"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

12 April 2012

Quote of the Week: Balance

Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That's its balance.

~ Osho


I am seeking more balance...

11 April 2012

Button Swap Blog Hop!

I'm super excited to be participating in The Button Swap Blog Hop hosted by Sweet bead Studio! I've been paired up with someone to swap buttons with, and am very lucky to be matched with Kalaya Steede, talented metalsmith and jewelry artisan and teacher. :) Kalaya has posted a *hint* of what she is sending me in the form of a blurred photo on her blog, so I am doing the same here! I have chosen a selection from my vintage button collection to inspire Kalaya. The photo gives a tiny hint, but not enough to ruin the surprise.



What happens next? We each receive our packages of surprise, hand-chosen buttons from our partners and must then create a brand new project featuring them. I've got something in mind, but I am waiting for my buttons from Kalaya (she handmade them!) to inspire me, and will see what happens. :)

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, check out Kalaya's beautiful works!



10 April 2012

On the Web: Here Little Birdie...



I. Love. Birds. I love watching them in the wild, learning their calls, looking at pictures, and hearing about bird encounters. I find such simple pleasure just closing my eyes and listening to the bird cacophony around my home, identifying those I know and appreciating those I don't. Just outside my window, I have created a mini feeding station among some pine trees where my kitty and I can watch for hours. Yesterday, within the span of an hour, I had eight different types of birds visit! :) It makes me so happy to have given these visitors a safe place to eat and mate and drink. It's a source of much joy.

For birdwatching on the Web, there are some incredible sites out there for bird and nature lovers. Here are my go-to sites for getting a birdy fix.


Websites and Facebook Pages:

"All About Birds": Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Warblers Call

WeLoveBirds.org

Outside My Window: WQED Bird Blog

Birds & Blooms Magazine


Favorite Live Cams:


Phoebe, a Hummingbird Nest Cam


Bald Eagle Nest

Falcon Cam in Pittsburgh

Great Blue Heron Nest


DIY Birding:


Make Your Own Feeders

Bird Photography Tips

Tips for a Bird-Friendly Backyard

Best Backyard Bird-Feeding Practices


Get Involved:

Pennsylvania eBird

Participate in NestWatch

Great Backyard Bird Count

Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat

09 April 2012

Handmade Bliss: Lil Fish Studios

Lisa Jordan of Lil Fish Studios is an artisan inspired by the earth and nature, texture, sustainability and the beauty in simplicity. Her lovingly felted textural embroidered stones and tiny felted landscape brooches soothe my spirit and evoke a quiet joy in my heart, as do the thoughts and observations featured on her blog. Whether sharing about growing, baking, family or creating, Lisa relishes in the small pleasures of the every day, reminding me to dwell in the tiniest of happinesses. It is our shared love of feeding the soul and DIY living that led me to follow her on the web, where I find her Facebook page and blog (I love her tutorials and her experiments with natural dyes) a source of wonderful daily inspiration.

Lil Fish Studio's work led me to stumble upon her via Etsy (she now sells mostly on Big Cartel). I was instantly charmed by her designs, which are beauteous, sweet, and evocative of a true appreciation of the expressions of life.





03 April 2012

Quote of the Week: I Carry Your Heart

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

~e.e. cummings, from "i carry your heart with me"

02 April 2012

Projects I'd Love to Make: In the Garden

With the early warmth and sunshine this year, everything is growing already! Thus, my gardening lust has begun just as early. :) With the need to wait until May to throw myself into planting flowers and veggies, I am indulging in planning fun garden projects instead. Here are some of the DIYs we are either planning or fantasizing about for this year:

PLANNING: We've got all of the materials for the pots below, and are on the hunt for some good pallets! :)








THINKING ABOUT IT:






FANTASIZING:



30 March 2012

29 March 2012

At the Machine Again

After months of being unable to sit and create, I was able to start some sewing projects this week! Working on some new bags for an upcoming show I am doing, the Craft-O-Tron All Fools Ball! this Sunday. This will be my first show since before the holidays, and only my second show since early last summer. I feel both nervous and excited!

To maximize time, I've adopted an assembly line approach to make a bunch of totes and pouches made entirely from vintage, antique and thrifted fabrics and trim (many of which I've found at Creative Reuse Pittsburgh). Almost all of my threads and zippers are recycled, too. Most of the fabrics have been hand dyed by moi. :)




Sooo, I start by choosing a fabric, cutting pieces, then laying out bits of embellishments to plan out the design- each one is original and one-of-a-kind. I do this for several bags at once, then iron all pieces and sort. Step two involves pinning and sewing the embellishments on the front panel of each bag. After sewing the front and back panels together, I get to any hand sewing of buttons or various delicate pieces onto the front. Next comes cutting, pinning and sewing straps. I cut and sew the lining, fit it inside the outer panels, then add the straps. Voila!




Hope you're able to come out and see my new goodies this weekend! Happy handmade, and happy spring!

27 March 2012

Quote of the Week: Happy

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

~ John Lennon

24 March 2012

Spring Showers on March Flowers

A walk in the rain on a Saturday morning...


















22 March 2012

Grounded

Lying on the grass last weekend, I felt inspired by being so close to the earth and the tiny microcosm that flourishes on its surface. I was charmed by the intricate veining of delicate leaf skeletons that had "survived" the winter and teeny, tiny newborn clovers. I felt the earth's solidity and weight, opened to it and trusted.




VISUALIZATION (I created this for one of my yoga classes, and have both used and taught it.):
Spread a blanket or yoga mat onto a stretch of grass or sand (or you may choose to use stretch out directly on the grass). Lie on your stomach against the earth. Find a comfortable position for your head and arms: arms at your side and resting either ear on the ground OR arms crossed under your head and resting either ear on your arms. Relax. Close your eyes.

Once you are comfortable, allow your breath to deepen slowly, naturally. Breathe into your belly first, then let the air move up into your chest. Naturally, the ground will change the way your breath expands into you. Notice this. When your deep breathing feels full and easy, take one last deep breath. Hold for a few seconds, then let all control go and allow the breath to flow out effortlessly. As you do this, release all tension from your muscles and feel your body melt into the ground. Let your breath be soft and natural now.

Bring your awareness to the gentleness of your relaxed breath, and how each inhale presses into the earth. With each exhale, feel the release of your muscles relaxing into the support of the earth beneath you. Feeling the earth cradling you, and allow yourself to open to the safety of this, your vulnerable heart trusting Mother Earth to hold you. Let go into the weight of the ground. Each breath out allows you to move more deeply into this sensation.

Move your awareness gently to the sounds that surround you. Hear the birds, the rustle of leaves in the breeze, the sound of water if nearby. Rest in this. Now guide your awareness to your skin. Is the sun warming you, or a breeze moving against your eyelashes? Feel your body where it touches the earth, the blanket or mat or grass beneath you. Rest in this. Next, notice the smells around you. Do you notice the scent of the sun on your skin, of blossoms in your garden, of the ocean, of fresh grass? Rest in this. Now return to the sensation of trusting the earth, feeling it support you. Breathe. Rest in this. Should your mind become distracted at any time, gently draw it back without judgment.

When you are ready, move outward, leading your awareness out of the meditative state. Deepen the breath slowly. Experience a deep sense of gratitude for the planet and the beauty it beholds. Open to it. Notice the quietness of your mind and the openness and warmth of your heart. Know that you can return to this place at any time. Breathe.










21 March 2012

Joy In the Little Things

Joy is making your own, with the help of the warm spring sunshine.


Making hibiscus sun tea.


Drying oregano from the garden.


Joy is hyacinths in three colors, heavy with sweet, musky scent.






Joy is noticing an explosion of sprouts of my favorite flower, Lily of the Valley- can't wait until they bloom!





Baby Clematis reaching skyward.

20 March 2012

Quote of the Week: Attuning to Nature

"When we attune to nature with sensitivity, we can see just how connected we are. We are always in relationship; we just rarely notice it. From this perspective, everything on this earth, from the spring rains that provide fresh drinking water to the warmth of the sun, is an open-hearted, generous offering."

~Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild:
Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

19 March 2012

Newest Crafty Haul

Stopped by Creative Reuse Pittsburgh and Wild Stuff Pop-Up Vintage Sale this weekend, and walked away with a haul of new fabrics and fun stuff! Hoping it all will kick my inspiration in the arse and get me in creating mode for the coming indie craft market season! :)



Feathers, leaves, florals, and some great fabrics for dyeing fun colors. :) Also random sewing bits to jazz up bags and pouches.



Vintage wooden thread spools to complete a sweet little project on my list from Minature Rhino.

15 March 2012

Spring

After a long winter turned inward, I open to the vibrance of spring with a bit of trepidation. My favorite season, one of awakening and rebirth, seems a little too bright and motion-filled this year. I welcome it still, through my fear.

Today I heard and saw a robin, my first of the year, singing strongly and happily, tail bobbing with each chirp. And although we've had our cardinal pair with us all winter long, one morning this week I heard the male sing for the first time since autumn. His call pierced the last of winter's cool air like the sun's rays, breaking through clouds and reaching to my struggling spirit.

Sharing some photos:


I cut some of our just-born daffodils today to bring inside.



A tree of cascading flowers (a Sorrel/Sourwood/Lily of the Valley Tree) in our yard has already brought crowds of big, fat bumblebees to buzz through the blossoms.



We hung our new birdhouse from Etsy's Bacon Square Farm in the hopes of attracting a happy bird family this year.
A gift from my sister. Thanks, Lis.



An afternoon at the park. My niece Gigi is a dirt girl like me. :)