Gift #786: Happy March

“Walking in a winter wonderland”…  wait, that’s wrong isn’t it?  It’s March, not December?  Well, someone forgot to tell winter.

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We went to sleep in a snowy February and awoke to a snowy March.  So much snow!  I didn’t get out all day, except for the time spent digging out.  We already had several inches, and received 8-9″ Sat and Sunday.  So in some places now we have over a foot.

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The hydrangea said she has enough snow.  It was lovely to be homebound and just watch the fluffy snow come falling down.  Such a day calls for hot chocolate, popcorn, movie, and a crackling fire.  I don’t often have a full day at home, so I did lots of crafting – making cards and working on some new jewelry pieces.  And knitting.  A fair bit of time was spent staring out the window, taking pictures, and marveling at the beauty of fresh snowfall.

Precious are the moments that cause us to slow down and appreciate the gifts that God surrounds us with in His love.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #785: February Fox

One fine day Fox was busy cleaning his den when suddenly his attention was arrested by a sense of something just outside his home.  His eyes brightened and his whiskers quivered with anticipation.  It was here – the moment he had waited for all winter was here at last!  “Spring!” he shouted as he ran out the door, “Spring, where are you?”  Fox looked in the nearby cave – “Are you in here?” he called?  imageAll he heard was his echo.  He dug under the rocks.  “Spring, are you under here?”  He peered through hollow logs, he gazed high up in the tree tops.  “Spring are you hiding up there?”  Each year Fox and his elusive friend played this game of hide-and-seek.  He asked the Beavers if they had seen Spring go by.  No, they had been busy fishing.  The Field Mice hadn’t seen Spring either.  “Wasn’t it too early?”  they asked.  Fox traveled the whole length of the forest searching and calling for Spring, but received no answer.  Tired and hungry from his travels, Fox sat down to rest in a snow-covered meadow.  He twitched his ears, listening for the sound of Spring’s voice in the trees.  Slowly his eyes drooped closed.  Then Fox was aroused by a joyful noise all around him.  He gazed in wonder at the meadow, now clothed in tender green grass.  Warm breezes caressed him and the trees waved their leafy branches at him, beckoning him to join in the celebration.  Fox danced with the trees as flowers blossomed under his feet.  Soft pink buds sprang up everywhere, emitting a lovely perfume.  “Oh Spring” Fox breathed, “How beautiful you are!”  Squirrels and rabbits picked flowers and wove them into crowns for the forest residents to wear.  They laughed with the nearby river in delirious joy at Spring’s arrival.  “Spring, Spring, Spring” said Fox, slowly aware he was muttering to himself.  He opened his eyes and shook himself, wonderingly.  It was cold, but the snow had retreated off the majority of the meadow and the trees seemed greener.  At his feet was growing a bouquet of tiny pink flowers that Fox was quite sure was not there when he laid down.  “Why Spring” he said, “There you are – I see you now!”  With a little laugh he carefully picked the flowers and brought them home to put in a vase by his bed.  He knew tomorrow there would be more.

Today’s post comes courtesy of my calendar this year.  It is a selection of wildlife prints by Vikki Chu.  I loved the February Fox and was inspired to create some jewelry pieces based on the artwork.  And of course Fox needs a story.  Here’s the necklace I made.

image I’m most pleased with how it turned out and I was able to make everything with supplies I had on hand (which is rather a rare occurrence).  Sleeping Fox lies surrounded by vintage pink glass flowers and leaf/flower brass dangles.  A new technique I learned in making this necklace is painting metal charms with acrylic paints.  I really like the effect , especially when I wiped away some of the paint to give a distressed, aged feel to the pieces.

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I also made matching earrings and bracelet, incorporating the flowers from the necklace, along with pearls and painted foliage.  I’ve worn the pieces several times already as we’ve looked together for signs of Spring’s arrival.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #784: February Artist

It’s time for our monthly artist feature.  We are at the end of February and I’m excited to be moving into March, a month of transition into spring.  I love being able to live in an area that experiences four distinct seasons.  It’s a great blessing to travel the year in the rhythm of the ancient promise – “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen 8:22)  In today’s paintings we’ll see evidence of  winter melting into spring. 

I mentioned last month that through this year I would have special posts dedicated to the artwork of Marjolein Bastin.  As in January’s posts, the artwork posted here are from her calendars (released by Hallmark) from several years ago. 

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This scene is typical of what I can see from my back windows.  The few pots that are left outside year round are nearly all covered in snow.  Large flocks of starlings are a common sight, as are the little wrens that hop around the deck looking for tasty morsels.

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I like this watercolor because of the way the little bird is shown in a variety of poses.  Paired with the berries and flowers, this composition is a balanced collage of a world on the cusp of spring.

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This is the scene that will soon be unfolding in my backyard.  During the spring months, bluebirds flit about and make their homes in the woods behind the house.  I love catching a flash of bright blue as they fly by.  Now quite honestly, I’m not sure why this was chosen for a February scene – it is not remotely winter-like.  But perhaps that was the point.  It reminds the viewer of what is coming and gives a delirious jolt of joy to an otherwise ordinary day.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #783: Winter Birds

About a year and half ago my beloved Canon Elph camera ceased functioning and I was rather heartbroken about it.  Since then I’ve mostly relied on my ipad, but I have wanted to replace my camera so as to take better wildlife photos.   After some conversation with a blog friend, I settled on one and it arrived minutes before I left for Spring Mill.   I was really happy it came because there was lots of bird activity and I took quite a few pictures.  I’ve whittled them down to the highlights so you can share in the action.

One of the benefits of winter is that it’s easier to see birds roosting in the trees.

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This dove was sitting outside the dining room one morning during breakfast.  They keep feeders out below the windows which attracts a goodly number of hopeful visitors.  It is delightful to get a table near the window so you can see them while you eat.

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On the first drive we embarked on Saturday morning, it was super foggy and started snowing again.  We crossed over the lake and mist was rising over the water.  Flocks of geese were crossing over and a large water bird was looking for some breakfast.  It may be a crane.  I like the way the tree trunks are reflected in the lake.

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One of my favorite moments on the trip was when we came upon a flock of robins in some berry bushes.  They were furiously beating their wings and trying to eat all the berries they could find.  Then some were busy conducting a “leaf dance” where they fling dried leaves up in the air.  Others were busy playing chase.  I was able to snap this photo of one resting in the trees overhead.

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These crows were definitely up to no good.  They were cawing and calling to each other.  When I took this picture, one had just flown over to the other and I’m willing to bet they were planning a practical joke on some unsuspecting geese.

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I think this is my favorite photo.  I had tried all weekend to get a picture of a cardinal and most of my attempts had come out blurry.  This handsome male stopped by for a visit during the last drive through of the park.  I love the way his bright red plumage contrasts so brilliantly against the grey tree trunk and withered leaves.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of these beautiful flying jewels.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #782: Spring beginnings

Can you see spring hiding beneath the snow?

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No, I can’t either.  But it is there.  Deep in the dark soil, energy that the plant has stored in its root system is slowly being converted into the makings of fresh leaves and flowers.  These plants have been responding to changes in the environment that are so slight as to be imperceptible to us.  Unbeknown to our senses, spring has in fact been occurring in these plants for quite a few weeks.  They don’t look like much now, but in a few more weeks the results of all those tiny changes will be on display for us to see – they will be unrecognizable in their glory compared to their appearance now.

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The slowness of spring’s awakening is a great encouragement.  Just as I am impatient for spring to come, I also can be very impatient with how slow I am to change.  I’m easily discouraged when I don’t see immediate, dramatic growth in my life.  I long for God’s character to be clearly reflected in my heart, but all to often I just see how short I fall.  But like the plants, change happens slowly – deep in the heart – as truth soaks in and change my mindset – one tiny thought at a time.  It’s hidden from view and most of the time, it happens below the radar of my perception.  I know spring is coming because it is a promise, not because I can see it.  I know my heart is being changed into Christ’s likeness because it is also a promise.  I often cannot feel or see the change, but it is happening.

 

One of my favorite verses in the Bible says “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”  Zech 4:10   God loves small beginnings and gradual change.  It’s how He delights to work – in the changing of the seasons and in the heart as well.

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Today, take a moment to rejoice over the small beginnings all around you.  Each one is an ordinary miracle in the making.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

 

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Gift #781: Winter retreat

About this time every year I reach official “Stir-crazy” status and must find relief in a weekend trip.  Last year, it was a trip to Cinci.  This year I went to Spring Mill State Park for a winter vacation with my parents.  It’s my favorite place, and although I’ve not seen all of my state, I’m sure it is also the most beautiful.  I thought it would be a perfect winter get-away so arrangements were made last fall and I eagerly waited for our trip.  Spring Mill was perfect.  Carpeted in fresh snow, it made for blissfully peaceful surroundings.

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We watched it start snowing Friday evening whilst ensconced in the Inn.  And it snowed, and snowed…. Saturday morning saw a world reborn under 5″ of snow.  And still it drifted down in large, fluffy flakes.  All thoughts of hiking completely eroded at this point; my family enjoyed driving around the park and quick jaunts to some favorite places that were nearby.  My mom and I spent Saturday afternoon knitting away in the lobby.  A good part of Sunday morning was spent in similar capacity.  There’s a huge gas fireplace, which is a great place to draw up rocking chairs and enjoy a warm beverage.

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It was a wonderful, relaxing time.  The dreary monotonous landscape of winter was transformed into a wonderland.  It was like being in Narnia – we even had lampposts!

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I’ll share more pictures in the days to come.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #780: Sun and Sky

“Come let us go a-walking” said Sky one day to Sun                                                                And they both set off together on a planetary run                                                             

Romance soon took hold and they were never seen apart                                                        All creation blossomed in a radiance of heart                                                                   

Flowers turned up their faces; birds learned how to sigh                                              Humans marked time’s passing as they watched Sun dance with Sky

Sun would chase away the darkness, painting scenes of wonderment                                     In return, sweet Sky would give her kisses of the wind

When Sun was dim and weary, Sky would tuck her safe in bed                                           With blankets of pink and gold pulled o’er her tired head

Then in the early morning, Sky would lean in close and say                                                      “Arise my Love and come! Let us do it all again!”

-Sarah Raines, 2015

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May the promise of spring, blue sky, and warm sun bring you joy today.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #779: Dreaming of Spring

“Like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring” – Kahlil Gibran

The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart” – Anton Chekhov

These two quotes perfectly capture how my heart is experiencing spring fever in the midst of snow and highs in the teens.  I feel quite sure that green frilly things and tiny pink buds are supposed to unfurl tomorrow, but the plants in hibernation have no intention of awakening to this snowy scene.  Even the squirrels have disappeared into their snug homes and the stoic Canadian geese are starting to look irritable.  That’s why I was delighted to find this artwork featured on the Art Bead Scene Blog as the subject of their monthly challenge.

Amapolas-News of spring and other nature studies 1917Oh lovely, spring-saturated scene!  The painting is called Anapolas and was created by Edward Julius Detmold in 1913.   He and his twin brother Charles were born in London in 1883 and enjoyed painting wildlife scenes together.  The blog includes a history of the artist and readers are invited to design a piece of jewelry inspired by the painting.  The jewelry must incorporate an artbead, which is a bead made by hand by an independent designer.  I don’t participate in these challenges because (confession) I don’t have a supply of artbeads – most of my stash comes from craft stores.

However, I loved the lush romantic look of this painting, especially because of the subdued color scheme.  I really wanted to create something that captured the feel of the painting and indulged my desires for spring.  So I made my own artbeads and designed these earrings.

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I made the roses from clay.  I tinted the clay a pale rose color, but it looks more alabaster than pink and pulls from the creamy overtones in the painting.  I tied long lengths of hand-dyed sari ribbon to the rose.  I just acquired this ribbon for use in jewelry and love the subtle shading – rose, mauve, marsala, brown, and tints of green all combine in a luscious ball of ribbon.  And it matched perfectly with the colors in the painting.  To contribute to the romantic feel, I made short lengths of pearl chain and dangled them from the rose.  A brass butterfly charm fluttering about the ribbon and pearls is reminiscent of the butterflies seeking nectar from the poppies.    The earrings are quite a bit more dramatic than what I usually wear, so I’m not sure yet if I’ll ever don them in public.  But I did enjoy being able to reconstruct the colors, imagery, and feeling of this lovely painting into jewelry.

Surely Spring, you can’t be far away?

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #778: Souvenirs from Taos

I realized that I hadn’t shown you the treasures I brought back to remind me of the time I spent in Taos.  So I thought I’d share some pictures of the yarn I purchased while I was there.

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This lovely wool reflects the earthy browns, tan, and subdued greens that filled the landscape.  Even the adobe buildings echoed every shade of brown when sun and shade played on them.

image To reflect the blues of sky and mountains – this smokey blue-grey wool was perfect.  The name of the yarn is called “Rocky Mountain” which reminded me also of my beloved Rockies in Colorado.  The contrast of sky and rock was breathtaking in Taos.

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A yarn full of cream, tan, and grey perfectly captured the snow-covered mountains that kept us company as we left Taos.  It had been a long time since I’ve seen snow on mountains and this was a lovely treat.  Foggy sky, swirling snow softening the sharp edges of rock, dark ripples of grey river…. a dreamy landscape indeed.

All the yarns are milled in the US and hand-dyed by artists in the Taos area. Each is a unique work of art.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #777: Happy Heart Day

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you. ”  – Winnie the Pooh

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“Love is a force more formidable than any other.  It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could” –  Barbara de Angelis

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“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” – Erich Fromm

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindess” – Jeremiah 31:3

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 Blessings to you,

Sarah

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