Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sit Quietly; Gaze Softly

This is not going to be practical for me today ... unless the water is frozen! We're in the midst of a ferocious winter storm right now. For the second time this week, schools are closed and Jodie has a snow day.

The snow is stacked up about 10 inches on the deck railing. The snow berms at the edge of the driveway are higher yet.

But I can sit at the dining room table with a hot cup of cider and gaze out at the snow in the back yard — and be a peace for a while.

Day 535: Keep it Taut

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Embroidery: Wooden Hoop

I stitch most of my embroidery
'in the hand' rather than using a
hoop or Q-snap or frame. Yet I
still have all these tools and use them when warranted.

For some projects, it's extremely important to keep the fabric nice and taut so that stitches form well and the ground fabric does not become distorted. For surface embroidery, I still prefer the classic wooden hoop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Review: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself

I've added a book review of this oldie but goodie, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.

And no. You're not nuts if you talk to yourself.

You're only nuts if you continue to say mean and nasty and negative things to yourself.

I liked this book quite a bit. The methods and tools are sound and easy to implement. For my full book review, check out my Bookshelf.

On Choosing a President

My husband and I were watching our DVD collection of The West Wing. We just love it. Thoughtful. Thought provoking. Human. Full of big ideas. A peek into what it might be like to make policies and decisions that affect a nation.

Last night we watched the episode Twenty Hours in America. Three of the president's top advisers are on the campaign trail with the president, and miss the motorcade. They need to find their own way back to D.C. Along the trail, they get a bigger view of America by being out of the beltway and having interactions with rank-and-file Americans.

As they enter the District, 20 hours later, and walk toward the white house, Toby opines:

If our jobs teach us anything it's that we don't know what the next President's gonna face.

If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas who's connected to other people's lives and cares about making them better, if we choose someone to inspire us, then we'll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things we can't imagine yet.

Instead of telling people who's most qualified, instead of telling people who's got the better ideas, let's make it obvious.


Little Bits of Heaven

A single wasabi almond resting on my tongue.

Three minutes in a hot shower.

The aroma of White Shoulders on my wrist.

Freshly trimmed fingernails.

A well-written bit of dialogue.

The sound of my daughter's giggle from the next room.

The touch of my husband's skin against mine.

Day 534: A Cut Above

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Embroidery: Stork Scissors

Stork Scissors.

Does anything say 'embroidery' as classically as stork scissors?

I was thrilled when I got my first pair. I felt like a 'real' needleworker.

Some stitchers I know collect embroidery scissors. Now they come in the shapes of all kinds of animals. I admit to having two pair of stork scissors, one pair of chanticleer scissors, a special 'snip-a-stitch' pair with a notched blade that helps easily rip out unwanted stitches, and an extremely nice pair from Gingher. I haven't gone crazy with collecting ... yet!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go Macro

This week I want to focus on beauty, harmony and peace. At this time of year, when the snow keeps piling, the days are still far too short and cold, and nerves can easily be frayed by road conditions, what I'd really like to do is run away to some warm calm place.

Since flying away is not in the cards right now, I'll go inside instead. Go smaller. Pay closer attention to details in my life.

Right now, in my photography, I'm doing a series of close-up shots of my embroidery tools. Embroidery is the activity I have in my life that best calms and soothes me. I can sit quietly with great concentration. I get in a rhythm with my needle. My breathing slows. My fingers are nimble. My brain starts emitting endorphins. The results of my labor are beautiful, embellished works of needle art.

So I'm taking that thing that is beautiful to me, my stitching, and examining the small details — lint and flaws and scratches and all.

Day 533: Through the Eye of a Needle

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Embroidery: LoRan Needle Threader

This is my very favorite needle threader!

Instead of having a thin flexible wire hoop, this threader has two sizes of hooks. Slip one hook through the eye of the needle. Place a loop of thread in the hook. Pull through. It's much simpler and sturdier than the wire threaders.

