Monday, January 15, 2018

The New Year Makes Me Crafty

 A trip to the thrift isn't always successful, but then there are times you can be inspired.  This little plate spoke to me.  This is the type of calligraphy of the word Friendship I was taught by dear Sister Ann in High School.  Oh to learn the beautiful Spencerian script of the swirls and graceful letters of the script beneath the word Friendship. My penmanship could use a little practice.  Remember the workbooks we had in grade school, practicing the loops, upper and lower.  I remember the sore I got on my finger from holding the pencil too tight.  Maybe when Penny learns cursive, I can practice with her.
Then I found this weird sign.  As soon as I saw it, I knew what it could be.  It's shape reminded me of those old school Hymn boards found in churches.
 I used some chalkboard paint to cover the Brandy bottle.
 Then used some chalk based paint for the frame.
 A few guide lines...
a stencil and a chalk pencil...
and I had myself a Hymn board. Quirky, perhaps, but I love it. I may wax the finish to give it an antique look. Favorite hymn?  I have dozens, choir girl that I was for many years.
Think I'll leave it blank for a while.  Dearest suggested Amazing Grace.
 I've been using this room upstairs to store all the overflow from Christmas.  Since we have a wedding to plan and decorate for this summer, I moved in the tables and I gathered all the tools I will need and put them all in one place.
 I've been a woman without a craft room for months now.  The basement never worked out.  It was too dark and far away from the rest of the house and my dearest was two floors up.  It's not as bright as the other side of the house, but I brought in a standing lamp and I have an Ott light for close work.
 This is going to work out much better. (Until I change my mind again;-)
I know I've shown this before but ...
I have this little envelope framed and hanging in my space.  The first letter I ever received.  That penny has been stuck on the envelope for almost 63 years! A scientific anomaly! What glue lasts 63 years?  Beside being a treasured keepsake, it may have some value, beside the 1955 penny.

Kind of a botanical theme accidentally taking place here.

  Next door in my office...
Collections of glass hobnail vases, mercury glass votives.  
We have to plan a shower, a rehearsal dinner and decorate tables for the wedding of Mike and Amanda later this year.  So many other decorations and supplies are taking up space here there and everywhere it seems.  I know from the experience with Jon and Charlotte's wedding, the time will fly.  They have already celebrated their first anniversary!
I got to spend time with both of our boys this weekend.  Jon spent the day, lounging and watching movies with his Dad.  So good to have him just hanging out.  Mike came by the next day and watched football, talked tech with Dad.  No Penny this weekend.  She had a busy social calendar, a birthday party and play dates.  

Even when we can't be together, we still have fun.
I purchased a bag of doll clothes at the thrift, of course, 
and with Grandpa's help we had a fashion show on Facetime for our girl.  I played the song, Girl from Ipanema, (There is no better song for a fashion show.) Grandpa held the phone as I walked all the dolls and animals we have here at home down the catwalk, dressed in the new doll clothes. (The catwalk being the dining room table)  Penny and Kristen laughed and laughed. Grandpa thought I was enjoying it the most, which was true.  I love to make our girl laugh, I want her to have the happiest memories of her old grandma and grandpa.  She loves silly and so do I!
Clarence, my bear, Stitch and Tigger were quite embarrassed, but played along.

 Bits of nature keep the winter blues away. 
 The amaryllis is still going gangbusters.
Four huge and beautiful blooms.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, he said,
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  
Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Sending love out into the universe,
Praying for Peace.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, January 8, 2018

