Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine Banner Giveaway!!

Don't you just love it when the parallel in your life goes and gets perpendicular??

I have so enjoyed making my LOVE banners for the very special holiday coming up that I realized that I really needed to 'share the LOVE' amongst my faithful...

And as fate would have it, I have developed a need for some new, fresh ideas for my tired living room. That is where you come in, my friends!  Let us give and take on this little venture!

Rules for the Giveaway!

1.  Leave a comment on my blog from now till Friday, February 4 at 9pm with a new decorating idea for my living room.  Color, pattern, style, furniture, paint, you name it; it's up to you.....Your favorite new decorating thing!

2.  Get creative.....On a budget (of course, silly!)  I have been given a stipends for The Living Room Remodel of $500 so keep that in mind....

3.  The best idea, that I will utilize and feature in my redo, will be the winner of the most festive
mama's collection Valentine LOVE banner!

See? Easy as 1-2-3!!

Now, get thinkin'!!  Get Sharing!  And thanks so much for reading!!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Travels in the Basement

 I am suffering from a weird kind of jet lag.
Haven't had to buy a ticket or renew my passport or update my inoculations.
I have merely taken twelve steps downward into the remains of my basement in my ninety one year old home, unwrapping layers of memories in boxes and boxes of cards and letters and remembrances.
A travel of time within the written word, taking me to places I haven't visited in twenty, thirty, forty years.
 This journey started with the idea that our formerly very useful basement, needed some updating and remodeling after the flooding of the same, now nigh onto four winters ago.  Time, energy and budgetary consideration kept us from working on it before now, but now with our family of four children insisting on multiplying, we know that we need more room to park them when their cherished visits occur. (And you will get to see the progress as we transmogrify our space!)  But before the glory of the change, comes the preparation for the beginning.

 Which for me means sorting through the boxes of communication, 20th century style.  I have spent hours pouring over all my wedding cards and reading good wishes from high school friends, relatives long gone and friends of co workers and neighbors who heard about our marriage, new child, new home etc.....

I have kept every missive sent to my address for the entirety of my thirty eight year marriage.

I realized a few blessed years ago, that I would be running out of places to store my small boxes of cards etc and began the horrid task of (shudder) disposing of cards a few weeks after I receive them.  What a growth ring that was for me....The pitching of something that someone selected for me, signed or left a note in, addressed, bought a stamp, mailed it with the intention of bringing me joy, is something that I just cannot do easily.  Obviously.

I am reaching that realistic age that if I do not grow up and take care of my obsession about this curious collection, I will be cursing my poor children into figuring out what to do with the obviously cherished collection of communication.  Last night, in the midst of my second hour of reading and sorting, I began to develop some courage and got a bit more free with my discards.  Then I came across all the letters my sister wrote to me in 1967, when my brother in law was stationed in Highland Falls New York, before he was off to Vietnam.  Snippets of her day to day newly wed life on an Army Base at a very volatile time in history, while useless to most, will be most interesting to my children some day.  Then I started retreating to keeping for awhile.  Got brave again and found an unmailed letter to an old friend that happened to mentioned that I had gotten off school on October 8, 1964 to see President Johnson's motorcade while he was in Springfield Illinois.  Again, my resolve weakened......

Wedding cards from the 70's were extraordinarily ugly, yet I kept them.  I loved reading them, wishing Hubby and I a long marriage and much happiness.  I feel a desire to write the people that wished this special benediction upon us, assuring them that their blessings years ago have come true. 
I open each congratulations for our first born, wishing upon her, a good and true life, and I nod to myself, knowing these thirty two years with Eldest/Admin, have indeed been good and true.
I get that little catch in my throat with all the labored over Mother's Day cards from my teeny children .
I grin when I see greetings from friends of my children to Hubby and I and know that these little girls are all wonderful grown ups that would get a hoot from seeing what I have kept from their childish scrawls, so precious to me.

