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, in general I have avoided books that primarily focus on grief and grieving.

That was until over 3 years after my loss that 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, tierneytravels

Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer

Of all the things I took for granted that I could do “pre-pandemic”, going to a breakfast buffet was one of them. This weekend I got to eat at my first breakfast buffet since 2019 and meet some very confused deer.

My partner John and I have an obsession with historic hotels and gravitate towards staying in them. We live in the Denver Metropolitan area and we’ve even gone for a weekend to a local historic hotel in downtown Denver, just to experience it.

Colorado has some cool historic hotels and one of them that we love is The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I stayed there for the first time in May 2021 and you can read about that visit in this post – Weekend at The Broadmoor.

Well for Valentine’s Day weekend we returned there and surprisingly they had their renown breakfast buffet at the Lake Terrace Dining Room recently reopened! It had been closed for a long time due to the pandemic of course.

I tried to remain calm and make good choices, but I was ECSTATIC to wander about a breakfast buffet. Here are some photos from the buffet (why yes, I was the idiot wandering about the food at the buffet taking photos while “oooing” and “ahhhing”...):

They had a custom omelet station as well other delights such as cheese blintzes with berry compote. There was a lot more food than what was pictured but I would have looked even more pitiful (like I am never allowed out the house) if I took pictures of all the food stations at the buffet while people were waiting to serve themselves.

Yes, I was acting like I’d never been to a buffet before, like ever. Or like I had just landed on this planet and was learning my way around…

One of the things at the buffet that made my jaw drop was their honeycomb display for the local honey that had on the smoked meat and cheese table:

Perhaps I am just being weird after losing access for a couple years to things I took for granted, but I thought this was quite the delightful (and delicious) sight! And yes the honey drizzled over the gourmet cheese and smoked meats was sublime!

Although I wanted to be very naughty, I did not return for any refills (except on tea) and here are our plates after making our way through the buffet:

After our breakfast, we wandered outside to watch ducks and geese (they also have swans living on the lake) who live at the little lake at The Broadmoor fly about.

You are going to have to trust me that is was austere and peaceful to watch them, as the photos above do not do the experience any justice.

While watching the birds, we noticed a trio of deer wandering around the cobblestone grounds near the building where we had breakfast. At first they looked like they knew where they were going as they trotted down the stairs to the paved little shopping area below on the property. However after a while they looked like their GPS directions stopped working!

They looked like confused deer:

In the image above it looks like they are saying: “I thought you knew where we turn next…”

I hope they found their way to wherever they were going!

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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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

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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, Guest Blogger

Guest Blog Post: How Quilting and Writing are Similar Creative Processes

Rose Atkinson-Carter a London-based writer with Reedsy, reached out to me with an offer to write a guest post that tied quilting and writing together. I thought it was a fabulous idea, and here is her fabulous guest post!

How Quilting and Writing are Similar Creative Processes

by Rose Atkinson-Carter

This may surprise you, but quilting and writing are really similar. Sure, one is sewing fabric together to make elaborate designs, and the other is putting words to a page to tell a story. But, if you pick apart the steps of writing a story, they’re practically the same steps that you follow to create a quilt. I believe that if you can create a quilt from scratch, you can definitely write a book. Just follow these four quilting steps, and you’ll have a story in no time.

1. Pick a theme

Whether you love playing with colors and patterns in patchwork, or are more interested in the details of the sewing on a single-color background, you’ll want to choose an eye-catching design for your quilt. And while the technical, visual characteristics (i.e. colors, shapes, composition) are important, adding a theme to your quilt — like how this legendary quilt is focused on Bigfoot — can take your design to the next level. 

“Legendary” quilt pieced by tierneycreates, quilted by Krista Moser, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman

In the legendary quilt, the artist deliberately uses colors and design elements to emphasize  the concept of Bigfoot and his environment. The mossy, sylvan green and brown on a contrasting white background draws the eye to the quilted Bigfoot, who is made of classic quilting shapes of triangles and squares.

When it comes to writing, the same is true. When picking a theme — the thread running through your story — you can give your technical skills a sense of purpose and direction. Just as your theme on your quilt is supported by certain shapes and colors, the theme in a story is supported by a character’s actions and thoughts, or repeating ideas and motifs. What’s more, a well-developed theme is very effective at drawing your readers in.

When your story carries a strong theme, it will be able to reflect the reader’s own experiences or curiosity, leading them to think about your work beyond just when they’re sitting with the book in hand.

So for quilting and writing both, start with an idea for a theme, something that you can build off of toward a finished product.

2. Pick out your fabric

After creating your quilt design, you’ll want to pick out the perfect fabric. This will be the canvas for your masterpiece to unravel on, the ideal characteristics of which depend on the purpose of your quilt. If you’re making a coat or blanket, you’ll want to pick fabric that’s comfortable, won’t scratch, and something that will hold stitches for a long time. If you’re making a piece of wall art, you might choose fabric that’s more of a statement — something with texture, or bold colors.

