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.

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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:

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:

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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:

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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

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 –

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

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

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

A Crafter's Life

The Last Baskets

I mentioned in my previous post What’s On the Design Wall: Sasquatch Quilt Top Completed, that I needed to work on something “emotional”. I’ve completed my “emotional” project and here is a post about it.

My late husband Terry (aka “Terry the Quilting Husband) was a quilter and a crafter. He also helped me on numerous projects such as making binding for my quilts, cutting fabrics, making hexagon templates for my English Paper Piecing projects; and being an all around “sous chef” for my quilting/crafting endeavors.

One of the projects he worked on prior to his passing in December 2018 was covering clothesline with batik jelly roll strips (40 – 2.5″ x 42″ strips) to make Bali Boxes (actually “bowls” as I do not make the boxes) from the pattern by Aunties Two:

Here he is sewing the continuous strip (entire jelly roll sewn end to end) of batik strips on to the clothing line (see old posts “Throwing Pottery” on the Sewing Machine, Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls , and Prepping to Make Fabric Bowls, Continued for more on the process):

2018-01-17_14-21-59_306.jpeg

As a result of his efforts I had a roll of batik covered clothing line rope, but we got busy on other projects and I put it away:

Over the past nearly 2.5 years since his passing, I’ve slowly worked on completing projects he began and did not finish; or projects he helped me with and we did not finish. An example of one of these projects was a quilt for his eldest brother Andy (he came from a family with 7 kids and I sent one of his completed quilts to most of his siblings when Terry passed, except I did not have a completed quilt for Andy) that I discussed in the post – The Last Quilt.

(Trying to write this post without breaking into tears, but I want to share this experience with you as perhaps there is someone out there that wants to find the strength to complete projects started by a loved one who passed…)

So continuing my journey to complete anything he started before he passed, I realized it was time to make something with the clothesline he covered in batik strips. I decided to make two baskets: one for his sisters Diane and Susan, and one for me.

Here are images from my recent creation of these baskets – I like to call the process “throwing pottery on the sewing machine”:

Here is the basket for Terry’s sisters fresh off the sewing machine and then an image of the binding for the top being put on:

Here is the completed basket and the view of the bottom of the basket:

You might wonder what is peeking out of the top of the completed basket. Well I decided that my era of making baskets was done for now and I put together a kit for Terry’s sisters to make their own baskets to include: 1) a batik jelly roll; 2) the pattern; and 3) several packages of clothesline rope:

Here is the second basket which I made for myself with the remaining batik strip covered clothesline. It came out bigger than I anticipated and I am using it to store batik scraps:

Last week I shipped the basket to Terry’s sisters in New York and they have received the package.

Along with the basket and basket making kit I included a printed photo of Terry working on covering the clothesline for the basket.


As I did in the quilt I sent to Terry’s brother Andy (The Last Quilt) I said that the gift was from Terry and me – from this life and the next

A Crafter's Life, From the Archives

From the Archives: “A Beautiful Monday”

I’ve been blogging for over 7 years and throughout 2021 I am going to sporadically share old posts from the 7+ years of blog posts archives.

I lived in Central Oregon for 14 years (and thought I would live the rest of my life until a big life change occurred in December 2018) and somedays I miss it terribly. Here is a post from February 2018 which honors the beauty of my former home – Bend, Oregon; and the wonderful walks/hikes I used to take with my friend Laurie.


A Beautiful Monday

Originally posted February 7, 2018

I do not work on Mondays and this past Monday I went for a lovely hike with my friend Laurie and her Bernese Mountain Dog, Luna along the Deschutes River Trail off of Farewell Bend Park.

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We are having “Sprinter” (Spring-like Winter, yes I totally made that up) in Central Oregon. Monday was in the late 50s to early 60s degrees F (14 – 15 degrees C for my blogging friends outside the US).  It was truly like a sunny blue sky Spring day (minus the Spring foliage).

We had a wonderful hike along the Deschutes River. Luna got to play in the river so she really happy and as a bonus for her and the humans, we ran in the puppy/”mini-me” version of Luna – an adorable Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Willow.

Well, instead of me telling you about the hike, why don’t I just share photos and let the photos speak for themselves!

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The Deschutes River Trail and Farewell Bend Park connect you back into the Old Mill District, an outdoor shopping and dining area built around an old lumbar mill, hence the name (www.oldmilldistrict.com/about/history/).

Laurie and I got a kick out of the app-based rental bikes parked at the Old Mill. You sign up and pay for the rental using a smartphone app!

