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Posts tagged ‘gifts’

Perfect Gifts

Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day. The list goes on. It’s even Graduation time and wedding season. This is the time of year you hear from people that never call or write, inviting you to things they know you can’t attend. It is gift giving time.

I want for nothing. My cupboards are full to the brim and my children are at wits end when they want to gift me and the same is true in reverse. We are a nation of too much stuff looking for ways to pass it on to those that are in need. Most of us are more than generous in our sharing but what do we do about our desire to gift?

Maggie Magellan hard at work.

I have found the best gifts are those of experience. My daughter’s birthday was last month and I gave her the class schedule for adult community education. I suggested she pick something she wanted to try and I would pay for it for her birthday. She chose a watercolor class. It happened to be at the same time, in the same building as the memoir writing class I’ve been wanting to take. Each Monday night for 6 weeks we go to our separate classes together. Yay!

Who needs navigation. Just follow the car in front of you.

Mother’s Day just paid us a visit and my children know better than to buy me more things. My son used my audible points to buy two books I had on my wish list. Then he put the cash in my checking account. I found a use for it.

Mother’s Day was a quandary for my daughter. She called me and said we needed a beach day. She made reservations for two nights with a great motel discount from work. It was cool, grey and internet was sketchy. Couldn’t have been better. I loaded the cooler with food for dinner and off we went through Tillamook to Newport and Nye Beach. The money my son put in my checking account gave me a bit to buy some cheese and jam at a great place along the way in Tillamook as well as ice cream at the creamery. We played all the way there and just chilled on the beach barefoot. Now that’s a good gift. So is listening to a favorite book in bed after wearing myself out walking in the ocean.

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I have a grandniece who just had a birthday earlier this month. At 18 and ready to graduate, I no longer knew what she would enjoy since we rarely connect. Smart girl that she is; with a generous heart, she posted a link to her Facebook page to donate to her local animal shelter directly. I didn’t even know you could do such things! I hope there is something similar for her graduation gift. I don’t know them well enough to pick something out.

Tillamook Creamery. Cheese and Ice Cream along with some learning

Sylvia Beach House high on the hill. Each room named for a different author. A favorite of mine.

I prefer handcrafted gifts but they are not very popular with young people. Since I’m so swamped with too much on my plate again, I’ll beg you all for ideas. My brain is on hiatus and gave no forwarding address. What do you do for such difficult gift giving situations? I’m open to all suggestions. Especially inexpensive ideas.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

A Month in a Flash

I’ve wanted to write everyday but either my brain or body were just too frazzled to make any sense of it all. So, bear with me here.

Christmas gift that lasted through the new year. Thank you dear friend.

Christmas was small and quiet. Only five of us for dinner. The focus this year was my niece who is in her second year at University. She and her mother are Jewish but they do Christmas with us because we love each other. It was a very practical year. She received a simple white robe from my sister and an extra set of sheets for the extra long twin they have in the dorms from me. I washed them both and mailed them after personalizing the robe so it didn’t wander off while unattended.

The rose is significant and larger than I thought it would be.

After a week of recovery and dealing with leftover food, the process of taking down Christmas began. There are rules here in this park. No outdoor decorations after January 15. I picked the first dry day and took down all outside lights. Since Christmas is my favorite holiday because it’s so festive, I have a lot to put away. More is being given away.  Paring down takes time. Grieving must be allowed.

When you add in the fact that my daughter is moving in with me and her things must have some room, we have utter chaos in play. I had to completely unload the ‘guest’ room and figure out what to do with it all. Crafting and its accoutrements had filled the closet and spilled out everywhere. She brought in kitchen spices and things she needs for her kitchen that must fit in mine. Most of her things are going into storage or being sold, donated or dumped. We are really ‘fluffing the Chi’ in our homes this time. Nothing is untouched.

 

A gift from my son. Kinder as in Children.

 

From my son to his sister. I have seen it all now.

My feet revolted so I went to use the exercise bike at the gym on Monday to stay off them for a couple of days. I ended up at the store afterward buying two of the two cubic ft. bags of planting mix for my Lemon Cyprus that was blown over in the wind Saturday night. It felt just under tornado strength from the way my windows in the bedroom whistled most of the night. I will move its mate this weekend while we are having a short dry spell and give it more room. So much for staying off my feet.

