Category Archives: life

Crafting Together, and a Quilt with a Story

One of the drawbacks of last summer’s move was moving further away from my husband’s family.  Being a plane-ride away from my own family, and being blessed with such wonderful in-laws, it was definitely  a draw-back to move an additional half-hour away.  However, I think we have seen them more this winter than last and it has been wonderful!

With projects to do around both of our houses, my husband declared every other Saturday as “family work day.”  We spend one Saturday a month together at our house, and one Saturday a month together at theirs.  Father and son use the time to help each other with projects around the house (and for that I am so thankful) and we women have been making our way through our piles of crafty projects!

There is something really special about the time women spend together creating.  I love hearing the sound of knitting needles clacking, of sewing machines humming, and I have certainly benefited from my mother-in-law’s help and wisdom.  Sometimes we chat, sometimes we listen to music, sometimes we watch movies, and other times we just sit in the quiet, absorbed in our projects.  And there is something in me that thinks “this is the way life is supposed to be.”

Now that my sweater is complete, I have moved on to spending those Saturdays working through some of my sewing UFOs.  And with that purpose in mind I rediscovered, and finished, this quilt.

Hand Tied Hippie Quilt

And although I do love the front, it is the back that I am particularly enamoured with.

Hippie Quilt 1970s polyester satin back

Isn’t it awesome?  And it is just as soft and smooth and satiny as it looks.  This was a true treasure out of my grandmother’s fabric collection, and along with many of the fabrics I used for the top, probably purchased 40 – 50 years ago.  Sometimes I like to imagine what my grandmother had intended with her purchases.  This is a wildly beautiful print!  But I am kind of glad she never worked it into one of her own sewing projects, because it looks right at home here on this quilt.

So this is how I have been spending the cold winter days (which stubbornly refuse to turn into spring.)  Quilting.  Sewing.  Knitting.  Thinking about my grandmother.  Creating quilts and sweaters and memories woven together.

Do you craft together with others?  What are your favourite winter-day projects?

I am NOT just a sewing machine

Looking back at my blog posts over the last few months it might seem to you that I do nothing but sew cute cuddly create-a-creatures.   And although that part of my life and business seems to have grown exponentially and taken up a larger portion of my time – I really have been doing more than just sewing!

And so, as friends who have been out of touch for awhile, let’s get caught up!  Here’s what’s been happening in my neck of the woods:

1.  I am teaching Kindergarten again, which I love.  This year I started a class blog (for parents of students only – sorry) and I love, love, love being able to share all of the crazy, happy, exciting moments of our days together.  One of my favourites from the past few weeks was creating a blizzard in the gym using crumpled up pieces of scrap paper.  One of my students said “This is the best day ever!”  I love hearing that!

Kindergarten Artwork

2.  I have just started reading this book.  I have had a hold on it at the library for so long that I can no longer remember who recommended it to me or why I wanted to read it.  What I’ve read so far makes sense, but the jury is still out…

3.  This song has become one of my favourites.  I love the imagery in it.  Wow.

4.  I have discovered that I love green smoothies.  It’s funny how your tastes change over time.  My current favourite mixture is kale, frozen peaches, spirulina, a little maple syrup, and almond or coconut milk.  It’s very green, but good.

5.  I feel like I have become an expert in Disney World vacations – and I haven’t even been yet!  I read this book and this book cover to cover.  I never knew there was so much attention to detail in the parks, I guess as a kid you don’t really notice or remember those things.  I am looking forward to experiencing it all as an adult.

6.  Truth be told, I really have been spending most of my time sewing creatures, and I love it.  But I am also hoping to take some time to finish up some other projects I started last year (um…yeah..and some I started the year before that.)  This year I have vowed to not buy any new fabric until I finish up old projects – it’s only February and it has already been a hard promise to keep!  But there are several of those old projects that I am really looking forward to finishing and hopefully can share with you soon!  In the meantime, one of my current favourite custom pieces.  I love the ruffles on the dress!

And now it’s your turn!  What’s been happening with you these last few months?  Any exciting books, or songs, or projects on the go?

