Welcome to A Tranquil Nook Blog

We welcome you to follow along on our crafty adventures. Frank is a farmer by day, jewelry and hand braided cord-maker by night. Jane simply fiddles with fabric and fiber any time she can. We share things about what we make, how we make it, where you can get it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Falling into Winter on the Farm

Hello there, surfacing with an undate.  Scenes from late Nov to Early December.

Frank has his seed orders almost ready to send into Johnny's and FedCo. He started a "Soil Bank" garden in the spot where the old barn stood. (The wonderful historic old log base barn lost in the 2012 July Storm.)The soil bank concept is to plant to renew, replenish, enrich the earth. As that dirt improves, it will be harvested and moved into beds in the vegetable garden and high tunnel to bolster the intense growing plots.
Frank tilling a mix of peat, compost, dirt dug from one of the Hi Tunnel Beds.
In the high tunnel, he double dug two of the long beds, replacing that soil with richer rested soil.

Here bed, soil removed, mixed as above and then replaced - note the dark soil at the far end.  All digging, moving, and replacement done by hand.
He also is experimenting with small winter patch with seed onions, spinach, carrots, parsnips.

Frank watering his winter garden.

Now with snow on the ground he is splitting wood (our primary heat source for the house is wood burning stoves.) Doing more work on fence lines and walking trails in the wooded pastures.  

As for me, developing crafting instructions & kits is something I've wanted to accomplish for years. Decided that the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 is the "get it done" time. So far have completed one needle felting into fabric kit/pattern, with some field testing. Now in revision of that and have also begun kit/pattern for 3D needle felting.
This is the first draft of instructions to accompany a needle felt ornament kit  

Not everything but likely more even than you wanted to know. Just wished to let those who maybe are missing us know what is up at A Tranquil Nook.

Frank and I send you holiday greetings. We wish you health, happiness, and good living as 2012 draws to a close. A beautiful, bright beginning to the New Year.

With kind regards,
     Jane and Frank Carlstrom

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What we do with the Cull Peppers

Cull. What are Cull Peppers.  These are the not so perfect or marred peppers that we do not offer for sale at farmers market.  This year as we learn to manage plants in our new high tunnel, we have a fair number of cull peppers.
A mix of Hot, Hungarian Frying, and two types of Green peppers.

 Tomatoes are not ready yet, so we cannot use these in fresh salsa.  In past years we did try blanching and freezing peppers for use in salsa, soup, hot dishes.  But not really pleased with the flavor.  Having had some success with roast and eat veggies over the last year.  Decided to try roasting these and then storing in frig.

Of course, went immediately to google and came up with time and methods.  Followed this recipe from ehow.  I did not use the paper bag for cooling, just left them in the pan until cool.

Here is the photo step by step:

Out of the Oven

Poke one of the bubbles/blisters and begin to peel away the skinl

Keep lifting and pulling skin, sometimes using knife tip to guide and help

Toss the peels in the compost bucket and the meat in a glass jar.

Drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over the peppers, cap the jar and put in refrigerator.

So far we have added to the peppers in the jar and have 2 pints. 

We have enjoyed the cold peppers on sandwiches.  Have a small jar of hot peppers for a friend.  And the start of a stash to use when it is time to can up some salsa.

As always enjoying the garden, the fixing, the eating.

Wishing you a fun food summer too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Explaining what I make from Sheep fleece

So I joined a local business network group, it meets weekly, every member stand up and has 50 seconds to tell about what they do. 
We all begin with our names and a brief tag line with our business name.  Because I am new to the group, I also add an over view of what I make:  the lead in goes like this: 
Jane Carlstrom of A Tranquil Nook,
        creating whimsical wearables, fiber art, & soft home decor.

But, what are whimsical wearables, fiber art, and soft home decor?  Some members might know, some might not.  This week my goal was to provide some insight about felt goods with words and visuals (the actual pieces plucked out of a basket as the words were said).  It went like this:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012, Year of the Legend in Bemidji

Bemidji, Minnesota is our town.  Home to much photographed Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues. 

photo by Jane Carlstrom 2012
This year marks the 75th birthday of the Paul statue in Bemidji, thus Mayor Dave Larson Proclaimed 2012 “The Year of the Legend”  to include much hoopla, many celebrations, and wearing of traditional black and red lumberjack plaid on Wednesdays. 

The Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine brought out the first issue of 2012 with a Bunyanesque cover.
photo by Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine

 Sooooo Bemidji.  Not only does the cover reflect the theme “Year of the Legend” it was put together using props from a number of local people and businesses.  

The mustache -- YES! from me.  I’ve been making felt mustaches for almost 3 years now.  Selling them online and locally.  What a kick to have even this small contribution to the magazine cover.

Eva Fisher owner of the Babe Softie, is president of the Bemidji Jaycees (the Bemidji Jaycees are also celebrating being 75 years this year!) Eva received babe as a presidential gift by last year's Bemidji Jaycees president.

Plaid hat and jacket from Bemidji Woolen Mills. The Batchelder family has a 92 year legacy with a long and rich tradition in keeping Minnesotans warm.

