Tag Archives: bird

Painting Frida


This didn’t start as a painting of Frida Kahlo. I started by making a collage background using mostly ephemera collected on our trip to Italy, such as maps, postage stamps and pages from a little book.

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Then I painted an angel that, in my mind, was Italian. I was thinking of my friend (and sister-out-law, now that she’s not my sister-in-law), Victoria, and the Italian woman in her past.  Side note here: Victoria loves Frida Kahlo.

This is the original version:


I struggled with her face and ended up collaging an oval piece of paper over the first several tries and taking another go at it – you can see the edge of the paper. But I was happy with the final painting….or as happy as I usually am.  I get a little tired of them when I’m working on them. I spend some time on them and sometimes need a little break when I’m done.

The yellow bird and big pink flower both ended up staying on her head – I was trying to decide which one and I decided to go with both. Permission granted.


When I put the painting up on a shelf in my office, several people commented that it looked like “that artist,” or “Oh, it’s Frida!”  I disagreed, but thanked them. I mean, they both had dark hair in a bun with a big flower (or a few) in it. But after the third person said it looked like Frida, I decided to give my Italian angel a makeover.

I think she went from sweet to strong.

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It took some work to make the changes I thought she needed, but it was worth it and now I love the painting, and so does Victoria.

Thank you for stopping by.







Filed under Crafts

Easter Birds Nests

Plate of Birds Nests

Rem and I made these cute little nests last night.  I wanted to do a sweet treat for Easter and I wanted it to be easy.  I didn’t have the time or energy for these (real egg shells, dyed and filled with candy).

I found many different recipes for nests.  You have the nest material (variations include slivered almonds, shredded wheat cereal, coconut or these crispy chow mein noodles) and the sticky stuff to glue it together (melted white chocolate or butterscotch chips, melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, or this marshmallow mixture) and of course the eggs inside the nest.  I chose malted milk eggs but jelly beans would be great too.


The recipe that caught my eye, from FOLK magazine, used marshmallows and butter, much like Rice Krispy Treats, but added some peanut butter.  That sounded like a good combo.

Most recipes give the amounts in measuring cups.  In this case, when I followed the recipe the first time I ended up with partial bags of marshmallows and chow mein noodles, things I’m not likely to use up in another recipe very quickly.  I decided to try adapting the recipe slightly to just use whole bags of these items.

Rem did some research for the project and found most bags of marshmallows are 10 oz. but Safeway brand mini marshmallows have 10.5 oz. in a bag. Similarly, the chow mein noodles by Safeway are in a 6 oz. bag and the La Choy brand chow mein noodles are in a 5 oz. can, so for a recipe like this, I think you can get the slightly larger or slightly smaller size package and make it work.

Easter Birds Nests

Yield: About 18 Nests


1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1  (10 or 10.5 oz. ) bag mini or regular marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 bags or cans (5 or 6 oz. each) crispy chow mein noodles

nonstick spray


muffin tins

ice cream scoop (optional)


Put the butter, peanut butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds.  Stir mixture then microwave as needed in short bursts of about 20 seconds each, stirring after each time, until the mixture is smooth and combined.

Getting Close

Add vanilla and stir until combined.

Stir in chow mein noodles.

Sticky and Crunchy

Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Spray hands with nonstick spray.

Portion chow mein mixture into muffin tin, grabbing a loose ball of noodles, a little larger than a golf ball and dropping it into each space in the muffin tin.  You may need to spritz your fingers with more nonstick spray.  The mixture is very sticky.

Spray the back of the ice cream scoop or soup spoon with nonstick spray and press the mixture into the muffin cup to form nests.

Shaping Nests

I think the nests look best when they are somewhat irregular and not too perfect.


If you don’t have muffin tins (or don’t have enough for your mixture) you can shape the nests on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Nests formed on baking sheet

Pressing Scoop on Mixture

It’s ok if you hear some crunching of noodles.  You want to find that place where you have a nest shape that isn’t too compact and neat, but not so loose and free-form that it will fall apart.

Set the nests into the refrigerator to set.  Once they’re firm, add the candy eggs.

Chow Mein Nest

three little eggs

Store them in a cookie tin with some wax paper so they don’t stick together.  Or put them in individual cellophane bags.

A Trio of Nests

If I was hosting a sit-down Easter Brunch or dinner, I would add names on little tags and slide them on the ribbons with these cute, edible nests for place tags.


Happy, Hoppy Easter to you.  Thanks for the visit.



Filed under Cooking, Crafts

Something New

I’ve added a new tab at the top of the page called “Art Journal Pages”.  It is a work in progress and is a compilation of one (or occasionally two) photos from each of my Art Journal pages.  There is a title, a link to the blog post about that page (or most often, that 2-page spread) and a photo.  Check it out. Thanks, Kathleen, for the suggestion.

In other news, I learned today that the little swallow fledgling didn’t make it.  I called for an update and was told he or she “expired” and though the report didn’t specify, the person on the phone said the injuries just may have been more severe than they realized.  I find some comfort in thinking at least this little bird wasn’t just sprawled on the hard pavement, but being cared for in a safe, warm environment.

I admit to imagining a little swallow angel, finally able to fly. May your spirit rise safely.


Filed under Crafts, Life

Fine Feathered Friends

My feather-finding of the last year or so has escalated.  Now I’m finding birds (or maybe they’re finding me).

On Friday, just after I returned from an appointment, leaving our front door ajar, our neighbor called out to say there was a duck in the carport!  The duck, a female Mallard, was an unusual sight  in that spot, as we are on a fairly busy corner with a steady flow of traffic going by, and no creeks or ponds nearby.  Although she didn’t seem injured, it soon became clear that she couldn’t fly well at all, lifting off and landing a few feet away.

Eventually the Marin Humane Society came and managed to capture the duck and take her to WildCare, a San Rafael nonprofit whose mission is to advocate for wildlife for a sustainable world, and who actively pursues this mission through nature education, wildlife rehabilitation and community outreach.

On Tuesday Rem called and learned that “our” duck had a misaligned wing and couldn’t fly.  She is in a pond at their site with another Mallard and under observation.

Update: We learned the duck had a fracture at the end of her wing, in the “wrist” but is healing well and regaining strength.

Yesterday I left my building after work and found a little fledgling swallow on the pavement.  There are light fixtures in the outdoor ceiling of the entryway and I’d noticed sparrows swooping in and out of them. I guess this little bird had tried to fly just a little bit too early and had made a rough landing.  She was hunched on the ground with both wings partially outspread. Rem was waiting in a parking lot, down one level, and I called down to him.  He helped carry my things so I could hold the tiny bird.

As I started towards the stairs, an adult bird cheeped from her nest, up in the light fixture. My little rescue bird peeped feebly in response.  I felt terrible taking the baby away but it seemed injured and I knew the mama couldn’t get it back up to the nest and I felt sure it would not be able to survive on the ground. I was hoping to give it a chance at making it.

We went to WildCare and they confirmed that the little bird, a Violet-green Swallow, had a broken left wing and perhaps injury to her chest.  I was relieved when they said I’d done the right thing to bring her in.  She was going to be put into foster care as swallows are insectivores and need feeding every 30 minutes from dawn to dusk! Talk about dedicated volunteers!  We hope she’ll recover and be released back into the wild.

Update: Sadly, we learned today (7/22) that the swallow died as a result of his or her injuries.

I made a thank you card for the dedicated and hard working staff and volunteers at WildCare.

Bird Collage Card

Our little juvenile doesn’t have the colorful markings that adults do.  Her feathers were several shades of grey with a white face. This picture of an adult male shows beautiful violet and green markings.

Photo by Ashok Khosla www.seeingbirds.com

Photo by Ashok Khosla http://www.seeingbirds.com

Last night, at my Threshold Choir rehearsal, I learned a song from our repertoire that was new to me, called Help Her Fly.  It was written by choir member, Helen Greenspan, writing to her teenaged daughter.  It seemed appropriate in light of the little swallow I’d found.  I sang the song with the little fledgling on my mind. Here are the lyrics:

Help me love her. Help me free her.  Help her fly, her own wings to hold her safe in her flight. Safe through the night.

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Day 26: Birds in Flight: Blackout Poem & Collage

Day 25: Birds in Flight: Blackout Poem & Collage.

Birds in Flight

I thought I was in really good shape.  I started work on my collage during my lunch break.

Crafting at Lunch

But I didn’t get it all done.  When I work late on a project, it’s difficult to get good pictures.  So, tired and a bit frustrated, I went to bed without posting.

