Tag Archives: wild prairie silver

Travel and Fresh Metal…

Recently arrived home from a trip to sunny Cancun Mexico. A week in the sun and the water was wonderful. After about 6 days I am ready to return home from anywhere but it was good times had by all of us. We really wanted to take our two kids out of the country as well just so they could experience life lived in was other than what they know. It was good for them. The water in the Yucatan Peninsula is known for being crystal clear and aqua blue. We snorkeled and scuba dove, swam and ski jet skied, ate, walked, toured the Mayan ruins. The Mayan ruins are one of the wonders of the world and I now have more information on that then I’ll ever need. (Our tour guide has a Phd Mayan culture.)

Mayan temple is not really a temple… it’s a calendar. The Mayans kept such accurate track of time that their calendar has a leap year every 5,000+ years. Nasa uses the Mayan calendar and developed the Atomic calendar with it. Pretty smart for 4,000 years ago. Twice per year on the Spring Equinox and the Fall… the corners of the temple create a shadow down the stairs of a slithering snake- ending at a huge stone carved snakes head which. We were there the day after the Equinox…the day of the Equinox 50,000 people there to see it.

Traditional Spanish town about half way to the Mayan ruins. This church was built in 1545, destroyed of course in battles, rebuilt in 1705, some town Mayors murdered in it and the church was painted with their blood..eeekkkk!!!!!!!! This is one of the only churches in the world banished by the Catholic church because of it’s gruesome history. I did not get an accurate story about this church either…the language barrier kept a lot of details from me.

Guy in this town making Mayan charm pendants for tourists while they wait. He is working in a space the size of a closet with people lined up out the door.

Under ground Cenote…

Just loved this Flatbed bug 🙂

Savannah snorkeling…right after this photo we saw a fish as big as we are and he was standing his ground so we turned around like a couple of chickens.

The end of our travels to Mexico… it was very hot there and actually when we got home to 35 degrees it felt refreshing but I have always loved it here in Wisconsin.

Nail Through My Heart Necklace With Handmade Chain… This photo is not the best… the stone is awesome! I love making this necklace and this is the best one yet! Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/521810847/sterling-silver-heart-necklace-handmade?ref=shop_home_active_2

Labradorite ring with Aquamarine Gemstone. This was a custom order and my apprentice made it, Kali… she really held down the fort here while I was gone. Without her it would be very difficult to take a vacation for a week. I just cannot keep track of orders, emails, shipments, and production without help. She is a great help and is also becoming a very talented metalsmith.

Palm Root Fossil and Citrine… handwoven viking knit chain. Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/506828562/sterling-silver-necklace-handmade-one-of?ref=shop_home_active_52

Crazylace Agate and Vanadinite…handmade solid cable neck wire. I just made this Thursday but it is sold. These are really my favorite pieces to make…the unexpected stones turned jewelry, the rough with the polished, the ugly and the pretty…. I am glad that you all like my crazier pieces because if you didn’t I couldn’t keep doing what I love to do, so thank you. I am at a point in my life where this is what I am and there is no turning back, just going forward and learning/evolving.

To anyone I went to High School with I will be in the Oconomowoc Art Show this year August 18th and 19th… it’s as close to Fort Atkinson as I can get so please stop in and say hello. That is a new show for me and had several of my Door Co. customers ask me to apply there because they live in the more southern part of the state. I just got news that I was accepted in. I will not be in Madison this year. I just decided I do not like the Urban environment and the great expensive of the show. I would rather be in the grass at a park then on hot pavement in between high rise buildings. Other shows are listed on my events page. Summer will be here soon. Happy Spring to all and God bless you and yours.


One Week To Go….

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One week to go before it gets too late to be shipping anything for Christmas… (If I don’t make any sense, sorry. I am a little tired. I will rest in a week.) I have been shipping all over the world and it gets a little scary because someone’s gift usually arrives 8 weeks late…. really, that has happened (but only one time and it was far far away.) As soon as we decided to give up on it ~ it arrived. Christmas time is so busy my shop looks like a war zone. I have an extra table set up just for each project and it’s current stage… with lots and lots of notes. I usually make people write me some kinda note with all of their info on it and that somehow gives me a visual of them and what they want.

