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Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Fun: Facebook Fan of the Week

After a 3 way tie...I've chosen this week's Top Facebook Fan: Jerrold from North Dakota! 

Thank you for your kindness and participation this week!  Now, it's time to step away from the computer and head out for some Friday Fun!

This weekend in North Dakota the "Big Sing" has gathered choirs from three states to entertain together with over 250 voices joined in competition and collaboration.

Also this weekend is "Too Flat...Too Furious!" UND's third annual collegiate race weekend, includes races open to non-collegiate riders! Come on out with your road bike and throw down against others in the area! Races are sanctioned by USA Cycling and require an annual or one-day license. Helmets are required at all time when you are on a bicycle at each race venue.  If you not ready to compete then come out and watch the UND Cycling Team compete against collegiate teams from as far away as Kansas! Three events over two days means you get ample opportunity to see everyone race, but don't miss the criterium, a high-speed race around Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks!

Next weekend you can swap those Bicylces for Horses at the DSU Triple Crown Competition. This NIRA DSU Blue Hawk Rodeo Stampede will host over 275 Contestants from a 5 state region. Rodeos will be held on Friday with a slack @ 12:00 noon and a performance @ 6:00pm. On Saturday a 1:00pm performance will be held. Admission: Adults $8/Youth $3. Banquet & Dance will be held at the Ramada-Grand Dakota Lodge @ 6:30pm.  Location: DSU Outdoor Arena on State Avenue.  For more info: visitdickinson.com

Blue Hawk Rodeo Stampede!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Fun: Facebook Challenge!

I love my Facebook Fans...but y'all are the quietest people!  You know that I'm really good at talking... but I'm also a really good listener!  Honest I am!  So in order to hear from you folks more I'm going to turn Friday Fun into a Facebook Challenge!  Here is the idea:  On Friday I will announce whoever responded to North Country Rustic posts with the most likes, comments, and shares as the Top Facebook Fan.  Then I will link to fun events for them to do in their state over the weekend.  If any of you actually attend one of the events suggested message me the photos (no more than 5 please) and I will post your "Friday Fun" with all the fans!

The First Top Facebook Fan is: Virginia from Georgia!

Thank you for being such an active Fan!  Virginia & my other Georgia Fans ~ The first two festivals are this weekend but the last festival is next weekend.  The Vidalia Onion Festival has been featured on The Food Network and recognized as one of the Five Don’t-Miss Festivals Across the U.S. by MSNBC.  This Friday...Have Fun!

Atlanta Dogwood Festival Atlanta, Georgia
April 20th to 22nd
Atlanta Dogwood Festival   

Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival Perry, GA,
April 21st and 22nd
Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival  

Vidalia Onion Festival Vidalia, Georgia
April 26th to 29th
Vidalia Onion Festival 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Hearts : Hour of Play

You can't turn on the news without hearing that we are all overweight, that Americans need more exercise.  I certainly can't argue the point.  Maybe I even contribute by sharing high calorie recipes but I can't help but think that this non-stop lectures aren't really helping us at all!

I remember that even when I was young I HATED EXERCISE!  Gym class was torture!  At the same time though, I was never inside, never sat still for long, and my bike was my best friend... But that wasn't exercising ~ it was fun!  Instead of planning for an hour of exercising wouldn't you rather spend an hour playing?  If you did it as a kid...you can do it now!  And chances are your kids will be right by your side having fun with you!  Wow, that beats the treadmill anyday.  And those lectures on every news program...shut them off and spend the rest of the time having fun!
Ride Free!

Fly High!

Take the Plunge!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

D I Y Wednesday: Rustic Pencil Holder

 I enjoy making all sorts of rustic items and can't seem to ever throw away any scraps... you never know what you might be able to use that piece for.  This little piece seemed like a Rustic Pencil Holder! 

Choose Wisely!
 Step 1:  I'm using scrap Cedar but you can really use anything... even old Christmas tree trunks!  Choose a piece that isn't too big for where you want to display your pencils.  Cut the piece to the height you prefer.  I recommend 1 1/2 to 2 inches.  If your scrap wood still has it's bark you can choose to de-bark it at this time if you'd like.   

Step 2: Sand the exposed top and bottom until smooth.  Round over the edges to create a nice finished look.
Sand until Smooth!
Step 3:  Use a Straight Edge to create "Pizza" slices across the top of your piece.  Once your guide lines are drawn it will be easier to position the pencil holes later.
Tip: Use the widest end for the bottom...it adds stability!
Follow all Safety Rules when Drilling!
Step 4:  Use a drill bit slightly larger than the pencils or pens you plan on keeping in the holder.   Follow all Safety rules when drilling! 

Step 5:  After drilling the center hole continue drilling around the outer edge using your "Pizza Slices" as guides for hole placement.
Tip: Rustic is meant to be Imperfect!
Step 6:  Sand off your pencil marks or erase them...Whichever is easier for you!

Step 7:  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Eats : Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Everyday seems to get busier.  Busier, Longer, More Stressful and sometimes we need to take Comfort... And there is a reason why they call it Comfort Food.  Because nothing takes you back to long lost childhood memories like an old fashioned Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  That sandwich may hit the spot for youngsters... but You've Grown Up!  Don't You Deserve a Grown Up Grilled Cheese?  Yes, You Do!  Nothing says Grown Up more than a Beer Battered Grilled Cheese Sandwhich!  Crispy Beer Battered Bread, 2 Types of Melted Cheesy Goodness, Smoky Bacon and some Spices to add a kick!
Beer Battered Grilled Cheese

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Mother's Day Gift Guide...for Hubbies!

After writing last week's post "All about Mom" I realized that I, like thousands of women around America, will receive a gift from my hubby for Mother's Day.  While I enjoy a trip to the hardware store for a new tool...most wives aren't going to find it pleasurable.

So, what is a hubby supposed to do?  Don't Worry...I'm here to help!  It's not Christmas, Her Birthday or Your Anniversary so there really is no need to think expensive jewelry.   Don't roll your eyes... I am not setting you up to get in trouble.  Instead of Expensive I want you to think Sentimental!  Often these items are less costly and more memorable.

Let's Start with Flowers:  You can never go wrong with flowers but please...not from the Gas Mart!  If going flower picking in the garden or fields near your home isn't possible then swing into the florist shop.  I know your instinct is going to be to buy Roses...but resist the temptation!  Instead find a nice bouquet of flowers featuring your wife's favorite color!  It'll be less expensive and you get extra points for telling your wife your reasoning.  Also every bouquet needs a vase...If one stop shopping is your thing the florist will help.  Otherwise, spend a few extra minutes finding a vase that fits her style.  This Mason Jar features beautiful birch bark to add a rustic flair.

Glass Vases of the right shape & size can also double as candle holders. 

When in doubt try thinking about her favorite animal.  If she's a bird watcher than a new bird house and bird book may be just the thing.  But if her favorite animal is a bit more unusual than why not consider having a custom carving done for her.  Every wife loves knowing that something was created uniquely for them.

 Look around your home.  Are there more than 3 pieces of decor with slightly cracked or peeling paint?  If so, Your wife is practicing Shabby Chic!  Most hubbies don't understand this design philosophy but I'm here to explain it to you.  All wives want to be Martha Stewart~and we want to make it look easy but in truth very few of us can actually do it.  Shabby Chic helps hide the "less than perfect" way we actually live our lives.  If your considering buying Shabby Chic...Why not buy Shabby Chic Flowers?  She'll be sure to love them!

When all else fails...Candles!  All wives love candles!  This trio of rustic candle holders will be perfect in any cabin or country decor.   That's it!  Simple Advice for an Affordable Mother's Day Gift for your Wife.  If one of our photos is THE perfect gift for your Wife or your Mom...We're always happy to help. Just leave a comment here or send us an e-mail at northcountryrustics@gmail.com and we welcome visits at www.facebook.com/northcountryrustics

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Fun : Kidding Me Photo Challenge

I'm sure you've all seen the "Photo a Day" Challenges.  They're great but... They're a bit intense for a kid or a busy parent!  So I suggest taking this fun photo challenge with your child this weekend!  Almost every kid has a digital camera at this point... either on their phone or a hand me down model when Mom upgraded.  Why not spend a little time teaching them how to take a photo that isn't a slightly sideways kind of blurry Facebook Pics.  Photography is inexpensive, easy and fun.  At the end of the weekend ~ Download Your and Your Childs Photos...pick out the best and have a new screensaver for the week.  You'll get to see the weekend from your child's point of view and maybe you won't hear ~ "I'm Bored..."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday Hearts : Family Time

We're all busy and by Thursday we're usually a bit "burnt out" but why not use Thursday to refocus on the things that mean the most to us.  "Thursday Hearts" is going to be my way of taking a deep breath.  This week I have a whole "new" family to add to my heart...and probably you do too!  My Mother has spent a fair amount of her free time searching the newly released 1940 Census for long lost information on our relatives.  This new release of information has spurred many to start their family geneology search. 
Where was your Family?
It's certainly not a new trend with Internet making fact finding much easier but now even TV programming is jumping on the bandwagon with NBC's Friday night hit "Who Do You Think You Are" and PBS's fascinating "Finding Your Roots".  Both shows do an excellent job of inspiring a geneology search.  If your one of the inspired the 1940 Census is a great starting point.  Have Fun and Learn Something about your Family you never knew before!  (My newest bit of history: Every Census had a different spelling for my Great Grandmother's Name.  I inherited her name and the governement still can't spell it right! LOL) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DIY Wednesday: New "Vintage" Mason Jars

You know here at North Country Rustics that I love a good DIY project!  That's why I've decided to make today DIY Wednesday!  While the Internet has hundreds of thousands of these DIY Crafts...they aren't always practical, or easy, or fun.  Today's project is guaranteed to be all of it and more!  Everyone loves those vintage blue/green mason jars but they are rare and difficult to find.  Save your gas money and your sanity... Make yourself some brand new "Vintage" Mason Jars!

