Monday, July 29, 2013


We stopped at friends of TR's parents our last evening in Ohio. In a tree right by the chairs we sat to visit in were four hummingbird feeders. As dusk fell, dozens of hummingbirds flew in to feed. It was amazing to watch! There had to be at least 3 different species of hummingbirds. The littlest ones were only about 1 1/2 inches long while the biggest were about 3-4 inches long. It was amazing how they would fight over the feeders. They didn't want the other hummers in their "territory". After feeding, they would often just rest on a branch for a few minutes. I took several photos. I only got a few that came out clear enough to see these tiny birds. None are really great shots, as it was getting so dark. But I thought I'd share anyway, as they are just such awesome creatures.

I caught four hummingbirds in this photo. Two at the feeder,
one just leaving, and one coming towards the feeder. 
This hummer with the white throat was one of the a middle size hummer.

This tiny green hummer was so small. He couldn't be more than 1 1/2 inches long. 

This ruby-throated hummingbird was one of the larger ones we saw tonight. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I've always enjoyed watching cloud formations. Dad would watch them with us when I was a child and have us try to figure out what image the cloud looked like. I still do that to this day. I also enjoy just the clouds' shapes for themselves and admire the various colors that can be found in the clouds and sky. Following are some shots I took in Ohio from our parents' houses.
TR heading back inside before dusk after weeding flowers with Mom.
The mauves, lavendars, and pinks are rich against the blue-gray sky. 
Evening shot looking out across fields from parent's house.  Again, I love the pinks, mauves, and purples.

Another evening shot as the sun is starting to set. The warm oranges of the
sky and clouds contrast with the cool blues and grays of the clouds and upper
sky. I caught it early enough that the trees and house are not yet in silhouette.

The sun has started to set. The intense reddish-oranges of the sky and lower
clouds are beautiful against the purples, blues, and grays. The sun is
still casting hi-lights of bright yellow on the top of the clouds.  This is my
favorite shot of the ones posted today.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Grandpa O's

We visited with my nephew, his fiance, and her girls today. They have bought my Grandpa O's farmhouse It was built in the late 1800s. I have so many fond memories of the time I spent at Grandma and Grandpa's. I would bake, cook, sew, weave, and crochet with my Grandma. When I was real young, she'd pull me in a wagon to the field where Grandpa was working so we could give him his lunch and eat with him.  He grew corn and wheat mostly. He raised cows - both beef and milk cows. When I was real young, he had hogs. And at various other times, he had chickens, geese, and rabbits. He always had a smile (unless we grandkids did something wrong - like jump in the hay mound and get the bales undone - or walk through the wheat field instead of around it).  He had a twinkle in his eye when he was being ornery. He loved to joke and tease. I really enjoyed walking around the farmhouse and yard today. I thank my nephew for allowing me to see the whole house and how they are remodeling and updating it.

House from the road.  There use to be two cherry trees in
front of the house. They were lost to storms over the last
few years. We used to pick cherries every year from them.
They made the best cherry pie!

The back of the house can hardly be seen through the trees.
There was an apple orchard to the right - now there are only
a few trees left. There use to be a huge raspberry patch where
the pile of wood is. Ymmm. ... were they ever good!! 
The edge of the barn and one of the cornfields.
Shed where Grandpa could always be found
sitting.  I had taken a photo of this when I was in
Ohio last October. I wanted to compare it to what
it looks like in the summer with the walnut tree
full of leaves and the shed covered in ivy.
Shed in the autumn. Just a few orange leaves
left on the walnut tree. Most of the ivy has
died or turned orange. I think this will make
a wonderful painting. I will keep you posted.

Mother-in-law's flowers

We spent an evening with my mother-in-law weeding her flowers around the house. She has some beautiful flowers. Last year she won best-in-show at the Auglaize County Fair for one of her flower pots that she keeps on the back porch. She also won another ribbon last year for a second arrangement she entered. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't cooperated this year and she didn't get the beautiful flowers like she had last year. I still think she had several flowers worthy of photos.

