Thursday, March 12, 2020

A season unlike any other . . .

As spring approaches we as a nation and as a global community, are faced with changes in our lives unlike any we have experienced in the past. While I listened to the morning news on the television, I had a visceral reaction to what was being broadcast. COVID-19 is in our thoughts, in our conversations, and in the news. As I reached for the half 'n' half to pour some in my morning coffee, I thought about how much I cherish my morning coffee ritual. In light of the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic, I wondered how much of what I consider to be a normal day will change in the near and distant future because of this event. I won't list the things that came to mind, because I am quite sure you, my readers, have your own list of concerns. I will write instead about what I learned from my parents about the times when they needed to tighten their belts and their purse strings just to survive.

My father was born in 1898 in Titusville, Pennyslvania. His childhood was spent on farms where his father was a tenant farmer. They moved from Pennsylvania to Alexander, NY when he was very young. They didn't have a lot of money, but I don't think they were poor. I believe they even had a little extra money to pay for piano lessons for his sister, or they traded produce they grew on the farm with the piano teacher for her lessons. As an adult, my father lived through WWI and WWII. There were limits on what they could buy. There were gasoline rations, travel bans to save on rubber and fuel, and sacrifices at home and on the battle fields. He learned at an early age to be thrifty and a saver. Later in life, it paid off. He and his father and brothers were able to purchase a farm and during the post WWII era and they became profitable. As a result, I lived a very comfortable life as a child on our farm. My sister and I had nice clothes, toys, and plentiful food.
Circa 1930.
My father's family poses for a photo.
My grandparents are on the far left. My father is standing next to them.
My mother came from more modest beginnings. She was born at home in 1909 in Wheatland, NY.  Her parents rented a farm until they were able to purchase a small farm in LeRoy, NY. They never had enough money and the small repairs to their home and barns were done out of necessity, more than for esthetics or modernization. My mother and her parents peddled eggs and butter to the local village and community and my grandfather raised hogs that he sold at the local livestock market. During the Great Depression, my mother's family "made do" with very little. She and her sisters took jobs as mother's helpers and worked long days chasing kids, cleaning houses and doing laundry for $3 a week. In my mother's diary, she wrote that she received a card of hairpins for Christmas as one of her gifts from her parents. During WWII, she used the sugar rationing coupons given to her by her aunt to bake cakes and cookies. The family that lived up the road from her had 13 children. The three oldest boys went to war. One came home. Of the 10 children who remained at home, those who had jobs in town were given butter on their bread, but the kids who didn't have a job didn't get any butter and ate their bread plain. Those kids who lived up the road from my mother all lived long lives...some well into their nineties. They were survivors.
Circa 1930.
My maternal grandmother on the right.
The neighbor with 5 of her 13 kids, and my mother and her sister are the older girls.
Photo was taken on the west side of my grandparents' house.
When my parents got married in 1948, they remodeled a very old farm house that was built in the early or mid-1800's. They added indoor plumbing. I think they may have been the first on either side of their families to have a bathroom with a tub and toilet. The convenience of a septic system was a big deal to them. I grew up taking these things for granted.

I used to watch my mother cut the buttons off of my father's old shirts and the buckles off of his well-worn bib overalls. She saved the buttons and buckles in jars and she cut up the shirts and overalls into rags for cleaning or for the men to use on the farm. Nothing was wasted and just about everything in our home had more than one life. It was how they were raised and they raised me the same way. It has taken a lot of re-training for me to use something as simple as a paper towel. My mother would use a dishtowel or a rag when something needed to be wiped up.

So, as I look back to the beginning of this post, and my thoughts about half 'n' half, I think of the food and water the cows need in order to produce milk. I think about the farmers who need to buy grain and hay for them to eat and straw to bed them down. I think about the farmer getting paid for the milk his/her cows produce and the employees that need to get paid for their work on the farm, and the effects of the changes that are occuring now and will in the future, based on COVID-19. I think about the stories that were passed down to me from my parents about what happened in their lives due to the two world wars and the depression. I never talked to either of them about the 1918 Flu Pandemic, so I don't know how it affected them or their family's lives. I hope that in a couple of months, our world will be past the worst of the effects of this virus, at least health-wise. The economic effects may be with us for a long time.

