stitching my story

Yesterday while having a manicure, the lady said to me, “very short nails”.  I said, ” yes, I practice the piano and I stitch and I use my hands a lot.”  She just smiled sadly at me.  You see, in a nail salon, long, beautiful nails are the goal.  I just wanted mine to be healthy, clear and polished.

DSCN4056A sassy friend posted this verse yesterday.  It reminded me of what hangs in our hallway.   I got up to snap a couple of pictures.  If you look in the reflection, you can spy my white bathrobe.  haha

This counted cross stitch piece I did several years ago (wow) measures about 12 ” X 14″.  I stitched it on oatmeal colored linen. It has yellowed in just that amount of time.  I stitched over two threads as one.  This particular piece took somewhere around 90 hours to complete.

I really love the rhythm and rock of the needle with counted cross stitch.  It makes me happy.  I love to hear Jeopardy on in the background and stitch away, while Mr. Right shouts out the answers.

When our boys were younger and homework and writing was going on, I would sit and observe quietly, while they worked away.   I have stitched at playgrounds while they played and all sorts of sports venues while we waited for the game to begin.  I have stitched in airports and airplanes looooong before you were seen as evil if you dared to bring a two-inch pair of scissors with a blunt end and a needle on a plane of innocent people.

This particular sampler, I remember sitting in a chair, then a straight back chair, then a box, then the floor……..all in one day.  The packers were boxing up our household goods for a military move.  I had to be there, but could not help (insurance forbids folks from helping).  So I stitched and stitched some more.DSCN4058

Almost every time a new President is Inaugurated, I am in front of the television, watching the pomp and circumstance, all day long and yes, stitching.  You know I am serious, when I get up early, do my chores, put on something for supper to simmer all day and then nestle in to stitch.

Some people are lucky enough to have one piece or one sampler.   I have taught cross stitching, I have made several for gifts.  In the last 15 years or so, I have been keeping a few for myself.

I am fascinated with the sampler.  In the days gone by, no paper to be had.  So a person would stitch a sampler (practicing the alphabet and numbers), stitch their name, the date, animals, people etc… and then pass this piece around as the “pattern”.  People would copy it, insert their name and date and pass it on.

Many times, in the late 17th and early 18th century, the letter J would be left out.  The idea was that you could practice the letter I and then the loop of the J would be practiced with other letters. I have one sampler that I have done this.

Sometimes, I would finish a piece on say, March 28th.  However, I have stitched one of my kids, nieces’, God children and now Grand babes  birthday into the piece.  I just thought that someday, when everyone is dividing things up my things, they would pick the sampler with their birthday stitched into it.  🙂

I have been sad to watch all the small businesses selling counted cross stitch patterns, thread etc.. go out of business.  I now order all my patterns and fabric and threads on-line.  Good selection, just not the same.  I love to see what others have done.  I love to compare and share and learn.   There is a shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma and one in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania that are on my bucket list.  Yes, I am coming to visit one day and I am bringing a sack lunch.  I am staying all day long!

DSCN4061Why?  Why are all the small handicraft business closing their doors?  Why is it not a valued and honored skill and tradition?  Are we spending so much of our free time taking a chance at a Casino?  Is our free time eaten up with going to the latest and greatest restaurant or playing a computer game for two hours to “pass the time”?  Are our crafting dollars being spent on the newest gadget and the latest must haves?  

I was reading that every house hold needs a quilt or two or seven.  Every bed in the house could utilize 2 or 3 or more.  Each person we meet could wrap up in a quilt.  There is a never-ending amount of people who would love a quilt.  To quilt is a skill and it just happens to be very popular right now.

Yes, I adore quilting.  I adore hand quilting.  Going out of style very quickly.  Folks want their pieces machine quilted and fast.  I love the colors and the fabrics.  I will continue to quilt.  I do find great joy in the art of quilting.  It is a hand craft that brings me a lot of satisfaction.

I guess most of us don’t “NEED” a sampler that took 90+ hours to make.  Most of us don’t want to spend close to $100.00 to have a piece of needlework framed.  A framed piece hanging on the wall will not keep us warm at night.

I must say, I still smile every single time I walk by that piece and the others.  It warms my heart.   I still love that first stitch.  I love the wrinkled piece as I make the pattern come alive on the linen.  I love the idea of my Grands having a piece that was stitched with love and skill.

I love the process.  I really love the idea of making something of value to pass on. I am grateful for the skill I have built.

Popular or not, I will continue on.  Every single day of my life you will find some piece of needlework I am creating.

 Idle hands are the devils’ playground. 

 Sometime today, you will find me stitching.  I would love to hear what you are creating in you neck of the woods.

welcome to our home, please make your own omelet

I will let you in on a little secret, I am not a morning person.  Nope, never have been.  When the boys were little and I needed to be up and at ’em bright and early, I had to have a plan of attack.  Before going to bed, I would measure out ingredients for pancakes or waffles.  I would write huge sticky notes that said ADD 1 EGG or ADD 1/2 CUP of MILK.  Everything as easy as it could be.  I would set the breakfast table the night before.  Not kidding.

So to let it “slip” that I do not possess the culinary skills to fry an egg, might not come as a surprise many of you.  Both boys left for college, “hating” eggs.  Gee, that’s funny?  I wonder why?  Both have since “seen the light” and cook a mean breakfast including eggs.  See, I was just trying to encourage their creative spirit, when it came to: frying, scrambling, poaching  etc…. eggs.  No, I did not earn my 100 pleated chef’s hat.  I can’t even really cook one kind of egg.  Oh, I take that back, I am EGGcellent at steaming fresh eggs for 20 minutes then plunging into icy cold water…. TA DA, hard-boiled eggs!

Son #1 came to visit for a couple of days.  In the morning, I would set the table, pick the fresh chives, pick the fresh mushrooms DSCN4023(yes, I am growing my own mushrooms thanks to a kit I received), I gathered the fresh eggs, purchased and set out,  Irish Cheddar cheese & fresh-baked Sourdough bread.  It was a lovely presentation.  The All-Clad was set on the stove ready for action.   I was trying my best to inspire our house guest to make their own.   Look kids, it is all set up and ready for you to feel good about yourself! Think how proud you will feel by making your own breakfast!DSCN4030

Oh, you made an extra omelet for your mom? 

Don’t mind if I do! Please and Thank You!

Please come back and visit any ol’ time.


Oh, Happy Day!

One of the nicest gifts of being a parent is the added bonus of becoming a grandparent.

We are extra lucky in that department.  We have two adorable, sweet, sassy, smart as the universe Grandgirlies and another bundle of goodness on the way.

Being a grandparent is like dessert.  You finish the main meal and then you get a little nugget of goodness as a reward for staying at the party that long.

It is carefree and fun and happy and delightful.  You can pretty much buy what you want.  You don’t have to say no to grands.  Your main focus as a grandparent is to ask for more pictures and make things you think they will like.  When you go into book stores, you find your book quick, then you browse and purchase all sorts of books that you think your Grands NEED.

glitter monsterYou keep your eyes open at all times for things like glitter covered tutus, light up flip-flops, stickers, books, and on and on.   When I see a feather on the ground, I pick it up and save for their envelopes.  I want to mail them an envelope of feathers.  Just because.

Then on special days, you send them extra special goodies because it is their day to celebrate. DSCN3829

Happy, Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Adelaide Erin.  You are an amazing little person.  You make my world better, just by being you.

lunch date with a friend

One of the things that happens when you are barely 20 and start having kiddos, is that it is serious business.  I remember working hard everyday, to set a good example.  Making sure everything was just right.  We worried all the time.  I read aloud so much some days, my voice became hoarse.  We took our children out daily in the fresh air.  We made sure they were taught respect and manners all along the way.  We took them to museums when they were young for 20 minutes at a time.  We built up the time as the years slipped by.  We taught and taught and explained until I was a puddle of goo.  I remember asking Mr. Right, if he thought we would ever, EVER have a meal where we did not correct someone’s manners, or mannerisms or behavior.  He said he didn’t think so.  (come to find out later in life, when the boys both were sitting at our table with their spouses, we all had a meal and not once did I correct a person)  Raising children was serious, hard work.  Or so I thought.  I took it very seriously.  We were aiming to raise well-balanced, respectable, considerate, highly intelligent, good common sense, curious adults.   It was our focus.  We meant business.

