red hot

For the past few years, I have steered away from using the color red in my home, wardrobe, and holiday décor. Once a favorite of mine, the brilliant shade began to feel too “hot.” However, recently, a piece of red material, tucked away in my studio closet, restored this traditional holiday hue back into my life.

As I’ve mentioned before, gift cards have become quite popular among my family members. This year, I decided to pair them with some chocolate truffles and glass heart ornaments, embellished with family mementoes. After assembling this assortment of small items, I wondered how I might wrap them. As I was sifting through my gift-wrapping materials, I spotted my basket of red fabric. Before long, I was cutting and sewing bags, while my husband drew box patterns on a piece of poster board. (Yes, I lured him into my “elfing” madness, because I needed boxes of "a certain size" to protect the glass ornaments.)

I rather like these bags. They seem neither too hot nor too cold, but just right for the holiday season.

Postscript:  If you would like to make a similar bag, here are some simple instructions:  Cut fabric 12 ¾” W x 16” L. Fold in half lengthways, right sides together. Utilizing a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along length and width of fabric, leaving 6“ W opening at top of bag. Fold top down over cover itself (approximately 5” with wrong sides together), and press with iron. (This will provide a finished edge for bag opening.) Clip bottom corners next to seam, turn cover right side out, and press. Tie with ribbon and embellish as desired. (I used some items from the clearance and wedding sections of a craft store.) The finished bag will measure 6" x 10 ½".  


take heart

Maintaining a sense of spontaneity can be challenging—at least for me. My “fruitful” intentions will evidently take some time to mature. Consequently, my chosen mantra for this holiday season is “take heart.”

Since last Thursday, our holiday plans have morphed more times than I dare count. We had anticipated Plan A and Plan B, just not C, D, E, F, and G. So last night, I found myself silently murmuring, “take heart.”

Maybe I crafted these holiday napkin rings and ornaments to serve as a physical reminder of this idiom. They were made from  bits and pieces I’ve scavenged and saved over the years- some are precious, some are not. Many are connected to a family time or tale.

It’s a “transition” year (at least that’s what I'm telling myself); and I must remember it’s not the first, nor will it be the last. I must “take heart”. I must have faith in what has been and what will be.

This is how I must tend my orchard.



Recently, a dear friend of mine (the same friend that gave me this beautiful hydrangea from his garden) responded to his 49th birthday with a commitment to being fit. The term “fitness” was defined as such: “The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.” He stated that he wanted to be fit for his loved ones and the life that was to follow. I found his post most insightful, but also personally challenging. I wondered if the terminology I had used to describe my life objectives had expressed my true intentions.

As I reread the text I had written a few years ago, I thought I had made an error by incorporating the word, “successful”; however, I was reassured by a quick definition search. There, I saw the synonym, “fruitful”, which seemed to define my desires even more.

I want my actions to be fruitful--for others and myself. I want to bear fruit that is fresh, organic, ripe, and nutritious. The freshness, I'll view as a force of renewal, and the organic state, as a natural and spontaneous process. Ripening, I'll consider as a pathway toward richness and complexity, two nutritious elements that will nourish the mind, body, and spirit.

I realize, of course, that growing such fruit presents a tall order.

Hopefully, no poisonous apples will fall from my tree.


gardens and geckos

Our trees needed to be trimmed. That’s how it all started. Funny, how one project can lead to another, and another, then another . . . .

When we bought our house twelve years ago, there was a hot tub deck in the back yard. Since we didn’t have a hot tub or have plans to acquire one, we dismantled the deck and used the lumber to build a tree house for our young son (and me, as it turned out—but that’s another story). Most of the pavers, bricks, and pea gravel that surrounded the deck were used to form a small patio garden. The remaining bricks were stacked against the house awaiting my next inspiration.

The inspiration never came.

Recently, as we were preparing for our tree trimming session, we decided to tidy up our back yard. Our plan included removing the unused bricks and extending the patio garden’s pea gravel further into the lawn where the grass wouldn’t grow. All was well, until . . . .

I learned that the little geckos I occasionally saw, both in and outside our house, had turned the stacked bricks into a condominium site- a fact I was unaware of until I began unstacking the bricks. It was a fact my little dog, Coco, was unaware of as well.

This discovery left me with a dilemma-- remove the bricks or leave the bricks? I really needed to remove the bricks, but I felt uncomfortable about disturbing this newly revealed habitat. My first thought was to relocate the geckos to another area that would provide similar shelter (a reasonable choice, I assumed, since the little creatures had thrived since their move from the Mediterranean eons ago). On the other hand, I mused, if the location I had in mind was suitable, they would have been living there already. After a prolonged internal debate, I initiated relocation efforts, successfully transferring two geckos to a new site.

As I moved to the next stack of bricks, I became aware of another potential problem. The aforementioned Coco had evidently undergone a “Jekyll and Hyde” transformation, turning from my sweet little companion into what appeared to be a possessed, predatory Peek-a-Poo.  No amount of “shooing” would discourage the gaze she had upon the remaining stack of bricks and darting geckos. Cognizant of this newest threat to my gecko population, I issued a stern verbal reprimand that sent Coco skulking into the house. Assessing my options once again, I decided to leave a small stack of bricks against the house and move on to my next task, when . . . .

I turned around to see my lovely little canine back at the brick stack, having successfully captured a gecko that had ventured too far from the condominium grounds. As I stood there watching Coco, happily munch upon her prey, all the quotes regarding “good intentions not being so good” began to flood my mind. I didn’t realize geckos were listed among the five main food groups for dogs. 

I resumed my previous relocation efforts.

While I regret my gardening endeavors caused a bit of habitation havoc, I’m grateful for the lesson I received. It’s easy to forget that even a simple act can alter the rhythm of the natural world. Habitats can be disturbed and destroyed and new predators introduced when we become unaware of the subtle workings of the world around us. I suppose it took three geckos and a small dog to remind me of that delicate balance.

Postscript: The next morning, I was granted a moment of grace, or perhaps an additional opportunity for reflection, when I saw a small gecko scampering up the brick wall in our patio garden.  As I drank my coffee, Coco by my side, I found myself thankful for little creatures, both predators and prey. Perhaps, as Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”


love text

I’ve been playing with some images and text. The featured word is “love.” It’s a word I’ve experienced as both hallowed and hollow. 

But last week, I had one of those fleeting moments when all the past and present difficulties seemed to dissolve, and my heart expanded beyond its confined boundaries. This Grinch-like heart of mine, which often seems to be “two sizes too small”, momentarily “grew three sizes that day."

Now, if I can only check its inevitable shrinkage . . . 

Postscript: I will always be grateful to Theodor Seuss Geisel and his wonderful character, the Grinch. Their message extends well beyond its seasonal boundaries.