Happy Fall!

Fresh Spicy Salsa

Yesterday I made the most fantastic salsa with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden. It will light your fire. I LOVE spicy food and this recipe is a keeper. I was running low on jalapenos so I chopped up and threw in a few green cayenne peppers with the seeds. Yowza! Sha-Zam! The seeds are where the heat comes in so adjust accordingly for your taste. And don’t rub your eyes while you are chopping your peppers if you don’t wear gloves like me! See important note below.

  • 8 Beefsteak type vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 Jalapeno peppers chopped fine- add seeds for heat
  • 1 green cayenne pepper chopped fine
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Grab some corn chips and hang on to your hat!

If you accidently get oil from the peppers in your eyes or heaven forbid your nose…give yourself a yogurt facial. Seriously! I have rubbed it in my eyes before and it was the ONLY thing that worked. Farmboy had to do an emergency search online because I couldn’t open my eyes to see the computer. Moral of the story… don’t chop peppers and inadvertenly get distracted on the phone. You COULD just do what you are supposed to and wear gloves. But tell me, do YOU have latex gloves in your kitchen?

New Design- Boston Terrier

I do love dogs… and furniture! Can you tell? I could be getting a teensy bit carried away. My latest cutie-pie model is Stella a Boston Terrier. Doesn’t she look perfectly at home on this French style topiary chaise? She is the little Darling of my lovely and talented friend- artist/designer Shelly Kennedy of Drooz Studio. Have you seen Shelly’s work? Shown below is one of her canvas wall hangings. Delightful, Whimsical, Painterly… Love It! Be sure to check out her website- you too will adore her artwork!

The Boston Terrier design will soon be available at in limited edition giclee prints, pillows, linen guest towels, lavender sachets, cocktail napkins and notecards. What a nice little gift for someone you know who has one! Justsayin… ; )

Slow Food USA- Dig In

Hey, have you heard about Slow Food USA. I like what they stand for… making lunches in schools healthy for children and teaching people about the slow/whole food movement. This weekend they are encouraging folks to participate in a DIG IN. Here’s what it’s all about…

On Saturday, September 25th,  something groundbreaking is happening near you. In Berkeley they’re building a chicken coop, in Chattanooga they’re helping local farmers with their harvest, in Atlanta they’re planting fruit trees at two local schools.

It’s all part of “Dig In” – a day to break ground at gardens and community events, then break bread at the end of the day to celebrate.

Whether it’s building a garden in your local school, helping feed the hungry at a food bank, or pitching in at a backyard harvest, Dig In events will be a fun way to connect with like-minded people in your area – or an excuse for a great day out with your friends!
It could be as small as you and your kids weeding your own garden, or as large as building a school greenhouse (they’re doing it in Missouri!) – the important thing is to celebrate our community and food traditions, and then to sit down at the end of the day together for a great meal.

All over the country on September 25th people will be breaking ground then breaking bread.  It’s part of being a powerful grassroots movement that can bring about the change we want to our entire food system – and have a great time in the process, helping our communities!

So click here to find out what’s already happening in your town, or click here to create your own event.

Farmboy and I have a dinner club event on the 25th so we will not be participating in the Dig In this year but I will plan on it for next year. Check into what is going on in your area! All of the cool kids are doing it!

Sycamore Hill Garden Tour- Fall

A couple of times a year our neighbors down the street open their gardens to the public to benefit our local nature center Baltimore Woods. I have been attending with Junebug (my mom) on Mother’s day since The Bean was tiny enough to fit into a Baby Bjorn. This is the first time that I have visited the gardens in the Fall.

George and Karen Hanford have created a local treasure in our community. While the gardens are covered in tulips during the Mother’s day tour, the conifers, hydrangeas, ornamental grasses and hostas were the stars at this time of the year. Unfortunately the deciduous trees have not turned yet. That will be breathtaking I’m sure.

So join me for some beauty and inspiration. You won’t be disappointed!

There were many hydrangeas (Pee Gee and Tardiva) blooming and the butterflies were abundant.

Isn’t she beautiful? I love the weeping Norway Spruce next to her repeating her downcast posture.

Don’t we all need some wild boars in the garden?

The bridge to the Koi Pond.

Love this pathway through the pond. It is always a huge hit with the kids on Mother’s Day.

Junebug and I thought these guys looks like a gathering of hooded monks.

The stone from this castle in progress came from the old Jamesville Penitentiary .

The entrance to the Aborvitae Maze.

One of the many beautiful bronzes that grace the property.

Aren’t these Morning Light grass hedges great? They remind me of two giant fuzzy catepillars!

The children’s garden.

Oak alley – a series of English Oaks.

One of the things that I love about this garden is the use of conifers. Although there is nothing blooming in this photograph, the contrasting colors, textures and sizes of the plant material with the natural stone creates a varied, pleasing serene landscape.

One of my favorite sculptures.

Me and the lady who started it all… my love of gardening, that is. Junebug. It began when I was a little girl planting petunias next to her in the red soil of Mississippi. Most of the perennials in my garden now began as off shoots from her beautiful garden in Pittsford, NY. Whenever we get together for a visit, we take our strolls around each others garden discussing what has changed and of course what needs to be done because it is never finished.  From her I inherited the terrible sickness that I refer to as Gottahavethatplant-itis. It’s when you would rather have a new plant than a new pair of shoes! Gasp! It’s true. Where is the doctor? : )

On with the tour…

There are many gongs and bells hanging throughout the gardens.