DustinWhen your babe (age 32) comes home to visit, you observe the most interesting things.  They really did listen.  Shocking.  They really are polished gentlemen when they need to be.  They really do open every door for their mother as well as strangers, they speak to waitresses and sales people with friendly manners and look them in the eyes. While they can most certainly hold their own in business and in a light conversation, they wait with respect for their father to speak his mind first.    They politely wait their turn.  They are well read and suggest books “the old people” may enjoy. Your heart melts, when your babe points out each house in their new neighborhood and explains who each person is and what they do for a job….. “oh, the Johnson’s live there, they are retired and such a nice couple…………oh that is so and so, he (the policeman) and wife have a couple of kids, friendly folks, etc.

Somewhere along the line, all your effort and strictness paid off.  You end up with adult grown children who are well-educated, with finely tuned funny bones, concerned and involved parents who miss their wife and kids.  You watch as your “kid” leaves the restaurant to talk on the cell phone to say Goodnight to each girl just prior to bedtime.

I look back and secretly wish, I would have made it more fun for us, the parents.  More carefree.  Nothing about us was carefree.   I can’t tell you how many people told us (oh and I am sure talked behind our backs) how we were too strict in our parenting roles.  Oh yeah, lots of people were willy nilly about giving us their opinion about what we were and were not doing right.  Maybe we should think about relaxing a little.

I am here to tell you, we did the right thing.  We were not their friends.  They had bushel of friends.  They did not need one more friend.  They needed strong parents who took their roles very seriously.    We said NO a million times.  We knew everything about their teenage business.  We guided their clothing choices and choices of friends.  We exposed them to a Higher Being.   We introduced them to interesting and well-educated human beings.  We opened their minds to artists and patriotism.  We taught them about loyalty.  We taught them the Pledge of Allegiance.  We taught them to love animals.  We made them go to museums and family trips.  We made them play board games.  We made them make choices.  Do you want cable television for the summer or swimming passes?  Guess what they decided and chose?  We made them accountable.  They came to the dinner table every single night, with a clean shirt on.  They stood before I sat down.  They removed their baseball hats at the table.  They came to the table with a discussion topic.  They thanked me for each and every meal (even if it wasn’t their favorite.)  They asked to be excused.   We corrected them and helped them to be well-rounded people.

lunch datePeople with whom you would like to have lunch with.

Guess what I did yesterday?  I had lunch with our oldest boy.  He treated me to lunch.  We laughed and talked non stop.

Yep, he was someone I would choose to go to lunch with.

Charming Spring

DSCN3995I made a new bracelet to celebrate spring and friendship.  It makes me tickled just looking at it.  So happy, I want to finish my Saturday chores quick, so I can put it on and walk around all fancy and giddy.

It is called Spring Dreams Bracelet Kit.  It was designed by Kelsy Vincent.

It came with all the charms and beads and bobbles.  It included 50 head pins and jump rings and leaves and more.

Some of the charms are Preciosa Crystal, Swarovski elements, Tierra Cast pewter and the chain.

My friend and I decided months ago, we would do this project together to celebrate us and the beginning of Spring.  One of those projects to look forward to.  A project to aim towards.   A project of HOPE.   On Tuesday, we went to pick up our kits.  Friday, we layed things out and figured out the universe (well not really, the bracelet only).  We worked on it for three hours.

Last night, I worked on it for four hours.  Yes, each bead or charm has to have a pin put through it, wrapped around and a loop formed.  Then a jump ring is put through.  Then attached to the charm bracelet that you make to your measurements.

