2009 ~ In Retrospect

2009 LPBoni Handwork, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

This morning, I took some time to look back at the past year and all that I've managed to accomplish in it. On a day by day basis, it doesn't always seem like I'm getting much done, but looking at the big picture, I'm astounded!

For the above mosaic, I choose a picture of a piece of handwork that stood out from each month during the year... the things that gave me joy.

Swaps, Round Robins, Give-aways and Gifts 2009
As I went through all the pictures from the year, I realized that I had done an astounding amount of work for swaps, round robins, give-aways and gifts, so that is what this second mosaic shows. There were quite a few things that didn't fit!

Travels 2009
(l to r, top to bottom: San Francisco Peaks from Flagstaff, AZ; Antelope Canyon, AZ; Great Falls on the Little Colorado River, AZ; Montezuma Well Ntl Mon, AZ; Montezuma Castle Ntl Mon, AZ; Tuzigoot Ntl Mon, AZ; Colorado River at Glen Canyon Ntl Recreation Dist, AZ; Parry Lodge, Kanab, UT; Zion Ntl Park, UT; Bryce Canyon Ntl Park, UT; Pink Sand Dunes State Park, UT; Edwards, CO; my Mother's garden, CO; Colorado River, UT; Arches Ntl Park, UT; Monument Valley, UT & AZ; Kaweah River, CA; Sequoia Ntl Park, CA; Kings Canyon Ntl Park, CA; Longs Peak Scottish Irish Festival in Estes Park, CO; Rocky Mountain Ntl Park, CO; Wall, SD; Badlands Ntl Park, SD; Devils Tower Ntl Mon, WY; Ludlow Massacre Memorial, CO; Capulin Volcano Ntl Mon, NM; hiking in AZ; El Morro Ntl Mon, NM; Fort Union Ntl Mon, NM; Out of Africa Wildlife Park, AZ; snow in Flagstaff, AZ; Longs Peak, CO; Spanish Mission ruin, Raton Pass, CO; bouganvilla in Tucson, AZ; Saguaro Ntl Park, AZ; sunset over Boulder, CO. )

Back in the early spring, I realized I was becoming quite a hermit, rarely leaving home unless there was a need. Since I believe strongly that life is what you make it, I made much effort to get out and see new places and experience new things and took every opportunity to visit our country's wonderful National Parks and Monuments along the way. This last mosaic includes a picture of nearly all the places I went plus a few extra of Arizona and Colorado as they typically were where the journeys began and ended!

Wishing you a delightful and blessed New Year!


A Pincushion for my Sis!

Hollys PC 01Dec09 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

My sister recently moved into a new home and is so happy to have a crafting room of her own now. She calls it her "Lil Black and Bling French Craft Room". The room has grey walls and the rest is in Black and White with one cushion on the daybed of wine-red roses. For part of her Christmas gift, I made her a functional pincushion for her sewing table to match the room's theme!

Hollys PC 01Dec09 03
Working in black and white was a challenge for me as it can be difficult to make the stitching and lace show up on both sides of the seams. In the end, it all came out!

Hollys PC 01Dec09 04
The top of the pincushion has a large open area of black wool for lots of pins! Included in the gift were two packages of pins, one in pearly white, one in pearly red to go with!

Hollys PC 01Dec09 02
Love you Sis!

Holly Xmas Morn
(I think she liked it!)


A Change in Plans...

Snow 22Dec09, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

A sudden shift in the weather forecast left me wondering if I should still head home to Colorado or stay in Arizona. The snow started on Tuesday afternoon. The travel outlook for northern New Mexico and southern Colorado turned to snow, high winds and winchills of -30. Not very enjoyable or safe for a trip home, so I cancelled my trip home for the holidays.

Snow 23Dec09
The next morning, the landscape had been transformed into a winter wonderland!

Snow Scene 23Dec09
We received 9" of fluffy snow as well as icy roads locally. Then I heard reports that road conditions had deteriorated on my travel route. I was glad I made the decision to stay home.

Tucson 24Dec09
Instead of heading to Colorado, on Christmas Eve, I made the journey to Tucson to spend Christmas with my sister and her husband's family. It was a lovely 64 degrees F when we arrived!

Bouganvilla 01 24Dec09
There were even flowers in bloom! The bouganvilla was lovely in the evening sun. The tree in the background is a lime-quat covered in loads of fruit! Very tasty!

Christmas Rose 24Dec09
There was even a Christmas rose blooming!

Bouganvilla 02 24Dec09
I couldn't get enough of the gorgeous bouganvilla! So bright and cheerful!

H n G 24Dec09
Christmas ended up being lovely, even though it wasn't quite what I had originally planned. This pic is of my lovely sister and her hubby on Christmas eve!

Hope that you each had a wonderful Christmas!
Blessings and peace to everyone!


Remembering ~ Ten years ago today...

1999 Fire 2, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

This probably isn’t the post you were expecting from me in this Christmas season. If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you are probably aware that I experienced a housefire a few years ago. Today (Dec 23) is the 10 year anniversary of that event and I wanted to share a little about it.

The secretary paged me over the intercom. “Lisa, your ex is on the phone and he said it’s an emergency!” At once, numerous thoughts coursed through my mind, the foremost being that something was wrong with one of my four children, who were staying with him for the week.
I picked up the phone, “What is it?!”
“Lisa, I don’t know how to tell you this...”
“What? Just say it!”
“The house is on fire! It’s totaled!”

My mind quickly said, “Whew! The kids are ok. Oh my God! The house! Our cats!” I quickly gathered the pertinent details, slammed down the phone, ran to my bosses office and blurted out the scenario and ran from the office, got in my van and drove towards home. This couldn’t be happening! Things like this happen to other people! But no, I could see the column of smoke all the way from I-25 and Thornton Parkway and knew with certainty that it was happening to me.

I was so anxious to arrive, to see just how bad the devastation really was. I prayed, “Please let the kitties be ok. I don’t care about the rest of it, just let them be alive and well.” The sixteen mile drive from downtown Denver to my home in Broomfield was interminable. I -25 was frustrating. On most days everyone drives ten to twenty miles per hour over the speed limit. But on that day, the one day that I wanted speed, every car in every lane was doing the speed limit.

Finally, I rounded the corner to where I could see the house. The street was blocked by police cars and fire trucks. It looked like everyone in the entire neighborhood was watching from the sidewalks. There were news reporters and photographers. I was vaguely aware of a news helicopter hovering overhead. I parked the van and ran towards the house, aware that everyone was watching me.

“That’s my house!” I wailed at the nearest fireman. “We have two kitties! Please see if you can find them!” The fireman ran off to check. Another man came across the yard with my ex-husband. Thomas introduced himself as the Victim’s Advocate from the Broomfield Police Department. He was there to help me with whatever needed to be done. I already had a running list going through my mind of things I had to do.

1999 Fire
I glanced at the house. Smoke was coming out of every window and the roof and firemen were entering and exiting the house in a continual stream. There wasn’t anything I could help with there so I made a decision to focus on things I could do, rather than stand there and get more distraught and depressed by watching the horrific event. Thomas and I went to the neighbors across the street to use the phone. I had to call my boss at the hospital to let her know I wouldn’t be able to teach childbirth class that night. Thomas called Eagle Hardware to tell them not to deliver the new washer and dryer that were to be delivered the next day. I filled out paperwork for the fire department and the Red Cross. Neighbors and strangers came by in a steady stream to offer sympathy, cash and clothing. Thomas kept track of the donations. A co-worker came by to see if I was ok and if I needed anything. I didn’t know what to tell him. I went outside and stood on the neighbors porch and watched for a bit. The Christmas lights hanging from the gutter and the wreath from the porch railing, looked nearly untouched. But there was a gaping hole in the roof and what was left of the garage was blackened.

It was two days before Christmas. Only days before it had been decided that the kids would spend the week before Christmas with their Father and the week after with me. It was a fortuitous decision in light of the events, meaning that none of them were home at the time of the fire and thus were all alive and well. It also meant that they each had a full suitcase of clothing and a few of their most precious possessions

My 17 year old daughter Jessie came up. I have no recollection of words spoken, but I do remember the hug. Now, for the first time, I heard my Jessie and her father, my ex-husband, Paul, tell just what had happened.. Paul was taking Jessie to get her Learner’s Permit to learn to drive and they had stopped at the house to pick up her birth certificate and other papers she needed. They pulled into the driveway. Paul opened the car door. “Phew! Those garbage cans really stink!”

As Jessie approached the house, she said, “Dad, why are the windows foggy?”

Before they realized what it was, Jessie had opened the door and the smoke began to billow out. In panic, they ran to several neighboring houses before they found someone home so that they could call 911. Then Paul made the panicked call to me at work.

Because they had heard one of the cats yowling, they went back to the house to see if they could get him out. Through the sliding door to the kitchen, they could see Snowball under the smoke, running against the door trying to find a way out. The door wouldn’t open so they went through the garage and unlocked the inside door to see if they could get Snowball that way. From that vantage point they could see flames on the kitchen floor. The entire time, they could hear Snowball. It didn’t do any good to call him because he was deaf as many white cats are. They went back to the sliding door and were able to break it, but Snowball ran the other way towards the inside door to the garage.

Snowball img015
At that point, the house experienced a back draft, which means that the small smoldering fire now exploded through the house in a matter of seconds. The fire that had been invisible from outside the house, now erupted through the roof, doors and windows. The garage was instantly engulfed in flames and the large garage door was blown halfway down the driveway. Jessie and Paul could hear Snowball’s agony as he died in the flames. For Jessie, it was heart rending and traumatic. She was hysterical, screaming for her kitty, wanting to go to him. It took both Paul and a neighbor to restrain her. To this day, Paul will tell me nothing more of it, except to say that it was awful to hear both Snowballs agonizing cries and Jessie’s desperate wails. I can only imagine in horror what it must have been like.

When the first fire trucks arrived, the flames were in danger of setting the neighboring house on fire as well. They aimed their hoses at it and called for back up. The second station to arrive began to battle the blaze in the house. The Fire Chief told me later that when the crew entered the house, they exited immediately. The fire was so hot and so furious that it was too dangerous. With the arrival of the other stations, four altogether, they doused the house from the outside to dampen the fire and slow it down before they could enter it again. That’s about when I arrived on the scene.

I have three other children and they were in other locations at the time of the fire. Jonathan, my 19 year old, was at his job a few miles away. His friend Jeff went to tell him the house was on fire. He left his job and came straight away. Stephen, age 14 and Zach, age 12, were at their Dad’s playing computer games when a friend of theirs called and asked if they knew the house was on fire. Stephen tried to call me at work and left a panicked message on my answering machine.

Stephen then called his Grandpa, my father. My Father is a very precise, orderly person, calm, not easily flustered or upset. But the note he scribbled and left on the table for my Mother showed all the emotion and panic he felt. It said:

S... 3:30, I just got a call from Stephen, who is at Paul’s, and a friend had
called him that Lisa’s house was on fire. I’m going there right now to see
what’s happened. I’ll call as soon as I have a chance to see how things are.

As he raced to the scene, he passed my Mother, flagged her down and they came together. A newspaper photographer took a picture which shows Jessie’s face as she and my Mother hugged. It’s a face of overwhelming agony and grief. The picture also shows my Father looking towards the house in shock and disbelief.

