Of Frames And Mirrors

“Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.” ~Victor Hugo

I have a penchant for antique frames and mirrors. I used to not like old mirrors because of the mottled glass. I preferred to see my flaws clearly so I could try to correct them. Once upon a time I was a perfectionist. How often I’ve placed myself or others within a frame, and then when one of us fell short the disappointment would fall over me like the shadows on the mirror.

I was recently given another antique mirror. The beveled glass is encased in a beautiful wood grain frame. The mirror itself appears smeared along the lower edge. Years ago I would not have hung it…I would have placed it in our storage area with the other old vanity mirrors I refused to hang but didn’t have the heart to trash. I consider this mirror a reminder of the gift of imperfection. Every time I walk past it I will remember we are human, fallible. It tells me to accept others as they are and not set expectations of them.

I plan to continue climbing out of my own frame a bit more often. I will try to look for the beauty in the smudges. I will try not to be disappointed, and if I am I will call myself out on it.

Other notes:

The Betty Boop quilt I made for my mother.

The Betty Boop quilt I made for my mother.

My mother was thrilled with her quilt!

My mother was thrilled with her quilt!


I finally finished my hand embroidery panel.

I finally finished my hand embroidery panel.

Clean Living

Let the clean air blow the cobwebs from your body. Air is medicine – Lillian Russell (1862-1922)

An untarnished mountain sky creates a brilliant blue backdrop.

An untarnished mountain sky creates a brilliant blue backdrop.

We had planned on taking a trip to the mountains this weekend. Then it snowed. We considered canceling our trip. Instead we talked to several people in the area and found out the roads were fairly clear with the exception of black ice on back roads. We decided to take our chances, and I’m glad we did.

The farther we got away from city lights the brighter the sky appeared. Stars sparkled across the sky like Christmas lights. The moon shone and reflected the snowy mountains. It appeared as if the world was swaddled in a purple blanket. Perhaps it was the lack of street lights or perhaps it can be attributed to clean living. In remote areas of low pollution the dark world lights up beneath a heavenly glow.

The next day we went for a short hike. The sky was a brilliant blue and the air crisp and clean.  My lungs couldn’t inhale quickly or deeply enough. The woods untrodden, our feet drew designs across the silky white screen throughout the woods.

Could this stone be Mother Nature's footprint?

Could this stone be Mother Nature’s footprint?

The creek water poured clear over the mossy rocks and danced through the woody banks. I thought about the cleanness of my childhood. My youth consisted of unpolluted skies and unadulterated waters. I had no idea how lucky I was to have 230 acres plus of land and water to explore…and to think I sometimes complained of boredom!

Moss growing on rocks of a small waterfall.

Moss growing on rocks of a small waterfall.

I am ever so grateful to grow up in a clean environment and experience the arts of nature. Every day the creek symphony played for me. Many a time when I felt invisible I listened to the gurgles, splashes, and hums of the stream, and every single time I heard the voice within speak to me. These words formed poetry and sustained me. Every direction I looked I witnessed the masterpieces of the greatest artist of all. In the large view green and grey mountains blended to blue clouded sky. Close ups included velvet moss, spiked ferns, wild black-eyed Susans, acorns, whippoorwills, and crawfish. I roamed the land of plenty, and though materially I didn’t have much I had plenty. I learned there is no art form more beautiful or powerful than what nature provides.

The sun melted the snow from this mossy hillside.

The sun melted the snow from this mossy hillside.

I have been blessed with all the elements of clean living, and I am ever so grateful.

I bent down and found this heart among the rocks of the creek bed. Perhaps I'd left it behind...

I bent down and found this heart among the rocks of the creek bed. Perhaps I’d left it behind…

Spin Cycle: Clean


A Time Of Rest

Montebello 012

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.  ~Hugh Macmillian, “Rejunvenescence” , The Ministry of Nature, 1871

I am not a cold weather person. Winter is the season I spend the least time outdoors. While there is still much beauty to be taken in, I prefer to snuggle up inside. If nothing else winter makes me appreciate the other seasons even more.