The axe was used by Bubba Schwartz (brother of Tom Schwartz, who owned Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home), as part of his Paul Bunyan costume when he spoke to elementary school students in the 70s and 80s.  Bemidji Woolen Mills lent the axe for this shoot.

Lovely lumberjack lass, Lily is a frequent model on the cover of Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine.

To celebrate the “Year of the Legend” and the arrival of the Best of Bemidji Quarterly Magazine in local mailboxes, Best of Bemidji Quartely Magazine is hosting a “get your mustache on” giveaway on facebook.

photo by Jane Carlstrom 2012
The Grand prize is a Deluxe felt mustache. Two runners up will receive a Basic felt mustache. This poster with mustaches are on display at Grandma’s Attic.  To enter go to The Best of Bemidji facebook page scroll down to find and share Wednesday's photo/status (from 9:05 p.m. Wed Feb 8, 2012).

For more about Bemidji's Year of the Legend:

Paul and Babe Blog hosted by The Bemidji Pioneer 

Article in The Bemidji Pioneer Newspaper 

View Paul and Babe in real time via Bemidji Chamber of Commerce Web Cams

Saturday, February 4, 2012

First Friday Bemidji - February 2012

First Fridays in Bemidji are always a treat.  Many places in town host artist shows each month, the first Friday the promoninent day for show openings and artist reception/open houses.

The afternoon began at GoldPine Home, a local Adult Assisted-Care Facility, with a show and tell about my handiwork.  Around a table with a group of beautiful gray to white haired women we introduced ourselves and got to know each other a wee bit.  Then I proceeded to pull a variety of needle felted, traditional wet felted, and sewn projects out of a packed picnic basket, describing and passing around each piece.

Handiwork exploding out of the picnic basket
Two of the women had grown up on farms where fleece sheep were raised, that was really cool.  One had made and sold many wool batt filled quilts.  Another woman had sewn many of her own clothes with wool jersey double knits in the 1930s to 1950s. None of the women however had heard of needle felting.  They enjoyed learning a little about this relatively new handicraft. They seemed to enjoy the range of textures and colors.  The most popular works were the felt covered soap, the flower topped pens, and the sweatshirt bib/cape.  The hour flew by, lots of smiles and laughs shared.

Next stop Wild Hare Bistro and Coffeehouse to meet painter Jami Burdick.  A new artist to me, I enjoyed Jami’s works in chalk, especially the woodpecker and the pheasant.  All her pictures were framed in wonderfully reclaimed frames, from repurposed mirror frames to windows.

Right next door, a show by Nina Lubarski, a local art educator as well as a friend and neighbor.  A delightful new work from Nina, a children’s book shown on canvas. “Lucy Learns to Color” looks great on the walls at The Center of Therapeutic Arts.

On down the street then a turn to the right and onto Gallery North.  The Showcase artists; painter Kathy Sanders and wood carver Les Sanders.  Some of the most beautifully cut and painted gourd art I’ve ever encountered along with very nice wood carvings.  While there, found Diana Jones another friend and artist, so took the opportunity of capture a few pictures of Diana with some of her paintings.
Diana Jones, Bemidji Artist
Ah, last stop, long stop at The Cabin Coffeehouse.  They always host their first Friday artist with wonderful desert treats.  Raspberry cream cheese bites and rich dark coffee at this one.  Also a delightfully different art show by Kendra Fuller. 
Kendra Fuller, Bemidji Artist
Kendra owns Urban Essence Interiors, her focus is textured and amazing wall treatments.  (She also does plain and simple wall painting, though is becoming know locally for her creative style using a variety of paints, plasters, glazes.)  The range of her work is highlighted in canvas “paintings” in this show where large wall art also becomes small wall art. In the above photo.  Her work is very 2012, from the upscale classy metallics with a sharp cutting edge style to faux brick and other textures that give a more rustic northwoods feel.

And then, Oh boy, Oh joy. Bluebird came to play alt. country and folk styles.
Anne Meredith-Will, Kari Munson, Jesica Conrad

The awesome trio Bluebird is know for their vocal harmonies.

Hung out listening until 8pm then headed on home for a good nights sleep.

I hope you too enjoyed a lovely Friday evening where ever you were. 


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quirky Valentines - my ad at BNI

Valentines Day is close at hand and I’m looking for lovers with a quotient of quirky, to wear or share

a fabulous feathered fascinator,


a flying Steampunk inspired heart brooch,

 or who “only have eyes for YOU babe.” 

If you or someone you know enjoys the unexpected in heart felt valentines, please refer them to booth #21 in Grandma’s Attic, Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm. 502 3rd St, across from Bemijdi Woolen Mills.
Pam Hudson of of the owner/managers of Grandma’s Attic and me at Booth #21 in Grandma's Attic
 My quirky creations can also be seen via my personal or business facebook pages.