This ring was one of the Christmas projects. It was a 5mm diamond ring that was a customers great grandmothers. I used the 18k gold from the ring and diamond to create this ring…. I did not have a single piece of scrap left from the original ring…it’s all in here. I melted the gold down, milled it out and cut out the sun shape. The rest of the gold is the stars… Ring band and moon are sterling silver. Sterling band is oxidized. This is probably the prettiest ring I have ever made and it went to a great lady.

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This is just beginning… no done yet and probably won’t get done in time for Christmas but maybe?

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This stone is a favorite of mine. It is Vista Jasper. It has really pretty light blue, green and burnt orange colors all watercolored together. Accent stones are trillion cut london blue topaz and tourmaline. 18K Gold and Sterling Silver. With the exception of wedding rings this will probably be most expensive piece in materials I have ever made.

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What the heck is this? A black tourmaline trapped in a crystal… It’s great. I have another similar stone shown in the next picture but it is just not as refined as this stone. You cannot go surfing in this necklace though…it’s a needs a careful owner. Maggie ~ I know you are out there  and No, You Cannot Go Surfing In Your Jewelry.. I will find you at the beach and repair your jewelry for you.

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Another captured crystal necklace. I put an amethyst setting on top of it with the PUK welder… all stones in place. It’s amazing to be doing that from my stand point.

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Kyanite Necklaces… Made for Stocking Stuffers….a great little gift… Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/214949951/kyanite-stone-necklace-sterling-silver?ref=shop_home_active_6

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Last but not least a Rhodocrosite Ring… I did not list this on Etsy yet but will in a bit. It has a hammered adjustable band able to fit size 7-10

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Thank you to everyone for your continued business. I really appreciate it and love it. I will post a Merry Christmas post, but for now, off to bed. Gotta rest up.

If you would like to visit my online shop please visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/joykruse?ref=listing-shop-header-item-count


Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!! I am grateful for so many things that my list could go on and on…… I will start here: thank you ArtBeet for helping me get this machine!!!!!! It’s amazing!

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I have attached some pics of my new PUK welder. I traveled to Chicago to get some training on it and here it is set up in my humble little workshop. It makes some very difficult tasks very easy. In the first few moments of use we have realized what a great tool this will be!!! We welded a pile of jump rings in  a few minutes with no solder, no flux, no pickle, no solder seam. We hammered the jump rings… no visible sign of the join at all, amazing. Tomorrow (yes, on Thanksgiving) I am going to try some antique repairs. That is what started my interest in this unit in the first place.

I will have to have my Artist Guild, ‘ArtBeet’, over for a trial and error on the unit ~ show and tell. Because of them it was possible for me to get the machine. I could not have done it without them. I hope to show this machine to other artists and have them see first hand what it can do and open their eyes to the possibilities of how they can create with it.

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This is a picture of the view through the microscope. I took this with my phone…. go iPhone… great pic.

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This is my dragonfly I have been making for years. Why I never made it like this I can’t say? I love it this way best and it never crossed my mind to do this? An old friend in a new form… love it. Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212894427/sterling-silver-dragonfly-necklace-wild?ref=shop_home_active_2

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Rhodocrosite Necklace also new today….Link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212892239/rhodocrosite-stone-sterling-silver?ref=shop_home_active_6

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Feather Cuff Bracelet… new today… It wraps perfectly around half of your wrist and looks beautiful. Link:https://www.etsy.com/listing/212887728/sterling-silver-feather-bracelet-wild?ref=shop_home_active_4

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These are all photos from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We were tourists a few days after I picked up my welder. These amazing creatures, jellyfish, wild looking little fellows… again photos taken with my iPhone ~ I can’t believe the quality in the photos from a phone. If you have never visited the museums in Chicago they are worth the trip. I could spend an entire weekend at the Field Museum.

Last Show This Saturday 9-3 at East Depere High School ~ 500 Swan Rd

See you there? Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I hope you stay home tomorrow instead of going shopping. Tell those stores they can wait a day.

