Friday, January 20, 2017

The Tiny Things

I spent the beginning of last week in bed due to a Lupus flare then was finally up and feeling quite a bit better when by Sunday night the nasty cold and flu hit me hard and sent me right back to bed again where I spent all of this week. Because of the rheumatoid and immune issues I struggle with my system is always in for a battle when it gets invaded. However, I have finally risen again and am thankfully and happily able to sit up in my favorite chair to drink tea and take up my knitting once more.
During the week while I was too sick to get up, a dear friend dropped a little potted primrose off for me. I was unable to see her, not only because I was just too ill to get up, but also there was no way I would expose her to the creeping crud so I remained in my bed with the door shut tight. Therefore she left the tiny treasure, along with a card and a book, at the door with Scott "to cheer me".
I have enjoyed this bright spot of something so small and fresh that has been brought into my world by someone who was thinking of and praying for me. As I've looked at it I have pondered the fact that it continues to reach up, seeking the sunlight during these gray January days. Obviously, as with all things of nature, this little plant knows its source and reaches out toward it instinctively.
Then I remember that's what I need to do as well. Reach out to my Source if I am to be green and flourishing; full of color, vitality and love. And that's where my mind softly settles... that one four letter word that makes the world go round ... and round ... and round...
Love.
"But now faith, hope, love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Okay, familiar words, I know. But sometimes it just really hits me like its new.
 I know He wants us to get this thing about love. He wants me to get it, He wants you to get it, He wants all of us to get it.

"For life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
And hope and fear,
Is just our chance o' the prize of learning love,
How love might be, hath been indeed, and is."
Robert Browning

Here I would like to share with you an excerpt from a favorite book of mine. The book is tiny but packed full of great wisdom. It was written by Henry Drummond, a Scottish evangelist in the 1800's.
"The most obvious lesson in Christ's teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving. I repeat, there is no happiness in having, or in getting, but only in giving. And half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. He that would be great among you, said Christ, let him serve. He that would be happy let him remember that there is but one way -
it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive."
Now you may be thinking I have taken a sideways step. What does this have to do with the topic? So let me explain. Our happiness is deeply and directly entwined with love. How we show love and receive love. So much time is spent chasing after what we think are the really big things in life and so often, once we get them, we can't figure out why they don't bestow true happiness. It's called "chasing after the wind" and it's because we were designed for so much more; something richer and more noble. Focus in on that one tiny portion right in the middle of 1 Corinthians 13:5 speaking on love...
"it seeks not its own".
These words always slap me right in the face. Every. Single. Time.
Today's World always tells us to think of Self first and, you know what, so does simple, base human nature. Therefore we have to walk in the Love of God, not our own kind of love. It is never going to be our instinct to consistently put everyone {or sometimes even anyone} above ourselves. That takes the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit every single day.  But I tell you this, at the end of the day, no matter how hard we have struggled to chase after big and mighty things, it all comes down to the one thing we all really want most and that is love.
I just know what a different place this world could really be if we could grasp hold of the true meaning of Love as God has defined it for us. If we would just seek Him and His kingdom FIRST, how differently we would always treat our fellow human beings, no matter who they are. And in giving that kind of love, we would receive so much love in return. It all starts right here, in our own individual heart.
"Love is success, Love is happiness, Love is life."
Henry Drummond
"The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great big blessings as the tiny things,
because they show His amazing intimacy with us;
He knows every detail of our individual lives."
Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Warm Hearts

