Handmade Joy Exchange

Part II: What I Received

Yesterday I wrote about what I made for the Handmade Joy Exchange. Today’s post is about what I received from Sarah.

A lovely painting on silk! I never even though of painting on silk, it seems impossible. And it was from France! I have been to France twice for military deployments (pre 9/11) and this package brought back many happy memories. Thank you so much Sarah!

I’ve hung it in my office where I can see it everyday.
Sarah also sent this card she painted. I love it!

Even though I had my doubts about participating in the Handmade Joy Exchange I am so glad I did it. It really did bring me joy, in both the giving and the receiving. Thank you Anne for sponsoring such a lovely idea!

so lovely!

More on my “Creative Courage”

Part One: What I made for the Handmade Joy Exchange

I mentioned I was looking at more areas than just writing when I thought of my word for the year. I like to dabble in many different creative-ish areas. But I am, sadly, not very talented. I wish I could paint a landscape or design and sew a fabulous quilt but I am who I am. One very organized, list making, linear, planner, rule follower of a person. When I did a sketchbook experiment with a friend I was quite lacking in ideas. All his sketches seem so cool and fun. I wanted to be Bob Ross and paint a happy little tree with a sun dappled barn and a babbling brook. Or at least cool abstracts in a Paul Klee kind of way.

In this creative area I am thinking maybe my word should be creative acceptance. I am who I am and there is nothing wrong with that. So I can’t draw a picture but I enjoy coloring one. And I am good at following the directions in a needlepoint kit and creating ornaments or wall hangings. And I have done some bead work kits and sequins on felt. I have knitted scarves and one afghan. I made a quilted dresser scarf.

So maybe I am not creative in the traditional sense or exactly how I wish I was in my mind. But I have decided to believe I am simply creative in my own linear, follow directions, non-spontaneous way. And yet, there is more to the story.

After careful consideration I pushed myself to participate in Anne’s (My Giant Strawberry) Handmade Joy gift exchange. I felt like this was a pretty big leap for me. I was worried that all the other participants would be artisans with Etsy shops and booths at craft fairs. But I did it anyway.

I came up with my idea, started working on it and kept my fingers crossed that it would be suitable for whoever I got. I started off making a small needlepoint sign in spring colors. Or maybe it was a bookmark. But it didn’t seem to be enough. I decided it was a sign and then decided to make one for winter. It was supposed to be a snowflake but I think it turned out more like a flower. It would have made sense to stick with a needlepoint theme but of course why would I make sense? So I followed my creative courage and colored a leaf for autumn and made a felt sun for summer. I included a suction cup hook and now I get to imagine my “art” hanging in a window in England! I got to send my items to an Italian architect living in England. How cool is that?

I am just sorry I forgot to take a photo of the back of the sun, I put the word “Joy” on it with sequins. Oh well.

“Good Things” Thursday

One of the great things about having a child has been getting to read so many children’s books. Old favorites and new authors have all been enjoyable. One of my new favs is Cynthia Rylant. I love all her series but especially ‘Henry and Mudge’ and ‘Mr. Putter and Tabby’. (I say new but we started reading her books 8 years ago, so by new I mean not of my childhood.)

In the past I have tried both gratitude lists and joy lists but neither quite defined what I was trying to capture. And then I read “Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book” and I had my epiphany. Not to spoil the plot but Mr. Putter is having a hard time writing a book and instead writes a list of “Good Things”.

I am stealing this idea because I love it. So thank you to Ms. Rylant and Mr. Putter ūüėä.

Good Things ‚ėė

  • chamomile flowers from Trader Joe’s ūüĆľ
  • working in my sketchbook (see pics below)
  • the sound of an owl hooting in the distance ( I also like it when I hear trains or church bells) ūüöā
  • learning how to add emoji’s ūüĆĶ
  • signing up for an on-line photography class that starts in April ūüďł
  • reading “Match Making for Beginners” by Maddie Dawson and having a great line stuck in my head: “Whatever happens, love that.” ūüďė
  • chocolate covered strawberry ice cream from Tillamook ūüć®
  • cloud shadows on mountains (makes me smile every time!) ‚ėĀÔłŹ
  • lace curtains moving in the breeze
A few years ago I gave my friend a sketchbook and one to myself. We spent about 2 years drawing pictures for the other and then swapped books. Now we are supposed to use the drawings as inspiration to draw a sort of campanion piece. I am finally getting started. My drawing is on the left and his is on the right. I got the idea from Anne at My Giant Strawberry.


