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Posts tagged ‘creativity’

A Roll

It’s been a while since I’ve done any creative work. First one must dig out and put order into the space where creativity happens. There has been no shortage of projects placed in my hands in the last two months or more.

It was clean yesterday

First, here is one I finished for Christmas and forgot to photograph. My son and his wife really want to live at the beach so I made this panel up for them. They have no wall space left so it hangs in front of his desk.

Seating for two at the beach. I think it needs pressing from the shipping.

Many of us have found projects we no longer chose to do so the reasonable thing is to pass them on to someone who is more inclined to finish them. I have  fabric that I’m going to pass on to a quilting acquaintance who does quilts for Veterans. I like the word ‘finish’ and hoping that’s the word for our winter as well.

Another quilting friend gave me two sets of embroidered donkeys. Her heart was a little broken looking at them as her granddaughter thinks quilts are for old people and didn’t want one for her  baby boy. The joy of making something for her great-grandson was lost. So I will do my best to complete it and find someone that will cherish it. I did make a mistake right away by letting myself get distracted when trimming them down. They are going to be much smaller now than I originally thought.

At our last gathering for hand sewing, Emily had each of us reach into a paper bag and pull out a 5” charm pack to make something from. A couple of us are not very creative on our own so Emily brought me a pattern to use and walked me through the first part. The wonky stars have turned out to be quite the challenge for me. Emily eventually remembered how they were done and will take me through it this week.

I also finished five embroidered aprons out of seven in the last year or so and am starting on the last two. I’m also hand sewing  the binding on a quilt top Emily didn’t want to finish. I put on the border, batting and back then quilted it before machine stitching the binding on to one side. Now I have simple handwork for our groups gathering.

My son uses the phrase “an object in motion stays in motion” often. Let’s hope this object stays in motion once on a roll.  It will be a slow roll.

“Creativity takes courage.” –Henri Matisse–

Are you finding new momentum to roll with in this new year?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Month in a Flash

I’ve wanted to write everyday but either my brain or body were just too frazzled to make any sense of it all. So, bear with me here.

Christmas gift that lasted through the new year. Thank you dear friend.

Christmas was small and quiet. Only five of us for dinner. The focus this year was my niece who is in her second year at University. She and her mother are Jewish but they do Christmas with us because we love each other. It was a very practical year. She received a simple white robe from my sister and an extra set of sheets for the extra long twin they have in the dorms from me. I washed them both and mailed them after personalizing the robe so it didn’t wander off while unattended.

The rose is significant and larger than I thought it would be.

After a week of recovery and dealing with leftover food, the process of taking down Christmas began. There are rules here in this park. No outdoor decorations after January 15. I picked the first dry day and took down all outside lights. Since Christmas is my favorite holiday because it’s so festive, I have a lot to put away. More is being given away.  Paring down takes time. Grieving must be allowed.

When you add in the fact that my daughter is moving in with me and her things must have some room, we have utter chaos in play. I had to completely unload the ‘guest’ room and figure out what to do with it all. Crafting and its accoutrements had filled the closet and spilled out everywhere. She brought in kitchen spices and things she needs for her kitchen that must fit in mine. Most of her things are going into storage or being sold, donated or dumped. We are really ‘fluffing the Chi’ in our homes this time. Nothing is untouched.

 

A gift from my son. Kinder as in Children.

 

From my son to his sister. I have seen it all now.

My feet revolted so I went to use the exercise bike at the gym on Monday to stay off them for a couple of days. I ended up at the store afterward buying two of the two cubic ft. bags of planting mix for my Lemon Cyprus that was blown over in the wind Saturday night. It felt just under tornado strength from the way my windows in the bedroom whistled most of the night. I will move its mate this weekend while we are having a short dry spell and give it more room. So much for staying off my feet.

 

Today I ignored the waves of foot discomfort again to walk the mall and have a long coffee break with a friend before things get really crazy around here. By the first of February, things should be only slightly chaotic which is normal for me.

My sewing friends enjoyed the last Christmas potluck party on Tuesday and now I wish I had taken photos. The table was so pretty, the food so good, and the company inspiring.

Today is the start of more normal, healthy eating. I don’t think my clothes or my feet could wait another day.

Did the last month go by in a flash for you as well? Is this new year shaping up to have lots of changes for you too?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Speed

Have you noticed that the months of November and December go faster than any month of the year? It’s like these two months are on speed and I’m on molasses. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas always finds me totally unprepared and way behind schedule.

Set myself up an assembly line in the den so I can watch Christmas movies while I work.

We know it’s coming with 12 months notice. It comes the same time every year and each year I’m behind in my list of things to get done. I’ve even shortened the list to a minute fraction of what it once was.

Someone apparently likes pink. Not my favorite..

Sleep doesn’t come easily when your mind is letting you know all night what’s left to be done before mailing is no longer possible. Since I make most my gifts from what I have available, my creativity has to work overtime as well.

 

Many days are taken up with fun things. Last weekend I went to the Hazelnut Festival in Mt. Angel, Oregon with my blogging friend Crystal, at Conscious Engagement.  There are better photos on her blog. She did the driving, I bought lunch. Santa was on the porch calling us to dine.

Having a chat with Santa

It’s less than an hour away from my house and two from Crystal’s. It turned into a beautiful day but quite chilly. They were wise enough to hold it in a large hall out of the elements. I bought a lovely hazelnut cake made by the Benedictine Sisters to share over the holidays. There was Chocolate hazelnut handmade pasta to make as a dessert. I can’t wait to try it. Hazelnut butter and so many things made with them I had a hard time leaving it all behind.

I’m dancing to the music

Next week will be full as well. Sewing group will have their all day (5 hrs) gathering to share our finished projects and our gifts for each other. Mine are ready for the bows.

Each one is a little different. For quilting friends.

Even the Pulmonary Fibrosis support group my sister, daughter and I attend will have their monthly gathering at a restaurant downtown. Thank goodness my daughter is a wonderful chauffeur. The drinks (if we imbibe) will be on us but the nibbles are gifted by the foundation. The chauffeur never imbibes and drives. I taught her well.

My first visit with Santa in over 30 years.

This holiday is once again going to be quite different from others. I’ve been gifting from my collections and making lots of bowl cozies for family members to give as their gifts to friends. Since they already have theirs, the making of these others will be my gift to them. I’m slower these days but finding a rhythm.

6 cozies made for my sister so far. She gives them as gifts

Today will be baking day. A favorite for both my daughter and me. We usually spend Saturday’s together and baking in my better-appointed kitchen than she has is fun and tasty. I can only say, I wish you were here. Now it’s time to start our breakfast.

Beginning of baking

How are you doing with timing?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

An Artist’s Date

I’m really not trying to fool anyone here. I am no artist in any capacity but as I had all of Julia Cameron’s books out two weeks ago as well as my workbook, I was inspired.

When my daughter came for our Saturday together, I put on the tea kettle and she started her laundry. We sat down to decide what we would do with our day. I was thinking at first of helping her start on a summer dress that is waiting to be made. Then it occurred to me that I was ready for something out of the ordinary.

Ms. Cameron is very big on Artist’s Dates to unblock creativity. They should be done alone but I drive very little these days while my daughter is an excellent chauffeur. I suggested that after we had our brunch out at Bob’s Red Mill where she could do some grocery shopping for the following week, we go to a thrift store, a dollar store and another little junk shop nearby for some inspiration.

I found notebook paper for a dollar to put into the binder I’ve had for at least 20 years that has been only used for decor so far. It is now the holder of my morning pages. Then we decided to go look in a fun antique consignment shop in a suburb where she once worked to see any changes. It’s been three years at least since our last visit. This time I saw the soda fountain. How did I not notice it before? We purchased nothing but had a good time looking.

Directly across the street from where we parked was a new shop. K. Marie Vintage Ephemera. I had to go look. So much was French inspired and they were offering classes in making interesting things with paper and ribbons, etc. I know we spent a good twenty minutes browsing. I could have stayed much longer but it would have been rude as I would be purchasing nothing. Too many hobbies already.

Next door to the Vintage Shop was a…CHOCOLATE shop! My daughter, trying to be ever helpful of my diet insisted on walking me right past it and kept going. My two-year-old self almost had a meltdown. You could not pass this place and not go in! I opened the door for her and pushed her through. It was like time travel. Their chocolates and sweets were mostly from France and they had a Parisian theme going on as well as very vintage. It’s called “Enchante.” I was in love and there was as much eye candy as edible candy. It was like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

We left with only one piece of rich, dark chocolate each. I had to have a lemon marshmallow and my daughter got raspberry. We saw wish candles and tiny tiara’s plus so much more. We left with the wish candles and I think a tiny crown will find it’s way to her birthday package when I can get someone to take me back there.

Chocolate bees in the tree

I was feeling like an artist afterwards and inspired enough to continue work on a crazy quilt that has been on hold. More on that later. I think we will do this once a month.

Do you take yourself places that are out of the ordinary in your own town to inspire you or are you a strictly routine kind of person?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Morning Pages

I’ve been sitting on my front porch in the early daylight hours sipping my one cup of hot coffee, writing my morning pages. Julia Cameron, of whom I am a big fan, says there should be three pages but I’m hard pressed to take the time for one or two. Once my coffee is gone, so am I. The pages of drivel seem to others to be a waste of time and paper. I figure I can shred the paper later and put it in the compost. Writing in the morning sorts out my mind. Since I am alone with no one else to bounce ideas and thoughts out, they reflect back off the paper. I get all the muddle out in front of me, make my list of possibilities for the day, then see how much of that I can bring to fruition.

I took the 12 week workshop with many other women. Wonderful!

No day goes exactly as planned. I can deviate so quickly by a turn in my step. Finding myself organizing my shed when all I wanted to do is find the fertilizer to finish watering my plants. Then the pain in my foot will bring me back to my original intention of getting the watering done before the heat descends.

I’m sure she has written something I haven’t read yet.

Writing my morning pages is very different from what I write in my journal each night. Morning pages set intent for my day. My nightly journal page is a documentation of that day. Time, date and weather are included in both. Morning pages help me bring my intention into focus and clear my mind clutter. The nightly journal page, only one as I’m quite tired by then, helps off load my thoughts so I get a better night’s sleep.

When my children were young, I began the practice of reading to each of them separately at night as there was quite the distance in age, then ask how their day had gone. That’s the time when they would tell me anything that had troubled them or had been of particular delight. I was their nightly journal. Since both children have Dysgraphia, actual journal writing isn’t something they do. But mom still asks at the end of their workday how it went. My daughter spills most on her Saturday visits and my son calls daily to make sure I’m still among the living. He knows he can still share the good and the troubling. If it’s something big in need of working out, I still say, “WRITE IT OUT”.

Borrowed from the library and listened to it.

Like a piece of paper, I can fix nothing, just be the place to reflect back. Life is slower for me now. More solitude than many would find comfortable. Writing longhand on paper always clears things up in a way that writing on a computer does not.

There is scientific evidence of the brain to hand connection that does not exist with the computer. Long hand, free-flowing writing can unblock creativity and the next thing you know, you have a list of what can be done that day as well as a blog post all done for you. I may not be an artist but these books help unlock all kinds of creativity. Now I need to do another artists date. Hmmm.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/writing-by-hand-benefits-brain-ainissa-ramirez

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/writing-on-paper_n_5797506.html

Have you found the benefits of morning pages yet or journal writing at night?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Gifts in the Mail

Bloggers are a different breed of people. I think most have a broader perspective of the world. Our world is larger in many ways even if it appears to the eye to be quite small.

I started blogging six years ago to enlarge my world created by a debilitating illness. I could no longer drive my car that had taken me thousands of miles across the country. Catching a bus to go shop was a major event that brought a great deal of fatigue. The blogging community rescued me from self-pity and taught me I could reach out as well.

