Sunday, April 23, 2017

"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also." --Harriet Ann Jacobs

Last weekend Tim and I went to visit the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City.  It's a lovely group of small gardens representing various countries from around the world - Finland, Greece, England, Japan, Vietnam, China, France, Sweden, etc.  There are picnic areas and playgrounds adjacent to the Peace Garden where kids were hunting for Easter Eggs and families were having barbecues.  Lots of children were dressed in their colorful Easter best while their parents posed them next to flowers and trees and statuary.  It was a perfect way to spend a sunny spring Saturday morning. 

We then moved on to Liberty Park, also in Salt Lake City.  This park seems quite popular for runners, cyclists, dog walkers, volleyball and football players, Frisbee enthusiasts, kids who like to roll down hills, and picnickers.  It's also enjoyed by those who simply like to stroll while spotting birds, looking at mountain views, perusing whatever might be blooming, and possibly buying prayer flags or a pair of earrings from a local artist.  We visit this park quite often.  It's also home to an aviary and a Museum of Utah Folk Arts.  Indeed there is something for everyone.  

While photographing the tulip in the above photo, I found this painted rock inside the petals.  I chuckled to think that someone took the time to paint a face on a pebble, carry it their pocket, and then hide it for another to find.  A way to spread joy?  A random acts of happiness?  I'm not sure of their intent, but it made me smile.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


This is the snowy scene we woke up to this morning.  

not even the colorful, spring-themed birdies could keep the snow at bay

Saturday, April 8, 2017


There are several people in my life who abhor stillness.  They're always busy, constantly moving, always having something to do, never one without plans or places to be.  I am very much the opposite.  I relish stillness.  Quiet.  A peaceful afternoon with no agenda and nowhere to be.  

So I'm sitting at my desk, sipping hot tea and listening to the breeze as it makes the newly budding tree outside my window sway.  Keeping an eye out for the killdeer I can hear but not see.  Wondering if the white-faced ibis that made a stopover yesterday in a large muddy puddle is still nearby.  Thinking I may soon take a nap.

A day like today reminds of Sundays when I was growing up.  It was the one day of the week where we often didn't have much on the calendar or to do list.  We would eat a mid-afternoon supper that sometimes had been cooking for hours.  We had plenty of time to be outside, to read, to watch an old movie on TV, to nap, or perhaps go for a leisurely drive in the country.  I loved those calm days that seemed to last longer than any other day of the week.  Today feels like one of those childhood Sundays.   

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Working on it

While I'm still working through the list of participants from the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop (note the post just prior to this one), I wanted to share a few photos from this past Sunday.  After a few days focused almost solely on jewelry, cabin fever pulled me outdoors to see how spring is coming along.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bead Soup Reveal Day!

The wonderful Lori Anderson is again hosting a Bead Soup Blog Hop on her blog, Pretty Things.  Today's theme is Bead Hoarders, and participants were required to send their partner only one bead that had lived in their stash for quite some time.  We could, of course, also send accompanying beads, findings, a clasp, stringing materials, what have you, but it wasn't obligatory.  The point was to find a special bead that perhaps we hadn't been able to part with or couldn't find the perfect use for or associated a particular memory with or just liked knowing was in a bead box, waiting to become part of a piece of jewelry.  No matter the reason why we had held onto said bead, we were to send it on to our partner with love while anticipating how they might use it.

My partner, Danielle Kelley, sent me some true lovelies.  Below is a quick reminder: 

Danielle posted pics of the soup I mailed on her blog, Imbue The Muse.  I confess I forgot to take photos before I sent it on its way!  Quick side note: the main hoarded bead I sent her is an enameled focal by C-Koop Beads purchased way back in 2007 at the Minneapolis, MN Bead Monkey store (which has since, sadly, closed its doors).

Well, without further ado, here is what I made from the items Danielle sent along with some bits from my own reserve of beads:

The polymer clay bead was made by my blog hop partner.  The dragonflies are from Beadaholique.  The lampwork beads are from Goody Beads.  The faceted green glass ovals and many of the findings are from The Crystal Limit.  The small dark blue Czech glass faceted rounds are from A Bead Just So.

The carved elephant bead is from my bead soup partner, Danielle.  Most of the ingredients for this bracelet came from bead shows in NY and MA.  I've had some of the stone chips for at least 20 years, no kidding!  The tulip bead caps are from Jo-Ann Fabrics as are the findings.  The Golden Rod 3mm Czech glass rounds are from Fusion Beads.
The goldstone barrels were sent by Danielle.  I wish I could have photographed them in better light because they are rather sparkly.  That gorgeous Gardanne Beads focal was found at a bead show in Albany, NY.  The small agate briolettes were purchased at Farrin O'Connor Design Studio in Pasadena, CA which has since closed shop.  The oatmeal colored lampwork above the focal was made by Wes Fleming.

More goldstone barrels from Danielle.  You can see how they glitter in this photo.  The Czech glass leaves were purchased in Prague at Manufaktura.  The reddish faceted agate rounds are from A Zillion Beads.  The chandelier components are from The Crystal Limit.  
That very fetching, colorful, detailed stone focal is again from Danielle.  It is a large piece of agatized coral, and I was immediately inspired when I saw it.  The dangling stones are some of the detritus I have picked up at beaches over the years.  The dagger beads are from Let's Bead.  The lampwork bead was made by Alison Byrd.  I bought several groupings of her borosilicate glass beads while in Florence, OR years ago, but I can't seem to find a website for her.  The copper diamonds are from Michael's.  I can't seem to recollect where I found those amber chips. 

I started out with a spring theme but then went mostly brown.  Hmm...perhaps that's because I live on the edge of the West Desert in Utah.

