What to Wear? What to Wear?

Oh the weather outside is chilly (but inside we’re roasting by the fire!) So what do we wear for such variable tempratures? Need I also mention the scourge of hot flashes, when our internal furnace is cranked to overload?Conventional wisdom is to LAYER! But what if your attempts at layering are not flattering but dowdy? I’m a big believer in HATS- such wonderful accessories- on a windy day your coiffure is in place, same on a bad hair day, or in my case, the occasional “no hair day’! There are hats for everyone. To find your perfect hat style, go to your local mall and try on as many as possible. You can do better than a sports team ball cap! Cloches, berets, fedoras, felted hats, pillbox hats! Here in the Northwest many of us rely on the “hoody” but rarely are they attractive! Better to get a wonderfully colorful umbrella with a duck handle for those rainy days. There are also beautiful cowl designs that double as head coverings. Fascinator hats are so creative but mostly for summer or indoor wear.

Not all of us over 50 want to wear a hat like my chipmunk hat, pictured above. I embroidered and embellished it myself as plain brown is just not my thing. But allow yourself to have fun- there’s no reason that our “age group’ (groan) has to be understated or conservative. It’s all about you and your style. Another tip- your hat and scarf do not have to match your outfit, just coordinate with it.

I designed and crafted the Christmas fascinator hat below right for my friend Jessica!

Available Art

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Clearing House Time! On to a new year and new inspirations!

Fabric Collages from left to right: 1.”Incubating Bird” Fabric Collage with Beads and Seeds, 11″ x 14″ stretched on canvas, $300. 2. “Still Life with Cupcakes,” Beaded Fabric Collage, 14″ x 18″ framed, $250. 3. “Born on the 4th of July,” Beaded Fabric Collage, 17″ w x 24″ H, Matted and framed, $350.

Mixed Media Collages: left- “Salon,” 8″ x 10,” unframed, $150; right- “Wave,”8″ x 10,” unframed, $150


Birds and More Birds!

bird of paradisechickadee light

I started these small bird drawings to include in my husband’s lunch box as a token of my love…

each one is approximately 3″x4″.

They have been a good exercise for me and help me start the day with something creative. More on the way!

exotic pidgeonhummingbird light

green eyed birdevening grosbeak


zebra finch parrot

More Quirkiness- Teapots!


OK. You’ve no doubt figured out I love whimsy and am a quirk-o-phile (something like an anglophile, which I am in spades). This time I’m turning your attention to the world of eccentric teapots. None of them sport a dormouse but they all have character. Why settle for a simple conventional teapot when you can have one of these? That goes for just about anything quirky in my opinion. Living in England for three years during my formative years did this to me. I guarantee there will be more in the quirky/dodgey department. Next post: canal boats.

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Wasn’t that fun? Don’t you want a cuppa now? And some sponge cake with treacle? Oh yum…

Quirky Books


images2This year my favorite quirky book is “Badlands Saloon” by artist Jonathan Twingley. The story is about an art student from New York who goes to North Dakota for the summer.  Illustrated and semi-autobiographical, “Badlands Saloon,” is a loving portrait of oddball characters, the down-and-out, the ordinary and the outcasts. Here are some of the illustrations…imagesimagesSKZATEAB

And some of Twingley’s other illustrations…imagesYNA1L9CYFigure Communication (9_12_11) Lo-Resimages3A talented artist, Jonathan Twingley is also a remarkable writer. “Badlands Saloon” might not be to everyone’s taste. But sometimes reading out of our comfort zone can bring happy surprises and inspiration. Stay tuned for a list of other quirky reads.  Of course quirky could be the story line or the style of writing. What’s your favorite quirky book?? Or am I alone in my love of the bizarre?


