Star chandelier at the Nordic Heritage Museum

Star chandelier at the Nordic Heritage Museum

“This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.”
— Walt Whitman, “A Clear Midnight”

As I ponder the mysteries of dark, sleep, and death, I find comfort in these words.  Aren’t they lovely?

Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the how abandoned
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.


“Snowflakes spill from heaven’s hand
Lovely and chaste like smooth white sand.
A veil of wonder laced in light
Falling gently on a winter’s night.”
–Linda A. Copp

Paper Star Snowflake

Paper Star Snowflake

Several years ago one of the gift wrappers at the University Bookstore in Seattle was making these holiday snowflakes (or they could be stars, I guess).  She gave me a photocopied set of instructions, original source unknown.  I’ve been meaning to make some of these snowflakes for holiday decorations, but until now, I never got around to it.

My finished snowflake hangs in my kitchen window, a lacy wonder that lets in the light.

Here are step-by-step instructions for making your own paper snowflake/star:

Fold each square in half to make a triangle.  Then fold in half again.  And again.

Fold each square in half to make a triangle. Then fold in half again. And again.

You need six square of paper.  I used 5 x 5-inch squares.  Fold each square in half along the diagonal, making a triangle.  Then fold in half again.  And again.


Cut slits into each triangle.

Now, keeping the little triangles folded, cut four parallel slits on the solid side.  Cut almost all the way across.

Open the paper squares and press flat.

Open the paper squares and press flat.

Open each piece of paper back into a square and flatten with your fingers.

Cutting some of the inner square just to free two corners.

Cutting some of the inner square just to free two corners.

Next you will bring two opposite points of the inner squares together in a sequence.  In order to do this, you will first have to cut the corners free along one long diagonal fold line.  (Leave the other points/corners so that they are not cut all the way through.)

Starting with the smalled inner square, fold two points together and tape.

Starting with the smallest inner square, fold two points together and tape.

Starting with the smallest inner square, fold two opposite points together and tape into a cylindrical shape.

Turn the square over, and bring the points of the next larger square together.

Turn the square over, and bring the points of the next larger square together.

1. Turn the square over.  2.  Bring the opposite points of the next larger square together and tape.  Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all of the opposing points have been taped in the center.

You've finished square one!

You’ve finished square one!

Your square should now look like this.  You need five more.  Start folding and taping!

Staple three sections together at a point.

Staple three sections together at a point.

Once you have completed all six sections of the snowflake, take three and match up at a point.  Staple at this point.  Repeat with the other three sections.

Finished paper snowflake

Finished paper snowflake

That’s it!  Your paper snowflake/star is complete.

Hanging snowflake

Hanging snowflake

Forsythia: Golden Stars

March 19, 2012

“Tomorrow the twigs of forsythia will be sprinkled all over with golden stars . . .”
— Karel Capek, The Gardener’s Year

Forsythia in bloom

Sprightly branches of forsythia

Detail of forsythia branches

Early blossoms, forsythia

“Forsythia is pure joy.  There is not an ounce, not a glimmer of sadness or even knowledge in forsythia.  Pure, undiluted, untouched joy.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Watercolor sketch of forsythia

Another watercolor sketch of forsythia


Lady Liberty appliqued wall-hanging, pieced by my sister, quilted by me, in 2000

In celebration of our nation’s birthday, this Fourth of July, I will share with you my collection of handmade quilted items in red, white, and blue.  I’ve made these over the years from fabric scraps.  They’ve become treasured holiday keepsakes.

Star Soup quilted wall hanging, made in 1995

Glory Be quilted wall hanging, made in 1998

Pledge of Allegiance, embroidered and hand-quilted while on a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1999

Red, beige and blue scrap quilt made in 1999

Midnight Sky quilt made from old blue jean scraps, 1998


Folded paper star ornament

I found the instructions for making these folded paper star ornaments on the December 8th post of the Craftynest blog (  I love how they look and plan to make many more.  Here’s how I made mine:

Cutting out stars from paper

Using the pattern I downloaded from the Craftynest blog, I cut out 10 stars from some pretty red speckled paper I had on hand.

Folding the stars

Then I folded each paper star in half.  (After I folded them, I realized that the Craftynest instructions said to fold in half on the points.  Ooops.  It turned out that my mistake didn’t really matter.)

Sewing the paper stars together

Next I stacked all 10 paper stars together and sewed down the center fold line.

Attaching ribbon

Because my folds were in the gutter rather than point-to-point, I was able to just tie ribbon around my stars, covering the sewing.  (At Craftynest, they sewed the ribbon on.)

Finished star ornament

When you open up the leaves of the star, it makes a beautiful symmetrical ornament.

Detail of finished star

Handmade paper stars tied with fabric into a garland

Paper star garland for our Christmas tree

One of our traditional Christmas decorations is a paper star garland that I made years ago.  I painted paper with acrylics, and although the colors are not strictly Christmas-y, it brings a scrappy homespun look to our Christmas tree.

Below are instructions for making the paper stars, which can be used individually for ornaments or strung together for a garland:

Draw a six-sided star on cardboard.

I used a compass and ruler to draw a six-sided star on cardboard.  This will be your pattern or template.  You can make the star any size . . . I set my compass so that there was 3/4-inch between the two points.

Your cardboard star template

Then cut out your cardboard pattern to make your star template.  You can slice across one of the points, as the finished star will have only five points.

Trace the pattern onto your paper

Now trace around the template onto your paper.  I used paper suitable for painting on with acrylics, but you could use recycled paper, too.  The paper needs to be a little stiff, but foldable.  You will need to trace two stars for each finished one.

Fold the stars along all of the lines on your pattern.

After you cut out two stars, fold each along all of the lines on your pattern.

Make a slit along one fold line to the center point.

On the side of your star that is missing its point, cut a slit along one fold line to the center point.

Apply glue to the triangle sections next to the slit.

Now you’ll apply glue or rubber cement to just the two triangles next to the slit — one triangle glue the top (painted side) and the other triangle glue the back side.

Now overlap the glued triangle sections to make a star.

Next you’ll overlap the two prepared triangular sections, gluing them together to make a two-dimensional star with a pyramid-like center.

Apply glue to the points.

Next you’ll apply glue or rubber cement to the back side of all five points.

Glue the two star pieces together at the points.

Matching the points as best you can, glue the two star pieces together to form your finished star.  I sometimes have to trim off small slivers of paper from the points where the paper did not match up exactly.  Your star should look good from both sides.

Make hole(s) to string up the star.

Use a hole punch to make a hole in a point of the star.  Then string ribbon through the hole to hang your ornament.  If you are making a garland, you will need to punch holes in two points, then tie the stars together in a long row.

Finished star ornament, decorated with glitter

Stars, the Poetry of Heaven

November 22, 2010

Fallen leaves strewn like stars across a black sky

Leaves fallen into constellations, riding the Milky Way

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
     — Vincent van Gogh

“Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!”
     — Lord Byron

Glimmering World

May 29, 2010

Tulip open in the sun

Tulip opened to reveal a star

This World
by Mary Oliver

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it

nothing fancy.

But it seems impossible.

Whatever the subject, the morning sun

     glimmers it.

The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open and becomes a star.

The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark

     pinprick well of sweetness.

As for the stones on the beach, forget it.

Each one could be set in gold.

So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds

     were singing.

And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music

     out of their leaves.

And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and

     beautiful silence

     comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too

     hurried to hear it.

As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs

     even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.

So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.

So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,

     and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,

     so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of being

     locked up in gold.

Allium in bloom

Starburst of tiny petals

I’ve got my Canon SLR digital camera back from the factory.  I’m so thankful I can once again photograph flowers.  There are so many flowers in bloom right now, I could easily feature a flower a day.

A page from Bulb by Anna Pavord

Star Magnolia

March 17, 2010

Star Magnolia

Until this spring, I don’t recall seeing this particular kind of magnolia blossom.  This year I am seeing them all over.  They are called Star Magnolia.  Aren’t they lovely?