30 November 2021

Give Thanks

Yes, Thanksgiving is over, but I had so much fun last night sharing (again, just like last year), sharing on social media things for which I am grateful.

29 November 2021

Snowflake Monday

You'll have to read this post to find out how today's snowflake got its name.

I didn't have much time last week to prepare a snowflake, so I stuck with small and simple. This one will work up quickly, especially if you need to make a bunch for gifts for the holidays.

Last year, Lizard was still so unsteady on his feet, I couldn't put up our tree. I bought a tiny cut tree at our local grocery store and placed it right outside my window, hoping to get pictures of critters suitable for a Christmas card.

That was such a fun experience, we thought we could get a potted tree for capturing bird photos all year long. I'll check again right before or after Christmas, but the prices right now ($162 for a two-foot tree) are so out of reach, I may just cover some more old CDs with snowflakes and hang them on the tree nearest my backdoor in hopes of capturing some holiday bird photos.

In the meantime, I haven't decided yet whether I should put out our little fiber optic tree so I can hang snowflakes and show off my latest creation, my Zazzle tree skirt, created from photos of my snowflakes. I'll be watching Lizard closely this week to see how he might fare with one more obstacle in the living room…

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell or republish the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!

Finished Size: 3.25 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread, size 7 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or plastic wrap, cellophane tape, water soluble school glue or desired stiffener, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line

Popcorn Stitch (pc)

Work 5 dc in designated st, take loop off hook, insert hook through top loop of 1st dc and replace loop on hook, pull loop through top of 1st dc.

Plus 1 Snowflake Instructions

Make magic ring.

Round 1: [Pc in ring, ch 7, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, 1 tr in next ch, ch 1] 6 times; sl st in top of starting pc. Don't pull magic circle too tight.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: Ch 7 (counts as 1 dc and [ch 5), 1 sc in ch 2 tip, ch 7, 1 sc in same sp, ch 5, 1 dc in top of next pc] 6 times, omitting last dc of final repeat; sl st in 2nd ch of starting ch 7; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or plastic wrap to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or plastic wrap.

If using glue, mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture or desired stiffener. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or plastic wrap. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

26 November 2021

White Friday

This is the first time I've composed a White Friday blog post not knowing for certain whether I want to write it. Two years ago, in 2019, I wrote what I thought was a very fun White Friday post, with no idea whatsoever how awful 2020 would be.

In very late November of 2020 as I write this post, I am full of intrepidation, not sure if things will ever get better. If I will care about keeping a blog by next Thanksgiving. If it's a bad idea to plan anything that far in advance anymore.

And yet, we did have snow three days before White Friday in 2020, and a bunch of the white was still hanging around. I didn't have to go anywhere to find white. I crafted white, but I didn't have to. I could have spent the entire day walking in the snow and taking pictures.

Deep down inside, however, I wanted to spend every dime I could to help businesses that had been hurting nearly all year long. I wanted to go cross-country skiing on the Grand Mesa. I wanted to spend the holiday with my family.

Instead, Lizard and I worked on his physical therapy and his speech therapy. We took a short little walk on a remote and relatively unknown (but local) trail. We enjoyed turkey leftovers alone together. And we spent the entire weekend doing what we had been doing on weekends all year long since about March 15. Staying home, and staying away from people.

It's not a day, a weekend or a year I'd like to repeat. And yet, I don't want to focus on anything negative. I want to remember the strength we built trying to overcome two major surgeries, Parkinson's, being alone and trying to make do with what we had not because we didn't go shopping, but because we were on a skeleton budget the entire year, as were many.

I want to celebrate being thankful for something every single day after August 2020. I want to celebrate the beautiful snowflakes I was able to capture with my camera both before Thanksgiving and after. I want to celebrate being able to take care of my husband while working from home.

I want to be thankful, not just today, but every day.

cat tail fuzz

25 November 2021

My Best Day Ever

I wrote about the dress I made for my special day. And I designed a snowflake on my special day. But I've saved the rest of the story for an equally special day. What day could be more appropriate than Thanksgiving?

Everything about our special day was a miracle. Literally everything.

We had long hoped to be sealed in the San Diego Temple on the anniversary of our civil marriage. 2020 happened, and all temples were closed. That temples began phased opening in time for our anniversary this year was an answer to the prayers of many, not just us. Limitations remained. Numbers would be limited, and we could go only to our temple.

I had hoped my brother and my mom would be able to join us if and when we could finally be sealed. Too many restrictions remained in place. If we were able to go to the temple during the summer of 2021, there would be no family members present to celebrate with us.

Being able to go to the temple would still be a tremendous blessing. I had the feeling I should not wait. I didn't know if it meant Lizard's health would continue to deteriorate or if the world situation would get worse. As it turned out, there was a little bit of both. I'm very glad we moved forward with our plans, even though sacrifices were required.

When we first began trying to schedule a date, I tried to get the day of our anniversary off from work, but was unable. Then I learned our temple would be closed for it's regular maintenance break the week of our anniversary. If I'd been able to secure that day off, we would not have been able to go to the temple that day. An unusual blessing, but a blessing nevertheless.

One of my friends suggested I set our date for a different day so we could have two anniversaries. I requested another day off, and not only did I get that particular day, but the following day, too. I thought that would be very fitting as a sort of second honeymoon.

Because temples were going back into operation on limited schedules with limited volunteers, the scheduling process was quite modified. I cried when the temple entered it's regular maintenance closing without our sealing scheduled. I assumed I would have to secure yet more time off much later in the year. I wasn't the only bride awaiting a temple date.

To my utter delight, a volunteer called me during the break to schedule! Because of Lizard's special needs, the temple staff suggested I divide our special day into two to make it easier on him. Less time sitting still. And I already had the two days off!!!

The temple staff was beyond helpful in making adjustments and modifications to accommodate Lizard's special needs. I purchased his clothing, and on the day of our sealing, at his request, I let him try to get dressed by himself. (Buttons and other assorted tasks are challenging for him these days.) Half an hour before we were supposed to leave, I noticed he had not put on his Sunday best yet. He was decked in his khaki utility shorts and Mt. Rushmore T-shirt. When I asked if he knew he needed to wear Sunday best, he not only was shocked, but devastated because his church clothes, unbeknownst to me, were in the dirty clothes.

I did a rush wash and dry on his clothes while he panicked. Before we left, he asked if I had our "coupons." Our temple recommends (sort of like a driver's license, required for temple entrance). His sense of humor brought joy to what could have been a very stressful rush to arrive at the temple on time.

We arrived at the temple right on time, and Lizard was taken in quickly by kind and patient volunteers aware of his needs. He didn't have to wait around at all, which might have made things more difficult for him. We also managed to schedule during the very short time period in which masks were not required. Just two weeks after our sealing, masks were required once again.

Walking into the temple with him that first day was the most incredible feeling! He has taken me to so many temples all over the western US, and he has always waited patiently for me outside. This time, he went INSIDE with me. It was just about the best feeling in the entire world for me!

Lizard was seated at the back of the chapel for easy escape, but he didn't need it. He rarely is able to sit still for more than ten minutes, so an hour was asking a lot. He did beautifully. He was able to remain seated the entire time.

Special arrangements were made for the second day of our temple date, too. But Lizard once again was able to stay seated the entire time, even though he was in his medication down time. One of my dearest friends used my phone to snap some photos of us outside the temple. I neglected to bring the good camera because I just had too many other things on my mind. A hawk was pearched on the temple spire! A holy hawk, we called it. I returned later in the day, hoping to be able to get a close-up of my winged friend, but it was not to be.

Lizard was miserable when I asked him if I could go back to the temple for a few photos with the good camera. I know he probably didn't want to because he was so miserable, but he said yes and even went with me. Even though he knew I'd probably spend an hour.

Not only was the hawk missing, but there were not that many different varieties of flowers, either, so I was done fairly quick. I wanted to Photoshop a flower frame for one of our temple photos. Each of our friends who were able to attend sent us photos. I try to do something fancy like a flower frame for each bride I shoot, and now I've done it for me!

As time goes on, the Parkinson's grows worse and takes a little more of my sweetheart away from me. I don't know that we'd be able to make it through an hour now, just a few months later. The timing really was perfect, even if it wasn't what I'd dreamed. Being able to be sealed during everything that is going on in the world these days has brought me joy and faith and hope I'm not sure I would have been able to maintain without this special blessing.

When a marriage occurs outside the temple, it is "until death do we part." When a marriage occurs in the temple, it is "for time and all eternity." I'm losing a tiny bit of my favorite person each day that goes by, but I know I will see him again on the other side, and I know we both will be whole. Parkinson's will no longer have him... I will have him!!!

23 November 2021

WIP Tastic!

I finally have yet another WIP finish for Devoted Quilter's 100-day WIP challenge!

I'm not sure why this one took so long to finish once I got it quilted, other than work has been very busy, November weather has been extremely mild (meaning I can get some work done on the yard when I'm not working), and we've been saddled with medical checkups because I guess it's just that magical time of year for annuals and biannuals.