These frigid Winter days are finding me nestled inside, hard at work with my hands, hooks, needles and sumptuous fibers. These fingerless mitts are identical in pattern to the Alpaca mitts I listed on my website a few days ago, however the Alpaca yarn I used was something I only had a few precious skeins of in my stash and, sadly, it has been discontinued. I have enough to knit only two pairs of mitts out of it. Therefore, I will be introducing these crocheted mitts into my line on a permanent basis in this elegant fiber blend of 50/50 Merino Wool and Bamboo. I absolutely love this lush fiber, as it offers that exquisite softness and wonderful bounce we all know and love from the Merino Wool, while adding a touch of strength and luster from the Bamboo, which gives it a subtle sheen as the light reflects off it. This is also a wonderful blend for anyone who has sensitive skin. So ... warmth, beauty, elegance and the functionality of having your fingers free... you really can't go wrong.
I have actually had these fingerless mitts in my line in the past, however they were made in a finer weight. I find I prefer them in a bit heavier weight for the all over cushy softness and warmth they provide this way. This is a sport weight yarn and unless a customer requests a lighter weight, I will stick with this. Although they are lacy and airy, due to the nature of crochet, they are surprisingly quite warm.
Now, one would think that, especially during the Winter, for those of us who live in areas that get bitterly cold, an actual full coverage mitten would be preferred. Let me just say right here and now, if any of you want those from me, I do knit mittens in all different styles. I even hand embroider across the tops of them... snowflakes with tiny glass pearl beads or delicate vining flowers, if you like. As a matter of fact, during the Fall and Holiday season I sold countless pairs of mittens to local customers via a craft faire and my annual Christmas Tea and Sale that takes place in my home, that I never listed on my shop nor had time to post pictures of on my blog. All that being said, however, my fingerless mitts remain my top selling items every single year. In this fast paced, social media, texting, journaling, java drinking, carpooling world we live in today, people want their fingers set free. Although I occasionally have some people say to me,
"I just don't get fingerless mitts..."
I have a whole lot of customers who snap them up like they are manna from Heaven. So many people have told me over the years they wear them inside all of the time, either at work or home, because their hands are just that cold.
 Here's my theory on that...
It's the old adage of "Cold hands, warm heart."
I believe you all have such beautiful and precious warm hearts,
that your hands are always cold.
This is what I found about that saying ...
Possible interpretation: A cool, reserved exterior may hide a kind heart.
{Hmmm... I like that.}
Note: In cold weather, blood goes away from the hands and feet to protect the brain and main part of the body.
Then your hands will be cold but your heart will be warm.
{Well.... there you have it.}

So, as far as I'm concerned, since we need to warm our hands,
we might as well do it with a touch of Beauty...
You can find the listing for the fingerless mitts shown in this post here.
They will be available in a variety of colors soon.
For now you can purchase them in this lovely, cool shade of Grey that has a definite undertone of Seafoam Green to it. Hard to describe but really very pretty and actually quite neutral.
I am also working on restocking my popular selling Jane Austen Mitts.
Thank you all for the love and support you show me.
I am thankful beyond mere words.
You keep my heart warm no matter how cold it gets.
Image result for grateful heart quotes
"Whatever we are waiting for - peace of mind, contentment, grace,
the inner awareness of simple abundance-
it will surely come to us,
but only when we are ready to receive it with
an open and grateful heart."
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Till Summer Comes Again

This morning I awoke to a bitterly cold, grey day with a fine blanket of snow covering the ground in my world. Thankfully, I am not overly put off by this, as I just turn on the kettle usually, or sometimes indulge in some coffee with cream, and gravitate towards more warm weather fibers to knit or crochet with, such as alpaca and wool. Truthfully, these are my favorite fibers anyway and I love Winter for the opportunity it provides to stay in and snuggle up with a hot drink within reach, soft, luxurious yarn running through my fingers and a good book to turn to.
A bright spot in my morning was when I heard a package being delivered on my doorstep. Who doesn't love that, right? I was very excited to find my copy of "Lady Crawford" by Julie Cameron Gray inside that little package!
Now for those of you who aren't aware of it, that is actually our very own
of the popular blog
that so many of us have followed for years.
This is Julie's second published book.
I am savoring the moment in my hectic day when I finally get to sit down and open it and begin reading it. Oh, I have had a tiny sneak peek here and there and, of course flipped to the back to see her lovely face smiling back at me, but I am not letting myself skim it until I can have a proper sit down with it. I have waited far too long to have it in my possession for trifling. I am going to enjoy it thoroughly from cover to cover.
As for the Fingerless Mitts you see pictured,
you can find them by clicking on the live link.
I just listed them today, with the modeling help of my beautiful daughter Chelsea. I am working at restocking my Shop because it got pretty darn depleted over the holidays. I was shipping items right up through December 31st, even overseas. So I need a serious restock. I am trying to wedge this in between custom orders, which currently run into March.
 So you might say I am Yarn Happy these days.
But who am I trying to kid?
I am Yarn Happy every day year round.
There just seems to be something cozier about it all on a cold snowy day.
I do like snow. When the light hits it just right it looks like millions upon millions of diamonds sparkling as far as the eye can see or pure white fairy dust that was sprinkled over the whole land while we slept. Even a little can be magical.  And no two flakes alike. Really? Somehow this has always fascinated me.
It gives us a reason to stay in close to hearth and home, as it were. Enjoying long evenings with our loved ones as we seek shelter from the cold world outside and recoup and regroup from the holiday season. Though I prefer Spring and Summer and warm sunny days, for the most part, this Icy Cold Maiden we know as Winter is not all bad. She brings us her own type for renewal and fresh beginnings.
Winter also teaches us patience as she makes us wait and bide our time till our long awaited fair weather friends come again.
I hope wherever your path takes you as this new year begins to unfold,
 whether it's a cold and snowy one or a warm and sunny one,
that you are surrounded by those you love most,
doing all the things you love best.
"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields,
that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug, you know,
with a white quilt; and perhaps it says,
"Go to sleep, darlings, till summer comes again."
Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventure in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I Wish ...

In the many days that lie ahead,
I wish for you ...
The ability to see Life through the eyes of a Child,
Believing that it can be fresh and new and sometimes even magical.
I wish for you the wisdom of the Aged,
Knowing that no matter what Life brings your way,
Miracles still happen every day.
I wish for you tranquil times of solitude and peace,
That offer, not loneliness, but rest and freedom to your soul.
I wish for you a Life filled with sunshine and laughter
and more happiness in your heart than you can hold with both hands.
But more than all these things,
I wish for you true Joy
And the awareness that Life is rich and deep and abundant...
And so worth the Living.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you."
Matthew 6:33

"For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Luke 17:21

"You've always had the Power My Dear,
You just had to learn it for yourself."
~ Glinda ~
The Wizard of Oz


To all of my family and friends,
near and far,
I thank you for all the happiness, joy and beauty you bring into my Life.
You are all so dear.
I wish ...
a
Happy New Year
to
You and Yours
from
Me and Mine.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Silver & Gold

December is a busy time for all. A month that's full of preparation and reflection.
This year was a whirlwind around here as we had a granddaughter in
The Nutcracker.
There was a week of dress rehearsals every day leading up to a weekend with three beautiful, magical performances.
This month that brings each year to a close also marks another wedding anniversary for me every time it rolls around. At the age of nineteen, thirty-three years ago, I said, "I Do" on a cold, frosty December night. The temperature was twenty-one degrees below zero with a big, fluffy snow blizzard whipping all around us.
The church was lit only by candlelight and a Christmas tree.
We were married in the midst of a Winter Wonderland.
I will never forget it.
December 17th remains my favorite day of the year.
I look forward to it with the anticipation of a little child at Christmastime.
This year, December brought some unexpected sadness along with it too.
As I mentioned in my last post,
my family suffered the loss of my beloved cousin Kari.
I attended her services in a quick trip to Chicago
{there and back home in one day}.
These are some old photo's I would like to share with you...
Grandpa holding: Me, Judi, Kari
Grandma holding: Kari, Judi, Me
Kari, Me, Judi
I love these old memories and actually think of them often.
As hard as funerals are, the good thing about them is being reunited with family.
This is a picture of my sister and me with my cousin Scott,
who is Kari and Judi's brother.
It's been too long since we've all been together.
Bridget, Scott, Me
Time has marched on, as it does, and Christmas is here.
I have been knitting to fill orders and knitting for fun.
This is the last local order that went out.
Phew!
And then a few knitted Christmas trees for some last minute fun.
Miss Kitty is enjoying the big tree as usual.
Before I leave you to nestle in and enjoy the season with your loved ones,
 I would like to say,
The greatest thing I believe this year has taught me is
that every part of the journey of our lives
is lined with Silver and flecked with Gold.
The days of old... memories we hold so dear...
Friends and family and whispers of yesteryear gone by,
like Silver linings around the edges of our hearts and minds for all our days.
Then bright, shiny, new people and events entering our world all of the time,
like flecks of Gold.
So much to be Thankful for.
And I would love to share my favorite Christmas recipe with you.

Old Fashioned Gingerbread
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Egg
1 Cup Molasses
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves {ground}
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Hot Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9 or 10 " pan with cooking spray.
*I use a round pan and cut mine in pie shaped pieces.
The original recipe calls for a square pan*
In large bowl, cream together sugar & butter.
Beat in egg and mix in molasses.
In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt & spices.
Blend into creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water.
Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 1 hour, but watch closely
{mine is always done in 40-45 minutes}.
Check center with a toothpick.
Allow to cool in pan before serving.
Best when served still warm with whipped cream.
Yield: 12 Servings

Whipped Cream
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla

Chill metal or plastic bowl in freezer for 15 - 20 minutes, along with beaters.
Whip COLD cream on MEDIUM {so cream does not become buttery}
until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla.
Beat until cream holds stiff peaks.
Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before serving.
Enjoy!

May this Christmas Eve find you Warm and Cozy
as you share the love of the holiday with your family and friends.
Merry Christmas!
With Love,
Danette

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