Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Perspectives on Tulips and Blogging

Different patterns, different colours. I never realized that the inside of tulips differed so much. I can thank blogging for teaching me this fact. Blogging - when I stand back and examine the whole blogging phenomena with a dispassionate eye, it seems a little strange. And I can understand why some of my family and friends kind of roll their eyes at me when I talk about this blogger or that artist or this friend I met in....Florida, or Belgium, England, France, the east coast of the USA or a hundred other places when all the time I've been sitting up here in my little office/studio on an island off the west coast of Canada.

And while blogging can absorb - in a flash - exorbitant amounts of time, I've learned to be careful and to exert a little self-discipline in my blogging. But, just like looking at a tulip through the eyes of a camera lens, blogging has given me a different perspective on the world. Sometimes I feel quite alone. I have few "real" "in-my-life" people who share my passion for decorating, for creating, for just playing with paint, paper and glue. I used to have more of those kinds of friends when I lived overseas, but here in the city where I now live, everyone is too busy, or worries about doing everything perfectly the first time rather than just experimenting and having fun. Perfectionism kills creativity. I'm thankful for my daughters who share my love of "making things" just for the joy of creating.

But I was beginning to wonder if I was really weird, and I started feeling like I should suppress all that. Then I discovered blogs. And a whole new world of inspiration and creativity opened up to me. A world filled with colour and form and play! I drank it in like a greedy patch of dusty ground. I've been inspired to take risks, to create, to dare to experiment. And I've become more sure of my own creative abilities in doing so.

And when I stand back and look at the big picture, I see an enormous bouquet of fellow bloggers who are just like me, only different. Just like a bouquet of tulips - the same, but different. Blogging, for me, has become a way to meet people who are generous, loving, encouraging and inspiring. It's a way of connecting in our disconnected world. And I wonder sometimes what the anthropologists of the future will say about blogging. For me, for now, it's a very good thing.

One wonderful blogger, Joy of Cupids Charm, is hosting a gathering with the theme of "Why I Love Blogging." I'm looking forward to reading other blogger's thoughts on this topic. And if you are interested, please visit Joy's blog on Friday, May 1, 2009. There's about 80 bloggers who will be sharing their reasons for loving blogging.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Cupcake paper flowers


Gabriela Delworth is one talented lady. She had a virtual gift-wrapping class over the weekend with lots of wonderful ideas. I didn't get much done, but I did make these FAST and easy cupcake paper flowers for gift toppers. Aren't they pretty? I just used what I had on hand and my cupcake papers are not very exciting. But I was thinking that a little glitter might foofify them nicely.

Check out Gabriela's blog - she makes gorgeous crowns, designs for magazines and is uber-creative!

Big exam tomorrow - finishing a course - Yippee! Two more to go before I head to Europe!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun with words and images

I created this page for a "cereal box journal" swap. Most pages are plain, but I started by putting the music paper tree on this page, then the moose, and then I found the "it's dark chocolate" in a magazine and started to giggle. Here's the finished page - a little whimsical, and lots of fun.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tablescape Thursday

I was in a pale mood yesterday and decided to set the dinner table accordingly. A pale blue damask tablecloth (given as a wedding present to my husband's parents over 50 years ago), white plates, clear glasses and pale green napkins.

Here I changed the plant and it's in a pale blue pot that works well with the wash of greens and blues. The moss, the nest, empty but for one feather and candles add to the calm pale look I was hoping for. But they give it a bit of texture too.


Another angle on the same scene. Colour - it's everywhere in life - think about "a green thumb," "red rage," "in a blue mood," - I'm so glad God made the world in colour and not black and white (although I love high contrast, too).

Tablescapes are a fun way to play with colour. Visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for more wonderful ideas.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blooming Wherever

I'm loving the spring-time air these days. Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk in sandals, without a coat, just a light sweater. So wonderful! I think I can stop taking my Vitamin D until the dark days of fall come around again. But I won't think about that now. I'm just enjoying the warmth and sunshine - and these beautiful ranunculus that I planted on my patio. They smile at us through the patio door and while we eat breakfast and dinner, we smile right back at them.

I'm sure you've all heard the expression "Bloom Where You're Planted." It's a pithy reminder to me to be contented with my lot in life, and to use the gifts God gives me to influence the world in which I live. Well, here's a brave daffodil, blooming in the compost bin - a bright spot of yellow and green against the brown. That's blooming wherever you're planted! So when I'm in the "compost bin of life" - I hope I remember this daffodil and bloom no matter what!
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cereal Box Journal


In a Yahoo group I belong to, we are involved in a cereal box journal swap. I think I might have missed the point since the others are much more cereal box-ish than mine. I seriously altered my box.

You can probably guess that this is from a box of Mini Wheats - but can you figure out the word these letters spell? They have to do with the very idea of used a cereal box.

