Friday, December 28, 2018

We Were Together ...

Once again we all find ourselves with another Christmas of magical memories
 tucked inside our hearts forevermore. 
The month of December started for me, as it has for the last few years,
 with our annual Christmas Open House Sale. 
It was a wonderful event as always.
 This year we had the pleasure of having Shay join us with the Runaway Rack.
She takes her lovely mobile clothing boutique, "Rosie",  all over for events
 and on December 1st she was parked in my driveway. 
This was the second event we have worked together,
 with our September Sale being the first. 
I made and sold countless knitted items all throughout the holiday season and I'm still filling custom orders. More than ever before my knitting needles seemed to be dashing through the days {and into the nights} with a speed all their own.
 I have all of you to Thank for that.
No words will ever convey how very much I truly appreciate
 your continued support of this business that fills my days,
 my life and my heart with great joy and happiness.
So...Thank You for being a part of my dream come true.
This Christmastide has been so full of fun and festivities, family and friends and moments of quiet reflection that I think it will be one of those years I hold close to me for all of my days.
There were photos with Santa...

And Santa and Mrs. Claus being played by my cousin and her husband.
Many of you know Kathy if you come to our sales events.
She and Mike had the honor of delighting
Chicago area children early in December,
 as they climbed upon Santa's lap,
 believing he could make all their wishes come true.
Amongst all the glitter and lights, the tinsel and bobbles, wrapping and gifts, family, friends and festive events that fill me up with the wonder of a child every time I begin to smell Christmas in the air...
There is one very special thing at the heart of it for me every December.
This year was extra special.
On December 17 Scott and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.
All those years ago, on a very, very, cold Winter's night a nineteen year old girl gave her hand and her heart to a twenty-three year old young man to keep forever. Though the temperature dipped to twenty- one below zero and there was such a blizzard that it was truly a Winter Wonderland outside, the candlelit church was completely packed with our family and friends who had traveled near and far to bless us at the beginning of this beautiful journey...
And what a wonderful life it's been so far.
All the love that we've shared through the days and the years..
So many memories made and so many more to be made.
If you'd ask me I'd tell you that my very best Christmas gift every single year is My husband...
My marriage...
And all the blessings that have come from this bonding of two hearts as one.
Getting married at Christmastime just made it all seem a bit more magical to me.
I remember assuming when I was very young
 I would most definitely be a Summer bride.
Then suddenly I found myself getting married at
the most magical time of the year.
 Somehow it just seemed appropriate.
No matter when you plan a wedding, they are always beautiful and magical.
If you are currently planning one of your own the perfect place to shop online is
They offer free shipping with no minimum and right now
 they're having a fabulous sale!
No matter what season the wedding you're planning is for,
 they can make choosing your
bridesmaid dresses
the fun and memorable event you always hoped it would be
 with their gorgeous choices and unbelievable prices.

Some years also hold many weddings to attend.
We had a year like that just recently.
 Sometimes the circle of people overlap,
 requiring a new dress for each wedding you attend.
This can become rather costly.
Let Ever-Pretty help you with your wedding guest dresses
I promise you won't be disappointed!
You can show up for your next wedding wearing any of these lovely dresses for under $50.00 and they could easily be worn for so many more occasions.
We all love to get dressed up for something special from time to time.
Especially when Love is in the air!

This holiday season has been a most joyous one for me and my family.
God has blessed me throughout these last 35 years far beyond
the greatest imagination of that teenaged bride of all those years ago.
 My heart is continuously warmed by all the people and memories
 that have become dear to me over the course of this life so far.
I look back and marvel that it all began...
with two little words...
standing in front of a candlelit alter...
"I do."

"We were together. I forget the rest."
Walt Whitman

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and events are my own.*

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Frosted Rooftops

I love waking up to an early December morning with frosted rooftops and bare branches dusted so lightly that just the slightest sparkle of sunshine sets them to dancing. The air all around is sometimes a beautiful, thick white presence with a life all its own. We've had days of big, fluffy snowflakes and other days that were cold, clear and bright. No matter the weather, I love it all.
 I know that once December comes back to us every year,
 She begins to work her magic...
Hearts come together for special events throughout the month of merriment.
My daughter Chelsea went with Julius to the Lyric Opera in Chicago
 for a night of fun filled culture.
As you know, special events call for the most beautiful dresses.
During the holidays, we love to slip into something special,
 add a touch of lipstick and maybe a bit of sparkle here and there...
If you're looking for a gorgeous dress to wear to your
 Christmas Party or Holiday Event of the year 
has absolutely gorgeous dresses
 at affordable prices and they keep their 
New Arrivals section continuously updated 
to meet the ever changing world of fashion.
that will take you to your Christmas Party, the Opera and even to the Ballet... 
Once again December found us at The Peoria Ballet's Nutcracker.
This year's performance was the most exquisite one I have seen yet,
 under the direction of Artistic Director, Jorge Laico.
His choreography, along with my favorite Tchaikovsky music being played so beautifully by the Heartland Festival Orchestra, created a magical fairyland that swept me away to a land of snowflakes, frost fairies
 and all the possibilities of dreams that really do come true...
 if only we believe...
Gabby had two roles this year.
One as a Maid, which was an acting part.
The other as a Polichinelle, her dancing part.
 The Polichinelle's are the colorful dancers
 who emerge from Mother Ginger's dress 
and dance all about her throughout the scene. 
A special highlight for Gabby was having her "dead" pointe shoes signed by 
the professional ballet dancers who performed as guest artists this year from 
Chicago's renowned Joffrey Ballet.
Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili were completely breathtaking as the 
Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.
There wasn't a single soul able to remain seated at the end of the ballet.
It was a truly magical night.
I look forward to it all year long...
Dressing up, settling into my seat in the theatre and then...
the thrill of the first strains of music floating through the air...

The whole of December always brings
 the wonderment of a child back to my spirit again.
With every tree I display, every twinkling light throughout my house and the ornaments that get placed just so, each day makes me feel just a little bit younger {at heart, at least} and makes me tingle all over with more and more excitement. It's almost as though I'm holding my breath along with millions of children across the world who are waiting for Santa's big night.
I hope it does the same for you, whether you're dashing off to 
a gala event in that gorgeous new evening dress
or staying tucked in the house with your family and mugs of hot cocoa.

May you have all the joy and wonder of a child inside your heart
at the beginning of each new day,
And remember when you peer out your
window on a cold December morning,
that frosted rooftops bring to life
the most magical moment.
Enjoy them all!
"The afternoon knows 
what the morning never suspected."
Robert Frost

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and events are my own.*

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fresh Friday... You Are What You Eat


Here we are in November already.
I think it was just June yesterday...
I have to admit, albeit somewhat grudgingly,
 because I usually cling to summertime white knuckled,
that I am  loving every single beautiful thing
 about this multi-hued Autumn we are experiencing this year.
 The misty grey days provide an ethereal seeming background
 for the sheer profusion of color all of the trees and bushes are bursting with.
 Although I know this must happen all around me every single Fall,
 for some reason my senses are extremely heightened to it this time around.
 I feel as though I am soaking it in through all of my pores
 and every fiber straight into my soul.
These cooler days make me want to stay inside where it's warm
 with my tea kettle going, my doggies around me,
my knitting on the go and something warm and healthy on the stove.
I told you in the last post I would introduce you to my daughter Chelsea.
She's my youngest of two daughters.
My eldest daughter, Hilary, is a Librarian in our local library.
 Chelsea has a Cosmetology license,
 which she uses to specialize as an Aesthetician. 
She works for a dermatologist in a medical day spa.
 Both of my daughters are excellent cooks and healthy, clean eaters. 
Due to ongoing health issues of my own, 
when they were still in grade school and I was in my early thirties,
 I became a vegetarian and thus began my journey 
into grasping hold of the real truth of :
"You Are What You Eat"
Everybody has heard it and even said it at times
 but after years of suffering
 {and I mean truly suffering}
 from serious digestive issues, 
among various other ailments, 
I began the journey of taking hold of that one simple truth
 and what a difference it made and continues to make for me.
 Plus, I believe it made it easier for my girls to make healthier choices as adults.
Eating as healthy as I possibly can helps in my battle against
 two rheumatoid diseases, which cause digestive issues,
 inflammation throughout my entire system and a whole host of issues.
 I will admit right from the start that I am not a person who has a huge appetite and a lot of the recipes I share with you will be on the simple or light side.
 I don't tolerate "heavy" foods. 
Always bear in mind I do not eat the basic American diet and
 have not done so for more than 22 years.
 In the area of food, I have to travel lightly through this world.
Today's recipe is from Chelsea.
  The measurements provided are just enough for two servings.
It's perfect for lunch with a friend or spouse.
Chelsea and I enjoyed it together for lunch one day last week.