1999 Fire 3
As the afternoon and evening wore on, we were numbed by the overwhelming nature of the event. My sister in law picked up the two youngest boys and brought them so they could see what was happening. They stood and watched, but didn’t say much. Strangers came up to us and pressed twenty dollar bills into our hands. One lady, upon realizing that Jessie and I are both somewhat larger than the average person, came back with bags of clothing for us in our sizes. Others asked about the boys sizes and brought clothing for them. A neighbor offered us the use of their vacant house. The Westminster Fire Department gave us a large donation from their Fire Victim’s Fund. The support and caring of all these people was heartwarming in the midst of our trauma. The compassion from the community was to last for months.

A policewoman brought us the news that both cats had been found. Bob Cat, my large orange tabby and special friend had died from fumes while sleeping on my bed. He never woke up. Snowball was found in the remains of the garage. He had tried to escape through the open door but never made it. The news brought a cold gray blankness to my mind as I sat and tried to absorb the news. Our beloved kitties who had been purring and weaving through my legs that morning were gone forever and we never had the chance to say goodbye to them. They were such good friends and didn’t deserve their untimely deaths.

After the fire was out and the mop-up work was underway, a fireman came out of the house carrying a large black plastic tub. Inside were all the Christmas packages from under the tree. He had seen them and realized that they hadn’t been damaged by the heat or flames. The wrappings were sooty and wet, but when we unwrapped them, all but one gift was still ok.

In the coming months, the first thing people would ask was, “Did you lose your photographs?” Just a month previous, I had consolidated them which meant I was able to tell the Fire Chief where they were when he asked me. The firemen were able to bring me all but one small box of them. Everything was wet. My sister and her husband spent hours drying each and every one of them.

The evening drew to a close. I gave an interview to two of the newspaper reporters. The fire crew prepared for a night of watching the house for fear it would break out in flames again. The bystanders drifted away and then it was just our family, my closest friend and the neighbors who had so generously opened their home to us that day. With my children gathered together in a group hug, we tried to make sense of the day’s events. In the space of a few hours we had lost much. I told my kids not to worry, that it was just stuff and that stuff was replaceable. The important thing was that we were all alive and healthy.

In that moment, overwhelmed as we were, it was impossible to foresee the difficulties we would face during the following year. It would be a year of grieving, not only for our lost kitties, but for the loss of home, our comfort zone, for our safe place and refuge. Time is a patient healer and by the time Christmas approached the following year, we were able to see blessings we had been given. Our Christmas letter consisted of these lines:
Most of you are aware that on the 23rd of December 1999, our house caught fire and was severely damaged as were most of our possessions. While we lost our two dear kitties in the fire, we felt God’s hand on us and are thankful that none of us were home at the time of the fire. The community has been so supportive of us, in both encouragement and donations.

It seems appropriate during this holiday season to share with you some of the tremendous Blessings we have discovered in the years following the fire.

We have been blessed with Life.
To have the opportunity to truly live is a great and wonderful gift.
We have been blessed with Family.
To be surrounded by a loving and caring family is a gift beyond compare.
We have been blessed by Compassion and Generosity.
Our faith in humanity has been restored by the deep caring we have experienced at the hands of friends and strangers alike.
We have been blessed with New Opportunities.
We have learned that when life turns us inside out and upside down, that all is not lost, that new windows and doors will open to us.
We have been blessed with Abundance.
We have discovered that even when we have “nothing” by American standards, we still have more than the majority of the world.



For today...
A busy day ahead! Some errands this morning, then sleep, a meeting late this afternoon and (hopefully!) work tonight!

Outside my window...
The sunrise is lighting up the snow in shades of pink, peach and yellow. So beautiful!

I am thankful for...
My work schedule which allows me to work full time and yet allows enough time off to visit the family in Colorado on a regular basis!

I am wearing...
Scrubs as I just got home from work!

I am remembering...
Christmas long ago… the picture above is me at about age 4, wearing a skirt made by my Mom!

I am going...
To Colorado to spend Christmas with the family!

I am hoping...
For clear roads and safe travel on Wednesday night as I make the drive to Colorado.

