Sunday, June 28, 2009

God Bless America

For whatever reason, I love all things Patriotic. I love flags, I love the Fourth of July, I love a parade, I love fireworks, I love patriotic music. There's something about it all that is not only exciting and thrilling, but something that also creates in me a great reverence and quiet respect. I suppose it has much to do with knowing how our country was formed, the battles that were fought, along with all those many facts and lessons of bravery that we learned in U.S. History. I'm sure that many of you feel the same.

A few weeks ago, my 5th grader participated in his end-of-year program, which revolved around the U.S. History they have studied throughout the year. I had no idea what to expect, but for some reason, didn't expect much. In addition to learning about American history, they have been learning to play the ukulele all year long, and I knew they would be playing them for part of the program. (How great could a ukulele concert be?) And can you imagine teaching 125 fifth graders how to strum and play that instrument each and every day? What a saintly music teacher. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.

So, I was amazed at the great quality of the program, to say the least. First of all, each student was dressed in red, white, or blue, which created an impressive sea of patriotic color. The program consisted of clever and well-delivered dialogue about various and quirky facts about our nation, along with a variety of classic folk and patriotic tunes that were sung. Ones we all grew up with: "This Land is My Land", "What's More American?", "I've Been Working on the Railroad", and more. Nearly half of the songs were sung while each of the students were playing the ukuleles. I was so impressed with their precision, and how well they all knew the lyrics as well as their parts on the ukes. To hear those cutie kids belting out those songs with gusto and pride, made my heart swell a bit.

About a third into the program, the kiddos began singing "The National Anthem". Now, like many of you, I'm sure, that song is touching to me anyway. We in the audience stood and placed our hands over our hearts along with the 100+ fifth graders that were performing. At that point, I got teary-eyed, as I could see that each of these children knew every word to that song, and were singing it with pride. While watching them perform that song, I thought of the crazy state of our nation, of schools that have banned prayer and are trying to ban the "Pledge of Allegiance", and of movements trying to remove "In God is Our Trust" from our currency. I was so grateful at that moment for marvelous teachers that had taken the time to teach these songs and had instilled pride and respect for the simple things that represent the beautiful nation that we live in. The simple acts of focusing our eyes on the flag as we sing, or placing our hands over our hearts, or even simply standing when the flag passes many of these things have become casual in our society, and are disregarded as important actions of respect for our country. How grateful and touched I was to see that these kids had been taught that.

Thomas Jefferson said, "How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other people on earth enjoy!" What great hope that is for our nation, if we can raise a generation that truly understands the blessing of living in this free nation; a generation that loves it and reveres it. May God bless America.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cottage Door Block for "Welcome Home" Table Runner Now Available!

The "Welcome Home" Table Runner Block 2 is now available! This cottage door is warm and welcoming as part of the runner, or alone sewn into a pillow, or even framed. Simply click this link that will take you to You Can Quilt This, where you can download the complete instructions for hand-stitching this block. You can also download the machine embroidery files for free at SWAK Embroidery.

If you missed downloading the previous month's block for the table runner, you can do so here, and if you'd like free instructions for hand-embroidery stitches, this tutorial is free as well.

Enjoy your free summer projects!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's Lesson: "The Golden Windows"

Today as I reflect on my dear Dad, I am reminded of so many things he taught me and how his words and actions have influenced me significantly. He was truly my siblings' and my moral compass. Whenever in doubt, we could, and still do ask, "What would Dad do?" and the answer to many dilemmas are instantly solved. He created a way of thinking in us that has formed our outlook on life to a great degree. I remember several stories he would tell us to make a point and teach us a life lesson.

One such story was that of the "Golden Windows". Perhaps you've heard it before. Dad's version goes like this: A young man lived across the valley from another cottage, and each morning when the sun rose behind his own home, he could see the "windows made of gold" on the faraway house reflecting back to him. His wonder soon turned into unshakable desire, until one day he set out on a quest to find these windows of gold. He travelled all day, and as he arrived at the cottage across the valley, the sun was just setting behind the long-pursued home. To his great disappointment, he discovered the windows of his desire were simply windows of glass, and not of the gold he had perceived all this time. Sadly, he turned to gaze back toward his own home, and to his amazement, saw that his own windows gleamed of gold in the sunset. The lesson: "Everything we desire and want is right where we are---we just need to recognize it all for what it truly is. Choose to be grateful for the blessings we already have."

I miss my Dad greatly, as he's been gone for nearly 10 years. I am still grateful for, and remember the numerous lessons I learned from him in the daily, ordinary moments of life. His influence continues as I frequently reflect on those teachings, and strive to improve myself and become a better person. How thankful I am for a loving father.

May you each have a lovely Father's Day--

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Father's Day Gift - "My Dad" Stitchery Pattern Now Available!

