Thursday, December 29, 2011


We're at the in-between time. The major holiday is over; another one is around the corner. I'm tired of Christmas color & glitter but not ready for glaring winter white.  

So over the next few posts, I may put up some pictures I took during one of the last warm days of fall, of a fading little town nearby.

Who knows what commentary they might trigger as I stop to reflect on the passing year and ponder the fresh one to come?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Grinch Experience

Last Thursday, before everyone left for the Christmas holiday, was my turn to give staff devotions (remember, I'm on staff at a church). We prayed then I approached the podium and said, "you're all familiar with this passage..."

 Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling:
How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more." 

By now you're probably thinking, "yeah, yeah, here we go. Jesus is the reason, blah blah, blah..." Stay with me. I'm not as uber-spiritual as you might assume, given Who I work for. For the truth is, I was not feeling the Christmas Spirit this year. In fact, the last few years, it has been something I've come to dread.

October is actually my very favorite month of the year. Once that calendar turns over to November 1, I go into Holiday Denial. It disturbs me how fast time has gone (didn't we just put all the decorations away?! didn't we just do an outreach? didn't we just finish up a Christmas production?! it can't be that time again!) 
I dread the idea of the upcoming Christmas Culture with all it's various kinds of pressures and deadlines.

But usually I get over it and holiday warm fuzzieness overtakes me. One year it happened when I was decorating the tree and the ornaments brought back so many wonderful memories. Last year it happened when I put up The Whimsical White Tree and it made me smile every time I saw it. But this year, the days went by. And the days went by. And IT wasn't happening.

The grinchie-ness reached a peak when my boss came to me and said, "we need you to make graphics for 3 songs; the other plan isn't coming together (for the Christmas production)"

REALLY. Two days before dress rehearsal? I haven't been in on the production planning. I don't have a feel for it. I'm working on Jan-Feb events. I'm mentally already in 2012. Wasn't it enough I ordered fabric & made the curtains at the last minute? Gripe. Grunt. And Groan.

Production plans changed again. Now a background was only needed for one song and the director said just a text, maybe "King of Kings." Ok; some pressure relief.

I opened Photoshop. A white page stared back at me. King. Purple. Replaced the white with purple. Typed "King of Kings". Well, that should be an Old English font. Needs to be gold; bevel's starting to look like metal. I think I have another purple background with a crown of thorns on it. I like the contrast. Voila! 

Well, we can't just have one graphic for a whole song. How boring! Let's do....

 Prince of Peace naturally followed.

And by this time, all my years of making beautiful banners for praise & worship came flooding back. All the Word study, the symbolsim of colors and precious stones, the meanings behind His divine titles and the scriptures they're found in. It all came flooding back, inspiring me with creativity, giving me energy, and more followed....

Savior. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

Him God has exalted to His right hand [to be] Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31

Paul says Jesus saves "to the uttermost" - meaning completely, perfectly saved in body, soul and spirit.

RedeemerFor I know my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth. Job 19:25 [As for] our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 47:4 

MY Redeemer - the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity not only paid my ranson, my debt, and saved me from eternal separation from God, but now lives in me. My Redeemer is...

Messiah: The Anointed One.  The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming who is called Christ. When He comes, He will tell us all things. Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." John 4:25

He has come and He is coming again. Very soon, I feel. He's coming for me, my King, my Beloved, my Savior. And if you've asked him to be your Lord, He's coming for you, too.

Emmanuel. God With Us. He is WITH us, not against us!

And finally, Jesus. The name above every name. The name the angel announced before He was born, spoken 700 times in the New Testament. His name proclaims both WHO and WHAT He is.

By the end of the day, I created not just one graphic, but eight! It was one of the best days ever. I was bouncing off the walls. Just meditating on, being absorbed in and totally focused on Jesus had so refreshed my soul and lifted my spirit.

And what happened then...?

Well, in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten two.

Merry Christmas
to anyone who might be reading this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lovely Satin

My living room looked like Christo had been there. Draped in 32 yards of beautiful champagne colored crepe back satin.

It was an easy project. Just hem & make rod pockets for stage curtains. Not really an exciting blog story but I thought this picture was fun.
I still haven't gotten out any Christmas decorations! Oh my. I think Christmas should only come every 18 months.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Decorating!

Time to get out the stuff!

 It's that season...

 Wait...what's he doing here?

 This guy I can understand. He usually shows up on tv this time of year.

 Yeah, these little guys turn up, too.

Ok, I confess. This isn't my house. Like, you know, everyone has a carousel in their living room.

These are pictures from my church's children's building.

Volunteers came in Saturday and transformed it into a colorful world of Christmas fun!

 I'm not too sure about this next guy. He looks kinda mean. Maybe he's just impish.

You know what? I bet it's the RED m&m's that have all the calories!

Tomorrow, it's time to transform my house. Mickey won't be there but I do have some other whimsical characters who wander out of the attic at Christmastime.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Kick-off

Thanksgiving leftovers are in the fridge. Kitchen cleaned up. Rhema lights viewed. Time to rest before round 2.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Steampunk Babe & A Sleepy Pixie

I had two days vacation left & was determined to spend them finishing up sewing & craft projects. Forget housework! What holiday? Tomorrow's Thanksgiving? Well, I guess the turkey can bake while I sew :) And what have I done? Behold my finished (well, 98%) Steampunk doll from the October workshop with Barbara Schoenoff!
The unfinished 2% is what you're not seeing here....her boots. Having a bit of trouble with that part.
 I just love the steampunk style. Think Jules Vernes movies, or Wild, Wild West. That 1890s, Victorian style mixed with the dawning industrial age.
Steampunk characters carry an array of gears, wheels, metal, any component they might need to quickly invent something to help them in their work or get them out of a jam.
The hair is Tibetan lamb's wool. It's so soft. The white hair makes an interesting contrast with her young face. I really love the "Imagine" token. It's from Tim Holtz' line of industrial embellishments for scrapbooks, cards, etc.
This gal is really packin'. I used some old jewelry, a vest clasp, some tiny bottles & wire and bought the other embellishments at craft stores. The gauntlets are fingers cut from an old leather glove.
Here's one of the fun things of dollmaking. You start out with a plan, but it evolves & goes another direction. For instance, I was going to make the bustle from the pink&black check, like the ruffle on her corset. But it was just too much, especially with the socks. I sure didn't want to give those socks up, but wanting to get this finished, I rummaged thru my stash and found the sheer black piece I was going to use on our Diane Little doll (a previous workshop). When I made that doll, I had the black outfit all envisioned, but it just didn't work on that doll. I ended going with a red velour. Apparently, the black was meant for the Steampunk doll; which tells me the pink/black silk has a future purpose!
This is a "Bloom" pattern, also by Barbara S. It's easy & versatile. I think Barbara was imagining flowers but I went with a winter motif, since, you know, Christmas is next month.
Everything that makes up this doll, I already had. Some fabric scraps, ribbon, trims I picked up at last year's after-Christmas sales. In fact, the silver body fabric is "vintage." It's from a dressy top I made for a special night-out right after my son was born......31 years ago! Haha, I knew I would re-purpose that top some day!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Biltmore Architecture

This is the view from the incredible gardens of the incredible Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC.
I liked the varying heights, arches, & grillwork in this frame. It's kind of a breezeway from the outer court, so to speak, to an inner courtyard. A building, that I think was a stable, has been converted into shops & restaurants.

 This is the conservatory. Loved the arched windows.
 An elaborate (of course!) wrought iron bench.

 I guess I like archways. This leads from one themed garden into another.
 Oval-framed oval in the garden.

Carving on the mansion.
I took almost 1000 pictures on this trip. It will take some time to get caught up on the blog!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Can You Say: Extravagant?

Sorry it's been so long since the last post! Life can sure get busy and when you do get time Blogger will decide to be s l o w uploading. I don't have the time or patience for persnickity interwebbing. {and no, the picture above is not me; although sometimes I can relate...especially when computers are being uncooperative}
On our last visit, I said we would be going from the cotton fields to a mansion. Here it is: the interesting architecture from the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC.
Biltmore, as in, Vanderbilt. Not built by the Vanders, but built by George W. Vanderbilt and still owned by the family, this piece of extravagance consists of 250 rooms on 8,000 acres. Construction began in the late 1800's and George officially made himself at home in 1895. Three years later he married & brought his new bride here.
{Clearly he was a bachelor while this house was under construction because no marriage would survive this project. How do I know? We built a 1600 sq ft house in 1984 and, uh, let's just say.. it was a test of our love.}
In order to preserve the estate during the Depression, it was opened to the public in 1930. It's an interesting place to visit to see furniture and household articles from that era. You know, turn-of-the-century stuff like: an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley, gymnasium, 3 kitchens, and pipe organ. Did you get that - indoor swimming pool? Remember, this was a time when most people didn't have indoor plumbing!  
More Biltmore pictures to come....