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Dinosaur Topiaries

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On a recent trip to NYC we found a pair of enormous dinosaur topiaries outside of the American Museum of Natural History. They were very festive holding Christmas wreaths and made a lovely sculptural statement. I believe Topiary Joe created these big guys.

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If you could have any topiary created in your yard/landscape what would it be?




IrishFireside Holiday Giveaway

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Many thanks to Corey and Liam at IrishFireside.com for including us in their 2009 Holiday Gift Guide! Congratulations to Raydra Hall who won a gift set of the Topiary Claddagh in this years’ giveaway. A set of notecards, a lavender sachet and a linen guest towel will be mailed to you this week!

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Click on the link to view the Giveaway!

If you are planning a trip to Ireland or just enjoy Irish culture be sure to visit www.irishfireside.com. It is a fabulous resource of all things Irish!




Latin/Localvore Dinner Menu

A number of years ago a good friend asked Farmboy and me to participate in a dinner club. I had never used a food processor before and I think one of our first recipes was for some kind of wacky blue cheese coleslaw (it was delish… I’ll post the recipe later if I can find it). There was cabbage flying all over the kitchen. I became friends with the food processor and can now thankfully profess that I am no longer afraid of kitchen gadgets or appliances. That being said I can now confess that I am a Foodnetwork and TopChef junkie.

The last time we hosted was in the Fall and shown below is the delicious menu. My intention was to do a totally local menu with locally raised beef and vegetables. I was side tracked by the Green Peppercorn Sauce which took me down the trail of a more Latin flavored meal, hence the black beans and chipotle peppers. The Salsa Verde, Garlic, Greens and Yukon Gold Potatoes came from our potager garden. In order to get Grass Fed Filet Mignon we had to buy what the grocer had from somewhere like Bolivia! Uggh. I should have prepared better. I did not realize that the local farms often do not carry “retail cuts”. A local butcher could have gotten the beef if he had more time but it would have come from Nevada since apparently it is difficult to finish beef in our climate on grass. I’m still a bit perplexed by the whole thing, but I’m learning.

Farm

Black Bean Pica with Garlic Bruschetta

Salsa Verde with Corn Chips

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Green Chili Swirl

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Garlic and Cheese Chipotle Mashed Potatoes with Seared Greens

Sweet Wine and Honey Roasted Pears




Emmanuel- God with Us

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Happy Holidays from our family to yours!




Happy Winter Solstice

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Did you know that as the days get longer it triggers the horse’s coat to begin to shed? I had always assumed that it was warmer temps that brought on those full grooming brushes. This is my fuzzy Paley with snowy whiskers that need trimming. She’s a delight. A long time friend.




Gracie’s Garden Portrait

Sheltie-IllustrationMy newest Posh Pet Digs design: Cutting hedge portraiture of your favorite pets! This is a sweet Sheltie named Gracie. The rings and bars on the pillows are little graphic hints of Gracies’ fun with agility training. Her owner likes chickadees and goldfinches and, well, I just got carried away with the whole thing. Can you tell?

This design is available on notecards, linen guest towels, linen cocktail napkins, lavender sachets, limited edition pillows and limited edition prints at michellemasters.com




The Holidays

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This has to be my favorite time of the year. My senses are estatic. The music, the smells, the snow, the lights. What joy. I go back and forth between the present and the past Christmas’ of my childhood. It’s really all good. I had an ideal childhood… until the my parents’ divorce. Apparently it wasn’t that ideal. But, life… it is what it is. And I’m glad. I know that I have been blessed. Perfection and imperfection. It’s okay with me. At least it is today.

I have a strong desire to give my children a healthy investment of tradition, memories, smells, tastes and sounds to fill their present as well as their past when they are old enough to look back. I wonder what shape it will take for them. Hmmm. I hope they remember that they are loved with an everlasting love and that their parents are absolutely crazy about each other. That would make me happy.




The Blue Peanut

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The Blue Peanut. Baby Blue Peanut. Plastic with a string tied around it Peanut. We have numerous ornaments. Whenever Farmboy and I travel we purchase an ornament to remind us of our trip. This is the first year decorating our Christmas tree that both of our children were old enough to tell our “stories” to. What a treat. I told my daughter about the “passie” ornament. A little pooh pacifier with a red ribbon tied around it. That ornament was how Farmboy found out that LaLa was on the way. Oh, what a thrill.

