Monday, December 31, 2012

SOMETHING WONDERFUL THIS WAY COMES...

 "We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."

 ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce~
(Images from Karen's Whimsy)

 There is something so anticipatory about being on the cusp of a new year with all those neat blank squares on the calender pages waiting to be filled with living.  I feel ready to rise up to the challenges the new year might present and excited over the opportunities that might come my way.  Mostly I am grateful to have made it through this past year.  This will not be a time where I will want to reflect back overmuch choosing instead to set my sights forward.

I have spent months in personal preparation for the new years arrival knowing changes would be on the horizon.  Now that is is finally here I feel a tad bit at loose ends as to how to begin at a brand new beginning.  This is the year that I need to start to earn a viable, rather than the current sporadic, income from playing with words, paper, or fibers or else I will need to enter the workforce.  I can only imagine who would hire me when my resume reads something like this:  Skills:  Plays with paper, paint, scissors, and glue, often with wire, beads, and fibers too. 
Everything is in readiness.  My home has been prepared by a thorough culling and cleaning to help with easier maintenance.  The studio stands open awaiting the creative process to begin.  The writing cottage has been turned inside out and is ready for the sounds of tapping or scribbling out of words.  I have untangled myself from any unnecessary commitments and really taken stock of what is needful at this juncture in life.  After careful consideration a 10 week course is about to embarked upon to help me get going in the right direction.  A new schedule has been drawn up with actual built in work days and times.  The hardest part will be consistency on my part and enforcing boundaries for those who have grown use to my flexible availability.

I am feeling anxious, excited, and open to change.  I anticipate that something wonderful this way comes whether it is through a chosen path or an unexpected avenue.  My plan is simple, I will journey along at a steady pace stepping toward one realistic goal at a time.  This year I make no bold statements or resolutions, I choose no word to manifest itself from time to time in the coming year, I make no promises for paths to follow, my only aim to remain faithful to the one thing that is most needful at any given moment and live the new year one moment, one circumstance, one breath at a time, no running ahead, no falling back, just being present in the present.
 "Here's to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here's to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold."

~Irish Blessing~

May a blessed and Happy New Year be yours!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS...

 An amazing Christmas gift arrived in the form of a Cindy Loo Who slip of girl who came to stand beside me mimicking my stance.  Her tiny little hand patted my leg to get my attention.  I smiled down at her as she tipped her dimple cheeked face to mine.  "Hannah?"  "Yes?"  She laid her cheek against my leg, "I love you very, very, very, very much."  I scooped her up hugging her tight and whispered how much I loved her in return.  The gift of love was given and received...priceless.

A look of awe covered a little boys face as he held a box before him in disbelief.  Time froze, his eyes a big as saucers and his mouth a prefect "O".  He fumbled opening the box, still not sure its contents matched the image on the outside.  He whirled the room until our eyes met, "Hannah!  This the best gift I ever imagined!"  All evening long Grandpa and I were showered with hugs and love, with "thank you's" and exclamations of this being the best Christmas ever.  The gift of joy was given and received...priceless.

A family gathered around a table groaning with the bounty of a Christmas feast.  Topics were tossed about amid exclamations of appreciation for this or that dish complimenting the cook.  The air buzzed with voices and laughter to the accompaniment of Christmas carols in the background.  I paused to take it all in...tiny tots at the children's table giggling over the antics of chocolate sucker elves who were holding an animated conversation...young adults talking over technology, latest movies, and oddly enough, pickles...older folks reminisced over Christmas' long long ago...as I sat happily sandwiched in between all ages and stages of life.  The gift of family, as fractured as it can be at times...priceless.
 
I sit here this Christmas morning swaddled in a luxurious blanket with a fur baby cuddled in my lap quietly tapping out memories of our annual family Christmas Eve gathering, savoring all my favorite moments.  I think of you, my extended cyber family, and I wish you a priceless Christmas too, one filled with happy memories in the making, the notice of the little things that make the season bright, one gilded with love and graced with joy.  May this be your very merriest Christmas ever!

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

FEATURED AT: THE ALTERED PAGE...

