Friday, December 24, 2010


I know this has traveled around the internet a lot this season, but it's well worth seeing more than once!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Back to Beading

As I continue to heal from this virus, I keep myself occupied with quiet, creative tasks. Today, after months (years?) away from this craft, I returned to beading.

Each year I make a handmade Christmas ornament for each member of my family. Most years I cross-stitch. Other years I embroider or sew or craft or bead something special. Our tree is now laden with hand made ornaments!

Today, I made a dozen of these beaded star ornaments . They look like snowflakes to me. (Click the photo to the left for a larger image.)

The ornaments come from a kit made exclusively for Mary Maxim by Mac Enterprises. All beads, wires and threads were included in the kit. The directions are clear and simple. All you need are some basic beading tools, a workspace where the beads won't roll away from you, and a bit of time. Christmas music playing the the background helps!

What a pleasant way to spend a few hours!

What a pleasure to give a little gift of creativity each year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

While I've Been Sick

I've been tending to my knitting. With this horrible virus that lasts about two weeks, there's not a lot else I can do in between coughing, trying to regulate my body's temperature, and sleeping.

So Jodie asked if I'd make her a new scarf. She used the last one I made her so often that it ended up unraveling. She picked out the yarns ... so pretty. Two shades of blue in a very soft 4-ply yarn -- Caron's Simply Soft. It took less than one skein of each color.

It's simple, straight knitting. 15 stitches wide using #15 knitting needles. I worked the two yarns together, handling them as a single strand. I just knit and knit until it felt long enough ... someplace around 5 feet long. Then I added 5" of fringe to each end.

Pretty. Soft. Warm.

Time for more snow so she can take it out on the town!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Time!

Christmas is coming ...

It's time to set up the tree
Unwrap the handmade ornaments
Get some jolly Ho Ho Ho time

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Secrets: December 12, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. These four secrets made me smile:

My husband isn't quite that playful,
but his wife and daughters just might be.

There's nothing that teaches us
quite like the lessons learned
when walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

I'm pretty sure the example
of my sense of humor
helps my kids cope with stressful situations
all the time.

On Back: I hope you see this and wonder if it was for you.
I miss you

Sometimes a third party

is all that's left
as a way to communicate.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Memoriam

Except for my 110 film camera where I could shoot some snapshots in my high school years, I became excited about photography far too late in the game to appreciate what film can do.

With digital photography now the norm, the last roll of Kodachrome has been manufactured, shot, and developed.

I know some of my more experienced photographer friends are feeling the loss. It's the end of an era.

As a final tribute, I offer Paul Simon's song:

Many thanks to Jim and Lucy for pointing me in this direction.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Secrets: December 05, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. Only one of today's secrets caused me to raise an eyebrow:

I'd think that shopping lists and receipts
would make for good fodder for a novelist.

The name Frank gave this postcard:

I've read Found for a couple years now. It's fun.
Makes for a quirky gift, too.

They even have a "Dirty Found" magazine for those that enjoy a bit of extra steam in their lives.

Today's secret also reminds me of this book:
To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us.
Browsing through this book is an interesting way to while away an hour.

There are FIVE PostSecret books that also make for great gifts. I've got all five, and just love them. My favorite just might be The Secret Lives of Men and Women

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I got a new sweater

Jodie says I can now hide among the cushions
on her Dad's sofa.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Dance: Crocheted Scarf

My daughter Jodie is taking part in a holiday gift exchange at work. The gift needs to be $10 or less and good for either a male or female. She decided to crochet a scarf. But then she thought she'd crochet several scarves, the others for her close friends.

She's a busy girl, what with high school, college classes, work, a boyfriend and other obligations with friends and school organizations. Finding time to crochet all these scarves before Christmas was going to be tricky.

I was in between projects at the time, so offered to make the scarf she needed for the gift exchange. It only took a few days of stitching while watching movies.

Jodie bought several skeins of Red Heart worsted weight yarn at Wal-Mart, picked the colors for her fellow employee, handed me a size K crochet hook, and gave me the parameters. We made it 15 stitches wide, all double crochet.

