Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?  Isn’t that what we’re told?  Twelve-step programs have become mainstream, offering a wealth of information for anyone struggling with any kind of addiction.  Tried and true advice.  It can work.

What about admitting you have a gift being the first step to the rest of your life?

I’m reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit right now.  Synchronous, really, how I got it.  My husband and I went to our local bookstore to conclude our child-free days over the winter break.  One of the people I am glad to call a friendly acquaintance happened to be working there.  We got to talking.  Those of you who know me well know it doesn’t take long to get to reality, to what’s truly important when in sincere conversation with me.  We shared a bit of our lives with each other.  It was lovely.

I confessed to her that I am a writer.  I confessed that I really hadn’t read all that many books.  I confessed that my husband and I wanted to support our local bookstore more.  We spoke each other’s language.  I wasn’t burned at the stake.  In fact, as I browsed the shelves, she approached me again and put a book in my hands.  “You have to read this,” she said.  The owner of the store, working at a table behind me, assured me that is was a highly recommended book; the dance troupe last in town bought 14 copies.  This was Tharp’s book.

Within the past couple of months, I have come to the realization that if I am most honest with myself, I am happiest when writing.  At home, in the woods, at the park, in the doctor’s office — anywhere I can put pen to paper (or finers to keys) and be alone with my thoughts.  But I have more to learn.  I have discipline to cultivate.  I have unhealthy habits to overcome.

The Creative Habit comes along, and right off the bat she’s talking about the importance of routine.  She can’t make me get up at 5:30, but she states quite clearly that her morning starts out at 5:30AM.  She does it.  Others do it, and artists have for centuries.  They are extremely productive.

Almost in passing, she refers to a moment in time when she thought she could have been a painter; she has a talent for the visual arts.  She let the thought go as quickly as it came.  She’s a dancer.  She goes on to say that it’s almost better to have one clearly defined talent in your life.  It’s harder for those who can do many things well.  The discernment of your best gift is only harder the more choices you have.

Did she know I was going through this right now?  That for some time I’ve been wondering if the crafts I’ve been making were actually good for my creative process or an accomplice to my nasty habit of procrastination?

I am in process of organizing my craft supplies.  Some I need, some I don’t.  Scraps of fabric are going to my sister-in-law who makes clothes for children.  I’m keeping the bulks of fabric for skirts for myself and for the girls.  Good skirts are hard to come by and expensive should you actually find them.  Necessity and creativity are good companions.  Now I need to organize my stamps.  Which ones do I need and use?  Which stationary do I need to keep.  What will nurture my writing, encourage me to write?  It needs to be an accessory to my writing, an embellishment.

Inasmuch as I enjoy doing other things, I have to accept the fact that I’m a writer foremost.  This is the greatest part of my priesthood in this life.  I believe that through my writing, I have the potential to reach others and convey to them some of the Truths in this life.

The page is my blank canvas.  The Love of God is my muse.  With every word I bare my soul and make myself vulnerable, but I have nothing to lose.   As sure as the cold brings the beauty of snow and the grips of death, I trust that this experience of life is meant to be shared.  For some, it’s meant to be shared through dance, sculpture, painting, music, or any of the arts, but for me, I accept the fact that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to put into words that which is completely inexplainable.  I’ll enjoy every moment of the painful growth as I stretch my imagination and probe the depths of experience.

Whether a gift or a curse, I accept it with a smile.  May I remember this at 5:30 in the morning.

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I Never Thought I’d do this . . .

Remembering, of course, that I’m a most mild-mannered person, the realm of things I never thought I would do is rather broad. Even some things I thought I would do remain undone, and this isn’t a bad thing. My life is full of potential!

IMG_1779_1I never thought I would cut my own hair, let alone my daughter’s, into a very short cut . . . using clippers. But this I have done. I continue to cut my own hair short for convenience, cost, and practicality. Cutting one’s hair isn’t a big deal, really, but I never imagined cutting and then dyeing my daughter’s hair blue, especially not just the little bit up front that we left long enough to tuck behind her ear. This, too, was done, and most likely will be done again.

