Monthly Archives: March 2014

You Just Don’t Know

California Poppies

You just don’t know who might be suffering around you. You can’t always tell at a glance or even at hello.

Your colleague may be coping with an aging parent,  your neighbor could have just lost his job and the checker at the grocery store may not be able to keep up the payments on her home.

Until about three years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my life had been relatively smooth sailing.  I’ve had to cope with illness and injury in loved ones, and I navigated the sad waters of a failed marriage. But compared to the burdens some people have, I’ve gotten off pretty easy.

More Poppies

Sadly, my younger brother, Beau, is critically ill and over the last month has spent more days in the hospital than not. In the last  week his already tenuous condition has turned even worse and the family has been circling around.

My mom said, when you don’t know what to do, you just show up.  She thought it was from Anne Lamott so I looked it up:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

And it is hard work.  Just being there is tough, seeing the suffering, feeling hopeless, but trying to hold on to shreds of hope in the data from the medical staff or in the actions of a caring, skilled lab tech.  Showing up isn’t defined as being right there either.  Showing up means taking care of a load of laundry because the washer broke.  Or getting the dogs outside or baking some cookies or making a pot of spaghetti.

When I’m at work, I can stay busy for a few hours in the morning.  Distracting myself with email and phone messages and other tasks works for awhile, but I lose my focus and get antsy.  At night (it is currently 3:19 AM) when I can’t turn off my brain, and in the hospital waiting room, mindless games on the laptop, iPad or Kindle are sometimes the best I can manage.

Poppy Close Up

I guess I’m just trying to remind myself that all around me, even if I’m not aware of it, many of us are coping with some quiet heartache.

The best I can offer as a response is to suggest we all try and find love and compassion for those whose paths cross ours.  We should try and treat ourselves and each other tenderly; with empathy, respect and patience.

Update: A friend shared on Facebook that her husband had a friend tell him “When in doubt, choose the loving thing to do.” Exactly.

I’m grateful for the love, support and prayers offered on behalf of my brother, his family and friends.

Thank you.

 

 

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Spring Wreath

Spring Wreath

Once again I’ve been doing some curating and reorganizing of my craft supplies.  Things that made it through previous clean-ups but have remained untouched since, needed to be pulled from drawers and redistributed.  Stuff that I “might use someday” needed to make room for the stuff I’m using now!

I haven’t completed the project, but I did give away a bin of stuff I wasn’t using to a friend who volunteers doing art projects with kids. Little-used stamp sets went to friends who are grade school teachers who will use them in their classrooms.  It feels great to give things to someone who will use and enjoy them.

I’m constantly acquiring supplies.  Either I go to paper or art supply stores, or a craft class and pick up some of this and some of that for the project we’re doing in class or I’m working on something specific and need just the right (fill in the blank: fabric, glitter, paint, etc.).  Once the project is over, I’m left with pom poms or pipe cleaners or the end of a pack of paper in a color or design I don’t really like.

However, cleaning and re-organizing aren’t the same as crafting.  I needed to set aside that job and make something!

I unearthed colorful cotton and felt fabric left over from a fun Christmas project.   I created a bunch of flowers out of felt.  I made a template and used chalk to trace the shape onto different colors of felt.  This was very similar to making the Felt Shamrock Garland I just made for St. Patrick’s Day.

Pink Flower

I used some small pieces of felt to make flower centers.    Some green felt made leaves and stems, and buttons finished off each flower  I stuck the pieces together with Aileen’s tacky glue, a Tombow adhesive tape runner, and sticky glue dots.  The Tombow proved to be more frustrating than helpful.

Buttons

My original plan was to hang this on the door like the St. Patrick’s Day garland.  But shamrocks made out of felt look the same on either side and the flowers didn’t. So, borrowing another idea from another recent holiday door decor project, I bent a wire coat hanger into a circle, then used strips of printed green cotton fabric to wrap the flower garland onto the wire hanger!

Green Fabric with buttons

I knotted the fabric at the top of the coat hanger, right under the hook then wrapped a few times around the wire before wrapping on either side of the flower garland.  In between each flower, I would wrap the wire.  When I got to the end of a fabric strip, I would just tie a knot to attach the next strip.

Knotted fabric on back

This is the back of the wreath and you can see the knot is hidden by the flowers.

I made this in steps over a few evenings and didn’t spend that much time on it.  I wanted something cheerful on the door and this was a fun little project.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Happy Spring!

Plum Blossoms

I pulled myself away from my desk to walk around the campus and enjoy the first day of spring.

My office

Iris

Little purple flower

Pink Flowers

Rooftop Meadow

This meadow of wildflowers in on the roof garden of the Fine Art building.

Blue flowers

Strawberry Plant

Our building has a roof garden too but it isn’t doing as well.  There are some flowers but less color and greenery.

Bee in Rosemary Blossom

A huge patch of rosemary is in bloom and it’s buzzing with bees.

Pink Toesies & Green Grass

I’m very grateful it is warm enough to be wearing sandals.

Pearls

I tried to think “Spring” when I got dressed this morning: pale pink embellished sweater, aqua print top, freshwater pearls.