Add Colorful Whimsy to your Mason Jars!
All you need to try this delightful DIY is ModPodge, Food Coloring and an Oven!  And easy step by step instructions!  Now that you've got beautiful Mason Jars...What to use them for?  Rustic Weddings, Garden Parties, Vases, Color Coded Organization...even Mason Jar Chandeliers! (electrician recommended~LOL)  The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Eats: Rustic White Bean & Ham Soup

At this time of year, it's always a challenge to find leftover Ham recipes.  With the gray skies and cool temperatures that are lingering over my Cabin it feels like a hearty soup is called for.  White Bean and Ham Soup is a tradition whenever there is a left over ham bone in our house!  However, in the past I've been somewhat disappointed with the recipe that was handed down from my in~laws.  The recipe was just a little bland...So this year I've searched the Internet and found a recipe that calls for fresh spices, carrots, onions, and celery...not to mention a tiny kick of Tabasco!  WooWee!  That ought to kick the bland right out of this soup!
Tuesday Eats: Rustic White Bean and Ham Soup
Perfect to Warm up any Rainy Day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

All For Mom!

Was the Easter Bunny good to you?  Chocolate...YUMMY!  Well, with Easter barely behind us our attention has already turned to the next holiday: Mother's Day!  You know Mom ~ the lady peeling all those potatoes for yesterday's Easter Feast!  Finding a good gift for Mom isn't always easy.  You want something as personal, unique, and thoughtful as your Mom.  I've already been contacted by one very dedicated daughter to create a special gift for her Mom this Mother's Day.  Her Mom loves Squirrels and I was so happy to be able to carve a special gift for her. 

That's the Key to a really Good Gift for Mom, isn't it?  Finding the unexpected thing she really loves ~ gardening, a favorite animal or bird, a photograph that captured something special and turning her favorite thing into a gift that she could never have imagined.  If your Mom enjoys Country, Hand Crafted, or Rustic then maybe some of these ideas will help spark your creativity for your Mother's Day Gift.  And we're always here for you if you need a hand!  Good Luck!

Wall Hangings are Fun and Easily Customized!

Created by North Country Rustics

A Hip Apron can spice up any Mom's Kitchen Time
especially this Apple Pie from www.etsy.com/shop/bluestarvermont

For the Mom who loves Candles...
Check out www.stickcandles.com/

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Anniversary Fun

Can you believe that North Country Rustics is celebrating it's 1st Anniversary? I know I can't! In this economy starting a business isn't just tough...it's downright CRAZY!!! And it's Crazy how much FUN we've had! Thank you to everyone we've met this year, and those who've supported us for years and years! It's been a great first year and we're looking forward to many, many more!

Retail Goes Rustic

I am so very proud to announce that North Country Rustic carved wildlife doors are now available at Cedar Mountain Merchantile Gifts located in Salmon Run Mall, Watertown NY. This is our first "retail" location...boy, is our tiny little business growing! And it's because of all the support and encouragement I get from my family and friends. Not to mention, the patience of my hubby! LOL. Thank you everyone!!!

Altona Outdoors Show

We had such a wonderful time in Altona!  We met quite a few of our Facebook Friends and even made some new friends...including some of the vendors!  I was lucky to be positioned right next to Mick Jarvis, renowned Adirondack pack basket artisan!  To watch him create the beautiful baskets was a real treat!  I had to remind myself not to stare...  I would love to take one of his classes!

Also, spent quite a bit of time getting some very helpful advice from Fred of Fred Peryer's Rustic Creations!  Talk about talent...this man creates some beautiful rustic pieces and the best part is that you get amazing quality American made products at extremely affordable prices!!!  If you love rustic let me know and I'll share his e-mail with you.  I'd share now but I'd feel terribly guilty if those nasty spammers got a hold of Fred's e-mail.

We kept quite busy at our booth. Overall, we had a fantastic time and learned sooo much! Thanks Suzie, and everyone in Altona!

Lodge Style Doors

So with my attention turned to the upcoming Altona Show I was desperate to make some new doors. I wanted to upgrade my designs and my door assembly. It wasn't easy and it became a whole family affair but the results were fantastic!  Our new line of doors are called "Lodge Style" doors.  The doors are built like panel doors and offer easier installation.  I'm in love with this new style!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's to the Workshop I go... Between 25-32 hours of work per door! Where's Mommy? In the Workshop. Who's cooking dinner?  
The Pizza Man!