I didn't realize that hydrangea are two colors when they are start to bloom.
The yellow with the pink is striking. Edited in Pixlr Express.
Hydrangea fully bloomed. The individual flowers are so pretty.
Edited in Pixlr Express. 
I can't remember what type of flower Mom said this one is.
I think it is beautiful with the purple petals,
dark blue stamens, and purple-edged sepals.
Edited in Pixlr Express.
I even like dandelions!  I like seeing fields dotted with yellow. Dandelions
appear delicate when they go seed as this one has.  The seeds will scatter
when caught on the wind with their feathery parachutes.  Of course,
dandelion greens are also very good for you, as they are chock full of
vitamins and minerals. I use to harvest them  in the spring for my grandmother.
Edited in Pixlr Express. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


While in Ohio, I was able to see my sister-in-law and her husband's alpacas they bought this past year. I was surprised at how small they are! I knew they were smaller than llamas, but didn't realize how much smaller. They are so cute, but very skittish.

The 3 boys. They are so cute. The chocolate one is 
the largest at approximately 80 lbs, while the ecru one 
is about 65 lbs, and the white one is only about 50 lbs. 

They bought 3 alpacas this past spring for fun. Initially they were loaded with wool, but they were shaved in the late spring for the summer and still haven't grown all their wool back in. Their wool is all different. The ivory one has soft, curly hair. The tan one's hair is a bit softer, but kinky, while the chocolate one has the softest, most luxurious hair!! (I don't know if it's called hair, fiber, or wool, or if the terms are used interchangeably.)

Chocolate boy. The wool on his head reminds me of a mop - I think
it makes him look adorable! (My sister-in-law in the background is 
holding him still, so I can pet him and get his mug shot.) 

Littlest boy. He was the cutest and the most curious. 
He let me pet him and wasn't as skittish as the other two. 

Middle boy. He had to be held, too, so I could get a 
photo of his sweet face. 

My sister-in-law said they found that they couldn't sell the fiber for much, so I'm going to get some of the fiber, wash it up and card it. I'll dye some of it and keep some in its natural color to use for roving for fiber art. I'm very tempted to learn how to spin. Alpaca yarn is just wonderful for knitting or crocheting. There is a local yarn store that teaches spinning and allows the wheels to be rented while you are learning, so you don't have to invest in them while deciding if you like it or not. It's definitely a thought!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


My father-in-law has a small quarter horse farm. He trains and shows horses in the Midwest. Dad has a yearling, along with his older horses. She's very pretty and allowed me to pet her. Horses are such beautiful animals.

Dad's yearling. She started trotting closer to the fence
when she saw me standing there watching her..

She got close enough for me to pet her.

Dad also takes care of other peoples' horses. He had a couple of other yearlings that were such fun to watch running and cavorting in the field together. I was able to get a couple shots before dusk fell.

The two yearlings playing and running in the field. They
started coming up closer from the back field when I
approached the fence. 

They were a bit skittish of coming any closer. The larger one
just watched me while the other nibbled on the grasses.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Our niece's wedding was yesterday. It was a beautiful day for the wedding! It started out looking like rain, but that passed by mid-afternoon before the wedding started.  Ash made a beautiful bride! (I'm a bit biased, though!) Her new husband is a very sweet man. We wish them the best!  The wedding also allowed us to visit with many aunts and uncles that we might not have gotten to visit with otherwise.

The gorgeous bride and groom.
The wedding was very nice and the reception was fun. It was held at SoSerene in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Their colors where white and purple.  In addition to the three-layer cake, which was a delicious spice cake with filling, they had two sheet cakes. One was red velvet cake and the other was  marble cake. The groom has a huge collection of Legos and created their cake topper.

Lego cake topper.
SoSerene is a beautiful place for a wedding and/or reception. A waterfall on the south side of the patio by the pond is surrounded by many beautiful flowering plants and greenery. This made a great backdrop for photographs.

Peaceful waterfall.
Lilies at the foot of the waterfall. 
They were so vibrant in color. Many 
other plants surrounded the waterfall, 
but the lilies really caught my eye.
Hibiscus in front of the pond. SoSerene had many 
gorgeous flowering plants and other greenery 
around the patio area. By the time I was able to 
take photographs of the plants, dusk was falling. 
So I didn't get very many photos.

The building and outdoor patio overlook a pond on the west side.  The water created a beautiful venue for the sunset.  I enjoyed standing here watching the sunset. The clouds were so pink, lavender, mauve, while the upper sky became a darker, richer blue.

