Tiny Acorns, Mighty Oaks

October 4, 2013

“Might oaks from tiny acorns grow.”
— English proverb

Watercolor sketch of three acorns

Watercolor sketch of three acorns

Gift for my daughter on the occasion of her 25th birthday

Gift for my daughter on the occasion of her 25th birthday

Today I’m sharing yet another watercolor painting of this season’s acorns.  I framed this sketch and presented it with a small jar of acorns to my daughter for her 25th birthday.  She’s a teacher, and I thought these small gifts would look nice on her desk at school — a reminder of her work preparing the soil for her students to thrive and grow.




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

Rhubarb Festival

May 17, 2012

Ingredients for Cafe Flora’s Chef Nat and his rhubarb cooking demonstration at the Columbia City Farmers Market

Seattle’s Columbia City Farmers Market held a Rhubarb Festival yesterday afternoon, and I headed down there on the Light Rail to check it out.  Part of the festivities included a cooking demonstration by Chef Nat of Cafe Flora, and he made a rhubarb compote served as an accompaniment to nettle ravioli with cashew cream sauce and sautéed vegetables.  He also made Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble and a cordial called Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz.  After his cooking demonstration, we got to sample all the recipes — I loved them all.

Jar of Rosemary-Rhubarb Chutney

There was also a Sweet vs. Savory Rhubarb Contest, and I entered a jar of Rosemary-Rhubarb Chutney using the recipe from one of my earliest blog posts.  (You can link back to it here.)  My entry won the Savory Division!  (I was awarded a subscription to Edible Seattle Magazine and a $15 farmers market gift certificate.)  Other contestants made rhubarb ceviche, rhubarb shortcake, rhubarb ice cream, tarts and quiche, pies, cakes, chutneys and compotes, etc.  The winner of the Sweet Division made rhubarb pop tarts, and the Best of Show was a rhubarb cardamom cake.  The staff at the Columbia City Farmers Market said that the winning recipes would be posted to their Facebook page.

Here are some photos from my day at the Columbia City Farmers Market:

The bell that opens the market at 3:00 p.m.

Flower vendor

This is a well-attended neighborhood market, one of several in Seattle.


Another shopper

Mushrooms for sale

Vendor arranging produce

Another shopper

Potatoes for sale

Cooking demo: rhubarb compote with homemade nettle ravioli, cashew cream sauce and sautéed vegetables

Rhubarb Contest entries

Contest judges Leslie Kelly (food writer) and Jill Lightner of Edible Seattle Magazine

Judge’s taste test

Another look at the contest table

Columbia City Farmers Market

Beauty Tips

February 9, 2011

Vintage Noxzema jar and toiletries

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored,
     renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
     never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”
     — “Beauty Tips” often quoted by Audrey Hepburn, written by Sam Levenson

Marbles, buttons and spools of thread

I have to chuckle at the title of this poem.  It’s obviously a given that one would collect books, but what else?

Besides Books, What Do You Collect?
by Richard Jones

Foreign coins,
skeleton keys,
old French primers,
small tin boxes —
any little thing
I can hold in my hand
that like a prayer says
be attentive
this is the way we live —

bits of blue glass
polished by waves
and saved
in a jar
in a drawer.

Blue and green buttons from my collection of buttons

Shells, two decades old, found on Sanibel Island

Watercolor sketch of buttons

Another watercolor sketch of buttons

Paintings and the buttons that inspired them