Monday, December 31, 2007

No More New Year's Resolutions

I have spent many,  many years (more than I care to admit) making New Year's Resolutions, which frankly, have never lasted more than a week. Generally, they focus on losing weight and getting in shape, organizing/redecorating every room in the house, and generally organizing/redecorating every other facet of my life. What is it about January 1st that makes us think that all of the things that we were unable to buckle down and accomplish in the previous year (or decade) will suddenly and magically come to pass? Why do we wait until January 1, or Monday, or our birthday, to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into whatever endeavor we think we should accomplish, only to fail a few hours, days, or weeks later?

This year, I resolve not to make any New Year's Resolutions. Instead, I will resolve, each morning, to do something small to improve my life, my health, or that of those around me. That way, I only have to keep my resolution for 1 day, and not 365, in order to be successful. I could resolve to work out that day, or drink 8 glasses of water, or make a healthy dinner for the family, or call a friend who has been down, or let someone get in front of me in line at the grocery store check out.

I don't have to reinvent my whole entire life on January 1, or any other day, for that matter. Because if I keep my daily resolutions, imagine what I will have accomplished at the end of the year. Small things count. In fact, small things done over time count a whole lot more than huge things. I will never be President or find a cure for cancer or the common cold, but I can, through daily example and training, raise kids who are loving, kind, and considerate. And who knows, maybe one day one of them  will be President.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Christmas was a lovely whirlwind of visiting and entertaining which lasted for 5 days for our family. Whew! Several days and several pounds later, I am looking forward to some peace and quiet.

I am very aware of how blessed I am to have family and friends to spend these holidays with. My daughters and I went caroling at a local nursing home to try to spread some cheer, and managed to deliver homemade cookies to some of our neighbors (an annual event, which the neighbors have come to anticipate and enjoy.) On our recent trip to Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to stop and talk to a young homeless woman and pray with her. I can only imagine how she had come to that place, perhaps she had run away from an abusive situation, or had gotten involved in drugs. I don't know. I only know the desperation and sadness I saw in her eyes. But for the grace of God, couldn't that have maybe been me, in another time or place? One wrong decision, or having been born into an unfortunate family situation.... Yes, that young woman could have been me, or someone I know...

I say all of this not to pat myself on the back for my good works. The truth is, the more I do, the more acutely I am aware of my own inadequacies. I will never be able to do "enough". For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Thank God for His mercy and grace. Thank God that wherever and whenever I am inadequate and lacking wholeness, He heals, strengthens, and completes me. In the years since I became a Christian, God has been transforming me, smoothing out my rough edges, filling in the holes. It used to be, when I met someone who was a Christian and was really kind and caring, I thought that they got into "the club" (ie church) because they were so nice. Now I know that it is just the opposite- God takes us just the way we are- dirty, covered with warts, so far from perfect- and transforms us.

I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I was! He will keep working on me, because He loves me too much to leave me where I am. He loves you, too.
Blessings of love, peace, hope and joy to all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Signs of the Season

  The house is fully decorated now. I love Christmas! I have many cherished decorations which get ceremoniously displayed each year. By far, my favorite, favorite is a hand carved and hand painted wooden Santa which I got while on a church missions trip to Russia a few years ago. I paid 2250 rubles for it (about $70 US). Notice the penny I've placed at the bottom of the photo for scale.  Amazing detail- truly a work of art!  I am amazed and humbled when I think of the hours that went into creating this beautiful piece.

russian santarussian santa face closeuprussian santa back russian santa back closeup


I have had a collection of Santas for many years now, and he was definitely a fantastic addition.

large santa collection  small santa collection

santa elf santa elf closeup

The stockings are hung from the staircase, instead of the mantle...

(Our dog, Daisy, has her own stocking, of course....)

mantle stockings on stairway

And for the first time, I have my very own little Christmas tree in my studio- so cute!

studio christmas tree

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Easiest Cookies Ever

This are the absolute EASIEST cookies you will ever make- no kidding. I made them the other day with those fun red and green swirl white chocolate chips.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

1 - 18.25 oz box chocolate cake mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 cups chips- chocolate, white, peanut butter, etc.