So, what to do with it all?  Youngest Son, caretaker of my journals and holder of the family history, followed me downstairs and his advice was of no help.  He says, 'mom, how much space can cards take?  Keep them!  Go through your discards again and make sure your not throwing anything important away!'  Have I mentioned that YS is spitting image of his mother's personality, humor and quirkiness?  Yeah.  No help at all.  Where is Eldest/Admin and her purging ways when I need her??

I tried to come up with a vintage need for these historical documents, but nothin'.....

What, Dear Readers, would you do with this avalanche of memories and  grand examples of Hallmark etc in all it's 70's, 80's glory??

After hour upon hour on my reminiscing trip, I am overwhelmed and feeling a bit discombobulated......
Let me know your thoughts about my dilemma.  The contractor comes tomorrow and I believe he will want to start soon...
Leave a comment,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

His Banner Over Me is Love...!

I love Valentines Day.
A real sucker over all things heart-y.
Have enjoyed the day since my parochial days. I loved the decorated mailboxes that we made at home and brought to school days before the holiday, to contain all the handmade wishes of our fellow least most of them anyway..I loved the anticipation of unfolding all the glittery pink and red construction paper greetings and reading the sender's name.  I loved the mystery of slipping the cards into the handmade slits in the paper covered shoe box, slyly watching to see if the recipient was watching me.

 So it certainly was not a big surprise that when the Love of My Life appeared on the scene, it would be on account of Valentine's Day.
After a two long years of tailing, stalking and hoping that he would notice me, I finally had an excuse to ask him out to my all girl's high school Valentine Dance.  My best friend, his cousin, facilitated the plan well.  And our first kiss happened the night before our first official date and after the dance, it was a sure thing that we would be together a  l-o-n-g time....
 To further reinforce the specialness of the date in our minds, Baby Girl was born fifty seven minutes before Valentine's Day many years later...

Is it any wonder why I would want to promote it so decoratively??

May your Valentine's Day be in a banner year for you!!  (:D)

Friday, January 21, 2011


 I rarely use patterns when making bags.
In my rebellion, when I do use patterns, I tend to alter them a bit....shall we say in my humblest way, improve them...
But then Crazy Dee saw a pattern when we were on vacation together that she just had to have. She saw the sample bag made up on display and proclaimed that she wanted one 'just, exactly like that one!' Knowing my propensity for 'winging it', she made this very clear.  Sadly, the sewing shop that we were visiting did not carry the fabric from which the sample bag was made, so right away, CD had to adjust her imperatives.  I informed her that I had in my possession some batik fabric and that it would be suitable for the bag.  Dubiously, she agreed to my better judgement while I scavenged my memory as to where this supposed batik fabric might be in my stash.
 I had not used Indigo Junction patterns before.  I had bought one or two but never actually used them.  I know.  This happens to us sewists.  We, in our sewing oblivion that comes over us when we are in an actual fabric store, think that of course, we have time to make This or That.  Hence, our sewing rooms are overflowing with wishful thinking.  I perhaps should go on record that I am not that good of a sewist to attempt another Indigo Junction pattern again.  Crazy assumptions are made that one without a history of patterns could even begin to follow well.  I gave up on them about step 47.  No photos to explain complicated procedures, merely two tiny sketches of the completed purse.  I truly believe if I wasn't so afraid of the Wrath of Crazy Dee, that the whole thing would have been chucked early on.
 Now on the Upside of The Grrrrrrrrgrommet bag.......
I did not find the batik that I assured CD that I had.  But I did find an old Ebay skirt purchased back in the day before I realized that I had aging lower legs that really did not need to be shared with anyone other than those that I have married.  The Tommy Hilfiger wrap skirt never did make sense.  I had offered it to Baby Girl when she was headed to Africa years ago, but even she could not figure out it's wonky ways. But I could not deny that the fabric was pretty grand, thus it got placed in the fabric stash.  Do you know that the only scraps that were left from this wild re purposing were pieces small enough for Pretend Granddaughter's Sara's Grammy quilt?  I so love when that happens!  Almost made the whole grrrrrrgrommet bag experience worth the thrill....Almost....
 Eight Grommets on this thing.
The very thing that CD loved about this bag was my undoing. Granted, these grommets are easy enough to use.  No tools; no problems.  Except when you are using four layers of fabric.  1. Outer.  2.  Interfacing.  3.  Upholstery lining fabric (thick)  4.  And a very witty twill tape label made just for CD.  Miss Dixie and Hubby found me on the floor of my sewing room, grumbling and huffing and puffing as I wrestled the purse into submission.  Suggestions and helps were offered but nothing helped except excessive trimming and snipping.  Not once, but EIGHT times.  No wonder Miss Dixie is looking like she wants to dial 911!
Then.  Finally.  All Eight were attached.  I indulged in a little euphoric celebration which let Miss Dixie rest, knowing that I was not going to use any of my sharp utensils on anything nearby.  Surely, it was downhill from there.
Two.  Braided. Handles.  Each handle was a covered cording consisting of three strands each.  A dangerously scary long needle was called into service to thread the cording into the fabric tubes.  And the upholstery fabric was very frayey, making my bring out my Fray Check for than once.  It was late into the night when the last hand stitch, linking the sturdy handles, was accomplished.  By then, my hands and temperament were a bit achy........