Stars and Stripes

Flag Quilt Block 11864-FlagQuilt

Happy 4th of July! A few years ago I gave a lecture on Civil War Quilts. Flag quilts were very popular during and after the Civil War. We are so accustomed to seeing the flag with fifty stars. During the secession of many southern states, the number of stars on the American flag changed every few months. Both Union and Confederate flags reflected the divided state of our nation. Confederate flags underwent the greatest number of changes as the South searched for a new identity. One particular flag had so much white in the design, it was interpreted as a surrender flag! That one didn’t last very long. Here is one of the Confederate designs and the “Southern Cross” still used as a symbol of the south..


I think the most poignant flag is the one recovered from Fort Sumter…


The artist Frederick Church painted this haunting landscape in 1916…


Now for some contemporary versions of the flag…

Roadside American flag sign with knobs, Wingdale, New York

Roadside American flag sign with knobs, Wingdale, New York



Have a happy and safe 4th!

History of the Book Mobile


Today Keira is driving the KCLS book mobile, “Library to Go,” so I thought I’d share some history of the book mobile. Google focuses on the 19th Century librarian Mary Titcomb who introduced book mobiles to America. But the tradition goes way back to ancient times. The earliest recorded book mobile was from Persia around the 6th Century. Obviously they didn’t have gas-powered vehicles. So the first book mobile was a camel!



Camels are still used as book mobiles!

Other animals have been enlisted as well..images 2

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And now for some of the wonderful vehicles…

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I can’t think of a better way to encourage world literacy, can you?

Hidden Paintings on Books

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It’s not every day you learn something new and fascinating. Daughter Keira, who is studying book binding, introduced me to the fine and meticulous art of “fore-edge painting.” Beginning in the 15th Century, artists began painting miniature scenes on book edges. The paintings can’t be seen when the book is closed normally but only when the pages are fanned. How ingenious is that? Imagine the hours it would take, the precision and the eye strain. Hmmm….not something a Kindle is capable of achieving!

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The Garden Shed

potting shedGarden sheds are a source of inspiration for me- they inspire memories of a potting shed long ago at the back of our garden in Washington D.C. We lived in a white brick and black-shuttered townhouse in Georgetown. My mother designed the garden to be formal with wrought iron furniture, brick and raked gravel paths, trimmed box hedges, a fountain and a central birdbath. Although formally beautiful, it lacked a sense of wonder to engage a child’s imagination. Soon I discovered the rustic potting shed at the back of our garden, tucked in between two giant magnolia trees. The first time I went inside, the heady aromas of potting soil and burlap bags filled me with a sense of comfort. Neither of my parents used the shed, just the gardener who came twice a month. The shed became my secret hideout and playhouse. There was enough light from the small window to read for hours. The colorful packets of seeds, the rakes and shovels, spades and shears, hoses and watering cans provided an endless source of fascination.  Since then I have longed for a potting shed, although I no longer need a hideout or playhouse. The shed pictured above is an approximation of the one in Georgetown. The following photos show eccentric sheds made by some very creative Brits. Let me know which ones are your favorites!

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Legend of the Easter Lily


The Easter Lily. For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life—the spiritual essence of Easter.


simone martini 14th

Annunciation by Simone Martini,14th Century

Annunciation by Fra Philipo Lippi, 15th CenturyFra Philipo Lippi


When I was studying art history and symbols (Iconography) in art, I learned that the white lily, also known as the Madonna lily, was the first flower ever recorded in ancient Macedonia. The lily has also featured prominently in paintings of the Annunciation since medieval times. 
History, mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art are rife with stories and images that speak of the beauty and majesty of the elegant white flowers. Often called the “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress. Churches continue this tradition at Easter  by banking their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter Lilies, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting.

Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Roman mythology links it to Juno, the queen of the gods. The story goes that while Juno was nursing her son Hercules, excess milk fell from the sky. Although part of it remained above the earth (thus creating the group of stars known as the Milky Way), the remainder fell to the earth, creating lilies. Another tradition has it that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise.

The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child.

Annunciation by Edward Burne Jones, 19th Century


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