Northern Oriole in Colored Pencil

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These sweet, little birds live in woodlands and shade trees. I love their brightly colored feathers.  Their voice is clear and flute-like and they can actually sing double notes!  Do you ever wonder what God’s thought process must have been like as He was creating all these wonderful creatures?  I am amazed when I think of all the different species He designed for us to enjoy!

Do you have a favorite bird or animal?  These bird drawings make nice note cards and have an expensive look and feel, especially when combined with lined envelopes.  A set makes a lovely gift!  Do you still use snail-mail and send out hand-written cards or notes?  I’d love to hear from you!

The Baltimore oriole is a small icterid blackbird common in eastern North America as a migratory breeding bird. It received its name from the resemblance of the male’s colors to those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore. Like all New World orioles, it is named after an unrelated, physically similar family found in the Old World: the Oriolidae.

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Andrea Joseph Wannabe!

Andrea Joseph Teapot Journal Page

Hello Friend!

I’m on week two of my Sketchbook Skool http://sketchbookskool.com  lettering class taught by the one and only Andrea Joseph.  If a modern day artist could be my super hero, it would be Andrea. I’m having such a great time and learning a lot!  Mostly, I’m learning to relax a little and enjoy my sketchbook.  I tend to be totally rigid when it comes to just sitting down and sketching, and the two don’t mix well.  I love the look and feel of beautiful botanical illustrations but I also love the playful look of whimsical art.  I think this class will help me loosen up!

What’s your favorite style of art?  Do you tend to like a more realistic rendering or something more loose and free?  Are you interested in seeing any side-by-side drawings [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] representing both realism and whimsy?  Please leave a comment and let me know!

Gold & Glitz

Blending Old with New

Makeup 1 Square

These drawings began with my mom’s antique powder compact.  I love the look and feel of these old metal compact cases.  They were not only pretty but functional and made to last a long time.  Once the powder was gone you simply replaced it with a refill and new puff.

Makeup 2 Square

Do you have an art journal filled with drawings, sketches or paintings?  I’m going to take a lettering class this month and look forward to adding hand-lettering to some of my illustrations.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about incorporating lettering with your art!

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The Art of Whimsy

Green Paint Brushes Horizontal

Pink Pencils Horizontal

 

 

 

Hello friend,

I hope the summer in your area hasn’t been as hot and humid as ours has been in the midwest!  It’s so steamy outside and just plain uncomfortable.  I’m a cool weather girl so I’m totally ready for fall to get here with colorful foliage and crisp temperatures.

I decided that I needed to do some drawing that was more playful in nature and a bit less controlled.  Sometimes I want to draw but I can’t decide what I want to work on. I started studying Andrea Joseph’s earlier works.  http://andreajoseph24.blogspot.com/  She is such an amazing illustrator!  She used to work only in ballpoint pen and in a single color.  I actually looked at each drawing on her website for inspiration.

I did these drawings with pen, marker and colored pencil.  I thought they would make nice illustrations for greeting cards.  I’d love to do more work like this and would love your input about what kind of drawings you’d like to see.  Do you like this whimsical style of art or drawings that are more realistic?

Blue Pencil & Paint Brush Horizontal

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Colored Pencil Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush

Hi!  I have to admit, I’m one of those crazy bird-watchers!  I love spying birds outside my window and watching them interact with one another.  I love looking at all the colors and markings and I especially love to see how each breed is so different.  Not just the way they look, but also the way they move and fly.

Wood Thrush Collage

Thoreau wrote of the wood thrush:  “Whenever a man hears it he is young, and nature is in her spring; whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.”

The wood thrush is the most familiar of or spotted brown thrushes and the only one that nests regularly in the vicinity of houses.  These birds are about 8 inches long.  They lay four greenish-blue eggs in their nests in a cup of grass and twigs, reinforced with mud and lined with fine grass and rootlets, placed in a bush or sapling.  They have four greenish-blue eggs.  And their song . . . oh my!  So very beautiful!

Am I the only cra-cra that is [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] intrigued with these lovely creatures?  Have you spotted any unique birds in your neck of the woods?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

My Brother, My Friend

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Not Everyone is as Blessed as I am When it Comes to Brothers 

I have a big brother, who is not only my sibling but also a true friend.  The last couple of days we’ve been spent with our mother, who was paying a visit to the hospital.  We had moments of worry, a lot of laughter, but mainly, we shared in this responsibility as a team.  I’m so thankful that I’m not alone when it comes to caring for our aging Mother.  She has set a strong example for us, but sadly, Alzheimer’s is slowly taking her away from us.

 

A Not-so-Happy Glimpse of the Future

During Mom’s hospital visit, we saw a side of her that we’ve only had glimpses of thus far.  Between the anesthesia and pain medication, she seemed as if she had progressed quickly with new Alzheimer’s symptoms.  My brother and I tried to find humor in this situation because we knew it was only temporary.  But truth be told, it was very scary to know that one day this behavior could be the norm for Mom.  We witnessed it with our grandmother and dread the day that we have to see our mom go through the same mental decline.

It’s also difficult to think that one day we could also be facing the same diagnosis for ourselves.  I remember the day that Mom was diagnosed.  There were tears from both of us. Mostly, she dreaded the day that she wouldn’t recognize her children.  That was a sobering thought.  I hope and pray that the fate of Alzheimer’s never becomes a reality for either my brother or myself.

Fight the Good Fight

Discover the Alzheimer’s Prevention Diet

One of the best ways you can feed your brain for better memory is by avoiding a diet high in trans-fat and saturated fat. These fats, such as those from animal products (especially red meats), can cause inflammation as well as produce free radicals. As you probably know, free radicals are a normal by-product of your metabolism, but in high quantities, they can damage and even kill your valuable brain cells.

Eating foods that are high in antioxidants like vitamins C and E is a wonderful natural way to eliminate free radicals from your body. In a similar way, scientists believe that a vast intake of fruits and vegetables, eating fish rich in omega-3 oils and vegetarian protein substitutes (such as soy) are protective against memory loss.

The ideal prevention diet breaks down like this:

  • 20% “good” fats. Items in this group include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and flax seed oil
  • 40% lean proteins. Look to include fish, chicken, turkey, and soy on a daily basis.
  • 40% complex carbohydrates. Discover the rewards of a rainbow of fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits.
  • Superfoods for the brain – as much as you want! These superfoods, including blueberries, spinach, and seaweed. The items have fabulous antioxidant properties preventing causes of Alzheimer’s.


The Healing Power of Relaxation and Meditation

Meditation reduces stress, which lowers cortisol and improves many other aspects of your mental function. Of course, stress management has many other positive benefits as well, such as improved performance, heart function, reduced anxiety, less chronic pain, and even increased longevity.

Balancing your daily stress is a vital part of any Alzheimer’s prevention strategy. Studies have shown there is a high correlation between having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and/or high cortisol and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Stress has been shown to be a key factor in all of these conditions.

Thankfully, research has shown that the benefits of regular stress-relaxation practice, such as meditation, can improve your health and prevent memory loss. And, as it reduces some of the negative impacts of cholesterol, cortisol, and high blood pressure, a stress relaxation practice also has the added benefits of improving your focus, attention, and optimizing your overall mental performance.

Some examples of stress-management techniques include:     

  • Meditation
  • Guided Imagery and Visualization
  • Hypnosis
  • Deep Breathing
  • Massage
  • Prayer

Trust me — it is not necessary to lock yourself into any of one of these stress relaxation techniques. Rather, it’s best to feel free to explore any or all of them to see which technique works best for you. Simply start with any of these techniques for a few minutes a day and you’ll quickly begin to experience better brain function. Then, find the techniques you tend to enjoy the very most and you’ll begin experiencing a whole new and improved — and less stressed — you!

Exercise & Brain Aerobics

The Importance of Physical Exercise

Exercise & Brain Aerobics 

Did you know that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to a stunning 50%? Moreover, studies have shown that women from age 40 to 60 who exercised regularly were seen to have a dramatic reduction in memory loss and cognitive decline. That’s right: They kept their brain power at optimal strength! More recent findings suggest that an overall active lifestyle is the key to brain and body health.

To see the best benefits of your exercise program, the latest research reveals that the magic number for maintaining cognitive fitness with age and preventing Alzheimer’s is to work up to a level of 150 minutes per week of a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Great ways to get in your aerobic exercise include brisk walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and playing tennis, or going to the gym and utilizing an elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike.

Anything that gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving is heading you in the right direction to better overall health. Plus when you include strength training (e.g., weights, resistance machines, isometrics, etc.), you maintain your muscle mass and prevent osteoporosis and related illness.

Keep reading to discover how you can work out your brain to keep it in the same good shape as your renewed body, in your goal to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Benefiting from Brain Aerobics

Neurologists report that mental exercise can reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70%. With numbers like that, it’s amazing that everyone isn’t exercising their brains more often. Get a head start by spending at least 20 minutes, three times a week doing mental exercises.

Don’t know what brain aerobics are? It’s simple. Whenever you challenge your brain with novel tasks (anything new or different), you’re exercising your brain and improving brain function. In order for an activity to be considered brain aerobics, three conditions must be met. The activity needs to:

Mind Games generously donated by Cranium Crunches

  • Engage your attention.
  • Involve more than one of your senses.
  • Break a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way.

Some examples of fantastic, brain-building mental exercises include reading, writing, playing board games, and doing crossword puzzles.

Mind Games

Distraction and competing bits of information often make picking out what is important in a situation complicated. The best way to hone those skills is to practice in situations that replicate real life.

 

Although Alzheimer’s is a horrible problem for so many, we can practice prevention and hope for a cure one day.  I’m grateful for scientists and physicians that work diligently to put an end to this illness.  I’m also thankful that as more and more is learned about Alzheimers, we can put practices into place to combat the onset and progression.

Have you known a relative or friend who has dealt with a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?  I’d love to know how they coped.  Please leave a comment below and let’s share information about the trials and triumphs associated with this illness.

 

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Cottage Blues

House

 

Hello Peeps,

I hope your weekend was fun and relaxing!  Did you do something special to celebrate Father’s Day?  My poor hubby, and the amazing father of our two sons signed up for sweat and tears this weekend!  Just kidding, but he worked really hard and I did, too.  You see, we replaced all our windows and doors last summer and added shaker siding.  We love the way our house went from tired, ugly Brady Bunch to a lovely shade of blue with the feel of a country cottage.  Scroll down and you’ll see what I mean!

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Yep, that’s the way the house looked when we bought it!  We knew this place had a ton of potential and we loved the setting so we dug our heels in and held on until we could make exterior improvements.  Since the work wasn’t done until late last Summer, Fall  set in quickly and we turned our attention to stocking up our wood supply.  We had a mild winter, but I was still surprised at the amount of dirt and debris that had collected on our window sills and decks.  Ewww!  We decided it was time to do some exterior clean up, so we fired up the power washer and worked our little hearts out.

Everything looks and feels so. much. better.  So, although Father’s Day wasn’t our typical day of celebration, the king of my castle will rest well knowing that all our hard work was worth every minute! 🙂

Have you ever fallen in love with the feel of a house and plunged in despite its current state?  We have lived in a lot of houses.  So many, that I’m often teased by my friends and family.  You know, we were flipping houses before the phrase was even popular.  We didn’t actually set out to be flippers. But for one reason or another, we would buy a home, rework it inside and out and then we’d move and start all over again. I kind of blamed myself because I thought it was because I loved decorating.  I actually worked as a decorator and so our houses always sold quickly.  What I didn’t realize was how much both my husband and I craved being in a place where we could enjoy our privacy.  We have the world’s greatest neighbors, but they seem to feel much the same way; always there if needed but otherwise a friendly wave is sufficient!

I hope that doesn’t sound rude or unfriendly!  I really, really don’t mean it that way!  Just before we moved here I began understanding what a true introvert I am.  I’ve taken test after test and each one of them ends with the same result.  I am an introvert.  I love being alone and especially when I have a drawing or invitation that I’m working on.  I love having projects that consume my thoughts and I love being home. I need time alone to process and make sense of everyday life.

It took me quite a long time to realize that this is the way God made me and it’s really okay.  For quite awhile, I felt like I must surely be different than everyone else.  It was a real eye-opener when I learned that there are others out there who feel much the same way that I feel.  I learned to accept my differences and even to embrace them.  This little home of ours helps me live the life I was yearning to live.  I am so grateful that my husband is content being away from a large city or in a neighborhood full of people, too.

What about you?  Do you get energized being with people or by being alone?  Does your home help fit your personality?

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Vintage Style Wedding Invitation

Walters Simpson Invitation

 

This sweet, vintage style invitation was so much fun to create!  The banner with birds and flowers was found at The Graphics Fairy http://thegraphicsfairy.com.  I love the grass green accent color mixed with black.  It’s interesting to see what colors are trending.  It’s also nice to work in colors that are not often used together.

I have to chuckle when I think back to what was popular when I got married.  My wedding colors were baby blue and white.  Even my groom was dressed in baby blue!  Wide brimmed garden hats were all the rage and I carried a boquet of daisys!  The church was beautiful but it was a hot August day and the church wasn’t air-conditioned.  The best part is that I’m still married to the great guy who met me at the altar!

Sometimes I wonder what style and colors I would choose if I were a blushing bride today.  Would I go with the current trend or choose something completely different than most?  I honestly don’t know!

What style and colors would you like in your dream wedding?  What kind of venue would you choose?

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Free Printable Give Away with Subscription!

ivy botanical

 

FREE Ivy Botanical Illustration Printable with Your Blog Subscription!  You can print this out, trim it up and put in an 8 x 10 frame and have instant wall art!

Please sign up on your lower right and pass it on to your friends!  I’ll be adding freebies from time to time so check back when you can!  Please note; for personal use only. No commercial use is authorized.

                                                DOWNLOAD BELOW: 

http://www.mycottageblue.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/MCB-Ivy-Poster-Printable.jpg

 

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Tulip Botanical in Colored Pencil

Pink Tulip

Colored pencil is my favorite medium to use when drawing flowers.  Don’t you just love the colors that burst forth in the Spring?  This illustration was done several years ago while I was attending a class at The Indianapolis Art Center http://indplsartcenter.org.  That class is what made me realize how much I love working in colored pencil!  I worked on Strathmore Bristol Vellum.  I like the feel of this paper because it has a nice tooth but isn’t heavily textured.  I used Berol Prismacolor colored pencils because I like the way they are  waxy which helps me blend colors together.  I was excited to learn how to add water droplets to the drawing, too.

Do you have a favorite medium to work in while illustrating or painting in nature?  I’d love to see your work and to share it with my readers!

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