I had planned to write a post today about something that is currently on my studio work table, but this topic was on my mind and in my heart. It is my hope that you and those you love are well and safe. You always remain in my prayers and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Seasonal Hobbies . . .

I have come to the conclusion that many of my hobbies are truly seasonal. Spring arrives in March, if you look at the calendar, but the gardens are not in flower quite yet. April is a good time to do the prep work, though, and rake out all the leaves and debris that have blown into the gardens over the winter. So while I wait for my gardens to wake up, the paper crafting season blooms forth in my studio. This year it was a challenge, once again, to move things around so I could comfortably reach all the paper stacks, paints, stains, bobbles, beads and equipment that this crafty season requires, since I had filled my studio with the large bolts of mesh, wire forms, signs, florals and spools of ribbons that I need for making wreaths.

After a white-knuckled drive home in wind and snow on slick ice-glazed roads from Rochester last Thursday, following a three-day continuing education class that is a requirement of our real estate licenses, we hunkered down for part two of the storm . . . more wind and snow! I plunged into finishing a journal I had started few weeks ago,but was completely stumped on how I wanted to proceed. You can view a photo of the journal in it's first stage with stain applied at:  http://studioemmy.blogspot.com/2020/02/2020.html. It took several days for the metallic stain to cure. I buffed it to a sheen and made a mental note to use an acrylic paint the next time.

I like to plan out my mini albums, journals and greeting cards, but since I was stymied, I decided to just try to go with what I had in front of me. I pulled out a favorite paper collection. I had saved it for something special and I decided it was special to just be inside where we were safe and warm. I had noted on the package that I brought it home in April of 2017. It was indeed time to stop admiring it and cut into it. Any of you who are quilters, paper crafters, knitters or crocheters might identify with this phenomenon. For me, it is buying something beautiful to use in a quilt, a mini album, a journal, a wreath, or a knitted scarf, but I can't bring myself to begin. Is it the fear of not measuring up to my own expectations? As if there is only one chance to make this kind of piece in my lifetime? As my encouraging husband reminds me, "Just use it! You will find something you like even better the next time you shop." He's right. And that is why I have a paper and fabric hoard that fills two closets! Truth.

So, as the weekend storm continued, I chipped away at my project and started to enjoy the freedom I gave myself to just go with the flow and complete it. After all, it is for me to use and enjoy . . . that includes the construction phase. Below are photos and captions beneath the photos. Tap on the photos for a clearer view.

The cover.
The journal measures approximately 7" x 9"
I used fussy cut papers from DCWV's Le Tres Chic collection and from a postcard advertisement I received in the mail.
I tried a new-to-me binding method.
On the inside cover, I used a beautiful tag that a crafty friend in a Facebook group sent to me several years ago in a swap. Thank you, Rachel! I tucked a couple tags behind it. 
On the right, the first of five booklets. Each booklet has 12 pages for journaling.
Left: A die cut holds a couple tags.
Right: The second booklet sports a cutout from the paper collection. 
Left: a couple cutouts from the paper collection.
Right: The cover of the third booklet with more cutouts from the collection. 
Left: A cutout postcard from the collection is tucked behind the Eiffel Tower.
Right: I used a cutout for a pocket to hold a couple tags on the fourth booklet.
Left: A cutout used for a pocket to hold a couple tags.
Right: Two tags behind a tuck spot and a fussy cut dressform from the paper collection on the fifth booklet.
Left: A couple tags tucked behind a cut apart from the paper collection.
Right: Flaps that open to reveal a tablet of paper. 
A tablet with places to journal on the flaps that fold in to keep things in place.
A tablet for recording my thoughts.  
The back of the journal.
The interior of one of the booklets.
The tags and cutouts.
These are blank on the back so I can write on them.
You may wonder how a journal like this is used. There are many ways to use something like this. It can be a planner, a place to record dreams, story ideas, or to document ordinary and extraordinary days. I've come to the realization that writing things down helps me organize my thoughts and is well worth the time it takes to do so. And if it can be done in something pretty like this, that I've made with my own two hands, that makes it all the more enjoyable and meaningful.

Thank you for stopping by to read my post. Your questions and comments are welcome. I will read all of them and respond here on my blog or on Facebook. As always, you remain in my prayers, and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy

Saturday, February 15, 2020

2020


By now you have probably seen so many Facebook posts, and media stories about the new decade, that your eyes glaze over when you see the numerals "2", "0", "2" and "0" linked together in a headline. Well, here's one more for you to read . . . my two cents on 2020!

Hindsight is 20/20. We have heard that expression countless times. It's not the same "2020" we all might be thinking about as the new year starts, but it struck me when I was considering the close of the old year and the beginning of the new one that I could benefit from a look back at the past year, and even the past decade, as well as some prognostication in the way of realistic goal setting and a little foresight. 

Overall, 2019 was a pretty good year and the last ten years have been a mixed bag of memories. Some were great, others  . . . not so great. Yet, in the big picture, they have helped me develop into who I am today . . . right now. And next year, or in one more decade, if I am fortunate to still be on the planet, I will have learned more things, experienced more things and developed and changed. In my case, change has been good for me. Has it been easy? Not always. Expected? Not always. Inevitable? Always.

One big change for me that has been more of an evolution than an intentional one is the way I spend my time. I used to love to be on the go and viewed being home as though I was missing something important that was happening elsewhere. It was almost as if I didn't like my home enough to stay there for very long. I would find reasons to go out the door and run so many errands that I would come home exhausted and grouchy. If I had a 50% off coupon for a store or saw that something was on special at the grocery store, I took off for town. Not every purchase was really all that much of a bargain, either. In the back of the pantry I still find outdated cans that were part of those shopping trips, which tells me that both the time I spent shopping and the money I spent were both wasted. By finding things I truly love to do at home, this past year helped me develop a desire to be home as much as possible. I now am among the ranks of those who call themselves homebodies. I could never understand the concept until it became part of my own development. And I am so happy that it has. 

I started 2019 on a mission to do some serious deep cleaning of long-neglected corners and closets and found that to be a very rewarding job for the winter months. When spring arrived, I was glad I had met that goal and I could go outside and tend my gardens without the self-imposed guilt I used to carry around about needing to clean my house. Spot cleaning and tidying was really all I needed to do in the summer, since my husband and I spent much of our time outside. I now put off going to town for as long as I can and it feels very natural. That was real growth for me.

The feeling of accomplishment from meeting some of my goals for the past year has given me the confidence to forge ahead into 2020. One goal that has been a moving target is getting my boxes of old photos out and looking at them to enjoy the memories and to make notes on the back to indicate where and why they were taken and who is in them. That task has been on my To Do List for decades. I would wistfully mention to others that it would be a good thing to do on a wintery day, but those days have all come and melted away. The idea is more concrete now, especially after attending calling hours recently for my cousin and viewing the slide show of photos of her that were on a TV screen at the mortuary. I witnessed how impactful those photos were for the bereaved family and friends, and soon I will . . . not hope to . . . but will get those photos off the shelf and begin the process of sorting and documenting them. I plan to share them with the people in them and a few may end up here in a future blog post.

I have started to do some papercrafting again. My supplies were hidden behind my wreath-making supplies, so I had to figure out . . . yet again . . . a useful storage arrangement for all of my various craft items. Now it is easier for me to grab a little time in between other things to sit down for a short spell and play with my pretty papers and embellishments. It doesn't make sense for me to spend money on beautiful paper and ribbons and lace and bring them home and put them in a drawer and out of sight.

The beginnings of a journal I am making.
This one is for me to record my thoughts.
I will use some of my beautiful paper and embellishments to create something special just for me!
(To enlarge the photo, click on it.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate your comments and questions and I will read them and respond. You can leave them here on this post or on Facebook. 

As always, it is my wish that you and those you love are safe, happy and healthy; and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Wreaths in my future . . . and maybe in yours!

If you  have followed my blog, then you are aware of how much I like to make wreaths. This has been something I have enjoyed as a casual endeavor for over a year now. As I have been honing my skills and giving my handmade wreaths to family members and to various local charities for fundraisers, I have been asked by several of my readers if I ever sell the wreaths I make. The answer is "yes", but I haven't always had more than just a few to choose from. Now that we are beginning a new year and I have discovered that there are many people who like the wreaths I make and would like to buy them, I am going to go forward with sales on line and possibly at local events. I will be increasing my wreath inventory and will be posting them for sale locally here on my blog, and on my Facebook page.

I put a lot of effort into my designs and choosing the materials. I make each wreath with skill and care and owe much of my work ethic to the people who I have learned from, including my Aunt Mabel who taught me to sew and crochet, and my quilting instructors who have taught me about accuracy and finishing techniques. The wreaths I make are ones that I am proud of and would hang on my own front door. The people who have purchased wreaths from me have been very happy with them. These things, along with the support of my husband (and sometime design consultant) give me the security to take the next step to selling to the public. Online sales are in my future, so please stay tuned for that during the coming year. You may not realize it, but when you show interest in what I make and comment on my blog posts, it means a lot to me. So, as I start out on this venture, I want to say "thank you".

Now that the holidays are over, I can post photos of wreaths I made as gifts. If you want to view the photos closer, you can click on the photos and it will enlarge them. There are captions under the wreaths that describe them. Both wreaths measure approximately 24"x24" and are about 6" deep.

A gift for a big fan and his family.
It is now proudly displayed on their front door in anticipation of a successful run in the AFC wildcard playoffs.

My college-age grandson expressed an interest in the wreaths he saw me making when he visited this past summer.  He surprised me when he said, "if you make a wreath for me, I will hang it in my dorm room". So, of course, I was sure that he would receive a wreath. I used his college's logo for the sign.

Gnomes aren't just for the garden!
Gnomes were everywhere this Christmas season and my sources tell me they will remain popular for next Christmas season, too!
Approximately 24"x24"x8" deep
$65
Local Sales Only.
Pickup or delivery location to be arranged within approximately 30 miles.
Let It Snow!
This  little snowman will greet your winter visitors with a friendly smile.
Approximately 24"x24"x7" deep
$65
Local Sales Only.
Pick up or delivery location to be arranged within approximately 30 miles.

Thank you again for your interest and your moral support. Your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog and on Facebook. I read all of your comments and reply. As always, it is my wish that you and those you love are happy and healthy; and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It was 40 years ago today . . .

It was 40 years ago today . . . a cold December morning like just today, and about the same early hour as I write this at 4 a.m., when I received the call from my mother that my father was in an ambulance and on his way to the hospital. I gathered my things and my thoughts, left my dorm room, walked in the dark across the icy parking lot as the snow crunched under my feet, packed the few things I had gathered into my car and made the one and a half hour drive to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, I stopped at the front desk to inquire in which room I could find my father. The woman at the desk looked down and then looked up at me. She looked down again at the papers on her desk. She looked back up at me, and through the window between us, she spoke to me through the little hole in the glass . . . like the ones at the ticket booth at the movie theater . . . and said, "Mr. Hawker is deceased". Any strength I had in my legs left me and I felt like I was about to collapse. I looked back at her and said, "What?" And in the same monotone that she had delivered the news the first time, she repeated those four words. No change of intonation, no emotion, no recognition that this must have been someone important to me, since I was there at six o'clock in the morning. I felt panicked and asked, "Where is my mother?" She didn't know was the answer I received. I asked her if I could use the phone and she directed me to a pay phone in the lobby. With my hands trembling, I fumbled for the change I needed to make a phone call, dialed my parents' phone number and reached my mother. She was sobbing, hardly had a voice, as if everything had been taken from her being. She spoke to me in a whisper and through her tears she shared her story of what happened in the past few hours.

I left the hospital, in a state of confusion, and drove the back roads to our farmhouse. It was still dark when I arrived. I went inside and found my mother sitting at the dining room table. There she sat, looking so very small and so grief stricken. She was in disbelief. She told me the head nurse asked her to leave because she was not allowed to stay in the room with my father overnight. He had been admitted only a couple hours before. It must not have occured to her that she could have stayed in a waiting room, so she walked out in the dark and on the ice to her car and drove home. The last words she said that my father said to her were, "Please bring my cane with you when you come back, Honey". She never imagined it would be the last time she would hear his voice. They had been together through every major event during their marriage. She was heartbroken that she was not with my father when he took his last breath. It weighed heavily on her because she had not wanted him to leave this earth alone. She could have been there, had she stayed. She was mad at herself and also at the nurse who asked her to leave. Nothing could be done to change it. It was a regret that she carried with her for the rest of her life. If there is any consolation, it is that my father actually got his wish that he would die in his sleep. My mother was told that he passed away while sleeping. That gave her comfort and she held on to that. 

I am sharing this part of my life story, not because I want attention or sympathy, but because it has been playing over and over in my mind this week. As the date of December 4th approached, I started to get very sad. It started on Thanksgiving. I remembered all the bustling activity at our house when a holiday meal was prepared. The arrival of my aunts and uncles and the familiar baskets on their arms with fresh rolls and pies in them, the crowded and noisy kitchen with hot dishes on the stove and hot discussions about how the gravy should  . . . and shouldn't . . . be made. And after dinner, the clean up and then either a game of canasta at the dining room table or sewing baskets and handwork in the living room while my father and uncles played cards in the kitchen or took a walk out to the barn. To some people, this may not sound particularly exciting, but to see my parents in a jovial and social setting was very special to me. To see them enjoying the company of their sisters, brothers and inlaws, seemed to bring them all so much happiness. They would often exchange books they had read and would pass them along so the others could enjoy them. They would write their initials and the date with pencil inside the front cover to note when they read each book, so when they were together again, they could keep the books moving among them, with the exception of one hard cover book that my father never loaned out. He kept Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage" all to himself and he read it every winter.

Some of the fancy dishes that we used on holidays. I have fond memories of getting these out of the china cabinet and still enjoy using them for special occasions. 

It is hard to believe that I am old enough to say these memories have been with me for many decades. As those who I held dear left me, the memories became more precious and I am glad I have them and can recall them. And as I contemplated writing this post as the date approached, I started to think about and value everything that has happened in my life to bring me to this place . . . emotionally, physically, philosophically and geographically. The effort my parents made to impart their values to me and provide a safe and happy home, the value of learning and trying new things, the good food that I get to enjoy at holidays and everyday, the beliefs and freedoms I have, and the place in the world that I call home all have great value to me, especially the home my heart has found. The life I share with my husband is unique and precious. It doesn't matter if others value the same things as me, as long as I can still enjoy my own life and my own memories . . . happy and sad . . . distant and sometimes ethereal .  .  . knowing life is not a guarantee, but a gift. Sometimes the memories are rich and sometimes they are mundane, but when put together, they make what I call my life. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I seem to have rambled a bit . . . or maybe a lot . . . while writing this. Without much editing, I will post this and send it your way. It is my wish that you will enjoy your memories, the old ones and the ones you will make today and this holiday season. I pray for all my readers and hope that you and those you love are well and happy. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy


Friday, November 22, 2019

Music, Memories and Emotions

While working in my studio the other day, I heard a familiar show tune playing in the next room . . . the love song that Tony and Maria sing to each other in West Side Story. My husband was watching TV and had stopped at the movie channel while surfing for a program to watch. It is a pretty normal routine for us. I quite often work in silence while he likes to listen to music or watch a movie as he chips away at his "to do" list. He can repair gadgets or put together items we order online from cryptic instructions, while I can't concentrate if there is a familiar tune within my hearing range. I have so many thoughts in my head about what I am trying to accomplish that if I hear music that has lyrics that I know, I will start singing them and then my concentration is broken. Not to mention, I will hum or sing the tune for the rest of the day . . . often to my husband's detriment! (Wink!)


But hearing the love song from West Side Story had a surprising effect on me. I became very emotional and teary. I had to sit down and take a deep breath. I listened and it brought back a vivid memory from when I was a very young teen. I am not sure I had even seen the movie yet, but I asked for the West Side Story record album for Christmas. On Christmas morning, I could see the wrapped album under the tree and I knew right away what it was. I was so happy and after all the presents had been opened, I removed the album's cellophane wrapper, read the back of the jacket and put the album on the turntable of our stereo console record player that was in the living room. I don't know what it was about the music that day that came out of those speakers, but I had an overwhelming and very emotional reaction to it. I cried and cried and my mother was rather confused by my behavior. I remember her saying to me that if she'd known the record would make me cry all Christmas day, that she wouldn't have given it to me. Of course, I reassured her through my tears, that it was a wonderful gift and I loved listening to it. And even though I cannot recall when I actually saw the movie, I do know it was when I became enamored with George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. The undercurrents of the gangs and the tragic story of the modern Romeo and Juliet were new to me. I was a little farm girl, living in a rather insular setting, where we were far removed from a city. But the story hit me in a place in my emotions and psyche that had not been reached before by any musical score. Was it the tension in Leonard Bernstein's tempo? Was it the instruments? Was it the key the music was played in? I think it was a combination of these any many other things. What strikes me the most though, is how much the effect of the music on me is the same as it was over fifty years ago; so much so that after my husband told me he recorded the movie for me on our DVR, I haven't wanted to view it. Not quite yet. I will need to make time to enjoy it with out breaks. I need to be still and enjoy it from beginning to end. Yes. I will enjoy it and have a good cry that will probably tire me out to the point that I'll need to take a nap!

I did a Google search on why music makes us cry and among the many articles I found, I thought the one linked below was good, except for it's abrupt ending.

https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-do-certain-songs-make-us-cry-ncna784801

Have you ever been riveted by a surprising visceral reaction to something triggered by a long-ago memory? It has happened to me only a handful of times, but each one is deep-seated in my psyche. For me, the musical score from West Side Story is definitely one of those memories. Another is the events of this day in history in 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. Black and white footage of the news stories that aired for what seemed to be days and days evokes a strong and sad emotion from deep inside and it was when our entire nation was rocked from our foundation. There are personal memories and those that we share with others, but for me the feelings are similar, all encompassing and they always give me pause.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond.

It is hope that you and those you love are healthy and happy. I pray for all of my readers and until we meet again, it is my hope and my prayer, that the Lord will hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy

Thursday, November 14, 2019

And just like that . . .

I was amazed at the delicate pattern the snowfall created on our fallen arbor that was blown over a couple weeks ago during a terrific windstorm. ♡

And just like that, fall was over. The autumn days were delightful and I had hopes of more beautiful crisp and colorful days, until the weather made a very abrupt change to extreme cold and heavy snows. As I write this in the early morning hours, while waiting for the sun to rise, the temperature is in the mid-twenties and it is snowing lightly. It is a bit early for this kind of weather to arrive and stick around, and earlier than I originally planned, our fall decor will be coming down, spurred on by the weather. My husband and I agreed that we are both ready to begin decorating for Christmas. By our own admission, we are not fast decorators and if we want to enjoy the season, we need to have our house looking festive so we can relax and partake in the events that are meaningful to us without feeling behind and in a rush to decorate.

This idea meshes with my thoughts on being more intentional in my life. For many months, I have been trying to enjoy each moment for what it offers without thinking about what I will do next and minimizing the importance of the here and now. That includes daily chores, such as cleaning the house, as well as memorable outings with friends. Is cleaning fun? Not really. But as I set out to clean a room, I try to remember how important it is to surround myself with meaningful things and enjoy taking care of them. As I dust the pretty little dishes that I inherited from friends and relatives, I am blessed by memories of the those who I loved and of the hours we spent together. While folding laundry, I am thankful for clean clothes I can wear to keep me warm. When I look through windows after I wash them, I am thankful for the view of my neighborhood, where we watch over one another. I think to myself about the friends who are currently hospitalized and how much they would like to be enjoying the simple everyday things that I am doing. What would they give to be back home making their own bed instead of lying in an uncomfortable hospital bed, hooked up to gadgets that prevent them from even rolling over and getting comfortable, and having to ring a buzzer for help with everything they need to do? I am grateful, and as I take down the wreath I made for the fall season, that has a sign on it that says "thankful", I am just that. Thankful.

One more look before I take our "thankful" wreath down to make way for Christmas decorations. It may end up hanging on the front porch for Thanksgiving. 
Since I didn't post to my blog in October,  here's what the mantel looked like. You'll see we had some pet bats in the birdcage, but we liberated them so I could replace them with dried flowers. 🦇

And now, as we approach the season of advent, I will be hopeful. I have been making Christmas wreaths and have enjoyed opening up the storage totes where I put all my supplies that I purchased last year at the after-Christmas sales. It is rewarding to shop in my own stash and only go to the store if I need a certain color of ribbon or mesh. I made a few bases for wreaths to make the process smoother and free me to be more creative. With the base of a wreath in hand, I can view my ribbons, ornaments and signs with fresh eyes and often something will catch my eye and spark a new idea. As I complete wreaths this month, I will list and sell them. I had planned to have more made by now, but a few health related things cropped up for my husband and for me that slowed me down. Life has a way of doing that. However, I am trying remain hopeful and make what I can before the holidays.
Blog posts will be more regular now that I am spending time inside. In the summer and early fall, I tend to go outside for hours and hours. I lose track of time when I am outdoors. There is always something to take care of in the yard, as well as taking the opportunity to sit on the bench in our garden to drink in the view. I never tire of watching the garden grow. The song birds and the butterflies that kept me company all summer are gone now. When I venture out in the morning, the only sounds I might hear are the occasional screechy greeting of a blue jay or the sharp chirps of a cardinal. It occurs to me that the word I would use to describing this phenomenon is "acceptance". I need to accept the silence, the snow cover, the bare trees with their dark trunks silhouetted against the white background, and the time to live inside the walls of my home instead of outside in the yard and gardens.

One of my dress forms stands guard at the hallway table. The basket of dried hydrangeas beneath the table was a gift from a friend last fall. They are still in great shape and I love the shades of pink and burgundy on the petals. ♡

I picked a few of the blooms from one of our hydrangeas and put them in the birdcage for safekeeping. The Chinese lanterns on the right have seen better days, but I can't seem to part with them just yet! ♡

The birdcage keeping my hydrangea blooms safe. ♡

Thankfulness, hope, and acceptance will keep me intentional and grounded as I go about my days. I hope you will take sometime after reading this to consider what is important to you today and this season. I think you will find the simplest thoughts and smallest plans can be very comforting. We all deserve to be kind to ourselves in this way. We all know from experience, the world around us can dish out more than enough harshness.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to stop for a few minutes and read this post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I read all comments and will respond. If you'd like to enlarge any of the photos for a closer look, you can tap on them on your screen.

It is my hope that you and those you love are happy and healthy. For those who are struggling with illness or difficult situations, please know I pray for you. And, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Emmy