 

Is it really February?

Some people say that as you get older, time seems to go faster.  Well, I am not that old, but I can’t imagine a month flying by faster than this past January.  Despite the weeks of cold weather, in a month that often drags by, I just looked at the calendar and can’t believe that we are well into February now.

Where did that time go?

Well, for one thing I have been busy with custom creatures.  At the moment I am accepting new orders to be started in April!  I have never had a waiting list before which is both exciting and overwhelming.  Sometimes I wish I had the time to tackle every new project right now! :)

I have still been working my way through orders for the children’s camp, and I finally updated my Flickr page to showcase all of the creatures I have created so far.  It’s become quite a little collection.   I have been enjoying making the little creatures for the camp so much I think I might add this smaller option to the shop this spring – stay tuned for details!

And in between all that I squeezed in a custom baby toy.  This little guy was fashioned after a favourite childhood toy of a woman who is now expecting her first baby.  What a unique and special baby shower gift this will be!  I can see why she must have liked it so much – this inside-at-night photo doesn’t quite do it justice – it’s a pretty cute toy!

In the midst of all of this creature craziness we have also been busy planning a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.  I haven’t been since I was a young child and my husband has never been, and we are so excited to be sharing in the magic with our very best friends and their two girls.  I’m not sure who is more excited – the adults or the kids, and I think it might be the adults! :)  In the midst of one of the coldest winters in recent memory, I must admit I am also looking forward to going somewhere warm!

Does anyone else find the time flying by?  What projects are keeping you busy?

 

 

 

Taking a Different Path

I love blogs. I love getting to know people through what they write and post.  I adore tutorials and Pinterest is my new best friend.  But I am also, admittedly, a bit of a scanner. I am sure you are too.  When you read at least 20 blog posts a day, you start to get selective about what you read.

But there are a few blogs where I read every word, every time.  And my friend Krista’s blog is one of them.

Quite possibly, the reason I read everything she writes is because I know her, like, in real life!  We used to work together, and now that she is at home homeschooling her two amazing boys, reading her blog is a way to stay connected.  It also has a lot to do with the fact that she is an amazing writer.  Once I start, I just have to find out what happens next.  And I know that sometimes she is going to make me cry, and sometimes she is going to make me laugh, and all of the time she is going to speak from her heart.  I appreciate that kind of honesty.

Today, after giving me three cheers on her blog for helping her with her theme and header (have you all discovered picmonkey yet?  Because if not, you need to check it out.  It’s awesome.), she talked about how life sometimes travels a different path than we expect.

And this thought has stuck with me.  Because it is true, isn’t it?  We doggedly try to climb the hill even though our hamstrings are screaming, and rocks are falling on our head, there is a snowstorm, and the bridge is out ahead (okay, maybe it’s not always that dramatic)  and finally, finally, after we have been beaten down to the point of misery, we turn around and head on another path, only to discover that the sun is shining here, the road is easier to walk, and this was the way we should have been going all along.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t persevere.  Because I am all for determination and moving past challenges.  But I’m talking about the times when the door is shut and locked tight and for some reason we insist on banging our head against it in the hopes of breaking it down.

And metaphor aside, I have known my own version of this story.

My husband and I are unable to have children.  We spent six years of our marriage trying to make it happen.  We saw doctors, we read books, we took pills, we did acupuncture, we discussed scientific procedures and adoption.  (That is all a story for another day) At the end of this journey we were left with less than a 1% chance of having children of our own, and a ten-year wait list for adoption.  I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed in this process, how many times hope and disappointment intermingled, how many times I kept beating my fists against a closed door.

And yet, there was another path.  This path has allowed me to spend so much of my life and time with my dear friend’s dear children whom I love with all of my heart.  It allowed me to get to know and love this boy who is gone from this earth, but whose spirit lives on.  And when I wake up at night wishing for just one more day to sit by his side, I am ever so thankful for the path that allowed me so much time to spend with him while I could.  This path has given me a family I love (both by blood and by choice), a husband who continues to be my best friend, and time to do the things I love best (learning, taking classes, teaching, sewing, writing.)