 

Today I ignored the waves of foot discomfort again to walk the mall and have a long coffee break with a friend before things get really crazy around here. By the first of February, things should be only slightly chaotic which is normal for me.

My sewing friends enjoyed the last Christmas potluck party on Tuesday and now I wish I had taken photos. The table was so pretty, the food so good, and the company inspiring.

Today is the start of more normal, healthy eating. I don’t think my clothes or my feet could wait another day.

Did the last month go by in a flash for you as well? Is this new year shaping up to have lots of changes for you too?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Speed

Have you noticed that the months of November and December go faster than any month of the year? It’s like these two months are on speed and I’m on molasses. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas always finds me totally unprepared and way behind schedule.

Set myself up an assembly line in the den so I can watch Christmas movies while I work.

We know it’s coming with 12 months notice. It comes the same time every year and each year I’m behind in my list of things to get done. I’ve even shortened the list to a minute fraction of what it once was.

Someone apparently likes pink. Not my favorite..

Sleep doesn’t come easily when your mind is letting you know all night what’s left to be done before mailing is no longer possible. Since I make most my gifts from what I have available, my creativity has to work overtime as well.

 

Many days are taken up with fun things. Last weekend I went to the Hazelnut Festival in Mt. Angel, Oregon with my blogging friend Crystal, at Conscious Engagement.  There are better photos on her blog. She did the driving, I bought lunch. Santa was on the porch calling us to dine.

Having a chat with Santa

It’s less than an hour away from my house and two from Crystal’s. It turned into a beautiful day but quite chilly. They were wise enough to hold it in a large hall out of the elements. I bought a lovely hazelnut cake made by the Benedictine Sisters to share over the holidays. There was Chocolate hazelnut handmade pasta to make as a dessert. I can’t wait to try it. Hazelnut butter and so many things made with them I had a hard time leaving it all behind.

I’m dancing to the music

Next week will be full as well. Sewing group will have their all day (5 hrs) gathering to share our finished projects and our gifts for each other. Mine are ready for the bows.

Each one is a little different. For quilting friends.

Even the Pulmonary Fibrosis support group my sister, daughter and I attend will have their monthly gathering at a restaurant downtown. Thank goodness my daughter is a wonderful chauffeur. The drinks (if we imbibe) will be on us but the nibbles are gifted by the foundation. The chauffeur never imbibes and drives. I taught her well.

My first visit with Santa in over 30 years.

This holiday is once again going to be quite different from others. I’ve been gifting from my collections and making lots of bowl cozies for family members to give as their gifts to friends. Since they already have theirs, the making of these others will be my gift to them. I’m slower these days but finding a rhythm.

6 cozies made for my sister so far. She gives them as gifts

Today will be baking day. A favorite for both my daughter and me. We usually spend Saturday’s together and baking in my better-appointed kitchen than she has is fun and tasty. I can only say, I wish you were here. Now it’s time to start our breakfast.

Beginning of baking

How are you doing with timing?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Little Bitty Party

I’ve been absent and can’t quite explain why that happened. We had excessive heat along with smoke from fires in every direction. I think my brain melts in hot weather but I was willing to tolerate it without (too much) complaint as I bargained with the heavens that I would be quiet about the heat if the weather cooled for my company.

September’s flower Aster in full bloom on Sept 2

I had lots of it. My son and his significant other spent 10 days here and my cousin and her grown children arrived just in time to spend three days celebrating our birthdays. This is the time of year so many I know are celebrating birthdays. There were three of us in my family here and one good friend in just over a week. More of my blogging friends have them in early September as well.

The beginning of Autumn Hydrangeas

Why the party? My cousin who is many years younger had her heart stop a while back. It took three tries to get it going again and then a pacemaker. It’s happening more and more to younger people. She decided life was now and no more waiting. It’s been 15 years since we’ve been in the same space. This was also my 70th birthday two days before her birthday and she was named after me.

2nd cousins all grown up.

Bloody Mary toast to 70 and not 70.

Even drink these out of a straw. Her son did the grilling.

Birthdays are no longer a given. I was informed last December that I am facing a major health challenge that can only be managed, not treated. so all my ducks needed to be lined up as I go about the business of continuing to live a full and happy life. Family and friends are a big part of that so the party seemed to take on a life of its own. It was a zoo here! My sewing friends were invited to visit the zoo and were made honorary members for their efforts.

Flowers from Patti

Wall hanging from my friend, Emily. It was her birthday week as well.

It was so much fun to see how everyone pitched in to make it work effortlessly. These last months have been very full and I have many partially written posts waiting to be finished. Now that fall has finally winked at us, I may have a bit more time. Of course the rain has still failed to materialize and we desperately need it.

All the den, living room and dining room furniture in one space so we are all together

I think birthdays should be celebrated more than any holiday we have. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity to grow older. Not everyone has that pleasure. My birthdays have usually been very quiet and sedate. This one, shared by my cousin, son’s partner and myself made it raucous and loud. A real party! I wanted no gifts as I’m in the giving away stage but some things were still gifted and deserved special mention.

A wonderful gift from my daughter for all of us. Another view of my favorite non cake. Doesn’t get better than this.

My son and his partner did many chores for me as well as putting new struts on the tailgate of my suburban. That door is quite heavy when it comes down on you. He also built shelves in the storage shed for better organization and put up more motion sensors for my safety. There is more to this but that’s another post.

 

Tech Supports favorite task when visiting.

My daughter and I went to see Christopher Robin at the movies several weeks ago and I mentioned after this wonderful and sweet story that I didn’t remember ever reading the Pooh stories. She said she had so I must have bought her a copy at some time. I am now having the childhood I missed the first time. I read myself a bedtime story each night. They are so lovely and I hope to catch up on more I missed.

Jennie at A Teacher’s Reflection’s entices me with her collection of children’s books. I feel quite young visiting her blog.

I love this book!

 

Do you celebrate your birthdays quietly or with a big slash?

Boccone Dolce for 3 birthdays and 10 people

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

It’s here today and gone tomorrow. Spring finally showed up and I put out my welcome sign. In the next moment, we went back to winter then summer and finally spring again. What we had of spring was lovely  Everything is confused except the bees. I’m listening to them.

 

Dressing in layers is the only way to go these days. We get a cold rainy day then a scorcher.  One day I have lots of energy to put into the yard  The next day I’m spinning my wheels and sitting trying to decide if I can do anything of use.  I’ve been here in my cozy home for four years at the end of this month and made so many changes.

 

Spring is the month I can get the most work done outside and even inside. Once I could open all the windows, I took a day to clean my oven. Four years ago, it took 4 hours to clean that nasty mess the previous owner left for me. Now it’s taking me a whole day to clean a rarely used oven. Looks like some of my spring, sprang.

Ground cover spreading and front porch in need of serious help.

Weeding on the hill and the front yard took lots of rest periods that would never have happened four years ago. But the end result was worth it.

 

The entire top of the hill was covered in these sticker weeds. Birds carry the seeds everywhere as does the wind.

 

 

beginning of the weeding

 

Still more work to do but a good start. Lower bed is the Oregano and Thyme.

I have been gifted with pieces of many plants from friends around here. I take those gifts seriously and nurture them to the best of my ability. Of course, I gift in return. A neighbor came looking for Thyme to cook his dinner.He said what I gave would have cost him $5 for a small bundle, he wound up with triple for a thank you. I’ve offered my Oregano as well to anyone that wants fresh. I’ve passed on ground cover and anything that I’m growing that can be split. It’s how the world should work. I get a lot of my plants from a fellow blogger and photographer, Sabine.

There are lots of projects on the list. This week I had the distinct urge to take care of my window trim as it was the last cool, cloudy day on the sunny side of the house. If the butterfly bush blooms, it will be covered in bees which are not conducive to standing on the ladder with black paint. I’m embarrassed to say it’s taken two years to get to this. I’ll do the one on the front porch tomorrow. Then I must sand the stairs and railing on the front porch and re-stain. Today I can’t move. Old feet on ladders takes its toll. I’ll wait for the next surge of energy.  They don’t come so often anymore.

So I’ve hung up the Welcome Summer sign since my spring is sprung anyway. How about you? Are you ready to welcome the next season or is there still a spring in your step?

This one goes up Memorial Day and stays until after Labor Day.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Gifts in the Mail

Bloggers are a different breed of people. I think most have a broader perspective of the world. Our world is larger in many ways even if it appears to the eye to be quite small.

I started blogging six years ago to enlarge my world created by a debilitating illness. I could no longer drive my car that had taken me thousands of miles across the country. Catching a bus to go shop was a major event that brought a great deal of fatigue. The blogging community rescued me from self-pity and taught me I could reach out as well.

