Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's New?

What's new for you on the very last day of 2008? Now that the Holidays are coming to an end (at least for now) i have been able to finish up some projects, and am even noticing some changes taking place around here.... I finally finished that baby sweater. This one is for The Paper Sparrow. So many little baby sweaters were sold as Christmas gifts (including one of mine! WooHoo!) that the racks need to be filled again!
I edged this sweater in a soft grey and embellished it with these little car buttons. What a difference those little buttons make to a plain sweater!
I finished another hat and scarf set for a child too...
And there are more knitted teddies on the way! Two of my bears were sold at the shop and the proceeds will go to the Mother Bear Knitting Project.
In the Change department....
On the home front, the plants are starting to wake up! It seems for them Spring is a - comin'! The orchids are throwing out flower stems, and the cactus are blooming...The violets are perking up and the bonsai are starting to wake up.... But if you look past the plants out the window, you can see we are getting new snow on this last day of 2008. It's cold out there but very pretty....
Still on the warm sill, the cactus are thriving regardless of the weather outside.

This is because they are perched high up on the window sill and Pollyanna the plant eater cannot reach them!
I love these white blooms with the pale pink throats....
As many of you know, my Dad is recovering from heart surgery, and doing very well. Again, i thank each and every one of you who prayed and thought of us during this stressful time. In this process, i've noticed one thing about myself....At the ripe old age of 54, when i get stressed, i buy TOYS! And i don't mean games and electronics, but....

real, honest to goodness toys...Like Natsuko the sock dog, from Stacey at Three Red Trees
And Pinky from Felicia at Fluffy Flowers
And i have new pattern books ordered and a handmade teddy bear coming from Jess's brand new Etsy shop too! Ok, enough chatter...time to get to work on those bears and start getting ready for New Year's Eve! Lola will be spending the night with us for the first time!
HAPPY NEW YEAR Dear Friends!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gifts from my "other" children (from different Mothers...)

I received a few special gifts in the mail from two of my sponsored children just before
Christmas Day...
This is my Christmas Card from Km Neeta, from India. She included one of her precious stickers of Minnie Mouse on the card too!

And here is my yearly "report card" and photo of Nisansala from Sri Lanka. I am amazed at how much she has grown in just 1 year! (Last year's photo here) Her report card says she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

This is her holiday gift to me. She is quite the artist!

Nisansala also sent me this beautiful drawing in a separate letter that arrived on Christmas Eve. This child lives in a war zone, yet she can go into her imagination and draw such beautiful and peaceful scenes. One of her favorite things to do is read books. I know this is a good way to escape what is going on around you...

Maybe she has learned how to carry Peace around inside of herself ... There is so much we can learn from children...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Amma's Christmas Message 2008

(I thought you might enjoy this message as much as i did. It is taken from the Amritapuri website in India at:
May the Christ take birth in your heart

Christmas in Amritapuri December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day both fell on darshan days in Amritapuri, and Amma was still giving darshan (hugs and blessings) when the midnight hour struck on the 25th. While Amma continued to embrace her children, she had Swami Amritaswarupananda read out a message she had prepared.

In Amma's message she said that if we look back on the teachings of all mahatmas—be they Christ, Krishna or Buddha—we will see that their main teachings were love and faith. "All the mahatmas have stressed these two things," Amma said. "The rest is commentary."

Amma went on to explain the significance of Christ both referring to himself as "the son of man" as well as "the son of God." She said that a devotee with love and faith would not see these two statements as a contradiction, but instead would understand that Christ meant he was both the body, which exists in time, and the Atma, which is beyond time. "He meant that he was both a human being, as well as God," Amma said. "He meant `I am this [the world] and I am that [consciousness].'"

"On Christmas Day, Christian children exchange gifts and kind words and wish one another Merry Christmas. This really reflects a sense of brotherhood. But amidst our celebrations, we should also remember the life and teachings of Christ. Christmas is also a day for taking a vow to put Christ's teachings into action. May the Christ child take birth in the hearts of all my children. May our lives be full of love and the spirit of sacrifice. May my children become examples for others to emulate" Amma concluded....
This New Year i resolve to give, donate, volunteer, serve, love...walk the talk...bloom where i am planted. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All i want for Christmas...i just got!

