Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tangled Thursday: A Pattern in a Pattern

This week's challenge, made by yours truly, was to make a large pattern and fill it with smaller patterns.  This proved more difficult than I expected.  I played around with several ideas based on a set of stencils I found in the closet.  I finally ended up with this design.  After drawing the shapes (I have no idea what that shape would be called) I thought that it was the negative space in between that made it most interesting.   

With the intention of trying the same design again but with more precision, I used my quilting ruler to measure and lightly pencil in squares to make it easier to line up the shapes.  But then it hit me - - what is a quilt but a large pattern filled with smaller patterns?   So, I used that paper to draw random quilt blocks I found in a magazine.  It's not a Zentangle, but it was fun, it fits the theme and it gave me another chance to play with watercolor pencils.  

Tangled Thursday is hosted by Heather and Books and Quilts.  Visit Heather to see what she and the other participants are drawing.  If you would like to join us, please feel free.  Just add your link on Heather's blog.  Your tangle doesn't have to fit the theme.  We love seeing everyone's work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book (P)review

Normally I wait until I've read a book and write a review but, for this book, I just couldn't wait that long.  The blurb on the front flap - actually an excerpt from the book - fit so well with what I wrote yesterday about creativity, that I had to share immediately.

The book is Return to Me by Lynn Austin.  These wise words from a grandfather to his grandson are what made me check the book out of the library:
We're made in the Holy One's image so our words also have power.  You tell someone they're ugly or that they're a fool, and if you repeat it often enough, you might create ugliness or foolishness in that person.  You praise them for their goodness or kindness, and your words just might create even more kindness in that person.  You must be careful to speak words of life.
I have long held that each of us has an ability to be creative because we are made in the image of the Creator, but I had never considered that we can actually "create" ugliness or kindness with our words. 

Return to Me is the first book in The Restoration Chronicles, with book #2 due out next month.  I chose this book as the October selection for the T&T book club partially because it is a departure from norm for me; not a genre I usually read.  However, I'm so intrigued by this paragraph that I'm getting a jump start on October and starting tonight.  I'll report back when I've actually read the whole book.

Monday, September 22, 2014

And We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun . . .

 Remake myself for the "second half" of life, get rid of bad habits, cultivate new ones, look at life with a fresh perspective, go forward without all the baggage.  That's the plan. So far my goals are to keep a clean organized house, eat healthy and exercise, manage my time and money, tame my tongue, control my anger . . .  but it doesn't all have to be so serious. Sometimes a girl just wants to have fun, right?   I don't mean the big-ticket items, like spending time with my kids and grandkids, traveling, or shopping at Hobby Lobby - but the stuff that I can make a part of every day to make life "fun".   My ideas of fun fall into three divisions: Books,  Social Networks, and Creativity.   

I'll get back to the first two areas later, but for now - a word on creativity.  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1  "God created man in His own image." - Genesis 1:27.  If God is the creator, and we are made in His image, we are creators also.  I believe we all have the need and the ability to be creative.  Maybe you express it with blue-ribbon-winning quilts, maybe you paint beautiful pictures, maybe you sing, or build furniture, or bake cupcakes.  Maybe your creativity comes out in your organizational skills or event planning or teaching Sunday School.  Maybe you don't see any creativity in your life, but I promise you, the potential is there - you just don't recognize it.

Don't limit yourself to one form of creativity.  I never thought I had any "artistic" abilities - - and I was right.  I can't draw anything beyond a stick figure, but I can do intricate cross-stitch (at least I could before bifocals),  I can make simple quilts and sewing projects, and draw Zentangles, and knit on a loom.  I can tat lace and I can play the piano (even though I don't much any more), and I can write a story. Most recently,  I discovered that I can paint with watercolors.  Do I do all of these things skillfully?  No.  Do I have fun trying?  Absolutely!  And once in a while, something turns out well and I am as surprised as any one.

Actually, my issue is that I can't - or don't - narrow it down.  I jump from project to project, with very little getting finished in a timely manner.  At times I think I should narrow my focus.  If I gave up some areas, I would have more time (and money) to become proficient at others.  But . . . nah!  One of the joys of life after fifty is that I have more "me" time and less concern about what other people think. I love the experience of trying new things, and if my watercolor paintings aren't gallery worthy, I'm ok with that.  

This quote from David Louis hangs on the wall of my craft/sewing room:

Never ask for approval in your work.  Life is your own, inspiration is your own, you create alone, and the results are your own - and that's good enough.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"50 IS the New Fifty: 10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood"

In keeping with my Life Under Construction theme, Teri - my sister, the other "T" in the T and T Book Club, blogger at Henningsen Happenings, and fellow "second-halfer" - selected Suzanne Braun Levine's 50 is the New Fifty as the September T and T selection.   Ms. Levine subtitled her book "10 Life Lessons"; however, while I did learn some interesting lessons, I didn't necessarily learn the lessons she intended.  Not all of the lessons applied to me, and Ms. Levine and I do not share all of the same views on theology and/or feminism, so our experiences - and, therefore our lessons, are different. I still gleaned some valuable advice:

At this stage we "recalibrate our place in the world" and our priorities change.  We are "inspired to get rid of old baggage...and move on with what we've found worth holding on to."  This is exactly what I've been dealing with.  My relationship with my children has changed.  My relationship with my parents is changing.  Even my relationship with my husband is changing (don't worry - it's good) because of all the other changes. The last couple times Dave and I have traveled, we have found that we prefer to carry less with us.  Let the paid professionals haul our baggage, and we can enjoy the trip unencumbered.  The same theory works in life. 

Lesson Two:  Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes  This was my favorite lesson! I've never been a huge fan of change, mainly because, for 30 years, I've been regularly thrown into change (moving) every few years, whether I've wanted it nor not. Stability and NON-change became the "dream" for me.   

For the "second half", I've actually reached a point where I WANT change  - but it doesn't have to be total transformation.  "While some women can redesign their lives from top to bottom...most of us can only manage small changes at first."  Most of what I have been writing about lately are small steps toward bigger changes.

The biggest change I want and need to make is described in the book as "getting out of the emotional management business.  Scale back the intensity of your sensitivity to every nuance of mood, your anticipation of every need,and your desire to solve every problem for those you love".  My children are now adults.  They can't take responsibility for themselves if I refuse to let go.

There were chapters of this book that I felt were pointless - and at least one that I thought was just wrong! - but I was able to look past those and benefit from the rest.  I am curious to find her previous book "Inventing the Rest of Our Lives".

Tangled Thursday Challenge: A Pattern Within a Pattern

It has come around to my turn to create a challenge for the participants of the Tangled Thursday meme - which can be you, if you want to join in.  The idea is that one person throws out an idea and each participant interprets it in whatever way they choose, posts a picture of their drawing and links up at Heather's blog, Books & Quilts.

My idea was inspired by this fabric that I purchased Friday as part of The World's Wildest Quit that I'm making for my daughter.

Then I saw this pin on Pinterest and the challenge idea was obvious:

Image from
For the next challenge, to be posted September 25th, create a large pattern and then fill it with smaller patterns.  It doesn't have to be the one shown here - it can be squares, triangles, any pattern you like.  Go forth and tangle.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Living Color . . .

Over the past year or so I have participated in a meme called Tangled Thursdays, in which a group of ladies take turns creating a Zentangle challenge for the other participants and we all link our posts at Books and Quilts, the blog of our lovely hostess, Heather.  This week, Marie gave us a very broad assignment.  Since we've all been a little lazy with our drawing this summer, just pick up your supplies and draw something, or post about a Zentangle website, or any other Zentangle related topic.

My drawing is Zentangle related because I used the watercolor pencils I purchased with the idea of adding color to my Zentangles.   I decided it was finally time to  get them out of the box.  After watching a short video and reading some further instructions, I decided to spend my limited time learning to use the pencils rather than creating an original drawing.

First I found a drawing I liked online and printed it.  This drawing of tulips and a stained-glass background had a Zentangle feel to it.

  I lightly traced the drawing onto watercolor paper, leaving out some of the detail.  Then I began filling in the drawing ...

 . . . using pressure and blending colors to create shadows and highlights.  

Once the drawing was completely filled in and highlights/shadows added, I used small paintbrushes and water to blend the colors.  The pencil tips can be dipped directly in water to add more vibrant color and deeper shadows.

It's a long way from a professional watercolor, but the pencils are a lot of fun to work with and I know more than I did when I started.  I will definitely be working them into my Zentangle drawings - as soon as I get back into the Zentangle swing.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Surprise Book Trade

When Dave met an Iowa farmer who had named his Blue Heeler Hank, he assumed their family, like ours, were fans of the Hank, The Cowdog series by John R. Erickson.  He was surprised when the farmer had not heard of the books, so the next day, Dave dropped off a volume from our son's collection.  What he got in return was an even bigger surprise.

The farmer's wife turned out to be Shari Barr, one of the authors of the Camp Club Girls series.  The series of twenty-four mysteries for middle-grade readers features six girls from all across the U.S., who meet at summer camp.  After the introductory story, Mystery at Discovery Lake, each book features one of the six girls and each character has her own author.  Mrs. Barr wrote the the four volumes focusing on 13-year-old McKenzie, and she presented Dave with a signed copy of McKenzie's Montana Mystery.

I started reading about McKenzie last night and, even though it's been a fair number of years since I was in the "middle grades" - or any grades - I was hooked.  I read as long as I could keep my eyes open, and finished the last few chapters this morning.  I felt like a kid again.  Honestly, it's been awhile since I read any mystery that I had that much trouble putting down.

The story revolves around a champion rodeo horse stolen from Sunshine Stables.  McKenzie and her friend, Bailey, start their own investigation when the adults draw a blank.  Even though that seems a little far-fetched at first, the story is so well written and the clues so well placed, that I soon forgot the sleuths were children and was creating my own scenario for "who-dun-it".   I got a kick out of the girls' use of technology, such as cell-phone cameras and on-line chats, in their investigation, and wondered if Mrs. Barr had to recruit a few "tweens" to help her with the chat-room slang.  I certainly had to stop and think a few times to figure out what the abbreviations meant.  (There is a handy "cheat sheet" included in the book if you can't work them out.)

The Camp Club Girls is a Christian series, published by Barbour Publishing.  The girls frequently pray about their situation or recall scripture they have learned to give them guidance.  The books in this series would make great gifts for young ladies who are already familiar with the Bible, but also for girls who haven't had that opportunity - a fun, low-key way to introduce them.

Thank you, again, to Mrs. Barr for sharing her book.  Our copy will be shared with a couple of our nieces, who happen to be just the right age to enjoy McKenzie's adventures.