Saturday, February 16, 2019

Soul Food For My Talented Friends

pattern from Walmart completed on 14-count Aida with 2 strands of floss over 1 thread
October 2018
This past week as I've continued listening to Scripture at The Daily Audio Bible, the readings have intrigued me because the Lord instructed Moses with great detail how to create the worship center out in the wilderness. The children of Israel were clearly far advanced beyond "cave men" with their tools and abilities.

Exodus 35:10 says, "If you have any skills, you should use them to help make what I have commanded"

The verses continue with instructions for the sacred tent with its covering and hooks, the post and stand, the sacred chest with carrying poles, the curtains, a table, sacred bread, a lamp and its oil, the incense altar and sweet-smelling incense, a bronze grating for the altar, a large bronze bowl and its stand, pegs, ropes, and finely woven clothing for the priests.

This list requires a host of handcraft skills as well as a good understanding of math, and even a sense of smell!

I was especially drawn to these two verses farther down  in the chapter: "The women who were good at weaving cloth brought the blue, purple, and red wool and the fine linen they had made. And the women who knew how to make cloth from goat hair were glad to do so." (Exodus 35:25)

I am thrilled to understand in these verses that God takes notice of those of us who are adept with our hands. He knows who we are and how to find us.

While we stitchers repeatedly poke our needles through fabric, our patterns may not seem to be spiritual, but we are perfecting capabilities given to us by our Creator. The stitches are not just for our enjoyment but are training us for greater callings. I really do believe that.

We are ready when asked to hem up pajamas for a friend who doesn't sew, to alter a neckline for an elderly friend, to sew puppets for the children's ministry, to make curtains for the church nursery, blankets for crisis pregnancy centers, and more.

If we are ever tempted to speculate that our stitching is a waste of time, we do well to remember this:  St. Augustine is credited with saying, "Love God and do whatever you please." This is a very freeing concept. It is most certainly not a license to sin but rather permission to enjoy life as we love God in obedience to Him. Living holy lives is a form of worship, as indicated in Psalm 96:9, "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

As we sew, knit, cook, combine scented oils, make soaps ... let's remember our Lord sees us and is so very pleased we are putting these strengths to use. He takes great delight in our enjoyment of these skills.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine Stitches

playing around with my own design on 32-count with 2 strands over 2 threads

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!  Did you send out cards this year? Postage has gone up again ....

helping Granddaughter #5 with her Valentine preparations
I'm writing this blog post a few days before the big day, so I don't know what Beloved and I are going to do to celebrate.  Frankly, we have so much going on right now that a quiet evening at home with something simple for supper sounds good enough for me ... probably frozen country fried beef steaks from Walmart. 

I'm whittling down the food supplies here and trying my best to not add anything major to the freezer or pantry. The drive from here to the new house is over two hours and we'll be spending a couple nights in a hotel before we can move in, so I don't want the bother of transporting any more food than necessary.

cross stitch made for my mother in about 2000 on Aida cloth

*  *  *  *  *

I had said I would give you an update on my cross stitching. Productivity has been less recently due to all the trips we've been making to our storage locker in our new town, and we've also had two sets of out-of-state guests in the past month. But stitching is never far from my thoughts. 

Maybe someday larger projects will appeal to me, but for now, the smaller motif-styles continue to hold my attention. I'm calling this one the Gween 'Wabbit' (excuse the odd placement of apostrophes. Spell check doesn't like my intentional misspelling):

Gween Wabbit

He came from a small, inexpensive kit  and turned out to be an annoying trial. The floss included with the kit was not DMC. It was of inferior quality, one of the colors actually shredded in my fingers several times, much to my dismay. Also, the colors were so close together in tint that it was very hard to decide which threads matched up with the names on the pattern.

guessing which thread is what from the kit

Beloved and I have good-naturedly teased each other for years about the differences and similarities between green and gray. Whoever designed this pattern had trouble with that concept as well. Why it even called for green is a mystery to me; and then I got the two mixed up! He's supposed to be more gray than green, but my efforts made him predominantly green, hence the nickname. I will be more choosy the next time I buy a quickie little cross stitch kit!

