Sea Longings

Summer vignette, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Each summer, I find myself longing for the sea. Hours are spent daydreaming of walks on the beach in a white cotton dress, gathering shells in my basket, dancing with the waves.
Summer vignette 03
Yesterday, I gathered some frosted aqua glass bottles, a few shells and my little mermaid and arranged them in a vignette, an ode to my sea longings.
Imagine with me a moment, my dreams of waking on the shore.

The aqua sea under a pale sky streaked with apricot and lavender. Blush pink roses along a white fence around a tiny lavender gray cottage. Pinky beige sand sprinkled with dusky purple shells.

Crashing tumble of water and gentle ripples. Glittering sound of tiny stones and shells as they roll in the water. The keening cry of a gull and the pipping sounds of wading plovers. A symphony of sound and yet the quiet of it.

Feel of warm moist air on the skin, caressing, soothing, wrapping in softness. Downy breaths of cool air.

Take time this summer to enjoy your dreams!


A Day of Stitching

CQ Pincushion detail, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Despite the fact that I work tonight, I woke early this morning at sunrise. An idea for a crazy quilt pincushion has been brewing in my mind ever since I saw the gorgeous one that Jo made. She was inspired by Barbara, and I have to admit that I have fallen in love with Barbara's gorgeous work. She chooses colors that I love! So I gathered some fabrics, embroidery thread, silk ribbons and beads and set to work.
CQ Pincushion nkd
By 9 a.m., this "naked" block (before any embellishment is added) was complete. I love the combination of the rich greens, black and white. The round bit of lace is from an old doily that had come apart in the wash some time ago that I couldn't bear to throw away. What fun to be able to use a bit of it here!
CQ Pincushion up close
A close view of the stitching. Each seam is stitched and some of them layered with beads and a bit of silk ribbon embroidery (SRE).
CQ Pincushion embellished
This whole block will become a large round pincusion and will sit on the table next to my chair where I sit and work in living room. Now, hopefully, the arms of my chair will remain needle and pin free and I'll have enough space to put all the needles I use when working on a project!

The monsoon season is going gung ho here in Flagstaff. The landscape is beautifully green. We've had tremendous thunderstorms every afternoon for the past few weeks, but then in the evening the sky clears and warm evening light pours over the hillside.
Evening Light 2
I love this light and the way it skips across the tops of the grasses.
Evening light 1
I love the way it makes the landscape glow and turns an ordinary bit of forest into an enchanted land!

Blessings my friends!



Godey's Lady's Book, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I love old books! Among my treasures are three volumes of Godey's Lady's book. Each one contains six months of the magazine. My volumes date to 1863, 1866 and 1869. They show the evidence of years and much use. The bindings are battered and worn and one volume has been rather inexpertly repaired by someone with brilliant red bookbinding tape.
Old Pages
I even find the appearance of the loose pages charming, though they are most likely due to the fact that someone robbed these books of their color plates many years ago. But the melodramatic stories and sentimental poetry are intact as well as the many black and white illustrations of fashion, handwork designs and story illustrations. When I'm looking for inspiration for a handwork project or thinking about sewing a historical costume, I often turn to these pages.
Nina Headdress
I love the illustrations of fancy hairdos! So lovely and elegant!
Fancy alphabet
It's the embroidery designs that I love most. Like this exquisite floral alphabet from the 1863 volume.
Embroidery pattern
This pattern for an embroidered name makes me wish my name was Rose so I could embroider it on my pillowcases! Maybe instead, I'll embroider it and incorporate it into a crazy quilt square!


