Christmas past

so i'm dreadfully late with this post but it means that i'm almost caught up on everything that happened after we moved! Christmas this year was a whirlwind. we left the woods on a wednesday night after work & drove 6 hours down to chicago. maddie loves the car but has to be buckled in the backseat on long trips, otherwise she tries to sit in the lap of who ever is driving. our 55 pound lab definitely fancies herself a lapdog!

thursday i took full advantage of actually having stores around and did some shopping. some serious stocking up happened at joann's, michaels and hobby lobby! our macbook went in to get fixed and we visited my nana. that night i caught up with my best friends from high school and we sent brandon & another hubby on a man date. we had a wonderful evening together catching up over dinner and coffee; we even gave the boys enough time to see two movies. there was also some late night settlers fun with lynn & jon. we love us some settlers of catan!

friday (Christmas eve) i spent all day at my nana's house helping her get ready to host dinnner. we have spent Christmas eve at her house every year, my whole life, but this was the first year we were without this sweet man. 

{yep that's me & a stuffed cow. circa 1987?}
papa had been battling cancer for 5 years but was with us and "healthy" last year at Christmas. shortly after Christmas he contracted shingles. that was the beginning of the end and the months that followed were unimaginably difficult for all of us. he passed away on february 20. i'll be writing more about nana & papa and those few months soon but none of us were looking forward to celebrating this Christmas without him. there would be no one to cook the horrible oyster dish for, no one to force us to do every dish before presents were opened, no one to buy jam for, no one to take pictures as every gift was opened.we survived it. miss you papa & love you always!

at my parents house we spent a lot of time {as we always do} snuggled up watching old movies. my parents' dog, sadie, is not a big fan of maddie. they were forced to spend a weekend together when maddie was young and had no manners. their relationship has been rocky ever since! brandon seems to be able to mend their relationship- we call him the dog whisperer!

on Christmas morning my parents, sister, b & i gathered around the fire to open presents. every year we start by reading Luke 2 {which is wonderful} then my mom makes us sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and Hark the Herald Angels  before we are released to the presents!{not so wonderful- no one in my family can sing. at all.}stockings come first and are usually filled with chocolate and at least one Christmas ornament. i failed to take pictures of most of these festivities. partly because i was still sleepy & partly because we were dressed in all sorts of weird Christmas morning pajama ensembles :) 

the gift giving is not big or extravagant at our house, never has been, but the gifts we do give are very thoughtful. this year b and i both did the handmade thing. here he is modeling one of the hats i made him! {which i have since stolen & claimed for myself. great wife i know!} he works outside in the frigid weather every day so now he has a few new wool blends hats to keep him warm AND stylish!

look what my sweet hubby made me!!! this is from a tree that he actually cut down. then sliced up. and made into an awesome sign! he used the router/sign making machine at honeyrock. love, love, love. you'll be seeing it again soon in the tour of my studio!

it wasn't all handmade this year- my parents went to ireland and sweden for their 30th anniversary and brought back a few fantastic gifts! i received a new and gorgeous claddagh ring to replace the old silver one i've worn every day since high school. brandon got this schnazzy rugby jersey! doesn't it go well with his northwoods pajama pants? :) 

 and just in case you thought we forgot the pup on Christmas here she is enjoying her new bear, stanley. i found him in a box of my old stuffed animals and since i couldn't' remember where he came from {so he probably wasn't significant!} i passed him along to her! this picture is taken after she devoured the bone my parents gave her. lucky & spoiled little fuzz monster!

we stayed in illinois another day then flew to california on the 26th in preparation for our trip to maui on the 28th!!


a reminder (and a free printable!!)

i am a person who struggles daily with anxiety. among many other things, i worry about the safety of my family, the health of my husband, the health of my dog {i know...} and {most often} my own health. every little symptom is blown up in my mind and if i don't just blurt out my ridiculous thoughts i can convince myself i'm dying before noon. it really helps me to hear my overblown thoughts outloud {plus brandon is really good at reminding me that i'm healthy} but even more helpful are the reminders i get from Scripture. i pray that the Lord would wash a peace over me and calm my fears. a verse that i rely on daily is John 14:27. i need to remember that Christ promises peace. i also need to know that my heart {both emotionally and physically} needs not be troubled or afraid. Christ offers a peace unlike any other and i need not be anxious for anything. 

i created this printable to hang in my office at work and in my studio at home so that i could see the words before me every day. if you need this reminder in your life feel free to download & print this off!

just click on the image to see it full size, then right click & save it!

i hope this can be a sweet reminder to you that no matter what, your heart need not be troubled or afraid. have a great {and peaceful} weekend!


hmmm tricky

it seems that the shnazzy treasury widget i'm using doesn't show up in google reader. if you're viewing the blog from there {as i usually do!} click on over and look at some pretty treasuries. in the mean time i'm working on figuring this out!

treasury tuesday

since i have so much fun creating & looking at treasuries on etsy i decided to create a weekly post about them! i get so excited each time i am featured by someone else and would love to share that excitement. so welcome to treasury tuesday! each week i'll post the treasuries i've been featured in so you can go see the beautiful collections & leave some love for the people who worked hard to create them. if i haven't been featured then i'll choose one of my favorite treasuries from the last week.

featuring my jelly bean statement necklace. thanks marcy

featuring my {favorite!} teal & mustard dahlia ring. thanks so much suzanne!

and just for fun this one was made by me! i've been wanting to get out on a bike ride but it will be a looong time til that happens.


isn't it pretty?

the bloggity blog has received a makeover! in the past couple weeks i decided to get serious about branding. i also decided that the first step would be learning as much design and html info as possible. i also started advertising on a couple of wonderful blogs {here and here} which necessitated having a button! so, after much googling and fighting with picasa and picnik {because i can't afford photoshop & gimp makes my brain hurt} i managed to make that pretty new header you see up there, plus a new {matching} header & avatar for my shop and that button you see on the right. hooray! after all that work the rest of the blog just didn't seem to fit so i enlisted the lovely & talented dana to help me!

dana is so wonderful to work with! i knew i wanted things to be different & fun but didn't really know what i wanted. she listened to my weird emails, deciphered my ramblings and came up with some wonderful changes! she took my pretty header {that i'm clearly so proud of} and pulled out a gorgeous color scheme that she used for the rest of the design. 

so let's take a look at what else is new shall we? 
{click on the photo to see all the changes!}

i love it and if you do too, then go check out designs by dana. she's lovely & talented {have i said that before?} and she's working hard to raise money for her precious son mason. read his story here.  
hope you've enjoyed this little tour of the pretty new blog! 


pardon our dust

after i conquered the task of creating that pretty new header i decided the rest of the blog needed to be prettied up too. the lovely and talented dana is working on deciphering my strange requests and things should all be finished soon!

find a friend friday

hi all! today i linked up to find a friend friday over at rags to stitches boutique. great idea alissa! head on over, link up your blog and meet some new friends! 

happy friday!


it's in the bag!

A Hasty Life

welcome! today i'm participating in the it's in the bag blog crawl hosted by ashley of a hasty life. thanks for all your work ashley! this has been a great way to get to know new bloggers...and sneak a peek in their purses! {am i the only one who still calls it a purse?}

shall we? 

{the purse}

here she is. the lovely little gal that accompanies me everywhere and frequently has to dodge coffee spills! i designed this purse last summer, courtesy of my best friend, at 1154 lill studio in chicago! 1154 lill is "the original custom handbag company" and is one of the most fun {and stressful things} i've done! you get to select a purse as a blank canvas and then choose your fabrics. you can even choose a fabric for the lining & the pocket! it took us much longer than it should have but lynn & i both ended up with purses that exactly match our personalities! that was my favorite part- getting to design a bag that is so "me"! thanks again lynn! :)
{and yes you can design your own bag on their website. or order a premade bag & leave all the decision making to someone else! my next purchase will be this fantastic clutch!}

{the contents} 
(the cleaned out edition)

1. the lovely 1154 Lill purse

2. anne taintor business card case. i carry my cards plus those i've received from handmade shops & friends! i love anne taintor- her vintage pictures & snarky captions make me smile!

3. sharpie pens. love them. part pen, part marker. perfect for doodling!

4. anne taintor coin purse that carries all of our gift cards. hubby's parents are both teachers and they send us many of the gift cards they receive for Christmas & at the end of the year. score!

5. a seashell. can you even see it? i just found this when i dumped out the contents of my purse for the picture. must have snuck home with me from maui!

6. altoids smalls. i'm currently out of gum so these tiny mints are perfect after coffee.

7. bobby pins. regular & a vanilla dahlia pin made my me!

8. lovely leather wristlet from studio cat b. full of change waiting to be dumped in our coffee can.

9. lip gloss. loving the burt's bee's super shiny gloss!

10. mascara. maybelline great lash waterproof. black/brown. in case you were wondering :) 

11. the iphone. love it! continually amazed by all that it can do {even though i bought it refurbished for $40!}

12. vintage fabric pouch for storing receipts. lots & lots of receipts! trying to be better about the budget this year. it's from impact studios

13. mittens. lovely mustard yellow gloves/mittens from target. they don't do much if i'm outside for a long time but they're great for driving and the thumb means that i can answer my phone without using my nose!

14. journal/sketchbook. made by dayspring. i received this little guy for Christmas and it goes everywhere with me! the pages are either lined or graph paper and there are Bible verses scattered throughout. it gives me a great place to jot my endless lists & record ideas or sketches!

15. CM is for craftee mcgee. :) my sweet hubby made & painted this tiny token in the woodshop at honeyrock & gave it to me for Christmas. he also made me a full fledged sign, carved into a slice of a tree, that sits in my studio. when i see it i'm reminded that he loves me & supports my dreams!

16. the wallet. it's from target & i love it! the perfect shade of green and perfect size to hold my cards & {very little} cash! 

17. chocolate not pictured because i ate it all today but there are usually 3 or 4 ghirardelli squares floating around in my purse. they're perfect because the wrapper is totally sealed in case they melt. no horrible chocolate/purse messes!

i just realized that my keys are not in this picture which is odd. they should be! :) if they had been here you would have seen an anne taintor keychain that matches this {purchased by my mother who would never, ever utter that sentence outloud!}, lots of little cards for grocery stores & such, and a teal & green key fob from mom n mia quilts!

thanks for stopping by! while i look for my keys, make sure to check out yesterday's blogger in my group, alycia at the curious pug. and tomorrow stop in and see moriah at josiah's nest


a look back at december {or the post with all the collages}

 december arrived and so did the snow! {our camera battery was temporarily lost in the move so lots of these are phone pics- sorry!} this picture was taken between snows on our back porch. it might be cold, but it really is beautiful! i love having seasons & if we're going to have a cold season i'm so glad there's snow.

 i decorated for Christmas the first weekend in december and we made the sad choice not to cut down a real tree. up here in the woods we're surrounded by potential Christmas trees. we could go outside, walk 100 yards and cut down a tree. we were planning on going out to HoneyRock to cut one down, but the more i thought about it, the more i realized that we should just put up our little fake one from my childhood {it was the tree my mom gave me for all the ornaments i made once there were too many to fit on our big tree!}. we were only going to be home for 2 1/2 weeks in december and then we'd be gone for 2 weeks. i was afraid we'd come home to a burned down house or a giant pile of needles and neither of those sounded very appealing. so up went the little tree, which turned out to be perfect! 
{maybe a little too perfect...it's still up}

one of my favorite things to decorate this year has been ornaments. since we just used our little tree i had lots of ornaments left over so i put them everywhere! every glass container i own was filled with colorful glass and i loved it!

i made another wreath. actually i made 3 more wreaths in december. but i made another yarn wreath! {check out a great tutorial here by danielle} i figured this one would be able to stay up all winter. it just feels so cozy! right now it's hanging on our bedroom door but will probably move to the entry to replace the crazy ornament wreath that's there now {told you...Christmas is still up in our house!}

i also made a few new headband & clip designs that were meant for the shop for the Christmas season but they all ended up being sold to people here or being given as gifts before i could ever photograph or list them! a few will be remade and might show up as winter {subtract the red} or valentines {subtract the green} designs soon!

also new in the shop have been these lovely cabochon earrings. i recently found a new supplier that i love and have been buying these little flowers by the dozens. i made myself a bunch of earrings/bobby pins/rings first to see what i liked best and they will slowly start showing up in the shop! 

a few are already listed, including my favorite the mustard & teal dahlia ring. i wear one all the time! 

the snow makes me either want to play outside or cuddle up inside with a good project. i've been crocheting a TON but i don't have many pictures of the final products. something i did complete and photograph {but failed to mail! sorry to the mamas who are getting these if they don't fit your babies when they finally arrive!} were these appliqued onesies. didn't they turn out cute?! 

i didn't take process photos since it was near midnight when i made these but it wasn't difficult! i just picked a font i loved and printed out giant letters (backwards. print them backwards). i traced the letters onto some wonder under which i then fused to the fabric. once it was fused i cut out the designs, peeled off the backing and iron the fabric to the onesie. easy peasy until this point
the next step is to stitch down the edges to insure the letters won't come off after being washed many times. my sewing machine and the onesies got in a fight and the sewing machine won. next time i will conquer this little problem, but in the mean time i hand stitched a running stitch around the edges. done and done.