I spend my winters coddling my soul. It is the season of homemade soups. I cook and bake a lot. I nurture myself by feeding my family. I get more reading done than any other time. I soothe my creative urges with quilting and other fiber projects. Winter is the season I have more time for writing.  It is not unusual for me to have two or more projects in each category going simultaneously.

When I get cabin fever I bundle up and get out for a hike or photography shoot. That is all it takes to boost my spirits and rejuvenate my creativity.

Winter also means the annual quilt show outing for my friend and me. I look forward to this event all year. I get so many ideas and purchase great products I can’t find anywhere else. Most of all, I get to spend the whole day with my wonderful friend.

Nothing beats time spent with those you love. Of course, I get to do this all year. It seems more so in the summer, but the difference is the winter draws us in closer together. Relationships just seem homier rather than social and my heart treasure the comfort in that feeling.

I am a homebody so even though I claim not to like winter it is the season that soothes me.  Winter allows me guilt-free time for myself.  It is a time I pull inside myself and build myself up to offer myself to others. Winter is a soulful season for me.

Spin Cycle: Winter

The Colors Of Love

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.” ~Marc Chagall

Charlotte's quilt design

Charlotte’s quilt design

I treasure time with my goddaughter Charlotte. Today was especially memorable. You see I first held a sewing needle in my hand at age four. I learned to sew with my babysitter. Charlotte just turned five. I’ve sewn many things for Charlotte, but today was the first time Charlotte and I sewed together.

Charlotte and I made a small quilt together. It is for her most prized possession, her stuffed toy dog, Stinky. Charlotte designed the quilt herself. She colored beach scenes on muslin patches with oil pastels. She selected bright cheery fabrics in purples, pinks, and blue. I sewed the patches together while she handled the pins for me. From drawing the design to every single stitch sewn, quilts are created with love. Charlotte and I performed a labor of love together.

A very proud Charlotte

A very proud Charlotte

I hope Charlotte and I have many more chances to experiment with the colors of love and fabrics. I look forward to the day I let her operate the machine and teach her to sew by hand. The time with her was priceless.  I hope she will remember this day. I know I will.

Wylie got lots of love, too!

Wylie got lots of love, too!

Spin Cycle: Color



Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out…

Betty Boop emboidery squares 003

We are a creative bunch. Given the right tools we can soar in our given field. Some areas require advanced education and some skills can be self-taught.  I’ve always been one to read up on whatever subject happens to be of interest to me. I can’t begin to tell you how many books I’ve read about writing and various needle crafts. And to tell you the truth I might not be the master of anything,  but I’ve come a long way, baby!

I signed up for my very first fiber arts class. I was sooooooooo (does that tell you how much?) excited. Then, bummer…..the rug was pulled from beneath my feet. I had done a lot of research and found the perfect instructor and signed up for an embroidery class. I wanted to do one focusing on nature/landscape but the one that was available was more of a variety. I paid for my class and got an email (to verify my email address) which then rerouted me to create an account through them. The instructor was teaching this through another site which offered a forum. It timed out and wouldn’t let me back on. I spent two hours trying to get on and kept getting the message my email address had too many redirects to that site. Dirt Man (who is also my IT guy) spent several hours trying to get on. We couldn’t get on through another computer in the house either. Apparently my server blocked it. I was unable to email the forum site because their email was a “do not reply” email. Fortunately, I emailed the instructor who couldn’t figure it out. She suggested I go onto the site under a different email, but I couldn’t even get onto the web page. She ended up refunding me money.

I am looking for the silver lining here. This class ended up being one that focused on hand embroidery when I was looking for one mainly with machine embroidery. I already use a lot of hand embroidery in my art quilting. I’m sure I would have learned something, but it is not a weak area for me. So perhaps the up side is it saved me some money. Maybe I’ll look for another class through a different web host or maybe I’ll spend the money on some fiber arts books. One good thing is that it intrigued my interest in incorporating more hand embroidery into my quilting. I’ve even drawn out my main pattern and cut templates to start my next one….so yes, good things really can evolve from crappy situations!

Before I start that one, I have to finish my Betty Boop quilt. Here are a few of the embroidery pieces I’ll be putting in the quilt. Will update with complete quilt photo when I ‘m finished. This quilt is going to be a surprise for my Mama.

Betty Boop emboidery squares 001

Betty Boop emboidery squares 002

Nurturing The Creative Soul

The most sacred place dwells within our heart, where dreams are born and secrets sleep, a mystical refuge of darkness and light, fear and conquest, adventure and discovery, challenge and transformation. Our heart speaks for our soul every moment while we are alive. Listen… as the whispering beat repeats: be…gin, be…gin, be…gin. It’s really that simple. Just begin… again.  ~Royce Addington

prayer beads 002

I received a comment yesterday on my post about my 2013 missions that truly resonated with me. Martha posted “I think of creativity as a good well. The deeper you go, the more you draw out, the better and easier it flows.” When I came upon this quote it reaffirmed this for me.

I make a point to soothe my soul which in turn nourishes my creativity. I’ve mentioned how nature speaks to me and envelopes me in peace. If I can’t get out to hike or canoe a simple walk through the neighborhood is enough to clear my head and lungs and lift my spirit. I take others measures of encouragement as well. Music and scented candles elevate my mood as well as good food and drink. A long hot bath with essential oils does wonders for my soul.

I think the most important thing I do for myself is connecting with God. While like most people I pray before bed, but I also give thanks every morning as I look out into nature. I also have casual conversations with God through the day. But I’ve always wondered if there is a proper way to pray. I mean we learn to pray from watching others or perhaps when our souls have led us to seek God. Some say to go to Him with an open heart (which is what I do). Others believe in repetition or scripture quoting. For my 2013 I’ve decided to nurture my prayer life. (Does this even make sense?) Anyway, I’ve made a string of prayer beads to help me stay focused. I can still speak from my heart but have a guide to stay on track and perhaps commune on a deeper level.

I found a reference for making prayer/meditation beads. It suggests you choose whatever beads speak to you. I chose stone beads because I like the feel of them. I selected various beads for personal reasons. I used amethyst, citrine, tiger eye, onyx, moonstone, red jasper, green aventurine, turquoise, labradorite, mookite, carnelian, and sodalite.

Always remember to take care of your own spiritual/personal needs. It enables us to take care of others and fosters our creativity. Here’s a link I found with ways to nurture creativity.

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” — George Kneller

A Year Of Living Creatively

An artist is an explorer. He has to begin by self-discovery and by observation of his own procedure. After that he must not feel under any constraint. ~Henri Matisse

Butterfly quilt

Butterfly quilt

New Year’s resolutions set me up for failure. I generally choose things I want to do but also know I won’t approach as a way of living. With this in mind, last year I chose to focus on something to incorporate into my daily life. I chose attentiveness. It has somewhat become a way of life now.

Sometimes art involves mistakes...it took three scew ups before I realized I needed to put the embroidery foot on the machine!

Sometimes art involves mistakes…it took three scew ups before I realized I needed to put the embroidery foot on the machine!

Every day is a gift of exploration and creativity though many times I go through the motions of the day without realizing the art of living. This year my focus will be on the art of creative exploration. I plan on creating something every day even if it is simply a meal or writing a jingle in my head. We each are creators of our worlds and contribute daily whether we acknowledge our involvement or not. My goal is to be aware of the creativity of my daily life.

An artist’s soul must be nurtured to produce. Nature feeds me, so I intend to spend as much time as possible hiking, canoeing, and taking photographs of the great outdoors.

I plan to get into living creatively which will drastically cut down on my internet time. I’ll be busy but less vocal out here…no set schedule…no pressure…

"Arpatia in Winter" - Panel two in series of four

“Arpatia in Winter” – Panel two in series of four

The Spin Cycle has suggested we make missions instead of resolutions and to come up with five doables. Here are mine:

  1. Take a one on one lesson for my new embroidery machine.
  2. Make the third and fourth art panels for my Arpatia series.
  3. Take an online art quilting class.
  4. Complete the first draft of my novel.
  5. Finalize organization for my two nonfiction books and make an effort to publish.
  6.  Spin Cycle: 5 Missions for 2013 
  7. Apologies for the number 6 and 7. It won’t let me delete the bullets. (Are they called bullets? I’m a techni-idiot!) Hope your 2013 is creative!