Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pursuing a God-Sized Passion

Thank you, dear cafe friends, for your understanding and encouragement! After reading so many of your kind comments, I found a theme that became quite evident.

I like paper crafts, but it is not my passion.

I like needle art, but it is not my passion.

I like house and home fluffing, but it is not my passion.

Words. Words are my passion.

You, dear readers, identified with the words. And that makes me so happy!

You see, for quite some time I've been working on a novel. Yep. A novel! It's a pretty ambitious thing, I'll grant you that. It's a story that just won't leave me alone. I've been known to put it down for months at a time, and when I pick it up again, my first thought is "You know, this is pretty good. Why did I stop?"

Recently, God has been whispering to me "Why not now? Let's get this thing finished now."

And the timing just feels right.

I am laying down the blog so that I can pick up this writing pursuit. I need to give it more attention and discipline than I have been doing thus far. It's a big God-sized dream that seems impossible, which is exactly why it now seems so plausible.

By the way, the protagonist of the story may or may not be a crafter. Just sayin'. ;)

I may pop in here periodically to tell you all how I'm doing. Actually, I hope you will hold me accountable to keep this momentum going!

You, sweet friends, have blessed me this week. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blogging, or When The Lord Chooses Not to Bless It

This should be a hard post to write, but I found it to be surprisingly easy.

I am closing the cafe.

It wasn't one defining moment that brought me to this decision. Just a slow decline and an awareness that I've lost my way.

Seven years of actively sharing my ups and downs.

Remember when I was so sick with Lyme disease? And subsequently, suffered from depression?

Remember when I moved from St. Louis to Indiana? And then from Indiana to Pennsylvania?

Remember when I was a Stampin' Up demonstrator?

Remember when I was on a design team?

Remember when I sent kids off to college?

Remember when I sold off nearly my entire collection of stamps?

Remember when I was going to quit stamping and blogging all together?

Blogging was such an important outlet for me. It helped create a sense of community when I didn't have a community. It helped me reach out to friends and family far and wide who just wanted to peek in at what was happening in my crazy roller coaster life.

And it was all well and good. Until it wasn't.

God has really blessed me in countless ways the past year. I have made so many new friends and new connections in a new community. New home, new garden, new churches, new interests. He has blessed me every step of the way and answered prayers in such obviously blatant and lovely ways.

But there's this one area that God has chosen not to bless.


It's been a dead end at every possible turn.

This is not to blame you, the twelve people who consistently read my blog. (Even as I type that, it makes me laugh out loud!) I blame myself. I never had a consistent voice.

Am I a crafting blogger? Am I a home blogger? Am I a mommy blogger? Am I a faith blogger?

I just wanted to be me, a little bit of everything served up with a side of coffee. But the blog world has transformed into an enterprise, a marketing tool. You have to have a "brand" to sell, and if you are not consistent with your branding, no one will read you and no one will care.

I suppose that my background in feature writing is to blame. I was never interested in just one thing. I wanted to write about everything!

The truth is I am a terrible blogger. Pretty, carefully cropped photos showing the prettiest slice of life? Nope, that is not my thing. I know my strengths and weaknesses. A good writer? Yes. A good blogger? No. Good writers do not always good bloggers make, and vice versa.

Perhaps this is why God has chosen not to bless my blog. It is not the ministry that He has in store for me.

I find that the more I get sucked into anything involving technology (the internet, email, Facebook, e-reader), the less I feel God saying "Yep! This is where I want you to be." The more I try to feel connected through technology, the less I actually feel connection. The more I research the process of creating, the less I actually create.

Back in July, I decided to "unfriend" myself from Facebook. Too much drama. Too little of meaning and importance. It was an artificial world that created the impression that I was building relationships, when in fact, I was not. It was the best decision I'd made all summer.

I think it's time to go one step further and "unfriend" myself from the blogging world. I want to be a better steward of the time, talents and treasures that God has given me. So I will continue to write, but not for blog posts. I will continue to create, but not for the photographic opportunity. I am unplugging the "artificial" espresso machine so that I can connect with people face to face. Over a cup of coffee in my kitchen. At the corner diner. In the line at Starbucks.

I am going out of business, folks. The cafe is closings its doors. But if you are ever in Pittsburgh, I'd love to meet you for a nice latte. My kitchen is always open!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free To Put A Bird On It!

My sister and I noticed a theme last weekend. If you have something old and you want to make it look like fall, you "stick a mum in it!" Crocks, barrels, wheel barrows, watering cans. Stick a mum in it, and you've got autumn!

I also like to "put a bird on it!" And it just so happens that's the theme for today's Free For All challenge at Splitcoast Stampers!

{Today's Brew: stamps from Papertrey Ink, PTI inks and card stock, Simple Stories papers, SU lace punch, SU gingham ribbon}

Joyful Friday, friends!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stenciled Trees

Today's Ways To Use It Challenge at SCS: Stencils! I've purchased quite a stash of Memory Box stencils from Stamp Fanci, my local stamp shop. I love stencils! So easy to use, so many techniques that can be applied. One of my fast and easy stencil application of Distress Stains, which is what I used here.

{Today's Brew: PTI Leaf Prints stamp set and die, SU God's Way stamp set, PTI card stock and ink, Distress Stains, Memory Box stencil, PTI button twine}

I thought this Bible verse was perfect for this card. Whenever I go out to get the mail, I look up into this maple tree and think of what a blessing our new home is. I may be thinking of these "blessings" a little differently when I'm getting blisters from raking all these leaves, but for now, they are a "good and perfect gift".

Blessings, cafe friends!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Diner Love

Do you love diners? My family loves them! We try to avoid chain restaurants, preferring to explore the local gems instead.

Isaly's is conveniently located just a few doors down from my favorite local stamp shop, Stamp Fanci!

Look at those vintage colors!

We were there, bright and early, for breakfast one morning recently. I love a place that serves breakfast all day long. And coffee. Lots of coffee!

When you move to a new city, you have to replace all of your old favorites with new haunts. We went to a new diner after church this Sunday, and my husband said it may be a new weekend tradition. :)

Tell me, what's your favorite local restaurant?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Koalas For The Birthday Boy

Sam loves koalas. I think it must be a comic book/manga art kind of thing. When birthday boy turned eleven on Friday, I knew I would have to pull out the koala from the Lawn Fawn stamp set Critters Down Under! I used the grass die below, and used the stitched sunshine die to make a sunny statement in the corner.

I decided to fussy cut the koala so that he'd stand out against the leafy backdrop. To tell you the truth, sometimes it is easier to fussy cut a simple shape than it is to get it stamped exactly on a diecut. All it takes is a good pair of scissors, like Stampin Up's paper snips, and you are good to go.

After making the card, I felt totally Koala-fied to make another surprise for Sam. A stuffed sock koala!

You may have seen quite a few sock monkeys, but how many sock koalas have you spotted? This one is a total original of my own design.  I simply shortened the legs and arms, made some big floppy ears, and used felt to add the distinctive nose, white ears, and white belly. Buttons for eyes, a bow tie to give the head its form, and voila! I gave him raw edges, which adds a little shabby flair to this fellow. Sam loves him, and he's dubbed him "Limes".

I may have to market this pattern. After all. I have the koala-fications! LOL!

Happy Monday, cafe friends!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pumpkin Spice

My son, Luke, showed me this one. I laughed out loud!

Yes, pumpkin flavored everything is here.

Brace yourself...I even have a new pumpkin spice car!

Ready for adventure!

Maybe an autumnal road trip, with a pumpkin spice latte at hand.

Orange you glad you visited the cafe today?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When Kindness Matters

We've been visiting a new church for the past month, and things are looking promising for this one.

Yes, it's a forty minute drive from our home, but it's also a lovely drive through farm country, with views of rolling hills and golden fields along the way. We pass farmer's markets loaded with bushels of apples and nursery centers with rows of colorful mums. I can only imagine how inspiring this drive will be when the leaves are in full color this fall.

I noticed something about our new Sunday drives to church this week. Somehow, some way, this deliberate action of making the trek to church has turned our ordinary Sundays into Sabbath days.

We talk on our long drives, as a family, without interruption of televisions and laptops and cell phones. And after church, we make a point of going out to eat for brunch somewhere along the way. After that, we might just explore a shop along our new route, too. And before we know it, church is not a thing to cross off our To Do list. IS the point of our entire day.

Last week, we received a very sweet card from the pastor. And this week, we were able to talk to him after services. We told him briefly about our journey to find a new church this past year. And that's when he said the kindest, most amazing thing.

"Two in the morning, two in the afternoon. No matter the time, if you have a care or concern that needs a pastor, I hope you will think of me. I know how hard it is to be without a church home, and until you find yours, I hope you will consider us your church family."

His words brought tears to my eyes. So gracious, so humble. What a servant heart!

Looking back at this year long journey, I can see how God has provided for our little family in ways big and small. This week, I know for certain that He answered my prayer, this desire of my heart.

Prayer changes everything.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

PS Anything Goes: That's Nuts!

I needed a fun birthday card today, something that expresses the sentiment "You're 60? Impossible!" Naturally, I went for the fall leaves and acorns!

I made this for the Paper Smooches Anything Goes Challenge!

I did a little paper piecing on the acorn, then used the leaf die to make a negative image on the polka paper. Another leaf for the top, and there it is!

I stamped the sentiment with Paper Smooches Alphadots, which is probably my favorite alphabet set of all time. So simple, and you never have to worry about lining just works, magically, every time.

{Today's Brew: Falling For You (Paper Smooches), Alphadots (PS), PS leaf die, Simple Stories Harvest Lanes papers, PTI card stock, SU woodgrain embossing folder, button twine, Prisma markers}

And while I was photographing this card on my sidewalk, I looked around...fall leaves everywhere! Sorry, sisters, the calendar may say end of summer, but the trees don't lie!

Autumn...coming soon to a town near you!

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Here!

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!

Apple season!

I went to the orchard this week and bought the first crop of early apples...Ginger Gold. Mmm! Crisp and tart! Soon, the macs and the golden delicious will be harvested. Oh the joy!

My dog, Maggie, loves apples. We share them in the afternoon...a slice for me, a slice for the dog. When you are nearly fourteen years old, you cherish the simple, drool-worthy things in life, like apple time with mama.

I made this apple card, today! My friend, Marylynn, reminded me to get out my flip card dies and put them to use this week! I pulled out some papers from Stampin' Up (gotta love that clearance rack!), and paired them with the stamps from Papertrey Ink's Fruit Fusion: Apples.

Apple season is probably my favorite part of autumn. What's yours?

Happy Monday, cafe friends!