Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 30 - Final Day of Art Every Day Month

Today marks the last day of "Art Every Day Month."  After making the miniature journal quilt and quilt block over the past couple of days, I made several window stars yesterday.  Out of the ones I made, I like this pattern the best:

I also made the same pattern, but in yellow like this star I made during the summer:

After making the window stars, the girls and I spent some time homeschooling.  They worked on map skills, math, handwriting/penmanship, human anatomy, spelling, reading, music (piano, singing), and religion.  For part of the day, I read aloud to them.  Finished reading "Doctor Doolittle" (which is Olivia's read aloud book) and continued working on "Johnny Tremain" (which is Sophia's read aloud book). 

Played the piano and continued trying to learn "Here I am Lord" which is a very meaningful song to my dad and mom since it was played/sung throughout their deacon training as well as during the ordination itself.  (This is one of many songs I'll play for them closer to Christmas when the girls and I go to their home and play music on the piano.  The girls also are going to sing a couple songs that they have been working on now since September.)  As I played it, I changed and eliminated notes in ways that played a bit easier.  My parents will not know that I made these changes, but the modifications definitely help when I play the piece.

After practicing the song, I made dinner and tried a new recipe.  Followed it very loosely and chose to modify it based on what I had on hand and what I thought would taste the best. 

On this final day of the "Art Every Day Month" challenge, I did some visual arts/crafts, teaching, music, and cooking - all of which required creativity.  During this past month, I have enjoyed (1) challenging myself to try new things this month; (2) re-visiting crafts and hobbies I once I enjoyed and hadn't been making time for recently; and (3) contuining doing creative activities I do on a regular basis.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29 - SEWvenire Quilt Block

SEWvenire Quilt Block
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
I made this for the SEWvenire Quilt Block swap on Swap-Bot. The goal was to create a quilt block that represented one's state.

By participating in the monthly swap, ultimately each participant will have enough blocks to make a quilt made from SEWvenire blocks sent to her from different states, maybe even different countries.

I'm combining the blocks that are sent to me with ones that I make (a copy of the quilt block I sent to someone else). So, eventually the quilt front will include half the blocks made by others and half by me.

The items written in fabric paint were required elements of the swap.

This quilt block is 12 1/2" square. The 9 different fabric pieces were ironed to the background fabric using iron-on adhesive. I then did free-motion quilting to secure the pieces to the quilt.

Once it was done, I added the written words and the yellow centers to the ladyslipper flowers with fabric paint. For the quilt block that I will be making for myself, I'm going to embroider the words since the background fabric I'm going to be using is lighter and I can trace some nice lettering.

Last month for the SEWvenire quilt block, I chose Minnesota's state bird (the loon). This month, it is the ladyslipper (Cypripedium reginae). Also known as the showy lady’s slipper or queen’s lady slipper, it was adopted as the state flower in 1902.

Found living in open fens, bogs, swamps, and damp woods where there is plenty of light, these flowers grow slowly, taking up to 16 years to produce their first flowers. They bloom in late June or early July. The plants live for up to 50 years and grow four feet tall.

A century ago, the flowers were a favorite adornment in rural church altars during the summer. Since 1925 this rare wildflower has been protected by state law (it is illegal to pick the flowers or to uproot or unearth the plants).

The flowers are difficult to find. Apparently there are some that can be found on the bog at Beckman Lake in Isanti County. May be worth the trip some summer to see what they look....particularly if there are ones that are 4 feet tall!

(As a side note...this was one way that I used my creativity today as part of the "Art Every Day Month" challenge.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November Journal Quilt

November Journal Quilt
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
Since January, I have been making monthly journal quilts.  It started when I saw a swap on Swap-Bot about doing a journal quilt each month.  It was suggested that the year-long project have a theme. 

For my quilts, I chose the theme “Happenings and Highlights.”  Ideally, each journal quilt will reflect positive things that happen during the month so it can be a tactile, quilted image that brings back happy memories and can be looked at when I need encouragement. 

This month, the quilt is about 9” x 12” and made from 15 different fabrics. All the fabrics are cotton. The embroidery floss and thread used is cotton.

The individual shapes all are ironed onto a base fabric (the orange piece of fabric).

The top of the grass is blanket-stitched onto the background, and the snood and beak are straight-stitched onto the turkey body. The remainder of the pieces are machine-stitched onto the backing.

This month I didn’t do a binding since they pose a perennial challenge. Instead, I made the quilt like a blanket without a binding.

I did some quilting on the orange background, sun, and grass. I used similar colors to the fabric (e.g., yellow quilting on the sun, orange quilting on the background, green for the grass) and kept the orange thread in the bobbin so the back of the quilt is one color.

Here are this month’s highlights and how they are represented in the quilt:

-Participated in “Art Every Day Month” – Found this challenge on the internet. The goal is to create something every day – whether it is a small project or a larger one. It could be something in the visual arts, music, photography, or writing…or it even could be being creative in the kitchen.

The point is that you carve some time each day for yourself to express yourself creatively.

I enjoyed doing embroidery and cross-stitched projects that I had in my “to do” bag for a very long time. This month, I completed many of those projects.

There are still more, but doing the ones I did has motivated me to keep working on them throughout the winter.

In the quilt, I did blanket-stitching and straight stitching by hand to represent Art Every Day Month.

- Completion of repairs in the mudroom and kitchen – Back in August, there was storm damage in the mudroom.

In November, the ceiling, closet, and floors were completely redone. This has been such a day-brightener as these are the first two rooms when one enters the home (living in an 1890’s farm home means coming into the “service” door versus the front door).

The acoustic tile ceiling was replaced with a wood ceiling to match the walls. It is so beautiful now to walk into the room – especially with the walls cleaned and sealed.

The windows all have trim around them.

The floors no longer have ripped linoleum (from being improperly installed nine years ago) and aren’t curling up at the edges. There’s new quarter round molding all around the edges of the floor.

While I was at it, I had the majority of the blinds re-strung in the house (the cats damaged them many years ago). Now they have new cord/string holders near the top of the blinds so that the cats can’t reach the cords and play and eat them.

It’s so simple – just having things in good working order and looking nice- that can lift one’s spirits. The sun – which I equate with cheerfulness and happiness – reflects these home improvements.

- Celebrated Sophia and Olivia’s Adoption Days - On November 26th, we celebrated Sophia’s 9th anniversary of her Adoption Day and on November 17th, we celebrated Olivia’s 7th anniversary of her Adoption Day.

The girls and I looked through their memory & gift bin; they touched (or tried on in Olivia’s case) the clothes they wore on the day they were adopted; I read them each stories I wrote about their early months and up until the time they came home to Minnesota; and we went out to eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

On Sophia’s Adoption Day, we also went to see the movie “Tangled” which both girls have wanted to see. It’s actually a very funny movie.

In the quilt, there are several pieces that represent the girls and their Adoption Days:

o blue feather (Olivia’s favorite color);

o cat feather (both the girls said they are thankful for the cats when asked what 5 things they are thankful for);

o green/purple swirl feather (to me, it reminds me of the ocean and the waves – we had to cross the ocean twice when adopting the girls – once in 2001 and then again in 2003);

o panda feather (the girls are both from China where we saw pandas. We all want to go back someday and also volunteer at the panda research institute which is about 3-4 hours from Olivia’s orphanage); and

o purple feather (Sophia’s favorite color).

- Held Thanksgiving Dinner – This year there were 17 people at Thanksgiving.

The girls and I did a lot of crafts and cooking to prepare for the big day. It was a lot of fun making things together and then seeing how everyone liked what we made at Thanksgiving.

The turkey on the quilt represents all the preparations and the actual celebration of Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 27 - Card Making

Purple Cards
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
This morning I made several sets of 3 inch by 3 inch cards. Each card is made from cardstock, the patterned paper is scrapbooking paper, the white round piece is hand-punched and then hand-stamped with the words "thank you" and a simple design.

The inside of the cards are blank so the person using them can write a personal message. I made 30 cards...4 I'm keeping and the rest are being sold in sets of six in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand.

This was another project that I've been wanting to do for some time. "Art Every Day Month" has given me the push to do something creative each day this month.