It is not the path I would have chosen.  But I have no doubt in my mind that it is the one I was meant to be on.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

How about you?  Has there been a time in your life when you have found that there is joy in taking a different path?

Taking Time to Rest and Recharge

I am a busy person. Most times, if you ask me how things are, I will reply with “busy!” I have endless ideas, often feel like I have endless energy, and I hate sitting still. My idea of a relaxing day is to get in the kitchen and make something, or to go in the studio and sew something, or to go outside and work in the garden.

And when things get rough, or life gets hard, or there is a lot on my mind, I am a pro at finding more and more ways to keep my hands busy and my brain occupied.

But you can only do this for so long until it all spirals out of control.

Because our bodies need rest.  And busyness requires balance.  And ignoring the things that make our hearts ache does not fix them or make them go away.

And so it was that Hubby had to convince me last Thursday night that even though my to-do list seemed long and insurmountable that I did, indeed, need to get away.

We spent a beautiful, relaxing week-end with family.  I read a whole book from start to finish.  I crocheted myself a new pair of slippers.  I looked out the window as we drove and dreamed.  I played games and slept in.  We went for a startling cold walk on the beach, and found beauty in the rolling of the waves, in the sand on the seashore, in the shells on the beach.

 

 

 

I came back more calm, more rested, and my to-do listed didn’t seems as long or as insurmountable any more.

Do you ever find yourself become so busy it seems impossible to take a break?  What do you do to rest and recharge?

 

 

Meet The New Additions!

There has been a lot of sadness around here lately, but even sadness comes with a measure of joy.  And these two have been my joy:

 

Meet Albus (above) and Minerva, (also known as Minnie.)  If you are a reader of a certain series of children’s books involving a boy wizard you will probably recognize the names! (Yes, I am totally THAT kind of person.  My last guinea pig was named Merlin and my grey lop-eared rabbit was Gandolph the Grey. I seem to have a thing for literary wizards.)  :)

I find it impossible not to smile when looking into the face of a guinea pig.  And although the woman I bought them from was surprised when I didn’t come to pick them up with children in tow (“Are they for you?”) they have brought a lot of laughter into this house in the last few weeks.

And Albus right now is totally flaked out in the corner of the home I built for them, sleeping with his eyes closed.  (A real sign of trust and relaxation in a guinea pig.)  And that makes me happy.

Do you have animals in your life that bring you joy?

 

Today

Although hubby and I do not have children of our own, I have been richly blessed with friends who have graciously allowed me to be a part of their family, and to share the joy of teaching, spending time with, and loving, their children.

This week, one of those beloved children went home to be with Jesus.

His life had never been an easy one, but he navigated this world with an inner strength that never wavered, no matter how tough things got.   He was my “imp”  - the one who teased his sisters and liked a good prank, but could also turn on the charm and convince you to do almost anything with his winning smile.  I know I will carry the memory of his smile in my heart forever.

I avoided his room today, somehow believing that as long as I didn’t step inside, there was still the possibility that he might somehow still be there, and not gone from this world after all.  But it didn’t stop his absence from being felt.   My boy is gone.  Safe, and free from pain.  But we will miss him, here.

Today belongs to the memory of this young man whom we love and miss.

I have turned off the comment feature on this post.  If you have words to say, please lift them up as prayers on behalf of his parents and sisters, whose grief and loss I can only imagine.

Until we meet again, dear boy……

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

 

 

Having More, With Less

We live in a society that constantly tells us that we need MORE.  We need more stuff.  We need a better house.  We need a new car.  We need to upgrade our computer.  We need the newest hand-held tech thingy that everybody else has, and we need to get it BEFORE everybody else does.  We need to “treat ourselves” to vacations and spas and new clothing.  Because “we deserve it!”

But do we?

Do we deserve mounting debts (because so many of us can’t afford to own all the stuff we are told we MUST have)?

Do we deserve the stress of credit card bills or looking for new jobs or overtime hours to pay for them?