I've been collecting my projects which, although the cross stitching is complete, are not yet finished  into ornaments, framed, or other methods. I'm waiting until after my new sewing room is unpacked to tackle that. I am very eager to have all my machines and tools, flosses and fabrics organized within easy reach. I work best when there is calm around me. 

essential cross stitch supplies while moving

I've been cross stitching out of a box for months, keeping my current project and the next ones I hope to do where they will [hopefully] be safe from the packing up of everything else. 

In the world of cross stitching, there is a lot of abbreviated terminology, just like the acronyms we use for texting. Those 'in the know' toss these short-hand versions of communication around like Mardi Gras beads, leaving those of us who have only recently returned to the hobby a little in the dark.  

However, I did some research (you can learn anything on the Internet) and printed up a sheet of definitions for my personal use. Here are some of them:

FAD = fun and done!
FFO = Finally Finished Object, or Finally Framed Object
LNS = Local Needlecraft Shop
SAL = stitch-a-long
SINS = stuff I'll never stitch
WIP = work in progress

(just to name a few) But these are the ones I hear most often on Flosstube.  Speaking of ...

collage of the Flosstube personalities I watch the most often

Sandy (her blog is I Majored in Home Economics) introduced me to Flosstube, which is YouTube for cross stitchers. I had no idea such a thing existed but they've been active for quite some time. Some post weekly and some every few months. 

Most of their videos are about an hour long. I enjoy having them on my computer while I stitch. It's like sitting with them in a sewing group as they share their WIPs, FFOs and their current SALs. They also often share interesting things about their lives and it's just fun and comfortable. 

I can't tell you how many are making Flosstube videos, but it's a lot more than I can keep up with. I subscribe to those I like and get an email notification when they've posted a new one.

Here is my most recent WIP (work in progress):

saving the shepherds to finish later this year
It is shocking to me how many of these Flosstube gals have multiple projects going on all at once. I mean, they take pride in how many they keep going at the same time, often working on one on Mondays, another on Tuesdays, and so on. What I often hear from them is that they feel the need to stop taking on new projects so they can complete all their WIPs. I don't doubt that! My brain can't handle so much at one time. 

But with that said, I did usher my shepherds to a bag for safe-keeping while I got busy on the "Gween Wabbit" for spring.

a magnifying glass is soo very helpful at times

Now that he's done (until he gets framed or whatever) I'm looking to stitch Spring and patriotic projects. I visited my LNS (local needlework shop) the other day in search of such patterns. Although there seem to be more Santas and witches than anything else out there (I've not done a Santa yet but plan to and will never do a witch), bunnies, carrots, flowers and flags are showing up. I look forward to sharing those projects at a later time. 

In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day!

my own design stitched in 1988

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Posting on the Progress

the wetlands behind my current home
These days I'm savoring the aspects of our current home that we've enjoyed for the past 19 months, since the move to the South from the Rocky Mountain West. After years of grand snowy peak views from our windows, having a dense forest behind us has been a thrill (and at times a worry). 

As we await our relocation to Central Florida, I'm marking off the days on a homemade calendar attached to the kitchen wall with blue painter's tape. Sister said it looks like something a prisoner would scratch onto his cell wall. 

borrowed from my left-hand sidebar;
originally from Google Images

While I was lamenting the wait to move is still weeks away, we had a turn of circumstances a few days ago that changed my perspective. A plumbing leak was discovered here at the old house. The plumber said the repair would require a jack hammer and lots of $$$, but the problem must be addressed. With that said,  I was grateful for the weeks remaining until the move so there would be time to get the remedy done and we could move on.

When the Leak Detection man came a couple of days later, the problem was found to be in a corroded supply pipe to a faucet. No jack-hammering of concrete foundation or breaking up of tile will be necessary. Yes, we will need some dry wall repaired and a good paint match, but that is minuscule by comparison. We had prayed about this, asking the Lord to get the repairs done before we close on this house. God heard and responded in loving compassion. We are so very grateful!

Speaking of Sister, she and Former Farmer found a few days of escape from their home in the deep freeze of the far north to thaw out here in northeast Florida. Although they love their homeland, I dare say they were breathing a little easier in our 85-degree sunshine late last week. 

Sister, Former Farmer and Beloved

Of course we took them to walk through the model of our new home that is currently under construction. As my regular readers know, it's now our custom to photograph our guests in the ginormous shower of the master bathroom. (Beloved wanted me to tell you no soap or water was used in this photo.)