Here's another set I made for Christmas:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 26 - Bears in the Woods & Natural Play Toys

Bears in Woods
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
This morning I did a few projects that I've wanted to do for some time now.

First, I made a couple of pocket-size bears from felted wool sweaters, cotton fabric, and buttons. Everything is hand-embroidered (the bears' features, around the edges of the bears, and the fabric to the wool).

Then, I made a trio of gnomes from green, red, and white wool felt. The gnomes are stuffed with wool from sheep that I raised. The first set is for my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand. The second set is going to be for the nature table that I set up for the girls each month.

"Art Every Day Month" is wrapping up in three days. It's been fun to challenge myself to do something creative each day. Working with wool and embroidery are two things I enjoy doing. I particularly enjoy making natural toys - both for my daughters as well as for customers.

Having open-ended toys like the bears and gnomes along with some simple, natural "props" (like pine cones, gems, rocks, sticks, and colored wool) can open the door to hours of imaginative play. I'm always amazed at the stories and scenes the girls can create with natural elements such as the ones I've mentioned.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 25 - Name Place Holders

Name Place Holders
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
These are the name place holders that the girls and I made for the children's table for Thanksgiving. The idea came from the November 2004 issue of Family Fun magazine.

The base is made from polymer clay. Each foot took about 2 ounces of clay. They are formed into a triangular shape and then you cut (with a knife) triangular pieces out of the foot to create the "toes."

Before baking the feet, you place the fabric-coated wire into the foot so there's a hole (but not all the way through the foot). Bake as the package directs.

For the face and feathers, there's a pattern on the Family Fun magazine website. I used different scrapbook papers that I had on hand for the feathers. The face, beak, and snood are from construction paper.

Behind the beak is a tiny wood clothespin. After wrapping a fabric-covered wire (18 gauge...should have been 20 gauge, but there were none in stock at the store) through and around the clothespin, I hot-glued the clothespin onto the beak.

I made nametags for each of the children under ten years old, and cut them out. On Thanksgiving (today), I put them together. The children seemed to really like them.

(Made as part of "Art Every Day Month.")

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24 - Thanksgiving Turkey Luminaries

The girls and I made 15 luminaries for Thanksgiving. The idea came from Family Fun magazine a few years ago. Have wanted to make them, but never have made the time. With this month being "Art Every Day Month" I decided that I was going to take the time to make them.

To make the luminaries, take a small bowl and trace around the edge on the side that doesn't have the fold. Cut the circle out. From the circle, make an outline of a turkey body. (Family Fun has a pattern on their website, but the design is so simple I just sketched it myself.) Cut the turkey shapes out.

I used translucent paper for the white background and the triangular feathers (red, orange, gold, and yellow). This is the same paper I use for the window stars that I make in my shop, Harvest Moon by Hand.

On the white paper, cut out circles that are about 1/4" larger than the bowl. Glue this onto the paper bag to cover the hole. From the colored paper, cut trianges in various sizes. Using a glue stick, glue them onto the white paper. Then, glue the brown turkey body over the colorful feathers.

Place some sand and a tealight into each bag. Light the tealight to reveal the pattern and colors.

(Side note: Unfortunately, it was so cold and windy the luminaries couldn't be used outside on Thanksgiving, so I put 4 - out of the 15 we made - on the counter so the little kids could see them.) Maybe next year they'll be able to put outside.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 23 - Edible Pilgrim Hats

Pilgrim Hats
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
One of the goals of "Art Every Day Month" is to be creative each day. One of the ways I enjoy being creative is in the kitchen. With Thanksgiving coming up, I picked out some ideas of food that I wanted to make this year. This idea is from "Taste of Home" magazine.

The girls put the Keebler fudge stripe cookies on a plate and peeled the wrappings off the Reese peanut butter cups. I colored white frosting orange and helped Olivia put a bit of frosting on top of each candy. She pressed the candy onto the cookie and then added a miniature M&M to finish off the hat.

Simple. Quick. One dessert done...many more left to go!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 22 - Playing the Piano

Piano Being Tuned
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
One of the things I've been doing more of this month is playing the piano. My parents paid for ten years of lessons when I was in elementary school through high school. As a "thank you" this year for Christmas, I'm going to go to their home and play a little concert of music that includes holiday songs as well as songs they may remember me playing when I was growing up.

