To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Loved by all.

I love homemade, I really do, but you never know if the recipient is going to be as fond of a homemade gift as the giver. In this case the concern was unwarranted.

The crayon wraps were loved by all the kids. Was it the crayons? The festive colors of the boys wraps? The princess material of the girls? Was it because I was the maker as well as the giver? (I'm sure this was really the case, yep) Whatever the reason, as soon as their gifts were opened the babes were clamoring for paper to do some drawing. Happiness for me. Happiness for them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Long time in the making

Snow days are fabulous for lists. I started this wreath a while ago and it's been stuck on my list for weeks now. I finally was able to finish it this weekend (along with all my Christmas sewing and baking.) All of these shells were collected in the 90's and came from both oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, and maybe a clam shell or two from a river or lake in Michigan. I love beach combing and collecting shells and such, but what was I supposed to do with them once I got them home? I've kept them in a basket which was later relegated to the basement when I moved, but I really wanted them displayed somehow. I bought the press board (?) wreath from the craft store and hot glued all the shells to it until I couldn't see the backing any more. Now it's hanging in the bathroom. Cliche, I know, but I'm so not hanging it in the kitchen.

Seriously, it's a great way to get all the shells out of the basement and on display.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh, so that's a blizzard!

Lots of snow, lots of wind, below 0 degrees - I get it. The blizzard started early Friday morning gave us a break on Saturday and hit hard again on Sunday. Seriously though, I stayed home all weekend so it wasn't so bad for me. And, someone had graciously plowed my driveway on Friday. I went out to shovel and it was plowed. I have no idea who did it, but I love them! What a treat that was. I figure they saved me about 4 hours of shoveling.
Once the wind died down Sunday evening I ventured out to try to shovel the driveway again. While I was digging out of drifts up to my thighs I heard people laughing and looked down the street to see this:
Of course I made them stop so I could get pictures. What fun they were having and what a great use of the roads since they weren't fit to travel on. I like the guy wearing a Santa hat. Crazy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Simple, Fun, Traditional

They never made Christmas chains? Really? Well, we made them last night. I thought it might be difficult for Maris to get the hang of it since she's only 3, but she caught on to the alternating colors and how to link them together right away. Can it get any easier than construction paper and glue? Oh, and once they hung the chain on the tree......well, they thought it was the most beautiful creation ever. And it was, of course.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All you ladies ROCK my world!

My coworker told me about a single mom who had to tell her kids that Santa had no money for gas this year so there wouldn't be any presents. That's just sad....and being a mom myself I couldn't let that happen. It's a 5 y/o boy and a 7 y/o girl and I was trying to come up with ideas that would help make their holiday merry. Being the homemade crafty sort of person I am, I started prowling around Blogland to see what I could find. Holy Cow! You ladies have way too many cool ideas out there. I'm telling you now, you could keep me in projects for years. Seriously. Years! My gosh, I get the best ideas from all of you. Thank you.

So, I found these and I've been working on them the last couple of days now. I found them via Sew Mama Sew for the November 2007 ideas. (Told you I was prowling)

I have another with all princessy materials, but no pic yet. Perhaps I'll add the pics tomorrow. For now, I'm sending them off to the mom. I bet they love them. I sure do.

Thanks again ladies. You rock!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seeing Green

What a weekend for weather! It was classic Michigan in that if you don't like what it's doing outside, wait 5 minutes and it will change. It rained and changed to sleet, then it snowed and quickly started melting as the weather climbed into the 40's. The wind blew and it rained again, and then the temp plummeted back into the 20's overnight bringing with it more lovely snow. Really, I think snow is lovely.
I didn't sleep my whole weekend away either. Friday evening I went to a holiday party . Saturday, I visited my sister so we could work on a book we're making for our brother, stopped at the grocery store on the way home and I managed a walk during a break in the weather. Sunday, I attended my granddaughter's Christmas concert. The blustery weather really put me in the mood to be crafty though and since the warmest spot inside the house was under the afghan, I picked up the needles and some spare yarn and made between naps.

Just a little something to tide me over until I can get the boat home and in the water. I thought I might need a hat to match. It's my first time editing a pattern to fit the yarn. It fits so I did it right. Cool!
Oooh, I just got an email from my friends saying we're scheduled for a Boxing Day paddle (I'll borrow a boat). Woo Hoo!! 3 hours north on the Jordan River. We winter paddled there 4 years ago and it was beautiful. Huge, fluffy snowflakes coming down. It's a beautiful river all the time, but especially in the winter. Here's a picture from back then. Sorry about the quality - I didn't have digital yet.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pondering hibernation.

My body tells me winter is officially here. This happens every year for about a month around the winter solstice when all I want to do is sleep. It's pretty annoying because I feel like I'm missing out on all the fun outside activities but the sleep feels so good. Just a few more days and we start on the other side with the days getting longer so all will be well again.
Yes, it's been snowing - beautiful, fluffy, lovely snow, which makes me itchy to get back on the water. Those of us who are year-round paddlers are like that. KL and I went prowling around Kalamazoo on Saturday and ended up in the boat shop looking at kayaks. What?? Isn't that what you would do in the snow?
I'm officially in love - seriously - with this pretty little thing. I can't demo it until the water opens up, but I did sit in it and it fits like a glove. I swear, it's the best feeling boat I've tried. According to what I've read it tracks great and has superb maneuverability. If that's true then it's going home with me. Oh, and that soft lime green? It's just beautiful in person.
K, going back to sleep now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My longtime companion

A while back I showed you this post when he was really sick so I thought I should tell you that he's absolutely fine and completely recovered. In fact, prior to surgery I thought he was getting sort of mean in his old age (he's 14) because he was starting to bite me and be a bit agressive towards me. He's always been a rather dominant cat so, even though he knew better than to bite, I was giving him the benefit of the doubt because of his age. Turns out he just didn't feel well. Now that he's recovered from surgery he's back to being the most adorable and loving cat, in his characteristic pushy, dominant sort of way.
Tim, that's his name, just wants to be loved and scratched or pet or brushed allll the time. If I won't do those things then he's going to try to push his way onto my lap (or chest if I'm lying down) and sprawl out to take a nap. When my lap is full he also likes to lie across the back of the couch so he can lean against my neck. Hello, 14 pounds pushing against my neck gets a little heavy after a while. He also tends to try to push me out of my chair when I'm doing crafts. Haven't sewn his tail to any projects yet, but it's been close a few times and he's added his own 'pawses' to projects on the computer. On this day he was curled up beside me on the arm of the couch while looking out the window. He's taken over that little pillow and made it his own.

Love his beautiful eyes that appear to be rimmed with eyeliner and the color that reminds me of crushed green velvet. Even though you can't see it here his whiskers make him look rather like a walrus when he flares them out. So crazy long and they curl forward when he's happy and curious. Here's to many more years with my loving companion.
By the way, he's a Humane Society kitty and he's been with me since he was 6 months old.

I could live in a house like this.

This Christmas cactus was salvaged from someone's trash and it thrives on my neglect. I've had it for about 10 years and I have no idea how to take care of it, but it seems to like that I abuse it. Good, I like maintenance free plants. That's not my point of the post though. The real point is that I love, Love LOVE the colors in the cactus. If my house could look as beautiful..... Every year I'm amazed at the colors and the textures that seem to burst out of nowhere, the way the light transforms it into something unbelievably stunning, the way it blooms so beautifully just when the whole of my outside world has been put to sleep. It's my gift for rescuing it from the trash. It loves me, I just know it!

Friday, November 21, 2008

4th Generation

And so it begins anew. This little guy has just started learning to skate and play hockey. So begins the 4th generation of hockey players for this family. Here, I'm privvy to a cozy learning moment between dad and son. the head to head moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And then I gave it away.

I told you I was trying to get through my pile of projects. I whipped up this little pretty in one evening this week. I didn't get to enjoy it for long as I gave it away to my coworker. She had given me the material earlier this summer to make her a bag and I've since squeeked out a tissue holder and now this lovely little pin cushion. So easy, now I just have to make one that I get to keep.

I need a friend like me - one I can give material to and she'll just whip up cute little projects for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh, really?

You Are An ESTJ
The Guardian

You're a natural leader and a quick, logical decision maker.
Goals are important in your life, and you take many steps to achieve them.
You enjoy interacting with others, mostly through work related activities.
Your high energy level means that you are great at getting things done!

In love, you tend to bring stability to relationships.
You feel comfortable being in charge, and you enjoy being a provider.

At work, you take charge. You thrive in structured environments and don't mind enforcing the rules.
You would make a great teacher, judge, or police detective.

How you see yourself: Realistic, stable, and pragmatic

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Rigid, bound to rules, and a bad listener

I can brag if I want to....

So, we had a bit of snowfall and the last 'put the garden to bed' task I had left this year was to bring the potted rose into the garage for the winter. While moving it I noticed there were a few new buds that had formed. I snipped them, put them in vases on the kitchen windowsill and now they're opening. Aren't they beautiful? Plus, the Angel Face rose is about to make her final showing as well, but for some reason she doesn't mind blooming in the snow. How cool is that? There's a reason I love Michigan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I bid them adieu!

22 little caps are going out in today's mail. May they bring blessings and a touch of love to the recipients. Thank you for posting the request for us Amanda. It was a pleasure to contribute.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let's wrap it up!

It's funny. I read a couple of posts where people were putting themselves on restriction until they finish some of the projects they've begun and never completed. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads posts and says, "that's exactly what I did!" I now have a pile in my craft room/office, in order of priority, and I'm not allowed to start any new projects until these are complete. Ok, I did move The Caps to Cap-Haitien Project to the top of the pile, but I had something else that absolutely needed to be completed so I could move on to the caps. This is the project I've been working on the last few days.
Now I can get the presents wrapped and each will have an adorable little gift tag in the shape of a mitten for the recipient. I left the top open so I could slip a miniature candy cane inside. Dang! They are just so cute!

All things Taiwan

Yesterday, when I arrived home from work, I found a postcard from Alex in the mail. It was written 1 week after I left him in Taiwan. Oh, man! I read it, I cried, I hugged it and lovingly put it up on the back of the door in the hall with his other notes and the various pictures I want to look at frequently. Every time I walked by the note I read it and got a bit teary eyed. I had sent him an email during the day with an explanation for the Blinders Off post so that was weighing heavy on my mind as well as his note. Eventually, I was feeling overwhelmed and set about brewing a cup of tea. I grabbed the postcard off the door and sat down on the couch with my tea only to realize that everything in front of me was purchased in Taiwan, with Alex. Some of the pieces are exactly what he has in his home (my way of touching him from a distance). Postcard in hand I sipped my tea while reading the card over and over....and cried my heart out. Sometimes it's good to cry just to keep the heart from bursting. I feel better today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I was there - I really was. I've been trying to figure out how to post my trip, but it's proved to be very difficult. For starters I took over 1200 pictures. That's a lot of pictures and many of them were taken from the back of a scooter as we were cruising around the island, up in the mountains and around cities, and that means lots of editing. People have asked me if I was ready to come home after two weeks and my answer to that is easy, NO! I mean no disrespect to Taiwan or it's people because the trip was fabulous and I saw amazing sites, ate delicious food (except for the fried deer meat) and met the nicest people, but the only reason I wasn't ready is that leaving meant leaving my son and I don't know when I'll see him again.

I was actually surprised that parts of Taiwan reminded me of Michigan, but I found that I could never find quiet in Taiwan. It's a country that is filled with people who are living their lives and getting on with the business of surviving and thriving. All this business means it's noisy, even at the top of the mountain. While I found the noise and pandemonium entertaining, this trip reconfirmed what I've known for a long time - I need quiet time to thrive. Having said all that, it was an amazing trip!

I planned to go for a long time and I was not disappointed. From the first night I arrived (12 hours off my circadian rhythm) and we wandered down to a street vendor at 12:30 at night to drink Taiwan beer and eat beef fried rice, to the final dinner at a tea house where we ended up playing cards while surrounded by water and fish, I didn't stop being in awe of what I saw and experienced. Alex, you were a great host and the adventures you planned for us were awesome! Thank you.

We traveled by plane, scooter, taxi, bus, train, boat and bike, and when we weren't on or in transportation, we walked. We were in cities with hi-rises and villages where you would need to stoop to enter the house. We visited the ocean with it's multitude of shells and coral where Alex' found a fish-shaped chunk of coral complete with eye hole, and the mountains where we saw monkeys in the wild and laughed ridiculously hard when the scooter could barely move us forward and up the mountain anymore. We nearly ran out of gas. That was hilarious as well. We biked in the 'country' through rice paddies and up a 'mountain' to a village where we dined on the local fare. My living quarters ranged from Alex' 2 story luxury apartment in Taoyuan with custom woodwork and marble floors to the hostel in Taroko Gorge where salamanders visited us in our room by coming through the 2" gap at the bottom of the door. Crazy stuff - the stuff that memories are made from. Spiders as big as my hand and the most beautiful (poisonous?) emerald green bug, moths and butterflies, birds, flowers I grow as annuals that are growing wild in Taiwan. I never stopped being in awe.

It's hard to pick my favorite, but I would have to say it was the Taiwan cooking class Alex booked as a birthday present to me. We spent nearly 6 hours at the instructor's apartment up in the mountains learning how to cook Taiwan food. We learned how to make fresh soy milk, sweet and sour, hot and sour, sweet and spicy. We learned how to make the green onion pancake, and soup, and noodles, and we ate spicy fresh pineapple and zucchini. Oh my, it was delicious and such a great time. And I spent it right next to my son - the one I hadn't seen in nearly 14 months. It was dusk when we left and hiked back down the mountain to Taipei in a gently falling misty rain. It was a beautiful walk and I enjoyed it immensely. Thinking of that day fills me with peace and makes me smile. What a perfect gift.

I leave you with just a couple of pictures.

Taoyuan - busy, burgeoning city.

Proof I was there - with Alex.

Taroko Gorge with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blinders off.

You know how you can be cruising along enjoying life and making the best you can of it and then, WHAMM!, something happens and you start to really look at how things have been? Well, it's happened to me and I gotta say, I prefer life with the blinders. Except that I can't get them back on now and it sucks. Growth is painful and so damned difficult to get through. Wisdom tells me it will be better on the other side, but it might take a bit to adjust and get used to my new vision. The 'conversation' hurt me, really bad, and I've been trying to figure out if I heard it wrong or if 'you' really meant what you said. I think you meant it even though you said it with such a nice voice. It was mean and you've got it wrong, but so be it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doin' my 'favorite' thing!

Ah, yes. Saturday found me back on the water paddling for the first time since July when I sold my boat. Lucky me that I have friends who, for whatever reasons, own numerous boats they are willing to loan me.
It was just Brent and I, and that's too bad because it was a stunning Fall day with lots of sun and just enough chill to make me wear gloves, but not a coat. This day found us on the White River, one neither of us had paddled before. We spent a leisurely and glorious 4 hours floating/paddling down the river while enjoying what was left of the fall colors. Relatively easy river with lots of open water and enough riffles, rocks and downed trees to be avoided to keep the paddle interesting. I found Brent's kayak muuuuch easier to paddle than my old boat. I loved my Carolina, but it wasn't designed for the kinds of water I was paddling. Can't wait to get a new boat. Yea! A shopping expedition.

It's always a good when you're on the water.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It was supposed to be mine!

I did the swatch, seriously, I did, and the sizing was correct, but it still ended up being too small for me. So, I gave my lovely hat to Miss M and to tell you the truth, she looks absolutely beautiful in it. It became her favorite hat instantly! That makes me incredibly happy. Thank you for the pattern, Amanda. I've since made one for myself that I took on my trip to Taiwan so we now have matching hats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


A friend was digging through his archived photos and found a few that I had taken while playing with his camera just at sunset. Silhouettes have always been a favorite subject of mine, but I never knew how these turned out. Wow! Now I wanna go back.

I'm reminded of how quickly the time passes, these were taken in Mackinaw City over 4th of July, and the reason I carry my camera nearly everywhere with me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Isn't this better?

J, Isn't this a better use of the tin than what you were going to do with it? It's me - totally, completely, unequivocally - me! Thank you for sharing. Oh, and the plant that's in the tin is the one I bought at the home show. It's still alive.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fabulous Find!

It's getting close, so very close. I fly out for Taiwan in 8 days. (Alex, I'm so excited to see you after more than a year I can hardly keep myself together.) I'm practically doing a jig every 5 minutes.
I've been making lists for a month now (maybe more) and slowly checking things off as I toss them into three separate piles; one for the carry-on, one for the purse/tote and one for the checked bag. I've been putting off shopping for anything new until I figured out what I really needed. Besides, shopping is not one of my favorite activities. I finally ventured out last night to try to get it all out of the way so I would have time to relax next week before my flight. One of the items on my list was a new lock for the suitcase I'm checking so I dropped in on my favorite luggage store and, lo and behold, this little bag jumped right into my hands:

How cool is this? It's a Neck Stash and I didn't even know they existed. I have a 16 hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo and I wasn't comfortable leaving my passport and other important papers in a purse if I fell asleep, but I can wear this under my clothes and no one can see it. It's a fabulous find and it's mine now, along with the new lock.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Squash Soup with Quinoa

Delicious! This is a fabulous comfort food. Quick, easy, wholesome....what more could you ask for?

Squash Soup with Quinoa

1-2 T olive oil or butter
Medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c quinoa (keenwa)
Medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced
32 oz. Imagine Organic Vegetable Broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion in olive oil for a few minutes until it turns translucent. (Do not brown.) Add garlic, quinoa, squash and vegetable broth. Saute a few minutes more until the squash just begins to soften. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use a potato masher to mix everything smooth.
Hint: I use a vegetable peeler to peel the squash.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Basement Thrifting

So, I wonder how many other people have a basement full of sentimental items that they just can't bring themselves to get rid of. I have boxes of dishes and flatware and pictures and linens and misc. items I can't identify. And I have furniture, lots of furniture. All of it belonged to my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and even my great-great-grandmother. Hers would be the chair and settee frames, which I had every intention of reupholstering - ahem, 25 years ago. They still aren't reupholstered. Now don't get me wrong, I've reduced the collection by at least half over the years. I've refinished my great-grandparents' pie table and the secretary that was used in their store, and I do have the quilt squares from the ggg-grandmother framed and hanging in the livingroom. But there's still so much down there. Now my goal is that every time I start digging in the basement I'm required to come up with something that either gets reused upstairs or I get rid of it. That's hard! One of the pieces that has been taking up space down there is a Martha Washington sewing cabinet. It was broken, but I was pretty sure it could be salvaged. You don't know how many times it nearly ended up in the trash because I didn't know how to fix it. Lucky for me JV is very knowledgeable when it comes to working with wood and he showed me what to do. It really was a simple fix - scrape all the original glue off and put more glue on. Clamp it together for a few days and voila! A 'new' piece ready to be moved upstairs, well, after a good cleaning.
Hmmm, and I just happen to have items that will store quite nicely inside.
Here are the icky before pictures:

And.....the beautiful after picture. My aunt made the doily for me years ago.

I wonder what other treasures are lurking down there?