This morning we woke to a blustery snowstorm that left nearly six inches of snow on the ground. Good sticky snow, perfect for creating one of our winter beauties.
Once the storm passed, the sun came out, temperatures hit the lower 40s, and Clara came to be. Because today was the first full day of spring, I was able to use greenery that's available only this time of year, making Clara a spring beauty. She makes her debut in December.
January is nearly over, and there are subtle changes; it was nearly 5:00 yesterday afternoon when I noticed the light. The days are getting longer. I'm glad about that.
When talk of the weather comes up, I often say that I don't mind the cold of winter. Not usually. Though I'm no fan of a cold dreary day; the cold seeps in and seems to bother everyone when it's dreary outside. But when the sun shines, it takes away some of the chill. A lot of the chill.
Morning walks are my favorite. The air is fresh, there's a quiet only morning knows, and it gives me a chance to experience the seasons, each offering its own blend of sights and sounds.
Last week, just after coming inside from a bitterly cold morning walk, the phone rang. It was my brother down in Nashville. We talked about how cold it was—down there and up here. I mentioned my walk, and told him I noticed the birds were singing. I was surprised to hear the birds singing on such a cold January morning.
"They knew you were coming," he said.
It makes me smile every time I think of it and each time I talk about it. And I think he's right. Nature greets us when we take the time to see and hear what it has to offer.
Click on the image above to download and print the birds . . . it's a coloring page.
Make new friends this winter!
For Show and Tell At Work Day I decided to talk about my winter beauties (that's me with Estelle from last winter).
My work? I am a graphic designer, working with individuals, universities, and companies large and small, to bring their words, projects, and ideas to life on paper and online. My company is Composition 1206 , and if you're interested, I love to have you take a look at my online portfolio.
So that's work, this is show and tell. Assembly of Grand Pursuits (AGP) is my passion project. I started AGP because I love finding and experimenting with new hobbies, projects, and activities.
That's how I began making my Winter Beauties.
With the exception of just a few years early on, I make my own holiday cards. But nine years ago I was struggling for ideas, and it was getting close to figuring it out or letting it go, which I dreaded.
And then it snowed. I'd seen some creative snowmen in a magazine, and as the snow fell I had my answer: make a snowman, take a photograph, and create a card. It turned out to be a good idea—and a keeper—nine to date!
It takes over two hours to build each one.
My hands get stiff from the cold, the neighbors get curious, and if I start too late in the day, the light begins to fade. I raid the refrigerator, pilfer garden beds (anything that pokes up through the snow is fair game), go to the beach, walk through the woods, and scan the side of the road for dried flowers, pine boughs, pine cones, seashells, seaweed, and fruits and vegetables for supplies. Frilly toothpicks hold things in place, and I use scissors to trim arborvitae sprigs, rhododendron leaves, and greens for noses, mouths, and eyelashes, using as much natural material as possible.
Each time I set out I'm nervous I won't come up with a "beauty." It's a lot of trial and error trying different materials. A neat trick I discovered if I'm struggling is to take a photograph and look at that. It gives me a new perspective and I can more easily see what's not working. And with the final images, just like people, each beauty has a good side—better from the left, shot from above? Yes, that's it!
It was only after making about five of them, I thought to take a photograph with each one. When I showed my mother one of the first selfies I took, she laughed and said, "I had no idea how big they are," and she's right. I could make them smaller (that might have prevented the unfortunate topple of at least one before I was finished!), but it's easier to have a bigger surface to work with. The bigger the snowball, though, the harder it is to push and lift when I get back to where I want to build it.
SnowGirl (pictured below) was my first. She came to life during a December snow storm and greeted us in the backyard for a good five days before warmer temperatures took their toll, causing her cranberry teeth to loosen and fall to the ground. She was quickly and gracefully dismantled.
Today is Old Rock Day. If you've walked a trail or along the beach recently, you may have seen a stack of rocks*, a man-made pile of rocks, a cairn. Historically cairns have been used as trial markers and in ceremonial practices.
More recently, however, cairns made for personal and spiritual reasons have been popping up in natural settings all over the world leading some to say "stop the rock-stacking." And for good reason.
1) random cairns can potentially mislead people who might mistake one for a waymarker
2) they disrupt the natural beauty, imposing a man-made structure in a wilderness setting
3) moving rocks may lead to erosion
4) leave-no-trace policies could leave you between a rock and . . .
*The cairn above is one I built on a table at home from rocks I collected on the beach, it stands a mere 2-1/2" high.
Are you a rockhound? Share you enthusiasm with others, or get started by talking to someone who is. Here's a list of rock clubs by state, find one near you!
If you are a collector or rock artist, we'd love to know more, get in touch and tell us about it!
When I ask people if they have a hobby, some jump right in and tell me all about it. But lots of time, I hear, “I don’t, but I probably should.” And they're right.
One of the most rewarding aspects of having a hobby is that no matter what you choose—you get to do it in your own time, in your own way, for as long as you want.
Here are five reasons having a hobby is a good idea:
1) a proven way to reduce stress
2) boost your creativity
3) make new friends
4) learn a new skills
5) improve your mood
January is National Hobby Month and a good time to start something new.
Not sure where to begin?
Top hobbies include:
Looking for inspiration?
The Art of Manliness presents “45 Manly Hobbies." They call them "manly hobbies," but there's something there for everyone, manly men—and interested women!
ABCs of Letter Writing / K = Kiss
Put S.W.A.K. at the end of a letter or on the outside of an envelope, and your intended's heart may skip a beat. Another way to express your feelings is with x's and o's (for kisses and hugs), as many as you want!
Calendar of Days / Today is Earth Day. If you get a chance, get out among the trees . . . look at the sky . . .