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Stars Aligning…

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I think the stars are aligning for me to finally get this TIG welder. It has taken since spring… I will be traveling to Chicago mid-November to spend a day with Richard Sep learning how to use it. I’m excited to say the least and I have a pile of experimental stuff here to take with me. It’s like buying car for my business so it’s a big investment. I will keep you posted on this adventure. It is really going to be amazing to see metal being joined near and around precious stones with the stones in place…and no heat… The heat is so powerful, intense and localized you can hold the metal with your fingertips while you work ~ I kinda can’t believe it.

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On a business note ~ Thank You ETSY!!!!!!!!!!!!! ETSY came out with a card reader. Why do I care? Why is it any different than using Square? or any other card reader? Well, it’s the same transaction fee (ETSY does not charge their 3% sales fee when you sell in person but a credit card transaction fee is charged of 2.75%, just like everyone else) and every time I sell something in person it is listed in my sold part of my shop and the person can leave feedback, see their receipt, and new shoppers can look up my sold items and see all the things I have sold at art shows that did not before get to be viewed on ETSY. It’s great. I can truly have my ‘Shop’ open to the public face to face and to the internet consumer. Another plus…. all the transactions automatically load into the accounting software that links to ETSY. This software is called OUTRIGHT.com. I highly recommend it. All of your fees, sales, shipping automatically loads and is perfectly kept track off via ETSY or Paypal. In the past when I sold face to face at an art show I had to enter all of that manually into OUTRIGHT.com when I got home. Well, not anymore…tons of tedious data entry done in real time with each transaction. Thank You again ETSY. This has greatly improve the way I work with just a simple thing.

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I have to make a sterling butterfly… I’ve been working on it for a few weeks. I am still not happy with what I have. I am trying to blend these three pics into one interesting bug, hmmmm….. I will keep trying.

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I made this Ocean Jasper about a week ago. Since I made this necklace I have been working on about a dozen or so custom orders. They always all come in at the same time which is Murphy’s Law. I am sure after Christmas I will be sitting here with nothing to do but shovel snow and stoke the fire so I will make hay while the sun is shining.

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Look of strange bewilderment which is what my husband looks like every single time he gets his picture taken. He hates his picture being taken. He usually has his finger in the up position.

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My husband would die if he knew I was putting these pics in here. Well, why am I doing it then? Cuz he’s the best! I have to give him some credit where credit is due. He is cutting a door in this concrete tank that is on our land to make fort for our kids. When your kids ‘fort’ takes a saw like this one in the photo and the use of a backhoe you really have to wonder what will happen next???? Never a dull moment. (My daughter took these pics. Thanks kiddo.)


ETSY Shop Class & Metalsmithing Class Great Success

IMG_2893Great week at Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek Door Co. Two day class, ‘Lauching Your Etsy Shop,’ was a great success. It had in my mind a potential to bomb… I had to rely on technology hooking up to screens and wifi working for every student and students bringing their own computers/ipads: all different with all different programs on them for photos.

Hooray! It was fine. Everyone opened a shop. Everyone edited pics. Everyone made a banner. Everyone worked their way through the site and created listings, shop policy, shipping criteria, etc… It was fun to see every student get a way to sell their work. We all had different artistic backgrounds as well: painter, vintage collector, and jewelry.

Murphy’s Law…. second day of class: ETSY changes the format to about half of the sellers shop pages. ETSY had announced they were going to make some changes months ago and gradually launch the changes…. Ha!!!!!!! Tricks on me 🙂 Half of us had pages that looked very different from the other half…. essentially it was fine. Same content just different look and different icons. I just chucked at the irony that it took place mid-class. This class will be offered again next year. It will be two days from 9-1pm. Not sure on the dates yet. The time (9-1) was perfect because you can only stare at a computer so long.

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Wednesday Thursday Friday: Metalsmithing Class at the same school 

Peninsula School of Art Fish Creek Wisconsin Door County

What a great great great great time 🙂 I now feel have three new good friends. Thank you Joan, Kate and Terri. This is why I teach…. wonderful human connect with these three women. All of us coming from different backgrounds and all of us completely in tune to what we are there to learn: new ways to create with metal. It was one of the best classes I have ever taught. Super energy!

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Kate’s piece without the stone in it…. Hey teacher don’t eat in the studio 🙂 Yes, those are my grapes….

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Ocean Jasper… The back plate of this sterling silver was put through a rolling mill with dried corn husks ~ thanks Joan for bringing them and telling us how great it looks.

