Saturday, April 27, 2019

In The Secret Garden

Long ago, there was a young girl, who being drawn to beautiful colored threads, took up stitching. Her first attempts, made in her early teens, were simple embroidery. She found this to be a very soothing and satisfying way to spend an occasional winter evening or summer afternoon. 
As time went on, she advanced to more intricate types of needlework such as crewel work, Swedish huck embroidery and counted cross stitch. Her love for the feel of the soft, satiny fibers gliding through her fingers grew with each passing year. She was delighted by the delicacy of the stitches and the beauty of the colors combined. Her mind was filled with ideas for lovely things waiting to be made.
Although she taught herself to do the simple embroidery of the early days, as well as the crewel embroidery, others picked up the thread from there. The connections she made with those who taught her along the way was one of the most wonderful aspects of the journey, as she continued to ply her needle. Friendships were being formed and relationships became deepened.
When the girl was grown, but only just, she worked in a salon. Virginia, a lovely older lady, came to her every Thursday to get her hair styled. Sharing a love of needlework, she began to instruct her in the fascinating art of Swedish huck embroidery, or huck weaving. Once again, she was thrilled to learn something new. 
In that same salon, the girl learned to crochet from another special woman named Lois. With list in hand, she purchased supplies and took to the new form of needlework like she had been born to do it all along. She crocheted feverishly whenever time allowed. 
Soon after, the young girl got married. When her new husband had to work in the evenings, her dear mother-in-law decided she should spend one evening a week with her learning to do counted cross stitch. This phenomenal lady, an artist with threads and paints, took the young bride under her tutelage and schooled her in the art of beautiful stitchery on fine linen. 
In the early days of motherhood, the young woman took up her knitting needles for the first time. She paid for some classes at a local yarn shop and thus began a lifelong passion. As the years went by she continued to crochet and, for a time, she did a bit of embroidery, but not often. Knitting had become her one true love in fiber art, with crochet running a close second. Through all of the many things that took place as her children grew and life took its twists and turns, her deep love for knitting grew like a well-nurtured garden. She knew that nothing would ever pluck it out of her soul, for it was well rooted deep within.
She also knew that long before there was knitting or crocheting, and before she ever threaded a needle with a delicate strand of embroidery floss, there was something else planted in the secret garden of her heart. It was the constant, unseen thread woven through the tapestry of her life. Her love for words. Not remembering a time before that love, she assumed she had been born with it mixed in the soil of her DNA.
By the time she was in grade school her love for words and books came out on paper in stories from her own imagination. There were diaries and journals scribbled across and filled over the years. Her pen flowed with poetry that her mind couldn't shut off once she entered her early teenage years. 
In her late twenties, she started college in pursuit of a nursing career. After accumulating most of her college credits for an Associates Degree, she changed her mind and dropped out of school. Life continued and she happily did many other things. As she developed her knitting skills, she continued to write. She embraced the new thing called a blog when it first entered the scene. She was elated to have a creative outlet for her writing and loved connecting with other fiber artists and people around the world.
In the fullness of time, that wild, nearly abandoned jumble of hopes and dreams began to take root, flourish, and bloom within the center of the garden of her life once again. For a minute, maybe even two, she feared that the girl was now too old to accomplish those long ago desires and turn them into actual goals. Then she lifted her face to the sun and decided to grow in a new direction. 
Although the coming of June 2019 would find her in her mid-fifties, she would be starting that same month by going back to school to finish off her degree. First, she would work to get an Associates Degree in Arts with an emphasis on English. Then she would move onto obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in English.
She could finally feel herself coming full circle. She had found the key to unlocking the next door and was excited, if a bit nervous, to step through it. For she believed there was a beautiful garden waiting on the other side. Even if it was going to take time to prune, water, feed and nurture it. It would grow in the way it was meant to. She had faith. She knew she was on the right path this time.

"At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to hope it can be done,
then they see it can be done -
then it is done and all the world wonders 
why it was not done centuries ago."
Frances Hodson Burnett
"The Secret Garden"

*Special Note - For those interested in the beautiful embroidery kit shown in the photos, you can purchase it, while supplies last, from the very talented Alicia Paulson, author of the much-loved blog, *Posie Gets Cozy"

