Archive for December, 2011

from kids.baristanet.com

As I teeter on the edge of the New Year, I am like many people, debating resolutions. It is good to resolve one’s self to do better but it is better to commit to those resolutions rather than quickly making a list. When the girls were little I encouraged them to write down things they wanted to improve on. Their lists were kept available to see if they were making progress but like so many of us by that following June the list had become a faint memory. I remember one year when my eldest daughter took her old list and changed the year to reflect the new year. I asked why she thought she would work on the same things if she made little progress the year before. Her answer was that she still needed to improve. I think a lot of us are like that—we know what we need to do but doing it is another thing.

Many of my projects and dreams did not make it to fruition this year, but I cannot fret over them. In fact, this sentiment is reflected in my first resolution:

1)  I resolve to follow my heart in my designs and to not beat myself up over incomplete projects—no remorse. If I lose interest in something, I will put it away until my heart gets into it again…I do this pretty much anyway, but I let it get to me—guilt, and the guilt just makes it harder to go back to.

2)  I resolve to grow my talent in new things such as tatting and improving my painting skills. I have tried to learn to tat and could never master it, but I want to make sure that I succeed in 2012. I lack confidence in some of my artistic talent. This holds me back. I want to break through that wall next year.

3)  I resolve to sell some of my creations. I didn’t sell anything this year, and this has hurt. I think this will also give me more confidence and the feeling of self-worth.

That’s not all that I aim to work on, but these are my main three as far as art goes. If I feed the artist part of me, the inner part will also blossom. If I get to the things that I did not finish this year (or get off the drawing board), so be it. If I don’t, so be it also. I believe that if my heart is not in it, I will not like it no matter how it looks. I want to try new things and improve on the ‘old’ things. I want to be appreciated for who I am and what I can do but I know I must appreciate myself and my work first.

Life is short. We should make the most of what we have.

Happy Gardening and may you be blessed beyond measure in the coming year!

Happy New Year!

Happy 2012!


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from campingmachine.com

As I ponder what will come in the new year I look back at all of my Missed Opportunities that have come my way that I did not take advantage of. What is a Missed Opportunity? It is an opportunity or occasion that comes our way for us to act but we choose not to for whatever reason. Crucial opportunities that can become missed are times we could reach out to a friend or family member that we have not communicated with in some time but don’t before they pass away. These are probably the most regrettable of all missed opportunities because there is nothing we can do about them once they are gone.

I look back and see one big missed opportunity of late when I was nudged to do something. My pride got in my way when I thought the person doing the nudging should be the one to make contact with this person. Today, I see it as a big mistake on my part. While I can still reach out to this person (who dislikes me so much), the opportunity is not there like it was. I should not let the feelings this person has for me stand in my way to reach out to her. I can find bundle of excuses, but it is not right.

“Missed Opportunities” (or seeking to not have any) was a big mantra of mine for several years. No missed opportunities means no regrets. I have lost some of that drive but believe I must embrace it once again. So, as life continues on, I will work to find opportunities to reach out to people. It is not always easy especially considering the hurt one may cause another, but it is the right thing to do because we are here to help one another. To recognize opportunities in the future, we need to see where we have missed them in the past but not dwell on them—just learn to not ignore them when they show their face again and engage willingly. We all have opportunities to reach out to others and not just anyone, but to those who need it. We just have to realize those times and make the most of them.

So, here is to having less Missed Opportunities and less regrets in the New Year. And, may your gardens (everything that you tend) thrive indoors and out.

Happy Gardening!


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A bit of a slump

I have not been in much of a mood for blogging-reading or writing or communicating. I was in such a bad place worrying how we would make it through until Christmas and then until the end of the year. I have plenty of faith but when we are continually hit from every angle (it has been a bad year), it is hard to have bountiful hope. Just when things started to look up last Tuesday, we got the news that another police officer (Scotty Richardson) was killed in the line of duty. This time it was in a neighboring county. It hits home because we were married there and this happened right before our anniversary. We did not know the officer but he was such a good man and officer. He had 3 young children and a wife to survive him. Can you imagine what Christmas will mean for this family every year from now on? His funeral was yesterday which was 2 months to the day of JD’s funeral. Senseless! Another officer was shot in the incident but lived because of his vest.

On a more cheerful note, I hope everyone had a most joyous Christmas!

Happy Gardening!


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Handing over the keys from cdc.gov

I think the world has gone crazy. We lack responsibility for what we do to ourselves and to others. A week never fails to pass without my hearing of some incident of this nature. I should not hold someone else responsible for whatever stupid thing I CHOOSE to do. I don’t deny that there are things that people do or fail to do that cause things to happen but where do we draw the line? This is one crazy story, but first…

Almost 40 years ago, I had a friend who was riding in a car with her family when they were hit by a drunk driver. She almost died and still has a metal plate in her head from that fateful night. The man that hit them (he ran a stop sign) clearly should not have been driving, but he made a choice to get behind the wheel that night. No one held a gun to his head and made him drink, get drunk, and then get behind the wheel of his car. There were other injuries but the man walked away unharmed if I remember correctly. Yes, there has been some shared responsibility over the years with bars who fail to check IDs and the push to not serve someone who is publically drunk. Personally, I have had to deal with my share of drunks who wanted more to drink (in one of my previous lives), and I had to be the bad guy by refusing them. Better my having to worry about a drunk who swears to kill me than a drunk on the road out to kill someone else.

The crazy story…    From what I understand, there is a woman who became drunk while at a bar (maybe even before she arrived) in 2009. According to the story (read about it here), she left the bar and drove off the road onto the shoulder, then overcorrected causing her car to wreck. The result is that she became paralyzed and is now suing the bar and the department of transportation (for not maintaining said road). This is so unfortunate for the woman, but it was her choice to go to the bar and ask for alcohol—to be served while underage. Her lawsuit alleges that the bar tender did not check her ID or to see if she was inebriated. This is no excuse for the bar if that is what happened, but first responsibility is on the individual. This is like suing a bank because you get hurt while holding up the teller. Can you imagine? No, but things like this have happened. Is the woman going to bring a lawsuit against her teachers and parents saying they should have taught her to know better than to drink while underage or to get behind the wheel of a car when drunk? This is absurd. And, it’s not like she was a minor—she was 20 years old at the time. She declares that the bar acted out of negligence, recklessness, and willfulness for their part in her car wreck. She also claims as stated of this lawsuit that the department of transportation did not properly maintain the shoulder of the road where she drove off. Personally, I think this is someone who wants to blame someone else for the choices she made.

A sober reminder from sobermusicians.com

If you drink—do NOT drive! Let me repeat, if you drink alcohol, do NOT get behind the wheel of a car or other motor vehicle! I see so many impaired (possibly intoxicated) drivers on the road especially at night. We need to take responsibility for our actions. And, if you know of someone who has been drinking, do not let them get into a car to drive. Too often we do not consider the consequences of what is going to happen when we begin to consume alcohol. Be prepared and have a back-up plan! And, if you do drink and drive and have a wreck—it is your fault assuming you are the one who caused the wreck or could not react quick enough to avoid it. You chose to drink and you chose to drive. Maybe we should have people sign a contract before they start to drink relinquishing the establishment of all responsibility. Don’t laugh. I could actually see that happening if this lawsuit goes through. We should remember that the people who made the alcohol did not make one drink and did not cause one to wreck. With each passing year, I think the whole of society becomes more like little children. I keep asking, “Where are the grownups?” And, people want to legalize  “MaryJo–“…? I can only shake my head.

Happy Gardening wherever you are!


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Many, many years ago—almost 20—I set out to design something to put on our door at Christmas. This was soon after we moved into our house, and I wanted something that could be used on the door or wall. It needed to be more than a wreath that would let others know our reason for celebrating. This is the result…

It is not Christmas without this banner. I have thought about replacing it thinking it looks a little plain, but then I remember just what Christmas is about.

Looking through the storm door with snowflakes (wishing...).

