Archive for June, 2010

Birds are on my mind a lot lately. When I sit down to journal, I always do a status update of the 2 finch nests. What I like about birds is their way of gathering found materials to create a nest that is strong enough to lay their eggs and keep them safe until they hatch. You don’t see birds looking for the latest pottery barn catalog, or watching some decorating show for new ideas. They stick to what they know: nest building. And they use what they find. A reminder to me that my home is not a sum of it’s coordinating pillows are fancy stuff. Making do with what I have, using what’s on hand instead of rushing to the store to get what I think I need.
One skill I have is gathering and collecting. If you could see the things I’ve collected and stored away for “some” day. Last weekend I found some of the little Jenni Bowlin bingo cards. I see these online and covet them thinking of the wonderful things I’d make if I had these. So I bought a little pack. Normally these would get looked at for a while, then put away for something “special”. But yesterday I was in a mood, and got to making stuff. My two little people were watching pbs and I was nearly manic with the need to make something, get a paintbrush out, dirty up my hands. I felt a little bad that I wasn’t doing something with my kiddies or being productive doing house work or homework. But I got over it pretty quick! 🙂

So here is a little bird book. Made from a few of my favorite bits of things I’ve been holding onto. Does it have a purpose? Not really, other than to be something little and pretty and in tones of ivory.

front cover with bird punched out of a Starbucks sleeve

inside, small watercolor painting.

back cover


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As I slowly get back into the medium that I loved I am remembering why I loved watercolors so much. I love the feel of the paper, the way the water moves over it, the softness of the colors.
Last week I found this little simple frame, just the sort of thing I like to get at thrift stores and re-make into something pretty. Cute, and at 75 cents a steal! But not really my thing.

Being an artist is like being a bird. We collect and gather little bits save and make into something new.

I covered the base with burlap, painted the matting, ripped a small square of watercolor paper and painted my little bird.

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I love birds, love listening for the different birds, love to watch them out my kitchen window and imagine the conversations they have in the morning around bird feeder. Lately birds have been on my mind so it seems natural that when I do sit down to create, birds are going to come out.

a shipping tag, combining all my things I love: shipping tags, browns, birds, buttons, old bits of lace and things.

(ink, old trims, bird stamp from Stampin Up)

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This summer
no big plans each day
no list of things we must accomplish
just enjoying what each day has to offer.

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On our front porch I have hung our bird feeder. The location is perfect because there is birch tree by the porch that provides shelter and perches for the birds, and it’s right in front of the windows over the kitchen sink. After buying new seed from a local garden shop I have found we are getting much more bird traffic than before. And since the neighbor’s roaming feline has since passed onto the kitty heaven, there are fewer predators skulking about. I have noticed for the last few weeks a lot of action in the two hanging plant baskets on the front porch. So on Monday I got a chair and peeked into the basket on the north side of the house. I turned it all around until I found this tiny, tightly woven nest.

I looked into the other basket but couldn’t see anything. I left the other nest alone and observed the mamma bird coming and going from the nest. But on Thursday I noticed more noise and lots of traffic out of the other basket, so I grabbed a chair and camera and really looked into the basket and found another nest with at least 3 nestlings. But they were so snuggled down that it was hard to tell.

The kids and I have really gotten into watching our birds, I have found a few good sites about finches.
Celebrate Urban Birds
All About Birds

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Great Grandmother’s Peonies. Growing up, these were always one of my favorite flowers. I remember when spring would finally warm up the frozen ground these dark red shoots would start pushing through the soil. Within a week these would be nearly a foot tall and have leaves unfurling from the main stem. After a few weeks, the flower buds would swell with potential, small ants would cover the buds and start eating away the green covering until these massive pink blooms would unfold, filled with scent. When I married and moved away from the farm, my mom dug up a start from these same plants. I planted them in our first home and watched them repeat this same process I’d witnessed as a little girl. When we bought our new home 5 years ago I was most concerned with moving my great grandmother’s piano and my plants. I transplanted most of these plants in the late winter/very early spring. Then I read an article about how delicate these plants are and how difficult they are to transplant. Basically there was a list of things that were bad to do with peonies and I did every one of them. But by early March, the read shoots started poking out of the ground. Then I realized that silly magazine was talking about some wimpy plant brought home from a big box store. Farm plants, like farm girls thrive wherever they are planted.

Oriental Poppies-seeds collected from our first home, original seeds from Mom’s yard. I believe my mom got the seeds from someone else in town who got them from who knows. I have always loved this big bold flowers. Such a bright and unapologetic red color. I remember watching the big round bumble bees buzzing around the centers of these flowers, getting their legs covered with the purple pollen. I imagine that to them this flower was like a terrific buffet of color.

Purple Clematis- the view from my dinning room window. I have a very tall dinning room window. I don’t have a curtain or any type of blind on it. I like the light, I like to see out, see what little birds may be flying through the yard. Unfortunately, my view is of a narrow yard and a plain fence. Nothing too inspiring. I decided that instead of making or buying any type of window treatment I would create the view I wanted to see. It’s been a few years in the making but each year this clematis gets a little bigger and the flowers put on an even better show than the year before last. To me my garden is like my life, I need to create the world I want to see and live in. We can choose to be happy, choose to make the most of what we have, and we can choose to look at the world through a pretty lens.

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