The pictures this morning are much better.

Blackout Poem

In both previous 30 Days of Creativity I attempted a Blackout Poem and failed.  I first saw Austin Kleon’s work a few years ago and it is deceptively simple (isn’t that true of good, classic stuff?) Just take a page of newspaper or a magazine article or whatever and cross out the stuff that you don’t need.

Pretty much how Michelangelo worked too:

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

I know it is a little tricky reading some of the photo above, so here is my very first blackout poem:

Birds in the air

fly with a burst of energy

we have gone quiet


I move closer to them

they leave, one by one,


Birds in Flight instructions

The collage, with a bird theme (again, I know), came first.  This little piece about sketching birds in flight, some paper printed with feathers and a bird postage stamp are part of the background.  But the collage only took up one side of the page.  So I tried again at creating a blackout poem and finally managed to complete one!  Give it a try.

Another Bird

This was also an attempt to follow guidelines of A Collage A Day blogger, artist and author, Randel Plowman.  I took a quick thumb-through look at his book The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired.  More on this later!

Recycling themes for the last two years: Day 26 last year: Recycled Page Gift Bow.

And the previous year – the very cool: Fused-Plastic-Bag Pouches and Tote.

Thanks for the visit!

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Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

Day 25: Bird Collage

Bird Collage

Day 25: Bird Collage.

There are so many wonderful pins on Pinterest that have caught my eye.  I pinned this one, by Donna Downey, about 5 weeks ago.  Last night, looking through my pins (and thinking about what to do for today), I decided to do my version of her collage.

I loved the white space around the collage, something I don’t usually do, but now that I’ve seen it, will try to include more often.  It looks as if her page was white to start.  I used gesso on mine to lay a wash of white over the print, but still allow some to show through.

Bird collage detail/left

I was also really drawn in by her use of colors and I tried for a very similar look.

Bird Collage detail/right

Last year for Day 25, my project was these DIY Blue Glass Jars.

The year before that I adapted a Smitten Kitchen recipe and made Pickled Carrot Sticks.

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

Day 17: Niche with Wings

Niche with Wings

Day 17: Niche with Wings.  Here is another feather from my collection.  It is set in a little niche or shallow recess that I cut into about 8 pages all glued together.

I started this page on Saturday, worked on it a bit yesterday and finished it today.

Feather in Niche

After work I took another challenging hike with my sister Sarah and a few other hiking buddies. I’m tuckered out, so I’m just going to share some more pictures and call it a day!  We combined the last two hikes, going up one hill and coming down the other side instead of looping back down the same way we’d come.  It took a little logistics with cars, but it really felt like an achievement.

Here is our view coming back down.  It isn’t the best quality photo, but it shows the view.  The Richmond San Rafael Bridge is in the foreground, Larkspur Ferry is a little dot in the middle and the Bay Bridge is in the background.

Bridges & Ferry

Now back to my page.

Bird and Leaves

Leaf Detail

Feather Close Up

More views from the hike: Bay Bridge and SF Skyline.

SF Skyline

Richmond San Rafael Bridge with Oakland in the background.

Richmond SRafael Bridge

And one last look at the Niche with Wings.

Niche at an angle

Day 17 in 2012 was my big Chocolate Bowl Fail – what a mess!  I found splatters of chocolate on the ceiling.

In 2011, Rem and I went into the city on Day 17 and so I did Friday Photos in San Francisco.

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

Day 16: Feather


Day 16: Feather.

It is Father’s Day, the second Father’s Day since my dad died.  A year ago I went to the cemetery where we’d buried my father’s ashes.  We’d had the memorial service just a short time before Father’s Day and there wasn’t a marker on his grave.  It is a Green Cemetery (or that section is, anyway) and so it isn’t a manicured lawn, but a natural hillside of eucalyptus trees and dried grass.

That Father’s Day was my first visit to the site alone.  Well, not alone, as I has my parent’s dog, Molly, with me.

Molly at Fernwood

Like today, it was windy, though today was much warmer.  There were flowers from the memorial service that day.  Today I brought flowers and found others that my sister had left.  I was so touched when I saw that she’d left her graduation tassel.

Last year, after I’d had a visit, sang a little and cried some, I was walking back across the hill to the path and I found a beautiful feather with wide brown and white stripes.  I hadn’t seen it on the walk to the grave and exclaimed when I saw it.  I picked it up and took it back to tuck into the flowers on my dad’s grave.