Noticing that...
Lots of people are struggling and having difficulty getting in the Christmas spirit this year.

Pondering these words...
My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. II Cor 12:9

From the kitchen...
I’m missing days of Christmas baking… maybe I’ll get to do a little when I get to Colorado!

Covered in cat hair
Around the house...
Spending a few spare moments knitting with both kitties in my lap!

One of my favorite things...
Listening to Christmas music, especially the old carols like Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High and What Child is This.

Sweet Thomas

Thomas enjoying a cozy spot in the sun!


Snow (blizzard?) and Decorating

Morning snow, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

After listening to dire warnings of an impending blizzard all weekend, I woke this morning to softly falling feathery flakes of snow and a landscape changed overnite by a dusting of white. Seeing the snow put me in the mood for Christmas decorating!

Miss Mollie had to help by checking everything out. This decorating is serious stuff you know!

Top Shelf 2
Top Shelf 1
First, I decorated the tops of the tall bookcases with some bottle brush trees. I like the old fashioned and simple look of them with the crockery. Other than the wreath on my front door and the peace ornament, they are my only decorating purchase this year ~ and a bargain too at $5 for a package of 21 assorted trees!

White Shelf
The old white shelf was dressed for the season as well, with mercury glass votive holders and my favorite Willow Tree figurine, Peace on Earth, some sheep and more bottle brush trees.

The set of wooden houses sits on the old treadle sewing machine in the entry this year. Thomas was uninterested in decorating unless he received a bit of attention too!

Stellars Jay
Throughout the day there were bird visitors coming to the feeders including this dapper looking Stellars Jay! Love their top knot of feathers that jiggles as they move!

China Cabinet
Inside, the decorating continued. The faux feather tree was placed on top of the china cabinet and dressed with white and green ornaments. A trio of candles decorates the other side. Though I remembered when the furnace came on why I don't burn many candles in this apartment. The ductwork is just below the ceiling and it creates quite a draft which gutters the candles and if it doesn't blow them out, causes them to smoke something terrible. I might have to look for some tall hurricane globes to use around them so I can have them lit now and then. The votives in their holders do just fine, thankfully! I do love being able to light a candle in the evening!

Evening snow
Outside, as the snow piled deeper and deeper. No longer a dusting but now soft pillows and comforters of snow lay over everything. No blizzard yet, at least where I am at, but maybe later tonight. As night fell, the sky turned pinky shades of lavender that was reflected in the snow. A lovely end to a cozy day at home!


Peace ~ 2nd Advent

Peace, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will among men.

Luke 2: 14

And his name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

It seems ironic that in a season with so many references to peace that it seems ever more difficult to find.

Yesterday while I was finishing my shopping, I overheard a family argument in the middle of a busy store. They argued loudly back and forth about who was buying what for whom and where to buy, the purpose of shopping and at the very end after increasingly bitter exclamations on both sides, one of the couple said, "What's the point?" in fury and then stomped off. All the while, an unhappy child fussing, whining and begging for attention by their sides.

So badly, I wanted to stop and say something, to remind them that Christmas was about celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, the coming of Mighty God to live among us for a time. I wanted to say to them, that Jesus is about love, that the gifts of his presence are joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and faitfulness.

I wanted to tell them that celebrating the Prince of Peace didn't depend on gifts and spending money. I think the Grinch got it right...

"Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe
Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more." (Dr. Seuss)

Today I hung the first of the Christmas decorations, a wreath, unending circle of evergreen signifying eternity and wholeness; a white ribbon, for joy and faith; and an ornament of peace, a blessing to bestow on all who see it.

This day and this night,
may I know O God
The deep peace of the running wave
The deep peace of the flowing air
The deep peace of the quiet earth
The deep peace of the shining stars
The deep peace of the Son of peace.

from Celtic Prayers from Iona by J. Phillip Newell


Snowflake Pin ~ Tutorial

15 completed pin, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

I've been making lots of little felt and beaded pins lately and thought that you might enjoy seeing how I make these. First, gather the materials. Wool or part wool felt is best. You don't need much as these are small. A couple of contrasting colors is nice. You'll also need a pin back (I like the ones with a simple catch rather than the ring clasp), a tiny bit of wool fleece, some embroidery floss, beads, a tiny bit of buckram and a tiny bit of wonder-under or jiffy fuse.

01 top n fleece
Using a large coin as a template, cut a circle out of a nice white wool felt. Gather a tiny bit of wool fleece to add depth and interest.

02 featherstitching
Next, featherstitch the fleece to the circle (I used a bit of Kreinik fine braid with a wintery iridescence.)

03 embroidered
Add any embroidery you wish. I used one strand of rayon embroidery floss to embroider a simple snowflake.

04 beaded
Next I added some iridescent beads for shine.

05 backing pieces
For the back, cut a piece slightly larger than the front. You may wish to wait to trim the back until after the pin is completely assembled. I trimmed it first and then touched it up when I was done. Here you can see the large coin I used as my template that I found in the bottom of some fiber stash I received from someone. It was the perfect size! Also you can see the circle of black buckram trimmed ever so slighty smaller than the front piece so it won't show. Normally I'd use white for a pin like this, but I didn't have any and I'm trying to use what I have. The wool felt is thick enough that it doesn't show through.

07 applying pin back
With sharp scissors, cut a small slot for each end of the pin back to go through. At the clasp end of the pin, I cut two slots, one for the clasp and one for the tab to go through. Then using my small needle nose pliers, I flattened the tab to help it hold in place.

08 completed pin back
A few stitches to help hold the pin back in place securely. I also embroidered my initials and the year.Then I assembled the rest of the pieces.

09 assembly 01
To assemble the pieces, place the front of the pin upside down. Top it with a circle of the Jiffy-fuse and the circle of buckram. Here I'm working on a folded towel on my bathroom counter. The thickness is great when ironing with beads or detailed embroidery and it saves getting the ironing board out!

10 ironing front assembly
Next top it with a small piece of freezer paper, plastic side down. This keeps any stray Jiffy-fuse from getting on the iron. The paper peels right off! Then iron carefully in order not to shift the pieces. You could pin the pieces if you like for the initial press. The Jiffy-fuse will join the felt and buckram nicely with no need for stitching.

11 checking assembly
Next add another layer of Jiffy fuse and then the backing. I always check to make sure I've got them all in the correct order at this point!

12 ironing back to front
Without using the freezer paper, iron the backing down carefully. Iron around all sides of the pin back, getting as close as you can. At this point, I check the edges to see that everything is well adhered.

13 completed back
Here you can see that the black buckram does show through the thin polyester felt I used for the back of this pin. It won't show at all from the front though!

snowflake pin
Turn the pin over, trim the edges as needed and Voila! A finished pin!


Thanksgiving Weekend - part 2

Pansy Block 01, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

In addition to spending time with my sister this weekend, I also was able to spend some time crafting! In addition to working on some Christmas gifts, I was able to get two blocks pieced for crazy quilting. The beautiful embroidered pansies on this quilt came in the baggie that I won for the July Challenge on CQI. The fabric the embroidery was done on was trimmed quite close to the stitching, so the first order of business on this block is to get it sewn down in order to protect it without damaging the stitching.

Fairy Block 01
The second block I pieced uses a Fairy print as the focal point. I'm envisioning this block covered with leaves, plum colored flowers and white morning glories (or moon flowers?)

Winter book cover
I also was able to work on a scrapbooking project. Last year I did a Christmas scrapbook, but this year, I wanted to focus on the winter season as it can be so beautiful here in the mountains of Arizona. I gathered an assortment of blue and white snowflake papers to make the pages from. I still have to add holes and the ribbon binding.

Snow on Branches
Since we had our first real snow this weekend, I have my first picture to add!