The word is Whims - and this is turning out to be a very whimsical and fun project to work on.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Summertime's coming! Patio Caddy



One of my favourite things to do in the summer is have dinner outdoors on the patio. There's something very luxurious about sitting in the warmth of an evening sun around a table with my husband, and sometimes our children and friends. I think I savour it so much because those days don't come around very often here. It's usually too cold. So when they do come, I want to be prepared!


A few months ago I found this wire and wicker basket at the thrift store. I brought it home, thinking it would make a good caddy for taking things to the patio from the kitchen. The above picture is the "before" state.

I painted it white and then antiqued it a little with brown shoe polish. I just used a cloth and rubbed it on. It didn't take much.



I lined the bottom with a cloth napkin - I might get my husband to cut a piece of thin wood to give it more stability, but this works fine for now.

Then I altered three tin cans with pieces of old linen, buttons and lace. I stamped labels onto twill tape - knives, forks, spoons. The basket is ready for the patio! It also holds napkins and a vase of flowers. I think this will sit on my kitchen counter in a few months, reminding me that eating outdoors is food for the soul as well as for the body.


I also made a little tag for the basket using a quotation glued to a sample chip for formica countertop. A bit of seam binding for ribbon and an old millinery flower top off the handle. This was fun and quick. Bring on the sunshine!

Although this isn't exactly a table setting, I've included it in the Tablescape Thursday lineup over at Between Naps on the Porch. There are so many creative tablescapes so be sure to visit the link.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A sweet rescue




We went over to the mainland for Easter and enjoyed dinner on Sunday with my family - there were 21 of us together. Lots of laughter, lots of food, lots of conversation. We came home yesterday and I'm back studying.

Yesterday afternoon I was in need of a walk after being in the car and on the ferry so I grabbed a couple of cloth shopping bags and headed over to the market, about a 20-minute walk away. Just a few minutes into the walk I noticed a black cloud above me, then a few fat drops of rain, then a few scattered hail stones. I walked faster, looking up at the sky and estimating it was very localized and would soon blow over. I made it into the store just fine but when I exited, shopping bags full, it was pouring rain.

I had left my phone at home and couldn't call my husband, and for a split second wondered what to do....then I saw him drive by. He had come to rescue me! Yay!
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!


"He is not here, for He is risen!" The heart of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ - that hope carries me through difficulties and challenges and gives me joy every day. I hope that your Easter Sunday is full of hope and joy.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Quick and Easy


I've long admired Charlotte Lyons' style. Her projects have a simple elegance that appeals to my "not-too-shabby" homey look. She's recently posted several wonderfully easy projects on her blog. Yesterday I found time to make one of them. It's an egg-shape, wrapped in strips of torn muslin (I used some eyelet fabric I had).

I couldn't find an egg-shaped anything in my vast stash of crafting supplies, but I did have a few blocks of oasis. So I carved a couple of egg shapes from the oasis - and voilà - the rest of the stuff came from here and there in my stash as well. It was a nice creative break in the midst of essay writing that seems to never end!
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Playing Dressup

I loved dressing up as a little girl. And even now, I occasionally take the time to play with my wardrobe - finding new ways to wear the things I already own.

I took the concept of dressing up to my blog today. Someone (and I wish I could remember/find who the blogger was) had a link to this wonderful site! Itkupilli is a Finnish designer who lives in Los Angeles. She has backgrounds to add a little pizzazz to any site. It was hard to choose just one.

And then I decided my old banner photo would not do, so I put up a new one. What fun this has been - just like dressing up!

Let me know what you think - is it too busy? Too difficult to read the text with the mottled background? The great thing about this is the ease with which it can be changed.

edited to add: I changed the banner photo but decided the background was too busy. I don't like a lot of clutter and was waffling back and forth on it, and finally decided to remove it after Barb's comment.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Easter Eggs


"Nothing is so beautiful as spring - when weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens,
and thrush through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring the ear,
it strikes like lightning to hear him sing."
~Gerard Manley Hopkins


These eggs are of handpainted ceramic from Ecuador, South America. A close friend gave them to me during the time we lived there. I love their bright colours and smooth round shape.
I was looking at an egg the other day (don't ask me why...'cause I don't know) and thought about how eggs are so perfectly shaped. And so uniform. When I put the eggs into the egg tray in the refrigerator, they all feel pretty much the same.
Our world is ordered so wonderfully - God's creativity amazes me!
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Beautiful in any language...

This arrived in my mailbox this morning. I don't have time to really sit down and read it just now. There's an exam I have to take on Monday morning, but this will be my reward for the afternoon - tea with Marie Claire!

This issue is all about flowers - fleurs - flores - they are beautiful in any language! Roses, delicately embroidered on natural linen. I like the way some are more filled in than others.
What a great idea for a tabletop - decoupaged with old textbook pages and then dried flowers, or painted ones, or cut from paper.


And just in time for Easter - pretty brown eggshells cleaned, filled with water, perched on ring-shaped cookies or in egg cups, and used as vases for muscari! I might find time to do this!

Flowers and plants add life to any room. I find myself smiling when I walk through a room with flowers. My eye is instantly drawn in that direction. With spring coming (we're supposed to have warm sunny days this weekend) I'm looking forward to the muscaris, daffodils and tulips that will soon bloom in my garden. I'll clip a few for the house...my small treat for myself and a way to appreciate life's beauty.

Check over at the Inspired Room for more ways to live beautifully.
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Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Birthday Fiesta!

Bright gerbera daisies in glass bottles were the centerpiece for a fun family dinner.

It's Tablescape Thursday again. Be sure to visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for links to wonderful table settings. Last Friday night we celebrated my husband's birthday with a family dinner Mexican-style. Well, as Mexican-style as Canadians with European heritage can do...
I made these tissue paper balls using Martha Stewart's directions. They were easy and added a lot of interest to the meal. I made large ones to hang above the table and smaller ones to use as napkin rings.

I sprinkled the table with "hot tamales" which made for a lot of laughter when people tried to hide them in the food on other people's plates, hoping to catch them biting into one unawares.

I made this salad - one of my favourites. This recipe is slightly adapted from one found in Fine Cooking magazine. Here's the recipe:

Mexican Chopped Salad

Dressing:
1 small clove garlic
kosher salt
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T fresh orange juice
2 tsp finely chopped shallot
1 T honey
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Mince and mash the garlic with 1/4 tsp salt to a paste. Whisk garlic paste with orange and lime juices, shallot, honey and ground cumin. Slowly whisk in the oil. Season to taste with pepper and a bit more salt, if needed.
Drizzle over the salad.

On a platter, arrange mounds of corn (I use frozen and thawed), black beans (rinsed and drained), chopped tomatoes, diced red bell pepper (I sometimes do these roasted), and diced avocado. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, or chopped parsley if cilantro isn't in your list of things to enjoy. (like some of my family members)
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Marie Day




In the blogging world, today, April 1 is being heralded as a day to celebrate Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France. This day has nothing to connect it historically to the queen, but rather to the publication of Stampington's issue of their magazine celebrating Marie Antoinette.

I thought I'd contribute to the festivities with a few photos taken of our visit to Versailles nearly 2 years ago. It was one of my favourite days on the trip.


This photo is of Marie Antoinette's bedroom in Versailles, just off of the Hall of Mirrors. It's ultra-feminine. Here's what the Versailles website has to say about it...

The Queen's Bedchamber
It still looks today as it did when
Marie-Antoinette left Versailles during the French Revolution in 1789. The Rococo-style woodwork, as well as the ceiling painting by François Boucher (1703-1770) were commissioned around 1730 by Louis XV in order to please his wife, Maria Leszczinska. Marie-Antoinette found this terribly old-fashioned, and decided to replace all the furnishings, notably commissioning silk hangings woven in patterns of lilacs and peacock feathers, garnishing the alcove and the enormous four-poster bed (restored in 1976).
This door is off to the left of the bedchamber. I would dearly love to pass through this door once in my lifetime. I understand that it's the door through which Marie Antoinette escaped when the angry mob attacked the palace.

It looks dirty doesn't it? It's soiled from years of fingerprints and hands pushing the door open and pulling it closed. I'm sure it's been cleaned and painted since Marie Antoinette's time, but I like to think of the history of hands that have touched that door.

Walking down to the Petit Trianon is a pleasant stroll through gardens and fountains. There in the small, beautifully proportioned house that was Marie Antoinette's retreat from the formality of Versailles, is a staircase, with the grillwork displaying her initials. Can you make out the M and the A intertwined in the center of the oval?

This sitting room in the Petit Trianon is less elaborate than those in Versailles, but utterly charming. I love all the pale blue and white with the dark floor. The fireplace, glimpsed just to the left, is of a beautiful blue marble - Turkish I believe.

Here's the link to the Chateau de Versailles where you can find all kinds of interesting information. The site is in French and in English, just choose your language at the top.

A couple of months ago I helped Joy from Cupid's Charm translate a document detailing some of Marie Antoinette's jewelry. Joy has designed some gorgeous pieces and is offering a great discount over on her site, as well as a giveaway. She has lots of fun information about the Queen on her site as well.

Heather at Pretty Petals has a project featured in the Marie magazine, and she is having a great giveaway, too. Be sure to visit her site, and there you will also find links to the other artists who collaborated with her.
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Circling Spring Break

Some of the names and geography of the west coast of Canada can be confusing. For example, we live on Vancouver Island, but the City of...