Morning Delights

This morning I woke long before sunrise, one of the quirks of working the night shift but switching to days on my days off. I relish these early mornings when all is silent. I make my cup of tea, gather my devotional and spend some quiet time with God. Rumbling around in the back of my head is a growing list of things I need to accomplish in this day. The devotional I use, "Celtic Prayers from Iona" by J. Philip Newell helps me to keep the focus off of myself and to focus instead on the needs of others and the world around us.

With the first light of the day, the birds begin to arrive at the feeders. Their chirping and warbling is one of the delights of the day. I love the lacy footprints they leave across the dusting of snow that has blown onto the patio. Lately, a small flock of Casseins Finches have joined the usual assortment of birds that visit. Their little red caps bring a brilliant spot of color to a mostly white and sepia landscape. It is snowing lightly once again. This morning I can see that the feeders will need refilling shortly and I must add birdseed to my shopping list.

A list of things to do grows quickly and there is much to do before my sister arrives for a visit this evening. I've made so many changes to my apartment since she was last here and I want her to see it at its best. Time to get the day rolling.

Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment,
sparkling like a star in our hand--
and melting like a snowflake.

-- Marie Beyon Ray


Breakfast and Blooms

Breakfast has always been my least favorite meal of the day. For some reason, I just don't feel like eating when I first wake up. My Uncle Jake taught me the joys of toast and peanut butter as a quick and nutritious breakfast when I was a teenager and for many years, that was my breakfast staple.

Lately, I've been fascinated by the blog, Simply Breakfast, with it's beautiful photographs of simple breakfasts presented so appealingly. It has encouraged me to branch out a bit and to make breakfast not only a nutritional meal but an artistically presented meal. So this morning, here is my take on breakfast. A whole wheat asiago cheese bagel with whipped cream cheese, Calimyrna figs and big mug of my favorite Scottish Breakfast tea with a little skim milk and sugar.

In the autumn, I potted many pots of bulbs in shades of white, pale pink and yellow. They are just starting grow and bloom. Right now, the amaryllis are the stars of the show. Such elegant and pristine beauty!

Soon to follow are paperwhites, hyacinths, and Thalia narcissus. Then will come the yellow blossoms of spring, the Tete-a-tete daffodils! By then, hopefully spring will be well underdway and I won't need the cheer of forced blooms to take my mind off of the winter's cold and gloom.

Here is a peek at some of last years beautiful blooms.


Newfound Treasures!

As a birthday treat to myself, I went shopping in Phoenix yesterday. Initially, I went looking for a scrap-booking and stamping store I had read about. Along the way I got lost and found instead that the entire downtown area of Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix on the west side) is filled with ANTIQUE stores!!! Because of my downsizing efforts, I don’t go antiquing anymore, as I tend to buy too much, so this was a wonderful treat! I found some lovely treasures!

White ironstone has become one of my big loves, so finding this beautiful bowl made my day!

These sweet button cards are so charming. I love the “Lady Washington Pearls”! Things with blue seemed to be my focus today as I also found these little books ~ “Lyrics – Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley” (I adore the poetry of Wordsworth!) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” bound in blue cloth. Later I found the charming butterfly and dragonfly fabric that I can’t wait to make into something sweet!

One of my treasures is this elegant crystal saltshaker with a silver and mother of pearl lid!

I’ve been decorating for Valentine’s Day and these little tins and lacey pieces will fit in so nicely!

Eventually I even found the scrap-booking shop! It was a good thing I asked for directions at the antique store or I’d never have found it tucked behind a restaurant with only a small sign out front. It was on 57th DRIVE not 57th STREET. City planners must get giddy at coming up with confusing street naming projects that make it hard for unsuspecting people to find their way around. Next door to the scrap-booking store was a cute cottage with roses blooming in the front yard! In January! Almost makes me want to move to Phoenix to be able to enjoy roses in January. But then I remember that it can be over 100 degrees by April so that rather puts a damper on that idea!

I never did make it to the knitting shop, but I did find a Hobby Lobby (after asking for still more directions at the scrap-booking shop)! Now I’m set for crafting for some time to come with all the gaps in my supplies filled in! Now I need to buckle down to staying on budget and paying off debts. But what a treat it was to have a bit of shopping spree for pretty things that lift my spirits and warm my heart in the middle of cold January!


Hearts and Flowers

Once my birthday is past, my thoughts turn to Valentine's Day and Spring! This year, I was inspired by Victoria Magazine (an old beloved friend, returned at last!) and by Aina of Modern Country to make my own feminine display on top of my china cabinet.

Victoria Magazine depicted a similar garland in their January/February issue that I fell in love with. Right away, I knew I wanted to make one, but using my favorite pale flowers in keeping with my mostly white decor. Choosing the ribbon color was the hardest part because I didn't want it to be too pink. I nearly used lavender and then tried a sage green, but neither had effect I wanted. Then something made me think about this bright kiwi/lime green ribbon and it was perfect!

The linen heart with it's varigated pink silk ribbon was inspired by one that Aina at Modern Country made for another favorite blogger of mine, Outi Loimaranta at White Country. I had a few scraps of pristine white linen that were the perfect size! In my ribbon embroidery box, I found the perfect pale pink and white varigated ribbon and my button box turned up the soft satiny pink buttons. I like the bare touch of color. The sheen of the linen is so nice.

Like my Christmas vignette, I'm sure this one will bear some tweaking in the next few days. For right now, it fills me with hope and gladness!

My 50th birthday was yesterday! While I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about being 50, having the opportunity to celebrate it with my sister was a joy! We had a fabulous Japanese dinner with divine "Dragon Sushi" and Miso Soup. Then we spent the evening scrapbooking at a lovely store here in town that has "Midnight Madness" scrapbooking every Friday from 6pm to midnight! My sister told me we had assigned seating this week and what did I find at our table? The most beautiful bouquet of pink and cream flowers from her! So lovely! As I have been scrapbooking my Colorado garden, which was filled with pink roses that I dearly miss, the flowers were uplifting and helped me feel like I was for the evening, still in my garden!


Sweet Things!

These are the treasures of my day!

The sweet bit of milk left in the bottom of the cereal bowl.

Thomas kitty lounging upon elegant linen pillows! He makes me think of this line by Mark Twain:
A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered
cat--maybe a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?

Sweet little strawberry matchbox sewing kits being made. Hopefully they and others will soon be listed for sale on my new Etsy site! I'll post more about that when it is up and running!

The whimsy of a newly created Faery Jar! Working with wire and beads is new for me ~ and so much fun!

Little joys, each and every one and so easy to miss if one doesn't take the time to appreciate them.


Dotee Dolls my way

Although I had my share of dolls when I was growing up, I was more interested in designing houses for them than playing with them. But since I've discovered making Dotee dolls a few weeks ago, I've been bitten by the "doll" bug! The first three I made follwed most of the "rules" of Dotee Doll making, but now, I'm headed off in my own direction. These two dolls were inspired by a swap for a Creative or Art Dotee and crafted using materials I already had. I wanted to showcase some of the creative handcrafts that I do. The fronts are natural linen using scraps from a previous sewing project. The buttons are from my button box. The little quilt 4-patch is hand pieced and quilted and just barely over an inch square! The knitting needles are crafted from toothpicks and the knitting is from some fine singles of my homespun wool! The hair is crafted from lovely wavy locks of Romney wool gifted to me by a friend. Next on the crafting agenda is a pair of Shabby Chic Dotee Dolls!


Learn Something New Every Day!

I remember being told that bit of wisdom frequently as a child. It must have stuck, because I do try to learn continuously. There is so much in this amazing world and we'll never have more than a glimmer of understanding and knowledge of it all.

This is what I learned today.

"What is that," you say? No it isn't whipping cream or frosting or even merangue. It's shaving cream!!! In a scrapbooking magazine, I had seen some artwork that I really liked created with papers made using "The Shaving Cream Technique". Intrigued, I tried to find more info in the magazine, but all it did was refer me to an issue of the magazine from 4, yes FOUR years ago!!! Lot of help that is! So last night, I was thinking about it again and decided to google it. Lo and behold, I found thousands of entries on this technique.

So this evening when some other plans fell through and I found myself with a bit of free time on my hands, I decided to try it. Thanks to the artist who left his can of shaving cream here and the assistance of some food coloring, a good part of my white cardstock stash and two hours, I have had so much fun and turned out some truely creative and fun papers!

The directions in brief, in case you don't want to google it yourself, are simple.

First cover your working area with newsprint or some other such surface protector as this gets messy! Get some decent fitting vinyl gloves for this too. Remember that food coloring is a dye and it can make a rainbow of your hands, countertop, etc.! It turns pink babies into rainbow babies. Yikes!!!

1 ~ in a pie tin (or cookie sheet depending on how large a paper you plan on using) place about 1" of shaving cream. Smooth it out a bit. I've never used shaving cream before. It expands. A lot! Being the girly-girl that I am, I have used foundation crack filler before. This expands a lot like that, though it washes off much easier! LOL! Give it a minute or two and then smooth it out a bit.

2 ~ Drop small drops of food coloring on the shaving cream.

3 ~ using a toothpick, chopstick, pencil or palette knife, swirl the color in the shaving cream. It works rather like marbeling which I've always wanted to try!

4 ~ Start with one or two colors. Keep adding, smoothing, mixing a bit. I found that I liked it once some of the colors were blended a bit more but there will still splotches of color, sort of an inbetween state.

5 ~ Place your paper on the shaving cream and press it in (you want the entire surface to touch the tinted shaving cream)

6 ~ Peel the paper off the shaving cream and use your palette knife (or an old plastic credit card ~ see, there IS a good use for them other than buying things!) and set aside. After a couple minutes, you can gently wipe any remaining shaving cream off of them with a paper towel.

Note: I started off using acrylic paints. Even though they were pretty runny, they didn't stain the paper and looked just blotchy. Then I switched to food coloring. Many crafters apparently use "reinkers" for ink pads. As much time as I've spent in art stores and scrapbooking stores, I have to admit that I've never seen these. Since I'm trying to use what I have, I used the food coloring. I loved them. They dyed the papers instantly and I could mix the four colors to get more (in a small glass bowl before dropping it on the shaving cream). Once I had printed and mixed to the point where the top of the "pie" got muddy looking, I scraped the top off and started over again, adding shaving cream as needed.

So much fun! It was hard to stop!

I'm planning on using a lot of these to make ATC's otherwise known as Artist Trading Cards (if swapped) or ACEO's (if sold) and I'm sure that many of them will get drafted into use for greeting cards and scrapbooking! I'd love to know what you think! Leave me a comment!

So about those rainbow babies... Once upon a time, when I was young, maybe 14 or 15, I was babysitting for some neighbors. A 2 year old boy and his 3 month old little brother. This family was building their own home and at the timemuch of it, including the kitchen was still unfinished. The cabinets were all sitting on the floor with all the normal kitchen stuff inthem. Everything was easily accessible. This was one of those all day babysitting jobs and I'd had the kids outside, inside and we'd been keeping busy. The 2 year old as happily playing with his truck, driving it through the house. The baby was sitting in his babyseat on the floor. And I took advantage of the lull to use the bathroom for a couple of minutes.

Upon emerging from the bathroom, I discovered just how much trouble an unsupervised 2 year old can get into. In that two minutes, the 2 year old found the food coloring in one of the kitchen cabinets and proceeded to "paint" his baby brother. Blue, green, yellow and red. You can imagine my horror! Little babies don't really look very good in brightly colored spots. Especially when it isn't even your own baby! And how in the world do you explain something like that to the parents? I learned then that food coloring doesn't come off with normal washing. Lemon juice doesn't work either. So the parents came home to a rainbow baby and a son with rainbow hands! They laughed and laughed and were so great about it. But I don't think I ever babysat for that family again!



The fruits of my "Voila!" moment last week are beginning to come together. I am so pleased with my bedroom. It has become the peaceful, cozy sanctuary that I have been wanting it to be.

The bedside table is free of clutter. The drawers are neat and the closet is organized. The room gets the late afternoon sun, which is perfect since I work nights and generally sleep from 8 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. I love waking to sunshine!

In this room, the head of the bed is against a north wall, which my sister tells , according to Feng Shui is much better for sleeping. I think what is best for sleeping is having a peaceful room free of clutter and with cozy linens and pillows on the bed!

Old linens give me joy and I have quite a collection of pieces gathered over the years. Some from family and friends, others found in antique stores and flea markets. One of my favorite finds was this lovely linen pillow pocket.

Pristine white linens on the bed are peaceful and calming to me. Once in a while, I'll add a pale pink quilt or blanket, but most of the time, I love the purity and simplicity of all white.

Another favored object in my bedroom is my Inspiration board. Here I have put a collection of cards featuring paintings I love, tidbits of lace, millinary flowers, handwoven bookmarks, etc. I found it interesting how harmonious the colors are ~ shades of green, purple, lavender and pink with undertones of cream, taupe and warm brown. Also interesting is that these are the colors of my wardrobe with the addition of black! This board features many of my favorite things, bunnies, fairies, roses and gardens ~ all idealic settings!

No pictures yet of my study/studio room. I have much downsizing to do in this room. After moving nearly 2000 books, I realize that I need to do some serious culling! And to think I've already gotten rid of at least 10 to 15 good sized bags and boxes of books! Yikes!!! I also need to get rid of fabric and various crafting items. I must admit that I am seriously addicted to fabric! I don't just buy a yard or two at a time. I tend to buy fabric in BIG pieces, like 10 yards!!! In the past, I sewed most of my clothes and my daughter's, but I haven't done much clothes sewing in the past 5 years. So (sew!) I either need to get sewing and make this fabric into useful things or get rid of it. I also have a loom, which I have not used in some time. It is an expensive piece of furniture to have around taking up space, but I hesitate to get rid of it as I really do want to weave a few things. Someday!

I have some hard choices to make. One of my goals is to have everything I own fit comfortably in this two bedroom apartment. Changing rooms has made me realize I'm still trying to pack too much stuff in. I'm so pleased with my bedroom at the moment, but my study/studio needs serious effort and I need to prioritize my hobbies and let go of some of the lesser practiced ones like weaving. I've found a few books on the topic of organizing and downsizing that I've found helpful.

Scaling down: Living Large in a smaller space, by Judi Culbertson and Marj Decker. This was the first book on downsizing that I read and I keep going back to it for practical, sound advice and tips.

It's All Too Much, by Peter Walsh. This one is also loaded with practical advice. It's a quick read and thought provoking about WHY we keep stuff and how to break the pattern.

Moving On: A practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home, by Linda Hetzer & Janet Hulstrand. Also helpful, but more geared to moving an older family member out of the family home and into a smaller retirement home or assisted living.

How to organize (just about) everything, by Peter Walsh. Covers everything from where to put your car keys and organize your closets to how to organize your life to get into medical school and more. List format makes it easy to find quick assistance when trying to figure out how to do something!


Little Things

I've always had a love for little things and still (at nearly 50 years old) have my box of little childhood treasures that I love to look through from time to time. At the left is my treasure box ~ a 12" diameter Shaker type wood box about 4" deep. Would you believe that all the stuff below actually fits into it?!!! As you can see, I really do love little bitsy things!

My latest venture into little things is making matchboxes. Matchboxes may not sound terribly exciting, but once decorated and filled with an assortment of bits such as beads, buttons, stickers and ribbon, they become charming little treasure boxes.

The very first matchbox I ever made was back when I was in elementary school. Covered with bright yellow felt and trimmed in more felt, it looks pretty amateurish, but I liked it enough to keep coins from other countries in it. The next one I made was in the mid 1980's when I took a bookbinding class. Our first binding project was to cover a matchbox like a book. This one is filled with suitcase and diary keys!

The latest matchboxes are another creature all together. Covered with scraps of fabric and trim, they are coming out so cute! This strawberry matchbox, covered in velvet with a wool stuffed velvet strawberry is my favorite! This one has been sent to my swap partner in Paris! I hope she loves it! I must make more of these ~ it was so tactile and sweet that I almost couldn't bear to send it away!

The next one is covered with a graphic white & black cotton. The fabric became the main attraction and I found it didn't need embellishing. What fun to find lovely black and white things to go with it!

The latest one is for a Flower Matchbox Swap. My partner stated that her favorite colors were burnt orange and brown so this is what I came up with. She got a Dotee Doll, Autumn Blossom as I was inspired by the colors! Oranges are NOT my favorite colors and in fact I would usually say they are my least favorite, but as I looked at the fabric and beads that I had, I was inspired!


Making changes

I need more space!!! My apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area (which is also the only spot to put a dining table and a small kitchen. There is also a patio with a small storage shed, which also contains the hot water heater making only 1/2 of it usable space.

At the moment, my bedroom is in the larger bedroom. It's the one with a really big walk-in closet ~ big enough I could put a child's bed in there and call it a bedroom! All I do in this room is sleep and change clothes. I spend most of my free time in the smaller bedroom, on the computer, reading, painting, sewing, crafting, etc. This room also has a small walk -in closet that at the moment is filled to the brim with crafting supplies, including my loom which I don't use because I can't get to it! This room also contains the majority of my library ~about 1500+ books after downsizing!

Earlier today, I had one of those "VOILA!!!" moments! Wouldn't it make more sense to put all my activities in the larger room where I spend more time and need more space? So, I'll have to walk a few extra feet to the bathroom from my new bedroom. Small price to pay for improved space and storage for all things I spend time on when I'm awake!

I'm actually looking forward to having a smaller cozier bedroom. With less space, I'm much less likely to fill it up with stuff! And a smaller closet will encourage me to purge my clothing on a regular basis. Something I haven't been doing as well as I ought. This will give me the opportunity to go through everything and get rid of the tired and damaged.

Another great thing will be to have the BIG closet to store my crafting stuff in! The switch should make things accessible, which should help keep me from buying things I already have just because I can't find them. And keep me from making a huge mess of things as I hunt for stuff. Can't wait to get started!


A Happy New Year!

Christmas is past, the Artist has returned home to Colorado and I ushered in the New Year at work. The hospital never shuts down for holidays and babies are always being born, so the nursing staff celebrated at midnight with glasses of sparkling apple-cranberry cider!

I'm not usually one to make resolutions for the new year, but I do have some goals for the coming year.

  • To pay off my credit card and student loans

  • To lose 20 or more pounds (I'm setting a small goal here that should be more reachable ~ if I can lose more ~ what a bonus and blessing that will be!)

  • To visit the family in Colorado.

  • To visit with my Posie friends (date and location pending).

  • To maintain a routine of daily prayer and scripture reading.

In addition, I intend to continue downsizing my possessions and spend more time crafting beautiful and useful things (and some frivolous things too!). When I moved into this apartment, I purposefully did not get cable TV. Since there is no TV reception here without it, I find I spend more time creating things, reading and being outside walking or visiting my sister. I rarely miss it! I like that I am no longer bombarded with advertising and programs that make me feel discontent with what I have.

Tomorrow, I'll pack away the Christmas decorations and do a deep cleaning and redecorate for the winter season. Then I'll spend some time working on swap projects, making some decorated matchboxes filled with little treasures. I've always loved little things and recently discovered Swap-bot. Postage is going to be my frivolous expenditure in the next few months! I'm hoping to craft lovely little boxes and fill them from my overlarge stash of beads, buttons, trims, and tiny treasures! There is more than one way to downsize some things! I'm also enjoying making fun cards for various swaps as well. If anyone reading this would be interested in a private matchbox or card swap, let me know!

Health and prosperity
Your life to Cheer,
With every blessing
For the bright New Year!