Thursday, October 27, 2011

Autumn pampering

Misty morning.

Dewy fields were waiting.

It's so interesting how in autumn the colors are alternately muted and soft, like the field above, or brilliantly showy like the berries and leaves I ran past in Riverside Park.

I wanted to be simply alone with my thoughts, to run, to savor it all by myself.

I was not sorry to have left duty behind and gifted myself with a full sixty minutes of pure pleasure, running with only my dog and my camera.

Past brilliant leaves and foggy pastures...

every line softened by the low clouds...

Sometimes luxury is priceless though free, and my hour outdoors was just that for me.
Why, I wonder, do we scrimp and deprive ourselves of such refreshment? 
I am resolved to say yes to myself more often.

So let me challenge you as well:

What are you doing to pamper yourself today?
If it's been a while, look around and seize the little opportunity to be kind to yourself and enjoy a small luxury as I did.

It's so refreshing.
Now, back to work!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

On the kitchen windowsill

 On the kitchen windowsill, there is a bit of the outdoors in a green ceramic pot.

In the last year or two I've learned that I love ferns.

They seem to thrive on my benign neglect and gazes of admiration.

Ferns growing right beside the kitchen sink make doing the dishes a fascinating episode. It's like a walk in the woods without leaving the house.

What's growing on your windowsills this autumn?

Sketching in the greenhouse

 We woke up to a downpour.
Perfect day for an escape to Christianson's Nursery... sketching trip!

Christianson's can be counted on for eye candy. Remember the Flower & Garden Show early in the year? You can look at it again here.

I sketched topiaries, wheelbarrows, spades, and the little potted bulbs that are leafing out.
Diminutive terra cotta pots. Ferns. Doves in vintage cages.

Do you have favorite sketching spots? This is mine and now you know why.

Even their signs are charming.
I had to laugh about the water hoses in use during a storm!

Everywhere you look there is a still life... something to inspire.
Textures are natural, colors muted and brilliant in turn.

Even their smudgy windows are charming.

Just the thing for a rainy autumn afternoon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn in the Northwest woods

Autumn in the Pacific Northwest seems to me a quiet, dappled season.

It's a season of calm reflection in our woods.

Mosses and mushrooms,
ferns and rose hips...

Quiet beauty prevails.

Hiking through the woodland alone this afternoon inspired me.

The forest was my outdoor cathedral.

And a splendid house of worship it was.

Everywhere I looked there were living collages and masterful landscapes.

Who can doubt than an ordinary day is full of miracles?
The changing of the seasons is an amazing phenomenon.

Savor it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The King's Speech walls were calling my name...

The first time I saw "The King's Speech" I didn't even notice the plot or the actors.

I was too busy looking at the walls.

What glorious walls they are! I wanted to come home to those walls.

This week when Mr. Wonderful decided to paint the living room and accidentally left the pumpkin peeking through the ochre color I couldn't resist trying my own version.

Want to try it at your house? Here's how I did it:

At first it looked like someone had just grabbed the leftover paint and dashed it all over the walls.
Guilty as charged.

That's how you start. Just splodge on whatever you've got.
 Use an old brush or two, or ripped up towels... just make sure the edges are all soft. 

Rub it hard with a rag. 
Keep on rubbing with the same ratty old rag.
The colors will run together and look a tad muddy.

Hooray! Don't give up... you're getting there.

And as Mr. Wonderful told me, "Don't worry, it's just paint!"

The key to this look is layer over layer over layer. 
Once you get two or three layers everywhere, switch to the colors you're really going to want to show.

Next, add patches of dramatic color- I used barn red and forest green. On the same rag!

A little hint if you do this project... it's counterintuitive, but using the same rag for multiple colors lends a really nice blending. Rub until almost all the color is used up before dipping into the paint pot again.

Build up layer upon layer. 

It all blends together in the end, layer after layer taking on a rich patina.

I used only leftover paints from the garage, then I added pigments brought home from the ochre mines in France.

When I pulled out decorative elements, the background colors shone through.

When you're finished painting, mix up some flour and water paste and glue on random bits of paper. I distressed mine with walnut ink and added vintage papers from the 1920s. 

You might want to add a piece of molding on top- ours is carved & detailed.

Don't you love the muted, weathered look?

My wall isn't exactly like the one in the movie, but I love the result. 

If you decide to go for it and make your own version of the King's Speech walls I'd love to see what you did. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dorothy was right

Dorothy was right, wasn't she?

Truly there is no place like home.

Your own pillow, familiar sounds at night, the comfort of the everyday.

We treasure the humble joys of our ordinary lives.

Leaves changing in our little valley.

The way the road bends to reveal rain beating down on the foothills, rays of sun gilding the evergreens.

I don't think I've ever felt so glad to be home as I do this week.

Never have I been so happy to be in my own little nest.

A brisk walk, a pot of soup steaming on the stove, the joy familiar views on the way home...

What a blessing to be home, simply home.