*I recently joined Northern Exposure Bemidji - BNI, a group of local business people who encourage, support, help each other in promoting and marketing our individual businesses.  Every weekly meeting begins with each person giving a 60 second presentation/ad of their business focus or needs.  The above is the ad I gave on Feb 1st.  It occurred to me that it would be fun to turn each weekly ad into a blog post.

Let me know what you think of this idea.  Good, Bad.  Also appreciated would be feedback on how I can come up with better, more effective presentations.  Thanks for hanging out here and reading my blog today.

With Kind Regards,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to Basics

A few of the free things acquired at the “Back to Basics” workshop put on by Happy Dancing Turtle, Saturday, January 28, 2012.

This year the theme was “From Me to We” Building Community.  Keynote speakers: Jamie Lee in the AM and Brett Olsen in the PM.  Lots of varied and interesting small sessions, of which any one person could choose 4.  A nice showing of vendors, also with varied focus.  Check out the Happy Dancing Turtle facebook page to get an idea of who was there and what was covered.

I had a really good time, interesting, informative sessions, great lunch; and carpooled to and from the event with two Bemidji friends, Tammy and Dave.

The highlight for me was meeting and listening to Kathy Connell talk about seeds.  Kathy is engaging, passionate, knowledgeable and grounded.  She knows seeds and explains them with clarity.  If you have a chance to hear her speak, grasp it.

Today, I took the goodies in the photo to share with the teachers and students of Apple Blossom Child Care Center.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Upcycling an Oatmeal tub into a Faux Birch Container

What's for breakfast at A Tranquil Nook?  Usually oatmeal.  We eat lots of oatmeal, purchased in cardboard tubs.  Oh how hard it is to toss those tubs.  I save them, they take up space.  Finally figured out a renovation project to turn them into Faux Birch Containers.

Some glue, paper scraps, a gray pen and a little time resulted in a faux birch container.  This week, I'll take a number of tubs and paper scraps to a friend's child care center along with one finished tub as inspiration.  A faux birch container or some take off on this seems like a fun craft project for pre-schoolers and beyond.

1. Dust out the inside of the empty tub or vacuum out the oat dust. 

2. Cut scrap paper in strips, ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch wide.

3. Sponge glue on the used side of the paper and lay it glue side down onto the tub.  Just keep going round and round the tub.  Birch trees have frayed bark so no worries if the ends of a strip lift up.

4. Let dry.

5. Draw in lines and branch squiggles.

Viola, a pretty container to store crayons, more scrap paper, or what have you.  Why one could even use it as a house for toy stuffed mice or squirrels.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pecka Kucha Bemidji #10

poster by Eric Evensen of Evensen Creative

Last night I went to Pecha Kucha to listen and to learn. While not a main presenter was please to be invited to show in ‘artist row’ and share a story about one particular piece of art.  Took a large piece, created for the “Orchid Show.” A look into many types of felt, industrial to hand made.

Here is the piece, and here is me plus a little bit about us.
Orchids in Wool, artist Jane Carlstrom
Media: Mixed felt: this piece contains a range of felt types:
backing of commercial 100% wool felt; flowers combination of needle felting and traditional wet felting; branch entirely wet felted; sky scape, needle felt into a fabric base.

Hand felted pieces made from sheep fleece, some dyed, some natural color, some merino, some icelandic, some corriedale.*There is no knitting or crochet in this work. No yarn.  It is straight from fiber to felt.

Work created for the August 2011 Patricia Grimes group show:
 “How do We love thee...”  aka The Orchid Show
works in various media based upon an original photo by Patricia Grimes
(a reprint of Pat’s orchid photo is displayed with my work)

Artist:  Jane Carlstrom
A fabric and fiber fiddler, inspired by past, present, future - the land, sky and water, people, animals, plants... Things  read, things seen... Looking at and feeling fibers and fabrics.  Being mindful of the environment,  Jane mostly works in natural fibers and fabrics; and in recycled/upcycled fabrics.  Her goods range from fun and whimsical mustaches to elegant chapeaus to wall art.  Jane lives and creates on a farm near Bemidji, Minnesota.


The Artist Showcase is relatively new, the artist role in Pecha Kucha minimal, yet meaningful.  Great exposure and an opportunity to talk one one one to people about one's work, before the presentations begin and during a brief intermission.

The people up in front telling their stories, sharing their passion are the focus.  And while it was wonderful to participate in the Artist Showcase, the main reason I go to Pecha Kucha is to hear the presentations. Last night there were 6, all different all special, to quote  Pecha Kucha Bemidji
The presentations last night had everything! Courage, inspiration,bear encounters humor (so much humor) tears, intrigue, adventure, beautiful scenery, puppies, love stories, some weird cats and fishing. Name one movie that has all of that. 
 You can view some examples of presentations from previous Pecha Kucha Bemidji's on the official website.  They are neat to see online, but for the real and full impact get yourself to a Pecha Kucha. 

The next Pecha Kucha Bemidji will be on Feb 23, 2012, in the New City Ballroom (Hungry Bear) at 6:30 pm.  Come a little early if you want to take in the Artist Showcase and still have time to chat with the up front presenters at intermission.