African Violet loves the kitchen sink area. Happy day.

I have met (virtually) many who are in some capacity, more debilitated than I, offering great strength and courage. Their tenacity moved me forward. Even though we are somewhat debilitated or even disabled, we still have much to share with one another.

Over the last year, my local quilting friend Patti was working on a cross stitch that I fell in love with. It was a pattern company I was familiar with but had never seen this design. Already having given away all counted cross stitch patterns I had as I could no longer see the tiny squares, I asked Patti if I could borrow the pattern to copy and share with a blogging friend that I thought might enjoy it. I was hoping to pay this blogger to make it for me.

Patti said that as soon as she was done with the pattern, I could have it. True to her word, as I ogled the finished project, she handed over the pattern which I promptly forwarded to my friend Lois at Life in a Minimalist Farmhouse.

I have sent and received gifts from many bloggers over the years. They are cherished more than anyone can imagine. These people have never and probably will never meet me in person. Despite this, we have formed deep and personal relationships. Lois is one of those friends who inspire on a daily basis. She reclaims cast offs and re-purposes them, inspires neighbors to garden, repair and rebuild. I had a lot of pink fabric and no more little girls to use it on as well as a few children’s books and no more children. I passed them on to Lois who had grandchildren that appreciated what she made from the fabric and enjoyed the books.

Previous gifts from Lois

This is what I received from Lois soon after sending her the pattern. Now she is making one for herself from it and then sharing it with another friend.

She chose different colors than the pattern asked for. I LOVE them.

I can be quite slow about getting things framed but this was too beautiful to wait. After all the hours of her hard work, I had to get it up on the wall quickly. So. I went to Craft Warehouse and had a discount coupon to get it framed in a way I hope brings more attention to the art than the frame. Thank you, Lois. You do incredible work. Her work on holiday and celebration gifts are stunning. Stop by and pay this amazing woman a visit. She just posted her version of this design so stop by and take a look at it here.

The frame is the same color as the trees.

Have you enjoyed close friendships with other bloggers?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

A Cheerleader

Each of us has our unique gift to the world. My friend (such a nice word) Emily’s is quilting. This weekend the place in Vancouver, Washington where we go for retreats was hosting an open house. Nancy’s SewNGo was making some changes including the name, now “The Countryside Quilters” and wanted to show off the new classroom as well as give newcomers a view of the wonderful facility without charge. Since I cannot as yet drive that far on my own, our friend Patti offered a ride if I could meet her on the other side of the highway as she had a couple other quilting friends going along with her as well. I could do the 10 minute drive easy and Patti did the rest with ease. I was more than delighted to be included. (Another nice word)

On the wall at Nancy’s

 

Apparently, some of us missed the memo. Patti with white t-shirt and biggest smile.

Part of the open house was a showing of my friend Emily’s quilts. She was the featured quilter for 3 days. Emily is my neighbor and also a member of the quilt group I joined right after moving to this town. She started quilting after she retired and at 80, is a most prolific quilter. As her hands have succumbed to arthritis, she has leaned more to applique quilting. It’s her favorite way of expressing her art. She took around 70 of the quilts she had at home to be displayed. I didn’t include them all here. This does not include her Christmas quilts, the quilts she has gifted to family and friends or her many donation quilts. She and Patti regularly get together for weeks at a time somewhere away from home to quilt together and challenge themselves and each other. They are both willing to help and teach a newbie like myself in the quilting art.

Emily in the foreground

Emily was just stunned that her quilts deserved their own showing. She was just overwhelmed with emotion that she was the recipient of all those accolades. I can guarantee she deserved each and every one.
My gift in the world will probably never be quilting. I enjoy it but not as much as I love cheering about the success of someone else. To be able to write and tell you about it is the gift I have to share. I relish others success and am an avid admirer of the wonder of their gifts. Someone has to be the cheering section and I’m that person. I get so excited about the things my friends make that I almost can’t contain myself.

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I’m also not the best photographer in the world. My hands are starting to shake somewhat as I’ve noticed many of my photos too fuzzy to view. So you get to see what’s passable. We signed up for more classes at the retreat center that are just one day events. I’m so excited to get to go play again. SewNGo has their own Facebook page so you can pop over and see more wonderful photos. I borrowed a couple from Nancy that were better than mine. She won’t mind.

Taking photos with the cell phone.

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What is your unique gift in the world?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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