Some years back, I got the idea to put rope lights between the two doors. I love the effect this gives because it lights up all around without having the lights in view. I could not get a good photo but this is the idea…

One may think the white is meant to be snow as we often associate snow at Christmas but it is the result of bright light shining at night causing features to fade into a single silhouette. Silent Night, Peaceful Night…ahhh…

Again, Merry Christmas!


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For most people, we draw on our earliest childhood memories to answer this question, those memories filled with family, friends, and good things all around us, and for so many of us, this is our comfort today, recalling these memories that are coupled with smells and sounds as well as beautiful scenes. Many people do not have that background to draw from. Some memories are filled with pain, some death, and some are worse than either of these combined. My early memories are filled with trees, lights and decorations, carols and music, church and family, friends and great-tasting food. Those memories are also filled with sorrow with the loss of loved ones seemingly taken away too early in life. As we ponder the meaning of Christmas, we sometimes find ourselves asking, “Why?” and “What is the real meaning of Christmas?”

Giving is the one theme that is echoed throughout this holiday season spanning different religions. It is the giving of oneself, giving so others might have, giving to inspire young ones, giving from the heart, and so on. In this time of giving, we often turn our focus to receiving. We desire the best gift because we have searched for the best gifts for others. It does not work that way. We get so caught up in that magical world we see in our minds that we fail to see the true gifts of love right under our noses.

I understand how people might not believe in the true meaning of Christ-mas, a Lord born of human flesh as a result of so much love. I really can see the skepticism one has for such a story, but what was the gift given so long ago? It was the gift of PEACE, peace to all people. So, there was no room for hatred, pride, or envy 2000 years ago nor today. There is no place for boasting because this type of love that brought about this great gift is selfless and supreme. It is chaste and pure, and we can only try to replicate this to best of our ability remembering to remain humble in all accounts.

Have a very, Merry Christmas, and I wish for you the very best now and for the coming year.

Peace to all!

This is a re-posting of my Christmas Eve entry from 2010. I thought it was worth sharing again but this time before Christmas.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and a very blessed Christmas!


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"Light Coating of Snow" from ki7f2 at webshots -- Beautiful!

I would love for it to look like this at my house, but it doesn’t. It is really difficult for me to believe it is almost Christmas. I envy those with cooler temps and snow on the ground. We will be hovering close to 80 degrees again today—believe it or not. This is not our norm for this time of year. Last year was a different story. Two days ago last year (2010), the record low was set at 10 degrees. It is hard to believe. Today, the windows are open, and I am hoping not to turn on the A/C. Is it really December? Will this be a year without winter? A few weeks ago, a cold front brought some sleet pellets and light snow flurries… Crazy!

Hubby and I got married just before Christmas years ago and the weather is always the topic of the day. The night before we were married, it snowed. I didn’t get any sleep because half of me was excited about getting married (and having snow before Christmas), and the other half of me was worried that we would not get married because of the snow. It all worked out and is a memory we revisit each year.

May your holidays be grand no matter what you have in your life and may we all enjoy peace and understanding the whole year through!

Oh, and Happy Gardening in all that you do!


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Rice Bags

I finally got my first rice bag made and no sooner than having it finished I tried it out. Delightful! I wanted to make two sizes. This one is the bigger of the two and measures about 6×12 inches. It was finished just in time. I was in great pain yesterday morning. I had a shoulder injury years ago and anything that happens around this area puts me in extreme pain. So, I popped the bag in the microwave and applied it to the painful ache. It was so soothing and relaxing making my shoulder much more comfortable—better than a heating pad for so many reasons. It is a lot like moist heat without the moisture. It remains warm for a long period of time. Even my heating pad will not do that. I thought the bag might help with this type of pain, but I didn’t think I would find out so soon or that it would work so well. I have really been missing out.

Hubby gave his Ok to the prototype and said he didn’t want just ONE for Christmas – he wanted THREE big ones. He told me to forget the little ones – for him. He likes the support this one gives to his neck when he lies down even without the heat. I thought we might share—silly me! I should have known better.

I used muslin for the rice bag (inside) and the cover is made from the flannel I purchased on sale a few weeks back. I plan to make a small one for Simon, but that is assuming we will be getting really cold weather. Really cold for us is a week with highs in the 40s (sometimes colder), but we have had maybe one day like that with temps bouncing back into the 70s.

This project turned out really well, but I’m not sure that I will be using all 50 pounds of rice for rice bags. We may have to start eating rice every day for a while. This first rice bag weighs in at about 3 pounds. I had planned on giving a few to friends and selling a few in the church shop, but that has been put on hold. While I am making these rice bags, I have other projects that need to get started and completed like the tea cozies and, oh, I cannot forget Simon’s stocking. So many things to do–so little time.

Happy Gardening with all of your projects!


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Santa Claus

Santa from wikipedia

When the girls were small we would take them to see Santa Claus, usually in the local mall. Sometimes we made it through the line with the girls actually managing to sit on Santa’s lap, but sometimes we didn’t. I guess the most trying time was when we had been standing in line for a bit and a little girl came up to the youngest daughter and told her that Santa was not REAL. She was not saying THIS Santa wasn’t real but that ALL Santas were “fake.” As parents, most of us have all dealt with this at some point in time—those who have chosen the Santa route.

When I was in first grade, a girl at school told me that Santa did not exist because her mother told her so. WOW! Pop my bubble and break my party balloon! I could not wait to get home to ask my parents. They were shocked that they had to approach this so early on, but my dad never acknowledged the little girl’s claim. While Santa may not always reside at the North Pole, my dad believed that people will continue to give to others in the Christmas spirit.

Being a Christian, I have questioned if we chose the right path—the Santa route—because I think this fosters that feeling of ‘what is in it for me’ attitude and it is formed at such an early age when the meat of the matter should be about giving and not receiving. The Santa route causes us to seek more for ourselves, but it seems that ‘more’ is never enough.

Gift giving is something I have had to learn about—not that I did not understand the meaning but I have had to find the deeper meaning. My conclusions are that if we give of our heart, it should not matter what type of gift we give. That doesn’t mean that the gift doesn’t matter at this point, but the recipient needs to be the focus. And, no strings can be attached. If I give a gift, I cannot expect a gift in return, a written thank-you note, etc. And, as the receiver of a gift, I need to cherish the giver so much more than the gift. I know there will always be people who give expecting something in return and those that try to shame people into giving, but it is not right. I also think that gifts made from one’s hands or gifts of services are so much better appreciated or should be. This may not always be the case, but we need to remind ourselves what a gift is.

As for Santa…well, we were in the mall the other day and Santa smiled and waved at me. I looked around to see if there was someone behind me. That made my day! It was a very kind smile and not a parade smile or wave. So, while we are out in the hustle and bustle of the season, let us give a Santa smile to someone and make their day, too.

Happy Gardening!


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This year has not been that kind to us with several unfortunate events including deaths of friends and family. As one daughter celebrated a birthday yesterday a great-niece of ours passed away. She was just a baby and has been in and out of the hospital. Life is not easy but no one promised it would be.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but with each year, I find it more difficult. My hubby and children are all of the family I have left. The closest relatives are some 2nd cousins. My thoughts are always on the reason why we celebrate but memories tend to flood my mind. Today marks a milestone of when my grandmother passed away-10 years ago. She lived with us for a time as I was her caregiver and is the only family the girls really knew of my family. It is so easy to allow all of the bad things to overshadow the good things, and it is a struggle sometimes to stay upbeat. At this time each year I tend to re-examine and evaluate my life, trying to find purpose and meaning, but I feel there are more failures than successes.

No, this is not a pity party by a long shot. As I sit her contemplating life, I find myself at a crossroads. I feel that I have to make a decision about something and am having the worst time with it. Some things are a matter of fact-yes or no, black or white, hot or cold, red or green…but this is not so ‘cut and dry’ with an easy answer-or I do not feel like there is. Perhaps I know the answer but am scared to take the next step because I know there will be consequences—or at least some repercussions due to my actions or choices I make. If I choose poorly, I am not the only one to be affected. I have to put my family first.

I hope the holidays do not find you blue or having to make hard choices that might hurt you or someone else. I wish for all of us a peaceful holiday, and may your gardens grow lush and green all year long!


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