Looking for answers to life's questions

Posts tagged ‘gifts’

What’s New?

I’m trying to figure out this New Year thing. Saturday turns into Sunday and everything is supposed to be different? My house looks like the same mess it was in yesterday. In other words, same stuff (putting it nicely), different day. My mind is as chaotic as my home is right now so forgive the fragmented writing, please.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

packing boxes mixed in with Christmas decor.

I was awakened at midnight by the fireworks that sounded like gunshots going off in my neighborhood and it took a while to go back to sleep. I’m a very early riser. Why do we humans like to celebrate things? Maybe  to keep life from being mundane. Animals don’t do celebrations. Every day is good to them. I know there is a lesson in there.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

I got time for Christmas. Something I really need.

Christmas is over. I love/hate Christmas, though this year was unlike any of them. I had a lot to do this year that just didn’t get done. I spent most of my time working on a quilt for my son. He is moving all his stuff to snow country. After expressing a fondness for a soft plain quilt he saw in a craft show, I made it my mission to get one made before Christmas so he would have it with him. I had no idea what I was doing and no pattern or measurements. He wanted “soft” so that’s what I made. Flannel on one side, Minky® on the other. Other than an embroidered fleece blanket for my niece to take to college next fall, the quilt is the only thing I finished this year.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Quilt for Tech Support.

Isabel Rose is her name.

Isabel Rose is her name.

When the truck pulls out with everything from his room and the storage unit, I will start my new year. Sorting and selling. We have already sold many things through a neighborhood website that just popped up. Yay!!! I still have a village to sell and all its inhabitants. There is nowhere to store them year to year anymore and nowhere to display them. Anyone need a collection of dust catchers?

Alpine Bakery

Alpine Bakery

New for me this year will be just one thing. Find ways to move more. Just my body, not my house.  None of what I do involves a lot of movement. I’m also planning to try new things this year. Maybe connecting with more blogs that ask us to write something specific, and possibly take some classes to meet new people. I tend to be a hermit. One of those extroverted introverts. People scare the dickens out of me but we need each other.

People sharing ideas and good fun

People sharing ideas and good fun

Also new this year, we’ve had an unusual amount of snow already and extra cold temps. Looks like more is on the way. I won’t mind once the kid has his rental truck safely where it’s going. I don’t wish driving in this crazy weather on anyone.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

Handmade by a quilting friend, this snow-mama came home with me.

It already feels like a very different year. In my bones different. Let’s hope it brings more good than not. So are you really expecting anything NEW about this New Year?

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Creeping

I thought I had loads of time to get it all done. Every year the same thing happens. I hear everyone commenting about the stores getting ready for Christmas in September, not even waiting till Halloween is done. Well let me be very clear here, three and a half months is not enough time for me.

All are welcome here

All are welcome here

Somehow, and I can’t imagine how it happens, Christmas is creeping up on me with less than four days to go. Where the heck did all the time go? It was there just a minute ago.

Could it have gone here?

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

Snow barely covered the ground but kids were enjoying every drop.

The first snow this year. I spent too much time watching the children play in it from the sewing room window where I should have been working.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Oh, to be a kid again.

Could it have gone here?

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

It all froze. First time in the last 4 years we have had this much snow and freezing rain.

Our second snow this season brought the city of Portland to its knees. The aftermath is beautiful but the 3 hour ride to cover the 22 miles from the airport after picking up my son complete wore us both out. Cars were littered over all the roads and interstate. No one was prepared for the amount of ice on the roads. My son, the expert driver, got us home without bending anything.

Nothing but gray skies as far as the eye can see.

back-porch-12-14-16-cropped

It sure is pretty if you don’t have to leave the house.

 

I’ve been busy working on things, some of which I can’t show you right now. Shh, they are presents. Here is one I made for my son’s birthday last month at his request.

My son has a great sense of humor

My son has a great sense of humor

I had a tiny photo of my tree skirt on a previous blog and a better photo was requested. I have more started but the details I add take a great deal of time. I think I’ll start on them next month.

The whole tree skirt

The whole tree skirt

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it's assembled

Lots of added detail like the gold bows sewn on before it’s assembled

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

There is a spot to hide a gift under the heart.

My son flew home for Christmas and collecting all his belongings to move them into a shipping container on a friends piece of property. The shipping container was less expensive than a year’s storage fees and when it’s no longer storage for his things, it can be used as a shop and work space. So along with the Christmas decorations and preparations, we are getting ready for another shuffling of stuff and moving it. Not the best time of year for it but storage unit fees are getting astronomical. Is anyone starting to question our sanity?

Someone has to make use of these things.

Someone has to make use of these things.

I also made time to walk my daughter through a project she wanted to do and we were flying by the seat of our pants with no real pattern. We made it up as we went and it turned out pretty good for her first time. She likes using my machine so I can hover and calm when fear arises. It’s a gift for a hard to gift friend of hers. We are both proud of her.

I still have a dozen projects to finish in the next three days. What are the odds? Will the baking get done? How about you?

Is Christmas creeping up on you like a cat stalking a bird or are you ready to smack it down?

 

Since I most likely won’t get another chance, I’m wishing you all the joy this Christmas season can bring and hope that the New Year will bring a new start and peace in your heart.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Creative Endeavors

There are lessons to be learned about oneself even in the autumn of one’s life. I’m hoping it’s the autumn and not the winter so I have lots of time left for discovery. I’ve discovered I’m a procrastinator, big time.

As I set out to complete my daily tasks, I find that procrastination can be a perpetual companion and a teacher. It tells me there is fear somewhere in the task or maybe something even as strong as dislike.

I’ve had a lot of projects on the back burner lately. As all of the outside projects came to completion, I could finally focus on the inside projects. I realized that when I would rather mop the floor, do the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or make the bed rather than sit at the sewing machine, something was going on.

The workhorse

The workhorse

It started with my newest Viking Diamond Royale sewing machine behaving badly with almost every project. We’ve had many trips back to Montavilla’s where it was purchased and it always seems to work for the doctor. It must be something I’m doing they say. I have an old Viking SE that threads and operates the same but will sew circles around the new one. The new one has a larger embroidery field that I have not yet been able to enjoy. The whole unit is packed away. I don’t need more frustration.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

An expensive doorstop. The embroidery unit is not connect here.

My old machine works well, my eyes, eh. They could be better so when working on precision quilts, I have a hard time getting them exact. I’m thinking it’s time to let that go. I’ve done the squares required for the quilt group and am turning my attention to more fun things to make. It has to be fun or why bother.

Making a shirt for someone is very much like making a quilt. It has to fit just right. So it goes to the top of the procrastination list. Gifts for birthdays and Christmas are moving to the top of the to-do list and can’t even look at the procrastination list. Ten weeks, people, ten weeks is all I have left.

In the meantime, I found a fun project. Microwave bowl cozies. If you still use a microwave and the bowl is too hot to pull out, then set it in the cozy first, heat and just leave it there to keep your food warm while you eat. You don’t burn your fingers that way. My son thought they were great. I had to make some a bit more masculine looking. They are made of 100% cotton so they don’t melt or catch fire in the microwave. Also handy with a freezing dish of ice cream or frozen fruit. Your hands don’t freeze holding the bowl. I started with fabric that I was going to pass on and worked my way up to fabrics that were chosen by the recipients.

I found some kits for making pillowcases in fun fabrics. U-tube has some wonderful instructions and shortcuts. I’m also a sucker for cute prints and panels. I have one for Halloween on the table waiting for borders, backing and binding to be cut and attached. They should be easy but quilting on the machine is not something I’ve mastered yet. I’ll keep at it though. I still have puckers.

So as you can see, I’ve done a little with my down time and need to do so much more. The procrastination list needs to be shredded and everything moved to the do right now list. I have company coming in two weeks and then only eight weeks to get it all finished and mailed or wrapped. Sorry for the reminder. I don’t shop for the holidays, I craft for them.

What’s on your procrastination list? Are any of them creative endeavors?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of Good Books

Have I done this one before? Maybe the title but the book and reason for it are quite different today. September is a month of birthdays. Actually August and September are filled with people I know having birthdays. I love giving presents and cards even more than receiving them.

My gift to myself should come to fruition next Tuesday. Keeping fingers crossed that it pays off and reading comes easier.

People often ask me what I’m reading and I hesitate and stammer that it’s not the normal read. I’m currently listening to the audio-bookThe Ghost in my Brain by Clark Elliott. Then there is “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge in an effort to find a way to heal my brain from the damage done by Bells Palsy. On a more spiritual side of healing was the audio book “Dying to Be Me” by Anita Moorjani. I had to order a second set as my sister and I kept loaning it out. I tend to be an odd duck in my reading choices as well as other things.

Odd ducks usually spend a lot of time alone reading anything.

Odd ducks usually spend a lot of time alone reading anything.

But then there is fun reading. The kind I love and find hard to come across. This latest was a short story written by fellow blogger, Jackie Phillips at To Breathe is to Write that I just couldn’t put down. She is offering the short story as her birthday gift for a day. Her following demanded more and she obliged. Her stories compiled themselves into a book.The short story would be worth paying for and the book is worth far more than is being charged. We were able to read the rough draft. I rarely run across a book that I don’t want to end. I hope there will be more to follow. So as a belated gift to myself, to  Jackie as well as to you, here is the link to one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a while. I think she will rank up there with the best of them. Stop by, wish her a happy birthday and have a great read. You won’t regret it. Happy Birthday to us all.

Just a few of my books

Just a few of my books

What’s on your reading list tonight?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

 

 

 

 

In Search of a Gift

Today is my birthday. I don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s one more and I’m grateful for each of them. I make it hard on my family because there is nothing I need or really want. I have an abundance of everything.

But this year I’ve given myself a gift. I hope it works out the way I planned it. You know how it is with plans.

Thanks again to the lovely sender of this gift. It's given again with the photo

Thanks again to the lovely sender of this gift. It’s given again with the photo

 

Today I’m hoping for the gift of greater vision. Literally. Well, maybe figuratively as well. I opted to ask for an eyelid lift. Only one eyelid. Genetically, I have heavy hooded lids anyway. Thanks Dad.

The eye that is still paralyzed from the Bells is the one I see with. The other eye works, sort of, but not well enough to read on its own. It would help me find my way out of a burning building so I take care of it too. It’s not paralyzed. The insurance approved this surgery because the lid was seriously in my field of vision.

I got this done in the office with a local. I’m back home again where I won’t be doing much looking for a while. I’ll have to sit quietly and let it heal. Not sure I know how to do that. This is not about vanity. It’s merely a practical need. At the end of the day, I can’t get the eye to stay open far enough to see the computer or sew. I can watch some TV but mostly, I listen to it in the background.

Before the surgery. I won't gross you out with the recent after.

Before the surgery. I won’t gross you out with the recent after.

 

It did burn a bit when the doc put in the anesthesia and will be quite uncomfortable for a few days. Anyone who volunteers to do this for vanities sake is a stronger person than I. I’m not allowed to paint or work hard for the next 2 weeks. Darn. I’ll have time to read blogs. I hope. If you don’t hear from me, I’m busy healing and can’t read very much. So my wish for this year is more vision any way you slice it. I kept hoping it would heal on its own but that’s not happening fast enough. I’ve waited almost 6 years. This is it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Image from truly graphics.com

Image from truly graphics.com

 

Have you ever given yourself a special birthday gift?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

In Search of Postal Love

I have so much to tell you all about that I almost don’t know where to start. This summer has been so full I can barely catch my breath, so I’m going with what touches my heart the most and save the rest for a later post. This is my way of saying thank you for all the thoughtfulness in the world.

What I must admit here, is that I’m having a love affair with the postal service. I know, I know; they have a very bad reputation. Everyone complains on the speed of their delivery or the condition of the mail when it finally arrives. Me, I’m just very happy to get mail. It’s not often that I do but when I do, oh boy, it’s a dozy of a delivery.

I don’t get bills since mine are all paid automatically. I only get one tiny little magazine that I have subscribed to for over 20 years. Letters are few and far between, like at Christmas. But earlier this spring I received these handmade items from Fran and Steve in Tasmania via Serendipity Farms. Steve made them from their native wood.

Hand carved from native Tasmanian wood

Hand carved from native Tasmanian wood

So why the love affair? I have received in the last short while so much wonderful mail that I could almost kiss my mail carrier, Mo. (short for Maureen). I’m not sure she would appreciate the kiss. She’d rather have cookies or banana bread but it’s too hot to bake. I just received this wonderful hand-made thank you card.

A wonderful hand crafted thank you. So much thought went into it.

A wonderful hand crafted thank you. So much thought went into it.

Most of my mail has had an aqua tinge to it. It’s now also becoming a favorite color of mine. Can you guess who sent all this wonderful mail?

Aqua and pink are the signature colors here.

Aqua and pink are the signature colors here.

The first package arrived a several weeks ago. There was an Easter bunny in there and chocolate. My son saw the chocolate and decided I needed help with my diet. The rest was pure fun.

The second was supposed to be just a check for the aqua sewing machine I sold and mailed to this sweet soul to add to her collection. Well the check was in a fair sized box that left me quite in a titter. Here is what was in the box with the check.

When I mailed the machine, I decided to mail it from Victoria while I was there to see if postage would be less than from Oregon. Not only was it one third the cost, I had an old address on there and the lovely Canadian postal system bothered to find her and send it on. After a year, my post office can’t find me and I only moved 3 miles but I’m not giving them a bad time because they brought me such lovely things.

From someone special

From someone special

I love snail mail and my postal workers. Without them I wouldn’t have all of these delights. I just wish international mail were not so expensive and difficult. Now to get my thank you card done.

Another coaster with pink typewriter.

Another coaster with pink typewriter.

Can you imagine life without the ability to send wonderful things to each other?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of a Break

It’s been hairy, hectic, and heavy. We’ve had a long week of shifting, shoving and shimmying stuff around.

The pods arrived and so did my former (ex) daughter-in-law. She worked like a trooper in helping my son and I build shelving in the storage unit. When he bought the shelves, I shook my head and shrugged, thinking this man is not playing with a full deck. No, I didn’t say it out loud. I just couldn’t see the picture he had in my own mind.

Just like a tinker toy, The beginning looks nothing like shelving

Just like a tinker toy, The beginning looks nothing like shelving

Once they were together, I had to admire his foresight. My stored stuff was placed on the first set of shelves moving from another location to this one closer to home. Then we had to make quick work to empty the first pod so they could deliver the second. The first one held all the heavy stuff like tools. The rest of the week was so exhausting that we all ate many of our meals out, showered and fell in our beds. Trying to squeeze five bedrooms, 3 baths, a 2 car garage and a shed’s worth of stuff into one bedroom and a 12 by 25 storage building along with my storage building worth of stuff was an exercise in mental hydraulics.

This is all my Christmas and crafts plus more sewing. If I ever get done moving it, I can use it.

This is all my Christmas and crafts plus more sewing. If I ever get done moving it, I can use it.

When the last pod was emptied, we celebrated. My living, dining, sewing room, and kitchen are NOT celebrating. It looks like I just moved in all over again. Next week we will make it better.

One pod empty, one to go and there is still lots of room in here

One pod empty, one to go and there is still lots of room in here

Needing a break, the rest of the time my DIL was here, we wanted to show her some of Portland.

Where do we take visitors who come to our town? Well, my son had to take her to Multnomah Falls. He has photographed it every time he visited here.

One of my favorite of his photos of Multnomah Falls

One of my favorite of his photos of Multnomah Falls

Then of course there is the infamous “Powell’s City of Books”. They spent well over two hours there. I spent a great deal of it in the café watching Portland walk by, buying NO books this time. There is no time to read what I have so more will have to wait. Since they sell new and used, the kids came out with a few, mostly my son. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to collecting books.

Don't let the small appearance fool you. You need a map inside as it fills a whole city block

Don’t let the small appearance fool you. You need a map inside as it fills a whole city block

It goes on and on and on

It goes on and on and on

Then my sister met us for a tour of the Pittock Mansion grounds since the Mansion itself was closed for the winter. The view was breathtaking. I mostly enjoyed petting the dogs everyone brought.

My son managed to capture the mansion with no one in front of it.

My son managed to capture the mansion with no one in front of it.

only part of the breath taking view.

only part of the breath taking view.

One of the highlights of our town is that we live in close proximity to Bob’s Red Mill. They ship to stores all over the country and have started serving 3 meals a day. I love having breakfast there so we did. My son found the best ginger cookies I’ve ever eaten.

We timed it just right as they are always busy. They have outdoor seating for those that want to dine with their dogs.

We timed it just right as they are always busy. They have outdoor seating for those that want to dine with their dogs.

You can't miss it driving by.

You can’t miss it driving by.

Row after row of organic everything. They will even teach you how to use it.

Row after row of organic everything. They will even teach you how to use it.

For me a town is a lot about the food and Portland does not disappoint. Since we were in such a jumble anyway, we tried several of the restaurants. The Ram makes the best French fries in the world. I should know, I’ve eaten them everywhere. We stopped by the German deli, Edelweiss, for stuff my DIL needed to bake the German cookies I gave her the recipe for.

One of 4 Gustav's/Rhrinlander's in the Portland area, this one is very close to home

One of 4 Gustav’s/Rhrinlander’s in the Portland area, this one is very close to home

Then to cap off her visit, we had linner (combination lunch and dinner) at Gustav’s German restaurant. She tried the beer sampler with dinner and we all enjoyed the pretzel and cheese fondue. My son, I don’t know where he come from, had a hamburger, while my DIL and I enjoyed more traditional fare. It was LUSCIOUS! I took home a bowl of their lentil soup to see if I can figure out how they make it. Better than mine any day of the week. Of course, my son disagrees. The spaetzle was extra good with a Madeira sauce on them. Mom always used a meat gravy that we loved.

We had a cozier spot.

We had a cozier spot.

We arrived home to pick up the mail at the box up the street from the house. There were stacks of mail for my son and my sister. I had one piece. Just one, and it was happy mail! The Snail of Happiness, who was inspired to do so by The Contented Crafter, sent me snail mail. A happy package filled with her creativeness. We all admired her handiwork. How lucky am I!! Bloggers are wonderful people.

A bouquet of knit roses in wonderful colors

A bouquet of knit roses in wonderful colors


A tiny paper rose was hidden inside, all was placed in star studded organza bag

A tiny paper rose was hidden inside, all was placed in star studded organza bag

The vase of the roses in a perfect shade of blue.

The vase of the roses in a perfect shade of blue.

Now I’m inspired to finish a few projects of my own…as soon as I unearth the sewing room, again.

That’s what I do when I need a break.

At what point do you need a break and how do you go about getting one?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself