January 27, 2014

Thank You Christmas Ornament

When I was growing up, mom would make or purchase Christmas ornaments with special meaning during the year and we kids have continued the tradition.

Sometimes mom would purchase a special ornament from a gift shop when we went on vacation. It would bring back lovely memories of that vacation as we placed it upon the tree every year. I remember my aunt sewing puffy felt ornaments one year, decorating them with sequins and giving one to each of us children when we visited our grandparents during our Christmas break from school, however I wish mom would have dated them, because I don't remember how old I was then. When my husband and I were first married, my mother-in-law and I painted strawberry ornaments from English walnut shells after picking out the nut-meats for holiday cakes. I painted ceramic angels for our tree during one of my mother's ceramic classes. Another year, I crocheted snowflakes and starched them stiff for our tree. They were pretty. One of our couple friends crafted wooden ornaments every year as their gift to us. Paper and metal ornaments have been gifted through holiday cards too.

Within the last few weeks I found a Christmas ornament that will symbolize 2013 for me at a little quaint historic Irish deli and gift shop called Browne's Irish Marketplace. The brand on the ornament is from an Irish woollen mill company called Blarney. It does not matter if I'm a little late, the representation remains the same.



I'm thankful:
1. For Interpol, FBI, and other governmental agencies who police identity thieves and scammers.
2. That the fire department's charge for picking me up off the floor when my chair tipped over wasn't any higher!
3. That God's wisdom is available anytime I need it when discussing human relationships with our son. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)
4. For good, positive memories! "The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot." ( Proverbs 10:7)
5. For my Savior! "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy." (Titus 3:4-5)

January 17, 2014

Tea: One of My Favorite Things

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? . . . Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:16, 31.

I was watching Martha Stewart make biscuits and scones the other night on television. She urged her viewers to bake up some of her easy recipes for tea. Then I remembered I had sent a copy of Queen Elizabeth's favorite recipe for scones to the editor, Pearl Dexter, of "Tea: A Magazine." She compiled several such offerings together and her little cookbook called "Scones, Shortbread, and More" was published in 2006. 

My mother likes coffee; I like tea. I could never stomach the bitterness of coffee even heavily diluted with milk and sugar. My mother said she grew to like it when a boy she was dating at the time [pre. Dad] took her to town for a coffee. 

As a young mama, I fell head over heels in love with tea when I found Emilie Barnes' book called "If Teacups Could Talk: Sharing a Cup of Kindness with Treasured Friends." Her book's beautiful

illustrations are by Sandy Lynam Clough. Emilie and Sandy, two lovely Christian ladies, write about and illustrate the concept of tea parties with treasured friends so wonderfully well. Ms. Barnes has gone on to write several other books which I have a couple of: "Time Began in a Garden" and "The Spirit of Loveliness: Bringing Beauty, Creativity, and Order to Your Life." Ms. Clough went on to found a Tea Society.

Next I found an old book called "Aunt Martha's Corner Cupboard" By Mary & Elizabeth Kirby, published by W.B. Conkey Co in Chicago, Illinois. The chapters were really stories related to things in Aunt Martha's cupboard like the china tea-cup, refreshing beverages and nibbles for tea-time. A homeschool friend and I used both books to teach a small unit study on tea with our children. Later, when I joined OldFashionedLiving.com as a moderator in their forum (the Parlor), I compiled in-depth unit studies on both hospitality and tea. 

I continue to collect everything I can on Tea into a 3-ring binder notebook, like tea crafts, poetry, a list of Laura Child's tea shop cozy mystery titles, etc. When I began to scrapbook and rubber stamp, I collected tea-related stamps. While my creative style isn't as nice as Sandy Lyman Clough's and Mary Engelbreit's, I keep striving to create lovely cards too.  

My dear husband, knowing I love all things TEA, has taken me to several tea rooms to sample their fare and yes, I have a favorite one in the town south of us prettily decorated in shabby chic cottage. They also sell gift items such as candles, soap, and tea accessories. I enjoy the eye candy! Some of my favorite teas are Celestial Seasoning's Gingerbread and Sugar Plum Tea, Chai, Constant Comment, Mint, Peach, and Russian Spice.

One of my friends sent me this story of the Tea Cup. I hope you like it: 

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in a beautiful antique store. This trip was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially tea-cups. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked, "May we see that? We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful." As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the tea-cup spoke. "You don't understand," it said, "I have not always been a tea-cup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over. I yelled out, 'Don't do that, I don't like it! Let me alone,' but he only smiled and gently said, 'Not yet!' 

Then, WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. 'Stop it! I'm getting so dizzy! I'm going to be sick!' I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly, 'Not yet.'

He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then, --- then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. 'Help! Get me out of here!' I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips, as he shook his head from side to side, 'Not yet.' When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! Ah, this is much better, I thought. But, after I cooled, he picked me up and he brushed me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag, 'Oh, please; stop it, stop it!' I cried. He only shook his head and said, 'Not yet!'

Then suddenly he put me back in the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged, I pleaded, I screamed, I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering what he was going to do to me next?

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, 'Look at yourself.' And I did. I said 'That's not me; that couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful!' Quietly he spoke: 'I want you to remember,' he said, 'I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that you never would have hardened. You would not have had any colour in your life. If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.''

The Moral Of This Story Is This:

God knows what he is doing in each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us and expose us to just enough pressures, of just the right kinds, that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will.

So when life seems hard, and you're being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance, when your world seems to be spinning out of control, when you feel like you're in a fiery furnace of trials, when life seems to "stink", try this -- brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest cup, sit down and think on this story and then -- have a little talk with The Potter.

Rejoice With Me!
1. I'm delighted that "God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17) provided tea for me to enjoy. Thank you, Creator!

2. I'm grateful that there is a bend in the tea cup handle to grab. Remind me, Lord, of the hope of your salvation! "Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

3. I'm grateful for the warm southern breeze that blew into our area. It made the polar vortex go away. My hubbin was having a hard time typing the keys of his computer with cold hands at his warehouse job.

4. Thank you Lord for reminding me of your care through GAP when my husband was unemployed.

5. Like a popular song says that our local Christian radio station plays: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28) and "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5)

January 11, 2014

Happy National Glaucoma Month

The Lord gives sight to the blind. . . Praise the Lord.

~ Psalm 146:8, 10b

January is National Glaucoma Month. Since October is the month to schedule your mammogram, January ought to be the month for you to go see your ophthalmologist. I see mine now every six months since I was diagnosed several years ago with pigmentary glaucoma.

This type of glaucoma is a birth defect and is caused by bumpy corneas which scratch off the pigment cells behind the irises (I was born with blue eyes). When enough cells accumulate to clog the drainage ports that regulate the pressure of fluid inside the eyeball, pressure builds up and can damage the optic nerve in the back of the eyeball which in turn can "blind" your peripheral eyesight if not caught in time. It is generally diagnosed when a person reaches middle age.

I'm told this type of glaucoma is a fairly rare disease. My eye doctor told me to think of it this way: the whole population of the United States totals 100%. Five percent of that 100% have some type of glaucoma, whether they are aware of it or not. One percent of the 5% have my type of glaucoma and it usually runs in families, however, until a couple of years ago, we didn't know of any other family members with this condition, until my sister's eye doctor said she was losing pigment in her eyes. Thankfully, she hasn't developed the glaucoma part yet.

My blue eyes are turning brown now because the nightly eye drops stains them. My medicine is derived from pig or horse urine. I know it's gross, thinking about dropping pig pee in my eye, but it's better than the sick headaches I was having right before I was diagnosed. Since I have upper respiratory allergies along with asthma, I thought they were sinus headaches until my pupils (the black part) dilated quite suddenly one afternoon and remained that way for a whole week. That's a danger signal that something is not quite right (besides me, I mean! *wink*).

If you wish to know more about glaucoma and/or contribute to funding research, click here. I do not receive any
monies when you contribute to the National Glaucoma Association.

Happy National Glaucoma Month and here's to Healthy Eyes!

Rejoice With Me!

1. Since I'm not overly fond of doctors, rejoice with me that my eyes dilated and I was diagnosed within the week. The glaucoma specialist told my mother it was a good thing it happened as it might have not been "caught" in time. The pressure in one of my eyes was 32 (normal is 16-20 points) hence the headaches.

2. I'm thankful that when my desk chair dumped me last week, I didn't get skewered by the occupational tools (3 back scratchers, 2 metal shoe horns, a sock aid, and grabber, etc.) I kept in a ceramic pot behind me. I'm thankful that when I crushed the poor pot, after biting me in the hip, I didn't need stitches. And I'm grateful that the paramedics were available to give me a boost upright.

3. I'm thankful that other than a sore back, sprained shin bone, and injured dignity, my husband had no broken bones from his tumble off the ladder at work this week.

4. I found enough secondhand black and white velour blankets to make me an upcycled black and white checked one.

5. I am so grateful that the Lord loves me anyway, despite all my defects. I'm a Princess, an adopted Daughter of the King, in his eyes!

January 01, 2014

Thank You Cards

Here's past hand-crafted thank you cards made by me. Some have been published in Scrap and Stamp Arts and Just Cards magazines and some have not. It's time I made new ones. Click on cards for an enlarged view.


shepherds returned;
glorifying and praising God
for all the things they had heard and seen,
which were just as they had been told."
~ Luke 2:20
The shepherds returned to their fields, to their ordinary lives of caring for their flocks of sheep. We return to our ordinary lives after the holidays. Both of us celebrated the birth of the promised Lamb. Like the shepherds, let us carry the spark of the Light -- joy, peace, and thanksgiving with us into the new year.