A Crafter's Life, Beastie Adventures, Knit and Crochet Away!

A Little Bit of Magic from the Universe?

While I was writing yesterday’s post The Horizontal Diaries, January 30, 2023 which included a little tour of the Tattered Cover Bookstore, I decided that I needed to add a new “blog post category” Independent bookstores, as I’ve written more than a handful of Independent Bookstore tour blog posts over the years; and adding them to a blog category would make them easier to find.

In order to tie all the previous blog posts about trips to indie bookstores, I needed to search for all my old posts using the WordPress search tools. While searching I came across this post from June 2018 – Beastie Adventures: Sisters, Oregon about a day trip I took with my late husband Terry, Mike the Miniature Schnauzer and the tierneycreates Beastie to Sisters, Oregon. That day trip is a wonderful in a lifetime of wonderful memories of my life with “Terry the Quilting Husband”.

Here is a photo from that blog post from June 2018:

Look at the right side of the photo – there is the SAME kit a wonderful friend recently sent me in the mail as part of a “get well” package (see blog post The Horizontal Diaries, Continued):

I was absolutely floored (I gasped) when I discovered this. It was obvious that I liked this hat kit as I took a photo of the tierneycreates Beastie with it in June 2018 on a wonderful day (and now memory) with my late husband Terry.

Once I realized this serendipitous occurrence, I immediately texted my generous friend who had sent me the kit, to tell her of this magical occurrence along with the blog link and the photo of the tierneycreates Beastie with the kit in June 2018.

Here is what she responded (paraphrased):

Oh my goodness! That is crazy! Well…I think you should consider it a gift from Terry if that isn’t too painful because here is what happened… I went to the yarn shop… I already had the Noro yarn for you and your box was pretty much full so that is all I was going to get. That kit caught my eye from the register and I couldn’t quit thinking about getting it for you. I walked back and forth, brought it to the register and then put it back several times. Finally I just couldn’t leave it there and walked out with it for you…There was the same kit with neutral colors in it and I kept swapping which of the two I was going to get you. I thought the neutral one looked more like you but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to it it. I had to buy this one!

A little magic from the Universe? Pretty awesome! Now that kit has an additional meaning/significance (beyond a wonderful gift from a friend) and I cannot wait to make this hat!

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A Crafter's Life, Adventures in Paper Piecing, Independent bookstores, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Horizontal Diaries, January 30, 2023

Sharing some updates and I am continuing to use “The Horizontal Diaries” as a blog post title (like I did in the recent posts The Horizontal Diaries and The Horizontal Diaries, Continued) because it semi describes my current reality.

I am doing much better as I recover from my left broken ankle and subsequent surgery to repair it (I got “screwed” and “plated”!) and all the swelling has gone down from my foot and lower leg as I behaved and spent a lot of time horizontal! My swelling went down so much (foot/leg returned to normal) that my splint/cast has gotten sort of loose. Good thing I have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow – looking forward to finding out what comes next…and when will I be ready to compete in the Olympic Gymnastic Trials?!??

I’ve been knitting non stop (just like you suggested @mariss/fabrications) and I am nearly done with the replacement hat for the one I lost during my trip to Ireland in October 2022. I am at the point of decreasing the stitches for the top of hat (soon it will be time for my favorite part of hat knitting – the double pointed needles). I think I will get it done today – yay!

Perhaps with the leftover yarn, that I harvested from the matching scarf I never wore, I can make a second hat…or perhaps a small (quite small) scarf – ha!

I mentioned in the previous “Horizontal Diaries” post that I was working on an irritating English Paper Piecing (EPP) Project. It’s the one I’ve been working on for years (feels like I’ve been working on it for decades). Here’s what inspired the project – the first issue of Quiltfolk magazine:

I need to make 99 hexie rosettes (each rosette is composed of 7 EPP hexies), and I am happy to report I now have 75 done (I’m going to actually “do math” now and report that I only have 24 more hexies to make)! I’ve been working on the rosettes while horizontal, they are a fabulous (if not tedious) hand sewing project:

I’ve made more in the past week than I’ve made in the past 6 months! 24 more and I can start to think about the fabrics to set the blocks in – each rosette is appliquéd to a square of fabric (but I will probably use my sewing machine to do that so it isn’t actually DECADES before I finish the quilt – ha!)

It’s interested to see how my EPP hexie assembly progressed from when I began the project is 2016 (gasp). My first EPP hexies were basted with thread to keep the piecing in place:

Then I learned from a friend that I could baste with fabric glue stick instead which saved a lot of time!

I think I’ve struggled with completing this project because the late “Terry the Quilting Husband” punched out many of the hexies for me as well did a lot of the glue basting of the hexies (he was like a master at it after a while!) for me. I would say he helped me make 60% or more of the hexies for this project. I’ve finished after he passed in December 2018 other projects he started such as The Last Baskets , The Last Quilt and The Ball of Yarn (which eventually became a hat) , but for some reason this one was dragging on.

But 2023 is a YEAR OF FINISHES (I might write a separate post about that later) and this project is on the list to be finished!

To get out of the house the other day, John took me on an errand with him and then took me (and my knee scooter) to the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Littleton, CO (near where his errand was). I love independent bookstores and I had a brief but wonderful wander is this old bookstore in knee scooter!

I wonder if they have a music night where someone plays the piano in the center of the bookstore. If I wasn’t injured and needing to return home to my “horizontalness”, I would have grabbed a stack of books and nestled in one of the chairs. This bookstore has a large collection of both new and used books.

I did pick up two cool new stickers for my older laptop (my newer laptop is fully covered with stickers now) at the Tattered Cover Bookstore:

Well that is this installment of “The Horizontal Diaries”, thanks for reading!

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!, Thrift Shop Adventures

The Horizontal Diaries, Continued

Although my blogging buddy @mildlygranola commented on my previous post The Horizontal Diaries, that the title of the post made it sounds like it was a naughty blog (and I nearly spewed my tea across the room laughing), I thought I’d use this blog post title once again! (Even if I could not stop giggling as I typed the title for this post, ha!)

No, sorry, this is not a salacious post about my time in an alternative (but perhaps quite lucrative…or not…not sure if there is a “kink” for middle aged women with broken ankles on knee scooters…but you never know…) career. I am just sharing some updates in my life with my leg elevated since my left ankle break and subsequent surgery (boring, right?)

Mike, with his cone (see post Guest Blog Post: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Ends up in a Cone) and I have been just hanging out, knitting, working on some hand sewing (a pesky English Paper Piecing project I’ve had forever), listening to audiobooks, watching television and of course napping.

Good news on Mike – he is practically completely healed from his minor surgical procedure. I took his stitches out yesterday (I might as well occasionally do some nursing since I am a RN) and tomorrow we take off his cone. He has fully accepted his cone and when John takes Mike’s cone off so he can eat, Mike immediate comes over to the cone after he finishes eating to have it put back on!

We call him “Cone Boy” or “Schnauzer in a Cone” and he loves to come over to have us reach into the cone and get face and neck pets and scratches (since he can’t scratch his face or neck with his back leg with the cone on.

I continue to work on knitting a replacement hat for the hat I lost in Ireland (see previous post) and I am slowly making progress (it is always slow for me at the beginning when I have to start with smaller needles for the rolled edge and then switch to larger needles for the body of the hat):

I did get to do something fun the other day after a doctor’s appointment – John took me and my knee scooter to a local thrift shop and I got to wander the aisles for a bit. It was a little awkward navigating the tight aisles of the thrift store so I didn’t last too long shopping, but I did have a fabulous find:

Over three yards of ArtGallery Fabric fabric – two pieces from an older line and one piece from a newer line – for $1.99 each! I do appreciate when people donate wonderful high quality quilting cottons to thrift stores AND the thrift store staff price them to move (smile)! I was happy to help the fabrics “move” to my fabric stash!

Yesterday brought two awesome surprises in the mail (the timing was awesome as the “immobility blues” was hitting me hard) from two very thoughtful friends.

First a collection of delicious Oregon (I used to live in Oregon) based Moonstruck chocolate bars:

And then another package from another friend filled with all sorts of goodies (it seemed like the goodies would never end as I was unboxing them…):

Included in this mega gift package was this:

Hmm…is someone trying to tell me it’s time to try a new hat pattern? Ha! I am looking forward to working on this hat kit after I finish the hat I am working on now.

Well back to finding something to binge watch. Recently I binged the first 3 episodes of the AMC show The Mayfair Witches; and I’ve been watching very silly science fiction and horror movies (they are great to nap to, ha!)

I’ll close this post with this card I came across that made me laugh:

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A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Horizontal Diaries

I am recovering from a broken ankle after fall on ice and subsequent surgery to repair the fracture (with lots of fun stuff like screws and plates inserted into my ankle). I’ve been unhappy about my sudden immobility and I’ve been trying to be as independent as I can in daily tasks with not much success. I have to rely on my partner John more than I want.

I noticed today that I still have some post operative swelling in my toes that I think I should have gone down by now, but I’ve been naughty in regards to not completely following my post operative instructions to keep my leg elevated above my heart.

Shortly after realizing my limited compliance with post operative instructions (and I am a nurse and should know better!), I came across a blog comment by one of my New Zealand based blogging buddies (@cedar51) on the other side of the world on my post Sheep to Brighten My Day :

The more your leg is horizontal – the faster it will heal – and yes it will be annoying but then when it’s all better – you will be back doing all those things that you love.

– @cedar51

Yes, she is right and I know it. So spent most of today horizontal instead of trying to busy myself on little tasks around the house in my knee scooter.

And the swelling in my toes has begun to diminish.

I guess I need to keep this horizontal existence up for now.

While binging all sorts of strange things on YouTube (like how to can a year’s worth of food; how to crochet baskets; living in a van; and being a digital nomad) I’ve started working on another knitted hat (yes same pattern of course, ha!):

The hat is being knitted from yarn I recycled by unraveling a scarf I was not using. It is the yarn that my beloved knitted hat my friend who taught me how to knit hats made me. Unfortunately I lost this hat while I was in Ireland in October 2022.

I had that hat forever (at least 10 years) and I wore it all cold weather season long. It was sort of like my security blanket. Here I am in 2015 in the hat when I appeared in an advertisement for SAQA in the FiberArts Now publication:

I was so heartbroken when I lost my hat; but so happy when I returned home and realized I could unravel the matching scarf that I never wore and knit myself and new version of the hat.

In addition to working on the hat and binging YouTube videos, I’ve been listening to audiobooks and snacking on delicious coffee cake. Another thoughtful friend sent me a get well package, that I received yesterday, of some delicious jasmine tea and gourmet coffee cake mix. John made me the coffee cake the same day the package arrived!

Well that was enough sitting up to write this blog post. Headed back down to full horizontal to take some more pain medications and dose off to yet another YouTube video…

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A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

Sheep to Brighten My Day

Currently I’m sitting around, doing some handwork (will share when I made more progress) while I recover from my left ankle break and the subsequent surgery I had to repair the fracture (see post 2022 in Review: A Year in Travel). The other day I received some mail from one of my dear blogging buddies that really brightened my day: sheep themed linen cotton fabric!

What a thoughtful surprise and I cannot wait to make something with it – like a cool knitting/crochet project bag! Maybe one like this Noodlehead pattern – Firefly Tote that I made in December 2021:

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

2022 in Review: A Year in Travel

As promised, here is a blog post about all my travel in 2022. But before I dive into that, let me share why travel in 2023 will likely not be the same volume as 2022.

A nasty slip on the ice on January 11, 2023 led to an ankle dislocation and a tibial fracture. I was just taking Mike out for his morning walk and SURPRISE! It looked pretty bad when I first did it but the surgeon I met with today said it was a common ankle fracture.

I have surgery on Thursday January 19 to get some delightful plates and screws inserted into my ankle area and rebuild me. It will be a 6 month recovery. He said a couple weeks post-op if I really wanted I could travel but I likely won’t be feeling it for a while!

I had a dental appointment yesterday and my dentist did share that he had the same type of injury a couple of years ago, recovered fine and is now running again and snowboarding. He is near my age and really active. Right now all I am thinking about it how much I will miss my morning walks with Mike the Miniature Schnauzer while listening to audiobooks.  Also a couple fun trips 2023 got cancelled – we were headed next week to Atlanta, GA for a conference John needed to attend; we had a trip to Cabo planned; we had a New Mexico roadtrip with my sister planned; we had a family trip to Barcelona Spain (with a side trip to Lisbon Portugal to meet up with some friends of John’s there); and a little weekend trip to Las Vegas. Maybe the Universe was telling us to slow down as we’ve gone a little crazy traveling post pandemic!

Well enough on my new found reality. let’s talk about all the travel I did in 2022, good memories (queue Barbara Streisand singing…)

2022 A Year of Travel

John and I went a little crazy with travel in 2022 in a post pandemic explosion of saying yes to most travel opportunities presented our way. For domestic (U.S.) travel we had the SW Airlines Companion Pass (that we had earned in 2021 for 2022) and so I could fly for basically free ($11 fee each way) whenever John flew.

We had a busy combination of personal and business travel within the U.S. and a trip to Ireland. Here’s where we went:

Chicago, Illinois (three visits)

If you count our short trip to Chicago at the beginning of January 2023, we visited Chicago three times in less than 3 months. Our trips included two business trips for John and one trip to meet up with my brother and his family in Chicago as my brother was there for a business trip. Here’s a blog post link about one of the 2022 trips to Chicago – Chicago in Black and White

Richmond, Virginia & Washington D.C.

The saga of our trip to Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA in order to spend Christmas with my family and the subsequent travel drama is contained in these posts: A Christmas and A New Years Miracle? (Part I), and A Christmas and a New Years Miracle? (Part II)

Austin, Texas (two visits)

In 2022 we went to Austin, Texas twice on business trips for John. It is a very cool city and I had an amazing time at the downtown Austin library (a magical place!). Here is one blog posts related to some of our Austin, Texas travel in 2022 –Peaceful Oasis at the Austin Central Library .

Las Vegas, Nevada (three visits)

We visited Las Vegas three times in 2022 for fun – twice on our own and once with friends. On one of the trips I took a bunch of black and white photos on “old downtown Las Vegas” – the Fremont Street Experience area, and shared them in this post –Downtown L as Vegas in Black and White

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Atlanta, Georgia (one visit)

I probably should have written a post about our visit to Atlanta, Georgia in November 2022 as I took a lot of cool photos, but I’ll share some of them here. The airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is really cool and we loved the art to include a simulated rainforest at night experience in one of the main moving walkway areas; and a wonderful tribute to the late U.S. Representative John Lewis:

We spent time wandering about the Krog District a really cool shopping and arts district. They had another tribute to John Lewis as graffiti on a building (they had lots of awesome graffiti art in the district); as well as a display of some amazing recycled metal parts (including automotive parts) sculptures:

Portland, Oregon (one visit)

I blogged about my awesome trip to rainy Portland Oregon in December 2022 in the post A Little Reunion in Portland Oregon. Although it was cold and rainy it was fun to visit Powell’s Book and other cool places in the Pearl District of downtown Portland.

Fayetteville, Arkansas (one visit)

I went to Fayetteville, AR for the first time to meet up with my friend MJ and help a friend organize her crafting/art studio. Here are the blog posts about that adventure: Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part I, Guest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part IIGuest Blog Post: The Fayetteville Friend’s Studio Project, Part III and Cute and Curious Kitty Quilt Trunk Show .

New York City, New York (one visit)

We spent a day in NYC before heading overnight to Dublin, Ireland. Perhaps I am cheating but I will go ahead and call this a visit to NYC!

Omaha, Nebraska (one visit)

We had a brief trip to Omaha, Nebraska for John’s business meeting in October. I was bummed to learn after the trip that we were not to far from one of my knitting goddess blogging buddies @mildly granola who lives in Iowa, and we could have met up for an adult beverage!

I could have done a post on the Omaha visit but I was distracted from travel and then too much time passed and I forgot about blogging about the trip. So here are some photos of the fun we had one afternoon in Omaha’s Old Market:

Fun shops we visited in Old Market included the Christmas store Tannenbaum (which had the most unusual and perhaps disturbing Nativity Scene I’ve ever seen); Raygun (which had a hysterical sign on the front window); the Imaginarium ;as well as the Monster Grub Pub (a horror themed pub!):

St. Petersburg, Florida (via Tampa, FL)  (one visit)

In September we went to St. Petersburg, FL for the opening of the Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show in which my art quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet was included. Here are blog posts related to that adventure: Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I , Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part II , and Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part III .

Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Doolin)

In October 2022 we journeyed to Ireland for the first time along with the tierneycreates and John Beastie in tow. I still have another blog post or two to write about the trip, but here are the blog posts that tierneycreates Beastie and I have shared so far: Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland! , Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part I) , and Guest Blog Post: The Beasties’ Ireland Travelogue (Part II).

Shelton, Washington (via Seattle, WA)

In July 2022 I went on a quilt retreat in Shelton, WA on the water. The tierneycreates Beastie and I did a series of blog post about that adventure: Guest Blogger: Quilt Retreat Report from the tierneycreates Beastie, Part I, Guest Blogger: Quilt Retreat Report from the tierneycreates Beastie, Part II, and Riptide Retreat 2022 in Black and White .

Hamilton, Missouri (via Kansas City, MO)

In March 2022 I attended a Missouri Star Quilt Company quilt retreat. Here are the series of blog posts about this adventure: MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On, MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA ,MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops, MSQC Quilt Retreat Part IV: Greatest Fabric Scrap Sale of All Time and ,MSQC Quilt Retreat Part V: The Retreat Center Experience.

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Wilmington, North Carolina (via Raleigh, NC)

We had to travel to Wilmington, NC for a work conference John needed to attend. We flew into Raleigh, NC, rented a car and drove to Wilmington. Here is a blog post about time in Raleigh –Trip to North Carolina: Fun Evening in Downtown Raleigh.

Here are blog posts about the rest of the trip: Trip to North Carolina: The Ocean and Trip to North Carolina: Quilt Shop Wander

Various Roadtrips in Colorado

During the year we also did various roadtrips in Colorado such as weekend trips to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, CO. Here are some 2022 blog posts about my adventures in Colorado Springs, CO Seven Falls in B&W , Guest Blog Post: How to Completely Terrify Your Miniature Schnauzer,Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer, and A Little Luxurious Getaway. Writing this post made me realize I never did a post on the very fun trip I took with my sister to Fort Collins Colorado in July. Okay that will be a future post.

So currently all my 2023 travel plans have been cancelled and I am adjusting to my new limited mobility reality. But my ankle will heal and I’ll be back traveling later in 2023.

A Crafter's Life

2022 in Review: Crafting Projects Completed

I’ve seen a bunch of posts where my blogging buddies are sharing galleries of crafting projects they completed in 2022 and I thought it would be interesting to do the same. I am a little nervous writing this post as I think I am going to be disappointed on how little crafts I made compared to how many I had planned to make!

But here goes…

Hmm…it is worse than I thought…I didn’t make very much in 2022 except for small projects. Well I do have an excuse – I think I traveled the most I’ve traveled in one year in 2022. I’ll have to write a post about that next!

Feature Image by Anita Smith from Pixabay

A Crafter's Life, Books, Music, Podcasts

Saturday Soulful Simplicity

I was Chicago part of this week with John for one of his business trips and on Friday we met a friend who lives in the Chicago area for breakfast at the amazing Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Michigan Ave (The Magnificent Mile), and had one of those hours long deep and thought provoking conversations on life, life changes and making major life decisions.

Our friend was looking for some inspirational reading for the new life path he is exploring and I mentioned I had lots of non-fiction/self improvement books reviewed on my blog and would send him some links.

Searching for my posts led me to come across this post from July, 14 2018 Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman and I thought I would repost it. Note, I do mention my late husband in the post, little did I know when I wrote this post I was less than 5 months away from losing him and my life changing forever.

I do think my readings and my journey into Minimalism did help me tremendously when I had to deal with the physical possessions he left behind.

I had a Saturday of Soulful Simplicity and did some purging in my closet of more items for donation.

Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman

(Re-posting – originally posted July 14, 2018)

What does the phrase “Soulful Simplicity” mean to you?

The last several months I’ve listening to some awesome audiobooks from my public library while I go on daily walks, sew, or do errands. I plan to share highlights from the audiobooks in upcoming posts and I thought I would begin with my current listen: Soulful Simplicity: How Living With Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 7.22.34 PM
image credit: Amazon

Here is the summary of the book on on the Deschutes Public Library website:

Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives. We are often on a quest for more, giving in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Courtney Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Stress was like gasoline on the fire of her symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent.

In this book, Carver shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less-more space, more time, and even more love. She invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.

The audiobook is read by the author (which always adds a high degree of authenticity to the listening for me) and focuses on “being more with less“.

I am 2/3rds through the audiobook and wanted share one of my favorite stories (that the author shares in her book) about what really matters in life. As the author states, there are many versions of this story. Here is the version from her website: Be More With Less.


The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one Mexican fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “only a little while”. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”


In the version I heard many years ago, the Mexican fisherman states at the end of the story: “Why would I go through all that to get what I already have?

The first time I heard this story it deeply resonated with me. As I have discussed in my series of posts on My Minimalism Journey, I’ve been working on appreciating and enjoying the life I have; taking care of my physical, emotional and spiritual health; and curating my possessions to only those things I truly love (but darn it, I love all my crafting books and magazines!)

In my pay-the-bills health care job, I’ve been offered the opportunity to attend my employer’s leadership track nine-month program to move into a leadership position. I declined the opportunity as although it would be more money, it would be much less time doing the things I love such as blogging, crafting, spending time with my husband and dog, enjoying nature, etc., etc., etc.

I am already happy with my job, salary and work schedule. I do not need to climb the “corporate ladder” to become happier.

Actually I think climbing the corporate ladder at this point in my life would be the path to less happiness as I remember a lot of stress in my life when I was previously in leadership for 8 – 9 years.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) fully supports this decision as he remembers his very stressed wife during her years in a leadership role.

I am quite content in my life’s version of a “little fishing village”.

Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours! – Swedish Proverb

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

A Little Luxurious Getaway

November and December are always challenging months for me and John and I work to make these months as fun as possible, adding distractions here and there. In November we added a very awesome distractions – a couple days staying at my favorite hotel in Colorado – The Broadmoor. (here are a couple previous posts on our visits to The Broadmoor – Weekend at The Broadmoor, Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer)

Image credit - broadmoor.com

The image above is how it looks in summer and it from the resort’s website. Here is how it looked in November when we visited:

It was still beautiful, just icy on the lake (and pretty chilly outside especially in the evening).

One of my first stops when I arrive at the hotel (after settling in our room) is a visit to the hotel’s library to borrow a book to read during my stay:

I like to spend at least an hour (or more) in that library each visit, sitting near the fireplace and browsing through books. This time I selected a book I also had in my library at home so I could start the book while at The Broadmoor and then pick up my book when I got home.

Armed with a book, I was able to drag John to one of the many cozy nesting/seating areas in the resort next to a fireplace and settle in. First with a gelato and the book and then getting starting on knitting a new hat (this time a gray hat):

It’s very difficult to leave these cozy nesting areas but eventually John and I put on our bathing suits and then our robes provided by the hotel and headed to the hot tub:

John has been very busy at work so it was nice for him to just sit around and relax in the hot tub. Plus we had it all to ourselves on a beautiful day. It overlooks the golf course and if you ignore the scattered snow on the ground it was quite idyllic. (I had to spare you me in a bathing suit so you only get my toes, ha!)

My second favorite part of going to the hot tub at The Broadmoor (sitting in the hot tub is my favorite), is the refreshing walk back to your hotel room in your bathrobe! It is so fun to walk around the resort grounds in your bathrobe! It was chilly but a dry and refreshing chilling. I like to pretend I am at a spa/resort in the Swiss Alps!

I know I read somewhere that it is good for your metabolism to be in radically different temperatures every so often.

The Broadmoor has discounted rates for “off season” (which I think is October to March) and you can golf for free on a modified version (10 holes) of their world class golf course. We tried but it had recently snowed and the golf course was closed. Oh well, we’ll try again next time we visit in the off season. The regular green fees for their golf course is outrageous, so we like free better – ha!

It was a lovely getaway and I am looking forward to my next visit. They are “the Longest-Running Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Resort in the World” and their impeccable service definitely supports this status. The staff is so wonderful and everything is so gorgeous and well appointed there!

While we were there, they had started decorating the hotel for the holidays and I close this post with photos of their decorations in progress:

A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

That darn grief, the Etsy shop saga, and a little grace

Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I’ve been posting images of the project bags/drawstring bags I’ve been making in preparation for holiday season sales on my Textiles & Smiles (textilesandsmiles) Etsy shop.

Here are some of the cuties I’ve made:

And I had a lot more planned…

The bags are super cute in person and they have interfacing throughout the bag so they have a good heft and stand up on their own, I love them so much and I was excited to offer them on my shop (I sold out of the batch I made last year for the shop).