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Far Better Things Ahead

The budding of each glorious spring always brings the hope and promise of a fresh beginning. It allows us to shake off the old and step into the new. As we breathe in its daily transformation, our hearts become joyful as our spirits grow lighter. Spring brings us many causes to celebrate. It offers us Easter, Mother's Day, weddings, birthdays, and graduation ceremonies. What's not to love about this season that gives rise to new growth and the wonder of things to come?
If this is the springtime that finds you preparing to graduate, let Ever-Pretty help you choose the perfect graduation dress. They have many beautiful styles to offer. This long, floral print dress with its graceful high low hemline is a lovely choice for an outdoor ceremony. 
Maybe you prefer a shorter floral dress. This knee-length one, with its dainty, rose print is just the thing. The overall effect is totally charming, with its rounded neckline and peekaboo cutout sitting just above the waistline. 
You might want to go a bit shorter in length with this all over lace dress. The darling babydoll silhouette can be dressed up with a pair of simple strappy high heeled shoes. It has spaghetti straps and a v-neck that points down to a row of decorative buttons. 
If you love the feminine touch that lace gives and really like white this gorgeous v-neck dress with its asymmetric hem will be just what you want when you receive your diploma. It's one of the selections in Ever-Pretty's collection of white graduation dresses. A fresh face of natural makeup with just a touch of nude lipstick will complete your youthful, buoyant look in a white dress. 
Before heading off to college, celebrate your accomplishment with a trip after you graduate. By choosing this short one shoulder dress for your special day, you can easily incorporate it into your everyday wardrobe. This sweet summer dress will take you from graduation to that far away land you've been dreaming of.
Set your spirit free with this fun retro-printed dress of little red lipsticks when it comes time to shop for college graduation dresses. Once you've worn it to your commencement ceremony, you can make a fabulous first impression on your first day of your new job.  
There's a long road of hard work behind you finally. Graduation is your right of passage into a bright new future that awaits you. A future that's filled with the possibilities of a lifetime of dreams. Ever-Pretty is honored to be a part of all that lies ahead in your life. Let them help you choose beautiful, affordable graduation dresses to wear for your graduation ceremonies and parties and for all the days ahead. Great adventures are on the horizon!

                     "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
                                                             C.S. Lewis

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

Monday, April 22, 2019

When Blue Flowers Sing

There's just something about blue that makes me sigh with deep delight, especially when it's found in nature. Tiny wildflowers, so vivid they might have come from an artist's brush strokes, sing out to me in the early spring. They fill me with an overall sense of calmness and well-being. When I spy a patch of lovely blue sprouting up from the earth, I am awash with serenity. It's like nature has gently encompassed me with azure skies above and a blanket of sapphire flowers dancing about my feet. When Mother Nature arrays herself in shades of blue I am completely soothed.
Suddenly I find myself wanting to be surrounded by as much of this mystical color as possible. I mimic nature by dressing in more blue clothing. I find myself choosing gorgeous blue fibers to create with. This stunning handpainted sock yarn is my recent example. I love the way the colors fade in and out of vibrancy. 
Once again, I chose a crochet pattern by designer Kristin Omdahl. I'm a huge fan of her feminine touch in crochet design. You can find pattern details and see how the scarf lays while being worn, in this previous post
I am always totally captivated by a piece of crochet that has flowers worked into it. This scarf makes me particularly happy with its charming blossoms that flounce around when in motion. It's long enough to wrap in any way that suits the mood of the day. Being lightweight and on the somewhat narrow side, adds to its extreme femininity. 
Recreating a little fraction of nature is always very centering for me. I am deeply grounded by the beauty found in nature. So when I'm able to express any part of it in my artwork, whether it be crocheting, knitting, or writing, I am wholly satisfied. The sense of connectedness I derive from it is absolutely freeing. 
The next time you encounter a field of magical blue flowers, dancing beneath the brilliant sky, stop for a moment and stand very still. You just might hear them singing to you too. Or sit down amongst them and allow your soul to be set free.
"Blue has no dimensions, it is beyond dimensions."
                                        ~ Yves Klein

"Flowers are my music."
                                                              ~ Thomas Walker Arnold

