Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back at 2013

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

This has been a remarkable for year for me.  I've experienced a lot of changes, and I realized as I was thinking about things this morning that much of the change has taken place in my own head.  It's been a year of introspection and reflecting on the past, and it has resulted in a lot of new understanding and growth. 

In some ways, because it's been a year of internal activity rather than outward processing, I feel like I've not got much to show for what I've accomplished this year.  The things that I've accomplished and am in the process of achieving aren't the things that show up in photos.  They are in my head and my heart and, I hope, in how I approach every day. 

Still, because I've enjoyed putting together a slide show of the year in pictures, when I sat down to see what I had pictures OF, I realized several significant things.  One is that I made huge strides in sketching and painting, and making that part of my daily life.  In fact, even though I didn't carry my camera around nearly as much as I have done in the past, I carried my sketchbook -- and I discovered in this slideshow process that my sketchbooks really have become a visual journal of what I have been doing.  Participating in some online painting classes from Jane LaFazio, Val Webb, Joanne Sharpe have inspired and taught me -- and painting daily for the "Every Day in May" challenge was a big piece of using painting to memorialize bits of daily life. 

It's also notable to me that although, for the most part, my family hates to have their pictures taken so I tend not to snap a lot of pictures of them, I do have sketches that remind me of family events that trigger wonderful memories for me.  Perhaps that's an incentive to learn to sketch people better during this coming year!

I also revived a long-held love for a looser (and messier) art journalling.  That has been a fun way to address some of the personal issues I've been thinking about.

So, all in all, it's been a good year.  Quiet, introspective, but really, solidly, good.  I didn't finish a lot of quilts, and did less sewing overall than I have in long time.  But I did a lot more painting, and a lot of reading, and a lot of time just enjoying being where I am right now. One of my goals for 2013 was to do something creative every day.   And I did.

I have faith that the coming year will bring peace and happiness.  I hope it does for you, too.  Happy New Year to you!
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Fun

I hope you all are basking in a glow of post-Christmas relaxation. I am spending the day by declaring it Pajama Day and hanging around with my friend Beth and Miss C reading, nibbling, and doing varieties of nothing. It's lovely.

But I thought I would share a very fun Christmassy experience from earlier in the week. In the town of Windsor- the next town south of mine-- they do an annual Charlie Brown Christmas Tree grove on the town green where various local group and individuals sponsor and decorate a tree which remains on display through New Year's Eve.

It really is beautiful. They even have a machine that spews out fake snow every night, with a big sign than says "Snow at 5:30 and 7:30 pm nightly!" (Which I figure would amuse the heck out of my friends in New England whose snow is not so conveniently scheduled.). Turns out the snow is made up or teeny soap bubbles but it looks very snowy and amuses the little kids and those of us grown-ups who are easily entertained.

I was with my good friend Beth and we had a good time strolling around looking at each tree. But one tree in particular had us doubled over with laughter.

Can you read this "ornament"? It says "what your doctor won't tell you about menopause." Hey, I want one of those for MY tree! We saw that the tree was sponsored by an OB/GYN who apparently specializes in hormonal issues. I don't know if you can tell in this shot, but there were also little (empty) tubes of progesterone decorating the tree. Because nothing says Christmas like hormonal ointments.

Goodness... I just realized that you can see another "ornament" that says "Breast Cancer." How... Ahem .... Nice. There were also laminated photos of the good doctor himself. Yep, a man. I'd like to think that this tree was an indication of a highly ironic sense of humor, but I wonder. In any event, it gave me and Beth a good burst of tears-rolling-down-our-faces laughter, which is more than you can hope for from a well-decorated Christmas tree.



Saturday, December 21, 2013


Using a lot of these:

Yep, a lingering cold. But at least they are Christmasy!


(Our chorus closed our holiday concerts with this very arrangement and I'm still singing it around the house. Beautiful!)


A whole lot of Hallmark holiday movies.  They're sappy but I love them.


 Lots to think about in this book.  I love her writing, as well as her approach to spirituality.


I am loving the Instrumental Holiday music channel for quiet evenings in front of the fire.


 I made a big pot of vegetable soup the other day -- with lots of red pepper flakes so the spiciness will clear up this cold!  Delicious!


 Having the tree and holiday decorations up.  So cheery and festive.  I love the holiday glow.

I hope you're "currently" enjoying the wonders of the season!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Joy

Oh, how I am enjoying this holiday season!  It feels like the first time in years where I have approached Christmas with genuine, deeply felt peace and enjoyment. It has felt so good to reconnect with the Christmas spirit I've not felt in a long time. 

So I'm love, love, loving our choral singing and am somewhat sad that this weekend will mark the last of the season's concerts.  A new choral director, with totally new energy and happiness and a fun approach to choral singing, has cheered and enlivened and inspired all of us.  I have started to feel like his arrival at chorus this season was a spiritual gift to me -- and I know others in the chorus are feeling the same way.  It has been lovely, a truly joyous experience.

And at home, I've been decorating with new pleasure -- yep, Bing and Rosemary and Danny in their White Christmas finery are out again -- and making things with happy exploration, and just enjoying evenings in front of the fireplace with Christmas music playing softly in the background.  I"m not sure why, but this year I'm loving having instrumental holiday music going.  And I thought I'd share some of my favorites:

Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas."  Is there any better instrumental holiday music?

This cd, "Holiday," is hammer dulcimer music by Mark Davis.  I heard it playing in a store long, long ago and loved the gentle sound.  It's festive and peaceful at the same time.
 All of Windham Hill's Winter Solstice cds are wonderful. 

John Fahey's guitar music is folksy and wonderful, another long-time favorite.  I have happy memories of ice-skating to this music late at night on an outdoor pond.   

Dave Koz's smooth jazz Christmas cd is another wonderful instrumental cd.  Feels like great music for a holiday cocktail party.  

And a wonderful discovery: Pandora.com's instrumental holiday radio channel. All sorts of new discoveries, right on your computer.  

I hope you are feeling holiday bliss right now, too!

Monday, December 02, 2013


Hello, blog friends!  Here it is December already and it seems that everyone around me is swinging into Christmas preparation in high gear.  Me, I'm puttering along but I'm enjoying this slide into the holiday season.

But look -- there's a quilt up there!  Miss C's beloved horseback riding teacher had a baby recently, so I made this for Baby Monica.  It's from a pattern called "My Song" and I can recommend it as a good project for large-ish scraps.  (You can get the pattern here, in case you fall in love with it as I did.)

This was my first experience using Minkee on the back of a quilt and it went smoothly.  There was a lot of drag during the quilting process -- I've read one of those Slider things on the quilt bed surface works well, or silicone spray.  But, having neither of those handy, I muscled my way through. And gosh, it's soft.  I took it as a compliment when Baby Monica immediately tried to suck on it. 

I swear I smell baby powder when I look at this quilt.  Is it just me?