Yea – I’m boring.

It’s true.  I have nothing exciting to say but had the urge to write.


This week I start another school term.  It’s hard for me to believe that I have approximately one more year and then I’m done.  Does that make me a college senior?  I don’t know??  This term is “Business Plan Prep” and “Leadership”.  I think the Business Planning course sounds rather interesting but I don’t know about Leadership.  We shall see.

Still hanging onto the same cold that DH and I have had since before the New Year.  Quite annoying by now.  Antibiotics are on the menu but I’m still hacking and coughing like a 100 year old smoker.

Since I didn’t make it into work yesterday, I was able to catch up on some sleep and also do a little work on my business.  See labels and some research and I listed a few things in my Etsy shop.  Not a lot but it felt good to work on something that I’ve been neglecting for almost a year.  Yes, a year.  Shameful.

And let me mention… the weather today just sucks!  Yesterday it was hovering around 30-something.  Today, 1.  That’s it. 1 degree.  At least I have a little time to sit by the fire before I go to work.


Christmas in July Sale

Having a little Christmas in July sale in both of my Etsy shops.  Just trying to get the word out….  lots of goodies available in both!

See the shop announcement for details but you can get 20% off your total purchase with the coupon code ‘CHRISTMASINJULY’.    garden goodies including rain chains, wind chimes, seeds, plants and bird feeders     vintage, collectibles, and other goodies


Thanks for reading!  Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.



Bones On Thursday

Rainy and cool here today so not much happening in the garden.  I did try to get a trellis put up this morning but Mother Nature had other plans and chased me inside.  So, I was browsing a bit on Etsy and was inspired by a simple yet beautiful art photograph to create a treasury.

Please click on link to visit the treasury and then be sure to click on all the beautiful items!


Bones by Jan DeBack on Etsy (2)

Etsy shop being featured….

I am thrilled!  Today I’m being featured on “The Mind Body Spirit Marketplace’s” Facebook page.  In particular…they’re featuring my birch bark gift tags.    How cool is that?!

If you haven’t visit MBS yet… take a look at their FB page:!/pages/The-Mind-Body-Spirit-Marketplace/138709911986

Then…. jump on over to their website.  Lots of great reading there.

Thanks for the opportunity Diane!

Rustic Artwork

Rustic artwork….. kind of came about by accident.  I had purchased an old painting on canvas from a rummage sale awhile ago.  It was a little beat-up and definitely not something I’d normally hang up.   So, I decided to paint over it.  Sounds a little dodgy, doesn’t it?  Painting over some other artwork is rather odd to say the least but it was a “commercial” piece of work and although the painting was in rough shape, the canvas and frame were in good condition.

In keeping with the theme I was currently working on (black bears) I decided to keep it simple and see how a bear silhouette looked on canvas.  With a little texture and gobs of paint,  it turned out rather nice (IMO).

Now this painting technique has really seemed to capture my attention.  They’re FUN!  I recently finished 7 more paintings (this time on canvas-board) using the same basic style.   Ok…. “officially” finished 4.  There is a trio of black bears with different backgrounds that I’m not positive are finished yet.   

These are all available in my Etsy shop now.

Back to the paint for me now… working on some watercolors today.

Cold weather, chickens and cookies….

Cold weather, chickens and cookies. 

Been bundling up more and getting ready for winter already.  We had what I guess I’d consider our first hard freeze.  22 degrees at night and tons of frost.  Strangly enough, out of all my plants the petunias didn’t seem to be much affected by the cold.  Hostas, wilted, daylilies browned, chrysanthemums looking tired but those petunias are looking green and happy.

We’ve had several fires in the woodburner already and M. has been cutting wood for our pile at least 3-4 days per week.   Plastic is up on the windows, yard is getting cleaned up and spring bulbs are in the ground.  Looking forward to that show in the Spring!  Planted tulips, daffodils, crocus, muscari and scilla.  I’ve moved most of my Kwanso daylilies and completely redid my front flower bed along the house.  Now is the perfect time to find shrubs and perennials on sale so we found a Weigelia and 2 new Spirea for that flower bed.  Most everything else we just moved around and repositioned.

