vine and leaves, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
Life is filled with connections. Where I'm at on this crazy quilt block is a good example of how one connection leads to another.
First, I saw the lovely crazy quilt lavender hearts at My Country Cottage Garden. She wrote about being inspired by Baumcat. Baumcat's lovely work inspired me to get out the fabrics and try my hand at it. One of the links on her blog led me to Jo's blog in New Zealand ~ No Matter Where I go... I always find myself there. On one of her posts, she had these lovely crazy quilt postcards with a vine and leaves of buttonhole and stem stitch that I loved.

From a completely different direction, I commented on a post at Blumn Studios which led to receiving an invitation to participate in an Art Journal challenge. A link provided in this challenge, led to this one, which led to discovering various techniques for preparing pages for an art journal. And in experimenting with this technique, I sketched out a freeform pattern of vines and leaves ~ which actually was inspired by a memory of reading about a family tree drawn as a vine with small leaves that covered the walls of a room in a book by Anne Rice.
Purple Leaves
At which point, the "ah-ha" light went off and I realized I knew exactly what I wanted to embroider on this crazy quilt block next.

So, at the very least, I figure this crazy quilt block so far involves inspiration from at least 5 or 6 other blogs and a book, some of which are not related at all except in the time frame of my working on the this quilt block! Pretty amazing how it all comes together!

In other connections, I've been enjoying hearing from various readers of how they found out about my blog! One friend tells another, who tells another. Some add a link to their own blog which leads on to others finding it. What an amazing world blogging opens to us. I love being able to see how someone in Sweden or Finland decorates their home, or what beautiful things someone in Norway or Australia is creating, or having the opportunity to share my art with someone in Spain or the Netherlands. Twenty years ago, such a thing would have been an impossibility.

Back to the embroidered vine. In the past I have been one of those people who needed a pattern, who could only play music from the page, who needed to read the instructions or follow the recipe. Lately, I'm finding that sometimes it is good to work "freeform", to work as the spirit leads. This vine grows, bit by bit in seemingly random fashion, but everything connects. There is no starting point, no ending. It grows out and could continue on indefinitely. As I work, it reminds me that connections bud out in our lives all the time, taking us down new paths, leading us to new experiences and friendships.

We are all interconnected! All part of the vine! Isn't it amazing?
vine and leaves 2
If you want to read more, I realized I've written on a similar topic at my Rosebud Cottage Blog back when I was in nursing school. This connectivity is at work in SO many levels in our lives!


Pearly Birdhouse

Pearly Birdhouse, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I thought it would be fun to participate in Karla and Beth's "Bling Your Birdhouse" event! I found this cute little birdhouse at WalMart and ordered a packet of creamy vintage wallpaper trims from Karla. Adding buttons, pearls and roses from my own crafting stash, this is what I came up with! I love the understated yet elegant look it has. Goes perfect with my pale decorating!

Pearly Birdhouse side Pearly Birdhouse back

Here are more views, from the side and back.
While most participants have put their houses up for sale or trade, I think I'm going to keep mine and just enjoy showing it off!


A Mixed Bag

I finished embroidering all the seams on my crazy quilt square last night. It made me realize how long it has been since I really did much embroidery! What fun to bring out old favorites like feather stitch again. And challenging to try out new stitches. I think my favorite new stitch was the Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch shown on the top edge of the lower left piece of velvet. My least favorite was the Rosette Chain Stitch shown along the right edge of a piece of cream silk crepe on the far lower left.

Now I'm wondering what to do next! There are such large expanses of open area that need filling! I went looking for my book of ribbon embroidery stitches but have realized that it was one of the books I got rid of in my downsizing efforts! Oops! So I've been browsing blogs of fabulous crazy quilters in an attempt to gather ideas. I really want to keep this block all in shades of cream, ivory, and white with touches of ecru. Any and all suggestions will be gladly appreciated!
Dotee Dolls
Another bit of recent handcrafting is this assortment of Dotee Dolls. The left one will stay with me, the others are headed out to my swap partners! I had such fun with the little Geisha doll! I am realizing that I need to always make an extra one for me. It's so hard to send some of these little creations out the door and know that I'll never see them again!

I've been enjoying the fabric and paper crafts lately and as I've been doing research for my crazy quilt block have come to the realization of just how addicting things like this can get. I tend to rotate through various handcrafts for a period of time, then leave them behind to do something new. The problem is that there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things I love to do. Right now, I am struggling with wanting to spend my time doing these fabric crafts and wanting to paint. I don't want to give up either, but by not working on one exclusively, I wonder if I don't short-change them all. My Aunt L, the same one who did all the lovely tatted and crocheted items had felt much the same and decided to devote herself to only two things. So she quit drawing and painting and most handcrafts to focus on her tatting and crocheting. She became a master at both. But I am reluctant to give up this wide assortment of handcrafts that I enjoy. How many others fight the same dilemma and how do you resolve it in a way that works for you? I'd love to hear about it.