Do we deserve the endless task of cleaning and repairing and maintaining that big house we thought we “needed?”

Do we deserve the stress of being weighed down by all the stuff, things, do-dads, “I’ll save it for someday” things that clutter our living spaces?

Why is it that HAVING MORE, often gives us LESS?  Less quality of life.  Less time.  Less money.  Just less.

We are bombarded with images of “the good life” and have forgotten that “the good life” was dreamed up by teams of advertisers with one goal in mind – to sell us more stuff.  No matter what the personal cost.

And as the world around us gets continually caught up in more, more, more, it is getting harder to say NO!   And “NO” sometimes means that people look at you funny, and think that you are crazy, or backward, or just plain weird.

But saying “no” can also bring peace, freedom, contentment.  Not a bad trade-off.

I am just as pulled into “the good life” ideal as anyone else.  I want my homestead on acres of land (and yes, waterfront, please!).  I want freedom to travel, and a DSLR camera, and a Macbook Pro.  Sometimes it is an act of will to remind myself that contentment will not come from owning MORE.  That my new-to-me, 7-year-old laptop is all that I need.  That all the strange looks I receive when I tell people I DO NOT own a cell phone is a small price to pay for not having that bill to pay each month.  That many of my “needs” are actually “wants.”  And not having everything we “want” makes it extra special when something new comes our way, don’t you think?

Beauty in abundance

But sometimes it feels lonely seeking “less” when everyone else is out there seeking “more.”  And then yesterday a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while commented on the blog and mentioned her new website.   In Goodbye, Mrs. Jones she shares her journey of leaving behind her big, gorgeous house in the suburbs, in favour of a simpler lifestyle, fewer bills, and a small house.  She was “living the dream” and found that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Her dream has changed.

And so, as I seek change, concentrate on what is important, and try to become more of who I really am, I am going to embrace LESS in the hopes of finding MORE.  Maybe if we team together we can find success in saying “no” to what we are told we need, and instead find contentment with what we already have.

Today, I choose to find joy in less.  How about you?

 “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”   Socrates

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”  Proverbs 23: 4 – 5

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  Matthew 6: 19 – 20

The Last Three Weeks

It has been at least three weeks since I have written here, maybe more.  And as hard as I try to keep this blog an integral part of my weeks and days, sometimes life happens.

And, after all, it is real life that matters, more than the recording of that life on this screen.

The last three weeks have been filled, topped up and overflowing with the goodness of family life.  With sweet reunions, hugs, photos, and just being together, in person, not separated by hundreds of miles and connected only by phone or screen.

There were fish caught, picnics eaten, treasures found, rain ignored, and sun enjoyed.  There was exploring and adventuring and just hanging out at home.  Fresh vegetables laboured over filled hungry and appreciative mouths.  Many hands made light work of meals and dishes.  Late nights for chatting, game playing, enjoying.

And with the yin and yang of joy and pain came sweet goodbyes, long hugs, signed “I Love You’s,” hands waving until the car can be seen no more.  Then the silence and space that leaving brings.  The stillness of a house that had been full for so long.

And it is this way that my summer has come to an end.  In sweet memories and bittersweet goodbyes.  In knowing that children will grow, we will age, lives will change, and we will never be together again in quite the same way.  Holding memories tight to make them last until we meet again.  Family, and yet living such far-apart lives.

The first of the autumn leaves have begun to glow red.  Cool night air blows through my windows.  I head back to school, fall schedules, volunteer requests, the busyness of life begun anew. 

Farewell sweet summer.  Until we meet again….

The Guitar – and being who we are

There are times when I just can’t sleep.  When that happens, sometimes I read a book.  Sometimes, I clean out my email inbox or Google reader (mind-numbing, right?) Sometimes, I just lie in bed and toss and turn.

Other times, I do things like this:

 

I can only imagine what it would have looked like to any early riser to see me traipsing back and forth over our lawn in my bare feet, on the wet grass, with guitar and camera in hand, at 5:30 in the morning…the things we do for art! :)

Are there things in your life you have lost and regained again?

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  ~e.e. cummings

 

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