Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A January Jumble

Jumble (noun) = an untidy collection or pile of things

Jumble (verb) = mix up in a confused or untidy way

BRITISH = articles collected for a jumble sale

Well, "untidy" and "confused" are negative words to me, but this post is certainly a "collection" and a mixture.  So, "jumble" it is!


As most of you know, our last cat, Maggie, crossed the rainbow bridge on September 21, 2020.  I don't miss the dust and the litter boxes, but I do miss the affection that accompanies a loud purr and rubbing on my legs.  So, it has been a joy to interact with several cats this month, including cat-sitting for neighbors vacationing in sunny Florida!


Speaking of critters, it has been a bumper month for trail cam photos - the Bald Eagles have returned to fish for Northern Pike at the lake below our house.  I wrote about this in February 2021, when Golden Eagles joined in the feast as well.



Here is the patch of open water - the "fishing hole".  Last summer, the beaver built a secondary dam below the main dam, which has created this little catchment.  Apparently, the fish are swimming through gaps in the main dam and wind up in shallow water that makes for easy pickings for the raptors.  Bad decision!  The camera is positioned on the other side of the water, so the views you are about to see are looking toward where I am standing to take this picture.  (click on the pictures to make them bigger)

All of this happened in the space of a few minutes.  Later that night, another raptor came to the "restaurant" - an owl!  This is the first time I have ever captured one with my trail cam!

I have been doing a little cooking once a week, to give Head Chef a break.  I didn't take pictures of week 1 - Normandy Pork Casserole - a recipe from Low Carb Diabetic - and I would recommend the dish!  Week 2 was Slow Roasted Salmon, and I am not giving you the link since the spices overwhelmed the salmon.  But I documented my work ...


Speaking of food, Head Chef gave us a New Year's resolution - Eat More Jam!  How many jam/jelly/related jars do you have?

I am joining LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color for I Like Thursday.  The prompt for this week: What are your favorite colors?  Do you wear them or decorate with them?  As I look around the house, I see many shades of brown, augmented with blues and reds.  As we bought furniture over the years, we went for subtle shades and used pillows and blankets to add the color.  If I consider my closet, the base palette is brown and black, but with a rainbow of blouses, scarves and sweaters.  Is there a specific color your family would say is your favorite?  Purple.  My bridesmaids wore purple, and I have a purple suede outfit from the 1980's that Spousal Unit wishes I would wear more often!  Has it changed over the last few years?  Today, my style choices are functional - designed for our active and outdoor lifestyle.  In other words, not much purple and no suede!!!



This week, I am also linking to Rain's Thursday Art and Dinner Date.  Her theme this week is scarves.  I wrote an entire post about scarves on February 10, 2019.  This was one of my favorite collages from that post.

Finally, I leave you with this whimsical fairy house that my neighbors created from a tree stump, lovingly harvested from the property of my Dear Neighbor Friend.  I am so thankful to live here, and to have so many "jumbles" to share with you.

This week, I am also linking to:

Brian's Home for Thankful Thursday.

Eileen for Saturday's Critters.

Mosaic Monday


Wednesday, January 11, 2023


I am having fun.  I am stitching.  Two projects underway, and several in the planning stages.  My fellow stitchers, can you ever have too many ideas or creations that you want to make?

Before I show you the current work, I can finally share the ornaments that I made for the kids as Christmas presents.  I love the process of looking for subjects that are suitable for the recipient, and yet not too big for a tree ornament.  Pinterest is fabulous resource, and the convenience of downloading designs for a minimal price is a far cry from the days of thumbing through racks of cross-stitch books at Michael's!

The fiance made his first trip to the UK in 2022, and since the itinerary included London, this ornament was an easy choice.



 #1 Son is a little more challenging - cats are an obvious choice, but I am reluctant to give him only cat ornaments.  So I took a little bit of an indirect tack this year, and this is all the more appropriate since together we have watched a documentary about how some people still claim the earth is flat!

