If you don’t mean it with every bone in your body, then just don’t say it. – Danielle LaPorte
I have learned over the years that beguiling promises, theatrical proclamations, and seductive statements of intent mean absolutely nothing without action, follow-through, stepping up to the plate, becoming a stakeholder, and/or demonstrating observable results. So please, no more talk – take action!
The starling is my darling, although I don’t much approve of its Habits. Proletarian bird, Nesting in holes and corners, making a mess, And sometimes dropping its eggs Just any old where – on the front lawn, for instance.
It thinks it can sing too. In springtime They are on every rooftop, or high bough, Or telegraph pole, blithering away Discords, with cliches picked up From the other melodists…
From The Starling by John Heath-Stubbs
Despite the snap of cold weather, the starlings were out in full force today perched on the branches of crabapple trees – mostly hidden by the burgeoning pink blossoms. It seemed as if they were rehearsing a mixture of musical numbers and squeaky songs for a springtime premiere. They put a smile on my face!
An art book is a museum without walls. – Andre Malraux
A while back, I came across a box of old art museum, music, and attraction ticket stubs from my various travels. I am so glad that I saved them as not only do they serve as touchstones for wonderful memories but because they are quite beautiful – miniature works of art in their own right! I took them out of the box and now use them as bookmarks in my art books. I have also done the same with airplane boarding passes, tram and train tickets.
During my travels last year, scan codes were used for all the attractions and I did not come home with a single ticket stub from any of the venues I visited! Photos, postcards, and maps will have to suffice but will not be the same as ticket stubs. Now I have no tangible connection to the time and place I visited nor do I have a beautiful work of art or photograph that was the best part of the art museum and attraction tickets.
My David Bowie concert ticket stub (above) reminds me of David Bowie performing on stage in a torrential downpour in Wellington, New Zealand! A scan code on my phone would not evoke that memory the same way the ticket stub does.
Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound and turn into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. – James Clear
I began the needlepoint project, pictured above, in October. It is entitled Hedgerow, from Elizabeth Bradley’s Natural History Collection. After I started working on it, I realized that it would take me about a year to complete due to the size of the canvas, the number of color changes (24 different colors of tapestry wool!), and the amount of time I had to devote to it – typically on a catch-as-catch-can approach. It usually takes me about three months to finish a needlepoint, so this one was a bit daunting by comparison. I knew I had to just get on with it. The needlepoint wasn’t going to get done by itself, but I wasn’t sure how to speed up the process.
However, last month I read James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, after which I decided to make some changes to my morning routine. I now get up an hour earlier every morning to work on my needlepoint. The needlepoint canvas and wool are laid out on the sofa ready for me to pick up in the morning so I am able to start working right away – no set-up time is required. This activity may or may not be accompanied by a podcast or new music stream or just thinking about how I am going to structure my day to get the tasks done on my to do list.
Although it is still early with my new habit formation, I have to report that I am thrilled with my progress! I only complete a tiny square of stitches each day but I can see that over the last few weeks these tiny squares are accumulating nicely and the textile will, indeed, be completed by the summer – probably four months earlier than my projected finish date! Yay! (I will still have to sew it into a pillow, but that is another story.)
I have so many textile, studio art, and home improvement projects in the works that I have been somewhat frustrated (more like overwhelmed) wondering how I am going to get them all done. This needlepoint project is only one positive data point, but I plan to apply this process to the other projects and I am looking forward to the results!
Horns are found on members of the Bovidae family, which includes species such as cows, sheep and goats. They differ from antlers because generally, both males and females have horns and they will continue to grow throughout the animal’s life…
Since horns stay with the animal its entire life, you can age an animal by the number of growth rings on its horns, just like you can age a tree in the same way! Edmonton & Area Land Trust
The young children in my family have ignited in me an interest in the animal kingdom. Other than dogs, I really have never taken the time to learn about animals, but now I am completely besotted by “all creatures great and small!”
Upcycle definition: reuse discarded objects or material in such as way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.