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Travel the World in Style

Does the Jamaican Coast whisper your name as it laps its way to the shore? Are you pulled to the ocean by rhythmic waves of blue that call to your soul? Do you long to feel salty breezes blowing through your hair as you walk in the sun of a distant land? If you have a wanderlust to roam gorgeous coastlines in warm, carefree days, let FashionMia help you travel the world in style.
They have an abundance of beautiful dresses for women in every style, size, and color imaginable. Like this lightweight, sleeveless dress of chiffon. You'll love the delicate flutter of it against your skin as you stroll along the seaside.
 This might be the summer you finally get to take that long hoped for birthday trip. Imagine yourself in this gorgeous off-the-shoulder maxi dress on your special day! You'll feel the elegant flow of it all day long as it moves gracefully around you. An extra special dress always makes the day more memorable.
If you need a dress to take you from the beach into town to shop and have lunch with a friend, this darling mid length shift, with its sprinkling of flowers around the bottom, is absolutely perfect. It comes in four beautiful colors and six different sizes.
Your adventure may fly you by plane into a city you've always longed to visit. This ultra-feminine dress, filled with roses, will take you all through the day, right to dinner in the evening. During the day, you can keep it simple with flats, minimal jewelry, and an everyday purse. Then dress it up with high heels, more jewelry, and an evening bag for a special date or a summertime wedding.
You may find your summer travels taking you on walks through city streets, as you take in the sights you've seen only in your dreams. When dresses or plain clothes aren't quite what you want, let FashionMia outfit you in one of their sexy jumpsuits.
They have jumpsuits in beautiful styles, not only for daytime sightseeing but also for that night out on the town. You can add a pair of dangling earrings, your favorite pair of strappy heels, and head for the ballet, the opera, or sparkle at a dinner party.
 Maybe this spring or summer will find you as a guest at a destination wedding. Choose this fashion-forward jumpsuit, with its quarter length bell sleeves for that wedding you're attending. Jumpsuits are a classy, trendy and sleek alternative to a dress. They're beautifully stunning and appropriate for daytime and evening wear. They can be easily accessorized for formal occasions.
Wherever your adventurous spirit leads you in the upcoming season of your life, whether you sail on the wild blue ocean or soar away with the clouds, FashionMia has everything you need to pack your suitcase for the journey ahead. Wearing clothing that makes you feel more confident and beautiful can be an important step in making your dreams come true. FashionMia makes it fun, easy, and very affordable. So go ahead, let your imagination run wild!

"What is a Wanderess? Bound by no boundaries, contained by no countries, tamed by no time, she is the force of nature."  ~  Roman Payne, The Wanderess

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Lost in the Beauty of Spring

I took a little drive this week down a country road, headed for an appointment. As I traveled along I began to revel at how very blue the sky was. Bluer than it had been in ages. It was bursting with white billowy clouds, as though it had been inadvertently overstuffed and they were somehow falling out. There was green grass covering hills and meadows, along with tiny buds on many of the trees. Some of those trees were wearing blossoms of pink or white. It seemed as though the entire earth had come back to life again, finally! 
Before long it occurred to me that I had gone too far and had missed my turn quite a way back. The sensation of panic and the feeling of being lost began to flood me. This was absolutely ridiculous, of course, because I was only ten minutes away from home in totally familiar territory. While I was still in that all over sweat mode, and considering turning around to head back in the opposite direction, I spotted the landmark I usually watch for along this route. There it stood, like a beacon, ahead of me in the distance. Wait a minute. Really? Okay, wow! This adds a whole new dimension to being lost. I often find myself being off with the fairies if I am alone in the car. My spirit wanders and takes my mind along for the ride. If the day is a particularly fine one, well then, who knows where I might find myself. While I was never truly lost, I had been lost in the beauty of the budding Springtime that enveloped my senses. I had become one with the day.
That sky with its utter blueness had caused me to keep going forward and forward with no sense of time or space. It beckoned to me, while at the same time surrounding me and holding me in its embrace. No longer did I have a sense of mere self, I was an integral part of the whole.
Technically, I was not alone. Riding next to me, in his little crate, keeping a watchful eye on me, was my nine-month-old poodle, Percy. The appointment I was heading for pertained to him, however, he offered no help with directions. Basically, he couldn't have cared less where our destination was. As long as he gets to go along with his mommy, he's a really happy boy. For him, the joy is always in the journey. (I think there just might be a lesson to be learned from his sweet attitude).
Since time was of the essence though, I began to reign myself in. I'm here to tell you there was a war within me. While still feeling a bit mentally confused, albeit relieved, to find I was not actually the great distance down the road that I thought I was, I was also disappointed. A big part of me wanted to remain in that euphoric place of dreamland. The battle was almost otherworldly, as I forced myself to shake off my dreamlike state and carry on with the task at hand.
But I took the usual turn, and glancing at the clock I realized I was cutting the time pretty closely. Apparently, I had been moving in slow motion while floating along with those irresistible, fluffy clouds. No matter, I knew I could make it on time. I only had one more turn to take off this long, busy street. Eventually, I would turn right onto a road that's so small that it's easy to buzz right past it if you aren't paying close attention. Well, being in the state of mind, or rather the mood of spirit, I was in, buzz right past it was exactly what I did! Seriously?!
It became evident, at that point, that I needed to make a call to the veterinary clinic to make my feeble excuses as to why I was about to be late. After all, I had only been there once before and the building does sit back, kind of out of sight on that out of the way road...(no mention was made of my otherworldly state of being).
Being late is a dragon I have slain, for the most part, over the years with the help of living with a very punctual husband. I don't like for my tardiness to reak potential havoc on the busy workday schedule of someone else. But they were extremely gracious and in the end, I was only five minutes late. 
Though I still don't like to be inconsiderate to the valuable time of others with my lateness, I am thankful that in this instance no harm was done.  
There are times when I find it is actually quite valuable to us to have our head in the clouds. Although I didn't like the psychological feelings associated with being lost or late, my overall day was an extremely wonderful and refreshing one. What it did for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually was like rain soaking a dry and thirsty land. It was even physically good for me because I slept better that night than I had for many nights prior to that. Sleep does not always come easily to me.
So, what were some of those random thoughts that were taking up so much space in my mind, or more accurately, in my spirit, as I drove down that country road? Here are a few that I remember:
"How can a sky be so blue?!"
"God, what made you choose blue as the color for the sky and the ocean and so many things that soothe our souls?"
"Oh my goodness! The grass is getting green everywhere!"
"There are pink flowers on the trees again!"
"I wonder if it's possible to keep driving until you end up in the clouds?"
"Those bushes are covered in big white flowers, I wonder what those are called..."
"I have to remember to stop and visit with the geese at the park on the way home."
"That sky..."
I love the changing of the seasons. Spring with its continual rebirth and renewal and Summer with its lush fullness are my favorite seasons. But I have learned to be happy with each season, each day,  as it comes, no matter how it is clothed. I believe this is what God meant by giving us our daily bread. I also believe it is the key ingredient to living a meaningful life full of purpose. As humans, we are prone to making much ado out of nothing, whereas God's ways are simple. He means for us to enjoy the journey along the way. He wants times of rest for our souls. He desires that we live in the moment, being anxious for nothing, without always rushing ahead. He doesn't mean for us to borrow the troubles of tomorrow, while still breathing in the joys of today. He offers us rest, which gives us restoration. Days like I had on that country road when I was lost for a time, are moments of restoration for the soul. They are individual Sabbath moments when we connect with God through nature. I think Percy and I might just take another ride in the country next week when we have no place to be and all the time in the world to get there.
"If you . . . call the Sabbath a delight . . .
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the 
heights of the earth."
Isaiah 58:13-14

