Saturday, December 24, 2016

Creating Christmas Nostalgia

Before we were married I began stitching a Christmas stocking for Eric.  We were married 4 years before Anna was born and some time after her birth I stitched her stocking.  Two years after Anna was born we welcomed Ethan and I began a stocking for him.  I actually misplaced that stocking so I purchased another shortly before some Christmas  - probably his 3rd.  His is the most detailed of the family and I quickly realized I was not going to be able to complete it before Christmas.  In fact, I did not complete it for several years!  (I habitually pick Christmas stitching up a few months before the holidays only to abandon it a few days prior to Christmas when I realize I can't possibly finish.)

Once I had finally finished Ethan's stocking, I began to work on mine.  I finished the stitching a few weeks ago but hadn't bothered with assembling it until last night  - when Anna told me peanut cakes (our favorite Christmas treat) could wait but I  MUST finish my stocking.  So off I went to my craft room.

In the course of years and multiple moves I had lost the felt which was meant to be the back of my stocking.  (I did, however,  find Ethan's original stocking!) As I rummaged through my craft room searching for the felt, I found something better and inspiration struck.  Actually I found 2 items: a child size pillowcase that had been my Dad's and my favorite fabric purchased in Taiwan.

The pillowcase was cream with a hand crocheted edge.  I feel rather certain that my grandmother made the case.  If not her, then likely her mother.  I had actually used it on a small pillow for my children when they were little,  so that pillowcase held multiple levels of sentimentality for me.  Over the years though, age was catching up with it and the seam was fraying, rendering it useless as a pillowcase.  It struck me that the crocheted trim would be lovely at the top of my stocking! And since I was going to cut it apart I decided to use the body of the case as the lining for the stocking.  I love these moments of brilliance - they are so painfully rare.

What to do about the back of the stocking?  I have a box of beautiful fabrics I purchased in Taiwan and Vietnam, including many BEAUTIFUL silks.  My favorite fabric though has always been the bright floral Hakka pattern.   The Hakka are the indigenous people of Taiwan. Based on the exuberance of their signature fabric I'm certain they're my kind of people!   I purchased the fabric in 3 colors: red, purple and blue.   I chose the  blue for my stocking, and the reason prompts me to share another detail of the piece.

The kit for my stocking was purchased eons ago.  It has made many moves with me, likely including the move to Taiwan.   As I was feverishly working on it last year, I realized that as you peek into the windows of the house it's walls are aqua or turquoise colored.  The funny thing is the walls in the dining room of my current home - which you see through one of my front windows - are turquoise! That knowledge prompted me to use turquoise thread for my name, though the pattern stated it should be green.  The pattern also included an alphabet in block letters, similar to those for the rest of the family.   I decided to go off script so I looked online for something more my style.

Since I had focused on turquoise for my name, I decided the blue (turquoise-ish blue) would be a great choice for the back.  I am incredibly pleased with the finished product.   The only problem is that now I feel like the other stockings are a bit boring!

Here they are:

And now please excuse me, I need to get back to making peanut cakes. 

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Summer Vacation Without Kids (Part 2)

In the strangeness that is part of us since we lived in Taiwan, the first place we headed upon arrival on Vancouver Island was the city of Victoria's Chinatown!  It was quite disappointing.  There was the obligatory gate:

And there remains just one street, one block long, which seems to be original to when the Chinese first settled in Victoria.  It is called Fan Tan Alley.  It was wonderful, but there was far too little of it.

Since Chinatown took such a small bit of time, we headed in search of gardens.  The entire next day was set aside to visit Butchart Gardens, so on this day we went to a lovely public garden called Beacon Hill Park.

I believe the flowers are self-explanatory, but isn't this the coolest pine tree?

And this beautiful peacock was strolling the grounds.

All in all, Beacon Hill Park was possibly the most beautiful public space I've ever seen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - no kids (Part 1)

Late in August Eric and I set out on another vacation, this time without the kids.  We had invited them but they thought it sounded boring, so our youth pastor and his wife stayed at our house with the kids and Eric and I set out on another road trip.

I have previously shared pictures from Multnomah Falls.  This is similar and nearby, but different.  I learned of this hike while searching the internet for less touristy things to do.  This is called Horsetail Falls and the hike was classified as "easy".  Two overweight, middle age, non-athletic people could only wonder what a difficult hike would have been!  We hiked up and up and up for - ? 1-1/2 miles?  It was lovely and we absolutely enjoyed it, but we had to stop MANY times to catch our breath!  (For the record, I had begun a diet shortly before this trip which I am still on.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight.  I tried to insert a "before and after" picture here but... you know, technical challenges.)

We were ultimately headed to Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada.  I have loads of pictures which I will share in subsequent posts.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Family Summer Vacation 2016

For some reason, on the rare occasion that I write here anymore, I write about the melancholy events. I decided to lighten up and share some of my millions of pictures of good times.

Way back in June our family took a wonderful vacation in which we visited several new-to-us places.  First stop was Bandon, Oregon.  We rented a quaint old cottage on the beach.  The kids surprised me by loving it.  We've stayed in some very nice places over the years; this wasn't anything fancy but I'm quite sure they preferred it over any of the fancy places we've stayed!

You can walk the beach for miles and find some interesting carved out rock areas.  We did spend a good bit of time doing just that.

We took a day trip on a jet boat up the Rogue River.  Fairly scenic and just something different for us.

Of course I made my husband pull over many times so that I could take flower pictures.  Oregon's climate is perfect for growing a lot of gorgeous flowers.  Here, roses have overtaken a deserted building which is marked as the "Book Nook".

Probably my favorite flower in Oregon, the hydrangeas are as big as dinner plates, and the color...!

From Bandon, we travelled south to northern California to see the famous Redwood Forest.  It was quite spectacular.  The height of the trees is crazy!

Next we circled back up to Crater Lake, Oregon.  The lake was apparently formed after a volcano blew up eons ago.  The water is a spectacular shade of blue.  I have pictures that show the color better, but I couldn't load them tonight so this will have to do for now.

See that kid on the left?  That's my 13 year old son (only 12 at the time of this picture) who is almost 6 feet tall already!  He is standing next to his "big" sister.  Their height difference is cause for a lot of joking around our house.

I'll try to remember to get back here soon.

Friday, November 4, 2016


As you probably know, my Dad has been dealing with cancer for about 18 months now.  The good news is that, as I write this, it is still just looming in the background.  I expect that to change any day; in fact, tomorrow I will accompany him to the doctor for an update.   Overall though, Dad is doing quite well.

The not so good news is that cancer has come screaming to the foreground in Dad's friend, Peggy.  I have to admit I was shocked by this development.  Peggy seemed so healthy until a couple of months ago.  She developed a nasty cough which seemed perhaps to turn into pneumonia. In actuality she had lung cancer.  This week she finally learned that she has stage 4 lung cancer and it's time to be sure her things are in order.

I've known for weeks that Peggy has lung cancer, and I was under no illusions about the seriousness.   Very rarely does anyone survive lung cancer and Peggy is not a young woman,  so I knew how it would end.  Nevertheless,  the news today with a sort of time frame attached caught me off guard.

Peggy has become a fixture in my life,  a part of my family,  if unofficially.  Peggy always looks on the bright side of things,  gives everyone the benefit of the doubt,  and finds humor in things.  She is kind, gracious and classy, if a bit irreverent some times.  She has been a bright light in my Dad's life even as he continued to mourn the loss of my Mom. She has taken more of an interest in my kids than any of their own grandparents did, and that has meant a great deal to me.  In short, I have grown to love Peggy more than I ever thought I could and I am deeply saddened by the knowledge that I will soon be losing her.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

God Knows

The friend of a friend of mine posts a scripture writing plan on Facebook each month.  I don't know how she chooses which scripture to include, but I am confident God leads her in her choices.

The method of writing scripture which has proved profitable to me is to read through the days passage and decide what jumps out at me.  I purposed at the beginning to not look for something I wanted, but to trust God for emphasis.  Then as I write I
highlight the portion that stood out.  As days and weeks go by, I look back over the entries and read only the part that stood out to me.  It is amazing to me how those highlighted scriptures tie together. Not only that, but they speak directly to my heart and my need at the current time.

Through all of the horrid news this month, God has spoken to me in such a reassuring way.  I feel compelled to share what He has whispered to me this month:

July 1, Psalm 40:1-3
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

July 3, Psalm 37:5-9
Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Do not fret - it leads only to evil.

July 4, Psalm 37:10-11
A little while, and the wicked will be no more.

July 6, Lamentations 3:22-26
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

July 7, Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the Lord...more than watchmen wait for the morning.

July 8, Hebrews 10:35-36
(I actually read further and highlighted verse 37)
For in just a very little while,  "He who is coming will come and will not delay."

July 10, Ecclesiastes 3:11-14
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

July 11, Isaiah 40:28-31
His understanding no one can fathom.

July 13, Hebrews 12:1-3
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

July 14, 1 Peter 2:19-23
When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate.

July 15, Deuteronomy 31:6
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them.

(Note: I referenced the entire passage for each day but only typed the portion that stood out to me.)

The primary word that returns to my mind over and over is this:  "Do not fret - it leads only to evil."

As I am tempted to get riled up about our political situation,  God says do not fret - it only leads to evil. Perhaps the evil for me in this situation is growing angry toward people who hold different opinions from me.

As I am tempted to be fearful because of all the killing, God says do not fret - it only leads to evil.  Maybe the evil here is distrust of people who aren't like me.

I'm not positive of what the evils are that I am tempted toward, but I am absolutely certain God will keep me from the evil as I look to Him and wait quietly for His salvation.

What about you?  Do you feel afraid? Vengeful?  Uncertain of your future?   God wants to calm your heart too.  I encourage you to read the Bible if you don't already do so and ask God to speak His words of peace to your heart.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Full Fire Story

I'm back to share more of the story of our brush with fire.

I have difficulty sleeping,  so recently I've been staying get up until about 1:30.  It seems when I stay up late I am able to sleep with little or no interruption for about 6 hours.  So I think it was just before 1:00 Thursday morning when I decided to use the bathroom before going to sleep.  While in the bathroom I heard the sound of wind, so I looked out the window to see how strong the wind was.  As I looked into our backyard I thought the tops of the trees looked peculiar-  they seemed to have an orange glow.   I decided to go to another room to try and determine what was causing the glow, thinking perhaps we had left some light on.  When I looked out our front window I saw fire coming down the hill straight ahead of us as well as to my right.  My first thought was we need to get out of here, but it must have been followed by doubt about how bad things seemed.  I woke my husband and said "I need you to come look at something".  He took one look out the window and said "Get the kids!"  I asked "should we leave?"  I guess I believe I am too often guilty of over-dramatizing things so I was doubting my instincts.  Eric just said "Yes!"

I woke each of the kids and said, quite calmly, "I need you to grab some clothes and get to the car.  There's a fire on the hill."  I rushed to throw some clothes on myself and I think I wondered if I should grab any belongings.  The fire looked so ominous that I just decided to get out, and I didn't take one single thing with me.

We drove down the hill, which was just crazy.  There was fire everywhere.   My daughter was texting her boyfriend who also lives in our neighborhood.   He had been awake, and he woke his parents.   We stopped in front of their house but, comfortable that they were aware of the danger, we continued on.  (They also left shortly afterwards. )

We went to a park nearby so that we could watch the fire.  I think I thought the fire would be put out in short order and we could return home.  However, that was not what happened.  Idaho in the summer is very hot and dry.  We typically have temperatures in the 90's and low 100's with little to no rain.  The land around our neighborhood is typical of the area - sage brush and dried grass (called cheet grass).  It ignites and  burns quickly.  Fire crews from 4 towns plus the Bureau of Land Management were on the scene, because these fires move quickly.   While we watched from the park, the fire continued racing in every direction, including down the hill.  It was impossible to know if our house was on fire.  I began to worry about the fire spreading to the park we were in.  There was only 1 way into or out of the park and I was afraid if any people were evacuating we could get trapped in the park.  So, at 1:30 a.m., I called my brother to ask if we could go to his house.  Poor guy. 

 We were all too wound up to sleep.  We sat around talking for awhile but my daughter and I needed to see what was happening so we headed out again.  All over the city people had parked their cars and were taking pictures of the fire - at 2:30 or 3 a.m.!  We joined the crowds and talked with people for a bit.  We looked around for about an hour before heading back to my brothers house.  Still unable to sleep, we left in hopes he could rest because he had to go to work in a couple of hours. 

We decided to go to a restaurant for breakfast.  In the rush to get out of our house, neither of the kids had put on shoes!  I don't know if it's illegal or just frowned upon, but generally you cannot go into a restaurant without shoes.  We tried to go to a store which we thought was open 24 hours a day, intending to buy the kids some shoes.  The store was not, in fact, open.  So we drove to the restaurant and Eric went in and asked if we could come in without shoes.  It was 4 a.m. and you could see the fire from the restaurant so they kindly allowed us in.

After picking at our food we decided to see if we could get to our house.  We could not.  There was a policeman at the entrance to our neighborhood and they were not allowing anyone to go up the hill.  He told us the Red Cross had set up an emergency gathering spot at a nearby  school and eventually we went there.  (After trying another turn at the park and discovering there were lots of mosquitoes!)  That was my first experience with disaster teams and although I didn't really need anything I was impressed by all of the volunteers.  They were ready to help with WHATEVER you needed.

Eventually we heard that we could go home.  The fire was still burning some grasslands,  but it was away from neighborhoods and the Fire department was confident it would not return.   (All of its fuel had been burned.)

That's it!  In the end there was only 1 house destroyed,  though originally we had been told 2.  Unfortunately,  the one house was an old home which had been in the family for 50+ years and we heard today it was not insured.  How awful for that family!

Here are some pictures which I captured from the internet:

Despite the terrible circumstances,  I love this picture.  The cross is a permanent fixture on an area called Table Rock.  The cross is illuminated and is an iconic symbol of Boise.  I love the illuminated cross in the midst of the huge fire.  (By the way, it has been determined that the cause of the fire was someone shooting off fireworks up at Table Rock.  A witness says a firework went into the grass and ignited it immediately.   The people responsible ran off.)

The next picture was taken by me.  I realize it's terrible.  I took this from my garage before I jumped into my car.

Finally, here is a bit of what things look like today.  There is a lot of scorched earth!  I am thankful to the firemen who did an excellent job of keeping the fire away from homes.  (It literally burned right to the property line of every house on the perimeter of the neighborhood.)  I am also grateful to friends around the world who saw my quick plea on Facebook for prayers and who, I know, prayed.  And of course I am grateful to God.  Even if we lost our house I knew He would care for us. He has blessed us far beyond anything we deserve.   

Friday, July 1, 2016

We had a bit of excitement last night.  About 1:00 a.m. I looked out our dining room window and saw fire everywhere.  I woke my husband who took one look and said "get the kids".  We got the kids and the dog and raced down the hill we live on.

It's a long story and I'm exhausted.   Short story is we're fine and our house is fine.  One family lost their house.  We are thankful it was "only" one.  The entire perimeter of our neighborhood burned.

I'll try to share more tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pool Party

On the last day of school,  Anna had a pool party.  After so much moving around in her early life, it is very nice to know that we've stayed in one place long enough for her to establish friendships. 

I drove our truck to school and stuffed 9 kids in for the ride to our house.   (In Idaho it's still legal to ride in the back of a pick up.  At least,  I'm pretty sure it is!)  A few additional kids came by other means.

There was a lot of splashing and screaming.

There was also a lot of food.  We had Coca-Cola in glass bottles.  After the party Anna told me not one of the kids knew how to use a bottle opener to open the Coke!

Quite a lot of time was spent on the trampoline.   It seems to have become a favorite spot to sit and talk.

Kids left at various times throughout the day.   Those who were left in the evening moved into "the movie room" and watched Grease - funny to me since I saw that when I was in high school. 

I drove the remaining kids home around 9 p.m.  Anna had done a good job of hostessing  and she was exhausted.   

It was a great day. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Once again, I've answered the ocean's beckoning call.  I am certain if I lived by the ocean it would lose its appeal but, since I do not, it is still the most spectacular,  soothing place I know.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What's Happening in my Garden?

Honestly, it seems I am surprised by something new in my garden nearly every day. Spring began with these lovely, large yellow peonies.

Last year I planted 6 plants under a tree.  The rabbits promptly ate 3, including 2 Japanese Painted Fern.  The remaining 3 limped through last year but
I couldn't remember what they were.  Two are digitalis in a rather plain color.  The 3rd I'm still waiting to discover; it is barely clinging to life but I'm nursing it along in hopes of it flowering for me next year.  (It's in the cage behind the digitalis.   Eric has made all sorts of cages for me to try to keep the rabbits from decimating the entire garden.)

There is a lovely red rose bush.  I "inherited" this bush along with several others from a previous owner.   There are at least 4 roses in an area that is overgrown with ivy and gets virtually no sun.  Hopefully next year we will rework this particular area of the garden.   In the meantime,  I have had many lovely roses from 1 bush.

This is a peony I brought with me from the last house.  I can't remember what it's called,  but I like it.

This peony is named Sandra Bernhardt.   I have 2 of this variety.   One bush produced several pretty blossoms.  The other produced several buds but they all withered without ever opening!  I have no idea what causes that.

From our last house, I also transplanted an echinnachea or purple coneflower.   The greenery at the left of this picture is, I think,  that transplant.   I'm unsure because it has grown nearly as tall as me with, as yet, no flower.  I wouldn't expect echinnachea to bloom yet but I also wouldn't expect it to be this tall.  I'm waiting to see if it's actually weeds!

I have several Gerbera Daisies which I haven't killed yet.  I love their vibrant colors!  Mine are pink and orange.

The property came with many day lillies. Most are what I call the ordinary,  boring colors.  This one is better.  I know from last year there will be one plant producing beautiful pink blossoms.   I'll try to remember to photograph them when they bloom.

Next, 2 mystery plants.  The first came in a pack of several colors which was simply labeled "dwarf flowers".  I have no idea what they are.

The 2nd was probably labeled, but I tossed the label.  The greenery looks like an asparagus fern, but it produces small flowers shaped like crab claws!  Rather fun, I think.

Finally, a red clematis.   I planted 2 clematis last year.  One put forth huge beautiful purple flowers several weeks ago.  The other is just now flowering.  It's leaves and blossoms are tiny.  I'm hoping they get larger as the plant matures.  Anyhow, I did not remember that one of the plants had red flowers.  I saw some red clematis at Joann's Iris Garden and said I must have one.  Who knew that I already did!

I have other fun, non-gardening things to share.  Just need to make time to write.

I hope everyone'should summer is off to a good start.  Mine is!