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The Unveiling! Lookie!

September 11th, 2014

colorfulkidzCoverbig  Finally! The project that obsessed about 9 months of my 2013 for a number of reasons. This one was a lot of firsts for me. I’ve had to remain relatively vague about it until it was published. The time is now.

May I present to you my children’s collection of knitting patterns? The Colorful Kidz collection ebook, produced by Willow Yarns!!!

Sweater, legwarmers, hat, mittens and socks… all in a wonderful washable yarn which comes in a LOT of colors (pick your favorite three) and three weights. Each item comes in lots of sizes, too!

kidzhatsThe knitting is rather simple… kidzwarmerseven the sweater front, which is the most challenging part of the series, allows newcomers to intarsia (color block knitting) to experience the most simple version of this technique and for very few rows. The instructions are clear… after all, my first love is explaining.

Thanks to my project team:
Diana Troldahl
Cindy Wright
Wendy Sweet
Annette Tanner
Rae Blackledge

Colorful Kidz CollectionI had a multitude of learning curves with this project and I couldn’t have done it without you! Also big hugs to the Creative Haven community who were my moral support on rough days.

The Ravelry.com page for the collection is here.

Here is the Willow Yarn page for the collection (get individual patterns, the whole collection, or even kits with yarn included).

kidzsweater(Note: The pattern prices are lower than my self-published designs, because they already paid me. Thanks to Willow Yarns for hiring me, with such enthusiasm, for this project.)


Kirsty Hall’s 9/11-Honoring Artpiece

September 11th, 2014

Thanks to friend LaVonne Ellis, I found Kirsty Hall, an artist in the UK. She did a piece called “Requiem” where she burned over 3,000 matches (one for each person lost in the 9/11 events). How appropriate that I discovered this wonderful piece today, of all days.

I lost my father when I was 14… and I learned then that any day may be the last day you see a loved one. Remember to always be kind and don’t be afraid to tell someone you love them.

http://kirstyhall.co.uk/art/requiem/

Kirsty Hall - Requiem

Problem Solving = Creativity = Good Party

August 19th, 2014

EricMomMe450MomCake80th450

Wow! Mom’s party was such a great experience! She had such fun seeing friends from so many parts of her life and her past. She’s a lovely person, and her friends are excellent company.

I am painfully inexperienced at planning parties/gatherings. This special occasion was the perfect time to just dive in and learn. If creativity is problem solving (I believe it is), I got an excellent lesson in creativity while putting this together.

The Perfect Cake

My dear friend April loves to bake and decorate cakes. It’s her primary visual artform. She volunteered to bake the cake for Mom’s party.

Just look at how beautiful that cake is! The flower decorations and her plate look so perfect together. April thought of Mom the whole time she made it. Even the frosting was custom for her. It was moist and tasty, too. We got nice comments on it all day.Cake80th450

I fond those curlicue candles somewhere, years ago. They were just waiting for this event, don’t you think?

Music

A few times during the party, Mom asked Brian and I to sing. Many of her friends had never heard us sing before! It was a joy and an honor to do that for her. After all, she paid for uncountable voice lessons for me over many years… decades, even.

Heftones80thFireplace450Minor Freakout

Thursday I found myself at the food co-op trying to figure out how much to buy. I had a moment of thinking “why did I think I could figure this out?” After all, our family includes me and Brian, Mom and Fred, and brother Eric and his wife Diana. We six people are  the entire roster of all of our relatives in the entire state of Michigan.

I realized that although I’ve had parties before, they were always potluck. When guests bring food, you end up with enough to go around. I was puzzled and a little freaked out standing there at the store.

I called one of Brian’s sisters who entertains often and well. When she didn’t answer, I called Diana. She helped me figure out how much I might need. I ended up with a 7-pound bag of carrots, a few bunches of celery, and two gallons of organic apple juice (to be mixed with unsweetened soda water).

In the end, we had more food than necessary. This is a high class problem! Food80th450We’re still eating carrot sticks 3 days after the party, and that is after we gave some away. I’ll return some of the unopened items as well.

Planning Challenges

Decorating rooms is not one of my skills. I’m not a big fan of decorations that get thrown away. Candles please me, but they didn’t seem right for this event.

Finally the answers came to me… balloons for the table decorations would be perfect. Facebook friends directed me to a place nearby that would be open in the morning when I needed to pick them up.

The Corsage Dilemma

Mom doesn’t love the disposable nature of flowers, and also often has an allergic reaction to them. I wanted her to have a corsage.

I figured out that maybe a ribbon of some sort might make a good corsage. I have a lot of satin ribbon here at the house, but not in the colors I wanted to use.

Finally it hit me that the curlicue ribbons available for wrapping packages might work well. The balloon store also had ribbons of that sort. I bought two and stuck them together to get colors which suit Mom. Yay! She loved it.

GuestBook80th450Very Special Guest Book

It occurred to me that Mom would value a guest book for this occasion. First I asked her if she had one of her own. She did not.

After thinking about options, I remembered that I had a beautiful handmade paper/hand-sewn book. It was made by Susan Hensel, an artist friend who used to live in town but now lives in Minneapolis. The book was perfect for the event, with a dark blue cover and pale turquoise and white pages. Yay!

A Mistake

The one thing that went wrong was minor. I used Mom’s ring molds to make 2 ice rings for the punch bowl. I found some organic green grapes which might look nice frozen with juice. I figured the grapes might thaw more slowly than a liquid.

I had purchased one lime, intending to slice it thin and float the slices in the apple juice/soda water punch. At the last minute I had a doubt that the ice ring would look festive enough. (Note that this happened well after midnight, not a great time for changing plans.)

I sliced the lime and added it to the ring, put it in the freezer, and went to bed. The next morning, it was not frozen.

It may be that our 2nd freezer is not as cold as the first. However, the consensus was that citrus takes a lot longer to freeze than water.

Live and learn! I was freaked out for a few minutes. Then I realized that the party’s success was not dependent on ice.

I’m glad I was able to get to that thought rather quickly. There was a time I would have obsessed over the one imperfection instead of enjoying the many successes of the day.

PS

You may know that my favorite color is turquoise. Take a look at these photos, and notice that I came to that preference  honestly!

MomFred80th450

An Amazing Woman turns 80

August 14th, 2014

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A Tough Cookie
Today is my mother’s 80th birthday. Born 1 hour north of Duluth by modern measures, she was premature… only 3-1/2 lb. That year, babies of her status had about a 2% chance of survival.

Many things conspired in her favor, and somehow she made it. She still is tough. It also helped a lot that her mother was a Public Health pioneer who was raised by a midwife. Grandma’s father had also been a preemie, and she grew up with family stories of how they had helped him thrive when he was first born.

A Reading Teacher/ Author/ Illustrator
Mom’s parents were both educators. She followed in their footsteps.

As a child she struggled to read and spell, while her younger sister was County Spelling Bee champion. We now understand her struggles as dyslexia. This challenge, in the end, made her a patient teacher of reading. She taught 30 years, most of them in 1st Grade.

IMG_1909.JPGMom taught hundreds of children to read. While looking for ways to help strugglers, she developed a series of 4 very-beginning reader books. She both wrote and illustrated these charming stories. A few years ago i helped her make those books available to the world via Lulu.com

A Dancer/ Athlete
Mom has always loved dancing. She and Fred dance at least once a week. I remember her ironing to dance music on the turntable in the 60′s. (She won the State of Minnesota Mary Proctor Better Ironing Award as a youth. Yes, that was a thing.)

Mom and her partner Fred win multiple dancing medals each year in the Polk County Senior Games. Mom also started running the 50-yd and 100-yd dashes after she kicked cancer 18 years ago.

This last February, she won the trophy-award for the top athlete in the games, for females in her age group. Look at these awards!!!

A Celebration
Mom’s kids & spouses are throwing her a party this weekend. A bit of cake, fruit, punch and a lot of hugs should make a lovely event.

Please join me in celebrating the birthday of the tough, feisty, amazing Liz Troldahl. As she always says, “Any day above the daisies is a good day!”

Would you consider leaving Mom a birthday greeting in the comments today? I know it would touch her heart to hear from you. Thanks.

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Snap Your Joy… Here is a Smile

July 30th, 2014

I’m not a fan of TV or movies… especially when they are doing storytelling with conflict inside. My gut feels like any conflict outside me is actually inside me as well.

However, since we got a faster internet connection early this year, I’ve enjoyed finding uplifting YouTube videos… short and sweet and day-changing. One favorite source is a “channel” called Soul Pancake.

Here is a goodie. Only 2 minutes and 41 seconds… if you have a decent connection, it is worth the time. I think you are guaranteed a smile.

Enjoy!

Yarn Bombing Elderly Instruments

July 25th, 2014

Look what we did on our lunch hour this Wednesday!

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My weekly lunch date, Cynthia, works at Elderly Instruments (a very fine music store, where Brian also works). For years, at the corner of Elderly’s front lawn was a huge, overgrown evergreen bush. It blocked part of the sidewalk and also the view of the front door.

A week or two ago, the bulk of the bush was taken down. In the near future, we hear that a sign will be placed here. Meanwhile, it’s looking a bit unfinished!

Last week as Cynthia and I walked past, I mentioned that its raggedy look would be improved by a yarn bomb. She agreed.

So this week, we spent our lunch date yarn bombing. Some of the scarves were used originally at the MSU Horticulture Yarn bOMb project. They were sun faded, but we turned the brighter side out and got double duty from them!

We have casually talked about yarn bombing the yarn shop Sticks and Strings literally across the street from Elderly. We have said we would do it for a couple of years. I guess it helps to have a deadline!

Now that we know how much we can do in a lunch period, perhaps we need to get ON with it, yes? I must go dig out more recyclable scarves from MSU, perhaps.

Meanwhile, Cynthia has had a lot of good feedback on the project. The point is to give people something to smile about. I think it worked !

Dinner Salad as Art

July 1st, 2014

Oh, the summer! I love the foods of the season.

This Wednesday, a dance friend shared her abundance of romaine lettuce with me. I went home with the freshly-cut lettuce and no other dinner plans. It was hot. Salad for dinner on the porch sounded perfect to me.

Now, I’m not a big fan of meat but I wanted a filling salad to make into dinner. I raided the refrigerator to see what I might find.

I found: 1 hard-boiled egg, hemp seed hearts (high protein/mineral content and buttery texture), one carrot.

This wasn’t quite enough for two people to fill up at dinner. I know that seeds are particularly high food value, and so I got into the cupboard for pepitas (pumpkin seeds without shells). I also found a can of black olives to add a little healthy oil and flavor.

At that point, it looked really tasty but not yet filling enough. If we had some canned beans such as garbanzo beans/chickpeas or fava beans, I would have put those on it. I had no luck in the bean department so I searched my mind a little. Enter the freezer! I thawed about 2/3 of a cup of green peas to divide between us.

At this point it looked filling and tasty. I’m not a vinegar fan (and it doesn’t work well with my allergies) so I prefer very good olive oil as the basis of my dressing. Since it’s summer, we have a few herbs growing well outside right now, so I picked some fresh dill weed and cut that up with scissors.

The final touches were a sprinkling of Gomasio (crushed sesame seeds and sea salt, available from Eden Foods at most food co-ops and healthy stores… or online at EdenFoods.com

An Encouraging Quote

May 31st, 2014

Aha! LightBulb

The good news is that for every one person who doesn’t like you or the things you say or the work you do, there are a dozen people who adore you and absolutely want to see you succeed in life.
– Rosetta Thurman

I love quotations. It’s fun to search online quote pages for inspiration, but sometimes the quotes are not worded exactly right, or they are attributed to the wrong famous person. For that reason, I particularly love collecting quotes myself. Sometimes they come from reading an article online, sometimes from reading  or listening to an audiobook.

Today’s Inspiration
Today, I got a newsletter from Rosetta Thurman, a young woman with lots of vim and vigor and sparkle in her eye. I met her on Twitter a number of years ago and I just loved her spirit and attitude.

Rosetta’s website is called Happy Black Woman. She talks there about the choices she’s made to have the life she desired (rather than the life others thought she might best prefer).

When we met, she was still working a day job and she had chosen to move from an apartment into a room of a house so she could use her money differently. She pared down her things and made choices about what she loved.

Now she travels a lot doing workshops and classes to encourage others who are interested in being deliberate about their lives. She particularly works with people who have dreams about businesses of their own, helping them develop what she calls a “side hustle” while they have a job, so they don’t have to change too quickly and risk too much all at once.

Kindred Life Choices
I have had a different but similar story. In 1990 I gave up unsecured credit (it felt out of control, I didn’t have the sense of choice I feel from Rosetta). Slowly I’ve let go of things, got more things to replace them, got rid of those, repeat until we have less stuff (but not as little as my goal).

I’ve been self employed since 1999. I make a lot of choices to do with less so that the ups and downs of self employment don’t hit me as hard.

My travel is usually basic rather than deluxe (car or train rather than plane, staying in hostels or with friends/relatives rather than hotels). Clothing comes second hand except for shoes and undergarments. None of these choices feel like a compromise, because they are conscious choices. I do get two luxuries: good food and good yarn, because of my health and my work.

Back to Rosetta
Rosetta doesn’t know I’m writing about her. I get absolutely nothing from posting this. However, the quote above really struck me today. I know that we all sometimes worry about the wrong people when we’re feeling unsteady… and we all feel unsteady some days. (Thanks, Rosetta!!!)

Be the Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud

May 29th, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou, Poet Laureate, speaker, world citizen/elder, lover of life and Phenomenal Woman,* died today. I’m crushed.

I saw her twice and both times she rocked my world. I tend to love moments and then forget the specifics, but points she made have stayed with me years afterward.

The second time I heard her, she had a crowd of mostly students (at Michigan State University). She referenced a 19th-century black song with a lyric “…when it looked like the sun wa’nt gonna shine any more, God put a rainbow in the clouds.”

Here is a powerful 4-minute video of Dr. Angelou. It includes a reference to that song and how we can aim to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.

Listen. Hearing her may change your day. In my case, it changed my life.
Be the Rainbow… Like Maya Angelou.

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*Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me. 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

___
Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise.
Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Publisher – Random House, Inc.

A Sigh of Joy

May 13th, 2014

tulipsWe finally have spring here in mid-Michigan. It was the hardest winter to live through that I remember, and I’ve lived here over 50 of my 55 years. We are winter-weary city slickers this year.

Perspective
We had a devastating ice storm 3 days before Christmas, and 40% of the Capital city was without power. Some friends outside city limits were 8 days without.

A friend slept on our couch one night, and I cooked Christmas dinner for me and 2 friends. Brian worked a 15-hour day on Dec. 25 getting the store computers (where he is webmaster) up and running so they could be back up and open on December 26… after being closed for 3 days before the holiday.

Juicy Spring Day
It rained big, fat drops this Monday, off and on most of the day. In other years, we might have complained. This year we agree that it ‘s better than snow.

Almost everything is green now. A week and a half ago, we had very few buds. Now look at it!

Rain
©1966 by Adrian Keith Smith
Age 4
New Zealand

From the Book:
Miracles, Poems by children of the English-speaking world
Collected by Richard Lewis
Simon and Schuster, 1966

The rain screws up its face

and falls to bits.

Then it makes itself again.

Only the rain can make itself again.

green spring

The Feelings of Mothers’ Day

May 10th, 2014

I wish to share with you an excellent post from writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) about motherhood, non-motherhood and loving where we are on the spectrum. As a woman with no biological children and none in my home, I have no regrets where I am as self-appointed “fairy godmother” to many.

20140510-143507.jpgLove to all on this mother-celebrating weekend. I have the fortune of a good relationship right now with my gutsy mom, and will enjoy that. We did not always feel this ease together. (Photo is my mom, age 79, who can out-run her 55-year-old daughter… literally… in a foot race.)

If you are one of those who have pain from a sad relationship (or non-relationship) with your own mother, I send you love, empathy and acceptance. May you have time with (or memories of) someone who does love you and see you as wonderful, just the way you are.

(The post I am linking here is on Facebook. It seems to work even for the public who choose not to have an account there, or members who are not logged in. Let me know if it does not work for you.)

Three Sorts of Women, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Will You be Our Valentine???

February 13th, 2014

Will you be ours? Come solo and we’ll serenade you… bring a group of friends and we’ll celebrate you… bring the family and we’ll get the kiddos singing and dancing. Everybody can relate to love, no matter what their life situation is.

The Fabulous Heftones are Lynn Hershberger (Hefferan) (me) and Brian Hefferan… arguably the most romantic act in Lansing.

The Avenue Cafe is in the former Gone Wired Cafe (same owners, new name). It’s on the 2000 block of Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Michigan… my favorite block in Lansing. (Down the block from Green Door, across the street from Emil’s Italian Restaurant, sharing a wall with Everybody Reads/Triple Goddess Bookstore.)

It’s a family-friendly neighborhood “pub” of sorts… food made in-house and Michigan brews, and good locally-based music. Harmony, followed by more harmony.

Please join us.

(If you can’t make it… click here to hear us sing By the Light of the Silvery Moon.)

Warmth under a Blanket of Snow

February 6th, 2014

It feels like eternal snow here in Lansing…

Allowing the snow to be a blanket (warm, snug, fluffy), because it persists in tugging on my awareness like a toddler pleading, “Mom, Mom, Mom…”

Choosing to change all word meanings toward the concepts of “warm” and “knit.”

My JoyBug looked tucked into a soft white blanket, before I woke her to create a day together.

JoyBug

Sitting in a cafe, near the corner of two fully-windowed walls… Six inches from the sidewalk snow blanket.

Giving thanks I’m in a place where we are warm and safe indoors most of the winter. And where we can buy wool sweaters instead of raising sheep, shearing them, washing, carding, spinning and knitting the wool.

thin walls on a snowy day

And where I can enjoy tea leaves from halfway across this globe, prepared for me for a few dollars.

Abundance, warmth and knitting are the words of the day. Even if I never pick up my knitting needles & wool.

So, how are YOU?

Help from Strangers… NOT on News at 10

January 26th, 2014

Snow!

It has been a bear of a winter here in Mid-Michigan!

A few days before Christmas, we had the biggest ice storm in recorded history. 40% of the city was without electricity and there were some folks who were out of power for over a week.

Trees were down everywhere. Many roads were un-driveable because of branches and power lines in the streets.

After that we have had periods of deep snow, and extreme cold. We are all done with winter around here.

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Today ‘s Adventure
I was afraid driving from Lansing to Owosso today. Merely 25 mph seemed unsafe at first (6:00am on a Saturday). It was good that there were very few drivers on the road!

Generally, I opt out of travel in difficult weather these days. I have finally given into the fact that I am human, and this is Earth. Nature is bigger than I am.

However, a friend’s car is in the shop, and her child needed to go to a standardized college-admissions test. I chose to make sure the kid stayed on track, and that’s how I found myself driving in drifting snow.

I love to drive, and drive a LOT (my JoyBug turned over 200,000 miles today. I have a better than average skill at handling my vehicle. I was still concerned enough to not feel safe sipping my hot cup of tea until I arrived an hour and a half later (it usually takes less than 45 minutes).

Short-Term Drama
Near my destination, I did get pulled into a drift on a back road (no ditch, thank goodness… A drift in the middle of a flat road). I had taken a good shovel with me and un-beached the bug. That was ONE way to wake up quickly!

Four men passing by this country road (in big vehicles) stopped to push me out. Three guys wasn’t enough… but that 4th guy was the charm. I’m so grateful!

Again, it is proven… Most people are good. They just don ‘t make the news.

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