Tree of Love

With Winter heavy in the air, the limbs on the trees in my area are bare.  This starkness feels cold, dark and empty…so I thought I’d lighten the mood up a bit with a fun little project.

Our family eats a lot of cheese, and Brook especially likes this kind.  One day she discovered that she could make sweet hearts out of the waxy red packaging.


Brook used the two halves of the wax from a cheese round to make one heart.  Simply warm up the wax in your hands by rolling it into a ball, and then mold the ball into a heart shape.


I loved her recycled wax heart idea so much that I used it to make this tree.



Whenever I see hearts I think of love.  And whenever I see a tree I think of “grow”.


Looking at this tree makes me think:  Going out on a limb, with love in your heart…this love will grow…and glow.








Paper Hearts Love…

This past Christmas my beautiful niece Stephanie gave me presents wrapped in brown polka-dotted paper.  She and I have very similar tastes…we often reach for the simple.  Anyway, I loved the wrapping so much that I saved some.  And it’s a good thing too since it’s come in handy for Valentines Day.

Here’s a look at a heart-shaped bag that I made, which should be perfect for filling with sweets.


In my usual fashion I used my favorite number as the focal point.


And here’s a look at some of the details which include some inches of creamy, latte colored ribbon (also saved from Stephanie’s present wrapping) as well as a pearl dangle and wire handle (24 gauge).


Below is another hanging heart bag.  This one is embellished with just 2 buttons and a string handle instead of wire.  I have a whole box full of string, also saved from previous presents (save and reuse is a constant for me).


This next heart that I made is also pocket style, but I made it a little different by sewing one of the heart’s curves closed while leaving the other curve open.  And I omitted adding a handle so this heart can be used more like an envelope.


Then I added a rub-on letter “B” along with two buttons and a strip of scrap fabric placed near the letter to create a strong but simple focal point.


The top opening is perfect for stuffing rolled-up love notes inside.


And speaking of love notes, here’s one that I created using the same paper.  I purposefully crumpled up the paper to create texture before adding the embellishments.



Here’s a close-up of one side.


I used a regular pencil to write a message of love.  Putting pencil to paper is so old school and there’s something very warming about it.


May the warmth and glow of love, flow on and on…and on and out…always and beyond.










Snowy Starry Necklaces

It’s been so snowy around here..and cold too! Although this season is not my favorite, the beauty of it all cannot be denied (photo from our backyard).


All of this whiteness…made into necklaces.


I used organic cotton batting as the base for both necklaces, which is sort of fitting since sometimes when the snow falls from the sky, the snow clings in clumps onto the tree branches…which to me looks like fluffy cotton balls.


Experiencing this little taste of what is more of a Summer scene…in Winter…feels strange and yet exciting at the same time.

Here’s a closer look at the snowflake necklace.


And here’s a close up of the star necklace.  Although I don’t see the stars at night as much during the Winter months (it’s way too cold to stand outside and gaze at the sky!), I still know they’re there…and this comforts me.


Since I made two necklaces, I would like to share one of them with one of you.  If interested, just let me know which one you’d like, and the first one to respond can have it.





Plump Pillows of Love

Last week I used up some fabric scraps along with some buttons and such to make this handful of hearts…


…which I then made into necklaces.


Here are some close-ups.


I like how this one looks like a strawberry.


And doesn’t the one below make you think of a cozy-cuddly blanky?


This other one has hints of the number two with the pairs of buttons and beaded dangles.


Each of the four necklaces makes good use of a single safety pin.


It was fun making these plump pillows of love. Plus, it was quick…and cheap since I didn’t have to buy any materials (I used what was in my scrap piles).


I made similar heart necklaces awhile back (published in Somerset Life, Jul/Aug/Sep 2012) which were more simplified.  The ones shown above are still simple in nature, but I changed things up a little by adding some more details…not too much though since I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to design.

With Valentine’s Day coming up I imagine that you all must be making some hearts too.  And I have a feeling that you’ve been putting a lot of love into it…I know how big and plump your hearts are!







The Walls of Lisbon

The first part of our holiday trip began in the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon, which is the oldest part of town (over 800 years old). This area is well known for its hilly streets as well as the close quarters (residences are side by-side, with buildings only several feet apart in some areas).


Exploring the nooks and crannies by foot is always our favorite travel activity and, in fact, we averaged walking about 8 miles a day…loving every minute of it.  Wherever we walked, it was Bill at the front with me at the rear, and Brook sandwiched in between.  It works out well for us that Bill is the navigator (he’s great with maps), and with Brook sandwiched at the center we can keep a close eye on her (so that she doesn’t wander off too far). And I’m usually at the end, happy with my camera at the ready.


It seemed that wherever we went, there were photo ops, such as this everyday scene of a pretty cloth hung out to dry.  It’s coming across these everyday things that stops me in my tracks – to me their casual, humble beauty is stunning.




What else was stunning were the gorgeous views at the tops of the hills.  We were so lucky to arrive at this sight when there was sunshine…oh how good it felt!  It was the perfect reward after a tough red-eye flight.


Here’s a shot of Bill and I fresh off the plane.


And here’s one of me and Brook.  After all the walking up the steep hills, we needed a little break so we leaned up against a huge castle wall.


Bill noticed that the walls were made with actual shells and coral, which fascinated him to no end.  And actually, everywhere we went Bill often stopped to inspect the walls.  I like how he enjoys looking deeply at things too – whenever Bill discovers interesting finds and shares it with us, we also get to benefit from the experience.  Having more eyes makes it more fun!  By the way, Brook has a good eye too and during our trip she turned us on to many sights that we might otherwise have overlooked.


Going slow gives us a chance to spot wonderful surprises like these lingering peacocks. They also chose to take a rest on the walls…


…so that they could enjoy this incredible view of the sun going down (Bill captured this glowing scene from atop a precarious wall with his phone camera while I was busy trying not to fall off the edge!)


And speaking of things going down, way beneath the castle (encountered during the next day’s walk) there was an abundance of graffiti everywhere.



I’m not so sure that I like all of this personal expression on public space.  It feels like an invasion of some sort and to me, it ruins the beauty of what’s underneath or next to it. I guess I don’t really get it.


However, I do get the one below.


And I got it even more after getting home.  I translated the message into English (thanks to Google Translate), and it reads “In doubt, tell the truth”.  This message speaks to me, in its simplicity and also in its complexity.

Another graffiti sight that stopped me in my tracks was the one below.  It’s minimal and not so in your face, but I liked it.  I liked the handwriting and I liked the color and composition…so simple yet direct.  And I had no idea what it said or meant…


…until I got home and did the Google Translate thing again.  It reads “There is light within you”…can you believe that?!  You can image how excited I felt when I first read those words!  The message is exactly what I believe.  And to see it with my own eyes that someone else sees it the same way…way across the ocean, in another land, and in another language.  I just love it.  I love that others know this light, that they feel this light, and that they believe that everyone has this light.  With all this light, the world can be an amazing place…and it is an amazing place.  How lucky we are to be in it together.

Shine on my friends and be bright!  And don’t forget to go slow so that you can take it all in.  Sometimes it’s literally written on the walls…it is everywhere.









Glowing and Dancing into the New Year

Bill, Brook and I just returned from a magical 10 day trip to Portugal and Spain. We experienced a wide range of tradition and culture during this trip. One of the highlights being that we were able to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve in Seville.  The cathedral where the service was held was massive and well attended.  The air was filled with fragrant incense which mingled well with the European sounds (the entire service was conducted in Latin and Spanish, punctuated with organ music).


The next day for Christmas our family enjoyed a quiet dinner together at an ancient Moorish bathhouse that was converted into a rustic yet elegant restaurant. I remember feeling especially peaceful and content that evening…being in the company of my Bill and Brook in such a beautiful and amazing place.  My heart was warm with love, as my fingertips were warmed by the comforting glow of the candle on our table.  After our meal I felt full and satisfied in all ways.


In contrast to our quiet Christmas dinner together, on our last day in Seville we took in a lively flamenco show with soulful singing and guitar playing.  The flamenco dancing itself was incredible…so intense and full of emotion.  Brook was so moved by it all that afterwards she was literally speechless…I don’t remember this ever happening to her before.  I suppose that the passionate music and dancing awakened some part of her that she might not have known existed.


This trip was the perfect way to close 2013.  I’ll most likely share some more of my experiences in the next post (there was a lot of inspiration that I’m sure will influence future art projects).

Wishing you all good glow and lots of happy dancing into 2014!






Friendship and Beyond

I created this canvas for my beautiful friend Cheryl.


As I thought about our friendship, the words came rolling out…slowly and steadily, to the rhythm in my heart.


With this poem, I think I “nailed” it.  It says exactly how I feel…which is exactly what I wanted.


Friends may come and go, as we change and grow, but some things never change…such as the truth of how “friends love and lift”.


Below is my poem in its entirety, minus the artwork part which could be somewhat distracting from the words.

Friends love
and lift…and
away we go…
up and out,
highest reaches
of the heart*

This poem is about friendship and love and how this lifts us…beyond our imagination and what we think our hearts are capable of.  I chose to use the blue sky to symbolize this feeling of height and light.

When a true friend is by your side, the sky is not even the limit…you can go “beyond”.





Grandma’s Joyful Holiday Cookies

Last weekend Bill, Brook and I baked some holiday cookies together.  I LOVE everything about these cookies…how few ingredients they require, how fun it is to roll the dough into balls, and best of all…how amazingly delicious they taste.

Here’s what they look like piled up on a pretty plate.  I think they look like cute little snowballs…so perfect for the winter holiday season. We probably could’ve added a heavier coating of confectioners sugar on the outside, but then it would’ve taken too much time away from the actual eating part.


Here’s a look at the inside where there are small pieces of pecans for some added crunch.


Baking and eating these cookies with my family gives me joy.   And then there’s even more joy to be had when we bake enough to share with others outside our household.  I think these cookies should be called double-joy cookies!  I love how sharing something so simple can double the joy for everyone.

In the sharing spirit, here’s the recipe for you to try – you won’t be disappointed!

Pecan Butter Cookies (Double the recipe for double the joy).

1 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans
2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar, add nuts, vanilla, flour and salt.  Knead mixture and shape into balls.  Bake in 325 oven for 30 minutes.  When coolish, roll in sifted confectioners sugar (we sometimes skip the sifting part and it all works out fine anyway).

Grandma Marion (Bill’s grandma) used to bake these cookies for their annual New Years Eve parties held in her home.  Bill’s grandfather was a business man whose occupation involved hosting lots of fancy parties for clients and colleagues.  Luckily, Grandma Marion was an elegant and thoughtful hostess.  She used to bake these cookies herself (which wasn’t easy considering the large amount she had to bake), and then she would serve them on a silver platter to each of her guests right after midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Bill, Brook and I usually celebrate Christmas and New Years in a much more quiet fashion.  We are very casual in our approach…pajamas and presents by the fire on Christmas morning.  And on New Years Eve it’s usually pajamas again, but at night while we’re watching the ball drop on tv. (Most of the time I don’t even make it to midnight since I’m an early to bed kind of person.)  Anyway, back to the cookies…these would be perfect on either Christmas morning with coffee or New Years Eve with champagne, whether quietly at home or out at a party.  Don’t you just love how joy can be done in so many different ways?!





Scrappy Denim Hearts

In the new issue of Somerset Studio Gallery you’ll see some hearts that I made using denim scraps and such (the article includes the how-to instructions).


Here’s a mini pillow that can be used as a Christmas tree ornament.


This heart has a sweet message of everlasting love.


And on the side of this heart I decided to repeatedly “tie the knot” all along the heart’s edge to represent marriage.


Below are two more hearts.


Here’s a close-up of another one in a pillow form.


This time the love message is handwritten.  And I chose to highlight the words by surrounding them with contrasting bits of light and dark elements…


…such as this pin holding shiny rounds of this n’ that.


Below is a look at a flat heart.


This time the message of love is more subtle.  I did this by adding hand stitched x’s and buttons for 0’s.


Lastly, here’s a hanging heart that I made using a scrap of denim mounted onto corrugated cardboard.


This piece celebrates our home…


…which is where the heart is.


Wishing you much love in your hearts and home.










Cheerful Holiday Necklaces

Awhile ago I received some wooden tags from ARTchix, but I didn’t get around to altering them until now. Sometimes the creative process requires waiting for the right time.

With the holidays season happening, I was inspired to use cheerful words of joy to make the necklaces below using the wooden tags from ARTchix.  Unfortunately, they no longer carry this item, but you can find similar ones at Jilly bean Kids (item WD2220, 8 mid-sized wooden tags for $3.99).


The tiny one below is my favorite (you know how much I LOVE tiny things).  I haven’t been able to find any more wooden tags this small in size (do any of you know where to buy some?)


Okay, moving on to more tags…here are some metal circle ones.  I made these using pendant trays from the Paper Studio.  To make, simply adhere your words typed onto paper (I chose to go with sing-songy, happy tunes) to the inside of the pendant and add a smear of glitter glue on top and let dry.  Then fill the pendant tray with diamond glaze and let dry.


Here are some rectangle ones that I made using rubber stamps for the words.  The photos didn’t come out too well (natural lighting is getting harder and harder to come by as the days grow shorter), but I think you can still get the gist of it.


As the days get colder and darkness becomes more common, I like to fill my mind with thoughts of lightness and delight.  When my mind is full of light, my heart is warmed as well.