Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Wish I Could Call My Dad...

As Father's Day approaches this Sunday, my mind can't help but turn to my own dad who has been gone for over 10 years. He was certainly a hero in my eyes...we said at his funeral that if any of us were ever unsure of the right thing to do, we could simply think of what Dad would do, and we'd have our answer.

Of course, he wasn't perfect, but in the things that mattered most, he was pretty darn close. He was full of integrity--never wavering; he honored and revered God, and taught us to do the same; he demonstrated the value of hard work; he knew how to listen and objectively approach our problems; he taught us respect and reverence for our country; he led by his steadfast example; and he loved us.

Like many of you must feel about your dads....I miss him. How many times have I wanted to pick up the phone and ask him a question? Dozens...then I remember, I can't.

My talented brother in law has captured these feelings perfectly in his thoughts about his own son. I appreciate his permission in allowing me to share it here.

May each of you have a wonderful Father's Day as we celebrate the fathers that we have grown up with, the fathers that we married, the fathers that have passed on, and the influence they have all had in shaping our lives. If your Dad is still around, be sure to pick up the phone and call...

My son called today;
He needed some advice
On how to wire the pick-up
To his trailer.

We chatted about resources,
Who to talk to,
Testing tools and time.

He apologized for calling
During my lunch hour;
He thanked me for helping
Him make a plan of action.

It was a good father-son interaction;
An informative phone call.

In between the lines-
Between the talk-
And the pauses
And the brief silences,
I heard him say:
“Love ya, dad,
Thanks for talking with me,
Guiding me, helping me-
I like it when we solve
Problems together”.

“Thanks for loving my mother,
And providing for us.
Thanks for showing me
How to be a man and knowing
About wiring, pick-ups and trailers”.

I heard all those things today,
In a five minute phone call,
From a town in Idaho,
A thousand miles away.

I’ll be gone someday;
He’ll have sons of his own:
Sons that will look to him for

In the not too distant future,
He won’t be able to chat with me
On a moment's notice.
All too soon he will have to face
The world without a dad.

He’ll have a problem:
Mechanical, financial,
A simple decision;
He’ll think about calling me

Then remember…

He can’t…

I wish I could call my Dad

Gary Eckhardt
© 2010 February

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Heart-Felt Gift for the Hero of the House

Okay, Friends...

Father's Day is less than a week away, and if any of you are like me (I hope you're not), there is a slight chance that you've not found just the right thing for your Man on his big day of the year. Perhaps life is running at full speed, and you just haven't found the time to even focus your mind on the fact that Father's Day is this coming Sunday--(aack!)

Well, if you are wanting to make something from the heart to honor the Hero of the House, you have just enough time to do so. Here are some ideas that will whip up in a few hours and put a smile on your man's face---especially if you and the kids all take part:

"My Dad"

Dad has many roles. Remind him how grateful you are for all he does. Stitch these phrases on an old button-down shirt of his, frame it with a few choice photos and trinkets, and you'll have a keepsake that he will treasure for years to come. Since the embroidery stitches are relatively easy, (back stitch and French knots) even the little ones can make a few stitches with the needle and floss, and feel a part of the process. The "un-perfectness" of it all will make it that more special and heart-felt.

"i Love U"

This simple design will literally take less than an hour to put together, but the impact will be lasting. Create this image with a bit of fabric, transfer web (iron on) paper (found at your local fabric store) and a bit of embroidery floss. Stitch it on a special pillow case for him and have the kids trace and stitch their names along side it; or how about stitching it on a grilling apron; or place in a simple frame as a sweet reminder to display on his desk.

The pillow case I created in the photo was for my son who loves the Steelers. You could easily use a fabric choice that best represents your man (and of course you could sign and stitch your name and the kids' names rather than "mom"!) We purchased a John Deere tractor print to iron on and stitch to an apron for Grandpa. The possiblities are endless!

Both designs are available in downloadable stitchery e-patterns found HERE, and in machine embroidery formats found HERE. And don't forget...if you need a reminder or a lesson on how to embroider any stitches, download the FREE tutorial found HERE.

Enjoy this week as you prepare to make Dad's day special! Please contact me if there is ever a question about one of my designs that I can help you with!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Make a Personalized and Inexpensive Gift for Teacher Appreciation, Graduation, Father's Day, Birthdays, Any Occasion!

It's such a busy time of year with school ending, graduation activities, Father's Day, and summer fun just around the corner! It's also a time for gift-giving, and I've got an easy, meaningful, and inexpensive gift idea for any time of the year.

Perhaps you've seen the fun that can be created with Wordle at It's a creative way to display an array of words, thoughts, ideas, or phrases. I was introduced to Wordle last year, and have had such fun creating some personalized and inexpensive gifts with it. When you go to the website, just play around with it---you can change the fonts, the colors, and the layouts until you are happy with how it looks. And it's free to use! (I've provided a few "Wordle Tips" near the end of this post to help you out!)

For each of these gifts shown, I simply created my "Wordle Cloud" at the website, then after I was happy with how it looked, printed it onto an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of vellum. I then placed the vellum over the top of an image I had downloaded and printed off of the internet. You can see that for my daughter's kindergarten teacher, I printed a simple apple; for my cutie friend who was graduating, I printed a graduation cap and changed the colors to match her school colors using Photoshop.

I then trimmed both sheets to measure 8" x 10" then inserted them together into an 8" x 10" frame with the vellum sheet over the top of the printed image. (The frame only cost me $3 from Wal-Mart.) I added a little ribbon around it, and voila! Gift complete!

I've also made these gifts for the group of Young Women I work with in my church. We gave each of them a questionnaire to fill out at one of our activities. At a special recognition meeting sometime later, the other leaders and I presented each girl with her own personalized and framed "Wordle" to take home with her unique and special qualities highlighted. They were a hit!

You are welcome to use my questionnaire if you are interested. Simply click on the image to enlarge it, then print as many as you'd like.

Some "Wordle" tips:

-The best way to begin your list of items to put into a "Wordle" document is to first create the list in a word processing document, save it, then copy and paste to the website. That way, if you need or want to start over or change anything, you don't have to re-type all of the words in the space provided at the website. You simply make changes in your word document, then paste it again.

-The more times you type a word on your list, the larger that word will appear in the image. I usually type the person's name at least 4 times, then vary other important words by typing them 2 or 3 times. This creates a more visually interesting appearance by varying the sizes of different words.

-If you have a phrase that contains 2 or more words, such as "football player", do not type it like we normally would with a space between the words. Instead, insert a tilde(with no space) which is the little squiggly line at the far left and top of the keyboard that looks like this: ~ between the words. So "football player" would be typed like this: football~player. Otherwise, the Wordle program shuffles those two words around and separates them.

-There is a FAQs section at the Wordle site that can offer more advanced tips as well!

I hope you have a great time exploring the world of Wordle, and creating one-of-a-kind gifts! I'd love for you to send me photos of what you've created to my email listed on the sidebar!

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