Friday, November 30, 2007

Blessings Friday

The whole month of November was one giant blessing. So many good things happened. Here are but a few from this week.

Your Comments

I’ve been so amazed to make friends via Flickr and my blog. Your kind words of encouragement and shared joy inspire me every single day.

Safe Travel

My husband and I are both home safely following our Thanksgiving adventures. We both have raging colds thanks to the vagaries of air travel but are otherwise well.


I received my acceptance to Ravelry yesterday. My user name is JuneS. Someone already has the name Junie Moon so don’t confuse me with this mystery person. I really thought I’d reserved that name with them but I guess not. Although I’m now in, I’ve no clue as to what I’m going to do on Ravelry yet but do believe I’ll learn a lot.

Secret Project

Secrets are so much fun.

This is a stack of freshly laundered fabrics—all ready for beginning my secret project tomorrow. I’m trying something new in my attempt to embrace change and challenge. The finished project will be shared at some point during December.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good and Not So Good


In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the Shepherd’s Pie I enjoyed at the Celtic Festival. It’s one of my favorite dishes to make at home and Lynn of
Craftstew asked for my recipe.

There are many permutations of this recipe but here is the one I use—it is super easy to make.

Click on the picture to show it in larger form and then right-click to save to your hard drive for printing.

Not So Good

Last year I knitted a wool scarf for one of our son-in-laws, not the Irish Hiking Scarf but a different cabled pattern. He loved his scarf and wore it so much last winter he felt it needed washing to prepare for this year’s use—and he put it in the washer and then the dryer. Oops!

Here is how it was presented to me over Thanksgiving by my daughter. She worried I’d be upset but I’m not; things happen and we just deal with them when they do.

It’s now short enough for a toddler and is felted. I have promised to make him another scarf.

I should have thought about including a care card with the scarf but my husband's side of the family won't wear wool while my side (I have two children from a previous marriage) will. Anyway, I forgot about the wool care thing. Ah well; at least I know he loved his scarf and I'll send cleaning instructions this time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Celtic Festival and Embroidered Clock

A few weeks before Thanksgiving we went to the Celtic festival celebrations in Tucson. We wandered about and had a good old time. I had Shepherd’s Pie for lunch which is my favorite. We watched the parade of clans, enjoyed feats of sporting prowess, listened to awesome Celtic music, and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I love all the tartan patterns in the displays.

Here I’m looking for a Sutherland scarf which is my family. We couldn’t find one in my husband’s family pattern but I’m sure it can be ordered from Scotland. His dad’s family is from Scotland and his mother is from Ireland.

This is what I found at the festival for my mother-in-law who loves all things Celtic. It’s a battery-operated wall clock with the original clock face removed and replaced with a handmade embroidered piece. The Celtic knot is embroidered in my mother-in-law’s favorite green and burnt orange colors.

I had a nice long chat with the lovely woman who made the clock and she explained to me how to do it myself. It’s pretty simple and the process is as I described in the previous paragraph. Naturally, this has given me ideas.

This is the only gift I’ve bought—I’ve made everything else. We think Mom is going to love this gift and it still falls in line with our totally handmade Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just One Square

We arrived home last night from our Thanksgiving trip to Florida. We had a wonderful visit with our family and I even found some quiet time for working on my “good deed” projects. Here’s one of my completed efforts.

There was a great post on the Simple Sparrow
blog about her goal to crochet one square a day in achieving a completed granny blanket. She calls her plan “Just One Square.”

Following her cue, I set a goal to make knitted washcloths for women in domestic violence shelters—just one square at a time. I made a little stack and mailing them from Florida to one of the coordinators for the Loves Many Cloths
group I told you about in my Crafty Blessings for Others post.

Here’s one of the washcloths I’ve completed using one of the group’s patterns—hands holding a heart.

