Play Date with the Camera

Columbine, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.
John Ruskin

I had a bit of unexpected free time Monday afternoon so I took the camera and headed for the garden center. It's always a lift to the spirits to spend time among the flowers and plants there. It's also a lovely place to play with the camera and learn a bit more about how to use it.

Budding Primrose
A budding ivory primrose.

Sunshine and shadow pansies
These cheerful pansies make me think of warm sunshine and shadows.

Pink Iceland Poppy
Iceland poppies look like they are made of tissue paper ~ so delicate and ever so slightly rumpled! They carry a bounty of pollen for the bees that were visiting as well!

Ranunculus and Green Fly
I love the rich blossoms of Rannunculus. This little green fly seemed to be quite happy with his lovely perch.

A trip to the garden center was just what I needed. It made spring real and calmed my spirits which have been a bit ruffled of late.


Dotee Dolls and More!

Garden Angel Dotee, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I've recently been involved in more Dotee doll swaps. This one is a Garden Angel. She came out to be a "Rose Garden" garden angel I think! Can you tell what I've been dreaming of?!!!

Easter Egg Dotee
This Dotee was for an "Easter Egg Dotee" swap. More flowers!

Pegs block detail
My schedule this past week (and for the coming couple of weeks) has been a bit crazy, but I've managed to send out two of the crazy quilt blocks I was working on. Here is the finished "Under the Sea" block for Peg. The addition of the coral fan helped balance the block nicely!

Megs block
I also sent out Meg's block. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't added the white lace. Even with the embroidery over it, it dominates the block and detracts from the rest of it. There are 5 other blocks for others to work on. By the time they are all done and all the blocks are put together, hopefully the lace will not overwhelm it so much. I've definitely learned a lesson by working on this block ~ next time, I'll pin the lace on and observe the block for a few days before I sew it down.

Ivy with droplets
Also in this past week, my new camera arrived! After much research and trying out different cameras in the stores, I ordered a Canon XSi/450d. It's a bit lighter in weight than the Nikon and Sony equivalents and fit more comfortably in my hands. Since this is my first SLR camera, I wasn't tied to lenses of a particular brand. So now, in my spare moments, I've been playing with it! I've barely progressed off of the very basic settings and so far am thrilled with the results!


Cozy Mollie

Cozy Mollie, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

When I take pictures of my handwork, I lay it out on a piece of foam core covered with a piece of natural linen. Then I can move it to wherever the light is best. This morning as I was attempting a picture, Miss Mollie climbed up on the chair under the board and proceeded to pull the linen off until it was wrapped around her and the piece of foam core had been knocked to the ground. . There she sits, quite happily, purring away, all snug and wrapped up in the linen!

I must say that the pictures of her came out much better than the piece of crazy quilting I was attempting to photograph! I'll wait until later in the day when the light is better and try again for a good picture of the CQ! In the meantime, Miss Mollie makes me smile and I thought she might give a lift to your day as well!

Blessings dear readers!


The Hunt for Spring

Hyacinth, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The calendar says it is spring. Somehow, it still seems a ways off. I went looking around my apartment for signs of it today. What captured my attention was the play of light across the houseplants in the window. The last of the forced hyacinths are blooming right now. Pristine white with a more delicate scent than most hyacinths ~ just perfect for inside! I love their waxy blooms.

Play of light
The wandering jew plant with it's silvery and green stripes glitters in the sun. From across the room, the brilliant fuschia undersides of the leaf glow in the light, but from the front, this bright color is nearly invisible.

Oxalis in bloom
Even the oxalis/shamrock blooms are reaching for the light.

True relaxation
Sir Thomas searches out a spot in the sun as well ~ total relaxation! I've been known to join him from time to time!

African Violet buds
Tucked away in a slightly shadier spot, the miniature African violet sends up new buds. The way the light glistens on the fuzzy stems and leaves delights me. And I love the way the camera can take what is barely noticable to the naked eye and make it glorious!

Outside, the tiny daffodils are blooming beautifully! Each blossom more perfect than the next. Bright bits of sunshine in the landscape that bring joy. Maybe spring really is here after all!


Round Robin Crazy Quilting

Pegs block, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.
I've been working on round robin crazy quilt blocks. This one is Peg's block. I loved the colors of the fabric she chose. The embroidered dolphin was already there, so I used it for inspiration and choose other fish beads in similar colors. Now that I look at it on the monitor, I think this block needs a coral fan in a rosy color added on the right side so will do that before I send it off.

On another round robin block, this one for Meg, I've worked a paisley. The outer rim is created with some old metallic braid I had. Next time I work a motif like this, I'll use a hoop to keep the fabric taut while working. It should make working with the metal braid a bit easier!


Signs of Spring!

Signs of Spring!, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Last year, after the little pots of tiny daffodils I'd bought for spring finished blooming, I planted them out on the bank. The soil was shallow and rocky and the foliage quickly died back. During the summer, the bank bakes in the sun and when it rains, the water quickly drains away. I never had much hope that any of these little bulbs would survive, much less bloom. But today, when I glanced out the window, this bright spot of yellow greeted me! What joy! Spring really is coming!

I enjoyed our travels around northern Arizona this past week, but after several days of seeing endless miles of desolate, rocky wasteland, which though spectacular in it's own way, I found it to be a bit draining on my soul. Since then I've been craving green growing things and a softer landscape. What a delight to find it, right where I planted it a year ago!

Upon further inspection, several other little clumps of daffodils and hyacinths planted about the same time, appear to be thriving and are about to burst into bloom! Usually after forcing, it takes bulbs a long time to recover enough to bloom, so I am doubly thrilled to see these delightful harbingers of spring!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Oxalis, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

The last few days with my two oldest boys has been delightful! We've seen many of the sights in Northern Arizona and taken hundreds of photos! Now they have headed home and I miss them already.

Lilies of the Valley
While out and about, we stopped in a store selling little pots of Lilies of the Valley. One of them had to come home with me! Such sweet little bells and a delightful fragrance! I loved the way they looked against one of my paintings. I was craving this bit of green after seeing so much red landscape the past few days!

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado
On the last day the boys were here, we traveled out onto the Navajo Reservation to see the Grand Falls of the little Colorado River. Up top, the river slides placidly along, gathering red silt and reflecting the clear blue sky with a purplish blue color.

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 3
At this spot, one can drive across the river and we watched both a van and a road grader do just that! In the distance though, the river simply disappears and the sound of the falls can be heard.

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 4
We walked along the southern edge of the river and falls, watching as it changed. Closer to the falls, the river begins to drop down small sandstone steps.

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 5
Then, the drop off comes into view and a glimpse of the river far down below.

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 6
The large shelves of the falls come into view, the water running silty red in parts, blue green in others. When the wind is right, the moist cool air can be felt, but most of the time, the Arizona sun beats down, bright and hot.

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 7
The sheer drop offs of the canyon and the slick cinder surface kept me well away from the edge! Further down the river, one can find their way down a slippery slope to the lower river's edge. In the bottom right of this picture, in the circled area, you can see where two people are standing. It makes you realize just how big these falls are!

Grand Falls of the Little Colorado 8
The Grand Falls are running at only a partial capacity this year, but are still spectacular to see. I've heard that when they are running at top capacity, they rival the Niagra Falls and having now seen both, I can imagine what it must be like in a peak season! It takes a year with an abundance of snow, more than we've had since I've lived here. But even though it is a moderate year, I am glad to have seen this little known wonder!


A Photography Journey

Antelope Canyon 1, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In a search for photo opportunities, my sons and I traveled across the Navajo Reservation to Page, Arizona and toured a slot cave known as Antelope Canyon. With 7 other people, we boarded a modified pick-up truck/tour bus. Our Navajo guide took drove us to the site a couple of miles up a dry sandy riverbed to the mouth of the canyon. From there, she led us on foot into the narrow opening, stopping here and there to show us features of the canyon and point out interesting photo spots. The Upper Antelope Canyon that we toured is 1/4 mile long with a soft sandy floor. Here and there the light filters down from narrow cracks far above, lighting up the rock walls and showing off the undulating forms of the canyon walls.

Antelope Canyon 2

On the way back, we had time to stop and take our time with photographs. A tripod helped hold the camera still enough for the long exposures that gathered the light and showed off the warm colors of the walls. The view overhead was of a changing rainbow of warm color with flashes of sunlight along the rim. It was an ethereal and stunning experience that I will long remember! This tiny, almost hidden canyon is truly one of the wonders of the world.

Antelope Canyon 3


Time with My Boys!

Stephen and Jonathan, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My two oldest sons are visiting for a few days! Stephen on the left is home safe and sound from Iraq! So good to at last be able to put my arms around him and give him a hug! Jonathan on the right is on a few days break from his job in Colorado! We've been poking around northern Arizona, seeing the sights, doing a little hiking (here in Boynton Canyon near Sedona) and taking lots of photographs!


More Organizing...

Cream White trims, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Do you ever find that you start one project only to have it lead to 3 more? All this organizing began while I was working on a crazy quilt block and I got frustrated with not being able to find the supplies I wanted. They were organized, but not in a user friendly fashion! Everything (beads, embroidery ribbon, threads, trims, lace, etc) was sorted by color and dumped in a box. I was forever digging through and never able to find everything I wanted.

Color themed boxes of trims
I kept the boxes, labeled by color group.

Cream White box
Now, inside, there are simply cards of various trim, hanks of extra pearl cotton and embroidery threads. Easy to see what I want at a glance.

Boxes Lace
The lace now lives in separate boxes, also wrapped on cards and much easier to see. I loved the visual of it hanging, but don't have the space in my little apartment to keep it out.

Embroidery Thread
The embroidery threads are all wrapped on bobbins and kept neatly in boxes where I can see exactly the shade I'm looking for. One box contains the "special" threads such as the rayons, linen and pearl cottons.

Silk Ribbon
All of the silk embroidery ribbon is now wrapped on padded bobbins as well. What a project that turned out to be! But it looks glorious now and is so easy to see the colors and sizes!

Ribbon bobbin w straws
For those looking for silk ribbon storage ideas, another suggestion is to cut straws to fit the bobbin. I believe River Silks are packaged in a similar fashion and it does a nice job of keeping creases out of the ribbon too. I had more felt than straws, so that's what I used.

Tubes of Beads
Now, I need to find a better system for the beads. I've separated the seed beads into a single box. There are various sizes of tubes of beads.

Bags of Beads
And lots and lots of little baggies and small packages of beads. Elsewhere, I have craft-mates containers with larger beads sorted by color already. But for the seed beads, I'm hunting for a system that would accommodate the varying amounts (from tiny packages of Mill Hill beads to the large tubes of beads) into something that would allow me to easily see the beads at a glance, but wouldn't involve having all the beads in one unit. I'd like to be able to take a single container of beads out at a time. But, that's a project for another day!


Getting Organized

Mess of Silk Ribbon, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I've been struggling with how to keep all of my silk ribbon embroidery supplies organized. Until now, they've been sorted by color groups into craft/photo boxes. Getting a color of ribbon out meant digging through a tangled mess of various bags, cards and masses of ribbon. I've been searching for a way to store them neatly in a way that I could easily see the color I needed, wouldn't leave sharp creases in the ribbon that would require ironing each time I needed a piece and didn't take a lot of space, and didn't dangle where the cats would be overly enticed by them.

Bobbins & Felt
It occured to me that what I really needed was to wrap them on something padded similar to my other embroidery threads. The solution ended up being quite simple. Plastic bobbins for embroidery thread wrapped with a piece of felt to pad it and round the edges to prevent sharp creases.

Felt Covered Bobbins
A bit of thread and a few whip stitches holds the felt in place nicely. I considered glueing the felt on, but that would have been messy and the felt would have lost some of it's padding ability.

Silk Ribbon Organized
The silk ribbon winds onto the bobbins nicely and stays neat. Now it's easy to see the colors I have and easy to keep it organized! And the bonus is that it takes up much less space! It all fit in two of these organizers vs the 6 craft/photo boxes I had before!

Now if only I could find a way to store my beads as neatly...

A while back, I was introduced to the world of "Wee Folk" by this post on Susan's blog, Plays with Needles. Oh how I wish I could take Salley Mavor's workshop that will be held at the John C. Campbell Folk School! (in fact there are SO many classes that I'd love to take there, that I'm sure I could take up full time residence there!) Since I'm unable to, I think that this book, "Felt Wee Folk" by Salley Mavor will be just the thing! The directions are marvelous and there are some sweet other little projects as well such as felt purses, wallets and pins ~ all just darling!
Felt Wee Folk

Aren't these little dolls made of felt, pipe cleaners and silk flowers some of the most enchanting tiny things you've ever seen? I can hardly wait to try my hand at a few of these!


Baby Button Fairy

Baby Button Fairy, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Our local scrapbooking store, About Memories and More, has a monthly scrapbooking contest. Each month there is a packet of supplies available for purchase and the entry must use some of all the supplies included. This month, the colors are purple and green ~ some of my favorites! Included was a big packet of buttons. I played around with lots of ideas for those buttons, but in the end decided they needed to be turned into a sweet button fairy! The butterfly uses a clear acrylic butterfly also included in the packet that I altered using some lavender vellum, diamond glaze and stickles glitter glue. Now I need to get the rest of this project finished!

Oh, and that chubby little baby? That's me at about 5 to 7 weeks age!


CQ Bits and Pieces

CQ bits and pieces
I carry a bag of "bits and pieces" to work on when I have a few spare minutes here and there. It goes with to work, to the store, just about anywhere I go. I don't usually keep any of the "big" projects with me as I don't want to to risk losing or damaging them.

Soft Green and White
This soft green and white piece orginally started off as a base to make inchies out of, but I'm liking it so well, that I think I'll make something different out of it. Right now I'm imagining a little pouch or possibly turning it into the lids for some little tins.

This lovely bit will shortly be turned into a needle book. There are still a few beads to be added before it gets finished.

Blue flowers and Lace
At home, I've been working on a "Do Your Block" round robin. This block belongs to Meg in NJ and I'm getting close to finishing it up. Here is a glimpse of some of the work I've done on it. The lace is from France. The gold braid is being used to create a paisley design filled with embroidery and beads.

White Roses
The spider roses (so called because of the "web" they are woven on) are quickly becoming a favorite motif of mine! This one has a pearl at its center.