I've been reading, "The Secret Garden" again. I needed its messages of hope and spring. I'm finding it filled with all sorts of nuggets of wisdom.
"To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting
a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has
got in you may never get over it as long as you live."
"Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or
discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time
and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two
things cannot be in one place. 'Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot
grow.' "
I've had a growing list of worries, disagreeable items to dwell on lately.
- an unknown allergy that provoked serious facial swelling and a nasty rash. It is improving finally, but still not gone after nearly 2 weeks.
- learning that my second son, the Marine, who has been on active reserve has been called back to active duty and will be headed to Iraq shortly.
-learning that my daughter, the Seamstress and my youngest son, the Artist are both out of work and looking for new jobs and new living situations.
- not being able to work all my scheduled hours at work as there haven't been as many babies being born lately.

A dear friend of ours used to say,
"If you stand with your face to the sun, the shadows will fall behind you."
I've been trying to do so, but this evening, the shadows seem to be falling thick and I'm having a difficult time pushing the discouraging things aside and replacing them with something agreeable.


Come for a Visit!

My Living Room view 1, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Back in January, I shared some of the changes I was making as I switched my bedroom and study/studio rooms. The sun was coming in so pretty today and so I took some pictures of my living room and study/studio room to share with you! Come have a look!

My apartment faces the west and sits on the east side of a hill, so it doesn't get the sun until mid to late afternoon. I do miss the morning sun, but the afternoons in the Living Room are delightful! The photo above shows the seating area and my shelves of movies.

My Living Room view 2

This next photo shows the windows and my plants (including the geranium (pelergonium) that insists on growing up through the lampshade! I don't watch TV at all, but I do love movies! When I need a bit of R&R, I plug in a favorite. "Enchanted" is my latest delight! Such a fun fairy tale!

My Living Room view 3

Next a view of the china cabinet wall. You can see Thomas enjoying the sun too! Afternoon in the winter often found both cats and myself sprawled on the floor in the sunlight, soaking it in! The china cabinet is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. At one time, I think it was built in to a home and had drawers in the bottom. It was one of my first furnture purchases after our house fire in 1999.

Easter Table

Here is the view toward the kitchen and dining area, with the table set for Easter Dinner!

My Study/Studio view 1

Now a look into the study/studio! I have lots of books as you can see! Over 1500 at last count! Now you can see why changing rooms was such a big job! On top of the bookshelves, I've displayed the few childhood toys I've kept plus a few things I've collected over the years including a Peter Rabbit stage, lots of stuffed bunnies, a Steiff guinea pig or hamster, my handmade Raggedy Ann, an antique metal train among other items!

My Study view 3a

This corner is where I spend most of my time! Pardon the clutter! I find I work best with an assortment of stuff around me so this area doesn't get immaculate very often! Miss Mollie Kitty sits on her mat on the corner of the desk when I am working and keeps me company! Sir Thomas has a nest on the floor beside the desk where curls up. I have a nice view of the hillside above the apartment from my desk and can watch the birds at the feeders!

My Study/Studio view 4

But wait, there is also a view of more shelves! And still more books! One of these days, I hope to exchange the brown shelves for white ones, but for now, they contain the books quite nicely! I keep thinking I'd like to continue downsizing my books, but after getting rid of nearly 500 of them, I find I'm reluctant to get rid of more. I do read a lot and often re-read books. Many of the books I have are used as reference for crafting, decorating or designing my tiny dream cottages. Then there are my old favorites... but the subject of favorite books will have to wait for another post one of these days!



Easter 2008, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices.
Charles Kinsley

Easter Blooms


The First Day of Spring!

March Crabapple Blossoms, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

From the elm-tree's topmost bough,
Hark! the Robin's early song!
Telling one and all that now
Merry spring-time hastes along;
Welcome tidings dost thou bring,
Little harbinger of spring,
Robin's come!

Of the winter we are weary,
Weary of the frost and snow,
Longing for the sunshine cheery,
And the brooklet's gurgling flow;
Gladly then we hear thee sing
The reveille of spring,
Robin's come!

Ring it out o'er hill and plain,
Through the garden's lonely bowers,
Till the green leaves dance again,
Till the air is sweet with flowers!
Wake the cowslips by the rill,
Wake the yellow daffodil!
Robin's come!
from "Robin's Come!" by William W. Caldwell


Coming up Roses

Rose book front, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My latest crafty project has been altering another Moleskin Cahier. This time with scraps of old wallpaper, ephemera and bits of text from an old damaged gardening book. I love the soft creamy white tones of the old wallpaper and am wishing I had more of it!

Rose book back Rose book inside

The back and insides of the cahier came out nicely too! I still need to do a little touch up on the edges where the original black cover shows through and then I need to seal it. I think I'm going to use matte Mod-Podge. If anyone has a better suggestion, let me know!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load,
May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road,
May you taste the sweetest pleasures
that fortune ere bestowed,
Lucky stars above you, sunshine on your way,
many friends to love you, joy in work and play.
Laughter to outweigh every care, in your heart a song.
And gladness waiting everywhere
All your whole life long!


Six Days Until Spring!

Spring is coming! Last night was the first night that was light enough to walk to work in months! So lovely to have that bit of exercise and fresh air before a night of work. The walk back home in the morning sunshine is a perfect end to the workday. It refreshes me, no matter how tired I am. Over the winter my efforts at losing weight stalled. Multiple feet of snow and ice on the ground led me indoors to more sedentary activities. I'm hoping that this daily walk will get things moving again!

Cream Crazy Quilt in progress

I've made a little progress on my crazy quilt square. So far, I've been playing with stitch variations from a 1950's booklet called "Aunt Ellen's How-To Book on Needlework". I should probably have tried a few of these out on a sampler before using them on my quilt square, but I was a bit impatient to work on it! Jo from New Zealand left me a lovely comment that led me to her blog, No Matter Where I Go... which showcases her exquisite crazy quilt embroidery! I'm in awe of the intricacy and beauty , not to mention the perfection of her work! My little square looks a poor country cousin by comparisson! Such inspiration she provides! I can see that I have much more to do with my square! And lots more stitches to learn!


Treasures from the Old Sewing Box

Old Sewing Box, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

This old sewing box contains some of my favorite vintage sewing items. Most of these are things I've been saving for years, since long before the days of the current vintage and shabby chic craze. I have to admit that I'm reluctant to use them as I love just being able to look at them from time to time. So pretty! Yet most of the time, they stay closed in their box, tucked inside yet another a storage box.

Trims 00

Here is closer look at the card of trims. The fringe trims capture the light so nicely. I often wonder what they are made of. The fringe reminds me of milkweed fluff or even the poofy down off cattails. I have a nice collection of old lace doilies and when I spotted the thick/thin cording in a bin of old sewing stuff at the antique store, I knew just what it was for! Many old lace piece incorporate this type of trim. Once upon a time, I actually knew what it was called! I love the age softened color of the ribbon ruching! So many times I've come close to using bits of this ribbon on a project but then I find I can't bear to cut it!

tiny medalions

Aren't these little lace medallions exquisite? They were made by a great Aunt of mine. Such teensy delicate work! She was missionary to Persia in the early 1900's and it is thought that she learned how to make these needle lace pieces while she was there. I included the dime in the picture to show just how tiny these really are!

tatting samples

In my last post, I mentioned that my Aunt L had made samples of her tatted and crocheted lace. This picture shows many of her tatted samples pinned to a piece of waxy green paper just the way I received them.

Button box treasures

I've also been looking at some of my button box treasures. These little mother of pearl buttons probably came from baby clothes and lingerie. The largest are only about 1/2" in diameter while the littlest one is barely an 1/8th of an inch! I love that some of these bitsy buttons are carved with designs! Do you see the one with 3 holes? I've never seen another one like it!


Linen and Lace

Linen n Lace 11Mar08 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I cannot get enough of browsing through blogs and seeing the amazing and beautiful things that people are making all over the world! It inspires me and I have done so many new things because of it. My latest project is a crazy quilt square. Which led me to my box of old linen and lace in search of things to embellish it with. There I came across these two pieces, two of my treasures that I've had for years. Both have a history that goes way back. One I know, the other, is imagined.

The bottom piece is a section of linen that was given to me by Miss Jessie, a dear elderly friend and amazing woman ~ I'll have to share more about her someday. In the early 1970's she gave me this piece of linen that her mother had grown the flax for, prepared and spun it into linen and then wove herself. It was used as mattress ticking and stuffed with straw. The note Miss Jessie wrote said it was spun and woven in the 1860's! Imagine it being nearly 150 years old! I love that it is darned and that the selvages are uneven. It is still soft and strong. To keep it that way, I wash it regularly (linen loves to be washed!) and refold it differently several times a year.
Lace hankie 01
The hankie is also old, though I don't know just how old. I suspect it dates to the Victorian era. The lace is hand made with the tiniest of stitches. The fine lawn in the center has shattered, much like silk, though I think the fabric is more likely very fine linen or cotton.
Lace hankie 02
In this close view of the lace, you can see the teeniest eyelets. They are only the size of little bitsy seed beads, yet contain so many perfect stitches! It makes me think of the last sentence in Beatrix Potter's "The Tailor of Gloucestor". "The stitches of those buttonholes were so small -- so small--they looked as if they had been made by little mice!"
Cream Crazy Quilt
The crazy quilt square project was inspired by Baumcat 's blog. She creates lovely small collaged and crazy quilt pieces. Seeing her work led me to my stash of fabric scraps to see what I could come up with. I started with a lovely Robin printed on cotton. Then I added various cotton, silk and velvet fabrics to get the foundation block.
Tatting Crochet
Next I searched through my box of lace bits to find pieces to embellish it further. I have so many lovely things, it makes it difficult to choose! My lace stash includes a box of tatted and crocheted samples that my Aunt made. I never knew what to do with them, but think I've finally found the perfect thing for these precious bits!
Cluny Broidery Anglaise
I also found some lovely bits of lace trim taken from old tattered petticoats and nightgowns. What fun to finally be using some of these things I've been saving for years!


