Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Speaking of Angels ...

Who turned the clock from midsummer to the first week of December when I wasn't looking? That's what it feels like, isn't it? We all know what order the months have in our calendar and that they never change but for some reason I always seem to be taken suddenly unaware when Christmastide is upon us once again, like Dorothy looking down at red shoes on a path in a different land...
Just yesterday I was knitting on my front porch swing with my dogs and birdcages outside, feeding my squirrels {which I still do} and now I'm wrapped up by a fireplace with extra socks and a sweater. Of course for me the one thing that remains the same, no matter the season or weather, is that I always have a steaming cup of tea while knitting... yes ... even in the heat. Can't help that. Must be fueled to work. I must say, this time of year it adds to the coziness of things.
I also have to insert here that I really, really do love Christmas and everything about it. That's why I got married just eight days before Christmas thirty three years ago. It's just that it always seems to sneak up on me.
For those of you who don't follow my Instagram and don't know it, I had an annual event in my home this last Saturday, which is one of the reasons I have been silent here on my blog for longer than intended. My fingers have been flying over lots of fiber in preparation.
Not to mention just a bit of housework and decorating. If you'll look closely at the first picture you will notice my Christmas tree has only lights and no ornaments on it. That's because I always wait until after our Sale to decorate it. We fill it with items that are For Sale on the day of the event.
This year's Christmas Tea & Sale went beautifully. There were four Fiber Artist's involved, including myself plus heavenly handmade, organic body butter and sugar scrub from another local vendor.
We served Cinnamon Coffee and Christmas Tea along with a variety of home baked goodies.
Our customers enjoyed their sweet treats and many of our fiber arts flew out the front door as though on the wings of angels. Every single thing about the day was lovely. If YOU were here I would like to say "Thank You".

Speaking of Angels...
As many of you know, my nine year old granddaughter, Gabriella
{one of my Angels here on Earth}, is a ballet dancer with Peoria Ballet. She was meant to dance two roles, one being a rather large role, in this years Nutcracker performance on December 10 & 11, however, she has a fractured tibia due to the fact she has grown six inches in the last two years. The doctor says this is twice the amount she should have grown in that time period, therefore that particular bone was not able to keep up with the rapid growth spurt.  
When my daughter explained the situation to the Executive Director at Peoria Ballet she said Gabby could still be onstage just standing and not dancing. She said injuries are so common in the world of dance and they figure out a way to work around them because the children work so very hard all year long to be in the performance and they are heartbroken if they are unable to participate. She's right. Gabby was heartbroken and this made all the difference.
Thank You Executive Director...
Now that's an Angel in action if you ask me.

And now though I'd like to join Miss Puss in her Winter's nap...
I really must decorate the Christmas tree because this weekend will be busy with
The Nutcracker and next Monday we will be having our
Knit Night Christmas Party here.
So much to be happy and thankful for during this Joyful and Festive Season.
May you all be very Merry & Blessed.

"I expect to pass through this world but once.
If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show,
or any good thing I can do any fellow human being let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
for I will not pass this way again."
Stephen Grellet
1773-1855

As I was in the midst of writing this post I received a call from my Dad to tell me that my beloved cousin passed away in her sleep Sunday night. We grew up very close. She is one of the little girls I talk about in a previous post entitled
Her name was Kari. She was just thirteen months older than me, making her only 53 years old.
In her late thirties she suffered a brain aneurysm and over the course of years has had twenty eight brain surgery's. She passed away unexpectedly but peacefully, in her sleep in the night at her sisters home after attending a Christmas Open House with her. So I will be making a trip to the Chicago area this Thursday to attend her services. Your prayers for my family at this time are much appreciated.
She was my Aunt's firstborn child.
I am heartbroken at the loss of her. I will carry her in my heart all the days of my life and return often to those carefree days of our childhood... days full of laughter and sunshine... days of running through cornfields and playing dress up with Grandma's aprons.
Rest in Peace My Sweet Kari,
Once again you're floating in a world that knows no time,
And Thankfully, no pain.
&
God Bless You All.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Poetry

I believe that much of life is filled with poetry.
We are so often unaware of it and those who do not fancy themselves to be romantics are certainly not intentionally seeking it. The pure, simple truth remains however, that the beauty of poetry is in the essence of Life.
What exactly is poetry?
Here is a literal definition:
~ the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken for exciting pleasure, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.
~ literary work in metrical form; verse.
~ prose with poetic qualities.
~ poetic qualities however manifested.
That very last quality is what strikes a resounding cord with me.
This is when poetry transitions from the realm of being a noun into a verb.
Poetry in motion, so to speak. The continual rhythm of Life.
When you begin to see poetry in this way, you will find that your soul has its own definition and that it may even ebb and flow with the seasons of your life and your individual journey. As the depth of our character becomes richer and more textured throughout our years, we step into an unseen cadence. The better we know the poetry of our own self, the more we recognize that of the world beyond us... lying just at our fingertips like a magical fairyland.
Observe your fellow sojourners in this land of the living.
The young mother with a newborn babe at her breast ...
tell me that is not pure poetry.
The hard belly laugh of a child who's doubled over with delight
and can't catch his breath from it all.
The very elderly with their crowning glory of grey hair
and faces that are softened so sweetly by time.
I could go on and on...
When we begin to shift our focus from the negative to the positive; the ugly to the beautiful, it really does make a difference. Not only does it change our immediate response and reaction to those around us but, over time, it transforms us at the very core of our being and enables us to walk more in the Spirit and less in the Flesh. In the Spirit we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22,23). I don't know about you, but personally, I would so much rather have all of these things in my life than the harsh and hateful things the world has to offer. But here's the thing. I want to be sure that I'm not just on the receiving end of this big beautiful basket full of fruit. I want to know that I am handing it out in my day to day life as well.
So not only do we see poetry all around us if we take the time to really look and we find it within ourselves as our character becomes more fruitful, but I believe it pours out of us in creative and imaginative ways of individual expression.
Poetry can be found in the things we choose to do.
For me it's so often expressed within the hushed gliding of stitches from one smooth needle to the next, creating a melody that my hands know by heart; row after row of stitches falling from the end of a hook forming a new song. Every single person has something beautiful and unique to offer. We really should operate from a place of love and respect.
The World so often serves up a steady diet of Hate by the fistful. Therefore we must make it our life's mission to live from a place of sweet poetry whose birthplace is pure love. Love that comes from on High and is offered with open hands to our fellow man. Love that "seeks not its own" (1 Corinthians 13:5) and expects no reciprocity for what is freely given. The World would teach us to be
 self seeking but if we listen closely to the poetry of our souls, we will find that place where God has formed us to prefer others first. It is there, I truly do believe, in the soft hidden layers that lie deep within us, just waiting to be set free and put into motion. Unconditional, perpetual motion.
"Love is patient and kind;
it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited;
it is never rude or selfish;
it does not take offense, and is not resentful.
Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth;
it is always ready to excuse, to trust,
to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quiet Waters

"The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 23

Because sometimes we just need to be reminded who's really in control.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Secret

October, with all it's bright color and swirling activity, seems to have left like the steam rolling off my cup of tea. I have been steadily working away on my book full of custom orders that now runs into February, while trying to prepare for my upcoming Christmas Tea & Sale on Saturday, December 3rd.
My blog break, however, was unintentional. In the midst of everything I have once again been battling a Rheumatoid/Asthmatic Bronchitis flare that has brought along another sinus infection and broken rib from coughing. I am slowly working towards recovery as I give myself breathing treatments every four hours along with other medications, a host of natural remedies and, of course, drink lots of my lovely hot tea. Every cloud has its silver lining, I truly do believe. I have lived long enough for God to teach  me this. So here's the silver lining in all of this ...
I have had time to accomplish a whole lot of knitting that had to be done. I've had deadlines and they've been met. Even when I feel my worst and would rather lie in bed, I can't because it makes my breathing worse and my body stiffer so....
I sit up and keep on Knitting.
And in the end my work gets finished and my customers are happy. But honestly, it's about so much more than just that. Not only do I still feel that I have been productive and my day has had purpose to it, but that yarn running through my fingers is a lifeline. It keeps me connected to the outside world. Due to the fact that the bulk of my knitting is for a customer there is a lot of communication that goes into an order before the first stitch is ever made. So much of my customer base is local, therefore I have the added bonus of a nice visit when they come to pick up their item.
When they have time I put on the kettle and we share a pot of tea.
Also while I knit I do many things like pray and go through precious memories in my mind and make decisions. Although my body is in a fragile place again at the moment, my heart and soul are doing well and the knitting, the tea and the company are really all I need. I am content. I am so thankful that my hands know their way with the fiber... the stitches.
Speaking of company, I also enjoyed a wonderful, long awaited, five day visit with a much loved cousin from out of state. She and I have always been very bonded to one another, like sisters. When she comes I want her to stay forever. This time she brought her little granddaughter, Kennedy, along. What a truly precious child she is too. She was so excited to help me feed my Mama Squirrel, Tallulah.
There have also been times of pure joy with my own grandchildren.
Life is beautiful and full and we find ourselves in the midst of November already. Time keeps it's own pace as we know but it does seem as though it was only Summer yesterday. I see the passing of time as these little ones grow. Such a bittersweet and glorious thing to behold. From a grandmother's perspective I now know how quickly it all happens. I guess what I really want to say here is though my body has it's weaknesses, my heart is so full of love and happiness, joy, contentment and thankfulness.
I will continue to take just a short blog break for one more week and then I plan to be back with my regular blogging schedule. I have so much to show and tell with all of the work I have finished. I also have some "tea talk" I want to introduce for those who are interested. I hope to catch up with all of the wonderful happenings in your lives as well.
Until then may you all have a Blessed November.
"Not that I speak from want,
for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Moment

'Tis the season for pumpkins...
Beautiful, glorious pumpkins are everywhere. Pumpkins of every size, shape and color. These soft creamy white ones have always been my absolute favorite with the rather dusty looking green ones coming in a close second. The stores are filled with them, front porches and steps are dotted with a variety of them and where I live we are surrounded by fields of pumpkins still growing on the vine. I also live close enough to the Libby's canning factory to smell the pumpkins being processed drifting along the Autumn breezes.
This picture of me holding the pumpkin was taken by my daughter Chelsea yesterday at a local park. She and Parker stopped by and he ran through the house looking for me. "Grammy, Grammy!!!"
"We're GOING TO THE PARK!!!"
"Do you want to go with us?!!"
Well now... how do I say NO to that?
Monday's are busy for me as they are for most people. I do extra housework to prepare for my Knit Night Girls to be here for the evening and I spend a portion of the afternoon in my kitchen baking.  Like I've mentioned already as well, I have a steady flow of knitting work to accomplish from now until Christmas. This pair of Jane Austen Mitts was a custom order that shipped this morning.
The season for fingerless mitts is in full swing too.
While Parker was running around enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, his mommy was able to snap a few photos for me to use for my Shop. It was just a sudden thought on the way out the door for me to grab these mitts just in case we had a chance for a quick picture or two. I'm so glad it worked out.
More importantly, however, I realized that the real heart of the matter was that I was so happy to be there at the park with my daughter and grandson, watching him skip along from the curly slide to the swings, then to the bouncy dinosaur and car, while the wind ruffled his hair, all the while calling over his little shoulder, "Come on Grammy, Come ON!!!"
I could have so easily told them, "No... I have way too much to do today... I really should just stay home."  But then I would have missed out on that particular moment that will be forever engrained within my heart and soul. We weren't there long and by days end I still got everything accomplished  that I needed to.
There was time to work on another custom order ...
A Crocheted Shawl in the making.
Most of my orders are in some shade of Grey these days.
I have no problem with that,
as I can never seem to get enough of the color myself.
And I had plenty of time to mix some pumpkin and spices around in the kitchen and make the house smell warm and inviting for the arrival of my knitting group...
Pumpkin Spice Bread

2/3 Cup Unsalted Butter
{softened to room temperature}
2 2/3 Cups Sugar
4 Eggs
2 Cups Pumpkin
2/3 Cup Cold Water
3 1/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place Parchment Paper in the bottom two Loaf Pans and
spray with Cooking Spray
In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until well blended.
Add eggs and beat.
Add pumpkin and water and beat well.
Sift dry ingredients together and add to pumpkin mixture.
Pour half of batter into ONE prepared Loaf Pan.
Add walnuts to remaining batter.
Pour remaining batter into second Loaf Pan.
Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, watching closely as ovens vary.
Cool bread on wire racks for 15 minutes.
Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Enjoy with your favorite hot drink!

"The living moment is everything."
D.H. Lawrence
(1885 - 1930)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Tranquil Heart

As I have continued to step from one decade of my life to the next I have discovered something about myself. I think it was always in my original blueprint but it took the hand of Time to continuously polish and perfect it day after day, year after year over the many moments of my life. It can be summed up best in one simple, yet profound word...
Contentment.
In retrospect, I have basically always believed wholeheartedly in the theory that one should bloom where planted and, quite honestly, that seems to come rather naturally for me. Even my mother has always said this about me, which has always made me feel really good inside. When I reach for the stars, they are the stars in my own backyard. I am a nester, a homebody, a nurturer and, well, quite simply, content in the life God has blessed me with.
My husband is still my best friend after being together for 37 years. Our two grown daughters are a constant source of pure love and joy to me, along with their husbands. My grandchildren fill my heart to overflowing. They all make life a continual feast for me.
Amongst my many blessings, I also have beautiful friendships. The flowers were a gift from a sweet friend a couple of weeks ago when she came for an afternoon of knitting, laughter and tea on the front porch. I have reached a point in my life of taking pure pleasure in the sweet, simple things of life, like that afternoon with a friend, beautiful new twists of yarn, a new project to crochet or knit, an unexpected gift of flowers, a phone call from an old friend who I haven't heard from in awhile, a cozy kitty napping in my kitchen, the many wonders of nature and the sheer bliss of a good pot of tea.
A new shawl in the works

Leia ~ Hilary, Brandon & Archer's kitty


Mercedes
Tallulah, who eats from my hand
A friend who showed up on the porch
As Time carries on its march and I continue to stroll through this world,
 I am constantly aware that my heart becomes increasingly more full
of
peace and thankfulness
for the simple treasures that are my life.

"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
Laura Ingalls Wilder

"A tranquil heart is life to the body ..."
Proverbs 14:30 a

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Glory Days

October is being gentle of spirit for a few days, giving us tender days of golden sunshine and huge cotton clouds drifting lazily across clear blue skies. I find myself opening windows once again to air the house, grabbing my knitting, brewing a cup of tea and wandering out to the front porch to settle in on my beloved porch swing to enjoy these days. They are like a beautiful ear of Indian corn, these fresh early glory days of Autumn that are sprinkled in here and there. I know they must be captured and appreciated when we are blessed with them. Before too long the porch swing will be silent.
Therefore I continue to knit cozy warm articles for the cooler Fall days and Winter that surely is coming. For I know it's easy to be fooled on these mild days of lovely, light breezes but eventually the winds of change will come. So I find mitts and mittens continuing to fall from my needles.
Then in the midst of it all I had the pleasure of something light and almost Summery come through my Shop as a custom order. I was able to put down the knitting needles for a few hours and pick up my crochet hook.
I have a regular customer who likes to purchase little pretties from time to time and after buying one potholder in a different color combination she also placed a custom order for this one.
The first time I ever made one in these colors was for my sister, Bridget, so I always think of her when I recreate it. I have to say it's my favorite color combination for these potholders.
Speaking of Bridget, we do finally have a diagnosis after the many doctor visits and blood tests.
She has Aplastic Anemia, which you can read about by clicking on the live link.
We Thank all of you for your continued prayer on her behalf.
Your love and support mean the world to all of our family.
Those of you who know Bridget know how much she loves to cook and bake.
Here's a sampling of her recent artwork.
Even though she doesn't feel her very best, she continues to worry about her big sister when I get overly tired. The week after the Pumpkin Festival Craft Faire she sent supper over every single evening so Scott would be fed while I was knocked out on the couch. Not only was I exhausted from the Craft Faire but once I get through the Pumpkin Festival, my busy season is in full swing and I knit or crochet all hours to stay on top of it. She has also baked fabulous desserts for my Monday night knitting group the last three weeks. These gorgeous pumpkin cookies were last nights offering.
How wonderful it is to have a sister to go through life's journey with.
These are glory days indeed.

"What sets sisters apart from brothers and also from friends
is a very intimate meshing of heart, soul and the mystical cords of memory."
Carol Saline