Again I am on the left, my friend on the right.

I am thinking this will become a semi-regular feature, like Photo Friday. We’ll see.

Sending good thoughts your way!

Camping Autumn Joy List: Photo Friday Style

Last weekend we went camping at Chiricahua National Monument near Willcox, AZ.  Pure bliss!

On the way down we stopped at Apple Annie’s and picked pumpkins and did the corn maze. ¬†A very muddy corn maze but we enjoyed it anyway.

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IMG_8185Pumpkin checkers!

IMG_8217We found some fall color on our hike to Far Away Ranch. The weather was perfect, not hot, not too chilly.

Far Away Ranch has a great history filled with strong women.  The fireplace was made from stones taken from a monument to President Garfield that was falling down.  The names were chiseled by Buffalo Soldiers stationed there before Far Away Ranch became Far Away Ranch.

We had a wonderful tour of the house led by Ranger Anne.

IMG_8235In the afternoon we hiked to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  This is an old fire lookout tower and proof that we went all the way to the top.

IMG_8248At one point we actually hiked through the mountain!

IMG_8228I would have thought it was too cold for the snakes to be out, especially in the shade, but apparently not.  This is a black tailed rattlesnake I believe, right near the beginning of the trail. Luckily other hikers gave us a heads up preventing any heart attacks.

IMG_8250Still there on the trip back, we had marked his spot with a small rock cairn so as to not get caught unawares.

IMG_8191There are no fire pits at Bonita Canyon Campground so we brought our own, perfectly legal. ¬†The rangers will let you have a small fire in the grill (if there are no fire restrictions of course!) ¬†This was much nicer and we cooked hot dogs and s’mores the first night. It was perfect sitting around the fire weather.

Okay, while seeing the snake on the hike and a skunk (which I did not take pictures of) one night near our campsite (when I was sitting alone by the fire!) did not exactly bring me joy it was still cool (you know, afterwards).  But this guy brought a smile to my face:

IMG_8200The mom had already crossed the road and then I came along and the fawn stopped and I stopped and I told him to go ahead.  I could see the mama deer anxiously looking back and after a moments hesitation the baby deer bounded across the road and caught up to his mama.  We saw a lot of deer, they know they are safe in the National Park area during hunting season.

Autumn Joy List

The weather is in the 70’s here! ¬†70’s!!!! ¬†And rain. ¬†I think this is my first October rain since moving here. ¬†In the eight years I have lived here we have mostly still been in the 90’s this time of year, I cannot articulate how happy I am! ¬†Okay, actually I am going to try and find my words and share my joy of all things autumn.

Clothes: ¬†I know wearing long pants shouldn’t be such a big deal but it is. ¬†There are people here who dress seasonally no matter the actual weather. ¬†And they look stupid wearing boots and down vests and turtleneck sweaters when the high is 92¬į. ¬†And some people wear shorts and flip-flops year around and they look stupid shivering in the 50¬į morning temps.

Me?  I compromise and dress for the actual temperature but wear seasonal colors.  And this year I am actually wearing 3/4 or long sleeve shirts in October. Not heavy ones but t-shirts in oranges and browns and reds. And did I mention long pants!  Not just capris but all the way to the floor pants.

Movies: ¬†I am ready to watch “Hocus Pocus”, a “Good Witch” marathon and “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” ¬†(On TCM the 27th!).

Books: ¬†I just finished “Royal Blood” by Rhys Bowen and now I am rereading “The Diva Haunts the House” by Krista Davis. ¬†After that I have some Stephen King short stories and I need to resume reading “Dracula” ¬†which I started last October but didn’t finish.

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Cartoons: ¬†“It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” of course and my favorite “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” with Bing Crosby. ¬†It is a Disney version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, scary and funny.

My current work in progress that I hope I really do turn into a pillow when it is done:

IMG_8158I just have the background left to fill in.

Jigsaw puzzles and coloring pictures with autumn themes.  Often times the smallest things make me the happiest.

In the kitchen I am loving using these new plates:

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This week we enjoyed pumpkin spice pudding and Tasty Kakes pumpkin spice mini donuts and spiced apple cider. And hot cinnamon apple spiced tea, yum!

Autumn smells: ¬†Vanilla pumpkin candle from Trader Joe’s and Autumn Leaves wax scent from Michael’s.

IMG_8159My latest ‘thing’ is to light the candle in the jar while I do the dinner dishes. ¬†Why is candlelight so homey?

So there you have it, the sights, smells and tastes of autumn!