Now it's finally finished, and I think I now have three quilts finished for future grands, nieces, nephews, new neighborhood kids, whatever child quilt needs pop up unexpectedly. It's always fun to design a quilt for a specific child, but it's also nice to have a few ready for those last-minute gifts.

This quilt is entirely scrappy and wasn't on my official WIP list because I didn't have a child in mind to receive it and because I have plenty of other WIPs that really need the attention more than this one did. I think I've been procrastinating a bit on two particular WIPs, and this project gave me a break in list boredom that apparently had set in pretty dramatically.

Every time I got a few minutes I could have sat down to sew or quilt the last few months, I deliberately picked up something else to do, either to stay busy or because I dreaded having only a few minutes to work on a project that would take hours and possibly days to finish. The starting and stopping... I guess I needed something easy to finish. Something I could actually complete in just a few minutes.

Blocks in the quilt came from leftovers of ocean-themed quilts I've finished for grandkids, nieces, nephews and neighbors. Sashing came from Jelly Shelly leftovers. The binding was cut from one of the few stash ocean fabrics big enough to support an entire quilt binding.

I tried drawing edge-to-edge freehand fishies and water bubbles mostly to practice my pebble motion on the longarm. I am not entirely happy with most of the fishies, but I'm glad I practiced. I'm very thankful I didn't fall to the temptation to do wavy lines. Those are very easy for me on the domestic machine and the longarm and would have been finished much faster. I'm satisfied I challenged myself to do something outside my comfort zone. I'm hoping I can keep pushing myself and develop my skills so that I'm not afraid to try something new.

I also pulled out my mending pile and used scraps from my stash to patch four batik tears in my second favorite pair of homemade scrappy shorts (crafted from favorite scraps back in 2018). Now that the temperature is too cool to wear them until perhaps March or April...

Now these batik babies are good for another year or three.

Last winter I got this wild idea that the WIP hexie project that's been on my official WIP list for many years might be the perfect way to patch my breezy jeans so they would be warm enough to wear in cooler weather. I thought I'd be able to use my coordinating blue crochet thread to stitch patchwork patches into place sashiko-style. I had no idea whatsoever how difficult that was going to be. I never finished the first patch. Until now.

And now I'm rethinking the plan. I'd still like to patch up all the unwanted air-conditioning in both of my favorite jeans, and I'd still like to use that hexie booboo project that didn't really have a plan other than using up the gorgeous blue, green and purple batik fabric that had been one of my favorite dresses. I'd fallen through the weathered and unmaintained porch steps of our fixer upper home when we first bought it, and the dress was ripped beyond repair.

I still loved the undamaged portions of the dress, so I began stitching them into hexies whenever I could carry along a quilting project. I worked on them last year while Lizard was in the hospital and I unexpectedly was able to stay with him to minimize staff/patient contact during the height of the pandemic (although they are saying we may have more cases now in my state than we had last winter).

When the weather turned cold last year and my jeans couldn't keep my legs safe from the chill (and I was still working from home, so able to wear jeans every single day), I thought this would be the perfect use for those hexies. Using a big needle in order to pull the crochet thread through two layers of denim, batting (for softness right where I need it and extra padding for future hard wear) and the hexies was more of a bear than I can bear! I finally ended up zigzagging all the way around the knee hexie flower patch with my domestic sewing machine (which also was too much of a skunky stinker, thanks to denim bulk), so I don't think I want to repeat that process either.

I don't know yet how I will finish this, and I'm tempted to take out the leg seams so I can more easily finish the project by machine, but I am determined to wear these jeans again this winter. I will find a way!

Last but most definitely not least, I updated my snowflake pattern directory again, a necessary task that had escaped me since May 9, 2020, which probably was close to the time we realized Lizard was going to need another surgery. I understood why it had been so long, but I was spellbound by the number of flake patterns I published in the 18 months that followed, particularly the number of new patterns I created during that time, which required a total of five hours and two mugs of peppermint hot cocoa to finish. My directory now contains 666 snowflake pattern links.

I have written 762 snowflake patterns so far, published 690 of them (some are only in the eight charity fund-raising PDF booklets I've used to benefit the Colorado Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and/or the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Davis Phinney Foundation), and I still have a pile of about 30 snowflakes on my desk and in my book case that need patterns written. The directory is 70 Microsoft Word pages of html coding in 10-point arial font I have written on my own. (I think this last catch-up session added 13 of those pages... How's that for a lucky number?) And right this moment, my snowflake directory truly is the Number of the Beast! This was a beast of a project on which to catch up! I hope it counts as a WIP finish! Although I guess it's never truly finished as long as I keep designing more snowflakes. I am anxious to add next week's pattern to get rid of that ominous 666!

Linking up with Alycia Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

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