Friday, December 14, 2012

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Red Capped Mushroom

Amanita Muscaria, a symbol of good luck!

Knowing Calamity Kim: actual good luck! She may be the busiest, most creative elf I know, and generous. Really, amazingly generous. Also, inspiring. Really, amazingly inspiring.

Last month she sent me a message... let's exchange ornaments, she suggested. I'll send you a chicken, if you send me a red capped mushroom. And I jumped at the chance, delighting in the prospect of receiving one of her sweet creations.

So. First: I Googled "red cap mushroom." I was pretty sure she was talking about those adorable little Christmas mushrooms, the ones that attract fairies and gnomes. And it was not hard to imagine such an ornament, in her collection, a fanciful foot stool for elves, a shelter for woodland mice. But, my second task was to devise a way of creating this red cap mushroom... making it worthy of the Queen of Craft! I was delighted to realize that the materials were close at hand.

At the time I was up to my elbows in warm suds and wool, felting bars of soap. Maria and I made some last spring, and I liked the idea of wool felted soaps for Christmas gifts. Up to this point my wool experience was limited to those bars of soap, some needle felting, and lots and lots of colorful wool balls. I was not too sure how all of this would come together for a three-dimensional, multi-colored, discernible form.

Outside I found a stone.
A good size stone for a mushroom cap, and in the same fashion that made felted wool bars of soap, I felted the stone, but before the stone was completely encased in wool, I slipped the stone out and had a little red pouch.

I needled felted white dots, then set to work on the mushroom stem.
That was very similar to making wool bracelets... just a lot thicker and shorter.

A funny thing about the wet, soapy wool: you have to employ a little faith and patience... I was close to the form I wanted, but it looked and felt like a soggy, limp mess! I had to let the stem dry, and as it dried I would tweak the shape, sometimes squeezing it gently, sometimes needle felting small loose bits.

Once the cap and the stem were complete, I slowly, delicately, needle felted the stem into the underside of the white spotted, red mushroom cap. Little jabs, round and round, and easily they bonded together.

The next concern was what I could do to add to the piece, to make it an ornament. That was when I decided to make it an ornament that could perch in a tree, or sit in a woodland scene, so it would need a base.

I found a small wood round, and glued a piece of blue wool felt to it, then needle felted a forest floor... a green mossy mound, and a small river stone. Next came the red capped mushroom and I carefully jabbed at the base of the mushroom stem, felting the wools together.

What fun! Happy muses, was I ever delighted with how each step of this new adventure came together. Playing with wool is wonderful, satisfying, stress-free. It's nice enough, for my own amusement, to find something enjoyable, to make a success of an idea, but when doing something for someone special, someone I admire... well, I was so relieved and amused to discover that it really did work!

Now, wasn't that lucky?

There's more to share, soon, and maybe you remember a cute chick swinging in our Christmas tree? Thank you, Kim!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Thursday's forecast: Not a smidge of snow.
Low: 50 degrees Fahrenheit
High: Fifty-something
And a 60% chance of rain.

Hey! We'll take the rain. That's what we call "weather" around here!

We wish it would snow. We wish our windows would frost, and school would close. We wish we could sled down our driveway, and drink hot cocoa around a campfire. We wish we could cuddle and huddle, while wind blows at the doors. Snowmen, angels, lacy flakes on our woolen mittens... okay, we don't have woolen mittens, or sleds, and the only dusting on our lawn is from sidewalk chalk... but the dream lives. The irrational frivolous, marvelous, wintery dream lives!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Beta

Introducing... Diego.
Diego came for Maria's birthday... a gift from us to her.
This handsome Beta fish lives in a glass canister, in the kitchen,
and he has a small snail friend we call Gary.
Gary is also handsome.
Diego is quiet, unassuming,
but he can get riled up when he catches sight of his reflection.
He is fishy, swimmy, and naturally aquatic.

Hello, Diego,
you handsome, swimmy, fishy, aquatic friend.

Happy Beta~
Get it?
It's funny, 'cause it's pun-y!

Happy Beta to you!
Happy Beta to you!
Happy Beta, dear Maria,
Happy Beta to you!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Twinkling of Lights

Fireflies, or glitter, something is sparkling in the pines.
Dancing on the branch tips that sway in the breeze.
Our lights are twinkling in the trees.

I've waited quite a while to have lights up for Christmas. Some years I have wrestled with a few strings, standing precariously on the tallest step stool, making haphazard due with my limited light-hanging skills. But Geoff found a way to make it up to me, a thousand-thousand times. We love our engineer-magician, and the clever way he turns something simple into something simply wonderful!

While Geoff installed his creation, Max and Maria found a hidden space, deep in the mock orange and pine needle beds. And even before actual sunset, Max could already detect the appearance of our twinkling lights.

It is a delicate effect. The tiniest points of light that spread out and up, illuminating the trees... it looks full of fireflies. It looks like a celestial wonderland!

In October, Max and Alex began reading the Harry Potter series to Maria. Now they are on book six! Some days, taking turns, they read nonstop for four or five hours. And Maria, lucky girl, takes it all in, attentively, eagerly. Max and Alex pause to guide her imagination through critical plot points, asking her leading questions, and it's a sight to see when she exclaims in delight over twists and shocks!

The darker the sky, the brighter our lights, and the tiny points of light shimmer and sway when any wind goes through the branches.

Walking along our dark street at night, we love the house lights the neighbors put up. The bright strings of colored lights, the cheery brightness of white lights that sparkle, the trees full of classic large bulbs, and now we too enjoy a festive sight, our own Christmas trees lit up for the night.