Unrequited Dreams

We often dream about doing "something", and it can remain a dream if we don't, in fact, actually do the thing we are dreaming about! No brainer, there, right?

But what actually pushes us from "dreaming" to "doing"? Sometimes, the answer is... inexplicable. You just wake up one day, and BOOM, there you are... set about pursuing your dream. Why today? No clue. I suppose it's just "time".

Sometimes you might receive the encouragement you need from a friend or you might see sometime that is the preverbal "final straw"... like a photo in a magazine or a documentary. And, sometimes the yearning just gets too great, and you have to act or burst.

Truly, few things are personally more disheartening than unrequited dreams. Perhaps a rather unlikely sage to quote, but Lucille Ball once said: "I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done."

So, this morning, I'm think about all of us, and our dreams. Naturally, we can't just run off all "willy nilly" following every whim we have, but my hope for each of us this beautiful, sunny day, is that we can all take one step closer to pursuing an unrequited dream. ((hugs))


As I've mentioned many times before, watercoloring has been an unrequited dream for 20 years! One day I got up and decided to finally get started. It has been a joy ever since!

Natural Versus Learned Talents

I have a singing voice with about a 6 note range…7 if someone steps on my foot really hard. Yet, I love to sing, so I do, and over time I've found songs that fit within my limited range. The Beatles' Paul McCartney and John Lennon use to write 1 song per album that Ringo Starr could sing... he too was vocally challenged. Not surprisingly, I can sing Ringo's songs, I guess we've mastered the same 6 notes! When I can pick the song I'm going to sing, people around me don't need to know what a bad singer I really am. I choose simple songs then sing with gusto!

After posting my watercoloring pictures yesterday, I received a lot of comments and a bunch of emails from people saying they would love to learn to watercolor but, unlike me, they can't draw. Well, I'm here to tell you, my drawing abilities are comparable to my singing abilities. I have very limited range, I simply choose to draw things that fit within my limits. For that reason, people think I can draw, but the truth of the matter is drawing is very challenging for me... I do not have natural ability.

Case in point, our family use to play Pictionary all the time. Given my limited skills, I certainly did not excel at speed drawing, and the added stress of "being on the clock" often made my attempts incomprehensible. I would feel like The Little Prince, when sharing the picture he had drawn of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant... frustrated that no one else could make it out! So, on one particular evening that has "gone down in infamy" in our family's history, my poor sister-in-law tried in vain to figure out one of my hieroglyphics drawings. I was waving my arms wildly, as if that would somehow help her make sense of the mess on the paper, and inadvertently (honestly, it wasn't on purpose!) stabbed her in the forehead with my pencil! I think the graphite is still embedded in the center of her forehead like a miniature bindi! My drawings truly were bad!

But much like singing, I love to draw, so I persevere. And, the truth of the matter is, I have gotten better over time. As I've mastered ameba shaped flowers and fried eggs, I've moved on to more complex drawings BUT they are still simple. Fortunately, I love folk and primitive art. It lends itself well to my limited drawing skills. And, I persevere! What you don't realize when you see my appliques or now my watercolors, is that it is a time consuming process... more like a technical drawing than you can image. I look at nature, photographs and others for inspiration then draw, erase, copy, trace, erase some more, and finally, piece together something that looks good to me. I have no natural skill at drawing... I work, work, work, but, fortunately, I love my job :)

When you think about it, there was a time when all genteel ladies were expected to be adept at many artistic skills. They learned to play the piano, draw and paint, do needlework and tapestries, and sing. In a time without television and radio, women were often called upon to entertain their family and friends. Of course, some of the women had natural born skills, but most had to work hard to achieve a level of success. It is doable!

So, I'm here today to debunk the notion that I've got natural talent. I DO NOT! I've learned to embrace the 6 notes I've been given, and find songs I can sing. It would make me very sad to think that by sharing my work, it would somehow make people feel that they do not have the same skills as me and cause them to not even try. I share my work to show others that even with my limited skills, I can trick people into thinking I've got talent :) Please, throw caution to wind, and be willing to work to achieve your goals, and learn to embrace and love your talents. After all, in the end, creativity should be an outward expression of the joy you feel inside. If nobody can tell that the boa constrictor you drew just swallowed an elephant, it is their loss. Just keep at it. It will get easier, you will get better, and even if you don't, if you find pleasure in the process, you've been successful!        

Diving into Watercolors

I am soooo excited! A few weeks ago I shared an article I wrote oh so long ago for a past blog. It was titled Unrequited Dreams and spoke of my desire the learn how to watercolor. If you haven't read the blog and would like to, you can read it HERE.

In a nutshell, I've wanted to use watercolors for the past 2 decades, got all the supplies from encouraging family and friends, periodically brought out all the materials, fondly caressed them, but never put paint to paper. If you know me at all, you know I'm pretty fearless when it comes to most things artistic and crafty. So, I can't give any logical reason for why I've never done it. I just found the whole idea overwhelming.

Well... the other day I decided to do something about it. I enrolled in Alisa Burke's online watercoloring class. Major biggie step for me. You can read all about the class HERE. Anyway... it is a five week class, and this week I began. Lesson 1 is all about watercolor materials. I read, looked at photos, and watched Alisa's videos. She is just so darn cute and laid back, and I thoroughly enjoyed all she shared. For homework this week, we were just asked to gather some supplies, and muck with them a bit to get familiar with them.

So, for the very first time, I opened my watercolors, which I have a WIDE assortment of, wet my brush, and actually began! Here are my first color swatches, getting a feel for the water and paint on my brush.

Now, this might not seem like much to most mortals, but this was huge for me! I actually was using my watercolors. Next, I played with some other colors, and tried using my water color pencils in different ways. I was simply experimenting.

NOW I was having fun! I've always wanted to learn to watercolor for 2 main reasons. First, I want to be able to paint pictures of the plants in my gardens. I keep a journal of my gardening, and I always thought it would be wonderful to have watercolor photos of each plant. Second, I would like to write a children's book and be able to illustrate it myself. (Think Beatrix Potter meets gnomes :) Although I realized this is just week 1 of the class, and all I was suppose to do was gather supplies and introduce myself to them, I wanted to do more! So, I grabbed a tag from some plants we just bought

and decided to give it a try. Here is my first honest-to-goodness attempt at painting with watercolors!

I know it's not perfect, and I know I'm going to learn so much from my class that will help me, but personally, I was thrilled with my Big Bang Cosmic Eye Coreopsis, and more importantly, I fell head-over-heels in love with watercoloring. It happened that fast!

Next, I found a photo online of a field of coneflowers I used for inspiration. We have bunches of them in our yard and I love them.

I also spent some time looking at other paintings I've seen that I have been drawn to. As I started sketching out the flowers, I knew that my paintings will probably always lean to the whimsical, because EVERYTHING I do is whimsical. So, here are my coneflowers, with just a dollop of whimsy!

Looking at the painting up close, I see that I have much to learn about blending colors and composition, but people... I'M WATERCOLORING!!! Holy-Moly! Never thought I'd see this day! So excited to have my first page in my new watercoloring journal.

The moral of the story...And, if you have been afraid to try something new like I was, go for it! I'm just sorry I waited so long. I'll keep you guys posted on the class. When I'm done with it, I'll revisit my coneflowers!

Cabbage Soup and Tin Cans


I will be hard-pressed to convince Tim, who doesn't particularly like (hmmm, maybe he really dislikes???) cabbage soup, that I really was craving some and that it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the Tin Can Lanterns I shared this morning ...that required vegetable cans! Seriously ... I bought the cabbage a week ago with this soup in mind... THAT'S my story and I'm sticking to it!

So, going with the premise that I was not swayed by these adorable Punched Tin Lanterns featured on Craft Foxes...

and that it was just a "crazy random happenstance", I just finished throwing together a pot of Cabbage Soup. This is a soup often used by people following Weight Watchers because it has ZERO points, but don't let the low calories fool you. This soup is jam packed with flavor and is chockfull of yummy goodness! There are about a gazillion different recipes for this soup, but I've rather morphed into this variation:

1 head cabbage, cored and shredded - about 10 cups
8 cups of assorted veggies - green beans, peppers, tomatoes, onions, celery, zucchini, summer squash, brocolli, etc. Note: stay away from starchy veggies like corn and potatoes if you want to keep it ZERO points.
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 28 oz cans of diced or stewed tomatoes
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
2 28 oz cans of warm water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice - when I have it
2 envelopes of Lipton Onion Soup Mix - I realize Lipton's Soup mixes aren't the healthiest choice you can make, but I do so love the flavor and it is so easy. Certainly you can substitute any brand of flavorings or forego it all together. 
6 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper - or to taste

Mix the packets of Lipton Onion Soup Mix in the water. Put EVERYTHING in the pot, cooking over medium heat until it begins to boil, then turn down to simmer until all the veggies are tender.

NOTE: If you'd like to give this soup some protein, for a vegetarian soup, simply add thick strips of tofu and any assortment of cooked beans. For non-vegetarian soup, add cooked cubed beef or chicken.

BTW... the soup is cooking as I'm writing this. Can't wait to finish up here and have a bowl... yum!

Okay... couldn't wait! The veggies tasted so fresh and the soup was thick enough to be a stew. Also, it freezes well, so put away meal size portions so it is ready to heat up when you just NEED a bowl of Cabbage Soup :)

Okay... full belly of delicious Cabbage Soup. Now I can focus! I will be using these cans, and probably a few more, to punch and make into lanterns. You will notice that some cans have a white inside. Tomato products do. It probably has something to do with their high acid content, but the bonus is that the inside of the cans are already painted white!

If you carefully remove a label, you can use this as a template when you are creating a design you wish to punch on your can. BTW... better to remove the label BEFORE you get the can wet like I did. It tends to rip when wet.

Finally, I decided to save the lids, too. Not sure what I'm going to do with them, but I'm sure I can come up with something :)

So, there you have it. Make an easy to prepare, but oh so yummy cabbage soup, and as an extra bonus, you'll have tin cans ready to punch. Hopefully, I will get to these over the weekend. I'll share the finished project as soon as I'm done. In the meantime... start opening some can ;)

Photos - 7/12/13 and Blog Photos


BFF Wooden Friendship Pendants Go To Camp

Early this spring we received an email from one of our readers. She told us they were doing a camp this summer at their church. The theme was SISTERHOOD. She asked for permission to use our BFF Wooden Medallion Pendants as a craft project. They wanted the older girls to make them and share them with younger girls in the church. I thought the idea was lovely!

Heather shared a couple of photos, and I was so impressed, I wanted to share them with all our readers.

If you'd like to make you own BFF Wooden Medallion Pendants, or if you'd like to share the project with a group of children you work with, you can find the original blog, plus the pattern and tutorial HERE.

Thanks so much for sharing, Heather. This is why the blog exists, and we are always thrilled when our readers share their final results of our projects. Well done, girls!

Photo: Adobe - Readers - BFF     


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