Tuesday, December 23, 2008

~Merry Christmas, God~

Dear God,

Thank you for this year of my life….and letting me celebrate another Christmas Season here on earth. Thank you for helping me make some difficult decisions this year. I struggled with many of them, yet You continually show me that the choices I made were the right ones.

Thank you for blessing my life with Jim. I don’t know what I would do without him. I know you orchestrated our meeting those many years ago. He’s the best husband and father on this earth. I can’t think of anyone who I’d rather travel this journey with.

Thank you for my two sons, Jeff and Tom. They are happy, sensitive young men….pursuing their dreams, with your guidance, Lord. Please keep them in the palm of Your hand and continue to guide their choices along the way.

You knew how much I wanted a little girl, Lord, but I was patient, and you sent me Jackie….the sweetest daughter/daughter-in-law ever. And then……Ella Layne: beautiful beyond words….all ‘girly-girl’. And Jackson: what can I say?? He makes my face hurt from smiling so much.

Thank you for granting me another year with my Mother. Her daily struggles keep me focused on what life here on this earth is all about: the prize....not the journey.

Thank you for the friends you have scattered throughout my life. For the ‘temporary’ ones….who leave their footprints on our hearts and continue on their own paths....and for the ‘long-term’ ones. They are all an amazing testimony of Your love.

Thank you for my health. I am doing my best to take good care of myself….spiritually, emotionally, and bodily. I don’t want to ever abuse these gifts You’ve given me.

And thank you, Lord, for giving me the faith you have blessed me with. It makes all the pieces of my life fit together in a beautiful pattern….even during the hard times.

Lastly….Bless my godmother, my dear Aunt Kay, who finished her journey here on earth, and is spending Christmas with You this year. She will be very missed. I was honored that you let me spend those last 3 days with her. I wouldn’t have missed them for anything on this earth.

Merry Christmas, God.



Friday, December 12, 2008

~FingerPrints Friday~

"Home For Christmas"

There's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, Fingerprints, that starts:
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You’re a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

'Home for Christmas' never meant as much to me as it does now that I have raised a family, and the kids have grown up, and left to live their own lives, in their own homes. Yes...I always treasured going to my parents and in-law's house on Christmas Eve. It was tradition. It was the Christmas that I had known my whole life. But all-of-a-sudden, that Christmas Eve tradition doesn't happen anymore. My in-laws and my father are in heaven now for Christmas Eve. So now, we have a new tradition: the kids and grandchildren come home to US.

Our home is now the one they travel to to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Home to our tree. Our presents. With their presence.

We are building a whole new set of traditions. A whole new set of memories our children and grandchildren will recall fondly once we are celebrating Christmas in heaven. Fingerprints to be sure!

May you have a memorable day today. Be sure to look for the Fingerprints in your life this Friday in December....wherever you are in the world!

Stop by
Beki's blog to read about more Fingerprints!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

~The Man On Pickle Road~

You can’t imagine my surprise when I received an email from a 'man', about my Quilt Necklace. And he asked that I call him, as he was the editor of a quilting magazine, Quilter’s Home. Not in the habit of calling men who email me out-of-the-blue, it only took a second for me to realize that if this man truly WAS the editor….this could be a good thing. So I called him.

My next surprise came when he apologized for the background ‘noise’, as he was feeding his chickens. Okay. He had me right there. You gotta love any man who’s the editor of a quilting magazine and has chickens. Oh…and did I mention he lives on Pickle Road? I was putty in the palm of his hands. I fastened my seatbelt. Or so I thought!

As we talked, Mark explained that he had stumbled on my vintage dictionary definition Quilt Necklace on Etsy. And he loved it. He wanted to include it in his Jan-Feb issue. I thought the timing was perfect: right after the Holiday Rush. I’d have time to stock up on them. Silly girl……Jan-Feb issues come out in……….you guessed it: December. So when the email orders began flooding my mailbox yesterday, I wasn’t ready. Not in the least!

Getting back to my phone call in the fall, I immediately called one of my quilter friends, who shouted into the phone: “Carol…..is it Mark Lipinski? I mean, is it THE Mark Lipinski??” Well, yeah….I supposed so. Why?

I quickly came to learn that this was a man whose dream was to start a quilting magazine that was not the usual, boring quilting magazine. He wanted it to be something a whole lot more. Something exciting. Current. Up-to-the-minute. A magazine that would make you anxious to turn the page to see what was next. And that, it is!

Until 3 years ago, Mark had been an Emmy-nominated daytime tv producer for several shows including The View. He had been a producer in daytime television for 25 years. He knew his audience: women, and to quote him, “When I started teaching quilting, I knew those ladies were just wild and out-of-control. They were fun and irreverent. They were successful in their own right…..”. Just like him!

The other thing I think you need to know about Mark, is that he’s zany. Fun-loving. Quirky-in-a-delightful-way. Funny. Another friend quickly told me she was always ‘closed out’ of his quilting classes at Quilt Market each year. I think it’s safe to say she actually has a ‘crush’ on Mark Lipinski…and has never even met him!

QH articles range from decorating, to relationships (“Is He Cheating While You’re Quilting?”), recipes, fitness and fashion (“Hide Your Quilter’s Spread”). What Mark wants his readers to know, is that quilting is fun. And he has accomplished just that!

Thank you, Mark. As much as I've been literally 'slammed' with orders this month….I am honored to be a part of your wonderfully zany, fun-filled publication! My necklaces are already winging their way to Sweden, the UK, Germany, Finland, Australia and to many homes and quilt shops around the US because of your magazine.

Oh... watch out: Someday I may just show up as you’re feeding your chickens on Pickle Road! I'd love to meet the man behind this creative work-of-art!

Friday, December 5, 2008

~FingerPrints Friday~

There's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, Fingerprints, that starts:

I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You’re a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

Each Christmas I find my heart and my home flooded with memories of long-ago Christmases. Each one has its own distinct 'fingerprint'. We had our sons seven years apart....so Jeffrey, our oldest, had many Christmases with Mom and Dad all to himself. And oh did he have our undivided attention! I just couldn't imagine loving another child as much as I loved him. I feared that I couldn't 'mother' any child with the passion I had for this child. Yes...he was covered in God's fingerprints. I was happy to be the mother to this brilliant (of course!) precious child of God. I would dedicate my life to being the best mother I could be.

Jeffrey got on his knees every nite before bed and prayed for a baby brother. I tried my darndest to persuade him to pray for a baby 'sister'....to no avail! You know what they say about God always listening closely to the prayers of children. He did. And He sent us a new little set of fingerprints when Jeffrey was almost seven: Tommy. We were blessed with another brilliant (of course!) precious son.....and then there were two. The fingerprints continued.

We were going to name this new beautiful bundle, Ryan. Much to our chagrin, Jeffrey refused to call him 'Ryan', calling him 'Tom' after his favorite person in the world: his cousin and our Godchild, Tom. And although I had two gold little boy charms Jim had already had engraved with 'Jeffrey' and 'Tommy', you guessed it: Jeffrey won. We named our new little one Tommy! (Our Godson, Tom is Tommy's Godfather!)

The next Christmas we had two sons. They are the greatest gifts God could ever have sent us. I get very nostalgic each Christmas as the memories flood my heart and my mind with those long-ago memories. Sigh. They seem like just yesterday.

May you have a memorable day today. Be sure to look for the Fingerprints in your life this Friday in December....wherever you are in the world!

Stop by Beki's blog to read about more Fingerprints!

Thank you, David for the mention on Post of the Day!

Stop by his blog for some fine reads! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

~The Luckiest~

It's that time of year again, when our thoughts turn to 'gift-buying'. This year will be a meager one for many people because of the state of the economy, not only here, but around the world. With people out of work, so many foreclosures on homes and businesses.....we are in a recession. There. I've said it. The government is afraid to....but ask the people it's affecting: the family man who was just laid off and doesn't know how he's going to tell his wife and kids; the single mother-of-four-under-ten who doesn't have enough money to feed her children, let alone for presents; or the 92-year-old man who has let his prescriptions lapse or is taking only 'halves' of pills because he can't afford to take the recommended dosage he REALLY needs.

If you are reading this, you have a computer. Internet services. A job. You and I are members of 'The Luckiest'. We don't worry about where our next meal will come from. If we will keep the warm, heated roof over our head. We have a car. And money for gas. We have clothes and shoes. A warm place to sleep at nite. We are certainly members of 'The Luckiest'.

Last year, a friend made a comment about seeing a very cold, Salvation Army Bell-Ringer standing in the freezing cold, ringing that bell for money for the poor. She bought a hot chocolate for her. The woman was very grateful. Because of her, I never pass one of those Bell-Ringers without bringing them back hot chocolate. The last one had tears in her eyes and said no one had ever been so thoughtful. It's the little things like that. It certainly didn't cost much. Just time and a bit of effort.

My mother's assisted living facility has a Christmas tree in the lobby that has ornaments with names of the elderly in our area that are in need of things like clothing, toiletries, etc. It's called "Be A Santa To A Senior". One of the ones I picked up is for slippers for Edward, size 11. I bought him a nice pair of black cozy Deerfoams for Men, and will wrap them today and take them there with the other gifts I'm donating. Our church has a Giving Tree with names of people who are in need of things like gas for their cars, prescriptions to be filled, warm gloves, etc. There is Toys for Tots, Coats for Kids, Womensafe, etc. Choose one...or several. Our county's Social Services has names of families in need of many things. A group of my friends here pick a name and make sure the family has everything for a spectacular Christmas: presents, warm clothing, Christmas Dinner.

So....I'm posing the question: What will YOU do to give back this year?? . I'd love it if you'd come back here and post a comment telling what you will do. I think it will be a great inspiration for all of us.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

~Hope For A Cure~

The "Gifts From the Heart Boutique", that I participated in last Sunday was a huge success. Its proceeds benefit the "Drew's Beads" program at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital Cancer Center. It raised $11, 978.65.... up from last year....so that this wonderful program can continue another year. Read more about it here. I was honored to be a part of such a worthwhile benefit.

A huge thank you to all my customers who graciously bought raffle tickets, decorative bags made by the children in cancer treatment, and their generous donations. I saw many old customers....and met a whole lot of new ones.

The Cheeky Monkeys were a GREAT hit!! There were lots of "Oh my God.....look at those monkeys!". I'm happy to report that they are happily living in new homes scattered around Ohio! I know they'll make a lot of people smile!