Crazy Quilt Progress

One of the things that I'm not fond of with working nights, is that it isn't always easy to make the switch to days on my days off. That means I'm awake all night and sleep the day away. Sometimes it makes it hard to do things or get motivated. But being home bound does mean I have time to work on my various handwork projects. Over the last couple nights off, I've done more work on my cream crazy quilt block.
Button Flowers
I'm really happy with the button flowers! The embroidery is done in DMC rayon embroidery floss. It isn't my favorite stuff to work with, but I love the shimmery effect it gives! The little bird is carved bone, made nearby on the Navaho reservation from what I was told at the bead shop.
Button detail
I added another mother of pearl button in the upper right corner along with some Cretan Stitch leaves. Unfortunately, when I removed the embroidery hoop, the fabric puckered. I may rip these leaves out and try something different here.
Beading and embroidery
In the lower left corner, I added work to two patches. Some old pearls and beaded flowers were added to fill in the background of the block with the tatted motif. Then I embroidered some buttonhold stitch hollyhocks on the adjacent block. Unfortunately, the pearl cotton used for the stems and leaves blends into the background fabric more than I thought it would. I'll probably add some lighter thread to highlight them more.

Over all, I'm pretty happy with the way this is coming! Only three more patches to do work in and then it's on to another block! I hope to eventually make 4 of these and put them together as an elegant wall hanging!

sneak peek of Janet's Block
I've also been working on the block for the FFT #3 (Fabulous First Timers) Round Robin that Janet sent. Above is sneak peek! I'll wait to post a full picture until my portion of the work is complete! Working with fabrics, colors and a theme chosen by someone else is a challenge, but also inpsiring! It would be easy to complete this entire block but there are three other people that still need to work on it! I hope that I'm getting this block off to a good start for everyone elses work to come and that Janet likes what I'm doing on her block!


Summer Projects

Bunny Daisies , originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
One of my projects for this summer is to "whiten up" some of my decor items. I love bunnies as you may have noticed and this pair have been one of my favorite things. They used to be brown with black "aging", but I haven't always been fond of the color. So earlier this week, I got out the paints and turned them white. I think they need just a bit more "aging" so one of these days, I'll use a soft brown or darker cream glaze on them just to pick up a hint of texture. As they are, I thought they looked splendid and summery with this pitcher of daisies that has been gracing the top of the china cabinet this week. Such cheerful flowers!
Christmas Crazy Quilt blocks
Working on my cream crazy quilt got me intereted in doing more, so recently I joined the Crazy Quilting International group on Yahoo. I'm starting my first round robin with them this week and we could choose any theme we like. I played with lots of ideas but finally settled on a green and cream/white Christmas themed block. The central block above will be embroidered and embelleshed by 4 other members of the group including two here in the states, one in Nova Scotia and one in Cornwall! It will be a well-traveled block by the time it comes back to me at the end of November! I'll complete the two smaller blocks and once they are all complete, I'll make a wall hanging to go with my Christmas decor!
Crazy Quilt booklet
We were asked to include a small booklet that offered guidelines and gives each of the others a spot to write about their work on the block. I included a few pictures of my Christmas decor along with my guidelines! I'm hoping I wasn't overly specific about what I want! Janet's Block As received
Now I just need to finish my cream block so I can get started on these Christmas ones! And I have already recieved the first block I am to work on from Janet! She also choose a Christmasy theme. Love those cardinals! Can't wait to get started!


Gift from the Sea, Channeled Whelk ~ part 2

Shell Painting, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily – like a hermit crab.”

“One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much.”

“I remember again, ironically, that today more of us in America than anywhere else in the world have the luxury of choice between simplicity and complication of life. And for the most part, we, who could choose simplicity, choose complication. War, prison, survival periods, enforce a form of simplicity on man. The monk and the nun choose if of their own free will. But if one accidently finds it, as I have for a few days, one finds also the serenity it brings.”

“I played a game on the beach. To ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say—is it necessary?—when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life, when I am pulled toward one more centrifugal activity.”

Simplicity is something that I have yearned toward for many years. Some days, I feel it is hopeless as I am in inveterate pack-rat, not only of possessions, but of things to do. I seek to find balance in all things. To pare possessions down to only that which is necessary, to commit to doing things only after prayer and thought given to how it will impact my life.

