DSCN2849 waterfall

Niagara Falls, August 2009

I live with two opposing desires: the desire to create and the desire to be free from the weight of too much stuff, of everything that holds me back from spontaneity.  The tiny house movement, minimalism, the popularity of the Konmari method and Marie Kondo’s book about tidying have infiltrated my brain. I think of how lovely it could be, living in a small space only surrounded with things that bring me joy. The pure lack of stuff would surely enable me to live more freely, to gather up my minimal possessions on short notice and take off on adventures. Or would it?

Life is Good Camping imageGoogle & Pinterest for the image win

Several plastic bins are filled with yards of colorful fabric purchased on sale and waiting under my worktable to become quilts; the new-to-me BERNINA is still under its cover, ready to replace the old, simple workhorse Sears model (which will continue to be used by the rest of the family). It’s been there since I broke my ankle seven months ago. I have filled more than a few acrylic boxes with organized displays of beads, just waiting for my creativity to turn them into earrings or lanyards. I taught my children that books are special friends and should be treated as such, which probably explains our full bookshelves despite multiple cross-country moves and routine purging of unnecessary items to keep below our weight limits.

DSCN2513  Bedside Books 4x6

Ye old bedside table overfloweth

And yet, I hear the siren song of minimalism: clean, dust-free surfaces that gleam with openness and possibility. Those images whisper to me that my house could look like this, too, if I would just get rid of stuff and tidy up my life. I can be overwhelmed by the piles that need my attention, those things that weren’t put in their proper places because I wasn’t quite done using them… two months ago. There are more than a few items that were set down on or near my worktable because I needed to figure out where they should live, and apparently they are imprisoned in the homeless encampment where I left them because the clutter grows into wretched, visual walls that keep me from doing anything. I am weighed down and immobilized.

The connection between these two extremes is perfectionism and self-diagnosed ADD. Once upon a time, I thought that a perfectionist was one who kept a perfectly clean and clutter-free house — and if that was so, then the minimalist lifestyle would be the answer. If I wiped the slate clean, there would be so little to care for on a daily basis that it would be simple to keep everything nice and neat and perfect. But I have since learned that a procrastinator like me is also a perfectionist. I will begin a project and fail to complete it because I don’t have enough time (supposedly) to do it perfectly. And yes, time management might be an issue here as well. I become distracted by other projects, other needs, and set what I am doing aside to finish at another time. Another project is set down right next to or on top of it, and another one, and soon I have overwhelming clutter on top of, under and around my worktable, rendering it useless.

I vacillate between enjoying my hobbies and the paraphernalia that comes with each of them — the scrapbooks, the paper, the beads, the fabric, the many supplies needed to turn vision into reality that can be held, touched, and felt — and the guilt that comes with owning so much stuff: things that no one else in my household seems to care about or enjoy. I’m the lover of the scrapbooks. I’m the one who spends untold hours looking at photographs,  working with paper to bring a book together that tells our family’s story in color. My scrapbooks are simple in design (nothing fancy here) and enable me to look back at events and remember details. Since my husband rarely looks at them (and my sons even less often) they really are for me, not the family.

Beading is another hobby in which I have invested time and money. The small clear boxes have compartments filled with semi-precious gemstones, round containers hold colorful vintage Venetian seed beads, and other small bins keep Swarovski and Precosia crystals separate from less costly glass beads. I have less guilt over this colorful and pleasing collection due to the earrings and lanyards I sell and make for my own use; however, I freely admit that I own much more than I will ever use. The call of the Pretty! and Sparkly! is a strong one, even for this not-so-girly female.

Some of my crafting supplies have come into my life as fads that quickly fade away. Counted cross-stitch, wreath-making, and stamping readily come to mind as examples, and there is no doubt that some of these supplies could improve my life by simply going away. I’d have more space, less clutter, and less guilt when I look at them because I haven’t been using them. I still use a few stamps, but most of the items in those bins are neglected and unloved. These are the items that Marie Kondo writes about, things that were once thought to be useful but no longer “spark joy” — things I hang onto because I spent money on them many years ago.

I enjoy the process of creating, gazing at colorful beads and fabric and paper, deciding which ones to use. I find pleasure in planning and envisioning a completed crafting project. I love having a scrapbook to look back at events through the eyes of the photographer (usually me). I’m realizing that while I am not what I consider to be an actual artist, I have an artist’s heart. I dream of creating something of beauty  and I see possibility where others see a mess that needs cleaning.  A blank surface is a creative void, begging for fulfillment and lacking inspiration. Emptiness on walls and surfaces is, to me, a cry of loneliness.

