"I started photographing my domestic world and writing not just about what I had made,
but why I made it, examining the thoughts that accompany creativity and the act of making."
Jane Brocket from The Gentle Art of Domesticity p. 189 UK edition

Sunday, June 14, 2020

2020 Crafting in May and June

"Come, all of you who are gifted craftsmen.  Construct everything that the LORD has commanded:" Exodus 35:10 NLT

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It invites the six-year-old artist within me who dreams of being a gifted craftsman to express her primitive art style with simple stitches, splashes of paint, singing words, and planted plants...like these strawberry plants I inherited from the former owner of my unit.  I transplanted them from the garden by my front door to the back patio...and I am thrilled the plants have some blossoms on them now!  Just think.  The blossoms might grow into luscious, juicy red strawberries!

I was given this beautiful purple Clematis plant for Mother's Day and in the last few weeks, my youngest daughter has helped me purchase and plant two rectangular planters.

Besides the Clematis we planted some Sugar Snap pea plants, and Sweet Pea, Morning Glory, and mixed flower seeds.

Although I do not know the variety name of the rose bush in the front of the unit I live in I am grateful it is there and I am enjoying its blooms that have a delicate rose scent.  I wish you could smell the scent through your computer screen.  Do you have a rose bush near where you live?  When walking by rose bushes in my neighborhood I sometimes stop to sniff the blossoms~~~

Around Christmas, I made quite a few towel holders in red acrylic yarn.  Recently I had several folks ask me to make them in a different color.  One wanted theirs in beige so I made the holder below.  I only had a cotton blend yarn that works, but I do not like it as well as the acrylic because the cotton has less stretch and the stitches do not look as neat to me but the holder still holds a towel.

I almost did not show you this preemie baby blanket I am still working on once a week, because I thought I hadn't changed it much, but when I looked at the last photo of it I shared with you I realized I have made progress and added two colors.

In my mind's eye, I saw myself painting a botanically accurate view of a palm branch.  I thought I would try to paint a bird as well...but this is what I ended up with...totally different!

The realities of life can be quite a contrast to my artistic dreams and happily ever after convictions, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have to be constructive.  I currently am working more on listening to God and others and I want to learn about and act on more practical projects to promote love in the world around me...a grand opus, life long work of art, isn't it?

Gracie :-)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Crafting Words in Spring

Now as you drive or walk into our condominium community these two gorgeous Dogwood trees are on the right.  Coming from my unit this is the angle I see across the street and headed toward the main roadway. Currently, from any angle, they inspire me to celebrate Spring, perhaps especially so during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

This year the tree pollen seems especially abundant.  I am grateful to not suffer severe allergies, and my heart goes out to those who do.  Since our officials have instructed us to stay at home unless we need to participate in essential services I have just been going out once a week for groceries.  I have run the windshield wipers to clear the windshield from an impressive amount of tree pollen before leaving the carport.

I wonder if wearing a face mask helps protect us from some of the irritation the tree pollen can cause.  To cooperate with the CDC recommendations for social distancing and wearing face masks and gloves at appropriate times I went online and saw that someone had crocheted a mask.  While I did not follow her pattern I did start my own effort and ended up crocheting this pocket and inserting two sheets of tightly woven cotton in the pocket.

However, I have not used it because before I finished the crocheted mask, a thoughtful industrious friend texted me that she and her husband were getting ready to drive to drop off the masks she had been making to a facility and she wondered if I would like one.  I was out on my patio texting "yes" when she and her husband drove up and stopped long enough for my friend to leap out of the car and hand me the mask while instructing me to wash it before using it because it had her germs on it. She would not let me pay for it.  She and her husband were so kind!

On another day a different friend picked up a head of iceberg lettuce for me at the store when she went because I had mentioned I was not able to find one to buy when I went to the store.  She and her husband dropped it off to me and would not let me pay for it. It was so kind of them!

My youngest daughter took this selfie of her and me keeping social distance in our church parking lot from our separate cars where we were dropping off donations for a rescue mission. Aside from going to the grocery store once a week it is the only trip I have taken since we are to aim to go out just for essential services.  I filled the gas tank in the minivan six weeks ago and the indicator on the gas gauge is still on full!  It is very strange to have only online services and meetings with those in our church fellowship, but I am grateful for the technology that makes our online fellowship possible.

 Spring is in full splendor as Tulips, Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendrons, and Daffodils bloom in the neighborhood.  I was able to buy these Petunias and Confetti flowers at the grocery store to plant in pots on the patio.  Growing plants are promising, perhaps especially so during this time when life is so guarded in many ways.

The rhythm of knitting this preemie blanket is restorative for me.  I have been knitting about an inch a week on Wednesday mornings while Zoom visiting online with some of the ladies in my baby blanket making group.  It is a joyous reunion to see each other online as we crochet and knit!

While it may not be accurate to say that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away, it seems like a yummy health-promoting practice to me.  For many months I have been gratefully enjoying an apple a day along with some almond butter.

 The Bleeding Heart flowers in the photo above popped up to the right of my front doorstep during the last week of March. I think they are beautiful and certainly aptly named because of the heart shape of the blossoms... with a lovely pouring out of life into our world for the Spring season.

In 2017 in my blog, I published this photo of two dear people in my life, my Uncle Arthur Bradstreet, and my niece Holly. My two older sisters and I were also there on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA visiting Uncle Arthur, my mom's younger brother.

 March 20, 2020, Uncle Arthur celebrated his one-hundredth birthday!  My older sister Margaret bought tickets for her and me and her two daughters to fly back to help him celebrate.  However, on March 13, 2020, my cousin let us know that even though Uncle Arthur was making a good recovery from a fall over a month earlier, the rehab facility where he was a patient, prohibited him from having any visitors or from going to a favorite family restaurant to celebrate because of the COVID - 19 pandemic, so we canceled our travel plans.

April 13, 2020, my cousin let us know that Uncle Arthur fell asleep in the afternoon and did not wake up here on earth...a gentle way to go to be with the Lord he loved. I am so grateful to have many loving memories of him.

 Only in his later years did I come to know that while serving in the military he had been assigned as a technician on the flight that flew over Hiroshima to photograph the horrific devastation of the nuclear bomb exploded there.  In 2017 he also told us that when they were young men my dad had helped him get a job in the Ayer Woolen Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when my dad managed a drum carder there.

When I was a child living with my family in Missouri and Uncle Arthur was living in Massachusetts it was a great family event to receive his many paged single-spaced typed letters that chronicled the interesting everyday events of he and his family. He spent many years working in the banking industry.  He collected Native American arts and crafts and books about Native Americans.  He was very musical and sang tenor solos at the Baptist church he regularly attended. He collected stamps.  He was a Boston Red Sox baseball fan!  He and Aunt Roberta traveled to northeast England to explore the area where our Bradstreet ancestors lived before they ventured to help establish New England in the mid-1600s.

As my mom and dad and then my husband and I moved back and forth across the United States Uncle Arthur and his family kept in contact with us.  This verse from a sympathy card captures some of what I feel for Uncle Arthur Bradstreet:

As some people 
journey through life,
they leave footprints -
of kindness and love,
courage and compassion,
joy and faith.
Even when they're gone,
the trail they've left behind
continues to inspire us.

On the south side of our condominium community, we can glimpse this pretty green space on the other side of a chainlink fence.  I held my iPhone above the fence to photograph this unobstructed peaceful view.

With the lens of the phone camera aimed low through one of the chainlink apertures, I crafted this view.  The Dandelions are over a foot tall!  While I have complained about Dandelions as weeds invading pretty green lawns, I have to admit that I also think that Dandelions are pretty, and my mom helped me appreciate that they have worth as well.  In early Spring she sometimes would go out and dig up Dandelions before they produced flowers.  She then took some of the leaves, washed them, and boiled them. She would eat the leaves and drink the water they were boiled in. Trained as a nurse she viewed it as a healthful "tonic." If she dug up the Dandelions early enough they had a mild flavor like spinach and the water they were boiled in did as well, but if the leaves were too mature they could be very bitter!  Yes, I tried eating the cooked greens and drinking the water they were boiled in, also, but I did not keep up my mother's Spring tradition as an adult, and I was amazed to see Dandelion leaves being sold in a grocery store many years later!

For worship art, our group facilitator gave us a prompt in an email, "ask God to show you what peace looks like and then listen..."  I thought of Mount Hood and the Scriptures "I look up to the mountains--- does my help come from there?  My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 NLT  Jesus said.  "I am leaving you with a gift--- peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid."  John 14:27 NLT 

Isn't it wonderful to be able to look up sometimes?


Friday, March 6, 2020

Early Spring Crafting

Welcome!  I'm so glad you stopped in for a visit and I hope you will leave a comment and let me know you were here.  February had some lovely sunny days and I was happy to see Mount Hood, near Portland, Oregon, peeking over the roof of my unit one day.  It looks tiny, but a few blocks away it is visually vast!  I don't understand the science behind the difference I see here and there.  I just love seeing Mt. Hood in all its snowy wonder and would love for you to see it in person if you haven't.

Bouquets of delightful cheery Daffodils like these at my neighbors are opening in the area around me.

The pretty purple Hyacinths by my front step are opening beautifully although I have not smelled them scenting the air yet.

These trees near where I park my car are beginning to beautifully bloom and I have been enjoying seeing other trees in the area around me fully displaying blooms of pink or white, promising Spring is coming.

My four Dianthus plants defied being frozen in their mid-sized clay pots on my patio this winter, and have been producing sweet-spicy scented blooms since last Spring!!!!  I currently enjoy this little posy of blooms balanced in a little clear jar on my kitchen windowsill.  Amazing!!!!

The facilitator of our once a month worship art group at church challenged us to choose a Bible verse about God as our Refuge and illustrate it.  I thought about the image of God hugging us in His embrace as a mother hen spreads her wings over her chicks.  That image prompted me to remember the chicken range on our research poultry farm when I was a child.  Little chicken coops dotted a fenced in field. They were closer to the ground and not solid wood like I painted, never-the-less whatever they actually looked like they were there so that someone could coax the chickens to huddle inside them at night to protect them from predators.  No baby chicks were ever out there although I painted in the lower right corner of the picture some primitive brown and yellow blobs that are meant to represent a mother hen with her wings outspread to her chicks. The process of meditating on God as my refuge, my Immanuel, with me in all my circumstances even if my pencil sketching, watercolor did not conform to the internal images I imagined, was humbling, comforting, leaving me ruefully smiling.