There are 8 rows of the navy blue, followed by 6 rows of the teal. I repeated that pattern until the scarf felt long enough -- which ended up being 8 blocks of navy and 7 blocks of teal. I finished it off with about 3 inches of fringe using both yarns.

Fast. Fun. Androgynous. Pretty. (Or is that handsome?)

Next? Some Christmas gifts of my own to make!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Dance: Hearts n Flowers

After too long an absence, I am back to stitching some squares for charity quilts. I've signed up through CrossStitching for Charity for three so far, all due next spring.

I got an early start on the "Hearts and Flowers" theme. I finished this square today.

This was an older freebie chart no longer available at web address written on my pattern. If any of my readers recognize the pattern and can point me to a new web address, I'll gladly update this blog post, giving credit where credit is due.

The squares we stitch in our online Yahoo! group are stitched by 235 women (and a few good men) from all over the USA ... and internationally. We've been working as a team for over five years now. We stitch squares by theme, then send them to one central location. The squares are constructed into quilts. Most go to children with life-threatening illnesses, but we also have given quilts to teens and adults with long-term degenerative illnesses and to seniors in need.

An Invitation:
If you love to stitch and have run out of people to receive your gifts of love, please do consider joining us! The deadlines are reasonable. A single square can stitch up quickly -- I did this heart in about two weeks, working sporadically.

You can stitch as many or as few squares as you like, depending on your own schedule. And it feels so good to see photos of the finished quilts as they are presented to people who are hurting.

We are bearers of a spark of light and joy.


For my next crafty endeavor, I'm crocheting a scarf that Jodie will give as a holiday gift. Then I plan to make some beaded ornaments for my family for Christmas.

After those projects are completed, I'll be back to cross-stitch. The next charity square in line is a bunny from the Stoney Creek Farm Babies collection.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unconventional Holiday Greeting

This is for all my wonderful friends who don't happen to be Christians but still like the Christmas holiday season. This includes some folks that are nearest and dearest to me ... atheists and agnostics and Hindus all!

White Wine In The Sun by Tim Minchin

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Secrets: November 28, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. These three secrets caught my attention today:

I like this idea, but I don't do it.
Am I too lazy?
As long as it's kind, I just tell folks what I think!
I like to make their day.

Love this sentiment! It says:
I remember.
I care.
You're important to me.

There's more than one way to be raped.
I'm learning to take back the power.
I'm learning to stop trying to make things
have happy endings.

My favorite definition of forgiveness is from Oprah:
"Forgiveness is letting go of the hope
that the past can be changed."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Movie Review: Pirate Radio

OK ... so I don't watch movies in a timely manner. I don't mind being late to this 2009 party.

I watched this movie last weekend with my husband and daughter when I wasn't feeling well and they were being supportive. Plus, we had a bag of caramel corn that was asking to be devoured.

"An amusing musical romp through the 60s."
~ Dale Davaz"

"Made me want to listen to Classic Rock on Pandora a whole lot more!"
~ Jodie Davaz

Great cast. Excellent music. Fun story. Enjoyable diversion.

Kenneth Branagh was amusingly surly ... I didn't even recognize him until half way through the movie.

From Netflix:
Pirate Radio
In 1966, hard-partying British DJs -- a crew that includes Quentin (Bill Nighy), the Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Gavin (Rhys Ifans) and Dave (Nick Frost) -- have the time of their lives running a radio station on a ship in the North Sea, broadcasting generation-defining (but banned) music to millions. But they face getting shut down by Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh). Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) directs.

4 Stars

Friday, November 26, 2010

Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I'm glad this was a short book, because it was a waste.

That makes me a little sad.
  • Because I wanted to laugh
  • Because I rarely sit down to just read for pleasure, and this wasn't a pleasure.
  • Because I really like Nora Ephron. I like her movies. I like watching people interview her. I like her humor in those settings. I like to laugh.
  • I didn't laugh.
I'm pretty sure I didn't like the book because, unlike Nora, I'm not over 60. But neither is my best friend. She gave me the book because she loves to laugh. She read it and laughed.

I'm pretty sure I didn't like the book because I don't like big cities. Nora likes Los Angeles. Las Vegas. She loves New York. When I was in New York, it creeped me out.

I'm pretty sure I didn't like the book because, believe it or not, I'm enjoying growing older. I don't mind that I have laugh lines and that my hair is thin with gray bits. I don't mind that when I look in the mirror, I see images of my grandmother. I loved my grandmother. If I'm becoming more like her, I think that's a good thing to be. I'm looking forward to being a grandmother. (When you're ready, Daughters. Not now.)

Maybe I'll feel differently when I'm over 60. I doubt it. She has complaints in there about being over 50. Even over 40. Nora finds the funny in life one way. I find it another way. There's room for both of us on this planet.

So just because I thought this was a waste, you might not. You and I might not laugh at the same jokes. The rose-colored lenses in our glasses might be two different shades.

2 Stars

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Run, birdie! Run!
You don't want to get caught today!

Wattle in the Woods

This guy used to live down the block.
I haven't seen him in four years.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Dance: Treat Bags

I started stitching these cute Trick or Treat bags before Halloween.

I enjoyed the surface embroidery process so much, that I kept on stitching even though the holiday had passed. In fact, I may even stitch each design once more ... so I have more to give away.

I'll do the finishing work (actually turning the stitching into little treat bags) some day in the future. I'm back to stitching quilt squares for charity now.

#312 Trick or Treat Bags
by Crab-apple Hill

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: Gunn's Golden Rules

Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work by Tim Gunn

What a great book! Read it!

5 stars


Oh, that's not enough of a recommendation? OK. Here's why.

It's sensible.
It's down to earth.
It's about treating yourself and others with respect.
It's funny.
It's serious.
It's light.
It's deep.
It's readable.
It's honest.
It's wise.
It's quotable.

There are some gossipy stories about well-known people that illustrate the points he's making. Those stories are getting the press in book reviews. But that didn't hold the charm for me. Tim's way with words and dignity in the telling are what drew me in.

Here are some quotable gems:
  • Speaking of a hideous white elephant gift: "It's ambitiously bad."
  • "Why would you want to derail people who have a good impulse?"
  • "There should be a lot more thank-yous."
  • "There are a lot of people with whom I interact because I have to; that doesn't man I want to eat cake with them."
  • "If someone doesn't ask, you don't have a moral obligation to say every thought that pops into your head."
  • "Niceness can at times feel a little bit thankless."
  • "There is absolutely never any reason to be a fire-breathing dragon."
  • "Shorter is better. Always."
On that note, I end this review.


p.s. This is the first book I read on my Kindle. I'm falling in love with my electronic book! As a bibliophile, I wasn't sure I'd like it. Where are the covers, the pages, the texture, the color images, the smell that are a big part of the book-reading experience? True. Those are missing. But there is an ease in reading that makes this a pure pleasure. I found myself picking up my Kindle far more often than my paper volumes. I don't keep dropping my bookmarks! My favorite feature is being able to make notes and marks "in the margins" and then being able to easily pull up your favorite bits. And the entire book is search-able ... without relying on an index! I'm making a vow that of every two books I read, one will be a paper version from my vast library of unread tomes. The other will be on my Kindle!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Waiting in the Wings

It won't be long before we deck the halls.


* * * * *

Macro Monday is easy to play,

snap a macro (or close-up) photo,
post it on your blog
then go to Lisa's Chaos
and sign Mr Linky.

Sunday Secrets: November 21, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. These three secrets tapped into memories today:

I stopped going when I got tired
of dealing with people
that would rather complain
than try to improve their situations.

I know a photographer who feels the same way.
(I didn't get an A+)

I had such a moment
over a meal at Souplantation.
(I told a secret!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Secrets: November 14, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. I liked these two secrets today:

You go, girl! I like spunk.

Well said by the voice of experience.
Do pick a course of study that is right for you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Own Kind of Wonderland

I opened the blinds this morning to check on the weather.
More rain.

All this dampness has made the local fungus ecstatic!
These four mushrooms bloomed
on the hill on the north side of our home.

These are monster 'shrooms ...
easily as big as a dessert plate!

I found a Kiss in my pocket.
I set in on top of the mushroom
to give some perspective.

I wonder how big these will be tomorrow.
I'll go ask Alice.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Movie Review: Babies

An ideal movie to watch on a droopy kind of day. These four little ones from around the world can't help but make you smile.

From Netflix:
Documentary filmmaker Thomas Balmes charts the simultaneous early development of four babies from different parts of the world, illustrating what makes human life unique, similar and precious wherever it occurs. Training his camera on newborns Hattie from San Francisco, Ponijao from Namibia, Bayarjargal from Mongolia and Mari from Tokyo, Balmes captures everything from first screaming breaths to first steps.

I'm a sucker for both documentaries and for little tikes, so Babies is a big hit with me. I think my favorite scene is at the very beginning of the movie when Ponijao and her brother are beating rocks. I guess siblings taking things from one another, and emphasizing their desires with a smack or a bite, is a universal phenomenon.

5 Stars

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Secrets: November 07, 2010

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 insightful sociological experiment. This postcard touched a nerve.

I used to be envious of both intellectual women
and supermodels.
I'm still a bit self-conscious of my looks.
But I finally realized all those scholastic awards I won
were not flukes.
I AM smart ...
And some women envy me!

(I don't enjoy that feeling)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Men of Honor

From Netflix:

Against formidable odds -- and an old-school diving instructor (Robert De Niro) embittered by the U.S. Navy's new, less prejudicial policies -- Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.) sets his sights on becoming the Navy's first African-American master diver in this uplifting true story. Their relationship starts out on the rocks, but fate ultimately conspires to bring the men together into a setting of mutual respect, triumph and honor.


I enjoyed Men of Honor quite a bit. Hard to beat these actors! I was quite drawn into the story in a way I didn't expect, seeing as anything military-related usually isn't my cup of tea.

It was the way these two main characters related to each other, appraised each other, tested each other, then eventually came to respect one another that fueled the story for me.

4 stars

Friday, November 5, 2010

On This Fall Day

Outside my window...
it's threatening to rain.
The yellow maple leaves are sparse in the trees, but carpet the lawn.

I am thinking...
that I love Starburst Days.
Mental health hours that recharge my batteries.

I am watching...
an old movie from 1945:
Brief Encounter with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson

I am thankful for...
The ultimate comfort food.

From the kitchen...
banana bread.
Made Wednesday, with walnuts.

I am wearing...
my "I don't want to leave the house" clothes.
The pants have holes along the seams; the t-shirt is stained; the hoody is maroon. Comfy.

I am creating...
Some Halloween treat bags with embroidered trees and pumpkins.
Maybe I'll finish them before next October.

I am going...
to give at least one massage this weekend.
Warm oil, quiet time, attentive to detail, calming.

I am reading...
Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life by Quinn Cummings
Funny essays!

I am hoping...
to face a dragon this weekend.
He's probably just a little lizard.

I am hearing...
the cars buzzing on the freeway.
It's 5 blocks away.

I smell...
wood fires burning.
Low clouds trap chimney smoke.

Around the house...
I've decorated for Thanksgiving.
My favorite holiday ... the day of my birth.

One of my favorite things...
three really, my daughters.
They're beautiful, smart, funny, quick-witted and kind.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Having some coins appraised. Pressing some scarves.
Raking and bagging millions of pine needles in the yard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Macro Monday - Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween Night

The spooks are wandering the streets ... screaming

So frightened ... my camera shakes!

You might say ... it drives me batty!

* * * * *

Macro Monday is easy to play,

snap a macro (or close-up) photo,
post it on your blog
then go to Lisa's Chaos
and sign Mr Linky.