Let’s Just Say I Tried!

In my small hometown of Eatonville, WA, a film crew was shooting a reality TV competition hosted by John Cena (15 times World Champion Wrestler of WWE) and I was super fortunate in meeting John and his beautiful companion, Nicole Bella, at dinner one night when out with my daughter and her friend.


After dinner the girls asked him for a picture, which he very kindly obliged, and then I introduced myself and asked if I could interview him and the crew about the filming in Eatonville. (I really love writing and I love this town. I thought this would be a great way to help promote our town in a positive way.) John took my card and said he would be willing to do an interview once they were through taping the show. I was elated! I think us girls went to bed smiling that night.

I was so excited to do this interview that I wrote out all my questions, researched the show and the people involved, and how to spin it so Eatonville gets some props for being an amazing town with great natural space to enjoy.

But…I never did hear from him. Which is a bummer. However, I still feel like sharing what I know.

The show is called ‘American Grit’ and is said to air sometime this year on FOX. Leftfield Pictures and FOX produced this 10-episode reality competition TV show using Pack Forest as its playground for military-grade and survival themed challenges. With 16 of the toughest men and women split into four teams, each with a mentor, competing for a million-dollar prize.

The four mentors are made up of some outstanding military heroes. They are: Rorke Denver, Navy Commander and SEAL who starred in the 2012 film ‘Act of Valor’; Noah Galloway, Purple Heart recipient and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ 3rd place winner who lost his left arm and leg in combat as an Army Soldier and has since started a fitness and health charity called Survival Straps; Tawanda “Tee” Hanible, Marine Gunnery Sergeant who founded an organization to connect Veterans with at-risk youth to mentor called Operation Heroes Connect; Nick “The Reaper” Irving, Army Ranger Sniper and author of ‘The Reaper: Autobiography of One of the Deadliest Special Ops Snipers’.

I actually met the mentors at breakfast one morning before I had any clue as to who they were, and they were all really lovely people and very kind.

So there you have it! My first article on the TV show ‘American Grit. Unfortunately, I have no quotes or interviews with the producers or hosts or mentors. All I can say is that I tried. I introduced myself to all and gave my card to everyone and kept my fingers crossed. I’m new to journalism so maybe I was supposed to do it all differently. Who knows, maybe they will call me up and say “Hey Tillie! Let’s do that interview now.” (I can dream, right?!)

I wish the cast and crew all the best! I am really looking forward to watching the show with my family.

Sidenote: John Cena was in the film ‘Sisters‘, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It’s hilarious and a must-see! I took my teen daughters to see it, then my Mom, and just took my sister, Maddie! I laugh hard every time and now can say the words along with the characters at my favorite parts. Tina & Amy nailed it! It’s funny, but true. Go see it before it’s out of theaters.



Nature’s Gift

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been in awe of Nature.

There is magic and mystery in all that is Nature. I love being outside among the plants and animals, they talk to me – not in the creepy “hearing voices” kind of way, but like a knowing deep down in my gut that there is vast wisdom and knowledge within Nature and if I am quiet and receptive it will share it’s secrets with me.

So it’s no surprise that I am a big believer in natural medicine and practice it in my life. My husband and kids tend to roll their eyes when I go off on the virtues of what Mother Nature has blessed us with, but it does nothing to change my feelings or convictions. I still grow herbs in my garden and wild harvest herbs every summer to use in my homemade medicines.

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One is a powerful and safe, all-purpose skin salve that I make every year and share with anyone who lets me know there is a skin problem they are having trouble with. It’s easy to make, safe and effective, and so cheap you will understand why doctors and pharmacists aren’t telling you about these things – because there’s no money in it for them! It’s basically free. A gift from Nature! People offer to pay me, but I won’t accept it. It would be too much like re-gifting. I enjoy sharing what I know and have.

So if you would like my recipe for the herbal skin salve, let me know, I’m happy to share it with you! I also make an herbal dog shampoo that is great for your dog’s skin and repels fleas and ticks while healing any wounds or hotspots. It smells pretty nice too!

I truly want to be a doctor of Natural Medicine one day. Not for the money, but for the knowledge to help people who are sick and suffering. Nature has all the right medicine for our bodies so it’s important we care for planet earth so it can care for us.


Number 10 of 2015

For number 10, it’s my worst-best moment that comes to mind.

The “worst day” because I felt like my heart was breaking. I almost got divorced. We had even said the words and started talking logistics. It was that serious.

