Friday, May 25, 2007

Colored Pencil Artwork

We are fortunate to live within walking distance of a fishing pond and walking trail; and a five minute drive will take us to a bigger lake and recreational nature area. That gives our family the opportunity to make walking and nature observation a regular part of our homeschool experience. Sometimes we identify trees, birds, seed pods, or wildflowers. Last week my son caught a spotted trout with his hands, which he kept just long enough to examine for the purpose of drawing it and writing about it briefly in his nature notebook.

I keep a notebook alongside of my children, and find it to be a very worthwhile and absorbing pursuit. My artistic skills are w-a-y underdeveloped, and I would be too embarrassed to take an art class with other adults. But with kids, I can relax, learn right along with them and work on my skills without worry or fear.

I've seen a pattern develop as I look through the pages of my notebook: most of the drawings are flowers. Colored pencils are the media of choice for me, simply because they are so portable. And so, I decided to try to improve my art skills a little.

This book, Creating Radiant Flowers in Colored Pencil, came with me on my recent mini-vacation, just in case my husband and I had time to sit under a tree on a blanket. To my great delight, we did!! While the Preacher took a nap, I had an art lesson using the book as a guide. I worked all afternoon on a drawing of a parrot tulip, using a technique called burnishing. Because colored pencils are translucent, the colors can be layered with white in between layers.

Here is the result of my afternoon pursuit. Now this marks a real breakthrough for me, allowing adults to peek into my notebook!

I think I am becoming bolder as I launch into my 5th decade. Not only have I opened my notebook for view, but I also wore one of my vintage hats to church~~~something I have always wanted to do but felt too self conscious to actually carry out. You know what? It is fun to step out of the comfort zone once in a while!

Morning Joys

*Open windows and a cool breeze

*Birdsong concert upon awakening

*A good cup of coffee~~ Sumatran with half & half

*My faithful Bible waiting for me by the rocking chair

*Flowers on the table, pink peonies and lavender iris~ my favorite colors

*The absence of the low back pain that has plagued me for the past month

*Systematically opening the shades to allow the morning sunshine into the house

*The tactile pleasure of soft fur as I give the cat his morning belly rub

*Poetry, like this one:



I hear you, little bird,
Shouting a-swing above the broken wall.
Shout louder yet: no song can tell it all.
Sing to my soul in the deep, still wood:
'Tis wonderful beyond the wildest word:
I'd tell it, too, if I could.

Oft when the white, still dawn
Lifted the skies and pushed the hills apart,
I've felt it like a glory in my heart--
(The world's mysterious stir)
But had not throat like yours, my bird,
Nor such a listener.

~by Edwin Markham

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I've been blessed this last month with 2 short trips; and not-so-blessed that my nearly new iMac has been in the hospital for three weeks. Attempts to use the other 3 computers in the house have left me frustrated--do you know that feeling? It is like being in someone else's kitchen.

So I have been nesting instead of blogging. Springtime inspires home spruce-up activities for me, and it feels good to have accomplished a few things on my list:

*Planted a dozen caladium bulbs around the big tree in the front yard

*Interspersed zinnias in amongst the perennials in the flower garden

*Took out several clumps of day lilies and planted raspberries instead (Heritage and Latham)

*Took the day lilies to church and gave them a new home

*Added a climbing rose to the patio called "Joseph's Coat"

*Polished the wood. I've used lemon oil for years, but this time I tried "Method Wood for Good". It has an almond fragrance that I love.

*Tried to duplicate a wonderful salad I had at the Cheesecake Factory: dark greens (incl. spinach) , roasted asparagus, diced beets, sugared pecans, balsamic dressing, and goat cheese. To roast the asparagus, place the raw tips in a ziploc bag with a Tbsp. of olive oil and a smidge of salt. Shake to coat. Roast on baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 20 min, stirring several times. The asparagus is what makes this salad memorable!

*Also have been hooked on roasted cauliflower, made in the same way as the asparagus, but baked for a little longer. Vegetable candy!

*Made tons of chocolate-dipped strawberries.

*Tried my hand at an Asian dish from Gourmet magazine

*Removed the dark burgundy drapes from the family room, and replaced them with wispy sheers that let in a whole lot of light

*Threw away the tired mini blinds in one of the bathrooms and hung a crisp, white lace curtain instead

*Replaced nearly a dozen light bulbs in the house with energy efficient ones, and this time I spent a little more to get the full-spectrum bulbs. If you have never tried them, you will be amazed at the difference. Everything else seems yellow in comparison.

*Created a pretty little nook in the master bedroom by topping my sewing machine with a round piece of plywood, and covering it with a rich fabric tablecloth. I have it beside a floor lamp and my Grandma's antique rocking chair. Now my husband won't have to lug the sewing machine up from the basement every time I need to use it. And the bonus is that the skirt hides underneath a lot of books. I'm always looking for places to hide books!

Whew! It feels good to see the small accomplishments of a day add up to something significant when viewed as a list. I try to do something every day that I DON'T WANT TO DO. It is a good discipline for me.

I think the thing that was most satisfying was bringing more light into the home. Being a "light-keeper" is of significant importance in the home, isn't it? What a responsibility and a privilege homemakers have to influence their loved ones in such a way.

But I still don't do windows.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Millions of Strawberries


Marcia and I went over the curve,

Eating our way down

Jewels of strawberries we didn't deserve

Eating our way down.

Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted,

And over us the hot day fainted,

And we saw snakes,

And got scratched,

And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched

Small buds of berries,

Till we lay down--

Eating our way down--

And rolled in the berries like two little dogs,


In the late gold.

And gnats hummed,

And it was cold,

And home we went, home without a berry,

Painted red and brown,

Eating our way down.

~Genevieve Taggard


I must look like a "bag woman" on Sunday mornings when I leave for church. There is so much stuff to bring with me!

Bible. Check .

Book to share with my friend. Check.

Fishy crackers for the toddler class. Check.

Sign up sheet for the ladies' luncheon. Check.

Gift bag for baby shower following the service. Check.

One electric guitar and amplifier. Check.

Four Children. Check.


Not just any box of strawberries, either; this one was a super-sized, huge box of the precious jewels, meant for the baby shower luncheon. There was no need to worry; food abounded and the berries were not missed.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon. My daughter Artiste and I are spending a rare afternoon alone. She asks sweetly, "Shall we have some strawberries, Mom?"

Well, why not?

She put a couple on her plate, and a couple on mine. mmmmmmmmmmmmm..........

Pretty soon, our hands were sticky and our lips painted. We went back for more.

And more.

And more.

Lust overcame us for those jewels we didn't deserve, and we very much resembled those 2 little dogs rolling in the strawberry patch!

I will never forget the strawberry day we shared together, or the satisfied "smack" that Artiste emitted when she could consume no more. It is one of those snapshots a mother keeps inside her heart to remember on a rainy day.