As I worked on my various good deed projects over the Thanksgiving holiday, I considered whether my little offerings actually make a difference in the world. My mother-in-law and I talked about this and why I feel it’s important. We decided it’s in the trying and the sharing of our hearts in even the tiniest ways that a difference truly is made.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blessings Friday

We’re leaving to catch our flight to Fort Walton Beach, FL for the Thanksgiving holiday.

After considerable thought, I’ve decided to spend time having fun with our family, so my laptop is going to stay home. I’ll be back online and posting again on Nov. 27.

May your Thanksgiving be full of joy, good food, rest, and the blessings of a happy life!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cooking with Love

Today has been candy-making day as I prepare for our trip to Florida on Friday. My best ingredient is love.

My mother-in-law loves Divinity but can’t get hers to set due to Florida’s humidity. So every year I make some for her and take it home at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe I use.

Right-click to save the recipe to your hard drive and print. I bought the recipe clipart from The Vintage Workshop.

She also loves my peanut brittle so I’ve made her a batch of that, too. I shared that recipe with you in October; here’s the link.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Knitted Gifts

Some of my gift knitting is done—I love that feeling of having accomplished a goal. Now I have more time to finish some of my knitted donation projects.

These are Irish Hiking scarves for one of my husband’s brothers and his wife. My husband’s family is very Celtic so anything on these lines is of great interest to them.

I used the free pattern from Hello Yarn.

They’re made of cotton because I discovered not one person in our family will wear wool. Last year I made my mother-in-law the same scarf in wool before discovering her wool allergy and had to scramble at the last minute to make another one in cotton.

Discovering her allergy was kind of funny in a way. I rushed to the yarn shop the very next morning and was there when they unlocked the door. I stumbled in and loudly exclaimed, “I have a knitting emergency!” After explaining the problem, they helped me find some great nubby cotton yarn to use.

There’s always an Irish Hiking Scarf in the works at my house. I keep trying to make one for myself but then someone will come along and drool all over it, “Oh, I just love that scarf.” And I give it to them.

It’s selfish, but I’m secretly working on one for myself—we’ll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blow Your Own Ball

Each year my sister Connie and I host a small party for our friends at the Glass Studio at the Sonoran Art Foundation to make hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments. It’s called BYOB (Blow Your Own Ball)—not named by us but by the foundation folks. I have given some away but I have quite a collection of glass ornaments I’ve made for our tree.

Our event this year was Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 until noon. We always schedule it before Thanksgiving because some folks need them for their holiday travels. I’m thrilled that my son Brent and his girlfriend Jen were able to join us this year. They made two ornaments each.

The process begins with a glob of super hot glass.

Super hot glass blob as evidenced by the color.

The hot glob is rolled in colored glass pieces called frit.

Then it’s shaped with a wet wooden scoop to get the initial shape and then with metal tongs as you blow through this long tube as shown by Brent below.

When the ornament is done to your satisfaction, it’s time to cut it off the original glob form and make the little stem and hook for hanging. The colors are starting to emerge but the glass is still super hot.

These are Brent’s finished projects. The first one is sitting on a folded wine gift bag to give you somewhat an idea of size.

Here is Jen making her ornaments.

And here are her beautiful results.

Being me, I got carried away and made two glass ball ornaments, a tree topper, and a glass bowl.

This is my tree topper; the end on the right goes on the top branch of the tree. The tree topper project was really what they called their “icicles” but I didn’t want the hanging hook and asked them leave an opening instead for using as a tree topper. When we picked up our glass pieces yesterday, they asked me what ideas I had about improving things—always a mistake to ask me such questions as I always have an answer. So I suggested that the opening end should be extended more to make a longer tube for inserting a tree branch and that the entire topper should be longer and fatter in the middle. We’ll see what happens next year.

The following photo is my bowl in progress; the opening is being enlarged and shaped.

Here I’m making the lip of my bowl by flattening and smoothing it with a wood paddle as the guy is turning it.

And here’s my bowl.

These are my two ornaments.

We had a great time and many gorgeous glass ornaments were made by every member of our party. I took Brent and Jen to the airport this morning—it was so terribly hard to say goodbye—but they left with many treasures from their trip here and beautiful ornaments for their Christmas decorating that they made themselves.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hola, Mexico!

Thank you so much for all the beautiful comments you left for me yesterday. I cannot tell you how much it comforted my heart and I am grateful to you for your virtual hugs.

Today we are taking our visiting family members to Mexico for the day—which is only about an 1½ hour’s drive away from Tucson. The mission is to buy Mexican vanilla and find a hand-tooled leather guitar case for my daughter for Christmas. I’m trying to do all handmade gifts for Christmas but she really does need the guitar case and that particular project is not in my skill expertise.

This is a funny-odd sort of thought but I think it will be so meaningful to re-enter the U.S. through the border crossing on this day of remembrance of our veterans. A symbolic coming home kind of thing—certainly quite different than that experienced by those men and women returning from war. It will remind me of my blessings in being a U.S. citizen.

Can you see the metal star on one side of our garage door? My husband installed hooks for me on both sides of the garage years ago. Every season and holiday time, I have a different little display to put on both sides of the garage—and if you sit still long enough at my house, you’ll get decorated, too.

On our way back from Mexico, we are picking up the projects we made Saturday morning which had to “cure” until today. We’ll take pictures and then I’ll share what it was tomorrow. I think you’re going to love this—I certainly do.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This is My Heart Crying Out Loud

This is my story about my parents, my husband’s father, and what Veteran’s Day means to me.

My husband, father, uncles, grandfather, and so on are all military veterans and my niece just finished her service in the U.S. Navy. I grew up as a military dependent and I married a military man. Patriotism was and continues to be part and parcel of my way of life.

My father and mother are buried together at Arlington National Cemetery (U.S. Army) and my husband’s father (U.S. Air Force) is buried very close by across the road from them—a bit of sad synchronicity in our life.

My parents were introduced by my mom’s sister and her husband on July 4, 1951 at the Fort Myers Officer’s Club in Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Their first date was the next day—sitting on a bench in the park at Arlington National Cemetery reading the newspaper together. My father was serving at Arlington at the time and my mother was in nursing school. They married 17 days after meeting and shared 53 years of love and life together.

Mom and Dad died 8 days apart in two separate hospitals in 2004—a separate nightmare on its own. When we told him Mom had died, Dad took off his watch and threw it on the floor—time had stopped for him.

I will never forget the look of pride and gratitude in his eyes when he discovered that he and Mom would be buried together at Arlington National Cemetery—full circle on their love story. Besides telling him about Mom’s death, this conversation about his impending death was one of the hardest things my brother, sisters, and I have ever had to do.

This is a picture of the cemetery on Veteran’s Day from the U.S. Army. I have pictures of my parent’s and my husband’s father’s military funerals at Arlington and their grave sites but I cannot bear to post them.

A funeral at Arlington National Cemetery is one that no one who experiences it will ever forget—it is simultaneously beautiful and heartbreakingly sad.

A procession of The Old Guard Caisson Platoon winds itself around the cemetery park in total silence. The only sound you hear are the horses’ hooves: clip clop…clip clop…clip clop.

I walked every inch of those miles behind the horse-drawn cart carrying my parents’ bodies while holding desperately to my husband’s hand.

At the end of the interment service, a gun salute is fired—seven service members fire three volleys each. After that a lone bugler standing off to one side plays Taps, a sound that will haunt me until my own end time comes.

As I write this, I am crying. I cry for all those who have died for reasons of war and I cry for the loss of my beloved and much-missed parents. There is not one single day or night in my life since they died that I don’t mourn. There’s a ragged hole in my heart nothing can ever heal.

Today I honor my parents, my husband’s father, and all those before and after who sacrifice their time with family and/or their lives in the horrors of war. My family and my husband’s family know first-hand the heartache of saying goodbye to a family member and spending a year or more at a time fearing they won’t return.