My Dad is Home from the Hospital! He's pretty weak and very overwhelmed with all the restrictions he has and all the new meds he has to take, but i told him...this too shall pass...The most important thing is, he made it thru the surgery, and healed up enough to come home in time for Christmas. Thank you everyone who sent a prayer out or had good thoughts for my Dad and my Family. Merry Christmas to you all! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa!

(The collage above is a card i made for my Dad for Father's Day. It says:
"Without You...there wouldn't be any of us!")

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Annie's Bear

I finished another bear using the pattern i got from The Mother Bear Knitting Project.

Except this time, i adapted the pattern a bit, and am giving her as a gift to my sister in law Annie... Annie is my age, but has Alzheimer's Disease. She is non verbal and is pretty much getting around in a wheelchair now. I am sure this little bear will get plenty of hugs and love from her new owner...

My brother Bob requested a hat and scarf for her to keep her warm, and we chose bright colors and used interesting soft yarn, with lots of textures for her to explore...

I want to wish all of my blog friends a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa...Whatever your celebrations may be, i hope you are at Peace, and surrounded by your Loved Ones during the Holiday Season....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another big snow storm

This is what it looked like yesterday when i went out on the front porch to get the paper.....
Another BIG snow storm... The roads were so bad, we didn't go and visit my Dad at the hospital. Being snowed in, i did get a few things done...

I finished and trimmed the hat and scarf set i made for my sister in law, Annie....

And finished the little baby guinea pig dolls i made for The Paper Sparrow ( 2 sold right away)

And i finally got to making that apple pie.... I had some apples i bought at the Farmer's Market. Well, Lola learned how to say "APPLE" and every time she would say that and point to the bowl of apples i would hand one to her and she would fire that thing like a baseball! (What an arm that girl has!) So before every single piece of fruit got bruised and pulverized, i made the pie...

It was nice having the extra heat from the oven in the kitchen, and it sure smelled good in here!

And the pie sure tastes good too!

Just before it started to get dark, the snow stopped

but being snowed in didn't bother some of us at all. Nothing bothers Bella....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Update on my Dad

Dad made it thru the surgery with a few "blips"...It took about 5-6 hours to accomplish. They are trying to regulate his blood pressure in cardiac/surgical ICU, so he may be there a little longer. But he is doing really well so far. They removed the respirator and some of the tubes hooked up to his body. When i went to see him last night they had him up and sitting in a chair! He looked so happy to see us come in. But it is so hard to see him so tired and weak from the surgery. My Dad is always so strong and so stubborn. And i know that strong, stubborn part of him will get him thru this.
I'm not sure i will get to see him today, as visiting hours are not until noontime and we are expecting a huge snow storm today. But today is my birthday, and i really want to be there with him, as he has always been there for me. I want to thank you all for the wonderful prayers you have sent to my Dad and Family, and i humbly ask for more. You cannot imagine how much your prayers and good wishes have meant to me....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prayers for my Dad....

Dad with Lola, last Summer...
Tomorrow morning, my Dad will be having some pretty serious heart surgery...He needs bypass surgery as well as a valve replaced. I would be so happy if any of my blog friends out there had the time to offer up a little prayer or good wishes that all goes well...He and my Mom are the heartbeat of our Family....
and he is our own personal Santa Claus....
My daughter Kate with Santa (my Dad) at her classroom Christmas party, many years ago....

Monday, December 15, 2008

What i did during the Ice Storm....

I prayed...i paced.....
and i knit knit knit....I knit during the light of day, and even by candlelight...What else was there to do? I finished the baby sweater i started a while back. It just needs to be trimmed and embellished. I started a new loom hat in charcoal (the dark yarn doesn't show up so good...) I finished the 2 pair of baby mittens i made on 2 needles and made my first thumbless baby mitts in the round using the "Magic Loop" method my knitting teacher Linda taught me
(thank you so much Linda) I started another baby sweater for a friend who is due to have her third baby girl in January. And there are more knitted guinea pigs dolls in the making as most of them sold during the Victorian Stroll at The Paper Sparrow....
We did have one casualty tho....Remember the mitten in the making i was so proud of? The one i am into three weeks of knitting class with? See that mass of tangled yarn in the picture above???
Yeah...that's my mitten...I noticed Polly and Zinnia playing tug of war with something brown in the dark the other night, but i thought it was Pollyanna's little monkey doll....but was my mitten. Somehow Zinnia must have jumped up on the couch where i had my knitting bag and it tipped over and ...well...the mitten is mostly gone now. Thankfully they did not get poked with the circular needles, and the 2 plastic stitch markers were still in the mit when i discovered it.
See? As you know, mittens are not supposed to have fingers, or holes coming out the sides....Linda, my dear, patient knitting teacher...if you are reading this, i want you to know i am getting right back up in the saddle and starting anew! I am determined to learn how to make mittens...