The fabric you choose can make or break your project. To make this decision, you have to take a “big picture” look at your quilt’s theme and vision so that you can choose a strong foundation to advance your product from the get-go.

The same goes for creating a story. Sure, you won’t write your story on yards of quilter’s cotton, but it is important to determine the right structure for your story. Will the theme you pick be supported by a hero’s journey plot structure, or more of a simple three act structure? If you’re able to put together an outline (it doesn’t have to be super fleshed out) before you write, you’ll have a stronger start to the project as a whole. So take the time to pick a structure that helps build the theme you’ve chosen.

This is why picking a theme that you truly care about is important. Whether you’re designing on fabric or on the page, a theme keeps you guided throughout the whole process, reminding you with every step that the aim is to create a cohesive end product.

3. Sew it all together

Once you’ve gathered the materials that will support your theme, you’ll be ready to start sewing. If you’re creating a patchwork quilt, you’ll have quite a few pieces to create and arrange in just the right way. Swapping one triangle or granny square for another of the wrong color will distort the image you’re trying to create, so you have to go through the sewing process paying close attention to the details of your design. Much like the various elements involved in book cover design, you’ll need to weave together multiple elements that communicate a cohesive story or theme.

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Recycled Hope I: Recycled Road by tierneycreates

This all will take time, as is the case with writing a novel. Even if you already have some plot points laid out, and now you just have to fill in the details, you’ll still have to pay careful attention to how it all fits together. Be mindful of plot holes or inconsistencies of character descriptions. If that sounds like a lot, the good news is that developmental editors exist to help you with these issues. Or if you can’t go pro, consider asking a writer friend to do a feedback exchange with you: creative exchanges are always fruitful!

4. Add finishing touches

After weeks of hard work, your quilt is almost ready for photos! You’ve sewn your design and everything is looking great. Now, it’s time to add any finishing touches. This might include ironing out any kinks, clipping any thread ends that have snuck through the fabric, or adding a border around the motif. At this final stage, you’re doing everything to make sure the quilt reflects your best work.

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Tree of No Hurry by tierneycreates

In writing, this type of editing is typically known as copy editing. You’ve gone through the hard work of getting your words down on the page and cleaning up your story. A copy editor will help clean up the prose to make sure the story shines. Now, it’s time to cut those thread ends and close the quilt. As a final safety net, a proofread will take your writing to a professional level. Any grammatical errors, typos, or weird spacing that might have slipped by you will be caught by a proofreader, making your pages spotless.

If you can put in all that time and energy in creating a gorgeous quilt, you’ll have no problem at all getting a story together. Just remember your quilting steps, and your story will come together just as beautifully.

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best self-publishing resources and professionals like editors, designers, and ghostwriters. She lives in London, and loves writing and crafts.

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, tierneycreates

2021 Crafts in Review

I better get this post out before the end of January! I’ve enjoyed seeing 2021 crafting retrospectives by my blogging buddies and thought I would do one myself.

So here is it is gallery format:

image credit – The James Museum

On one hand it seems like I made a lot of things in 2021, and on the other hand it seems like I definitely did not make all that I planned!

I am avoiding for some reason (unknown) any official New Year’s Resolutions this year but I would like to challenge myself to make more things in 2022 than I did in 2021.

I wish you an awesome year of creativity in 2022!

Give it up. Creativity, passion and a sense of purpose - The Digital  Transformation People
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, From the Woodshop

From the Woodshop and Some New Year’s Day Hair Fun

Happy New Years to all of you!

In this post I’ll share a gift my partner John made from wood scraps in his woodshop and then we’ll have a little New Years Day fun!

I love to save and use fabric scraps for my crafting and quilting projects, and my woodworking partner John does the same with his wood scraps. He is always trying to decide just how small a wood scrap to save.

Well for our friends who enjoy whiskey and bourbon tasting, he made a set of tasting trays from the wood scraps in his shop and put cool beveled edges to each tasting set.

We found chalkboard stickers at one of the home improvement stores and put a sticker/label on each taster-section along with some chalk, so they could mark what is in each taster glass. We also gave them extra stickers in case the originals wear out.

I think it was a pretty creative use of woodworking scraps and John designed the set himself!

Okay now for the fun, and WARNING: You will not be able to “unsee” what you are about to see.

My partner John has had a receding hairline for many years, and has a good sense of humor about it. One of his sons would tease him that he had a “cul-de-sac” on top of his head!

Cul-de-sac - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
image of a cul de sac in case you are not familiar with this term

I came across a smartphone app called HairStyleLite where you can try on different hair styles. John being such a great sport and having a wonderful sense of humor, let me play with one of his photos to see what he might look like with a full head of hair.

Here is the original photo:

And here are some short hair options for John – ha:

There were a lot more hairstyle options, and I tried both female and male hairstyle options, so there was a lot of hysterical laughter. But here is my favorite one – John as an aging Rock and Roll Star (think of the lead singer of the band Aerosmith or something…):

I warned you that you would never be able to “unsee” it!

Well that was some New Year’s Day Hair fun for you!

Happy New Year 2022 Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image  90390087.
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 –

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

Loved (or mugged) by a Lab

I mentioned in my previous post that I was in Northern California (small town outside of Sacramento) visiting friends Kathy and Matt this past weekend, and I would share some stories/photos from that visit.

This post is sort of inspired by my blogging friend Beth’s blog Lessons from a Lab, where she blends her spirtuality with life lessons from her labrador retriever.

Labrador Retrievers are smart, loving and amazing dogs and although I’ve never owned…no wait – “partnered” seems more appropriate…with one, they are one of my favorite dog breeds (but don’t tell Mike my Miniature Schnauzer).

Matt and Kathy have a chocolate lab named Riley that I’ve known since she was a puppy. I visited them in April 2019 (see series of posts California Quilting Sisters Adventures, Part I, California Quilting Sisters Adventures, Part II, and California Quilting Sisters Adventures, Part III) and Kathy and Matt had just adopted Riley, so I spent quite a bit of my visit snuggling with their new puppy (and we took the pup many places with us even breweries):

Kathy and Matt assigned me to be Riley’s “Dog Godmother” and she has always had a special place in my heart since then!

Okay so now the subject of this post: When I took my partner John with me to visit Matt and Kathy for the first time, Riley fell in love with him. I have this wonderful series of photos I wanted to share with you of John being loved/mugged by Riley which seemed to be a pure moment of JOY for the both of them!

When a lab wants to love on you, they go all in! John could barely control all that loving at one time – ha!

I’ll close this post with a sort of calmer photo of Riley from the trip – here I am attempting to do whiskey tasting while acknowledging Riley (and not both successfully)!

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Itty-Bitty Hat and Fun Surprises in the Mail

I am covering two topics in this post:

  1. How the knitted hat I made from yarn I discovered in my stash turned out too small (follow up to blog post Hot Mess of Yummy Yarn); and
  2. The two awesome packages I discovered in my mail upon returning from vacation in Northern California.

THE ITTY-BITTY HAT

It been a while since I’ve knitted a hat and I appeared to have forgotten that I have to alter the pattern I use in order to accommodate my head (I have a lot of hair and perhaps a larger than average head).

Here’s the yarn I started with that I re-discovered while tidying up my yarn stash (two skeins intertwined):

Here is the hat in progress – I love getting to the double point needles section of knitting the hat:

And here is the itty-bitty hat (too small for my head):

The hat is cute and I guess will be enjoyed someday by someone with a smaller head!

I do have leftover yarn from the first skein and I’ve already began knitting another hat (this time with the pattern modified for my head) with the end of the first skein and then into the second skein. So I’ll see how that one comes out and if I can model it for you (or if it will also become a gift…).

FUN SURPRISES IN THE MAIL

Speaking of gifts, I recently returned from a long weekend visiting friends in Northern California (and while I was there I nearly finished knitting the first too small hat). When I picked up my mail on return to Denver, I discovered not one but TWO awesome surprises in the mail!

SURPRISE ONE was from my blogging buddy in the Netherlands Emmely @Infectious Stitches filled with delicious Dutch treats:

She also included a handmade artist roll for my colored pencils – I can do some coloring on the go!

Just starting to load my pencils on to the roll

Emmely recently released/published a new foundation paper piecing pincushion pattern and I got to be a pattern-tester on it. You can check out her blog post about it – New Directions: Pattern tester makes!. I did not post about it because I was not over excited about the boring version I made of the pincushion and I want to make a better version before I post about it. I do not like foundation paper piecing so we thought I would be a good tester. Turned out it was easy (and a very well written pattern) and I whipped through making a (boring color choice) pincushion. The other pattern tester and Emmely made beautiful pincushions (as you will see if you check out her post I have linked above).

Oh and in case you are curious, I’ve already opened some of the Dutch treats (yum).

SURPRISE TWO in the mail was a wonderful collection of fabric scraps from my blogging buddy Chela @Chela’s Colchas y Mas.

I know I will figure something fun to make with these fabric someday!

It was a nice way to return from “holiday”. I will share some of my adventures in Northern California in a future post or two.

A Crafter's Life

Did something awesome – took an in person crafting class!

It’s been years since I’ve taken an in person quilting or crafting class.

I moved from Oregon to Colorado in April 2019 and a month later I met my partner John at a widow/widowers grief support group. The rest of 2019 was spent settling into Colorado and into my first new relationship in over 30 years. Then in 2020 the pandemic hit and you know the rest about all those fun lockdown times.

Once lockdown lifted, my partner John suggested (as did my longtime quilting friend Judy, who got me into quilting) that I find a local quilting community and maybe take some classes, etc. For some reason I just did not feel ready but I did go with John to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop in August 2021 (see series of posts Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop 2021, Part I, Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop 2021, Part II, Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop 2021, Part III. and Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop Hop 2021, Part IV) for the first time and discovered during the shop hop Treelotta quilt shop.