I don’t know, however, if I will ever get another opportunity to wrap someone in duct tape. That’s right. My ever-creative relative needs a corset for Halloween and found clever instructions here

that advise using duct tape to get the form/pattern needed. This is definitely a project to be done with someone you trust, and it is incredibly funny. Left alone, I think it would also make for a great superhero garb.  🙂  She didn’t have to consent to a photo, but I’m glad she did.

I hope your fall time has brought such creative exploration and new experiences.  I’ll look forward to sharing the many projects that this coming Christmas season promises.

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Some Crafty Thoughts

I’ve been wanting an awesome shirt pattern.  I was catching up on one of my fave blogs, and saw the shirt!  Leave it to SouleMama (who also has some great photos, as ever).  She got the pattern from the book Weekend Sewing, which I’ve seen before, recommended on Sew, Mama, Sew.  I may have to pick it up at our local bookstore sooner than later.

The past couple of weeks have included some crafty projects.  For the women’s retreat, I got to

  • make placecards, which instead of using the traditional folded placecards, I used pre-cut bookmarks, decorated with stamps and tied with a ribbon.  (I would post a photo but can’t seem to find my bookmark at the moment!) 
  • host a blessingway, and I printed the program on vellum, attaching it to pretty printed paper with flower brads.
  • make a couple of beaded necklaces (literally, I just made 2-4, while the other two ladies did about 12 each!).

When it comes to crafting, our projects don’t have to be large or perfect.  It’s taking the time to release some creative energy for the sake of doing something good.  That’s all.

May we all take more time to do some good things.

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Just for You

I never fail to be inspired by SouleMama‘s blog, and I can’t wait to lay my hands on her books.  It was through her site recently that I found about about something good for us all, and better yet, it’s free!

has some art to download and print and paste wherever you need a bit of art in your life.  I adore the March download, and I hope you’ll enjoy, too.

It’s looking like the weather is going to pull us indoors the next few days — the perfect time to kick back and get crafty.  I may just finish a project or two, and it’s never too soon (or too late!) to work on a book idea.

I hope your day is as beautiful as mine has been.

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A Very Loooong Project

My husband’s birthday is in May, and I’m glad he told me what he wants now since it may very well take until then to knit this monster.  Of course, if I had a time traveling phone booth, it would be a lot easier.

Pick your season, and duplicate your own Dr. Who scarf thanks to the diligence and work shared at the site.  You have to understand that my husband is 6’5″.  To have a scarf that hits the floor and loops at the knees, we are talking around 20-something feet long!  I told him I could knit it and then piece it together for a small throw.

I’ve already signed up for Netflix.  Now, to buy some yarn (I think KnitPicks may be my best resource in that department) and any excuse to buy some new needles.  Let the knitting begin!

(Don’t expect photos until May!!)

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Handkerchief Quilt, Personally Interpreted

I have a collection of handkerchiefs from my maternal great-grandmothers, grandmother, and great aunt.  One of the gifts made for Christmas was a quilt from these handkerchiefs for my mother.  I originally had lofty ideas of how beautiful this would be, but in reality, the hankies came in all colors and sizes.  Not to mention, I was making the last stitches on the binding as my mother entered my home on Christmas Eve.  Alas, a quilt was made, the love stitched throughout.  In my haste and lack of battery-charging, few photos were taken at the end of the process.

Due to the delicate nature of the handkerchiefs (most of which are much older than me), I backed them with Wonder-Under and the comparable alternative for which I don’t have a name but was all I could find when I made a mad dash back to the fabric store for more, only to find they were out of the W-U.

I laid out the kerchiefs in the order they fit best within the dimensions of the quilt — 45″x60″.  It’s a crib size quilt, but perfect for a lap quilt, too.  The smartest thing I did was take this photo.  I could refer to it later when the kids helped with arranging the kerchiefs they way they thought they should be arranged.  No, not very helpful.


I then ironed the hankies onto the front piece, a nice soft flannel.  This is why Wonder-Under is so wonderful. It’s just an adhesive interfacing to hold your applique in place until it’s sewn; it also helps prevent fraying.


Once everything’s ironed into place, I took time to sew around all the kerchief edges and once around the middle to make sure it is held in place.  For sake of time, I didn’t want to have to do a lot of quilting, so this at least gave it more of a quilted appearance.

Time to layer.  The flannel I chose for the front was also used for the back, except with the wrong side out.  The wrong side is a solid beige, unlike the front that has a faint petite floral pattern (which unfortunately mostly faded in the wash).  The middle layer is natural cotton batting, crib size.  I pinned all three layers and trimmed the edges to make attaching the binding easier later.

I used the machine to quilt.  Obviously, I was in a time crunch and honestly have not taken the time to hand-quilt anything as of yet. Using a wavy stitch on the machine I just ran through the quilt between all the handkerchiefs, starting from the middle and working my way out.  In my haste, I made mistakes and had a couple of gathers, but for this casual quilt, I think it will be fine — much like the purchased mocha-colored binding.  You can make your own binding, to be sure, but for sake of time and considering it was on sale for 30% off, it couldn’t be beat.

And neither could the expression on my mother’s face, knowing she would love the quilt even more than me.

The other halves of the handkerchiefs are saved, not to worry.  I promised my daughter I could make one for her someday, too.  As a finishing touch to the above quilt, I added a couple of embellishments.  One is a strip of ribbon that says “family ties,” which I knotted on either side and hand-sewed it into place toward the top.  At the bottom I made a “homemade” tag and sewed it into the binding.  Sometimes these little touches add even more personality.  Personality is something women in my family definitely have.

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Clay Day

claybowl.jpgWe still need to fire our kiln, so I’m working to help fill it up.  What better way than with a huge bowl?  After the Cherokee Holiday, I’ve been wanting to try hand building with coils, so here’s my first go at a large piece.  Bumpy.  Imperfect.  Good enough for me!  My hubby fears it will take forever to dry, but it sat in the autumn sun yesterday and got a good start.

I also want to work more with slab pieces, so here’s another go at a different piece.  It’s to be a gift, so hopefully it will turn out, too.  I pressed some freshleaf_vase1.jpg maple leaves onto the top (the leaves are still in place for the photo but peeled off fine after drying a bit), and the impressions turned out well.  I’ll probably wax-resist them before glazing to preserve the detail.

I am very much still in the learning process, and I’ve given up that practice makes perfect.  Better to tell the kids (and myself) that practice makes it better.

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R.I.P. — Fruit Flies

If you’re lazy about composting like I am or are prone to leaving fruit/veggies on the counter too long, no doubt you’ve been plagued with fruit flies.  Then they linger for days.  Lucky for me, my hubby found this link to a fruit fly trap.

Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but if you do, may it come in handy.  Look around the site.  There are other interesting things to find there, too, particularly if you’re into “green” living.

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Solar Pizza Box Oven S’mores

No, I didn’t come up with this idea on my own.  Family Fun had an article in their magazine, which was given to me by a dear friend for an Earth Scouts activity.  The great thing is that most kids love anything with marshmallows and chocolate.  I felt a little bad about not having organic components for our s’mores, but pocketbooks are what they are.

Good to Know:

  • It takes over an hour to bake if the sun’s not at its hottest.  The chocolate melts pretty quickly, considering it was 90 degress, but marshmallows take a while.
  • We fit three s’mores in our small-sized pizza box ovens.
  • We reused some deli meat tray lids for the plastic tops, and when cut right, they fit as snugly as possible and didn’t really need glue.
  • Take pictures!  My regret is that I was too tired after an all-around busy day to take photos.
  • Have clean-up items handy.  Melted chocolate = big messes.
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