But, alas, that darn grief has taken ahold of me this holiday season/pending Winter again and as I approach the 4th anniversary of the passing of my life partner for 30+ years, Terry the Quilting Husband.

And I am not up to fulfilling orders this holiday season so I am putting my Etsy shop on hold for now.

This widow thing is a curious journey, you never know when you will suddenly be gutted with grief…

Thanks to everyone who has supported my Textiles & Smiles Etsy shop since I reopened it last November. Also thanks to those who were enthusiastic about the Project Bags (the photo below = a bedroom closet with some of the completed bags I was going to sell) I’ve been posting on IG that I was getting ready to offer on my Etsy shop this holiday season.

I was taking forever, and it did not make sense, to get the photos of the items and the listings up on Etsy. I finally figured out was was paralyzed with grief and could not bear fulfilling orders, etc. I had a recent sale on Etsy of the spools that John had made (see post Handmade Spools) and it was pretty excruciating to get that order completed.

Who knows why last year during the holiday season I could offer stuff on my shop and fulfill orders but this year I cannot. Grief is a mysterious weird thing.

I think of a wonderful card my friend Wendy sent me awhile back with with a reminder to “give yourself grace”:

I keep this card along with a matching candle I found while thrifting right before the card arrived (!) on my bookshelf to always remind me that sometimes I need to just take a breather…

So giving myself some grace, I’ve put my Etsy shop on hold for now and I am going to work on what is calling my heart – working with recycled materials and creating a new body of work of my art quilts.

And what will become of the existing project bags? I will put the completed ones away for now and then decide whether to just finish up the ones in progress or put them away also…

A Crafter's Life

Closer to Fine

I will eventually return to posts on my recent trip to Ireland (either by me or by the tierneycreates Beastie…smile) but I thought I would share a recent musing in this post.

When I travel by airplane I like to listen to music when the plane is taking off (it calms me) and I usually listen to Pandora which has on offline option (when no WiFi available or device in “Airplane Mode”) which plays downloaded stations.

Well on a recent flight as the plane was taking off, the song “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls came on…

At first I gasped as I’ve been trying to avoid for the past nearly 4 years all songs and performers that my late husband Terry and I listened together, especially if they were his beloved groups such as the Indigo Girls.

Terry passed suddenly and unexpectedly in December 2018 (I am approaching the the anniversary of his loss) and he LOVED singer-songwriter music. Our favorite bands (that we enjoyed together as we also had music that we enjoyed separately) included the Indigo Girls, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Gov’t Mule, Ben Harper, Joan Osborne, David Gray, and other music similar to those artists. We’ve seen also those artists in concert (some many many times) but the group we’ve seen in concert the most times was the Indigo Girls.

The Indigo Girls were Terry’s favorite singer-songwriter group and he knew the words to most their most popular songs including “Closer to Fine”. We’d go to their concert and he’d sing along (quietly) to most of their songs. But the song he really loved, knew absolutely every word and would sing at the top of his lungs along with the other audience members was “Closer to Fine”.

Over the years I guess the Indigo Girls made “Closer to Fine” a “sing-a-long song” with full audience participation expected. And Terry would always sing along at their concerts (which we attended at least yearly). One of my favorite Indigo Concert memories is when they had a concert in one of Bend’s neighborhoods – NorthWest Crossing. I guess they story is they were visiting friends who lived in the area and decided to just have small concert at the neighborhood monthly festival! Not a lot of people knew about it and it was a small audience crammed into a little neighborhood space watching the Indigo Girls play with a smaller version of their band. Sort of one of those once in a lifetime experiences! So glad I got to experience that with Terry.

Before I go further, let me share a video of the album version of the song if you’ve never heard it before:

And here are the lyrics to Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls (courtesy of Google):

I’m trying to tell you something ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah

Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine, yeah
Closer I am to fine, yeah

I stopped by the bar at 3 A.M.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountain
Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout

There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(The less I seek my source)
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine

Closer I am to fine, yeah

And if you are curious, here is what the concert sing-a-long version of the song is like:

I get chills (and tears) when I hear the audience sing acapella: “we stand up for the lookout” and then sing loudly with the Indigo Girls the last couple lines of the song together.

I can still hear Terry singing along with the audience the last three lines:

Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine
Closer I am to fine, yeah

At first listening to this song again, I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair (over what was lost – a lifetime with my music/concert buddy and amazing life partner/best friend) but then I turned it around in my mind and realized that over the nearly past 4 years I’ve gotten myself:

CLOSER TO FINE

I’ll never be fully “fine” and I accept that. I will always be a widow who lost the love of their life (even if I am so blessed to have my wonderful partner John in my life, who is a widower and deeply understands my journey and the heartbreak I carry around) but I am at so much better a place than I was a couple years ago.

And better than I was last year.

I get a little more “closer to fine” as the years progress.

If any of you are on the same journey as me (dealing with a life changing loss) I hope you getting a little “closer to fine” everyday even if you gain only millimeter of distance each day.

Thank you Amy Ray and Emily Saliers for your amazing song and lyrics…

Indigo Girls, image credit The San Diego Union-Tribune

 


Postscript

I think one of the things people do not realize about widows and widowers, is that they did not just lose the person they (likely) loved most in this world. They also lost their entire life with that person – all the history they shared, things only they knew, the memories and experiences they shared, and most of all (in many cases) their deep bond and friendship. You lose the person you shared your deepest secrets, your partner in life. For many (like happened to. me), they also lose their identity and have to create a new one. 

As my grief counselor said: “You have to now go out and create new experiences and memories on your own” (and yes that is unbelievably difficult to do)

Thank goodness I had a wonderful grief support group and continue to know and interact with amazing people who are on my same journey and understand the depth of the loss. I am also thankful to those who do not understand the experience of the loss but are kind, patient and supportive with me on my journey.

If you know someone who is grieving such a loss, please be patient and kind to them – their loss is more than you can imagine.

A Crafter's Life, Sunflowers!

The Sunflowers!

We’ll continue with stories from the tierneycreates Beastie on our trip to Ireland (see post Guest Blog Post: Beasties Return to Ireland!) but I’d like to pepper in some posts that I as drafts before I went to Ireland, planning to schedule them for posting while I was overseas, but forgot about them (distracted by Ireland!).

I love sunflowers, so much that I have a category on my blog on posts about them – Sunflowers!.

Summer is over and we are now deep into Autumn but I wanted to share some of the sunflowers in my garden this season that made me smile. Also I learned how to properly harvest sunflower seeds (thank you YouTube).

Here some of my favorite sunflowers from my garden (to me they are glorious…to you you might wonder: “why is Tierney using up some of her blog’s image limit on these pictures”, ha!):

This year I successfully grew a giant sunflower. Yes ONE giant sunflower, but when it finished blooming and go to the seed maturing phase of its existence, I figured out how to harvest the seeds for next year:

I am pretty excited as I think there are over 100 sunflower seeds in that jar. Just think if every seed became a giant sunflower and then I harvest each of those – I could have a “Sunflower Empire” at my house! (No worries of this happening, I do not have the garden space to achieve this…unless my neighbors let me use their front lawns also….)

MY FANTASY:

image credit: Lone Star Travel Guide

Okay I will be happy with 5 instead of just 1 giant sunflower next year.

Speaking of fields of sunflowers, I do have a wonderful memory of actually sitting in a field of sunflowers. I did this in 1998 during my first visit to Italy. Here is a photo I took of a photo in an old scrapbook:

I wonder if my partner John will mind if I pull up the grass in our backyard and turn it into a field of sunflowers…

I love sunflowers so much I have them around my house. Here is my upstairs guest bathroom which is decorated in a sunflower theme:

Recently I brought home a new enamel tea pot and cups from Ireland and I had my first pot of tea with them and used my sunflower tea cozy!

By now you are likely tired of sunflowers so it’s good it is the end of this post (smile).

Image credit: saudos.com/
A Crafter's Life, Life in B&W, Outside Adventures!

Truly Alive

My next post was going to be Part II of this post Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West show opening weekend, Part I.

But then I went to the Garden of the Gods, the national natural landmark in Colorado Springs, CO (my 4th visit) this weekend while my brother and his family were visiting.

And I stood here for a while gazing at the 300+ million year old rock formations across the grassland and got very reflective

Then I stood here for a while and got even more reflective:

I starting thinking about an Instagram post I did a couple months ago and how I feel “truly alive” in Colorado.

Here is what I wrote on Instagram:

My third anniversary of living in Colorado came and went without any fanfare but I’ve been thinking about it today.

I arrived in Colorado from Bend, Oregon (a truly magical place to live that I would’ve lived the rest of my life if life changing disaster had not struck) around April 20, 2019 to start a new life after being surprisingly widowed in 2018. Little did I know what glorious adventure awaited me in Colorado, the next chapter of my life.

I have this framed advertisement in the wall of my sewing studio. Two months after my husband suddenly died and I was sitting in my Oregon home strongly doubting my decision to move to Colorado, and I randomly opened a magazine and this ad was the page that opened! OK universe I hear you…

I am the adventure that will replay in your mind. The story you’ll tell for years and years. The invincibility you feel, if only for a moment. One beautiful, breathtaking moment. I am Colorado. And I’ll show you what it’s like to be truly alive.

Colorado.com

Whoever wrote the copy for that Colorado visitor guide advertisement I’d like to give a huge hug to.

“Truly Alive”, that is what I felt when I was wandering around the Garden of the Gods on Saturday.

I spent time with the group wandering around; and at the picnic we had on one of the over 300 million year old elevated rock formations. Here are photos of my brother and I hanging out as well as a haphazardly snapped photo of our picnic among the ancient rocks (while I was trying to balance food on my knee and take a photo):

I also spent a bit of time alone, allowing the group to wander off on their own. Here is a video I took as I looked upon a scene (which I’ve seen 3 times before) that took my breath away:

Here are a couple more select photos from the day but nothing compares to being there in person. It was a gloriously beautiful day in a spiritual sort of place.

And of course, here are some photos in Black & White:

I am Colorado. And I’ll show you what it’s like to be truly alive.

Thank you Colorado. (And thank you to me for being brave enough to move here for the next chapter of my life adventure).


Postscript

If you’d like to see much higher quality video footage of the Garden of the Gods, here is a video I found on YouTube that I think captures some of the beauty I saw on Saturday:

A Crafter's Life, From the Woodshop

John, Project Man (Part I)

My partner John has been busy with a bunch of home improvement projects (I have helped a tiny bit) and I thought I would share. I have nicknamed him “Project Man” because he loves staying busy with projects (though I’ve been working with him on just relaxing and not always being busy).

SOFA TABLES

We like to hang out and watch movies on the sectional sofa in our basement (and it is right near John’s bar so easy access to cocktails too!) but we needed some additional options on where to put our popcorn and drinks.

We already had this tray on the ottoman that John and made (see post From the Woodshop: Tray for our Ottoman):

But we constantly had to lean over to access our snacks and beverages while movie watching.

So a little research online and John and I found a style we liked for a table that would slide under the sofa and make our snacks and drinks quickly accessible.

Here is John working on the first of the two tables he ended up making, it was his first time making dovetail joints for furniture:

Here is the first table in use:

Sometimes we set that table between us and sometimes John just uses it on his side of the sectional sofa (we each have our own areas that we “nest” on the sofa).

After that table I was made, I thought – “what about a bigger version of that table that I could sit under and working on my laptop or eat a meal on?”. So John made a bigger version and here it is in use:

It also works well as an end table:

John made sure the two tables could nest together out of the way when we are not using them:

We’ve definitely enjoyed them on a couple recent movie nights!

SCREEN FOR SWING

One of the things I loved about my backyard in my previous life in Oregon was my backyard swing. Last year we found a lovely swing on sale and installed it in the backyard.

Last summer (2021) John made a screen for the backyard patio area to make it more cozy:

Recently, I asked John if we could repeat the concept he used last year for the patio screen, for the section of the backyard with the swing. So a couple weeks ago, John made a screen for the swing so you can feel super cozy when relaxing on it:

It is now a wonderful place to read a book! (And if I bring a couple pillows over from the patio seating, it is a great place to take a lazy afternoon nap!)

I continue with more projects in Part II of this series of posts, but let me close the post with pictures of Mike the Miniature Schnauzer at one of his favorite places – a home improvement store. He loves to ride around in the cart (we call him “Mike in the Box”).

He was helping us buy toilets for the projects I will share in the next post.

A Crafter's Life, Studio, Sunflowers!

Update on Memory Quilt

Thought I would give a little update on the memory quilt I am making for a grieving friend who lost her mother, with her mother’s favorite clothes. Here is a link to the previous post if you’d like some additional background – Update on “The Challenge” .

Here is the quilt top completed that I shared in that previous post:

Originally I was thinking of sending it out for professional long-arm quilting and my friend was going to pay for the professional quilting. Then I got concerned with there being issues over the unusual fabrics I had used in the quilt (acrylic sweater, polyester scarf, velour robe, etc) with the long arm quilting machine.

I discussed it with my friend and she was good with me quilting it myself (though it would not be nearly as lovely quilting as a professional long-arm) and she would give me money for the cost of the batting, etc. She is not a quilter and does not have expectations of super high quality machine quilting on my part – whew!

Last week I was trying to figure out the logistics of domestic machine quilting and thought I better hand stitch some of the blocks that have special logos, embroidery, etc. to secure them instead of trying to machine quilt around the logos. I found some heavy embroidery thread from my stash of thread of Sashiko* stitching and did some lap quilting (in the middle of the hot summer):

(*but wait a minute Tierney: I’ve followed your blog a long time and I do not remember any posts about Sashiko stitching…Why yes, I have the supplies and started a piece like 10 – 12 years ago…but someday I am really going to pick the piece up again and then blog about it..)

It was fun and for a moment (yes only a wee moment), I actually considered hand quilting the entire quilt. But I came to my senses as that would not be very fun in the hot summer and I would like to get this quilt to my friend, who is facing some other life challenges right now, sooner than in 6 months to a year! (Exhibit A – “Seattle Scrappy” which took me over a year to hand quilt – Seattle Scrappy is Done!)

Speaking of hot summer, I recently got my first full sized tomato (as opposed to the grape or cherry tomatoes I have successfully grown) in my little container garden on my upper back deck and I was so happy!

As I joked on my @tierneycreates Instagram account, I wanted to frame it! As of this writing, I now have two full sized tomatoes. Right now both tomatoes are sitting as decoration on my kitchen counter and I better use them before they go bad!

I am also celebrating the appearance of the first sunflower in my garden. I love love love sunflowers and I’ve blogged about them several times in the past especially when I lived in my house in Oregon where I grew sunflowers every year.


Postscript

We are at that point in summer (August), where for me I am OVER summer and the heat, longing for Fall/Autumn.

I was so longing for Fall that I made one of my favorite colder weather dishes – chicken pot pie:

I made two because we help feed John’s recently widowed father (John’s stepmother suddenly passed at the end of 2021) who lives nearby and he loves my chicken pot pie!

Yes it was lovely (not) having the hot oven, in the heated up kitchen due to the hot oven, in the hot weather outside. Brilliant, eh?

Also just sitting around one evening with that memory quilt on my lap hand quilting it made me yearn for cooler weather.

But then I reminded myself that come early March, I am only dreaming of warm weather! I have to always remember to just embrace the current season I am in.

So back to relishing in my 2 full sized tomatoes and my sunflowers (smile).

A Crafter's Life

Will Return Soon

I will return to blogging soon, I’ve been struggling with all that is (continually) going on in the world.

For now here is a photo of Mike the Miniature Schnauzer “pillow nap stacking” (a term we developed, patent pending, ha!) with my partner John on top of a granny square blanket while John is nestled under a quilt.

Some days you just need a break from the news and a nap is a good strategy to refresh (at least John and Mike think so)!

A Crafter's Life

On Grief

When coming up for a title for this post, I was thinking of my SA-based long time blogging buddy (and very talented textile artist), Mariss of Fabrications, who titles her posts “On…”.

So this post is “On” grief.

As many of you know I am a widow and lost my partner of many years back in 2018. In the earlier days of my grief I read books such as Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (see post New Library Stack and Option B) and Resilience by Eric Greitens (see post Soup’s On), as I tried to navigate my new reality, but in general I have avoided books that primarily focus on grief and grieving.

That was until recently, now over 3 years since my loss, when I decided to read It’s OK That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine.

image credit: Goodreads.com

I finished like book nearly 2 months ago and I am still thinking about it.

The book’s audience appears to be those with a new major loss in their life; and focuses on life shattering losses such as the death of a life partner or a child. It provides a different way of looking at grief and grieving from a therapist who lost her husband (she apologizes in the book to all her former clients who were grieving and how she counseled them before she experienced her own loss); as well as provides tools for grieving people to help their loved ones support them better during their grieving. It even has a whole chapter for those who are trying to support someone in their life who is grieving.

One of the greatest lessons or perhaps greatest insights I got from this book is: You cannot take away someone’s pain who is grieving, it is theirs that they must bear – all you can try to do is to ease their suffering (or at least not add to their suffering with things you do or say).

Here are a couple quotes from the book to share more of the author’s insights as a widow and a grief counselor/therapist:

The reality of grief is far different from what others see from the outside. There is pain in this world that you can’t be cheered out of. You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

When you try to take someone’s pain away from them, you don’t make it better. You just tell them it’s not OK to talk about their pain.

We need to talk about the hierarchy of grief. You hear it all the time—no grief is worse than any other. I don’t think that’s one bit true. There is a hierarchy of grief. Divorce is not the same as the death of a partner. Death of a grandparent is not the same as the death of a child. Losing your job is not the same as losing a limb.

The cult of positivity we have does everyone a disservice. It leads us to believe we’re more in charge of the world than we are, and holds us responsible for every pain and heartbreak we endure. It sets up a one-false-move world, in which we must be careful not to upset the gods, or karma, or our bodies with our thoughts and intentions.

Acknowledgment–being seen and heard and witnessed inside the truth about one’s own life–is the only real medicine of grief.

These quotes above are only the tip of the iceberg of all the wisdom and “truth-bombs” that the author drops in this book.

At the start of reading this book, I connected with many of the painful ways (causing more suffering) that some people in my life tried to support me during my early days of my loss. But as I got further into the book I thought about how they were doing the best they could with no personal experience in such a loss.

And I thought about the absolute disaster I was in the past in supporting people in my life who experienced such devastating loss, before I experienced such loss myself.

I thought in particular about a boss a used to have in the early 2000s who was an awesome leader, fun to work with and supportive. Then she suddenly lost her husband of 30+ years to a motorcycle accident. He was her best friend and they were inseparable. He was a long time motorcycle enthusiast and hit a random patch of gravel at high speed and was killed.

She was out of work for about a month and when she returned she was a completely different person. We (her staff) had pulled together money and sent flowers and a card, etc. and for some reason thought she would be okay when she returned after a month off, even if she was sad at times as expected.

Instead she was unable to focus at work, apparently heavily medicated (whether doctor prescribed or “recreational”) and pretty much non functional. This went on for months and finally she was convinced to step down from her position and let someone else take her job.

I am so sad that I was one of the staff members who was impatient with her, especially after a couple of months since her loss. It was like I expected her to “be over it”. I wish I could go back in time and hug her and apologize for how I just did not understand.

Fast forward to 2018 and my loss. I actually thought about her (after not thinking of her for years) about a month after my husband died. It was like “I get it!”

Although I did not use much medication (though in retrospect I would not have minded be numbed out of my mind for a while in the early days) to help me cope, I struggled focusing at my job or even caring about my job. I hid it and tried to be the same as I was but ultimately, when you lose the person who is your whole life, everything else seems so unimportant and meaningless.

Around the first anniversary of my husband’s passing, I had a colleague confront me about not getting an important project done on time, and all I could think is “but I am still alive a year after losing everything”. I tried to explain I was struggling with the 1 year anniversary but she did not get it, she was still annoyed.

I cannot fault her lack of empathy as I was guilty of such lack of empathy myself before experience such loss.

I feel redeemed though in my failures of supporting grieving people (I am skipping a couple other stories of how I was not the most helpful when people in my life loss their spouses before I experienced it myself) as I had an amazing experience connecting with a former neighbor who lost her husband last May. I feel so lucky to have been able to be there for her and listen to her journey, and share whatever she wanted to know about my journey as a widow.

It felt like I was paying it forward in honor of those who truly helped me in my journey, and continue to help me.

One of the most powerful concepts I gained from reading It’s OK That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand is:

Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

I’ve come to accept that I will carry this grief with me the rest of my life. And that is okay. There is still much joy, happiness, and peace to still have in this life, even with grief by my side.


Feature image – Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash 

A Crafter's Life

Valentines (re-post)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought in honor of this day, and how far my life has come in a couple of years, I would re-post this Valentine’s Day post from February 14, 2019 (the first Valentine’s Day I faced after my husband suddenly died in December 2018).

This post was also featured, at the end of February 2019, on author Marie Bostwick’s blog: Coping With Grief by Helping Others.


Valentines

A little less than a week ago I began having quite a bit of anxiety over how I was going to face my first Valentine’s Day without my Valentine. In December 2018 my husband Terry suddenly passed away. I’ve been with Terry more than 1/2 my life and we’ve never been apart on Valentine’s Day.

I was anticipating a painful day on February 14th, completely stricken my grief, perhaps not even able to get out of bed.

In the middle of my anticipatory grieving anxiety, I suddenly realized that doing something for others might be the solution to dealing with Valentine’s Day.

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been in a difficult but awesome Spousal Loss Grief Support Group that meets weekly. It suddenly hit me that all the widows and widowers in the grief support group with me were facing the same dilemma of their first Valentine’s Day without their Valentines.

So why don’t I invite them all the be my Valentines?

And that is just what I did.

For My Valentines

For the men in my grief support group:

Terry’s favorite cookies were the Molasses Crinkle Cookies that I loved to make. I’ve done little cooking and no baking since he passed so it was a pretty big thing to open my cookbook and actually bake something.

I made a huge batch of these cookies and it felt good to bake again, so good that I actually experienced a sweet moment of joy as I assembled the ingredients.

2019-02-11_08-45-30_205.jpeg

I put the cookies in a basket and included little sandwich bags for them to take as many as they wanted home.

For the women in my grief support group:

I gave them each little wallets. If you are new to my blog here is a post about the little wallets I made a zillion of since I first became obsessed with them – “Little Wallet Madness” .

For the group facilitator:

I gave her a set of my little heart pillows, as she has been helping us heal our hearts.

2019-02-11_08-46-04_518.jpeg

I then made “Oregon Healing Hearts” valentines using my circle punch and heart punch from my card marking supplies with Oregon/outdoor themed colored papers:

2019-02-11_08-45-11_375.jpeg

People had the option of an “Oregon Healing Heart” with a dog in the middle of the heart (as I consider dogs healing) or a plain heart:

2019-02-12_08-10-23_983
2019-02-14_08-49-40_513

Here is the whole set up I surprised them with earlier this week at our weekly Spousal Loss Grief Support Group:

2019-02-12_07-06-10_444.jpeg

I think it went over pretty well. The facilitator let me present them at the start of our support group meeting.

The men were willing to share their cookies and both the men and women got to take home some cookies if they wanted. There was laughter, smiles and hugs despite the difficult topics we discussed at that support group session.

Feeling at Peace

Today is Valentine’s Day and I feel at peace. I think it is because I stepped outside of myself and my grief and thought of others for a moment.

Day and night wallowing in my grief was not working for me, even if everyone expected and supported it. I had to try something else. That’s where my grief group came in, my unexpected valentines.

Grieving is hard work, maybe the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s definitely a hobby I don’t recommend for anybody.  But, if you’re suddenly find yourself a member of the club that no one ever wants to join, find a grief group. Part of what I have learned from this experience is, don’t try to go it alone.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

Talking About “Good Mail”

A couple posts ago I shared the craft exchange that @Mildy Granola and I did – drawstring bag for hand knitted socks, in this post The Exchange! .

Well my friend Wendy and I call this “Good Mail“.

Good Mail is when you get something very fun in the mail, like a handmade item or some type of fun treat. Through out the pandemic, Wendy and I have exchanged Good Mail.

THE GOOD MAIL DELIVERED TO MY HOUSE

For this round of Good Mail Wendy sent me an issue of the amazing periodical Curated Quilts and a beautiful Chinese New Year artist postcard for the Year of the Tiger.

What made this issue of Curated Quilts so special is that it featured the story of Wendy’s Quarantine Quilt Collaboration.

If you are just joining us, Wendy did a series of five (5) guest blog posts sharing the amazing story of how deep in the early days of the COVID pandemic quilt she made during quarantine with the four (4) rambunctious boys next door (aka “The Boys”) ages 2 – 8.

Could you imagine (and perhaps you can) being quarantined with your four young children ages 2 – 8 for months on end? Wendy provided an amazing distraction/project for the boys and likely made their parents lives a little saner.

Here are the links to those 5 posts if you’d like to read the full story (or re-read):

In the Curated Quilts (the theme of the issue is “Collaborate”) article Wendy provides a nice summary of the whole experience and shares the best of the photos (including my favorite – the one with the whole family and the finished quilt). It was such an amazing and selfless gift she gave to this family my eyes get a little teary when I think about it.