Thai Coconut Stir Fry

1 Cup Thai Coconut Broth
1/2 Cup Brown Rice
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
{Organic Virgin, Cold Pressed, Unrefined - if possible}
1 1/2 Tablespoons Liquid Aminos
1/2 Cup Snap Peas, broken in half
1/4 Cup Match Stick Carrots
1/4 Cup Red Peppers, sliced
1/2 Cup Tempeh, cubed

Cook Brown Rice in Thai Coconut Broth instead of water
 by simply substituting, using exact measurement. 
Saute' Tempeh in Coconut Oil on medium - low for approximately 3 minutes.
Add prepared vegetables and continue cooking until barely tender but still crisp.

This makes two nice sized bowls.
 The first delightful flavor that hits the tongue is coconut. 
It's very filling for lunch or supper for two.
 If you want to stretch it to accommodate more people 
just adjust the proportions and play around with seasonings and add ins.
It's healthy, warm and comforting on a cold day and looks like
 a bowl full of beautiful Fall colors to me!
 I just love it!
You can make it ahead and store it in individual containers
 for your busy work week ahead.
It reheats wonderfully and tastes just as good, if not better.
For those of you who have never used Liquid Aminos,
 this is what you are looking for:
If you like soy sauce you'll love it. This is a healthier alternative. It is gluten free, contains no preservatives, alcohol or fermentation and has 16 healthy amino acids. Also, it is lower in sodium than soy sauce. So run straight to your local grocery market and buy some {and chuck the soy sauce in the trash can}.
Here's what the Thai Coconut Broth looks like as well:

You know I can't leave you without showing at least one thing
 that's been on my needles recently.
In my next post,
which will focus on my current knitting projects at hand,
 I'll show you much more.
However here's a tiny sampling of some baby knits
 I worked on last week during my time at the coffee shop.
Just as I love for my food to be as wholesome,
 chemical free, organic and pure as possible,
I also prefer for the fibers I work with to be as natural as possible.
These cable knit baby ear flap hats and booties are knit on size 3 needles
 using divinely soft, soft, soft pure Baby Alpaca.
There is nothing like the feel of it gliding gently
 across my fingers like a mere whisper.
As I work with it, I daydream of and pray for
  the sweet baby that will be cozied up inside these snuggly little accessories
 in order to keep Winter chills far, far away from delicate fresh from heaven skin.
As most of you know, I am a die hard, constant tea drinker.
However, I occasionally enjoy coffee or a coffee latte like this one pictured.
It's the delicious Fall Signature drink at
 Thirty-Thirty Coffee Shop
in Peoria's Junction City.
 A lovely hot drink is just the perfect thing for an evening of knitting!
I typically choose tea because I actually love it so much more than coffee,
which is hard for the coffee drinkers of the world to even fathom.
Also, it is much easier on my sensitive digestive system.
Keeping myself less acidic is always the goal.
For a final note on today's recipe and any future recipe's I share...
Feel free to toss in some chicken in place of the Tempeh if you have to.
But I would like to encourage you to do two things...
If you are a meat eater, try to eat a meatless meal on occasion.
Also, always purchase the leanest, cleanest form of meat you can.
All of the food I share with you will be vegetarian.
This is what I have to do for my body.
You do what is best for yours.
In the meantime,
I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful Autumn
 if you live in an area where this is your season like it is mine.
"The heart of the home beats in the kitchen
and a healthy one beats three times a day."
Bangambiki Habyarimana
The Great Pearl of Wisdom