Walking back once more toward the path, I looked down and found a second feather!  This one was a deep, rich blue, probably from a blue jay.  It was beautiful.  Once again, I picked up the feather, turned around and took it back and put it with the flowers and the other feather.  Finding these two different feathers felt like some kind of positive sign to me and I left with my heart somewhat lifted.

Black & White Feather

After that, I kept seeing feathers.  Maybe they’ve been around me all along and I wasn’t paying attention, but for awhile it seemed like I would see a feather every few days!  At first I noticed them and thought it was kind of coincidental, but when I mentioned it to a friend, she suggested I collect them.  I started to pick them up.

I opened my car door and looked out as I put my foot out and there was a feather.  Walking across the parking lot at work, I would find a feather directly in my path.  I picked up feathers while hiking with Kathleen, I found them in the patio of my apartment and at the Farmer’s Market.


I didn’t really feel like they were a message from my dad, though maybe they are. They just felt like a positive thing.  At first I wasn’t really looking for them and they just seem to appear in my path but after awhile I was paying more attention and keeping an eye out.  In fact, on our recent getaway weekend, I found several feathers on the beach.  It made me think of my father.

When I would visit Fernwood,   I kept an eye out for feathers.  Especially like either one of those special feathers I found a year ago – the wide stripes of brown and white, and the deep blue.  I haven’t ever found another feather there until today.  Today I found a wide scattering of black feathers.  Eventually, while gathering this offering of feathers, I came across part of their former owner.

I thanked the bird for its feathers and said I was sorry it had died.  I hope that it gave some nourishment to a creature or creatures up (or down) the food chain.  But I was pleased to find this swath of feathers on the hillside on and around my dad’s grave.

I have not found a blue feather or a feather with wide brown and white stripes.  Yet.

white bird, blue eyes

I created this spread at the Collage Cafe with Virginia Simpson Magruder of Kentucky Girl Designs.  I was able to use many of her supplies as well as her guidance.  I told her about finding feathers and showed her some of my bird images.  She brought out some rubber stamp fonts and I picked out a great background stamp and the page happened layer by layer.

After I took these pictures earlier today, I added one thing: the words “father’s day” over the date.  So it doesn’t show in the larger pictures of the page.

father's day

The intense, blue-eyed bird just worked with this spread.  I don’t know what kind it is and it doesn’t remind me of my dad, although he DID have blue eyes.  But birds and feathers are on my radar these days and so, that is what I crafted for today.

feather/Father's Day

For Day 16 last year I Handcarved a Rubber Stamp.

For Day 16 the year before that I crafted a Shrinky Dink Key Ring.  Check it out!

Thanks for making it with me so far in the 30 Days of Creativity project.  I’m glad you’re here.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

After 30 Days of Creativity

I know.  I said I was going to take a little break from crafting.  On July 1st I took a walk with my sister in the morning.  Rem and I went out to Pt. Bonita Lighthouse in the afternoon.  In the evening…I made a batch of cards.  It was really nice just digging into my card supplies and creating without stopping to take pictures of the process and without writing a post about it.

I did a few using the Double Sponged & Embossed Technique I first tried on Day 4 of 30DoC.

This bird was embossed on a page torn from an old Math textbook.

I did a butterfly stamped over a cracked texture background and I embellished it with some postage stamps from Poland.

I tried the technique on another old page – I love the stamp  (Floral Vine from Paper Source) I used but it didn’t quite work.  So I stamped it again on plain white paper and layered the two images.

I love the bird stamp (from Always set) so I did another one using that same stamp that I think worked out well.  The background is a word stamp (also from Stampin’ Up) from the set called Charming.

My favorite was the dragonfly card on a little patchwork background (up at the top of the post).  It didn’t use the Double Sponged technique, in fact, I wasn’t sure where I was going with the card.  I punched out squares of different papers and arranged them in rows.   But I wasn’t happy with just that, so I took a scrap left from another card, layered on a bit more ink, stamped the dragonfly in brown and splattered some silver ink over it.  I finished the card off with some Diva Dots as embellishment and went to bed very satisfied with crafting and relieved to be finished with the thirty days of creativity.

Thanks for the visit.


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts