Simply Beautiful.

Every day we are faced with the choice- how can I make life better today? What can I say, do, make, give or be to make my life and the lives of others better. Here I want to focus on the positives of life in each day, in each moment. By choosing how we answer those questions in a positive way, we make the world a better place for every single one.

I am trying a new format starting today. I will be posting Studio project and shop updates on Mondays. Each Wednesday I will post a "World Wednesday" update with things found in nature, or other nature related topics. On Fridays I will post a tip or project I suggest. Hopefully it will be a fun and exciting change!

All images and texts are copyrighted, please contact me for permission to use anything you see here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Hold A Butterfly

For some reason my little one has been able to touch butterflies since she was a tiny baby.  She would reach out her shaking, chubby little hand and they would just sit there, poised on a flower and let her pet their wings.  I was fascinated by her luck- I certainly could not get away with it!  I guess it's another one of those times when animals can sense the true intention and age of another being.  After several summers though, we have come up with a way for anyone of any age to pet butterflies.  If you can slip your finger up under the butterfly, next to their feet you are much more likely to have contact with them than if you come straight at their backs.  The butterflies don't seem as likely to fly off when you slip up beside and under them.  You can see in the last picture that my daughter has slid her finger up under the the back edge of the butterfly's wings.  She was able to touch the underside of the wings, and then the tops.  It's as if they just think it's another part of a flower that's brushing up against them.  You can also get a butterfly or bee to crawl onto a flower you are holding and pull them up for a closer look.  I did this in the first picture and actually walked around with my guest for a couple of minutes!  It was really amazing!   By being calm and smooth, and coming up below the wings, kids of all ages can touch a butterfly!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wall Pockets

In my house we are first and foremost collectors of books.  I love them-I cannot read enough.  I squeeze in a moment any time I can.  While my little one was an infant one of the only ways I stayed sane was by reading while she nursed.  I read every night until I force myself to finally stop so that the light isn't bothering anyone else and so that I will be able to somehow function the next morning.  My girl is no different.  She has never really been one of those kids who has a favorite book which must be read and reread every night.  She likes a variety.  We had been storing all of the books in a cabinet which is also  doubles as our nightstand.  The spines were the only things visible.  This is really a problem for a not-quite-reading-yet child.  When she wanted to pick out her own books (every night) or surprise us (almost every night) there were struggles.  I turned a slightly deaf ear to many nights of polite hinting from both of my other family members.  Finally after pulling out every single book for the third night in a row none of us could take it any more.  The next day LB (short for LadyBug) and I got to work on the pockets.  I was inspired by the pockets in a couple of sources- Amanda Blake Soule's Handmade Home.  I wish I had actually followed any pattern to be honest- so learn from my mistakes my friends!  I left some space, a lot of give in each pocket thinking that I would need room for all of the books. I ended up putting bias tape across the tops of each pocket and reeling them in and then wrapping them around a button to control the tension.  This worked really well.  I used a double thickness of cotton fabric for the backing, while the pockets were a single thickness.  The wall hanging itself would just not stay spread out while holding the books.  It was droopy and really ineffective.  I ended up using large decorative tacks to attach the edges of the backing fabric to the wall at studs.  Now it's perfect!  LB can see all of her book covers with minimal shuffling.  We had more, so much more than the pockets could contain.  For these I put a few taller books in the shelves we created from two cardboard boxes.  They are holding up wonderfully well and not actually tilting as my camera somehow suggests here.  The Wump World was her favorite as we made this last week, so our attempts to draw the Wumps' world are featured on the middle pocket.  We used permanent markers and pens and had a blast.  Have to say that was probably my favorite part!  The whole thing's hung from a large river birch branch I promise to photograph and include in the next post.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ready for Fall!

I will admit I am so ready for fall!  I am enjoying the summer, it's true- the sun, the swimming, walking and playing is always fun.  Since I work in crochet very often though, I look forward to the seasons where I can wear or use most of the things I make for myself and my family.  I'm inspired by the thought of breezes pushing the leaves around in the fall while I begin to wear the sweaters, hats and gloves begun last spring.  That will be lovely!  I will be creating new items and listing more things for sale too.  Check me out on Etsy or Ebay!  Soon I will be offering new patterns as well.  Yay!  I hope you are enjoying your days and looking forward to fall too!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Family Project: Build a Fairy House

On such a lovely day there a few better projects than building a fairy house together!  My little one and I were outside yesterday and our thoughts wandered all around.  "It feels like fall to me today," I mused, the breeze pulling through our hair and trying to clear out our forming fairy home.  This led to a great discussion about the seasons, how each one feels and how we feel differently in each season.  My girl used to only dream of summer, with a two week break for snow.  Now we've decided to love every season an all that it brings.  We feel the hint of fall here already, in those breezes, in the frenzy for school and push to get those last things done before summer ends.  We loved building this fairy house.  We pushed sticks in a rough framework into the ground.  Then we layered leaf covered branches all over our basic frame.  We used rocks to create an entrance and leaves for a mat.  The bed was made of moss, with a leaf coverlet.  My favorite part just might be the bowl of gumballs lovingly picked for defense against any sort of hawk attack. (According to Tinkerbell movies hawks are the enemies of fairies and view them with "These might be tasty" looks.)  We had so much fun for free and really enjoyed creating such loveliness out of already beautiful things.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Outdoor Learning

What I learned outside today:

* If you wait to long to enjoy something it will disappear.  Hopefully it will do so slowly, as was the case for this surprise gorgeous rust colored sunflower.  I have been saying for the past two days that I had to take a picture while it was still intact, floating its lovely petals to wow anyone lucky enough to walk (or mostly fly by).  Today a few petals were already gone, but man what a color.

*We can all do with a little airbrushing.  I will admit to cleaning the very first picture up a bit.  There was a bit of crud on a few of the petals.  It made me think about how the little flecks of my day can be tiny, but big enough to effect the whole picture.  I can use the "blemish removal" tool in my photo program to simply mix all the edges with things around them in order to just erase what I don't want.  I want to do more of that during my day.  To pull the nice things over the edges of the not so nice until they just disappear and all I remember is the beautiful whole picture.

*  That some things are worth an extra stretch.  The final sunflower is over seven feet tall!  I had to just hold the camera up and hope for a good shot.  What I found surprised me!  What a perfectly lovely flower!  From the my lower level I couldn't see much, but there it is all the same, shining away. 

*One more from that last sunflower- be beautiful even when no one's  watching.  I don't mean this only in the usual way- the be nice and do good things even when no one's around, although that's certainly important.  I also mean be lovely, put some effort into yourself, how you dress, how you smell, how you look.  Even when you're at home you deserve to feel great about yourself.  That feeling starts on the inside.  If you show yourself that you are worth the luxury of wearing flattering clothing and taking care of yourself you'll feel great!

Not bad for a nice sweltering day in August...not bad! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Best and Worst of Self Employment

Pictures: Free time for your feet to take you to the nearest water!  Time to be with your babies! One of my husband's pieces from one of his two jobs as an artist making copper pieces and jewelry.

The best and worst things about being self employed are ironically one and the same.  You are able to schedule your own time and your own hours to a great extent.  It's probably pretty obvious why this rates the 'best' title.  My husband is the primary breadwinner in this family and he has been self employed since before our little girl was born.  Thanks to that fact he attended every pregnancy doctor visit and every child check-up with our daughter since.  Having him around for all of these seemingly small, but really important things has been great for all of us.  Being able to work hard from the early morning until mid-afternoon and then deciding to go for a boat ride and swim as a family rocks too, I have to admit!  The downside to being self-employed is that you have to set your own hours. This usually is a bummer as well, because your boss can be kind of a jerk. You can't sit still and enjoy a breath when you know you could be doing a million things to get ahead, or more likely catch up at work.  You constantly have to choose between those parts of your whole life that need attention, without the aid of physical distance from work to help you.  Even though I am very new to the business world and it cannot yet be the main focus of my day, I still feel this pull strongly.  I seem to be always choosing on an hourly basis if not more often who gets my full attention.  Does my daughter play beside me as I list something for sale or do we go for a walk?  Do I really push to get some writing done, or do I spend time with my exhausted husband?  It's tough.  When it comes down to it though, you have decide each time what's best for your whole family.  Sometimes that answer is 'I need to be Mom right now.'  Sometimes it's 'I need to put some effort into something for me to get a little space.'  It can be hard to juggle it all.  It can also be worth it for sure!  I just have to remember how my actions will affect me right now, in the short term, and in the long term.  Of course often I just go by what I'm feeling in the moment.  That's really okay too.  It's good to follow your feelings, they're usually pretty telling. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Slip Cover Your Couch for Free

I have a micro-fiber couch.  It's the kind of couch you sit and sink deep down into. It's kind of an evil couch, refusing to let go of you and tormenting you all day as you think of the plushness to come....but I digress.  While it's truly dreamy and comfortable it does wear a little easily.  I was worried the seats would become worn and the fabric thin.  I came up with the easiest, cheapest slip cover imaginable.  I happened to have a few twin size fitted sheets.  I had some laying around that I couldn't get rid of even though I no longer have that size bed.  I also love to buy twin sheets, or any sheets on sales at stores.  If you think about it, you can get a good amount of fabric for a really low price if you hit it right.  You can get four or more yards from sheets and pay less than $10.  I bought one of the sheets in the following pictures at the end of the season last Spring for $3.99.  That's less than a dollar a yard for fleece!!  Fitted sheets make excellent slip covers for you cushions because all you really have to do is fold it around your seat cushions and the elastic will help keep it in place.  I like to push the fabric into the creases between the cushions, but that's just my preference.  It's that simple, and it couldn't be easier to redecorate for the seasons.  The first pictures show a flannel sheet I use in the Summer and Fall.  The second is a ridiculously soft fleece I use in the Winter and Spring.  You could use holiday sheets as well.  So no sew easy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to Make It Rain

How do you make it rain?  Give up all hope of it happening.  Just stop worrying about it.  That's the advice in so many positive thinking/ "The Secret" style books.  They suggest, or at least many do, that you think and ask and focus on having the thing you want, then you just let it go.  That's worked for me so many times it's no longer just coincidence for me.  I do wish it happened for the really big things like a house...maybe someday.  IF I can stop thinking about it.  It has looked like rain for days now.  We've even had thunder and lightening.  Two nights ago we were close, but we watched a hummer of a storm slip down the other side of the river.  Then the air was so thick you could eat it slowly for the last two days.  Yesterday I was 80, "Yep, rain today, fell it." Nope.  Today I gave up.  I saw that haze and felt the air dripping off of me and just smiled.  "It's just plain thick out here,"was all I would commit to.  No pressure.  Then it rained this evening.  We didn't get tons, but every little bit helps.  So maybe good things come to those who wait, or maybe they come to those who forget.  Probably they come to those who decide to be happy with whichever way it goes, those who decide not to worry and just let things be.  Hope I can be that person more often! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lovely Dress and Romantic Scarf

Here are a couple of projects I've been working on this past week and weekend.  At the top is a lovely dress from Liberty of London for Target.  I added the crochet border at the bottom to dress it up a bit and make it more unique.  An added bonus is that the slight weight and structure of that border make it stay swirled out and full- like dancing as you walk!  The hooded scarf  is one of my favorite things!  I think it looks romantic and mysterious.  I'm currently working on a red one in my own pattern.  It will feature a thicker crochet and fuller hood.  I plan to make the pattern available for sale as well. That's a quick peek at my week!