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This is Terri… She was in my class last year and was really ready to advance beyond where she felt she was stuck. She wanted to make a birch tree like piece… Well, she did and it was fantastic!

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Her necklace without the stone… it swings on the branch 😀 Love it Love it Love it. I would buy this from her if she would let me.

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This is a terrible photo but it shows Joans piece…. I wish the pic was better because it was stunning. The rough agate matched these pearls… The pearl components in the chain are double sided so the same cupped square is on the reverse side with a pearl in it. We made these component from scratch and yes, even the pearls have a little tiny post in them. There are five different tiny little soldering jobs to do in one component of that single pearl chain link. (You are awesome Joan and you did it!) When her chain moves around the pearls in the chain are never flipped the wrong way. It’s beautiful all the time. Oh, and Joan hand made every single jump ring in that chain, soldered them all, and hammered them all. By  Friday she was ready to not make any more chains but she knows now that she can…   🙂

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Pic off the the far left was just a piece that was just started in the last bit of class time…. we did not want to leave it out.

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A lot of students want to visit my studio. Well, I hate to tell you it’s just not that impressive. This is it. It’s like galley kitchen… narrow with countertop/benches on each side. I have another room with my larger equipment in it in the concrete walled part of our basement (rolling mill, hydraulic press, buffing motor, large anvil ~ this space is even less impressive, downright ugly.) This basement room has windows and it’s where I spend most of my time. But it’s not anything fancy and it’s not what I would call a ‘studio.’ It’s just the space that I have… I try to make it as inspiring as I can with goofy signs… etc…. I would love an inspiring studio separate from my house. I have often joked about this with my husband and tossed the idea around about building some kind of ‘workshop.’ After last winter I cannot image doing that. I cannot imagine heating and shoveling another building. It’s just not realistic in my head…  I would love to have the space to have another person work or students work or clients stop in… but I just don’t think it’s worth the winter time work with maintaining another building. If I had elves it would be doable….

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I have two torching station setups ~ with three torches connected to two propane/oxygen setups. One of them on the bench on the far left will be replaced with my new welder when I finally get it. I have plans to travel to Chicago to a jeweler who is going to spend a day teaching me how to use one. I plan to do that as soon as I can… I haven’t got a date yet. I wish it was today… I’m ready. If you are ready to purchase a torch, my setup is my favorite and I think I have used a lot of different torches and gas sources. I use the Little Smith Torch and the Smith Versa Torch. I have them setup on propane/oxygen tanks with a flashback arrestors and Y-Adaptors. The Little Smith Torch is tiny and very precise especially for gold work. The Versa Torch is my 90% of the time torch but mostly because my jewelry is so big…. That torch melts things fast… heavy ring shank… takes seconds to solder. When I use the schools’ Acetylene without oxygen torches I feel like it takes all day to solder something large, even with the largest tip on the torch. However, it’s just what I am use to. I know a lot of jewelers and they use either or, and seem to love whatever they are use to. It comes down to ‘heat’ … have you got it?? Is your flame hot enough? At home Terri is using a ‘CopperHead Torch’ with propane only. She stated in class there are several things she just cannot do because there is not enough fire power. Same with several hand held torches (butane or propane)… They are cheap and handy but often not versatile enough to do any job.

Terri is taking the picture so she’s not in the photo… Kate, Joan and myself 🙂 at Peninsula School of Art in the Metals Studio working/playing the day away….

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Next show is this Saturday Sept 27th at The Settlements Shops in Fish Creek Door County Wisconsin. It is 10-5 Saturday only… It’s small (only 20 artists) but nice and the Door Peninsula is starting to turn gorgeous with Fall colors.

Huge show after that is October 11th & 12th also in Door County. I will be at the Fine Line Gallery in Ephraim. The show is called ‘Townline Art Fair’ and has been running for almost 50 years. It’s a beautiful show. The Peninsula has several festivals that weekend. It is the busiest weekend of the year for tourism there…. Pumpkin Patch Festival draws 70,000 visitors if it’s good weather. Last year I sold out several items I always have in stock and it’s was raining. I won’t be able to believe the crowd it if it’s good weather…. New post soon with upcoming work. Have a great weekend!


