Monday, November 29, 2010

A Flower of Thanks

I am so happy that it's finally Monday! (Now that's something you don't hear every day!) After a full weekend of work in the retail world, I finally have a day off. Needless to say, I have a mountain of laundry, no detergent, and an empty refrigerator. I need to get to the grocery store and put this house back in shape.

With so much work to do on my day off, I decided to spend the morning crafting instead. :) I'm such a good procrastinator!

I needed a thank you note for my father-in-law and his wife, who hosted an amazing Thanksgiving Day feast! Shirley Ann made a 22 lb. free range, locally raised turkey. It was huge! I had the layout for this card in my head, and I'm rather pleased with the final product. This is a very easy card, and I'm going to be making a LOT of easy, Clean and Simple cards in the days leading up to Christmas.

{recipe: Vases in Vogue (SU), Little Words and Tag (SU), Pure Luxury Ivory card stock, papers from Webster's Pages, ribbon from Webster's Pages, Versafine onyx ink, prisma marker, Making Memories felted brad flower}

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday

Good morning! Did you survive the Turkey feasting and Black Friday shopping? My husband and I both worked yesterday...such are the joys of retail! It was a day with steady traffic, and by all accounts, it seemed that business was good.

Did you know that today is Small Business Saturday? Today is the day that we can go out and show some support and love to our local small businesses that are the backbone of the national economy. My husband and I both work for major retailers, so my endorsement of Small Business Saturday may come as a shock to some. But the truth is that the success of small business is a key component and vital part to the economic recovery of this country. We have to do everything we can to help small businesses survive and thrive. Our country's financial security depends upon it!

I support a lot of local brick and mortar shops, as well as my favorite online small businesses. In the photo above, I featured my favorite candlesticks (Three French Hens, Wildwood, Missouri) and my favorite crow (from Horton's on the Main at Logan's Antique Mall, Noblesville, Indiana).

Today, I'm going to grab a Winter Wonderland latte from Noble Tea and Coffee and visit some of my favorite shops on the historic square. I may even try to find an item for some blog candy, so stop back to the cafe soon!

For more info, visit here:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Little Holiday Cheer

I have a confession to make. Many years ago, I cross-stitched stockings for all of the members of my family. And then, seven years ago, our surprise son, Samuel, was born. That Christmas, someone gave us a stocking that said "Baby's First Christmas" at the top. Guess what? We've been hanging that stocking for Sam for the last six years!

This year, I hope to cross stitch Sam his own stocking. I found the pattern below last year, and knew it was perfect for Sam's stocking. Santa's sleigh being pulled by a black lab? What could be better? I'm going to work on this project while we travel over the river and through the woods to Grandma and Grandpa's house tomorrow.

Today's card was just a reminder to get busy! I used a very old set from Stampin' Up called Night Before Christmas (dated 2000). the year 2000, we were living in our 900 square foot cottage in Michigan, we'd just added a very small black lab puppy to our family, and Sam was just a twinkle in his mother's eye. Much to be thankful for!

{recipe: Night Before Christmas (SU), Best Yet (SU), river rock/old olive/real red card stock, Dashing papers, scallop edge punch, versafine onyx ink, prisma markers, Stickles, amuse twinkles}


If you like to cross stitch, make sure you visit Sandra's blog at Homespun Elegance! (click on link at right). Today's post features a free holiday pattern that is just adorable!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Thanks

I've been making a few more Thanksgiving cards...nothing like waiting until the last possible minute! This card has repeating shapes of ovals and rectangles. I tried a ribbon treatment here that I haven't done in a long time. I used a punch that takes notches out of each corner. Then, you very carefully take a length of thin corded ribbon and wrap it around each corner, making sure to secure each end on the back with a small piece if Scotch tape. This makes a nice presentation for Christmas cards, too.

{recipe: Autumn Days (SU), All Year Cheer (SU), cajun craze ink and card stock, concord crush ink and card stock, Pure Luxury Ivory card stock, oval punch, corner punch, gold corded ribbon, gold organdy ribbon, gold Stickles}

Thanksgiving for Africa:

As we prepare for Thanskgiving feasting this week, it is a good time to remember those less fortunate people around the world who are dying of malnutrition and disease. In a world where we burn corn for fuel, it seems impossible that there are people who suffer from starvation.

Today, KLove radio stations around the U.S. are collecting donations for West Africa, an area of the world that is suffering from severe famine because of drought. Your gift today will be quadrupled thanks to the generosity of several corporations. That means if you gave $100, it would actually be a donation of $400 to feed the hungry! All monies raised will be given to World Vision, an organization that has helped the poor and hungry around the world. You can find out more by clicking on the World Vision link on the right, or visiting this website:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Preparing for Thanksgiving

Sam has been busy decorating the table for Thanksgiving this week. We'll be eating at Grandpa and Grandma's house this year, but that didn't stop Sam from making our table festive, too. He made sure there were pilgrims...

...and native Americans, too. And of course, we had to have Bananagrams at the ready, just in case someone wanted to play a fast game after a meal.

I realized that I still have a few cards to make and mail before Thursday. I made this no layer card for today's Clean and Simple challenge.

{recipe: Country Blessings (SU), Pure Luxury Ivory card stock, more mustard and soft suede ink, taffeta ribbon, gold cord ribbon, acorn charm from Mark's Finest Papers}

Are you a KLOVE listener? Make sure you listen tomorrow for their "Thanksgiving for Africa" event. They will be accepting donations for World Vision to feed the hungry in West Africa. You can find more information here :

Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mad About Plaid

Last week, my son, John, was in my office and blurted out "Hey! The pear tree has changed color!"

Well, yeah. It is autumn after all.

But John pointed out to me that last year, the tree never changed color. As a matter of fact, green leaves still clung to the tree in the middle of winter. We've had some heavy frosts here, and apparently it triggered all of the Bradford Pear trees on our street to switch into autumn mode. The effect is stunning! My studio now glows pink in the daytime, thanks to the pear tree outside the window.

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Where has the time gone?

I decided to get busy and make a Thanksgiving card today. I used my stash of Daisy D Moda papers for this card. I am mad about plaid. Can you see my plaid curtains in the window above? There's just something so homey about plaid. It brings to mind a cozy flannel shirt or a warm Woolrich blanket. I added a little real stitching (buttons), and a little faux stitching to give this card a prim feel. You know what cracks me up? My faux stitching is just as crooked as my real stitching! ha ha!

{recipe: stamps from The Saltbox Studio, Daisy D Moda papers, blue bayou cardstock, riding hood red card stock, kraft card stock, twill ribbon, buttons, dmc floss, versafine onyx, prisma markers}

Hope your day is warm and cozy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Little Peace and Quiet

I've been enjoying some peaceful pursuits this week. I finally got around to finishing one of my many UFOs (UnFinished Objects!). I began this project to give to a friend LAST Christmas, but never got it finished in time. This pattern comes from Homespun Elegance. I love all the little star charms and colonial knots. It was a lot of fun to stitch, and I think it looks great on the blue background.

Here's my that the stitching's done, how should I finish it? Should I turn it into a stuffed ornament? A pillow? Maybe a flatter doorknob hanger? I'd love to hear your finishing suggestions!

And this has been my other time consumer of the week. My Nook, er, uh, I mean my son's Nook. See, I bought it for his birthday gift this summer, but now that he's in his senior year with a full course load of AP classes, he doesn't have much time for extracurricular reading. So I am "borrowing" his Nook for a while.

I am surprised by how much I enjoy reading on this little gizmo! I downloaded a few new titles this week, but would like to add more. Any suggestions? During the holiday season, I like to read a few Christmas stories to get me in the spirit. Thus far, I've added "Mrs. Miracle" and the sequel, "Call Me Mrs. Miracle" by Debbie Macomber. If you have any good holiday titles to suggestion, I'd love to hear them!

We've been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather this week here in the Midwest. I was able to clean up the garden, put away the tomato cages, and lay some fresh mulch around my new rose bushes. The garden is now ready for the cold spell that is coming our way later this weekend. I think I'll spend a leisurely Saturday doing some window shopping in our little "downtown", with a cup of coffee in hand.

Blessings on your weekend!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Wisdom of the Cuppa

A few weeks ago, I was drinking a delicious latte from the place that Dave Ramsey refers to as "Fivebucks". I looked down at the lid, studied it for a moment, and received an unexpected bit of wisdom. I saw the words "Solo", "Traveler", "Caution" and "Hot". My overly stimulated mind put the words together in a new and caffeinated way.

"Caution, Solo Traveler! Hot!"

In other words, if you are traveling through life solo, you better be careful not to end up in hot water.

One of the pitfalls of relocation is the laborious process of making new friends. I have often compared it to the agony of a blind date. What if this person doesn't get my jokes? Will they think I dress funny? What if we have nothing in common?

Make new friends! Meet new people! It sounds exciting, right? But the actual process can be quite painful. I've been attending our new church for over a year now, and I haven't yet found a single person there that I would call in a time of need other than the pastor.

