Thankfulness Tuesday

"It isn't what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful,
but what you have in your heart."
~ Author Unknown
Join me on my journey as I pursue
Thankful Heart.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Quieting of My Soul

Late afternoon has always been my favorite part of the day.

The explosion of early routine, 
having surged into mid-morning chores
then escalating into early afternoon
duties and errands,
begins it's sweet decline
as the sun blazes its way further westward.

Suddenly I feel a settling within me;
a Quieting of my Soul.
 Oftentimes this is  
when I pray
or reflect on the day.
Sometimes I read, journal or knit.
Warmer days always find me on
 the porch swing,
as though the shifting sunshine
my name.

This time of day is a time of anticipation for me.
for my loved ones to return to me.
As the sun continues its journey,
they are getting closer.
I hear their voices in my heart...
see their smiles in my soul.
I am waiting.
"Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me."
Psalm 131:2

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Rain is finally sleeping,
so the Sun is wide awake.
It smiles through Clouds of cotton
as they float in Skies of blue.
Flowers sway and bob their heads,
 singing to the Bumblebee.
The Breeze whispers gently ...
I think it might be calling Me.
I smell the Breath of God
as it encompasses my soul.
And I know in this moment,
That I cannot let You go.

"Bless the Lord,
O my soul,
And all that is within me,
Bless His holy name."
Psalm 103:1

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I spent the afternoon at my daughter Chelsea's house yesterday.
It's fun to be there when Gabby gets home from school

because she has a little brother who gets very excited.

He napped all afternoon but the moment she entered the door and her voice rang out,

there was another little voice calling out from the bedroom,

"Gabby, Gabby...

Sissy, Sissy...!!!"

He was happy to see his Grammy was there too but quite honestly

it's that Big Sister who really lights up his world!

He likes to pull out books from the corner cabinet

for her to read to him while he sits in the bottom shelf.

Notice Gabby is backed up to a gate.

That's her bedroom door.

The gate has to stay up or Parker will ransack her room.

He's pretty sure it's the

Promise Land

with all it's glitter and glory.

This is Archer and Parker taking a front row seat to the TV at Grammy's on Mother's Day.

I love capturing moments of the two of them together.

When we found out both our daughters were expecting babies so close to the same time

 we were so thrilled.

Then to find out they were both Boys!

That was even more exciting.

It's wonderful to know they will grow up so close.

We all live within 10 minutes of each other.

My girls actually live on the same street.

I am so thankful for all of them.

I really do love being a Grammy.

One last thing today...

An old family recipe.

If you love chocolate and brownies,

this one's for you.

Fudge Pie

2 Eggs

1 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Butter {softened to room temperature}

3 Tablespoons {heaping} Hershey's Cocoa

1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla

Spray a glass pie plate with cooking spray.
Blend all ingredients together.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool slightly but serve while still warm.

Enjoy with your favorite Cuppa!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016


If asked I think most people would say their most dreaded day is Monday.
There have been times throughout my life
that it has been quite the opposite for me.
Years ago, as a cosmetologist, I always looked forward to Monday
because it was my day off.
I worked long hours on Thursday and half of every Saturday
just so I could enjoy the sheer bliss of
calling that first day of the week my own.
Then for the last seven years Monday has become
a constant new dawn in the ebb and flow of my life.
As the weekend slowly fades,
 I begin to await this sacred day like a child on the edge of her seat.
At this point my plans have already been made.
My ingredients have been gathered and my table has been set in my mind.
Sometime between the sixth and seventh hour of the evening,
 they will start to trickle in my front door.
My beloved friends.
My family really.
These Sisters of my Heart.
There are six of us, ranging in ages from our thirties to our sixties.
The words get stuck in my soul when I try to dislodge them here
to explain what these women mean to me.
When I am suffering from the worst times of my constant battle
with two forms of rheumatoid disease
they pray for me, feed me, cry with me, laugh with me,
hug me and hold my hand.
They walked through the unknown days of Scott's
battle with Pancreatic Cancer
one step at a time with us,
lifting him up as well as me.
They are my rocks when the ground becomes rugged and too difficult
to navigate on my own.
Knowing that my week will start with them gathered around my table,
keeps me focused and helps me push through the morning pain at times.
It gives me a goal; a purpose.
My week is off to a good start because they have given of themselves once again,
sitting around my table with their stories and their knitting,
their laughter and tears,
and their absolute beauty.
They think because I bake each Monday that I am pampering them.
When in reality I am only trying to offer back a tiny measure of
the sweetness they bestow upon my life.
Because of them my soul has continual refreshment.

"Friendship consists in forgetting what one gives
and remembering what one receives."
Alexander Dumas

Blueberry Buttermilk Coffeecake

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Blueberries, Fresh or Frozen
1 Cup Pecans, Chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.
In another bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add egg and buttermilk.
Stir into dry ingredients.
*If batter is too thick add a splash of milk.
Fold in blueberries and pecans.
Spread into a greased 9 inch baking pan.

Streusel Topping

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Cup Pecans, Chopped
1/4 Cup Cold Butter

Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
Fold in pecans.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.
Sprinkle over batter.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Make a drizzle with the following ingredients to your preferred
taste and consistency:

Powdered Sugar

Drizzle over coffeecake and enjoy.

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo,
but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when
the limo breaks down."
Oprah Winfrey

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

85 1/2 Days ...

Gabriella on her last day of school

Do you remember those magical Summer Days of your childhood?
I certainly do.
Days filled with sunshine and heat,
running through sprinklers with friends to cool off.
Riding bikes, playing hopscotch, swimming, swinging,
trying to stay up all night with each other.
The most wonderful thing was the pure freedom of it all and the feeling that
it just might never end.
I grew up in a neighborhood that was absolutely overflowing with kids.
They were everywhere and of all ages.
We ran around all summer long in packs.
It was glorious.
All of the moms were friends and kept an eye on each others children.
We darted all over with total abandonment.
Free and wild.
Sun up to sun down.
We took breaks only when we were forced to eat and usually we did that
back and forth at each others houses,
depending on whose mother was fixing what we liked best each day.
If one of us couldn't be found,
the phone network would start up between the mom's.
That was back in the good old days when the only phone we had
was attached to the kitchen wall
with a cord that forced you to stand or sit right up close to it.
If it was suppertime and my dad was already home,
he would just open up the side kitchen window and let out a loud whistle.
One of the neighborhood kids would holler out,
"Danette! I think it's time for YOU to go home."
The memory of those days of laughing and playing in the sunshine
still brings me joy.
I had a beautiful childhood.

Now I'm enjoying the delightful summers of my grandchildren.
I get to be a part of their grown up memories some day.
My grandparents were a huge part of my world well into my adult life.
Archer's first dandelion forage

As the weather warms up I look forward to another summer.
One filled with new possibilities.
Days of picking dandelions, blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk
and sitting on the porch swing
with my grandchildren.
Parkers first sidewalk chalk artwork

When I picked Gabby up on her last day of school she was so excited.
She said,
"You know Grammy,
They say there's 85 days of Summer,
but we only had a half day today,
so really I think there's 85 1/2 days,
don't you?"

I think we'll go with that.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Good and Faithful Servant

Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr. October 19, 1919 - September 5, 1987
This is my father in law,
Arch E. Bartelmay, Jr.
Sergeant in the United States Army in WW2.
He fought with the Thunderbirds in the 45th Infantry Division.
This picture was taken when he was home on leave sometime in 1944.
He's standing in his backyard just two doors over from where we live.
My mother in law still lives in the house between the old home place and ours.
We will celebrate her 90th birthday next month.
This photo was taken somewhere in France.
It's actually a postcard.
We don't know who the original writer was.
The addition of his name is my writing.
Sadly, we don't know who he's pictured with
nor whether his friend survived the war.
We honor his memory and his service to our country along with Arch's however,
by keeping this postcard in a frame in our foyer.

My Father in law was in five major landings and one H - Hour.
He fought the bloody Battle of Anzio alongside his Thunderbird compatriots.
Their slogan was "Semper Anticus"
Always Forward.
When General George S. Patton described the 45th Infantry Division,
he said it was
"one of the finest, if not the finest infantry division
in this history of modern warfare."
High praise from a man who was known to be more critical than complimentary.
Here he is pictured with his father, Arch Bartelmay, Sr.
who is holding one of his grandchildren,
Mary Beth,
daughter of Dale,
one of my father in law's many brothers.
He was from a family of eleven.
Eight boys and three girls.
Grandma Bartelmay had five sons fighting in WW2 at the same time.
I cannot even imagine such a thing.
One thing I know,
there must have been a lot of prayer involved.
Each one of those sons of hers came home alive.
Arch was her son who saw the most action.
At one point when he was on a transport ship, well into the war,
the commanding officer on board called for him.
He ordered him to walk back and forth in front of him.
Then he wanted to shake his hand.
He said,
"I just wanted to see you walk and shake the hand of a man
who has survived all you have been through.
You shouldn't be alive at this point.
Is there anything I can do for you?"
My father in law's response,
"No Sir, Not where I'm going..."
And soon he was back in the thick of it.

His war took him through France, Italy, Germany and South Africa,
eventually earning him five battle stars.
The 45th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the
US Army's Center of Military History and the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1985.
They liberated the camp at Dachau.
My father in law was home on leave when that took place.

Casualty figures for the 45th Infantry:
Total Battle casualties: 7,791
Total Deaths in Battle: 1,831

Yet my father in law made it home alive.
God had a plan.
Thankfully, he had two sons and I married his second born.
Like his father in many ways.
Strong, quiet, gentle.
A Survivor.
One survived a war when so many around him fell.
The other survived Pancreatic Cancer when most don't.

Arch eventually became the Sheriff of his home county.
Upholding law and order.
Just another form of the freedom fighting he was born to.
He seldom spoke of his wartime experiences,
however when he dozed off in front of the television he was there again,
reliving something from forty years ago.
We would hear him cry out to wounded men in foxholes
as he feverishly tried to help them one more time,
probably in hopes the outcome would finally be different.

His final battle came in the form of lung cancer.
It was short and swift.
Although we were not ready to let him go,
I think the Lord knew this was one soldier who had already
fought enough battles for one lifetime
so he called him home to his final reward and let him rest.
Scott and Gabby at Arch's grave, Memorial Day 2016
"Well done good and faithful servant."
Matthew 25:23

We will never forget his love and service to his family and his country.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Front Porch Knitting

This is my favorite time of year.
I wake up feeling like every day is a gift
and I don't want to miss a single moment.
Daily domestic chores still need to be done,
 But I'm in constant pursuit of the Promise Land...
My Front Porch.
As I work around the house I feel the anticipation build because I know
at some point I will brew a fresh pot of tea and collect my knitting,
along with my doggies,
to step over the threshold and do what I love best...
sit on the porch swing
to play with yarn and drink tea.
Then I will repeat the process for as long as possible.
Phoebe and Mack

This is actually a picture from last Summer.
It makes no difference.
You can find me in the same place every afternoon when the weather permits.
This is the reason when I threw out several options for a business name
my family all voted unanimously for
Front Porch Knits.
It truly is my favorite place to knit and crochet.
I swing while I work but very gently and in small circles.
The funny thing about that is,
I didn't realize I did it until a couple of Summer's ago.
One day Gabby joined me on the swing and said,
"Grammy, can we swing in circles like you always do?"
Just one of those things we do when we are lost in concentration.
Along with the movement of yarn, needles and hook it is soothing to me.
Add a touch of birdsong, a gentle breeze and a friendly neighbor
and my day is perfect.
My current project is Baby Cables.
Cabled Booties and Ear Flap Hats.
I'm knitting them up for my shop and for this Fall's Pumpkin Festival.
I love seeing the various colors stacked up together.
As I've mentioned before, I have a passion for cable knits.
Plus I can never get enough of all things pertaining to sweet babies.
There's still a bed that needs making
and the breakfast dishes are rinsed but not washed.
But the sun is shining in a beautiful blue sky
and it's not quite as hot as it was yesterday.
So I think it's time to do some tidying up inside and gather my things.
 If you're looking for the dogs and me...
We'll be on the Front Porch.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Little Men

Little Boys, Little Boys....
What would life be like without them?!
Growing up, I waited what seemed to me a very long time
to be a big sister.
Then, finally, at the age of 9 1/2,
the most wonderful thing in the world happened.
My mother gave birth to a live baby doll for me.
A big bouncing happy baby girl.
My friends and I fought over who held her next and when she was old enough
I pushed her all over our neighborhood her first summertime
in her brand new stroller.
I didn't know it then but I was in training to be a mommy.
Then at the age of 19 I got married.
When I was 21 and again 23 God blessed me with my own
beautiful sweet baby girls.
When I became a Grammy for the first time at age 42 it was to a Girl.
My life has been filled with Girls and lots and lots of
Girlie things.
And then...
Along came these Little Men.
So different from little girls.
Inquisitive in more mechanical ways.
I watch them and marvel.
Archer, who won't be two until September, will grab a toy drill and plant
it smack into the plastic screw, hit the power button and drive that
screw home one handed while his other hand is busy doing
something else.
Busy; they are always busy.
The two of them together are a pure joy to watch.
Constant motion.
I love their little hands and how expressive they are with their entire being.

The constant scraped up knees capture my heart.
They speak of another day full of adventures.
Yet they can also be so focused on the tiniest thing.
It occurs to me as I watch them, immerse myself in them really,
that the secret still lies within them.
Being still so fresh from God,
in the purity of their young and tender souls,
they know how to live fully in each and every moment.
That is a thing of such beauty and wonder to me.
I love these moments of stillness in them
when they have no knowledge of being watched.
Something about them in their little shorts
fills my heart to overflowing.
It's just such a daily blessing to have the two of them,
one from each daughter,
so close together in age,
and thankfully proximity.
I see the future when I look at these
Little Men
and know that they will help to make the world a better place one day.
For this,
I am truly thankful.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Happy Girl

New Yarn...
New Pattern...
New Work Table...
And I'm a Happy Girl.
You may remember that I mentioned in my last post I would show you
my birthday gift from my sister when it was brought into my house.
This is my husband Scott on the left and my son in law Eric on the right,
{I even got a FedEx guy in on the action}
carrying this wonderful table home
from the Antique Shop across the street from my house.
When I spied it from my usual knitting spot on the porch swing a few days before
my birthday I decided Scott and I needed to wander across and take a closer look.
Two minutes into the process I looked at him and said,
"Yep, I need this."
Thinking that maybe Scott and I would possibly make the purchase ourselves,
I told my sister about it over the phone later.
She quickly decided it was to be my birthday gift
from her and her two sons.
There was no talking her out of it.
Well, not only do I adore my sister and my nephews,
I absolutely love this table.
It's just exactly what I have had in mind for the room upstairs where
I keep all of my yarn, finished items and packaging supplies.
Now when I am either getting something ready to ship to an online customer
or pricing items in preparation for an upcoming local sale,
I have everything in one place.
It's a solid work table that is the exact right height for me when I am standing.
I can lay all of the things I need out
and still have plenty of work space in the middle.
As time goes on, I may tweak the arrangement a bit but it works for now.

The new pattern you see featured in the first photo
is my current work in progress.
I am making several pairs in various colors
using yarn purchased on my recent road trip,
which will be the topic of my next post.
Not only will I be putting them on my Etsy Shop eventually
and taking them to this Fall's Pumpkin Festival,
but I think they will make beautiful gifts.
There's just something about knitted cables that call my name.
Much like those darn cinnamon rolls...
But anyway,
If you want the pattern for these fingerless gloves yourself you can find them at
The Blue Brick
Don't be confused if you go to their website right now.
They are closed until August but they are well worth the wait,
with their beautiful patterns and yarns.
I am addicted to this particular pattern for sure.
Once I have knit up several pairs of these I will move on to
some beautiful boot cuffs using a pattern I purchased from The Blue Brick as well.

I would like to end by saying I am thankful for every breath I take,
even though each one is still compromised at present.
The bronchitis and sinus infections seem to be cleared up.
The asthma and I are still at war but I am slowly becoming the victor.
Your kind words, prayers, and birthday wishes mean the world to me.
Thank you all for bearing with me as I've been a little absent from here
and need to catch up on the beautiful happenings in your lives.
These last couple of weeks have been a bit challenging for me.
However, I have been blessed with extra knitting and tea drinking time so...
there's always something to be thankful for.
Sending you all my very best,

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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,

"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

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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

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


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.


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

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Nearness of God

I have jokingly said at times that I was raised up in the middle of a cornfield or that I am from a cornfield. What this really means is that I was born and have lived my entire life in Illinois surrounded by cornfields. My paternal grandparents were farmers. My cousins and I spent many happy childhood days running through cornfields, hiding from each other, calling out, laughing and sometimes getting a little turned around and lost within those long swaying stalks of corn. We spent every Sunday on the farm running free in the summer sunshine, climbing the ancient apple tree that seemed to be stretching her arms out and waiting for us like an old friend year after year. When it got too hot we sought shade under the wispy waving branches of the massive weeping willow tree. Three little girls without a care in the world, breathing in the fresh country air as though it were the very breath of God.
We were floating in a world that knew no time.
Every time I drive down a country road it takes me back to those days of sweet childhood. I am captured by cornstalks rustling on the breeze and ditches with their abundant growth of wildflowers.
One glimpse and a sudden scent of corn on the breeze and I am there again...
Carefree and timeless.
In a place where all that mattered was that day and that moment.
But isn't that the wonder of childhood?
Well, it's the innocence of childhood, for certain but I think as adults we should still be this way. I believe we should still have that sense of awe and wonder deep within us that causes us to stop and realize this is it. This day. This moment. This is it. There is magic in this day and this moment. Maybe then we might be a bit more carefree like that little child we once were. We might once again able to see with our heart and soul as well as our eyes the way God intended.
So as I drive down those country roads just less than five minutes from my house, I wander back in time when my eyes behold an abundance of wildflowers as far as I can see, dancing in the breeze with butterflies keeping time, and I am suddenly aware of the very nearness of God. So much so, that I have to pull over and get out. There I am, all alone standing on the side of the road. Who knows what people passing by are thinking. Who cares really because I am caught up in the moment.
In this day, this moment.
I just need to see and feel and breathe it all in...
So I walk a little closer because I want to touch this white frilly softness.
The Queen Anne's Lace, with it's profusion of tiny white delicate blossoms, has always been my favorite.  
I get a closer look at the butterflies as they flutter and move from one flower to the next. There are several of them in different kinds. All going about their business. Enjoying the sunshine and flowers.
I peer down at them. They don't know I am there. They are like those three little girls of long ago, floating in a world that knows no time. All they need is the nearness of God and the goodness of this day; this very moment.
To them each day holds its own goodness; its own sweetness. They don't worry about tomorrow. Sometimes I just want to be like a butterfly, I think.
"But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works."
Psalm 73:28

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Beautiful Land of Life

Over the weekend we celebrated two birthdays. Our son in law Eric, who is married to our youngest daughter Chelsea, turned another year older on Saturday, while our oldest daughter Hilary, will have her birthday this coming Saturday. We enjoy having one big party when we can. It's always so much fun to get everyone together. This time Chelsea held the party at her house.
I baked Hilary's favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Chelsea baked Eric's request, a chocolate cake with Oreo Cookie frosting. It was a big hit with the children who were present. See Hilary blowing those candles out with all her might? Well, what she soon discovered was that her mother put some of those fun trick candles on her cake so they just kept relighting themselves.
She just kept blowing and blowing and Eric kept laughing and laughing. I think it took her a few minutes to realize what kind of candles they were because I don't usually use those. It took her by surprise. I love how something so simple can be so much fun. We didn't think they would ever go out. Eric even called for a glass of water to douse them in but before it arrived they finally went out and stayed out. There was so much laughter ringing around the table that Archer came along to climb up on his Mommy's lap and see what all the hubbub was about.
He got there just as the candles finally gave up the ghost.
I think he enjoyed the massive smoke they left behind quite a bit though.
We also had Parker and Archer at our house recently. We love every opportunity to have both of them at the same time. They are incredibly cute together.
I love to sit them next to each other at the dining room table.
Two little men, side by side.
Before they left for home they had to water Grammy's plants on the front porch.
I mean seriously, how cute can they be?
I love any event or celebration that brings any or all of my family together under one roof. Although our family is relatively small in comparison to so many others, and we all live in the same area, it is surprisingly difficult to coordinate everyone's schedules. So when it does work out it seems like even more of a celebration. Just being together is pure heaven to me. It makes my heart soar. It's one more precious memory stored up for a rainy day. The collective sound of their laughter and their voices is like music. As the clock ticks the time away when we are together, I look around and observe each one of them in turn. I see their beautiful faces, shadows of past generations in fresh, new life, and my soul rejoices with the sheer knowledge that they are mine.
I love watching my children love and care for their own children. It gives me a deep down satisfaction unlike anything else. Sometimes I feel that surely there is too much here for one heart to hold. Then suddenly I am very aware that all of these things add up to a very beautiful life.

"Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life."
Albert Einstein

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Beautiful Land of Life

Over the weekend we celebrated two birthdays. Our son in law Eric, who is married to our youngest daughter Chelsea, turned another year older on Saturday, while our oldest daughter Hilary, will have her birthday this coming Saturday. We enjoy having one big party when we can. It's always so much fun to get everyone together. This time Chelsea held the party at her house.
I baked Hilary's favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Chelsea baked Eric's request, a chocolate cake with Oreo Cookie frosting. It was a big hit with the children who were present. See Hilary blowing those candles out with all her might? Well, what she soon discovered was that her mother put some of those fun trick candles on her cake so they just kept relighting themselves.
She just kept blowing and blowing and Eric kept laughing and laughing. I think it took her a few minutes to realize what kind of candles they were because I don't usually use those. It took her by surprise. I love how something so simple can be so much fun. We didn't think they would ever go out. Eric even called for a glass of water to douse them in but before it arrived they finally went out and stayed out. There was so much laughter ringing around the table that Archer came along to climb up on his Mommy's lap and see what all the hubbub was about.
He got there just as the candles finally gave up the ghost.
I think he enjoyed the massive smoke they left behind quite a bit though.
We also had Parker and Archer at our house recently. We love every opportunity to have both of them at the same time. They are incredibly cute together.
I love to sit them next to each other at the dining room table.
Two little men, side by side.
Before they left for home they had to water Grammy's plants on the front porch.
I mean seriously, how cute can they be?
I love any event or celebration that brings any or all of my family together under one roof. Although our family is relatively small in comparison to so many others, and we all live in the same area, it is surprisingly difficult to coordinate everyone's schedules. So when it does work out it seems like even more of a celebration. Just being together is pure heaven to me. It makes my heart soar. It's one more precious memory stored up for a rainy day. The collective sound of their laughter and their voices is like music. As the clock ticks the time away when we are together, I look around and observe each one of them in turn. I see their beautiful faces, shadows of past generations in fresh, new life, and my soul rejoices with the sheer knowledge that they are mine.
I love watching my children love and care for their own children. It gives me a deep down satisfaction unlike anything else. Sometimes I feel that surely there is too much here for one heart to hold. Then suddenly I am aware that all of these things add up to an extremely beautiful life.

"Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life."
Albert Einstein

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sky Blue Pink

When I step outside at the very moment the sun is beginning to make its decline into sleep to end yet another day in my life, I am always immediately silenced and rendered motionless by the incomparable beauty of a pink sunset. I love all sunsets but there's just something more breathtaking to me about a soft blue sky that's painted with streaks of pale pink clouds. It makes me feel instantly serene.
My grandfather, Grandpa George, called such a sunset "sky blue pink". It was a favorite of his too. He used to point pink sunsets out to his only son, my father, when they worked the land together on their farm. I imagine my grandfather saw too many of these sunsets to even count in his eighty five years of life. He grew up on a farm and then raised his own family on yet another farm. He rode the kind of tractor that was open to the air with no enclosure around him. Just him sitting in the open air surrounded by God's creation all the days of his life. He was a quiet, kindhearted, peaceful, Godly man who was gentle in every way. Oftentimes when I see a pink sunset I think of him and the many ways he made my childhood happy, secure and wholesome. He and my grandmother took me to their little country church. It was the old fashioned type with polished wood floors and pews that shown and smelled of lemons. There was a lovely steeple at its top. I loved everything about that church but the best things about it were its Pastor and its people. Those days of my childhood Sunday School, when I could feel the presence of God coursing through His people around me, will be forever engrained in my memory.
I also feel God all around me when I look up and behold such a wondrous sight in the evening sky. If you ask me how I know there is a God I will tell you this ...
Look at the sunrise, the sunset, the ocean as it waves and all of the forces of nature with all of their power and beauty. Stand completely still. Look, feel and breathe it all in. God created it all. Nothing so miraculous could ever take place accidentally. It's all too well ordered. That may seem simple but I believe our faith is meant to be simple. After all, aren't we told to come to Jesus as little children? {Matthew 18:1-5}. I really think we're meant to keep our childlike wonder throughout our lifetime.
I honestly believe that God intended for nature to teach us so many things about Him and ourselves. God likes beauty, order and all things in their own time. It is we humans who try to run ahead of God, ourselves and everything under the sun so much of the time to do ... What? I'm not always sure actually. Yes, there is much to be done on any and every given day, to be sure. However, there is a lot to be said for living in the moment and letting tomorrow care for itself. {Matthew 6:25-34}. When we try to live past today and this moment we miss so much. Not only do we miss the beauty of everything that surrounds us, but we also risk feeling disconnected from our family and most certainly from God. In order to hear the voice of God, we must sometimes be very still and silent. These are things that can be terribly challenging in this fast paced world of today. That's why I love nature so much. No matter what hour, day, month year or century it is, nature keeps her own pace. The pace God set for her. I think God set a pace for each one of us too and we spend a lifetime trying to figure it out or even reset it. We all have different callings on our lives and our own path we are supposed to take but the One Thing that is the same for all of us is the constancy of God. He is there, everywhere, whether we know it or not. He may seem at times to change but He never truly does. He remains the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be tomorrow. {Hebrews 13:8}.  We just need to breathe Him in and learn to see Him in everything. God cannot be separated from anything. He is in every birdsong, every breeze, every sunset and He continually envelops us with so much beauty and evidence of His presence because He wants us to really live life to the fullest and enjoy the blessings in our lives. So while you're going about all the many things you have to do today and tomorrow remember to take moments here and there to stand still and look up at the sunrise or sunset, listen to the birds, feel the breeze against your skin and give thanks to The One who created such incredible things with You in mind.
"Look to the birds of the air, that they do not sow,
nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet their heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6: 26,27

"... I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
John 10:10b

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016


One of the things I love so much about being creative is that it usually takes a bit of imagination sprinkled in the mixture. Although as knitters and crocheters we are oftentimes working from a written or charted pattern, we still have to use our imagination to a certain degree. We use it when we make decisions about color and how to combine different colors to get the right look we want in the finished piece. This actually takes some thought process, especially when we are making an item for someone else, as everyone sees color differently. Actually I believe people feel and experience color because, just as smells do, color often subconsciously grounds us to things deep down in our core. I think that's why we become so creative when we work with color and our imagination comes into play even when we are not aware of it. We must visualize the final result, yes. But we are also, on some level trying to capture how that finished item will make us or the recipient feel. Ahhh.... now that requires imagination. We use it automatically in this way, all of the time, and don't even know it.
Then there are the times we knowingly and very purposely tap into our imagination during the creative process. When I make crocheted covers for these Nursery Hangers is such a time for me. I have to say these are one of my all time favorite items to make because they allow me to let my imagination roam free. They are totally my own design and creation. Each time I am crocheting the cover piece for the hanger I am letting my mind ponder the possibilities of how to embellish that particular sweet creation. Once a year a place an order from my supplier and buy these beautiful  wooden hangers in bulk. The hangers themselves are solid, gorgeous and of excellent quality but they are plain on their own and I like to cover them. Plus adding a nice covering to them helps to keep the clothing from sliding off.
Early last Winter I had a custom order through my Shop for 24 of these covered in all different flowers. My customer wanted to open her little girls closet and feel like she was walking into a Fairy Garden. See, once again, it's about the way things make us feel. This particular customer was a Marketing Manager on Wall Street. I'm sure she had plenty of hectic things in her daily life and when she was home she had much need of things that would soothe her and just simply wanted to surround herself with pretty things that made her feel happy and peaceful. Maybe she just needed a magical moment when she opened the closet doors. She and I had a great deal of correspondence back and forth while I worked on that job. She gave me free reign to create as I wanted to with one stipulation only. No Repeats. So I went to work and I spent hours upon hours laying out color pallets and making plans for twenty four different flowers to adorn those hangers. Some were knitted and some were crocheted. Some had glass pearls sewn in the centers and others had very tiny glass beads added to look like dew drops. Just a hint though. As I made a couple I would send her pictures for her approval. She was thrilled the whole way through. My favorite was one with a pink cover that I attached three tiny white lily of the valley to. The cute little bells dangled down over the arch of the hanger with soft green slender leaves behind them.
Then the day came and I wrapped them all lovingly in tissue paper and boxed them carefully for their journey to  New York City... and I held my breath. Nothing looks the same in person as it does online. One must hold and experience things. The package finally arrived at its destination and immediately I received a long and wonderful message. My customer and her Nanny were so filled with delight and wonder that they could not put the hangers down. They filled the closet together then took all the hangers back out because they just had to hold them again. Then they called the grandma over so she could do it all with them. Well, don't you know, I was over the moon with some delight of my own. All those hours of planning and working and laying in bed imagining fairy flowers through the nights had paid off. I still hear from that sweet customer from time to time and she sends me pictures of her beautiful little girl.
The hangers pictured in this post were shipped off to a customer in Brisbane, Australia yesterday. It will take approximately two weeks for them to reach her in the land down under. I am hoping she lets me know when they arrive and whether she likes them or not. The one with the sprigs of lavender and the tiny glass butterfly is a particular favorite of mine.
Of all the things in my life I am thankful for, I have to say, imagination ranks pretty high.

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."
Albert Einstein

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016


"I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:14

As I sit and ponder this verse once again on a late summer morning with the sound of thunder rumbling in the heavens and rain pounding the ground and rolling down my window, I am amazed at a God who can cause the earth to cry out in such force at times and yet took such gentle care to design each of us so very uniquely. He is a God of tender mercies and One who loves infinite variety. It begs the constant question: Why do we so often play the comparison game?
We all do it at some point. I think we may find ourselves going in and out of seasons of it. To compare ourselves to ourselves is often a good thing because it can be how we measure our own personal growth but when we step one tiny toe into that territory of comparing ourselves to anyone else it can sometimes set off a whole chain of events and it is never a good idea.
Each one of us was given our very own unique, individual, personal set of traits, characteristics and qualities. We were born with a God given temperament. We were "hard wired" so to speak with a specific blue print that the Maker intended just for us. So what do we so often do? We try to be like someone else. Then what happens? It doesn't feel right. Someone else doesn't fit inside our skin. That's because only my soul was made to fit inside my skin just as your soul was made to fit inside your skin. This is why I believe we should celebrate our uniqueness and individuality and not only stop trying so hard to be like everyone or anyone else but also be very careful about passing judgement on others. Every person around us is exactly who God made them to be. They may not be functioning in their very best mode at all times but that is an issue between them and God and we must always be careful with the heart of another individual.
When it comes right down to it, we only get one chance in this life. We really do need to get it right. By that I mean we need to give it our best shot at being exactly who we are. We need to express ourselves and live fearlessly. We should have the courage to step into ourselves and fully be the person God already knows we are. We get so very caught up, or shall we say "hung up",  on minute details that in the whole scheme of things never end up mattering, that we lose sight of the big picture. I truly believe God wants more for us than that. It's right back to that whole concept of abundant living that Jesus came to give us. It's within our grasp. Not only does He want us to have salvation, He wants us to be at peace with ourselves as well. I believe wholeheartedly this is attainable. I also believe that in order to achieve it we must reach a point of being at home within our own spirit, mind and soul. He wants our hearts to be at rest.
At the end of the day the only person God really expects us to be is Ourselves.

"You can never cross the ocean
unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
Christopher Columbus

