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Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Believe The Magic Of Christmas Must Transcend Tragedy Somehow...

This year I was really "up" for the holidays! I was feeling pretty good, decorating early, planning lots of crochet projects... then my world came to a screeching halt when we lost my very dear 25 year old nephew Sean on December 3. It just totally rocked the earth off its center.

When I was packing for the trip to Kansas City, I tossed in a few balls of perle cotton and some silver thread, a size 8 crochet hook, thinking I might want to work on my annual snowflake during some downtime.  I also have been making birthstone angels out of gemstones and copper wire, so I put in a ziploc bag of copper wire in various colors, a bunch of amethyst beads I'd just received, several different crystals, and my round-nose pliers. Busy work.

While I was sitting at my sister's house after I arrived, I pulled out my angel supplies and decided to make an amethyst angel for Sean, since that was his birthstone. Before I knew it, I had made several as keepsakes for his parents and for my kids. It was a small gesture but something I could contribute at a time when you feel like there IS nothing you can do to help.

one of Sean's angels

Thank God for crafts and for crochet, which keeps me centered and allows me to think and keep my hands and mind busy even during the worst times.

After my week in Kansas City, I had a long drive home to reflect on how all of this would affect the way I spent the rest of the holidays. My sister and I had lost our mom on my daughter's birthday, the day after Christmas, three years ago. Despite that, we decided to continue to celebrate Christmas and of course my daughter's birthday.  Our mom would have kicked our butts if we didn't. There's a lyric from a Paula Cole song that kept running through my head that day, and it kind of fits how I feel now...


(From "Be Somebody" by Paula Cole)

"And oh my god what is this madness?
I will not let it kill my gladness
And oh my god what is this madness?
My joy inside will send this message"

"I want to be somebody
I want to make a difference
For we all are children of the mother
I want to be somebody
I want to make a difference
For we all are children of the father"


So... the night I arrived home, I had my own emotional thermonuclear meltdown... and then the next day, I threw myself into "Ho-Ho." I "psycho-cleaned," decorated, played Christmas music... and it felt healing.  I guess the way I will view the holidays from now on is that I will celebrate them FOR the ones I have lost, in their honor.

My little work area, which is too embarrassingly cluttered to photograph right now, is adrift with sparkling objects. My grand-puppy Macie, the 10 month old White German Shepherd, thinks they are all presents for her! She loves anything yarn, anything that sparkles, and the combination of sparkly yarn is just too much for her to resist! She has done a very good job of leaving the pretty Christmas tree alone and I'm very proud of her! She can't help it if now and then her 2-1/2 foot long huge tail sweeps off an ornament here and there.

I'm off now to put the final touches on my 2012 snowflake, my annual tradition. Here it is so far. In honor of my sister, it is called "Celia's December Rose Snowflake."

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Busy Designing Some Holiday Sparkle!

Around the holidays, my love for sparkle kicks into high gear! Whether it's decorating my home, the accessories I wear, or the crafts I make – they all have high sparkle factor!

I'm busy writing a tutorial on how to make my little "guardian angel" ornaments, which I make out of hand coiled copper wire and crystals. They are SO much fun and everyone loves them. I just found some amazing huge beads to use for the little angel heads and I can't wait to make some with them!




I've discovered my new "favorite" yarn, it's called Enchantment and it's in the Sensations line from JoAnn. It feels like the softest silk and is awesome to crochet with! It has a nice subtle sparkle that looks expensive, if you know what I mean – not gaudy, in other words. Just pretty. That's what my new crochet design that I'm working on is made with. What will it be? Hopefully if all goes well I'll be sharing the pattern in a couple of weeks.




I also think this yarn would make some beautiful doggie accessories for the furkids! If I have enough time, that design will be done and coming out just before Christmas. I promise you it will take no more than a couple of hours to crochet at most, so you'll have time to whip up one for your furkids! This yarn, by the way, also comes in silver and a neat hot pink, not pictured. I guess I'll have to pick up those colors too. I'm really bad about that – if I love a yarn, I have to have it in every color! I'm never sorry, though – it's wonderful to be able to go "yarn shopping" in my stash when I'm considering a new design.



Back in 2008, I designed this Poinsettia Fantasy Doily which always has a place of honor in my Christmas decorating. I will be including this pattern in my crochet pattern book, which is now hopefully going to get finished by early winter!



We are all in the midst of crocheting up wonderful gifts for our loved ones! Here's a free pattern your favorite guy might enjoy! It's a Men's Neckwarmer, super easy and fast to crochet. You can also read my article about it in SoCrafty Magazine here.

Just added a couple of new patterns to my for-sale pattern store! You can check them out here: My For-Sale Patterns At Craftsy.com


 



Wishing you a happy week of crocheting all things beautiful!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Getting Ready for Christmas yet?

