Of Thee I Sing

July 4, 2013

The kitchen window at my Dad's house

The kitchen window at my Dad’s house

Embroidery by my sister Margaret

Embroidery by my sister Margaret

Happy Fourth of July!  This is my fifth Fourth of July post, and it’s fun to look back on my past posts to see which thoughts and images I chose to celebrate this quintessential summer holiday.  Here are links to my old posts:  2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  Enjoy!



Some of you requested more (and better) photographs of the embroidered sea shells that decorate my jars of sea shells from Hawaii.  I searched for and found the pattern I used, from This is . . . “The Magic of the Sea” by Annie Designs, copyright 1980.  I haven’t done counted cross-stitch embroidery in a very long time, so it was fun to resurrect these old embroideries for you.  Thank you for your interest in them!

Cross-stitched embroidered sea shell jar cover

Cross-stitched sea shell jar cover

Embroidered strawberry shell with cross-stitch pattern

Embroidered cone shell with cross-stitch pattern

Pocketable Treasures

July 7, 2012

“I fetched my sea-born treasures home.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, from “Each and All”

Sun-bleached sea urchin shells

“Many of us beach-comb.  I think in a pretty mindless way, hoping that when we later look at our gatherings, we’ll feel the charge of the beautiful, happened-upon, pocketable things . . .”
— W. S. Di Piero, from “Saints”

Since I began painting flowers, leaves, seeds, and other natural things, I’m constantly carrying home “found” treasures.  They often become models for my watercolor sketches.  Something ineffable has drawn my eye and hand to these little gifts of nature, and I find that taking the time to sketch or paint them deepens my appreciation for them.  But interestingly, once they’ve been captured on paper, I seldom feel the need to keep them in my possession.

Di Piero is aware of the “charge” of the beautiful in shells and other found objects.  But Emerson warns that the “gay enchantment” often dies once the object is removed from its natural setting, pocketed, and taken home.  He repines that his sea-born treasures have “left their beauty on the shore.”

I found my sea urchin shells on a beach in Hawaii almost 30 years ago.  I’ve kept them in a small glass jar and still treasure them.  Seeing them brings back memories of my first trip to Hawaii and the secluded beach where I beach-combed for shells.  So in some respect, these pocketable treasures have kept their charge over the years.

One cannot always hold on to beauty.  But sometime we can come pretty close.

My collection of sea urchin shells

Sea urchin shell

I keep my Hawaiian shells in two small glass jars. I embroidered the little shells on the jar covers.

Ink sketch of sea urchin shells

Souls in Bloom

June 22, 2012

Pink roses in bloom

“Summer: to be for a few days the contemporary of roses; to breathe what’s floating around their souls in bloom.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

How lucky we are to be alive in June, the contemporaries and companions of roses!  This time I am air-drying a bowlful of soulful rose petals so that their special beauty will linger into fall and winter.

Rose petals from Carol’s fragrant bouquet

A potpourri of multicolored rose petals

Seeing Red

February 14, 2012

Here is a celebration of red for Valentine’s Day!

Red candy on my window sill

Red-and-white striped candy canes

Red DMC embroidery thread

Red buttons

Red spools of thread

Hand-quilted dresser scarf in Bear Paw pattern

Three red quilt blocks

Springtime at a lavender farm near Sequim

Sequim is known as the “Lavender Capital of North America.”  Each July it hosts a three-day lavender festival (www.lavenderfestival.com).  With our cool spring this year, it was way too early to see any lavender blooms in the fields during my May visit.  Still, I couldn’t help but think about lavender while I was there.

Lavender farm near Sequim

What a great spot to relax!

Hand-embroidered shirts for sale at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Lavender for sale at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Back in Seattle, I am seeing a few lavender plants with flowers already.

Lavender starting to bloom

Sprigs of lavender in my kitchen window

Watercolor sketch of lavender

Another watercolor sketch of lavender

Pillowcase Embroidery

September 10, 2010

Simple embroidery adds a personal touch to plain pillowcases.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a quick, easy project to work on.  I came across some old iron-on embroidery patterns when I was recently looking through my fabric stash and pattern books.  I had a plain white, used pillowcase on hand, and I decided to add a simple embroidered design.  I chose some colorful DMC floss and then sat with my hoop and needle for a couple of hours.  It’s always so satisfying to work with my hands.

The old iron-on patterns still worked!

Outlining the design with a backstitch

The finished pillowcase

Cool Sheets

July 5, 2010

Lavender sprigs on pillowcase

This week I finally retired our flannel sheets and pulled out the crisp cottons.  I hope I don’t regret it!  It’s still so cold in Seattle, with daytime high temperatures in the 60s.  We’re still waiting for summer here.

Summer To-Do Lists

June 21, 2010

Embroidered and quilted mini-wall hanging for June

My Summer “To-Do” List:

  • Watch a sunset
  • Treat yourself to a cold, blended beverage at Starbucks (my favorite is a green tea frappacino)
  • Leave your footprints on a deserted beach
  • Take a color walk
  • Watch clouds
  • Walk barefoot in the grass
  • Toast weiners and marshmallows over a fire
  • Smell the flowers
  • Pick berries
  • Draw a picture
  • Write a poem
  • Send someone a postcard from the road
  • Swim under a waterfall
  • Rent a convertible
  • Smell freshly cut grass and hay
  • Walk under the stars and moon
  • Eat an ice cream cone
  • Whistle
  • Wish on the first star
  • Sing old campfire songs
  • Jump rope
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Rent a paddleboat or canoe

And here is a Summer action list that I came across in Nikki McClure’s Remember: A Seasonal Record.

  • Build a Bedouin tent
  • Throw a party
  • Go barefoot on a forest trail
  • Tell bad jokes all night
  • Sing songs to friends
  • Watch meteors fall
  • Make ice cream
  • Share a secret swimming spot
  • Float
  • Bike everywhere
  • Never go inside
  • Pick pick pick pick pick
  • Wash windows
  • Dry mint for winter tea
  • Swim at night naked
  • Be buried in sand

Vintage chickens

Vanity plate

This weekend my sister, brother-in-law, husband and I took a road trip across the state to Spokane for the Farm Chicks Antiques Show.  I first became aware of the Farm Chicks when I came across their book, The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen: Live Well, Laugh Often, Cook Much by Serena Thompson and Teri Edwards.  Since reading that the authors were from my state of Washington, I’ve been wanting to attend one of their antiques shows and sales.

The Farm Chicks book

I had no idea that the Farm Chicks were such a major phenomenon!  This year’s event was held at the Spokane fairgrounds, and they attracted a big crowd.

Long line waiting to get in to the Farm Chicks Antiques Show

Inside, there were almost 200 vendor booths packed with vintage and country-themed items.  I enjoyed looking at the old, worn things that called to mind my childhood on the farm.  Some vendors re-purposed old items and gave them new life. 

Vendor at the Farm Chicks Antiques Show

Vintage apron with red rick-rack and white button

Screen door with hook

Crowd reflected in someone's prize mirror

Lovely embroidered linens

Although I’m a country girl at heart, I’m not at Farm Chick because I can’t carry off the glitz and glam that these women revel in.  I loved people-watching, and took some photos of women who epitomize the Farm Chicks style:

Pink boots and feminine skirt

A vendor adding up sales on a calculator

Stylish shopper

Cowboy boots and ruffles

Vendor's apron made from vintage handkerchiefs

Shopper resting between purchases

One-of-a-kind head band

My sister and I had a wonderful time at the show (our husbands took off on their own Spokane adventures). The Farm Chicks have certainly tapped into something — it was fun to be with a community of women share a common interest in all things country.