13 January 2017

Today's Delights

As I struggle with the daily grind, I'm trying to focus on the things around me that give me delight and joy.  Here is a sampling of the delights of this week!

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What a joy to have Connie come stay the night as she learned how to use her new spinning wheel!  It was good to get mine dusted off and get focused back on getting a long term spinning project moving once again!  

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Loving the yarns coming off the spinning wheel!  Can't wait to have enough to begin knitting a special project! 

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I've spent a lot of time categorizing photographs as I start work on my Dad's Memoirs!  Such a lovely trip down memory lane.  Oh how I miss him.  

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I finally got a few paperwhite bulbs planted.  Should be blooming just in time for the February/March doldrums, when I need a bit of hope for spring! 

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The grocery store provided some lovely Hyacinth bulbs, which are blooming and filling the house with their heady scent!  

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A pot of tiny bright daffodils to brighten up the dining room!  

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In the kitchen, the Christmas cactus is blooming once again!  Such exotic blossoms! 

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The row of miniature african violets continues to bloom.  It's been non-stop for months now!  

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There has been a bit of time to play with some embroidery.  I guess I need to work under a magnifier now as when I take a photo I can see all sorts of mistakes that I don't see otherwise.  

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A tiny bit of progress on a crazy quilt project.  

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The gift of a dozen colorful farm fresh eggs from a co-worker this morning!  Guess what I had for dinner?  

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And of course, my dear kitty companions - true treasures!  Thomas is going on 16 and starting to show his age.  This is his favorite spot to sleep these days, hence the plastering of cat hair on the rug. It's right next to the little heater in my study.  

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And Kitzy Cat, after being rather a non-entity  around her for the past 4 years, is lately starting to become a real sweetheart of a cat and a much nicer companion.  She's about due for a haircut, once the coldest days of January are past.  

It was good to look around and see that there really are so many things I am thankful for, so many things that bring me joy!  Important not to get lost in the troubles of the day and instead search out the good things.  

08 January 2017

Delights of the Day Revisited

I began this blog almost 10 years ago!  Wow!  Today, as I was digging through my archives looking for something else, I came across this piece that I wrote titled, "Delights of the Day." I posted a somewhat smaller version in January 2008.  Truth be told, it has been a difficult couple of weeks, but as I read it over, I realized it was just what I needed right now.   I've updated it with the things I find delight in today.


Each day is filled with choices.  Do I give into despair and let the things that worry and disturb me fill every moment and thought?  Or do I seek the seeds of joy and hope and nurture them to blossom each day? 

Here then are a few of the delights of my day. 
- Sunshine melting the snow and warming things up nicely after several days of bitter cold.
- Sitting in my chair with both kitties cuddled up and talking to my sister on the phone.
- Working on my Dad's memoirs and having the opportunity to spend so much time remembering those I love who have gone on.  So many good memories!  
- Having lunch with a long time friend yesterday and the delight of unexpectedly meeting another mutual acquaintance of ours from elementary school while we were out and about!  
- Anticipating the arrival of another friend tomorrow and the time we'll spend together while I brush up on my spinning skills and try to share some of what I know with her! And maybe we'll get to spend just a little bit of time doing some crazy quilting too!  
- Having 6 whole days off work in a row.  It has helped me feel normal again. 
- The Christmas Cactus blooming on the kitchen window sill for the second time in two months! 
- The Christmas lights in the windows that I'm not quite ready to take down just yet.  Their light soothes me on the dark winter nights.  I've also left the rustic Christmas tree up sans decorations.  The lights are so peaceful.  At the end of January, when the days start to last a bit longer and the light lingers into the early evening, I'll take the lights down.  
- Enjoying the birds and squirrels at the feeders.  Nothing fancy, just sparrows, finches and juncos, but their twittering soothes my heart. 

While watching the birds, I am reminded of the scripture in which Jesus tells us not to be anxious.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
Matthew 6: 26, 27. 31-33
  
Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite author/illustrators often quoted a poem by Evelyn Underhill.
I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Yea, on the glancing wing
Of eager birds, the softly pattering feet
Of furred and gentle beasts.
 
 I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord:
Not borne on the morning’s wings
Of majesty, but I have set My feet
Amidst the delicate and bladed wheat.
 
 I come in the little things,
Saith the Lord.  Amen.


Begin doing what you want to do now. 
We are not living in eternity.
We have only this moment,
Sparkling like a star in our hand—
And melting like a snowflake.

            --Marie Beyon Ray

02 January 2017

Hello 2017!

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We celebrated our family Christmas on New Year's Day since I had to work over Christmas.  It's always such a blessing to gather together!  This year, made doubly fun by the addition of these two sweet little girls!  At 3 and 4 months, they are gooing and gurgling and have such a grand time interacting with one another!  

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Who could resist this sweet face?!  I know that through the coming year, there will be so many amazing moments with these two sweet grandbabies!  