In this post in December 2021, I wrote about discovering Spanish blackwork.  In December 2022, I finally began my first blackwork piece.  Last year, my oldest sister purchased an RV, and mentioned that she planned to call it "Bloomer".  I scoured Pinterest for cross-stitch designs with that word, or with a pertinent theme.  I was delighted to locate a pattern with many of her favorite colors, and blackwork!  Bingo!  

I will have to add "Bloomer" to the bottom of the design, but that is easy to do.  Over Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to ask her about the font style she would like.  So, I was all set.  Below are some pictures with current progress.  (I think she will use this a pillow cover.)


During my time in the blogosphere, I have seen many mentions of stitch-a-longs, and viewed creativity in action when my fellow bloggers post pictures.  This year, I finally decided to jump in.   Somebody out there (identify yourself!) introduced me to Loretta Oliver, and I subscribed to her email for access to free cross-stitch patterns.  On December 29, when the Great Big List of Stitchalongs to Join in 2023 popped into my email inbox, I decided to take a look.  Imagine my delight when I found The Steady Thread Botanical Blackwork Stitchalong.  Flowers AND blackwork, a perfect combination for me!!!  And it's free!

The Steady Thread is very thorough, and at first the detail of the instructions seemed overwhelming, but I took it one step at a time.  I chose the circular hexagon pattern, and decided on ivory 14-ct. fabric.  (In hindsight, I think I would have preferred 16- or 18-ct.)  I intend to put the finished project in our guest bathroom, so I had an idea of a preferred color palette.  (Traditional blackwork typically utilizes only black thread, but given the location for this piece and the botanical aspect of it, I wanted to experiment with color.  It may not seem like a big deal to you creative folks out there, but this is a STRETCH for someone who likes pre-made designs and can't cook without a recipe!!!)

The design has 49 hexagons in total, and each Friday the pattern for the next hexagon is released.  The Steady Thread provides a key for the placement of each week's hexagon, and "hexagon paper" that you can print in order to plan your color palette, if needed.  In the picture below you can see most of my "color design", and the two hexagons that I have already completed.

 And a closer look.

I still have a few questions, such as how participants share progress (I think it's on a FaceBook page) and when we are supposed to complete the leafy frame.  Watch this space!


I am joining I Like Thursday at Not Afraid of Color.  You can always find something inspiring among this group.  Check it out.

This week the prompt is "Do you use a calendar?  Is it digital and do you like it?  Is it a wall calendar and who's do you have this year?  Is it a diary type that sits on your desk next to the computer?  Share yours, and if you like it, how did you choose that one?  Do you have another system to remember things?" 

I use a classic Franklin Planner (see above) and it has a flower motif.   Throughout my career, this style served me well and I continued in retirement. I use the month pages to keep track of significant appointments and events.  In between the month pages, there are two pages per week, so there is room to write down daily tasks, but not many.  So, I do find I need a separate sheet of paper to capture my very aspirational list of everything I would like to get done in a day!!!

So, as you can tell, I am a very visual person - I tried a digital calendar and just couldn't SEE enough to make me comfortable.  The closest I get is the "notes" function in my phone - I use it to record ideas when I am away from my Planner and to-do list.


Also linking to Mosaic Monday.  If you like creative photo collages, this is the linky party for you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Abundant Joy

The wrapping paper and ribbons are tucked away for another year, but the joy that came with the unwrapping remains!  Let me highlight just a few of the presents I received on Christmas morning!  (I am joining LeeAnna for I Like Thursday.  I bet others have their own joys to share!)

LeeAnna's prompt this week is "facing a turning of the calendar page, and a new year stretching out in front of us, is there anything you would like to try or to learn this coming year?"   Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have been working on drawing skills; isn't it wonderful that #1 Daughter and The Fiance support my endeavors with tools such as this book?


Christmas has delivered a precious gift in the form of time with family.  #1 Son made it safely from Idaho Falls, and we are relishing these days together.  He loves documentaries, and we have watched "Icarus", about doping in sports, and "Pepsi, Where's My Jet?", the story of a teenage boy who decided to take on Pepsi after its ambitious cola-wars ad campaign.  Playing games.  Making cookies.  And good old-fashioned conversations around the dinner table.

Food in our house is always delicious, and Christmas brings some extra-special culinary delights - smoked turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and fruitcake that has been brushed with brandy for a couple of weeks.  Yum!


In retirement, I am with Spousal Unit for most of the day, but those days tend to be filled with a flurry of various activities.  In the week between Christmas and New Year's, life is slower and we can truly enjoy each other's company.  I call it "re-connecting".   This week, we hopped aboard the Montana Trolley for a tour of the Christmas lights around town.  Overall, the displays were underwhelming, but watching the excitement of the littles on the trolley was heartwarming.

Of course, to me Christmas signifies the Ultimate Gift, Jesus' birth and through it, our salvation.  

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, and many blessings in 2023!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Let it snow ...

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful ..."

In the last two days, over 6 inches of snow blanketed our world, and temperatures plummeted.   Elsewhere, this might be greeted with trepidation, but hearty Montanans welcome it.  (Almost) everything is better with snow - skiing of all kinds, snowmobiling, building snowmen, sitting by the fire watching the flakes flutter to the ground.  So I dedicate this post to SNOW!

I am linking up to I Like Thursday with LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color.  If you need some positives in your life, you will find it among the bloggers who join this party!

"It's a marshmallow world in the winter, when the snow comes to cover the ground

It's time for play, it's a whipped cream day  I wait for it the whole year ' round"

We've had our first ski/ride day at Whitefish Mountain Resort.  

"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go;  The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow!"

Well, it's my best friend's house, and it's a Toyota 4Runner, but I can pretend, right?  

Snow and cold is not all fun and games, especially for animals, domesticated or not.  And for the humans that take care of them.  Something as simple as keeping them watered is challenging in such frigid weather ...  It doesn't come through in this video, but the parade of turkeys was punching through the snow with many of their steps ...

"You could've come like a mighty storm  With all the strength of a hurricane

You could've come like a forest fire  With the power of heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow  Quiet and soft and slow

Falling from the sky in the night  To the earth below"  Chris Tomlin

LeeAnna's prompt for this week asked about Christmas traditions.  The first thing we do on Christmas morning is sing happy birthday to Jesus.  I was pleased to see this Nativity scene in our neighborhood this year - I learned that a father/son team made it by hand! (We usually go to Mass on Christmas Eve.)

Armed with coffee and Christmas cake (see this post for more details), we move on to our stockings - did Santa pop coal or other goodies in there overnight?  Just a few days ago, I finished a new stocking for #1 Daughter.  I started this project in March, as you can see in this post.  She will use this stocking at her home; her "kid" stocking will remain here.

#1 Son will drive here on Friday, and we are thrilled beyond measure that he can join us for Christmas.  For many years, I have teamed up with him to bake gingerbread cookies.  I can almost taste the ginger as I imagine biting into the soft cushion of cookie, shaped as trains, gingerbread people, stars, moose, angels and more.

While all of this goes on (before and on Christmas Day), we are listening to Christmas music ON VINYL.  We have at least 10 records, and many of them I inherited from my parents.  It gives me great joy that #1 Son adores them as much as I do, especially the Andy Williams album.  In the last couple of weeks, I relished a choral concert from Valley Voices and a quirky, delightful hour of fun called Tubachristmas - tuba, euphonium and baritone instruments playing carols.  Check out this audio (sorry, picture is the carpet in the hotel!)

After the stockings, we open gifts, taking turns.  When we still had furbabies, we could find the cats under the tree, or nibbling the ribbons.  #1 Son is leaving his two cats at home - sad face.  They don't normally cuddle with each other; do you think they know he will be gone for a week?

At some point, we will pause opening gifts, to Skype with family in the UK and with #1 Daughter in the Midwest.  On a timeline known only to Head Chef, we begin dinner preparations - he has decided to smoke the turkey this year.  #1 Son is on dressing duty, and I lend a hand wherever I am trusted.  When our bellies are full and the sun has disappeared (early this time of year), we will retire to the movie room - I vote for Klaus even though we have watched it before!  And so, another Christmas will become memory.   Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Linking to Saturday's Critters.

Linking to Mosaic Monday

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