Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday ~ Winter at the Arboretum

A winter's day at the Arboretum.

A knot garden. I want one of my own.


An armada of pelicans and some sort of loon.

Ric Rac

A tranquil scene

Camilla. Why is it that I don't own one of these winter blooming beauties?

Flashes of orange and gold

Color. Kale

Sculptural beauty. Dusty Miller

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrapping it up!


I like to take time to ponder what went well in the past year (and what didn't) and what I hope to do and accomplish in the coming year. By looking back, sometimes I can avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over again. For this reason, I usually take lots of notes on or about projects I'm involved with. Long after the details have faded in my head, my notes remind me of what to avoid or what to replicate.

Looking forward is lots of fun. The anticipation of new goals, dreams, and visions is delicious. I always start out with too many. I crash and burn on some of them. More remarkable is when I actually manage to accomplish what I set out to do. What a rush!

Wrap up your year with a pretty bow. Don't beat yourself up over things that went poorly. Forgive yourself and others, learn from your mistakes, and move on. An entire fresh year is opening up in front of us. What will we do with those 365 days?

I'm excited to find out!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reason Number 347...


....for cleaning out the nooks, crannies, and odd spaces in your home.

You find treasure!

We bought this quilt block kit and assorted fabrics last December. Yep, you read that right. December, 2008. The package got put in an odd place and then through out the year, other flotsam and debris ended up on top of it. Shortly before Christmas, I got a burr under my saddle about tidying up the master bedroom. And there it was...just waiting for me.

Now, at least, I know what my next quilting project will be. These little sunflowers will look great in either my kitchen or my studio.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

99 Things

White Purple pansy

I saw this on Harmony Art blog a few days ago. It looked like fun since I've been thinking hard about my ambitions this year. This list is more of a lifetime list, but still, it fits my theme. The ones in purple are ones I've done. See which ones you've done--I'd love to hear. If you answer on your own blog, put a link in my comments so we can all visit and read.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (Not well.)
11. Bungee jumped (Ummmm, no thanks)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (Walked, not run a 5K, but not a marathon.)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (France 1999)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (Still a work in progress, but I can grocery shop in French, Dutch and some German.)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted--Painted no, photography yes.
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving (No, never)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle Fast enough, thank you very much.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (Magazines, yes. Books--I'm working on it.)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (Those Minor Prophets get me everytime.)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating--Fish count, right?
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (Do Estate Hassles Count?)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!


May Your Day
Be Filled
Happy Memories!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mint Chocolate Cookies



3 pkg. Andes mints (28 each);
3/4 cup margarine;
1 1/2 cup brown sugar;
2 tbsp. water;
1 pkg. semisweet chocolate chips;
2 large eggs;
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour;
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda.

In saucepan (or microwave), heat and mix margarine, sugar and water. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until all chips are melted.
Pour into bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
Beat in eggs at high speed.
Add remaining ingredients and beat to blend.
Chill dough for 1 hour.
Line baking sheets with foil.
Roll dough in 1" diameter balls and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Place an unwrapped mint on each cookie as you remove them from the oven. As soon as the mints have softened, spread them over the cookies.

Because I'm a chocolate snob, I love to use Belgian chocolate chips. I find them at Kroger, but you have to read the label to make sure what you are getting has components from Belgium.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice!

I love December 21. Not only is it our son's birthday--a joyous thing!, but it is the winter solstice.

Why would a sun-lover like me love the shortest day of the year?

Because after today, the sun begins it's journey back to our hemisphere. Every day between now and June 21, there is a smidgen more daylight each day.

Which means spring is on it's way.

Longer, sunnier days.

Rose blossoms.


Pool, picnic, and porch swing time.

Just knowing the sun is beginning it's journey back is enough to get me through the cloudy, gray, cold days to come.

It seems like a grand time to start a new project or two, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 20, 2008



I know I promised the Mint Chocolate Cookie recipe, but the SUN came out on Friday. After days of gray, gloomy, misty, foggy, windy, cold weather you didn't expect me to stay inside on a pretty winter's day, did you?

I spent the afternoon catching up on gardening tasks. Cleaning up some post-summer debris, harvesting seed pods, watering thirsty roots. Most of all, soaking up the sun.

Gardeners are a faith-filled folk. How else can you imagine the importance of a dry husk? Gardeners take a seemingly dead thing--a seed--plant it and hope for growth. Amazing thought. Even more amazing is when the seed sprouts and vibrant life springs forth.

As I ripped the crispy Moonflower vines from the trellis, I gathered seed pods. Holding them in my hand, I realized I was holding next summer's flowers...those saucer sized, sweet-scented, impossibly white blooms which unfurl as the sun sets. Long ago I read a saying about seeds....Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in the seeds. For a few minutes on Friday, I felt like I was sharing a secret with the Creator. I don't know how many blossoms are in there, but I know they are there. Isn't that marvelous?

There are lots of seeds in your creative life right now. Some of them are very dry and unpromising looking. Some are swelled with the potential for life. Some have been laying abandoned on hardscrabble dirt for years. All of them need water, a safe place to flourish, and nurturing. Isn't it exciting to participate in their coming to life? I know beautiful blooms are in there...waiting for their turn in the sun.

I can't wait to see what blossoms in your creative soul.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookies

It's cold outside, so we've been cooking up a storm inside. Christmas treats for the most part. Recipes filled with yumminess and generous helpings of love and good wishes. I usually make biscotti with only almonds in it, but for Christmas it is fun to add color and additional flavor.

Cherry Biscotti

You can use either dried cherries or maraschino cherries. If using dried, soak in hot water for 10-15 minutes to plump. If using maraschinos, quarter and lay out on paper towels to drain for 10 minutes or so.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Zest from one lemon. (An orange can be used if desired)

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
1 cup cherries

1 egg for an egg wash.

Toast the almonds on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Stir half way through. Allow to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together 2 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts, plus the lemon zest.

Make a well in the flour mixture. Add eggs and sugar mix to the well. Stir the flour into the well slowly mixing. If necessary, add additional flour to make a workable dough.

Add almonds and cherries. Fold into dough until mixed.

Divide dough into two equal pieces. Flour your hands to keep dough from sticking to you. Gently form the dough into logs--about two inches x eight or ten inches. Carefully transfer each cylinder to the parchment lined baking sheet. Evenly brush the dough with egg wash.

Bake until dough is slightly risen and light golden. About 25-30 minutes. (If you are using maraschino cherries and the dough is a bit wetter, allow for the longer baking time.)

Allow to cool on a cooling rack for ten minutes.

On a cutting board, slice each cylinder at a sharp diagonal angle. Make the slices 1/2 inch thick. Stand the biscotti upright on the baking sheet with some space between them.
Return to oven and bake until biscotti are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes.

These are dry crispy cookies perfect for dipping in coffee or a rich wine. Once cooled, the biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month.

To make even more special, melt some good chocolate and dip one end of the biscotti into chocolate.

My original recipe came from Patricia Well's 'Trattoria' cookbook. I have tweaked it a bit in the years I've been making it. Usually when we make this recipe, we triple it. It's that good.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa Fe Stew Day


It's a cold, gray, and windy Monday. I'm thankful for the bright cheerfulness Christmas lights and decor bring to my surroundings. A day like this is perfect for Santa Fe Stew.

Santa Fe Stew - makes approximately 4 quarts

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 packet taco season mix, if desired
32 oz. Velvetta, either hot or mild depending on taste
1 can whole kernel corn with liquid
1 can kidney or pinto beans
1 small can chopped green chilies
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 can beef broth or two cups of water (Omit to make the stew thicker)

Cook hamburger, onion, and garlic in skillet. Drain any grease. Add taco seasoning.

Add meat mixture to crock pot. Add all other ingredients. Let simmer several hours.

Serve with warm crusty bread, tortillas, or crackers.