I'm never ready for Christmas! Usually it will dawn on me what handmade gifts I want to make around Thanksgiving if I'm lucky! If not, I'll be burning the midnight oil the week before Christmas trying to finish and wrap everything. And have anything ready early enough to mail? Forget about that!

Now there's really no excuse for my procrastination except that... I have to be inspired. If only that were easy to find!

Sometimes the inspiration ends up coming from a request from a friend. Last year all my girls got möbius scarves in really special yarns. That started with one friend asking me to come up with a special scarf for her.

Other times, like this year so far, I just don't have a clue what I'll make for my special gift list yet.

So... Where do you go for inspiration when you're stuck? I usually end up going to my favorite craft or yarn store. Almost inevitably, something there will catch my eye. In addition to crocheting, I love to make jewelry... not like there aren't plenty of beads to choose from at JoAnn! Holy cats, they have a lot.


I'd love to hear what YOU would like to receive if you were getting a hand-made gift from someone! Need some inspiration here!

Finally, A Crochet Garment I'm Going To Love Wearing!

I've crocheted a sweater or two here and there, but I've never done anything that I wear more than just occasionally. This project is going to be different!

I'm busily working on my newest design, which will be simply called my "Sleeveless Reversible Sweater." It's being done entirely in Vanna's "Glamour" yarn, and I am loving how it feels! I am crocheting it wih a size H hook which gives it a bit looser, more flexible texture. It is going to turn into my favorite go-to sweater, I know that already!

One side is done entirely in Silver. The other side is done in color blocking and stripes of black, gold, white and silver. I think it's so pretty! I thought about adding her brown and red too, but decided it was just a bit much for me. My next one, which I'm already planning, will include those colors for sure.

Here's a sneak peek at what I've done so far. There will be a side inset secion added after I complete both sides.  Eventually the sweater will be about 26" long, I think. I want it to be hip length.

Would love to hear what you think of it so far!





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On My Hook Today!

Just had to share what I'm crocheting with you! I'm so excited about it, can you tell?? I have always wanted a reversible (front/back, not inside out) sleeveless crocheted sweater, and I have never gotten around to it in all these years.

I mentioned the other day how my Dickie pattern gave me inspiration for the sleeveless sweater, and I just wanted to show you how it's going so far. I'm liking it a lot! I'll probably leave the silver side all silver, not sure yet.



I will be incorporating some color blocking on the back side shortly as I add length to the sweater. It is going to include red, gold and brown - and more black, provided I can find it in my attic stash!

Also wanted to share a link with you to my Craftsy.com pattern store!



Just wanted to mention that I haven't forgotten about my pattern book, which I've been hoping to get done in time for Christmas... I'm afraid my 2-month fight with cellulitis delayed that. But it's right there on the back burner, believe me.

Hope you are all safe from the bad storms that are going on right now.

Happy Crocheting,
– Sheila

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One Idea Evolves Into Another!

Last week, I designed a turtleneck Dickie for my weekly column in SoCrafty Magazine. I'm still in the process of finishing the two I started! I ran out of yarn on the turquoise one. My friend Heidi has already claimed it as her birthday present when it's finished.

I wanted to show the dickie done in two very different yarns, to show what could be done with the pattern. So I started one in Vanna's "Glamour" yarn.  Well,  when I got the front and shoulders done, I realized that what I was looking at was the perfect beginning to a sleeveless sweater, crocheted top-down! I've worked it up through the shoulders and the beginning of the dickie back today. Now I know that somewhere in my stash lurks more "Glamour" yarn in gold, brown, red and white metallics. So this may end up being one very colorful sweater! It's one of those projects that you get excited about and can't put down.

On my "to do" list now are a men's neck warmer (by request), a cowl, and a v-neck sleeveless sweater. Watch for those in the next few weeks.

It's been my kind of weather this week - it started out with some misty, foggy cool mornings which are my very favorite.  We had one day with 50 mph wind gusts and that managed to blow a good deal of the leaves off of the trees! After one very cold day, I went out and took pictures of the flowers that were still blooming after the freezing temps. Then I picked some and made my "last bouquet" which is something I try to do every year. Here are some pictures of the flowers.




There was something about yesterday – it was one of those days that just stands out as a really good day! While shopping for a replacement for our microwave, I received an amazing surprise late birthday gift from my husband. He bought me an iPad, a really cool case for it and some new headphones that actually stay on! I was somewhere beyond thrilled.  We picked up sandwiches from Subway which were outrageously good (the new Tuscan chicken melt). The schnauzers were all on pretty good behavior. I spent the rest of the day crocheting and setting up my new toy! It was a good day.

Today was not quite so good - I woke up with one of the all-over pain flares I get from time to time. So while the husband golfed, I spent the day crocheting and hanging out with the dogs. Didn't get much else done, and oh well!

Well, I'm off to work on my sleeveless sweater, which I cannot wait to wear! Happy crocheting, everyone!

-Sheila


Lion Brand 444114 Superwash Merino Cashmere Yarn-Ivory (Google Affiliate Ad)





Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Is Everywhere! It's Cozy Yarn Time!

Fall is in the air! I love to see the Autumn leaves drifting by my windows as they call the earth their new home for the winter.

This time of year inspires me to sort through my baskets of cozy, soft yarns forgotten since I put away last winter's projects!

One of my goals for this winter is to crochet a wonderfully warm cape , using my scrap yarn in various wintery colors. Watch for that pattern coming soon !

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prayers For My Son, Crochet Is My Distraction

As I sit here in my son John's hospital room, I'm reminded of how very fragile life can be once again. A stupid wood splinter about an inch long in his knee last week caused all this. He has a very serious cellulitis infection that went from just his knee to his entire leg in just hours yesterday.

Thank God the antibiotic chosen is working and he's starting to improve, but he is in immense pain. I know the pain intimately well since I have been fighting a battle against cellulitis infection in my leg for five weeks now. I'm starting to get better too after two weeks of iv antibiotics.

Crocheting, is always what calms me in times of stress. I have two projects with me... One is the new Red Heart Sashay ruffling yarn, which I'm playing with learning how to crochet it! It spreads apart about 3" wide. Something completely different for sure , but I can see it making some amazing things.

Update. A few days later! My son is home and so far the antibiotics are working. Thank you, God. There is nothing for a mom than seeing her kid suffering.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SO Excited About The New Crochet Coffee Shoppe!

Let's get one thing straight off the get-go – online crochet groups are THE single best resource for crocheters to talk to each other! I have one myself, in fact, called Crochet With Sheila. But there's always one "taboo" subject on such groups – you don't promote your own work or designs unless you are offering them for free. If you're an "indie" designer like I am, that presents a bit of a challenge!

Free is a great thing! It's a fabulous way to promote your work to a lot of crocheters and it feels amazing to share. I will always offer patterns – and lots of them – free! But let's say I have a new pattern which took me weeks (or months) to design, and I really want to sell that one. Where do I go to promote it? If there's a place, I've never found it. So I decided to create that place myself!


It's called the "Crochet Coffee Shoppe," and it's one place where you can say "Hey, here I am, and I have this great pattern for sale!" Or, "I just crocheted this amazing afghan for a gift and decided to give them something else, so I want to sell it." Or you can post a question to the "Ask Sheila" section. Or you can watch a YouTube tutorial to learn to crochet or pick up a new stitch for you repertoire!

You can also say things there like "Here's this great free pattern link I just found." Or, "Look at this amazing crochet blog." You can offer to crochet for cash, make custom items for people... whatever!

At the Crochet Coffee Shoppe you will find links to thousands of free patterns from known sites, and you can ADD your favorite link! You'll get news on the latest sales at your favorite yarn retailers. And perhaps best of all, a link to my other new page, the "Crochet Shoppe Classifieds," where you can post FREE crochet related classified ads!

I'm very excited about this new site, can you tell? Please come by for a visit here. Bookmark it to come back again, because the site will be constantly updating! And please leave any suggestions for anything you'd like to see there in the "Suggestions" section. I want to give you what YOU want!

Lion 73876 Crochet Hook-Size 35 19mm Red (Google Affiliate Ad)Boye 70385 Plastic Crochet 

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Fall Is Just Up The Stairs..."


(Ever get tired of saying "around the corner?") Going up the stairs means I have to climb to get somewhere, and that I do, both literally and figuratively. 

Once the weather cools down just a little bit, I have to go upstairs to the attic to pick up on the long overdue unpacking. (Yesterday was a blazing 97º and the temps in our attic are far above that). I did manage to tough out about 45 minutes up there Saturday to sort out several big piles of clothing into different sizes. By the time I finished I felt like I'd spent an hour in a sauna. We have been through an extraordinarily hot summer for Omaha this year, and I don't like that one bit! Along with the extreme drought we are still in, it's been a struggle to keep plants alive. 

It's also made me cranky! I'm a cool-weather girl and I love my rainy, dreary days. Since June, there has been exactly ONE of those.  The weather man promised this morning that we're going to drop into the 80's by tomorrow and will stay cooler for the next few days after that with a chance of rain. So I'm hopeful!  Sorry, all you sun-lovers out there... your turn is over for awhile, I'm hoping! Anybody know any great rain or thunderstorm videos? I think I could use one.

On the figurative side, I have an uphill climb still ahead on my personal goals of more weight loss and finishing work on my book. Those are hard, but exciting things to look forward to! I'm looking at a total of over 75 crochet patterns here, and trying to decide whether to put them all in one book. I also have to find all of the crocheted items I can to re-photograph them. Pattern tester volunteers (God love 'em!!) are waiting for assignments. There is a lot to do!

Speaking of that... I'd better get to work now!



Mourning The Loss Of "Monty Rat" Schnauzer

Yesterday I had to make the very difficult decision to end the suffering of my little rescue boy, Monty Schnauzer. Monty fell suddenly ill and collapsed and at age 12+ the prognosis was very bad. My "sweet little psychopath," as I loved to call him, had suffered enough. Although as a rescuer I have counseled many people on making this hard decision, trying to figure out if it is the right time, it is very different when you're the one standing in front of the vet waiting for your decision. 


"Monty Rat" Schnauzer
2000 – 2012


In the end, I know I made the right decision... but the second guessing, the "what if's" will always be in my mind. That's just my nature, I'm afraid.  I do know I made the right decision seven years ago when I allowed Monty to stay in my rescue. Monty put me in the ER the first night he arrived after biting me on the throat! I knew at that moment he could never be placed anywhere. But there was just something about him. A day turned into a week, and at the end of that time Monty walked up to me and wanted to be picked up. That was that. From that moment on I could do anything with Monty. He had made his decision.  The little guy leaves a big hole in my home and he will be forever missed. I hope to see him again someday. 

Here is a painting I did years ago called "Schnauzie Crossing The Bridge." I am hoping a kindly dog rescuer, along with all of Monty's friends – Sheina Marie, Sparky Lynn, Harry, Casey Anne, Koby and more will be waiting to greet him. 



You can read Monty's Memorial story here. 



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working Hard At The Crochet Book!

For years there has been an ever-growing stack of handwritten patterns sitting on the shelf in my desk! Pattern books have always been a great source of enjoyment to me. The idea of books full of patterns gathering dust forever just seems wrong. They should be out there for the world to see and make.

"So what's the holdup?" you may ask. Well, I've had problems with my eyesight due to having Myasthenia Gravis for over 20 years, and they in fact cost me the ability to crochet from patterns! "MG" also gave me permanent double vision at certain distances. While I do receive treatment for MG to help symptoms, the condition itself is incurable. (To learn more about Myasthenia, visit the National MG Foundation's website). Myasthenia is also one of the many diseases supported by the Muscular Dystrophy Association!

But rather than quit crocheting, I decided to "do my own thing" and design my own patterns as I went.  That wasn't something that happened overnight; it was more of a gradual progress as I experimented with things and as my eyes became retrained to work in a different way. The picture below shows how I've always designed in the past.

Here's how I always worked before –
writing a pattern in a notebook as I went. This
project was my Easter Bunny Egg, free pattern available here.
That same eye problem I mentioned earlier makes it difficult for me to transcribe my notes to the computer. I have problems with focusing quickly back and forth.My very good friend Heidi came to the rescue this year when she offered to transcribe all my handwritten patterns into text files for me! Now I can manipulate the text to my heart's content... and achieve my dream of the crochet book!

I just wrote an article about my "Big Dream" at Squidoo.com – that big dream is publishing a book of all my crochet designs together! (You can read that article here). It will be called Crochet With Sheila – A Lifetime Of Crochet.  I'm almost unbearably excited over it!


Here is just one of the patterns that has never been published before – and
will be included in the new book –
my Stained Glass Afghan, made with every color of DMC's Senso size 3 thread. 
So we're working furiously at it now! We had a major setback when Heidi's computer was stolen before we had transferred the files over. (And we're now doing backups as we go - lesson learned!)

Rather than be discouraged, she jumped right back in and started back at point zero, bless her heart! We've almost replaced all the lost files.

Fortunately, I've discovered a better method of working when I'm designing - I pattern directly onto the computer as I crochet sitting in front of the computer! Weird, yes... but it seems to work! So future patterns will be far easier to compile into collections.

I hope to be making the big announcement that the book is ready in the next couple of months! It will include all of my previously-unpublished patterns. It will not include the crochet patterns I've made available free in my articles at Squidoo.com. I'll probably come up with a compilation of those someday, but my priority right now is the patterns that have not been shared before.

Many thanks to those of you who have supported my work, sent notes of encouragement, and provided feedback on designs you'd like to see!  Keep talking – I'm listening!




Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wrapping Up The Backward Roses...

... At least for the moment! Today I'm working on the next-to-last design, a crocheted necklace, for  Series 1 of the Backward Rose... I am already planning Series 2! I have to tell you, this Backward Rose is the design of which I am the very most proud out of everything I've ever done. Why? Because I achieved my goal, to create something completely different in crocheting roses.

What I really love about designing these roses is that the petals/leaves on each pattern are just a tiny bit different. I'm eventually planning to come out with a pattern with a variety of petal designs for the Backward Rose, like modular "plug-ins" to the pattern. I think that'd be fun for everyone to be able to complete roses with their choice of petal design.