     *     *     *     *     *     * 
There are lots of projects in the works as always.  Every year, I make up a list of all the projects I want to complete and new ones I want to start.  It always seems immensely do-able.  But the year end comes and so many of them remain unfinished!  I keep hoping though, that one day, my to-do box actually will actually get emptied out!  

One of the big things I hope to work on this year is to simplify my life a little bit.  This past year, it felt like things were getting away from me in a big way.  I've already started prioritizing the things I say yes to, and saying no a bit more often to the things that wear me down.   

A big goal is to continue downsizing my belongings.  I have dreams of a minimalist lifestyle ~ but as someone who is a packrat at heart and who loves to create things, that's pretty challenging!  Part of the minimalist dream is to live more frugally, more efficiently, to have less of an impact on the environment.  This is something I've been working on for a long time, but I think it's time to step up my efforts a bit.  I'm going to do my best to eliminate most plastic from my life as well as decrease the amount of un-recycleable trash I produce.  I already produce more recycling than I do trash ~ about 2 to 1, but I know I can do better, and the hope is to reduce both recycling and trash.

I also need to do some thinking about how to make a living doing creative things that don't demand 12 hour shifts on my feet.  My health and well being is demanding a change and I need to start paying attention and taking positive action!  

After going through the list of all my potential projects here are the big ones that I want to finish this year.
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Each year, I usually have at least one "book" project that I work on, including putting the previous year's blog posts into a book format.  Last year, I finished up our family cookbook!  It turned out really well and the kids were each so happy to at last have the family recipes that they wanted most without having to call me every time!

Before she died, my Mom had put together my Dad's and her Memoirs.  They each spent a lot of time writing down stories from their life and compiling scrapbooks of all the important bits of their histories.  My Mom wanted to put them into book format, but then she passed away, just as I was getting started scanning the photographs for it.  With the family cookbook out of the way, this is the year of my Dad's Memoirs.  Combining all the writings, the photographs and memorabilia and putting it into book form for all the family members and friends who would like a copy.

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I am also nearly finished with the Advent book that I've been working on.  It will be ready soon and when it is, I'll make the link available to purchase.  It's a compilation and re-working of many of the Advent meditations that I've done on the blog over the years.

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Speaking of Advent things, I have the two Christmas Crazy Quilt projects that I would like to finish.  Both are so close... Just need to get in gear and get them done!

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Then there is the Hearts Round Robin that I would like to complete.  I have 5 finished blocks and one unfinished block.  In all, I would like a total of 9, so need to make at least 3 more before this one will be ready to assemble!

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I had such fun with the Daily Stitchings in November and would like to continue some measure of this off and on throughout the year.

2017.01.02Projects07Along the line of Daily Stitching is the idea of doing Daily Paintings.  Doing these watercolor sketches makes me so happy and it's something I want to make more time for, even if just on a weekly basis.   Oil painting is going to the back burner for a while.  Especially while I'm still working.  There simply aren't enough hours in a day to do all the things I love to do, so I've made a hard decision to let this one rest for now, though I may dabble from time to time.

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I have some ideas ruminating in the back of my mind about new directions to take my stitching work.  I have loved crazy quilting, and will continue to do it, but I'm going to branch out into some other areas as well.   One of the new projects I'm going to work on is an embroidered piece for my blog header!

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Then I have this tray of lovely ivory and blush pink bits, that I keep out for inspiration.  One of these days, it's going to turn into a crazy quilt block.  I was hoping to work on it last year, but it never happened, so hopefully this year it will!

And if that doesn't keep me busy, I have a big basket filled with unfinished projects that I can choose from!

30 December 2016

A Look Back at 2016


The odometer of years ticks by and it's time to say goodbye to 2016.

As always, I've taken a fair number of photographs.  Here is a look at a few of the ones that I feel are my very best of the year.  
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From a snowy road photographed on my way home from work last January, to the beautiful blossoms of spring, summer and fall, views of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and one of my two exquisite granddaughters that I have been so blessed with this year, these are the photos that I felt went a little bit beyond being just a photo.  It's always so hard to choose which ones to include in this group!  

2016 Art Mosaic
One of my goals for 2016 was to spend more time painting.  While I wasn't able to paint quite as much as I had hoped, I did manage to do quite a number of oil paintings and watercolor sketches!  Hope to continue into the year ahead!  

2016 Stitching Mosaic
There was time for stitching too.  I finished up the blocks for CQJP 2015 and mostly finished the quilt (just a bit more quilting to do on it before binding it).  I was able to finish Mollie Feathers; stitched a cover for the special Holiday issue of Crazy Quilt Quarterly (and a second piece that was my first attempt).  I made a couple of pincushions, crocheted enough coasters for the living room, stitched a mug rug for my stitching table and did some Altoid tin samples.  

I also spent much of the year working on my lecture and power point for two of the quilt guild presentations I did, created a stitching sampler with instructions for my classes, wrote a Mini-Stitch book, created a pattern and instructions for Altoid Tin kits, which I sold at one of the workshops.  Just putting the kits together was a huge time commitment and not something I will likely do again!  Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of time left over for stitching! 

2016 Daily Stitching
Once all the workshops were over and I got settled in my new job a bit more, I had time to stitch at last and had fun with some little Daily Stitching pieces, each about 3"x4".  Just little vignettes to get myself stitching and try something different for a change.  Hope to do much more with this in the future, though it may morph and change throughout the year.  

2016 Yard and Garden
The garden was AMAZING! this year!  Photos simply can not do it justice.  The roses in June... oh my!  Truthfully, this yard is so much larger than I can really handle on my own, but having roses blooming like this makes it all worth while!  

2016 Travel mosaic
I was thinking it was going to be a light travel year, but I ended up being able to make three wonderful trips! In the spring, my sister joined me for a road trip to South Dakota to see my Dad's side of the family and to visit the old home places.  Then in September I had a wonderful week on Cape Cod with a dear friend, quickly followed by a road trip to Kansas City for the CQI Retreat and the chance to meet up with yet another dear friend!  October brought my last trip of the year to California where I taught a workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Quilter's group and the opportunity to spend time with a close friend from high school, whom I hadn't seen in many years.

I love that each trip involved the chance to spend time with people who have been important in my life in addition the opportunities to see new places and revisit others.  Memories of these trips provide such inspiration and food for the soul.  They really keep me going, whether in the fun of planning, or in the actual taking of the trip, and then reliving the memories as I share the photos and stories here on my blog! 

As I look back over the past year, I realize how little I've blogged this year, especially since my job change this fall.  I hope to do better in the coming year! FaceBook and Instagram provide the instant gratification of "likes" and comments, but it doesn't provide the deeper dialogue that a blog can, and that is something that I've been missing.  

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Before I finish this post, I thought I'd take just a brief look at my holiday decorating.  Since I knew I would be working through Christmas and not seeing any of the family, I kept things very simple.  I put up the snowflake lights in the windows, decorated the tree with lights only ~ not a single ornament!  

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The mantle wears the lit green garland most of the year, so I just changed out a few of the decorations for Christmas ones.  A Willow Tree nativity, a white wood dove, some whitewashed trees and a little village of wooden houses that I made several years ago.  

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Outside, there are some new snowflake lights along the path to the side patio.  It looked so lovely in the snow with the kitchen tree's lights reflected in the window!  I may have to plant a small fir tree there just to have lights on it!  Since I didn't have help this year to put lights on the house, I put simple green lights on the fence, which I was able to do without a ladder!  

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The kitchen windows each have a lovely scandinavian candelabra in them.  

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In the dining room, I put out my small faux feather tree with just little wire lights on it this year and my trees in the snow painting.  I love how the living room tree is reflected in the mirror here!  

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The living room tree with the window lights on Christmas Eve before I left for work.  

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I've spent nearly every evening that I haven't been working sitting in the living room simply enjoying the lights and the peace.  It has been more "Christmasy" than when everything is loaded down with decorations.  It has made me remember that Jesus came as a light to the world.  He brought peace to those who believe in him.  Even when struggling with a difficult year, underneath, there has been peace.  

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I couldn't resist the little "elf" tree and since I was missing having a real tree, brought this home and found it a spot in the kitchen.  It's amazing how much you can do in the kitchen just by the lights of the tree and the window candelabras!  

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Due to my work schedule, I wasn't able to make my beloved Christmas Eve services this year.  Instead I took a walk through the park near my home.  Each Christmas, a group of neighborhood residents takes the time to line the paths with luminarias.  It was a magical walk.  

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In the park shelter, there was a lit tree and this view looks down the street to the Christmas lights of my home in the distance.  

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The park shelter sits next to a now mostly frozen pond.  All through the year it is a favored site for weddings, quinceanares (a celebration on a girl's 15th birthday to acknowledge that she is now a woman), yearbook photos, yoga classes, etc.  Walking through the park on this lovely Christmas Eve  made for a lovely peaceful walk before starting what turned out to be a very hectic and busy night at work!  

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In the mornings, when I sit in my chair and turn the tree lights on, it looks like bits of dappled early morning sunlight peeking through the branches.  Peaceful by night, peaceful by day.

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!  I'm looking forward to meeting and getting to know you!  

24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

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Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  
May you be blessed this Christmas season with much love and joy!  

I originally began this when Pam Kellogg asked me to stitch a piece for the special Christmas issue of Crazy Quilt Quarterly.  But as I worked on it, I realized that it didn't have quite the graphic impact that a cover piece should have and so I set it aside and completed the Christmas Tree piece that she ended up using.  Since then, I've worked on this, but still don't have it quite finished.  I wanted to share it anyway!  


And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying  in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2: 8-14

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