Former Farmer and Sister

They also tried out the breakfast bar and pronounced it suitable for all meals. 

our new home
After the tour of the model of our home, we drove past our actual house. We don't go inside because we have not been issued the required hard hats and we most certainly don't want to slow down the workmen in there!! 

However, we noted the property now has a driveway and exterior painting has begun. The material around the glass front door will be red -- I look forward to seeing that pop! of color when it happens.

from Pricilla and Chelsea's Flosstube channel
I will continue to decorate 'country' in the new house but nowadays they seem to refer to it more as 'farmhouse.' That's okay with me. Although I've never lived on a farm, Sister married a farmer and my family has made many fun memories from our visits to see them.

They moved into town years ago, but brought me some boards from the old barn. I want to make something like this picture above from Priscilla of The Real Housewives of Cross Stitch. Isn't that neat?!!! 

Speaking of cross stitch, I'll give you an update on my projects, probably tomorrow.  

Until then...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Why Blog?

floral bouquet from Joan H on February 2
THANK YOU for the wonderful comments you left here after my last blog post. I was blown away with your thoughtful words and encouragement. 

In a private email exchange with one of my readers, the topic was bandied about as to why we blog. I mean, for those of us who aren't trying to sell anything with our blogs, why do we tell the world our thoughts, feelings, and activities, and usually with pictures?!! Why make ourselves vulnerable like that?

Are we narcissistic, self-centered, boastful? (Maybe.) 

Or do we have a message we feel compelled to share? (Often, yes.)

Do we think our writing will change what's wrong in the world? (It's worth a try.)

Are we lonely and so desperate that we resort to blogging?  (True for some.)

Is self-publishing a stepping-stone to manuscripts for a book? (Sometimes)

For whatever reasons we began blogging, with many of us it's come around to a sharing of life experiences with a global group of people who welcome us into their reading niche and usually leave comments affirming our choices and offering information that can be helpful.

We learn from one another because we can't all experience all things. When we can humble ourselves enough to share what's happened to us, our successes and including our mistakes, we are helping others to make better choices with their circumstances. 

Sometimes we want to create with words and pictures to express what's inside of us, be it happy or sad. It's a release and a joy.

Perhaps most often we are designing a journal of our days for our future enjoyment and for the benefit of our children.

We love to create. I used to make scrapbooks, accumulating all the many bits and pieces of fobs and paper available. It made for a lot of stuff to store and keep track of, and I could never seem to use it all up! It was like getting more French Fries to use up the puddle of leftover ketchup on my plate and then getting more ketchup to eat with the leftover French Fries, and on and on! I always had components and fragments left over!

For me, blogging eventually put my scrapbooking to rest. I could record things in both public and private blogs, using the creativity my computer provided. That might not work for everyone, but for me it's been a much less cluttered method of self-expression and creativity.

I know for a fact I am not alone when I question my reasons for blogging. Insecurity is a common trait in most writers but when the words bubble up inside of us, that's a sign we need to express them in a useful frame.

As long as we are discreet with what we share and understand others may not always agree with us, blogging is a good form of communication. It's a modern-day platform of expression proving beneficial to many of us.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging!

10th Anniversary cupcake

Today I am celebrating my 10th anniversary as a blogger. It was on this day, February 7, 2009 that I ventured into the writing of life experiences and quite a lot of whimsical story-telling, along with recipes, travel reports, and Christian devotionals.

One of my nieces had begun blogging and my mother, knowing of my interest in writing since I was in junior high, suggested maybe I would like to give it a try. Not sure what blogging was all about, I didn’t act on the idea for a couple of months.

Then I fell off my kitchen counter while decorating the space above the cabinets, shattering my left shoulder. Surgery and months of physical therapy took the place of my sewing and quilting hobbies. I needed something creative to do while my shoulder healed. Typing didn’t hurt at all, and I love do it it, so I decided to poke into the idea of blogging. 

From the very beginning I had to make big decisions such as the address and title of my blog, and how to design a header appropriate for my theme. 

And speaking of theme, what did I want my emphasis to be? Would I write about one particular topic or make the blog a collection of many things?

There was the question of which blogging platform to use. I tried out both Blogger/Blogspot and WordPress and eventually decided Blogger was the way for me to go.

I had to figure out blog etiquette in those early years, how to write about my personal experiences without offending my family and friends. There was also the matter of not giving out information that might threaten anyone’s security or privacy.

My solution for some of that was to partially obscure faces with clip art sunglasses or hats and similar ruses. I also rarely used people’s real names, giving them pseudonyms. My long-time readers know my husband is “Beloved” and my mother is “The Cook on Fifth Street” (she made that one up when I asked her what she wanted me to call her). 

It’s obvious who “Sister” is, but then I’ve also got Gray Beard, Blondie, Web Designer, The Lil’ Red-Haired Girl (borrowed from Charles Schultz), Surfer Girl and Surfer Boy. I have not given cute names to my grandchildren because I did not want to label them with anything while they were still developing into who they will be, so I refer to them as Grandson #1 and so forth, according to their birth order.

Lessons have been learned along the way, some that stung but were needful. I learned that one must be extremely careful when writing in a public forum about people other than oneself. Being a Christian woman, I have tried to portray people in their best light and keep any negativity I might be feeling to myself. (nobody enjoys reading the blues and angry diatribes) Also, I learned that people like to tell their own story and to decide for themselves if their story should even be told. It’s not my place to tell the experiences of another unless they specifically give me permission to do so.

“My Staff” has been an important aspect of my writing. For several years I created stories about my fictitious Bed and Breakfast in the mountains where it was pretty easy to translate my real-life happenings into fanciful hyperbole.

my alter ego: Grammy Bear writing our tales

Of all my writing, the whimsical stories have been my favorites. My staff had wardrobe requirements for their pictures that required sewing skills (and yes, eventually I was able to sew again after the shoulder injury). We had parties and weddings, home repairs and medical woes — all sorts of settings where the required costumes were so specialized that I had to create them myself to make the story believable.

My blog posts took a turn when Beloved and I decided to move to another house about sixteen miles south of Denver in a scenic area that differed from our previous neighborhood.  Descriptive pictures and visits to historical haunts of our new town became common in my blog posts.

Then four years after that, Beloved and I made a much bigger move from the Rocky Mountain West to Florida with it’s beaches, massive bridges, coquina stone forts, light  houses,  and early-American history. We made many day-trips to learn about our new area and of course, to gather material for the blog.

collage of the homes we've had since blogging became a big part of my life

Interspersed with all of those topics over the years has been a heavy sprinkling of posts having to do with my faith, Christian living, and scripture-based encouragement. Those posts, in particular, brought women of like faith into my following.

An ongoing challenge has been the design of my blog headers. I have changed the name of my blogs many times. As the names changed, so did the themes. There was also a certain amount of just wanting to update the look because I was tired of what had been. At the close of this 10-Year Anniversary post I’ll share photos of some of the headers. 

But before I stop writing for today, I must say something about the friendships that have come out of blogging. It took time to build up a ‘following.’ Some of my readers came by just poking around the Internet and some by word-of-mouth. But by far, the majority came when I participated in memes such as the The Simple Woman's Daybook and Wednesday Hodgepodge, where bloggers give answers to questions and then link up with others who have done the same, leaving thoughtful comments on their blogs. 

Participating in memes can bring a lot of readers and comments, and also can take up a lot of time with reciprocal replies, so I don't post with them as often as I used to. However, I can recommend one that I currently enjoy, Wednesday Medley. If you are interested, click on this site to see for yourself.

When you read a person’s blog for months you begin to know them and the connection becomes special. While we communicate via our blogs and comments, there are sometimes private email exchanges when we want to discuss matters not needful for the public eye. Blogging has become, for me, a new spin on having Pen Pals!

I have had the privilege of meeting in person, face-to-face, three bloggers:

Cindy Brick on a TV quilting show (sorry, I don't know the name of the host pictured)
Cindy Brick 
I met Cindy at a church we attended in Colorado. She was on the keyboard of the praise team and her many talents and abilities go far beyond music.

Us with Terri and Joe
Terri D’Orsaneo 
Terri and I met through leaving comments on each other’s blogs long before I left Colorado, when I never dreamed I would one day live close enough to her (less than a day’s drive) for occasional face-to-face visits. Beloved and I met Terri and her husband last year at a Cracker Barrel somewhere between their home and ours.

Pam and me (holding Pam's baby doll, Elva)
Pamela Steiner 
Pam and I met via Terri’s blog, leaving comments and in the process, realizing we, too, were Florida “neighbors.”  Just last week Beloved and I visited Pam and her husband at their home in the forest where bears (pretty much friendly ones) visit often.

I have many other blogging friends who, although I've not met them in person [yet] I feel I would recognize if I saw them in the grocery store or the mall. We feel that close and it's very, very special.

I close out with pictures of some of the blog headers I’ve used. Thank you for helping me to celebrate this very fun and enriching hobby over the past ten years!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Hello's and Goodbye's Have Begun (and a Post Script at the Bottom)

floral bouquet from Joan H.

As with any relocation, there are the Hello's and the Goodbye's. Yesterday's post was about a happy Hello to Pam, who lives about half way between our old home and our new home. It was my first time to meet her in person, although we have been blogging friends for something like 15 months or so. With that "Hello" we expect to see each other again!

dining room table and kitchen table 

Then today was the start of the Goodbye's or maybe a better word choice would be the "farewells," because I will see these girls again (here, there, or in the air, as we church-goers like to say).

Mary Edith, Nancy (our hostess), and me

The ladies of our Sunday School class had a luncheon for me today at Nancy's house.  From the start of the announcements for this occasion, I have been so touched by this act of kindness because we have been members of the class for only about 16 months. I teased them that they would use any excuse to have a party but the sincerity in their faces and kind words mean so much to me.

Nancy, Barbara G, Carol, Janet, Susan (against wall), Jean, Christine and Mary Edith

Fourteen truly lovely ladies were able to come and what a good time we had! Nancy's home is beautiful and so tastefully decorated with a style that makes me just sigh contentedly as I sink into a comfortable chair. 

me and Brenda

We talked and laughed and ate really good food that began with a table in the living room full of finger foods, punch and ice tea. Wish I had thought to take a picture of that table!

Nancy, Bonnie, Maria, Barbara G., Carol, and Janet
Then the main luncheon foods were served buffet-style in the kitchen: brisket, ham, a spinach casserole, a potato casserole, green salad, roasted asparagus, and dinner rolls.

All or most of those foods were prepared by our hostess and the desserts were provided by some of the girls. 

Cherry dessert by Barbara G.
Desserts were chocolate chip cookies (the large, soft kind!), a creamy dessert bar that melted in my mouth with yumminess, and Barbara G's cherries with coconut and I-don't-know-what-all but it was out-of-this-world! I do love cherry desserts!

Jean, me, and Bonnie
Conversation centered around hot flashes, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, cures, treatments and doctors, herbal and oil therapies -- you know, the stuff women tend to discuss!  That is, until Joan suggested a change of subject to how we met our husbands and/or how they proposed to us!

Don't you know that was a juicy topic!!! However, in spite of my nature to report the news, I firmly respect "what is said at the luncheon stays at the luncheon." (wink with a smile) I will say this much: we are all blessed with good men even if the guys don't necessarily follow Hallmark movie scripts!

decorated notepad set in a cute country basket with a red rose, blank note cards made with Carol's bird photography, a handmade bead bracelet and matching earrings, a dear book on friendship, and a tray decorated with the name of our Sunday School class "JOY"

I was overwhelmed with the luncheon, the food and the excellent attendance, but gifts, too?! So very kind and generous. It was a delightful afternoon I will never forget (and especially since I'm documenting it here on my blog). Thank you, ladies, for your abundant kindnesses to me!

Thank you, Joan and Jean, for sharing your snapshots with me for this post. 

Post Script! More pictures have come in since I posted last night. These are from the camera of our hostess, Nancy:
Aleta, Maria, Barbara G, Carol, Janet, Jean

Mary Edith (sporting her temporary wheel chair), me, Brenda

Barbara G, Nancy, Carol (pink and black check shirt), Janet, Jean, Mary Edith

Joan, me, Brenda

Carol, Janet, Jean, Mary Edith, Joan, me, Brenda

Note: we have no pictures of Jackie, who had to leave early.