So what was learned?
1.  Keep with it.
2.  Adjust when the pattern is just too silly.
3. Be glad you save good fabric and weird skirts.
4. Do not underestimate the job.
5. Be thankful for teachable moments (hours)
6.  Never agree to make another bag for Crazy Dee.

And what did the label say that I sewed inside?
'The purse was lovingly made for Crazy Dee because she made me.'

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Then there were three......

You may not recognizing this rather dashing little baby, but to those in the know, this twelve week old sweetie is known by his/her in utero name of 'Cubby'....!  Cubby is the brilliant pre born child of Eldest Son and Lovely Wife!  According to this image, Cubby should be joining his/her family around the first of August!  And are we ecstatic??!  Wellllllllll!!!!!

It was nearly two short years ago when Miss Viv entered my world and made me a completely dottie Grammy named Mimi.....It did not take her long to completely enrapture my heart. Then, when I thought I had reached Grammy Nirvana,  Baby Girl announced that she too, was going to contribute to the census of our family! Do you know that there is no end to the growth of the human heart in love??

This year, we shortened our Thanksgiving visit with Baby Girl and Her Hubby and headed home to spend time with ES and LW before the weekend was over.  I was coming through the kitchen to answer the front door to greet them, when a most exciting thrill raced through my being.

I am used to the loving glances shared by ES and LW.  I am used to the knowing grins that spread across their faces when a private secret is shared, but I do not believe I ever beheld (well, once; his wedding day!) such a wide and glowing grin on my Eldest Son's face as I did as I watched him walk up our front steps that day!  I knew in the depths of my grandmotherly heart, that this was a life changing smile.  That the smile shared between them, not knowing I was observing, was something big, something grand, something profound.

We exchanged niceties, catching each other up on our separate Thanksgiving Celebrations, me sitting there, daring to ask any 'specific' questions.  Dear Hubby, clueless as the day is long to the obvious signals sent out by their jiggling feet and twitchy hands, continued on his story lines until LW nearly burst from excitement....Indeed, nothing had to be said, just a war whoop of congratulations all around!

And so, dear readers, Grammy shall hide out in her sewing room, creating quilts, diaper bags, spitty cloths and whatever my Little Cubby and his/her Lovely Mama might want.......

A Happy, Happy Grammy.....On a roll......

Monday, January 17, 2011

Life in the Village.....

Village living encompasses all types of activities.....
Granny Square crocheting which became Grammy Square Making given the personage....