Treelotta just felt like it was “my place” and the staff is so awesome. It has incredibly positive and creative vibe. I found out about classes on my first visit but was not quite ready to purse it yet.

Then I returned in October when my friend Judy visited and found out about their Open Sew Nights and upcoming classes as well as talked to one of their class facilitators and I just knew it was time/the right place to find my quilting community.

The funny think is it is about a 30 min drive from my house (or more depending on traffic), and there is a much closer quilt shop to my house, but that closer shop does not have a good vibe (actually I call that quilt shop “The Grumpy Quilt Shop” because no matter how many times I’ve been in there they remain unfriendly).

So last night I took a bag making class at Treelotta – we worked on the Range Backpack by Noodlehead.

Image credit – Noodlehead.com

Here is the teacher’s sample, which looked more amazing in person as I do not think my photos do it justice:

The other students were working on some amazing backpacks such as this one:

I had not properly prepared for class (I am out of practice of attending in person classes) but here is the main fabric for my backpack and the straps I was working on:

The teacher and the support staff person (who found items for us we needed, handled any additional purchases, etc) were awesome.

But what made the class really awesome was the other students! I met so many fun, talented and wonderful crafters with an age range from 30s to 70s. I cannot put into words how wonderful it was to take the class and meet other creative people in the Denver metropolitan area.

I am going back – I am planning to attend Open Sew next week and take the next Noodlehead bag making class in December! Below is the class sample for that class:

But one bag at a time – first I have to finish the backpack (will of course share photos in a future post) before I think about starting my next bag.

A Crafter's Life

The Great Art Quilt Oops!

I am running out of art quilts my portfolio. On one hand this is a good thing, as many have sold including 4 that the City of Seattle own as part of their Portable Works Collection. On the other hand – I am running out of available pieces in my portfolio for shows/calls for entry. I explained why I’ve not made many recent art quilts in my post Secret Quilt and Design Wall Struggle.

I am approaching 3 years in Colorado (in April 2022) and in early 2021 I realized I want to show my work in my new home Colorado and since I was not up to making any additional art quilts at that time, I needed to try and get some of my remaining pieces in a Colorado based show.

So back in April 2021, I responded to a call for entry for a Textile Arts show at the R Gallery in Boulder, Colorado and my art quilt Color Story III: Random Not So Random was accepted. 

Random Not So Random, photographed by Jeremy Koons

I was “over the moon” with excitement as I was going to be in my first Colorado show!

When it came time to deliver the quilt to the gallery for the show I carefully packaged it up and we set it in the back of the car (we have a hatchback). 

Unfortunately my partner John also (accidentally) set his large open beverage in the back of the car, and forgot it.

We stopped for lunch along the way and John went to check something in the back of the car and discovered his drink (which he had forgotten about and did not know he left it there) had spilled and soaked my recycled silk art quilt. 

We could not deliver the quilt to the gallery as it was a “hot mess” to say the least.

I am just now able to write about it, and laugh about it, as it was an upsetting moment for me to say the least. 

I contacted the gallery and told them what happened and that I would not be able to be in the show.

John felt absolutely terrible about it and ended up buying the quilt from me for what I was going to list it at in the gallery. The positive outcome was that I did not have to lose 30 – 50% of the sale to the gallery commission. Another positive outcome is that the quilt dried out and although to me it does not look exactly like it did originally, John loves it and has it displayed on the wall near his home office downstairs:

John’s home office and his coworker Mike the Miniature Schnauzer always ready to consult

John says he is proud to own one of my art quilts.


Feature Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

A Crafter's Life

Whiskey Tasting and Coloring?!?!

Back in April after we got our COVID vaccinations and the numbers were starting to significantly decrease, we thought during Autumn 2021 we’d be able to do another Whiskey Tasting party for our friends who enjoy fine spirits such as Scotches, Bourbons, Ryes and Whiskeys.

Perhaps unrealistically hopeful, we scheduled a party for early October.

But as October approached, and the Delta Variant raged, attendees started to cancel for the party; and we realized that a party was not the best idea with the variant raging.

Our friends Michele and Blair who are busy parents, went to great lengths to make attending the party work for their schedules. We wanted to still do something with them that evening. They live on the other side of the Denver Metro area and had planned to stay overnight at our house the night of the party.

So we decided to go ahead and have a small version of the Whiskey Tasting with just Blair and Michele (who we know they have been really excellent with following COVID safe protocols).

A week before this mini-version of the tasting party, my partner John and I had visited the Denver Art Museum (my first visit there, I will do a post on my visit at a later time) and I had picked up a couple mandala coloring pages the museum was offering visitors for free.

So I thought – why not combine Whiskey Tasting and Coloring while we had them captive for the evening!

Everyone was game (or very good sports), I brought out my stash of colored pencils and we each got our own mandala coloring page to work on while tasting various whiskeys. Here are some images from the evening (and we did feed them dinner first before the tasting began!)

