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:
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.


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
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!


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:

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:

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:

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!



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…

I Kissed a girl and I liked it…

…the taste of her cherry chap stick…

You don’t have to be a Katy Perry fan to want better stuff to put on your lips.

I made my first batch of organic lip balm today and I don’t think I’ll ever buy the Chapstick brand stuff again. This is nourishing, it’s not overly waxy feeling and leaves my lips feeling SUPER soft and moisturized. I know, I sound like an ad. This is my first time making lip balm though and I’m really excited that it turned out as well as it did.

I only used four little ingredients: white beeswax, shea butter, food grade coconut oil and bing cherry. The flavoring isn’t as strong as I would have liked, but it smells freaking AMAZING. So I’m really happy about that. Since they didn’t really flavor strongly though, I’m going to be giving this batch away with candles I’ll be making soon. So buy a nice beeswax candle and I’ll throw in a cherry lip balm with it.

I did keep one for myself. 🙂

The next batch I’m going to try and do chocolate flavored and hopefully it tastes stronger. If these go over, I may do them in larger sizes, like little Carmex-style tubs.


Painting saws

I have another saw blade available on Cordes Farm’s Etsy shop! This one is on a hand saw, rather than the round blades I’d been using. I found it on the wall in our red shed- which according to our neighbors that have lived here for years, used to be a poultry barn sometime around the 1960’s/70’s. Also according to neighbors- it was one of the largest poultry operations in the state at one time.
Now it’s just “the red shed” to us and it’s full of random stuff that Paw Paw Max has put there when he couldn’t think of where else to stash them. We were poking around in there when my brother Stephen came to visit and he spotted 5 or 6 antique handsaws hanging on the shed wall, which was a great find because I was already starting to run out of round ones to paint on. I’m not particular though, I’ll paint on just about anything and these are really cool.
I looked up the saws online and best as I can figure, they are about 40-50 years old. Most of them had the Warranted Superior Eagle symbol still intact on the handle, some of the emblems were missing, one of them has a plastic handle. Of the Warranted Superior saws, all have wooden handles with ivy scrollwork carved into the wood. I found many of these on E-Bay, ranging in price anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars depending on how old they thought they were. I don’t have any way of authenticating the age of mine, I just know they are vintage old things from Max’s shed.
These cleaned up pretty easily, since they’d been hanging indoors out of the weather, there was minimal rust, mostly just spider exoskeletons (eww) and dirt (we don’t mind dirt). I washed them, let them dry and sprayed the fronts with a rust arrestor/primer which cured for a while before I painted on the first one. I dabbled a bit in oils on a painting for my daughter and decided I’m not a fan, that I much prefer my acrylic, so this one and probably most of my future paintings is in acrylic. I’m too impatient with the drying time of oils- I have a bit of that Veruca Salt thing going on of “I WANT IT NOW.” Three days for some thing to dry so it doesn’t smear is WAY too freaking long, so acrylic it is.

Anyway, this painting is a conglomeration of our field, the neighbor’s field, a lovely sunrise picture I saw and just a bit of random nature stuff from off the top of my head. I’m working on a turkey one next that is put together in a similar way. To some, boring I know, but this is what I’m attracted to and what I love. Most of the photographs I take are landscapes, old buildings, plants and animals too… other than that period of time where my daughter was small and I ran around behind her photographing and video taping her every move. She’s almost a teenager now and doesn’t appreciate that like she used to. 🙂
She does like my painting though and asked me to do one for her room of our dog that passed away recently. So I painted her Ollie in the creek fetching a stick. That one is just done on a piece of barn wood that she went and found in the garage. I’m working on a fall scene in oil for her too, but it’s not finished yet because… that freaking dry time. The Ollie painting game me a chance to work on my rock painting technique and play with the new fan brush I picked up, which seems to work great for running water. Mostly greens, blues, browns and greys in that one, I didn’t throw in my usual pop of color because I was working from a particular photograph of Ollie in a friend’s creek.

I’ll post an update when I make some progress on the new turkey painting. I got some new detail brushes also which I’m excited to try out and Ely talked me into buying a set of palette knives, which look really interesting, but also kind of scary.
I’m going to be teaching 4-H crafts this year, so I’ll be sure to share some of those that we do too. Although I will confess, most of those will not be original ideas, they’ll be Pinterest projects. Right now I’m off to figure out how to make hand cream because I can’t find the stuff I usually get at Walmart and I’m VERY picky about my hand cream. I figure if I make it myself, at least I know exactly what I’m smearing on my skin, as opposed to the commercial stuff that has at least 10 unpronounceable ingredients in it.
Always busy. Keeps my mind from wandering or dwelling. 🙂

The fall scene sawblade is for sale HERE on Etsy.


Throwback Thursday Painting murals

I came across these pictures from several years ago and thought I would share. Don’t remember if I ever posted these on Dirt or not…

I was volunteering at Ely’s school in Camdenton, Missouri at the time. I had been working a couple days a week for the art and music teachers, really just doing odd jobs like hanging stuff, filling bottles of glue, cleaning out old paint, loading the kiln, laminating stuff, etc. I had also created a couple really cool doors for the music room with door-sized drawings, paper flowers, stuff like that. News got around that I was “artsy” and could “draw stuff.” Those of you that also “draw stuff” or “do art” know that when word gets out that you this kind of thing, people will approach you with projects and either ask your advice, or just ask if you’d do it for them. This is how I got talked into doing a mural at the school- the thing was about 15 feet high and some 25-30 feet across, all along the outside wall of their library, facing the elementary cafeteria. We had to have some kind of special permission from the school board to do it, apparently they have to approve any paint colors or artwork that will be permanent and outside of what they’ve previously voted on.

Sketching out the mural- I punched up the contrast on this picture so you can see the pencil drawings.

We started work in early June, just a couple weeks after school let out. There were still kids there going to summer school, so I had to be careful when they were walking through the hallways, to not be on the ladder when they went by and to keep my supplies close the wall so nobody tripped on stuff. I wish I had taken more pictures of the process.
The school’s scaffold was in use by the janitors elsewhere, but I decided after seeing what they brought to stand on that I would just use my own ladder from home. I balanced on the top of that stepladder, holding onto the wall to do the upper part of the mural. It was an adventure. 😀

We had a month to get it finished. It had to be done by the time the janitors came in to wax the floors before school started in August. Until summer school let out, we were only allowed to be there certain hours, so really the bulk of the work had to be done in the three weeks after summer school and before waxing.

Mildly freaking out.

I had never painted anything before.

Yes, you read that right. I’ve done plenty of drawing. I’ve done stuff in colored pencil, lots of digital work, crayons (lol)… but outside of painting walls in my house, I hadn’t worked much at all with paint. The last picture I probably painted was in high school art class. So that look of concentration and mild worry on my face is for real- I wasn’t really sure I could pull this off when I started and was pleased that it came along as well as it did. I would have no issues doing this NOW… well, maybe I’d tell them it was going to take a bit longer than a month to finish!

My daughter came and helped me with painting the large amount of sky and grass that had to be filled in, while I worked on details, but she couldn’t be on the ladder of course. Jeannie (the teacher that picked me to do the project) helped where she could, but she had multiple other painting projects to complete at the same time. She WAS good company and moral support though!

We did finish ON TIME and it was there for all the kids to see when they came back in fall. I loved getting to hear them talking about it and the excitement when they’d come around the corner and see it for the first time. We used the school’s therapy dog as part of the picture, the kids recognized her immediately and even noticed the purple toenails I’d added to the dog’s paws.

It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I’d do another one in a heartbeat. AND next time around, I’d actually know what I was doing! LOL

Garden Progress Year 4

Whew! Ok, so finally caught up to the present.

Jim brought me several massive tractor loads of manure this year. Have I told you yet how freaking amazing our neighbors are? They invite us to stuff, they always seem happy to see us, they let my daughter come hang with their dog and collect eggs from their chickens. Jim brings me truckloads of manure, just because he knows I like to garden. Jim and his wife Sandy have been there for us more times than I can count already. They aren’t just neighbors, we consider them family. They are just amazing people.

So now I had two huge piles of manure. I’d already planned to build some raised beds this year and what better way to get them started…

Last year’s garden

My plan is to have the garden built in such a way that I only have to run the mower down the walkways and not spend hours and hours weed eating around beds.

Also, there were so many holes in the fence, that the garden was basically a rabbit/ groundhog super buffet. I started replacing fence this spring. I have two sides finished, two to go. It’s a MUCH more difficult job with all the weeds growing, so I’ll probably wait for fall to do the other two.

I framed two raised beds- 8 ft long, 4 ft wide and 4 ft high. Filled the bottom of both with rotten logs, sticks, leaf mould and layered that with manure and rabbit compost. Dirt on top, plants, then mulch. Everything grew SO well, I’m going to have to rethink the trellises in them next year. They’re rather flimsy and just can’t hold 60lbs of tomato plants.

The bed I’d put my tomatoes in the two year’s previous I let rest this year. It looks a weedy mess, but will likely be getting its own raised bed next year.

All three tractor tires have strawberries now. Some June bearing, we added everbearing this year, but I’m going to have to address the birds eating them if we want any for ourselves.

My daughter helped me plant 11 blueberry mounds this spring, so far we’ve only lost 3. We’ve also added elderberry and blackberry all along the front of the garden.

I was spending hours and hours weed eating between the berry mounds though, so I put down landscape fabric over that entire area this past week. It will be getting a truckload of mulch this fall.

In planted gourds and pumpkins this year in-ground but so far I only have two gourd plants, one pumpkin plant and flowers, but no fruits yet. We’ll see… it’s getting kind of late in the season, I’m afraid if they don’t take off soon, they won’t at all.

I have in mind to get herb beds going for next year too, mostly to support my salve making and such, but maybe some to cook with too.

The pears 🍐 took a break this year, since I didn’t thin them properly last year but we got our first peaches this year, so our orchard may need lots of my attention next summer.

I need this garden as simple and low maintenence as possible, ya,’ll. A fact that will only be more true as years go by, since I’m now pushing 50. Four hours of weedeating in 90 degree heat and 70% humidity sucks when you’re 25. When you’re 47, you say to hell with it and just watch the weeds grow.

…or cover them in landscape fabric. I spend a lot more time these days planning how to garden smarter, not harder.

All caught up for now. I’ll try and get some pictures and relay my orchard dramas soon.


Garden Progress Year 3

The third year I didn’t make many structural changes to the garden, though I did learn a bit from my plants that they desperately needed some form of compost.

The strawberries I’d planted in hugelkultur mounds were so thick with plants, I barely had to weed or water. I threw some mulch on them in spring and they did their thing.

We tried corn in the far tire, but it wound up with some kind of beetle that destroyed all but a few ears. Not really worth the trouble.

My watermelon 🍉 plants grew very well and were covered in melons, but we didn’t get a single one that summer. A raccoon discovered them and ate every one of them before they’d even fully ripen. After building elaborate cages, setting traps and dumping red pepper flakes everywhere for a month, I finally threw up my hands and let the little bastard have them.

I’m not trying melons again without electric fence…

They took some of the beetle ridden corn too, which I cared less about.

This was the year our neighbor Jim brought me a tractor scoop of cow manure, I started using it to build mounds for blueberries I planned to put in the next year. That fall I used it to amend beds that I felt were nutrient depleted, it made a huge difference in my tractor mounds the next year.

Hugelkultur mounds being built in tractor tires.

We had a HUGE crop of pears from the orchard last year, so I spent a lot more time focusing on orchard than garden. (Posts on that later)

I had to go dig these photos out of Facebook and couldn’t be bothered to crop the screen capture out. Don’t judge me. 🙃


Garden Progress Year 2

Early spring the next year I started digging out the the big tractor tires. I emptied all the dirt out, added rotten logs, twigs,  straw underneath, then replaced the dirt. I planted one entire tractor tire full of strawberry plants, to replace the ones of Paw Paw’s that died.  (Only a fraction though, he had 7-8 small tires FULL.)

The second tractor tire I planted with bell peppers. 

My other big project for that year was the huge hugelkultur mound I put in along that row.  I removed all the tires and put in a section of cattle panel fence,  then built the mound around it. I had so many tomatoes that year,  we couldn’t use them fast enough. 

Cardboard down to kill weeds. SO many tires!

I threw a few cucumber plants in at the end of the mound, but they didn’t do great in the tires. The soil just got too compacted, the plants kept drying out and the fruits were most bitter.

We tried planting potatoes in some of the stacked tires too. They made a few, but were small and kind of sad.

I decided two years of 6ft high weeds had seriously depleted the soil and it was going to need some building up to do well for vegetables.

The entire left side of the garden I just left covered. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet and the cardboard meant less weedeating.

My garden helpers 🙂

Doesn’t seem like a lot of progress, but I was also very busy that year cleaning buildings, getting the house in order, working on the rest of the yard and just trying to wrap my head around what to do next with this place.