For more information on Sycamore Hill Gardens please visit their website

Highlights from Clothesline

The weather was beautiful last weekend in Rochester and the crowds turned out for the festival. There were lots of clouds on Sunday but the rain held off for the most part. Yay. Being an artist that works primarily with paper can be quite challenging on a rainy day.

It was great to see my marvelous customers. One lady said that she had followed my work for the past 13 years! Since my debut at Clothesline. What an honor! I had to chance to meet alot of new faces even a Facebook Fan! How cool is that?

Here are a couple of highlights from the show. There was the beautiful gallery, of course…

the lovely atrium interior with a Henry Moore sculpture

a very interesting 4th Rochester Biennial exhibit. Loved this kinetic piece by Anne Havens.

There was music, food, and lots of artwork.

Sales were brisk. Yay. If you know me then you know I am a ceramics junkie. If I have a good show I am strongly inclined to purchase a new piece to celebrate. I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of my favorite Upstate New York ceramicists.

Shown above are the pieces that I purchased this year. Aren’t they lovely. I can’t keep my hands off that mug. I feel very special drinking my coffee and tea from this earthy and contemporary cup. I can’t wait to use the bowl at our next family gathering or dinner club. The artist Renata Wadsworth is from Ithaca and her work is available online and at the MAG gallery store.

This raku tile piece is by my friend Peter Valenti from Syracuse. We have been neighbors at the show and have watched each others children grow up from year to year. Peter primarily does wall pieces but often has vessels in his booth. His work can be purchased at shows and Eureka Crafts in Syracuse.

One of my favorite ceramist is Hodaka Hasebe. I have many of his pieces and have given lots of them as gifts. The glazes, texture, shape and functionality of his vessels have always appealed to me. His work can be purchased directly at many Upstate New York art festivals or in his etsy shop.

If my life could spare the time I would love to do ceramics again. I have 2 kilns that are waiting to be used. An old gas studio kiln out in the barn and a small electric kiln. Unfortunately my weak wrist has a hard time manipulating clay these days but I sure gave it a whirl in college. The piece shown below I made in a class at RIT. It is based on Franz Marc’s  The Large Blue Horses painting. Farmboy and I carried it around for 10 years stowing it under beds and in the basement of whatever place we were renting before we were able to actually install it.

I love sitting at the wheel. The whole centering process. You know I’ve said before that I was the self-professed Mud-Pie Queen in Mississippi growing up. I’m certain that has something to do with my love of gardening and ceramics. The firing process is like magic. Everytime the kiln opens its like Christmas morning. Although I don’t create ceramics anymore, I certainly appreciate their beauty and craftsmanship. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some ceramics work from some very talented artists. Be sure to check out their websites!

Let’s go for a walk!

Did someone say “walk”?

Come on… let’s go! How can you resist this face? It’s been a long of week of getting settled after the Clothesline Festival in Rochester (highlights to come). I have slowly been unpacking my trailer and getting reorganized. I needed an energetic walk this morning with my bouncy dogs. So why not join me?

First, on our way out we have to stop at the barn to feed the Hungry Hippos, the barn kitties and sing a morning song to Ruby the Rabbit.

Now, on to our walk.

Down the trail.

Gracie scrambles to catch up to Olie.

The corn is starting to turn that lovely color of light yellow ochre.

The leaves are starting to turn!

Catching their breath.

My favorite tree on these 300 acres. An old Sugar Maple that lights up the landscape in the Fall.

The gorge with a Fall trickle of water from the fields.

Heading back.

Horses turned out.

Couldn’t resist photographing this lovely Pee Gee Hydrangea by the front steps.

Thanks for joining me! Come again!

: ) Michelle

Sneak Peak!

Ooo, la, la! Here’s tiny sneak peak into some other things that have been going on around here! The theme for the Philadelphia Flower Show 2011 is “Springtime in Paris” and I am having so much fun getting ideas, patterns and fabrics pulled together for some new pillows and products to share!

Here are a couple new pillow designs featuring the Country French Animals, Fleur de Lis and a vintage photo of the Eiffel Tower. Love those contrasting textures and patterns! They are even reverseable.

And wine bottle bags… which is your preference? Burlap or silk? Seriously… I’m dying to know!

Prepping for The Clothesline Festival

I love the Clothesline Festival. I remember walking the show years ago when I was in college at RIT and being so impressed with the work that I saw. This will be my 13th year of doing the show. The first year I was thrilled to be one of the Merit Award winners- it was just the encouragement that I needed at that time to continue with my painting.

The show is on the grounds of the Memorial Art Gallery in downtown Rochester. The gallery is open to the public during the show upon paying the entrance fee. One of the perks of winning the Merit Award is that you can choose to move to a different (more visible) location in the festival. For the past 12 years I have loved my location, my neighbors, my shade tree and knowing that my customers know where to find me. This year there is a proposed sculpture park that has caused all of the vendors in my section to be relocated to the back of the gallery. I’m kinda bummed to say the least.

#127-  is my new booth number. It’s in the nose bleed section. Please take the time to find me if you are attending the show.  I have lots of new work this year. Shown above is a painting that I just finished last night. I love the abstract quality of it. I took many photos this year at the Walnut Hill Carriage Competition in Pittsford- this is the first of many paintings in a series.

Of course there will also be new topiary designs! See you there!


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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Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

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