Unexpected Surprises

When I decided to take my carving hobby and turn it into a business I wasn't sure that I'd ever find even a single customer.  I know that I'm Kooky so what if I'm the only person in the world Kooky enough to love my Rustic Screen Doors?  So I was caught off guard when I found that I was gathering an impressive little Facebook following.  I'm not one of those pages that plays all sorts of games to increase fan numbers.  So every fan (nearly 200 now) really matters to me...If your a fan of my page I want it to be because you really enjoy what I'm offering ~ Hand crafted Rustic Decor and Furniture.

So I was Unexpected Surprised when one of my facebook fans sent me an invitation to be a vendor at the Altona Outdoors Show!  I have never been a vendor.  I wrote her several times..."Are you sure?"  "I've just started the business..."  Can you tell that I was having a serious panic attack?  Well, somehow I was convinced to be a vendor...Then the real work began!  Most of my doors have been custom doors so I have NONE on hand!  To the Workshop...

Talk about an Unexpected Surprise...I just about hyperventilated when I saw one of my doors featured in an Altona Outdoor Show advertisement!

Cedar Bear Bed

You would think that a 20×24 foot basement workshop would be plenty big enough for hubby and I to share…but you’d be seriously WRONG! Especially after he started working on his latest bed. A queen sized bed takes up a large chunk of floor space!

This bed was a custom order. It’s crafted from locally harvested cedar. Each railing, post and spindle was hand peeled using a drawknife. This lends a very rustic hand hewn look to each piece. This bear cutout adds a bit of whimsy and fun to an otherwise very traditional log bed. It’s finished with several coats of clear shellac.

I know that the very observant folks will notice that the mattress doesn’t fit the bed very well…truth be told it’s a full size air mattress covered in a twin size blanket on a queen sized bed! I really need to invest in queen sized air mattress if my hubby is going to keep making these beds! LOL.

Down-Sizing Rustic

North Country Rustics may soon start attending festivals and outdoor shows as a vendor! Which has me frantically searching the internet, books, and local shops for inspiration. I love my doors but I feel I need more variety for a “booth”. So, I’ve started my diversification with some rustic wall hangings.

All of these projects were made using scraps. The first one I call “Dandy Breeze”. The dandilion was so much fun to carve. The boards were brand new and needed a bit of roughing up to get that rustic look I so like. During my frantic internet search I came across tips on how to acheive the look by wetting the boards with water before applying dark walnut stain. Most of the stain wipes off easily leaving the dark color only in the distressed areas. I also dry brushed a bit of blue gray over the top to add a bit more color.

The Second piece is Apples. I used a scrap piece of plywood for this project…distressing the board with the same technique and applying Green Apple paint overtop. The Apple, branch, and word are all carved and painted…the leaves are dehydrated apple leaves. I thought real leaves added a bit more personality to the piece.

The last picture is two seperate smaller carvings. I’m hoping these will appeal to the fisherman that we get during Salmon season here. My hubby assures me that they will…but I’m just not that sure! They’re FISHING FLIES!!! Who would want that on their wall? LOL. Still it’s scrap wood and I got to do some new carving so…even if it doesn’t sell I had fun making them. I left the boards distressed without an overlay of paint…I thought the carved and painted flies should be the focus of the color.

Jersey Love

North Country Rustic's First Internet Order!!! These doors were so much fun…and yet so infuriating! I call it the “Mutiny of the Machines”! As you all know, I start with using the computer to generate a “template”. I use these templates to fine tune the design until the customer is happy with the plan. Then I draw onto the wood and cut out the design using a jigsaw. It’s usually quite fun…until your jigsaw fails to do it’s job…I actually had two jigsaws “give up the ghost” during these doors. What normally takes hours took days to hand cut. Ugh! But eventually I was able to get to the carving. The carving is the best part of the project for me. I like to try new techniques everytime to see if I can add something unexpected. It’s just so much fun! After an easy and fun couple of days carving all that was left was the finishing. This is when my stain sprayer decided to join the Jigsaws in the Mutiny! Normally staining is a very fast part of my process…not when I’m hand staining all the “nooks & crannies”! It took forever. Then I had to do it all 3 more times with Poly! Waiting a full day or more between coats because of the humidity. But in the end, it was all well worth it! I love both doors but...I have to say "Jersey" holds a special place in my heart. Who knew I'd have so much fun with a cow? LOL

Buck Shot!

Every once in a while (like once a week~LOL) I go a little crazy. This time I suddenly became obsessed with the fact that I hadn't done a large deer door. I wanted to try something along the lines of the Moose. I had some issues making the oval but over all I love this very rustic door!