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
Oscar Wilde

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Constant Solace

In the Spring of 2000 I left the public workforce for the final time. Throughout the years I was raising my two daughters I was mostly a stay at home mom. However there were times I worked small, very part time jobs and even went back to school for a period of time. Then I went to work when they were in upper grade school at a bank in the small town I live in. That job started out as part time as well but soon grew into full time. I loved that job and everything about it. I was a bank teller and eventually trained all of the new bank tellers. As much as I enjoyed the detail part of the work involved it was the people I really loved. My coworkers became a second family to me and I became very fond of the customers. That's what it always comes down to for me really when God plants me in a new place; it's all about the people. So when I leave a place it's the loss of daily contact with those people that I grieve.
The fact that I left that job rather suddenly made it all the more difficult for me to cope with during the time. Although I have been struggling with rheumatoid disease since the age of nine, it took an aggressive turn when I began to approach my mid thirties and a new diagnosis of Systemic Lupus was added to the existing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fybromyalgia. I no longer had the stamina to make it through a work week or even a work day. I couldn't think straight at times and when you are responsible for handling extremely large amounts of money all day long and teaching others to do the same and have to balance your own cash drawer and a new tellers twice a day every day a clear head is rather essential. I was practically crawling in the back door when I got home in the evenings. When all of the tests finally came through the doctor called me in and had a long talk with me. It was time for me to quit work she said and the really hard part was that she didn't even want me to give a two week notice. She told me that if I worked another two weeks I would end up in the hospital in even worse shape and it would just be harder to get things under control. I was ordered to go the next day and explain the situation and clear out my things and Go Home. Well then... Okay...
She said that if there was any problem they could call her and she would explain. Of course, there was no need. They were wonderful at the bank. Remember, my second family. God works all things out. I, however, was a bit shattered. Oh I was too sick to continue to work as far as my body was concerned but my heart and mind took a very, very long time to catch up to things. Years really. The rug was pulled out from underneath me so suddenly I felt. One moment I was working hard and laughing my way through the day surrounded by lots of people and the very next day I was too sick to get out of bed most days and eventually on disability. This was not exactly where I thought I would find myself at the age of 34. Not only was I suddenly lonely because my husband was at work and my girls were in school all day but I struggled big time with feeling that I no longer had any purpose in life and never would have again. Prior to this time not only had I worked at the bank, I had been a cosmetologist and worked in a beauty salon, I had worked in a gift boutique, helped my parents run a family owned business and done many things over the years at church such as teach Sunday school classes, lead youth group along with my husband and help lead women's ministries. I felt completely defeated. If I can't help other people in some capacity then what good am I ever going to be? That was at the heart of the issue for me always.
So... what did I do? I have to admit it required  the help of an antidepressant for awhile to get me over the initial hump of it all but I also needed something to do to self soothe, fill my time and show that I was being productive in some way.  So once again, I picked up my knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn. I had learned to knit and crochet both many years earlier and would do a bit here and there but hadn't had much time for it while working full time. On those days when I was home alone and adjusting to a new season of life and, quite honestly, too sick to do anything else, I would prop myself up on the couch or even in bed and knit or crochet for hours. And stitch by stitch my heart began to heal. Eventually I no longer needed those antidepressant pills. Not only was I filling my days with something I loved, my family and friends were enjoying the fruits of my labor at birthday and Christmas time so in at least that small way I felt like I was giving something to someone again.
The years rolled by and I wound up taking courses to be certified by the Craft Yarn Council of America and now I teach private lessons in my home so I have knitting and crochet students coming and going from time to time and it gives me that connectedness I need with people. Plus I get the joy of teaching something I love doing so very much. Then there's my Etsy Shop as well and the local craft fair that I do along with my annual Christmas event in my home. All things considered, I am pretty pleased with the way God has grown my passion for fiber arts into a small, home based business that I can easily manage around my rollercoaster of good and bad days.
No matter what direction my life has taken or will take in the future, knitting has been and will continue to be, my constant solace. My love for it has seen me through my own dark and uncertain days of redefining myself on this journey of life. My hands continuing onto the next stitch and the next one and the one after that got me through the hours of Scott's surgery when they removed the bulk of his pancreas and the days after that when he was so sick in a hospital bed, then through all of the cancer treatments that followed. Regardless of what life brings my way, I just keep stitching through it all.
Has my physical health gotten better? No. But sadly, that's often the nature of long standing rheumatoid disease. A few years ago I took a medication in pill form to try to get things under better control. I didn't respond well to it and it made me nauseous literally night and day. After 2 1/2 years of feeling sick all of the time, being too thin as a result, and much prayer, I entered the world of biologics. I started self injecting Enbrel on a weekly basis 2 years ago this month. I respond very well to this medication and saw results by the second injection. I have virtually no side effects from it.  However, as with many people who are on it, I am not fully remissive. It is most likely due to the fact my disease is long standing. I am much better with it than without it so I stay on it and Thank God that I live in a day and age when medical advancement makes this possible for me. After all, there's a life to be lived and I don't want to spend the bulk of my days doing it in bed. I would so much rather be enjoying my family and friends and, well, my knitting.
I'm making progress in the hats this week. This is my dear friend Erin standing beneath my dogwood tree wearing the blue hat. I think the blue is stunning against her beautiful thick brown hair. It brings out her lovely blue eyes too but these pictures didn't catch that.
Modeling the cream colored hat for me is my youngest daughter Chelsea once again. For those of you who remember posts with my granddaughter Gabby in them, this is her mommy. I really love the contrast of the soft creaminess of this hat against her gorgeous red hair.
This hat is a slower knit than the fingerless mitts due to the fact that it is lacework but it is well worth the effort in the end. As with many of the patterns I use, I have taken the liberty to make my own changes to this here and there causing it to come out the way I prefer it. Even though it takes a little longer and requires more concentration it is still very self soothing, especially as the soft cotton yarn floats through my fingers. I can get one hat accomplished from start to finish and a good start on another one in a days time if the rest of Life doesn't crowd me out too much.
So I just keep knitting...
And when I need a little break I take one.
And always I Thank God for helping me to be the very best I can be at every changing season of my life.
"Make the most of yourself ...
for that is all there is of you."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Goodness of The Lord