"Dear Friend,
 I pray that you may enjoy good health
and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well."
3 John 1:2

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fresh Friday ... Breathe Deeply

Welcome to the launching of Fresh Friday!
Here's the plan...
On Friday's I will be posting about all kinds of "fresh" finds for all of you.
The list may include:

~ new knitting products I am currently in love with
~ new patterns I am working on and loving
~ healthy recipes, including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan
~ chemical free cleaning products for your home
~ my favorite essential oils and what they are used for

My goal is to eventually do a Fresh Friday post every week,
however it may be more like every other week until after the first of the new year.
I am currently in my super busy season at Front Porch Knits,
especially as I prepare for our upcoming Christmas Open House,
which will be held in my home on Saturday, December 1st.
Not to mention the constant work of new puppy training.

Today's first fresh find is this awesome Namaste Knitter's Train Case 
from Jimmy Beans Wool in Blush.
It's available in several color options but I had to have mine in PINK!!!
It comes with all of these lovely little items included inside.
I was so excited when it arrived on my doorstep yesterday just in time for
my weekly knitting in public trip to Thirty-Thirty Coffee Shop
in Peoria's Junction City
{ favorite spot!}! 
Side Note... If you live locally and haven't been to Thirty-Thirty, you have to go!
The drinks are TOO DIE FOR and the staff is AWESOME.
And see the best part of all ...
The Train Case has that wonderful little whole for the yarn to feed through
so everything stays tucked away nice and neat inside while I knit, knit, knit.
I'll let you in on a secret... I'm a spiller at times.
Therefore all of my patterns are kept in plastic sleeves always
because when I'm knitting,
I'm drinking tea, always.
This lovely Train Case is exactly what I needed
to take back and forth on my weekly jaunts.
It holds everything I need perfectly and keeps expensive fibers
from being tea soaked,while also ensuring I don't leave my tiny sterling silver
stitch markers and other notions behind.
It's so much easier to see down inside of than rummaging in a bag.
Yep. I love it!
My current fresh make is this ribbed and cabled mitten.
I love the fact that there's just a touch of cabling
going across the top and that the ribbing
goes all the way around the palm.
This gorgeous charcoal grey yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash Merino Wool,
once again from Jimmy Beans Wool. It is soft, warm and breathable. 
I simply adore merino wool. It's my very favorite fiber to work with.
Nothing makes better mittens.

Speaking of fiber...
I'll leave you with one very simple healthy food idea.
Two pieces of Gluten Free Bread {purchased from Costco, not homemade} toasted.
Topped with:
Organic Almond Butter
Raw Pepitas {Pumpkin Seeds}
Hemp Hearts {Shelled Hemp Seeds}
Health Benefits of:
ALMOND BUTTER ~ Good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which help lower the risk of heart disease. We gain antioxidant action from Vitamin E and it helps lower cholesterol.
RAW PEPITAS~ Rich source of fiber. Helps prevent constipation and benefits digestive health.
Boosts your intake of protein and minerals. Contains macronutrients that provide energy and provides essential minerals required for proper tissue function.

Sometimes this toast is my breakfast and other times it's my lunch.
Either way it is yummy and extremely satisfying and satiating.
I hope you've enjoyed this first installment of "Fresh Friday".
Next time up I plan to introduce you to my daughter Chelsea,
who you'll recognize as a model I use oftentimes on my websites.
Chelsea works in the Beauty industry {more on that later}
and is a whole foods/clean eater and fantastic cook. 
I will be sharing a combination of her recipes along with mine,
including foods that make your hair and skin softer;
something we all need with these upcoming Winter months.
 Until then...
Stay warm and toasty with some nice hot tea,
cozy knitting, and healthy comfort food.
That's what I'll be doing!