Note: if cooked in a regular pan on the stovetop, this recipe will scorch. I prefer using a crockpot set on low.

It's even better the second day after all the flavors have mellowed together.
Freezes well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's on your To-Do list?

Paper fan ornament
Tis the season of busy.
What's still on your list to accomplish before the big day?
Finishing addressing Christmas cards, seal, send.
Make a pie. Cherry, apple, or pecan?
Wrap some stocking stuffers.
Assemble a Christmas care package for oldest son.
Assemble a birthday care package for oldest son.
Ship care packages.
Drive around and look at Christmas lights
Finish Twilight Zone-ish short story.
Decide on next sewing/quilt project
Ongoing house tidying
Finish gifts for people in our lives. Give.
Here's to checking things off in a timely manner!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gift ideas for Creative Souls

Decorated mantle

Need some ideas on how to stuff the stockings of your creative friends? Or, maybe, you need to give a list to someone in your life so they can stuff your stockings in a grand fashion?

1. Small supplies.

For Quilters, a spiffy new rotary cutter with blades, a handmade pincushion, or a new ruler. Fat quarters and charm packs are always fun.
Gardeners love cool hand tools like trowels and pruners, knee pads, hand lotion, wind chimes, bird houses, seeds, small transplants from your garden.
Artists (gotta think of another name for these...we are all artists) brushes, portable cases, hand made papers, sketch books, inspiration books.
Writers--interesting pens, printer cartridges, paper, clever notebooks, Starbucks cards, small pillow for their backs while they write.

2. Magazine subscriptions to a creative magazine.

3. Artist Date supplies....entry to an art museum, promise of lunch out with like minded souls.

4. Creative books

5. Junque...cute themed key chains, mouse pads, Christmas ornaments, socks, tee-shirts.

What are some of your favorite creative boosting gifts you've gotten or given over the years?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Finished Quilt!


I finished it this morning!

This quilt was my 're-learn to quilt' project. It is a generous lap-sized quilt in rich purple solids, dark greens, and bright sunflower prints. The colors are my favorites and designed to be a cheerful spot of intensity during the cold, gray days of winter.

Some of the corners won't hold up to close scrutiny and the binding has more issues than a magazine subscription, but it's all there. Put together and and use-able.

My theme in 2008 has been Do It! For the later part of the year, I've enhanced the thought with Finish It! By completing the NaNoWriMo challenge, a significant church project, and this little quilt, I feel like I'm on a roll.

This is fun! Now what?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008




Yesterday, I crossed the finish line in the NaNoWriMo challenge!

50,124 words written in 25 days.

The novel has a decent beginning and a reasonable end. The middle....well, let's just say that Indiana Jones with a map, a native guide, and a GPS couldn't find his way through there. That's okay, it is fixable. Nora Roberts says you can't fix a blank page. My pages are NOT blank. How cool is that?

I told someone else that this is a bit like having a baby. The little critter is here, but the work is not at an end. The book still needs lots of nurturing and raising.

But it's there. A story. That's the coolest part of this.

I have created.

I'm feeling a bit Wonder Womanish these days! Can you tell?

Wild, reckless, rough, rustic...the journey was often stressful, insane, and very exhilarating. I learned things about my creative abilities I don't know I could have learned any other way....and I've been a professional creative soul most of my adult life. That's saying a lot.

Whatever you create with, how ever you create....take a it with ABANDON and JOY!


Friday, November 7, 2008

The Wild Ride


Things I've learned from a week of NaNo writing.

1. Deadlines and goals are good things.

2. I can set aside time to write. The key is DOING it.

3. First drafts can be wonky. In fact, they should be.

4. Having friends along for the journey is the best part.

5. I'm ravenous after a writing session. Having healthy snacks available is imperative. Leftover Halloween candy is dangerous.

6. Two thousand words a day no longer seems like a lot.

I don't know how these lessons will translate into my other creative pursuits, but I'm anxious to find out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Write Your Own Epitaph Day


Yesterday, November 2nd was Write Your Own Epitaph day.

