29 January 2012

Old Artwork

tempera crayon relief
I brought home some old artwork on a recent trip to Colorado that I had done when I was a girl, most of which I had long forgotten.  In the packet was this crayon tempera relief that I did in 7th grade art class .  We had a fabulous art teacher that year, Mrs. Carson.  She gave us a wonderfully solid foundation in drawing technique (better than the later college courses I took) and taught us how to truly draw what we saw rather than to draw what we only thought we saw.  Looking at my artwork from before that class to after it, I can see an enormous jump in technique and layout.

We spent a good part of one semester doing leaf, gourd and weed studies.  At the end of it, she had us compose these pieces and then simplify them to create these crayon tempera relief studies.  I remember this piece as being such fun to create.  I can also see from it that my love of green and leaves goes back a long way!  I love this piece and hope to get it framed and hung in my living room soon!

Looking for Inspiration
I really want to get back to sketching in watercolors and ink on a regular basis.  To inspire myself, I've not only been looking at all the childhood artwork I have, but I've also been looking through my more recent sketchbooks!  What fun!  It makes me wonder why in the world I ever stopped doing this on a daily basis.  Must get back to sketching daily!

25 January 2012

Stitching with Vintage Whites

Pocket Pincushion side 1
I've been stitching this week, using some of those old white linens that were too worn to mend and use as originally intended.  Using a pattern for an Armchair Sewing Caddy by Maureen Greeson, I pieced together the pockets using the old linens.  There weren't too many spots that needed seam embellishment as I tried to use the original edges as much as possible.  But where seam embellishment was needed, simple feather stitch variations did the trick!

Pocket Pincushion side 2
Each pocked ended up with a corner in need of something more, so a mother of pearl button was added. For the lining, I used some natural linen I've had for a while.  I love how it shows off the beautiful old white embroidery and lace!  The pincushion portion was stuffed with clean wool and the whole thing was bound with some vintage cotton bias tape I've had for ages.  It was just the right color of aged white!

Stitching in white
Here it is from the top.  When I started this, I thought I'd use it on the arm of my sofa, but I didn't take into account how wide the arms of the sofa are!  But it works just perfect on the arm of my cozy chair!  Might have to make another one for the sofa!  To the side you can see two other projects I've been stitching on this week.

Linen and Lace hearts
I started these little linen and lace hearts last year about this time.  They've been languishing in a box waiting to be finished.  Next I'll add some cord to them and they will become a small garland to hang from my old shelf!

Linen and Lace Pincushion
To go with all my white things, I've been wanting to make a linen and lace pincushion.  I love the size of the CD pincushions and knew that this old round piece of crochet would be perfect in all it's irregularity. It has a couple of small stains that will not come out, no matter what I tried, so I'll cover them with a small crocheted Irish rose in the next few days.  The tatted trim around the bottom edge came from a box of lace I picked up this summer.  I believe it had been tea dyed ~ it was an ugly brown.  First I washed it with non-chlorine bleach and hot water.  It helped, but didn't bring it down to the lightness that I knew was hiding underneath all that icky brown.  A tiny bit of bleach in hot water, a very brief soak, then lots of rinsing and at last a white vinegar rinse (to neutralize the bleach) finally took away all the brown and left the lace the perfect matching white to the old linen and lace!

Pocket Pincushion
Every now and then, a project comes along and simply feels "like home".  These stitching projects with old white linens and lace were just that way.  So comfortable and so "right" somehow.  They were a joy to work on and I'll definitely enjoy using each of these items!

19 January 2012

Playing in the Dirt!

IMG_0453
As I was straightening things up at home today, I realized that my house plants were in dire need of some freshening up!  After covering the counters, I mixed up some nice potting soil and repotted almost every plant in the apartment!  The miniature African violet had 3 plants growing in one tiny pot!  I separated them into new pots.  Getting repotted always stresses them, so I hope they all do well and enjoy their fresh dirt!

Plant Stand
I had a variegated spider plant that had become way too large for its pot, so it was divided into two!  Usually the spider plant resides on top of one of the bookshelves, but I moved it into the light until it settles into the new pot.

Repotted Geraniums
All the geraniums were repotted as well!  They tend to get so leggy at this time of year, especially in my apartment where the sun comes in for such a short time each day.  Hopefully they'll like this spot in front of the big window that gets the most sun.  The last pot of Paperwhites is starting to grow!

Medium Shelf
This philodendron got a big haircut a few weeks ago when I removed over 8 feet from each of the branches!  I moved it up onto the wall shelf temporarily to make space for the second spider plant on the shelf where it usually sits.

Is it Spring yet?
The little daffodils and hyacinth are still blooming beautifully!  Is it spring yet?

Top of the china Cabinet
The top of the china cabinet got redecorated.

Corner of my home
The "garden" corner looks a little fresher now.  It's where the garden statuary resides.  One of these days I'll have a garden again and these will find homes outside once again.  How lovely it was to enjoy an afternoon playing in the dirt and sprucing things up a little bit!

18 January 2012

54 Years!

Each year is a gift!  But gosh, they seem to go by so quickly these days!

Aqua glass
I've been having fun with the camera again.  There is something about these old aqua glass bottles that I just love.  They pick up the light so beautifully.

A Bit of Green
Every bit of sunlight that comes into my apartment on these winter days is cherished.  The plants, the kitties and I all gravitate towards it for the few minutes it is here each day.

Birds & Wildflowers Quilt top
Another quilt top finished!  This one on a birds and wildflowers theme!

I've started two new blogs this month to compliment this one.  The first, Ivory Blush Roses Annual Project is where I document my Photo A Day, Watercolor a Week and Crazy Quilt Block a Month.

Ivory Blush Roses Reads is where I'll be writing about my favorite books, movies and what I'm currently reading.  I'm not a great critic, but I love to read and read a lot of books on a number of different topics and would love to share a little about what I'm reading!

Both links are also listed in the sidebar.  I'd love to have you visit!

15 January 2012

January Musings

Breakfast - wide shot
What is it about January that inspires cleaning and paring down so much?  Maybe it's putting away all the Christmas clutter.  Whatever it is, I find myself wanting things spare and simple in January.  Each day finds me cleaning up a small corner.  This morning it was the end table.  A simple linen cloth, pots of sweet smelling spring bulbs and then a few minutes of quiet while I eat my breakfast with the lovely soundtrack from Pride & Prejudice playing in the background.  A lovely way way to start the morning!

Cranberry Walnut Petit Batard
On my way home from Colorado this past week, I stopped at Trader Joe's and brought home this lovely Cranberry Walnut Petit Batard bread.  A slice of that with my morning cup of Scottish Breakfast Tea is just perfect!

14 January 2012

De-Stashing Projects

Black & White quilt top
One of the goals on my annual list (every year!) is to downsize my belongings, including the amount of craft stuff I have.  I often think that if it weren't for sewing/crafting stuff and books, I would have a minimal amount of stuff!  I'd really like to do some serious de-stashing, but hate hauling stuff to the thrift shop as I think they often see fabric and just toss it.

Then I thought about how the hospital makes quilts for the beds in Pediatrics and how those quilts then go home with the child.  It's a small thing, but it makes what could otherwise be a scary time for a child or teenager a little bit friendlier. The kids love the quilts and Pediatrics often hears back about how much they continue to love the quilts at home.  At first I was just going to take them a couple bins of fabric, but then I ended up having to be home from work this week (nasty cough and cold) so it was a good opportunity to be a little more productive.

baby quilt
I found enough pre-cut blocks to make this crib quilt top.  There's enough fabric for several more quilt tops so I'm busy cutting blocks tonight!

My "helper"
Thomas is my constant companion while I'm working!  No matter what I'm doing, he has to be right there in the middle of it!

12 January 2012

"New" Old Sewing Basket

Old Sewing Basket
I'm back from a lovely few days in Colorado with my family!  While there, my daughter and I spent an afternoon browsing through an antique mall, where I bought myself an early birthday present!  This lovely old sewing basket just had to come home with me!  I love the rich blue of the old silk and the deep tufting.  A perfect spot to show off some old lace!

Lace
A couple bags of lace trims resulted in these delicate beauties!

Old Lace
As well as a few more bits of lacy goodness!

Embroidered holder
We also found this lovely embroidered linen pouch.  I suspect it may have held hankies or silk stockings at one time!

Roses & Hyacinths
A stop at Trader Joes on the way home resulted in a lovely bouquet of sweet pink roses!  They look lovely with the hyacinths!

Old bulbs
The paperwhites were done blooming, so it was time to uproot them and replace them with fresh bulbs.  I always hate to throw these gorgeous bulbs away, but I've never had success getting them to re-bloom in subsequent years.  Loved how they looked, so had to take a photo!

04 January 2012

Blocks for Valentine's

Block 1
The piecing of the Valentine blocks went quickly today!

Block 2
The only thing I'll change for using the template in the future is to allow a larger seam allowance around the outside ~ another 1/2" at least, as I like a little extra room in case the stitching and embellishment pulls the block in.

Block 3
I love the soft colors.

Block 4
Looking forward to adding some silk ribbon embroidery as well as other embroidery to these blocks!

Block 5
And I suspect there will be a few little birds added as well!

Valentine Bell Pull
This gives an idea of how the blocks will go together!

Drafting CQ Blocks

Sweet Valentine Birds
I've had these sweet vintage Valentine images with birds on them for a while and have long wanted to do something with them.  When I saw a Vintage Valentine Round Robin on CQI, I signed up right away.  But the round robins usually consist of 6 blocks and I only had 5 images, so I decided to do this one on my own in my favorite muted soft colors.  I found a fun assortment of other images for the round robin, which I'll put together soon.

As is the case for many people, I struggle with piecing.  Usually, I just do a sew and flip method, building from the center out, but it seems that I waste a lot of fabric sometimes. And it takes seemingly forever.  Then I'm not always happy with the result, though I've often realized that this is a good excuse to let one's creativity have free reign in order to overcome!  But for this project, my silk stash consists of mostly small pieces, and I wanted to make the best use of them in order to have enough for all 5 blocks.  So, after rereading Allie's book, perusing Gerry's blog as well as those of Vintage VogueKitty Stevens, Sharon Boggen and others, I decided to design a couple of block patterns to use.  I wanted one where the image tilted left and one to the right.

Drafting the CQ Blocks 1
I started off using my Omnigrip square ruler to draw the 6 inch blocks, making sure to allow an extra 1/4" all the way around for seam allowance.  I also played with some thumbnail sketches to come up with ideas for piecing.

Drafting the CQ Blocks 2
Then with a ruler and the centers marked, I drew the pieces and made some notes for seam allowance. I also numbered the pieces in the order in which they'll be attached to help keep me organized.  You'll notice that they are basically the same block mirrored, with just a couple of minor differences in the angle of some seams.

Blocks with image
Here I was trying out the images on the squares.

Valentine Blocks in progress
Because these are square images, I can rotate the blocks and still get the tilt I need.  The blocks look wonderfully varied using this technique!

Next I 2 copies each of the drafted blocks and cut patterns from them.  I laid each block out as I cut it out so I could check for color placement.  I was thrilled at how little waste I had with the silk!  Tomorrow, I hope to get the blocks stitched up!

01 January 2012

2012 ~ To Do List

2012

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s Resolutions.  They always seem to be pie-in-the-sky types of things, too often focused on habit breaking or creating, and bound to fail and cause great discouragement. 

I love making lists, and even more, crossing things off the list, so a few years ago, I changed my focus and started creating an annual list of goals.  It’s more like a list of things to do.  Most are practical, do-able things and admittedly, some of them may take more than a single year to accomplish.

Goal Lists
On my list are the projects I want to complete or large projects that I want to make significant progress towards.  Some of them are just annual things that need done, like maintenance on the car or health issues I want to get on top of.  Thankfully, the health list went from fairly long last year to nearly non-existent this year!  The car list on the other hand got significantly longer as the odometer just passed the 100,000-mile mark!  Time for some heavy-duty maintenance to keep it running for another 100,000 miles!  Also on the list are trips I’d like to take, large purchases I’d like to make and a few financial goals as well. 

Throughout the year, I refer to the list often to evaluate where I am with the goals.  Could I be working harder towards some items?  Have circumstances changed making a goal obsolete or impractical?  Can I cross something off the list?  Do I need to add anything?  If I’m not making forward progress on a goal, I know it’s time to re-evaluate that goal and what I need to do to achieve it.  It’s a process that works well for me.  Last year I was able to cross off over half of my long list and was able to make significant progress on about ½ of the remaining items.  I’m pretty happy with that considering the magnitude of the items I crossed off!  A few things are getting transferred to this years list and I’ve gone through and marked a few items with a higher priority to keep me on track. 

2012 Calendar Journal

I do have a couple of new "Annual Projects" which I'm starting today.  One is to take a photo a day.  I tried this somewhat informally a couple years ago and loved having the record of the year on an almost daily basis.  I want to get focused back on creating art on a regular basis, and so I'm hoping to produce a watercolor sketch every week.  In addition, I'm trying to do a small crazy quilt block a month.  My sister and I have also started a monthly Calendar Journal project.  We got started on this last month, creating the foundation for the coming year.  It's already fun to see our different takes on it!  I'll be sharing these annual projects at my new blog; Ivory Blush Roses Annual Project, that you'll see listed on the sidebar.  

This year, my Mom shared the following, which I like a lot because it takes the focus off of myself and turns it towards benefitting others instead! 

Instead of making resolutions, try doing 12 ACTS OF KINDNESS throughout 2012. You can do them over and over again.

1/ Send a card to a friend for absolutely no reason.
2/ Bake goodies for a neighbor.
3/ Buy coffee for an old friend,
4/ Hold the door open for a stranger.
5/ Compliment a server for their service.
6/ Pick up litter that you see.
7/ Write a note to someone special.
8/ For one day, smile at everyone you pass by.
9/ Let someone go ahead of you in line.
10/ Pass on a memento to a loved one.
11/ Invite a friend or neighbor over for a simple meal.
12/ Call a family member and tell them how much they mean to you.

Whether or not you set resolutions, goals, to-do lists or something completely different, I wish you all the best in achieving them!  

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