Last spring, a speaker came to the church. As she rambled on about her life, she made the offhand comment "If you don't have any friends, you need to get some! Friends are wonderful!" And then she went on to talk about all the wonderful silly things that she and her girlfriends do together on a regular basis.

At the time, I remember thinking "Wow. That was insensitive!"

Only someone who has lived a life with friends constantly surrounding them would make such an audacious statement. When you live miles away from any family or friends, it can be tough. Going solo is no fun. Sick with the flu? Too bad. There is no one to watch your little one. Want to attend an event but have no one to go with? You go alone, or you don't go at all.

This year, I feel truly blessed that I've made some real friends at my work place. We are a group of women that love to chat, encourage, laugh, cry, and just spend time together. We swap stories about our kids. When one of us is sick, we cook for that person and call on that person. We pray for each other and show care and concern about the minutiae of our lives. In other words, we do church.

Yesterday, I read these words in Acts 14: 21-22 : "They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith."

We are all travelers. The road isn't easy. But when we walk it together, we can encourage and strengthen each other. We can share stories of faith during hard times. Isn't that good news?

P.S. You know what the red cup means? Holiday coffees are back! Peppermint Mochas, Gingerbread and Egg Nog Lattes! Can you hear the music? It's Handel's Halleluiah chorus! :) Thanks for visiting the cafe, friend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Written Word

I know what you're thinking. When you, my bloggy friends, finish reading one of my posts, you've got to be asking yourself, "Man, does that girl talk as much as she writes?" To answer your question, "Yes. Yes, I do."

I heard Beth Moore say that what she lacks in knowledge she makes up for in volume. She's a loud talker, like me. This is a direct result of being the youngest of seven children, necessitating the need to ramp up the volume level in order to be heard. Add coffee to this equation, and I can talk at the speed of light. Add caffeine and a kitchen table full of women, and it is a deadly combination, a veritable weapon of mass destruction.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the word, both spoken and written. It is why I am a voracious reader. It is the reason I studied both English and foreign languages in college. I love words.

For more than a dozen years now, I have been dabbling in freelance writing. I wrote features for newspapers, had a great gig as a part-time columnist, and had a few pieces published in magazines.

One writing goal has managed to elude me...the novel.

November is National Novel Writing Month...or NaNoWriMo, for short. You may have noticed the gadget to the right that I added this month. You can click on it for more information on this fun and frustrating pursuit. The goal is 50,000 words in thirty days. A lofty goal, but definitely attainable.

Today and tomorrow, I will be attending the Indy Christian Writer's Conference. I am so excited! There will be a slew of speakers...publishers, agents, literary reps, all speaking on the craft of writing. Jerry B. Jenkins, who co-wrote the Left Behind series, will be the keynote speaker.

This weekend, I plan on emptying my caffeine-riddled brain for a few days to let all of this secret knowledge seep in like a sponge. But before I do, I made one more card to share this week:

Apropos, n'est-ce pas?

{recipe: Puns from the Past (Stampin' Up), By Definition (SU), Wild Hearts (SU), basic black card stock, kiwi kiss card stock, versafine onyx ink, scallop square punch, button brads}

Blessings on your weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Flowers

Yesterday, on my drive to work, I saw a funny sight. The outdoor "lifestyle" mall where I work was beginning to hang their Christmas decorations, and yet they still had hanging baskets and rose bushes in full bloom. That pretty much sums up this time of year, doesn't it? One foot still in the colorful season of autumn, and the other foot ready to walk into the holidays.

In many ways, this is a perfect analogy for my life as well. I have now officially lived in small town Indiana for longer than I lived in the suburbs of St. Louis. And while this place has its many charms, we have not felt settled here the same way we did in our previous home. We've never made the connections with church and community and friends that we made back in Missouri. Oh sure, my boys have done fine in school. But my husband and I have had a hard time building relationships that are meaningful here.

We're at an odd place in our lives. We feel the pull of our families far away, while trying to maintain the day to day life of work and school and church. It makes it difficult to plant some roots, water them, and watch them grow. In many ways, we have one foot here, but one foot seems to hover in mid step, waiting for a new direction where God may lead us in the future.

We have decided to pray on this as a couple. I am sensing changes for 2011. I don't know what is in store for us, but I know that if it comes from God, then it's all good.

{recipe: Garden Collage (SU), peach parfait ink and card stock, early espresso ink and card stock, cajun craze ink and card stock, soft suede ink, scallop edge punch, Sizzix embossing folder, Karen Foster paper}

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Colors of Autumn

I just love the colors of autumn. I love the look of the garden as it starts to wind down. The hues are muted, not showy, and the brighter colors stand out against a paler backdrop. I decided to go outside yesterday and take some photos in the garden.

Everything I ever learned about gardening was learned at the feet of my mother. Mom is a whimsical gardener. It's not about structure, it's about color palette. If Mom likes a plant or flower, she puts it in the ground and hopes for the best. If it thrives, great! If not, she'll just try something different next year. I, too, am a whimsical gardener.

Mom taught me that most folks stop watering their gardens too soon. Just because the days get cooler doesn't mean that you can stop watering. If you want the blooms to last until well into autumn, then you need to water them continually. Windy weather will dry out your plants in a hurry. In the fall, I wait to water until mid afternoon, when the temps are a bit warmer. I use water that's not too cold, and I give all the flowers a good soak at least two or three times a week.

Mom also taught me that if you're planting bulbs in the fall, don't space them far apart. Yes, ignore the directions on the flower bulb package! You want to cram those bulbs close together. When they bloom in the spring, you will have thick bouquets of tulips and daffodils, not spindly little flowers that are far from their neighbors and can't support themselves.

I made two cards yesterday for the Clean and Simple challenge. I think the muted colors of autumn make lovely sympathy cards.

{recipe #1: Close to Nature, Teeny Tiny Wishes (SU), kraft cardstock, Apple Cider paper, satin ribbon, punch, sticker brads}

{recipe #2: Seasons of Friendship, sentiment from Gina K, soft suede ink, more mustard ink, cajun craze ink, concord crush ink}

I'm off to Bible study this morning. I made some warm coffee cake to enjoy with Pastor and the ladies. Yum! Enjoy the blessings of the season!

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Musings

November 1st. All Saint's Day. Dia de Los Muertos. A day to reflect on those saints who have gone on before us. Sure, most folks just think of this as the day after Halloween, when children (and a few parents) everywhere suffer from sugar candy hangovers. I'll confess, I'm not a big fan of Halloween. I have a hard time reconciling the innocent "Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin" Halloween of my childhood with the new "Co-opted by so-called adults and the porn industry" Halloween that has become a sign of our culture. In our family, we play it down a lot and keep the focus where it belongs...children and their pursuit of candy. :)

My dear Edwin made it festive last night by lighting a fire and putting out the camp chairs. We had a lot of trick-or-treaters, unlike last year's Swine Flu dud of a Halloween. We gave out all the candy, which is a good thing. (Note to self: kids loved the Fun Dip and Candy Corn the best!)

October was a month of good reading. Here are a few great titles I read last month:

Sandra Byrd's French Twist Series: Let Them Eat Cake, Bon Appetit, and Piece de Resistance. It was a twenty-something series, but I really enjoyed it. A nice protagonist who pursues God and her purpose in life. Keep the chocolate and pastries handy when you read these!

Something Borrowed, Something Bleu by Cricket McCrae. Another great book in her Home Crafting Mysteries series.

Club Sandwich by Lisa Samson. A great story about a woman in the sandwich generation, stuck between juggling the demands of job and family and caring for her ailing mother. A wonderful story filled with faith.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I read this for book club last month, and it is a sad tale about children living with extreme poverty and their eccentric, mentally ill parents. The opening chapter will hook you into this true story. I found myself understanding why Jesus said the poor will always be with us. It is not about money, but a poverty of spirit. Amazing story of survival and hope.

So, a good month for reading usually means a bad month for needle art and crafts. I can only juggle so many hobbies! I have a lot of UFOs to finish, and I need to get started on my son's Christmas stocking. Aack! I said the word...Christmas!

Did you get the big Holiday book from Toys R Us yesterday? Sam is making a list and checking it twice. Can I ask a favor of all of you? The next two months will be a trying time for those working in service industries, especially the employees of retail stores (like me!). I would like to challenge all of you to spend the next two months wearing Christ goggles wherever you go. As my pastor said in yesterday's sermon, look at every person you encounter, and tell yourself that Jesus died for that person. Please, I beg of you, be patient. Be kind. Show mercy. Be gracious, as the Lord is patient and kind and merciful and gracious to you.

Let's make a commitment to walk the walk and talk the talk in our churches, in our homes, in our workplaces, in restaurants, in stores, in schools....yes, wherever we go. Let's go out of our way to find opportunities to show Christ's love to a world that so desperately needs it.

Thank you!

Happy Monday!