Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I am joyously rereading some old favorite books from my childhood and young adulthood.

I finished HITTY, HER FIRST HUNDRED YEARS by Rachel Fields, just last week. I am planing to buy a sturdy edition for my grammar school library and may even make a Hitty doll. (I am on a doll craze at the moment!)

I am presently reading CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. I have read it 2 or 3 times over the years but not in the past 15 or so. It is a joy to read with much to think about. I love the way Christy, the main character struggles to grow up and learns how to understand and explain her faith, how it becomes personal and not merely a cultural acceptance of Christianity. I have never seen the movie version and don't know if I want to because the vivid images in my mind from the book.

Monday, December 17, 2007

This is the finished picture. The top picture is from a photograph. I did not use the flash but there is still a lot of reflection. The bottom is slightly greener and I think more accurately portrayed because I put the painting up on the scanner.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Texas Wildflowers

Bluebonnets, Wild Verbena, Tansy Aster, Mountain Pinks, and Strawberry Cactus

I have been painting seriously and intently for several days, as my schedule allowed. Then put in a marathon of painting on Friday evening and most of Saturday, stopping only to take a child to a school event, grade papers for about 2 1/2 hours, and go to the grocery store. Today I didn't get back to painting. We went to church, I graded papers, got a Christmas tree, and moved stuff around in my studio/living room to make room for it. It may be several days before I decorate it.

While I was painting yesterday I was wishing I would paint more often. I love it. But this kind of painting, a commissioned piece, is hard for me to do. Especially hard to begin. I dread doing something to please someone and possibly failing! I stopped at regular intervals to take progress paintings and post on flickr. If you want to see the early stages look here. I still need to finish the monarda, and work on the border. When I finish I will post a picture. At this point I hope my client doesn't want it... I am wanting to keep it.

There is a glare on the verbena.

Texas Prickly Pear
Monarda Citriodora
This flower is not finished yet.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Someone, I don't know who, said, "Art is coming face to face with yourself."

This week I got school photos back of myself. I did not like them. They were not art! They were not flattering! Maybe that is why I like the less than beautiful doll!

I have among my flickr contacts several people who post photos of themselves daily. Most notable is a young, overweight woman who loves funky clothing combinations and several middle age women. I see where they go, what they wear, etc. I am much too self-conscious for that. But I love to show what my hands are doing in odd bits of time like waiting for a basketball game to start. The game itself was too exciting to watch while knitting. (My 14 year-old son played almost the whole game yesterday and is improving with each game! He made 4 points!) Also, it is a social event; I get to visit with friends, hold babies, meet and make new friendships with other parents. Next week I will work the concession stand and sell tickets during some varsity games.

Funny Things Said:

(I found this on my computer from several months ago)

Isaac was heating up frozen chicken in the oven. He asked why the directions suggested use a “foil lined pan.”

Zachary asked, “Do you know what “foil” means?”

I suggested that it means to “thwart.”

“No, I mean to foil binomials.”

Zac just showed me how to foil binomials. I had algebra a long, long time ago!

When he finished, I asked, “Have you thought of becoming a school teacher?”

He said, “yes.” And walked off.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007



Made by me, last week, during Thanksgiving break. She has knitted limbs, thrift store cashmere sweater head and body, and garage sale lace clothing. She is 9 1/2 inches tall.

Made eight years ago. She is 4 1/4 inches tall.

I have always loved dolls. As a child I didn’t have the latest doll of TV commercials. I never had the walking, talking, Chatty Cathys which I saw at my friends’ houses. Either I knew instinctively that they were overrated or my mother subtlely instilled the idea in me that MY dolls had more play potential because they could say anything I wanted them to say. What my sister and I did have were a few beautiful Madam Alexander dolls: 8 inch Wendy, Baby Genius,

Cisette and 15 inch Elise dressed as a ballerina. They were not just for display either, a concept I abhorred, thinking all dolls should be to play with. I also dearly recall a Betsy McCall doll.

I loved paper dolls too, as I have written about in previous posts. My childhood was very simple

with few toys and a very small uncluttered house but my parents gave me ample paper and permission to cut, color, and glue to my heart’s content. My Grandmother provided fresh wheat paste glue, a stack of old catalogs, and free run of a craft closet. I remember “working” on the front porch of her farm house or in the cool cellar depending on mood and weather.

My mother bought me artist quality watercolors when I was 7 years old or so and my Grandmother bought me set of Windsor Newton colored inks when I was about 10 years old. My dad donated quill pens and showed me how to letter, if not truly calligraphy it was close.

Back to dolls and doll making. I no longer have my earliest doll making attempts. I remember making a cloth doll with the help of an elderly relative. My doll was sort of sad with seams ripping out and stuffing lumpy, etc. So she gave me one of hers. I felt a real kindred to pioneer children, and the stories I loved, when I played with that doll.

The earliest of my doll making efforts to survive is this one that I made when I was about 13. She accidentally got washed in a pocket at some point and lost part of her face and her yarn wool hair felted into dreads. She is almost 40 years old!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is weird! Pictures are coming and going on my blog! I replaced the hawk and felted flower photos. Now there are two flower pictures. The other hawk may come back.
Accipiter striatus, I think!
My daughter and I watched this small hawk, wrestling with, killing, and eating the dove on the driveway of our home. This is in the city! Not exceptional photography! But exciting to us.
Link to a better photo.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I have been reading, knitting, sipping mint tea and ice water, napping with heat on my face, trying to get over an awful head cold. I am sampling different yarns with a flower pattern from Nicky Epstein's book KNITTED FLOWERS. So far I like the thinner yarn especially the Shetland Jumper weight yarn from School House Press.

I just put my first samples on the scanner to show what I am doing. I plan to knit leaves and some kind of centers. I have lots of ideas for using flowers but at the moment I'm not feeling very motivated!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Paper Dolls

I have always loved paperdolls and made reams of paper into dolls, clothing, and various accessories as a child. With paper and pencil I could quietly occupy myself for hours. (Still can!) Add scissors and colors and I was in heaven! When I first got markers, in the late 60s, my dolls' clothing was covered with flowers, stripes, and other wild patterns. But mostly I was interested in period and fairy tale costumes.

Last Sunday afternoon I taught a children's art class at a local art museum. First we reviewed museum etiquette and visited a display of antique and vintage clothing. Then we made paperdolls. Our one boy made paper aliens but I didn't get a close-up of his creatures!

Basic paperdoll guidelines:
you must have shoulders to hang the clothing on
don't make the neck too thin
don't forget the tabs
most mistakes can be fixed
you must have shoulders to hang the clothing on
don't use too much glue
you must have shoulders to hang the clothing on
don't run with scissors!
don't cry, we can add tabs
shoulders are hard to add after you cut it out
you don't need to cut around every finger and toe


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Yesterday morning as I was checking my regular blogs and viewing photos from my "Flickr Friends" I found this blog from Judy Scott a fiber artist who is documenting, or "blog-umenting," her City and Guilds Machine Embroidery studies at Dundee College in England. I was very inspired by her work including a very lovely reference photo of foliage. I decided to go over to the our local college and take photographs of a variety of leaves and a few late flowers. I took a half a dozen shots before my camera batteries went dead! When I got home all my other batteries were dead. I was disappointed but decided it was a good time to try something new. I placed flowers on the scanner and took pictures with the scanner lid up.
Then I played a while with Adobe Photoshop to get this.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

More About Doodling

I have fun scanning my art, combining files with Adobe Photoshop, changing colors, etc. Here are some
recent examples.

One of my constant activities when thinking, waiting, or listening is to take verbal notes interspersed with doodling. The doodling is almost "mindless" or using another part of my brain!
At other times I doodle intentionally and even in color. Lately I have felt difficulty concentrating and it seems that doodling focuses my brain by keeping that other part of me busy!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Question: How did the very manly Scottish garment get its name?
Answer: Someone asked "Why are you wearing a skirt?" He was kilt.
Being creative every day is one of my goals but I am still mostly a mom!

Last year in November, my youngest son and I went to a Saint Andrews Festival at a church in a nearby town. We had heard about the bagpipers and free Scottish food to be had at the annual event. We went early to visit with friends in the band and to ensure a good seat. When we heard the first bagpipe a few feet away, my son's eyes got huge. He said, "I want one," or something to that effect. When he saw the knife, sgian dubh, in the sock traditionally carried by pipers he asked if he would get a knife if he learned to play the bagpipes! The sgian dubh, pronounced "skee(a)n doo" is the ceremonial Celtic dagger traditionally worn tucked into the sock (kilt hose) of Scottish Highlanders.

He got his practice chanter last Christmas and has now moved up to a borrowed bagpipe and kilt! He has been brave enough to appear twice in public, at a halloween party and the next night at a Fall Festival at school. When asked to play the pipes he has done so, "Amazing Grace," to enthusiastic applause from his mostly jr. high friends. Last night he played the very best I had heard him play. He even remarked later that contrary to his own expectations he did better with an audience!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yea! My daughter is home from college for a three day weekend. We had not seen her since late August! It was, maybe, the longest stretch of time that she has been gone without me going to see her. She still has homework, so she is reading a lot. And I still have tasks I need to accomplish each day. We may go to a coffee shop, she to read and me to grade papers and of course, we will have coffee and maybe something sweet to eat! Or maybe we will stay home to do it. I found a Napoli Panettone and brought it home in honor of her visit and her 23rd birthday next week. It is a wonderful Italian sweet bread we see in stores about now till Christmas. It is much more reasonably priced in the stores, Walmart or Sam's, than online. Also, we have a wonderful homemade pumpkin bread sent by her "mother-away-from-home" who is also more like an older sister in age. My daughter lives with a homeschooling family on some acres out of town and has enjoyed the children, chickens, etc. this past year during her studies at the university.

More about the panettone. I have modified and combined several recipes for panettone to come up with a yummy version in my bread machine.

2/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, chopped up
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Next ingredients subject to taste and availability:
1/2 - 1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed (really a must if you want the authentic flavor!)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cups dried and candied fruit
dried fruit like cranberries, currents, and golden raisins
candied orange or lemon peel
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips

My daughter believes that this bread tastes best when torn rather than cut but it does cut nicely and makes a very elegant tea sandwich when spread with cream cheese and jam!

We may also do a craft project today. We both need to make gifts for Christmas. If we manage this today I will post pictures!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I found time to pull out yarn, wool, and fabric Friday evening when a friend came over to play. She had seen some of my raw edge applique picture quilts and had a desire to make a fall quilted hanging with pumpkins. I showed her how to use needle felting and fabric on a felt background. I did a little color blending but didn't seriously work on my own project being more interested in enjoying the visit. I finished these little experiments the next day.

Saturday morning I went to an awesome huge charity garage sale. I stood in line to wait till it opened at 8:30 and made a bee-line to the "notions" area where I found a beautiful supply of wool tapestry yarn, embroidery floss and pearl cotton. Then I looked at the neat bundles of fabric for wool to felt and found 2 yards of creamy off-white wool knit and a yard of woven wool fabric. I plan to dye these to use in doll making and art quilts.

I looked for wool sweaters to felt but there were none to be found! I don't know if they had been purchased the previous day. I did find several garments to wear.

I saw such a wealth of discarded items that I am quite inspired to do more without buying new from stores! Of course that garage sale is not available year round and going regularly to small garage sales is time consuming! Oh well, I have enough now for a lifetime of art and crafting!

Friday, October 12, 2007

I just found the funniest AND most thought provoking blog I have read in a long time. I started with this post about junior high and just kept reading.

I usually read blogs by women who are artists and or mothers,... dealing with questions and problems sort of like mine. I read book reviews, view craft tutorials, and travel around the world seeing sites, viewing and commenting on art and life.

Brant Hansen is definitely male, a Christian, funny, and very creative! All this and serious at the same time. (Do I need to say that I don't necessarily agree with everything he says?)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Here is an old photo that I came across recently. We were 19 years old. I am glad that I can spin for the fun of it. I don't do it of necessity.