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We plan to rent them someday to explore the surrounding area by bike without having to haul our bikes down to the area!

Actually we are planning monthly hikes to explore our town. I have lived in Central Oregon 13 years and there is so much I have not yet explored, or I just want to explore again!

A Crafter's Life

Mind Blowing Mail

A couple weeks ago an amazing surprise came in the mail from my friend Dana – a quilt!

Not just any quilt, but a quilt I’ve been watching her make via her Instagram posts (@chambersdalix) for a couple months – the Nova Star Quilt pattern by Then Came June, using amazing fabrics from Rifle Paper Co.’s Primera Citrus Collection.

Here are some screen shot images from her Instagram posts while she participated in an online quilt-a-long (QAL) for this pattern:

All the lovely photography above is by @chambersdalix.

So for many weeks I’d been following this amazing quilt progress on Instagram and little did I know it would be coming to my house someday.

Dana mentioned she was sending me a surprise (I thought it might be fabric scraps from this quilt as I’d been drooling over it) so I knew I was getting a package, but I nearly fainted when it arrived.

Actually I teasingly accused Dana of “attempted murder” since I nearly fainted dead when I opened the box!

Dana also sent me a beautiful handmade card with the quilt!

I hung it in my home office/upstairs guest bedroom so I can look at it every day. Feeling very loved!

We stitch together quilts of meaning to keep us warm and safe, with whatever patches of beauty and utility we have on hand.
― Anne Lamott

A Crafter's Life, From the Archives

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

I am in my 8th year of blogging and I have a large catalogue of archived posts and going forward I am going to occasionally share from the archives.


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” . If you are not new to my blog then you know all about little wallets and some of you own some of my little wallets you won in my blog anniversary drawings!

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


Feature Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

A Crafter Needs to Eat, A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags, Books, Music, Podcasts

What I Did During My Blogging Vacation

I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for a couple weeks to temporarily remove any “artificial” obligations in my life in order to have some time to “reset”.

Now feeling “reset”, I thought I would jump back into blogging with a little essay “primary/elementary” school style like the infamous “What I Did on My Summer Vacation“.

By the way I was not hanging out with the fabulous looking women at the beach during my hiatus, like those in the feature photo of this post (photo by Vitae London on Unsplash), I just thought it was a fun beach photo to use in the middle of semi-freezing winter in Denver!

Okay so now it is time to imagine me standing in front of our 4th grade class presenting this essay below (and perhaps my parents helped me make a slide deck for my images/photos)…

READING

Listening to audiobooks and turning the pages of actual physical books, I’ve done a lot of reading during the past several weeks.

I’ve finished the book City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, that I read for my virtual book club with my friend Michele (see post Virtual Book Clubs):

city-of-brass
image credit – Kirkus Review

Last Friday Michele and I had another card-making playdate like the one I shared in the post Card Making Playdate from last October and discussed City of Brass. In tomorrow’s post (why yes, I am going to now post frequently…hope you don’t grow tired of me) I will share what we made.

I recently finished the next book in our “Virtual Book Group” (but wait is it “virtual” if we are meeting in person, socially distancing of course, to discuss the book?) and it was quite the awesome page turnerThe Guest List by Lucy Foley:

The Guest List
image credit – Publishers Weekly

It’s been a long time since I’ve read (actually I listened to the audiobook) the kind of book I absolutely could not put down. If you’d like to read a synopsis of the book – here is the link to the one on Publishers Weekly (no worries, there are no spoilers) – The Guest List.

Currently I am listening to an excellent (so far) Science Fiction/space novel – To Sleep Under a Sea of Stars by Christoper Paolini. I love it so much I’ve already bought the hard copy of the book as my library loan of the audiobook is about to expire and there are a zillion other library patrons waiting in line to listen to it next.

Image result for to sleep in a sea of stars
image credit – Paolini.net

It not just fiction books I’ve been inhaling, I’ve also read several new crafting books I picked up over the past couple of months.

I’ve been obsessed lately with making non-quilt items such as tote bags (see post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags) and pincushions (a future post); and love my new book by Ayumi Takahashi – Patchwork Please which features lots of fun things to make:

Patchwork Please!: Colorful Zakka Projects to Stitch and Give - Takahashi, Ayumi
image credit – amazon.com

I am sort of obsessed with “zakka” and Japanese author craft patterns. I love the aesthetics of their designs as well as the function. Here are many of the books in my home library collection of Japanese author craft patterns:

COOKING

For a while in the Denver metro area, our restaurants closed down again to inside dining during the pandemic. Finally they opened to 25% capacity and now I think they are starting to reopen to even 50% capacity (or perhaps I am hallucinating at this point as I have complete pandemic fatigue at this point).

