Well, not my first … but my first, as in the first Christmas tree I have put up in my own home.
Sitting in a dark room with a twinkling tree might be my favorite Christmas mood. But I find I also enjoy sitting at the piano, playing Christmas music next to the tree with all its lights and decorations:
For our anniversary, my husband organized a spa day, complete with saunas, full body massages, and sitting around drinking tea and coffee in big fluffy bathrobes. The fact that the weather had turned a bit chilly and cloudy just made it feel that much more cozy inside. 😍
I find the simple action of putting one foot in front of the other, and the rhythm of that action, incredibly therapeutic. It wakes me up, unscrambles my sleep-fogged head. But it also gives me a sense of immersion, of being rooted somewhere, makes me feel part of where I am, a sensory and physical connection to the bit of the world I find myself in.
This is my first time really doing this kind of embroidery, so I’m learning as I go. When I started working on this butterfly, I stuck with the instructions and the pattern and tried to fill in some of the thicker lines. It looks … kind of clumsy. When I did the right side, it wasn’t perfect but I took what I’d learned, mixed it with my own sense of what would work, and came out with a result I’m much more pleased with.
Making mistakes is undoubtedly part of the learning process. But I’m also a perfectionist. As my career coach has helped me see, I’m often reluctant to take something on — even something I’m capable of — if I’m not sure I can execute it well. But that’s not always possible. And you can’t always redo your first attempt. So in an effort to practice accepting my mistakes, I’m going to let that butterfly stay just as it is. It’s a bit of my history, evidence of the work I’ve put in to get where I am.
Somewhat randomly the other day, I ended up browsing Etsy shops with embroidery patterns and kits. It was one of those internet rabbit holes, where a blog I follow linked to an article that linked to a bunch of shops full of thread and color and flowers and cute lettering, and all of a sudden I was questioning why I have a drawer full of embroidery supplies that I haven’t used in years.
I ended up watching a bunch of embroidery tutorial videos — most of my past crafts were cross stitch, but I’ve not as keen on those styles anymore — and I was sucked in by a YouTube channel from a fellow American expat in the UK. As I watched, I decided the techniques weren’t so hard, as long as you started with a good pattern. And then I decided that although I liked her style, I didn’t love her patterns.
So I set out to sketch some local wildflowers, things that feel familiar and yet unique, and would allow me to create an overall pattern that felt more like me. I had a great time sketching ferns, cornflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, snowdrops, poppies, lavender … I’m not much for illustrating, but the results felt good. And then I started trying to fit them together into a potential pattern. Holy cow, composition is hard. Especially the sort of abstract, fit-in-a-circle composition that a lot of embroidery has.
So I have some nice little sketches and made a great evening of it. But I might just use someone else pattern instead!
I planted a mix of annual flowers in my garden this spring, in hopes of adding a dash of extra color and fun. They were seeds and I wasn’t sure what to expect or how many would make it. So when these spots of color started popping out this week I got pretty excited! Of course, plenty of weeds are also popping up, so I’ll be busy for a while getting things under control.
I came across this poem while walking in Manchester yesterday. I have walked by here and not noticed it before, but this time I stopped to take a phone call, looked up, and found myself trying to make out the words while paying attention to the person on the line. Such a fitting poem for this city, and also just the sort of surprise art I equate with my visits here.