African Violet loves the kitchen sink area. Happy day.

I have met (virtually) many who are in some capacity, more debilitated than I, offering great strength and courage. Their tenacity moved me forward. Even though we are somewhat debilitated or even disabled, we still have much to share with one another.

Over the last year, my local quilting friend Patti was working on a cross stitch that I fell in love with. It was a pattern company I was familiar with but had never seen this design. Already having given away all counted cross stitch patterns I had as I could no longer see the tiny squares, I asked Patti if I could borrow the pattern to copy and share with a blogging friend that I thought might enjoy it. I was hoping to pay this blogger to make it for me.

Patti said that as soon as she was done with the pattern, I could have it. True to her word, as I ogled the finished project, she handed over the pattern which I promptly forwarded to my friend Lois at Life in a Minimalist Farmhouse.

I have sent and received gifts from many bloggers over the years. They are cherished more than anyone can imagine. These people have never and probably will never meet me in person. Despite this, we have formed deep and personal relationships. Lois is one of those friends who inspire on a daily basis. She reclaims cast offs and re-purposes them, inspires neighbors to garden, repair and rebuild. I had a lot of pink fabric and no more little girls to use it on as well as a few children’s books and no more children. I passed them on to Lois who had grandchildren that appreciated what she made from the fabric and enjoyed the books.

Previous gifts from Lois

This is what I received from Lois soon after sending her the pattern. Now she is making one for herself from it and then sharing it with another friend.

She chose different colors than the pattern asked for. I LOVE them.

I can be quite slow about getting things framed but this was too beautiful to wait. After all the hours of her hard work, I had to get it up on the wall quickly. So. I went to Craft Warehouse and had a discount coupon to get it framed in a way I hope brings more attention to the art than the frame. Thank you, Lois. You do incredible work. Her work on holiday and celebration gifts are stunning. Stop by and pay this amazing woman a visit. She just posted her version of this design so stop by and take a look at it here.

The frame is the same color as the trees.

Have you enjoyed close friendships with other bloggers?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

An Apple

I sat in my chair eating an apple. It was in one hand, coffee mug in the other, and the mouse was on the arm of my chair so I could move it to read my computer with the fingers that were not holding the apple.

Then I realized I was not tasting the apple. I set down the coffee mug, already about empty at this time of the morning and looked at that apple. It was a lovely small, crisp, happy looking apple.

One of my favorite kinds of apples. The Fuji

One of my favorite kinds of apples. The Fugi

 

Awareness began to creep in. This apple had been off the tree for quite some time before it arrived on my plate with a purchased salad. I usually get the bread with my salad, not the apple. This apple had something to say. It was still alive even though it was away from the source that gave it life. At least for a while.

An old standard, the Red Delicious.

An old standard, the Red delicious.

We are much like the apple. When we are unplugged from the Source that gives us that spark of life, we can still be alive but not as fully as if we were still plugged in. That spark of life, if we aren’t connected somehow, starts a slow living death until we too start to rot, decompose and go back into the earth. Those that are more connected, seem to stay fresh longer. You’ve all seen people wander through life that look like they have no spark left. The luster is gone, the juices run dry and after a bit, no one wants what you have to offer.

The sweet Gala apples

The sweet Gala apples

 

That little apple did more than nourish my body; it gave my spirit a quick reminder to pay attention and look for what gives me my spark. That Source of my energy and creativity. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not about religion unless that’s what works for you. It’s about paying attention to life around you. I was multitasking and missing it all and will probably never look at an apple the same way.

Do you find you miss the details when multitasking?

Are you finding ways to plug into your spark?

Thank you for reading and wishing you all a very mindful and Happy Thanksgiving.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

Happy Halloweeny Anniversary

Why on earth did I pick Halloween to start a blog? Was I on a sugar rush or just enjoying the festivities of the ghoulish decorations at my son’s house while living with him.

Would you have asked her for candy?

Would you have asked her for candy?

Five years ago I was extremely debilitated by many unusual symptoms of Bells Palsy. I could no longer drive and as a passenger, I had to close my eyes, especially at night. I couldn’t sew because seeing the needle move up and down turned my brain into mush with an odd nausea. Television had its own terror. If things moved too fast on the screen, I had to close my eyes and look away. The cane is still necessary to keep me balanced and upright. The symptoms aren’t gone but they are far better.

Standing guard

Standing guard

The symptoms were a reflection of my life. Writing was all I had left to pull the terror of where I was in that moment into a cohesive plan for some kind of a future as a 62 years old freshly divorced and debilitated woman. Social Security advised I qualified for disability. I was not employable. That was scary enough.

The very act of writing helped train my damaged brain to find words again. Mimicking a stroke in many ways, this virus left my brain unable to put full sentences together without long pauses. I couldn’t find words I knew were there. Friends and family started finishing sentences for me. My writing was simpler five years ago. Gradually, I’m making progress, I hope.

This spider is tickling my nose.

This spider is tickling my nose.

In five years, I’ve found an online support community of bloggers. Who knew such a thing existed? Every time I got discouraged, there would be a comment, e-mail or even happy snail mail loaded with lovely things to cheer me on.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I scrounged together enough money after the home I shared with the last husband sold to put a down payment on a small manufactured home for myself, my books, fabric and other crafting tools. Slowly, I’m able to do little bits at a time of my cherished creative endeavors. Making this house my home has taken a lot of energy. Naps are on my daily agenda when tackling any project. It’s the brain that gets tired before the body so I’m exercising my brain as much as my body.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It's said to be glow in the dark.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It’s said to be glow in the dark.

This Halloween will be different again from the last. Aren’t they all? Not so many outside decorations as we’re having the wettest October on record and today brought high winds. Power has been intermittent. Inside, I’m ready for any brave little goblins that make it past the real bugs and spiders out there. It’s so warm, they have swarmed like an apocalyptic army. They scare me more than zombies any day.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

I’m curious to see what the next five years will unfold. Heck, I’m curious to see how today will unfold. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheering me on. Have a Happy Halloween with lots of sweet treats and no tricks.

No candy in this pumpkin

No candy in this pumpkin

Is there anything that scares you more than a zombie apocalypse?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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Creative Endeavors

There are lessons to be learned about oneself even in the autumn of one’s life. I’m hoping it’s the autumn and not the winter so I have lots of time left for discovery. I’ve discovered I’m a procrastinator, big time.

As I set out to complete my daily tasks, I find that procrastination can be a perpetual companion and a teacher. It tells me there is fear somewhere in the task or maybe something even as strong as dislike.

I’ve had a lot of projects on the back burner lately. As all of the outside projects came to completion, I could finally focus on the inside projects. I realized that when I would rather mop the floor, do the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or make the bed rather than sit at the sewing machine, something was going on.

The workhorse

The workhorse

It started with my newest Viking Diamond Royale sewing machine behaving badly with almost every project. We’ve had many trips back to Montavilla’s where it was purchased and it always seems to work for the doctor. It must be something I’m doing they say. I have an old Viking SE that threads and operates the same but will sew circles around the new one. The new one has a larger embroidery field that I have not yet been able to enjoy. The whole unit is packed away. I don’t need more frustration.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

My old machine works well, my eyes, eh. They could be better so when working on precision quilts, I have a hard time getting them exact. I’m thinking it’s time to let that go. I’ve done the squares required for the quilt group and am turning my attention to more fun things to make. It has to be fun or why bother.

Making a shirt for someone is very much like making a quilt. It has to fit just right. So it goes to the top of the procrastination list. Gifts for birthdays and Christmas are moving to the top of the to-do list and can’t even look at the procrastination list. Ten weeks, people, ten weeks is all I have left.

In the meantime, I found a fun project. Microwave bowl cozies. If you still use a microwave and the bowl is too hot to pull out, then set it in the cozy first, heat and just leave it there to keep your food warm while you eat. You don’t burn your fingers that way. My son thought they were great. I had to make some a bit more masculine looking. They are made of 100% cotton so they don’t melt or catch fire in the microwave. Also handy with a freezing dish of ice cream or frozen fruit. Your hands don’t freeze holding the bowl. I started with fabric that I was going to pass on and worked my way up to fabrics that were chosen by the recipients.

I found some kits for making pillowcases in fun fabrics. U-tube has some wonderful instructions and shortcuts. I’m also a sucker for cute prints and panels. I have one for Halloween on the table waiting for borders, backing and binding to be cut and attached. They should be easy but quilting on the machine is not something I’ve mastered yet. I’ll keep at it though. I still have puckers.

So as you can see, I’ve done a little with my down time and need to do so much more. The procrastination list needs to be shredded and everything moved to the do right now list. I have company coming in two weeks and then only eight weeks to get it all finished and mailed or wrapped. Sorry for the reminder. I don’t shop for the holidays, I craft for them.

What’s on your procrastination list? Are any of them creative endeavors?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Clear Sight

I’ve had limited vision since I was 4 years old when a bad case of measles along with a picture window framing the snow outside left me struggling to see what everyone else took for granted. There is a gift in that. There is no sunrise, sunset, bloom or cloud that fails to leave me breathless for a moment.

 

Clear view through clean windows

Clear view through clean windows

Seeing things clearly is on the top of my list. I’ve had new glasses made, had the cataract removed, and recently, had my windows professionally cleaned. It was an extravagance that felt necessary. I love to be looking out my windows. I can see the sunrise from the chair I write in, the sunset and the moon on its journey from my bedroom, the coming and goings of the neighborhood from front windows and my lush fern covered hill from my kitchen window.

It looks very different through a dirty window

It looks very different through a dirty window

To tell the truth though, I’m used to seeing things a little fuzzy so it’s normally no big deal until I took photos of things at my windows. Not a pretty sight before the cleaning. My attempts at it left them not much better. I wanted to show off a couple of wonderful things so in came the cleaning man with his miracle cleaner. Now I can show you the lovely danglers that the very talented Pauline King  at the Contented Crafter made for me.

 

Too beautiful for words

Too beautiful for words

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

This is the larger purple dangler that hangs in my sewing room to inspire me. So much prettier with clean windows.

Each one is personalized for the individual she makes it for. I have Angels, butterflies, books, and things related to sewing on mine. One hangs in my sewing room window as it gets the first light of the day and when the sun hits, the crystal sends rainbows all through the room and down the halls.

The other hangs in my bedroom so I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night reminding me that there are wonderful, creative and caring people in the world.

 

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

Blues and greens are the colors in my bedroom.

I also wanted to show you the shelves and lace curtains I made for some of my windows. I wanted lace to have a tiny bit of privacy but still allow in the light. I can see out better than anyone can see in through them.

My inner hoarder was brought to light when I made the curtains. Living room and my bedroom are panels that I had from the house we owned in the early 90’s. I saved them and found they worked quite nicely with some cutting and hemming.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

Recycled curtains saved me time and money.

The curtains in the den, dining room and kitchen were made from one of 2 bolts of lace I had left over from making curtains for the last house I lived in. I bought the lace at Walmart so inexpensively that I just couldn’t give it away knowing I might make use of it someday. Well, it’s someday. I still have another bolt left and now I can increase the fullness of the curtains or make valances. Nothing goes to waste here but I do hoard a bit. I looked in stores for lace curtains and they are a thing of the past, as am I.

Clear Vision isn’t only a matter of the eyesight, it’s also a matter of the heart and mind. Trying to get clear focus on your heart’s desire or your direction is a job from the inside out. Not so easy to hire help for this but it can be done. My tools for that are meditation and writing. A good friend, family member or coach willing to speak the truth you need to hear also helps.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. ~ Helen Keller
How clear has your vision been lately? What tools do you use to get clear?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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