A Creative Weekend

There’s just something about a sunny day that lifts your spirits and brightens your outlook.  Life in general just looks a little rosier. Perhaps it boosts your creativity, too.

With a few days of sunshine amidst the gloom, I’ve been enjoying making all sorts of things.  When we were visiting Sweet Miss and Baby Girl earlier this month, we went to the store for weather stripping and wool socks and somehow  wound up surrounded by Christmas decorations.

Sweet Miss was holding up cheap stockings, and I was saying “Oh, I can make those.”  Why do I say these things?  I had plenty of red flannel, red felt, and red velvet to choose from.  A quick online search and I found free patterns for stockings with fancy curly toes and pointy trim.  Since I was making six of them and embroidering names, I decided a simpler version might be the wiser choice.

I used the pattern from Fleece Fun and got to work.  Maybe I should have watched the tutorial, but eventually I ended up with these for Sweet Miss’ mantel.


I’m rather sad that I don’t get to show off all the embroidery, but initials will have to do for privacy’s sake.  Since I used felt, I decided a rustic raw edge would fit perfectly.  It’s fun to think of my girls decorating their own space for the holidays.

There was a definite holiday theme to my creativity.  My sweet sister-in-law has introduced our family to the idea of making a holiday craft when we gather together on Thanksgiving.  This new idea has stuck over the years. Since I am hosting, I decided I should put together a craft, too.  I was looking at wool and silk roving at work (I’m putting in a couple afternoons a week at the local yarn shop) and did another computer search to get some ideas.  Simple and easy are the key words.

Echoes of a Dream designed beautiful angels from roving we could whip up in minutes.  I loved the sheen of the silk roving.  Unfortunately, my first attempt was a flop.  The white silk roving just doesn’t have enough body to hold the shape of the ornament.  So I bought some vibrant hand-dyed roving with plenty of loft.  It worked up beautifully.  With a lot of back combing, I managed to get the silk angel to work, but wool is a lot less hassle.

Roving Angels

I followed Echoes of a Dream’s directions exactly except for placing the wings first and then the arms.  I find that I like making the angel with its face up, so it can smile at me.  Let’s hope my Thanksgiving guests are up for the challenge.

If you’re local, I’m offering a make-and-take class at Quintessential Knits on Saturday, December 5, from noon till 2 pm.  For $5 you’ll be able to take home a lovely ornament for your tree.  Just remember your comb if you’d prefer white over vibrant angels.

All this craftiness doesn’t have to take place at home.  For years I’ve wanted to attend a Paint & Sip event, and Friday I finally got the chance. From across the room, when you squint just the right way, my holiday forest doesn’t look half bad.


It was a fun evening with friends offered through our local art center.  I was surprised to see how very different each person’s painting turned out.  It was as if we were all painting a different variety of tree.

I have turkeys to roast, beds to make, and rooms to air out.  Hoping to be back on Wednesday with a Thanksgiving greeting, but if not I hope you’re holiday is filled with love and the joy of friends and family.

P.S.  This is a freebie cooking tip for everyone getting ready for turkey day. Toasting your flour on the stovetop over low heat for half an hour turns it a wonderful brown and gives great color and flavor to the gravy.  I’ve always disliked the anemic look of poultry gravy.  If you’re gluten-free don’t use potato flour—it’ll just taste and smell like burnt french fries.

Are you getting ready for the holiday season? Does sunshine get your creative juices flowing?





Country Living

City drivers complain about traffic, potholes, and construction.  While we have to deal with some of those, we have some added problems out in the country.

Me and the MR came home to this lovely sight last night.


When you and the deliveryman are the only ones to use your driveway, you get to clear it.  While the chainsaw isn’t working, the MR used an ax, a saw, and some elbow grease to get us both home.

With trees down, flooding in the valley, roads closed, and many people without power, I’m thankful we just had a little road work to take care of.

Winter storms getting you down?


Sh! It’s a Secret

Back in October, I put together care packages for my sweet college girls. Along with treats and gifts from our recent trip, I included some thankfulness cards for them to fill out for our annual Thankfulness Tree.  They could bring them home and add them to our collection.

The MR has added some very nice cards in the past, but hanging thankfulness notes on a tree isn’t really his thing.  I was figuring the tree would be kind of sparse looking by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, and I’d need them for reinforcement.

So of course when we visited last week, I asked about the cards and how they were doing.  Well one said she’d filled out a few, but the other firmly stated that with work and school, she was too busy to be thankful.  Hmm, I didn’t want to argue about thankfulness, so I didn’t point out that a little bit of it can put the stresses of life into perspective.

And I certainly didn’t mention that I hadn’t even made my Thankfulness Tree or written any notes myself.  It’s been rainy and nasty, and I haven’t wandered the woods finding just the perfect bundle of sticks covered in moss to cluster in my vase. I’d sent them all the blank cards left from last year, so I wasn’t filling them out either.

So yesterday, with a little break in the weather, I meandered down to the bottom of the meadow.  After cutting a bundle of sticks, I remembered the bush next to the driveway that always seemed to have more shapely branches in the past.  It’s not my prettiest Thankfulness Tree, but it will serve its purpose well.


I went back to Tater Tots and Jello for their free printable, and now I have some catching up to do.

So here’s my thankfulness list so far for November.

I’m thankful for:

  1. My sweet handsome man and the 24 years we’ve shared together
  2. My dad and the MR’s folks who are still living happy, active lives in their 70’s
  3. Weekends away with our sweet girls
  4. And long phone calls with them to catch up
  5. Our goofy dogs who make me laugh and keep me company
  6. My new job surrounded by yarn and the people who love it
  7. Hugs from preschoolers that make teaching Sunday school so worthwhile
  8. A roof over head in the midst of storms
  9. A loving God who cares about me
  10. Sweet friends to gather with on Wednesday mornings
  11. Museums, lunch dates, and shopping trips with friends
  12. Pedicures and laughter with people I love
  13. How my little brother always makes me smile
  14. The kindness of strangers
  15. The wonder of a baby and new life
  16. The simple pleasures every day brings

OK girls, I’m all caught up.

Hoping your life is filled with the joy of thankfulness now and every day of the year.

Revamping the Upstairs

When middle age is staring you in the face, maybe you don’t need a chalkboard wall.  Three years ago, we had two teenagers at home, and a hang out room with a wall you could write on and lots of color made total sense. Then they grew up and moved away.

Me and the MR have decided it’s time for an adult space, we’re planning on new carpet for the bedrooms and a wash of light color to brighten up the walls. Flooring requires lots of thought and commitment, but paint’s an easier problem to tackle—sort of. So last week when I was in town, I stopped by the hardware store and went a little crazy.

While downstairs is light, and bright, and airy, upstairs isn’t.  It’s just so dark. It feels cool on warm summer days; but this time of year, it’s more like a cave.  In an effort to combat that, I chose beiges and whites on the creamy side with a hint of yellow.  I like the cool gray-green of the upstairs bathroom and thought a similar color a shade brighter would be nice for the sewing room covering up Sweet Miss’ kelly green walls.

Paint Chip Pallettes

I was sure these would be wonderful. Then I took them upstairs.  Did you know new paint chips are made to peel off and stick to the walls?  That’s pretty clever.  Well anyways, I took them upstairs, stuck them on the walls, stood back, and said huh?

Paint chips

I’m not sure anything can brighten up this room; it may be a lost cause.  Along with some fresh paint, we could be in the market for some new lights.  Oh well, one step at a time.

When I was was having one of those restless nights, I brainstormed ways of getting more of the light from the stairway into the main room upstairs.  We could replace the pony wall with glass—that sounds scary.  Maybe an open gridwork would let light through and be more solid.  It all sounds like a lot of work.  For now we’ll just deal with dark and call it cozy.

Instead of buying paint and getting busy last weekend, me and the MR packed up the car and left our cares behind. We headed down to Oregon for Family/Dad’s weekend at both of the girls’ schools.  We split time between the University of Oregon and Oregon State hanging out with our favorite coeds and forgetting about paint chips and other decisions.

Do you remember back to college days and how tiny dorm rooms are?  We did not spend any amount of time here. Everyone was simply on top of each other in this space.

BGs Room

Baby Girl doesn’t have a car, so we visited some of the restaurants around town she’d been hearing good things about. The first was a fancy restaurant housed in an old electric company.  They’d talked about it in her architecture class as an example of designing for current and future uses.  Sweet Miss caught a ride to town with her Fella’.  She was joining us for the weekend and he for the evening.  It’s been a long time, but apparently college students miss eating meat.

The next morning we headed to Off the Waffle. When Baby Girl explained that everything at the restaurant was served on a waffle, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it.  I envisioned a frozen yogurt type set up where you walk through a buffet line piling junk on a waffle.

I was totally misguided and am now a believer. My waffle topped with carmelized onions, thinly sliced pear, and brie cheese drizzled with a basalmic reduction was amazing.  Sweet Miss ordered the same and has already requested that I try a homemade version over Thanksgiving weekend.  If you’re in Eugene, Off the Waffle is a great option just be patient; the lines are long.

Me & BG

We looked for game day gear for the MR at the bookstore without luck.  He vetoed the head-to-toe yellow and green striped overalls and the beanies with a duck cartoon on them.  He prefers a more subtle look in fan wear.

It rained most of the weekend, but Sweet Miss appropriated an umbrella she found on the side of the road.  It happened to be for BG’s sorority, so even better.

Umbrella Girls

We had time for an afternoon coffee and a game of briscolla back at our Airbnb cottage.

Sweet Girls

Then it was a BBQ with BG’s sorority and off to the game.

Fam at the Game

Don’t I have the cutest family ever?

A night game in November in the northwest wound up being a little cold and a little wet, but it was a lot of fun, and the Ducks won.

The next morning Sweet Miss and the MR served up pancakes at the annual St. Jude benefit for Sweet Miss’ sorority. Then we rearranged her living room—twice—and made a run to the store for weather stripping.  A large spider had crawled under the front door while she and her roommates were watching TV. With cold weather coming, it seemed like a good idea to get rid of the draft.  Another dad had already replaced the flourescent bulb in the upstairs bath.

And then we had to say goodbye to our sweet girls.  Me and the MR are having a good time just the two of us, but we miss the noise and excitement of youth.

In less than two weeks, they’ll be home and the house will be full for Thanksgiving. I’m sure they’ll have ideas about how to paint their old hangout room and give it a new look.

How have you changed a space with paint?




Lending a Hand

I wasn’t planning on sharing this post. It was just something I thought would be nice for our family to support. But then, a blog I’ve started following shared about putting together comfort kits for the homeless. I was encouraged and inspired. If they’d kept their message to themselves, I wouldn’t have felt called to do more…so here goes.

Our family has always supported food banks and local shelters. When Sweet Miss was little, her girl scout troop held neighborhood food drives, and for a few summers they rented a pea patch and donated the produce to the food bank at the local Catholic church.

We’ve supported Union Gospel Mission’s holiday suppers and sent financial donations to local food banks. Last summer our small group at church brainstormed ideas for serving in our community. Someone mentioned the need for sack lunches for kids during the summer months. Children who qualify for free lunch during the school year are suddenly without that support when classes let out. While the idea totally resonated with me, I had no idea how to implement it.

That’s why when I read about power packs on our community Facebook page, I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. Basically, teachers and staff at local elementaries identify kids whose families are struggling and may not be able to feed them. Volunteers put together breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and drinks to cover a weekend. These are bagged up and sent home with kids who might otherwise go hungry.

The idea of kids in my community doing without when I’ve been blessed with so much breaks my heart.

So the other day, I made a trip to Costco, and Target, and Safeway and started putting together “power packs.”  My one-gallon storage bags didn’t come close to holding a weekend’s worth of meals and treats, so I went to the local drop-off store to find out what others have done. Apparently, you can use old grocery bags or whatever.  Waste basket liners provided the solution.

Our local Valley Power Packs has a Facebook page with a link to a sign-up program. I volunteered to help meet some of the need for the next two weeks and dropped off the bags cluttering up my dining room the other day.

Power Paks

Me and the MR both feel strongly about giving back to our community and helping to feed the hungry. If we’d had trouble feeding our children, I would have been thankful for those willing to help.

I don’t know what you feel passionate about, but I’d like to encourage you to take that step, reach out, and make a difference.  Who knows what little seeds of good you’ll plant,

So many of my friends are making November a month of thanksgiving with daily thankfulness reminders.  Along with being thankful, I want to give others a reason to be thankful.  I know you do, too.




October Changes

This has been a month of adjustments. It hasn’t simply been a change of season or cooler weather; our lives are changing.

We dropped Baby Girl off at college, and suddenly our schedules are wide open.  After 21 years with kids at home, we’ve entered A New Phase in life. The first thing me and the MR have decided is to travel a lot more. While it’s always been something we’ve liked, now we’re planning adventures on a regular basis. We want to be able to explore the world while we’re still young and healthy enough to enjoy it.

At the waterfall

So this month we experienced The Beauty of Iceland with it’s geysers, waterfalls, and hot springs. Book a massage at the Blue Lagoon if you ever get a chance; it’s a surreal experience.

Our Next Stop was London with its funky mixture of old and new.  My advice is to wear comfy shoes, bring a raincoat, and buy a pass for the tubes.

Fusion of Architecture

We ended our trip in Beautiful Barcelona with its amazing architecture and masses of shoppers.  Our visit to Sigrada Familia, Awash in Color, left me astonished. It was just so beautiful.  I loved the play of light, the whimsy of the nativity entrance, and the starkness of the passion side. Gaudi’s goal was to tell the story of Jesus through this cathedral, and he’s done an amazing job. This is a must-see destination for our architecture student.  Perhaps we’ll be back for its planned completion in 2026—100 years after the famous architect’s death.

SG Colorwash Warm

Just above the trees next to my head, you can see the whimsical fruit decorating the lower towers. Those are the fruit we passed on our journey down from the Passion Tower. Let’s just say, we were way the heck up there.  The English tour of the cathedral, plus the visit to the adjacent museum and the Passion Tower were well worth the price.

Tower Fruit Collage

You may have noticed while we were gone, I kept posting as if we were home. Well, we don’t want anyone bothering the housesitter. Sorry to mislead you, but we were erring on the safe side.

Looking back at My Love-Hate Relationship with Pinterest, I have made a lot of recipes and been inspired by all those ideas. Then again, lot of projects have been merrily pinned and then forgotten.  I was frustrated when I read one of the leaf projects I’d saved and thought would look great on the china hutch. They used fake leaves from the dollar store. Don’t they know my yard and driveway are covered?

The inspiration for All That Goodness was found on Pinterest, so I guess it is useful. My salad at least was tasty.  I’ve been drying cuttings from outside to add to my herb collection.  I attended a class last spring, and the speaker said dried herbs from your yard have much more flavor than those from the store.

Drying Rack Herbs

With a view like that, they have to taste great.  Blue skies mixed with torrential rains and flooding. It must be fall.

I’ve been contentedly watching sunrises and sunsets again. In the summer, I’m not up at 4:30 when the sun rises, and we miss the sun as it sets behind a stand of trees. Now the sky is a showstopper once more.  I love when the sun peaks through stormy skies like in The Color of the Season flooding the trees with golden light.

Speaking of color, I added a few lumpy, bumpy gourds to the china hutch to Dress It Up for Fall.  Now that Halloween is over, I’ll put away a few trinkets but keep the punches of orange and cream.

China Hutch Gourds

I need to remember to clear out my junk when taking photos.  So yes, as you can see, we have more little Christmas trees in the works, and I was going through old photos. Mine is not a perfect house, but aren’t those gourds cool?

Baby Girl’s first quarter of college is going well. She’s in the process of applying for the School of Architecture, and we’re so proud of her.  She was disappointed when others didn’t put as much effort into their Homework Musings, but I love her rendition of the fireplace—the center of our home.

BGs Sketch

Sad Goodbyes focused on the recent passing of my sister-in-law’s mom.  My mom would have celebrated her 72nd birthday this month. She’s been gone for 10 years now, and I was thinking the other day how many things she’s missed. She’s missed proms and graduations, weddings and the birth of her first great-granchild. She never went to a volleyball game and didn’t get to see my kids grow from round-cheeked. little girls into beautiful young women. She would have been bossy, and nosy, and overpowering, and wonderful.  She loved them and loved being part of their lives.

So take care of yourself and take time for those you love. You just never know what tomorrow brings.

Now that I’m all teary, let’s change the subject to something more mundane; let’s talk worms.  I killed mine again, but I’ve called in Reinforcements.  We have 2,000 red wigglers doing their job out in the worm bin.

My sweet mother-in-law also put me in contact with the only other person she knows who keeps worms, and I received some very good advice.  Fruit flies can be a nuisance, so we had put up fly strips and moved the bin out by the edge of the garage.  The heat fluctuation could be causing problems.

The expert suggested not putting fruit scraps in the bin and composting them outside instead.  Unfortunately, I don’t want to attract other wildlife to our house, but I am going to have to do some rearranging to try and keep my new friends alive and eating my food scraps.

That about does it for October. I’m sure we’ll have new adventures to share this month. The MR replaced the light in the coat closet and says he feels like he needs some inside projects now that the rains have started.  I’ll keep you posted.

How was your October?