The tastings started before we began coloring to get us warmed up:

The men seriously working on coloring their mandalas:

Our completed mandalasthe whiskey tastings did not impair our creativity!

Individual close ups of each of our mandalas:

It was an incredibly fun evening and everyone seemed to enjoy expressing their creativity while sipping on various tasty adult beverages! Plus Blair and Michele got to leave our house the next morning with the art they created (I am sure they ran home and framed them, ha!)

I used to sort of make fun of the “adult coloring/coloring book” trend a couple years ago but then on a whim I bought a collection of “color them yourself” greeting cards at Dudley’s Bookstore when I lived in Bend, Oregon; and some colored pencils and found it to be very soothing and very meditative. (I loved Dudley’s Bookstore in downtown Bend, Oregon and here is a blog post I did on it several years ago honoring independent bookstores – Independent Bookstores (wonderful & magical places))

image credit – zulily.com

Here is a link to an article I enjoyed reading about the benefits of coloring – The Benefits of Adult Coloring: 10 Reasons to Color Yourself to Calm.

We were impressed that we all “stayed within the lines” while coloring and whiskey tasting!


Postscript

Speaking of creativity, Blair and Michele encourage and honor the creativity of their children by the framed art wall/gallery wall they have in their house of their kids’ art. I did a post on this a while back and here is a link to it –An Awesome Way to Display Kid Art!

A Crafter's Life

Awesome Surprise Treats in the Mail!

Usually my blog post stories are running a couple weeks behind (at least) in what is currently going on in my life. My @tierneycreates Instagram is more up to date. Well this blog post is actually current with my life like my Instagram.

I returned home from nearly a week in Wilmington, North Carolina with my partner John (who was on a business trip) and guess what I had in the mail?

A YUMMY surprise all the way from South Africa!

My longtime blogging buddy Mariss (@fabrications) back in June sent me the goodies pictured above which included two of her handmade pin cushions, and 2 months later they arrived!

In addition to the pin cushions, I was surprised with some amazing Nelson Mandela fabric!

Bet you do not see this everyday!

Of course it is too precious to use, so maybe I will just frame it. Okay, okay, maybe I will use it in a project some day…maybe…

I’ve been blogging for nearly 8 years and I’ve met some pretty incredible and talented people from all over the world. Several of those people have been so generous in sending me treats in mail over the years. I’ve sent out treats also of course. You all know who you are and I so appreciate you!

And I am going to be putting together some special treats for Mariss in the near future (for their 2 months+ journey to South Africa)!


Postscripts

One of my blogging buddies @quiteayarnblog has an ongoing series called “Agriculture Report” whose title always cracks me up because it is an update of what is going on in her garden.

In the same vein, I thought I would share my own “Agriculture Report” and share what to me is some exciting news: 

  1. I was able to grow enough basil to make Pesto
  2. I was able to grow enough tomatoes to make ONE dish

You might be wondering: “why is this exciting” or “why is this news”?!?!?

Well after living many years in places such as Seattle and Central Oregon where growing “crops” was not that challenging (especially not in Seattle where it seemed like you could just throw seeds on the ground in passing and you’d have a bumper crop of whatever), I’ve been living in Denver, Colorado where growing things is challenging. We have a short growing season. 

Last year I tried my first patio garden on the upper deck with meager results. This year, and perhaps it was because we had an unseasonably large amount of rain, I had good (well for Denver) results!

Here is my “bumper crop” of basil (enough for ONE batch of Pesto):

And here is my “bumper crop” of Roma and Cherry tomatoes (enough to make ONE dish):

Now it could just be me because when I first moved to the Denver area I took Mike the Miniature Schnauzer to a groomer near Boulder, Colorado and she had an amazing garden. I might just need to learn how to garden here!

Then I can provide better “Agriculture Reports” in the future (smile).

A Crafter's Life

Thinking About Kindness

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately and appreciate those moments of kindness I get to witness.

It seems I’ve been doing a ridiculous amount of travel lately within the U.S., and a couple weeks ago I witnessed kindness while sitting on an airplane.

Kindness on an Airplane

A man likely in his late 30s ended up sitting next to an elderly couple, perhaps in their 80s. The wife sat in the middle row and the husband sat on the aisle seat. The husband was VERY hard of hearing and his wife had to basically yell at him for him to hear anything that was said. The wife was very friendly and began engaging the man at the window seat in conversation. The husband wanted to be part of the conversation too so the wife had to yell into her husband’s ear any questions/responses/discussions so that her husband could feel part of the conversation.

I was sitting in the row behind these three thinking: “whew I am so glad I did not end up in that row”. All I could think is that I would have put my headphones on very quickly and stuck my nose in my book.

I thought the window seat man would grow weary from the convoluted conversation but instead he was warm and very engaged and when he asked the elderly man what he used to for a living before he retired, the husband lit up and began telling the younger man interesting stories from his previous work life. I could sense how much he appreciated being asked and being listened to even though he was so hard of hearing.

