Sunday, May 19, 2019

Why I Feng Shui in my Garden

Back in the 90's the art of Feng Shui was building interest in the US, but what is it? At it's core, Feng Shui is an ancient art that's been practiced in Asian cultures for over 3,000 years.  It's literal translation feng means "wind" and shui means "water", these two words are associated with good health and good fortune. How one practices Feng Shui is by carefully selecting objects and colors according to the Feng Shui Baqua ( a map that designates areas of your life i.e. health, marriage, career) to encourage the healthy circulation of "Chi" or "energy" in your environment. Encouraging Chi to flow in your space enhances and attracts a positive outcome of what you want and need in your life.

I read everything on Feng Shui as at this time I was still single, so the chapters on enhancing my space to attract a suitable partner were dog-eared.

 I referred to the baqua to set up the marriage section in my bedroom. Rose quartz-pink being one of the assigned Feng Shui colors to the relationship area of the Bagua sat on the night stand. I taped pictures torn from People Magazine  of happy couples in long standing relationships in this corner. And after one false start with the wrong person, Mr. Right actually showed up.  Maybe it's part fate playing a role, maybe it was giving up and asking the Universe to help me embrace singlehood if that was my destiny, but still. . . I wonder.

So this is why I practice Feng Shui inside and especially outside in my yard. The above photo is the marriage corner in our yard. A loving couple of cherubs gaze into each other eyes, two potted plants with red impatiens red being one of the assigned feng shui colors for love, pink and white are the other two, and then there's the elements for each area and the representive element is earth or a light yellowish brown to represent earth, I used egg rocks and a golden yellow birdhouse to reflect this aspect. This vignette is my way of encouraging harmony and discouraging discord in our daily interactions espeically when I want the remote.

Feng Shui is a complex discipline, and there are masters in the field, many consulted by realtors to move unsold properites, or by interior designers for clients seeking tranquility in their home.  Also, the more you read about this ancient art the more you will spot Feng Shui being practiced around you, in fact I understand this is why Tiger Woods signature colors on the course is red and black. If curiosity gets the best of you to delve into this practice for fun, you can start gleaning knowledge on Youtube, if anything it's a fun and fascinating exercise to throw caution to the wind and simply believe in something beyond what's in front of you.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

How I Made A Dragonfly from Ceiling Fan Blades and a Stair Balustrade

I'm not the artist who dreamed up the concept of using ceiling fans and table legs and or deck/stairwell balustrades to create whimsical Dragonflies. This idea is the brainchild of this woman:
LucyDesignsArt Lucy happened upon a box of used ceiling fan blades in a thrift store and their appearance was enough to remind her of wings.

Since Lucy's first online blog post featuring her unique concept, Pinterest blew up with tons of pictures of others creating Dragonflies from upcycled table legs and fan blades. I found the idea so incredibly clever that I followed suit and ended up making three, on Facebook Marketplace I scored some deck balustrades, and the fan blades from eBay. One is now comfortably resting on a tree in our backyard, another one sold, and fingers crossed a new patron seeking to visually enhance their outdoor garden will buy the third. In the meantime, here is the one I made for our yard.

Here are a few tips I learned when making outdoor garden Dragonflies

  • To find used Fan Blades put a call out to friends, family and on your local Buy Nothing (your town's name) Facebook page-I got some free this way! Also check Facebook Marketplace and tagsales or eBay
  • Wash all components with dishwashing soap and let dry before painting
  • Buy a Finial post i.e. the Dragonflies head that has a screw in bottom to securely attach to top of balustrade (or table leg)
  • You can spray paint–or to cut down on using aerosols, paint with outdoor primer wear a mask! this step can be omitted if you want a more antiqued woody look
  • Paint with Outdoor/exterior craft paints to save money on paint, use a papertowel dipped in paint and wash over blades, you can effectively layer colors this way and cover a larger area of blade
  • Create your own stencil shapes by drawing design on cardstock and cutting out or draw on regular paper, laminate then cut out and use as a stencil 
  • Don't attach wings until AFTER everything is painted since these were gong to be outside I brushed on polyurthane to protect fan blades and body from moisture
  • Attach fan blades to body of Dragonfly with screws, if wings still are wobly use GE outdoor Clear silicone glue underneath to keep them in place
  • We attached a slotted Tbar but a straight flat slotted metal flat bar would work just as well. to the back with some screws and then attached to our tree. If you are bothered by the metal bar showing against tree, you can paint a brown/black color on it with Multi Suface Craft Paint to blend into the tree

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Making A Kitchen Colandar Planter

I have two colanders, well three, two vintage and one new. I've wanted to create a planter from these items for the longest time, but unfortunately found instructions on how too few and far between. I also want to avoid having to drill through metal to hang the planters.

First I wanted to know if just stringing twine through the two handles was enough to balance the colandar so it didn't tip. It is enough, below are my tips.

Kitchen Colander Planter Supplies 

  • one colander with two handles to string twine through
  • baby diaper
  • Coir plant cup or just use (all of leftover Coir pulled from an old Coir liner for whole bottom)
  • left over coir from another planter
  • ruler to measure twine length for hanging
  • Scissors to cut twine

Because of all the holes in a colander, I worried that water would drain out too fast, so I opted to cut a baby diaper into a circle as the diaper contains a gel to hold moisture in. To cut the diaper into a circle I followed these basic instructions, mind you a diaper is puffy but this still worked:

I opted to use a Coir-(pronounced "Coyer") planter cup that I cut on both sides to spread out on bottom of colander.  ( Coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut); Then I pulled out Coir from last year's hanging plant and tucked in between the gaps, some Coir liners become loose over time and easier to minipulate. I find Coir liners ungainly and stiff if I just put them in a hanging planter, they never seem to be the right size and slip around, so I highly recommend engineering the size yourself.

Place the Coir above the baby diaper circle  add some peastone for weight to keep Coir in place, and then add potting soil-mind you not Topsoil as potting soil offers more nutrients, and then plunk the plant in.

Measure out the length of the twine you will need, and please note, I wish I had not cut too separate pieces for each handle then knoted the twine on top, why? because the twine has to rest on either side of knot when hung and thus creates a tipped colandar, instead loop through one handle then the other and tie to secure in second handle. With no knot on top you have a well balanced planter.

And there you have it! Please share with me your colander basket hangers, I'd love to see!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Turn a Plastic Popcorn Container into a Planter!

Last year I snagged one of those plastic Popcorn containers at a tagsale because the price of 50¢ fit my budget and I support the shop local theory. Since I always thought yellow Snapdragons looks like the kind of buttery Popcorn you can buy at a movie theatre, the idea of converting a Popcorn Container into a Yellow Snapdragon-bearing planter sprung to mind. So this year, I picked up some Antirrhinum Majus a.k.a. as Dog's Mouth, Lion's Mouth, Toad's Mouth or just plain ole' Snapdragons. I found a six-pack of flowers at a quaint little market here in Connecticut owned by Vinnie who plays Dean Martin tapes on an old boombox while you shop. So this Summer, on our outdoor patio table, this popcorn 'planter' pictured below will look like buttery yellow kernels are freshly popping forth from the container.

Here's the simple instructions on how to make your own Popcorn planter.

1. One plastic Popcorn Container can be purchased here: '
Popcorn Container
2. Drill with small drill bit
3. Large rock approx. 3" width to weigh box down so container doesn't blow off table on a windy day.
4. Pea Stone for drainage
5. Potting Soil-do not make the mistake of using Top Soil! Potting Soil offers the best drainage for planters of any size and shape.
6. Six Pack of Yellow Snapdragons. I chose "Snaptastic Yellow" they will grow to be approx 14" in height, so I planted them further down in the container. You will only need one plant per container, or two if Dwarf variety. If you can't find a plant, consider purchasing seeds, just place seeds in Potting Soil in container, and lightly water until they sprout. Thin out seedlings to make room for the more robust seedlings, again one-to-two  plants in the container.


• Drill two holes in bottom of container if your Drill bit is small, if larger the size of a dime, drill one
• Put big rock in bottom of container, then add Peastone
• Pour in Potting Soil leaving room to press Snap Dragons down into the soil
• Add a little more soil to fill in around the SnapDragons and Voila! You're done. Be sure to keep soil moist.

This would make a whimsical summer party gift for the host or hostess don't you think?

  • There are both annual and perennial Snapdragon plants, although some of the perennials are commonly grown as annual plants.
  • Snapdragons typically grow best in full sun with damp soil, but can take partial sun
  • Snapdragons grow to be a height of 6 to 18 inches, depending on whether they are dwarf, medium or tall varieties.
  • Snapdragons generally bloom Summer to Fall
  • Snapdragons colors range from green, red, orange, yellow, white and pink, among others
  • Snapdragons prefer moist soil and full sun, they also do well in cooler tempsl deadheading will aid to their growth and re-blooming and they will gift you with color for some time! 
  • Snapdragons do re-seed but in cold winter climates they may not come back and should be treated as annuals, some varieties are considere perennials and next Spring, if they pop up they might be a different color than their first year!
According to Language of Flowers the Snapdragon symbolizesDeception-yikes! Really? But also it also means 'Gracious Lady' and that's what I will stick with.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

New Funny "Easter Bunny" Magnet from Smirking Goddess™ Studio on ETSY

Before my husband and I owned House Rabbits, we didn't know that these furry companion-pets thumped when they sensed danger, or as discovered in our house, when annoyed. We also didn't know they performed high hops, the correct term "binks" under the influence of a full moon.

We didn't know that their digestive system looks like that of a horse or elephant, or that they could be litter-boxed trained, that too much lettuce could kill them and Alfafa Grass should only be served to "kittens' i.e. baby rabbits, too much protein in the mix for older ones.

We didn't know squat.

Pet rabbits fare better as indoor pets, but unfortunately many are relegated to a cold hutch where water bottles can freeze in the winter denying them water, and the outdoor pen makes them vulnerable to roving predators.

Every Easter live rabbits are purchased by ignorant people as a gift to some child's basket, later if the bunny survives, it will be dumped at a shelter or simply freed outdoors. This teaches a child that small pet animals can be treated like disposable stuff toys don't you think?

Nibbleface and Puma New Zealand Rabbits
Bunnies also chew electrical chord as I found out with Potter, my first rabbit I found hiding under a boat in a driveway. But they also serve as an alternative pet for children with allergies, can live to ten years and might be a better solution for those on a tighter budget. They still need to be neutered or spayed, and fed properly-Timothy hay and non-surgary veggies like brussel spouts, in short, they need care as these beautiful whimsically inspiring animals can live for a decade. And our last two did.

This magnet is a heartfelt nod to Potter, Pinky, Puma and Nibbleface, four beautiful animals who graced our lives, inspired my art and who's facebook pics found favor with many. In reverence to their memory, I implore all Easter shoppers to steer clear of buying a live rabbit if there's no intention of humane care. Instead, consider celebrating the Easter Bunny with donations to a local rabbit rescue, or online to the House Rabbit Society.

Now Thumper would bink to that.

This magnet (or pinback) is available for purchase here: SmirkingGoddessStudio

And my rabbit inspired art brooches here I offer free shipping to US collectors:

Happy Easter to all! Thank you for stopping by.

Suzanne U

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bring Back Snail Mail A Funny Fridge Magnet that Packs a Powerful Message

smirking goddess funny typewriter magnet
Available for purchase:
I send holiday e-cards to friends and family. Hopefully, this gesture made their day and let them know I'm thinking of them. But when it comes to Sympathy Cards I go the Snail Mail route, I mean let's get real about sensitivity and decorum, and may sending solemn cards of THAT nature to be few and so, SO far between. Thank you and Get Well cards are a toss up depending on the circumstance.

But (as my magnet to the left suggests), in this day and age of digital communication, I wonder how many are weary of this emoji-addicted generation. Are Grandmothers receiving a thumbs up icon on their Facebook page as a Thank You for a gift from grandkids? Are caring people receiving a heartfelt written-Thank You for graciously offering their solicited expertise or a typed referral for a job? And are we, the gracious ones perceived as having a bee up our butts for feeling more than a little peeved when our invested money or time is dismissed with a cartoon icon? Or worse, silence?

One can't always expect a handwritten note, especially from those on a tight budget (like taxes, the price of stamps goes up and up and then finding that RIGHT card, oy! And add to that conundrum a stressful, cramped schedule.  I've written heartfelt emails due to the latter, and timely communication is a relief factor that I've quickly let the other party know they matter. But this past week my husband and I received a lovely handwritten Thank You note from my former college roommate, with a gift to boot. I forgot how far more emotionally connecting it feels to receive a nice snail mail note over a digital one. In fact. it felt, more–well, REAL. I heard her voice, as my eyes swept across her neat catholic school-trained cursive. I wondered what she was doing at that very moment, did she get a chance to plant the Sweet Potato Vine in the teal ceramic planter I gave her? Will she be able to stream the new PBS mystery series Shakespeare and Hathaway that my husband and I told her about on her laptop? I never experience mental musings like this when reading emails.

