Winterfest 2013

life, news

Happy December 6, 2013!  And there’s a storm brewing outside!  Southern Oregon doesn’t get many snow storms each year but this one is packing a good punch across most of Oregon, California and moving east.  I just couldn’t resist running outside in the falling snow and taking some pictures and even a video.  Just can’t waste an opportunity to capture Mother Nature at her most beautiful! I hope you enjoy these photos.

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For the first 22 years of my life, I lived in Buffalo, New York and snow was not something you enjoyed.  Actually, it was a pain to drive around in.  Lake effect snow was the worse possible event.  Experiencing my first Southern California Christmas was a bit of a shock.  It was warm, light sweater wardrobe and no snow.  I got used to the moderate temps and then six years later we moved to Southern Oregon.  Heard that it did snow here once in a while.  I was truly excited about the chance to see the white fluffy cotton once again.

I have to admit that each year we don’t get some snow I’m a bit disappointed.  Well,  this morning and throughout this weekend, I won’t have to worry about that.  A big storm front bringing 2″ to 6″ of snow and icy conditions is the forecast.  It is snowing beautifully right now and glad I don’t have to go anywhere today or tomorrow.   I was supposed to have a booth at our local craft fair but has been postponed until next weekend!  Thankful for the reschedule because I have lots of inventory right now!  Here’s just a sampling!  Most of these are in our Etsy shop.

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I love to take photos of the snow on shrubs or plants. It’s so beautiful when the leaves, flowers and berries have a little icing on top and that little bit of color peeking out from the snow.

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We are in an almost whiteout condition right now.  About 2-1/2″ on the ground.  For anyone who has read my blog over the past year or follows me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen pictures of my “famous” horse in the pasture behind our house.  She’s not really my horse but I feel an affection for her because she allows me to post photos of her on line!  Through the blizzard a few minutes ago, I noticed her on the top of hill with her blanket over her back and I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and getting a new picture of her in the snow.

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Today will be a memorable day that we might not see again in a few years.  To journal these moments and photos has been a pleasure and I hope you enjoy them.  Just a quick video of our street earlier before the blizzard.  Enjoy!

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Believe, Live, Laugh and Love

inspiration, journal, life

That’s quite a title for my blog this week!  I am not a collector of items like stuffed animals or salt and pepper shakers.  There was short amount of time when I mentioned I liked angels.  Every holiday or birthday I was getting angel themed gifts!   I said “thank you” but please no more angels.  While out shopping two weeks ago, I saw these two cups and I just had to buy them.  It wasn’t the size of the cup but rather what they said.  I imagined each morning having my tea and reading those words each time I lifted the cup to drink.  Actually, these two cups inspired my post for today.

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A few years ago, I saw a blog post that suggested choosing a word for the year to focus on and I chose “Believe“.   I thought about who or what I believe in and one thing kept popping up – People.   They can amaze us with their generosity and ingenuity.  They can surprise us when you give them a chance.  We can become disenchanted and disappointed by them.  But seriously, haven’t we done silly things that could make others turn away from us.  Guilty as charged.  I think I might have to create a “Be my friend again” card.   I believe that all the special people in my circle of life are there for a reason.  I have truly been blessed threefold by their friendship and love.  I don’t like a lot of cliche phrases but “Pay It Forward” is one I do believe in.  It’s in the small things that miracles happen.

I’ve been told by someone I love dearly that I hold my feelings close to the vest and don’t share many personal tidbits.  It’s probably because I grew up in a family of many “secrets” and most of them went to the “hereafter”.  I’ll bet a few of you reading this blog might agree with me.   Some secrets are better left untold.    Blogging has encouraged me to share those special moments from my life and I find that I’m enjoying it.  Actually I’ve recalled stories I haven’t thought about in years.  It’s become my version of life journaling.   This past week has had its ups and downs, discouragements and joyful moments.   In the end, those are just bumps in the road of life.  I want to continue to live my life with an open heart, be more willing to share and enjoy the unexpected.

I wake up each morning and remember that it’s a new day with new opportunities.  I want to feel alive in each moment and experience something different than the day before.  I love to laugh and make others laugh too.  Have you ever had something tickle your funny bone that you can’t stop giggling?  Hours later you’ll think about it again and start giggling.   Tears of laughter and tummy aches from all the chuckles are the best of times.

Lastly, to love and be loved is such a blessing and a gift.  The thought of how much I love my family and friends fills my soul with joy.  The words “my cup runneth over” really says how I feel sometimes when I think of all the goodness in my life.  When I close my eyes at night, I’m thankful for the fullness of that day and look forward to the morning sun to see what new adventure will be coming my way.

 

 

 

Gratitude, Compassion and Joy

inspiration, life

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Thanksgiving is only a week away and already there’s a bustle in the air.  Shoppers making that long list of items for dinner, how many pies need to be made, and don’t forget the all important dinner rolls that never seem to make it to the table.   With so many great food choices, who needs a roll anyway?   For the past few years, since my father-in-law moved into a retirement home, we’ve been feasting with him and all the many residents at his new home.  As our immediate family has moved to other areas, there’s no need to make that big turkey and fixings.   Of course, there’s the benefit of not having to clean up the dishes!   We will be having dinner with dad and invited our next door neighbor who’s been a widow for many years to join us once again this year.

Being alone on special holidays can be disheartening for shut-ins, divorcees, widows or widowers.  I remember a Thanksgiving quite a few years ago.  My sister-in-law and I decided that we wanted to give back to the community that year.  After checking out many avenues, we chose the local Senior Citizen center.  Each year they cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and invited seniors that didn’t have anyone to share the day with.   I didn’t know how I was going to pull off this double duty since I was hosting dinner for my extended family at our home. If I recall, I think there was at least 20 people coming over.   Before we left for the Center, my turkey and dressing were in the oven and most side dishes on the menu was prepared. Thank goodness everyone was bringing their special dishes to share too.

Off we went to help serve these oftentimes forgotten members of our society feel welcome and not alone.  We were given the duty of slicing the turkeys and spooning dressing into the largest serving pans I’ve ever seen.  It was obvious that this was a well planned event each year.  All the volunteers in the kitchen worked in harmony to make this Thanksgiving Day dinner a memorable one for everyone.  Once the preparation work was complete, the best part of the day was about to start.  Serving the dinner!   As each senior came up to the buffet to have their plates filled with all the yummy food, I looked into their eyes and saw the joy on their faces.   It didn’t matter that there were wheelchairs, walkers and canes in the room.   Instead of sitting alone at home, these sweet people were sharing a great meal with friends and family.   What joy to see young people serving the elderly who couldn’t serve themselves.  Honestly, the smiles, chatter and laughter in that room warmed my heart.  I almost wished that I didn’t have to leave the party.

When I got back home, I went about finishing my dinner preparations.  Throughout the day, the memories of those special men and women popped into my mind.  I found myself smiling and a bit teary-eyed remembering the day and being so grateful for those few hours that I was able to be a servant to those less fortunate and alone.   It is a day I will never forget and feel so blessed even years later having shared in their special day.   I hope this coming week you’ll find an opportunity to show your compassion with someone in need, experience the joy in your heart from being a servant and witness the gratitude in the eyes of wonderful people who just don’t want to be forgotten.

Have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Music in my Soul

inspiration

Growing up music was always important to me.  I remember my first transitor radio.  Oh my gosh, did I really say that out loud.  Yes, for Christmas when I was about 10 years old, I got one of the best presents ever.  A beautiful turquoise blue portable transitor radio.  It was the most gorgeous color and the sound was amazing.  It even came with a leather cover with straps so that I could carry it across my shoulders!  I thought I was the richest girl on the block.  That radio went everywhere with me.  In comparison to Ipods of today, it was gigantic!  I never knew all the words to the most popular songs and even made up my own. It was really the music that I loved and not the words.   Even today,  the girls always laugh when I sing my own versions.  I think mine are sometimes better!

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In 8th grade,  I took piano lessons for a year but didn’t have a piano at home to practice on.  I would stay after school and use one in an empty room.  I worked very hard to perfect my first Sonatina.  Unfortunately after a year sans piano, I quit.  You can’t blame me.   I was thrilled to make choral group my first year of high school through my senior year and once again to be surrounded by amazing melodies.

I made a promise to myself that my children would someday take music lessons.  I believe music is an important element in one’s life. My daughters were gifted with an older piano by their great grandmother when they were young and both took lessons for many years and became quite accomplished.  I loved to hear the piano at 7AM, 3PM or 8PM.  I would sit on the couch and soak in all of Bach or Beethoven and also the contemporary songs of the day.  It brought back memories of my one year of lessons and my dream was fulfilled through them.

They are now grown,  living their own lives and the piano sits quiet.  I love when they visit and the first place they head after hugs is directly to the piano bench!  My heart runs over hearing the music from those keys.  One of the most touching moments in our family was both girls playing at the memorial service for their grandmother.  I will never forget the joy in my heart knowing that my mother-in-law was still listening to their beautiful music.

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As the Christmas Holidays approach, I love to hear the Carol of the Bells, White Christmas and all the traditional song.  Even though the music is playing earlier in the stores, it still brings a happiness and warmth to my soul.  I catch myself singing along and hope no one is listening.  Even though our piano is silent most days,  the joy and happiness that its music created for many wonderful years lives forever in my memory.

Thankful Memories

family, life

The weather in Southern Oregon is slowly turning colder and the rain and fog is moving in.   I truly do not like the fog but have given up trying to be grumpy about it.  Yes, we have it each November through January, but not every single day.  Sometimes it’s even sunny and we run outside to feel its glow upon our face.

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The gorgeous gold and red tree leaves from a few weeks ago have faded and now blanket the ground.  Fall has truly waved it’s autumn magic wand.  One week of November has already flown by and the upcoming holiday season rush is apparent.  You can hear conversations about Thanksgiving dinners and what gifts to buy this December.  But let me back up a bit.  After Labor Day,  Halloween candy and costumes were on Aisle A while turkey napkins and Christmas decorations began appearing on aisle B.  Quickly the ghosts and goblins have been replaced by symbols of the upcoming Thanksgiving Day celebration and Rudolph’s Red Nose flashing while playing his theme song.

 

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You’re probably thinking I don’t like the holidays.  Actually,  I love the warm feelings of eating turkey and dressing with family and friends.  A few years ago when some of the family was together,  I asked each one at the table to tell one thing they were thankful for during the past year.  We were all blessed by each different answer.  This small amount of sharing time was the best part of the day and everyone loved it.

When I was a little girl, I have fond memories of a winter’s night, strolling by our ‘big city’ window displays at Christmastime with my mom and dad.  Sometimes there was even a light snowfall!  The windows weren’t filled with the most popular gifts for that season.    There were winter scenes of skaters twirling around on ice, a family decorating their Christmas tree,  carolers singing the usual holiday tunes, a beautiful Creche plus many more.  It was a much anticipated yearly tradition for families and shoppers to stop and enjoy each holiday scene.   Oh what fun to see children pointing at the animated people and animals in the windows and feel the sparkle of Christmas in the air.  As I write this post, I’m excited to hear that the Christmas windows have returned to Buffalo, NY storefronts through a special grant.  I’ve included a You Tube video which shares a small bit of my nostalgia.  Just click on the Buffalo, NY link below and enjoy!

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Buffalo, NY Christmas Windows

As this busy season approaches, I will once again remember a simpler time in my life when holiday window displays made Christmas more blessed and special.  Even though my family is not all together this holiday season,  I will still ponder what I’m thankful for and not forget what’s truly important in my life.   I would love to hear your special memories of seasons past.

 

 

Start Today – Plan 2014

Business, journal

I’ve noticed recently some blog posts about starting your business plan for 2014.  Isn’t it too early to start thinking about this?  Absolutely not!  I wish I took this advice more seriously last October.  On January 1, 2013,  I thought about making a new plan for Lady Like.  I made mental notes about promotions, advertising, new products.  I just didn’t write my thoughts down on paper.   You always think you’ll remember that awesome new idea but sometimes you don’t.   There’s really no excuse for me since I’ve always been a list maker for traveling or planning a get-together.  Looking back, I realize now that the first day of the new year is too late.

I’ve read a few blogs with steps to start your 2014 business plan now. This advice has encouraged me to make some changes.  A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about my love for journal books.  I’ve used them primarily for patterns, inventory, purchase history but never considered using one of them as my “Plan Book”.

As of today, Step #1 is to dedicate one of the new journals for my 2014 Plan with those words right on the front.  I don’t want it to get lost with my other journals and I want to know it’s sitting on my desk.  There’s nothing more frustrating than looking for that important paper and it’s lost in the shuffle.    Once the initial plan and changes for the upcoming year are documented, I’m going to divide it into sections with the next important items:   Inventory, new design ideas, costs, advertising.  You get the picture.

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Step #2 is to stop letting distractions hinder my creativity.   When a new idea pops into my head,  I can’t wait to work on it.  The phone rings or the TV grabs my attention and the idea is history.   To help me stay on track,  I realized that a special place for working on Lady Like was the key.  I reorganized my guest room/office where it’s very quiet and my mind is not cluttered by outside activities.  There’s my sweet desk, a perfect place for my laptop and my new 2014 journal.   My printer is handy when I need to print off an important list of “must do today” items.  I did say I was a list maker and having a hard copy helps me finish tasks.  I love to cross off the finished ones!  It’s going to be my “go to” place for working on Lady Like business.

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Step #3 is TAKE ACTION!  It’s always easy to say you’re going to start a new plan.  The excitement and anticipation keeps the adrenaline flowing for a few days and then we do nothing.  Well, this time I’m going to be accountable and aim for the best year ever.  Look,  I’m already two months ahead of last year.

I appreciate all the blog posts that have brought this to my attention.  I would love to hear about your business plans for 2014.  Any advice or posts to read would be appreciated.  I’m still a work in progress!

 

Loving your Craft

Business, crafts, crocheting, knitting

Have you ever wanted to ask fellow artisans how they got started in their craft?  Being a curious kind of gal, I love to hear their stories.  Through their tales, it can be awe-inspiring to take those first steps toward your new passion.   I know a professional artist, photographer, knitter, author and I’m amazed at their talents.  I personally know a few developed their gifts from youth while some fell into it by accident.  One day they were gifted a camera and their love for photography became all consuming.  Others become accidental artisans who are fortunate enough to find their gift and pursue it.  In the same vein, from childhood I’ve always had a thirst to learn or try something new.  I can actually say that I’ve even been a little bit of a daredevil. Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something!  That’s when I’ll surprise you.   One little question started me down a path I never would have anticipated.

While talking to my cousin one day, she asked the big question.  “Have you been knitting?”  She had to be kidding.  I hadn’t picked up needles since I was in college.  With a little encouragement from her, I bought some needles and went about trying to learn how to knit and purl again.  BUT first I had to remember how to cast on.  All thumbs and pinkies, I was a tad disappointed by the sight of my first few rows. This just wouldn’t do.  Not one to give up easily and with her over the phone tutorials, she retaught me how to knit!  Together with YouTube videos and printing off lots of easy patterns, I got my knitting mojo going at a steady pace and I never looked back, only forward.

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I have a love for the art of sliding those needles and yarn from one side to the other.  I’ve enjoyed making my first pair of socks, baby sweaters for all of my great nephews and niece and fashion items for women.   This love of fiber arts brought about my daughter Kristy and I opening our shopladylike offering both knitted and crocheted items.  Over the years, I’ve designed and created unique headbands for ladies and children.  Who would have guessed that I could actually take yarn, needles and hooks in hand and feel confident to make a pattern specific for our shop and customers would want to purchase them?

New Mini Ski Headband in Grey

Do you have doubts that’s stopping you from attempting that new project idea?  Do you buy all the necessary items and then put them in a drawer?  Take them out and surprise yourself.  Believe and you’ll amaze yourself!  If I didn’t have that little push to retry an old craft,  I may not have found my perfect niche to share my items with family, friends and actually open our Etsy Shop.

From my blog you can find Shopladylike links to my Facebook Fan page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I’d love for you to link up with me and share your craft story or what inspires you.

The Changes of Autumn

gardening, life, photography

I’m actually a summer girl.  I love the warmth of the sun on my face,  the flowers and veggies in bloom.  I love to walk outside early in the morning, be welcomed by the buds of new roses and the hint of lilacs floating in the air.  So when the cooler temps and the rains start in So. Oregon, I realize that another year is winding down and the beauty of mother nature is upon us.  It seems to happen overnight.  One moment it’s sunny and toasty and within a few weeks I’m wearing a sweater on those early morning visits to the garden.

We also have to deal with the fog rolling in but sometimes it can be beautiful.  Today was one of those times.  Living with the backdrop of a pasture behind our home, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of my favorite horse up on the hill,  barely visible in the mist.  He doesn’t even know how famous he is,  appearing in my blog posts and on Facebook!

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I was raised in upstate New York and looked forward to Autumn with its spectacular pallet of colors.   All those huge maple leaves in brilliant shades of gold, red and orange gently blanketing the ground.  Only problem is you have to rake them!

I’m happy to say that Oregon, in all its splendor, continues to remind me of those back East memories.   I appreciate the gift of having four seasons here and I anticipate each change.  I love the first blooms of flowers in the Spring, the vegetable garden in the Summer,  the final burst of color on the trees in October and even the unexpected snow showers of December.

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I was hoping that this nestle of trees and all the glorious colors would stay a few more days so I could capture this picture.  Mother Nature did not disappoint me.    I wish you all a wonderful Autumn season as you enjoy the landscapes in your town.  These beautiful splashes of color won’t be here for long so I’m going to enjoy them while I can.

Journals – How Many are too Many?

Business, crocheting, journal, knitting

Do you have a collection of journals?  You know, those pretty little books with the inspirational quotes or beautiful scenery on the front.  Some have 3D images that make your eyes go crazy while trying to see what’s in the center of the holographic picture.   They come spiraled, hard bound, lined, unlined and in different sizes.  I confess!  I can’t go by a shelf without checking out the new ones.  The covers are so beautiful and I can envision the book sitting next to my work table, inspiring me to create a new item.  I never thought I had a problem until one day my daughter and I were shopping and I had two new ones in the cart.  She laughed and said “Mom,  you have so many journals already and you’re buying more?”  Of course my dear, you can never have too many!  Maybe I need  “Journal Therapy”.

Confession time.  Being a designer of handmade knitted and crocheted items, I am always working out patterns.   I never wrote my ideas down on paper.  I just knew I’d remember the stitches I used and the yarn.  Are you kidding me?  This concept started a few years ago when I took a knitting class at a new local yarn store.  The owner said “Where’s your journal”?  I had no idea what she was talking about.  Susan explained that pattern ideas, yarn and color used, needle and hook size must be written down.  Also important was the date of the design.  I thought this is a bit over the top for me but I took her advice and I never looked back.

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I now have a collection of journals that contain all my pattern designs and important project details including the start date.  It’s amazing how many times I use a date reference to find a specific pattern I need to recreate.  As artists, we have so many ideas popping into our heads throughout the day.   Have you ever thought of a great new idea, didn’t put it on paper and days later try to recall it?  I have and it’s frustrating.  It’s great just to have a notebook to immediately write them down.

I have a book for my sewing projects too.  I love to make totes, aprons and quilts.   When I need a new tote bag,  I just open my sewing journal and the pattern is at my fingertips.  I don’t have to go on line and try to find that design.  Searching for that missing pattern does nothing but stop creativity in its path. I love that I have all my diagrams and size cuts in my trusty little book and I can get right to work.

Last week when I had my ladies over for craft day, my friend Kathy said how grateful she was to me for teaching her how to journal all her crochet patterns. I appreciated her sweet comment but said to truly thank Susan, my journal mentor.  I hope you enjoy shopping for your next notebook and remember, you “never” have too many journals!

 

Lady Like & Little Yellow Couch

Business, lady like

It’s the beginning of October, the leaves are starting to fall and Lady Like has a little bit of exciting news to share with you.  For me, it’s been a very busy week since my last blog post.  Crafting days with friends, dinner with family, and totally reorganizing my guest room.   To add to the busyness,  Lady Like was contacted by littleyellowcouch , a new upstart company offering a specialty box each month showcasing three new designers each month.   They were drawn to our vintage inspired items and the 30’s and 40’s era photography by wrecklesscreative  and invited us to be part of their October offering.  Zandra and Karen June, the two ladies from LYC,  have been wonderful to work with and made our decision to participate easy.  How much fun is creating a new headband design and using a new yarn color!  Here’s the basket of headbands that I recently shipped to Massachusetts!

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Our new design is a simple ruffle flower, with a stretchy comfortable headband in a teal blend,  pure merino from Malabrigo.  The different shades of aqua are so subtle and beautiful.  It reminds me of my trip to the Caribbean this past February and it’s gorgeous waters.

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The headband is now part of their October offering entitled “Let’s Be Civilized”.  Stop by and visit their website and get to know the gals.   Here’s the blog post and I encourage you to read their sweet posts:  http://littleyellowcouch.com/living-a-connected-life/2013/10/1/lets-be-civilized.