 Novel reading.....(Wonderful book, by the way.....)
 Lot of Baby Walking....In a 500 square foot apartment, one gets creative....Grammy told 4BG many stories.  Stories about kitties and puppies and Baby Girl's childhood shenanigans....
 We really needed to wear our headband to church....This one matches Cousin Viv's....
And what would Valentine's Day be like without crocheted hearts adorning the room?

And you can't live in Purdue Village without scholastic achievement....Study time and homework...very important...

And what would Grammy's time in West Lafayette without a fitting snowstorm? I am known for my Blizzard Producing Visits....
Baby Girl certainly has a way for feathering her Baby Girl's little nest with wonderfulness....She made this wall quilt to warm up the mandatory white walls included in the lease....How creative is she??  In this photo is lots of love donations:  The crib; garage sale, the mirror; great great grandparent's Murphy wedding gift from LONG ago...The dresser; donation from Auntie Lovely Wife and Unca Eldest Son....The chair:  Great grandpa Walton's comfy donation...and on it goes....generations of repurposers....
Important stop for the feeding of the masses.....Baby Girl's sling wearing is going obviously quite well, yes?
And in such close quarters, it is important to keep ourselves clean.....So like the very amazingly wonderful little baby that she is, she co operated.....

No matter how small the space, there is always room for noodle drying....

Ahhhhhh, life in The is good......

Enough Said....

Friday, January 7, 2011


Some investments are sometimes not intentional or even planned.  But when they happen, when the dividends start showing up, you are glad, yes, you're so very glad, that you did what ever it was that you did, to reap the benefits that you so prize today..
Take for instance, looking at this big disorganized pile of scraps, a less global thinking person might be thinking: 'Good Grief!  Clean it up!  Throw it out! Get rid of the mess!'  Then there are the 
Forward Thinkers
that would say,'What a lovely mess of opportunity!'
I suppose you know by now which camp I am firmly entrenched upon.
When my hands sift through the pile of remnants of past projects, I think about all the stories behind each little scrap.  I smile at a well finished project memory and wince at the ill timed inflated image of my talent.  But whatever the response, I am always glad that I have pieces left of each project to stir the memory bank and to busy my hands.  There are always sermon illustrations in most sewing endeavors, just like there is in gardening, parenting and just about everything else.  One could wax poetic about old things made new.  One could take on how we look at the surface but God looks at the heart.  Oh my, yes, we could go on forever about the analogies from this wonderful/crazy pile of memories/fabric.
I'll keep it simple:

Take Your Discards in Life and Make It a New Thing.

Theologically and philosophically sound and a sewist mantra.
In the process of using up my scraps, a most lovely quilt is being made for Pretend Granddaughter Sara and I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying the process.
She will get to be warmed by her 'adopted' family's bits and pieces of their stories created in fabric.  Thinking of her cuddling under the quilt, maybe at a faraway college dorm room or in the bedroom of her future child's room, telling her the stories behind their favorite block, fills me with such a deep satisfaction......

What old/discarded thing in your life can you make new today?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Eldest/Admin!!

This little cutie was all gussied up and ready for her 2nd Birthday to begin!  There had been a heavy snowfall that day and her Daddy was outside shoveling snow for all her party guests.  Every now and then, Daddy would throw snow at the window, causing the little Party Girl to giggle loudly.  She watched in awe as her Daddy 'played' in the snow and included her in the play from the comfort and warmth of the Party House.  It was adorable then and now as I remember it.  All those years ago.

Since then, my Little E/A has put us through many adorable moments, both historically and recently.  Only now, I get the joy and adding to all her stories about her baby: 'Just like you'......Double the joy...

This Little Girl has taught me plenty in her Thirty....something years and I thank God every day for her wisdom, her broad thinking and her ability to read me like a book(saves a lot of time!)