I read this recently on Maximum Middle Age:

Having stuff has never kept me from having experiences, or feeling joy. On the contrary, my things are a primary source of joy in my life, more meaningful than any expanse of white wall, any patch of “negative space.” My things are talismans, giving me luck and guarding against forgetfulness. They have brought me joy. They are worth keeping.

This is where I find myself: on a tenuous slackline walk between tangible reminders of past joys and the illusion of minimalist ease.  On one end is the abode with clean, clear surfaces, no excesses, no clutter and, supposedly, no guilt; on the other end is a house filled with wellsprings of creativity and memory-keepers that also inevitably bring clutter. And  I bounce in the middle, seeking to make a home and a life I love.

DSCN1354 2013 Slackline World Cup

photo taken at the 2013 Slackline World Cup tour in Spokane, WA


Working ahead and falling behind

  1. Last weekend I was on a quilting retreat. It was a lovely time with a great deal of sewing and very little sleep.  I managed to have two pajama days this week to recover and to attempt to stave off a threatening sore throat.  I can’t take the time to be sick! 
  2. Two = the number of flannel receiving blankets I made, start to finish (I washed the flannel beforehand).  Those are a gift for a friend’s granddaughter.  I’ve got quite a few more in the queue because they make great gifts, and I wanted to have some on-hand, already made, for those times when I am too busy to sew.
  3. The big project is not yet completed, but I did finish the quilt top and back for the grandson we are expecting within the next 4 or 5 weeks.  I still need to finish preparing material for binding and then assemble the parts all together. I may end up tying this quilt, the way I did back in the 20th Century when I made simpler baby quilts (the only sewing was the prepared satin binding). In this case, the quilt top pattern does not lend itself to machine quilting, so it looks like tying it all together with love is the way to go.
  4. Four is the number of months since the burglary happened at work. There has been a growing pile of papers on my desk since the night before that incident (we had a meeting and I left right afterward instead of staying to put things away) — but there hasn’t been time to properly deal with it all. At first, it was just the stack of papers and folders from the meeting, but piles of papers and paperwork beget more papers; they breed like bunnies. In 4 months, it has grown substantially into (I’m guessing here) an hour-long task. I know it is going to take some uninterrupted time that I don’t have in a normal work week, and the sight of it has been bothering me. So yesterday I moved those papers to the counter behind my desk, building upon two smaller piles papers already there. Pretty soon I’ll have an impressive tower.
  5. Five is the number of Christmas cacti in my house (all in one room), and all of them are budding.

What projects have you been working on? 
What is overwhelming you right now?

Creative Blog Hop

Cassi is one of those blog friends who has also become an e-mail and facebook friend, and hopefully I will someday get to meet her in person.  (There’s a decent chance for this since she lives only a couple of hours from my brother’s house.)  She was kind enough to ask me if I might be willing to join in a Creative Blog Hop. I was honored to be asked and and she tagged me in her post, so here are my answers to the questions.

What am I working on?

Some of the photo note cards I make to sell, gift, and personally use

Some of the photo note cards I make to sell, gift, and personally use

I’ve been working on several projects for my booth at our local farmer’s market where I try to set up and sell a couple of times each month.  My notecards are made from my own photographs mounted on cardstock and stamped on the back with a small emblem and signed with my first name. The stamp is often a rosebud that I color-coordinate with some colored pencils and ink stamping pens.

Farmer's Market

I started out making beaded lanyards (I wear mine daily at work) and eyeglass leashes (ditto) which I continue to make available for sale, but I enjoy branching out and stretching myself with new projects.  A fun project I picked up in the past few weeks: barefoot sandals! They are surprisingly comfortable (I have unusually sensitive feet) and the first 2 models have turned out really cute.

Barefoot sandal in cerulean blue with foil bead

Barefoot sandal in cerulean blue with foil bead

Barefoot sandal in opal with coral hibiscus bead

Barefoot sandal in opal with coral hibiscus bead














However, I’ve been sidelined by making suncatchers:


This is a good time to mention that Pinterest has been both a blessing and a curse. There are more projects on my wish-list than I have time to devote to them.

Me, peeking over the quilt top

Me, peeking over the quilt top

Along with photography and beads, I also dabble in quilt-making (I’m a total newbie who flies by the seat of her pants) and simple scrapbooking — no Cricut machine or fancy sewing machine at my house. If it is fancy and takes an entire crate of supplies, I probably don’t do it, but I do manage to fill quite a few plastic bins and I am in possession of more stamping supplies, cardstock, and scrapbooking paper than I should confess to owning.

white cliffs of Dover, London

I’ve attempted knitting and nearly paid myself to quit. (It really was that bad.) My daughter-in-law and other friends tell me that I should try crocheting but I’m not sure they know what kind of monster that would unleash.  Many years ago, I tried a bit of counted cross-stitch and if my eyesight doesn’t give out first, I might someday pick up that 10th anniversary gift for my husband and finish it… in time for our 50th wedding anniversary.
Clearly, my creative desires and imagination reach beyond my time constraints and even my motivation! Family does take up a fair amount of my day and night — I’ve been married for 27 years and we have four sons, ranging in age from 14 to 23 years old.  I was very happily contented SAHM for 22 years while the kids were growing up and my husband was active duty military. Now he is retired, I worked myself out of the SAHM gig and into a part-time job as a church administrator, and the youngest is heading off to high school in September.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Up until recently, the only seed beads I purchased were Vintage Venetian Seed Beads. These are approximately one hundred years old and previously unused, having been in storage for many years. They originated from Murano, Italy, where there was a consortium of glass makers. (These are the seed beads you see in the photographs above and below.)  I purchased quite a few grams of these seed beads already,and while I still have a fair amount in my possession, the main source of supply is beginning to “dry up.”  Color me grateful for the occasionally foray into being a spendthrift!

While I do have a shop on Etsy, I know there are many people out there who are much, much more talented than I am. I enjoy making things for my own use, gifts for friends and family members, and being able to sell my creations on occasion is a surprise bonus.

etsy listings collage

How does your creating process work?

I am definitely an amateur in everything I do. Sometimes I will be inspired by something I saw on Pinterest or in a catalog, and at other times I simply have an idea or “picture” in my head of what I’d like to create with the camera or my hands; sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  I seem to do a lot of creative dance steps: one step forward, two steps back, two steps forward, one step back… in quilting, this is called “unsewing” and I’ve decided to use the word “unbeading” when I am designing a new lanyard (or anything, really).
There are times when I am on a walk or a drive, or perhaps simply looking out my living room window, and I am overcome with the need to spill prose onto paper. If I put it off, the words fade from my brain and I lose them forever — so I’ve learned to stop and write if I am able to do so — but it is difficult to be driving across the state and write things down.
I can also go for days or even weeks without a creative urge. These dry times are disappointing but eventually they do end. 

Petrified Wood  (photo would have been lost in my laptop but thankfully rescued from flickr)

Petrified Wood (photo would have been lost in my laptop but thankfully rescued from flickr)

My creative friends:

I am tagging two creative friends. One I met first in person and then later read her blog, the other I met online and later proved to each other that neither was an ax murderer.

My friend Joanne is someone I met at scrapbooking retreats and with whom I recently enjoyed camping. She is the one who came up with the idea of painting rocks with the kids, crochets amazing slippers, and blogs at Trying to be Creative.

Gary is a blogger I met online soon after I began blogging in 2008 and my family enjoyed meeting him in person a few years later.  (Click here for Gary’s blog post that experience.)  Gary is a potter extraordinaire and an animal lover.

V is for…

Count your blessings, name them one by one…


I’m using Thursday posts to focus on thankfulness — and instead of counting blessings, I’m challenging myself to come up with them alphabetically.  (You can find the rest of the posts in this series here.)

I’m barely getting this one in “under the wire” — at the 11th hour and then some! — but here it is…

Welcome to week!


V is for Vacation.  Oh, yes, I am thankful for vacations. Aren’t you?

Montana vacation destination

Montana vacation destination

DSCN2335I hadn’t planned to be absent from blogging, but as cliché  as it seems, I’ve been really busy. Work comes to mind as the biggest consumer of the time I formerly referred to as “free time.”  I’m still wrapping my brain around the fact that I have a regular job after 22 years as a SAHM. Admittedly, some of my time has been spent doing fun things with different groups of ladies:  a scrapbooking day (10 hours of nearly non-stop work on my Europe album), a beading & card-making weekend, a women’s retreat with some ladies from church at a beautifully remote and scenic spot in Montana,  and a fabulous weekend of sewing and quilting.  That all represents 4 out of the past 5 weekends. I know I am blessed. This is a great season in my life!

Morning in Montana Oct. 20, 2013

Morning in Montana
Oct. 20, 2013

Then there was the weekend of  mysterious illness (possibly exhaustion) over the only two days I had nothing scheduled on the calendar. I had planned to catch up on blogging (reading & writing); instead, I napped for much of those two days and slept like a log at night. (Do logs sleep? Let’s just pretend that they do.)  

This weekend I am venturing off to yet another vacation spot: visiting my dad in Arizona.  It won’t be all fun-and-games — I’m going alone and he is in an assisted living facility. As I wrote in September, this trip is about seeing him again before his health declines even more.  I am thankful for the addition of my small income from work that allows me to go for a visit.

V is also for Veteran.  This coming Monday is Veterans’ Day here in the United States. My younger brother is a Marine veteran of the Gulf War. He has taught his sons great respect for other veterans and I’m sure they will be doing something of service on that day. I am thankful for the many sacrifices that our veterans have made. We owe them much more than we will ever know.

What are you thankful for this week? 

U is for…

Count your blessings, name them one by one…


I’m using Thursday posts to focus on thankfulness — and instead of counting blessings, I’m challenging myself to come up with them alphabetically.  (You can find the rest of the posts in this series here.)

Welcome to week!


U is for Umbrella

DSCN2386 umbrella

A number of years ago (and I write that phrase because I cannot remember the number) my dear husband purchased this lovely umbrella for me. Impressionist art? Check! My favorite flower? Check!


U is also for UFO…

quilt squares, J&J quilt

This is an example of an UnFinished Object.  I happen to have a lot of them in every type of creative outlet that catches my eye — including beading, blogging, and quilting. 

We come in peace UFO

Retreat Theme: “UFOs… We Come in Piece”

It’s not that I love having unfinished projects, but I am grateful for the opportunity to create. Did I mention I’m going on a quilting retreat at the end of the month?  Our retreat theme this year is — you guessed it — UFOs.

I have plenty of UFOs in my house.

Right now I have a lot of fabric that needs cutting and stacking before next weekend’s big quilting retreat.  Yes, there are projects to organize… and complete!  I am thankful for the opportunity to turn those UFOs into something beautiful.

Some of them might even become Christmas presents.

FINISHED PROJECT last December:   The Lovebirds with their new quilt (top folded over so you can see the back)

FINISHED PROJECT last December: The Lovebirds with their new quilt (top folded over so you can see the back)

And finally for this week, U is for Understanding…

Normally, I try to post these gratitude pieces on Thursdays — after all, I do categorize them as “Thankful Thursday” — but that obviously didn’t happen this week.  However, I know that my readers are pretty understanding , even when they don’t know that I put in a long day at work then rushed off to a game to watch my son in one of his final gigs as a drum major.  So thank you for being understanding! This morning, I got up with the kids to get them off to school, then went back to bed and stayed there until nearly one o’clock (dreaming about time travel of all things). After my husband woke me up for the second time, I had some tea and protein and headed back to the office to finish what absolutely had to be done this week.  I’ve easily put in an extra day of work this week. Technically, I’m only supposed to be there for 6.5 hours on Tuesday and on Thursday. Either I am a perfectionist (guilty) or still struggling with the learning curve (somewhat), or there is much more to the job than there are paid hours available in which to accomplish those tasks (true).  I need to establish better boundaries. I’m working on it.

The good news is that I’ve paved the way to a much easier week NEXT week, and the information needed to get things done is all there.  The announcements are already written (sadly, mostly by me — see above comments about perfectionism and boundaries), and  I won’t need to chase down bits and pieces of the worship service since the person preaching is our part-time pastor. He’s actually already given me a printed copy of what he wants done.  It’s nice to look forward to an easier work week, even though I know other tasks will be coming my way.

I think I’ll go to bed early tonight.

How has your week been? Do you have plans for the weekend? Any gratitude points you’d care to share?

Q is for…

Count your blessings, name them one by one…

I’m using Thursday posts to focus on thankfulness — and instead of counting blessings, I’m challenging myself to come up with them alphabetically.  (You can find the rest of the posts in this series here.)

Welcome to Q week!

beautiful batik quilt, not mine

beautiful batik quilt, not mine

This week is a no-brainer for me.


2012 Creativity Retreat women & "jelly roll race" quilts

2012 Creativity Retreat women & “jelly roll race” quilts


Six weeks from today I will be heading off for the annual Creativity Retreat. These women know how to turn anyone into a quilting addict.

The Lovebirds with their new quilt (top folded over so you can see the back)

The Lovebirds with their quilt (top folded over so you can see the back) that I made for them last year. I was so thrilled with how it came out — and very proud of my completed project!

2011 November 039Oh, I am also a fan of quiet.

2011 October 224

And quirky. 


What are your Q words today in the realm of thankfulness?


**Disclaimer:  If you see ads here on my blog, they have nothing to do with me or this post. WordPress would like me to upgrade to ad-free $tatu$ but I plan on ignoring that plea.

Holiday Happenings update


It’s that time of year when so much is happening all-at-once that I don’t really have time to blog (reading others or writing my own). Until I have time to catch up, here is my quick update:

  • The joy of having all four of my sons (and my lovely daughter-in-law) here for Christmas week.
  • The fun of having my husband’s parents and uncle here for 2 days over Christmas (and the respite of having them stay overnight with my SIL one mile away, so we weren’t too crowded).
  • A White Christmas!
  • Fourteen of us here for Christmas dinner
  • Two marathon bead creation sessions — one before Christmas, making a dozen earrings (see below) and one after Christmas with my DIL, making earrings, bracelets, and working on a project for next Christmas
  • Giving homemade Christmas gifts that I managed to keep secret from the recipients
table runners for my MIL

table runners for my MIL



The Lovebirds with their new quilt (top folded over so you can see the back)

The Lovebirds with their new quilt (top folded over so you can see the back)

  • The weekend before Christmas was spent finishing up quilting projects. I think they turned out rather well. We won’t dwell on the significant amount of time spent “unsewing” needed during the creative process.
  • No more pins sticking out the end of my toe!

It has now been four-and-a-half weeks since my foot surgery. The pin holding my toe firmly in line came out on Wednesday afternoon. (Unlike the stitches, it didn’t hurt at all.) I still have to wear Frankenboot when I walk, which generally means I keep it on all day long, but I can now wear my own socks — a matching pair! — at the same time. It’s progress.



SnakeMaster and EB [above] standing next to the back of their snowman

There were snowball fights and snow-throwing battles (for when snow doesn’t pack or for when boys grab chunks of snow off the top of their brother’s car… along with the snowman specially requested by mom to mark the corner where the driveway, grass parking strip, and roadways meet.

Unfortunately, there was also the sadness over the sudden, unexpected passing of a beloved older gentleman from church. He died on Christmas Eve (Monday evening) and the memorial service was this morning. Despite there not being much time to get the word out to tell people about his death on a holiday week, the church was full of people who will miss him very much.

  • SuperDad is preaching tomorrow morning.
  • My throat is grateful that the choir has the next week or two off. The Christmas season is hard on vocal chords when you sing in a church choir!
  • I just managed to send everyone else to bed to I’d best click “publish” and get some rest, too.
  • Those 218 unread posts in my reader will have to wait.


Making is different. It is special, meaningful and long-lasting in a world full of disposable items. It stretches us to do things we never thought we could do, enables us to enjoy child-like pride over something we have created, connects us to people in our community and around the world and perhaps most importantly, creates cherished moments and memories that are sure to out-live us.

-Josh Scott, one of the Founders of

Me, peeking over the quilt top

I’m so very pleased with how this turned out! Can hardly wait to see it all completed and put together in another week or two…

Are you Making anything for Christmas gifts this year?

Keeping house

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Trying to blog while SuperDad is critiquing the Celtic Woman Christmas Celebration special on PBS is not the smartest or easiest thing to do.

It’s distracting. He keeps wanting me to agree with him. And mostly, I do — the women seem overly made up, the music has been [so far] American Christmas songs which do not lend themselves to showcasing the voices of the Celtic and bright pastel gowns remind me of candy-covered almonds, Why not reds and greens? And where are the elf hats?

Two sides of the table runner

Today was a busy sewing day. I’ve now got both sides of the runner completed and am ready to sew them together. This is the pattern I am following. It’s one of several created by my friend Lexi.

Freshly pressed batik fabric for the back of a quilt

While I was piecing and pressing this afternoon, SuperDad was outside putting up our lights in the sunshine (I think it might have gotten up to 40 degrees (4 C). He says he used all the LED holiday lights in our possession (we added to our stash this year thanks to a few yard sale deals).  I love the colors, but I might be begging for some additional strands… maybe some red lights in the Japanese Maple…

Do you put up outdoor lights (or inside lights in a window) this time of year?