I was amazed at the kindness of the younger man in the window seat and the gift he gave the older man: the gift of respect, listening, and kindness.

Photo by Dan Gold on Pexels.com

Kindness in the Community

A week later I was walk my dog Mike through the park near my house and noticed a couple actively cleaning up the park with grabber devices and trash bags, which were very full. I walked over to them and thanked them for keeping our park clean. They responded: “We are retired and have the time, we feel the least we could do it keep our community clean”.

What kindness they showed to our community!

Kindness in the Neighborhood

That same day I returned home from my dog walk to find my partner John mowing the lawn of my next door neighbors who just had a baby. Usually the husband keeps his lawn looking lovely but he was very busy with working and the new baby. 

John not only mowed their lawn and their curb lawn area, but he also edged and trimmed the neighbors’ property, leaving it looking spectacular. They of course were most appreciative. 

It might have taken John and extra 30 minutes of lawn care time but I know he felt good after being so kind to the neighbors. Because kindness is rewarding to the receiver and the giver!

I keep looking out for opportunities to witness simple (or large) acts of kindness on a daily basis by my fellow humans; and I hope that no matter what I am going through in life I can demonstrate kindness on a daily basis.

In A World Where You Can Be Anything Be Kind | DIGITANZA Feel free in the comments below to share your musings on kindness or any recent acts of kindness you’ve witnessed.

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

Weekend at The Broadmoor

Back in May my partner John took me for a weekend at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It was absolutely amazing! Here is the image from the front page of the resort website:

And from their website:

We began welcoming guests in Colorado Springs in 1918 and have remained one of the most recognizable and celebrated hotels in the world. Our distinctive blend of history, luxury and genuine hospitality has made us the longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Five-Star awards. We continue that legacy with an unmatched selection of accommodations, activities, and experiences that invite guests to immerse themselves in the beauty and traditions of the American West.

I’ve never stayed at a place so luxurious!

Our hotel room had it’s own doorbell:

John got us a room overlooking the lake and I forgot to take photos inside the room but here is a YouTube video of some video footage I took:

Our hotel room was basically an apartment with a walk-in closet and a bathroom bigger than the room I rented when I was first in college! And we were in a “middle level” room as there were many more luxurious suites and cottages you could reserve (for high level prices!).

The hotel/resort is so beautiful and although it was overcast and a little rainy the weekend we visited I still got some lovely images to give you a feel for the place:

Throughout the hotel there was a historic and European vibe as well as endless places to sit and relax.

I brought my English Paper Piecing with me and we had a lovely time in the evenings sitting around crafting (me) and reading/playing on iPad (John). Although there were a lot of guests, there were lots of cozy nooks you could find to nest in at the hotel.

There was also a LIBRARY! The resort had an amazing library nook/room with delicious cozy places to nest and read their huge collection of books (which you could borrow and take to your room):

As you can imagine, I spent a bit of time in the library. John and I hung out there for quite a while and I snuck back on my own, ha!

We noticed people walking around the grounds in long bathrobes and wondered what was going on.

Well they were coming from the spa area. In our room we had a set of long bathrobes and decided “when in Rome…”, put them on and headed to the spa/pool area ourselves.

It was so fun to walk around the grounds in our robes – here is John walking about in his robe:

Notice in his hand is his poker themed tote bag that I made him (see post Ready for the Poker Tournament ), he takes it everywhere with him!

We enjoyed the indoor pool as well as the amazing outdoor jacuzzi which overlooked the golf course:

I did not want to leave the jacuzzi but I was getting waterlogged after a while!

And speaking the golf course, The Broadmoor has an amazing golf course. John and I both play golf (he is way better than I am) and next time we visit we plan to book a tee time.

Many celebrities, politicians, heads of state, authors, etc. have stayed at The Broadmoor over the years. The resort has a whole section in one of its hallways dedicated to photos of famous people who have stayed there:

I took of course a ridiculous amount of photos (there were endless photographic moments), but I will just share one more group of photos – The Broadmoor has an amazing “Prohibition” collection of “fine spirits” from the early 20th Century:

It was a memorable birthday celebration weekend and I look forward to returning someday (like when it is sunny!)

A Crafter's Life, Outside Adventures!, tierneytravels

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part IV

I am sitting in the Philadelphia airport and I figure this is a great time to complete this series of posts about the trip my visiting sister and I took in June 2021 from Denver to Glenwood Springs, Colorado via Amtrak train.

See these posts for Parts I – III if you are just joining us:

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part I 

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part II 

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part III 

After an amazing weekend, it was time to take the train back to Denver.

At the Glenwood Springs Train Station

This time we decided to sit on the opposite side of the train (right instead of left) that we did going to Glenwood Springs to try and get different views. Now you could argue we sat on the same side of the train on the way back as we did the way there, as we were on the left side going there and the right side going back…but I think you know what I mean…

Oh and I forgot to mention in the post Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part II, we did have to wear a mask the entire time on the train.

So here are some of my favorite photos (we both took a ridiculous amount of photos out the train window) on the train ride back to Denver which include the sunset (we traveled to Glenwood Springs on a morning train; the return train is an afternoon train ride):

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And of course the photos do not do justice to the actual beauty of the scenery but it was the best we could do looking out a UV protected film window on the train!

It was pretty late when we got into Denver as the train got delayed on the ride home. 

The next day we laid low, relaxed around the house and played with Mike the Miniature Schnauzer. I will close this post (and this series of posts on our adventure) with some darling photos we took of my sister and Mike.

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A Crafter's Life, Outside Adventures!, tierneytravels

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part III

I am visiting my brother and his family on the Eastern Coast of the U.S. right now and spent yesterday in New York City, but that is subject material for a future blog post (it seems like instead of “tierneycreates”, lately I am “tierneytravels”). For now I will continue my series of posts about the adventure I had with my sister in June 2021 traveling to Glenwood Spring, Colorado via Amtrak train.

If you are just joining us, here are Parts I and II (there will be a total of 4 parts when this series is complete):

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part I 

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part II 

In Glenwood Springs

Arriving in Glenwood Springs via train, we first took in the beautiful scenery around the train station:

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After checking into the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at, The Floradora House, we headed out to explore the downtown area and visit the brewery that I enjoyed on my first visit to Glenwood Springs – Casey’s Brewing.

Here we are hanging out at Casey’s Brewing:

Yes, look it is another selfie where I am not looking at the camera – ha!

Downtown Glenwood Springs is lovely and we had fun wandering about the shops and restaurants.

Glenwood Springs has two historic hotels: The Hotel Denver and The Hotel Colorado. They are on opposite sides of the bridge connecting one section of Glenwood Springs to the other.

Bridge over review connecting sections of Glenwood Springs
The Hotel Denver
The Hotel Colorado

Our Bed & Breakfast accommodations were within walking distance of downtown and here is the wonderful room we shared:

Even better than the beautiful room was the fun we had at the included breakfast each morning, visiting with other guests visiting from around the U.S. and Canada. Here is the wonderful main floor guest dining area and a sampling of the breakfasts.

We had two mornings of incredible conversations as we chatted with different guests each morning. We even met someone who had grown up in New York like we did.

Our second day in town we headed to the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs (what they are famous for – natural mineral hot springs), which in my post Weekend in Glenwood Springs (my first visit to Glenwood Springs with my partner John), I referred to as “taking a bath with a hundred or so other people”.

We spent the morning there and then returned in the evening (you buy a day pass). Here is my sister enjoying some “community bathing”!

It is pretty warm in the hot springs mineral pools and you can only stay in 5 – 15 minutes before you have to get out or just sit on the side of the pool and take a break, otherwise (as I discovered) you get pretty dizzy!

Our third day in town we went on a little adventure and walked a couple miles to the closest thrift shop (my sister loves “thrifting” like I do, actually she was the one who got me into it):

On our trek to the thrift shop we saw some people paragliding off one of the many hills in Glenwood Springs:

After thrifting we stopped at a delicious donut shop, Sweet Coloradough for a treat and relaxed on their patio with our sugary delights:

We had several yummy meals while in town. Here I am at one of the delicious restaurants after a relaxing session at the hot springs:

We wished we had one more day planned in Glenwood Springs, but before we knew it, it was time to head home.

The final post in this series will be photos from our train ride home, which had different views than the trip to Glenwood Springs (time of day was different and we sat on the opposite site on the way home).

A Crafter's Life, Outside Adventures!, tierneytravels

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part II

Okay continuing the story I started on July 17, 2021 about my sister’s visit and our train ride to Glenwood Springs, Colorado in June 2021 – Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part I.

Waiting for the Train

Our trip started early in the morning at Denver’s Union Station. Union Station is the prettiest train station I’ve ever been in (including several I’ve been at in Europe):

Image credit: Wikipedia
Image credit: LA Times

Here are several of my images as we waited for the train in lovely surroundings:

And if you’d like to see some images I took in the “Silvertone” setting on my camera:

Our train was arriving in the station around 8:00 am but we got there an hour early and had coffee/tea and pastries while lounging on one of the comfortable sofas in the station.

The station is so beautiful you’d want to just grab your laptop and go work on a blog post with a cup of tea or coffee, even if you were not catching a train!

Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, Colorado

6 hours sounds like a long time to be on a train, but not if you get to spend the time having delicious snacks, catching up with your sister, and seeing amazing scenery as we traveled this route:

See the 5 hour 41 minute route

Driving to Glenwood Springs is a 4 hour trip but I think the additional 2+ hours (the train ride was over 6+ hours due to having to slow down while going over the Continental Divide) is worth it because you are not driving I-70 at steep inclines as you climb up the mountains (not only steep inclines and sharp curves but also some crazy drivers who all seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere…).

From the article Prepare to be Blown Away on the Best Train Ride in Colorado:

After departing Denver’s Union Station westbound, the train begins the section of railway that made the Zephyr famous—a 300-mile journey over the Colorado Rocky Mountains, along the Colorado River and through Glenwood Canyon. Because roadways take a different route, much of the landscape through which the train travels is viewable only to rail passengers.

As the train leaves the Eastern Slope behind, it travels through 31 tunnels before entering the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel and crosses the Continental Divide. Passengers are plunged into darkness for nearly 10 minutes before emerging back into daylight at the west portal, near Winter Park Ski Area.

The route continues on the Western Slope of Colorado through remote Fraser Canyon, Granby—the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and rugged Gore Canyon. The final 12.5 miles through Glenwood Canyon are among the most spectacular, with unimpeded views of the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River, the historic Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant, the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Path, and of course, the soaring 1,300-foot cliffs.

The seats in coach were very comfortable and were modified recliners with leg lifts so you could put your feet up. Here we are enjoying one of the many snacks we packed for the train ride in our cooler:

Relaxing train ride, visiting with sister, snacks and a magazine = happiness

Now comes the difficult part of writing this post: deciding which of the zillion photos we took during the train ride to Glenwood Springs to share with you, without blowing out my blog’s media allotment (and I have an upgraded WordPress plan!). Every time we thought we’d seen the most amazing sight out of our train window another amazing sight appeared! And as you can guess, the pictures do not do justice to what it was like to actually be looking out the window.

So I will use the rest of this post to share those images I selected. For the most part the images are in the order that we saw them on the train ride. You will see at times we are traveling along the Colorado River. Oh and one of the photos is of the observation car which has large windows/glass dome – passengers can take turns sitting in the car to get a more 360 degree view.

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And here are a couple short video clips I uploaded to YouTube to provide more visuals (the first one was a “jaw-dropping” experience):

Part III of this series of posts will talk about our time in Glenwood Spring, CO.

A Crafter's Life

News

In my July 4, 2021 post Okay so here is a tote bag (or two)…, I wrote:

I have lots of stories to share, things I’ve been making, and news even about a major life change (even if possibly temporary)

Here is the news:

I quit my job and I am taking some time off to focus on my crafting, sewing, quilting, textile art, etc. Before I return to employment in the healthcare industry, I plan to re-open my tierneycreates Etsy shop. I am spending the next several months focused on my creativity.

My last day at work was July 1, 2021 and I’d been with my former employer for 16 years. Back in November 2019 I transferred within the company from an important and useful position to what turned out to be an awful situation where I felt like I had no value in the company.

A little background: In 2019 I was in the midst of my first year as a new widow and I thought maybe a different job would help me re-focus as I was losing passion and focus for the position I was in when my husband passed. Of course I did not fully realize that when you lose your life partner all the things you thought were important (like your job) become meaningless (except to provide a paycheck).

I won’t bore you all the details of why the new position I transferred to in November 2019 did not work out. Let’s just say it wasn’t just a case of “the grass is not always greener on the other side” mistake, it was more like “the grass was rotting and putrid on the other side“!

Sales motivation quote: Sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side  ... - YouTube

I did meet some wonderful people in the position and had some great colleagues. But unfortunately that was not enough as there were nasty corporate “political” issues going on; and as I discovered, someone in leadership was trying to see me fail in my position. Actually my whole position was set up to fail from the beginning with the reporting structure they set up for the position.

It was a remote position and I enjoyed working from home but I was miserable and hated logging into work each morning.

I Hate My Job: Image Gallery (List View) | Know Your Meme

So if there is anything I learned from my husband’s sudden passing in December 2018 it was that life is short/your time on earth is not guaranteed to be long, so make the best what time you have.

My partner John has a wonderful health insurance plan and I could go on it, so I did. So now I am taking time off, not sure for how long (colleagues at my former employee have already been contacting me with job opportunities but I have declined them for now), but I’ve set a goal not to consider returning to the healthcare industry full-time (or part-time) until I make progress on some of my creative dreams.

How To Live Your Dream Life | Goalcast

I am fortunate to be able to do this; and I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from the book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin:

“Money is something you trade your life energy for. You sell your time for money. It doesn’t matter that Ned over there sells his time for a hundred dollars and you sell yours for twenty dollars an hour. Ned’s money is irrelevant to you. The only real asset you have is your time. The hours of your life.”

― Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life

Postscript

So you might be thinking: “Well Tierney, since you’ve been off work since July2, 2021, where is all the stuff you could have been creating since then?” The answer is that I’ve been traveling, catching up with friends and family. I was out of town most of last week and will be headed off to visit my brother and his family later this week. 

So I might need to be off work for a while as first I need to reconnect with family and friends I could not see during the pandemic, before I can get into a creative flow!

And maybe for a while I just won’t have a specific plan and see what that is like for a change…

Willie Nelson Quote: “I live one day at a time, one day at a time.  Yesterday's