Monday, January 31, 2011

Practicing What I Preach

One of the lines from yesterday's post was
"Out of clutter, find simplicity".

I am proud to say I am practicing what I preach!

Due to the number of hours I spend at my store, and two years of health issues and surgeries,
housekeeping has not always been at the top of my list.
So, I am currently in the midst of cleaning out closets, cabinets and drawers.
Last week, it was the laundry room that received my attention.

 This week, it is my sewing room.
I knew the only way to really make progress was pull out all the drawers!  They cannot be replaced until they are cleaned and organized.
The five drawers above are back in place, and one is empty!
Unfortunately, there are still many drawers to go.

I am determined to simplify my life and my home this year.

I got off to a slow start, due to the fact that I also had to do a little gardening.
I noticed my tulip bulbs were just beginning to peek through the soil.
With ice storms and freezing temperatures forecast this week, I decided they needed a little more mulch.  It was a lovely sunny and warm day, and may be the last one we see for awhile.

May all of you stay safe and warm from the storms.
It may be perfect weather to stay inside and simplify!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
~Albert Einstein~

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I am working my way through a box of these,

Cupid Corn from Central Market

and a bag of this!

What is it about colds that make you crave the least healthy food items?

Hoping all of you are warm and cozy, and not sneezing your way through boxes of tissue!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Sweet Heart

Several weeks ago (yes, I am ashamed to admit how far behind I am), I was so surprised to find a little package waiting in my mailbox.
Mail is one of my favorite things, and little packages are even better!

Inside was this little handmade heart.  Love the fabrics!  All the sweetness was wrapped in the signature turquoise of a dear blogging friend, Claudia.
Shades of aqua and turquoise, with red, are quickly becoming favorites of mine!  So happy together!

First posted here.

Even better, was being able to visualize exactly where my little heart was given life.
I first saw Claudia's uber cute sewing studio during last year's  Where Bloggers Create.

I continue to be inspired by all that Claudia shares on her blog, Mockingbird Hill Cottage.

First posted here.

Now, if I could only figure out how to shrink myself to fit into the doll house she is currently decorating!  It is just as sweet as this little heart and Claudia herself.

Skip over to Mockingbird Hill Cottage, and enjoy!

Thank you, Claudia, for your friendship and inspiration.
Hope you are finding some warmth and delicious cupcakes today! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Through the week we go down into the valleys of care and shadow. 
Our Sabbaths should be hills of light and joy in God's presence;
and so as time rolls by we shall go on from mountain top to mountain top,
till at last we catch the glory of the gate, and enter in to go no more out forever.
~Henry Ward Beecher~

Saturday, January 22, 2011

National Handwriting Day

In 1977, the Writing Instrument Manufacturer Association declared January 23 as National Handwriting Day.  Their purpose was "to alert the public to the importance of handwriting".

The date is also the birthday of John Hancock, the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Mr. Hancock was known for his large and bold signature, and his name has long been associated with signatures of all types on many forms of documents.

In this age of computers and fast paced lifestyles, it seems so much easier to send emails, ecards and evites.  Yet, it is sad to contemplate a world without handwriting.
It is something that is personal and unique to each of us.

Years ago, I was much better at sending handwritten cards and letters.  Owning and running a business, I let that simple act fall by the wayside.  Recently, while undergoing my many surgeries and recoveries, I remembered how very powerful the handwritten note is.

Cards and letters brightened my days.
I could hold them and feel them.
The bright colors were visible even to sore and swollen eyes.
They were my best medicine.

Among my treasures, are cards and letters from those no longer with me.

Mother never knew what an email was.
All of our communication was done via mail or telephone.
I have many letters that she wrote to me through the years.  Their words still hold so much wisdom and love.

When Mother and Daddy would take off on jaunts here and there, the postcards would begin to fill our mailbox.  It seemed as if we were on the journey with them.
After Mother passed away, Daddy continued to travel.
The postcards still arrived.
I also try to send postcards to friends and family as I travel.  However, with each trip, I discover it more difficult to find and purchase postcards.  It makes me sad.

Some of the most cherished, but most difficult to read, handwritten notes are ones received following the deaths of loved ones.
They bring comfort and tears at the same time.

There is also the note written by a cherished niece.
It was still lying on the kitchen counter with other mail when we received the news of her tragic and untimely death.  This small piece of paper, with a cross and heart, speaks almost more than the words of her note.

My sister's handwriting could rival that of Mr. Hancock.
She was also known for her very large and bold handwriting.  It was definitely an extension of her personality.

While he strongly dislikes it, my son's handwriting is the type that warms a mother's heart.
I remember many occupational therapy appointments and hours of exercise to get those little hand muscles to work properly.  It may be a signature that only a mother could love, and this mother definitely loves it.

This is the handwriting of which I will never tire.

I vowed this year that I would do a better job of sending handwritten notes and cards.
I have already fallen behind on writing all my thank you notes for holiday gifts.

So, I will be spending a little time this weekend with these!

Wishing you a happy weekend, and maybe a mailbox full of love.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Needles Pulling Thread

I love children in picture smocked clothing, especially during various holidays.

Maybe if you squint really hard, or use vast amounts of imagination, this might closely resemble an odd shaped Valentine.
Or, I could try to convince you that I am just an eager beaver and already at work for next Christmas.
In the spirit of keeping it real, I confess this post was started months ago, but was interrupted by a sudden trip to Minnesota.
Fortunately, tartan plaids and Santa are timeless.  This can be completed at a later date!

I must admit that I do not exactly love the process of picture smocking.  Give me geometric smocking, and I am good to go!  Picture smocking is, for me, more challenging and time consuming.  I think part of it has to do with counting and keeping my place on the smocking plate.  Geometric smocking seems easier to do on the run, in the car, in front of the television, or while trying to convince your husband that you really are able to stitch and listen to him at the same time.

When I first learned to picture smock, I was told to use a Long Darner 7 needle.  Much of the available literature on smocking also recommends the use of  this needle.
Many years ago, a friend watched me struggle with picture smocking.  She suggested the use of the larger Long Darner 5 needle.
Now, the Long Darner 7 already seemed like a sword in my hands.
Use something even larger, longer and more sword like?

As the obedient child of a school teacher, I followed rules.
I kept plodding along with the Long Darner 7.

Then, wonky eyes became a part of my life.
Determined to convince myself that I could still sew, smock and embroider, I decided to step outside my regular needle box and try something different.

Guess what?
That friend was correct!
I found it much easier to picture smock with a Long Darner 5.
It still is not perfect, and I still am very, very slow.

I have started suggesting this size needle to other friends and customers, with pleasant results.
I have also begun to see the Long Darner 5 needle referenced in more of our literature.

The goal of perfect picture smocking is to have the strands of floss, usually four in picture smocking, lie side by side.  This creates a "ribbon" of floss, and the cable stitches are "stacked" to create the desired figures.

The larger needle prepares a larger tunnel in the fabric through which the floss travels.  This results in a smoother ribbon of floss.  The longer length also allows you to use it as a level, and maintain straight stitches.  Straight stitches are mandatory for perfect picture smocking.

A Long Darner Needle 7 measures approximately 2.25" in length.
A Long Darner Needle 5 measures approximately 2.50" in length.

If nothing else, your husband will not argue with you when you are holding one of these in your hands!
Give it a try and let us know your results!

Happy Picture Smocking!

Needles available at BessieMary.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dear Heidi . . .

I understand only too well.
Those non-synchronized eye muscles and fatty optic deposits are the pits.

Call me.

I will share the name of a wonderful surgeon in Minnesota.


Sunday, January 16, 2011


If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together,
there is something you must always remember.

You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think,
but the most important thing is,
even if we're apart,
I'll always be with you.
~Winnie the Pooh~

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not enough . . .

hours in the day.

The new year is less than two weeks old, and I am already behind.

I fall into bed, unable to sleep, thinking about all the things I still need to do.

I do not want to get out of bed, thinking about all the things I still need to do.

There are hundreds of ideas, dancing in my head, that I want to share.

I want to travel around blogland and visit with all of you..

So, if you find any homeless hours, send them my way.

I promise to take very good care of them.

Hoping you are finding time to do all that you enjoy, and are enjoying all that you do!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Peace is the deliberate adjustment of my life
to the will of God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Let Me Count the Ways by Little Memories

I have not completely fallen off the face of the earth!
I am like this little bear and busy counting.
It is time for Inventory -- one aspect of owning a store that I do not necessarily enjoy.
So, I may be a little scarce until everything is counted and recorded.

I have managed to sneak away a few times and enjoy this:

my new ride!

The lease on my previous car expired last fall.  We extended it for as long as allowed.  I hate to admit attachment to material objects, but it was a difficult decision not to replace my car.  It was a loss of freedom and independence that I never expected at this time in my life.
My husband is a great guy with many wonderful attributes. 
Sharing a car is not necessarily one of them.

Now that we are hopeful my vision is here to stay, we went car shopping last weekend.
We are pretty much a Ford family, since my husband handles legal matters for some of the regional Ford departments.  We have had our share of other cars, both domestic and imported.  Employees of Ford may never let my husband forget the day his BMW had to be towed from their parking lot!
I am more than happy to support a longtime American company.

This is an updated version of my previous car, a Lincoln MKX.
I am too practical for a snazzy little sports car, and I enjoy having cargo space for hauling various items.  You  never know what might need to follow me home!
With my vision, it is still and probably always will be a challenge to look up.  Being slightly more elevated than a sedan, this is the perfect solution.

What I did not expect were all the technical improvements and changes.
Keys are evidently obsolete.  Who knew?

This has become my current bedtime reading material, as I attempt to figure out all the bells and whistles of my new vehicle.

So, I am counting . . .
smocking plates, patterns, bolts of fabric, cards of lace and tubes of buttons.
But, I am mostly counting my blessings for the unexpected and joyful return to a more normal life.

May today bring blessings to you, too!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Blessings

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you and in you,
May contentment answer all your wishes.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh,
And may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day, a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion,
So that you have much to share.

May mirth be near you always,
like a lamp shining brightly on the many paths you travel.

May you be true love.
~Author Unknown~

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