First Sunday in Advent 2014

First Advent - Holiness

On this first Sunday in Advent, we light the first candle in preparation of the coming of the Christ Child.  This candle often symbolizes Hope, Anticipation or Expectation. Thus begins our journey through the Christmas season to prepare our hearts to accept and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, come to earth to save us from our sinful nature and to develop a personal relationship with each one of us.  It also reminds us of the hope, anticipation and expectation we have in the coming return of Jesus.   

As I considered what themes I wanted to use in my Advent meditations this year, the word that kept coming up was Holiness and how God is holy.  Webster's defines something holy as being "set apart"; sacred; as something commanding absolute adoration and reverence; meriting veneration or awe; and as being spiritually pure.  

Too often in this day and age, we treat God as someone who is "buddy-buddy" with us.  We have brought him down to our level, when in reality, we should fall at his feet in humility and lowliness.  We live in a culture that believe that we are all "special" that we each are worthy and deserving, that we should have it all.  If we are "all that", then why would we need God in our lives?  Our prayers reflect our selfishness and we expect to receive what we ask for, be it money, health, prestige or some other selfish request.   

When we view God as no more than a vendor or provider of our desires, then we no longer view him as Holy but instead have turned him into a lowly merchant, a Santa Claus if you will, whom we provide with a list and expect to get what we want in return for a plate of milk and cookies.  

Is it any wonder that as the world watches those of us who are believers in Christ turn mercenary, that they no longer respect the God in whom we believe?  That even as believers, we have lost sight of the power and omnipotence of of God the Almighty?  

During this Holiday season, I encourage you to remember and to share with others, the holiness of God. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!
Revelation 4:8b


Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created. 
Revelation 4:11


Blessed be his glorious name for ever;
may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!
Psalm 72:19


Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hid Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man They glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise They Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Words by Reginal Heber, melody by John B. Dykes

Throughout the Advent season, I will be having a small give-away each week in celebration of Christmas, when God, the great giver, gifted us with the most precious gift, the gift of his Son in order that we might be made holy in God's sight and enter his presence.   

My small gift pales in comparison, but I pray it will bring blessings upon whoever receives it.  Please leave a comment that includes your name and/or e-mail address before midnight, mountain standard time on Saturday, December 6, 2014 to be entered.  

This week's gift is the pincushion featured in the photos above.  It is created using wide mouth canning jar lids as a base, making it 3 1/2" in diameter and 2" tall.  It is my hope to create one for each week of Advent, God willing!  There will be a new drawing each week.  A number will be assigned to each comment and a random number generator will be used to choose the winner. The winner will be announced with each Sunday's Advent meditation and mailed the following week.    Best Wishes! 


The Doldrums [Too many irons in the fire]

The doldrums have hit big-time for me this month.  The creative muse, which was so prolific through the past few months, appears to have taken a leave of absence.  The few days that I've had off have been spent mostly at the computer or sitting, vegeing (how do you spell that, anyway?) out in front of the TV watching movies on Netflix. 

I think it actually has to do with too many irons in the fire, which then makes it difficult to decide what to work on.  It becomes so overwhelming, that it's easier to just leave things be and ignore them.  I imagine that this is how hoarding starts... when the mess becomes overwhelming to deal with, so instead of fixing the problem, it just gets added to until there is little hope of recovery.  In looking over these photos, I definitely have a problem with "project hoarding"!  It's time to get off the fence and make something happen.  At the very least, I need to not start any more projects until a few of these major ones are complete!  (I did join in on the CQJP 2015 though, so that will mean 12 blocks to be created over the coming year!) 

Here's a look at some of the projects that are overwhelming me at the moment. 

First there are the Crazy Quilting projects.  I have always had a huge unfinished handwork basket, but it seems to have grown exponentially this year, despite doing my best to finish up some old things. As much as I love participating in round robins, I think I need to focus more on my own work this coming year.  The trick is staying motivated when there are no deadlines!

Then there is the seemingly never ending Family Cookbook project.  The latest part of this has been going through my mother's cookbooks (4 1/2 boxes worth!) to find some of the recipes that we wanted to include.  Things she made all the time, but weren't in her recipe boxes. 

Needless to say, it takes time to carefully scan through this many cookbooks.  And in the process, we found still more recipe boxes to go through.  There have also been many e-mails to family members asking for specific recipes to add, reminders, and then inputting all these recipes into the same format that can be used in the cookbook. 

There won't be a lot of photos in the cookbook, but I wanted a few for some of the header pages, so that involves making the item and setting it up for photography.  I love this part of creating the cookbook!  I had hoped to have this cookbook finished in time to give as Christmas gifts this year, but it's not going to happen as there is still far too much to do to complete it in time. 

Then there are the other book projects I am working on.  I just completed putting the 2013 entries for my blog into book form.  Those are easy books as they are usually just a matter of cutting and pasting.  But I'm also working on two or three other book projects and each of them involves writing or compiling different writings into one cohesive format.  So there is lots of proofreading and re-writing happening. 

One of the books is a Blurb Book where I am compiling some of my blog's Christmas/Advent meditations (and adding to it).  I had also hoped to have this one done and available for purchase prior to Thanksgiving, but it looks like it will take me most of December to complete it.  I'll keep you posted on when it will be available! 

With my daughter's marriage this summer, I now have a mostly empty room on the main floor of my house.  I'd love to move my sewing room up here from the basement.  Right now, Miss Kitzy Cat is the primary resident of this room and she rarely leaves it, so it will be good to have me using the room too so that she gets more attention.  Since we painted the room when we moved in, I don't really want to repaint at this time.  I must admit that grey is just about my least favorite color (orange takes the top disliked color spot).  I just find it depressing, so it's a bit of a challenge to figure out how to use the grey but make it a happier/peaceful place for me.  I'm debating on using soft pink and yellow with it, or going with green, brown and white for a soft woodland theme to the room (which is what I'm strongly leaning towards at the moment).  I want to make some crazy quilted curtain tiebacks to provide the room's focal point ~ yet another project!

I'm such a visual person, that any room change involves lots of sketches and floor-plan ideas, as well as tons of lists.  The goal is to get this room together by the end of December.  Jessie still has to pick up some of her furniture and pack up some things in the closet.  Once the new sewing room is complete, then I'll have the old sewing room in the basement to turn into a fabulous guest room for when my Sister and her hubby come to visit!  That will be yet another project, also with another crazy quilt project to be completed as the focal point for that room!

Another thing that probably has slowed the creative muse down at the moment is the total chaos of my studio stitching space!  It went from a creativity inspiring mix to suddenly out of control!  When the sewing room gets moved upstairs into Jessie's old room, all of this will become part of that room.  Then I'll have my painting studio back, which I'm really looking forward to as I've been missing having access to my easel! 

I did manage to get blocks made and sent out for two new round robins.  This set of grey blocks will eventually be for my daughter and are going to be embellished in a Steam-Punk theme! 

I made this piece thinking I might use it for my Christmas card stitchery.  But then I decided to do something different,  which isn't going to happen in time anyway, so I decided to remake it into my Mini DYB Blocks for another round robin. 

I cut them up in to triangles to create a wintry woodland themed bunting to hang from my mantle.  I will add some semi-ciruclar flags as well.  

The juncos finally arrived a couple weeks ago and within 24 hours there was cold and snow!  Winter must truly be here even though the calendar still says it is autumn! I love having them though - such pretty birds!

And I just realized that with the Holidays upon us, it's time to put away the fall decor and decorate the house for Christmas!  There are a few Christmas gifts in the works to finish up as well.  Where the time will come from for all that needs to be done, I have no idea.  My work schedule is absolutely crazy these days with extra training that we've been doing and the need to complete two different certifications before mid December, not to mention all the usual household and yard upkeep that needs doing.  No wonder I'm overwhelmed! 

Guess that means it is time to make the best of my ONE day off this week and go be productive.  I think I'll start by cleaning my stitching studio. 


Fan Block for Connie K.

With this block finished at last, I have completed all the round robins that I've been stitching in for the last many months.  This is Connie K's fan block.  I am the last to stitch on her blocks and had my choice of a blue fan or a pink fan.  I've been on rather a blue streak lately, so that's the one I chose! 

Here is the block before embellishment.  Connie asked us to not embellish the outer velvet portion and gave us the option to do something with the lace if we chose.  

I focused on the fan seams to start with.  A feather stitched seam with a bluebell theme on the two center seams and some leafy scallops with white flowers for the outer. 

For the inside corner, I stitched a spider web rose.  The greens are more green than this photo shows! 

For the lace, I added some small fargo roses of ribbon that I had dyed when I was working on my daughter's wedding ring pincushion.  It was too dark for that, but was just perfect for this block!   I also added some vintage "shell" ric rac trim that I had.  

Overall, I'm really happy with how this block turned out and hope that Connie likes it too!

Here are all the blocks after my work.  The stitchers include Lisa A., Thearica, Judy D., Gerry K., and myself. Now the blocks head home to Connie K.!  

With the unusual shape of the blocks, I've been pondering how Connie will put them together.  This is what I would do with them if they were mine!  

I've been having trouble getting my camera to focus properly lately, despite cleaning lenses and everything else that I can think of. There are many slightly out of focus photos as a result. Time to save up for a new camera I think!  This camera has taken nearly 70,000 photos since I got it back in 2009!  It's given nearly flawless performance in all that time.  I'd love to upgrade to a "pro" level camera, but they are heavier and significantly pricier, so I have to do some hard thinking about what to get! 

Thanksgiving thought for the day: 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
So I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. 
Psalm 28:7


Heart DYB for Renee

This morning, I finished Renee's block for the Hearts DYB.  It's the last one in this round robin and I must admit that I am sorry to see this one finish as it has been such a pleasure stitching with this group of ladies!  Renee's guidelines were to embellish the blocks in red, white, black, silver and gold.  

Sometimes, it's the simplest seams that I like the best.  They can have an elegance all their own.

I have just a few of these celtic knot heart beads and thought that this small seam was the perfect place to showcase one of them. 

Here are all the blocks together.  Now they head home to Renee who will finish the "E" block and compile them into a single project!  I'm looking forward to seeing how she finished them!


It's a cool rainy day here in Colorado and some areas, especially the mountains, have gotten some snow.  It has been such a warm, dry autumn that I am grateful for the moisture.  I love the way the damp intensifies the colors on this crab apple tree at the edge of my yard!  So beautiful!

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. 
Psalm 147:1 (RSV)


Before & After ~ The Outside

One of the things that I am so very thankful for, is the blessing of my little home.  It's astonishing to me just how much my kids and I have been able to accomplish in the two years that I've owned it.  I would like to share the transformation of my little cottage in a series of Before & After photos.

This was the view of the house that I saw in the real estate ad about the house.  I fell in love with how it sat amongst all the trees.  Sadly, when I viewed the house, even the very first time I drove past it, I realized that the big cottonwood trees were going to have to go.  The tops of them, which you cannot see in this photo were half dead and it was obvious that some huge branches had broken off.  In fact, when you search for the address of my house on Google Maps and look at the street views, the photos must have been taken shortly after one of the big ones had come down as the yard is a mass of enormous broken limbs, branches and leaves!

I was terribly sorry to see the trees go, as the way the house nestled among the trees was half the charm, but I sleep much better when it is storming out, knowing that there won't be any huge trees coming down on the roof!

Today, my little house still nestles among the trees, though they are just some aspen trees around the house.  You'll also note that I made a decision to remove the shutters and not replace them.  It's a decision I'm really happy with.  Many of them were half rotted and the amount of debris and bugs that had accumulated behind them was astonishing.

This side of the house is my favorite part.  I love the protected side entrance and the flagstone terrace between the driveway and the house.  When I purchased the house, it was terribly overgrown and the flower beds around the terrace were mostly bare and unkempt. 

2014.07.19House01This photo of the side was taken just as we were finishing renovations, days before my daughter's wedding.  You can see that things have been cleaned up, the shrubs pruned, and the flagstone path relaid (and completed!).  On the right of the driveway, the overgrown half dead elderberry bushes were removed and a raised bed was installed and planted with lilac bushes which will grow to create a new hedge.  

This is the view of the side terrace when I bought the house.  I knew even then that this would be one of my very favorite parts of the house and could imagine sitting on the porch in the evenings with my glass of wine! 

We trimmed the shrubs, dug out thousands of tightly packed day-lilies that never bloomed, added mulch and some new flagstone edging around the beds.  It transformed the space beautifully! 

The blue paint on the chimney and doors made the porch a gloomy place and it wasn't terribly welcoming somehow.  I knew it could be better! 

What  a difference the white paint made!  It brightened up the side porch and made it such a welcoming space!  And the green doors were the perfect accent!  We spent so much time out here once it was painted and cleaned up!  

The transformation in the back yard was no less.  Here, even in that first autumn season we hauled away a huge amount of junk that was heaped in corners and in the garden and shed.  The old cottonwood stump was rotting and caused a huge mound in the yard that made it hard to mow and nothing except a few hardy weeds and dank mushrooms would grow around it.  The flagstone fireplace was crumbling and a catch all for leaves and spiders.  It just wasn't a very nice place to be.  But goodness, it had potential that I could see.  Even though I did not anticipate being able to do anything with this part of the yard for a long time to come, I started thinking about how I could transform it. 

My initial plan to knock down the fireplace and extend the patio behind the garage and put a pergola over it resulted in removing and replacing the entire patio, regrading the back yard and reseeding the lawn as well as the addition of two flower beds along the patio and a new arbor.  And the pergola that started it all?  Well, that looks like a project for sometime in the next year or two!   

The back yard was full of overgrown shrubs and things growing in seemingly random places.  The blue trim on the house gave it a rather haphazard feel and showed off every little oddity of construction somehow.  

A new coat of white paint and only the doors painted green added wonderful new life to the house.  It looks so fresh and crisp now!  

The garden area was a junk heap full of wooden pallets, dog toys and other broken down stuff when we moved in.  There were many chinese elm tree saplings growing in it along with many weeds and a few hardy herbs that were taking over what space they could.  

A new coat of paint on the shed renewed it and made it match the rest of the house.  

In the garden beds, the saplings were rooted out, the weeds controlled and the herbs either moved, discarded or pruned severely to bring them back into submission.  In between the garden beds, Jessie and I added flagstone paths using the mosaic pavers that we found all around the yard.  New tuteurs were added as well as a small trellis for the grapevine.  Lots of new perennials were planted in order to make the garden look lush and ready for the wedding.   Next year, these beds will need redone as the timbers surrounding them are disintegrating and the layout needs a little work and the grapes will need a larger arbor to climb on. 

Along the side of the garage, the old fence was in terrible shape, with a gate that wouldn't open properly because the post supporting it were rotten.  It blew down in the winds of last winter.  The slope on this side of the yard was difficult to deal with as well and the water ran off the garage roof and pooled against the foundation. 

A new step was added with a spot for the garbage cans and a new bit of fence to enclose it.  It changed the whole side yard and made it feel so open and lovely!  We opted not to replace the fence dividing the front and back yards here.  

So the little cottage that I fell in love with the first time I saw it has transformed... 

It is still my sweet little cottage, but now it settles into it's surroundings and looks so happy, just like it's owner! 

There is still plenty to do.  I'd love to replace the windows with new thermal pane windows to match the original 6 over 6 double hung windows.  Someday, I'd like to replace the inefficient wood fireplace with a new gas fireplace.  I hope to get an oak tree planted out in the front corner of the yard and maybe another apple tree or two.  The verge along the road still needs to be refurbished.  I hope to plant a variety of shrubs with seasonal interest there ~ some bittersweet, beauty berry, Korean lilac, etc.  In back, I hope to get a pergola up behind the garage.  And the garden beds will get redone.  The side terrace flagstone needs repair as the roots from the maple tree are causing it to lift in places.  And the driveway needs sealed.  But for now, the yard is moderately easy for me to manage with just a little help and I have room for my beloved roses, some lilacs and a few blooming trees!  It's my bit of paradise on earth!