I’m grateful to those courageous men and women who serve in the military and provide us with the freedom to sleep safely at night. May those now in harm’s way be blessed with a safe return home. And may their families be blessed for the sacrifices they give and the heartache they suffer in having to say goodbye.

There’s a sign they post at Arlington National Cemetery during funeral services that simply says, “Silence and Respect.” That is my plan for today.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blessings Friday: A Successful Week

I have been blessed to have some of my family here visiting me. While they’ve been off for a few days visiting the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, I’ve spent the time working on my projects. They return tonight and we have wonderful plans for the weekend.

The goals I listed the other day have been achieved and my week has been successful.

Goal 1: Two More Bend-the-Rules Clutches

I used Regina’s button (Creative
Kismet) from the Embroidered Button Swap for this clutch—it complements the lining fabric perfectly. The fabrics are by Kaffe Fassett.

This bag has a button I made from a little piece of the lining fabric which is a Michael Miller design. The exterior fabric is Bunkhouse by Moda Classic. Learning to make covered buttons is the most useful new skill I’ve learned lately.

Goal 2: Deck the Halls Ornament Swap Project

In this swap you make an ornament and buy one. This project is done but I can’t post it until my swap partner receives it.

Goal 3: Three Puppet Theatres

The final of three doorway puppet theatres made for Christmas. My husband wanted it to be patriotic. No one in my family reads my blog so I’m perfectly safe posting pictures.

These are the theatre cases.

Once again I put the covered button trick into play.

Goal 4: Operation Christmas Child

My husband and I shopped for two boxes for Operation Christmas Child: toys, Crayons, coloring book, hairbrush/comb, bars of Ivory soap, 4 washcloths each, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Puppet Theatre #2 and a Lesson in Love

I learned something important about love with this second Bend-the-Rules Sewing puppet theatre project.

Since both our names go on the gifts we give each year, I insist my husband participate in the gift making/purchasing/shipping process—it’s not all me. I hauled him off to the fabric store last week to choose fabrics for three puppet theatres.

My choice was the fabrics you saw in yesterday’s theatre project. This second theatre features Mickey Mouse fabrics and fringe trim as chosen by my husband.

I tried quite hard to dissuade him as I do not like this type of stuff at all and pushed him to consider other fabrics. “What about these?” I asked. “They would make great puppet theatres.”

But he was so proud of his choices that I felt ashamed of myself—as well I should.

So I held up each fabric bolt and cocked my head this way and that in consideration. “Hmmm, honey, I see what you mean. Yes, let’s get these—great idea!”

And I let him choose the fabrics and trim for the third theatre that I’ll show you on Monday.

Our grandchildren are going to love the theatres with the fabrics he chose—and I’m proud of my husband.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Christmas Puppet Theatre #1

Here’s the first of three puppet theatres I’m making using the instructions from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing. All three theatres will be different in terms of the fabrics used.

The only modification I made was to put the bobbles trim on the outside of the valance instead of on the inside just because I like it that way.

You can't see it in the picture, but the patchwork valances have pieces with the same stripe pattern as the curtains.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Christmas Projects

Just like lots of you, I’m working on Christmas gifts. Clutches from Amy Karol's Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Seware some of the gift projects on my list.

The fabrics for this bag are of Australian design. The exterior fabric was designed by Audrey Napanangka for M&S Textiles. The lining is called Wanakiji by Netta Williams for the same textile company. I made the covered button using a bit of the lining fabric.

The clutch project from Amy's book has been a lifesaver this year in terms of easy, inexpensive, but cute gifts I can make.

Works in Progress

Although I have family visiting here from N.C. and Hawaii, I do get a bit of quiet time here and there to work on my Christmas projects. Here is a short list of what I’m working on this week:

  • Two more Bend the Rules clutches
  • Deck the Halls Ornament Swap project
  • Three puppet theatres
  • Operation Christmas Child