The “best day” because it marked the turning point-you know the one, where it can’t get any worse and must get better from there.

I spent a night alone in the local motel. It was by choice. I had had enough of the fighting. I needed to remove myself from the situation.


Having teenagers is tough. But when you are fighting with your spouse over parenting these difficult, and selfish, adolescent-beings and then those kids are fighting you over everything and harmony in your house is out of whack…well, what do you do?

My solution was to say “I’m out!” And after a quick stop at the grocery store to grab a toothbrush, magazine, bubble bath, a chocolate bar, a bottle of wine, and a pad of paper I checked in at the motel where I found peace in the solitude and tried to figure out what to do next.

While sitting in a warm bubble bath reading my magazine and sipping some wine (a literal “Calogon, take me away” moment), I felt all the knots and stress leave my body. It had been a hard few months of teen drama coupled with marital strife. I was done.

I love my family, don’t get me wrong. It was out of love that I left the house. If I had stayed, the fighting and negativity would have continued.

While lying in my motel bed, I wrote down all my feelings. I wrote a pro’s and con’s list for everything I considered a solution. I put down my needs and wants. I prayed before falling asleep at 7:30pm.

What I came to realize is that I need put my foot down with how the kids treat me. I am not only responsible for how I treat others, but I am responsible for teaching people how to treat me. If I let people act rude to me or neglect my feelings and I don’t speak up and say “that’s not okay” then I’m partly at fault for how people treat me. I own that. No one reads minds and many can’t read social queues, so I know I have to speak up and tell it to them straight.

I also realized I needed to speak my truth to my husband, again-not a mind reader or even a hint taker. So I spoke my truth to him, which was that I needed more fun times with him and less bickering and I needed better communication.

I won’t lie, it was the hardest week of my life with many tears and heartache, but I don’t regret it. It helped to bring about balance and harmony again in my household. We all have things to work on, like speaking kindly to one another and making time for each other. Sometimes in this fast-moving, busy life of ours we lose sight of the important things. We take for granted the people we love most.

But sometimes, just sometimes, it takes a radical step like removing yourself from the fight and regrouping. It takes putting yourself on the top of your list and tending to your needs for once. It takes courage to admit that you can’t continue down the same path and that things have got to change. It’s hard, because that change could mean so many different outcomes and none of which are known. But you know what? Change is the only thing that will create a new outcome, a better one.

My advice to anyone who is in a relationship that started out wonderful but has grown stale or difficult is to do something different! Because that shit ain’t working and life is too short not to try to have your best life. It’s completely possible.

My kids have gotten so much better at showing me respect, and my husband and I are in such a better place. We are going to renew our vows on our 20th anniversary, in two years, and we are making date-night a priority.


No one’s perfect and life will never be, but when you have honesty and love in your heart then you are pretty darn close!

Well, that wraps up the top 10 moments of my 2015. It’s been a full year of personal growth and crafty goodness. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned into 2016. I know there will be new challenges and many changes (our oldest goes to college next year and our second oldest will be doing running start), but I know I can handle what comes my way.

I wish you the best New Year! I’ll see you in 2016! ~Tillie



Number 9 of 2015

My 9th favorite moment of 2015 would be the day in February that I donated the ‘Yarnbombing For Lunches’  auction funds to the Eatonville School District’s business manager, Daniel Lunghofer.

Yarnbombing For Lunches raised $400 to donate to the Eatonville School District on behalf of students with negative lunch accounts. Here I am personally delivering the money order to the school business manager Daniel Lunghofer.

It had taken a year of planning and creating to pull off the yarnbomb of downtown Eatonville. It was a large public display of art created with hand knit and crocheted fabric that was then sewn around trees, lamp posts, benches, and rocks. It looked amazing! Thanks to the efforts of talented Eatonville fiber artists who joined forces to put their art to good use; raising money to pay off negative lunch accounts in the Eatonville School District.

We wanted to change the policy of trashing food because of insufficient funds and create better communication from school to home about account balances. Our goal was to raise $500. We got close with $400 raised in all.

Through our donation, we were able to do what we set out to accomplish! Robo-calls were put in place to call home to inform parents about lunch account balances and the policy has been updated to forbid the taking of food from the kids. Success!

Hopefully, I can get our entire group together to do next year’s donation during the January School Board meeting. I’ll keep you posted…

8th Favorite Moment Of 2015

Isaiah Thomas signing cards at the backpack giveaway.

We had the great honor of participating in a backpack giveaway hosted by Isaiah Thomas, Tacoma native and point guard for NBA’s Boston Celtics.