In her years on this earth, she has helped me through those 'You Are My Firstborn; There Are Expectations That Reflect Deeply Upon Me' crazies.  She has forgiven me all my First Time Mom Errors.
She has taught me to endure pain, frustration and disappointment rationally.
She has taught me to love deeply.
She is fearless on many levels and helps me through my scary times and places.
She sees things and people with a special lens that ferrets out problems.
She is my early warning system.
And she is full of emotion that is spontaneous, easily vocalized and very comforting.
She cares for me carefully and protectively.  I would always want her on my side, she is that kind of person...

And on the sixth of January, on a snowy, cold, Saturday night in 1979, she quietly entered my life, my world and  every part of my being.  It was an incredible entrance to an indelible life...

Thank you God for Rhiannon......
I love you, Boo!
Happy Birthday to You.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bundlin' Up

The winter here in Southern Indiana has been a bit out of the ordinary.
We had been limited by icy conditions for over a week, keeping pedestrian activities on hold.
We had brittle cold much earlier in the season than usual.
And we had snow stick around a bit longer than we normally do.
In short, we've had a normal winter.
We are spoiled, those of us south of  I-70.
So it is with this excuse of expecting warmer situations that I am just now making Miss Vivien's Winter Coat.
I bought the material in November.
I cut it out in early December.
And here it is, on the Eve of Eldest/Admin's birthday, that I am just now completing it.
To my credit, it has been a whirl of December in our household.
But never no mind, Viv's little coat, once the proper size of zipper is purchased, shall be on it's way to warm her sweet little bod.

There is something rather primal and satisfying about making a child's coat.  You know that you can purchase one at Target for less than it cost to make it, but I believe completely that, like a baby quilt, the warmth of the love that goes into it, makes the item more precious, more valuable and well, warmer.

Do you have a winter project stalling out on your To Do list?
Do not fret.  Do not feel the failure for not producing before now.
We still have much brrrry weather to struggle through before the daffodils peak through.
The important thing is that the people you love and care about receive something from your hands, from your planning and time and THAT is what they receive and carry always, even when the item is but a memory....

The work of our hands, a very valuable gift......

Monday, January 3, 2011

Knew Knitting Knews:

 It has been nigh onto forty years since I last held knitting needles.

The math of it just confounded me.  I was young and impatient with the process.  I probably was also discouraged with my mother's constant laughter at her own joke each time she called me Madame Defarge and screamed out, 'Guillotine!"( as my endless scarf progressed. 
Whatever the reason, I parked my needles and used them throughout the years to turn collars and other sewing needs these past four decades.
Then the Knitting Kneeds began again.  After spending nearly a month with Eldest/Admin and her Amazing Needles, I rethought the reasons why knitting was my only crafting holdout.
The deal was sealed after E/A and I spent several hours in the most pleasant knitting shop  E/A has several knitting projects going on and I was along for the ride.  I found myself mesmerized by the selection, the feel, the colors of the myriads of yarn skeins available for about any pattern known to man.  Books of all types. Accessories to all yarn crafts.  And the nicest staff ever.  While E/A processed and selected and perused, I got caught up in the friendly ambiance of the place.  And did I mention how busy this tiny place was?  A grand yarn sale was going on and it appeared that the whole of Bloomington Indiana was privy to it. A grand cross section of the population appeared to all be able to knit except me.

About the time I was feeling a bit left out from all this yarn fun, two things happened:

  1. I found Elizabeth Zimmermann's book and was captivated.  Elizabeth subscribes to the Deb Cory School of Creating.  Very loose, very casual very non daunting.  Though her book is not a how to, per se, it gives excellent impetus to go forth boldly with the process.  Thank you Elizabeth.
  2. I found these needles.  Yes.  Wood.  Shiny.  Well shaped.  Feel grand in the hand.  Had to have them.
Thus begins my new adventure in knitting.
Traveling with Miss Viv the other day, she kept watching Mimi as she produced yet another granny square whilst entertaining her in the back seat.  She closed her book and asked, politely, if she could have my yarn and hook.  Being an amiable Grammy, I acquiesced.  She immediately started imitating my movements and acted quite professional for a not nearly two year old.  I was mesmerized by her confident movements and the fun that she had just playing with yarn and hook.  And that is exactly the attitude I shall adopt in my new knitting adventure.  I shall follow Elizabeth's guidance and Vivien's attitude.  I shall overcome Knitting Fear and go forth.  
With a little help from my friends.....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Catch Up Time

