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Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Word Weekend - Olives

The past few weekends have slipped away from me in this series. Blame the allure of spring weather. This time I have a page from my watercolor sketchbook - it started as a page to clean off my brush, but some of the colors inspired me to paint some of these delicious little gems. Too bad there aren't any in my house right now!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

A peek inside my sketchbook....Lilacs

Still smitten with the lilacs around here. This time, I'm preserving them in my art journal with a quick watercolor and ink sketch. Too bad I can't preserve the smell. Mmm.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring blossoms

Our poor yard is getting a facelift this spring, which means my poor body is getting a workout. There is lots of digging, dividing, trimming and transplanting going on around here! 

Several big hostas were divided to fill in naked areas around our deck. When we bought this house, there was one giant - and lonely - granddaddy hosta in the back yard. I've been dividing it over the years and now have over a dozen plants taken from the original! Hostas are so easy to grow and look great; they are my favorite thing to put in areas that need a little oomph. Can't wait to see what these guys look like when they've filled in a bit.

This huge spirea was planted right in front of our house door. You couldn't even see the door from the street! The branches grew out so quickly we were constantly hacking them back just to have room to walk into our house! A friend helped dig it out, then we pulled it out of the ground the rest of the way with a tow rope hooked to my van. I was worried it wouldn't survive the move, but it budded and looks great! Now it's in our back yard where we can actually see the lovely blooms. 



And oh - the lilacs! This was a true gift from God. I didn't know this bush was right by my kitchen window when we bought our house. Having moved to the South from Michigan, I missed the lilacs that are so common there each spring. Someone told me they didn't grow in the South - guess they were wrong!


The smell wafting into my kitchen is delicious!


But watch out for bumblebees before you decide to bury your nose for a whiff!




Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keep smiling!

A quick doodle for lettering practice. Warming up the watercolors for a wedding project today. I hope to squeeze some art time in between teaching school and soccer practice tonight!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bow ties for the Boys

There are a ton of projects lined up by my sewing machine! This cute little bow tie was one of four that I knocked out last week. Seriously, these are so quick and easy, they take just as long to sew together as they do to cut out.

To encourage my guys to wear a tie, some fun fabrics were in order. What 8 year old doesn't want to wear a Star Wars tie??



I used this pattern from It's Always Autumn. It's sized for boys/tweens, and was a snap to make. Since I used quilting cottons that already had some body to them, I skipped the interfacing. The one thing that wasn't mentioned in the pattern which I think is important is to lay out the pattern pieces on the bias. This will help the tie to lay better when you tie it. It took just under half a yard to make each one - a great way to use up some scraps of fabric.

Making these was addictive:


basic denim - wouldn't this look great with a bright plaid shirt?


 and tractors! But wait - this one has a secret -


- a secret identity! I sewed a contrasting fabric on the back of the ties, making it reversible! It's kind of like a mullet - party on one side, business on the other. Not that I would ever encourage a mullet. Some things need to stay in the '80s. 

I also made a red/white polka dot tie, but couldn't find it when I photographed the others. Later it turned up, tied around the neck of my son's giant stuffed penguin. Go figure. Hey, when nature gives you a built-in tuxedo, I guess you need a snazzy bow tie to go with it, right? 

A friend had a great tip for making the neck length adjustable: sew in a elastic strip that has buttonholes, like the ones that you find in the waistband of kids' jeans. I will have to try that next time.

If you don't know how to tie a bow tie, it's not hard at all! Much like tying your shoes, only with a bit of finesse. Even if you don't have boys, it's great to learn how - you can use the same method to tie those big bow sashes on the backs of little girls' dresses. 







Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Vintage pillowcase turned skirt

Vintage linens are a weak spot for me - I love the soft worn feel, the muted colors, florals (and more florals!). Whenever I'm in a thrift shop I always make sure I cruise by the linens section to see what treasures are to be found. If there's lace, it gets my attention! Pretty flowers and I'm bringing it home with me. I've used them to make PJ pants, quilts, baby dresses, and now a skirt.


I found this lovely pillowcase for a mere $2.00 and knew it was destined to become more than a shelf sitter. Lovely linens deserve so much more than to collect dust on a forgotten shelf!! There was a unique, centered motif on this one that caught my eye. At first I thought it'd be great for an apron, but later I changed my mind and decided a lightweight summer skirt would be perfect! It was so easy. Here's how I did it.

First I cut the pillowcase apart at the sides and trimmed off the wide band on the opening. This gave me two panels, the front and back of the skirt. The design is horizontally oriented - so this project is made with the pillowcase in "landscape" position. Guess my body is more landscape shaped than vertical! Really, I wanted to have a gathered elastic waist I needed the extra width to draw in (because this is a quick project, remember? No fussing with zippers!).




Side seams were sewn next, then the top folded down and stitched to form a 1" casing for elastic. I cut the trim off another pillowcase and sewed that to the bottom edge for a pretty lace hem. Last I pulled my elastic through to fit and voila! It's perfect for a spring tea party, don't you think?

The rest of the pillowcase that the lace edging was taken from is another vintage-rescue project in the works - this time it's ALL lace!. I'll show that to you soon! You'll love it!

Happy creating!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Grandma's hummers

Grandma loved hummingbirds - she would diligently fill her bird feeders everyday. She had to. There were so many of those ruby-throated gems visiting her kitchen window that they'd drink an entire feeder's contents in one day! I remember counting 20 of them darting, fighting for a turn at the perch. There was also an ancient trumpet vine climbing up some utility wires to the top of the telephone pole - another hummingbird favorite. Grandma's passed on now, and new owners are in the house...trumpet vine torn down and bird feeders removed. Kind of sad, but I can't help but smile and think of Grandma whenever I see a hummingbird.


I think Grandma would've enjoyed this painting!! It's my second attempt at getting everything right - sizes, colors, textures. I'm still figuring out how to translate what is in my head onto the canvas without getting sidetracked. :) 

An armful of hummingbird books came home with me from the library. I wanted to study their shape and coloring better. Did you know hummingbirds only live in the Americas? Lucky us! Most are in the tropics, but some range as far north as Alaska. And the fact I found most interesting: they cannot walk. Guess you don't need to walk much when you can dance in the air so beautifully!


Free spirited fuschia flowers - my other Grandma often had baskets of these hanging at her lake house. I had fun making the background textures: I stenciled paper doilies, stamped with corrugated cardboard, and made random dots with the end of my paint brush.


Ah, Grandma, this one's for you! (I got choked up writing that just now).
Don't you think it should hang next to the painting of Grandpa's tractor, Big Blue


I'll be leading a sip and paint style class tomorrow night featuring this painting and can't wait to see how my students do! Wish us luck!