Just in time for Father's Day, I have a new pattern available through You Can Quilt This. What makes this pattern fun, is that you stitch it out right onto an old shirt of Dad's! You can then embellish around the stitching using photos and memoribilia such as an old tie, photo turns and brads, or jute and a fishing lure like in this photo here:

Complete instructions for preparing the shirt and stitching on it, along with mounting the shirt in a shadow box and embellishing it are found in the eBook. The embroidery stitches used in this pattern consist of the Back Stitch and a few French Knots, so it all works up rather quickly. As always, you can download this for free instructions on these stitches if the whole embroidery thing is new to you.

It's a great project and activity to honor the dear Dads in our lives. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dialogues from the Garden

We've lived in our current home for almost 4 years now, and have never had a garden. Until this year. Somehow we got the bug again, and my hubby whipped up some garden boxes, and you saw earlier how Little Missy was helping shovel the rock around them. Already, it's been an adventure for the family. All of the kids are pretty "interested" in it---I can't say "excited" as I'm not sure my teen relates to that word anymore (unless it's dealing with a video game victory or the hopes of obtaining that elusive cell phone. I know...the poor deprived kid). But yes, they are all eager to make sure the gardens are growing and taken care of. So far.

Little Missy and her sister, especially, have been the guardians and waterers of the garden boxes. They have loved the process from the very beginning, and were so concerned a few days ago when we had torrential rains for hours on end, followed by hail. Our four garden boxes were literally islands in a pond of standing water two days ago during and after the rains. My hubby dug a trench into the vacant lot behind us to allow the water to drain, but apparently that was not working efficiently enough. I had to leave for a while, and when I returned an hour later, the standing water had magically disappeared. The boys were all too excited (okay, another instance of excitement for the teen) to tell me how they and the hubby had gotten rid of the water....Thankfully no one was ELECTROCUTED, as they used the SHOP VAC. Yes, the good ol' shop vac. Wish I'd been around to take a picture. Nothing but raw, livin'-on-the-edge genius in this household, and certainly, no messing around with a sissy little drainage ditch.

Little Missy has been enthralled watching the plants sprout through the soil, and has found such great joy in everything. A few weeks ago when planting the seeds, I poured some carrot seeds into her hand to sprinkle into the shallow ditch I had dug with my trowel. Upon seeing them for the first time ever, she squealed, "Oh, Mom! These seeds are sooo cute! They look like little baby nuts that have just been born!" My other kids and I stared at each other with a momentary stupor as we processed that statement, then burst out laughing.

So this morning she and I went out to check on things, and I happened to notice that not only do we have radishes growing in our garden box, but also in the rocks next to it. Not really expecting any response, I said casually, "Hmmm...looks like somebody spilled some seeds in the rocks." Little Missy piped up with the honesty and gusto of a 5 year old, and stated frankly, "Oh, yeah. That would be me."

The garden has certainly been entertainment so far. I'm sure it will just get better as we watch the zucchini and squash proliferate.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Something's Coming Your Way...

It's been a busy week! I've been finishing up the final touches for something that's coming your way--just in time for a special occasion that has something to do with this guy:

I should clarify....if you are into machine embroidery, you already have access to it here. For those of you who like to hand embroider, (or just don't realize it yet) it will be available soon! And it works up so quickly! I'll keep you posted... Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wedding Decor, and a Chat with Lorraine of "Event Envy"

Well, I promised more photos and decor ideas from last week's wedding celebration, along with some info about Lorraine's business. So, here we are!

First of all, I loved the colors of the event: hot pink and tangerine sprinkled with a little lime green. It was such a fresh and unique color combo. Above, we have the cake, designed by Desi, (and two of the orange lilies are actually made completely of sugar. Amazing!)

I fell in love with these flower arrangements from the moment I first saw them. They were tall enough that while sitting at the table, the flowers were above eye level, and you could still converse with the people across from you. Brilliant! And don't you love the limes in the bottom of the vase?

Another specialty that Lorraine's business offers is constructing false ceilings for your event. The draping of the ceiling, mixed with the lights was just so delicate and lovely. The covered chairs and tied ribbons also added a romantic flair.

Here we have the bouquet toss....

And guess who ended up with it? Yep--Little Missy, herself, proud as could be.

The "Thank You" table with boxes full of chocolate truffles for the taking(offered with "hugs and kisses" from the happy couple)...

And the final touch of the night...the arch of super-long sparklers for the newlyweds to run under as they took off for the evening.

So, if you are in the market for event planners, you can't go wrong with Lorraine Knox and her partner, Brenda Andreasen, who run the business, "Event Envy." They cater any event from corporate lunches, to baby and bridal showers, to private dinners, and of course weddings and receptions. Although they are based out of Las Vegas, they regularly travel to neighboring states for a variety of events, and most recently, Utah and Idaho.

I got to visit for quite a while with Lorraine before, during, and after this wedding reception. I find her business fascinating, and even decided that in my next life, perhaps I'll ask her to hire me as her go-fer-girl!

In chatting with her, she told me that the trademark of their company which sets them apart from their competition is this: They gladly customize everything. Whereas some catering companies have limited lists of menu items or decor to choose from, Lorraine and Brenda will tailor the details of your event to your specific preferences and style.

Feel free to email them at with any catering inquiries you may have. They'll be happy to help you!

Enjoy your day!
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