Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lift Up Your Head and Be of Good Cheer



It's been a quiet week here on the blog, but not at all quiet in real life.  While our days have been full and mostly happy, the past month has also been filled with a lot of loss for our family.

First of all, my Grandpa passed away and Edith and I made the trip to Iowa for his funeral. I've only been to Iowa a handful of times. I don't remember the trip we took when I was a kid very well, but the three times I've been as an adult I was struck by the beauty of the gently rolling hills, the picturesque old barns and lush fields.  I painted my interpretation of the scenery we passed through in my Moleskine journal using Windsor Newton watercolor  and micron pens + my favorite uni-ball white gel pen.




While I was in Iowa, we received word that Jason's dear Grandma was not doing well and had been admitted to the hospital. After a day or two to recover from my trip, I was able to spend a few hours with her there.   We visited and Grandma rested while I held her hand. (Jason's parents, who were her primary caregivers, were on a much anticipated vacation at the time her health began to decline, so Jason's incredible sister stepped in to arrange for Grandma's around the clock care, both in the hospital and at home once she was transferred there.)

After a hectic Mother's Day filled with church responsibilities, volunteering at our local assisted living center and grumpy kids (side note: I remember my mom asking for us kids to stop bickering as a Mother's Day gift one year.  At the time I thought that sounded like a ridiculous gift.  It wasn't even anything you could play with. But I totally understand where she was coming from now.), Jason felt a pressing need to drive down a day early to spend time with his Grandma. (She had been transferred back home at this point.)

I sent him on his way, and the kids and I ate popcorn for dinner and they went to bed early.  I checked in with Jason and he had been able to spend some time visiting with Grandma and his siblings as they all came and went, visiting Grandma.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, my husband's sweet grandma passed away.  Her decline was so unexpected and so rapid that we almost missed our chance to spend time with her. I am certain now that Jason was prompted by a loving Heavenly Father to go down a day early.  Had he stuck with our original plan, he would have been too late.  Our grief and sadness at her loss are immeasurable, but at the same time, we are happy for her.  I am certain that her reunion with her beloved husband was something she had been longing for for a long time.

Grandma's funeral was last weekend.  It was a day filled with laughter and tears, as we remembered and celebrated a beautiful woman and the incredible life she lived.  She was kind and creative, endlessly giving and devoted to her family.

Often, when life seems excessively difficult and my heart is heavy, I am reminded of this phrase:

Lift up your head and be of good cheer.

I love this direction from a kind and loving Savior.  He knows our pain, but he also knows His plan for us.  We can't see the end from the beginning, so we experience grief and loss and heartbreak.  He comforts us in our grief and He offers hope for the weary heart.

While it's been a rough few weeks for us, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.   I am amazed at the way our family has drawn together throughout this experience and how we were all strengthened to do things we would have previously thought impossible.  I am thankful for a husband who is devoted to his family and who is led by the Spirit.  And I am grateful for my eternal family, for the knowledge I have that we will see our loved ones again.



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Friday, May 19, 2017

FREE I Love You Hand Embroidery Pattern




I'm super excited to share this free hand embroidery pattern with you today!  (Get it?! HAND? I crack myself up.)

Supplies:

8" embroidery hoop (or size of your choice)
Pattern (download for free by click ADD TO CART below)

Instructions:

Transfer the pattern onto your fabric. I use a light box (similar to this one, except mine was made from scratch by my talented and very handy husband) and a water soluble tracing pen to trace the pattern onto fabric.  I have never tried it myself, but I know a lot of people like to use transfer paper and then iron the pattern onto the fabric instead of needing to trace all those lines. 

I used Split Stitch for the entire pattern. Then I removed the water soluble pen by placing the linen under gently running water for just a second or two.

I'm so happy with how it turned out! I'd love to see your finished work.  Tag me on Instagram so I can see what you're making!


You can find all of my free hand embroidery patterns here. And check out my Etsy shop for more patterns.


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: May 2017





Grayson by Lynne Cox

Swimming to Antarctica is one of my all-time favorite books.  So I was delighted when my cousin told me Lynne Cox had written another book.  This is a quick read and tells the story of when Lynne encountered a lone baby gray whale while out for a training swim in the Pacific Ocean early one morning. Some of it is a touch woo-woo, but I was fascinated from beginning to end. I can't imagine how I would have reacted to an experience like this.  I have an extreme fear of swimming with fish (we call that fear my "fishues". Like issues, but with fish) so I would most like have bolted for the beach at the first sign of animal life.



What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

This is a coming of age story.  It takes place just after WWII and is the story of a teenage girl who gets caught up in a tangled mess of jealousy, theft, and possible murder.  She learns that the people she loves may not be who she always thought they were.  It's considered YA, but I enjoyed it thoroughly, though that is not my typical genre.


The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn

I got this for free as part of my Book of the Month club order a couple of months ago.  It's a very short book and I picked it up during quiet time intending to finish the whole book then.  After some questionable content at the beginning, I set it aside.  I wasn't sure I cared to finish it.  But after a day or two I decided to pick it back up again.  All in all, I liked the actual storyline.  But there are some scary elements and some just plain yucky elements which make me feel like I can't recommend the book to others.  I'm just sensitive to certain triggers.  If you like a slightly creepy ghost story and don't mind language/ ick factor this might be a good fit for you.




My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This was probably my favorite book of the month.  It's the story of an estranged mother and daughter and the circumstances that bring them together for a short time.  It's one of those "ordinary life" stories that is so profoundly engrossing it's hard to put down.  I might even call it haunting.  I loved it.



The Mothers

I didn't love this book like all the buzz around it suggested I should.  It was fine. I loved that the narrators are a group of women, it's an unusual way to tell the story.  I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters, and some of the content is pretty tough.  I just don't feel like I can recommend it.  (Warning: language.  Also, heavy topics like abortion, suicide, abuse.)



Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is one of my all-time favorite books, and one of the most powerful memoirs I've ever read.  It's feels like a real life A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've been meaning to read Jeannette Walls' second book for a long time.  I finally did and devoured it.  This is the history of Jeannette's grandmother, stories passed down through generations.  Her writing sucked me in and it was all I could do to put the book down to tend to my responsibilities.




Audiobooks are one of the ways I am consistently able to read so many books each month.  Have you heard of the new audiobook streaming service through Deseret Book? It's pretty incredible! You can find a list of all the available audiobooks here.  The list is growing all the time!  If you use my like you can try it out for 30 days FREE!



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Friday, May 12, 2017

3 Things for Friday






1) I attended my Grandpa's funeral last week in Iowa. I had so many jumbled-up feelings about it, but I'm really glad I was able to attend. My sisters (minus one) and I sang "Homeward Bound" and my dear Mama accompanied us on the piano. My dad spoke and his sister shared memories of their childhood that I'd never heard before.  It was a beautiful service. Edith came with me and she was a complete delight through delayed flights, sleeping in a crowded hotel room, and lots of travel time. She was funny and sweet and just the perfect travel companion. She lightened my heart during a difficult time.




2) 16 years! Today Jason and I celebrate 16 years of marriage. I can hardly believe it's been that long. I guess the old adage is true: time really does fly when you're having fun. I love to see how we've grown together and how we have been able to support each other in various goals and hobbies and interests over the years. He is truly my biggest supporter and sacrifices immensely for our family. I am blessed more than I can comprehend by his love and respect. I love him and I'm so grateful he's my partner.

3) We've been spending time outside every day trying to catch up after a busy early spring. There are weeds everywhere and lots to do but luckily everyone is happier when we're outside anyway. I'm hoping to get the garden in this weekend.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mountains Coloring Page (free download)






Today I've got a fun mountains coloring page for you!  In case you were wondering: yes, all those triangles took FOREVER.  But that just shows how much I love you.  :)

Click ADD TO CART below to grab the free download.

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