Handmade With Love

When I was growing up it was the norm to make gifts for Christmas. It could be because we lacked the money to buy store-bought presents, but I like to think that it was a sweet way to express our affection through our imagination and creativity.

Now, over the years I have been a maker of things and have become addicted to gift-making for holidays. I’m not sure that they were always appreciated or even that good of a gift, however it’s helped me save money and keep my mind and hands busy.

I almost wish I had taken a picture of the gifts I’ve made over the years so I could go back and see how my skill and taste level have grown (it would surely make a funny “wall of shame” photo collage), because I know darn well that I was not good at sewing or knitting or crocheting at one time but that didn’t stop me from giving a wonky looking handknit dishcloth or a badly sewn item of clothing. And I know for sure I used some crazy colored yarn that I was gifted from an aged knitter to make my dad a scarf and I never have seen him wear it, and for good reason; it was ugly as hell! But I used what I had and I really never stopped to consider the fact that he actually doesn’t wear scarves and he really didn’t need one that had every shade of 70’s green in it.

Now I am a proficient seamstress and knitter/crocheter and my taste has been developed by European travel and exposure to fashion outside the realm of the country town I dwell now, so I’m finally getting better at this. But as years go by I realize that gifts are not the only way to show our affection for someone we care for and sometimes it’s the more random and less tangible things that have the most heart, like sending a hand-written note when it’s not a holiday or birthday or stopping by to say “Hi!” and give a quick hug or calling up to tell them you were thinking of them and hope they are doing wonderful. Simple stuff, but super powerful way to show your love.

Shopping is fun, don’t get me wrong! I do enjoy that too. I just get a little thrill from making things. This year I haven’t made many gifts though. Seems I waited a bit too long to get started and I had to make a choice: go crazy trying to do more than humanly possible or choose to relax and do less. This year I chose to give myself the gift of peace and decided to focus on keeping it simple. Less truly is more.

Here’s a sneak peak at what I made for someone, not saying who, but they’ll find out in 9 days!

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The Smitten Mitten, for holding hands and staying warm on a winter wonderland walk.

This is a pattern I found on Ravelry. It works up fast on large needles and I used worsted weight yarn but held double strands to make it a bulky weight. My friend, Gwen, taught me how to use one skein of yarn to make it a double strand by grabbing the inner tail and outer tail and using together. I never had thought of that before! When patterns called for holding two yarns, they usually said to use two skeins but then you end up with two partial skeins when your done. With Gwen’s method you can completely use the skein and move onto the next with very little yardage waste. I’m thrifty and this pleases me to no end!! So if you want to make this cool lover’s mitten set go here: Smitten Pattern

Enjoy your day and happy crafting!

~Tillie

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drats

Okay, so I posted late on the 2nd and yesterday missed out completely due to spending all my waking hours at a holiday sale in Seattle with my Mom and many talented artists. It was a fun day, but I was too tired to post anything when I got home.

Do I feel bad? Not really. It would have been a lame post anyway if I had tried since I felt tired and uninspired. Someone asked why I would choose December of all months to commit to writing a daily post and I said I like a challenge, but the truth is I’m just crazy; in a good way!

It rained so hard last night that our roof was leaking an upbeat melody into the pots that catch my indoor rainforest. I’m thankful it’s sunny today even if it’s colder than I like. I prefer a warm beach to a snowy mountain, so I will bundle up and make it through these cold months until I can escape to the seaside under the warmth of the sun. Dreaming of the beach keeps me going…

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Hawaii is my future destination. A life on the beach is my dream.

 

In the mean time, I count my blessings. I have a loving husband who makes me breakfast and gives me sweet lovin’ morning, noon, and night-whenever I want it. Our children are healthy and wonderful people. My extended family and in-laws are awesome. I have phenomenal friends that make me a better person. We have a home, food, warm clothes, and all our bills paid. I’m thankful for all that I have! It’s not to say I don’t want for more, just that until then I am happy and grateful for all I have now.

Okay, I’m off to decorate the home for the holidays! Enjoy your day!

Hugs,

~Tillie

 

 

Gratitude

Having gratitude for things large and small just makes life more enjoyable. It’s a matter of “glass is half full versus glass half empty” kind of thinking.

There have been moments that I’ve struggled to be grateful for all I have, but thankfully I don’t dwell there and I have surrounded myself with people who help lift me up when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed.

This Thanksgiving is the first of what I’m sure will become our new normal with children growing up and moving off to college. Our oldest child is not coming home for this holiday and will be gathering around the table with new friends and welcomed into a family meal on the other side of the US. I’m grateful she will be fed and cared for in our absence.

I think I will start a new tradition of placing a picture on the table of those that are missing from our time together so they will be with us in spirit. And I will make sure my camera is out and handy to capture all the new memories we’re making today.

I am thankful for all the years we’ve gathered as a family and all the friends that have joined us in breaking bread with much joy and laughter. It’s been great and I know it will just get better and better, but we may have to accept that it will be different in the future and our table will grow with pictures of those we love who can’t be with us in person but who will be with us in spirit.

Wishing you the best this time of year! Stay grateful! ~Tillie XOXO

Thanksgiving 2015

Read This

These cold, rainy days are perfect for getting caught up on your reading list. I seem to gather books wherever I go and end up waiting until autumn and winter to read them. But I read them quickly, one after another, so I am always in another world or learning something new. I read everything, too; cookbooks, biographies, fiction, non-fiction, craft books, smut, comics, old and new.

I want to share three books that are worth putting on your reading list.

First, is a novel by Jason Skipper, a local man who teaches at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. It’s call Hustle. I read it in one day, but it was so good that I may just re-read it. It’s about family and how every generation has its personal struggles, but it shows that love is the healer of all wounds.

The second book I think is worth a read this winter is Falling Into Place by Hattie Kauffman. Hattie was the first Native American journalist to report on national news channels. She’s a member of the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho. This book is her memoir with a focus on God’s love and how she overcame addiction. I had the honor of meeting her in Tacoma a few years ago at the Pierce County Prayer Breakfast held at the Tacoma Dome. She was the keynote speaker. It was a wonderful speech that moved me to tears and laughter and gave me hope that all things are possible with a little faith.

My third and final recommendation for a book you can’t put down is In the Company of Mules by Jody Foss. Not only have I met the author and believe she is one of the coolest and truest women of the earth but she loves mules like me! I enjoyed reading this memoir of her two-month-long mule ride from Sandpoint, Idaho to Newport, Oregon all by herself. Jody paints a picture with words and you feel like you are right beside her taking in the beauty of the trail. She also met many interesting and kind people on her 600 mile journey through small towns of the Pacific Northwest. There are nuggets of wisdom from old-timers and personal accounts of a time when settlers and Indians co-existed. This is a story of a woman brave enough to strike out on her own and tough enough to see it through to the destination, but it’s the journey that is life-changing.

Spend some time with these authors and I promise you, it’ll be time well spent!

Custom Couture

I just finished up a custom order for this Boho chic pet carrier. It was a joy working with this client to pick style and fabric! The synergy of creation is why I do what I do.

In the coming months I will be adding a carrier sewing pattern for creating your own carrier that crafty DIY’ers can purchase to make their own. I love creating, but I also know that there are people out there who would prefer the pattern so they can custom design their own. Anyone up for doing a pattern test for me once I create the PDF and written instructions?

Enjoy the day! Spread some cheer and smiles along the way! ~Tillie

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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.

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