 Today a morsel of my artwork is being featured as a side dish to some amazing main course meals in mixed media at The Altered Page, 5x5: Chapter 8, the online version of Seth's "The Pulse of Mixed Media".  I had the honor and privilege of being a part of Seth Apter's 5x5 Project where an open call was held for mixed media artwork that was 5 in. x 5in. in scale.  Seth has curated an online gallery of posts being featured each Sunday for the months of November and December 2012 with photos, quotes, and links to each featured artist.  
(ELEMENTS OF NATURE, mixed media book)

I have truly enjoyed the weekly posts, meeting different artist through their artwork, being inspired by the diversity of the mediums and amazing talents that Seth has shared through this project, along with the added bonus of connecting with a like-minded community.  I hope you too will enjoy a Sunday afternoon stroll through Seth's virtual gallery.
(ELEMENTS OF NATURE, book text)

Heartfelt thanks goes out to Seth for being a champion of the art community and for the opportunity to be a small part of this project.

Monday, December 3, 2012

RESILIENCE...

While many of you have decking your halls and shopping at malls I have been pondering the thought of resilience.  I sit here beside a half decorated tree in a house adorned with a bit of outdoor garland and somehow this year it seems enough. Due to circumstances beyond my control I have been pushed beyond my physical and emotional limits in recent weeks.  I am awed by the design of the human mind, body, emotions, and spirit and its resilience. 

The fact that after deformation that any of these can return to their original shape after being pushed to or beyond their limit amazes me.   I found myself bone tired and weary at each days end last week and yet during the night my body regenerated itself and the next day I was able to carry on with resilience, buoyant from the act of sleep.

Heart wrenching circumstances sent me into a flurry of worry that churned up my thoughts and emotions and yet after a time of meditation and prayer a quiet calm reigned over both, resilience, buoyant from the act of acceptance and surrender, peace and calm restored.

My flagging spirit felt crushed under the weight of the responsibility that was thrust upon me so suddenly making this the most challenging holiday season I have ever known and strange as it seems it might be the best one I might ever remember in years to come, resilience, buoyant from the act of rising to meet an unexpected challenge.

Tears, fears, laughter, and thanks have filled my heart and head this holiday season, tacked on is a silent prayer of gratitude.  In the kitchen a candle burns and a kettle simmers.  Sweet spice scents of cinnamon and cloves linger in the air along with the rich aroma of resilience.  I dart a glance around at my minimalist Christmas decor and think of everyone so wrapped up in the holiday hubbub, stretching themselves and their purse strings to the limit and beyond, and whisper another kind of prayer of resilience for them...one where joys fills hearts, happiness reigns in emotion, peace fills the mind, and uplift is the posture of the spirit.  May this be the most memorable, blessed holiday season for you all!


P.S.  Due to unforeseen circumstances I will be on an extended blog break until after the first of the year.  May your Christmas be filled with all that is merry and bright and your New Year be filled with delight! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A QUILL COTTAGE CHRISTMAS, A FREE HOLIDAY TUTORIAL BLOG...


I know that most of you have already begun, are knee deep in, or have already finished your holiday crafting but just in case you want to sneak in a little extra crafting this season to trim your tree, top a package, or delve into the divine celebration of Advent I have put together a little side blog that I am in the process of moving all my free Christmas related tutorials over to.  Now, instead of clicking through archives or scrolling through unrelated tutorials everything is located in one convenient place, A Quill Cottage Christmas blog!

I have currently edited and moved 10 free step-by-step photographed tutorials over there and hope to have the rest moved by weeks end.  This is a simple no frills tutorial blog with an archive list at the bottom of the blog where only things related to Christmas will be posted.  The blog will remain open year round.  I will be adding a sidebar link soon.

In the future new tutorials of this kind will appear here on the regular blog as well as at A Quill Cottage Christmas.

I hope you will enjoy browsing and find a little crafting or celebrating inspiration.
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
(Image from Karen's Whimsy)

 Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.  

~Melody Beattie~

I hope you all enjoy the wondrous wealth of family, friends, and feast this Thanksgiving day!

Blessings,
Sandy

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A TALE OF TECHNOLOGY...