THE GOOD MAIL DELIVERED TO WENDY’S HOUSE

And what did I send Wendy for her Good Mail? Well she loves cats, and has a couple darling cats at home, so I made her a project bag with this fabric:

It was some cool fabric I found in my stash, I did not know where I got it from. When I posted the bag on Instagram, someone mentioned it is from a Valori Wells fabric line. Since I only had a little more than a fat quarter’s worth of fabric, I must have picked it up from a scrap bag I bought at the Stitchin’ Post when I lived in Central Oregon.

Here is the completed bag:

I included the rest of the fabric for Wendy inside the bag in case she wanted to make something with the fabric, as well as some other goodies (couldn’t just send her an empty bag!)

She has hung her bag with some other previous Good Mail from me (the tote bag I made her):

A Crafter's Life

Black History Month

I had a different post planned for this morning, but I was thinking about “Black History Month” in the US, which is every February. Here is a link from the History Channel network if you are not familiar with it or would like to learn more: Black History Month.

No matter where you live in the world I am guessing you are familiar with the history and struggles of people of African decent in the United States. I want to share a post I put on facebook yesterday about Black History Month:

Today is the first day of Black History Month and I know there are individuals in this country who might roll their eyes each February when this month comes around. When I was growing up my parents always made a big deal about Black History Month and we even had some type of encyclopedia they had bought related to Black History and had me read it regularly. Some of you might might not understand what it meant to me as a young Black child to learn about people like me who did GREAT THINGS. Growing up in the 1970s most of the history taught my school focused on “White History”. Back then they even skewed stories of slavery being focused on African tribes selling their tribe members instead of the horrors of our ancestors being stolen also from Africa. Growing up in a time where the focus was that as a person of color you were “less than” a White person was a very different experience than growing up today. I am so thankful for Black History Month and I will always celebrate it! I am so thankful to my parents that in a country that said I was “less than”, I was raised to know that I am “more than” any oppression that tries to tell me I am “less than”.

I am grateful that my parents who believed in education and making the best of yourself despite any challenges you might face. I always think of that Mahatma Gandhi quote when I think of how I was raised:

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

Remembering this quote has served me well when I am in a situation (which still happens today) in which it is implied that I am “less than”.

I recently finished an awesome audiobook by the Young Adult Fiction writer, John Green – The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet. In this amazing collection of essays where he “reviews” common human experiences during our geological age, the Anthropocene.

To give the readers a perspective of time since the geologic creation of the earth, he uses the span of a year. The time humans appeared on the earth would be late December and what we would consider “major events in history” would be mere seconds, or milliseconds in the time span of the earth.

So you might be wondering where I am going with this…

Well the author’s use of a familiar time scale – a year’s period – really put into perspective how little time has really passed in the scope of human history (and tiny in the scope of earth’s history) of what we consider to be significant changes in race relations in the US like the end of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. I think in a couple more generations, how people treat each other will evolve (hopefully for the good). Just my musings I am sharing.

I will close this post with a song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately, by Damien Marley, one of the very talented musician sons of Bob Marley, called Speak Life. It gives me a lot of thought on how I want to live my life.

If you’d like to see the lyrics here is a link: Damian Marley Speak Life Lyrics.

If you are wondering what “Speak Life” means, I did a little googling and it is related to a Bible verse and here’s a general summary which is a consensus of my research:

To speak life is to be a person of encouragement, edification, and blessing to others through what you say.

– gotquestions.org

I say we all go forward and “Speak Life” and make this world as bright as we can.

Featured image from dscout.com

A Crafter's Life

The Exchange!

I am fascinated with the talent of the knitters whose blogs I follow. One of those is @Mildy Granola who is the queen of knitting socks. I think her entire family (hubby and adorable kids) only wear her hand knitted socks.

I’ve never owned a pair of hand knitted socks and I am Terrified (yes with a capital “T”) of knitting socks (even though I can knit a basic hat so I know all about double pointed needles).

So when Sarah @mildygranola offered to make me a pair of hand knitted socks in exchange for one of my drawstring/project bag, I quickly said YES!

Here are the amazing socks she made me:

And here is the drawstring/project bag I made her with the fabric she requested:

Sarah was not particularly focused on the fact that the outside bag fabric was Tula Pink fabric, she just liked the raccoon fabric, so I did not use Tula Pink fabric for the inside bag. Instead I found this lovely floral fabric that coordinated better in my opinion.

Sarah of course has already received her bag and it is already featured in photo in her latest post: Quick Trip

I think I made out better than she did with my first pair of hand knitted socks!

A Crafter's Life

Things to Do When You Have a Bad “Cold”

It’s cold outside in the Denver Metropolitan area (with snow on the ground) and I have a “cold”.

I’ve put the word “cold” in quotes as I do not know if it is just your standard old fashioned winter cold, or our friend Omicron the COVID variant. Omicron, Omicroon, Omicruel, Omicrap, Omiramadingdong. Yup I so over all this.

Perhaps it is a cold, perhaps it is the COVID variant, did not go get tested as did not feel up to it and I’ve been isolating. My partner John has not gotten sick. We are vaccinated for COVID and the flu, etc.

I’ve been stuck at home with lots of fun “cold” type of symptoms but no fever. Actually the symptoms are about the same as every winter cold I’ve had before. Except add in the paranoia of maybe I’ve finally caught COVID.

My nutrition over the past couple of days have come from water, tea (so much hot tea), chicken noodles soup (homemade by John!), chicken broth (when the soup was way too busy for me), toast, jello, ice cream, and hummus (don’t ask me why but hummus worked for me today as food).

Sounds like all of Denver has it (perhaps I exaggerate) but I wonder if you have to just walk around in full protective gear to avoid it now.

My Covid 19 Protection Suit - Darth Vader - Choke | Make a Meme

Back to isolating – I’ve been stuck inside past couple of days but made it out once for a dog walk. I maintained social distancing and refrained from running up and kissing anyone I ran in to on my walk.

With memes and TikToks, teens lighten the mood of 'corona break' – The  Boiling Point

But here is what I’ve been up to while being stuck inside over the past couple days.

QUILTING

Working on a scrappy quilt on my old Bernina using the “log jam” free form log cabin block style piecing, with my Northcott Stonehenge fabric line scraps:

(oh warning; the photos in this post will likely be crappy, as I feel like crap..)

I’ll share a whole post on this project once I get some full blocks done. Right now I am just “chain piecing” and trying to build each block up to 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches (a random block size I selected based on the size of the ruler I want to trim them with).

TAKING ON THE JUKI

This is embarrassing, but I bought a used Juki sewing machine for making bags (using heavier fabrics), etc. in I think Spring 2021 (2021 is a blur now, I am just making up when things happened in 2021 at this point) and I could not get it to work right because I was confused on threading it, etc.

So I just abandoned it and made it a mysterious sewing machine object on the other side of my sewing table from my Bernina (or “my beloved” as I like to call it).

I let the Juki stare at me anytime I sat at the table sewing on the other machine.

Staring Cat | Meme Generator

I learned to ignore the Juki and pretend it was invisible, but while being stuck at home I decided to actual get out something called a MANUAL (that I had printed out months ago and placed on the Juki as decoration…or perhaps to keep it company) and read the MANUAL. I also watched a couple YouTube videos on threading the Juki, winding the bobbins, fixing bobbin tension, etc.

It was all very dry reading/watching and it seems way more complicated than my Bernina (which basically functions as an extra body part for me) but I got it working!

So I am going to make myself make my next bag on it. No more neglecting it for my beloved Bernina…at least this is what I am telling myself.

GRANNY SQUARE PARTY

Sat around and made granny squares, creating a kingdom of crochet on the sofa table where I was stationed somedays:

READING

Reading the book Billy Summers by Stephen King, which is so good so far…

And finally reading random magazines I bought during the early days of pandemic in 2020 when they finally opened back up our local Barnes & Nobles bookstore and I pick up whatever looked acceptable enough to read!

AND LOTS OF LOTS OF NAPPING WITH MIKE

My dog Mike is a professional napper and he guided me into proper positioning for many naps of the past couple of days. Here he is demonstrating his solo nap technique.

Alas I did not take photos of me nappy curled up with him.

So that has been my life past couple of days. I apologize for any crazy grammatical errors I made in this post as I am too sleepy now to proofread.

I’ll close this post with this awesome postcard I found which is a positive way to think about having a “cold”:

30 Funny sick memes ideas | funny, sick, funny sick memes
A Crafter's Life

Attempting to Embrace Christmas and Holiday Baking

If you are new to this blog, here is a little background – in December 2018 my husband died. In December 2017 my beloved mother in law died. In December 2017 my greatest dog love of all time, Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer died. My late husband’s birthday is in early December and our wedding anniversary is in late December.

So as you can imagine December is always a challenging month for me. Christmas was always my most favorite holiday (I enjoyed planning for Christmas starting in June or earlier); but my husband died 12 days before Christmas 2018. To add to the unfortunate event, I found him on the floor next to the Christmas tree.

I know this seems like a very morbid opening for a blog post but I just wanted to provide background/perspective for the rest of this post, not to scare you away from reading any further!

After making it through the 3rd anniversary of my late husband’s passing, I realized that I wanted to “take back Christmas” and I was tired of being unrelentingly sad during December. Christmas was my favorite holiday and I needed a way to enjoy it again and not associate it with one of the darkest times of my life.

So we got a Christmas tree and I decorated for the holidays more than I’ve done since my husband passed.

A got a little creative on how to make the TV more festive by adding holiday bunting…

My partner John and I decorated the tree with the collection of ornaments we kept from our previous lives and some new ones we’ve purchased together. Most of my ornaments are schnauzer themed…

Whole lot of schnauzers trimming the tree

John also hung Christmas lights on the front of the house and I placed a Christmas wreath on the front door for the first time together.

In addition to making the house holiday festive, I also did a bunch of holiday baking in anticipation of having John’s immediate family over for Christmas Eve (Originally we had planned to go to the East Coast of the US to spend Christmas with my family, but there is some virus raging…have you heard of it???).

I made Molasses Crinkle cookies, Crispy Chocolate Chip cookies, Lemon Squares, and a Pumpkin Roll.

Here is the messy kitchen during my baking fest:

Here are the cookies I made:

Here are the yummy lemon squares I made:

You’ll see one of the lemon squares above has a bite taken out of it. Well I had to make sure it was not poisonous!

I used my cookbooks for the cookies and lemon squares but for the Pumpkin Roll I used one of my blogging buddy’s (In Diane’s Kitchen) recipe which had awesome directions and worked out very well: Libby’s Pumpkin Roll

Here is the pumpkin roll in progress (this is the second time I’ve made it and I am getting better at the whole jelly roll process):

And the Pumpkin Roll ready to serve our holiday guests:

We also did the “Hot Chocolate Bombs” again this year (see post from last Christmas about these – December, Christmas and “Bombs”). This year for our “Hot Chocolate Bombs” we had awesome chocolate sprinkle like things to decorate them from my blogging buddy in the Netherlands, Emmely @Infectious Stitches (see post The Itty-Bitty Hat and Fun Surprises in the Mail).

Here is the whole Christmas Eve dessert spread which includes a bakery bought Lemon Meringue pie and store bought handmade marshmallows:

We did have an actual Christmas Eve meal before the dessert (smile). I set a festive table along with English style Christmas Crackers at each place setting. Of course I forgot to take a photo of the holiday table but use your imagination.

I’ll close this post with a picture of my partner John getting ready to make the gravy for the Prime Rib he made for Christmas Eve dinner, while wearing the paper crown he got from his Christmas Cracker:

A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags

Follow-up on Commission – The Value of a “Thank You”

In the post Adventures in Bag Making: The Commission, I shared my experience working on and finishing a commissioned Tula Pink fabric scraps Range Backpack (pattern by Noodlehead).

For more photos of the finished backpack, check out the post Adventures in Bag Making: The Commission.

In the post I linked above, I sort of whined about the challenges of making the backpack with quilting weight fabric when it is supposed to be made with canvas as well as the hours it took me to complete it in time for their family Christmas celebration (a couple all nighters).

Well this morning I received an e-mail from the woman who commissioned the backpack as a surprise for her sister, and any whininess I previously had about the commission evaporated!

Here it is:

I just looked at our correspondence and realized I had been sending email updates to my husband instead of you!!  I had emailed immediately when the backpack was finished AND when it came because it was so perfect and beautiful!!!!! I knew it would be amazing but honestly, I was so impressed with the creativity and talent you poured into our special present for her. It literally could not have been more perfect. I kept going over the fabric choices you made for her and all the sweet details and I just feel so thankful for you – you really “got” the heart behind the gift. THANK YOU SO MUCH. This will be one of those gifts that I know she will always treasure. She was SHOCKED and so surprised once she figured out it was made specifically for her. She carried it around with her the rest of our Christmas celebration and then hung a special hook in her sewing room so she could look at it as she works. Thank you. Your craft is beautiful and clearly – you are a beautiful person!

Okay now I’d gladly do another all nighter after receiving that e-mail!

Just wanted to share this as a follow up to me being sort of whiny over late nights and that the time I put in to make the backpack way exceeded what I charged. A heartfelt thank you can be quite the currency!

I now feel well compensated for my time and effort (smile).

A Crafter's Life

Remember Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)

Today would have been the 61st birthday of Terry the Quilting Husband (1960 – 2018), and I want to celebrate him on his birthday with this post.

In 2019 I began doing a remembrance post on this birthday but it was not until earlier this year, after a discussion with a friend who had lost her sibling, that I made the decision not to officially celebrate his life any longer on the date of his passing but instead on the date he came into this world.

His life was more than his sudden death at 58, he had 58 years of life, and over 30 of those with me before he left this earth and moved onto his next plane of existence.

I do not want you to be sorry for my loss, I just want you to celebrate with me this awesome man who I grew up with and became who I am as a person with during the 30+ years we were together.

Here is an excerpt from his obituary (writing his obituary was one of the most difficult things I had to do in my life – how do you summarize the life of the person who was your integral to life for 30+ years?):

Terry was a quiet and gentle soul who always treated people with respect and great kindness; a very patient person; and a loyal friend. He was an awesome husband, best friend and life-partner to his wife and made marriage a rewarding union. He was brilliant on many topics such as Military History and Military Strategy, his favorite hobbies. Terry was also a quilter and his quilts were part of the “Man Made” exhibit at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. In addition to sharing a love of quilts, he also shared with his wife a passion for dogs, and adopted numerous rescue dogs throughout his life.

Terry was a “Quilting Husband” and a “Crafting Husband” here is a photo below of him helping me on a crafting project (making the covered rope for fabric baskets that I would eventual give to his sisters and keep one for myself after his passing – see post The Last Baskets)

To my blogging friends who’ve been with me for a while – thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past couple of years as I’ve navigated my new reality of widowhood and dealing with a level of grief I did not know existed prior (and it is a terrible hobby, I do not recommend it!).

Here are the links to some posts on Terry’s creativity during his years as “TTQH”, if you’d like to take a trip down memory lane:

Update: Terry the Quilting Husband

Terry the Quilting Husband – Update

Terry the Quilting Husband Update

Terry the Quilting Husband Hard at Work

He was an amazing life partner, best friend and partner in crafting/quilting. He always believed in me and encouraged me in everything I did (or tried to do). Now that I am gaining distance from the day that he passed, I can focus more on just how lucky I was to have him in my life for so long.

I like to think that he and Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer (who passed in 2017), his amazing Mom (who passed in 2017), my Father (who loved him), and all our other rescued Miniature Schnauzers (Fritz, Snickers and Kerie), his Father, as well as his Grandfather that he loved so much, are all hanging out in the afterlife together or that their souls have all been reincarnated and they meet again somehow in their next life.

I know that I will carry TTQH always in my heart and he lives on in my memories.


Postscript

I wanted to follow up on my “oversharing” post My Etsy Shop is Now Reopened – tierneycreates is now TextilesandSmiles from Saturday. A friend reached out via email after that post and shared an AMAZING story of how she had to reinvent herself and her life after a major life change. It was one of those emails that you hold on to the rest of your life and refer to as needed.

One of the profound things she shared/reminded me of is that when the titles that we assign ourselves (“wife”, “employee of _____”, “owner of ____”, etc.) change this does not alter the CORE of who we are. We are still that CORE and it does not change by the loss of any “title”. It helped remind me that I am more than those “titles” and although I may need to reinvent myself into new titles because of life losses or changes, I am not losing my CORE. Positive Words Inspiration: At your core is a Wh Positive Quotes Inspiration


Feature Photo is TTQH along with Sassy and Mike “field testing” a quilt Terry just completed –