Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April Showers and Sunshine

It finally looks and feels like spring! It has warmed up nicely over the past week, the grass has greened up and many of the spring bulbs have bloomed. Outside my studio window, there is a large lilac bush with tiny leaves unfurled and our forsythia survived its drastic pruning last summer and is full of branches of delicate yellow blossoms. In between April showers, we managed to dig holes this week on a sunny day with our handy gardening auger that attaches to our cordless drill and plant the bulbs that never made it into the ground in the fall because of the constant rain. We said a prayer over them and hope they will survive. We will know next spring. I have learned that if given a chance, most things in nature will grow, so I am hopeful! We have lots of plans for our garden spaces, so there is always something to do outdoors and the fresh air and sunshine feel so good on my face. The perennial garden is waking up and there are a few plants emerging. I spotted foxglove, delphinium, Asiatic lilies, sedum, and cone flowers leafing out. It is time to trim back the rose bushes so they can fill out. I waited to do any pruning, but I think we are past any damaging frosts. Let's hope so!

We completed our goal of 40 days of giving as one of the ways we observed Lent this year. We put items we wished to donate in a special box for the observance. For me, it has become a habit to look for things in ordinary places that I no longer need or want that could be a blessing to someone else. I am sometimes surprised by the things that are sitting out in plain sight that can be shared this way. The boxes for our donations are getting filled and it is a very good feeling.

And speaking of donating, I am so happy that I have found a new way to support organizations in the local community. My husband and I have always enjoyed putting together gift baskets for charity events. We know how much fun it is to attend a basket raffle and come home with something wonderful that someone donated. These events help organizations raise money and awareness about their causes. There will be two basket raffles in May to which we will be donating, but instead of baskets, we will be donating handmade wreaths.

The first event will be on May 5th to support the St. Jerome Guild at the local hospital. You can learn more about it here:

You Had Me At Meow
Approximately 24" across and 7" deep, this wreath will be included in the raffle to support the work of the St. Jerome Guild at the United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, New York. Information about the event can be found above the photo. For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.

The second event will be on May 11th to support Crossroads House, which is a hospice facility. You can learn more about it here:

Welcome To Our Patch
This handmade wreath is approximately 24" across and 7" deep. It will be raffled to support the work of Crossroads House in Batavia, New York. Information about the event can be found above the photo. For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.

There is another wreath in the making right now on my work table and this one will actually be for our own front porch. Sometimes I feel like the cobbler's wife whose children have no shoes! I constantly make things to give away or sell, but don't make things for our own home. There is a long-neglected hand applique quilt that will be getting finished soon, too; and it will be for us  . . . to keep!

I hope that you are enjoying springtime and that you feel the gift of hope that it offers. For those of you who are in need of prayer, please know that I pray for my friends, family and our world every morning and include you in those prayers.

Thank you for stopping by to read this post. Your questions and comments are welcome. You may leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook. I will read it and will respond. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you and those you love in the hollow of His hand.


Friday, April 12, 2019

April Goals

One quarter of 2019 is behind us. It seems kind of hard to believe it, but it should make perfect sense, since this is one of the longest winters I can recall! Recently, we've had several days with lots of wind, and that is a good thing because fall was so wet and winter set in so early, that yard cleanup never really happened for most of us living in Western New York State. The leaves that ended up in soggy piles and stuck to the ground swirled about in the steady winds and the 50 mph gusts. Hopefully, it will make the job of raking gardens out much easier.

I have set monthly goals since the beginning of the new year and it has worked well for me. To focus on one major idea or task seems to be a good fit for how I approach things. So, with January's goal of purging closets and drawers of things I no longer needed or wanted, and February's goal of deep cleaning some of the more neglected areas of our home met, I focused in March on communicating more with friends and family. What I have noticed, after each month has ended, is that I have developed new habits based on my monthly goals and they are now part of my routine. I didn't expect this, but from my past research about how to break or establish a habit, maybe I should have anticipated it. So, now that this has been one of the rewards of goal setting, I am happy to go on for the rest of the year with setting monthly goals.

April is the month I have chosen to focus on working on projects in my studio. It was hard to limit my time in the studio when I had other goals during the first quarter of the year, but now I can get to work on several of the UFO's in my quilt stash and new wreaths and paper crafts. That means for you, my faithful readers, there will be more photos of things I have made.

I made a birthday card in March for our granddaughter who turned 21. She likes the mixed media things we have made together, so it was easy to come up with what I wanted to make for her.

For a closer look, click on the photo.
Mixed Media
I made a cute spring wreath that will welcome guests from now until fall, and I have several more started for spring and summer. They will be posted here soon!

For a closer look, click on the photo.
Welcome to our Patch
Spring Wreath
24" across, 8 " deep

Side view of wreath 

Close up of wreath 

The gardens are bare and brown . . . but each day that I go for a little garden tour, I find one or two more daffodils, tulips, hyacynths, and bleeding hearts pushing up through the dirt. We are still experiencing cold nights and, believe it or not, it even snowed this week! But, very soon it will be time to get the leaf blower, mulcher, rake . . . and my helpful hubby . . . outside to work on all the after-winter cleanup! For now, though, I will spend April getting back into the studio and establishing some good creative-time habits.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and going on my Studio Emmy journey along with me. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I will read them and I will respond, here on my blog or on Facebook.

It is my sincere wish that you and those you love are well and happy. For those of you who are dealing with tough, sad, or lonely times, please know I include you in my prayers, whether or not I personally know about your worries and concerns. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Lace and Memories

It is a chilly morning here in Western New York State. The sun is shining brightly in a blue sky, which is not the usual for us during the winter due to the lake effect from Lake Erie that casts clouds and drops snow over the region. But, it is no longer winter. The season changed to spring three days ago. But March is very changeable and so while it is a pretty morning, it is a very cold one with a temperature of only 19 degrees and a wind chill "feels like" temperature of 5 degrees. There is an inch of snow on the ground from overnight flurries and my plans to rake out one of my little gardens where spring bulbs are popping up through the layers of dead leaves are dashed. But, this does not depress me or deter me from making the inside of our home more spring-like. I changed out the Valentine's Day d├ęcor when Mardi Gras and then St. Patrick's Day approached. There was a lot of green to be seen, and it remains still, but in a quieter voice. The dried hydrangea bloom leaf wreath that I made last fall is back up on the wall and a few favorite green depression glass pieces, pottery and such decorate the mantle, along with a handmade piece that a quilting friend made for me when I was recovering from surgery, hanging on the wall. The faded sage tablecloth that I used on the table looked pretty drab, so I decided to give my lace tablecloth a chance to shine. I have had this beautiful handmade crocheted gem for over 30 years, but have never owned a rectangular table until last January, where it could be showcased. I had used it as a throw draped over the shoulder of a wingback chair and as a cover over a plain white sheet on a twin bed, but never has it had the chance to be used as it was intended . . . on a table.

This is a very special piece that I treasure. It was made especially for me by my Aunt Mabel, who lived just down the road from us in a little house that always smelled like sweet perfumed dusting powder and showed the activity of a busy seamstress, fancywork maker, baker and gardener. We were always very close and when the only grandmother I had ever known passed away when I was 8 years old, Aunt Mabel seemed to step in and assume the role. At her knee, I learned to sew and crochet. She would show me the steps to make things and I would practice until I got it right. She was a stickler for doing good work, so I became adept at ripping out stitches and trying again. I would often walk down to her house after supper and stay until after dark, even on school nights! I would lose track of time and my mother would call on the phone to ask if I would be coming home. I would stay just a few minutes more and walk back, sometimes after midnight, on a very dark rural road.

Aunt Mabel always had something new that she was working on to show me when I visited, which was several times a week; and on one such visit, when I saw a little 5-inch square of a crocheted wheat motif, I knew I wanted something made in that pattern. I asked Aunt Mabel if she could make something for me and a few years later she surprised me with the tablecloth. I was thrilled and never expected such a gift, although I think I may have hinted that a tablecloth would be my wish. The wheat motif held special meaning for me because our road was bordered by fields of golden wheat every summer and the harvest was always an important event for our farm family.
Please click on the photos for a closer look, if you wish. 
The 5"x5" square crocheted wheat motif that is used throughout my heirloom tablecloth.
Back to my story about covering that drab sage green tablecloth . . . I went to the closet and pulled out the folded tablecloth and carefully laid it out on my ironing board. I starched it and it came out beautifully. I carried it downstairs and started to drape it over the table and as I did so, my heart started to beat a little faster and when I made the final adjustments, I began to cry. It was a perfect fit. I could not have asked for a better gift. I was filled with emotions and memories and now every time I walk through the dining room, I feel such a sense of comfort, connection and belonging. Yes, belonging in my own home. The tablecloth's presence is like an anchor in a safe harbor for my heart.

The heirloom tablecloth adorns our dining room table.

Thank you for stopping by to read my post. Do you have favorite heirlooms, either passed down to you, or those you have acquired over the years? If you do, I hope you will find ways to enjoy them, or that you are doing so already, because even on a cold day such as this, you will find they can warm your heart. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I read all comments and will respond here on my blog or on Facebook. It is my hope 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.


Friday, March 8, 2019

I Wish . . .

Don't wish your life away. Have you heard this old adage? Perhaps it was told to you by your well-meaning elders when you were a child. I heard it plenty of times.  Dreams and wishes are a part of life, especially when we are young. Maybe dreams are more a part of our lives as young people than they are as we grow older. I seem to think about wishes quite often nowadays. I wish this and I wish that. I still wish on the first star I see in the evening sky.

I wish ________. I am certain you can fill in the blank with at least one little or big wish. For me, the wish that I have been thinking about quite a lot is the wish that I had pursued my artful endeavors at an earlier time in my life. I have so many interests that the art supplies are starting to crowd me out of my studio. More often than I would care to admit, while searching for a certain item in my studio, I stumble across supplies I bought to use in a future project. That always makes me shake my head, serves up a good dose of guilt and sends pangs of anxiety to my core. I whisper to myself, "me, and what army?" That is what I say. Really. I do. I say that because I would need an army to actually use all my supplies and actually make all the things I have in planning stages, in my dreams, or sometimes in various stages of unfinished-ness.

But before you continue reading, let me assure you that I am not spending my days heaping loads of guilt on my shoulders. I am still a dreamer. And I like that about myself. I like to think of possibilities. Of course, I may need to be reined in a bit at times before I go off on a trip to the store to buy supplies without a plan . . . or with a plan that requires the army I would like to command in my studio. Just like you, just like any of us . . . our lives are what we make of them. Unplanned and uncontrollable things happen to all of us, and to those we love; but we each have today and hopefully we each have tomorrow. So, I continue to dream about what I can make and when I am browsing Facebook, Pinterest, or DIY videos on YouTube, that list of dreams gets a little longer . . . along with my shopping list for supplies. 

So, back to the topic of wishes. I wish I was an architect because I like to learn how things are made and can be made differently. I wish I was an interior decorator because I enjoy transforming a room into something that fits its purpose. I wish I had the energy and physical stamina I used to have before my three surgeries. I wish I had planted the romantic garden of my dreams 10 years ago, so it would be lush and full of mature plants, trees, bushes and shrubs by now. I wish, I wish, I wish . . .

As a child, my teachers may have wondered about me. Teachers would tell me I was bright, but I was also told I needed to try harder. I'm still in touch with one of my elementary school teachers. He may agree, if he remembers what it was like to have me sit in his classroom for the fifth and sixth grades. Even my teachers in the lower grades observed and encouraged me as I dawdled and daydreamed . . . always drawing in the margins of my papers. But I learned to work fast, when it mattered, to get something finished and handed in with those little drawings often in the margins.

My parents emphasized being a good girl, not making waves, being polite and respectful, and of course getting good grades. That was a given. I wish they would have noticed my artistic side. Playing the piano and singing in the church choir and school choruses and musicals was as artsy as I got. Getting the carbon papers from my father's farm contracts was always a treat, as odd as it sounds today. I would find places on the carbon paper that still had some ink on them and use them to draw flowers, birds, trees and I would practice writing in cursive. My father had to hide his pens because I would use up all the ink in them if I found them by writing and drawing. He started giving me fancy Papermate pens and refills for Christmas so I would stop taking his from his desk! Now I have drawing paper, colored pencil sets, paints, brushes, lots of pens with colored ink and I have taken a few art classes.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie Uncle Buck is when John Candy's character makes a visit to the assistant principal's office at his niece's school. I so identify with his niece and not just in my memories of being a six year old, but as sixty-six year old! Take a look at this clip from the movie:

I will continue to pursue my artsy side and sometimes I may be a twiddler, a dreamer, a silly heart and a jabber box. I can continue to wish, but I also need to act. And if people don't understand or approve, I will ask Uncle Buck to explain a few things to them. We all need an Uncle Buck sometimes, don't we?

Photo source: CityNews
Thank you for taking the time from your day to read my post. As always, your comments and questions are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond. It is my hope 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.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Mardi Gras in Alexander!

Fat Tuesday is in two days and then on Wednesday, the season of Lent begins. Still buried under snow, and with daytime highs in the teens and nighttime temperatures in the single digits, it is not like celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But, when I saw the pretty mesh, ribbons, beads and masks at the store last month, I knew I needed to make a Mardi Gras themed wreath. The traditional colors of purple, green and gold that signify the carnival season are a refreshing change to the red and green of Christmas and pink, red and white of Valentines Day. Full of color and life, it is a welcome change while we wait for signs of spring to emerge. It may already be meteorological spring and in just seventeen days, it will be astronomical spring; yet in Western New York State, it will be a few more months until we can really experience the sights and sounds and smells of spring. But . . . that is just how it is here. It is a fact of life in Western New York. Winter has its own beauty and gives our earth the rest it needs under a blanket of snow, but once the ground warms up and signs of life return to the brown fields, then we can say it is really spring. For now I am happy to stay inside where it is warm and not go out walking on the ice and snow.
For a closer look, click on the photo to enlarge it.
Mardi Gras Wreath
The wreath is approx. 24 inches across and 7 inches deep.
People have contacted me about selling my wreaths.
They are for sale locally for $65 and can be shipped by USPS at an additional cost.
I finished out the month of February and stayed on task with my goal for the month of deep cleaning the rooms in our house. I used Mrs. Meyers products and have been pleased with their effectiveness. They do the job and they smell nice. I am happy to have found my very own cleaning products and not the same old products my mother and grandmother used. The scents of Windex and Pine-Sol were never my favorites and I was not convinced that they did a great job, anyway!

My goal for March is to get more connected with people and be a better communicator. I have let the ease of technology create a false feeling of connectedness. I miss hearing the voices of my friends and relatives. I wonder what the future will be like as people text more and talk less. In their golden years, will their memories be brightened by remembering text messages they received? I don't think so. I think we remember things that we are more involved in, such as a conversation in person or on the phone, than the current form of communication via textspeak and emoticons. So, friends . . . don't be surprised if you hear from me via a letter, or a phone call. I really miss talking on the phone. I hope to do more of it in March.

It is my hope that you and those you love are happy and healthy. I hope you are communicating in meaningful ways with those you hold dear. They can't know how much they mean to us if we don't make the effort to reach out to them and let them know. I urge you to do it now. I planned my March goal in January...long before I had any thought of writing this post. In February I missed the opportunity to communicate meaningfully with a friend after I learned her precarious health had taken a turn for the worse. She passed away last week. I can't go back. I can't call her or send her a card. Reach out. Communicate. You won't regret it.  ♡

Your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and I will respond. And, as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Waiting and Worrying

There is an old saying that goes something like this: What you worry about never happens, so go ahead and worry. That isn't exactly how it goes, but it is close enough. So today I am starting the worrying nice and early.
My morning view.
Every morning, before I my feet hit the floor, I open my eyes and check the view through the colored windows in our bedroom. After many years, I can discern whether it is sunny or cloudy, snowing or raining, or breezy. Breezy. That was what I was looking for this morning.  There was a slight movement of the smaller branches on the maple trees in our yard and I could tell it was a blue sky sunny morning. I was surprised to see the sun because I was ready to face the beginning of what has been forecast to be a harrowing day with high winds that will average at 35 to 45 miles per hour and gusts as high as 75 miles per hour. So, I am sure that I am not the only one checking the movement of the tree limbs this morning, I would venture a guess that everyone else in the whole Western New York region is looking up at the trees around their and their neighbors' houses. Our house was built in 1846, so it is safe to say that it has withstood many storms. I hope today is no exception.

As I prayed about my own safety, I realized I needed to expand my thoughts outside my own four walls. Of course I prayed for my husband. I always do. But then I thought of the first responders who will be out trying to help anyone who needs it. And all the calls won't be just for storm related emergencies. What about the person who falls ill and needs to get to the hospital or the expectant mother who goes into labor and needs to get to the hospital in the midst of all of what is supposed to be an awful weather day? Prayers.

I am sitting in our living room as I write this. I just turned to look out the front windows and instead of a blue sky, I now see a dark threatening sky. It looks like snow clouds, but I know that wind clouds can also be dark. The wind has completely diminished and there is nary a twig swaying. It is eerily still. That tells the wannabe meteorologist in me that the wind has been sucked out of our area and is now somewhere else . . . but will most likely arrive when those clouds cover our village. OK. I have worked myself up into a high state of worry.

I planned some projects to keep me occupied today. The first is to work on a Mardi Gras themed wreath. We don't celebrate it like they do in New Orleans, but I saw some pretty things at the store and before I knew it, they landed in my shopping cart. So, I will be working on that today . . . hopefully under my work lights and not by candlelight.
Some of the supplies I've gathered for my Mardi Gras wreath.
We anticipated the fact that we may lose electric power, so we have lots of food on hand that can be served cold. Just like before a snow storm, we; along with other Western New Yorkers; prepare as if we will be unable to shop for weeks.

It is beginning to thunder. I guess the wannabe meteorologist in me didn't see that coming. It is raining now and very still. I am definitely worried. So, I will close here, get another cup of hot coffee, charge up all our electronic devices and wait . . . and hopefully the winds won't be as strong as they say they will be and everyone will remain safe.

Wherever you are, I hope you and those you love are happy and healthy . . . and safe from the storms that seem to be everywhere. As always your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I do read them and always respond. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

All Dressed Up for Valentine's Day ❤

It's Valentine's Day! I always try to do something special to celebrate it, even if it is just decorating or making a special meal for my husband and me. But, since my main focus for the month of February is deep cleaning every nook and cranny in the house, I haven't been in my studio a lot to create things. I already posted the two Valentine wreaths I made, so today is just a short and sweet...mostly of the transformation of my mini dress form from Christmas to Valentine's Day. ❤
Please click on the photos to enlarge them, if you want a closer look.

Here she is wearing her Christmas ensemble.

The blouse, sash and pin were all removable.
I used rubber bands to draw in the evergreen skirt.

In order to smooth out her evergreen skirt, I wrapped her lower half with batting.

At first, I was going to sew a skirt for her,
but it was easier just to take several yards of tulle and wrap . . . and wrap . . . and wrap her!

I tucked bright pink tulle into her bodice, wrapped her waist in an organza ribbon and tied it in a big bow.
Of course, she needed to wear some pearls, so I made a little choker for her, too.

The big reveal . . . All Dressed Up for Valentine's Day!

Thank you for taking the time from your day to read my post. Your questions and comments are welcome here on my blog or on Facebook. I will read them and respond. I hope you and those you love are happy and healthy; and as always, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.