Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks......

You turned my wailing into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever.

It seems a shame to me that we set aside only one day a year to focus on thanks and gratitude. I know that I need to be thankful more often, it sometimes seems that days go by without me whispering even a few words of gratitude to God. I just get so caught up in the day to day stuff of life, that I forget how blessed I really am....

For God's unwavering and fierce love for me....

For an imperfect yet completely wonderful family....

For friends who would drop anything and everything to come to my rescue, if need be....

For the opportunity to live in a country where I can say what I want (even if I'm wrong), where I can worship Whomever and however I want, where I have a say in our government.... I don't think that here in America we really realize how remarkable that is.... The freedoms we have can only be truly appreciated if we go to other countries and experience the fear and control that people live under on a daily basis....

For never being in need of food, clothing, shelter....

And for the OPPORTUNITY to help others out of my blessed abundance and gracious plenty...
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

As Americans, we live in the wealthiest and most prosperous country in the history of the world...

Sometimes, I think about the silly things that I allow myself to get upset over.... But still, sometimes things just hurt.... disappointments in life, loved ones letting us down or hurting our feelings.... not tragedies, but still painful. Sometimes I think that I have no right to ever get upset about things, because there are people in our world who deal with tragedy on a daily basis... who will never know peace... who will never know how it feels to not go without, even for one day....

But I realize that God, while His heart breaks for these tragedies, feels my pain too. He knows. He knows my disappointment, my hopelessness and helplessness at times. He knows that life is oftentimes painful, for all of us. And as our Father, He understands.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6,7

I know everyone is so busy this time of year. Personally, I like the busyness- for me it is fun, joyous- shopping, decorating, singing along to my favorite carols. But the busyness sometimes makes it easy for me to forget just how much I have to be thankful for.

I would ask that everyone take just 10 minutes and visit one of the sites listed below. See the work that God is doing, through the hands of His servants here on earth. Please take time to be thankful for what we have, and for people who are willing to help others even on the far edges of our world (and in our own towns). Please pray for these organizations, for their workers, and for those who contribute monetarily to them to make the work possible. Maybe you will be moved to make a donation to one of these worthy organizations, to help them continue their work.

World Vision

Samaritan's Purse

Mocha Club



Operation Smile

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15,16

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania- Christmas City

What better place to visit at this time of year than a town called Bethlehem... The town was settled and founded in 1741 by the Moravians, a Christian religious sect which originated in Central Europe. Unlike most religious sects that came to the new world during this time period, the Moravians did not come here to to escape religious persecution, but rather, came as missionaries. And unlike many other sects, they sought only to spread their faith, not to change the culture of indigenous peoples.

Bethlehem has lots of beautiful, interesting old buildings. Everything was decorated for Christmas and looked lovely. One of the most interesting places we visited was the Sun Inn, established in 1758. It has been documented that George Washington did indeed sleep there. The inn was also visited by the likes of John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and General LaFayette, among others. If only walls could talk- can you imagine the conversations that must have taken place there? Talk of the troubles with the mother land? Plans for revolution? Or, as my husband wondered, maybe George complained a little about Martha??
The kitchen has a walk-in fireplace. It was originally 4 ft deeper, but the back wall was moved forward to allow for duct work when the building was modernized. Can you imagine the size of that fireplace? It's no wonder that fire was the second leading cause of death for women during that time, as their skirts would catch on fire while cooking. (Lucky for me, the microwave does not pose that threat.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the Studio Today

Hubby and I managed to get away this past weekend and spent a couple of days at a nice Bed and Breakfast in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was lovely (and well stocked with complimentary yummy chocolate chip cookies and chocolate!), I will post some photos tomorrow. On the way up we made a few stops and I happened to find these great buttons, so now I can finish up the huge stack of pins that I have started. I actually have an order to fill, but my button supply was meager, so now I can get to work and get them done.Also, last Friday I got together with an old friend whom I haven't seen in ages. We had a very nice lunch and did a little shopping. There is a cute little country gift shop in my town, the owner always has the cutest things. Near the register, there was the most adorable Mr. and Mrs. Claus. I collect Santas, so I was tempted. My friend also loved them, but there was only one set. My friend decided to get it (and though I was little jealous, I figured she had just saved me some money! And I figured I could go visit the jolly couple at her house any time I wanted!) So the cashier went to get the boxes, and guess what- there was one more set! So I had to get them, and now my Mr. and Mrs. Claus can go visit her Mr. and Mrs. Claus... They are in my office for now, until I get all of my decorations up and find a "special" place for them... Oh I am so happy, they just make me smile! (I love how Santa's mouth is open, ready to shove that cookie in...)Finally, this afternoon I am going to take a ride up to pick up Sam from college for Thanksgiving break- now that REALLY makes me Happy!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Studio Shots