It was held at the Boys & Girls Club in Tacoma on August 29th, 2015. I remember my kids complaining that they didn’t want to get out of their pj’s and go out on a windy, chilly day to “just get backpacks and school supplies.” But once I got them there, they saw the value of such an experience and they had a blast.

What they quickly realized was that it’s just as important to receive gifts as it is to give them. The generosity of Isaiah and his sponsors was a beautiful gift to the community that raised him. It showed all the kids that dreams can come true with hard work and the importance of giving back when you can.

The whole event was fun with free food and drinks, games with prizes, and a “whip” contest! All of the families left happy for their time spent there and all the school kids left with a cool new backpack loaded with all the school essentials.


It was touching to see my kids go from: “this is going to be so lame” to saying “Thank you, Isaiah, for the backpacks and supplies” with true gratitude for the gift.

I hope Mr. Thomas knows the positive influence he makes on kids and how he set in motion a goal for me; to give back in all I do.

Thank you Isaiah Thomas!



7 out of 10 for 2015

The #7 moment of my 2015 is July 10th; when I took four of my kiddos fishing this summer at Riffe Lake. It was a beautiful day, yet a bit cold, as it can be early in the day in the Pacific Northwest.

This was our first time fishing at Riffe Lake. The boys and Birdie caught little fish while Faith and I sat on the shore enjoying the views. I was knitting for the yarnbomb and noticed a boat coming into shore. It was a really nice boat with about five people, all of whom were young 17-25 and really beautiful looking (could have been a group of models for a nautical photo-shoot), when Rubin got his line stuck while bottom fishing from shore. I ran over to help before he got flustered and while the boat was floating into shore right in front of us, my footing on this little hill slips-my only options were fall face first into the water with all my clothes on or lay back onto the shore as my feet slipped off the hill…I chose the dry scenario and when I heard Faith, Rubin, Hershal, Birdie and a boat-full of models hooting with laughter, I knew I was a sight to see laying on my back on the shore holding Rubin’s fishing pole.

The group clapped when I righted myself, to which I took a bow, and I finished fixing Rubin’s pole so he could get back to trying to catch “the big one.” As humiliating as it was, I couldn’t stop laughing at myself and thinking that if a video camera followed me around I swear the footage would be pure gold!

We always have a great time when we are out in nature. Whether it’s hiking or playing at a park or relaxing in the hammock in the backyard, it’s always rewarding being outdoors.

The moment our kids switch off technology and get out in nature something magical happens. They stop pestering each other, their attention span is boundless as they take in all the colors, smells, sounds, and creatures that create our natural surroundings. We are not separate from it, but an integral part of it. It’s pretty special and that’s why it’s on of my top 10 favorite moments of 2015!


#6 of 2015

My sixth favorite moment of 2015 would have to be the day I won “Fastest Fingers In The West” at the Washington State Fair (Puyallup Fair…still no clue why they changed the name) for being the fastest knitter and crocheter!

It was September 15th, 2015 and I asked my Mom to go with me for moral support. Plus, it had been over a decade since we attended the fair together and it was so much fun hanging out with Mom.

Since I was little, I’ve loved the fair! I looked forward to it every year. I had always wanted to enter some of my handmade crafts, but was afraid of the critique they would recieve. I don’t know why though, because the judges are the sweetest people who only give constructive critisism and always give an encouraging word.

When I was online doing the registration process to enter my crafts in the fair, I came across the “Fastest Fingers” contest and knew right away that I could throw-down in this challenge! I won’t win a running race, or walking for that matter, but I got some wicked fast skills at knitting and crochet, so I signed up and took first in both contests!

No matter what you are into or passionaite about, there is a place for you to shine. I found my “people” and now have some kick-ass ribbons to show for it!

Fastest Fingers contest at the fair. I got the blue, first place ribbon!

Numero 5 of 2015

This one is a case of something not-so-good happening, but something pretty-awesome coming of it.

At the end of 2014 my husband’s wages were garnished for unpaid medical bills that we incurred when our youngest was admitted to the hospital for three days when we discovered she had Type 1 Diabetes and we learned how to care for her insulin needs while we were there getting her back to good health.

So these medical bills came in and we paid a few, but fell behind, and well…they got their money. They took $700 from each paycheck during November and December 2014, leaving us behind on other bills.

I have not worked outside of home since I had my first child and I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to get a job, but I dearly wanted to help improve our situation. An amazing stroke of luck and good fortune came my way of a job opening at the local newspaper in my hometown! The same paper that I had been writing freelance for. The position was for selling advertising. Miraculously, I got the job! (Looking back, it’s most likely that I was the only one to apply so that’s how I got it, but I ain’t complaining.)

My paychecks were only a few dollars more than the bills we had to pay, so it was perfect. But during this time, I was also going to college (one class and online but still a time commitment) and heading up the Booster Club at my kids’ elementary school, not to mention still trying to do the “wife/mom” duties of grocery shopping & dentist/doctor appointments & keeping up on laundry for a family of seven.

Once the bills were caught up, I had a choice to make. Continue working and make money that I *could* use for myself (like hair and wardrobe spending or save for my Mini Cooper) or quit working to focus on school and home. I knew one thing had to go and to be honest, my time working outside of home made me realize that I enjoy writing and being my own boss of how I use my time.

That’s what I did. I quit the advertising position at the Dispatch, finished out a fun year on the Booster Club board, and now I’m focused, like a hawk, on the things I love most: my family, writing for publications, sewing & knitting & crocheting for my Etsy shop, and starting my Flower Bouquet CSA.

I’m no smarter than anyone, or braver, but I will say that this period of my life, this time in 2015, tested what I am made of. I can now, with all confidence, say that I will survive and thrive no matter what comes my way. I have faith and the ability to do what needs to be done.


Have you been tested and triumphed this year? What’s your top 10 of 2015 look like?

Number 4 of 2015

My fourth favorite moment of 2015 would have to be the night out with my daughter, Faith, when we went to Tacoma Musical Playhouse (TMP) to see “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” in February.

We were given comps from my good friend, Demmarie. It was a very funny play! TMP is my favorite local musical theatre, not just because my son, Hershal, was in a play there (Ragtime), but because they put on the best shows. But that is also how I met so many wonderful people that I call friends today.


After the play, Faith and I stopped at Applebee’s for a bite to eat at 11:30pm. First, the young hostess asked if we wanted to sit in the bar?! I said “No, thank you. My daughter is only 15.” This made Faith laugh quite hard, but I know if I had gone with it she would have blown our cover, because just like her mama, she can’t lie!

While there, enjoying our girl time over a plate of nachos, some cute 17 year old boy comes over to our table and tells her “his friend” thinks she’s pretty. She says “Oookay.” and he heads back to his table. I can see the group of guys, but Faith’s back is to them so I’m giving her a play by play of the events back at their table. To up the ante, I ask our waiter to send a dessert to them courtesy of the pretty girl. The waiter is such a sport and gives them the free birthday brownie dessert to which they all get excited about and dig in. During this time Faith and I can’t stop laughing! It’s hilarious to her that Mom is playing her wing-man and the waiter is in cahoots!

When the guys get up to leave, two come over to our table to give Faith their instagram account names and introduce themselves. But the best part was watching them high-five each other on their way to their car.

It was a pretty funny night and I haven’t laughed that hard in a while!

Merry Christmas to you and Happy New Year! ~Tillie



Number 3 of 2015

I need to give a little back-story for this one.

My college days started 19 years ago, when I was an 18 year-old single, independent woman, working and going to community college. I met my husband during my first year and my plans for finishing my degree were quickly put on hold to start a family. I’ve tried to go back to school over the years(online and on campus), but it always seemed the wrong time while raising our five children.

So I finally said to myself “it’s never the right time and never will be, so I just have to do it” and I enrolled at Tacoma Community College winter quarter starting January 2015. I did one class to start with, and it was online so I eased it into my already busy life. Then took two classes for spring quarter.

During my time at college, I met some really amazing people and made friends who I never would have had the chance to meet if I had not gotten out of my bubble and enrolled in higher education.

My chemistry class was a hybrid class, meaning it meets only once a week and you basically study on your own. I would not recommend this class structure for chemistry to anyone in the future, but because I did it this way it made me reach out to my classmates and set up study groups to get a better handle on the material.

So my #3 moment of 2015 is the last study group in chemistry for finals. I sent out an all-call to my entire class and said, “Come study with me for finals in the Learning Lab. I’ve reserved two tutors and will be ordering in pizza. Let’s ace this!” It was awesome getting together and sharing our worries and encouraging each other. Another great aspect was that what one person knew well, they could teach it to the person who was struggling to understand that concept. The tutors were amazing, too.

We crammed as much knowledge as we could for those 3 hours and left feeling like we would do better on the final for all our effort…and we did!