Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Perspective

To say this has been an unusual summer for me would be putting it rather mildly. This has been a season of unforeseen events in my life. Summertime has always been my favorite and I look forward to it wholeheartedly every year. Due to the fact I struggle with rheumatoid diseases, I always feel my best during the warmer months. Generally my days include some portion of time spent on my porch swing with my knitting and a cup of tea. However, since I got sick in the middle of June with bronchitis and this beastly asthma flared, the course of my summer took a turn I didn't see coming. Even my dogs are confused. They always join me on the porch and every time I open the front door for any reason they rush forward in anticipation. But I cannot breathe out there, especially not in the ghastly heat and humidity we have been enduring in the Midwest lately. This is all rather disappointing to me because I have never been one to love staying inside on a beautiful sunny day and I'm not typically a lover of air conditioning...
That is until I discovered I can't breathe without it these days.
Oh well. I know, as with all things, this too shall pass.
Another issue I've been having along with the inability to breathe is that from coughing so much and so hard from the asthma, I have a broken rib. Well let me tell you, it's a real pain in the side. The whole side. I saw the doctor on Friday and she said that sadly there's nothing to be done for a broken rib except wait for it to heal and take pain medication. Fortunately, I am quite used to chronic pain and have been since I was a child. This is one of those instances when that comes in handy. Don't get me wrong, it hurts to do absolutely everything. Mostly it hurts when I lay down, therefore I have a hard time sleeping at night. But I am used to coping with, and working around, constant pain. Honestly, at times like this, just like when I broke my foot in two places a few years ago, I see this as a blessing. I feel sad for people who have no experience with pain and suddenly they break a bone or, worse, they get a diagnosis for a rheumatoid disease and they suffer so badly. I hurt more for them than I do for me. This is when there's something to be said for being a "lifer".
Anyway, of course the other thing I did not see coming was my sister's situation. We are still waiting for a firm diagnosis. One thing we know for sure from a sonogram last week is that she definitely has a diseased gall bladder with a spot on it that the oncologist strongly suspects to be malignant. The gall bladder has to be removed but she is not strong enough for surgery at this point. Another oncologist is being called in to work with the first one. She is still self injecting B12 and is still taking mega doses of prescription iron. She is currently staying with our parents in their home. She had a fall nearly three weeks ago due to a fainting spell from weakness. In the fall she gashed her neck and ruptured an ear drum when her head hit a table. So while she rests and regains her strength she spends her days surrounded by her family. We are a very close knit family and I'm so thankful that we all live right here in the same town so we can look after one another when need be.
Now, with all this being said, I don't want to give the impression that I am downhearted here. Honestly, I truly am not. I have said it over and over and I will say it again. Quite simply, I am happy.
There's so much in my life that brings me joy. I have so much to be thankful for. Let me say right here and now I have gained a new perspective on quite literally being thankful for every breath I take. So many of them don't come easy these days. That just makes each and every one all the more precious.
Also, Bridget is holding up exceptionally well. I have received so many messages on her behalf and she and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your love and prayers mean more to my family at this time than words can ever say. We feel God's love surrounding us through the outpouring of His people and we
Thank You.
Just to show you I am not languishing here, I have a recipe to share.
It's what I made for my knitting group last night. You know me, as long as I have some yarn to play with and can do a little baking, I've had a good day.
This one was easy on my broken rib because it took very little prep time and it's mostly no bake, which is nice on a hot summer day. It's my own concoction.
I hope you like it.

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

8 Ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla
8 Ounces Cool Whip, Extra Creamy with Real Cream
12 to 14 Sliced Strawberries
Few drops pink food coloring
Mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and pink coloring together.
Fold in Cool Whip and strawberries with a spoon.
Leave in mixing bowl and refrigerate while making graham cracker crust.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 Cups Finely Ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
6 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Place several graham crackers at a time between two pieces of parchment paper and roll over them with a rolling pin until they are finely ground.

Mix graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon until well blended.
Press into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.
Bake graham cracker crust at 375 degrees for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Once pie plate and crust are completely cool, spread pie filling on top.
Return to refrigerator.
Chill for at least 4 hours.

Enjoy!

I would like to finish by thanking the kind people of Galena, Illinois for featuring the blog post I did on my recent mother/daughter trip to their lovely town on their official website.
I am truly honored.
Galena is a place of magic for my husband and me.
We look forward to walking your streets again as soon as possible.

"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."
Marcus Aurelius
(121-180)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Focusing

Today's world can make it very challenging to keep our main focus where it needs to be. Too often things of the world move to the foreground and matters of the heart become somewhat blurred as we run through the busyness of our days, barely able to catch a breath. No matter who we are, where we live, what we spend our time doing, it happens to all of us at some point. Life just takes hold of us from behind, it would seem, and steers us along before we realize it.
But suddenly there are those things, or moments, that come along and cause us to stop in our tracks. They give us pause and fill our hearts to overflowing again. Like holding a newborn baby in our arms whether it be our own child or our grandchild. Breathing in that sweet smell... So fresh from God... Well, there's nothing that really even compares to it. Suddenly all the fibers of our being are at once more calmed and somehow more fully alive at the same time. Deep down inside we have the comfort of knowing that this moment will be ours for a lifetime. These are the things that soften and shape us. They are our blessings and joys along this pathway of life.
Then there are those times when life throws us an unexpected curve.
Anyone who has either had cancer or been touched by it closely knows what I mean here. One moment we are sailing along, then the next moment ... well... there's a bolder in the road. What I'd like to say is this, we already know all of the bad things that go along with this dreaded illness but what some people may not realize is that, as in all things we struggle with in this world, there are good things that come out of it as well.
Although my husband still has a rash that comes and goes from the massive amount of radiation treatments he received and his energy level is not what it used to be, I stand in awe of all he is and does and can accomplish. Of course, I have to say, I have always felt this way about him really.
But let me insert this here, cancer never leaves anyone unchanged.
Scott has always been gentle natured, tender hearted, soft spoken and is more concerned for others than he is for himself. God put all of those things in his original blueprint. I have watched him, however, in the nearly five years since his battle with pancreatic cancer, and I see all of these things fine tuned to an even greater perfection in him. He laughs more often, hugs his children and grandchildren a little longer and tighter than even before. He cries with abandon when he is moved to do so. He has an endless well of compassion for others. He spends countless hours taking care of everyone in the family, including me. He never complains about anything. I believe he enjoys his family on a deeper level now. I think he pauses more often to soak in the beauty around him.
I'm not saying it's ever easy to go through any hardship that life brings our way. What I am saying is that God really does bring good out of it all though. He reminds us to focus in on what matters most in life. He fine tunes our character and softens our rough edges. Trust me, I got some much needed repair work throughout the whole process as well. One thing I know for sure is that I'd like to be just like my husband when I grow up someday; full of kindness. What else really matters in this world we wander after all, more than our kindness towards each other?
Nothing I can think of.

One last thing I would like to share with you is this hat I just finished knitting.
As I have walked from room to room at the Peoria Cancer Center I've noticed baskets in each room that are full of handmade hats for the patients to help themselves to. I decided that the next time I go with my sister, which will be tomorrow, I wanted to have something to toss in one of those baskets. God has blessed me abundantly and I want to give back in this very small way. So I knitted a hat. I used Knit Picks Organic Cotton thinking it would be a good choice for patients going through treatments because I know oftentimes their skin can be sensitive. This fiber is ultra soft and the cotton was grown organically. This is its natural color, free of dye. There are no chemicals whatsoever on this yarn. I hope my small gift is a blessing to someone special.
It's the very least I can do.

"What is desirable in a man is his kindness..."
John 19:22

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Peace like a River

Throughout my life, since I was very young, I have been an avid reader.
I have always preferred books to television and have spent most of my life
reading well into the night.
The summer I turned ten my grandmother started my collection of
Little House on the Prairie books by giving me the first one
in paperback for my birthday that June.
By that Christmas I asked my parents for my first Bible.
I still have that precious gift.
A small black Bible with a zipper that closes it up
all the way around with a cross dangling from it.
Of course through the years I've had many other Bibles.
And I have read countless books of every kind.
There is something about words on paper that draw me in.
Words of long ago...
Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Austen, Shakespeare,
Corrie ten Boom, Oswald Chambers,
well the list could go on and on.
And too many of today's authors to even count.
But my true peace and solace is found in God's Word.
I never tire of reading it. It is fresh and new every time.
Just like God's mercies are new every morning.
Although we face new challenges with each season of our lives,
and sometimes with every new day,
we truly can find peace in God.
This world is not always kind but there are still kind people in it if we focus in.
I'm not saying that life is typically easy, no not that.
But precious.
Oh yes, it is always very precious.
There are still so many moments of beauty all around us.
Though I have a sense of holding my breath
as I wait with my sister for her diagnosis,
I stop in wonder and my breath is taken away as I see this beautiful bumblebee
going about the business of the life God created him for,
without a care in the world.
And just like that, I am caught up in the stillness of the moment.
I see him working and as I step closer I can hear him buzzing.
I remember that we are all only here for a short while really
and I am reminded once again
that we are here to love one another first and foremost,
no matter what is going on in the world.
We are meant to be building one another up in all things at all times.
And we should never, ever lose hope.
I know from personal experience that God is still in the business of miracles.
Nearly five years ago he healed my husband from pancreatic cancer.
God can do anything at any time.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything in prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence
and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
Philippians 4:4-8

Friday, July 15, 2016

Simplicity

Simplicity.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about just exactly what this word,
or shall we say this whole concept, really means.
This is what a dictionary has to say about this elusive word/state of being:
plainness of style,
lack of pride,
freedom from deceit,
freedom from complexity,
simplicity of expression,
absence of pretentiousness,
directness,
honesty,
humility,
    wholeness,
unity,
sincerity
and
naturalness.
Well now.
So very simple and yet mighty profound.
There's a whole lot going on in that word.
Things I'd like to be a part of or shall we say ...
Things I'd like to be a part of me.
Notice there's some freedom involved too.
Jesus knew all about simplicity...
"Feed My sheep."
"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones..."
"Love one another."
He knew it was all about meeting people right where they were
at that very moment.
He still knows that.
I watched Him do it for hours through the amazing staff
and volunteers of the Peoria Cancer Center on Tuesday.
Although nobody ever wants to find themselves in a cancer center,
I have to say I was completely blessed by the entire experience.
The love and care they give to each and every patient is hard to describe.
They are not just working, they are ministering.
What they are really doing is quite simply feeding sheep and giving cups of water.
Their days are defined by the simple act of  "love one another".
Not only are they starting IV's but they are constantly wrapping people in
warm blankets, kind words, soft touches and sweet smiles.
The volunteers provide a continual feast of food and drink as well.
We were there for just over four hours while they did blood work
on Bridget and discovered she was dehydrated.
When she realized it would take two hours to be hydrated
she tried to tell them no.
She was concerned because her mother and sister were with her
and she felt like that was too long of a wait for us.
Ummm.... "No....That's what we're here for ... to let them take care of you,
no matter how long it takes."
We didn't care if it took all day long.
I told her that's why I brought my knitting along, so stop trying to get out of it.
I was so thankful to be there with her.
So happy to get her a drink of hot water
to warm herself when she couldn't get up.
And to adjust a pillow behind her back when she got sore from sitting so long.
Just being there, the three of us together, made the time go easier for her.
She also had to learn to self inject Vitamin B while we were there.
No biggie as she used to be a phlebotomist and is very good with a needle.
We still have no diagnosis but should have in a couple of weeks.
She has some more testing to go through.
It's all pointing to a blood cancer of some sort.
For all she's going through,
Bridget says she feels the peace of God on her.
She has no fear.
I think she might just have this whole simplicity thing figured out.
True simplicity of the heart and soul.
Although I wasn't able to be with her for her first visit to the cancer center
because I was too sick with bronchitis,
I have to tell you just a little bit about that experience as well.
There's a wonderful husband and wife who volunteer there.
The wife is a breast cancer survivor.
As soon as Bridget stepped inside the building they could see she was cold.
It was very rainy and unseasonably chilly that day.
The man came running with a heated blanket and wrapped her in it.
Once she sat down he proceeded to swaddle her in two more heated blankets.
Then along came his wife who sat with her and prayed with her.
After talking with her for quite some time she left for a short bit then came back.
She gave her this crocheted blanket from the donations telling her
she knew it was made just for her.
I can't even tell you how this blessed my sister.
This blanket is never far from her now.
She even took it back with her on her second trip. It's very cold in that building.
It also blessed me beyond measure to know that God had someone
taking such exceptional care of my sister and mother on a day I could not.
Hmmm...
Simplicity...
I think it has a whole lot to do with love.
I think it's when the very smallest things become the greatest things.
Small, simple things that we give so freely of ourselves to others.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Leonardo DaVinci

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just One Morning

One of the most amazing things in life to me is that
so many beautiful things can take place in just one morning.
In such a short span of time, so many moments of laughter,
joy and sheer delight...
moments that make you pause and moments
that take your breath away...
I love days like this, especially when they take me by surprise.
When they just enter my world on their own without being scheduled.
Yesterday morning was one of those lovely days.
My daughter Chelsea came with Parker so we could take a little walk uptown.
Gabby had spent the night over with us and was already here.
Just a couple of blocks up the street is a favorite coffee and tea shop
we love to visit called Leaves N Beans.
Although Parker is a Big Boy who likes to sit in his own chair,
he also has to have his Sissy sit with him from time to time.
At one point I stepped inside for a glass of Iced Peppermint Tea
and Parker had to "Go with Grammy!".
There's a snack bar with tall barstools at the window so, of course,
he had to sit on one of those.
You should have heard the laughter when
Gabby turned around and he caught her eye.
Is there anything in the world that comes close
to the beauty of the laughter of a child?
If so, I haven't experienced it yet.
One of the best parts of having them here is
they always leave a piece of themselves behind
so that even when they're gone
I know my world has been graced by their beauty.

The gorgeous purple flowers in the first photo were discovered on our way home.
They were too pretty to pass by without capturing a quick snapshot.
These lovely yellow tulips were given to my mother
by my father for her birthday last week.
I am so thankful for my family.
Each and every one of them a blessing in their own way.
As you read this today I am with my sister at the Cancer Center in Peoria.
This is her second appointment.
She is going through a whole range of tests.
We are still uncertain of the diagnosis at this time.
However, fairly certain there will be a diagnosis.
I would appreciate it if you would remember Bridget in your prayers.
With a heart full of Hope and Thankfulness,
Danette

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13

Friday, July 8, 2016

Yarn & Roses

On my recent trip to Galena I brought back three yarns
that I didn't already have in my stash.
Of the three I have only worked with one so far;
the Song by Classic Elite Yarns.
It's the perfect fiber blend of 50% Cotton, 50% Wool
with a gauge of 5 1/2 sts/inch on size US 4-5 (3.5-3.75mm) needles.
Each 50 gram skein has a yardage of 110.
I absolutely love this yarn!
It has the softness you expect from cotton,
the stitch definition you expect from both cotton and wool,
and the perfect amount of bounce from the wool.
Plus the colors are beautiful.
I only sampled a few because a measure of self control was necessary.
All of the components of this fabulous fiber
have made it a wonderful choice for my
current fingerless mitts that I've mentioned in my recent posts.
Look how beautifully those cables stand up and show themselves.
The gloves retain their shape without stretching out once you remove them too
due to the amount of wool in the yarn.
I'm still working on the Raspberry Pink pair and then I'll make a pair
using that gorgeous teal blue.
Next up is the Cerro, also by Classic Elite Yarns.
This lovely yarn is a fiber blend of 85% Pima Cotton/15% Alpaca
with a gauge of 6 sts/inch on size 4 US (3.5mm) needles.
Each hank has approximately 150 yards and is 50 grams.
I came home with just three braids of it.
Periwinkle, Pink Violet and Bud Green.
The other purchase I made along with it was a specific pattern.
As you might guess it's for a crocheted item.
I'm excited and can't wait to make it ... soon.
But I will leave it as a surprise and show it
once my hook has had its way with it.
So....
That leaves us with the Corsica by Berroco.
Only these four balls found their way into my bag.
Two each of
Rose Petal Pink
&
Colorful Moon
If I had it to do over, I would have bought a few more but....
then we're getting back to that matter of self control...
Anyway,
This exquisite yarn is a fiber blend of 90% Cotton/10% Cashmere
with a knitting gauge of 5.25-5.75 sts = 1"
and a crochet gauge of 4.75 sc = 1".
It has 150 yards to its 50 gram skein.
It's soft and luscious and although the picture doesn't show it well,
the colors have a slight heathered look.
So far I am not completely certain as to what I will make
with these little lovelies but I think
it will have something to do with babies.
One thing I have decided I AM sure about though is this ...
As long as my world contains
Yarn and Roses,
I am at Peace.
Wishing you soft gentle days of peace
that unfold in your life
like the petals
of a
Rose,
Danette

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Too Much Fun

Why.... YES I DO!
Isn't that what this whole road trip is about after all?
Okay, maybe not the whole trip was about me shopping for yarn but...

From June 6th - June 9th I was in Galena, Illinois with my mom and sister.
We were given a three night stay in the
as a Mother's Day gift from my father.
Not only was this our mom's first time to visit Galena and her first
stay in a B&B, it was also our first ever mother-daughter trip.
We had the best time together.
This is my Mom at breakfast.
Just out the window to the left we had a visitor every morning.
Miss Kitty belongs to the owner but lives outside
due to potential allergies of guests.
She sure wants to come in and join the party though.
I gave her some love every day as we went to and fro.
While we're still on the subject of food in Galena...
The options are seemingly endless and delightful.
They have fabulous steakhouses, pizza joints and bar and grill type restaurants.
There's Asian food, Greek food, Seafood, fine Italian dining
and a Good Ole Mom and Pop Diner on a corner.
 Plus I always find delicious vegetarian fare for myself when I visit.
Galena is also rich with history.
It's the home place of President Ulysses S. Grant.
Everywhere you look your eye lands on beautiful old buildings.
There are lots and lots of stairs because,
unlike most of our flat state of Illinois,
Galena is very hilly.
Now back to that Yarn Shop...
I always make a beeline for this place of heaven on earth the moment we hit Galena.
As a matter of fact, when Amy, the owner of
 first opened a few years ago,
I just happened to be in Galena celebrating my birthday with my husband.
I was so excited to find that there was a Yarn Shop in town all of a sudden.
And it really was all of a sudden.
She was literally setting up shop on her first week there.
I'm just so thrilled to see that she's still open for business every time I return.
There are people in this world who keep walking in a certain direction
down a certain street because they smell the undeniable aroma of food.
For me...
It's Yarn...
I promise you ...
some things in this world speak to me,
other things call my name.
Yarn however,
I Smell.
On this trip I purchased three different yarns that are all new to me.
In my next post I will give you my review on the one I've worked with so far,
making the cabled fingerless gloves from my last post.

One last thing I have to say that I love about my trips to Galena is this...
For a tiny town in Illinois with a population of 3,361 to have the appeal
it does to so many different people amazes me.
I love catching snatches of foreign languages on the breeze
as I walk up and down the streets.
I also enjoy watching other people being happy 
and observing how they express themselves.
I like getting glimpses of how they live,
what makes them feel beautiful
and how they relate to this big vast world we live in.
So many things can be seen in a small tourist town.
This was my favorite thing on this trip to Galena.
Disappointingly, I never saw the owners of this wonderful van.
No doubt they were off having too much fun.