"To ensure good health:
eat lightly,
breathe deeply,
live moderately,
cultivate cheerfulness,
and maintain an interest in life."
~ William Londen

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Dog Days of Autumn

Nearly two weeks ago I took a little road trip
to pick up the newest member of our family.
This is our new baby, Percy.
He's a Toy Poodle and we simply adore him.
He looks all black in this picture but his coloring is actually called "phantom".
You can see his beautiful coloring better in
this photo of my two sleeping beauties ;-)
He loves to play with his toys...
Sometimes I go through the house and pick them all up and put them in a pile because I'm stepping on them at every turn.It doesn't last long though. I sit back down to my knitting and within no time this is where we are again...
This is the hallway just outside the bathroom door and leading into my bedroom.
For some reason Percy loves the bathroom.
When he goes missing I oftentimes find him curled up asleep
on a towel in the bathroom floor or on the bathroom scale.
He loves the kids and they love him.
Parker is so excited to have a new puppy in the house.
On the day we brought him home he said,
"Grammy, Thank You for getting me a new puppy."
He tells everybody that Percy is HIS dog.
He decided it was time to start reading his favorite books to his new best friend.
 I think for Percy there might have been a bit of chewing involved
but Parker didn't seem to mind.
On the days I pick Gabby up from school Percy rides along.
He watches intently out the window for her from my lap.
By the time she reaches us there's a whole lot of wiggling going on!
As for our other two dogs, Phoebe, who turns 10 next month,
is delighted with her instant status of motherhood.
Heaven help us all if Percy so much as makes a squeak.
She has to sniff and lick him and ensure he is okay.
They play together and lay together.

Mack, my older boy, is taking his time deciding about Percy still, as is my sweet old kitty cat Mercedes, who is spending time hiding out in the basement and sneaking up for an occasional peak at the black fluffy thing that seems to have suddenly taken over the household.
I have faith in them though.
This isn't the first time I've worked to integrate animals with one another.
We'll get there. In the meantime I am making sure
that everyone gets plenty of attention.
{It's a full time job}.
All things considered, he's a very good boy and we are settling in quite nicely.
He is very smart, as poodles typically are.
By day 2 he was coming to me when I called him by name.
This is my second poodle in my lifetime.
We had a chocolate colored miniature poodle, named Cocoa,
when I was a young teenager that we all loved dearly.
Having one again makes me extremely happy.
Poodles are easy to train because
they thrive on routine and are therefore obedient.
I can already see this in Percy even though he is just coming up on 15 weeks old.
He was born on June 26. Just 4 days before my birthday. It was meant to be.
For the most part I am home and don't have to crate him.
However, I do take my granddaughter Gabby
to ballet each week while my daughter is working.
I am gone for about 3 hours and I need to know Percy is safe
and not chewing on things in the house
that could hurt him while he's still so young.
He had his first time in his crate this week and got right in with zero fuss.
He simply laid down, curled up and went to sleep.
{Phoebe was the frantic one upon our arrival home,
due to separation anxiety from her baby}.
I got to relax and enjoy my knitting and this fabulous
Signature Fall Latte at my favorite place.
While Gabby is in ballet I always sit and knit at
Thirty-Thirty Coffee Shop in Peoria's Junction City.
I love the drinks and the employees there.
I look forward to this respite from the daily madness every week.
It's how I do ballet.
There are times like today that I enjoy a nice misty Autumn day.
The leaves are turning scarlet on my dogwood, the squirrels scamper industriously around the house as they collect walnuts from the tree in my backyard,
I keep the tea kettle whistling, the dogs romp and nap at intervals
and my knitting grows and grows a stitch at a time. 
Yes, on days like today, I say let it rain.

Whatever your day and weekend brings to you, 
I hope and pray it's peaceful, happy and full 
of all the things and people you love best...
and maybe even a dog or two...
or three.

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures;
they give unconditional love.
For me, they are the role model for being alive."
Gilda Radner