As the Year Begins

 The annual Solstice Bonfire has become the New Year Fire.  The start of the path through the woods had this welcoming leaf, and the option to walk into the woods before the parade with the banners and bagpiper.  We took the long serpentine walk, my dearest steadied on uneven terrain by his cane.  I found a tall Y shaped stick to steady myself and off we went.  We couldn't see the site for the fire until we were right upon it. 
 Pretty soon the rest of the people came into the woods following the children carrying banners of the moon and wildlife, with our piper Marty and a drummer leading the  way.
 It just takes moments for the group to start this huge fire.  The wood is all invasive species that keep out the native trees.  This is an old grove of oaks, coming back, thanks to the hard work of volunteers and stewards of the Somme Woods.
 These signs are so beautifully done.  This one made me think of Mark Hirsch, and That Tree.  That Tree is a  Bur Oak in a field somewhere in Wisconsin.  Mark took photos of it every day for a year. 
When the weather gets better we plan on going and seeing her for ourselves.  Check out his Facebook page.  He walks the valley of That Tree often, and shares it as a Facebook Live.  It's peaceful, beautiful and inspiring.
 Once lit the fire took over that stack of trees in a minute.
 The smoke towered over the woods.
 My guy had a rosy glow, we loves this part.  Feeling the heat, watching the flames.
This was the fastest burning fire in the four years we've been attending.
We got to say hello to Marty our piper (as I will always call him) and so many friendly people.  It's a favorite part of the winter for us.
Walking in the woods, especially in winter, restores the spirit, is meditative and almost like a prayer.
 Though it's winter outside, we've had some life growing within.
 The amaryllis I planted right after Thanksgiving bloomed.  It's stunning double bloom is the prettiest I've ever seen.
 There are three more buds, with the second one opening this morning.
 I saw a photo that Tracy Porter posted with jars with ivy and other plants growing.  I remembered (then totally forgot) that at the end of the growing season I took a few cuttings of my English Ivy Wreath and put them into a large glass jar on the windowsill in the dining room.  I put a lace curtain up around Thanksgiving and had not thought of the ivy since.  There it was, poking through the lace, a reminder I'm sure.  "Hey, I'm out here!"
 I filled the jar that was almost empty. So sweet to see a little green with the snow.
 The poinsettia is holding it's own...not growing but still here.
This Norfolk Island Pine has been here for years.  Once it was one of those tiny Christmas Trees in the floral section of the grocery store, covered in tiny ornaments.   On our very first Christmas together, my dearest asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I told him I wanted a Blue Spruce, having just visited Colorado for the first time.  He couldn't find a Spruce but found a little Norfolk Island Pine.  I was thrilled!  That little pine lived in my bedroom, the only light in our city house came through the front or back windows. My bedroom faced the gangway, the space between the houses.  (it might be a Chicago thing) No light, just what was reflected by the neighbor's house.  I think it was love that helped that tree live for a lot longer than it should have.  This tree reminds me of that Christmas.  I guess this pine is living on love too.
On Thursday we had a little Christmas with Mike and Amanda.  They had some dinner and took home the rest of the  Christmas cookies.   I didn't go overboard this year.  I made enough to fill all the trays for family and friends.  There we just a few dozen left. Amanda liked her Christmas gifts.  So nice to have them close.  (I just can't say it enough!)
 We had other  visitors. Kris and Penny came and stayed over.  We spent the day together on Friday.  Played games, talked and Penny drew pictures of her favorite toys.  On Saturday we shopped and thrifted.  It was so good to spend time when we didn't HAVE to do anything. 
 If you're wondering how this girl is feeling after her growing pains, well, she was jumping like a crazy person on the mattress before we could bring it back upstairs.
Then sliding down the stairs, to which I am expected to say, Ouch! That's gonna Hurt! or something equally hilarious as she comes down each step.  What a pleasure it is to spend time just goofing off with the ones we love! 

Still taking down Christmas, but thought this little bird could hang around for a while.

Thought for the day...
"Maybe this year. we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives not looking for flaws, 
but looking for potential."
Ellen Goodman

Thanks so very much for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Last Week of the Year

 It's COLD here in the Midwest.  Dangerously cold.  We had the week off between Christmas and New Years.  I needed some rest from all the festivities, so we took a couple of long rides in the car.  I didn't really want to get out of the warm car, so we drove and listened to Christmas music.  I am slow to give up that holiday feeling.
 Our girl stayed over one night.  We were in bed trying to think of someplace to go, just to get out of the house.  Grandpa thought of Ikea, and Penny seconded it.  Off we went.  Here is the traditional photo, taken on the streets of Paris, aka Ikea's art section.  I love how this girl plays along with my crazy ideas.  She is game for anything...

Then she was homesick and we took her back home to Mom and Dad.  They called later to ask if Penny had complained about her leg.  She was really in pain.  We couldn't think of anything out of the ordinary...she is always on the move and jumping around.  By the next morning it was serious.  Penny couldn't walk, it was too painful.  We headed back to the city and Penny was in bed but asked to be carried (48lbs) to the living room.  I sat her on her beanbag and we played as I helped consolidate all the gifts and recycle boxes and whatever.  Penny seemed fine, in good humor but not moving from the spot I put her.  I suggested that we go to the bathroom and that I would help.  You could see the pain on her face when she tried to put weight on her leg.  Being the holiday weekend we packed up and went the local Immediate Care Unit. 

We were the last patient of the day.  Mom carried her into the office.  Kristen texted from inside that they were going to take some Xrays.  I was scared.  They were probably in the office 45 minutes to an hour, but it seemed like hours to this anxious Grandma and to a cool and collected Grandpa who kept telling me,"she'll be fine".

Kris sent me another text saying the X ray was fine.  Soon Kris came out carrying Penny.  I took her and put her down on a chair in the waiting room.  We have a long standing tradition, if you are good at the doctor, you will be rewarded with something, usually from the Drug store where we fill the prescription.  Penny immediately remembered this fact, stood up and WALKED around the waiting room.  The look on Kristen's face, well, I know it well...  Disbelief!  The diagnosis, growing pains!
She wasn't completely better, but I guess she was relieved too.  It took at least ten years off my life, and the graying of the few hairs I have left. Kris shook her head all the way home...

Something similar happened to me with son Jon when he was just 2 years old.  So sick, lethargic with a horrible croupy kind of cough.  Same thing, weekend, ER. He was pitiful, I thought I was gonna lose him.  Xrays and doctors assuring me he'd be fine. There we got a prescription.  I ran through the drug store picking up the things we needed and also grabbed a Nerf soccer ball for Jon.  By the time we got to my Mom's house, he had a miraculous recovery.  He was running, kicking the ball and healed! Disbelieve and relief!  So I knew exactly how Kris felt in the moment.

Back to Penny. We stopped at a Drug store where I persuaded Penny to stay put and I would get her a surprise.  Freezing cold, car seats, snow on the ground, even she thought it was a good idea.  She's been much better, and keeping Grandma amused with Face Time and emojis and gifs of all sorts. She is growing like a weed, and as each day passes she is more and more precious to me.  Glad to see her up and around, able to enjoy her winter vacation. Growing is hard work and some children have more pain than others. (Later, DIL Charlotte mentioned that she had ended up in the ER when she was younger with the same growing pains diagnosis.)

 We did go to a thrift last week  I found this Marjolein Bastin birdhouse box and the small oval platter. Did you notice the photo?
 I won it in our Christmas lottery, a thoughtful photo of my dearest daughter Kristen.  Kris' good pal and photographer Lizz took the photo.  I had to steal the box back a few times to finally get it. (It was wrapped in gold and knew it was something special.)  I think it was meant to be.  I love this photo and the beautiful woman, daughter, wife and Mother that she is.
 From the Nature's Sketchbook collection.
 The oval tray will get plenty of use.
 Bought some flowers to celebrate the new year.  Baby's Breath, an all time favorite.  We used to wear it in our hair when we performed or sang at Church services in my choir days.
 A five dollar bunch of spray roses lasts for weeks and dries beautifully.
 At Ikea we found some no calorie snacks for my new cake dome.
 Which brings us to New Years Eve.  A quiet evening, just the two of us.  Able to relax since Penny had a good day, most of the kids were staying in since today is a work day for a couple of them.
 These beautiful frost covered wine glasses were a Christmas gift from our friends Jean and Tom.
Jean is a treasured friend and a faithful reader here. Thank you so much. 
 The last sunset of 2017. 
 A decoration I almost forgot to share.  Made by my SIL the talented Elizabeth.  On a stack of birch logs, these beautiful greens taken from right outside her door. 

  Thank you Betty.

My wish for you this new year dear reader...

Health enough to make work a pleasure,
Wealth enough to support your needs,
Strength enough to battle with difficulties and overcome them,
Grace enough to toil until good is accomplished
Charity enough to see the good in your neighbor,
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others,
Faith enough to make real the things of God,
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.

- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Happy 2018 to all of my dear family and friends.
Thank you for visiting and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny