Favorite Thing Friday: Gratitude

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After stuffing myself with Thanksgiving turkey and spending time with family, I can’t forget to take a moment to be thankful for all the little blessings in my life. Every year, I like to sit down and make a list of 22 Moments of Gratitude and this year is no different.

1. My husband. It’s been 15 years and I still find myself falling in love with him.

2. Moments when Grandpa tells a great joke.

3. Time with my mother, to write or to talk.

4 Fridays with my sister. I love how we laugh.

5. Both of my furkids are still wagging their tails. At 11 and 14 years old, I treasure every moment I have with them.

6. While I am still heartbroken at the loss of a dear friend, I am grateful for the memories that remind to smile.

7. Yarn on my knitting needles and a new stitch to learn.

8. Books that give my imagination a place to play.

9. My overactive muse, who never lets me sit still for very long.

11. Poetry in it’s many forms enlivens my senses.

12. The Cafe Mocha that soothes my soul and kickstarts my muse.

13. Refusing to become someone I’m not, no matter how much a situation tries to break me.

14. My editor. She helped me make my novel something I can be really proud of.

15. A small paycheck that always stretches out to be enough.

16. A crockpot that makes it easy to cook.

17. My readers, who fill my world with encouragement.

18. The natural world still moves me. I see the sun rise every morning and it always stuns me.

19. Laughing is still my favorite thing.

20. Finding empowerment in the choice to be happy, instead of relying on something or someone to make it happen.

21. The call to go somewhere new and consider a new start.

22. No matter what, I can always find my joy.

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Previous Moments of Gratitude:

22 Moments of Gratitude

22 More Moments of Gratitude

Yet Another 22 Moments of Gratitude

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Vacation Time!

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Tomorrow I’ll be trading dry heat for super humid heat as I head to the Midwest for a little vacation. My annual trek to Indiana has become a tradition and I’m excited to spend some time in a place where everything moves a little bit slower.

At the top of my list is spending some time with family, but I’m also looking forward to visiting one of my favorite local coffee shops, The Beehive, (see FTF: The Beehive). Last year, I tested out my usual Cafe Mocha, but this year I am anxious to try the local specialty, a Nutella Latte. My coffee taste buds are already drooling. 

Even though I’m the only knitter in the bunch, I’m hoping to persuade my family to spare a little time for a trip to Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, IN. I went there last year and scored some absolutely beautiful sock yarn. Not only does this place carry a great selection of unique yarn, but it has the warmth of a locally owned small business. I can’t wait to see what ends up in my shopping bag this time around.

However, what I’m looking forward to the most is a little quiet time. My family lives in a small town surrounded by woods and cornfields. I’m looking forward to time on the porch swing and walks through the woods. I’m taking my camera and I can’t wait to see what I find through the lens. With all the craziness that is coming when work starts up again in the fall, this quiet pocket of relaxation is just what I need.

With that in my mind, I’m making a conscious effort to simply relax and enjoy my surroundings. For the first time in years, I’ll be leaving my laptop at home. My muse is freaking out a little bit as she is a bit attached to my writing machine, but I’ve assured her that I will pack a journal and a nice set of pens. (She’s also been assured that my husband will carefully guard the laptop and keep it safe.)

Because of my self-imposed computer break, I’ll be a little quieter in the blogosphere, but not totally gone. My Kindle Fire is coming along to make sure I don’t fall too far behind (and so I can watch movies when I can’t sleep at night!). Next week, I won’t be posting as much or maybe not at all, but I will be here in spirit! Just know, I’ll be collecting all sorts of inspiration for future posts.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Poem A Day Challenge: April 19-20

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The poeming continues in the  April Poem A Day Challenge . . .

April 19, 2014
Prompt: Pick a color and make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

Beyond Desert Brown

Wrapped up in blue,
rain taps the ground
Spring’s last goodbye,
kissing pink stones

Hibiscus red,
salutes the sun
Summer winds blow,
cinnamon sand

Purple mountains
catch the sunset
Evening skies,
coral monsoon

Inspiration: I got to thinking about how the desert is always stereotyped as being nothing but brown. This was my way of showing it is actually full of many vibrant and beautiful colors.

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April 20, 2014
Prompt: Write a family poem.

Rescued from abuse,
he ran to his new mom
Loyal from the start,
wagging with love

HIs howls are fewer,
and his face whiter
While his teeth are gone,
he still guards the house

He’s led a good life,
and gave me so much
Always my furkid,
right up to the end

Inspiration: One of my dogs was on my mind.

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c.b.w. 2014

Another Great Book Sale Adventure

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Every February I look forward to the annual VNSA Book Sale. Thousands of books fill table after table and they are all up for grabs! Better yet, on Sunday the already low prices are slashed in half. The bargain hunter and book lover in me can’t resist such a perfect combination.

This year I headed to the craft section first to see if I could nab some knitting books. While I found a few books, I found a treasure trove of 10 Interweave Knits magazines hiding in a box. This is my absolute favorite knitting magazine so I grabbed all of them! At 50 cents a piece, they were a steal!

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Interweave Knits galore!

I was hoping to find sock books and I did. Both were also only 50 cents, along with a stray Knit Simple magazine and chunky sweater pattern book. All in all, I’d say I got a nice haul out of the knitting section!

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Sock and Sweater books.

Next to the knitting books, there was the sewing section. I glanced over and found an incredible little book – a guide for left-handed stitching. As a lefty, I am constantly frustrated by right-hand only directions in embroidery books and patterns. Thank you Sally Cowen for this fantastic reference!

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Fifty cents well spent!

Then, I ran over to the cookbook and gardening sections to see if I could find some books on vegetable canning. I didn’t find a single one, but I did manage to find some handy recipe pamphlets including a way cool booklet on Amish Cooking. It turns out this little gem had a few pages on some basic canning recipes, so I didn’t totally fail on the canning front. Again, at 50 cents a piece, these were all a great deal!

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Mmmm! I foresee some yummy dinners and desserts in the future.

While rummaging through the home and garden section, I found a book on a subject I’ve been researching for a while – natural cleaning recipes. It’s pretty tough to buy any cleaning product that is totally free of chemicals and harmful toxins, so I’m trying to learn how make my own cleansers using all natural ingredients. This book is pure gold in that it has recipes for an all-purpose cleaner, laundry soap, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. And it was only $1.

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I will never buy cleaning products, again!

Always a teacher, (even on the weekends), I went to the art section hoping to find some Art History textbooks and/or color plate compilations. To my great surprise, I actually found the missing volume to an Art History textbook I bought a few months ago, (I had Volume 2 and I needed Volume 1 of Marilyn Stokstad’s Art History). Seriously, what are the odds of that happening!? For $2, I now have another resource to teach my Art History course.

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Teaching on a budget!

In addition, I found a quote canvas to hang in my classroom. It’s a quote I use a lot with my students, so I’m thrilled to have a larger version of it, (and for only $1.50!). Finally, I picked up a couple free maps! You read that right, they were free.

There was a huge box of street and history maps with a sign that said, “Free Maps – Limit 10 per person.” The dorky teacher and crafter in me decided to comb through the box of maps. I saw a neat idea on Pinterest that involved making ornaments out of maps.  The maps I got should do pretty well for that project!

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These are about to become super cute ornaments.

Last, but not least, I perused the fiction section. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much. Most of the available books just didn’t fit my tastes. However, I did manage to pick up a couple titles I’ve had on my list for a while. Neither cost more than $2.

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Can’t wait to dig into those novels!

My last stop was to the travel section, where I found a great little book on walks through the English countryside. Now, I have yet another reason to return to the U.K.

Aside from an awesome haul of books, I look forward to this day because it’s a family event. Without a holiday in sight, we come together and simply enjoy the day. After the sale we went out for a nice breakfast filled with good food and laughter.

Only 365 days until the next book sale!

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c.b.w. 2014

Wreck This Journal: A New Chapter

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Back in August of 2011, I began a series of posts where I shared my pages from Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, (see Wreck This Journal: Letting Go). I did everything from utterly destroying parts of the journal to adding artistic flare to otherwise blank and boring pages. It was fun to share my journey of creative self-discovery, but there’s a lot more to the story that I haven’t shared.

I didn’t buy just one Wreck This Journal, I bought two. One for me and one for my Grandma. I mentioned this briefly in early 2012, (see Wreck This Journal: Memories), but I never wrote of it, again. At the time, I was just beginning to grapple with the notion that I was losing her. For obvious reasons, I chose to keep much of that struggle private.

Wreck This Journal was something we did together at a time when we first realized small pieces of her were starting to slip away. In the midst of so much difficulty and sadness, the pages of Wreck This Journal allowed us to laugh and have fun together. For that reason, the experience of completing the journal with her is among my most cherished memories.

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Grandma’s journal is on the left, mine is on the right.

In the year since my Grandma passed away, I am amazed at how much joy there is in the memories I have of her and the time we spent together.  I am even more grateful for a tangible reminder of her thoughts and personality in the pages of her Wreck This Journal. Rather than keep those memories on a shelf, I want to give them a place to thrive.

With that in mind, it was easy an easy decision to revive the Wreck This Journal series. Only this time around, I’ll be sharing pages that both my grandma and I completed. The last time I compared the two journals was when we were working on them in her craft room. In doing this, I’m hoping to find new connections and uncover forgotten memories.  And, of course, smile and laugh along the way. She wouldn’t want it any other way.

It seems only fitting to start with a page reserved for making handprints or fingerprints. The directions seemed simple enough, but they leave door wide open for individual perspective.

Grandma thought outside the box a little bit and made an outline imprint of her hand. What I love about her mark is that she painted her nails and drew her rings.  Grandma always had beautiful nails, even right up to the end. French manicures were her favorite, but she loved a good pink, too. Aside from perfect nails, Grandma loved her rings. She liked the way the sun make her diamond sparkle and she cherished the memories of her Irish claddagh ring.

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Nice rings!

I was a little more literal. To make my mark, I pulled out a box of markers and inked my thumb in various colors. I ended up creating a picture of thumbprint flowers with a full background. Things were quite messy on my side of the table! Initially, I thought I made it because I can’t draw, but now I realize it truly does represent a piece of me. Every spring, my garden comes to life with seedlings and flowers. Plants and gardening bring me a lot of joy and I guess my thumb muse knew that!

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My thumbprint garden

Despite such different interpretations of the directions, Grandma and I realized it all comes down to one thing: leaving your mark.

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c.b.w. 2014