Last Saturday, I spent 7, yes really, 7 hours cleaning up my studio. It was so piled up that I was getting stressed just walking in there- needless to say, I was having a hard time getting anything constructive done. You may wonder how it took 7 hours to clean it up- there was the painting desk, the computer desk, the sewing table, the cutting table, plus 2 countertops that are dedicated to my “piles”- works in progress, books I have been referring to, sketches, generally stuff that I just don’t know what to do with so it just goes in the pile. Then of course, there was the floor- piles of fabric for projects that I have been working on, some projects that are long finished, projects that I am just thinking about. I did come up with this idea for a project that I am still working on- instead of leaving the fabric on the floor, I put it in this tiered basket. When I bought the basket, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, I just liked it. Now it is coming in handy, don’t you think? So after I finally got it done, it actually looked something like the photos that I put on my website. I kept saying, "Oh I feel so much better," it was probably better than therapy! I think the family thought I was just kind of weird (they’re used to that...) But really, my head feels clearer, I am able to concentrate. In fact, Saturday evening and Sunday I just kept walking in there to look at it. Now I have to work, I kind of don’t want to pull things out and make a mess again! I definitely am more relaxed and focused when my surroundings are neat and organized, which goes against the stereotype of the chaotic, disorganized, flaky artist-type. I am a neat freak, I like everything in it’s place. Go figure. Actually, I think that being detail oriented has a lot to do with it- I notice little things that then make their way into my art, but noticing every little thing means that I notice everything little thing, especially if it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

I took a couple of photos once I got it cleaned up- ‘cause it will probably be awhile until it looks this good again.I have something in mind for this fabric and floss and ribbon. I’m planning on making something with my Christmas Bird pattern that is on my free patterns page. So much fabric, so little time.... Oh, I wish I had a few elves- Do you think Santa could spare a few for me? Maybe I should put them on my Christmas list?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Little of This, A Little of That

Ok everybody, make sure you head on over to The Robin's Nest for a really super incredible giveaway- Trust me, you're gonna want to get in on this one! Robin has included all kinds of goodies- an apron that she made herself, a couple of cute snowmen, jewelry, soaps, note cards.... wow this is a good one!

Yesterday while "helping" in the studio, Maddie was intrigued by something at the window- a beautiful Cardinal couple. I managed to get the female, but the male was gone by the time I could grab the camera. (The picture is blurry because I took it through the window screen.)
A few minutes later, some nice fat mourning doves came to visit- Maddie liked them, too (she would have preferred to meet them face to face, instead of through the window, but c'est la vie, Maddie.)
I dropped a couple of quilts off to the machine quilter the other day, including this one that I had done a sneak peak for last month... So I will be able to show you that one soon. Sometimes it is frustrating as a designer, because I am working on things all the time, but very often I can't show them until they are done, and I have the pattern published. So even though I might work all day (or 2 or 3, or a whole week), I can't really post it for awhile. It's a bummer to work on something all day, and then in the evening feel like I have nothing to post on! Yesterday and today I worked on a new product which won't debut until the spring... It's so cute and I wish I could show it to you all... But it's a brand new idea in the market and so I really can't until it's completely done and published. Sorry for that teaser (I'm sure it hurts me more than it hurts you- HA HA).

And finally, I received THIS in the mail the other day:
I am 42, people! And this is not a mistake because my husband got one, too, about 6 months ago (thought they did spell my name wrong). What is going on? Sheesh, those "retired people" are aggressive. Maybe they should just start handing their notices out with high school diplomas, or birth certificates.....