I have been consumed, eaten alive, by the start of school and the weight of my world. I have had some short bursts of energy to spend on fibers and dyes, but most of my little time in the studio of late has been spent organizing and cleaning. I am ashamed of the volume of stuff I have. I am behind and overwhelmed in almost every area of my life and consequently feel like a failure. What I think I need is a month off, to stay at home! Is that a common feeling these days? I think so, from talking to many people I know.
We have a running dialog, at this house, about the technologies that effect our lives either positively or negatively and can't agree if it is a net gain. I am very thankful for hot and cold running water, air-conditioning, cars, and yes my computer and the internet. But the speed and complexity of the business of life... the paperwork, the news, economics, bills, maintaining all those laborsaving devises, budgeting, various activities that children need transportation to, overseeing homework, grocery shopping, nutrition... As well as the time needed to maintain relationships.
I can hear, "It is a matter of priorities, making lists, delegating, and simplifying." When I manage to actually do that I will let you know... but don't hold your breath!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Art Studio Moving/Utility Room Redo

Sometimes I just need to write, even if I think I don't have anything to say! Blogging was suppose to fill this need but I have become too self-conscious and returned to a white legal pad to do my ramblings. I decided to do it here this morning.

I am pleased about what I did Friday evening and all day Saturday. I cleaned out and painted the utility room. I even painted the floor, mostly. It had been painted before with dark gray base, and barn red brick pattern sponged on. It was clever but always looked hideous to me. There were enough random other colors, dark and light to hide a multitude of "sins, which was it's redeeming feature. The walls were a very dark avocado green. It took 3 coats of a thick, expensive, one coat covers all, white paint!

I am trying to move my art studio out of my kitchen and dinning room but I have too much and am boxing some materials and storing in the garage. I gave an old fridge (40-50 years old) away to friends for their rent house. It was too old to sell. And it was given with no guarantees!

The trial of this new studio will be when I get all the laundry going on in there. There is a significant leak when I wash which I talked to the "landlord" about yesterday. Right now it is a very appealing place to work! By work I mean laundry and art. My sewing is still in the other room where it will stay, for now.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Books I Am Reading and Project I Have Started

I reread three volumes of THE LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien this summer. Then I re-read the HOBBIT and THE SILMARILLIAN. Now I am reading the UNFINISHED TALES. I did not remember reading it at first but as I read I could remember reading it when my mother was in the hospital. All the stories were familiar but the actual reading had been lost in the memories of that traumatic time!

When I am too occupied with work to have much time to be creative, or if I come home too tired to do anything but the essentials, I like to have a project book to be reading and dreaming about!

I have a tendency to start new projects when I am frustrated and not having much art time. Then when the schedule is more reasonable, I will work on finishing several things in one or two weekends. My Art Quilt Group is using Jane Davila and Elin Waterston's book for our monthly meetings.

I have started making two dolls using Patti Medaris Culeas's book and patterns, though I used felt for the body and plan to make another head. She is not dressed yet except in a "make-shift" fashion for modesty! The character design is fun yet to come! Will she be an elf maiden or medieval princess?

First Week of School

amo, amas, amat...
ego, mei, mihi, me, me....

Mission accomplished! I got my workbooks ready, to and from the printer before the first day of school. I teach Latin to 110 children in grades 3-6 at a small, unique Christian School. My students learn Latin vocabulary and rudimentary Latin grammar as part of two and 1/2 days at school per week. They have two days of homework we call "homestudy" each week.

One of my duties this year is greeting children when they arrive and helping them out of their cars if needed. It turned out to be a joy rather than burden and will help me get to know the parents.

There is a beautiful eagerness in the faces of children who are wanting to learn something new. After the first day several moms reported to me that little Jonny or Jenny said Latin is their favorite class. This is mostly from 3rd graders. The older children tend to reserve judgment.

My time recently has been spent getting two older children off to college; they mostly got themselves off. The eighteen year-old needed more help (mostly with my check-book!) working his way through the system at the local college. It turns out that his textbooks in some instances are more expensive than tuition!

My two younger boys are in our classical Christian junior high school, associated with the grammar school where I teach. Last week I attended three orientations!

Friday, August 03, 2007