While they were closed again, like in the early days of the pandemic, we tried to make fun meals at home and not get home cooking fatigue. Here are a couple photos of the delicious meals my partner John (a very good cook who used to actually cook professionally) and I made.

Delicious Irish Stew and Homemade Biscuits

Salmon Fried Rice

Nachos!

Pizza (with dough made from “scratch”)

Orzo Pasta Salad

Are you hungry yet?

One of my favorites that I could not locate easily locate a photo for was the handmade gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and scallops that John made one night. I thought I was at a high-end restaurant!

Yes, I will not lie, I had packed on a couple “pandemic pounds” from all this good eating, but we do not eat like this every night. We do try and have salads for dinner a couple nights a week.

WALKING

To combat the effects of all those delicious home cooked meals, I’ve been going on a lot of very long walks. It is always a great way to listening to my audiobooks. Most of the times I take Mike my Miniature Schnauzer with me but many times I just go walking alone (then I do not have to stop for the “frequent signing in on bushes” that Mike loves to do on his walk).

Here are a couple Black & White images I took on a wintry walk, in which someone had left a found glove on a branch for its owner to hopefully someday find. I got a kick out of the “composition” in the stark landscape created by the glove.

If you enjoy B&W images, I do have a series of posts where I feature B&W images – Life in B&W.

In case you are wondering – either the glove blew away or was reunited with its partner by the owner as the next day it was gone.

REFLECTING

During my break from blogging, I spent a lot of time reflecting and trying to figure out my life. As many of you know, I am in my second year of widowhood caused by the very sudden and very expected death of my life partner, Terry the Quilting Husband (see post Remembering Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)).

I’d been with Terry since I was in my early 20s and I am now on a journey to “reinvent” myself in my middle years of life as “Tierney minus Terry”, after what seems like a lifetime of “Tierney +Terry”.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed re-opening my tierneycreates Etsy shop and my original plan when I took a hiatus from blogging was to start blogging again in about a month when I was ready to re-open my Etsy shop.

Over the past several months, I’ve made a lot of items in preparation to re-open the shop but still could not move forward with re-opening the shop. I was struggling to figure out what the big block was for me.

Then while looking at some old photos on my Google Photos account which I rarely use, I found an old image of the joint tierneycreates business card Terry and I had together when he was helping me with my Etsy shop. He was listed as a “Maker” on my Etsy shop as he helped me with many of the items I produced by cutting out patterns and doing preliminary sewing, especially on items like Miniature Kimonos, which were very popular on my shop.

I realized that my tierneycreates Etsy shop is just too closely tied to memories of crafting with Terry and I am just not ready.

Part of my “widowhood journey” is trying to figure out what to do with what is basically a lifetime’s worth of memories with someone who is now gone.

After losing your spouse you are expected to go on with your life but what do you do with all those memories (and mementos) of a life previously lived? I think that is the $64,000 Question which I have yet to answer for myself (I’ve done a lot of reading on grief and the answers of other people’s journey but I still have to find my own answer).

But I have figured out that unless it is something critical, not push myself to do anything I am not ready to do, even if it seems like a good thing to do (like re-opening my Etsy shop).

(The above images are of Terry, Sassy, who passed in Dec 2017 a year before Terry, and I vacationing in Cannon Beach, Oregon; and of Terry modeling a quilt he helped me make)

CRAFTING

There’s been a whole lot of crafting over the past couple of weeks. I’ve found a lot of peace in making things. I feel very lucky to be a “Maker”.

Many of the items I’ve shared on my tierneycreates Instagram account but many I have not. I am going to save a discussion of what I’ve been working on for future blogs posts but I will share that I’ve been making more tote bags like I discussed in the post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags.

Here are some of my latest tote bags:

I look forward to diving into more about what I’ve been making in my future posts!

WAKE UP, THE ESSAY IS FINALLY OVER!

So that concludes my essay and I can safely assume the whole class is asleep now at their desks!

Oh wait, I see the teacher is also asleep at their desk! Maybe I won’t get a “A” on this presentation…

Photo by Matheus Farias on Unsplash

Postscript

Just a quick follow up to my post Redesigning my logo. I decided not to change my logo at this time and just figure it out at a later date.