Downton Abbey on our Delaware Date

Did you know that Downton Abbey is in Delaware?! Well, let me back up a bit. As you have probably noticed by now, Matt and I find geocaches wherever we go and we have made it a goal to cache the states. Geocaching.com keeps track of our finds and there was a big gap for Delaware. We had found caches in every state along the Atlantic Ocean except that one. We never seem to have a reason for going to that particular state, so on Saturday, we decided it was Delware Date Day! I didn’t, however, want to drive all that way just to get a geocache and come home.

After researching on the internet, I found the perfect place to visit; the du Pont home, Winterthur. It sounded like just my kind of place, beautiful home to tour, 60 acres of gardens, museums and …get this…a special display of the costumes from the TV show, Downton Abbey. When we arrived, I was a bit disappointed that Winterthur was shrouded to cover scaffolding but we did get our photo in front of the Abbey. We welcome you to journey with us into the world of Downton Abbey and Winterthur.DSC_6999 2

The display of costumes was so well done. They started it out by showing us what the staff wears on the show. All throughout there were quotes from Downton Abbey, photos and videos playing clips. DSC_6944 2

The dresses and hats were incredibly beautiful! I thought maybe costumes for a show might look cheap up close. But these had lovely embroidery and beading. DSC_6979 2 DSC_6977 2 DSC_6951 2 DSC_6947 2 DSC_6963 2

I found it interesting that they would often start with a vintage piece and then create the rest of a gown from it. One example was the wedding dress that the character Edith wore. The veil was vintage and then the dress created to go with it. The antique veil was exquisitely beaded and the dress, while lovely, was not quite as spectacularly beaded. DSC_6968 2 DSC_6964 2

There were many more things to view in the Downton Abbey display and it was well attended. Many women showed up in lovely dresses and hats to view the costumes.DSC_6998 2

At the end of the display, there were three containers in which you could put a button. You were asked why you thought the show was so popular. The choices were historical content, costumes or storyline. I think many found it difficult to answer. Those costumes sure were beautiful! I thought maybe they should have had a fourth container with the words under it, “My wife makes me watch it.” It was time to tour the home of the du Pont family, Winterthur.

We had an excellent tour guide, Kathy, who led us through the house as if we were visitors from the time period of Downton Abbey, 1920s. She said as visitors of the du Pont’s for a weekend, we would be expected to have twelve changes of clothes. I said that I hoped they would have a lady’s maid for me since that was a lot of changing! She said, “Yes. The duPonts will always provide a maid if you don’t bring your own.” Whew!

We heard live piano playing as we entered a living area. Kathy said we would spend our morning here. Someone joked that they wouldn’t want to have a headache and be there in that room with the hand painted wallpaper.DSC_7013 2

Winterthur has an oval staircase.DSC_7016 2

The last du Pont to live at Winterthur, Henry Francis du Pont, loved the color green. He used thirty-two different shades of green in his home since he felt that everything went with green. He had come to that conclusion from enjoying his large gardens. Mr. du Pont noticed every detail and was extremely particular in decorating his home. He collected sixty sets of dishes so that after picking fresh flowers from his garden, he could match the china and napkin color to the bouquet. DSC_7032 2

Henry du Pont’s love of detail led him to decorate his 120 room house as a museum. He fully intended that it would be left for others to enjoy, along with his gardens.DSC_7040 2

And we did enjoy the garden, too, especially the enchanted one. I kissed a frog to see if I would find a prince.DSC_7049 2

I did! But he almost disappeared in a fairy mist.DSC_7057 2

So, I sat at the little house and examined the thatched roof.DSC_7052 2

My prince found me and we explored the rest of the displays in the museum. There was a large display of soup tureens from the Campbell family. This was my one of my favorites.DSC_7074 2

Although I thought this one was great too!DSC_7070 2

I enjoyed the paintings and textiles.DSC_7095 2 DSC_7076 2

Matt found a display of woodworking tools that were more his speed.DSC_7088 2

Finally, we got our Delaware geocache! Our Delaware Date was perfect!DSC_7039 2One more pic from the Downton Abbey display!DSC_6990

Rainy Day: Perfect for Hobbies

Today is cool and raining. I have a feeling I won’t get any sympathy from those of you that are covered in snow. But I still need to find things to do and I just don’t want to go outside. Thankfully, I have a few hobbies. Well, maybe a lot of hobbies. So after finishing breakfast dishes, I contemplated doing laundry, but those creative things were calling my name.

I’ve been making progress on the doily that I began over Thanksgiving weekend. Only a couple more rounds to go and then I can block it.Thanksgiving Doily

Last year I made this art journal page. Things have sure changed! No more pop-up! So, I definitely want to work some more on my drawing and painting. DSC_0441 3

The Butterfly Rejoice project is almost finished. I just realized as I photographed it that I haven’t put my initials and date on it. Must do that. Then I am contemplating how to finish the edges. I’ve thought of painting them different colors. Or maybe add fabric. Here are two fabrics that I’m considering. Still not sure.DSC_4850-1-2b

Lastly, I’m excited about a photography venture. This is my “new” camera! I will write more about it at another time, but isn’t is gorgeous?! It’s a treasure that we found on ebay. I just loaded some black and white film into it yesterday. Next sunny day, I am going to try it out!DSC_4835 2b

So, what do you do on rainy days?

Complete It

As I wrote in another post, I am working on an embroidery project. This is only the second piece that I am designing myself and it’s an interesting journey. It’s actually the first piece that I am not drawing out first but rather just doodling with thread. It started like this:DSC_0244 3

But here is how it looks right now:Butterfly embroidery

It’s amazing how self doubt starts to creep in with projects like this. I mean, who am I to think that I can just wing it and come up with a good embroidery piece? I do think with the next piece I will plan it a bit more. Maybe draw out several versions from which to choose.

And that self doubt. Well, it comes honestly. I’ve let myself down so many times. And sometimes it is difficult to think I’ll ever really live up to my potential. But God….

I love that, don’t you? But God. …  It’s not up to us! That really struck me again today as I read in Philippians. Verse 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” What a joy to realize this and really internalize it! God began the work in me and He WILL complete it. Sure, I have a LONG way to go, but He is in charge and doesn’t give up on me. I don’t need to worry or to feel guilty. Those things are from the enemy of my soul. But the Lover of my soul is sweetly crafting me…bit by bit. Unlike my project, He does have a plan…a perfect plan…and he is absolutely going to complete it!Butterfly photo

So, I continue to be inspired. Not by my own efforts, but by the Master Creator and Finisher. Who knows how this butterfly embroidery will turn out, but it will be my tiny effort to reflect His beauty.

Creative New Year Beginnings

I’ve been MIA on the blog for a bit. But with good reason! Christmas and New Year kept me busy, I’ve had the killer cold that lasted a month and our beautiful family came and stayed with us for a whole week! We were pretty much tripping over each other in this house, but enjoyed every minute of it. We ventured out between storms and took photos at the park. Here is my favorite family shot.Family photo - Christmas 2013

Aren’t those baby girls adorable?! And all the rest are too, of course. 🙂

Now that things have calmed down, my creative juices are flowing. I love the thoughts of being creative in a new year. Who knows what this year will bring, but I want to continue to see the beauty around me no matter what and create beauty too. My sweet hubby gave me items from my Amazon Wish List that will help in my creative endeavors. I love the wish list idea. Everyone should have one! As I see things that interest me on Amazon I add them and usually forget they are on the list. So when I opened my gifts I was still surprised and Matt have the pleasure of knowing that I would love each one. But enough about the great wish list idea.

One of the gifts were watercolor crayons. Other artists had sung the praises of watercolor crayons online. I wondered why they would be better than watercolor pencils. I’ve played with them a bit and already see their advantage.The colors certainly seem more vivid than the pencils I have. The yellow and orange really pop on this butterfly!Watercolor crayons

As soon as I got them, I sat down and tried various crayons on a journal page.  They are going to be a great addition to my journaling supplies.DSC_0261 2

Two books were also gifts from my sweetie. Sometimes I really do think I have too many interests! But I don’t seem to be able to help it. Butterflies are a fascination for me. Such transformation. Such a beautiful illustration of beginning again.  When I’m not photographing butterflies, I want to paint them or embroider them! These books should help.DSC_0263 2

Right now I am continuing to work on the new idea of working embroidery on a canvas that is prepped for painting. It is more difficult to embroider through the canvas so I don’t think I’ll be able to work intricate stitches, but I’m still figuring it out. I like the idea of embroidering and painting on the same surface. Here is what I have so far. I’m just winging as I go.DSC_0254 2

So, are you being creative thus far in 2014? How will you help yourself focus on the beauty that God has placed around you? I’ve love to hear your ideas. Now I’m going to stitch some flowers in this moment of quiet. Happy Creative New Year!

 

The Finished Wren Embroidery Project

My beautiful embroidery piece sat as a UFO for several months! But I finally finished it. It all started with a pillow that I saw in an Annapolis shop. I loved the pillow. But I have this problem of looking at things and thinking, “I should just make something like that!” I captured a photo of the pillow and here it is.DSC_4418 2

After getting home, I decided to do a sketch from the pillow photo. I was pretty pleased with how I did.Bird pillow 2

But I really wanted to make this my design. I kept the main ideas in the piece but changed it a bit.Bird Pillow 3

Before this I had only done embroidery kits and hadn’t even done one of those in quite awhile. I found transferring the design to be quite challenging. First I tried a method that involved scanning the design, printing it on wax paper, dampening the fabric and then ironing the design onto the fabric. Well, that didn’t turn out too well. I tried transfer paper and pencils. Finally, I taped the paper and then the fabric onto a window and drew the design onto the fabric. Maybe my fabric wasn’t the right kind. It seemed difficult to see the design on the fabric when I used transfer paper and pencils. I was quite attached to the idea of using this fabric though. My family and I went to Gettysburg on the 4th of July during the 150th battle anniversary. I purchased the fabric from a vendor there that was selling fabric for reenactors to make their costumes. Isn’t that fun?! Well, the design was now on the fabric and then I attached it to stretcher bars. It took a bit for me to jump in and stitch. It was totally up to me to come up with the colors and what stitches to use. That was a little daunting. My neighbor, Kathy, came to the rescue. She loaned me a book about embroidery. It was a simple book that seemed to help me get over the hump of starting. I just jumped in.DSC_5046 4

It seemed to be going well. I was working with embroidery floss that I had purchased in a variety bag. I soon determined that I needed to get different floss. This did not have the nice sheen that I was used to and looked rather dull. It doesn’t pay to buy cheap supplies with art. Thankfully, DMC floss looked nice and was easy to get. I continued working on the flowers, trying to work myself up to stitching the wren. Did I want the wren to look as it did on the pillow? No, I had to make this mine. So, I dug through my photo files and found a photo I had taken of a wren back in 2009. It was perfect to use as a reference.DSC_9652 wren

Folks that knew I was working on this project kept asking, “Is the bird done yet? When are you going to do the wren?” So, again, I just had to jump in. It seemed like a good idea to start with his beak and then his “eyebrow.”DSC_5362 3

I loved working on the wren! I decided to make him look as lifelike as I could. I started noticing all the details on the bird in the photo. What a beautiful creature! I noticed that the tail that I drew just didn’t look right. I always call wrens “twang tails” because it looks like if you pushed their tails down and let go, it would go “twang” as it sprung back up. I stitched and tore out and stitched again, finally deciding that the tail was too long! I had to get creative to cover the ink of the drawing and yet make his tail look as I wanted. I was happy with my wren!

I tried new things as I worked on this project. I used different colored threads at the same time. Also, I tried out variegated threads. Here are some closeups of the details.DSC_9854 3 DSC_9886 3 DSC_9885 3 DSC_9881 3

The stitching was complete. Oh, I loved how it turned out! But now I had to decide, would I make it into a pillow as I first planned? After spending so much time and pouring love into the piece, I shuddered to think of it as a pillow, being drooled on, have dirty feet propped on it, threads being pulled. Nope…not a pillow. I determined to get it framed. It was an odd shape and would not be easy to frame. I feared that I would have to get it custom framed. The young man at ACMoore was very helpful in choosing matting and frames. But none of it looked right. Thankfully, I had to leave to meet a friend for lunch so I couldn’t place the order at that moment. He did give me a quote though. Framing was 65% off, but still it would cost $170. Wow. After lunch, I headed to the store again. I searched through the ready made matting and frames and found something that would work! It’s not as beautiful as if it had been custom framed, but I love the price: $14. And I think it looks pretty too!DSC_9889 4

I’m sure enjoying it in our living room.DSC_9878 2

So, what did I learn? It seems that when I want to try something new I go through a period of immobilization. That’s okay, but I need to recognize it and then, after preparing, just get going. I also relearned that trying new things may mean that you start over a couple times as I did when transferring the pattern. Again, I noticed all the incredible detail that God puts into everything that He creates and it made me want to do the same. And I have to remember that things don’t always turn out the way I imagine, but rather take on a life of their own…and that’s okay too.

 

Embroidery and Paint

I’ve just got to brag about my friend’s art! Peggy is one of my art buddies. We met through a Bible study and soon found out that we both love to create. Last autumn, I asked if she would like to take an online art class with me, Brave Girl Art School. Soon we were throwing paint onto canvas along with fabric, beads, paper and even twigs! We met weekly to work on projects together. She was a great encouragement to me to just jump in and try something new.

We are still attending the same Bible study, but the art class is over and life got busy so we don’t do mixed media together anymore. She is still creating though! And I love her latest projects. Peggy says that embroidery that I did recently inspired her to do embroidery right on a canvas that is prepared for painting. I was working on this wren piece that I completed in the summer. (Here is a post about the wren project.)

This is a closeup of the wren that I stitched this past summer.

This is a closeup of the wren that I stitched this past summer.

My mother-in-law taught me to do these kinds of projects by attaching the fabric to stretcher bars before working them instead of using a hoop. It’s a great alternative!

I staple the fabric onto the stretcher bars. This is the back of my piece.

I staple the fabric onto the stretcher bars. This is the back of my piece.

You never have to move a hoop and there are no marks left over. Peggy thought that I was going to just leave the embroidery on the stretcher bars and hang it. That was not what I had planned for my wren piece. But it spurred on her imagination!

The result is beautiful! By using a canvas that is ready for paint, Peggy was able to color the background with watercolor paint and then stitch through the canvas. DSC_9822 2

She even added beads!DSC_9823 2

I plan to steal her idea..the one that was inspired by my work. Isn’t it wonderful how we can help each other? Thanks, Peggy for the great idea!

Here is Peggy holding her beautiful art pieces! They are ready to hang!

Here is Peggy holding her beautiful art pieces! They are ready to hang!

Elusive Joy

Projects are much more enjoyable to me if I design them myself. This is the second hand embroidery project that I have tackled. But it is progressing very slowly. Almost as if it doesn’t want to be made.Joy

I often think of the word Joy. At times, I really struggle with it. Part of the reason I named the blog Joyful Wonder is because I need to be reminded to approach life with that mind set. Yes, I believe joy is a decision.

My latest embroidery design

Am I a victim of my circumstances and my emotions? Or can I choose to rise above? Can I choose joy? The dictionary defines it this way: “the emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” Well, that does seem to cover it. Is my life always exceptionally good or satisfying? Umm…no. Are my emotions always delightful. Nope. But, there is something exceptionally good and satisfying available to me at all times – my relationship with God. He is the one I need to turn to when joy evades me.

So, I am continuing to work on this project. I hope it will be pretty and encouraging. In the meantime, I am thinking on this verse: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”