Last week M. and I built a chicken coop out of all “found” materials.  The frame of the coop is just that…. old window frames.  We put the “frame” on four 4×4 posts to bring the coop up about 30″ off the ground, insulated the whole thing and finished it off with tin siding.  Made a “ladder” and door out of leftover scraps and that finished the whole thing off.  Total cost of the coop…  $o – zip – nuthin!  Chix fencing cost was only $40 and the posts to put it up were already here.  We had a little trouble finding some affordable chickens nearby but finally ended up finding some nice Rhode Island Reds and Red Leghorn chickens not too far from our house.

Really nice place  (Featherwood Farm) that usually breeds ducks, had several chickens for sale.  We were able to get 5 hens and 2 roosters.  All under 1 yr old and very healthy.  We were told to not expect an eggs for a bit because of the “stress of the move”, but we got our first egg the very next day.

baking book.  Of course, I dressed it up a bit.  🙂


Super Chunky Cookies  

1/2 C. butter softened
1/2 C. shortening
1 C. packed brown sugar
3/4 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-1/2 C. all purpose flour
1 tsp.  baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1-1/2  C. semisweet chocolate chips
1 C. vanilla or white chips
1/2 C. butterscotch chips
1/2 C. chopped peanuts
In large mixing bowl cream the butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Beat in vanilla.  Cobine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Drop by TBfulls 3″ apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 8-1/2 dozen

Very, very ooey, gooey and these do not last long at all.

I’ve also been working on quite a few new jewelry designs…including sterling silver and gold filled earrings, plus some new pincushions.   (the new cinnamon scented Christmas ones are so yummy!)  I’m adding new items to my Etsy Shop just about every day.   Hope you’ll stop by and take a peek.  Oh….I’ve also added a quick recipe index to my blog.  You’ll find it in the “pages” section.  🙂

Little Birch Bark Boxes

I had a lot of fun experimenting with birch bark again today.  I came up with these cute little boxes and one little basket.  (I actually decided to make the basket one inside-out because I liked the textural quality of that piece of bark)   All are made with natural birch bark taken from a fallen tree on our property and accented with moss, twigs and jute twine.  These haven’t been listed on Etsy or ArtFire yet but probably will be in the future.

Zucchini Chili and Pincushions

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Recently started making these cute little pincushions.  They’re fairly easy to make and pretty fun too.  These are made with 100% cotton fabric, polyfill,  rice (for weight) and vintage buttons.  Just listed some of them in my Etsy Shop so if you’re interested in seeing more about them, take a look there.

Weather has been getting pretty cool at night here and we had a couple of very “fall-like” days too.  So, figured it was time to make some Chili.  I normally just wing it when making chili and this is a new recipe that I just threw together.  Usually I don’t write it down but thought this one was so good…I decided I might as well.  🙂  It’s also a great way to use up some of that zucchini that we had an excess of. 

Zucchini Chili

1 lb. hamburger
1/2 C. brewed coffee (use some left over from the morning)
2 TB. olive oil
2 small zucchini (both about 6” –  8” long) diced
2 TB. finely chopped garlic
1/4 C. chopped onion
1 C. diced tomato
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans
1 can chick peas
2 tsp. sugar
1 TB Kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 pkt. taco seasoning
2 tsp. hot pepper juice*  OR 1 small hot pepper (diced)

Brown the hamburger in large pot with the coffee.  Add a little olive oil if your ground beef is really lean.
In another, smaller pot, over medium heat add olive oil, garlic, onion, zucchini and tomato.  Season with the Kosher salt and cook on medium until everything is softened and translucent.  Add the tomato sauce and just mix it all together.

After the hamburger is browned, mix in the veggies/tomato sauce.   Then add sugar, chili powder, black pepper, onion salt and hot pepper juice*.  Drain some of the liquid off of the top of the cans of beans and add those also.  

**Pepper Juice is something that we found in a local grocery store and something that I’d never seen before bottled like this.  Honestly, all it appears to be is the “brine” from pickled hot peppers… if you’ve got a jar of pickled hot (or even mild) peppers in your fridge, just use that instead.  It’s really tasty in chili.  Or, just use some finely diced hot peppers  and throw them in when you’re sauteing the rest of the veggies.**


Lunch With Friends and New Discoveries

Today we were invited to have a simple lunch with Mike’s friends, Phil and Deb.  They have a beautiful home outside of Mauston (way outside of town)….surrounded by woods and farmland.  Lunch was simple, grilled burgers, brats and pork chops with a couple of fresh salad sides.  I think my favorite was a simple salad of tomatoes, cukes, sliced onions and Italian dressing.   But, everything was delish.

Deb showed me around as it was my first time visiting their house up here and she pointed out the coolest birch bark wall switch plates that she had made.  This creative idea of course got me to thinking.  We have a nice sized birch that just fell near our driveway in our yard.  OH the things I can create!!!  I am currently doing some research to get some ideas but my first thought was to make some planters, photo frames and canisters out of the bark.  The ideas are practically endless!!!   One of my goals in moving here was to work on creating items from nature and not rely on so many “commercial” products for creativity.  Of course, many items I create are also from re-purposed or upcycled goodies.

While in Mauston today, we discovered a really cool little store.  The majority of it is craft supplies (scrapbooking taking up a major portion of the store), dishes, home decor, toiletries, tools and toys. Really a cute little store and the prices are really reasonable.  I got some adorable rubber stamps and it is someplace I will be visiting again and again. 

We recently enjoyed 4 days with no air-conditioning needed, great breezes and cool nights.  Unfortunately, the heat and humidity have returned.  And, after about a week with no rain, I watered all of my plants yesterday.  In return, Mother Nature decided that we needed approx 2″ of rain early this morning.  Oh well, now everything should be good for awhile again.  My tomatoes are really starting to get some color and I harves my 2nd mater yesterday.  The Serano peppers are getting bigger and bigger and there are a multitude of them!  I won’t be canning any more peppers this year, but I will be freezing them so I can make pepper bread this winter.

One of the best finds this week…. a FRIDGE!  The one we had had a little leaking problem inside and was pretty small.  Saw this one along the road with a For Sale sign on it yesterday so Mike did a quick turn-around and we went to check it out.  Nice size, clean, works great and the price could not be beat!  

Still working on listing new items in my Etsy shop.  I haven’t been a diligent in listing as I should be but with all the stuff to do around here, it’s sometimes hard to have the energy to keep up with my crafting.  Wood needs to be cut and stacked (Mike and the girls got 2 trees cut and stacked yesterday) but we still have a way to go in order to have enough wood for the winter.  Luckily we have a lot of fallen trees in our yard.

Lazy Friday

Friday again and it’s been a lazy day for me.  I haven’t had the energy to do much but it’s mostly because my allergies have really been acting up today. 

Since it’s been one of those lazy days, the family and I decided to make a day of going into town, browsing a few shops and running some errands.  We also stopped at Mike’s parent’s house for a quick visit.  While there I dropped off a jar of my blackberry apple butter and we picked up about 3 gallons of fresh peaches.  (I was told that peaches cannot grow this side of Lk Michigan but my FIL Jim proved that theory wrong).  Those little beauties will be going into the freezer so we can enjoy them over the winter.  I see peach pie in our future. 

This week we also got a bunch of sweet corn so I got most of that ready for the freezer.  Fairly easy system and from what I read in my researching…they should keep pretty well with very little of that “freezer” taste.

My Freezer Corn Method

After I got all the corn shucked and washed, I threw it into a large pot of water that had about 1/3 C. of sugur added.  I lightly boiled (not a full rolling boil but a gentle boil) just about 5 minutes.  Basically I watch it until the color of the corn changes and boil for about 1 minute after it changes.  Not an exact science but it’s how I cook it for fresh eating too.  I hate tough corn!

Pretty huh?

After boiling I dunked it directly into a sink-full of VERY cold water to stop the cooking process.

Next I took my best, sharpest kitchen knife and sheared the cobs of their corn.  Having never done this before I’ll admit that the first one wasn’t the prettiest but it’s not difficult to get the hang of.

Yes…I also tasted it at this point and it was YUMMY!

After decobbing all the corn, I packed up about 1 pint into each baggie, squeezed out all the air and took it all to the freezer.  I am hoping that my method will be successful and we’ll have some really good corn to eat over the winter.  I guess I’ll share the true results in about January and let everyone know.

My Etsy shop has officially opened.  I have a couple of items listed and I’m listing new items almost every day.  Also…since I’ve changed my ‘business’ name from Rustic Diva Designs to Bramble Oak, I’ve decided (after the voices in my head had much debating) to close my ArtFire studio as I cannot change my user name.  I will probably open a new account on there at one point but for now, I’m concentrating on my website and Etsy shop.