Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Down by the bay

Months ago Mr. Wonderful booked us for Hawaii.

Oh, the joy of sitting on the beach, staring out at the sea.

I've played in my sketchbook, not caring if things turned out fantastic or a total flop~ isn't that what experimentation is all about?

If you get to Kauai, you must visit the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and marvel at the cocoa and vanilla and coffee plants, the orchids and palms and birds.

But nothing beats the warm beach air for simple rest and restoration.
Not to mention eye candy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Summer in this little valley may look laid back lazy, but there is a lot of labor behind the scenes.
I've been so busy there hasn't been a moment to post a thing.
But then, you've probably been too busy to notice anyway!

The studio has been almost frantic, with snippets flying as I design a line of sea-themed dies for Sizzix- hooray! It'll be released in January (more about that soon.)

Above, another Sizzix die collection with a rose garden theme, inspired by the trellised roses by the studio door, perfect for parties and weddings all year long.

When the studio doors are open the warm breezes blow through and I can hear the cows in Schleh's pasture calling one another, a pleasant distraction. Sometimes I have to wander over to see what the fuss is about.

Summer, season of warmth, blue skies, ripe berries!
The sketchbook and camera fill up so fast.

We make it a priority to slow down in summer... for long walks, for grilling out with the neighbors, for basking in a garden abundant to overflowing.

We are busy but still there is the farmland to be savored and friends to be cherished.
Somehow we find time. Thank heaven for long hours of daylight!

Call me a sentimental sap (you'd be right!) but the pie social and barn dance we had to celebrate the end of summer was like a story book come to life.

We even had a hay bucking contest and cherry and berry pies made from our own home grown fruit. Not to mention blackberry lemonade. Oh, yes, we do love summers here.

Inspiration abounds here in the Skagit Valley, and I am really longing to time for more art based on the farms I treasure.

There is enough right here in this small place to inspire a lifetime of gratitude, art to fill many a museum... there is a whole world full of life and beauty right here, right now.

How priceless the beauty of everyday summer life...
a cat with intense green eyes, a little girl whose laughter is music.

 Take time as summer fades into autumn to look around you. 
What simple pleasures are hiding in plain sight?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Take me to the fair...

Our county has a small town feeling we treasure,
and that's perhaps most evident during the County Fair.

It's quintessential Americana and for all its cheesiness, we absolutely adore it.
It's probably like most of the other county fairs in rural America,
stereotypes come to life.


We have to walk past the carnival games and rides, where the colors are garish and we can listen to the children beg for a stuffed animal.

We walk through barns stuffed with entries for best dill pickles, most appealing pie, most skillfully stitched quilt. 

We ooh and ahh and comment on whether we think the judges got it right and pause at the beekeeping and master gardener booths.

We're suckers for the horses, the rodeo and barrel racing. 
Ditto for the crazy expensive pretzels and barbecued everything and the lemonade.

And especially the horchatas made by our Hispanic neighbors. Deliciousness!

But we linger longest in the animal barns, gazing at goats, sheep, cows and pigs with admiring eyes.

4-H is big in our county and it involves entire families.

We come to root for our neighbor kids, searching for Hannah's bunnies and Ian and Danny's goats.

We pitied the sheep waiting to be judged, their fleeces kept clean from straw by special coats 
that made us laugh and speculate on how humiliated they'd be if they knew how they looked,
like some crazy parody of a Klu Klux Clan scene.

Contented pigs napped in the sun, pig tails and cloven hoofs twitching now and then.

I love gazing at the people even more than the animals.
You can't help but notice that everyone is included, welcomed, and given a place here.

The feeling of belonging is so plain and priceless.

There are no pretenses at all, though the nicest boots and hats and buckles definitely come out during fair days.

At the height of summer, there is truly nothing more all-American than a couple of hours spent rubbing shoulders with your neighbors down at the county fair.