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Birthday Ballerina

It's been a lovely week here. A week of vacation for Scott and me, precious time that we've spent together and with family. Also, we have had the joy of seeing our beautiful granddaughter perform with Peoria Ballet in their production of Alice in Wonderland. Gabby was able to celebrate her twelfth birthday doing the thing she loves most in the world - ballet
Her birthday was on Friday, April 5th. We went along with Chelsea to take her to lunch after the ballet held a morning performance for the area schools. Gabby loves Mexican food and La Fiesta, here in Morton, is a family favorite. They sang happy birthday to Gabby when they brought out her dessert. Besides doing Alice in Wonderland, the show also included the beautiful Spanish ballet Paquita. As they were singing to Gabby, they saw this on her T-shirt and sang happy birthday to Paquita instead of Gabby. We all got a kick out of that!
Peoria Ballet's rendition of Alice in Wonderland was absolutely stunning. It was full of adorable woodland creatures. Gabby was part of the Cheshire Cat as well as a Deer. The make up you see on her face at lunch is part of her deer costume. Chelsea is a makeup artist and her expertise is invaluable during Gabby's ballet performances.
All of the costumes, props, and makeup are done by volunteers. 
The mom's and dad's of the dancers work hard behind the scenes
to make everything come together. They have amazing talents and dedication.
This is a backstage glimpse of Gabby and the young man who played The Mad Hatter. Todd is originally from Morton and grew up with my oldest daughter, Hilary. He has spent the last several years performing and teaching dance and fitness in New York City. He was phenomenal as The Mad Hatter! 
This is Gabby and me after last nights performance. She's actually taller than my 5'3". I'm wearing heels there and she is wearing flat shoes. The lighting and background aren't the most flattering. But at these events, we have to take what we can get in order to capture the moment. 
In the twelve years, since this lovely creature entered the world, my life has been enriched in countless ways. Yes, she was the first to usher me into the newness of grandparenting. But there's so much more than that alone. Gabriella - that's the long version of her name. It's meaning is, a woman of God, God is my strength or messenger of God. Day by day I see her growing into the fullness of this name. She has definitely been God's messenger to me. He uses her to teach me. Through her eyes, the world is a gentle and kinder place. She loves all people without reservation or judgment. Her nature is soft and sweet, as she literally floats through this life. Observing her is like witnessing poetry in motion, and that's even when she's not dancing. She is the rare, physical embodiment of what God calls the pure in heart. I am so thankful that God chose this humble family to drop such an ethereal beam of starlight into. She already, at such a tender age, has a strong sense of who she is. What a powerful thing this is to see. It's what we want for our future generation. I recognize a whole mind, body and spirit connection in total sink within her. To have internal direction and be at peace with oneself, at any age, but especially at such a young one, is of great gain.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Matthew 5:8

"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle."
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland