Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Secrets: January 31, 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.

The first secret is from Frank's blog today. The second, from my PostSecret archives.

:( Ugh.

I want to tell them, "Just Shut Up!"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Charity Knitting

Our charity group mainly cross-stitches
designs on quilt squares.
We also cross-stitch ornaments for hospital-bound kids.

We knit and crochet preemie hats for infants in distress.
And we knit and crochet hats that are given to
'chemo kids' who have lost their hair.

In 2009 I went a little crazy with my new knitting looms.

I knit around 35 hats for boys, girls and teens.

It was fun to see them all laid out on the table
before I shipped them off to the hospital.
That's quite a collection!

Friday, January 29, 2010

2009 Charity Ornaments

Two months ago, I did the finishing work on this batch of Halloween and Christmas ornaments. The designs were stitched by members of the charity group I participate in.

The stitching was sent to me, and I did the 'finishing work' and turned them into ornaments. Some of them have musical buttons inside. Press the clown head and hear "Send in the Clowns."

The finished ornaments are boxed up and shipped off to hospitals. They're given as gifts to patients who have to spend the time there over the holidays.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Gift of Words

I spent a year in therapy over this!

When my eldest brother and dad died within 2 weeks of each other 11 years ago, all of us siblings were a wreck, as you might imagine. One of my sisters took me aside to ... I don't know ... set me straight? The words she chose to say to me that day were definitely a 'not good' gift. They caused me a good deal of post traumatic stress. For years I'd wake up out of nightmares crying and screaming, trying to fight back, barely able to breathe, because her words came back, haunting me.

Because I believed them.

My counselor had me do a specific exercise over and over that finally helped me see that what my sister opined was not the truth about me. I simply needed to stop believing it.

I still flinch when I hear a couple of those trigger words. But now I recognize that they're not true. Not for me.

I am guilty of saying unkind things about people that act rudely to me. I'm guilty of having a really hard time forgiving. I can own that, and I painstakingly work to alter that behavior.

Yet I also know the power of words, and try to curb the way I use them so that they don't belittle others. I go out of my way to find something to compliment because I know how those affirmations can buoy the spirit of the person to whom I am speaking.

The quotation above was a 'good gift' to me. Through my actions and speech, I plan to re-gift that sentiment today.

My mentor, Flylady, wrote about the same lesson in a different way:
Each one of us has a light that shines. Some of our lights have been shaded by those negative words we have heard all our lives. We have to remove that shroud of sadness that has dimmed our lights -- and let our light shine!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Columbia Gorge & Skamania Lodge

My Christmas gift from my husband in 2009 was the gift of his time -- the commodity I value most in our marriage. He promised me a long weekend at one of our very favorite places, the Columbia Gorge (just east of Portland, OR).

It was a rainy and cloudy weekend. The Gorge is beautiful in every kind of weather. As we approached our destination, I did a bit of passenger seat photography.

Our destination? Skamania Lodge on the north (Washington) side of the Columbia River. It's got to be a special place if you must cross "The Bridge of the Gods" to get there! As you walk into the 3-story lobby of the lodge, you are greeted with this inviting fire. The stone fireplace is large enough to stand in!

One afternoon we took a hike on a rainforest trail. Those are some tall, mossy trees!

On Sunday we took a cruise down the highway to spend some time in Hood River, Oregon.

We wondered around the picturesque town, then had some lunch at the Crazy Pepper Cantina. This place does not disappoint. It's the second time we've dined here. On this trip, we had chicken fajitas.

The food is yummy and the service is spectacular. It left a smile on our faces!
(It looks like he likes me, doesn't it!)

The vacation weekend was wonderful, and of course, too short. What a great Christmas gift! It left us wanting more, and simply loving each other.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gratitude: Stitching and Friends

Today, what I'm grateful for is my passion for counted cross-stitch and my cadre of friends who challenge me to grow in the craft.

I belong to an online needlework group. Many of us have been together for almost a decade. We know each other by our talents, our sense of humor, and by the part of the world we live in. Most of us have never met each other in 'real life.' We've been through births and deaths and weddings and divorces and much, much more together. When tragedy hit our nation, our members stitched quilt squares to honor the memory of those most deeply affected.

For those of you familiar with my stitching, you know that I am most apt to stitch small projects: quilt squares, ornaments, bookmarks, etc. I've done several medium size projects. Then I drool over the achievements of those in our group who stitch the large and complicated pieces. In our lingo, BAPs. (Big Ass Projects)

At least eight years ago, members of our group who are accomplished at these BAPs started nudging me and goading me, asking when I was going to stitch a BAP. Figuring it would never happen, I spouted, "Ask me again in 2010." That seemed safe enough. Too many years away. Too small a chance I'd still be part of that group. Too distant for these folks to remember, right?


At the end of December came the question, "So, Cameo ... have you decided on your BAP yet?"

Well, no, I hadn't.

So then I began getting suggestions -- and guidelines about stitch count so that I didn't 'cheat' and call something a BAP that was really only a glorified MAP (medium ass project).

So this week I pulled out a couple projects ... UFOs, really (unfinished objects) ... that I thought might qualify for a BAP. I've decided to begin with this project, The Newborn King by Carol Emmer. This is one of the very first charts I bought back in the mid 1990s. I started stitching it exactly six years ago, January 25, 2004. (Yes, I keep records like that).

The Newborn King will likely be considered a MAP, but hey, it took me all these years to work up to this, so I'll start here. The stitch count is 148w x 158h.

I worked on it for a while in 2004. Then I worked on it again for a while in 2005. Then it got put in a pillowcase and stored on a shelf in my studio. As much as I love the look of this piece, there are a few things that are driving me crazy about it.

  1. It's a color chart
  2. It covers two pages with a line of overlap
  3. It's a color chart
  4. I gridded the fabric, but I gridded it in a way that the grid lines on my fabric did not match the dark grid lines on the chart ... so I had to re-grid the fabric
  5. It's a color chart
  6. I made some counting errors early on (see #4)
  7. It's a color chart
I'm going to try again, and this time I'm determined to finish it!
:: crossing fingers ::
  • I've pressed it.
  • I've put it on a scroll frame.
  • I dusted off my floor stand and tightened up all the joints.
  • I've pulled out the 'big guns' of my floor stand OTT light.
  • I found my magnifier.
  • I've rearranged the TV room to accommodate my expanded 'stitching nest.'

So, here's what it looks like now. I'll try to be good about updating my progress as I stitch along.

* * * * *

Weekly Gratitude
For 52 weeks, count your blessings and document them once each week

Monday, January 25, 2010

Macro Monday - Impression

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.


We had a light dusting of snow last night.

Tires leave an admirable imprint.

Manhole grids are outstanding.

Frogs shiver in warty skin.

A leaf relinquishes its negative impression.
(the macro shot)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Secrets: January 24, 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.

The first secret is from Frank's blog today. The second, from my PostSecret archives.

Me neither.
Sometimes I'll have a favorite figure skater or gymnist,
but I've not even had that in the last several years.
I do, however, have favorite chefs from Top Chef
and favorite designers from Project Runway.

I do my part by being extra kind and smiling to the clerks
who have just had to deal with a difficult customer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Procrastination. Guilty as charged.

I live a very charmed life. My husband has a great job that supports the family, so I don't need to work outside the home. I am a full-time homemaker. My day, my time, is my own.

My problem?

My day, my time, is my own.

My inability to manage that time wisely is a challenge. I'm a great one for making To Do lists. I'm a great one for checking things off those lists. But I'm even better at creating lists where ten things go on and six things get done.

Generally speaking, no single item on the lists is intimidating. Most projects can be broken down into simple steps. Unfortunately, I too often view the entire list and get discouraged. There's just too much to do!

Here is where my ability to hyper-focus and pay attention to details might come in handy. Focusing in on just one job -- or even just the next three things -- can be beneficial. Allowing myself the relief that comes with concentrated effort, reminding myself to "Just Start," and perhaps even setting a timer to segment the workload, will help me overcome the procrastination that keeps me from checking those items off as done!

I get so discouraged when I reach the end of the day and wonder where the heck my time went. So Friday, I began by picking three things, and just starting them.
  1. Get some exercise -- take a walk in the sun
  2. Get the photos off my camera and cell phone. (Some were there since last November!)
  3. Write some blog posts.
By 10:45 in the morning, I'd already completed them!

Those things accomplished, I gave myself the satisfaction of scratching them off the list, then took a break. Once refreshed, I picked the next simplest three things to begin.

My father-in-law had a great saying:
Do the easiest thing first,
and you'll have the easiest thing left.
Those are great words to live by. I'll start with this time that is given me.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Spiders in the Woods

With winter upon us, I haven't made my two-mile walks in the neighborhood very often lately. But since it's been so mild here in the last week, I resolved to get out in the sun and fresh air today. I took my favorite walk through the woods in a park by the Spokane River.

Those familiar with my blog may remember this photo from 2008. This dainty flower with a more dainty spider was captured on a walk through those woods. This spider is about the size of my pinky finger's fingernail.

Well, today I was greeted by another spider friend while I walked through the woods. It was not nearly as fragile, nor as dainty. Rather than crawling nimbly over flower petals, this guy was boldly catching the rays, sprawled out in the bare branches of the underbrush.

From the look on his face, I do believe he was enjoying the rare January sunshine.

(Yes, I know it's Friday ... but since I was out of town, I missed Macro Monday this week!)

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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday Secrets: January 17, 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.

The first two secrets are from Frank's blog last Sunday. The final one is from the PostSecret archives.

I'm glad I have a lot more reasons to go on Facebook
than just to play Bejeweled.
Oh, but I LOVE playing Bejeweled!
(and I'm very good at it)

I guess I'll start here
in Post Falls, Idaho.

My husband and I had a weekend away
in the Columbia Gorge.

We took turns driving; we took turns riding shotgun.
It works ...
as long as we're heading down the road together!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Talk About Gratitude!

The holidays are over.
Gifts given and received.
Life getting back to normal.
One thing left to do?
Write a few Thank You notes for the blessings received.

I think it's really important to teach your kids the value of saying "Thank You." So does Jennifer Casa of JCasa Handmade. (One of my favorite crafting blogs!) She designed some wonderful thank you notes that are ideal for children. The kids can fill in the blanks for the gift given and why it's appreciated. Plus, there's a spot on the front of the card to draw a special picture.

Jennifer offers this template for free on her blog. It's a simple pdf download. If you have little ones, I encourage you to take a look.

* * * * *

Weekly Gratitude
For 52 weeks, count your blessings and document them once each week

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Easy Street

I was listening to the This I Believe podcast from October 16, 2009. The essay of the week was by Rebecca West, entitled Goodness Doesn't Just Happen, an essay written for the original series in the 1950s.

Ms. West was a critic, journalist, novelist and feminist known for her studies of the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremburg. Her essay spoke of her attempts to live out her beliefs in freedom, the rule of law, the importance of God and the exercise of religion as a way to connect to God. It's worth reading (or listening to) the entire essay, just to get to this line.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Dance: Penguin Bookmark

I decided to start my 2010 stitching in a small way.

My stitching group is egging me on to try stitching a BAP this year (Big A** Project), so I thought I'd better work up to it. Would be hard to start smaller than this!

In truth, I found this little penguin and was going to make it into a Christmas ornament for my middle daughter, Julie. She's a bit of a nut about penguins, so I've stitched a few for her over the years.

But because we were pretty busy at the end of last year getting Julie ready to move across the country, I didn't get much stitching done. The week after Christmas, Julie moved to Pittsburgh, PA to begin grad school.

So I decided to stitch the penguin anyway, but turn it into a bookmark. Seeing as she has to read over 600 pages on a weekend, I figured a bookmark might find a bit of use!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Avoid the Tragedy

It can take concerted effort to keep living. I've got to feed these parts of me by taking time to tend them.

I ignore and avoid people that belittle me or don't appreciate what I have to offer. And I read the kind of books and articles that parcel out morsels of hope in participating in something bigger than myself. That keeps my spirit going.

I stitch and knit and crochet and take photographs and cook and write and play with words. That keeps my creativity going.

I interact with friends and acquaintances and daughters and husband in my slightly cockeyed manner. I joke a lot and allow my earthy humor to bubble to the surface. That keeps my glorious uniqueness in full swing.

Oh. I get enough sleep. If I don't do that, all the rest goes to hell.

(yes, terrible pun)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Macro Monday - Flylady

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.


I'm using this image as a double whammy today. It's for both Macro Monday and Weekly Gratitude.

So, what is this image and who is Flylady?

The image is a 4 inch 'clingy' ... one of those vinyl doohickeys that you can put on glass, then peel off and use again. This is Flylady's logo.

As for Flylady ... well, she's my mentor and cheerleader. She's an easily sidetracked woman that learned to turn a chaotic lifestyle into one of peace. Then she taught a half million women to do the same.

With her help and inspiration, I've learned that cleaning up my home can now be viewed as a blessing to my family. I've learned that to give the best of myself to others, I first must care for myself. I've learned that by putting simple routines in place to take care of the "gotta dos" in life, I have a lot more time to do the fun stuff.

I'm grateful for all Flylady has taught me, and for the more peaceful life I lead because I followed her lead.

If you live in chaos and want to get out of it, I highly recommend taking a peek at Flylady's website.
(Don't worry. All the guidance is FREE!)

* * * * *

Weekly Gratitude
For 52 weeks, count your blessings and document them once each week

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Secrets: January 10, 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 first secret is from the PostSecret archives. The second, from PostSecret Germany, and the final one from Frank's blog today.

I hope I pass that test more often than I fail it.

It's so easy to get sidetracked
by putting time and energy
into people that don't return the love.

A former boyfriend showed up at my first wedding,
pulled me aside,
and told me HE wanted to marry me.
When my marriage fell apart,
the old boyfriend returned to try again ...
even though he was then married.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Wisdom of Harry Potter

I recently listened to the audio version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for the umpteenth time. It seems I glean new insights from these magical books on each pass through them.

This bit of wisdom came from the mouth of Albus Dumbledore after Harry had helped Sirius Black and Buckbeak escape. Harry was bemoaning the fact that, even through these two were saved, Wormtail escaped and would soon be back in the service of the Dark Lord. Harry was not able to save the world from the evil to come.

Professor Dumbledore's response?

The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.
~ Albus Dumbledore

Gosh, does that ring true!

Life is such a journey! We move from our parent's home into the world where we think we have our own road mapped out. We take our tentative steps ... college, a job, a bit of volunteerism ... and think we're on a clear trajectory.

Then come the surprises and detours. Who knew a year of volunteering as a campus minister would lead to remaining in north Idaho for the rest of my adulthood? Marriage. Raising children. Caring for ailing parents. The responsibilities thrust upon me after their deaths. The interests I have developed since then. The love and constancy of my life partner.

Yet who is to say that a different set of actions when I was young would not have led me to this place? Other actions and decisions may have ended up teaching me the same lessons I needed to learn.

Indeed. Predicting the future is a very difficult business.

So I think I'll follow the path outlined for today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Dance: 2009 Snowflake Ornaments

One of my joys of 2009 was meeting up with old friends from high school on Facebook. Though I became reacquainted with over 100 former classmates, I am blessed to be part of a group of eight special women with whom I chat daily.

To honor our new-found renewed friendships, in November I stitched a holiday ornament for each member of our group (including me!)

This pretty ornament pattern was just the ticket.
It is small.
It's not too intricate.
It's delicate.
It lent itself to using many colors.
It didn't bore me to tears to stitch it over and over!

The oranments are the same, yet different -- just as we women are. Some are strong and bold. Some are gentler. We all have various shades of color in our characters just as these ornaments are varied due to the DMC color variations fiber I used to stitch them.

One of my favorite parts of these ornaments are the surprising fabrics I used for the backs. These are not your typical Christmas prints! But they are bigger than life or sweet or delicate or floral or geometric, predictable or unpredictable instead.

It's the vary traits this wonderful group of women embody. These precious ladies were my greatest blessing of 2009.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Honing in to Authenticity

I remember being in my first year of college, taking general ed courses that had me scratchin' my head. What in the world does Sociology 101 have to do with what I want to do with my life?

And just what the heck do I want to do with my life?

(I do believe that I'm still asking that question!)

I was dating a guy that seemed to have his act together. He was heading toward becoming an engineer. We had a discussion on this topic that I'll never forget.

"So, how do you know what to do? How did you figure out which way to go?"

He shrugged. "Just pick a direction and go. If it doesn't work, you can always change direction."

Such sage advice. So hard to take when one lives in fear. I lived so long in fear of making mistakes, of "getting in trouble," that the simplicity of his statement pulled me up short. Really? It's that simple? Go one way, and if you see you're getting lost, just turn a corner and go another way? Brilliant!

Oprah puts it another way:
"Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction."

I still have to remind myself that it's through my trials, through traveling down unknown paths, through attempting to trust people, that I learn. Some activities I try will be incompatible with my preferences and abilities, some paths I take will have forks or dead ends, some people who were once valued can become toxic to my spirit. By giving things a try, picking a direction to go, making errors in judgment, I find out who I'm not.

That is bringing me closer to sharpening the focus on who I am -- and just what the heck I want to do with my life at age 52.