Last summer, I made a last minute purchase of a blouse to wear at a family celebration. Although I liked the fabric, it never really fit me properly despite my best tailoring efforts to salvage it. Yesterday, when I needed a black bag to go with an outfit, I thought it was time to put the blouse to a better use. I am happy with the result and thought I would share some upcycling and sewing tips:
Source the fabric for your project from your clothes or family and friends’ donation boxes, garage sales, and thrift stores. Look for the largest sizes to yield the most fabric yardage.
Be resourceful and don’t limit yourself to just clothing: wraps, and even sheets. drapes, and tablecloths can work well.
Find a simple sewing pattern that will be easy to modify. I had found Simplicity pattern #2685 on Etsy. It required more fabric than what I could harvest from the blouse, so I decided to use a different, but complementary, fabric from my quilt stash for the lining. The lining fabric I selected wasn’t quite wide enough, but by decreasing the size of the lining pleats by a little, I got it to fit.
Be creative by adding embellishments such as buttons and piping on the outside placard to make the bag truly your own. In this case, the fabric was so busy, I decided to eliminate the decorative placard all together.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match pattern pieces from the various styles within the pattern package to meet your needs. I usually lengthen the straps, add an interior pocket for my phone, and attach a carabiner for my car and house keys.
It’s not about the size of the boat, it’s about the motion of the ocean.
For years I have been convinced that a larger art studio would lead to a significant increase in my art work productivity. I wanted a room for a big easel or two, to be able to work on several mediums and projects at once, and have storage for all my art supplies. I couldn’t help comparing my space to all the amazing studios featured on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and in art magazines.
But then I saw wonderful greeting cards by the talented and prolific Canadian artist, Janet Hill, who works in a space “between her washer and her dryer.” Her works, be it art prints, stationery, cards, paper decorations, books, oil paintings, etc., are absolutely delightful and highly sought-after.
I have since come across many other artists who work in small spaces and are also very productive. It seems that a passion for, and commitment to, the creative effort trumps the size of the studio. I know I can always go outdoors or work at my dining room table, but I am truly grateful for having a dedicated space where I feel creative.
Clouded with snow The cold winds blow, And shrill on leafless bough The robin with its burning breast Alone sings now.
The rayless sun, Day’s journey done, Sheds its last ebbing light On fields in leagues of beauty spread Unearthly white.
Thick draws the dark, And spark by spark, The frost-fires kindle, and soon Over that sea of frozen foam Floats the white moon.
I have been noticing robins on the branches of fruit trees on my walks through the neighborhood. Although the robin is usually thought of as a harbinger of spring, the December robin makes a delightful Christmas herald!
“Before you can have a roaring fire, you’ve got to gather a good supply of wood.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I love this time of year! At the first snowfall, I start preparing to stay warm and cozy inside my house but also to make the most of the splendorous winter wonderland that awaits me outdoors. Below is my list of what I love to do during my favorite season:
1. Get out all my wool toques, mittens, and scarves, the down jacket, and the snow boots with the big snow cuffs.
2. Put my flannel sheets, down comforter, and wool mattress topper on my bed,
3. Walk through the woods and try to spot a hare or Snowy owl. Listen for the bird calls of a Blue Jay, Cardinal or Bohemian waxwing.
4. At sunset, as the temperature is dropping the fastest and the wind has fallen, listen to the rare crinkling sound of the ice crystals forming on a pond or gentle stream.
5. Before dinner, light a fire in the hearth. The sounds of the damper cranking open, match striking, and wood crackling – magical. The woodsmoke settles briefly in my hair and transports me to seasons past.
6. Change the recipes from the cool meals of summer to the warm, comfort meals of winter; stews, soups, and hot meat pies.
7. Round up my Christmas baking supplies: cookie cutters, plum pudding molds, mince tart tins, and best of all, my mother and grandmothers’ special recipes and ingredients.
8. Listen to the muffled sounds of the city when the snow falls, delight in watching the snowflakes dance as they descend from on high and feel them touch my face, make a snow angel, and jump off a snowbank.
9. Get my skates sharpened, check my snowshoe strings, and find the wax for my cross-country skiis.
10. Cozy up in front of the fire after dinner with a warm blanket, hot chocolate or apple cider, and significant other… or a romantic novel.
In addition, check out the beautiful YouTube channel featuring many winter videos from Jonna Jinton in Sweden.