So that's it for now. Have a great day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Introducing... Message Pins

Here is the new design I have been working on.... I am introducing Message Pins- wool pins which feature a hand made button with a meaningful and inspirational word or phrase. The button has a crackled vintage look. Buy one for yourself and tell the world that you are a dreamer...
or that you live life to its fullest.... or just to remind those around you to take time to giggle...And make sure you order a few for gifts- for mom, sister, friend, secret pal, teacher... for any very special person in your life.
Maybe you know someone who is curious....

Or who is a person of prayer...

Or who is an artiste'...

As with my other pins, all of the profits will be donated to charity. The proceeds raised will be used to buy sheep for poor families around the world, allowing them to become self sufficient and literally changing lives. The pins come packaged on a keepsake card (see below).
I believe that we all want to leave the world better than we found it...won't you please join me in this important endeavor... give a gift that the recipient will love and appreciate, and that is truly meaningful and will make a difference in our world...

I have worked on a large assortment of phrases and colors, and each one is different. They are available at my Etsy shop and on my website. Order now and you will have them in plenty of time for the holidays (and since each one is unique, you will want to choose yours early for best selection...)

"...a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has..."

Margaret Mead

Friday, November 14, 2008

Working on a Christmas Village

Our church decided in, like, September, that we should do a "miniature" Victorian Christmas village (and by miniature, I mean 3/4 scale, so pretty close to life size.) I had serious doubts as to whether it could be pulled off, but a remarkable amount of work has gotten done. I can't wait to show the photos of all the sets when it is finally put up.

Somehow, in the past week, (and I really don't know how...) I managed to paint the bakery signs (thanks hubby for "volunteering" me!) Actually, he has done much more work on the village than I have. I had planned on being very involved, but you know how things have been going around here! The long sign was easy, but the square one was a little harder. Not only did I have to come up with some bakery type goods to paint on it, but it had to be done on both sides. If you have ever tried to paint two things the same that are right next to each other, you know how tricky that can be- but try painting opposite sides, so you can't see exactly what the other side looks like while you are painting, plus you have to worry about the wet paint when you flip it over to work on the other side. All in all, I am pretty happy with the way they came out (and both sides actually look fairly similar!)
Monday I will be posting my new product, which I hope will be quite popular, I am pretty excited about it. Hint- it is a variation on something I have been making and selling for a few years.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Update

It seems like forever since I last "checked in." How did it get to be Wednesday already????
We had planned on my daughter going back to college on Monday, but although she looked much better over the weekend, she woke up feeling really sick again on Monday (thank goodness we hadn't taken her back yet.) I took her back to the ENT, who said that since the oral antibiotics and steroids weren't working, we should admit her to the hospital for IV antibiotics and a stat CT scan. So we went directly to the hospital, and the CT scan showed an abcsess much bigger than the doctor expected- in fact she said that she has patients with abscesses half that size who are just knocked out. She couldn't believe that my daughter was walking around and looking as good as she did.... So Monday evening they took her into surgery to drain it, and she immediately felt better. She was able to come home Tuesday (yesterday) and we are hoping that she should be fine to go back to class on Monday- she will have missed 2 whole weeks of classes at that point. I called her school and they were very understanding. Now we are looking at having her tonsils removed over Christmas break, so we can finally be done with this thing. Wheww!!!

I want to thank everyone once again for their prayers and kind words and emails- what a balm to my soul you all have been.... I will try to get around to visiting all of your wonderful blogs soon so I can see what you all have been up to lately.

At least I did manage to get done quite a bit of hand sewing while sitting over at the hospital. I have a new product that I am working on, should be done in time for Christmas- I think it will make wonderful heartfelt gifts for the holidays (with all proceeds going to charity). I will let you know in a day or two what it is and how you can order them. For now, here is a sneak peek and a little message from me to you....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Feathered Friend/ Ornament Exchange

Daughter is still home, she is looking much better but she has to go back to the ENT on Monday morning before she can go back to school. We are hoping that she can go back on Monday afternoon, she has already missed a full week of school. She really needs to get back so she can catch up, but I also don't want her to go back too early and have a relapse. The back of her throat still looks pretty gnarly, but it's better than before. Grandmom is still in the hospital but is also feeling better and hopefully she will get to come home on Monday or Tuesday. Thank you to everyone for all of your prayers and kind words.