When I started this project, I thought about roses a lot, and how we have traditionally crocheted them. Here is a picture of a rose I grew years ago that finally "turned on the light bulb" for me, becoming my inspiration. Next to it is my first Backward Rose prototype. I was really pleased with the result.


On the home front, we're in our sixth week here with almost no measurable rain. A lot of my would-be crocheting time is being spent keeping my precious gardens alive! Every day it's just me and the garden hose or sprinkler, fighting an almost-losing battle to keep everything looking pretty... or at least alive! On top of that, dear husband wanted the grass to be green so I've been watering that too. The constant temps of 95º - 100+ have only made matters worse. Since we have an acre-sized yard, that's a big project! I can only cover half the yard each day.


I've just finished giving all the Miniature Schnauzer furkids their summer haircuts, and I'm sure they all feel a lot better! I'll have to get them together for a group shot.

The other day I had so much fun with my grand-dog Macie, the 7 month old German Shepherd Dog puppy! I was watering with the hand sprayer, and she decided it was fun to play in the water! Well of course I was going to encourage that! But unfortunately I came back awhile later and saw that Macie had decided to roll in the dirt afterward! She was now... "Oreo Puppy!" I snapped this picture, sent it to her Mommy at work, with the note, "You might want to pencil in some bathie time today!" She was mortified... but what happens at Gramma's stays at Gramma's, right?




Well, I need to run and get some errand-y type things done. Hope everyone has an amazing weekend!



–Sheila


Below are pictures of each different Backward Rose I've made so far... 

Backward Rose in Pink



Backward Rose Mini Corsage With Crystal

Backward Rose Mini Doily

Backward Rose Doily

Several Backward Roses

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Free Saturday, What To Do!!

I'm at one of those places where I've lined up entirely too many projects for myself, both crochet design and personal! My DH is out of town at a golf tournament, leaving me to my own devices!! Now what to do with all that free time...

My crochet to-do list:

– Design the Backward Rose Mini Doily
– Design the Backward Rose Hair Clip
– Design the Bingo Bag - a fun summery striped purse which my son's girlfriend, Janette, requested I make for her
– Design two more fantasy flowers for a pattern I'm working on

Crossed OFF my to-do list this morning, removing the sleeves from a favorite old top I've never worn much, making it sleeveless and adding edging to the sleeves and hem, plus edging and beads to the neckline. Have it on right now, feels so much better! Now I'll wear the pants off of it for years. It had this beautiful floral embroidery all over it, and nice fabric, but the edges were finished with this crappy plastic tape with stitching over it. Yuck!!  I have to say... please excuse my hair:)



Not crochet, but cool anyway - I bought this green dress, the "perfect sundress," this Spring. Sadly it's a floor-mopper! It stinks to be so short sometimes! Anyway I finally figured out a way to shorten it 5 inches without hemming, with lines of ruching. I wrote it up here if you want to see how it was done.



We're still in the clenches of this @#$*$ heat wave/drought! I hate having to water every single day. There is a sprinkler system installed here, we've found the things in the yard - but there's no control panel, no place to turn it on that we can find. Guess I'll have to have a sprinkler guy come over and tell me what's what one of these days. Meanwhile, it's crochet awhile, move the sprinkler.




One last quick thing to share – a fellow crocheter is giving away a pretty amazing crocheted Crocus Doily on her blog tomorrow. You still have time to enter the giveaway here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Feel Like An Expectant Crochet Mother!

 For some reason the doily design I'm working on is just intriguing the heck out of me! I'm just a short distance from finishing the design, and I feel almost like an expectant mother, waiting for my little project to be "born!"  It's been a whole lot of fun, this little but complex doily! It's called the Backward Rose Doily and it incorporates six of the roses from the pattern you can find here. I just can't wait for it to be finished! I'm a bit torn – I'd love to work on it again in the morning but there's a writing contest on Squidoo, which is a race – so that will probably have to come first. But tomorrow afternoon, watch out - it just may get finished! Here's a teensy preview... If you're guessing it's done in popcorns, you're right!



Nothing much else to tell today. It was a pretty quiet weekend, nothing too eventful to talk about. I did watch that show, I think it was called "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss," about a girl named Ashley who lost over half her body weight. It was quite inspiring, really. I don't normally watch a lot of reality shows, but it caught my attention. Probably because I'm eating a very strict diet right now, trying to watch my blood sugar and hopefully lose some more of my weight. I have regained just a few of the 70 pounds I lost but am working on that. I'm 28 pounds to my goal of 100 pounds.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Playin' In The Flowers!

My crochet work has been a lot of fun so far this Spring and now Summer. I've been in a "flower" phase. First it was lilies, then daisies, marigolds, and now roses. But not just any roses! Although that "same old rose" (you thread crocheters know what I'm talking about) is wonderful, I wanted something new. So I started playing around and studying them, eventually turning to my garden photos. Luckily for many years I've photographed virtually every major flower that has bloomed in my yard. It's just a matter of finding what I wanted. I finally did, and with that, inspiration. I found a pic of a beautiful  lavender rose I'd grown years ago and that was the one I wanted to emulate.  (Oh and if you look closely, the rose has a tiny buzzing visitor!)

It took me about a week of testing ideas (and ripping them out) but it finally hit me how I wanted to do it. The design came together quickly after that and it is now published as a free pattern for a limited time. Eventually it will be "promoted" to my for-sale patterns. It's called the "Backward Rose" and you'll see why when you check out the pattern!



I'm finishing my newest rose design, an individual rosebud, right now. You can find that pattern here. After that I plan to do a Hemerocallis (Daylily) modeled after a beautiful daylily called "Pandora's Box." I can't wait to work on it!

In furkid news, I'm babysitting Macie and Winnie, my doggie granddaughters, while their mama is away on a trip to North Carolina for a week. Macie is an incredibly sweet 6 month old pure white German Shepherd Dog puppy, and Winnie is a 4-year-old Miniature Schnauzer. Then add rescue kids Bailey and Monty, and my used-to-be rescues Sue-Sue and Ladybug, and we have a little Schnauzer rodeo! It's been terribly hot here for well over a week and another week to come, so their outside time is limited. We are fortunate to have a big covered patio in back where they can laze on cool concrete or rugs in the shade. But even still, it's too danged hot.  Tomorrow I'm planning "Doggie Spa Day," will give as many baths and haircuts as I can until I get worn out!

Macie and Winnie on lookout. Macie seems to think she's
the same size as Winnie!
It's been a struggle keeping all the flowers and plants going in this heat with a sprinkle of rain just every few days. One of my favorite things is to photograph gardens right after (or as!) I'm watering them. Here is the garden adjacent to my front stairs. I'm really proud of that Gerbera Daisy (near top center). I overwintered that plant and it nearly croaked but is now all happy and this was its first bloom this year. The big leafy thing at left top is my baby Chocolate Mimosa Tree, which will soon be moved elsewhere. The Stargazers are very pretty this year. The red flowers are just little petunias.



In "me" news, some of you know that I struggle with being a very brittle diabetic and hypoglycemic. In all honesty I haven't been eating correctly for quite awhile. After a couple of very scary hypoglycemic episodes last weekend, I'm trying something completely different. Not the veggie stew I did relentlessly for two years  to lose and keep off 70 pounds. I can't stand the idea of soup right now for some reason. What I'm trying to do is learn about the Glycemic Index and try to eat in a different manner to see if it stabilizes my blood sugar.



Monday, June 11, 2012

That Pesky Mending Basket...And Life's Other Trivialities

It sits there in the corner, quietly glaring at me... that pesky mending basket. I have everything I need right here within arm's reach to fix whatever is in there. Why is it, I wonder, that I procrastinate it so much? In a desperate search for a particular crochet thread I was looking for the other day, I actually went through the thing. I found a towel that just needs a crochet edging (about 2 hours of work); a bag of fabric I've saved to make a color block top that's going to be adorable (what's the holdup, it's summer?); and a brand new stack of hand towels I bought Friday to celebrate cleaning and organizing my bathroom.  Nothing too scary there.

Now its counterpart, in one of my dresser drawers, is scarier. It's full of things that are too big for me that need to be altered (or gotten rid of).  I'm not sure why, but I have this thing about using Tailors. I know they're out there, I'm sure they do a great job, and their prices aren't that painful. So why, I wonder, do I not use them? I could get this entire pile of really neat clothes fixed up where I could enjoy them. Hmm... I'll have to think on that! Maybe it's because my mom didn't use tailors. I have no idea.

I've been in search-and-destroy mode in earnest the whole last week. I actually went through my linen closet, refolded, stacked and organized everything. It's wonderful! Went through all the bathroom drawers and cabinets another day, threw out 3 whole Walmart sacks full of stuff I just don't need. Feels fabulous! Found nail polishes in at least 10 different locations. They're all happily together now. So with this organization all feeling so great, why is it I fight it so much?

On the agenda for this week are the remaining hall storage closet, my bedroom knick-knacks, and some kitchen cabinet reorganization. Once that is done... I get to move on to my huge project for this summer... the ATTIC.

When I returned to the farm after our house-hunting trip here, I was looking over the pictures. Seeing the big empty attic gave me the idea of finding some attic craft room ideas. The first thing I came across was the photo of Martha Stewart's attic craft room in her Connecticut home. Oh my goodness – I realized I was about to have the identical attic, except sitting backward!  Now of course hers is all finished beautifully with her entire line of craft storage furniture, and mine is unfinished except having a plywood floor. But I still have great hopes for mine!

Because of all my health issues that were ongoing when we moved in here, I basically did "survival unpacking" and stopped there. I have a whole attic full of unpacked moving boxes! So that is my huge project... to unpack everything, organize it all, get it where it belongs, and get rid of what I don't need. It would be a dream come true to have this huge attic as my little crafty hangout!

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Not "Fried Green Tomatoes" The Movie – It's The Hosta

My favorite movie of all time is "Fried Green Tomatoes," the story of a friendship between two women who were several decades apart in age. When I discovered there was a hosta called "Fried Green Tomatoes," I just had to have it because my friendship with Scooty Maguire reminded me so much of the friendship illustrated in the movie.

Hosta "Fried Green Tomatoes." Image source
daylilyandhostagardens.com
Ten years or so and a lifetime ago, I wrote a little story called "A Walk In The Hostas With Scooty Maguire" as a tribute to my friend. Rather than repeating the whole story, I'll refer you to the online publication, which you can see here.  This month hosta plants seem to be upfront in my consciousness for two reasons. One, the weather has been perfect to divide and move them to new locations in my gardens. Two, the lens I referred to in the link above was selected to appear all this week on the front page of Squidoo.com.

My late mom, Norma Frasier, with Scooty Maguire...
a very treasured memory.
There's just something about being picked for the front page that gives you an incredible feeling of pride and accomplishment. I've had more fun answering all the comments that have been left on the lens by visitors. My week-long feature ended yesterday. This morning, I was surprised to learn that another of my lenses, "Plant Trading 101," is being featured for this week! I'd never been on the front page, and now two weeks in a row! Holy cats, this is exciting!

 I've been writing daily now since I got home from my first hip surgery in March, 2011. It was the one thing besides crocheting that I could physically "do" for the long weeks of recovering I had ahead. Squidoo is a place where you can write single topic lenses (web pages) and publish them for free. It's also a community where you can get feedback from other writers/readers, win prizes, and achieve higher levels with certain accomplishments.

Most of my lenses have been individual crochet designs that I've been making free to the world. Quite a few are current/recent designs. I've also done a surprising amount of lenses on things like gardening, the Schnauzers, even my favorite recipes. It's taught me a lot about myself. Somehow, this method of writing and publishing just motivates me tremendously, and that has inspired my crochet design. When I was asked to write a weekly craft column for Squidoo's SoCrafty online magazine, I jumped at the chance! While I write for free, it gives me priceless exposure of my work to the world. I've only been doing this for a couple of months, but it has made me feel so much better about myself!

My "Busy Beehive" design was the subject of one of my
recent crochet columns in SoCrafty Magazine.
Being disabled, it's easy to not feel included in the "real" world because you don't have a "real" job.  You lose all those things like appraisals, deadlines, projects to do, feedback on your work, etc. Having all these things is a piece I have been missing. I love it and will do it as long as I'm able! Besides, it's so motivating having a new project to work on every week.  You should've seen me at JoAnn the last week of April, picking out all my materials for the weekly projects for May. I had so much fun!

I'm so happy with my gardens' progress this Spring! Yesterday I was out picking early cherries from my little tree already! It's a miracle they survived the late freezes we had, but survive they did. I got them all pitted last night and put up in the freezer. When I have enough, I'll start making yummy cherry things. And since we treated the tree last fall and winter, there should be no wormy visitors to ruin my pie this year!

This time last year, my friend Heidi helped me pick and pit cherries all
afternoon, only to discover a couple days later they were full of worms! 
I've made several additions to my "Out My Window" garden, moved a lot of plants in there from other beds and picked up a few new ones. The smartest thing I did was to add a bird feeder and a little bird bath.  I have baby black squirrels, a bunny, several kinds of birds, and even a hummingbird visiting my garden every day. Since I spend a lot of time at my desk by that window looking out, I'm always fascinated when I see some little critter out there having a snack or a drink. It tickles me:)


Well, that's about all the chatter I can muster today. I spent some time outside working in the gardens and my back is screaming at me to lie down. Obey it I must, or I will pay...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Does Your Mind Go When You're....

... crocheting? Do you think about the person you're making the scarf for, mentally figure up the yarn $$ you spent on the project? Or do you prefer to daydream, thinking about everything BUT crochet? It's just one of those questions that popped into my mind and attached before it had the chance to leave!

I tend to think a lot when I'm crocheting OR gardening. Yesterday I was hosing off the winter's accumulation of mud and debris from where it collects at one end of our big cement patio. I probably spent a good hour doing it.  When I'm focusing on something like that, it's easy to let my mind just go where it will.

You know that feeling when you had some big dream overnight and you can't remember it after you wake up? Many times hours later I'll be doing something "mindless" and flashes from the dream will start floating up from the depths. Wonder why that is. I've always found it fascinating, though.

Today I have a whole "day off" – that is, nowhere I need to be. It's supposed to be 70º and sunny today, how perfect is that... so part of my day will probably be spent outdoors. I still have lots of things to get planted and transplanted, so that's one possibility. Another is any one of these tasks from my "to-do" list for Spring 2012...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Generous Kid | Garden Bliss!


I have to share this photo,  my Ladybug and Carianne's Winnie, definite BFF's. They nap together at least once a day like this. They are snoozing on a brand new doggie bed, one of six donated to our rescue by Stevie's Furry Friends, Inc. Stevie Nelson is the ASPCA's "Kid Of The Year," and he has an awesome story. This six year old boy decided that for his birthday, rather than getting a gift, he wanted to do something to help rescue dogs. Stevie's Mom got into the project, and ended up raising funds and receiving many in-kind donations from pet product manufacturers to distribute to rescues! You can check out Stevie's website here. Our furkids are extremely grateful for the gift of these wonderfully soft and comfy brand new beds! Thank you so much, Stevie! 

I had the most fun day I've had in a long time this week! There is this amazing private nursery/greenhouse here in my neighborhood. Year before last, my son John took me there for some "happy plant time." I was struggling with every agonizing step back then, so I probably spent 15 minutes (which were heaven, nonetheless) there and gave up.  Last year, I couldn't walk at all in a place like that. Well, this year was different! I went all by myself and just got lost in the plants for a couple of hours. Got acquainted with the owner, and she gave me the grand tour. 

Photo credit to Jeff McCormack
I found some really interesting perennial plants. Have you ever heard of the "Mortgage Lifter" tomato? It's an heirloom, I had heard of it and added to my mental "wish list" to try someday. When the greenhouse lady told me she had them, I did the happy dance!! Supposedly they are 2# tomatoes. She was a great saleswoman – I ended up with a white just-over-cherry size tomato, a purple one, and a couple others. She also talked me into doing a mosquito repellent planter – lemon basil and citrus geranium. She swore she never has mosquitos on her porch with these. They're a huge problem here, and if it works it'll be amazing! Now to find a "puppy safe" spot to put it on the back patio! Macey the white german shepherd pup is so good, but still at that "eat anything" stage of course. She's getting so big, she's 25 pounds now!

Empress Wu Hosta, image source unknown.
I have such a plant wish list. At the top this year is an Empress Wu hosta. I have room for ginormous hostas here. I found one at that nursery for $20, I may have to go back and get it. I'm looking for hostas that are blue, blue/green/yellow combinations, and textured leaves. That's what I appear to be short on. I found my Krossa last year, and a nice Red October. Got butterfly bushes in white, pink and purple. I still need to get the Kaleidoscope, it's awesome. I had one at the farm but it didn't make it here.
Kaleidoscope Butterfly Bush.
Photo credit to "A Garden Place"
Today is veggie garden day. John turned over my new little space for me, and I have rhubarb, asparagus, and Yukon Gold potatoes to plant. Plus seed stuff - parsnips, turnips, corn, lettuce and some squash.  I have two large window box containers of herbs growing out front. The cilantro's beautiful, and the dill just came up. Not sure about the thyme yet. 

I have such a plant wish list. At the top this year is an Empress Wu hosta. I have room for ginormous hostas here. The Empress Wu is the largest hosta known in existence. The clump is around 5 feet around and of similar height.  I found one at that nursery for $20, I may have to go back and get it. I'm looking for hostas that are blue, blue/green/yellow combinations, and textured leaves. That's what I appear to be short on. I found my Krossa last year, and a nice Red October. Got butterfly bushes in white, pink and purple. I still need to get the Kaleidoscope, it's awesome. I had one at the farm but it didn't make it here.

Today is veggie garden day. John turned over my new little space for me, and I have rhubarb, asparagus, and Yukon Gold potatoes to plant. Plus seed stuff - parsnips, turnips, corn, lettuce and some squash.  I have two large window box containers of herbs growing out front. The cilantro's beautiful, and the dill just came up. Not sure about the thyme yet. 

We've gone from the 90's to the low 30's more than once in April. Yesterday was 90º and we're supposed to have a hard freeze next Monday night. Will this craziness never end?




Here's a pic I took last night you might enjoy. I bought this amazing hand painted candle holder when I was in the hospital last month. Last night I lit it up and it was throwing the prettiest shadow on the wall, I tried to capture it. 

Well my friends, I have to run and finish up stuff here so I can get outside. It's supposed to be 70º and gorgeous out. After spending yesterday as a "doctor" day, it will be a welcome change.


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