And so....here's to next year's benefit....and to the hope that there will be a cure, so that fewer children and adults suffer and die from this horrific disease.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

~To Grandmother's House We Go~

Over the river and thru the woods,
To grandmother's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh,
Thru the white and drifted snow, oh!
Over the river and thru the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and thru the woods,
To have a first-rate play;
Oh, hear the bell ring,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!
Over the river and thru the woods,
Trot fast my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound!
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

And now I'M the grandmother! I don't feel old enough to be a grandmother....but a grandmother I am. For years I traveled to my kids' 'grandmothers' houses for Thanksgiving. Now, the kids travel 'over the river and through the woods' to our house.....where we're waiting with open arms, lots of turkey, and much love.

From all of us at RoseCreekCottage:
May you have a Blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones today and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

~Cheeky Monkeys~

***PLEASE NOTE: There has been a lot of downloading of the pics of my monkeys. These are my copyrighted designs and are the property of RoseCreekCottage Studios.***11-22-08 C. Buehner

I love these kinds of days: I'm 'snowed in' here in the Snowbelt. We got zonkered with about 8 inches of snow. Many schools are closed. But...I was up and in my studio at 6:30 because I'm excited about my newest design: Cheeky Monkeys! They are adorable. Each one is a One-of-A-Kind. They're dressed in vintage sweaters, and they're guaranteed to melt your heart!

I have a huge show on Sunday called Gifts From the Heart Holiday Boutique. It's a great way to 'give back' for all the gifts I have in my life. It benefits the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital Cancer Center. This special program of courage is for children diagnosed with cancer. It was named after Drew Hoty Bliss who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and was a graduate of St. Edward's High School. Drew fought a brave, hard battle for nearly all of his life, but sadly lost his battle with cancer in March 2002. The bead program was initiated in 2004 with the support of funds raised by the 2003 boutique and a financial contribution from Drew's family.

The mission of the boutique is keep the bead program and the legacy of Drew alive. Each child receives a strand on which they string special ceramic beads with each bead having a different significance for whatever they endure in their cancer treatment (ie. blood transfusions, radiation treatments, bone marrow transfusions, scans, bad/horrible days, hospital stays, their birthday, even remissions, etc.). The beads provide a concrete way to record a child's journey from the time of cancer diagnosis through treatment. The bead program is an opportunity for these young patients to tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of the many steps throughout the course of treatment. We applaud them for their courage and value the many lessons they teach us as they proceed toward their path of survivorship.

Over 250 children and their families have benefited from this program to date! The boutique and basket raffle is the sole funding agent to keep this program alive. The 2007 boutique and basket raffle raised nearly $10,000.00! So....if you're in the NE Ohio area, please stop by. You'll be glad you did!

Monday, November 17, 2008

~First Snowfall~

The first snowfall of the year. I revel in it. Looking out the back windows each winter morning here in the Snowbelt, I become a little girl again. It's like unwrapping a new present each day. It brings back memories of a long-ago childhood.

It brings back leggings and snowsuits, red rubber boots, those itchy argyle woolen mittens...and those hats. The ones with the flaps that covered your ears. The ones with the silly pom-poms on top. I remember my dad taking us sled riding. The titillating fear-and-excitement of speeding down the snow-covered hill and rolling off the sled at the bottom. The gleeful laughing of my siblings as we trudged back up the hill dragging our wooden sleds so it could happen all over again.

I remember the hot chocolate that mom had waiting for us, afterwards, with the huge marshmellow melting into a sweet, sugary ooze. And that first sip. It meant home. Warmth. Love.

I remember 'Snow Days'.... those treasured days-off-from-school with nothing to do but play in the snow til you couldn't feel your nose, and coming back in to the aroma of Campbell's Tomato soup with little oyster crackers floating around the surface til they were soft and mushy. 'Hmmmm hmmm good' just like the commercial said. I remember coloring books and the smell of the waxy crayons.The scent of the little pots of oil paints in my paint-by-number sets with their pictures with a zillion little numbered pieces. My mom in her apron, peeling carrots at the sink as she stood in our kitschy chartreuse kitchen. One smell of her Beef Stew let you know what it was like to be cozy. Safe. Loved.

I remember footed pajamas that zipped up the front. Downy quilts. Waking up to the aroma of hot coffee 'perculating' on the stove. And hot, old-fashioned Quaker Oatmeal. No 'instant' back then. The REAL thing.

It brings back the anticipation of Christmas. Of counting the days. The threats of "You'd better behave or Santa's going not going to bring you anything but coal, Carol Ann!". It brings back riding the 'rapid transit' downtown to the Higbee's department store to wait in long lines to see the 'real' Santa Claus. I wore a lipstick red wool coat trimmed with black velvet. It had a matching hat. My mother bought it for me with the money she made doing alterations. I loved that coat. I remember lunch afterwards at the Silver Grille, where they brought you a miniature cardboard stove with a small chicken pot pie inside. I can still taste it.

And it brings back the first time each of my boys saw snow. The magical twinkle in their eyes as I prayed they would feel that magic again a million more times in their lives.

And so, the snow that many people 'dread' with a passion that causes them to flee to warmer climates, isn't an emotion I can relate to. Ever. I love every moment of it. It's part of me. My childhood. Who I am. It's home. Comfort. Love.

I wish you happy comforting thoughts of love. And home. Happy Monday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

~FingerPrints Friday~

There's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, Fingerprints, that starts:

I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
You’re a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

There were 635 in my high school graduation class…but I had a close-knit group of 11 girlfriends. Forty years later, all 11 us still get together every summer, although we are now scattered all over the United States.

We had a class reunion this past summer with a fabulous turnout. It was more fun than any of us could have imagined! This is the reunion committee…..and a few of those dear friends. (I’m the 6th from the left, in the black-and-white outfit) It’s so much fun to get together and remember the pep rallies, football games, school dances, pajama parties, boyfriends, ….lots of God's Fingerprints in those memories! I treasure them.

Stop by at Beki's blog for more Fingerprints.

Be sure to stop during your day today to think about the Fingerprints in your own life. The present ones….AND the past ones, too!

Make sure you look for God's Fingerprints in your travels today. Have a wonderfully memorable Friday....wherever you are in the world!

Monday, November 10, 2008

~Just An Ordinary Day~

It started out as an ordinary day. Or so I thought. I baked a pumpkin pie, took some to Mom at assisted living, and we shared it before going outside to enjoy the last of the unseasonably warm November day. As I wheeled her into the courtyard, a white-haired woman flagged us down, inviting us to sit with them. The woman, Irene, introduced herself and her friend, Mary. Like my Mother, Mary was wheelchair-bound, and had only lived there a month….which explained why we had never met her before. Irene explained that she had worked for a home-healthcare agency, and had taken care of Mary before it was necessary for Mary to live in the assisted living facility. A friendship had blossomed, and Irene continued to visit Mary a few times a week. I thought to myself that this Irene was a kind, sweet soul to do this. There was an obvious 20+ year age difference between them.

We chatted a bit, when Irene looked at me and said, “I don’t want to ‘freak’ you out, but there’s a man standing behind you”. I told her I wasn't. I was used it.

Irene continued, “He is tall, has a big smile on his face, and light brown hair”. I was elated. My father. It must be. I smell his cigarette smoke quite often, and I was sure this was him. She said, “He has on a brightly-colored flowered shirt. Like a Hawaiian shirt, but not with palm trees, just flowers.” My heart fell. No….that wasn’t my conservative, vee-necked sweater, shirt-and-tie, all-business father. My mother’s face fell. Was this women toying with us? Was she simply a whacko? Mom and I exchanged looks. My Mom is quite used to these kinds of experiences, too, as is my sister and my late brother. But we had our doubts about this new acquaintance. This stranger.

All-of-a-sudden, Irene stood up, and touched her eye. “Something’s wrong with his eye”, she said. I screamed, “Oh my God! It’s my FIL!”. Irene said she was sorry I was upset. I wasn’t upset. Just a bit disappointed and surprised. You see, my FIL had a glass eye. It had been shot out with a BB gun when he was a child. Not a ‘typical’ characteristic like height and hair color. And yes, he wore flowered shirts. Again….not a typical attire for a man living his entire life in the Midwest. But Mom and I were still skeptical. We said nothing, waiting for this woman…this ‘Irene’ to show us something more. Something we could be absolutely sure about.She continued, thrusting her tongue around her mouth and sniffing, “I’m tasting something strong. Like liquor. Whiskey, maybe. I don’t know. I’m not a ‘drinker’”. That meant little to me. My MIL was a recovered alcoholic, and I seldom saw my FIL drink. “He says to tell you it’s ‘C-C’”. Once again, this meant nothing to me. “He said he used to ‘sneak’ it”. Again….I didn’t know.

“He said to tell you he loved geraniums. They’re so bright. And they’re easy”. Well….there had been geraniums in their yard…but…..

Before we parted, she said that he wanted me to know that he intended to have another conversation with me, just he-and-I, one-on-one, before he died, but he never did. He wanted to know he was sorry it never happened, and was I okay with that. Yes…I understood that perfectly. In the 30+ years of my marriage, he and I had exactly TWO of the conversations he was speaking of. Two specific conversations that I loved him for. They were on the same subject. They were the only two times I ever remembered speaking solely with him. So, no…we never talked one-on-one again. I told Irene to tell him I understood. And I was okay.

Irene has had this ‘gift’ since she was five. At the age of 16, her family tried to have her ‘committed’, as they couldn’t understand why she talked about ‘seeing’ dead people. That was in the 50’s. The beginning of all the talk of ‘life-after-death’. Before the time of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ work on death and dying, the grieving process and out-of-the-body experiences. Yes…before John Edward came forward with his books and TV show, and before The Ghost Whisperer.

Irene asked if my husband was understanding of my ‘gift’. I told her that yes, he was. She said I was lucky. Her marriage had ended in divorce because of it. I shook my head. I felt her sadness.

We exchanged phone numbers, and plan to get together for lunch. I have a feeling it will be a long one!

As soon as I had a chance, I called my husband, and asked him if his dad had a favorite drink. “Yes….he drank Canadian Club. He called it his ‘CC’”. He snuck it so he wasn't drinking in front of my MIL. I asked him about the geraniums, but he didn’t know. I talked with my SIL, and asked if dad had a favorite garden plant. Without hesitation, she said, “Oh yeah. He LOVED geraniums. He said they gave SO much color, and were just ‘easy’ to plant”.

So, Dad, thank you. I could never be mad at you. And yes, I’m okay. Perfectly. And I know you are, too. Kiss Mom for me, 'kay?

This post won a Post of the Day award over at authorblog. Take a peak at the other winners for some wonderful reads!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

~Dancing With Mom~

Life was always a dance with her. A quick-step in the beginning of my life. She was always there. Standing firmly. Teaching me to take my first steps. She was there on my first day of kindergarten. Standing firmly. Waiting for me to come home. Always there.

Life became a fox-trot with the arrival of my two siblings. She was busier. The dance moved more quickly. There were carrots to peel, clothes to iron, pies to bake. She did it all. Always. She created a secure, happy childhood for her three children. Dancing quickly. Standing firmly.

She taught the three of us to dance quickly, too. Jitter-bugging our way through life. All three of us. Excelling. Striving for the best. Dancing faster and faster. Twirling and swirling our way with her watching us. Always. Ready to pick us up if we stumbled and fell. We faithfully followed her lead.

The dance took on a new rhythm when my brother, Dan, died. I didn’t think she’d ever dance again. And three months later, Dad passed away. Would any of us ever dance again? We did. The dance took on a meloncholy rhythm. A slow, sad two-step. Through broken bones. Surgeries. Chronic pain. Sometimes the dancing came to a halt. But it always began again. To much slower music.

Now with alzheimer’s riddling Mom’s body, the only way she can dance, is holding on to someone else. She barely hears the music anymore. You have to be very still to hear it. But it’s there.

So, I dance with her. Slowly. To a gentle, soft waltz. Swaying to the music. Lovingly. Still faithfully following her lead. Because, for now, it is as fast as she can dance. I am there for her. Standing firmly. Just like she was for me. Always.

This post won the Post Of the Day award at David's Authorblog.

Monday, November 3, 2008

~Home Again~

It's always good to return from vacation. The memories linger on...but home is best! Especially when you return to the glorious colors of fall! The photo on the left is what our street looked like when we arrived.

We had a wonderful time with our boys, Jackie, and the kids. Playing with Ella and Jackson always warms my heart. Stepping into their world and seeing the universe through their little eyes is something I find I carry with me even when they're not around.

Ella toddled into the ocean in spite of its cool temperatures. She tried her best to convince us that it was warm! I wish you could have seen her goosebumps. Nothing stops that little one! Jackson was content to sit and play in the sand.

Uncle Tom taught Ella to use chopsticks. She learned quickly that they were great utensils for ‘stabbing’ just about anything but soup and rice!

Her mom and dad enjoyed an evening out by themselves while grandma and grandpa and Uncle Tom babysat. They returned with beautiful earrings for her. As you can see, she loved them, refusing to take them off the rest of the week!

I finished another show before we left: The Nutcracker Sweets in Aurora. It was fabulous, and I’ll surely apply there again next year. The ladies of the church were wonderful, bringing me bags of ice for my ankles every 'hour-on-the-hour', because I fell in a hole on the way to my car on Friday nite. It was a dark, moonless nite, and I didn’t see the sewer hole in the grass as my friend Pat and I ran to make the light, crossing to the parking lot. Fortunately, I only sprained my ankles. The EMT’s and dr. in the ER were certain I’d broken them! So, it’s a gimpy lady here who limped down to the beach and now….to the studio! They say that time heals all things. I hope that goes for ankles, cause they REALLY hurt! I have a whole new compassion for the elderly with their canes, walkers and wheelchairs. We take so much for granted.

Fawn’s doing well, although he’s still walking on three legs. He and I are ‘gimpy’ together. He really looked at me strangely when he saw me on crutches that first nite!

So....I am hobbling back to the studio today....crutches and all. I have two more shows, and am still filling orders from the first one! I'm working on Santas this week. I know they don't mind that their 'creator' is a hobbling lady on way too much coffee, leftover Halloween candy and lots of Motrin!

Have a glorious November Week...wherever you are in the world~

Friday, October 31, 2008

~Haunted Hopefuls~

Happy Haunting!

One of my neighbors decided to get creative. I think she got the personalities 'spot-on'!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

~Off to The Sea~

Off to the sea
The babies and me...
No worries, no hassles
Just sun and sandcastles.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

~Braking For God~

The studio was in full-swing. It was a hot August day nine years ago, and the wholesale orders from the Atlanta Gift Show were piled high. The girls and I were filling trays of orders, and the boxes for UPS were stacked to the ceiling. Shops and catalogs wanted their orders ‘yesterday'. I was pretty organized and had ordered plenty of supplies before we headed into the mid-summer gift shows….so I thought. Then it happened: we ran out of a much-used jewelry finding. We needed 350 more to fill the orders we had. Thank goodness that the supplier was only an hour’s drive, so I decided, migraine or not, to drive there to pick them up.

The morning had started peacefully enough. I had my precious half-an-hour with a book and a cup of coffee. I was touched by a short story in a “Chicken Soup for the Soul-type’ book. You know the kind: short little inspirational quippets that let you savor a brief ‘ahhh…that’s nice’ moment before heading on your way. The story was about a woman who had been praying for some sign from God, as she was having a difficult time making an important decision. She was stumped.

That same day, she was sitting in a friend’s kitchen, sharing a cup of coffee, when she commented to her friend, that there was a beautiful red cardinal at her feeder. Without even bothering to turn her head, the friend told her that it was impossible. She only had thistle seed in her feeder, and had never seen a cardinal there. When she turned around, sure enough: a cardinal! The woman was certain that this was her sign from God. The answer to her prayers.

Hmmmm….I thought. I have been praying for help on a particular problem. I was begging God for some help. I think I’ll ask God to send ME a cardinal if I'm leaning in the right direction. No….they never came to MY feeder either. Thistle seed was the answer to feeding the birds in our yard without attracting the raccoons and squirrels that lived to taunt my puppies. So that would be a great sign. Yeah, right, I thought. And I continued on with my day.

I armed myself with an Imitrex (migraine medication) and a cold iced tea, put on the darkest sunglasses I had, seatbelted myself in….and headed down the driveway holding back the tears. How was I going to get on 271 and drive an hour each way with this raging headache? I was half-way up our short street when I slammed on the brakes. I couldn’t believe it. There he was. Sitting in the middle of the road, looking up at me. I mean that bird was STARING at me. He had swooped down right in front of me and stood standing on the asphalt. He was the reddest, most beautiful cardinal I have ever seen. Headache or not. And he wasn’t leaving anytime soon. We both stared. Locked in time.

Now I’ve gotten signs from God before. Lots of times. But not as blatant as this time…unless you want to count the time I met an angel in my kitchen in the middle of the night. But that's a story for another post!

I had shared my cardinal story with Mel, and it had touched her as deeply as it had touched me. And she remembered my long-ago encounter when she added the cardinal border to the beautiful Frosty pillow. Thank you, Mel. And thank you, God….for sending me cardinals in the oddest of moments…in the strangest of ways. You have my attention!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

~Classic Love Story~

I met this beautiful young couple the year I did my very first show: Yankee Peddler Festival 1990. They selected one of my large Ragamuffin dolls, and they asked me if I would sign it for them. I can remember how they looked. The smiles on their faces. I could tell how much they loved each other. It was all there. Shining.

I saw them again, each year. Standing there with their most recent purchase. Waiting, patiently, for me to sign their newest “baby”.

I thought about them often. There was something about the two of them that touched me. I couldn’t get them out of my mind.

I continued seeing Mel and Garry through the years. This happy young couple seemed to become happier together with each passing year. One day, I received a beautiful pillow from Mel. She made it herself. I cried. It’s on the sofa in my living room. It will always be there, where I can see it. And then one day, Mel began doing shows! When I saw her booth at EJ Thomas’ Christmas Show, I knew she had ‘arrived’. Her booth was filled with pillows and dolls. Dolls!! They were all so “Mel”. She was so happy. Smiling. Shining.

Then one day, she and Garry got “called” to China. By a little girl they named appropriately, Hope. They were in their glory, raising this precious gift. Their “baby”. And then came another “call”. Her name is Claire.

They arrived on Saturday, and stood in the middle of my booth. I couldn’t believe it. There they were. The four of them. Years later. Just like they had always been. Happy. Smiling. The difference this time was huge. Not only were the two of them smiling, but there were two precious china dolls smiling along with them. All of them, together, shining. Their smiles were bright enough to light up the world. Mel and Garry plus two!

What I haven’t told you about Mel, is that she has incredible faith. Perhaps greater faith than anyone I have ever met. Ever. And that faith is something I have always admired. It’s just ‘there’. You can’t see it, but you can ‘taste’ it. It’s like an elixir that encompasses the air around her. Even when you aren’t in her physical presence. It’s there. Hovering.

A while back, I wrote a post called, My Mother's Smile. I talked about how Wendy's Frosties is one of the few things that makes my mother (who has alzheimer's) smile. Mel and the girls were at Wendy's shortly afterward, when Hope noticed writing on the side of her bag of French fries, and asked Mel to read it to her. It said: “It’s impossible to frown while eating a Frosty.”

Back to Saturday: Mel handed me a beautiful gift bag. Inside, was a pillow she had made for me. And there, embroidered in the center, “It’s impossible to frown while eating a Frosty.”! I cried. Mel cried. I will treasure it always. It has a place of honor in the living room. On the sofa. Next to the other pillow I treasure. Just like her!
And the cardinals on the border fabric: that’s a story for another day!

Have a glorious week, wherever you are, whatever you do. Be sure
to notice all ‘treasures’ in your life. You'll find them everywhere!

Friday, October 10, 2008

~FingerPrints Friday~

There's a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, Fingerprints, that starts:

I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
Youre a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

The trees in the woods behind RoseCreekCottage are just magnificent right now. God's fingerprints, to be sure!

Stop by at Beki's blog for more Fingerprints.

Be sure to stop during your day today to observe more Fingerprints. They're everywhere!

Have an incredible Friday....wherever you are in the world!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

~I'm Kreativ!~

I won this Kreativ Blogger award from my friend, ballerinagirl. Thank you so much, sweet lady! I now have to list "6 Things That Make Me Happy" and pass it on to 6 other bloggers".

6 Things That Make Me Happy:

1. My family.
2. My puppies.
3. Coffee with friends.
4. My mother's smile.
5. Creating.
6. Cuddling in front of the fire on winter nites.

I am passing this on to these six Kreativ Bloggers:

1. Erin
2. Sandy
3. Carol
4. Sarah
5. Mel
6. Nancy

Each of these women have touched my life in their own unique ways. I look forward to reading their blogs. They truly inspire me in ways they probably don't even know! Stop by their blogs and see for yourself!

Monday, October 6, 2008

~The Road Back~

I really didn’t have any great expectations for my first show (Ohio Mart at Stan Hywet) after being absent from the show circuit for 6 years. After all….that’s a long time. I really didn’t expect to see people I knew. But, the past four days were beyond my wildest dreams.

Thursday began with cold temperatures and lots of rain. But…people came. And they came to buy.

Friday’s crowds uplifted the spirits of the 120 artists, and ended up to be a record-breaking day. With Saturday and Sunday’s warm sunny weather, I couldn’t even get OUT of my booth!!

But beyond all that, were the stories, the hugs, and the tears. One by one, they would come up to me. One by one, they would relate their stories. “You’ve been gone a long time. I’m so glad you’re back”. My customers, who over 14 years bought Ragamuffins for their daughters, nieces, grand-daughters. For their mothers, grandmothers, aunts. For themselves.

More often than not, we cried.

“You’ve been gone 6 years. While you were gone, I battled cancer. And I won”

“While you were gone, I lost my mother”

“Four years ago, I lost my husband, Fred. Do you remember him? He was always with me at Yankee Peddler.”

“My daughter is battling cancer. She’s 36. Remember her? She was 12 the last time you saw her. She has four of your dolls. Today, I’m buying her the Star Angel. Please keep her in your prayers.”

“I buried my mother 3 years ago. She carried your doll til the day she died. We buried it with her”

And there were the happy stories:

“I’m so glad you’re back. All my daughters have your dolls. Now I have grandbabies, and they need Ragamuffins, too!"

“I bought these dolls for all the girls in my life. Now, I’m buying them for ME!”.

“Your blog touches my heart.”

“I couldn’t wait to meet you. I read every word of your blog. I love it.”

And then there were the babies….now all grown up. Young ladies. Who stopped to hug me and thank me for making their dolls. Now, in their teens, twenties, and even older, they still cherish them. What more could I ask from something that I started so long ago?

So, to all my dear customers…..the many old ones, and the many new ones, I thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me, and for leaving with a piece of mine. My heart is overflowing.

The top photo is a path of birch trees at Stan Hywet that ran parallel to our tent, and led to the mansion.

**This post was nominated as Post Of the Day over at David's authorblog. Take a peak at the other winners!** Thank you, David!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

~The Cost of Unconditional Love~

Every pet owner adores their pet…be it dog, cat, goat, bird, etc. We say they love us unconditionally. And they do. I believe pets are God’s gift to mankind to show us what unconditional love is all about.

I used to kid around and say I love my puppies as much as I love my kids…but that I’m glad I don’t have the expense of sending these babies to college. I spoke too soon.

When children beg for a dog, parents try to explain to them that it’s a responsibility. A comitment. So with the best of intentions, they buy or adopt a dog. In the beginning, it goes perfectly well: each child is responsible for some little job in caring for the new family pet. But…..before too long, it’s the mother who is the sole caretaker of the animal. She’s the one who makes sure the water bowl is filled with fresh water. That the pet is fed. And she’s the one that cleans up the ‘accidents’. Even an animal knows who the ‘mother’ in the household is. She’s the cook. The ‘rule-maker’. The nurturer. And before long, it’s not the ‘family’ pet….but the ‘mom’s’.

Everything goes along well in the early days. The pet is trained. Taken to obedience school. Taught tricks that he can perform on cue for anyone who is willing to stand still long enough to praise him and offer him a treat. After all, he’s so cute, isn’t he?? And yes, he is loved, and he loves back, with that unconditional love we read about.

But as the years go on, much like the aging human, he develops health problems: arthritis, liver mal-function, low thyroid, incontinence, stomach upsets, skin problems. And the vet bills begin. Pet insurance is very common today, and a good idea, much like ‘people’ insurance, if you take it out when the pet is young. By the time the problems begin….it’s too late.

My younger puppy, Fawn, who is 13, jumped off the couch last week, and knocked his hip out of the joint. He’s done this before. The vet taught me how to ‘bounce’ him to put it back into place…and it usually works. Unfortunately, not this time. By the time we got him to the vet’s on Saturday, we found out that he not only had hip dysplacia, , but that he had a ruptured anterior cruciated ligament…or ACL.

Today he goes in for surgery, to the tune of $1500. Sat’s bill was $75 for the office visit and pain pills. And he will need to be crated and given tlc for 2 months. The vet already warned that once this happens to one limb, not to be surprised if a year-or-so down the road, it happens to another one. Add all this to their $90 a month grooming fees and the special ($$$) dog food they need because of their slowed-down liver function, Coconut's chemo pills, and there goes my "at least we don't have to send them to college" theory!

So…as I head into my first big show in 6 years, my stomach is queasy for yet another reason: I will not be here to hold him, stroke his brow, and just be his ‘mom’. I have precious neighbors who will check in on him on Thursday, and my sister will take both the puppies on Friday…so I’m sure he will survive. I’m just not sure I will.

Monday, September 29, 2008

~Amish Innovations~

My little Amish friend, Katie, spent last Thursday with me. I find myself constantly marveling at how she can walk into a situation, size it up, and begin re-prioritizing and re-organizing the most mundane tasks in order to work more efficiently. And the good Lord knows with upcoming shows on the horizon, I could use all the help I can get on that front! The studio had managed to explode into most rooms of the house!

With only 8 grades of formal education, I used to think that the Amish were not as bright as the ‘average’ schooled American. Boy was I wrong! I continue learning that not only do they think everything through before acting on it, they do it with passion. That’s a totally ‘win-win’ prescription for Life 101.

By the time I drove Katie back to Middlefield, my home and studio was in tip-top shape…..and so was my soul. We talked about everything: Caroline’s recent passing and her widowed husband's struggle to continue on, her group of “Travel Girls” who get together monthly for pot-luck dinners, how the canning and wood-chopping is coming along for the upcoming winter months, the differences between her and her siblings….just everything. No topic is off-limits, and emotions flow along with the unending chatter and laughter.

She was excited for me to see her newly-sided house. Her brothers got together and not only sided the home Katie bought recently with two of her sisters, but also built the girls a spacious back porch, complete with railings, rockers, and planters filled with colorful flowers.

When we arrived, I could see why she was excited. The ‘almost’ century house now looked brand new. Her sisters, Fannie and Emma, were sewing in the huge great room. Fannie, working on a quilt, Emma, on doll clothes for her neighbor’s little girls. No matter how intense the task at hand, when they talk about them, their faces ‘light up’. Chores to us, but acts of love to them.

After chatting about our recent loss of power, my upcoming shows, how many dolls I’ve completed, how my Mom is faring, etc, my escape from the world was over, and I was ready for the 30 minute ride back to ‘my’ life.

As the girls waved good-bye, I rolled down the window when I noticed three cows in the pasture behind their house. Hmmm. I knew about Socks, the horse they recently purchased along with an Amish buggy, but cows??

“Hey…..when did you get the cows?” I asked.

“They’re not ours. We ‘borrowed’ them from our brother”, was the reply…..grins of delight and mischief evident on each of their ‘plain’ little faces.

“Why?” I asked.

“Oh….we got tired of mowing the pasture. They’ll eat the grass so we don’t have to mow it!”. I must say that the giggles erupting from those three sweet girls tickled me to the core.

Can you just picture Brother Daniel, hooking up his team of horses to the flat-bed wagon loaded with his three cows, traveling the 2 miles down the dirt roads to deliver those human lawn mowers to his sisters? Priceless!

Have a gloriously innovative Monday, wherever you are in the world!

**This post was nominated as Post Of the Day over at David's authorblog. Take a peak at the other winners!** Thank you, David!

Friday, September 26, 2008

~Fingerprint Friday~

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that says:
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know its true
Youre a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

My son, Tom, made me a CD for my car that has that song on it. It's one of my favorites.

This photo shows my son, Jeff, introducing Ella to her baby brother, Jackson, for the very first time. Fingerprints of God at its finest!

Stop by Pampering Beki's blog
to read other interpretations of FingerPrint Friday!

Look for God's Fingerprints throughout your Friday, wherever you are in the world!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

~Just A Little Behind~

I got up this morning and glanced at the calendar on my desk. Yup....I'm a little behind. I'd be happy if it actually WAS Sept. 13th or 14th. But it's not. sigh. I guess I'd better pour a cup of coffee and head to the studio. I heard a noise earlier. I'm sure those dolls had a party last nite. sigh. I'd better go see what havoc they raised. I hope they're still in their boxes ready to go to Ohio Mart next week or there's gonna be some trouble at RoseCreekCottage, you can be sure!

Have a good Thursday wherever you are~

P.S. I just checked the studio, and they're all in different boxes...and 'someone' has gotten into my jar of Hershey's Kisses and she has a chocolate-smeared smile!

Do they REALLY think I don't notice??!!~

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

~Pajama Party At RoseCreekCottage~

Place: RoseCreekCottage Studio

Time: Friday Nite!

Bring: Your pillow. Your bunny slippers. Your nightie. A favorite stuffed animal. An empty tummy. Lots of giggles and stories to share.

RSVP: Regrets Only.

The girls are all ready to party. They're all dressed in their girly flannel nighties, their bunny slippers, and each one is carrying their eyelet-edged, pink-ticking pillow. Each of my Ragamuffin Dolls have one of my original poems.
This one begins:

"Giggles & Laughter & Secrets & Tears....We'll be friends forever (at LEAST for 3 years!). Pizza and Pepsi all over the place......".

They're totally hand-made from my original design. I use all new materials. Stuffing is new polyester fiberfill.

These sweeties stand 20" tall, look adorable seated or hanging on a wall....and promise to bring lots of smiles and years of love and laughter to any little princess....tot, tween or teen....you may know.

This auburn-haired dolly is listed on Etsy. She's $45.00, calorie-free, non-fat, and guaranteed not to talk back!

I'm taking 12 with me to Stan Hywet's Ohio Mart next week! I'm off to the Studio to work on long-legged, vintage-clothed rabbits. They're pretty 'hairy' to work with. (Sorry...I couldn't resist!) Have a spectacular Wednesday in your little corner of the world.