 While I was packing up at the hotel after our premiere visit with Lil Lady, I couldn't help but notice the plethora a mama's collection bags surrounding us in the room.  Five totaled, with another one on the arm of Eldest/Admin at the hospital and two more with Baby Girl.  Whew!  Market/craft bags, Amy Butler Diaper bag, purses and Anna Maria Horner Here We Go Bag......And I gotta admit it; I love it!  I love seeing my bags in action.  I love seeing them be used and carted around with their owners. Last summer, during the mama's collection First Annual Gathering of Friends Retreat, all of us attendees went to the Farmer's Market armed with a bag made just for the event and I distinctly remember the glee I felt at watching a dozen or more of my bags flittering through the market on the very reliable shoulders of those that came from near and far to attend the retreat.  So I really do get emotionally attached to my creations and love seeing them by lovingly used.
 Despite a very distracted December, I sought comfort from the busyness of my thoughts by creating more bags for several friends.
 The 'Vera' bag was interestingly difficult and made me understand why Vera Bradley's bags are so........pricey.....This bag had a total of ten pockets in/on it and an official zipper closure and I designed it myself just by observing a multitude of VB's bags.  The only one I ever owned was back in the nineties and I got it from a thrift store.  The bag challenged me but it was fun.  Hubby helped with that analytical mind of his.  Thank Goodness.

 Lil Lady needed some extra little 'cosmetic' bags for her Diaper  These sweet little binkie/comb/nail bags should serve her well maybe up to college?  The material is vintage flour sacks so they have survived a lot already....
Speaking of Lil Lady.....Did I tell you how precious she is??

Oh dear!
How is Mimi ever going to concentrate in her sewing room.....?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting Fresh

With a New Year beginning, one's thoughts always drift to what to do with a second chance.  How would we redo, start over, or fix what we didn't like when met with a new opportunity?

This year, I get the opportunity to take my cues from Lil Lady, my newest grandbaby.  Lil Lady had an in with her Creator in regard to His Ways vs. The World's Ways.  We took time off and prepared and made plans but He had others.  Far Superior, it turns out, as it always is.

While holding her in her Grammy made quilt on her 20th hour on earth, I had a chance to peruse how I would live differently this year because of her.
  • Always bow to God's timing; just makes sense and your life is less stressful
  • Languish in the moment
  • Sleep peacefully when you know that those in charge know what they're doing
  • Trust your Caretaker
  • Fuss when you're hungry if only to get your message across
  • Roll with it (whatever 'it' is; nothing is so bad for a while)
  • Get comfy in your environment but know when to leave
  • Get comfortable in your own skin
  • Understand that generations before you were tiny babies once
  • Take in all the good vibes from the world then sleep through the rest
On the cusp of this new year and being enraptured with my new role as a prolific grammy, I believe my lessons in living on this earth are just beginning.  This year I had the privilege of watching Baby Girl nurture Lil Lady in utero and out utero.  I got to rejoice at the heartbeat of another grandbabe due this summer.  I got to walk with another as she grieved the loss of her baby at an early start.  Life's lessons always seem to surround the acknowledgement of the beginnings of new life and the mystical viewpoint that it brings to the table each and every day.

Watch children.  All children, not just your own.  Observe their intuitiveness.  Mimic their freshness. Converse with a child daily to keep grounded.  And above all, respect life.

Have a Well Lived New Year.

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