Gift #890: Raindrops

Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby.   – Langston Hughes

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Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.  – John Ruskin

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Life is full of beauty.  Notice it.  Notice the bumblebee, the small child, the smiling faces.  Smell the rain and feel the wind.  Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dreams.  – Ashley Smith

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All photos taken at Lair o’ the Bear park in Denver.  It was a rare occurrence to hike in the rain.  Most of the time I would consider that to be a nuisance, but the raindrops coated all the flowers and leaves so that they were encrusted with living diamonds.  And mist hung in the trees like gauze; like they were pulling the sky down around their shoulders.  It was a beautiful and intimate hike – it felt like we were witnesses of the mountain bathing and clothing herself with verdant joy.  It was a beautiful experience I’ll always treasure.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Real Neat Blog Award

Something very exciting happened this week!  I was nominated for the “Real Neat Blog Award” by HummingbirdRedemption.  The award was created as a way for bloggers to nominate other blogs that they find inspiring and to introduce their readers to other great blogs.  Thank you Hummingbird for nominating me – that was very kind and thrilling!  Raphaela of HummingbirdRedemption is a beautiful artistic soul who writes of life and adventures from her home in Australia.  Her posts are thoughtful and inspiring and I encourage you to head over to her blog.  There is a badge that you can display on your blog, but I’m not techie enough to figure out how to do that.  Along with your nomination, you are to answer 7 questions and then nominate some of your favorite blogs in turn.  Here are my questions

1.  Favorite colour – That’s a hard one as I like most all colors except red.  If I absolutely had to only pick one, I’d go with green.

2.  Favorite place to visit – My previous home Denver.  However, I’d love to visit England – I’m pretty sure that once I’ve visited that would be a favorite too.

3.  Coffee or tea – Neither.  But I love apple cider and hot chocolate!

4.  Favorite quote – I have lots – my pinterest board is full of wonderful insights from others.  This one in particular is very dear to my heart and I teach it to myself daily.  “The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you.  He will  quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

5.  Favorite song –  Wow – these are hard questions!  I love many, many songs – how to choose?  I’d say my favorite sacred song is “In Christ Alone”.  My favorite secular song is “Fields of Gold”

6.  When did you start your blog and why did you start it? – I started my blog in May 2012 as a way to develop a heart of gratitude for the ordinary miracles that fill my days

7.  Are you nocturnal or do you have more energy during the day?  – I’m definitely a night owl

Thanks again HummingbirdRedemption for nominating me!  In turn I nominate the following blogs.

Forest Garden blogs about life from a gardener’s perspective.  Her posts are full of lovely photography, quotes, and thoughtful essays.  Just one visit and you’ll want to linger in her company for a long time.

Alphabet Story features a collection of witty short stories, poetry, and musings on life.  Her journeys through the alphabet lead to surprising and fun places.

Eliza Waters gives us a peak at her own paradise living on over 7 acres.  Her stunning photography and prose invite you to share in the pleasures of nature.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #879: Creative Imaginings

Whew!  What a week it has been!  Busy, long, and tiring and I’m sitting on my couch with a very long to-do list and no more energy.  I need to find a way to siphon off some of the energy of my 2-year old nephew!  He is so full of life and movement that it makes me jealous.  Why do children embrace life with such zest and excitement while adults just struggle to exist?  Life is hard and I think all of us envy the carefree nature of children at times.  I think that one of the differences that separates adults and children is that they spend the majority of time in play and adults don’t.  That could be why kids are so creative and energetic.  Playtime allows creativity to flourish; to imagine infinite possibilities is immensely freeing.  Purple hippopotamus.. you got it!  Flying to the moon…. no problem!  Finding time to play and imagine for an adult is hard work – but it’s important to make time to rejuvenate and fill our energy tanks with what makes us come alive.  This looks different for everyone, but for me it is in creating things.  I’m blessed to enjoy several hobbies that serve as an outlet for creativity – cards, jewelry, and knitting all bring me great pleasure.  In fact, just thinking about creating or looking at my supplies is enough to get me excited and work through whatever chore is in front of me so I can have time to play.

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One of the reasons this is so empowering for me is that it allows an opportunity to create a story with my crafting.  With each object I create, I like to imagine its place and history, creating an existence for it.  I love browsing moodboards on pinterest for this reason – each collection of items has a story or emotion that it evokes and I love how it draws you in and makes you feel a part of it.  Consequently, when I found a poster at a knitting store featuring these pictures, I was immediately enchanted.

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imageEach colorway of the collection of sock yarn had a different picture that captures the colors or feel of the yarn.  The line of yarns is called “Best Friends” and features a whimsical pairing of animals.

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I loved the way that the yarn was immediately attached to a fanciful story – courting penguins, birds flying against the moon, elephants on a swing… each of these scenes thrills the imagination and makes me want to create something that feels as enchanting and beautiful!

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What excites you and fills you with joy?  Make time for it this weekend.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #878: Musings over Burritos

Because I just got back from my trip late yesterday, there’s not much in the way of food.  So after work I stopped at Chipotle for a veggie burrito (yum!) to fortify myself for grocery shopping.  I love Chipotle for many reasons, not least of which is there yummy burritos, and they’re big enough to get two meals!  So lunch is already to go too!  I grabbed a bag to put the leftovers in so they wouldn’t make a mess in my car while I was getting groceries and they always have interesting  quotes or stories on their take-out bags.  Today’s was incredibly inspiration and thoughtful and I wanted to share it.

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A legend tells of a man who used to carry water every day to his village, using two large pitchers tied on either end of a piece of wood, which he placed across his shoulders.  One of the pitchers was older than the other and was full of small cracks; every time the man came back along the path to his house, half of the water was lost.  For two years, the man made the same journey.  The younger pitcher was always very proud of the way it did its work and was sure that it was up to the task for which it had been created, while the other pitcher was mortally ashamed that it could carry out only half its task, even though it knew that the cracks were the result of long years of work.  So ashamed was the old pitcher that, one day, while the man was preparing to fill it up with water from the well, it decided to speak with him. 

“I wish to apologize because, due to my age, you only manage t0 take home half the water you fill me with, and thus quench only half the thirst awaiting you in your house.”  The man smiled and said “When we go back, be sure to take a careful look at the path.”  The pitcher did as the man asked and noticed many flowers and plants growing along one side of the path.  “Do you see how much more beautiful nature is on your side of the road?” the man remarked.  “I knew you had cracks, but I decided to take advantage of them.  I sowed vegetables and flowers there, and you always watered them.  I’ve picked dozens of roses to decorate my house, and my children have had lettuce, cabbage, and onions to eat.  If you were not the way you are, I could never have done this.  We all, at some point grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.   – Paulo Coelho

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I love this parable for highlighting differences in focus.  Where the pitcher saw only its cracks and failures, the man saw an opportunity for a 2-mile garden to bring beauty and nourishment to his home.  We often focus on our own cracks, failures, our brokeness and inability to keep up the appearance of effectiveness.  But our Creator smiles at us and points only to the ground that our seeming weaknesses have watered.  He uses us in our cracked state because that allows Him to water around us.  Don’t be ashamed of your cracks – take joy and comfort that they are creating a garden all around you.  You may not be able to see it yet, but your influence and life have meaning and spill out in ripples you can’t even imagine.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #877: August Art Bead Scene Challenge

This month’s art chellenge from Art Bead Scene was very unique in style.

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It’s called Summer Thunder by Holsteen Klah, started in 1919, I think.  I’m having to type this on my iPad and it won’t let me move between webpages without losing what I’ve typed, so we’ll go on what I can from memory.  This artist specialized in weaving sacred sand paintings of the Navajo.  On first look it was far too red and stylized for my taste.  But after a while, I started to see other colors – cream, tan, dark purple, olive…. and more natural images of birds and branches started to emerge.   One of the things I appreciate about these challenges is it forces you to look at art you don’t particularly care for and interpret it in a way that’s your own style.  That meant for me giving a nod to its Southwestern roots, but not make it overt.

For my art beads, I made several pendants and beads from clay.  I think it important to mention that I dislike red intensely, so it was difficult to find a shade that matched the painting and that I could tolerate.  I toned down the value of the red with brown to make a rusty clay, and mixed it with dark brown, cream, and a bit of yellow with a shimmer to it.  From there it was just a matter of deciding which pieces to use.

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This necklace came together quickly and is very simple.  I wanted the clay pendant to be the focal point, so I just added a few beads to the bottom.  While looking through my stash, I found this great toggle by Jill MacKay and it had a complementary southwest feel to it.  I made it the center of the design with the pendant attached below and strung it on some delicate brass chain.  I’m enjoying mixing bright silver with brass.

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I had another pendant that I wanted to use, and I worked that up with some leafy chain that seems to fit and a few smaller clay bead I made to match.  To complete the necklace, I added some charms in keeping with the imagery – a gunmetal bird and leaf and a silver rose drop.

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I made two clay drops that I wanted to use as earrings.  These form the main focal point and are accented with a tiny leaf.  I wired a bead cap to the top to make a flower and finished it off with s glass bead in the center and earring wires.  The earrings are doig double duty for Earrings Everyday blog challenge called We’re all Ears.  The photo inspiration for this month is Antelope Canyon in Arizona.  image

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I loved the pics we were given of the light streaming through the rock formations.  Just look at all those different colors!  This month was very heavy in Southwestern influence – it’s not a style I naturally gravitate towards but I enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone to create some interesting pieces.  I hope you enjoy them too.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #876: Road Trip

Today, very dark and early, I headed out on a road trip to visit my family.  15 hours later, i’m thankful to report that everyone arrived safely.  It rained most all the time, so I wasn’t able to get any pics of the scenery and today’s pictures are courtesy if a sunny afternoon in July.  (It’s what the sides of the road would have looked like had it not been pouring)

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For the most part I enjoy road trips.  I’m rarely the one driving, so I suspect that’s why I like them.  It’s especially nice if there’s interesting scenery.  But I also look forward to the long hours of listening to music and knitting.  I’m not able to read anymore because I get motion sick, but I can tolerate knitting pretty well.  And let me just share this bit of life wisdom which has been reinforced today.  Always, always bring more projects than you can do.  I strayed from this and only brought a few projects and, in spite of planning ahead, my main project for the day was a bust.  Although I already swatched and printed the instructions for my size, once I got going, I knew I was going to need a smaller needle to make it work.  I’ll need to get one tomorrow – the Walmart I stopped in didn’t have one.  Fortunately I had a spare project or my sanity would have snapped.

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Im looking forward to spending the next few days with lots of family… And dogs! Have a wonderful rest of the week!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #875: Woods in August

I was able to spend a bit of time in my favorite local park this weekend enjoying some companionship with the woods.  It was a lovely, restful respite and I’m very grateful to have forested parks to visit frequently.  I love scouring the forest floor for treasures – there’s always a myriad of beautiful miracles to be found there.  And then there’s the trees above and birds in the skies…. and being in the forest is I think quite nearly my favorite thing to do.  (Ok, to knit in the forest would be my absolute favorite – if I had to draw the line).

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This weekend the forest floor was resplendent in color and full of things to explore.   The last of the summer flowers are still bravely blooming.  Bees and other insects are busy storing up the last bit of nectar.

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Although we had been through a dry spell, there were still a few mushrooms bravely pushing up their little heads above the decayed leaves and bits of bark.

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A tiny visitor hopped by, but wasn’t particularly interested in chatting.  There’s a little toad camouflaged in there – can you see him?  He was skittish and rather camera-shy.

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Leftover remains of tree nuts litter the ground and remind me of comical owl faces.

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And then there were leaves….

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The signature of autumn is lightly traced in the veins of these leaves.  Summer’s grip is loosening and soon we’ll be seeing more of autumn’s colors leaking into the landscape.  As it’s my favorite time of year, that excites me!  But I don’t want it to come too soon… let us anticipate and thrill in the glory of a coming autumn.  I decorated my hat with a few leaves as I walked and will press them as a reminder of the way summer melts so gently into fall.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #874: Garden Surprise

After a busy week, I find myself not sure what to blog about and was browsing through my photos.  My indecision of a blogging topic is primarily because there are so many options that I’m not sure which to pick.  In fact, I still have post ideas from photos taken back in May that I’d still like to share.   I’ve settled on one of the more delightful surprises during my trip to Denver.  We had planned to visit a couple of new parks, one of which was in an area we hadn’t been to since we lived there and I was eager to see it again.  However, I think the park was under a cloaking spell, because we could not figure out how to get to the parking lot – roads were closed, places to park on the map weren’t really there… it was a mess.  So we stopped at Lookout Mountain Park to ask for directions.  Once we were there we decided we wanted to stay and explore the park that was one of our first memories of Denver.

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We spent several hours hiking some of the trails there and as we were coming back to the nature center, we stumbled upon a garden area.  And amongst the garden were these charming signs.  I have a deep and abiding passion for botanic and wildlife art, especially ones in the style of pencil sketches.

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I feel like I say that a lot on my blog – every post is something that I’m crazy about.  I hope it doesn’t sound insincere, but I do actually have so many interests and things I love, as I’m sure many people do.  There are so many things to do, places to go, and opportunities to experience.  It makes me dizzy!  I manage to maintain several hobbies on a fairly serious level, and am always entertaining thoughts of adding more.  High in my list of things I’d love to accomplish is learning to draw like these sketches.

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They are enchanting and whimsical.  Just look at the bear tasting a ripe berry!  It’s fantastic!

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Needless to say, with nearly 30 different signs, I was in heaven photographing them all and scenes of the garden.  It’s one of my favorite memories from the trip.

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And we learned more about our Rocky Mountain flora – we had seen these flowers that seemed similar, but were distinctly different colors – and we wondered if maybe they were different plants.  Turns out, it’s the same plant, but it starts off a deep blue color and once it’s been pollinated it turns a vibrant purple.  A-ha!  Mystery solved!  That’s why it always pays to read the signage.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of these beautiful little works of art.  That they were scattered about a mountain garden with bees buzzing and plants growing up them only added to their charm.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #873: Krohn Conservatory

While in Cincinnati, my mom and I had an opportunity to visit Krohn Conservatory.  We had been here once before a couple of years ago and enjoyed their gardens.  It quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Cinci upon its completion in 1933.  Nestled in Eden Park on Mt. Adams, it is now part of a cultural complex of parks and museums.

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We had returned there to visit the Art Museum, but it didn’t open till later in the morning, so we spent our extra time at the conservatory.  It was lovely to visit the gardens and the greenhouses again.  One of my favorite displays is the butterfly garden which wraps around the side and main entrance.

image It’s filled with bright wildflowers which attract loads of butterflies and bees.  Last time we were there we spent about half an hour photographing spectacular butterflies.  We didn’t spend quite so long there on this trip, but it was long enough to admire several swallowtails and other species.

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In a weird bit of twisted irony, the gardens are sponsored by an extermination company.  I’m not for sure how I feel about that – in general it tends to annoy me.  But I’m trying to find a good side in it (if you know of one, please share).

And there was a lovely surprise hiding in a nearby tree.

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Isn’t that a beautiful little nest?  It’s just perfect!  Gardens are comprised of miracle after miracle.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #872: Stampaway 2015

I spent a long wonderful weekend in Cincinnati, so I wasn’t blogging for a few days.  But today I thought I’d share some of the highlights of the trip.

IMG_0998Well, there’s the trip in a nutshell!  (Just kidding, there were other things too).  I went to Cinci for the Stampaway Rubber Stamp Convention.  This is a very exciting time since most of the vendors that come I only see once a year during this convention.  It’s chock full of stamps, supplies, samples, inspiration – everything!! The gentleman above is Tim Holtz, whose name is a legend in the stamping community.  He’s one of the premier designers of stamps and supplies and is in great demand.  He comes once every couple of years and I’ve been privileged to take a couple of his classes.  He has taught me so much about stamping (through the classes, demos, and mostly his blog) and more than that, he has inspired me to pursue beauty and curiosity.  I owe so much of my creative soul to his influence and guidance.  He wasn’t advertised as attending this year, but I turned the corner into the demo booth and there he was!

IMG_0994See the master at work!  Time stopped and I watched him for a long time, watching him weave magic over white pieces of paper as they turned into beautiful works of art.  The man is incredible!  I love watching his hands as he moved ink around the paper and stamps and adds embellishments.  He’s very giving with his time and experience and so any time you can spend in his company is well invested.  It was wonderful to see him again and be inspired all over again.  Just watching him makes my fingers itch to stamp, experiment, and play.

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I bought quite a few things at his booth – floral stamps, some nature rub-ons, metal dies for sitting out shapes, inks and paints, and … his new book!  The book is Compendium of Curiosities Vol III and is full of great techniques and projects.

And then I had my most precious moment of the convention…

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A personal conversation with Tim and he wrote an inscription in my book.  Now it’s a treasured keepsake and a reminder to explore curiosity.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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