Regarding emails, have you been at that end of NOT even receiving a cartoon icon? Admittedly it stings, granted there's the SPAM folder blocker, or the non-communicator is dealing with an emergency. But as time wears on, a non-response offers me the impression that the offender has a misperceived image of themselves, is their station in life so elevated that it pardons them simple etiquette? I think not.

In the end, a pardon of sorts, IS issued and not in writing. As a friend of mine once brought up the old adage with someone that she's reach out twice to– "If you ignore someone long enough, THEY WILL GO AWAY",  happily her spot-on comment to the directed person derived results. But be ye forewarned oh habitual non-communicator as eventually you'll be pardoned indefinitely as we get up, set our sites elsewhere and  simply go away. And for those thankless Grandkids? Maybe next time Nana will send you a beautifully wrapped gift of underwear with a follow up text sporting the thumbs up.

To buy this new Snail Mail magnet or others from Smirking Goddess™ Studio please visit my #Etsyshop: Smirking Goddess Studio

Thank you.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring Yard Art and My Newest Handpainted Brooch Full Throttle Creativity this Month

I never liked February much, despite Valentine's Day being smack dab in the middle, and it being a short month. February is a soggy, dreary, icy, month in Connecticut. My mother passed away in this cold month, a few decades ago, and far too soon in my book as she deserved to embrace the golden years that were stacking up for her to enjoy. But March I like and then finally April. ..

Despite April being tax month, crocuses and snowdrops poke their heads up through wet Connecticut soil, and I, an avid gardener and Yardart enthusiast am propelled to create art for my garden along with painting pieces for my ETSY shop or writing new copy for the other shop. The surge of creative 'doing' momentum spills over with the promise of longer sunshiny days.

I discovered YardArt on Pinterest a few years ago. I'd been offering my services to weed and design some area Windsor Resident's yards. I suffered for my efforts, bee stings, poison ivy, but loved working with women who were open to my design ideas, and I made some new friends. I also tired of the constant maintenance in my own yard, "when will this end?" thought I as I pulled away at tough weeds that refused to give up the ghost. That's when YardArt came to the rescue, no more seeing a gorgeous shrub die on me, or forking out money for tons of annuals to pop in color. I still love to buy, plant and even start seedlings, but Yardart helps keep needless backbreaking work at bay, AND it offers an interesting view to the passerbyer that an artist resides in this antique house.

I have a friend who once placed her TV on a pile of old suitcases, I marveled at her swift move to design a vignette that worked utility-wise and really added a visual punch to her living room. Carla shared that she felt there were two kinds of artists in this world. Those that created beauty strictly on the canvas in front of them, ignoring the interior space around them; and those, like her, and me, who's artistic sense encompassed the immediate space around them as well.

Seed Bomb made from recycled paper scraps
Enter Pinterest with it's realm of garden boards, and I even created this one–Cool and Exciting Ideas for the Garden as a visual resource to refer to. I started making glass plate flowers, shutter snowmen and now I'm investigating shutter angels and am finishing up a pair of fan-blade dragonflies for my backyard. And I'm even making seedbombs dotted with Milkweed seed to attract Monarchs to my butterfly habitat in back. In one town artist Deborah Triplette started YardArt day and I'd love to adopt this concept here in Windsor.

The only problem with YardArt and Gardening for me, is creating a balance between outdoor work and indoor studio work, a real #WIP (Work in Progress) for me so I don't neglect one for the other. This is my year to truly discover creative balance. So far, so good, but it is trying, it means going in the studio when I want to be outside, or vice a versa.

Behold, my newest #handpainted brooch that arrived in the Eclectic Halloween Artist Emporium last night. EHAG artists, a juried group of talented professionals who celebrate all things whimsically halloween for avid collectors who love Hallow's Eve. We artists love to combine holidays and this month's challenge brought me to paint a white rabbit stealing away someone's Halloween pumpkin. Just the right kind of whimsical statement brooch for the happy collector to wear on one's lapel this Spring. To view visit here:

Wishing you all a Spring full of colorful surprises, and very little Poison Ivy. Oh! And here's how to make those Seedbombs