The Blue Peanut. I in inherited it. It’s something I’ve always wanted. In fact, I would like it willed to me. I’m nervous that someone else may one day want to claim it. I want it in writing. When my five year old was busily unpacking ornaments for the tree, she kept asking, “Where is the Blue Peanut?”. How did she remember? She can hardly remember where she left her blankie, much less something she hasn’t seen in a year,  yet she wanted to get her hot little hands on that peanut.

It was my stepfather’s when he was a child. I don’t know much more about it. I think it was something from Mr. Peanut but after a quick google search for “Blue Mr. Peanut”, I only found the Mr. Peanut with arms, legs, glasses and a hat… definitely not my peanut. I don’t think ours opens. I say “ours” because we have the peanut now.  Yep, you read that right. We HAVE the coveted peanut. But, as I’ve said before I want that baby in writing. I know there are items perhaps of more “value” but because it was given to Poppa by his mom, it has become very important to me… to us. So, maybe La La or the Bean will one day request the Blue Peanut. Until then the anticipation of unveiling the peanut from year to year will greatly enhance the Christmas tradition in our home. What can I say… its the simple, lovely, meaningful things that make my world go around.




10% Off Through the 12th!

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Ho Ho Ho! Enjoy 10% savings on your entire order at www.michellemasters.com through the 12th of December! Enter 10HOHOHO for the coupon code.




Potager Progress

My vegetable garden expansion took place last spring. Farmboy was busy farming, the ground was workable and I had the skid steer! My exisiting vegetable garden was a series of 9 raised beds about 3 ft wide by 5 ft. long running north to south. My sister kindly pointed out that it looked like a graveyard. I’m not a rectangle with rows kind of gal. I need paths. A destination. It needs to charm me, enchant me… maybe I just wanted a place for the kids to play without stepping all over everything. I needed paths. I digress.

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View of old garden raised beds (early spring). Note playset in background… picture two-story state of the art chicken condo in a couple of years. Don’t tell the kids.

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New area to the left.

I started my expansion by layering composted horse manure from the barn and topsoil. Hmmm. If I had planned it on paper I wouldn’t have made a giant raised rectangle. It was supposed to be left until Fall but I COULD NOT leave it alone. I had to see structure, shape, green plants… and paths. Out of that huge rectangle, I dug out my little paths. Ahhh. Structure. Geometry. A destination. I worked like a crazyperson. It had to be done. I couldn’t garden in half of that space and watch the weeds take over the other half.

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I added a bench to sit and rest from my path making madness. On Mother’s Day I was given a lovely birdbath/fountain to add as the focal point of my emerging potager. I added an apple tree to each side of the bench as well as Little Gem globe arborvite to mark the entrance and termination of the two main paths.

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View to the west through the pea trellises.

Once the paths were established I added landscape fabric and mulch to keep the weeds at bay.  Along the raised edges I planted nasturtiums to keep the weeds down. They were very prolific and effective. Note to self: plant dwarf varieties next year.

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View through side perennial garden and arbor into the potager (towards south).

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View of potager (mid summer) from house.

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View to east through center axis.

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View to west from bistro set.

The bistro set was a welcome addition to the potager. La La and the Bean enjoyed breakfast out there on numerous occasions. Junebug (my mom) and I contemplated life, gardening and much more while watching the sunset and having a glass of wine. LaLa often brought us appetizers of chives, broccoli, mint and fresh green peppers.

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Mid summer view to the south with oats in background.

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View from studio in late fall.

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First snow 2009. (view from studio)

Next year I hope to add two more fruit trees. One on either side of the bistro set as well as some type of fencing. I am entertaining the idea of a picket fence. One day perhaps the paths will be in some sort of stone. I think I’m ready to add permanence to the shape. My main quandary at this time is where to hide the compost pile.: )




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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This blog and all of the creative elements ie., written content, illustrations and photographs are the sole property of Michelle Masters Studio and cannot be reproduced in any form without the artist's permission.

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