Did that one slip past you?
Why wait for your heirs to inscribe your stone? You can save them the hassle and get exactly what you want.

Take examples of from John Yeast, who said on his tombstone...Pardon me for not rising.

What quirky, fun, serious, or creative phrase would you put on your stone?

When I was a professional photographer, I used to tell folks I would have "Just One More" put on my tombstone because I was always saying that to my clients.

A young Ben Franklin once penned a proposed epitaph for himself. It is lyrical and amusing, but never actually used. That's too bad because I like it a lot.

The body of B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But, the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ'd)
Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected By the Author.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


It's contagious. A rampant virus is sweeping the world causing glazed eyes, aching wrists, numb posteriors, and exploding brains. And I've come down with it.

What's it called?


Or for those who don't speak abbreviations ~ The National Novel Writing Month.

For the month of November, participates go more than a little nuts with their writing. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. In other words, its all about quantity, not quality.

It's all about locking up your internal editor and writing with glee, ignoring bad grammar, ignoring all those icky writing 'rules' and even ignoring glaring plot holes. Writing, writing, writing. Dumping a tangle of nouns, verbs, and adjectives on the pages and sorting them out not at all.

As an exercise in pure creativity, NaNo excels. Writers push past the editorial guards at the gates of our minds and into the rare air of sheer fun creativity.

I read recently about studies done on patients with frontal lobe damage to their brains. That's the part of your brain that shuts down your stupid factor. As in 'no, you do not want to jump off the house, on to the trampoline, and into the pool'--kinda thing. It seems this part of the brain also judges your creative efforts as you do them. And it's a harsh critic. We learn too young to tone down our impulses in order to fit in to society.

Strikingly enough, studies showed that if the frontal lobe is damaged, often the person shows vast leaps in creative endeavors. Painting, music, art of all kinds. They lose many of their inhibitions, too. Dancing in the streets, anyone?

The NaNo project is designed to totally circumvent your frontal lobe. Writers are invited to send their internal editor to the NaNo kennels for the duration. Writers are urged to wear silly hats while they write. To follow wordly rabbit trails. To eat outrageous amounts of chocolate and consume gallons of coffee. To skip showering, housekeeping, and all social engagements. All in the name of writing.

The madness continues for a month.

How can you kick your own creativity in gear if you are not a NaNowriter?

Be a NaNo...whatever. Potter, quilter, gardener......

I saw a lovely photo of a "NaNo" style garden last spring. The gardener had opened one of those cans of wildflower garden seeds you see at the garden center. She had cast them with abandon in a vacant side yard and watered a bit.

The photo she showed was i n c r e d i b l e. Riotous blooms in all sizes, shapes, and colors. The garden broke every rule of gardening, and it was awesome.

So...for the month of November....

Send your internal editor to the kennel to keep mine company.

Work fast.

Break some rules.

Do exactly what pleases your heart.

Join me this month in creating with ABANDON. Let loose the reins and have a blast!

My word count today....3,078. Yay!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Creative Spaces ~ Beth's Cave

Creative spaces are some of the best spaces in the world. Beth from Being Beth sent photos of her creative space. The Cave she calls it. Doesn't look like a dark, dank place to me, but you can judge for yourself.

Her worktable:

An idea I'm going to steal...Her Wall of Inspiration

Files and Plotting Board

Her trusty computer just waiting for her fingers to fly

Yes, an important element. Creative souls must be able to lock out the world. (Or is it lock themselves in?) Either way, limiting outside influences until you are ready for them is important.

I love seeing creative spaces. Wonderful, magical, mystical, incredible, happy things happen in areas devoted to creation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Has it really been that long?

Sorry to disappear on you. Thanks to all who've commented or emailed to find out just where I've been. A round of nasty colds in our family, an out of town funeral that hit me harder than I expected, some writing deadlines, and a bunch of commitments at church have kept me away from my blog. I've been blogging in my head. Great blog posts. Inspiring. Creative. Motivating. I'm so sorry you couldn't read them. They were really quite good. Really.

A couple of random thoughts....

I found this quote in a gardening article. It's a what kind of gardener are you type article. Here's what they had to say about someone like me.

Artists, collectors and nature lovers enjoy the process of gardening. They garden because they like the feel of the earth and the smell of the flowers and the sound of birds singing. They have varying degrees of tolerance, but in general their gardens are unkempt, cluttered and inhabited by a host of creatures. They prefer to be outside, so they willingly spend the extra time required by hand tools. They welcome visitors, but love to be alone in their gardens to work and putter and enjoy.


Random thoughts continued...

Today, The Pilot Guy and our youngest, The Baseball Guy, helped process and pack Magi Boxes. If you've ever been a part of Operation Christmas Child or Operation Shoebox, this is a similar program. Find a shoebox and fill it with small items like clothing, toys, toiletries, and treats. Our little (but growing) church put together 114 boxes to be sent to children in the Dominican Republic in time for Christmas. Last year, we did 48. Wow.

Despite the growing economic downturn, people find satisfaction in bringing joy to children they will never meet. I'm always humbled and inspired by when working with the Magi Project.

And one last random thought.....

A pithy quote The Baseball Guy found the other day.

I wish my imaginary friends would quit arguing with the voices in my head.

Snort. Snicker. Giggle. Why do I resemble that remark?

Coming up....

Beth from Being Beth sent me photos of her creative space...The Cave. Stay tuned. I'll be posting those very shortly.

Wow, I've missed you all. I'm delighted to be back. Thanks for visiting Creative Soul.

Monday, October 6, 2008


What can I say? See that little tree?
We planted this tree as a skinny broomstick in our very empty backyard within the first year of moving here. It grew healthy and big, obviously happy.
Three years ago, we noticed it was yellower than we liked, a bad sign. Two years ago, an arborist confirmed our fears. What we had purchased as a Shumard Red Oak was not. It was a cousin, a close hybrid, but still enough different to hate our nasty alkaline clay soils.

The bad news~it was never going to get better.

We chickened out on taking it out last year. How do you gear up to take out the biggest tree in your yard? And such a pretty shaped one, at that. All summer, we enjoyed the shade of this tree.
Finally, we knew we had to do it and do it quick before we chickened out again.
Some of the rings were a half an inch thick.
Then, of course, came the Homeschool Physical Education Class--teenaged weight lifting.
And....teenaged tree mushing....

I hate taking out trees.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Creative Space


Where do you meet your muse?

Do you have a studio or a designated area for your creative endeavors or do you work where ever?

Sweet P over at Coffee Time Quilt Studio is inspiring me with a recent post. Hop over and take a look at her pretty quilt studio. It will make you want to tidy and make fresh at your place.

The chair pictured above is my writing chair. A view out the window of flowers and birds is essential to my writing. I do a LOT of staring out that window and thinking. The joy of writing is that sitting and staring are valuable creative activities.

My quilting area is not fit for photos yet. I'll work on it and show you some time soon. As for my gardening...well, look out the window.

I'd love to see where you work and why it is special to you. Can you take me on a tour?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn Clean Sweep Challenge ~ Welcome Home Spaces


There's something about fall that makes me want to clean, tidy, and decorate. I love the colors of the season for one thing. All those warm terra cottas, soft khakis, and rich greens are my colors. Add a dash of purple and I'm a happy gal. During this season, I'm also getting ready to hibernate for the winter. Nothing is more pleasant than a comfy, cozy cave for the winter.

With nine weeks until Thanksgiving, I've devised a declutter, clean sweep, make ready plan for me to follow. The key to this is dividing the house into sections and working on one section a week. Hopefully, I'll have a delightfully pretty house for the holidays. Won't that be fun?

Join me if you want. I'd love the company and encouragement. If you have tips or advice, I'm all ears. The hardest part for me will be eluding the call of the garden. The weather is so fine right now.

This week, I'm focusing on the Welcome Home spaces. The areas where we enter or leave our house. The front porch and entry way. The back door and porch. The garage entrance where we go in and out 50% of the time. The goal is to declutter, clean, and freshen. Then, when we enter our own homes, we'll feel that sense of peace and joy that comes from being home.

I'll post some before and after photos later this week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Happy Fall, y'all!

Fall is a favorite around here. The thermometer climbs down from its summer high perch, the sun pours mellow, golden light every afternoon, and all the plants burst into joyful bloom. Early autumn in Texas is a time of growth and renewal.

As the seasons change, I feel the urge to declutter, make tidy, rearrange and decorate my home, garden, and life. I'm taking scissors to my schedule. Sweeping old priorities into the trash. Rearranging my commitments. Continually searching for the activities which give the greatest pleasure, meaning, and purpose to my life, creative or otherwise.'s growth and renewal going in your creative life? What goals are up for review? What projects are taking their place centerstage? What new or old thing is charging your battery like never before?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rain on the Roof


Ike brushed by us last Saturday stirring the trees with his rainy breath. While he threw his temper tantrum outside, I cozied up in my yellow quilting area and played.

I started this lap quilt last spring specifically to refresh my skills. Previously, I had pieced the top, then sandwiched it with batting and a backing which required a lot of brain power. Basting came next.

Finally, it came time for the actual quilting. At first, the plan had been to machine quilt. Never done that before and couldn't quite figure out how to adjust my machine to make it work. Because I was cocooning in my yellow room with rain on the roof, I didn't want to take time to call my quiltin' sis-in-law for direction. Instead, up came the small quilt frame I have and out came the thimble and needle for hand quilting.

What a great decision.

A marathon of great chick flicks accompanied me on TV...can you go wrong with 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'Working Girl', or 'What a Woman Wants'?

I have at least a third of the quilt done. My stitches are not as small as they could be, but I worked on uniformity. This quilt is just for me. Practice, yes, but also to snuggle under on the couch during the gray days of winter. The fabric photographs blue, but it is really a deep, rich purple.

The afternoon proved the benefits of hand work as therapy. I felt sooooooo great.

Now, someone explain to me about the cat-fabric connection. All I have to do is lay out whatever I'm working on and little Rascal is there. This photo was taken approximately 30 seconds after the fabric went on the frame.
My memory is full of a long line of sewing enthusiasts cats. Desi, the cat of my teen years loved paper patterns.

Rain, cats, and quilting. It was a good day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Creativity as Therapy

Photobucket Image Hosting

A few days ago, I found an article which discussed a link between what our hands do and a happy place in our brain. In other words, doing something skillful and useful with our hands sends an 'atta girl' to a part of our brain which, in turn, turns on seratonin, our favorite feel good hormone.

One of the points of the article was that in our modern, push button, touch screen, digital, microwave world, we don't DO enough to trigger this pleasure response. This, they hypothosize, is one of the reasons depression is on the rise in our world. Modern man doesn't take up tools to plow a field or chop wood to heat his home. Modern woman tosses laundry in the machine instead of getting physical feedback from scrubbing each shirt. (I'm happy enough about that, too, by the way.) One of the ways the authors suggested we cope was through crafting and art.

In other words, the act of hands-on creating makes you feel great. Creating something to delight your soul only reinforces the pleasure. The physical act of creating--handling fabric, cropping photos, molding clay, or picking up a paint brush is enough to begin to trigger this pleasure response.

The next time you decide to scrapbook, quilt, garden, needlepoint, cook, make soap, photograph, paint a wall or a canvas, sketch in your journal, or play with words on paper, you are investing in your own well being. Think of the dollars you are saving by not going to a therapist! Go ahead, invest in shiny, new tools, buy more fabric for your stash, stock up on any and all creative supplies. Remember, its for your own good, not to mention the well being of your family. (And more fun than doing laundry on a rock.)