The Path

The Path, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Would you care to go for a country walk with me?

Mist that rises up unseen, swathes the land in a pale green veil. Listen to the quiet stillness of muffled waiting, birdsong from afar. Inhale deeply of the moist verdure, damp earth and grass bent by the heavy dew. Early rays of sunshine warm the light. With faces turned sun ward, warmth kisses skin. The dawn of a new day. What could be more glorious?

Around the pond

Painting continues. At the moment it is slow progress. A bit here, a bit there, but now most of the rough block in is complete. Areas will be refined, color adjusted, little errors fixed. It draws me in. Once I start painting, the time slips by and when I look up, I am surprised to find that I have been painting for five hours.

While painting, I'm thinking about the path, where it leads, what do I hear there, what do I smell. And soon I'm walking that path, hearing the land around me, smelling the moist verdure. I'm there as truly as if I were physically walking the path.

Easter Crafting

Easter Chicks, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The work table has been filled with crafting for Easter! It started with these cute Easter ATC's for a swap. I loved them so much, I made more to share with others! There is something so sweet and innocent about a tiny fluffy chick! Here is a glimpse of the whole set of cards I worked on, including one for St. Patrick's Day that is cousin to the tags I made last week!

Victorian ATCs

These sweet Bunny Egg Cozys are also on my work table! I'd love to make a whole harem of bunnies, but since I only have 1 egg cup, I think just a couple will suffice! The inspiration and direction for these came from Cherry Menlove's blog!

Bunny Egg Warmer, side view



crafting in progress, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Happiness has been on my mind lately through discussions with friends, to the reading I'm doing at the moment (Victor Frankl's, "Man's Search for Meaning"). One of my "adopted" grandmas used to say, "Keep a green bough in your heart and a singing bird will come." I love that saying and have found it to be so true. So in this post, I thought I'd share with you a couple of the things that make me happy!

One of the things that makes me happy is the process of creating things, whether it is some thing small and crafty, writing a story, designing a dream cottage, gardening, or painting a picture. In the photo above, I was working along and suddenly was struck at how my work area was so lovely, strewn with the bits and pieces of what I was working on and had to take a picture!

Here is the lovely Easter Dotee I was making and a closer look at the beading on her. Making these sweet things makes me happy! Part of the happiness is the anticipation of making someone else happy when they receive the crafted item!

Easter Dotee Bead detail
Dreaming is also one of the things that makes me happy. One of my longheld dreams is Rosebud Cottage, a tiny cottage design I have been working on for many years! Someday, I'd love to build Rosebud Cottage, but for now, just playing with the plans and ideas gives me a great deal of happiness! Here is one of my visions of what Rosebud Cottage looks like from the front.

Rosebud Elev

This is an imagined landscape plan of Rosebud Cottage. Surrounded by gardens, appletrees, a green house, a large enclosed Gazebo for entertaining family and friends in, space to keep chickens and sheep. It's my idea of paradise!

Rosebud Landscape

I'd love to know what makes you happy!


White Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit

Do you know the tradition of saying, "White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit," when you wake on the 1st day of the month? It is said to bring good luck for the month. Superstitions are not something I normally believe in, but I do find this tradition charming! So on Rabbit day (the first day of the month), I thought I'd not only "say" but show you three white rabbits!

Biggs n Littles

I've been making more Dotee Dolls. These were lots of fun to create using a Shabby Chic theme!

St Patricks Day tags 2

St. Patrick's Day is coming up and while I don't usually do much decorating for it, I 've been having fun doing some St. Patrick's day crafting. These are the altered tags I made for a swap at Karla's Cottage!

While I don't believe in superstitious practices, I do believe in the power of prayer. This prayer of St. Patrick seems to me to be a wonderful prayer to begin not only each month, but each day.

As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the Word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today...
Christ with me, Chirst before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.