It was hard getting back to work, so I decided to give you a little tour of the inside of my office.

Perpetual Calendar

Calendar #1 is on my desk. A gift from my friend, Nicole, I think of her every morning when I change the day and date.

Paper Source Calendar

Calendar #2 is on the wall behind me.  It is from Paper Source and has wonderful artwork plus templates on the back of each month to recycle it into folders, cards and gift boxes when you finish using as a calendar.

Bird Tile Art

My friend Shook gave me this picture.  It goes beautifully with the perpetual calendar.  I love the color scheme, the bird and the collage-like layers.

The bulletin board

Special notes and cards from special people around me.  A feather that reminds me of my dad.

View out my window

One more peek at the view (looking out to the “orbit court”) before getting back to work.

Thank you for your visit.

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Everyone’s Irish on March 17

Shamrock's

Shamrock’s at Muir Woods.

Here’s a little round-up of some of my previous green-themed posts.  It includes links to recipes – just click on the underlined headings.

Rem and I had our St. Patrick’s day dinner a little early over at my mom’s, and enjoyed a sodium-nitrate-free corned beef from Whole Foods.  Happily I have enough leftovers so I could leave some for mom and still have some for tomorrow night’s dinner.

This is a a post about Roasted Root Vegetables which is how I did the vegetables we had this year.  The corned beef and cabbage cooked in the slow cooker.

Root Vegetables

These two salads are both green and both delicious: Baked Feta with Greens and Avocado

Baked Feta with Greens & Avocado

And Emerald City Salad with nutritionally dense kale and chard, brown rice, fennel, apple and craisins.

Emerald City Salad

A pre-spring hike in early March 3 years ago was the source of some pretty green pictures.

Ferns

This last post includes a recipe of Irish Soda Bread, a redhead, and a lovely blessing.

Irish Soda Bread

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Felt Shamrock Garland

Shamrock Garland

My friend, Margaret, and I went to the free craft night or “Craft Gym” on Tuesday at Once Around in Mill Valley and made this simple but sweet Felt Shamrock Garland. We were having a night out together to celebrate my birthday and went out for dinner first then crafting.

Not only did we enjoy dinner at Harmony in Strawberry Village, (try the delicious Fragrant Fried Calamari in a light batter, finished with cilantro, lemongrass, mild jalapeno, garlic and fresh lime), but we spent a relaxed evening with a nice group of women.  To top it off, Margaret let me have all the shamrocks she cut out.  Nice, huh?

Four Shamrocks

This post at A Subtle Revelry has this super simple felt shamrock garland. Even if you’re not interested in decorating for St. Patrick’s day, you should check out A Subtle Revelry and “the art of merrymaking everyday.”

Craft Gym has become a favorite night out for me and it isn’t only, as you might expect, because of the crafting.  The real pleasure is sitting in a circle with your hands busy and enjoying easy conversations around the table.  It is, I imagine, similar to a quilting circle.  I find it both relaxing and invigorating at the same time, and feel great after a craft workout.

Lauren Dyer is the creative and patient instructor for Craft Gym and she researches and presents the projects.  I’d seen this easy garland on Pinterest (of course) but hadn’t been motivated to make one.  But I’ve found the whole experience of Craft Gym is worth it whatever the project.

Lauren makes it easy, the crafts are simple ones that can be completed in a few hours which is very satisfying, and the shop is always a pleasure to visit and browse.  Although the store is closed during the evening, if you come to Craft Gym you can purchase what you need and if you find other things you want to buy, well, you can do that too!

Bright green shamrock

I encourage you to spend some time crafting with a friend or two or five if you can.  I spend hours and hours crafting alone and there is much that I love about it. But there is great enjoyment in the combination of making something with your hands with someone else who is doing the same thing.

It’s not too late to cut out some felt shamrocks and connect them together for St. Patrick’s Day.  Next fall I plan to make a similar garland using autumn leaf shapes and rich orange reds and golden yellows.  A spring garland of flowers would also be nice.

3 green piles of shamrocks

My garland has 18 shamrocks and they are about 3.75 inches wide by 4.25 inches long but folks were cutting out all different sizes.  If you are lucky enough to have a die cutting gadget and a shamrock template, you can make a bunch of them in no time.  But cutting them by hand isn’t difficult, especially with good, sharp scissors.

Simply trace a shamrock shape onto felt and cut it out. You can sketch a shamrock or look online for a template to trace.  I found one here at Spoonful.com, but there are plenty to choose from.  TIP: Angle the end of the stem and make it a bit wide, as in the photos.  This will help when you are attaching the shamrocks to each other.

Fold a shamrock in half and snip a small slit in the center leaf, just large enough that you can push the end of the stem through.  Go ahead and cut slits in all the shamrocks.

Cutting slit in felt

Now attach them together by putting the stem of one shamrock behind another shamrock where the slit is and pushing the end of the stem through the slit.

Attaching shamrocks together

Some of my stems were a little narrow or the slashes on the shamrocks were a bit wide so a few stems slipped out.  I reinforced the whole garland with a little adhesive.  I used a tape runner which was a little tricky sometimes to get the adhesive to stick to the felt, but I got it to work.  You don’t really need this if you cut carefully.  Someone in the workshop said she was going to put a few stitches in hers where the stem threatened to slip out.  The texture of the felt seems to help keep shamrocks attached to each other.

To display my little swag on the door, I used two push pins up near the top of the door plus some fishing line.

Fishing line holds garland

Garland Close Up

I also cut out one four-leaf clover for luck to include in my garland. We can all use some good luck and this week I would certainly welcome a bushel of it.

4 leaf clover

Do you know what the leaves on a four-leaf clover are supposed to represent? It isn’t the same as in the song.  But according to Wikipedia, the leaves represent faith, hope, love and luck.  I learned that five-leaf clovers are considered even luckier than four-leaf clovers (being more rare) but the record for leaves on a clover is 56.

Wishing you a happy and lucky St. Patrick’s Day.  Thanks for the visit.

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Walking the Dogs

Regal Dolly

My brother Beau is sick so Rem and I offered to take his dogs out for a walk.

Dolly decided she want to get above the ruckus and chose the back window shelf.

Her son, Tugboat, had to try the window seat too.

Tugboat in the back

Rem started with the two more energetic dogs, Tugboat and Merle, pulling out in front.  I followed along with the more mellow Dolly and Chet.

4 dogs on a walk

They didn’t always want to go the same direction.

Which way?

Handsome guys.

Handsome

I asked for a shot or two with all of them together.

All 4 dogs + Rem

Nice, but let’s see if I can get a good close-up.

4 dog close up

Lickin' their chops

Now I’m pushing it.  I’ve lost my models.

Distracted

After a boisterous jaunt around Ferry Point in Richmond, we got back in the car for a ride.

Merle says “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”

HappyMerle

Tug says “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

Happy Tug

Chet and Dolly are happy enough, thank you, but they’re not going to sing about it.

Chet & Dolly

Rear view mirror.

rear view mirror

Chet & I.

Chet & Di

Bye doggies!

Doggie Nose

Thank you for your visit.

(Thank you, Rem, for almost all the car interior photos.)

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Vacation Crafting

Bike & Balloons

I made a bunch of cards while I was on vacation at Sea Ranch.  I got this idea on Pinterest and will make more of these.  A piece of map for the background stamped with a cute bicycle plus some paper balloons on pop-up foam dots.

Pretty old calendars from Paper Source gave me lots of great card-making material – I used pages from 2012 and 2013 calendars.

Small, sparkly Starform stickers embellish the seeds and serve as Dianne Dots here.  I left my little hole punch at home (I was trying not to bring everything under the sun).

Strawberry card

Washi tape pennants and a flower cut out from another printed paper finish this card.

Big Flowers Card

The bird page in the calendar has several more birds so I have more cards I can make from that one.  A few foam pop-up dots lift the bird, leaves and branch off the background.

Bird Card

I love this peacock feather graphic.  I just added some glitter.

Peacock

For this purple card, I found the pretty, large flower  left from a set embellishments.  Behind the flower, I used a photo of crackle-glazed tile cut out from a magazine.  A little purple washi tape finished the card.

Purple Flower

A shopping outing over the long President’s Day weekend included a stop at Scrapbook Territory in Berkeley.  I used some of the pretty paper in these cards.

For this card I used orange-striped washi tape to highlight the greeting.

Blue, White, Orange card

This big pink flower is cut out from a magazine.  I glued the picture to card stock before cutting it out to make it sturdier and so it wouldn’t allow the layers of paper under it to show through and make crease lines.

Big Pink Flower card

A collaged tag is embellishment for this pretty flowered card.

Pink and turquoise floral card

It doesn’t show well in the photo, but on the card below, I cut the central flower and leaves from another scrap where the design repeated. I put them on foam dots and added some of the glittery Starform stickers.  These add have a jewel-like effect but lie flat on the card.  Although I love how self-adhesive jewels look for bling on a card, they aren’t the best for mailing and can poke through an envelope.

Flowers with black

I also did a few pages in my Art Journal.

I cut out the fabulous circle of people from a New Yorker and have been wanting to use it.  It was illustrating a story called “Thirteen Wives” by Steven Millhauser. The illustration is by Balint Zsako.

Thirteen Wives

When I found the rainbow circle quilt picture in O, the Oprah Magazine, I thought I could use the two illustrations together.

Quilted Circle

Marigold Indigo

A shopping bag from Dianne’s Estate Jewelry in Healdsburg is part of the collage on the other spread I completed on my birthday, “Dianne’s Creative Happy Life.”  A rainbow arches over the top of the page and music on washi tape embellishes it.

Dianne's Creative Happy Life

Close up Dianne's

The word CREATIVE is from an advertising brochure for printing and paper. I used bits from dictionary pages, greeting cards and magazines.

Diana definition

Things I love, including my wonderful Rem, crafting, picnics and chocolate, all found a place in this page.

R E M

LOVE

Crafting

I included “happy birthday” and “54” since it was made on my birthday.

I hope to spend more time art journaling soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

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