that's a wrap on december. except, of course, for Christmas and MAUI which will get their own posts. then we're caught up to real life here in january!coming up tomorrow will be my it's in the bag post as part of ashley's blog crawl. head over and check out today's blogger in my group, alycia at the curious pug and then come back tomorrow to find out what's in my bag! {or purse. i still call it a purse. weird?}

until then i leave you with this...



thanks to the wonderful etsians who have featured my products in treasuries lately! 
check them out won't you?

featuring my birds nest earrings:

featuring the vanilla dahlia ring:

includes the chocolate peony clip:

treasuries adapted for the blog with the treasury widget!


a recap, part 2: the move and beyond

so moving day arrived and we weren't quite ready! turns out we acquired a lot of stuff in the past 2 years and we needed a bigger truck. {this is what happens when parents call & request you remove all your belongings from their attic!} brandon spent a frantic few hours packing and repacking and creating space out of nothing and i decided what we could part with. i made a pile on the curb that included some furniture along with random stuff from the house. i went back inside to clean for a few minutes, and when i came out i discovered that my stuff in the pile on the curb had been replaced with hubby's fishing pole, golf clubs and baseball bat bag. unacceptable! sweet hubby was trying to save my junk by giving up his things. i made a few phone calls and found someone to come fetch the important things and store them until we could bring them home! after the madness of packing up our little house ended we were off!

usually when we drive maddie gets buckled into the backseat {otherwise she tries to ride in my lap} but on this trip every inch of the car was full. my little fuzz was such a trooper! she made it six hours in this tiny space! 

we arrived safely in wisconsin and were greeted by a whole group of people ready to help us move in. it was such a blessing to have help right away and they had also stocked our pantry and fridge! yet another sign of God's provision throughout this move! we began unpacking and settling in to our new rental house. it took maddie over a week to feel comfortable here. for the first few days she wouldn't sit or lay down or look out the window- she just followed me everywhere i went! eventually she got comfortable and realized that there were all kinds of exciting things to see if she looked out the window! 

maddie has just spotted a deer in the yard!

brandon's parents sent a half a semi-load of stuff to us. it included most of the toys hubby owned as a child, lots of toilet paper & paper towels, a giant case of shaving cream, a box of baking supplies {really the shipment could have been its own post but the camera was m.i.a. at the time!} and this beauty of a table! sorry for the ick photo- we have bad light after about 3 pm.  this dining room table seats 8 without any leaves {there are 3!} and used to sit in hubby's grandparents house. i love that it was theirs and i love that it's huge! 

the table arrived just in time because we hosted our first thanksgiving! my parents and sister {and sadie} came up for the weekend. it was wonderful to have visitors and only mildly stressful to cook thanksgiving dinner for the first time. we all survived the weekend and still loved each other in the end! 

included on the menu was this cranberry apple pie that i found on bake at 350. it really was as delicious as bridget promised it would be!

the weather turned cold. really cold. and i had the constant urge {still do} to create something warm with yarn. one of those projects was this tiny hat for a friend's baby. it's so rewarding to start with some yarn and end with something someone can wear! more crochet projects coming soon!

part ii was longer than expected so i'll finish with part iii {december} tomorrow!


a recap, part 1

now that you have the long story of how we got to the woods, 
here's a quick recap of what we've been doing since october!

all summer i worked with a sweet customer to create a one of a kind belt for her niece's wedding. the wedding was in october. it was so fun to be a part of someone's wedding day and create something just as the bride envisioned it! 
{i'm working on getting digital photos of the bride on her wedding day, dress, belt & all!}

then hubby and sister bear celebrated their birthdays! he's 27 & she's 23. 
my little sister is all grown up! 

every year for b's birthday {and only for his birthday} i make The Cake. it's delicious. and could kill you! the cake is pretty harmless, but the frosting has 6 sticks of butter, 9 eggs and a bag of chocolate chips.

even though i should have been packing up my craft supplies {and not making new things} i tried my hand at the yarn wrapped wreaths that are popping up on blogs all over! this was my first one and i've made 2 more since!

{sorry! late night cell phone picture}

on october 13 we celebrated 3 wonderful years of marriage 
{it was also the 5 year anniversary of our first date!}
we put aside packing for a night & went out to dinner at ivy, a new restaurant in downtown wheaton that hubby's baseball team had given us a gift certificate to. it was delicious and we really enjoyed getting to walk somewhere for a date, knowing that wouldn't be possible in the woods.

just as we were getting ready to move, our little camry decided it wasn't up for living in the woods and died. once and for all. it had a good, long life and in the end was towed away by victory auto wreckers.
yes. the victory auto wreckers. 
if you grew up in chicago you can probably recite this commercial
wonderful and ridiculous and still on tv today!! 
the door didn't fall off our car and the guy didn't hand us fanned out $20s but it was still a wonderful way for the little car to go!

as moving day approached and the house started to clear out, maddie wasn't quite sure what to do with herself. one day i found her curled up in the pile of bedding that was waiting to be packed.  the furniture was already on the truck and she had no place else to hide! 
{she was wearing her giants collar for the playoffs...it worked!} 

part ii: the move and beyond coming tomorrow!


moving to the woods...

since a new year has just begun and we've just embarked upon a new chapter of our lives, it's time to update the blog. i'm planning to start fresh from this point and be a much more diligent blogger, but first i thought i should share just how we ended up moving to northern wisconsin! it's a wonderful story of God's provision and direction in our lives so bear with me if i get long winded!

in september i got to spend a week teaching a jewelry class at Northwoods Adventure {the week at HoneyRock set aside for Wheaton alum ages 65+}. of all the retreats we've hosted, this group is my favorite. they are up for anything, anxious to meet new friends, and are so full of stories and wisdom. the whole week i felt like i was using my gifts, bringing joy to people and feeling fulfilled {a HUGE change from the way i felt at my job at home}. i kept asking the Lord for more opportunities to serve in this way & to use my gifts upon returning home. by the end of the week we had worked things out for me to teach crafting classes at the retirement community many of these dear people live in. i thought that was exactly the help i needed to return to a life i wasn't excited about. God had other plans.

this was during one of their worship times. recognize that headband?
image courtesy of Ted & Donna Loy, Wheaton College, '61
that sunday, i went to church in town and the youth pastor was giving the congregation an update on the church's youth ministry. it wasn't quite a sermon, mostly informational, but at the end he said to everyone, "i just want to ask you this morning, do you love your life? are you following God's call wherever it leads?"

i sat in the back of the {very small} church in tears. no. i do not love my life! i don't want to go back to my life! but i don't see another option right now! brandon and i had been praying for another job for me for months, but door after door was closed.
after the sermon the interim senior pastor got up and announced that they had a job opening in the church that needed to be filled in the next two weeks and he would be accepting applications after the service.
i was stunned. speechless. and still in tears. immediately {yes, during church} i texted brandon, who was still down in wheaton, and asked what he thought about moving to the woods. in 2 weeks.

naturally he thought i was totally crazy, but we've both been wanting to come back here for 3 years so.... after church i talked to a few people who know us and love us to see what they thought about the idea. everyone was encouraging. i drove home that afternoon and brandon and i talked and i prayed and we talked some more {i was probably a very distracted driver}. that week we decided i would at least apply for the job at church and see where God led from there. there were so many things that would need to fall into place that the whole thing seemed completely unlikely. we had gotten so used to God saying no that we'd forgotten what it was like to hear a yes. brandon would need a job. we'd need to break our lease. we'd need to quit our jobs {brandon had just been promoted}. we'd be leaving our close friends & my family. we'd need to find a year round rental in a place almost 100% full of summer cottages.
needless to say, all of those things fell into place. i met the senior pastor and applied for the church job a week later when we were back at HoneyRock for the 60th anniversary weekend. i interviewed over the phone four days later. two days after that i was extended a job offer. meanwhile, HoneyRock offered brandon a job through the end of winter. our landlords kept our security deposit but didn't require us to finish out our lease. we were researching rental houses when we got an email from friends of ours who were leaving the northwoods {to move to wheaton of all places!}. an offer had just fallen through on their house so it was going to be available. they offered to rent it to us for whatever we could afford. they were moving out 6 days before we needed to move in. we were afraid of the whole thing, but God's leading was undeniable- so we were off to the woods!

God has been so good to us. two and a half years ago when our graduate program ended at HoneyRock we longed to stay here, but the doors were closed. we spent the next two years wandering from place to place, from state to state, try to determine what God had for us. it took two and a half years, 4 states, 3 lousy jobs and countless job applications for us to land right back where we started. our hearts had stayed here in the northwoods and now we're back.

 things aren't quite settled yet. we are only staying in this house until it sells. brandon hasn't found a full time job {this is not the best place to be job searching}. we're still working on paying off the debt we incurred while we were unemployed a few years ago. but God has led so far. He has provided for our every need. and He will continue. 

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1: 4-6