Yesterday, I pulled into the driveway to find the dog standing on the picnic table, looking up in the tree and barking like crazy. I didn't think much of it, that is pretty typical for her, she is always barking at something. Younger daughter mentioned that there was a large bird in the tree, I looked up and saw what I first thought was a vulture, which is also pretty typical around here. But then I realized it was not a vulture, not a hawk.... We believe that it was an immature bald eagle - right there in my tree, just a few feet from out house- Wow! He was not afraid of us at all, the dog kept barking and barking (I'm pretty sure the bird outweighed the dog- and do you see those talons?!?), but the eagle just looked kind of curious as he looked down, probably wondering what that yippy little thing was. The dog probably should have been afraid, but I guess she's just not that smart... Eventually, he flew away, but I did not get a photo because I was messing around with some adjustments on the camera and missed it. I got a lot of photos of him in the tree. I thought it was pretty cool.

Also, Kate at the Accidental Traveler is hosting an ornament exchange. There is still time to participate. Sounds like fun!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Always Something

My daughter called home yesterday morning at about 7:20 am, saying she was really sick again and didn't know what to do. I immediately drove up to pick her up and took her to the doctor here at home. Her doctor thinks she does not have mono, but has an abcess on her tonsil. So this morning we had to go to the ENT first thing, and she is now on steroids in addition to the antibiotics and Vicodin (for severe throat pain.) Hopefully, she will respond to treatment soon and no further intervention will be needed (I won't get into the icky details). We hope that she will be able to go back to class on Monday. And to top it off, they are admitting my grandmother to the hospital this afternoon for pneumonia; I will try to get to the hospital (about 40 minutes away) tomorrow to see her. So around here we eating lots of chicken soup and taking Vitamin C and trying to stay healthy.

It's always something, isn't it? Just when you think you are ready to coast along, some bump in the road appears. When I looked at my calendar on Monday morning, I had almost nothing scheduled for the week and figured I'd spend just about every day in the studio. Alas, it has been a very unproductive week, so far. Oh well, that's just the way it goes. I'm just glad that I have the flexibility to be around for my family when they need me, I realize that a lot of people don't have that option. Maybe I'll get something done tonight after dinner. Or maybe I'll just hang out on the sofa with my daughter, a bowl of ice cream, and the remote- sounds good right about now!

Hope you are all staying well and healthy. Happy Wednesday (we're over the hump! Weekend, here we come!)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thanksgiving is Coming...

Halloween has come and gone which means it is now time to get ready for Thanksgiving (watch out, that means Christmas will be here before we know it.)

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving (besides the turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie- Oh My!) is my redware turkey platter. I love taking him out at this time every year. My daughter was unpacking some fall decorations a couple of weeks ago and found him wrapped up in paper and asked me if I wanted her to take him out to see him. I declined, deciding that I would rather "unveil" him from his protective paper wrapping at just the right time, and today was the day (gosh I am weird.) But anyway, here he is, in all of his turkey glory. Isn't he a beauty?

I think he is just a masterpiece. He was made by Eldreth Pottery, in neighboring Lancaster County, PA. Eldreth is always one of my first stops when I visit Lancaster County. I have many pieces now, some are out all year long, others are seasonal and for special occasions.

Below are some of my favorite Eldreth Pottery bowls, I think they are so beautiful. They reflect the Pennsylvania German style that I so admire. Something about their utilitarian beauty just seems to take me back to a simpler time.

This pumpkin platter comes out in September and stays out until the Christmas decorations go up, the day after Thanksgiving...
And just to make things more interesting around here, my daughter called home from college yesterday, sounding just terrible. She has had a cold and sore throat for a few weeks that she has not been able to shake. Yesterday she was to the point where she could not swallow, because her throat hurt so badly. I told her to have her roommate drive her to the ER, thinking they would just do a strep culture and send her home with an antibiotic. Shortly after they arrived, her roommate called to tell me that they had started an IV, which of course makes an absent mother a little uneasy. Turns out she probably has mono, and they did rehydrate her and send her home with pain medication and antibiotics. I talked to her this morning, offered to come pick her up and bring her home for a few days, but she says she is feeling better and will just stay there. This is when I feel guilty for not being there, but proud of her independence. I guess we are never too old to experience growing pains. The letting go is hard, but I love to watch as she spreads her wings to fly...


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