As I was going through my piano music the other day at their home, I came across a collection of music that my dad had put together for something that happend in August 1989. In it, there are many songs that I know are his favorite ones - including "Here I am Lord" which was sung at the ordination when he became a deacon.

My goal is to practice at least four days a week and learn "Here I am Lord" before the 20th of December. Around that time (a few days before Christmas), Sophia, Olivia, and I will surprise my parents with the "concert" with us all playing songs that we've learned and want to share with them.

As my father continues with his journey with Alzheimer's Disease, music is such a powerful tool for comfort; accessing memories and language; and to raise one's spirits. I'm hoping that the music that the girls and I share with him and my mom do all these things.

As a side note, the picture shows the inside of the piano when the top comes off. The piano was just tuned and it sounds a lot better.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 21 - Thanksgiving Window Stars

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, but Sophia, Olivia, and I have been preparing for Thanksgiving during this past week.

One of the projects I've been working on is creating a variety of stars to decorate the windows for Thanksgiving.

Here are six of the stars I made. They'll won't all be grouped together like this - they'll be spread throughout the first floor where everyone will be for Thanksgiving.

Today I also started making some of the food for Thursday. Some of it can be refrigerated...and one appetizer needed to be frozen and baked from the frozen state.

The days leading up to Thanksgiving always seem to go by so quickly. So, it's nice to have some of the things done already for Thanksgiving.

Crafting and making food were my ways of being creative today as part of "Art Every Day Month."

I am grateful for...

As I think back on the past week, I am grateful for...

:: Arriving back home safely today after sliding several times on ice-covered roads.
:: Creative parents who guided my daughters as they made different projects at the Waldorf School's annual holiday fair.  I'm extremely grateful to the three male volunteers who helped the girls make wooden spinners since woodworking is not a strength of mine!
:: Having the floors repaired and looking nice again after they were damaged by the storm in August as well as by five puppies that we fostered several years ago.
:: The Fare for All program which helps stretch the monthly food budget. 
:: Being able to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Olivia's adoption day!
:: Opportunities like 4-H and Brownies that the girls can participate in each month.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20 - Creativity in the Kitchen

Stuffed Shells
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
"Art Every Day Month" encourages people to be creative each day - whether it's in the visual arts, music, in the kitchen, writing, or photography. It's up to each participant.

So, today one of things I did was try a new recipe from "Family Fun" magazine. I needed something quick to prepare. The recipe called for pre-made, frozen meatballs. I chose to make and bake homemade meatballs instead.

While they were baking, I made the jumbo pasta shells and drained them.

I greased a 9x13 inch pan and put about a half cup of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of the pan.

Once the meatballs were done, I put one in the center of each jumbo pasta shell and placed it into the pan.

Had a few bits of pasta left, so those went on the top. Then, I put the rest of the spaghetti sauce on top of the shells. On 2/3 of the casserole, I put 2 cups of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; and the other 1/3 had dairy-free cheese so Sophia could eat it (she has a dairy allergy).

Served herb bubble bread with the pasta dish. Everyone's plate was clean which is a good sign. It's a very easy recipe to prepare and one that is worth repeating.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 19 - Thanksgiving Preparations

Racing Turkeys
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
Today, Sophia, Olivia, and I spent time preparing for Thanksgiving. One of the projects we worked on today was a game that I saw in "Family Fun" magazine a couple years ago.

The turkeys that are to the right are the six that will be "racing" down a game board that the girls and I are making. There are six columns (one per turkey) and 11 rows. The object of the game is to bet on the turkey that wins.

Someone takes 5 dice and shakes them. The numbers on the dice are called. The turkeys in the columns that correspond to the numbers move forward. The dice are shaken again and until a turkey crosses the finish line.

Not sure what the winner will get...candy corn, perhaps?

The turkeys are made from a cardboard tube (they're 1 1/2 inches tall). The faces, beaks, and snood are hand-drawn and cut from construction paper. The tail feathers are cut from scrapbooking paper.

Once we finish the game board, I'll post a picture of it. It's rather large...considering the size of each of the turkeys.

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 18 - Cross-Stitching, Quilting, and Bird Watching

This is another cross-stitch design I completed as part of "Art Every Day Month." It's about 2" x 2" - so it's pretty small. As I was cross-stitching, I looked at a note that I had written at the top of the pattern. It said, "Dad's Quilt."

My original intention was to incorporate some cross-stitched designs into a sensory and memory quilt I made for my dad for one of his Christmas presents. As I creating that quilt, I chose to focus only on photos that he selected since they had personal significance and represented important people or experiences he had in his life.

The other half of the squares of the quilt were different textures and colors of fabric. As he moves further along his journey with Alzheimer's Disease, have these photos and a soft, multi-textured quilt provides comfort to him. I know this because every time I see him he shows me the quilt and tells me how much he likes it. I am so happy I made the quilt for him. It was one of most meaningful ways I've shared my creativity with someone else.

So...back to the chickadee cross-stitch design. Although it didn't make it onto my father's quilt, I'm thinking about how to incorporate it into something else. The chickadee reminds me of one of the many types of birds that visit the bird feeders. Hearing them chirp and call to one another at the feeder always makes me smile.

After getting a seed or two, they quickly fly back to the big pine trees that around the house. I can hear them sing even in the trees. Such a tiny bird...but a loud, beautiful voice.

The chickadee also reminds me of the love my father has for birds and how he enjoys watching them from his front window and by the kitchen. Both he and my mom tell me almost every time I talk with them how much they enjoy seeing the birds line up in a row as they wait for their turn at the feeder.

I thought they were joking when they first told me this, but they aren't. Truly, the birds line up in a row on the deck rail and wait their turn. When one flies away, they each take a couple of hops forward and wait some more until they get up to the feeder and can eat.

Feeding and watching the birds brings so much joy. I'm so happy to be able to see so many different types of birds at the feeders throughout the year, but particularly during the winter when their vivid colors brighten the stark landscape.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 17 - Writing Short Stories

Today is the seventh anniversary of Olivia's adoption day.  She was adopted on November 17th, 2003, from Dianjiang Social Welfare Institute in Chongqing Province, China. 

Sophia, Me, and Olivia on November 17, 2003, in Chongqing, China
Sophia is almost 3 years old and Olivia is 10 months old

Sophia, Me, and Olivia  on November 17, 2010
Sophia is almost 10 years old and Olivia is almost 8 years old

A long time ago, I wrote a short story about her birth and adoption. The first part was fiction since no information about provided about her birth or birth family.  The only thing known is her birthdate since it was written on a piece of paper that was pinned to her jacket she wore when a person found her in the middle of the town square in a basket.

The second part of the story is fact and describes the day her pictures arrived via Fed Ex, the journey made to China, meeting Olivia for the first time, and bringing her home.

I typed and edited the story this morning before Olivia woke up.  As usual, she woke up early (about 7:00 a.m.) and asked what I was working on.  "Another story about someone very special."

"Who?" she asked.

"You.  Do you want to hear it?"


So, I read the story to her as she cuddled right next to me.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her smiling as I read the story.  When I was done, her response was:  "I love it! You have to read it to Sophia when she wakes up!"

My creative project as part of Art Every Day Month was editing and finally finishing the story I wanted to share with Olivia.  Now she has her own story that celebrates her adoption, and it is something she can read whenever she needs extra encouragement and a reminder how truly special she is.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 15-16 - Finishing Projects & Cross-Stitching

WIP - Two Ladybugs
Originally uploaded by Pictures by Ann
Completed another cross-stitch design as part of Art Every Day Month. This design is of two ladybugs. I'm not sure if I'm going to incorporate it into the journal quilt for the month or use it on handmade gift bags.

One thing I do know is that it has been nice to work on projects that have been sitting in my "to do" bag for a long time. These little cross-stitching designs don't take an awful lot of time...it's just a matter of taking the time to do something creative.

I finished the ladybug cross-stitch while rocking in a rocking chair at the local school library while Olivia was in a Brownies meeting. It was so quiet and peaceful - silent, really - in that library. To have even an hour of complete silence was refreshing.

After a day of attending a caregiver support group meeting/workshop in the morning, homeschooling in the afternoon, and listening to the linoleum being installed in the mudroom (due to water/storm damage)...silence was something I truly needed.

Such a simple thing...but one that is so difficult to get some days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 14 - Cross-Stitched Sheep and Red Stars

For "Art Every Day Month," I finished a little cross-stitched pattern of two sheep and flowers. It's small - only about 5 1/2" x 1 1/2". Now I need to figure out what I'm going to put it on. Have a variety of these small designs that I've wanted to do for some time now.

This one reminds me of sheep I use to have. It was so nice to see them grazing in the pasture - especially in the spring when the grass was so green and some of the wildflowers were in bloom.

I also made two miniature red window stars today. A customer asked me if I could make the window stars smaller. I said, "Yes, it shouldn't be a problem."

She picked two 16-point stars with a moderate amount of folding. After I did some math to reduce the patterns by one-third, the paper size for each point was the smallest I've ever worked with. Needless say, it was a challenge (a good one, though).

I glued the points together, and the results are here:

As a side note, if you look in the background of the picture, you'll see that it is still snowing. It has been snowing almost non-stop since Friday night. Friday night-Saturday, it was the wet-heavy kind of snow. Sunday, it is has been the lighter, big-flake type of snow.

By 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, the snow has stopped. Now it's time to dig out from over a foot of snow!

I am grateful for...

As I think back on the past week, I am grateful for...
:: Safely arriving at various places and back home during the first big snowstorm of the season.
:: Being able to donate four sweaters to the Sweaters for Veterans drive, and having something meaningful to remember on Veteran's Day.
:: Seeing how much joy the birds are bringing to my dad and mom (especially my dad) at the feeders I set up at their home.
:: Being able to play the piano.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Days 8-13 - Art Every Day Month

Six days have passed since my last posting about Art Every Day Month which runs from November 1-30th.  My goal is to do something creative every day this month - just as the challenge recommends.  For me, when I think of doing something creative, it is related to the visual arts - it's almost as if I need to see a final product to feel like I did something creative.

In reality, creativity is much more than that.  I think of different ways that I've been creative during the past six days:

- Wrote a three-page short story for a swap on Swap-Bot.  The directions were that you picked one of ten fortunes from fortune cookies and incorporated it into the story you wrote. One of the characters in the story had to say the fortune in her/his conversation.  The fortune I picked was: "You should buy something because you need it, not because it is on sale." 

The story was based on an experience when I was in college when I purchased an incredibly expensive and very fancy dress (which was on sale) for a night at the ballet.  To make a short story even shorter, my father - when he saw the dress - made me return it because it was, essentially, a waste of money. The story concludes:

However disappointed she was, he was right. It was a frivolous expense. “Okay…I’ll return it,” she said half-dejectedly and half-relieved. “Well, at least I won’t have to pay for it,” she thought to herself.

“Dad, will you at least take a couple of pictures of me in the dress so I can remember it?” she asked.

“Of course. I’ll get my camera. Why don’t you go into the living room and I’ll take some pictures of you in there. You do look pretty in the dress.”

“Thanks,” she said as she smiled. And, maybe that’s all that was important…just hearing her father say words she wanted to hear and to provide that gentle guidance he had done all through her childhood.

She knew that he was proud when she listened to him and followed his advice….and she was happy to have a father who helped her make good decisions. In the end, that was what truly mattered.

- Cooked dinners using what I had on hand rather than following any recipes.  I'm trying to clean out my cupboards and freezer by using ingredients that are available, rather than going out and purchasing more food.  Trying to pick 1-2 items from the freezer, an item or two from the refrigerator, and the balance from canned or boxes good in the cupboard was generally what I started with when I made the dinners.  Ended up with well-balanced meals that everyone enjoyed which was good. 

- Began work on another little cross-stitch piece.  This one has a couple of lambs and flowers.  Nothing complicated.  Am about half done, and should finish on Sunday.

- Made three more window stars for customers.  Got a customer order/request from another customer who wants me to make two 16-point window stars in 6-inch or smaller sizes.  Will work on those stars on Sunday.

This is one of the three window stars I made today.

- Organized the mudroom after it had been gutted and repaired.  Only put back the items that were needed.  The rest were either donated or thrown away.

- Worked with Sophia to repair the fence that a neighbor who lives about a quarter mile away ran into today during the major snow storm. It's a temporary repair that will hopefully stay in place until a fencing company fixes it.

The posts were pushed out of the ground when the car hit the fence.  Hopefully the fencing company will be able to permanently fix the fence this week.

Half of the double-grated apple tree fell under the weight of the wet-heavy snow today.  This was the side that was full of white blossoms in the spring. The other side had pink blossoms.

Friday, November 12, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 7 - Paper Collage & Card Making

This is the seventh day of the "Art Every Day Month" challenge. I made four greeting cards with various Sunbonnet Sue patterns.

Sunbonnet Sue is an old applique pattern used in quilting. After doing the much simpler paper-collage version of this pattern, I have a great appreciation for the level of work that went into the handmade quilts using this pattern.

This pattern has 8 pieces using 4 different colors/patterns of paper. The lines on the apron and the bluebird's features are hand-drawn with a black pen.

The paper for the apron and bow came from the front of a greeting card that I received that I thought was pretty. I like when I can reuse items and incorporate them into crafting.

I made some more greeting cards - another one with the same pattern as the pink Sunbonnet Sue; and then two others cards with different patterns.

The pattern with the bluebird is my favorite one. Two of the cards I sent to someone on Swap-Bot, and two of the cards I kept. 

Natural Kids: Interview with Harvest Moon by Hand!

This interview appeared on the Natural Kids blog on October 29th.  Click on this link to read the interview and see some pictures:

Natural Kids: Friday Feature with Harvest Moon by Hand!: "Today's interview is with Ann, of Harvest Moon by Hand. Enjoy! Tell us little about yourself! I am a stay-at-home mom who homeschools m..."

I am grateful for...

As I think back on the past week, I am grateful for...

:: Being able to do something creative each day - either something related to crafting, visual arts, cooking, or writing.
:: Having quite a few orders come in - including two custom orders.
:: Getting over a fever and flu quickly this week.
:: Spending a fun day on Saturday with Sophia and Olivia as we went to some craft shows and the library
:: Finding a gift card for a restaurant so the girls and I could go out to eat - a special treat on Saturday evening!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6 - Revisiting Cross-Stitching

As part of Art Every Day Month (during November), I made a 2"x2" cross-stitched design. It's one I've wanted to try for some time. Didn't know what it would look like since the design was in black and white.

I'm not sure how I'm going to use this yet...maybe use it to embellish a gift bag or fabric book cover?

I have a tote bag filled with baggies. In each baggie is a pattern, the embroidery floss needed to make the design, and Aida cloth (already cut into the proper size). I figure if I start with the small designs, like this one, I can make some significant progress during November in finishing projects that I haven't had the time for...until now. This month I'm MAKING the time.

It's nice to re-visit an old hobby I use to enjoy doing. Perhaps that's one of the side benefits of participating in Art Every Day Month.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 5 - Working with Wool

Yesterday, I finished all the window stars that I was making for customers and shifted focus this morning to wool.  If you've been following along, I'm doing the "Art Every Day Month" challege during November.  The goal is to do something creative each day - whether it be a new, smaller piece or working on a larger piece. 

This morning I spent the time needlefelting six wool felt balls.  Made them in the following colors:  red (2), orange, yellow, blue, and purple.  As the day moved along so quickly, I wanted to make sure I got them in the mail to the customer and forgot to take a picture.  However, here's one that is representative of the colors I used:

In picking out the colors of wool to use, I ended up organizing the wool bin.  Lots of beautiful, hand-dyed wool to work with...and to think of more things I can make with it.  Already have a few ideas for what to make to put in my shop as well as to keep and decorate the home. 

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual (inspired by soulemama). A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments.

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

*** *** ***

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4 - Construction and Creativity

Today marked a day filled with de-construction, construction, and creativity.  The first two were done by two local men who gutted the mudroom and re-constructed it...only a lot better than what was there before and more beautiful, safe, and with a greater eye to detail. 

Acoustic tiles, insulation, and light fixture removed from ceiling. 
Awaiting new insulation and wood ceiling to better match the walls.