This past month, my stitching has been invested in five projects.  I added more rows to two blankets not pictured here.  The project on the left is my first attempt to make a provisional cast on for a sock that is to go on a 9-inch circular needle.  I looked at a YouTube video for instruction.  I started knitting another purple dishcloth and am closer to completing it than this photo shows.  Then the completed crocheted double thickness potholder on the right is my one little Ta-Dah!

This Oxalis (Shamrock) plant I purchased last Spring nearly expired.  I noted when reading my friend Teresa's posts that when her Oxalis plant was doing poorly she put it out on her patio to recover and it did! I tried similar treatment for my plant by putting my plant out on my patio in the summer. Can you see the plant's two little white flowers in this photo I took recently?  I like how this view highlights the pretty pink in the underside of the leaves as well.

How are you in the season of life you are in? 

I happened upon these promising words it is recorded Jesus spoke before his death and resurrection.  They encourage me, and I hope will encourage you.

““I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Gracie xx

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Colorful Cozy Crafting

Welcome!  I'm so glad you stopped by to visit.  Have you been involved in crafting?  Above is one of my recent crafting explorations.  When I was in third grade...more than 60 years ago...I was guided to focus on music rather art instruction.  While I am grateful for the music instruction I have had since then in clarinet, bassoon, piano, and vocal, I especially enjoy learning about drawing and watercolor painting now.  Once a month I usually meet with a small group of women to work on a worship art project.  Above is my interpretation of the recent project our facilitator designed.

While the season is winter in my part of the world, I have seen little snow and ice in the valley where I live near Portland, Oregon, to impair my crafting efforts. In fact, four of my hanging plants still have flowers on them and I have been thrilled to see hummingbirds visit them to drink from the blossoms.

Inside, my Oxalis plant, on the bottom left in this photo above, produces sweet little white blossoms and I am also enjoying viewing the white flower on the little white Pointsettia in the bottom right of the photo above.

During our chilly weather, I am especially enjoying knitting mostly at our church small group a little preemie sized blanket in acrylic yarn.

However, I am especially enjoying knitting at home more rows on the bulky Merino wool blanket I started years ago.  It is big enough now to provide me with significant warmth on our colder days.

While I still have a Christmasy jingle bell wreath on my front door, I am amazed at and enjoying viewing the pink blossoms on two hanging plants framing the jingle bell wreath. It was fun crafting this view to share with you.

And look what I spotted poking out of the earth nearby the front door... Hyacinths! Beyond the Hyacinths in the upper left of the photo above is a clump of Cala Lillies...they will be trumpeting the arrival of Spring soon in the weeks ahead...I type as a woman of faith!

A recent sunrise gave me the opportunity to craft a photo of it.  I used my iPhone 11 Pro to take the photo, cropped the photo on my laptop Macbook Pro and let it choose the glorious color intensity that reflects what I saw... an encouraging warming firey glow to enliven life from skies that had been perseverating in chilly gray for many days.

I hope you are enjoying happy times... will you share how you have been crafting your days?

Gracie ((hugs))

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Crafting Vision

Happy New Year!  Sunrises like this one I saw not long ago from my parking spot by the patio continue to excite my desire to be creative and craft!  Does the beauty of creation do the same for you?

Recently I was told that the women in the groups in our church who make baby blankets for babies in local NICUs have made over 1000 blankets over the last six years.  I love being a part of this project over the last four years and knowing that many families have been prayed for and blessed with tangible encouragement during a difficult time. Part of my vision for 2020 is to make more little blankets.

I envision completing this wave blanket which I am enjoying crocheting and then finishing a knitted blanket I started last year.

Dear friends sent me this puzzle that features yarn and cats and my youngest daughter and her husband did the major part of crafting the pieces together on Christmas afternoon. Working on putting together other puzzles is part of my crafting vision for 2020.  Do you enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles?

Finishing this and more potholders is also a part of my crafting vision for 2020.  It is my favorite style of potholder and fun to make and give as a practical gift.

I discovered this towel holder pattern last year and have enjoyed crocheting many of them as gifts.  While I have made many button fastened towel holders over the years, I think this is a brilliant pattern to keep regular hand towels on the rack.

You can find the free pattern to make the towel holders HERE. I used acrylic yarn, and find the design "handy" in every way, so envision making more in 2020.

On Tuesday mornings I plan to craft time reading individually with four children who are first or second or third graders. I plan to craft time with four women's groups, knitting, crocheting, or completing a Bible study or art-related projects...enjoying times of worship, times of fellowship with family and friends, visiting blogs and posting about my vision at least once a month if possible...and...stay focused from moment to moment with joy and gratitude or compassion and care as needs arise.

What is your vision for 2020?  Know that my prayer is that the Lord blesses you.

Gracie xx