The list of all participants is belowEnjoy hopping to blogs and Pinterest pages.  I, for one, am really looking forward to perusing all of the gorgeous, creative, imaginative pieces people have put together.  These hops are always inspiring.


Friday, March 24, 2017

"With the coming of spring, I am calm again." -- Gustav Mahler

I am very much looking forward to the arrival of spring flowers.  Our lawn is greening up quite nicely, and the trees are pushing forth buds and blossoms.  It smells like wet earth outside.  Plenty of birds are singing, chirping, searching for mates, and building nests.  So I thought I'd revisit my photos from last spring's Tulip Festival in Albany, NY.  We will miss it this year, but I've learned there are places nearer our current home that also put on a spectacular display.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring has begun

view from a hike near Livingston Peak in southwestern Montana

Spring has arrived in Utah.  Astronomical spring has begun, and the temperatures have been on the rise.  We've been sleeping with our bedroom window open.  We were one number shy of 80 degrees Fahrenheit this past weekend.  Three record highs have been broken since last Tuesday.  I've heard that mosquitoes are already buzzing around the wildlife refuges north of Salt Lake City.  And I have the fever to get outside and hike.  Friends have already been on trails along the Wasatch Front, and I find myself eagerly looking forward to following suit. 

view of the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from Artist Point

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts." - John Muir

More light in the evenings makes me hopeful for more scenes like this - the eastern side of the Stansbury Mountains.  We're hoping to spend some time walking amongst green alpine meadows in the upcoming months.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

wings and feathers

Two weeks ago we took a trip to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.  There was a nature photography exhibit that was rather inspiring, and their permanent exhibits are impressive as well.  I had the most fun in the bird gallery and the insect alcove (so many butterflies!).  However, the entire museum is well worth the visit.  Giraffes, an elephant, lions, wolves, elk, a wolverine, even a polar bear were all on display.  Dead, of course.  (Well, taxidermy animals might be a better description.)  The BYU campus is, in fact, home to several museums.  There is also a Museum of Art, a Museum of Paleontology, and a Museum of Peoples and Cultures.  


Friday, February 24, 2017

Evening stroll

Lately we've been walking in the evenings to bird watch and catch the sunset.  There has been a pair of red-tailed hawks in an area planted with cottonwood trees, some of these housing a few noticeably large nests.  They were flying about again tonight.  

A great horned owl has been hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo-ing in that same area, and tonight we finally caught a glimpse.  About twenty minutes after the sun went behind the hills, we heard its territorial hooting.  Having finally remembered to bring binoculars, we scanned the trees and found it.  Not wishing to disturb it or change its behavior, we quietly walked around the block to get a better view, never getting closer than a hundred yards or so.  Last weekend we spotted one at the very top of a tree as the stars came out and felt its glare as we passed by trying to stay as quiet as possible.  

I love that the bird life here (and in Utah in general) is pretty prolific.  Tim and I are eagerly awaiting the return of the hummingbirds, swallows, and songbirds that migrated before winter.  That being written, we never tire of the common ones that reside year-round - robins, European starlings, mourning doves, and ravens among others.  

This was the only birdie I managed to photograph before we lost the light.  I joked that he was flirting with us as he kept up quite a racket while flitting about in this tree.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bead Hoarders Blog Hop

Lori Anderson is again hosting a Bead Soup Blog Hop, this time a bead hoarders edition!  Lori is the absolute best at bringing bead lovers together to share their stash and exhibit their designs.  This will be the third time that I've participated in one of her blog hops, and I'm very much looking forward to diving into what my bead partner sent to me.  

The main rule was to choose a special bead - a piece I had kept for a long time, something that had special meaning to me - and send it to my partner once Lori matched up the participants.  I immediately knew what I would send and put it aside days before knowing who my swap buddy would be.  I added a little bit here and a little bit there, ultimately sending her several little baggies of beads, findings, and a beautiful enameled pendant from C-Koop Beads.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to my bead partner:  Danielle Kelley, writer of the blog Imbue The Muse.  She, too, has participated in Lori's blog hops in the past.  Below are photos of what she sent from her home in western New York.  Stay tuned to her blog to see what I mailed from my little corner of Utah.

the wrapping around the box is actually a necklace made with Russian amber

Danielle made these polymer beads herself.  They are so colorful and lightweight.  I've got plenty of ideas on how to use these beauties.
a hand carved elephant bead from Let's Bead, a fabulous store in Rochester, NY
Here is the hoarded bead - a gorgeous piece of agatized coral.  Stunning, isn't it?
Last, but not least - a wee bowl of Goldstone beads.  These were special to Danielle as they came from her Nana.  Everything she sent had me immediately inspired! 
Reveal day is March 25th.  Do come back to see the jewelry pieces that come out of this generous bead soup as well as those from the more than 160 other folks who signed up to take part in Lori's hop.  I am very excited to view the immense creativity that will be on show.  I always walk away from these hops inspired and awed. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017


As a Jane Austen fan, quotes from her books (more accurately, lines from movies based on her books) often come to mind at random moments.  This happened just a few minutes ago as I was looking over photos of roses taken last summer. 

Lady Catherine to Lizzy Bennet: "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient."

Of course she was speaking of playing the piano forte, not growing roses.  The correlation is that I've always wondered if I'd be any good at whipping up a garden of my own.  It's always been a daydream to have a patch of green overgrown with blossoms in every possible shade, a place full of fragrance and buzzing bees and benches to sit and admire.  I've always loved roses.  Over the years I've collected books about them, cut out images from seed catalogs depicting them, dried and kept many that were given as gifts for one occasion or another, and spent countless hours in gardens that were full of them.  There is a tranquility and serenity about roses, a perfection of botanic elegance.  Sublime might be the word I'm looking for.  Anyway, this was what I was pondering when the line came to mind.  Perhaps one of these days I'll try my hand at cultivation.