Their work on the mudroom is to fix the mudroom as a result of storm damage to the home back in August.  I'm so happy with what they've done so far, and am excited to see what tomorrow brings when the new wood ceiling, walls, and trim around the windows are stained and sealed.

The creativity part - mentioned above - is what I've done for the Art Every Day Month challenge.  This marks Day 4 of what seems to be limited to only window star making.  As much as I enjoy making the window stars, it will be nice to shift my skills to other things I am looking forward to creating.

In addition to the orders for customers that I completed today (8 window stars), I created a new window star using one of my favorite patterns:
This time, rather than making it in a single color or combination of two colors, I did a rainbow. Normally, my rainbow stars have only one point per color. With this star, there are 16 points, so each color has two points. I'll be listing this one in my shop soon...plus making another one to keep and use at home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3 - Art Every Day Month

Today marks the third day that I'm creating something every day during November as part of the Art Every Day Month challenge.  As soon as I finish some more orders tomorrow, I'm going to start creating new items for the holidays. 

Olivia and I went through my files of ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas (and some of the special holidays we celebrate in between - like St. Lucia Day and Las Posadas).  I enjoyed seeing what she selected as projects that she wants to do - some are new ones, but others are ones that we do each year. 

There is something comforting for her about repeating activities each year.  As she looked at some of the ideas, it was fun to listen to what she remembers about each family tradition and activity. 

Today I created more stars.  These are images that I took from my shop.  I'm going to upload the pictures of the stars I created by the weekend.  I always like to see new combinations of stars that customers order.

Here are two stars that I created today:

I like the purple and white stars together.  The other color I think would look nice with these two stars is cobalt blue.  The trio of colors would be good to use after the holidays - to celebrate winter and the beginning of a new year.

Innkeeper Pie

This was a new recipe I tried. It was from a Hershey's cookbook. The base of the pie is homemade chocolate sauce/filling. The next layer is a cake. The top layers has chopped walnuts and some of the chocolate sauce.

This is one of the recipes that I'm including in the 52 Weeks of Baking Cooking cookbook I'm making for Sophia and Olivia.

Have been baking one more more recipes per week since April. I write the recipe, modifications I made, and feedback about the recipe from those who tried it along with a picture of the item and lessons learned during the week (as they relate to cooking/making the food).

Innkeeper Pie
(Hershey’s Homemade)

• 2/3 cup plus 3/4 cup sugar, divided
• 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
• 1 cup water
• 1/3 cup butter or margarine
• 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup shortening
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup chopped nuts
• SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM (recipe follows)


1. Prepare PASTRY CRUST. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Stir together 2/3 cup sugar and cocoa in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; add butter and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla, stirring until butter is melted. Set aside.

3. Stir together flour, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in small bowl; add shortening, milk and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Add egg; beat 2 minutes. Spoon batter into prepared crust. Stir chocolate mixture; gently pour over batter. Sprinkle nuts over top.

4. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Cool slightly; serve warm with SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM. 8 servings.

PASTRY CRUST  (Note: this is the one in the Hershey's cookbook.  I ended up using my Grandma's pie crust recipe)
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in medim bowl. Cut in shortening until pieces are size of small peas; sprinkle in water, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened. Roll dough into circle about 1/8 inch thick. Fit into 9-inch pie plate; flute edge.

SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM: Combine 1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl; beat until stiff.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2 - Art Every Day Month

I made two more window stars today as part of "Art Every Day Month."  These stars are going to customers.  The stars are made from a translucent paper that allows the sun's rays to shine through and reveal the pattern. 

What I enjoyed about creating the stars today is that it started me thinking about preparing for Thanksgiving.  After I make and send the window stars, it will be time to start creating some window stars for my home for the holidays.  Stars in orange, brown, and gold (like the one below) are the colors I'll decorate in for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 1 - Art Every Day Month

I joined "Art Every Day Month" that runs from November 1-30, 2010. My goal is to either create something from start-to-finish or work on a larger, creative project. 

Today, I created a window star for a customer.   This is the pattern she purchased, except in purple.  I will upload a picture of the purple window star by the weekend.