Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mushroom Hunting in the Rain

Some of my favorite memories of growing up in the northern part of Decatur County revolve around the woods that encompass most of my parent's land.  My brothers and I used to go out and explore- climbing down the "cliffs", crossing the "rivers" and searching for anything new and exciting we could find to do.  I loved being outdoors, and the vibrant greens of those treks through nature was one of the things I missed the most when I lived away.  I've really enjoyed being back and living "in nature" again.

Between work, board meetings, baseball and church, our family has been on the go for almost three weeks straight.  By yesterday, all four of us were showing signs of the toll it was taking on us- mentally and physically.  So today we made the conscious decision to just relax and recoup some of our energy at home. 

It rained most of the morning, but slacked off in the early part of the afternoon.  It was a little cool and a little wet; it was perfect for mushroom hunting.  I have so many memories of my family mushroom hunting when I was growing up, and this weather just screamed mushrooms to me.  When I realized that neither of my boys, nor my husband had ever been morel hunting, we remedied that situation immediately.  

Today I took my family mushroom hunting, but we found far more than mushrooms.  Today we found:

  • That you don't have to take the golf cart everywhere, and that walking can actually be enjoyable.
  • That it can be raining out in the open, but under the canopy of the trees you’ll never be able to tell.
  • That there are amazing textures to find everywhere.
Mom:  What is that?
Cole:  Lamb's Wool.  No, Ear Lamb.  No, Lamb's Ear!  That's it!
  • That it’s easy to leap across a creek, but it so much more fun for Daddy to pull you across as you jump!
  • That thorns and vines both attack, but it is best if you only attack one of those back. 
"Um, Mommy...."
  • That sometimes you have to go off the path to find the best things.
  • That neither one of my city kids can climb a tree (for that I am truly ashamed!)
  • That once finally climbed, a tree can suddenly become a race car, a horsie or a dragon. 
"Vrooom vrooooom!"
  • That you can go over it, under it, through it or around it, but sometimes you just have to go.
  • That you don’t always have to go the same way to end up in the same place.
  • That sticks are amazingly fun toys. 

      We spent almost two hours wandering through the woods.  We didn't find a single morel mushroom, but honestly, that’s to be expected.  Instead, we found laughter, fun, a future site for a fort and time to spend with each other that wasn't rushed or structured.  I wouldn't trade this afternoon for a whole bucket of mushroom.

Monday, April 22, 2013


On the northwest corner of the square in Greensburg, Indiana sits an unassuming little store.  Picker’s Paradise has a sign on the side of the building, but lets the merchandise in the front windows speak for it in the front.  Once you get inside, you never know what you are going to find! 

The store is set up in individual booths, with a path running through the middle, down one side and up the other.  Each booth is a little different, so you have to be on your toes.  Some booths are neat as a pin and have things laid out for you to easily see.
A place for Everything, and Everything in it's place.
 Others have treasures packed behind treasures.  
How many puppies can you find?
Some booths have a sign that lets you know the contents within are on sale- we like those signs! 
20% off!  Woo!

My mom and I visit Picker’s at least once a week.  In fact, in our family my mom is lovingly referred to as an “Extreme Picker!”  She has been known to forego eating lunch in order to spend more time “picking”.  So for this blog, I went straight to the expert.   I asked Mom to give me her philosophy on picking, and this is what she said: 

“I approach shopping at Picker’s Paradise one of two ways: 
1.   I look for something in particular.  For instance, I may look for furniture to match my other furniture, wall decorations, baskets, etc. 
2.  I just browse to see if they have anything I might want/need.
The first approach can be the most frustrating.  I need patience to wait for that certain piece, but I always know it when I see it!  Sometimes it happens right away; then again it can take weeks.  The second approach is the most fun, because I am just checking things out and I might find something and think “Wow, that would go with....”  Sometimes I don't even think about needing something, and then when I see, I think “Wow, that work great....”  And then I know that I need it!”

Last week, Mom and I took a walk around Picker’s Paradise to illustrate how to properly "pick."  For this trip, we combined the two approaches from above to be able to find items that illustrate the amazing things you can discover.  

Here is the story of our visit, complete with lots of pictures.  It also shows that we played our favorite game while we were there- "Rooster"  (For some reason that has long been forgotten, our family yells "Rooster!" every time we see one.)  This was an especially fun trip for "Roostering" this time.  "Rooster" is not a necessity for "Proper Picking," but it is entertaining nonetheless.  So, without further ado...

 Mom and I went Picker’s Paradise and we found:


and birdhouses 


    and bears
and purses

and this hat!
Of course I need a pink cowboy hat! 
We found things I can't live without
So what if I'm allergic to milk?  I NEED the cheese grinder!

and things I didn't know I needed until I saw it! 
This photo of two chairs will go perfectly with my new hat!

We found things that are 
way too cool to pass up
A cow vase?  Yes, please!

and things too scary to leave! 
Pretty sure I saw this torture device in a Chuckie Movie...

We found furniture 

with a ROOSTER! 

       We found dolls 

and bears

and dolls and bears!

We found tools for a new profession 
Shoe shine, anyone?


Fun things for sports fans 
                 Treasures for the avid collector     
A collection of Simpsons statues?  Cowabunga!
and this hat! 
Top O' the mornin'!