True, if you have to use a really small needle, like a beading needle, even the small hook is too big. But for most needles used for counted cross-stitch — tapestry needles in sizes 18 through 28 — this needle threader works great!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Stay Out of the Fray

I found it so interesting that when John McCain used this quotation last week — one I've known for at least a decade — he got blasted so badly by the media!

To me, these are very wise words. Why join in a fight that someone is trying to pick with you? Why not have the dignity to let the "pigs" sling mud, but stay out of the sty?

Isn't that what most parents teach their children? Sticks and Stones, buddy! There is absolutely a whole lot more honor and self-respect if you stay out of the fray and stay away from the verbal bullies than to jump in, throw stones, and make matters worse.

Day 532: Big Stitches

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Embroidery: Tapestry Needles

I was messing with my camera the other day while sitting in my "stitching nest" and watching TV. I started taking photos of some of my embroidery tools. I liked the way they came out so well, that I decided to do a series of macro photos of my [well-used] tools.

Part of what I love about these photos is all the flotsam and jetsam and scratches and flaws that are associated with my well-worn and oft-used implements.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Watchful Waiting

A doctor recently talked to me about a technique he uses in his practice called Watchful Waiting. He sits, watches, pays attention, listens. He may or may not respond.

Sometimes silence really is the best response. Other times, the best response is a truthful, kind remark.

Sunday Secrets: Jan 27, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. Only one of today's secrets resonated with me:

Oh, this poor pathetic woman! That was me in my teens and 20s, for sure!

As a teenager, I wrote a series of anonymous notes to a boyfriend that had dumped me in favor of a ski bunny he'd met on the slopes ... and later in favor of my older sister. Each time I'd send a note, he'd bring it into work and share it around and try to figure out who his secret admirer was. Years and years later, I told him it was me. He had a hard time believing it. I felt SO pathetic!

In my 20s, I worked for a literary magazine. I know the reactions such love poems might have on an editor. Derisive comments, for sure ... then a quick trip to the trash can.

Tickle Me Silly

I was over at the Sunday MacroDay site, checking out the new theme and voting on last week's theme of Ink. This new entry by Mostly Sunny* caught my eye:

As "ink" goes, I wasn't all that impressed with the image. But then when I READ the list of things in NEED, I laughed my heart out.

Needless to say, Sunny got my vote!

Day 531: The Last Vestiges

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Christmas Light Bouquet

Christmas was over a month ago. Dale and I finished up the last bit of Christmas business yesterday. I turned the 2007 greeting cards into 2008 gift tags. Dale took down the Christmas lights.

When I saw the lights all bound up and ready to be put away for another year, they reminded me of a bouquet of flowers. They also reminded me of the Pencil Bouquet I photographed at the end of last year.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day 530: We All Have Our Vices

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, My Drug of Choice

If it's Saturday, it must be Jenny! I lost just under two pounds this week. Go me.

:: sigh ::

I'm realllllllllllly happy with the weight loss. Slowly and steadily, it's coming off. One my my friends from St. George's Quilters now greets me with, "Hey, you skinny bitch!" That's a first!

I am starting to get a bit of tired of the food, though. That goes in waves. Most of the time, the food's just great. So little thinking has to go into preparing food and eating any more. But now and then ... I just wish for a bag of Fiery Habanero Doritos!

In the mean time, I stick with the plan, knowing that in about three weeks, I get to be treated to a nice steak dinner at the Outback. I miss my red meat! (Ah! But my heart is happy).

I also miss the extremely occasional margarita (I have one all of three times a year). So to get my citrus-y fix, I stick to diet orange Sunkist.
oh ... and for you other Fiery Habanero fans, just check out these earrings!

Now and Then, Just Let Loose

I don't have a lot of trouble doing this. I can be a very silly woman. I enjoy life and don't mind making a fool of myself one little bit. It gets me laughing.

And I love to laugh.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 529: EDM Challenge # 27

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Dale's Church History Library

Thought I'd try another
Everyday Matters challenge!
Challenge #27: Book

It's been quite some time since I've attempted an Everyday Matters challenge. This is a photo of one of the shelves in our personal library. Dale is a lifetime student of early church history. This is a small part of his collection of books on the subject.

He talks longingly of his retirement when he has more time to delve deeply into this subject, then write articles that make that part of our history more accessible to the masses.


I'm sure I jump that line back and forth quite a bit. I don't mind looking like a fool, as long as I'm being creative and having fun with it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 528: Knit Wit

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, To The Point

To keep my hands busy, I've been knitting another scarf for my daughter Julie. I'm using a thick chenille yarn and some big fat needles.

This is as exciting as my day got today.
:: wry smile ::

A Word of Thanks

A while ago, I wrote about the day the St. George's Quilters gave away 101 quilts to our local food bank. It's great to be a part of a project that ends up helping so many needy folks in our community.

Well, last week our group received the following in the mail:

It's a rare treat to gets notes of thanks like this. Reminds me a lot of the parable of the 10 lepers.

We don't make the quilts to get the pats on the back, but it's awfully nice to get them anyway.

Book Review: The Vile Village

Here's the 7th book in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

It's criminal how much pleasure I get from the pain of these poor orphans!

Having run out of relatives that will care for them, the Baudelaire children are put in the the care of the town of V.F.D., a most vile village that is over-run with crows. After all, "It takes a village to raise a child."

Here they encounter yet more unfortunate events that put their lives in peril.

You can read my entire book review in my Bookshelf.

Sounds Like a Plan

I have nothing to add to this one today ...
Sounds like karma to me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Look on the Bright Side

It's a sunny and cold day today in north Idaho. The temperature never got above the mid-20s this afternoon. But I wanted to take a break from the elliptical trainer today, so braved the icy air and took a walk around the neighborhood for my exercise today.

The call of the sun made baring the cold worthwhile. Just getting out in the fresh nippy air, soaking in some vitamin D and getting a bit of 'distance vision' helps clear my brain. The shadows do fall behind.

What's next?

Day 527: Budding Guitarist

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Jodie Plays Bass

Jodie used her hard-earned money from her job at Silverwood last summer to buy a pretty red bass. Today, she was accepted into the beginner's jazz band at school.

Lots of practicing goin' on here!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sage Advice

Ah, the hard part lies in the middle:
Behave Yourself
I'll have to think on that . . . ;)

Day 526: A Splash of Color

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,

theme this week: "Ink"

Other folks have great images of fountain pens, ink wells, signatures. We may yet see a tattoo. But the ink I know best, besides that from my fine tip ball point pen, is the ink for my printer.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

:: Grin ::

I think this is what my blog is about. Honoring my achievements ... especially in photography and needlework.

Day 525: Give me a Tip-orillo

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Smokin'

theme this week:
"Smoke 'em If You Got 'em"

I'm highly sensitive to cigarette smoke, so am not around smokers much these days. I just about stop breathing if the smoke gets even a little thick. But there's something about cigar smoke that draws me in.

As a kid, my dad's business partner always had a cigar in his mouth. Ol' Russ was a kind man. He had a lot of patience where my own dad had very little. When Russ bent down to give me a kiss on the cheek, I get a big whiff of his unique aroma.

Now, every time I smell a cigar, I look around for Russ.

[no ... this isn't Russ ... just an old friend of mine]

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy Dance: 2007 Family Christmas Ornaments

Once again, Better Late Than Never!

I've finally finished my family's 2007 Christmas ornaments.

Sometimes the best laid plans still don't come to fruition.

This first snowman was stitched for my husband, Dale.

The cute penguin is for my middle daughter, Julie.

The snowman doing the
happy dance is for my
youngest daughter, Jodie.

And this gingerbread house is the ornament I stitched for myself.

You can read all my trials and tribulations about trying to get these done in Cameo's Corner.

Sunday Secrets: Jan 20, 2008

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. I find it to be an amazing sociological experiment. A number of today's secrets resonate with me:

I HAD an afro when I was a senior in high school!
I always wanted red hair
like my sister Eleanore and my brother Carl.

I had a dream this week about my first husband, Albert.
We were happy and playful.
It's the first time in a long time I could remember him that way.

... and politics.
And amen.

I just take the phone away from my ear and make faces.
Sticking out my tongue, wrinkling my nose and shaking my head is a favorite.

Your Gifts

I've begun a new tool that I use to help me keep my brain chemistry in balance. It's a simple 3-ring binder. So far, it contains just a few pages:

  • Two photographs of myself — one as a 10 year old child; one taken on a day where my girls and I had a memorable time of bonding. I look beautiful in both.
  • A collage I made — some of my life goals in images and words.
  • A list of things I can do that calm me, help me feel special. Any one item takes only 15 min.
  • My Personal Mission Statement — something I wrote that speaks to the person I wish to present to the world, my truest self.
  • A love letter from my husband, detailing what he finds unique in me.
  • A collection of quotations — some of the nicest words people have ever said to me and some words I long to hear.
I've been glancing through these pages each night before I go to sleep. It's my way of fulfilling the phrase above. To remind myself each evening of the best I have to offer, then rest well, encourages me to live that life each morning when I awaken.

Day 524: Just Because ...

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey
in my Photography section,

Jodie lit a candle today and set it on the kitchen counter.

"What's the candle for, Jo?"

"Just felt like lighting one."

"Oh." Pause. "It looks like a picture."

"Go get your camera."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Promises, promises

Yesterday I wrote of having the integrity to follow through on the promises I make to myself.

A flip side of that is to not hold others to that same standard. Just because I keep my promises, doesn't mean I can expect that other folks will always keep theirs.

This was really hard to learn when I went through a divorce many, many years ago. Divorce always hurts. So much betrayal. So many broken lives. But the part that was hardest for me to come to grips with was the fact that my former spouse did not keep his promises.

Sure, his broken promises to me hurt. But even more, he didn't keep his promises to his kids.

I held out hope that he would pull though some day. But then he died ... and I was left knowing those promises would never be fulfilled.

Eventually, I had to let go of that pain and resentment. I had to learn to let go of the promises now broken. To do that allows me a more peaceful life.

Day 523: Laughter

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section,

theme this week: "Medicine"

The 'rules' this week state:

In this season of colds and flus, we have decided that rather than go out, you may turn to your medicine cabinets and show us what you have. Any images cold/flu/illness/medicine related are welcomed.

Well ... ok. This wasn't in my medicine cabinet ... but there's a mirror over the cabinet, right? And this could be in the mirror!

That's me. Pushing the boundaries again ... and dancing on the borders.

Friday, January 18, 2008


This is one of the primary phrases I try to live by.

It's not that hard for me to keep the promises I make to others. Usually, I'll say "No!" rather than make a promise I can't keep.

But holding onto the promises made to myself ... that's a little tougher.

Like ... getting to bed on time so that I am rested and ready for the next day's activities.
Like ... taking care of routine duties before sitting down to check my e-mail.
Like ... getting my exercise in every day.
Like ... thinking and making a wise choice before I turn into the Monster Mommy

Sometimes, those are the hardest kinds of promises to keep. The ones made to myself.

Day 522: More Fun with Food

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Carrot Flower

I couldn't quite figure out what kind of flower cluster this is supposed to be. A lotus maybe? Not sure. But it's cool!

Here's another interesting-looking title about making these edible works of art.

The ABC of Fruit and Vegetable Carving

Just what I need! Another hobby!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What is the Kindest Option?

Lesson learned.

I did take the high road with my friend. We had the best of conversations this morning. We'll temporarily part ways for the next six months, then see where we stand.


Clear communication does a world of good. And if it can be delivered with kindness, the outcome looks a lot calmer and rosier.

Day 521: Mamma Always Said ...

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Potato Rose

Mama always said, "Don't play with your food!"

Sometimes I'm a rebel. It's fun to play.

Obviously, the chef at the Thai restaurant thinks so, too. When Dale and I tried a new place for lunch, the scrumptious dishes arrived with beautiful carved vegetable flowers. Mine was this rose. I'll show you Dale's tomorrow.

In peeking around 'the interwebs,' I found this book:
Vegetable and Fruit Carving

Intriguing, yes?