Yesterday was a milestone in our household. It was the day we celebrated my husband, Scott's, five year mark of being a Pancreatic Cancer Survivor. For anyone who knows anything about this particular cancer, you realize what a truly miraculous thing this is. Very few people beat this one. It's considered The Big Boy of cancers. When I was thirteen I watched my grandmother lose her two year long battle to it and all those memories made me even more thankful that God had a different plan for Scott and me and our whole family.
For one thing we have two little grandsons he might never have known had things gone differently. This is Archer we are pictured with. He belongs to our oldest daughter Hilary and her husband Brandon.
We celebrated his second birthday on Saturday, September 10th at a local park on a very beautiful day.
His name is actually Archer Scott, which made a certain set of grandparents cry when we received that announcement after his birth. The joy that he has brought into our lives truly has no words. He reminds us in many ways of his mother at the same age and yet he is much like our beloved son in law as well.
His cousin Parker, who was two in May, was at the party as well.
His first question when told he was going to Archer's birthday party was,
"Will there be cake and will it have frosting on it?" He also really likes balloons.
  I just can't imagine Scott not being here to experience every drop of these two little men that God has sent straight down from Heaven just for us.
Look at this beautiful face. Once again, the perfect blend of a much loved daughter and son in law.
The joy that they all bring to our lives is something that I could have experienced on my own you might be thinking... but believe me, it would never have been the same without My Beloved. Scott and I have been together since I was a mere girl of 15 and he was really still just a boy of 19. At this point we are one flesh, one breath. Sometimes it's hard for me to tell where he stops and I begin. So I am more thankful, clear down to the very deepest part of my heart and soul, than anyone will ever know, that God chose to allow me to keep him. I thank Him every single day for His blessing.
We went through a difficult time five years ago, there's no denying that. Scott had sixty percent of his pancreas removed, along with his spleen and a soft ball sized mass. We spent six nights in the hospital. He was so sick that some of it's a blur to him but I remember every detail. During that time both of our daughters were planning their weddings six months apart. Scott had surgery in September, Chelsea was married in October and Hilary was married in April.
Plus in the midst of all of it, Scott had massive radiation treatments. He was so thin that he had to be refitted for his tuxedo he wore in Chelsea's wedding. He still jokes that it was her who walked him down the aisle in that wedding. But he made it. He danced with both of his cherished daughters at their weddings and he was here when their children entered the world. And by the Grace of God he is still by my side. I have to say here that I knew before we were told that Scott had cancer, that he did indeed have cancer. I felt the Lord preparing me. However, I must tell you that I also knew just as certainly that God would see us through. I had complete assurance of heart about it. That doesn't mean the journey was easy by any means but I always believed he would be
A Survivor.
"I would have despaired unless I
had believed that I would
see the goodness of the
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart
take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27: 13, 14

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Soft Serenity

For those of us who live in the corner of the world where this time of year slowly brings Autumn to our doorstep, we are sitting on the edge of our seats with the anticipation of little children as we watch September once again walk out of our lives, taking with her the last random days of golden summertime. She must make way for her friend October who will bless us with her soft hues of russet, deep red, orange, brown and her own softer shade of gold. We see apple trees heavy with their fruitful bounty and porches decked out in their harvest attire of pumpkins, gourds and mums.
The days will become clear and crisp and the nights will be fresh with a hint of smokiness in the chill of the air. Each step Sweet October takes closer to our hearth makes us dream of cozy sweaters, thick socks and friends and family gathered with us around steaming mugs of cocoa, cider, coffee or tea.
For me it's always lovely hot tea along with my knitting projects to be worn for the cooler days ahead. This always includes a variety of fingerless mitts to suit different peoples fashion styles and this Fall it includes a few custom orders for some beautiful Shawls that I am so excited to make.
The one shown in the picture at the top is my own personal wrap. I have a customer who wants me to crochet one identical to it for her elderly mother who lives in Texas and gets very cold in air conditioning. Hers will be worked in grey and I am anxious to see this favorite accessory of mine made in a new color. As for the other two shawls I have been commissioned to make, I will show them to you when the journey begins ...
It really does thrill me when someone discovers I make shawls and orders them from me. These lovely articles have a language all their own and not everyone speaks it anymore. It seems to be too antiquated for some. Those of you who continue to share my love and passion for them know exactly what I mean.
Fingerless mitts and mittens are another one of my great knitting loves. There's just something about warm hands that make us warmer all over. I love fingerless mitts especially this time of year because they enable us to still hold onto those delicious hot drinks of choice, not to mention leave our fingers free for the many tasks of our day. Another bonus for me is knitting in the round on double point needles. It is my absolute favorite way to knit. There's just something about it that I find extra soothing. Maybe because it forces me to work just a touch more slowly and therefore is even more relaxing to me.
These are my newest mitts on my shop
They are just like Jane Austen might have worn... very feminine and lacy with a touch of old fashioned romance to them. This pair is a gorgeous shade of Cranberry Red, which is my all time favorite color. I am currently working on another pair in Charcoal Grey; my other favorite color. I also love all shades of pink and most purples. There is a beautiful ball of the loveliest shade of Dusty Lavender patiently waiting its turn in my knitting bag to be the next in line to grow into a pair of lacy mitts right after the grey ones jump off the needles.
I love keeping a pair of mitts in my work basket because they can be done in between other projects so quickly and easily. Plus they are very transportable.
I am busy stocking my shop with a few different options.
These are the heavier, warmer cabled version that I love so much with their wonderful flecks of tweed.

 There are also some with a more intricate cable and a bit more length up the arm.
I absolutely never ever get tired of cable work.
It's classic, elegant and totally timeless.

Although I am a Summertime lover through and through, I must admit that when this time rolls around every year feelings of peace and soft serenity begin to settle in on me. Oh how I love going to the drawers where I store the items I have handmade for myself over the years and pulling them out. Old friends we are at this point. They lay waiting to once again wrap themselves around me so together we can be set free to discover all the hidden secrets this new Autumn holds for us. It's as if they too know there will be mornings in the park picking up colorful leaves and acorns, afternoons on the porch swing with my tea and knitting, and moments of awe when the most glorious sunsets suddenly fill the sky and I will need their warmth wrapped around me to step out into it all and soak in every drop of the beauty my heart and soul can hold of this magnificent season.

"Autumn, the years last loveliest smile."
William Cullen Bryant

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Glory Days

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

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

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Tranquil Heart

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

Leia ~ Hilary, Brandon & Archer's kitty

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

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

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

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Moment

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016


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 our 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

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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

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.

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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

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Have a lovely day.