but the finish on them started chipping off only a few months into using them. 3 years later, they had paint on them (oops), glue (also my oops), scratches, chips… they looked ready for the dump.

My daughter helped me razor blade the finish off. I gave them all a thick coat of bonding primer and using acrylic to paint the scenes on them. The epoxy we’ll use is a marine quality that I used on the sink top in our utility room. It’s been in there over a year and it seems to be able to handle tons of abuse. So far it’s been impervious to water, soaps, cardboard stuck to it and scraped off. A damp rag and it’s beautiful again. I’m hoping it does as well on these table tops.

These four aren’t for sale, but if they turn out really well, I may do others and offer those. I’m thinking some kind of water scene and maybe a woodland thing with deer or turkey on another. I’m trying to keep them all farm/local themed.

I’m taking a break from tables to work on a gourd or two. I’ll post those as they’re finished.

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

Hiking Pictures

We recently acquired a new puppy from a friend. She’s a gorgeous little thing, part Malinois, part Border Collie- a mixed breed that they’ve termed online to be a Malincollie. We decided a Malincollie dog must have a Melancholy name, so we called her Lenore. She doesn’t live up to her name at all though; with two very high energy breeds for parents, she’s a very lively, very curious, very bouncing off the walls if you don’t walk her EVERY SINGLE DAY kind of puppy. My friend gave her to us because we were supposed to be moving to a place where there’d be lots of running room. That may or may not happen eventually… in the meantime I have to keep this puppy entertained so that she doesn’t eat my house or drive our older, EXTREMELY MELLOW by comparison, dogs insane.

I started taking her on walks every morning to the city parks last week. This week, I decided that I actually liked walking every morning. I haven’t been outdoors nearly as much as I would like this year due to house remodeling (again! sigh) and holding off on new yard plans due to possible move. It’s not given me much to write about on Dirt, as you can imagine. No yard, no garden, no posts. 😦

I was already bored with walking circles at the city park, looking at the same scenery and the same people that also go there to walk every morning. My husband would probably make friends. I’m not very social in that way though. I prefer a small circle of close friends to small talk with strangers, ALWAYS. I started driving out to one of the state parks instead this week. Ha Ha Tonka has a been a favorite haunt of mine for as long as I can remember. I was going there as a child to swim in the springs and walk the dirt paths long before it was taken over as a state park. Lenore needs exercise and I need something interesting to look at while she’s exercising, so I decided we would pick a trail each day until we’ve gone down all of them. I’ve explored 90% of the trails in the park and even some that aren’t trails anymore, but I haven’t’ visited every single one of them.

I went down Turkey Pen Hollow the first day and the views were spectacular, in spite of little rain this fall and the colors not being as vivid as usual. I took pictures along the way. It occurred to me today that I should be posting all these wonderful photos on here and share them with everyone, not just my friends on Facebook. These I’m posting today are of the Spring Trail, that main paved/board walked trail that leads from the parking lot down to the mouth of the spring.

Hope you enjoy the views as much as Lenore and I did.

-B

Patio visitors

We try to keep our yard as toad and frog friendly as possible. My daughter loves them. She loves to catch them and take them to a “safe place;” she loves to watch them swim in our little pond. Every summer we wait for our annual visitor under the Amaryllis pot on our front walk.

Creating habitat for toads and frogs in your landscape is pretty easy. Toads and frogs need a water source near their home. This can be anything from a small garden pond to a birdbath saucer placed on the ground near their habitat. Keep the water changed fairly frequently if it isn’t running or moving- you don’t want to create a breeding ground for mosquitoes. 003.JPG
If you have pets, keep them away from the area your toad house is in. Don’t put the house somewhere that outdoor pets frequent. One of our cats was an adept toad and frog hunter, when we brought her inside the population of toads and frogs in our yard tripled!

Broken flower pots, crockery, old dishes, buckets, etc. make excellent toad houses. You can put a wet rag or some wet moss inside the house, under some leaves to keep the house cool and wet for toad friends. They LOVE those self-watering pots with the bottom taken off. There is just enough room for them to squeeze under, it stays moist and cool from watering the plant above and it’s fairly safe from most predators- ours especially, it’s sitting up high on a trellis rail. Since I’ve been putting this pot out on the porch, we have had a toad living under it all summer without fail.
It gets sun in the early morning, but is in shade during the hottest part of the afternoon.

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If you have kids, get creative! Toad houses are even better than those fairy houses kids love to build, since they can watch the actual animal living in the house. I Googled “Building a toad house” and pulled up TONS of great photos and ideas. Clay pots are often featured because they stay cooler and hold moisture better than plastic. If you can half bury the pot in the ground, it also gives your toads and frogs a place to dig in a bit and stay cool and safe.

Toads are great little insect eaters and I encourage as many as possible to hang about the garden. The more predators on plant eating insects, the better!
Share your toad house pictures! I love to see other people’s creative ideas and projects.

PS. Forgive my long hiatus from Dirt. I was busy all the month of June painting this mural for my daughter’s school. The posts will probably still be spare for a while. There is a possible move for us in the works, so I’m not doing many new projects here right now, mostly maintaining what’s already here. I’ll share some pictures and things though, because I still HAVE to be outside! 🙂
-B

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M-O-O-N

We let our 6 year old stay up last night and watch part of the eclipse. I was afraid it was going to be too cloudy to see it here and we’d miss it, but we lucked out and the clouds cleared out a bit after dark. It really was one of the best lunar eclipses I’ve ever seen. The moon turned blood red and because it was a super moon, it was bigger and brighter than usual.

Moon1

Moon2

Just a quickie

No, I’m not dead.
LinnCreekFrozenI’m still in the throes of house remodeling and soon to be in house seeking mode. (I hope. Fingers crossed.)
I took a couple winter water shots today and thought I would share. This winter has been brutal compared to previous years, I’m a little afraid to see what plants didn’t survive the sustained cold. I suspect my crepe myrtle and Boston Ivy have both suffered. Although BOSTON Ivy should be used to long, cold winters, right? Ha. What’s in a name anyway?FrozenLake
I haven’t seen the main channel of the Lake of the Ozarks frozen over on either side for years; this year it is actually frozen in Osage Beach and on the West Side. I have heard rumors of idiotic people who drove VW Bugs across the coves in winter when I was a child. I’ve never witnessed this personally. Even in the coves, I’m not sure I’d risk it. It does make for interesting photos though.
I’m hoping house business will be finished sometime this summer and I’ll have a fabulous new yard/garden to blog about and Pin away about.
The lake photo is from Old Hwy 5 at the bridge. The other I took of the creek in Linn Creek from a friend’s bridge.

Camping at Table Rock Lake

This 4th of July weekend we camped at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri.

I’m a native lake girl myself, having lived at Lake of the Ozarks my entire lifetime. I’ve watched our lake go through many changes over the years, some good and some not so great. In regards to water quality, I didn’t realize how MUCH our lake had changed until my recent visit to Table Rock. I’m sad to say there’s no comparison.

Table Rock is absolutely gorgeous. It is an Army Corps of Engineers Lake, which means it’s maintained very differently from our privately owned Lake of the Ozarks. The water is so clear in fact, that they scuba dive here; some claim you can see the bottom as far down as 40 feet. From my personal experience, the water clarity IS incredible. There’s limited building and docks along the shoreline. A two-layer rock shelf wrapped the shoreline around the entire campsite area. I was able to walk with our dog along that shelf around the entire cove, in calf-deep water. We stopped several times to sit on the shelf and cool off in the breaking waves. I was taking photos of the boats and bridge, but Olivia became something of a celebrity to passing wave runners and pontoons, they were stopping on the water to take pictures of her and wave at us while we walked. We checked out some stacked rocks along the shore and chased a few minnows.

Our campsite was only a few minutes’ drive to downtown Branson. The $16 sites had water available, you can also get them with electric and other amenities. We went to the nearby pavilion to charge batteries and cell phones when necessary. The toilets are unfortunately not plumbed, but for outdoor toilets, they were very well cleaned and maintained. There are shower rooms on site and a marina if you need to restock ice or pick up essentials. We didn’t rent a boat or do any diving, but there are plenty of rental options available if we’d been interested.

Great place to for camping and the water was amazing. I’d absolutely go for a return visit!

http://www.news-leader.com/article/20130501/LIFE06/305010138/table-rock-lake-clear-water

http://mostateparks.com/park/table-rock-state-park

Camping at Fiery Fork

Fiery Fork Conservation Area

This weekend, I went on my first camping trip in probably 25+ years.
My brother in law, his wife and children are all heavily involved in Boy Scouts and are old pros at the camping scene; but due to some pretty rough experiences camping as a kid, my idea of camping since I’ve been an adult has been a stay at the Ramada Inn. I know this may seem odd, considering my affinity for dirt, rocks and growing things- but the thing is, I love to work with nature, I just don’t know if I love to SLEEP in it. However, my recent camping experience was no where near the nightmarish memories of my youth and I think I’m even willing to do it again!fiery fork 005

The Fiery Fork Conservation Area is just east of Climax Springs on North State Highway 7, if you blink at Granger Lane, you’ll miss the sign. Last summer, the fields below the campgrounds were planted with sunflowers that were higher than my head (doesn’t take too much, I’m only 5’5″). There are several creek areas; it is the Fiery Fork Creek that the park is named for, all winding together to empty into the little Niangua River. Camping at Fiery Fork was my idea. I had driven down there a couple times last summer and discovered it was a really pretty area, not too busy compared to other parks in the Lake Area and conveniently, only about 5 miles from our house. In other words, close enough to go home if I couldn’t commit to spending the night under the stars.

Last summer, at the peak of  the drought, the river was only thigh-deep and much calmer, the water clear enough to see the gravel fiery fork 008bottom. Someone has tied a rope swing to the trees across from the river access; a sandbar that is usually large enough to park a couple cars or launch a canoe from. When the water is in its normal, more tranquil state, the riverside is the perfect Country-Time Lemonade Spot. This weekend was the end of a  very rainy couple of weeks; the river was crazy-full and running very fast, it looked like there was a fair amount of storm debris in all that muddy water too, so we didn’t attempt to swim in it, but took the kids to the creek instead. They explored, saw minnows, held a tadpole, slid around on the moss-covered bridge and collected rocks.

At the campsite, we made Smores around the campfire, grilled hot dogs and breakfast burritos. The campsites are primitive, which means no electric hookups or potable water- but the sites are large and an outdoor toilet is available near each campsite grouping of 4-5 sites each near the river. There is accessible parking near the toilet area and a paved ramp to the wide gated doorway. No sink or running water, take wet wipes with you!fiery fork 009

We had an entire camp area to ourselves, due to the earlier rainy weather, but Saturday evening was clear, sunny and only upper 70’s. The campsites have a metal fire pit with a grate attachment over them for cooking; some of the campsites are right on the Little Niangua; we opted for the wooded area near the creek crossing, it turned out to be the perfect spot for my 4 year old and her cousins to play. The kids set up a badminton net at the adjacent campsite and played a few games before our evening meal.

fiery fork 012The Missouri Department of Conservation site mentions hiking trails from a quarter mile up to a mile and a quarter, marked in blue paint on the trees to find your way. Some of the trails intersect with state and county roads or private property. Hiking wasn’t high on the list of things to do for my camp-mates or the kids, so I just took a few short walks near the campsite and by the Fiery Fork Creek; there is some really gorgeous scenery to look at.

Overall, it was not a bad camping experience. I did discover that a sleeping bag would be a wise purchase before spending a night outside again, I forget that temps in the upper 50’s are REALLY cold if you don’t have a house to protect you! Bug repellent comes in very handy here as we found many, many ticks. I managed to avoid being bit; just wear light colored clothing so they are easy to spot, that way you can remove them before they bite. Missouri woods are full of deer and other wildlife that ticks like to munch on; with all the rain this year, they are especially prolific.fiery fork 032

Bring some firewood with you if you want a fire for warmth, or charcoal for cooking if you don’t have a propane camp stove. The park service makes brochures available at the campsites with rules and regulations of the area. They request that visitors do not cut trees or limbs to get fire wood. We brought along enough for ourselves plus the next 4 or 5 visitors and there was some wood at our site already where the previous occupants had left some as well. So… if you forget your wood, you might check neighboring campsites.fiery fork 013

I heard whippoorwills on and off all night, an owl or two and one lonely coyote howling. Fiery Fork Creek was home to frogs, tadpoles, tiny minnows, crawdads and water snails. It  flows over the road and drops off the other side in a rocky waterfall ending in a small deep pool below before continuing on towards the Little Niangua. Most parts of the creek I was able to walk in Wellies that were just under knee-high without them taking on water.

There was thick forest all around us, but fields across the road and the creek running along and behind the camping area. The Conservation department keeps the grass mowed in and around the campsites. I may have to return to the creek later this summer and do a walk-through to explore more. I love following and exploring creeks in summer, but there are increasingly fewer places to do this around the Lake without encroaching on private property.fiery fork 022

I think what I liked best about Fiery Fork  is that it’s enough removed from the Osage Beach tourist mecca to offer a little quiet exploration, but close enough that it’s convenient to drive to. You can truly immerse yourself in nature here without loud boat engines or wave runners to interrupt the peace and quiet. There aren’t any shops or billboards, there are views of filtered light through tall trees, clear water and plenty of woods and fields to enjoy. 🙂

VD

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NO…I don’t need to see a doctor. That was in reference to a certain holiday.  I know it’s considered obnoxious by some to post pictures of Valentine’s flowers – but this isn’t accompanied by sappy gushing about how sweet, wonderful and amazingly considerate my husband is. Yes, he brought me these stunning purple ombre orchids on Valentine’s Day. I also told him about all the stunning purple orchids I had seen… at Gerbes… which he had to drive right by on his way back from the doctor’s office… and purple orchids would be a GREAT Valentine’s Day gift…
I probably could have held up a sign with a picture of them and been less subtle, but why press it? He took the hint. 🙂
I just wanted to share a picture of them, since plants ARE a big part of this site and they ARE really gorgeous. And to think I used to avoid these beauties because I was convinced they are hard to grow. African violets are hard to grow. These are easier than cactus, give me spectacular blooms several times a year and look so freaking cool! Even the way the roots climb out of the pot is neat. They look as if they’ll just climb out, scamper across the desk and go for a stroll.
And now you know why I have more plants than people around me.
-B