Friday, October 22, 2010

Well it is Fall decorating time at my house again. I will really miss the summer, but it is fun to bake and get all those delicious smells in your house again.

We've been making Maple Leaf Sugar Cookies and Waxed leaves for fall decorating as well as for a Fiber Artist Show I'l be attending in a few weeks.

The waxed leaves are a fun way to bring a little bit of the outdoors into your home for the season. I use beeswax that I buy from a local honey producer. But you can substitute pariffin wax (found in the canning section of your grocery store), or even a scented soy candle but a soy candle will be scented and a bit shiny.

It's super simple to do:
You'll need:
Dried leaves with stems
Wax paper
gloves (optional)
beeswax or paraffin (I use about 8 oz)
old double boiler

Gather some dried leaves that are pretty shades of browns, reds and oranges. Make sure you leave the stem on as that is how you will hold it while dipping in the wax. Using a double boiler, put water in the bottom pan and the wax in the top pan. Slowly melt the wax over a medium flame. When completely melted hold the leaf by the stem and just dip the leaf into the hot wax. I line a plate with wax paper before hand so I don't have wax residue on the plate. It takes only seconds to dry and they seem to last forever. Fun project, just make sure you stay safe by using gloves and not leaving the wax on the burner too long. My sister uses an old crock pot she found at a garage sale to melt her wax, and simply leaves the wax in the pot until she needs to use it again.

Maple leaf cookies are another great item you can make to bring a little festivity into your home. I found some cookie cutters at a local Joann fabric store but you can also buy them online at sugarcraft (see link)

Maple Leaf Sugar Cookies
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound soft butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

In bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, and salt. Using mixer, cream butter in another bowl, and then add vanilla and maple extracts. Beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar; beat until well mixed. Add 1 egg; mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients. Form into a ball. Wrap and chill 1 hour. Before rolling out, dust dough and surface with flour. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with maple leaf cookie cutter (or any shape). Can reroll scraps. Bake on a non-stick pan at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes. Enjoy!

Well it's Friday, yay! I have a long weekend ahead of me and I'll be busy making buttons, magnets,gift tags as well as some new items for my Etsy shop. I've gotten some very nice pieces of Tamarack wood from my son. Tamarack wood is actually a deciduous tree (i.e. maple, oak, hickory) that looks like a conifer (i.e. pine, spruce, fir).
Trees: beautiful, really essential parts of our lives. They supply the wood we use for our furniture, fires, pencils, matchsticks… Trees give us the oxygen we so dearly need to live. Trees can bring the even most barren/desolate of places to life, and their fruit can quench the thirst of the tired traveller. There’s lots more to trees

So I thought, why not write a post to appreciate these works of nature? The following are 12 amazing facts about trees, which can perhaps help us appreciate the value of trees. Enjoy

Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.
1. Trees get about 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere (carbon dioxide, etc), and only about 10% from the soil.

2. The averaged size tree can provide enough wood to make 170,000 pencils.

3. One (a single) tree produces up to 260 pounds of oxygen a year. That is more than enough to supply oxygen to a family of four people. Make that a few thousand trees, and you’ve got an oxygen supply for a whole town!

4. A tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces, driven over 8 500 miles. Line the highways with trees!

5. Trees planted in and around property can raise that piece of land’s value by up to 20%. That’s a lot!

6. An acre of trees can produce up to 4000 pounds (~1 814.4 kilograms) of wood every year. That’s over a ton of wood a year!

7. Trees help cool down the atmosphere. They can bring down your air conditioning costs by up to 20 percent.

8. A healthy birch tree can produce up to 1 million seeds a year

Record Setting Trees
1. The world’s tallest tree is a Sequoia (or California Redwood) in California; it is more than 360 feet tall.

2. The world’s oldest living tree is thought to be in Sweden. Its root system has been growing for 9,550 years. Now that’s old!

Trees With Historical Significance
Trees can live for thousands of years. They therefore witness important and historical events throughout history. And so, naturally, there are some trees today that are considered important from a historical perspective:

1. The L’Arbre du Ténéré (pictured above) was considered to be the most isolated tree in the world (the only one within more than 200 kilometres). What a lonely tree… sadly, it was struck by a vehicle, and was destroyed.

2. The Tree of Hippocrates is located in Kos, Greece. According to legend, Hippocrates taught his pupils the art of medicine under this tree.

These sites have a lot more amazing tree facts:

Interesting Facts About Trees

10 Facts About Trees and How Trees Help Save the Environment

Do You Tree?

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Etsy Shop and some favorites

It's Finally Friday.

Well Day 2 of my Blog. I need to get to my day job by 6:00 am but I managed to get up at 4:00am and finish uploading pictures of some gorgeous tree branch buttons that I had made last Monday. I was also able to glue some tree branch magnets which I'll be listing tonight. The magnets are White Oak, some of the most dense wood you will ever find. White oak is used for wine and beer barrels (say that 10 times fast) according to my son. That's his picture. He's a Forestry Major at Michigan Tech University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Yoopers - got to love them). I attached a few pictures of the drive through the winding roads. It's breathtaking.

If have never had a chance to check out the 'UP' as we call it you really should. Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula is just spectacular in the fall. It's extremely far north, at the tip of the Keweenaw. Last Fourth of July my family went to Copper Harbor to view the fireworks and it doesn't get dark until midnight. Quite cool.

Anyway, back to the Magnets. I wanted to have a Giveaway after my Blog gets 50 followers. Fifteen (15) Tree Branch Magnets made from 5 different woods. So 3 magnets from Oak, Cedar, Maple, Elm, and maybe Mulberry or Cherry, something definitely fruity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Big Red Cedar Tree and The Mad Chipper Man

My husband and I were driving through town the other night and someone had cut down the most gorgeous red cedar tree. Besides the fact that this was once a beautiful, living tree, seeing that gorgeous wood laying on it's side took my breath away. We stopped and asked for some branches and the owner let us take a few with us. Kind of distressing when he said they were getting a chipper to mulch up the rest of it for their landscaping. Arggghh. I think I let out a small gasp. Wow, who cuts down a tree to save on the cost of mulch anyway? Does "kind of stupid" come to mind. What a total waste of a beautiful, living thing.

Well I attached some buttons that I salvaged from Mad Chipper Man's tree. I think they are quite stunning really. I raced home tonight to make some more treasures, but my 4:30 wake up really drags you down in the evening. So I'll probably wait until this weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

June Weddings are right around the corner

I can't believe the wedding season has started. I've been crazy busy trying to get everything cut, sanded, waxed, packaged and sent out on time. A few of my customers gave me some great ideas last year for wedding place card holders, tags as well as unity candles. Although she doesn't know it Lindsey, my first wedding customer gave me a great idea and it has really taken off. If I had the time I'd send her a nice gift of appreciation.