We found food you can't eat 

Food you can eat


   Candles that smell
     as good as food

                   And things that may      
                 make food (but we aren't sure- 
                    what the heck is this thing???)

We found these hats...

I think these are supposed to go on a door or something...

And this hat, that I'm pretty sure I was wearing backwards...
Oops! Hee Hee!

   We found cars 

and jewelry 

 And a cheetah, two fish, a goose, a pig, a sheep, a camel, a walrus, a puppy, two cats, a cow and lion, 

this adorable puppy
Why haven't I gone back and
bought this yet?  Seriously???

and a ROOSTER! 

We found all of these things (in less than an hour, mind you!), and we just scratched the surface of the store.  And what's even better is that there is another one just like it and owned by the same people in Columbus

If you have a few minutes or a few hours, take the time to check out Picker's Paradise.  And when you are ready to purchase all of the amazing treasures that you have found, you will see this sign behind that counter that will make your day:

Happy Picking!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Art on the Square- Gallery Night Out!

When I was growing up, I had a great-aunt with whom I shared a special bond.  Irene Wolfe, or Aunt Neenie as I called her, was a great artist and a frequent volunteer in the arts world in Greensburg.  I’m not sure how it came to be, but somehow I ended up taking oil painting lessons from her, which would allow me to spend hours at a time with her.  We laughed, talked, ate and occasionally painted!  Oil paintings take several hours or days to complete because of the drying time involved, so we had lots of time for the eating, talking and laughing part!

Because I remembered how long it took for each oil painting to be completed, I was a little skeptical when I learned that I could join a class for $25* (to pay for all the necessary supplies) and complete a painting in one night if I signed up for Art on the Square’sGallery Night Out.”  Since I don't know where else I can get a painting for so little money, I thought I'd check it out.

Earlier this month, I joined a class of 4 other women to paint a covered bridge scene.  I walked in at 6:30 pm when the class started and was shown this painting, with the promise that I would walk out at the end of the night with one similar to it.

As I said, I was skeptical, until I realized that we weren't painting with oils, but with acrylics!  I will admit that I have done a little watercolor painting since my days with Aunt Neenie, but acrylics were a new experience for me.  We started with this simple kit of tools: a canvas, a water bowl, a 2 inch paint brush and a paper covered table. 

By the end of the night we had added a few colors of paint, a couple more brushes, paper towel, a natural sponge, a white paint marker and a pen and a tooth brush to our arsenal.  It all added up to a painting!  Here are the steps we took:

First, we wet the canvas with the big brush, and then used the same brush to make big sweeping motions with brown in the sky.  Then we used a paper towel to daub away parts of the color.  Interesting beginning to the sky!

We used a fan brush with different painting strokes to make trees, grass and bushes.  Our teacher Billy drew in a simple bridge to help us visualize our finished project.

 We used the fan brush and a yellow color to add in details to the trees and grasses.  Then we daubed a natural sponge throughout the trees to give it depth.  It’s a good thing that the table was covered with paper- it was well used by the end of the night for checking colors and techniques!

Then we added blue in much of the same way we added the brown to start the sky.  It starts to make sense now, doesn't it!  A little blue in the water and some on the snowy areas to reflect the sky and we are almost there…

 Woah, did my 4 year old paint a bridge?  Billy promised us that it would get better…

The red bridge had to dry before we could add another layer to make it more opaque.  The hair dryer- an artist’s secret weapon!

A little darker red on the bridge and some brown stripes and we are suddenly getting somewhere!

Icicles on the bridge, courtesy of an acrylic paint pen.  Who knew they made such a thing!?!

 And then Billy hands us a tooth brush….  What???  It’s for the….

SNOW!  Load the toothbrush up with white paint, and then flick it with your thumb.  It’s messy, but the end result is so pretty!

Making snow is messy business!

We signed our work of art as our final step, and we were finished!

Here’s my finished project. 

One gal in the class just couldn't step back from her painting enough to see that she was doing a fantastic job, so Billy put her painting in the frame when she was in the bathroom.  The look of shock on her face when she realized that was HER painting in the frame was priceless!  He then let us all put our paintings in a frame to see what they looked like.  Here is mine in the frame, next to the one that we were shown at the beginning

As Billy pointed out, no two paintings will ever be the same.  This is definitely evident by the picture of our class with our pictures.  Same teacher, same painting to look at, this result:

Art on the Square has several types of art classes, including adult, kid and family classes for various mediums.  Billy Dilkes, my instructor for the night, does a “Gallery Night Out” at least once a month, typically the 1st Monday of the month.  Billy also teaches “Family Night Out”, “Saturday Strokes” and exhibits his own original artwork in the Gallery.  He was a fantastic teacher, calm and reassuring to the ones who had never painted before as he was to those of us with experience.  All in all, he was great!

If you have ever had the desire to be creative, give “GalleryNight Out” or one of the other classes a try!  I promise you that you can paint with Billy’s help, and you will be amazed at what you have accomplished when you are finished.  I’ll be back in April for another “GalleryNight Out”- the office bathroom needs something, and I think the dragonfly masterpiece I will create (with Billy’s help, of course!) will be just the thing! 

*The Author's class fee was paid for by the Decatur County Tourism Board-