AML notes that for some people, simplicity is thrust upon them without choice. We felt that way after our house fire for a time. We stayed with my parents for a week and then moved into a rental house provided by the insurance. It came complete with furnishings and accoutrements necessary for daily living such as sheets and towels, dishes, pots and pans, even a few pictures on the wall. What a strange thing it is to walk into a house and know that it will be home for several months, having chosen neither the house nor the furnishings. To open the closet and have hanging there only a couple of outfits, because you own no others. It was like living in someone else’s hotel room.

In the following weeks, we learned what was important to us in a home. Among the first things we did was to visit the craft store for supplies to create things, to keep our hands busy. I made a small afghan that is on my bed today and is now the favorite spot for the cats to sleep. We also realized how little we like living with all new things, that we wanted things around us with history. So when it came time to shop for furniture, we perused antique stores, flea markets and gladly accepted donations from family and friends.
There was a period of time that all the laundry in the house was able to be completed in just two or three loads. Chores like ironing gave me much pleasure because there wasn’t an enormous pile to do. It was easy to iron just a few shirts and a couple of dresses and skirts. Dishes were done quickly after each meal, rarely left to accumulate. Vacuuming was done every couple of days. We found that with the simplicity of our surroundings, these things were a joy.

But soon, we fell into the trap of purchasing things. The thought process was often, “Oh, we had one of those before the fire, we should replace it.” And the donated items poured in and it was so hard to let go of things so generously given to us. Within a surprisingly short time, we had accumulated nearly as much as we had lost and sad to say, with it, our joy in simple chores diminished as well. We had the opportunity to choose simplicity but instead choose complication.

Now, 9 years later, I struggle with the effort to recreate that simpler time. I’ve written before on this blog about my efforts at downsizing. The memory of that time when enforced simplicity brought a measure of serenity encourages me to keep at it. To continuously ask “how little can I get along with,” not how much. To ask, “is it necessary?”


Gift from the Sea, Channeled Whelk ~ part 1

Shell, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

This chapter has had enormous impact on my life. It is one of those “bits” that helped to shape and form me in younger years. It asked the same questions that I have often asked myself over and over again throughout my adult life. And even better, offered answers to those questions, that while not my own, gave guidance and direction to help me find my own answers when I felt lost and alone.
There is so much here that I’m going to break my thoughts on the chapter into two sections.

Allow me to start with a few quotes from the chapter that have held meaning for me, my emphasis in places.

“What is the shape of my life?”

“But I want first of all – in fact, as an end to these other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact – to borrow from the language of the saints – to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. […] By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony.

Socrates – prayer from Phaedrus; “May the outward and inward man be at one.”

How to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life, how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center, how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the wheel of the hub. What is the answer?”

By nature, I am a pessimist. If asked if the cup is half empty or half full, I will invariably reply, half empty. I am by nature, a dreamer, always looking forward to the next thing, not always thinking about where I am, often not appreciating the here and now. As a young mother of 4, I realized that I wanted to live differently. Even now, I am a person in progress. Each day, each moment, I find I must choose how I will be in that moment.

For me, inner grace which shows in outer harmony is truly born of spiritual harmony. My belief and faith is a strong foundation holding me up, a fail-proof roadmap to life. The lessons are simple.

“And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22: 37-39

When these two great commandments are followed, then the fruits of the Spirit become manifest: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5: 22, 23

I’ve come to realize that living a life of grace is a choice that I must make each moment, every day. I am learning to live each moment to the fullest. Some days I have more success than others.

I find that life is rather like a roller coaster. We get on the ride and the safety bars buckle around us keeping us in place. Then the ride begins. We can’t get off, can’t slow it down or speed it up. It happens in its own good time. It can be a great ride, fun, thrilling, exciting. Or it can be a miserable, scary, terrifying ride. The difference is in our approach to it. We can choose to open our eyes, wave our hands in the air, shout our exhilaration to the sky, and make the most of the ride, experiencing the fullness of each new sensation, even sitting in the front seat if we choose to get the greatest effect from it. Or we can sit further back, cowering in our seat, eyes tightly shut, fearful of every sensation, anxious each moment, screaming in fear or blaming everyone around us for our terrible experience, desiring only the end of the ride.

Isn’t our very life like that? Each new thing that comes, how will we approach it? What is the shape of our life? How will it color this new experience? Will we stand around bemoaning our fate or will we rise to the challenge, continue living to the fullest? How will we choose to respond to what life brings? I wish I could tell you that in every moment I am able to make the best choice. The reality is that I fall far short. But as the years move on, I see progress. Contentment increases and I am learning to live a life of harmony and grace.


Getting Out

Kendrick Park, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

It has been all too easy to sit at home on my days off. I end up sewing a bit, maybe doing a little papercrafting or more likely, just sitting at the computer reading everyone's lovely blogs! It's something I'm trying to change.

So today, I went out exploring. I took US 180 north from Flagstaff about 20 miles and walked the "Walkable Wildlife Trail" at Kendrick Park. I'd driven past it on my way to the Grand Canyon before but never really stopped. What a lovely place!
Kendrick Park lpboni
I even packed along my little watercolor set up and a small folding campstool and did a little watercolor sketch.
Ghost Trees
At the far end of the trail, it wanders through an old aspen grove. Such ghostly trees! Here in the San Francisco Peaks area, the trunks appear extra white compared to the slightly more yellow greenish trunks I'm used to in Colorado.
Bird Tree
Up close the dark patches where previous branches used to be look like eyes. I love the bird face in this tree! There really is magic here if one takes the time to see!
Troll Stump
Just up the trail was this rememant of a burned out stump. Looks like a hiding place for trolls to me!
Chapel of the Holy Dove
Just across the road from the nature walk is this tiny chapel, the Chapel of the Holy Dove. It is always left unlocked. Notice the large gap under the door?
chapel of the holy dove inside
Inside the chapel, the view is of Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet. The chapel is lovely, rustic and peaceful... and this afternoon, smelled strongly of skunk!!! I wonder who opened the door to a rather unpleasant surprise! I imagine that gap under the door means that the local wildlife takes advantage of a very nice shelter at times!
Chapel door
I love the simplicity and richness of the door to the chapel.
12 yr after fire
As I travelled on, I took one of the many Forest Service Access Roads in the area. Route 191C travels around the back side of Kendrick Park and traverses an area that had a devastating forest fire in 1996. This was one of the bad ones, that takes everything with it and leaves little behind. Now, 12 years later, the hillsides are covered with wildflowers, particularly purple locoweed.
Beauty amid destruction
How gorgeous and thick it was! While it is very toxic, addicting and fatal to cattle, the elk don't seem to be affected by it. I saw a large herd grazing at a distance.
wild garden
Who wouldn't love to have this lovely grouping of flowers in their garden? These are planted by God, on the roadside. I wish I had a better picture of them. I'm still working on how to take great pictures with my new camera and have to admit that I greatly preferred the focusing capability of my old one.
Sunset 10Jul08 N Az
To end the day, a gorgeous sunset, looking out from the higher area of the San Francisico Peak region down into the pinon/sage flats and beyond to the land that leads to the Grand Canyon. A beautiful end to a lovely day out.


Progress on the Crazy Quilt

CQ cream block

I've been working on my crazy quilt block. It is quiet and soothing work.

CQ Queen Annes lace

This bit of embroidered "Queen Anne's Lace" was inspired by a sketch I found in an old Victorian era book on embroidery. The embroidered stems are cotton embroidery floss while the blossoms and leaves are done in silk ribbon embroidery.

CQ rose trellis

This rose trellis was inspired by many that I have seen on blocks worked by members of Crazy Quilting International, and also the blog of Jo in New Zealand who also provided a great tutorial for how to do the "Fargo Roses" in silk ribbon embroidery. Mine are not nearly as neat as hers, but I like the effect. The trellis is embroidered in pearl cotton, the stems and leaves in cotton embroidery floss. I also added a few beads to accent the adjacent lace. I didn't want to add too much to it as I want the pattern of the lace to be the primary element.

Now there is only one large area left to fill and several smaller areas. Time to go peruse my old books for ideas!


My Marine

My Marine, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My son Stephen ships out to Iraq in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow. He'll be serving with his unit MACS-23 (Marine Air Control Squadron 23) at Al Asad Airfield in Iraq for the next several months.

While my mother's heart is fearful for him, I am also proud of all he has achieved and for the wonderful young man he has become. His wife of nearly 2 years will be eagerly awaiting his return in Colorado.

While Stephen has risen in rank and achievements since this photo was taken, this is my favorite picture of him in uniform, taken in the front yard of my parent's house in Colorado.



Dream, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Each day I wake, filled with hopes and dreams. My mother used to tell me that I lived with my head in the clouds, and it is true. I've always dreamt of the idyllic life, often wishing that I could have lived in the time of Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingals Wilder or amongst the animals of Beatrix Potter's world. It's easy to fall into the trap that things were better in 'those days'.

In recent years, I'd like to think that I've at least learned to keep my feet on the ground! For me, that means dreaming and creating as idyllic a life where I am, regardless of where that may be. So today, while I dream of lush gardens, I decided to spend the day doing a little upkeep on my houseplants. The cutting of wandering jew that grew from a small clipping has grown lovely and lush. I love the suprise of purple on the underside of the silver and green leaves.

White perlargonium

On my recent trip to Colorado, I found a pure white geranium (pelargonium) that I carried back to Arizona. It has grown large and bushy and filled with beautiful pristine blooms. Today I put it in one of my treasured white pots. So pretty!

African Violet

A miniature African violet that I've now had for a few years, rewards me with nearly continuous bloom. I love it's tiny buds rising above perfectly scalloped leaves. Every now and then, it needs a severe pruning and repotting and it's babies removed to other pots. Today, it required very little, just a removal of old blooms and a little water.

The tall geranium that has been growing up through my lamp received an enormous pruning. It had gotten so leggy and was nearly 4 feet tall. I've removed it to a different area and am thinking about potting it to a larger pot and training it as a standard since it likes to grow so tall.

White Pots

How nice after spending a pleasant hour with my plants to spend time rearranging them on the living room shelf and watching the late afternoon light play across the leaves!

Garden Dreams

Dreaming of Gardens

I ended up with a little extra time the other night and took advantage of it by spending some time on my art journal. I had started the journaling bit several weeks ago, but hadn't done anything with it. Feeling rather stumped about what to do with it, I looked back through my art journal at other pages that I had enjoyed making and decided to do some collaging with photos I had clipped from magazines that inspired me.

I Believe

I still had photos left that didn't fit on the first page. After playing around with them, I did a little judicious tearing of the edges to shape some of them and came up with this page. I do believe that one day, I'll have the opportunity to create a garden full of mystery, enchantment, the kind of place where faeries play and teaparties on the lawn under the roses are derigueur.


Independence Day!


Happy 232nd Birthday to our nation! I'll be celebrating at work, caring for the newest citizens born to our great country. What a hopeful thing that is!

My Country Tis of Thee
It is my hope and prayer that freedom will continue to ring loud and clear across this land of sweet liberty, that these babes will continue to have deep pride in our country when they are old and that it continues on to future generations.
The 4th of July is especially poignant for me this year as my son the Marine prepares to leave for Iraq in just a few short days, fighting for the freedom of another people, half a world away. So many people of our world don't know the freedom that we in this country have known, that we so often take for granted.
So, on this special day, celebrate and remember the great privilege of being born an American!
When the food of summer celebrations is on the table, remember that we have been abundantly blest to live in a country of plenty.
When enjoying the company of family and friends, amidst the laughter and conversation, take time to remember those that are serving on the far side of the world. Remember the families who have lost loved ones so that others, including ourselves can know freedom.
When the fireworks light the sky, remember those years of revolution and of civil war that made our country the free country it is today, with rights and privileges for all citizens.
Happy Birthday United States!
Let Freedom Ring!