Once upon a time in the land of text and tweets there lived an old fashioned girl who tried very hard to navigate through her modern world filled with all manner of technological wonders.  It seemed that as soon as she timidly mastered one thing the next newest, faster, better thing would come along and require her to be at its mercy until she mastered it also.  She learned as much as she felt she needed to know and let it go at that.  She failed to marvel over apps, swishy screens, and such things.  Faster did not equate with better in her mind.  She longed for the days when getting a new notebook meant actual paper and a stylus was then her favorite brand of ink pen.
Antiquated as she was in her thinking she knew she would have to embrace the technological race.  With great trepidation she did just that.  She learned how to tap out a line or two on the virtual paper screen, not liking the font that looked nothing like her looping handwriting, all the while missing the feel of her hand gliding across the smooth cool paper.  Her fingers sometimes got clumsy and clacked the wrong keys and words were garbled and glaringly underlined in red from the tough task master,  Professor Spellchecker. 
She did not always understand where things went or where they were stored since there was no actual filing cabinet to rifle through until the necessary document was found.   Equally perplexing were they terms of gigs and bites, rams and roms, lists of .coms, and the whole host of abc's that she heard bandied about in excited chatter among those in the know.  It was as if she were hearing what amounted to a foreign language that she could not comprehend.  In spite of all her lack of knowledge and skill she managed enough to get by until one day her notebook malfunctioned.
Now an old fashioned notebook of the paper variety is an easy fix, tear out a messed up page and begin again or simply pop into your favorite paperie and get an inexpensive replacement.  Neither of these options were available to the old fashioned damsel in distress.  She suspected something serious when her notebook began to run a fever getting hot to the touch so she trotted off to the Technology Tincture Shoppe and bought it a cooling pad with a little fan what whirled quietly keeping its core temperature under control.  Crisis averted!
Everything was fine for a while until one day the poor little notebook began to have panic attacks and freeze right up.  It was as if it could not process the data being thrown at it, boy could she relate to that!  This required seeing a specialist, the Geek Squad with their white lab coats and horn rimmed glasses descended, they poked and prodded, scratched their heads and said it was a mysterious illness, to call them in if it should happen again.  It did, they came, its still a mystery.
Then the pad that once allowed a gentle glide of a finger to wheedle untold amounts of control through points and clicks began to halt and stutter or refuse to move at all.  Its pad had plum wore out from being pressed so much and pad replacement surgery was quite expensive without the proper plan of insurance, the policy of which had expired for such an aged machine.
To top matters off the little notebooks ability to reach had suddenly become impaired, it could no longer use technology telepathy to communicate with its companion printer in the other room, they had to be tethered with a cord in order to share commands.  It  could travel no more than 12 feet from its wireless command center without losing its world wide searching abilities.  It had been rendered immobile by its inability to sustain a battery life.  Despite all its flaws, the old fashioned girl had remained loyal to her new kind of notebook until the frustration level mounted at its inability to obey her commands.  It was with great sadness that she closed it for the last time.
Off to the electronic adoption center she went wheer all kinds of hopefuls flashed their screens at her, glowing keys winked, colorful apps flashed, some screens swished, speakers tuned their voices to vie for her attention.  There were big ones, little ones, and just right in between ones.  Ones that sat on desks, ones that rested in laps, and ones that cradled in hands or ones that stood on stands.  It was like walking into a Dr. Seuss rhyme.  A nice young man with a mega watt smile said he could find one that was just her style. 
She looked around him hopefully seeing if there were real paper and pen but was met with nothing but that mega watt grin.  Resigned to the task at hand she allowed him lead her through technology land.  He poked and he pushed at the keys with glee then he swished across screens magically.  With the flare of peddler selling his wares he bamboozled her into buying one of technologies new heirs with eight windows and a swishy new screen plus speakers that could sing like anything.  Home she came with it tucked in a box, kicking off shoes and propping up feet in socks.  She nestled her aged notebook in her lap and for one last and final time began to tap..."A Tale of Technology "..... 
P.S.  Why are there no photos on this post you may ask, because I have not learned how to do this task!  I'll be back on the virtual screen as soon as I master this new technology fiend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SUFFERING FROM T.M.J.! (Too Much Junk)...

 In case anyone is wondering why I have dropped off the blog radar it is because I am seriously suffering from T.M.J. (Too Much Junk) syndrome.  This condition is caused by the trickle down effect...relatives, friends, and well meaning neighbors who either pass on their sacred treasures or just plain junk to a sentimental creative who can cherish or use them.  Add to that the creatives love of collecting things for "projects", out dated decor items, left over wedding decor, adult children who can't let go of their childhoods and think that momma will keep it safe in her storage building, a passing or three of close relatives of whom I was in charge of settling the estates, the usual storage fare of summer items like coolers, outdoor furniture cushions, swim stuff, luggage, plus all the bins of holiday decor and you have yourself a genuine episode in the making of hoarders!
I was genuinely appalled  when I recently went to try and find some fall items to use at a little gathering we were hosting and I could literally not get to the bin they were stored in.  I am by nature a neat freak, everything has a place and I have a serious addiction to organization (and my label maker) everywhere with the exception of this one storage building, it is where I evidently keep all my clutter secrets.  I shove them in and slam the door on them before they escape but after reenacting the "HELP! I've fallen and can't get up!" commercial, popping up from under a box of wedding decor with a hunk of silk hydrangea caught in my hair and dangling behind my left ear I decided enough was enough! 
 I have spent literal days dragging things out box by box, bin by bin, culling, sorting, repacking & labeling, passing on, throwing away, donating, insisting on owners reclaiming, and even reliving some sweet memories.  I am almost done, today should finish the project, and the last of the packed donation boxes will be hauled away.  I feel the pain of the syndrome easing as I make one small portion of my life more manageable.  
 I am amazed at how much of our lives end up in boxes as clutter or castoffs.  Two generations from now no one will know to keep my beloved Brownie Bear, smashed flat to one side from my then little girl head pressing on his side every night to better hear the tinkling of his music box encased tummy.  They will not know that the worn away fur spot around the wind up key was done by tiny fingers who wound it in obsession to quell her fear of the dark, a soothing and familiar nightly noise.  
 They will not know that Brownie came with a tiny baby bear that rested in his sewn together paws but got lost but that it was OK since that made such a nice nestling place for Browine to hold a little girls hand to his musical heart.  They will not know that his tattered ribbon was once a jaunty red bow or that he was best friends with a now button eyeless clown who was handmade by a lady from Germany and that they belong together forever and always.  Someday, in some other storage building that is suffering from trickle down effect, they too will become castoffs when someone else is suffering from T.M.J. (too much junk) syndrome. 

Excuse my while I have a final moment with my junk...sniff, sniff...
Letting go is never easy but it is often necessary in order to move forward.  I think we keep and pass things on because we do not want to forget or to be forgotten. We leave behind the footprints of our stories, entrusting them to those to whom we think with cherish them and keep them alive.  It is our heart memories that mean the most, the feelings we assign to tangible objects, and those feelings are the only thing that we can hold on to without drowning in physical clutter.  This has been a difficult and daunting process but a needful and necessary one.  All these things that were in my possession have found or will find new homes, connecting to new lives, making new stories, passing from hand to hand, heart to heart... 
P.S.  Of course I kept Brownie and Clownie!  
I'll be back to regular posting as soon as the last box is sealed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

MY FAVORTIE PART...

 This is one of my favorite parts of a completed project...
 Piles of project leftovers...
 Puddled over surfaces...
 Snippets and scraps...
Waiting to be assembled...
Into something magical...
  Sweet Snowbirds...
Tattered Angels...
 Shimmering Wings...
Precious Partridges...
With Stockings, Stars, and Snowflakes in the works.

Happiness (for me) is...Studio Scraps!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A CHARMING HALLOWEEN TALE...

"A gypsy fire is on the hearth,
Sign of the carnival of mirth;
Through the dun fields and from the glade
Flash merry folk in masquerade,
For this is Hallowe'en!"

~Author Unknown~
I participated in a Halloween Charm Swap hosted by Thespa Mclaughlin of Vintiquities Workshop.  There were all treats and no tricks where the quality and craftsmanship of these spook-tacular charms are concerned.  Not only were the charms, well...charming, the way they were presented was quite wonderful too.  All the charms arrived in a sweet little treat bag... 
On the day of 31, October, All Hallows Eve, strange and wondrous tales unfold upon the strike of midnight old...
 Two little owls mournfully cry "Who Whoooo" while flying by...
A Haunted House upon a hill...
 Where a Pumpkin glowers from the window sill...
 A Skeleton Key opens the creaking door...
 Revealing a host of Creepy Crawlies dangling in the darkened foyer...
The sound of chattering teeth, rattle of bone, and flashing glow of eye emanate from Skulking Skeletons...
 A Ghost calls out a chilling "Boo!" turning ones knees to gelatin...
 And a Mummy moans a message true...
 "A HAPPY HALLOWEEN to you, and you, and you!"

Thespa suggested using these charms to make a bracelet, which is a fantastic idea but I am going to put mine to another use.  I am going to use them as mug charms!   We are having a little get together here at the Quill where cider and cocoa will be served.  I thought this would be a fun, stylish, and holiday appropriate way to distinguish identical mugs.  I have strung each charm on a shimmery copper ribbon and tied one to each of my pumpkin mug handles for a fun touch... 
In case you are wondering, this was my contribution to the swap...
Thank you to all the wonderful swap participants for these fun and fanciful charms and to our hostess, Thespa, for all her behind the scenes work.  I am linking up to Thespa's Halloween Post, so jump a link to see more fright delights!

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