The Ice Storm...Thawing out...

I will never ever again take heat and electricity for granted...
Our power went out sometime during the night on Thursday. It was finally back up and running sometime late yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. I knew this storm was going to be a whopper , and thought i was prepared, but i was mistaken. Sometime during the night on Thursday i woke to that awful sound of electrical wires down. There was a loud POP and some humming and sizzling sounds, accompanied by bright flashes of light, and the power was gone. We've had plenty of power outages, and they have lasted for a day or so. Mildly annoying. I can't use the cooking....But this was different. Once we got up on Friday morning we realized how isolated this storm made us feel. EVERYTHING was coated with ice. ALL power was out. Slowly i began to realize what that meant. No stove to cook on(electric), no clocks to tell music or phone except for the cell i had thankfully just charged the night heat except for the little gas stove that we had cranking the whole entire time. ( i love that little stove) Thankfully that kept the house a little warmer than those who had no extra heat source, but by Saturday night our indoor temps were in the low 40's. We managed to stay warm by wearing layers (thank goodness for sweaters!) and at night we piled extra blankets on the bed and in came the three dogs with us. We slept in an amazingly warm pack. The two scariest things for me...No hotels available anywhere around us and the garage door was powered by a backup battery that would only last 2 days and then Bill would not be able to get out of our main exit. (We do have another exit, but with all the ice and branches down, it would have been an ordeal to use that exit.) For those of you who don't know us well, my husband was hit by a car while out running almost 20 years ago and is a quadriplegic. His wheelchair is much like a little tractor, but that too runs on battery powered electricity....And tho he is fairly comfortable in our little home, he is adversely affected by extreme temperatures. So keeping the house warm, and him warm enough was going to be a challenge. I found a battery in my cabinet that would fit the old radio we keep for this reason and were able to listen to NPR and get the news...But after the first day with no heat and lights, this got really old fast. On Friday I was able to run to the market to get cold cuts and bread, cookies and a few things that we could eat without cooking them. I took all the real good stuff out of the freezer and put it into a cooler and put it out on the deck to freeze...and then we waited... The trip to the market was scary. So much devastation all around me. It really pains me to see all of those lovely trees down in the road. It was frightening to come across the live wires down and familiar roads closed down...Because the power outage was so severe, i had to drive further out and found that only 1 grocery store was (thankfully) still open. The cashier was clearly agitated and when i started talking to her (i talk to everyone) she told me she was worried about her Mom as she was living in the middle of nowhere and was on oxygen and had only 1 tank in reserve. That put it all in perspective for me. I told her i would pray for her Mom and we both got a little weepy. Things like this make you realize what is really important, you know? Anyway, strangely enough, the thing i was worried about while out driving and seeing all the trees down was my big pine trees. I have several of them standing guard around my house. They are huge. And i love these old trees...The tree in the front of the house was so overburdened by the ice that it's boughs were bent all the way to the ground. I was worried i would loose some major branches. But after a night of warmer temps last night, the branches are back up where they belong. I didn't loose one branch on any of my trees. When i could get away from the hardship this storm imposed on everyone, i did see the beauty it brought to us too. It was a s if we lived in a different universe. Ice coated everything, and when the sun shone, it was just beautiful. So i am sitting here, catching up on my blogging and email and so grateful for the little things like light, and warmth, and security. It was a good lesson for me to remember to be grateful for all of my Blessings....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Making a List...A Christmas Tag

It's ME in my jammies on Christmas morning long ago... My sister Kathy is having more fun with the wrapping paper than the gift in the background...
My friend Paula at the Fraker Farm did this little tag and left it up to us if we wanted to participate or not. Reading her answers made me think of so many good memories, and i thought i'd give it a try!
Here Goes!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Egg Nog, but just for Christmas...
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
He wraps them, but lately he slips them in reusable paper bags...too much wasted paper!
3. Colored light on house/tree or white?
White...tho when i was a child i loved those big colored lights we used to have on all our trees. Those things sure got hot after a while!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No..I'm afraid the dogs would eat it!

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Whenever i get the chance...

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
My Mom's turkey stuffing!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Having my Grandmother come to our house on Christmas Eve and exchanging gifts with her. Gram would bring her special Christmas cookies too...So many of my most beloved memories of Christmas involve my Grandmother...

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Wait! What do you mean by that question? What's up with Santa!!???

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I used to but not any more...
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
With lights and mostly old ornaments that i made with my Grandmother or that were given to me or made by my children. They all have sentimental value...

11. Snow. Love it or dread it?
Used to hate it because i had to shovel it. But now i love it...

12. Can you ice skate?
Hell no! But i sure did spend a lot of my childhood trying! My parents used to send us to the local ice rink and i spent the whole time on my butt or warming up in the main house, with sore ankles.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My earliest memory was of my first Barbie! And when i was a girl my Grandmother gave me my Raggedy Ann doll that i still have. But i think my favorite gift now is anything the kids make for me....

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Family... Love...celebrating Jesus' Birthday...

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Mom's pies...

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Us being all together and opening the gifts on Christmas morning, and having dinner here for the whole family

17. What tops your Christmas tree?

I have an old scruffy dove that was given to me when i was a young single Mother and had no money, and relied on the generosity of others... That old tattered dove reminds me where i came from, and to be grateful for all of the gifts i have been given, big and small...

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Definitely giving. For me that is way more fun!
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Sweet Little Jesus Boy, Mary had a baby, Silent night, oh,,, there are just too many! I love all of them... I could listen to Christmas music year round...
20. Candy Canes. Yum or Yuck?
YUM! But just the peppermint kind.
21. What do you want for Christmas?
For my Dad to be healthy and for my family to be together.
22. Do you attend an annual Christmas party?
23. Do you dress up for Christmas Eve or wear PJ's?
Wait! I thought wearing PJ's WAS dressing up!
24. Do you own a Santa hat?
No....That is a hard hat to fill!
25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
My family...Including extended family members and anyone who wants to be adopted!

Ok friends...there are no rules here! If you think this was fun, copy the questions down and answer them yourselves. But please leave a post in the comment box to let me know you did it so that i can read your list too!

From left to right: me, my sister Kathy and my sister Nancy

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mitten Madness (and other things...)

Mittens have taken up a lot of time around here
I am still working on the adult mittens (dark maroon wool at the top of the photo) and for me it is mighty slow going. We'll see if i finally get it tonight at class at The Paper Sparrow.
The red acrylic mittens are "thumbless" mitts for toddlers. i found the pattern on line. They fit Lola perfectly! But while we were working at The Paper Sparrow during the Victorian Stroll on Sunday, a young couple and their little baby saw my mittens and asked if i made smaller ones to fit their infant. So...i took that basic pattern, adapted the cuff from just plain garter stitch to a rib knit stitch, used smaller needles and finer yarn, and the infant mitts are coming out just right! What a rush! I actually figured this out myself! I promised them i would have a few pair of thumbless mitts hanging on the wall at the shop by the weekend and i think it is going to happen!

And here is my lovely hat model Lola, wearing a little hat i made a few weeks ago and have for sale at The Paper Sparrow ... (It's a good thing she doesn't demand payment for her work!)
And just for fun, here is a picture of our Lola, (sent to me just last night via email from her Mommie) sitting on her caterpillar rocker (an early Christmas present) wearing her hat that i made for her. I cannot tell you how much happiness i feel that she actually LIKES her hat and wants to wear it, even indoors! It makes all the late night knitting lessons and sore wrists and fingers all worth it!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's THAT cold out!

Pollyanna draped over the cast iron radiator (HOT to the touch) after coming in from the yard this morning...Brrrrr.....