For mine, I am ordering three new silver charms.  I am putting the Grands names on each charm and adding it to the bracelet.

I LOVE that it is HAPPY and cheerful and joyful and jolly.

I LOVE that we made matching bracelets to remind us of friendship.

I LOVE that I am making mine into a CELEBRATION of Grandbabes!

I LOVE the weight and sound of the bracelet.

I LOVE the JOYFUL colors.  I have a stunning charm bracelet already.  However, it is 99% silver.  So this is very different and silly and a jumble of colors.

I LOVE all the variety of charms and goodies.

I LOVE that my friend helped me and encouraged me to make it.

I LOVE that the package says “Beginner/Intermediate”.  Somewhere in the midst of  deciding to make it, going to pick up the kit, spending the money…and 7 plus hours of fashioning it into something that resembled a bracelet………….I became an “Intermediate”.

I LOVE deciding what I am going to wear it with first.

I LOVE that I am going to wear it when I get to hug my Grandgirlies.

I LOVE that it is HAPPY and fun and oh so charming.

Happy Spring Dreams to all!

do over

spring 1Snap out of it!  Spring is in the air.  The calendar says spring, outdoors in the Pacific Northwest says differently this morning.  Reality is, the outdoor bird bath is frozen this morning.  There is slippery frost on the deck and while standing outside I could see each breath I took.  By the way, I looked lovely.  I had on an adorable  3/4 length pajama gown, covered in a riot of white and pink flowers.  Then I accessorized with a fleece lined, shocking yellow jacket with a bold blue stripe.  My feet were ensconced in Mr. Right’s black outdoor work boots that reached my knee.  My hair was “joyful”.

Hello, world!  This morning started off a bit rough.  Just one of those rocky, bumpy starts, right out of the clanging horse gates.  We all have them.  However, instead of letting it all keep happening, I tried to make adjustments and turn it around. Snap out of it, make a change.    In place of my usual hot breakfast with berries and toasted almonds,  I decided to put a couple of waffles in the toaster.  (Mr. Right makes amazing waffles and always freezes a couple for the week ahead, in case a toasty waffle sounds perfect & will make everything all better.)  Usually the waffles are toasty warm and just slightly crisp edges, unless you walk away and forget that you turned up the little knob that says  As earlier mentioned, it is too dang cold to open all the windows this early.  The aroma of burnt waffle is wafting through our home and two soy candles are lit. I am trying to somehow, magically make it all go away.  I just peeled an orange and tossed the peel and a cinnamon stick in a sauce pan along with some water, in the hopes of helping clear the air.  My own quick version of burning sage to clear the bad karma.  A do over if you will.

I have a few friends who have started over this past year.  Beginning a new version of “normal” life, their own do over.   Yes, here to tell you, we all get a do over!  Isn’t that about the best news you have heard all day?  One friend is adjusting to not working full-time outside the home.  A couple of girls are learning to live alone after many years of sharing.  I have other friends who have had health challenges and are beginning anew.

It is work to change the old comfortable. I myself go kicking and screaming.  I like routine.  I adore hibernating in the winter and wearing layers upon layers of warm comfortable clothes.   I like the broken-in, old slipper feel of how things have always been.   Some days, full to the brim with changes, end up being tougher than others.  Once in a while, the old pity party grabs me and wants to schedule a fiesta.  Yesterday, I could feel myself being pulled down.  I made a snap decision to slip into my sewing room and surround myself with bright color and options, loud, kicky country music and make happy happen.  I made a lime green bib with monkeys dancing upon it.  I used purple flower fabric to make a chicken pin cushion.  Then I made a jaunty sachet I tied with a lavender ribbon.  All to give away.  That makes me happy.   Then I wrote to a couple of friends and asked what creative thing they were working on.  Share please, quick.  I asked them to let me share some of their color choices and creativity.  It really did brighten my spirit.

I love the concept of combining Spring and the do over.  Each day, making a choice to spring quickly over the ugly parts and settle into the happy parts.   Sure life throws us all weird and wacky curves.  We may think we have everything in order, laundry basket empty, dishes all done and have done everything right and yet, we still don’t find a four-leaf clover.

spring shoesAs a kid, I saw a picture of these “spring” shoes.  Springs were attached to the bottom of forms you slipped your regular sneakers into.    The idea here was, you would bounce or spring with each step you took.  I never really wanted them, I just like thinking about it.  I thought about them a lot.  Heck, I still daydream about them.  Spring over mud puddles.  Spring over a pot hole.  Spring over my sisters, who were laying on the ground chalking.   Just spring over the parts I didn’t want to deal with.

You don’t have to sit around waiting for the world to deliver you a better option.

I for one, am not waiting.  I am going to spring over to the good parts.


Would you drive 497 miles round trip for a taco and a hockey game?  We would.  We did.

Friends invited us to join them.  I gotta tell ya, after months and months of “stay at home” working to get well, being invited & getting out to have some fun was just the ticket.  After all those months of eating well and drinking gallons of fresh green juice and breathing fresh air and biking and rebounding…………the draw of a really authentic, greasy fried taco was just too big of a carrot dangling in front of us.    We had to go.  My first long road trip.  The build up, the drum roll.  Not really a drum roll (more like singing old television theme songs as we drove along.) It was like a pilgrimage.  Yes, I turned it into some type of religious journey, I HAD to go.

juniorsWe drove  to Junior’s Tacos located in Pasco, Washington and the anticipation was almost more than I could take.  Oh, then I thought, what if this “authentic” taco isn’t really that good?  How am I going to fake my compliments?  How am I going to choke down a not so tasty taco?  This is the religious part:  heavenly music started playing, sure it sounded a lot like a Mariachi band, but oh so sweet.    No need to worry.  The sun streamed down from above and it was 70 degrees!  We came from wet, soggy, gray and 43 degrees.   It was the best, greasiest, BIGGEST taco I had ever in my life seen.  It was served on an oval plate and was wider than my head!  It was heaven-sent (or from a cook behind the counter).

I know you think I am going to say, we paused and said a meaningful Grace then politely took a small bite.  We thanked God we arrived safe before we even tumbled out of the car.  We were so giddy and chatty to see our friends, that by the time those bigger than life meals were placed in front of us, we all dug in like truckers at a truck stop with meatloaf on the blue plate special!  God was there, with the four of us.  He was smiling.  He sat back and smiled.  He was thinking, these grateful people “get it”.

Pick up the taco, elbows out, Tauc-Angle….. (words that should be in the dictionary and are not are called Snigglets.   Tauc-Angle: (pronounced talk-angle), verb: The way you tilt your head just before you take a bite of a taco.)  Ah, that first amazing, drippy, delightful crunch was so worth it.   The spicy kick, the fresh ingredients, the grease, the crunch.  Did I mention the crunch?

Oh yeah, and the friends.  Good friends.  You know the kind?  The kind that stick with you through the rough, awkward times and giggle with you like fools when the fights start at a hockey game.  Okay, so maybe the pilgrimage wasn’t for the taco or the game?  Maybe it was to hang out with people who you feel comfortable with? The kind of people who “get” you.  They don’t make fun of you or your ways, they are just decent, kind, loving, smartie pants, funny folks who have amazing knowledge of where to find the best tacos across the land? Maybe the journey wasn’t to show off my amazing tauc-angle skills after all?

Maybe the journey was all that and more?  In a world where oodles of people think they are social by the number of “friends” they collect on face book, being social in real life is a real mystery to them.   Being social is visiting with Mr. Right for 4.5 hours in a car  (both ways) with a destination in mind.   Being social is embarking on a journey to meet up with really good people who will take you to a taco joint and make you feel like you are the luckiest people dining there.

I hope every single one of you reading this has somebody who will show you they love you by treating you to the best taco in the land and a Hockey game.