A beautiful sunset reflected in the water at SoSerene. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dad's mimosa tree and Mom's flowers

Besides Dad's vegetable and fruit garden, Dad's other pride is his mimosa tree. The seeds were brought from my great Uncle Paul's tree from Long Island, NY when I was in high school (just a few years ago!! hahaha!). The weather in northwestern Ohio is really not what mimosa trees need to flourish, so they are rare to find in that part of Ohio. Dad originally planted 3 trees, but only one survived. Others have recognized what a special tree this is, as it has been photographed for the local newspaper.

Most times when I get to visit with Dad in Ohio, the tree is not in full bloom. In October, the last time I was there, Dad was preparing the tree for winter. The leaves and blooms were gone and he buried it in the fallen leaves off the maple trees. It's the only way to ensure it's survival through the cold, long winters. But this year, I got to see the tree in full bloom. Wow! What a beautiful tree!! The blooms are delicate, feathery things, like fairy duster plants. The leaves remind me of the feathery-looking leaves of our mesquite trees in our front yard in Arizona.

Mimosa Tree in full bloom.  Edited in Pixlr Express.
Single bloom from mimosa tree.  Edited in Pixlr Express. 
While Dad has his vegetable garden and fruit trees, bushes and vines, Mom grows flowers. She has several varieties in beds around the front of the house, along the edge of the driveway, and a few in Dad's vegetable garden. In walking around with Dad to see how his vegetable garden and fruit plants were doing, I took some photos of a few of Mom's flowers. 

I'm not sure what this flower is, but the delicate 
lavender petals with deep purple centers containing 
two white stamens caught my attention.  
Edited in Pixlr Express.
Lily with white, ruffly petals highlighted in yellow with orange-
tipped stamens. I've always loved lilies of all kinds. Mom 
was growing a couple varieties in the middle of Dad's 
vegetable garden. Edited in Pixlr Express. 
Not sure what kind of flowers these are. I loved the bright purple colors with
the white highlights.  Edited in Pixlr Express.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Dad's Quilt

Front of quilt with panel of birds and berries
We planned to go to Ohio the end of July for a niece's wedding and a couple of family reunions. I had picked up some fabric a couple years ago at the Rusty Barn Craft and Sewing Festival that is held every year at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in January that made me think of my dad. I had already made a quilt for mom and gave it to her a few years ago, so I've wanted to make a quilt for Dad. I decided I needed to get this quilt done for my dad, as he's not getting any younger (in his late 80's).  I worked very hard the beginning of July to finish his quilt. I'm glad to say I did get it completed and was able to surprise him with it while visiting with him in Ohio. I hadn't told Mom about it, either, so she couldn't let the cat out of the bag.

Back of quilt with panel of  birds and fruit
My dad watches birds around his house and has a couple feeders set out. When I'm home visiting with him, he's always pointing out the various birds.He also enjoys gardening and has a huge vegetable garden, as well as, several fruit trees, bushes, and vines. He grows plums, peaches, kiwi fruit, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, and mulberries.

I found two different lines of fabric that both had birds and fruit on them.  Since I couldn't decide which one I liked the best, I got both of them. I bought the main panel of each line and a coordinate to go with the panel, not knowing how much I needed, as I wasn't sure what design I would use for the quilt. One panel has a larger frame of birds and berries, surrounded by smaller frames of birds and berries with a border at the top and bottom. The other panel is a latticework of birds and fruits like apples, plums, and pears. The birds are typical of birds found in Ohio, like robins, bluebirds, jays, chickadees, doves, and goldfinches.

I ended up using both lines of fabric, making a reversible quilt. I used the panels in the center and surrounded them with borders until I created a nice size lap quilt (about 55" x 70"). The coordinate created the outer border for each side. I had to really piece the front one, as I didn't buy as much of this coordinate as I did of the one for the back. I just barely had enough fabric! Phew!! I was sweating bullets with that one. Since it'd been 2-3 years since I purchased the fabric, I seriously doubted being able to find more of it, even online. Finally, I quilted it with an allover pattern made of swirls and leaves from a design I learned in a Craftsy class on free motion quilting by Angela Walters. The label has a hand-drawn cardinal in a tree branch, as cardinals are the birds that Dad brings to my attention most often when I'm there. He has a pair that frequent the trees and bird feeder in his back yard.

Dad with "Birds of a Feather" quilt. 55"x70".
Cotton fabrics, wool batting. Front of quilt.

Dad showing back of "Birds of a Feather" quilt. 55"x70"

My dad was very surprised with his quilt! He is enjoying using it while sitting in his chair watching TV in the evenings or taking a nap during the day. I'm glad I was able to make him something from the heart and quilted with love! My dad means a lot to me!!

Friday, July 12, 2013


The night-blooming cactus, cereus, grows in our front yard. I don't see the blooms very often, as it's just way too early for me to get up when they are in bloom! In this case the saying "The early bird gets the worm" is very true! After blooming, they wilt by full sun-up (around 7 a.m. here). The beautiful white 6" blooms occur mainly during the months of June and July. I made myself get up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. a few mornings to capture some of these gorgeous blooms with the camera. Even though I groaned and grumbled, it was well worth the effort!!

Cereas bloom backlit by the early morning sun just 
coming up over the horizon. This bloom is starting to 
close already. I didn't get up quite early enough to see
the bloom completely open.  Edited in Pixlr Express.
Another early morning I was able to get a bloom with the sun 
shining on it, creating yellow-looking petals instead of the 
usual white ones. Edited in Pixlr Express.
Cereus bloom with sunlight coming through the 
transparent white petals. The sepals appear 
highlighted with more red than normal due to 
the sunlight. Edited in Pixlr Express.
Cereas bloom closeup. 
One of these days, I'd like to use these photographs (as well as others I've taken or my husband has taken) as a reference to create a painting of these blooms. I'll have to think about what technique would be most effective - watercolor, acrylics, pastels, or some combination of these. I use to paint oils frequently, but the smells bother me now, so I rarely paint in oils anymore, unless I use the water-soluble oils. I've not worked with these, so I don't really know how they compare with regular oils paints.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Zentangles and Color

I love color, especially bright, bold colors. I have been experimenting with coloring Zentangles or creating a colored background for the Zentangles.

Color Wheel - 300lb Watercolor paper, watercolors, Sakura 
micron pen.  I decided to create a color wheel adding rounds 
for pastels, tones, and shades, although it's hard to see the 
pastels and tones very well from this photo. I added several 
tangles to the different areas of  the color wheel. 

Zentangle. 3"x3" cardstock with Sakura micron pen and pencil.
I created this simple tangle with crescent moon, florz, pearlz, 
Hollibaugh, and a scallop tangle. I used a pencil for shading.

Zentangle with Color. 6"x 6" mixed-media paper with gel pens, 
markers, and colored pencils. I recreated the same Zentangle as 
above, but added colors to this one. I chose an analogous 
color scheme or turquoises, blues, and purples.  I shaded with 
colored pencils.

Stencil Zentangle. 4" x 6" Mixed-media paper with gel 
pens, markers, and Smooch inks. I decided to use a 
complimentary color scheme. I sprayed various 
red, yellow, and orange Smooch inks over a stencil
for the background. I used purple gel pens and 
markers for the tangle patterns to fill in the white areas 
created by the stencil. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I'm intrigued by mandalas, which are generally various geometric designs, usually in concentric configurations. In Hinduism and Buddhism, these diagrams represent the universe and are used in sacred rites and instruments of meditation. Mandalas are also found in nature in flowers and plants, like sunflowers, agaves, and tree rings; in sea shells, like nautilus and urchins; in clouds, like hurricanes; and various other natural phenomena.

Since Zentangles are created with repetitive patterns in a fun, relaxing, focused way, they fit well with mandalas as instruments of meditation. Zentangles made into circular designs are called Zendalas. These are my recent creations.

Zendala 1. 6"x 6" mixed-media paper with pencil and Sakura micron pen.
This was inspired by the Zendala Dare weekly challenge. I don't recall
which  number this was from. I used Rick's Paradox to create a spiral
design in the center. The outside was created with copada and mooka tangles. 

Nautilus. 6"x 6" mixed-media paper with pencil and Sakura micron pen.
Nautilus have always intrigued me. It amazes me how these
alien-appearing cephalopods can swim and have lived in our
oceans for millions of years.  After creating the shell pattern, I added
bubbles to remind me of the ocean it lives in.

Shell. 6"x 6" mixed-media paper with pencil and Sakura micron pen.
After drawing the nautilus, I wanted to do another shell pattern. This
is a common scallop shell I remember picking up on the Atlantic
Ocean and Gulf of Mexico beaches on various vacations as a child
and an adult. I tried to use tangles that could be used as borders and
decreased in size as I drew them from the outer shell to the center bottom
of the shell. I separated the sections with pearlz.