Keith and Corrine’s Wedding

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 Had the pleasure of attending a beautiful rustic wedding this weekend. I have known Corrine about 10 years… She had a wedding that was all Wild Prairie Silver style… What a great day! I made her jewelry for her, her husband Keith and her bridesmaids. She has a beautiful diamond engagement ring and I made a white gold comfort fit band to match it. Also Corrine and Keith had sterling bands made with sayings on them. His stating ‘Better Everyday’ on the outside on the inside: ‘Breathe Relax Love.’ Her ring stating Breathe Relax Love on the outside of the band with three little turquoise finishing the wording… Bridesmaids had turquoise earrings and red dresses.

While meeting with Corinne to drop off her jewelry she said that on the morning of her wedding she was going to go and help ‘set up’ at their house. I said, ‘Are you crazy? I’m not doing anything I’ll go and help. You get pretty and worry about your hair and don’t worry about setting up. Well, there was plenty of help, fantastic family and friends of both Keith and Corinne~ and it was a perfect day.

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These are pics of the setting up when we first got there. I had KT come since she is a marketing graduate and now getting her Events Coordinator certificate as well. I thought she might like to see the set up and help with flowers. Corrine grew her own flower supply… It was great to have fresh cut flowers right at your beck and call….

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Getting there… almost ready…. Corrine has a wonderful circle of family and friends all pitching in to get it done.

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It’s hard to see in this photo but the arbor has a ‘Z’ on the top for their new last name. The couple said their vows here in front of these doors.

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What the heck???? These are friends of the groom… They are just practicing with a branding iron that has the couples’ name and wedding date on it. When the couple was done saying their vows they branded a piece of finished wood to hang in their home. This board was just one practice run….

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I thought this was super cute because the cows came to the wedding too. They were curious ~ What’s all the fuss about?’

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Congrats to you both. A perfect day and met several wonderful people. A day to remember for many for years to come.


Happy Summer….

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Happy Summer Everyone… It’s coming to an end here in Wisconsin and I can’t even say it was hot yet. Photo above is in Wyoming ~ last summers road trip. Doesn’t it look wonderful. It’s almost fake looking and the photo is completely unedited.

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This is a customer’s painting. They have asked me to make a pendant from this drawing. Hee Hee Funtimes!!!!!!!! I will keep you posted on the progress as the design for it is ready to go and has customer approval. It should be really fun to make. Heart falling from the wave is going to be a garnet gemstone. Painting is titled: Tsunami Love

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And this is what you do when you are 13 after football practice…. Do you remember?????? I can barely remember summertime when I was 12 and 13 years old…. no job yet, great friends, old enough to be left to some of your own resources, no worries. My best friends were Amy and Shannon. We had a few summers that the three of us were inseparable. Great times, truly.

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A stormy Labor Day weekend… this is the Bay of Green Bay almost to the tip of Door Co. (which is the top of the thumb of the mitten in Wisconsin.) It’s beautiful year around and I really find myself fortunate to live so close I can enjoy it anytime I want to. This was on a hike in Peninsula State Park.

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My daughter…same hike… she’s looking more and more like me everyday. What a great kid.

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Labor Day Cookout: These pies are made by one of my sister in laws, Aunt Diane. They tasted even better…. really, awesome. I couldn’t bake to save my life. She brings pie at a moments notice. I don’t know how she does it? It would take me the entire weekend to make a pie.

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This is a terrible picture but these are two little gemstones that I had cut for me for a custom order. Thanks to Jewelry Point in New York… they had these to me in a few days. They are 5mm stones: Amethyst and Aquamarine… they are checker board faceted on both sides. I will set these in a setting that just holds them around the middle in 14k gold. They are for a ‘mother’s necklace’ so a few links will separate them and then a 14k gold chain, 16 inches for the rest of the necklace. Julie, the mom, can add more stones in the future if she has more children and from the sounds of it that could be a good possibility.

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Thanks for the great summer Wisconsin. We are heading into my favorite time of year… Fall. Sweaters ~ blue jeans ~ boots ~ warm sunsets ~ cool nights ~ enjoying the harvest ~  leaves changing ~ calm before the storm ~ winter can’t be as bad as last year, not possible, right?

(I will take a picture of the above trees when they are in full fall color, gorgeous… )


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