Thursday, December 22, 2011

Terra Nova

A new crafting obsession, terrarium-making.  Thanks to the inspiration of this new library book "Terrarium Craft".  I've always loved 'miniature worlds' and gardening.  This new craft adventure combines my love of dollhouses with my passion for working in the dirt.  The one pictured above has a Zen/Oriental theme and is for my friend Sharee's birthday on the 30th. 

This one is for my Baptist mother-in-law, so it has a decided more "neutral" feel to it.  The birdbath is a little glass candle holder from Wal Mart!

Another Christmas craft, knitting, went in the way of cowl-making over the past few months.  I made several for my mother to give to her friends as her own knitting skills have been hampered by Parkinson's Disease.  My mom used to churn out complex cabled sweaters in less then a week.  She still knits, though it be very slowly, as therapy for her hands.  I was glad to help her out and prove that all those hours spent teaching me to knit were not in vain.  This cowl is for my sister-in-law.  A bit of "bling" in silver and gold are added to the chunky black yarn.

A wonderful Amazon gift card arrived in this box from my brother and his family.  I just love Amazon and this gift is greatly appreciated by everyone at my house, especially Coal.

I didn't set up the big tree this year.  I added a few more owls to the little tree on the TV and I may bring down my silver chicken wire creation to put on top of the sewing machine table.  I'm finishing up a few last-minute alterations for some friends and then the lid will close on the sewing table so the tree can stand there.

If my computer allows I will post again soon.  If I don't get back on-line before the 25th, I wish a Very Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bloggedy, Blog, Blog, Blog.....................

Gymnastics coaching, gift making, Christmas card sending, cooking baking, cowl knitting, ornament stitching, house decorating...basically anything that doesn't involve this sorry excuse for a computer.  Today's record was 31 tries to get it to start up.  Blue screens, black screens, even some cool mosiac patterns.  But here I am, finally able to post.  So of course my photo editing software won't open!  I did find this photo from a few weeks ago.  Two lovely new friends from a local farm.  Gizmo is the big gray guy and his little calico buddy is one of the family of barn cats....two other siblings and the mom and dad cat.  All live peacefully together.
So that's me, putting myself out there "on-line".  Hopefully I can post some photos next time, but one never knows when that "next time" will be.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Wanting so much to blog in the last month or so, but my computer has been so uncooperative.  Wanting to share what I see outside and craft inside. 
 Wanting to reconnect with old firends and discover new ones.  Wanting to view all your blogs and make some comments.  Wanting to open myself up to the world of the productive again. Wanting to coach and thrive in my secret little gymnastics world.

Having the time, energy and creativity restored to me to make a few little things. 
Having people appreciate them  and even buy them from my Etsy shop. 
 Having so many dear, sweet, loyal and patient friends and FINALLY being able to see them again!
 Having a moment to stand on the Balance Beam and look out across my special world of gymnastics. 

Blurry..trembling with excitement!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gearing Up

Sounds harmless enough.  "Gearing up"sounds so productive, almost cheerful.  But not in my case.  It's the process I go through in order to travel (once again) for gymnastics.  As if Indianapolis two weeks ago wasn't bad enough, I am off tomorrow to Kent State University for Judge's Cup competition.  Why is it that something I am so passionate about can cause me such anxiety?  Who knows........  For nearly two years it's been nothing but worry and anxiety.  Everything becomes an effort, an event, a monumental task that I must pull myself through in order to move forward.  Judging, as opposed to coaching, offers better hourly wage and much more prestige and respect, but I have noticed that the friendships and  fun of coaching are just not there for me.  Infact I refer to it as the "Mean Girls Club".  They are quite a clique-y little bunch.  Maybe it's the required bland uniform.  Much like the old Catholic school uniforms I remember.  There were always that certain bunch of girls who made up for the drudgery of matching plaid by exercising the, shall we say, bolder aspects of their personalities.  This clique atmosphere combined with my long-time fear of traveling makes for an extended Gearing Up session.
My way of gearing up is to gear-down.  Back-to-basics.  I walk every morning in the fields with the cats.  This is as much to "train" them to go into the safe large back area of the property as it is to relieve my own stress.  Communing with Nature (aren't I just full of cliches this evening).
I also bake and cook a lot, satisfying my need to make sure no one starves to death for the 28 hours that I will be gone from home.

Yellow squash, Vidalia onion and Swiss cheese quiche
I did manage to get 5 pretty good judging assignments for this season.  Of course this will have little effect on the debt that has been accumulating over the past two years.  I look out at my patio and want to see pumpkins, gourds, mums, corn stalks, but there's none of it.  Nor will there be any of it in the foreseeable future.  You've heard of Charlie Brown Christmas, well I'm having a Charlie Brown Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  In the midst of my moaning and bitterness yesterday I got a sudden burst of creativity courtesy of Mother Nature.   I managed to create these three Autumn decorations out of things from my yard.  Grapevine, bittersweet and various dried weeds.  The brown wreath on my kitchen door I've entitled Yard Crap. Since it has a title that involves both Nature and a mild profanity this qualifies it as ART!

The cross-stitch starts from the previous post have become finishes.

The dolls also benefited from my "neurotic nesting".  A Christmas gown...........

and a prairie dress (complete with contrasting bloomers and bonnet).  Both for 18" dolls.

There is a substantial pile of cut-out items waiting to be sewn.

I finished  the day with a nice bike ride.  Since Bud is getting too old to walk long distances with me anymore, my bike has become my new companion.  Not as much of a conversationalist as Bud, but it will do.  These early Autumn days are such a mix of cool mornings and warm days that the cricket population has exploded.  This one perches harmlessly on the porch doorway.  While riding my bicycle I need some sort of safety goggles to make it through the onslaught of flying crickets.

I have heard that crickets are a symbol of good luck, so maybe this little guy is trying to tell me something.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Like many of you, my annual Christmas Ornament Issue from Just Cross-Stitch magazine has arrived.  I am interested to read all of your critiques and recommendations.  I admire those who are able to give a critique of a particular chart, pattern or magazine.  I am one of those over-emotional, highly sensitive people that does not take criticism well.  Therefore, I do not hand it out much toward others.  To me, everything is lovely in it's own way, although I have picked a few favorites.  Many an "x"has been made in the past few days, but there are a few other interests that have come along as well.
Color of any sort has always fascinated me.  Natural dying has become a "fad" lately.  How our great-grandmother's would laugh over this.  It is a marvel to me how so many things done of necessity have now become "hobbies" to present day crafters.  Ah, I even hesitate to use the word "craft" as there seems to be an ongoing battle of Art v. Craft.  I personally see no difference between the two.  Though many will disagree with this assessment, again it refers back to my fear of insulting anyone or hurting any one's feelings.  Much as the oil painter considers himself an artist, I am sure the person who makes toilet paper cozies out of plastic canvas considers them art as well.  So be it.
Off the soap-box and on to the dying.  Here is my attempt at a "recipe from a wonderful book new to our local library:  Harvesting Color.  This is a batch of tickseed from the field behind my house.  I dyed a scrap piece of 28ct linen.  I didn't get a very intense orange, but I didn't use a mordant agent.  I'm still perfecting my techniques and terminology.  I've seen alum mordant in little bottle on Etsy, so I may try that next time.

Two other new books from the local library.  Not much success with either of these new ventures.  I do so want to make my own cheese.  The consumption of cheese in this household is astronomical, so it can only be of benefit to make my own.  Again a lack of skill, terminology and supplies held me back.

On to the ornaments!  I do lean toward certain designs/designers in my selections for cross-stitch.  I'm a huge Prairie Schooler fan, but this year's ornament did nothing for me.  I tend to go on the visual impression first and then when I look up the chart I am surprised to find the name of the designer is one I usually pick anyway!
Jolly by Miss Crescent's Crown was the first one done.  The colors immediately caught my eye as something that would be perfect for my 13 year old niece.  I also have an ample supply of lime green fuzzy yarn to use as trim.

 Next up was Tanya's (The Sampler Girl) lovely design Good Tidings To You.  I know Christmas ornaments are all about Santa's and snowmen, which I do like, but I just love animals in Christmas designs.  Now one would expect a deer or some forest birds, but this rabbit is just so cute and a bit unexpected

 Here is a lovely Christmas fox (again a break from snowmen and Santa Clauses).  He is from a very old Cross-Stitch and Country Crafts magazine.  I made him as a frame piece for my mothers years ago.  She tore him out of the frame over my August visit and requested him as an ornament instead.  She said he just doesn't get enough exposure sitting in that frame.

 I added a little sterling silver pine cone charm on one of the pine branches.
 Next ornament is Fresh Fallen Snow by Little House Needleworks.  It has seen been fully stitched.  All the ornament finishes now sit around waiting to be stitched to their backings and properly completed.
It's so nice to have a little needle in my hand again.  The socks have been set aside for a bit, although not to far out of reach.  They will be my travelling companions today as I set off for Indianapolis for the Region 5 Gymnastics Congress. A geek-fest extraordinaire of all things gymnastics.  But mostly an anxiety-fest for me as I have to leave my pets behind again.  Joe will care for them of course, but the worry never ceases for me when I travel.  Well, I must 'see and be seen' in order to get good judging assignments this competitive season.  Time to be a big girl for a few days. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Heading Toward Autumn-Looking Back at Summer

A look back at my trip to New Jersey.
As usual, my anxiety and panic built up in the days before I left.  A delay of 4 hours at the Dayton Airport didn't help matters at all.  Arriving in Newark, I always marvel at the beautiful colors and designs on the planes at the International Terminal.  Deep inside I have this yearning to travel the World.  If I can ever overcome my crippling fear of leaving my animals behind someday I may be on one of these planes.
I made it to my parent's house during the "big build-up" to Hurricane Irene.  My father has total command of the TV ( some things never change) and between the Yankees and Mets we were tuned into Fox News or The Weather Channel and it was all about Irene.  I know hurricanes are a serious matter but really!  The over-kill coverage was nauseating.

Sunny sign of Irene.  My dad and I headed for our usual Summertime haunt....the Community Pool.  My family has had a membership to the local pool club since 1965.

And here is King Neptune himself, my dad.  At 80 years old he still swims laps nearly everyday, all Summer long.  Not sure if it's purely for the exercise or the fact that he absolutely must get his monies-worth out of any investment.

As Saturday night approached, so did Irene.  The TV coverage intensified and we spent our final hours supplementing the apocalyptic food supply at my parent's house.  As long as the hand-crank can opener worked we were in no danger of starving to death.  My brother and his family came over for dinner.  Here my brother Jeff and Dylan build a house-of-cards.
My mother focuses on the Fox News coverage..............

My niece Julia makes some all-important phone calls.....

The dogs, sensing impending doom, gather around my dad for comfort.

The first big gust of wind rattled the house and shook this plate of brownies that had been set to cool in top of the washing machine.

Nigh time hurricanes are always a scary thing.  Luckily, we were not hit as hard as predicted.  So many in Northern New Jersey had power outages and flooding.  We just lost a few large limbs off the giant Oak trees in the back yard.

 The day after the storm the winds were worse then ever.  By mid afternoon on Sunday this big chunk of Maple tree fell across the wires right across the street from our house.  Still, the power stayed on.

I had heard the incredible screeching sound and the cracking of the limb.  Oddly enough I thought it had fallen on the roof of our house....I mean my house because I had mistaken the metal sound for the sound of my own metal roof.  Actually it was the sound of this pipe that encases the wires ripping from the side of my parent's house.  It usually stands upright behind the gutter.  The limb falling on the wire had pulled everything along it's path, including the pole on the corner which tilted at a dangerous angle.

But we came through it all unharmed and the next night was spent at my brother's house for the annual "Taco Night"  This is always followed by a puzzle or board game.  This year it was a game that's new to me, but now one of my favorites:  "Apples To Apples".  My mother even joined in and I haven;t heard her laugh so much in years.

Sibling rivals!

A descriptive card for each of us.

My brother's Mel had to check out my cat-smelling purse.

A slaughtered peanut butter pie

Thanks for a great time!  I miss you Mommy and Daddy.  See you at Christmas