My five year old chrysanthemum blooming at just the right time!

 

 

 

 

Meteorological Autumn is Here!

Wow we had a busy Labor Day weekend but it was all good. ¬†It is no secret that autumn is far and away my favorite season but I do my best to enjoy each season and holiday in it’s own time. ¬†This weekend we managed to combine the best of summer: swimming and grilling out, with the best of autumn: apple picking and college football.

We started out with an after dinner swim on Friday night which was marvelous.  It is dark here by 7:30p and it feels so different swimming under a night sky.

On Saturday morning  I had my first bowling of the season with my once a month league and Saturday evening it was time for Wildcat Football.  Yes they lost but the marching band still rocked it!

 

Sunday we had a quiet at home day planned so we could recover from the late night. (Will the Pac-12 ever see reason and schedule for the convenience of the team and the fans?) ¬†I did some laundry and watched the Cubs win and then we all went for a swim. ¬†Luckily we grilled our burgers early as a rumbly thunderstorm dropped in. ¬†So after dinner we played Sagrada and then retreated to our separate spaces to read , listen to the rain and in my case watch “Bridget Jone’s Diary”. ¬†We got a nice amount of rain overnight, always appreciated here.

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The pie and ice cream smile!

On Monday we drove to Willcox and Apple Annie’s to pick apples, pears and peaches. ¬†We shared some pie (apple crumb and pecan) and ice cream and enjoyed the very blue sky and a refreshing breeze. ¬†We came home for one last swim joking about how the pool would be closed the next day. ¬†(That idea completely confused my son.) We played with my son’s waterproof camera taking all kinds of crazy pictures and movies and had a blast.

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No autumn temps here for at least two more months, maybe longer, but mentally I am already switching gears. I washed my fall quilt today (same weight as my summer quilt just a different design) and pulled out my new orange ‘Life is Good’ t-shirt decorated with leaves that I have been saving. ¬†The weather channel announced it is now meteorological ¬†autumn and that is good enough for me! ¬†Over the next two weeks I am sure I will be slowly sneaking bits of autumn into my life.

DSCN0585Yes, this is one of the silly pictures of me.

Good Bye Summer!

Joy List Monday

I have been waffling about what to do with my blog.  I know you are supposed to focus on one area, post on a regular schedule, blah blah blah.  I have been an orderly rule follower my whole life and now in my dotage I have decided to be capricious. I have decided to post randomly about whatever I so desire. So there, take that world.

We start with a random Monday Joy List…

  1. I am glad I am not really in my dotage!
  2. Books, always. ¬†I am currently reading “The Great Alone” by Kristin Hannah. ¬†It is not an easy read emotionally, a very dark subject but I have hope for an uplifting ending.
  3. Our pool temperature is still quite warm, about 88¬į making swimming a pleasure each evening.
  4. Go CUBS Go! ¬†I really enjoy listening to the games on the radio and “treat” myself on Sundays to watching the game on tv.
  5. I am learning so much from my on-line writing class. ¬†Why didn’t I do this years ago?
  6. My son is going to a new school this year and they got a grant to set up a lunch program and for this year all the kids get to eat for free. ¬†Not having to make a lunch everyday…priceless. ¬†Apparently there is such a thing as a free lunch. (Of course next year it will probably cost a fortune but I won’t think about that today.)
  7. I reorganized and gave my office a good cleaning. I am spending a lot of time in here these days.
  8. I swapped out my wax scents.  Just a little thing but it brings me joy.
  9. I have been buying little bouquets of zinnias at the Farmer’s Market, beautiful colors.

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Have a Great Week!

Fabulous February

Fabulous February?  I have been battling a ferocious head cold these past few days but I am trying to not let it keep me down. I pick my projects for the day wisely, enough to feel productive but not so much as to overdo it. I give myself permission to take breaks as needed, drink lots of fluids and know when to say enough and go to bed early.

So in my attempts to dwell on the positive and ignore my alternately stuffy and drippy nose here is a joy list for, yes,  Fabulous February:

  1. My last batch of rose blooms have been marvelous. So large and velvety.
  2. Weather.  We have actually had a nice variety.  A few windy days and a few rainy days interspersed with the typical sunshine.  Even had a ripping thunderstorm one evening.
  3. AFRIN  before bed allowing me to get some badly needed decent sleep.
  4. Using the lemons off my very own lemon tree Р yummy.
  5. I am addicted to “The Great British Baking Show”. ¬†I allow myself one episode a day and now that a season is being rerun¬†that I hadn’t seen before (on my local PBS station) I am getting quite good at picking ¬†the ‘Star Baker’ and who is going home. (Yes, that would be before they are announced!)
  6. I rearranged my small bedroom to see if I could make it feel less cramped.  I think it is better.
  7. Making progress on my quilted dresser scarf.  Do I dare hope I may finish it this year?
  8. How much progress I have made this month on doing tasks mindfully and staying focused on one thing at a time.  This has made me feel so much more at peace.

 

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Sunshine and Lemons!                                                                                                                                                                                          It may take a minute but look for something Fabulous in your February life!                                                                                                                                                           

October Happiness

Still in the mind numbing 90’s here ( ten degrees above “average”). But I am finding ways to cope, still making my own autumn and finding bits of happiness:

  • All things pumpkin at Trader Joe’s, round two. Especially loving the pumpkin spice popcorn for Cub games. Go Cubs Go!

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  • Creating this cute bat pumpkin with my son. ¬†(So much easier than carving!)

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  • Lunch at Panera Bread which included a turkey cranberry flatbread sandwich and a caramel apple scone.
  • Gathering leaves up in the mountains. ¬†(I spread them on the path to the front door on Halloween so kids get the fun of kicking through leaves. ¬†It is my favorite Halloween decoration and I love having the leaves blowing around the yard for a few days after.) ¬†I found true autumn at 8000′! ¬†It was a glorious 61¬į with clouds and a few drops of rain. ¬†The maples were red and gold and we found ¬†golden aspen leaves too. ¬†It was a wonderful few hours of fleece wearing, leaf scuffing, picture taking autumn heaven.

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  • The silliness of our cookie haunted house.

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  • After dinner walks to look at Halloween lights. ¬†Though there seems to be fewer decorated houses this year.

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This is part of our yard. I love how the ghost in front seems scared of the ghosts behind him.

  • Tears of joy when the Cubs advanced to the World Series. Go Cubs Go!
  • Halloween boxer shorts to sleep in. ¬†(Since it is way too warm for my Halloween jammies.)
  • Working on the November sketch for my friend Joe’s sketchbook. ¬†It involves drawing and coloring ¬†fall leaves. (No picture so I don’t ruin the surprise for him.)
  • Just finished reading “After You” by Jojo Moyes. ¬†Next up is ¬†“Trick or Deadly Treat” with “Before I go to Sleep” on deck.

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Boo!

Desert Autumn Joy List

Normally this time of year I get very homesick for a Northeast fall. ¬†This year I am focusing on what I do have as opposed to what I don’t. Though the temperature is still well into the 90’s during the day I have been able to make it feel like autumn (at least inside my head).

  • There is a hint of coolness in the morning and evenings, enough so that I have resumed taking the dog on longer walks. This has led me to find some autumn color, desert style.

 

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These bushes are everywhere!

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Beautiful reds, oranges and yellows!

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My new chrysanthemum.

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Look at this brave flower squeezing out from under a cactus.

  • The inside of my house all decorated for autumn.

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I put leaves like this all over the house, hanging in front of windows and from light fixtures etc. I love how they flutter when the a/c kicks on.

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Watching football with a leaf garland and pumpkins in my line of sight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Football season! College marching bands at halftime are¬†the best!

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On Sept. 17th the University of Arizona did a tribute for the USS Arizona and had one of the six remaining survivors to the game as well as other WWII veterans. It was very touching. (Sorry the battleship is upside down but our seats are opposite the press box so the band is always upside down to us.)

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That is a one big flag. (Again upside down to us.)

  • Pumpkin chili and ¬†pumpkin beef stew made in the crockpot. ¬†The pumpkin adds a wonderful creamy thick texture.
  • Taking pumpkin oatmeal spice bars to bowling.
  • Using wax scents to make my house smell like autumn despite the a/c still being on.
  • Cooking a pork roast in the crockpot also makes a home smell autumnal.
  • Some promising new cookie recipes that will be on the healthy side but still taste of fall.
  • Working on the outlining of¬† my autumn needlepoint tissue box cover.
  • Adding a Trader Joe’s harvest tea bag to my pitcher of iced tea.
  • Trader Joe’s pumpkin soup crackers, with a bit of cream cheese, crazy yummy!
  • Starting to wear my “fall wardrobe”. Not flannel and sweaters alas, ¬†but capris and cropped jeans and autumn colors. I got two new pairs of LL Bean cropped jeans in pale spruce and vintage blue….love them!

 

Happy First Day of Autumn!!

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Yummy!