Mix together. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

That's it. Wasn't that easy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trip to Philadelphia

My family and I went with a group from church to visit Philly last night- it's great to visit there at Christmastime. First thing we did was stop at Reading Terminal Market for a quick bite to eat. Lots of different vendors there & interesting things to see.

Check out the sign on the left- who knew there was such a thing as Drunken Goat Cheese???? And at $17.99 a pound! (Where do they find drunk goats, anyway....

I really have no idea what that vegetable on the far right is, but the peppers sure are pretty.

Next we saw the light show and walked through the Dickens Village inside Macy's (originally Wanamaker's). I remember seeing the same light show at Wanamaker's when I was a kid, some 25 or 30 years ago. We also saw the giant Christmas tree outside of City Hall.

The clock in the background is on City Hall.

Finally, we stopped at the Hyatt on Broad St. to see their display of incredibly life-like wax Santa figures (which are close to life size.) I don't venture into the city much, but it really is kind of magical at Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Grace and Gratitude

While I was in the shower this morning, my mind was racing about all the things I need to get done today. I realized that I needed to pause and calm down. For me, the best way is through prayer. It went something like this:

God, I'm so overwhelmed, help me today to do everything I have to get done. And thank You. Thank You for everything You have given me- because actually, that list of things that I feel that I need to do is a result of the gracious abundance that You have provided me with. Thank You that I have a house to clean, thank You that I have children and a husband to pick up after, thank You that I have the means to buy presents and bake goodies for those I love. Thank You that I'm not alone this Christmas. Help me to always remember how You have blessed me, remind me not to grumble and complain about things that are so unimportant. Show me how to help and love others who are not as fortunate as I am during this very hectic and hurried time of year. Thank You for giving me the honor and privilege of serving You in whatever way I can. Amen.

I love how God gently reminds me what my priorities should be- loving and serving Him, loving and serving my family, loving and serving whomever else I can. I love how His grace helps me to be content in all things, for on my own I am selfish and self-centered, and tend to spin my wheels a lot.

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Chili Recipe (?)

OK, this is not really a recipe. Frankly, I hate being constrained by a recipe, having to have on hand the exact called-for ingredients, measuring, following directions.....(I'm really, really bad at following directions).

So we'll just call this my Chili Suggestions, OK?

Saute 1 chopped onion and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic in some olive oil in a large soup pot. When translucent, add 1 - 1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey, chicken, beef, pork, or cubed chicken breast, or any combination of those. Brown, drain if necessary.

Add 2 29 oz cans of tomatoes- tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes (broken up with a spoon) - whatever you have on hand. Add 2 -3 cans (15 oz each) of rinsed and drained beans- I usually use 2 or 3 different kinds, like kidney, cannelini, pinto, black. If desired, add a drained can of corn, or a cup of frozen corn kernals. Add 3 T. chili powder, 1/2 T. cumin, 1/2 T. cinnamon (yes, I'm serious), a dash or 2 of cayenne, 1 T. sugar, and few drops of hot sauce. This is a medium heat chili, you can use more or less spices to taste. Salt and pepper to taste.

Lower heat and simmer uncovered for as long as possible, at least an hour. Usually, I try to let this simmer at least 2-3 hours. Serve over rice or spaghetti (Cincinatti style) with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.


My Favorite Kind of Day

Today is my favorite kind of day- I don't have to be anywhere. No trips back and forth to school for extracurricular activities, no doctor/dentist appointments, no urgent errands to be done. In fact, the whole family actually has a rare evening off tonight- maybe I can convince everyone to sit down and do something together. I do have a couple of phone calls to make (which I hate, by the way, and I just keep putting off. For some reason, I'm not particularly fond of the phone- don't know why.) But I just threw a pot of chili on the stove (yay! dinner's done) and now I get to sit and work and play in my studio for the rest of the day (well, once I get those pesky phone calls out of the way.)

Hope you are having your favorite kind of day, whatever that might be for you!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fall Flower Basket Punchneedle

Fall Flower Basket Punchneedle #908

While this pattern features traditional fall colors like brown, gold, dark red and pumpkin, touches of turquoise blue and purple brighten it up.

A punchneedle design measuring 5 1/4" diameter. Includes ideas on how to finish your design, such as a pillow, wall hanging, etc. Uses DMC embroidery floss. I used an Igolochkoy punchneedle for the sample.

$10.00 U.S. includes shipping & handling

Contact me for ordering information.

What is Punchneedle?

Punchneedle embroidery has been gaining popularity in the past few years because it is so simple to do. Punchneedle embroidery is also sometimes called Russian needle punch embroidery, or needle punch embroidery.It is done with a special tool called a punchneedle, which creates loops on the fabric surface, and the design is actually worked from the backside of the piece. If you are familiar with wool rughooking, it is kind of like that, but on a much smaller scale and using a different kind of tool.It is really simple, even for someone who does not sew.For my samples, I use an Igolochkoy punchneedle tool. There are other kinds but this is the one that I prefer.

If you are like me and tend to "collect" hobbies, this is one to try! The projects tend to be pretty small in size,so it's very portable. Even though it is simple to do, it yields really beautiful results, and the projects can be used for pillows,wallhangings, appliqued onto clothing and home decor items, made into pins, etc. It is quite inexpensive to get started. Hand-dyed embroidery threads give a lovely variegated look to your project, but can get expensive. I use regular DMC embroidery floss (extremely inexpensive)and vary the thread colors to achieve the variegated look.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Megan's Flower Punchneedle

Megan's Flower Punchneedle #901

I named this pattern after my younger daughter, who loves the color combination of pink, brown, and red together. She also enjoys doing punchneedle in addition to scrapbooking and making cards & jewellry. She's a really crafty kid!

A punchneedle design measuring 6 1/2" square. Includes ideas on how to finish your design, such as a pillow, wall hanging, etc. Uses DMC embroidery floss. I used an Igolochkoy punchneedle for the sample.

$10.00 U.S. includes shipping and handling

Contact me for ordering information.

All profits from the sale of this pattern will be donated to an international clothing and shelter fund for those in need. Thank You!!!

Ladybug Garden Quilt Pattern

Ladybug Garden #101

A table topper or wall hanging pattern (finished size 47" x 47"), plus a pillow pattern. Quilt has dimensional ladybugs and dragonfly. Features 2 different colorways- one pastel, the other country colors.

$11.oo U.S., includes shipping & handling

Contact me for ordering information.

All profits from the sale of this pattern will be used to provide a backpack and school supplies for a needy child in America. Thank You!!!

A Sneak Peek

Just a little tiny sneak peek of a couple of projects I am working on, one for a magazine submission and another that I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with yet. Both are wool- I love wool, I like to dye my own. Messy and time consuming, but fun.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still Playing

Still trying to figure this photo thing out! It is kind of frustrating, when you know how you want something to look, but can't figure out how to tell that to the computer. Or when you do something right, but don't know how you did it. So it goes with this photo. I moved it somehow, but don't know how I did it, therefore I don't know how to do it again.

Oh well. Please forgive my prattling on.
Maybe I'll go take more photos....

I Did It!

Gee, I set up this blog almost a year ago, but this is my first post! I have been looking at some really beautiful blogs, maybe that was a little intimidating for me. But I'd really like to give it a try, so here I am. I'm not very "tech-y" (that's hubby's department), but I know that the best way to learn is to do (I just hope I don't get too frustrated- I tend to get very impatient with myself).

I was putting some ornaments on my tree today- very fun because I have never had a Christmas tree in my studio before, but hubby thought a tree that would be visible from the street would be nice. Our family room is on the back of the house, but lucky me, my studio happens to be in the front! So anyway, I got to buy a bunch of new ornaments and they were so pretty I decided to take some "art" photos. So today, I will attempt to insert a photo.

Ok, it worked, but it kind of took a long time. And I am trying to figure out how to get the pictures exactly where I want them. But I did it!


Related Posts with Thumbnails