The call of the Muse

The Path, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Here is a glimpse of the painting that I've been working on. I'd lost my way for a while. Living in the southwest, I thought I should be painting the landscape around me, the red rocks, the canyons, the harsh and dry but dramatic landscape. Gradually, I lost the heart for painting and put away my brushes and easel.

But the muse has been calling. She speaks to me of green places, of lush grass, leafy trees. Of mist that rises up unseen. Of pastoral landscapes, places that invite one in.

In such a way I was led to this painting, the largest I've ever done at 24 x 36". As it progresses, my heart lightens and I find that painting is once again a joy and something I am driven to do with passion. What a wonderful thing it is to be inspired!

“Joys come from simple and natural things:
mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves,
the path of the moon over the water.”
--Sigurd F. Olson


Between Winter and Spring

This charming book has so many sweet poems in it that I can't help sharing more from it. This lovely poem speaks poignantly to me at the moment as we just received another foot of snow over the past 3 days!

Between Winter and Spring

That weary time which comes between
The last snow and the earliest green!
One barren clod the wide fields lie,
And all our comfort is the sky.

We know the sap is in the tree.
That life at buried roots must be;
Yet dreary is the earth we tread,
As if her very soul were dead.

Before the dawn,--the darkest hour!
The blank and chill, before the flower!
Beauty prepares this background gray,
Whereon her loveliest tints to lay.

Ah patience! ere we dream of it,
Springs fair new gospel will be writ;
Look up! good only can befall,
While Heaven is at the heart of all!
by Lucy Larcom

This was the scene out my windows yesterday morning. This morning there was an additional 3" of snow. Spring feels eons away at the moment, the glorious blue sky the only hope of warmer days to come.

Fresh Snow

To compensate for the snow, I did a little more decorating for Easter. Below is a fabulous and enormous sugar egg that I purchased a few years ago from a thrift shop after looking longingly at it in the display case for years. I have no idea how old it is, but I believe the little birds inside are plastic so probably no older than the 1950's. Each year I pack it away carefully, protected by shredded tissue and sealed to keep moisture and dust (and mice!) out.

Sugar Egg

The top of the treadle sewing machine that once belonged to my Great Grandmother becomes the setting for an Easter vignette.

Easter Vignette

This old shelf is another thrift shop find. It is rickety, warped and shabby, but I love it. It makes a nice setting for some of my bunny collection and other Easter items.

Easter shelf



Mermaid Dotees 04, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Mermaid Dotees of my own design. I've been having fun making many types of Dotees, but I've fallen in love with these! Such fun to make. I suspect they will soon be joined by others!

The hair is composed of my own handspun wool yarns, DMC pearlescent effects embroidery floss (difficult to work with), sea green nylon thread and some textured cotton weaving yarn, all strung here and there with beads. I love the effect this mix of yarn and thread gives!

I'd love to hear what you think of them!


Hope of Spring

Pink Hyacinths, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Seeing these hyacinths bursting forth with life and beauty gives me such joy! Not only do they bring the hope that Spring will soon be here (even though it is snowing yet again outside!) but they smell heavenly and brighten my surroundings!

Bunny with Egg Nest

Here is another of my favorite Easter decorations, a twig nest with moss and porcelain eggs in my favorite soft muted colors! Seeing my Easter things around me also gives me hope of Spring!

Crochet Washcloth

This crocheted washcloth was inspired by one I saw on HERE on the White Country blog. I loved it and had to make my own! Spring cleaning, anyone?

Sing Pretty Birds

I have a delightful old book called, "A Year of Beautiful Thoughts ~ For Boys and Girls" by Jeanie A B Greenough, dated 1902. There is an entry for each day with a verse of scripture, a short essay and a poem. Charming to read! One of the entries inspired this 8"x8" collage of "inchies". Fun to put together with lots of scrapbooking techniques and supplies.


Sing, pretty birds, and build your nests,
The fields are green, the skies are clear:
Sing, pretty birds, and build your nests,
The world is glad to have you here.

Among the orchards and the groves,
While summer days are fair and long,
You brighten every tree and bush,
You fill the air with loving song.

At early dawn, your notes are heard
In happy greeting to the day;
Your twilight voices softly tell
When sunshine hours have passed away.

Sing, pretty birds, and build your nests,
The fields are green, the skies are clear;
Sing, pretty birds, and build your nests,
The world is glad to have you here.


Decorating for Easter

Chick 16Feb08 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Easter is probably my favorite holiday. Not only is it the most holy of days in the Christian calendar, but I also love the focus on new life, renewal,and light. Add spring into the mix and some of my favorite things, bunnies, flowers, baby chicks, lambs and the soft colors and it makes my heart sing.

Yesterday I got out the box of Easter Decorations. I haven't seen most of these in over three years because I've been moving so much. What fun to open the box and enjoy each item as it comes to light! Even more fun because these are some of the few things that survived our housefire unscathed a few years ago.

Chick 16Feb08 02

These two little flocked chicks are among my favorite Easter decorations. So sweet! They remind me of dressing up for Easter in our best new dresses. My sister and I used to get a fresh new dress for Easter and a new purse. The one I remember most was a little wicker basket, almost round in shape with flowers on the lid. We would fill them with chocolate eggs and jelly beans and then try to eat them quietly in church without getting our little white gloves messy! I remember the Easter bonnets too! Pretty straw hats with ribbons and flowers!


A Day of Lovely Things

Geranium 16Feb08 02, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

This lovely geranium is blooming profusely at the moment. If you look closely at the picture, you will see that it is growing up through a lamp! For months, this geranium stayed small and rather wimpy. Though the windowsill gets wonderful late afternoon sun, I thought maybe it just wasn't getting enough light, so I moved it under a nearby lamp. Immeadiately it started growing and the leaves got bigger till now they range from 3 to 5 inches in diameter! It kept growing up into the lamp. I kept pulling it out of the lampshade, but the next day, I'd go back and there it would be again, so I finally let it be. It must really like the compact flourescent light! Doesn't it look happy?! It makes me happy to see its beautiful blooms!

It has been a lovely warm day here. The snow is melting, the sun shining and best of all, it was warm enough for the first time since last autumn to sit and drink my tea on the patio! Without a jacket on! As I sat there sipping my tea, the birds started to come. I had my sketchbook so was able to sketch the birds up close. They were completely unconcerned about my presence less than two feet away! How lovely!

It has been a productive day as well. Out of my stash, I pulled some fabric that I've had for ages. Once upon a time, it was destined to cover the cushions on a wooden sofa. In the way things happen, this purpose was never fulfilled and the fabric has been sitting at the bottom of a storage tub for nearly 8 years.

Set of Tote Bags

The goal this time was to make some fabric, reusable grocery bags. I had three pieces of fabric and the top piece was enough to make 6 bags, 3 are a regular grocery tote bag size, about 18" in circumference by 15" deep. The 3 smaller ones are the same circumference but only 12" or so deep. Perfect for heavier loads of cans and things or maybe to take to the bookstore. I'm so pleased with the way they came out! How I love days where I can look and see exactly what I've accomplished by the end of the day!

Tote bags

I told you once before that I tend to buy fabric in large amounts. It appears that I have enough fabric for, are you ready for this?! At least another 20 bags or so! May just have to make some of these up to sell! Or find another project for the yards of fabric I still have left!

Other lovely parts of the day include getting a package of books from a friend! Heaven to have new books to read that someone else has chosen for me! Another was getting out the box of Easter decorations! What fun to look through all the things that have been packed away for the past two years! Now there is enough time left in the day to indulge in a good Jane Austen movie and cuddle with the kitties for the evening!

Of Buttons and Velvet

Button Fairy , originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Button Fairies caught my eye a while back. Maybe because I have loved buttons ever since I was a girl rooting around with my cousin in my Grandmother's button tin. Maybe because I now have several large tins of buttons that I can't bear to get rid of. There are buttons in all colors but I love the white and pearly ones best. What fun to pick through and find the right assortment of buttons for this fairy and how nice to be able to use a couple buttons on her that for various reasons are no longer suitable for using on clothing.

The hardest part of making this was coming up with a face and wings for it. Then as I was perusing through some clip art, I came across this lovely little maid ~ and as I've been reading Jane Austen once again, I thought it perfect. A little more searching and I realized that the this bit of rose clip art would make lovely sweet wings. A little colored pencil and some lightly tinted glitter and my first button fairy was born! I attached a magnet to the back and now she hangs from the drafting light over my work table to cheer me on!

Once upon a time, my buttons were all sorted by color into color coordinated tins. As part of my downsizing efforts I combined some of the colors. I love this mix of green, blue and purple buttons. Today while out running errands, I stopped at the fabric store to get cotton belting to make some canvas shopping bags. I discovered that they had my favorite velvets on sale. For $2.50 a yard!!! Needless to say, I failed abysmally at my vow to downsize my fabric stash. I ended up buying this beautiful assortment of velvet in these luscious tones from my button box ~ for less than the cotton belting cost! There are projects galore dancing in my head at the moment! I can't wait to get started!

Oh ~ and I also got some delicious brown, pinky beige and lucious garnet velvet too!



Hearts, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I went looking for hearts around my home today. I was suprised at how many there were!

<3 A lovely little bleeding heart ornament is one of a set of six that my Mother got me for Christmas. It is hanging on a candlestick on top of my china cabinet.
<3 Inside the china cabinet is a white porcelain heart mold for making Coeur a la creme in the china cabinet. I've never actually used, but love the idea! Something to try making one of these days!
<3 Lovely mother of pearl buttons in the button jar.
<3 Sweet heart necklaces. A tiny locket given to me by my grandmother when I was very small. A diamond filled one given by a grateful mother after I coached her through a difficult childbirth. A lovely oldfashioned heart locket from my sister!
<3 A lovely old valentine from one of my dear friends.
<3 A perfect heart shaped shell sitting on the bathroom counter.
<3 Perfect Valentine's Day reading ~ vintage issues of Victoria Magazine.
<3 Rose Petal Tea for the Queen of Hearts (it says so on the tin!) One of my all time favorite teas!
<3 A sweet little heart pin from my Mother's jewelry box when I was young.
<3 Heart cookie and pastry cutters and a jello mold in the kitchen.
<3 A dish of sweet treats on the table.
<3 A sweetly embroidered heart on a linen pillow slip in the bedroom.

My wish for you today is that you be surrounded by the love and affection of those you hold dear! Blessings dear readers!


Blank Books and Blotters

A new blank book always intrigues me. So many possibilities! I'm always copying down a bit of scripture or a quote that inspires me. I also make lots of lists, some written, some visual. And I also like to sketch out ideas for things, whether it be how to decorate a new living space, ideas for crafting or just because something has captured my interest. My old blank book goes with me many places. It's a nice size, about 4 1/2 x 6" with pretty handmade paper with blossoms in it and a clear vinyl cover to keep it clean and make it durable. It fits nicely in my handbag or tote bag.

Unfortunately, my book is nearly full and I've been looking for another blank book of similar size. Most have lines which don't make them very nice for sketching ideas out or are significantly larger. Recently I discovered small Moleskin makes cahiers (I had to look it up. A cahiers is: "a number of sheets of paper put together for binding or bound loosely" per Webster's) that are 3 1/2 x 5 1/2". They are small, lightweight and plain boring black.

I'd seen some sweet book covers of fabric in some Japanese publications and decided to make my own. A little embroidered bunny provides a nice friendly touch! Insides a bit of lace holds the flap and sweet calico lines the linen cover. Next time, I'll make the flap just a bit longer so it holds under the lace better.

Along the same lines, I keep a sheet of cardstock at the computer to use as a blotter. Here I sketch out ideas I've seen online, take notes, cut and paste things, take phone messages or write down internet links. It keeps my work space free from a clutter of bits of paper and gives me a defined workspace. When the sheet gets full, I replace it with a new one. The old one is either discarded if filled with mundane stuff or kept in my idea file.


Food for the Soul

If thou of fortune be bereft,
And in thy store there be but two left
Two loaves-sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul
by James Terry White (1845-1920)

Outside, the snow is falling steadily, the wind blowing it in sweeping, blustry swirls. How nice to be inside where it is warm and cozy, enjoying the heady fragrance of pristine white hyacinths and the joyful blooms of daffodils! These beauties called to me at the grocer's yesterday and found their way home with me! How luxurious to have spring blooms in the middle of winter!

The beautiful birthday flowers from my sister lasted for two full weeks but faded away at last. What joy to find these beautiful pink tulips to take their place!

It may seem a frivolous expense to buy flowers when one is trying to save money and pay off debts. They cheer my soul and bring me hope and courage to meet the demands and challenges of each day. For me, they are more than worth their small cost for the joy they bring !

I must tell you about an exquisite blog that I recently discovered. The Bower is the blog written by Lesley who runs Small Meadow Press. She prints beautiful and delicate stationary items on 100% recycled papers and writes so beautifully about her home and life. I have savored each and every post she has written! I hope you also enjoy it!

I thought you might like to see a little of what I've been crafting in the past couple of weeks. These little fabric bowls or "thread keepers" are meant to be used to gather the snippets of thread left after doing handwork. I find they make delightful containers for buttons and beads on my work table as well as doing a fine job of keeping the small tools of handsewing and embroidery at hand where ever I may be working! So sweet!