Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I wished I had gotten help sooner

You know how some blogs have a day where they just post pictures? Well this isn't one of those days, nor is it one of those blogs. This one is all words. As soon as I am done here - I hope to go take a short nap.
I will admit, I have had a few difficult years here lately. Some of the early stress was self-induced from trying to fit my business into a place where it really didn't fit. I worked long, hard hours at it, but then I had to face facts. Fact facing took another 6 months. But boy, when I stopped, the relief was palpable. Whew!

If you read my blog - then you may have read this post:What day is it? That was back in mid July. Since that time, my mother has been diagnosed with Chronic Myelo Monostatic Leukemia - also known as MDS. MDS is a pre-leukemia and can be sent into remission - with some effort. It helps to have some things in your corner - a semblance of physical strength, an awareness of what your body is capable of, as well as other intangibles. My mother has *nothing* to bring to this fight. And yet my cousin and I agree - she is the woman with nine lives. We don't know how she does it. To date, my mom has had chemo 10 times, been transfused 8 times, and been to the hospital 2 times. This I can deal with. There is a plan, there is professional help, there is a treatment. 

What I can't deal with, is having to be her parent. It is like being a parent to an ornery child/teenager. There is constant wrangling - to try and get her to eat better, to exercise, to not go up and down the stairs alone, to keep her help button around her neck, to keep the phone with her when she moves around the house. This is exhausting. She prides herself on being stubborn. Right, sure ... Better traits to emulate: being cooperative, and agreeable, helpful.

Other stresses in Pennsylvania - Jennifer's mom, Mary Lee - has had to move from one assisted living facility (too expensive) to another - which is a very difficult transition for an Alzheimer's patient, and Jennifer's dear niece, Sarah dies suddenly at age 26. We are devastated. 
The day we memorialized Sarah - I called my mom at lunch time, to make sure she had eaten. No, she hadn't. Please at least go get a yogurt. She did. And then she fell. 3 hours later when I went back to her house, where was she? On the step into the family room, crying and calling out - because she couldn't get up to a standing position - and couldn't call for help - because she refuses to wear the help button or carry the phone with her. I am ... speechless.

Meanwhile, at home, my daughter is getting ready to go off to college - and I am not able to spend any. quality. time. with. her. because I am up in Pennsylvania 3 or 4 days out of every week. She IS leaving - do I know what I am going to do without her? No.

Before I know it, it is September. I am not sleeping, I am exhausted, unhappy, blowing up at nothing, crying at the drop of a hat. I need help. I don't want to talk about any of it anymore, because it feels like bile in my throat. I haven't felt this helpless or 'out of it' since my daughter Callie died. This alone is a revelation. I feel fragile. (Go ahead - say it like they say it on "The Christmas Story" - at least it will sound funny!) I need happy pills and sleeping pills because I feel like I am losing it.
Where is my husband in all of this? Staying below the radar, poor guy - at least he makes me happy - but I am sure he wants to just fix this and make. it. go. away.

My daughter has gone off to college. I am surviving this so far. It may be like early grief - perhaps I am just in shock. 
I am now taking a sleeping pill. I am up to the maximum dosage. Now, it is just a waiting game. This pill is supposed to work on both ends of my problem. 
Ergo, with proper sleep comes happiness. 

I hope you have sweet dreams.
Until next time, Liz 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Visiting my other daughter

I was in Rohrersville, MD this morning, putting the third coat of finish on some of the wood floors in a house my husband and I are restoring. On my way back home I needed to stop at Nichols Hardware in Purcellville, VA. The road that I use to get there (Rt. 690) is near where my younger daughter resides.

It is a beautiful setting - this church has been here from the early settlement days of Loudoun County.

Ketoctin Baptist Church 1751

                      The grounds are very well taken care of. 
                                   You can hardly see her. 
            Her marker is small compared to a 'normal' marker.
   She is off to the left of the marker in the middle of the photo.
This is the oldest part of the cemetery.  It lies behind the church and is surrounded by a wonderful stone wall.

So many cemeteries these days are just windswept fields. We were looking in January of 1996 - they were frozen windswept fields then. The blizzard started the day after she was buried.
When we had to bury Callie I wanted some 'borrowed landscape'.  Something to make her plot feel more 'homey?' and less - of what it really was... 
Callie's plot backs up to the stone wall surrounding the old cemetery. The tall stump you see in the background use to be a huge old evergreen populated by all kinds of birds and squirrels. 
Our dog Cali was with me today - she had never been with me to visit Callie. Cali enjoyed the new wide open space and all of the forest animal smells. And NO - I did not name my dog after my dead daughter. This sweet pup came with that name - 3 years ago, and as my dear friend/sister Jennifer said when she saw Cali on the Best Friends website - "I think she is heaven sent". We agreed!

I didn't bring anything with me to leave at her grave today - but soon it will be time to take a pumpkin or two - so all of the forest creatures can enjoy a special treat.

 And you can imagine all of the animals that might run amok out here. Forest, field, and a creek nearby make a wonderful place to live and play.

Cali keeps company with venerable neighbors. All of the old Loudoun County families are buried here - the Love's, Purcell's, Hutcheson's and more. It is a quiet place, a contemplative place. Birdsong and squirrel chatter are about the only noise you hear.
If you'd like to see what else I did today - take a look at my Facebook Page.

Until later - xo, Liz

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cooking for Two

Talk about different eating styles and you're talking about me and my husband. I am always willing to try foods that are new to me and I have a pretty varied palette. I prefer lighter fare for the most part and love salads of all kinds. I also have a 'picky palette'. If it doesn't taste good - ugh, forget it. And believe it or not - even though I have posted more than once here about food - I am not an eater or a 'foodie'. My husband is pretty much a meat and potatoes guy and won't touch green leafy stuff let alone eat it. He will be more than happy to eat pizza for lunch/dinner - days on end. He is not a food adventurer. Until recently he hadn't ever had the 'american' staple - Chinese food!
Since we have been married I have slowly managed to get him to eat all kinds of Mexican food made at home - and at restaurants, and introduced him to Greek food, both at home and festivals. My daughter left for college last Thursday - and so now I am definitely cooking for two. Which poses a problem. Whereas I might want a small piece of chicken and a salad - I still have to cook big and large for Bob.
Time to experiment. I lost track of time today - and so instead of roasting a whole chicken I only had time to defrost 2 thighs. Now what? A little olive oil in the pan, a small thinly sliced onion, a handful of sliced  grapes, an apple cored, sliced and cut into bite sized pieces. Saute this until the onion is clear and soft, add the chicken and lightly brown on both sides. Add 1/2 cup of beer - mine was a Corona - I drank the rest with a slice of lime. After about 20 minutes - add about 1/2 cup of barbeque sauce. Put the lid on it and let it cook. 
The flavors were savory and just a tiny bit sweet - and tangy. The apple chunks softened and the crisp, tart flavor melded with the onion and grapes. We had rice as a side - as well as veggies - I had spinach, and made mixed vegetables for Bob. He loved the chicken! There may be hope yet...

Until later, Liz

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


There is a first time for everything.  Ginna and I were separated the first time was when she was about 18 months old. I was going to be away for the weekend and had gotten her Godparents watch her. All through the first afternoon Kay kept watching her, waiting for her to realize that I wasn't around. Nothing. A stroll through the neighborhood. Nothing. Dinner came and went. Nothing. Bath time came. Off came the clothes, shoes, diaper.  Into the tub she went. Uh Oh!
The lip began to quiver, and Kay thought 'here it comes'. The beginnings of tears, more quivering of the lip. Kay thought for sure she would hear Ginna cry "Mommy"!
What came crying out of this little girls mouth instead?                                                                              "Shooooooes"!
After this whenever we would go shoe shopping - I would have to put her on the conveyor belt with the new pair on - because she wouldn't take them off.
It hasn't changed much - except she's too big to go on the conveyor belt now ;)
Last fall, at the Ladies Board Hospital Sale, I found these fabulous vintage gold sandals accented with framed tiles,(Signals by Beacon) for Ginna.  I loved them and I knew she would too! She wore them with her toga for Homecoming week and ever since - I have thought of them as Goddess sandals.
I have silently coveted them since then - but I wear a smaller size, so borrowing them was a no go.
Then TaDa!!  What did I find - but a similar pair - only in off white from StoriedVintage (http://www.etsy.com/shop/StoriedVintage2 ) on Etsy. Lorraine was wonderful to work with.  I just got them today - and after I put them on, I did a happy dance. 
Here we are with our 'matching shoes'. I have the hot pink toes and Ginna has the navy and gold toes (Drexel U. colors). 
We will be separated longer this time - on Thursday I will be taking her off to Philadelphia and moving her into her dorm. 
Wish me luck & no quivering lip or tears. 
Maybe just a cheer of "SHOES"!
xo, Liz

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dinner from Scratch

Not that this is unusual around my house - I usually cook from scratch.  But I ramped it up a notch today.

It had been awhile since I had made pinto beans... I started soaking them yesterday (3/4 of a bag of pintos , 1/4 of a bag of black beans ), and then rinsed them this morning. I had 3 cups of frozen chicken stock (my own) - so I added that to the beans, and started them on a low flame. I chopped a medium onion, and a whole red pepper, and sauteed them in a small amount of bacon grease that was left over from breakfast. 
YEP - sorry you missed bacon and waffles ;)
When the stock was melted I added the onion & pepper. Spices included a generous dash of home grown celery flakes (thanks Tom and Tracy), and the same of cilantro, cumin & fresh cracked black pepper.
I cooked the beans over high heat until they came to a boil, then turned them down to simmer - and went to take a nap for 2 hours. 
Yes - the nap was justified - I woke up from a sorrowful dream at 1:30 last night and then tossed and turned until 4 a.m.  Time to get up.
When I did get up (at 4 a.m.) I opened the package of stew meat, a Corona, cut open a lime, and chopped another onion.
In a bowl I combined the meat, 1/2 a bottle of the beer ( I had the rest with dinner), a dash of extra virgin olive oil,  juice of a whole lime, and the onion. Spices also included cumin, cilantro and pepper.
When I got up after my nap  :) ahhhhhhh...  I stirred the beans and checked the heat - nice and low.
I took the meat out of the marinade and sliced it into smaller, bite sized pieces. Back into the marinade it goes. I warm a pan so that when the meat goes in - it sizzles.  I reserve the marinade until the end. Once the meat has browned and has started to 'dry', I add a chopped heirloom tomato. This gets stirred around until the pan starts to de-glaze - then I add about 1/2 the marinade to finish the de-glazing and to create a bit of a sauce.
All ready!  I served the meat on a flour tortilla sprinkled with shredded cheese, for my husband. For me - the same, only I added lettuce on top. The beans were the perfect tenderness, served on the side with a light sprinkling of finely shredded 'Mexican' cheese as well.
The flavors were complex and delicious. The spices were blended and yet you could still taste the individual flavors. I had the other 1/2 of the Corona with a slice of lime, my husband had iced tea (a staple in our house).

have a great evening - until next time, Liz

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nautical Necklaces

This is another part of my order I sent off to the Cane Garden Bay Surf Shop this past week.
Fun and colorful is what they were asking for - and I had some playful ideas for necklaces.

Some that were simple

Some that were silly

Some that were a little snarky

Some that were a little dark

And last but not least - my message in a bottle - complete with a tiny fish hook, baby shells, AND - a handmade 'treasure map' - my favorite thing to make as a child. Wait... and still is - does this mean something? ;)

Have a great weekend!  Liz

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Surf's Up Greeting Cards

Here the cards are - all completed - I just sent the whole box of goodies off today. 
This was the first style of cards I had sent out.

The second style of card had a bit more movement - you can see what the wave shape of the rubber stamp does for the card.
 These were fun to create.
 And of course the great photos help
 Then I had to match up pages to the cards - to make the envelopes!
 Some I love - some I think are just OK - but that's the way with any artist isn't it?
We are sometimes our worst critics!

let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how - come on and safari with me, with me, with me...

until then, Liz

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Color on Color

I am working on the preliminary stages of my surf cards and I thought I would show how one color of ink - looks so unique on different colors of card stock. 
This set shows neon pink ink on bright pink and orange cards.

Bright blue ink on kelly green, pale green, lime, and turquoise stock.

Yellow ink on pale yellow and school bus yellow stock, as well as pink ink on coral and school bus yellow stock.

A variety of inks - silver, blue, and multi-hued on the violet/purple family of card stock.

I have already combined the large magazine page (that will become the envelope) with these cards.  Now to find images that coordinate or contrast - for a layering effect over my stamped 'wave'.  I'll share those with you later!

Until then, xo, Liz

Friday, September 7, 2012

Smells Like Fall

Sweet Annie - it always smells like Fall to me.

There are a lot of Artemesia's in the herbal world - Silver 

Queen, Silver King, are just a few. These are a pale gray

perennial and they have their own distinct, but mild scent. 

Sweet Annie is also in the Artemesia family - Artemesia Annua. It gets it's name from it's sweet scent, (it smells like Fall to me!), and, because this plant is an annual - (Annie). It is the only annual in this family - luckily for us, it reseeds itself.

Years ago, when I was doing some huge juried craft shows, I would drive to a pig farm over in West Virginia and literally harvest an entire pick-up truck load. I would make tons of everlasting - arrangements, wreaths and 'trees' out of it.

This plant - unlike many herbs - loves rich soil; and so - it loves my 'smallish' pasture out behind our house, where Sweet Pea, my pony, and Donkey, my donkey reside. It is much nicer to spend time out there with them - harvesting this herb, than having to drive all that way! 
And company they are.  Sweet Pea walks right up to me and wants to see what I'm doing.  Donkey does this little 'stealth' trick.  He sort of comes near me...and then s.l.o.w.l.y. backs in to me until his back end is up against my leg.  Of course they both LOVE to be petted and scratched.
Sweet Annie is an attractant for two FABULOUS garden insects - Lady Bugs and Praying Mantis. Lady bugs, in the early stages, are a tiny, long and narrow black and red critter. I tell everyone who purchases bundles of the herb, that the baby lady bugs are more likely to come along in your package - just shake them outside - your garden will love you! 

Because Praying Mantis are larger to start with - I usually spot them before they get packed up. 

Here I am weighing out 2 half pound pre-orders that I shipped off yesterday. Boy are those boxes fragrant when I take them up to the post office!

These little yellow buds are what is so fragrant. This plant makes beautiful bases for herb wreaths, smells good when you put a tiny bit in your vacuum cleaner, and looks pretty in fresh floral arrangements too!
Sorry there isn't a scratch and sniff component to the computer - it smells like Fall to me!

Until then... xo, Liz

The time is NOW!

Please VOTE for ME!!

Sometime in August I saw a post on Etsy's blog? about a contest called American Made sponsored by Martha Stewart.  And I entered...

This was the product I started with - my Patriotic Ribbon Wreath -  but I also included

My Colors of Nature Ribbon Wreath

Polka Dot Daisies Ribbon Wreath

White Chocolate Ribbon Wreath

Spring Green Nest Ribbon Wreath

Pleated Skirt Recycled Envelopes Card

Bow Tie Recycled Envelopes Card

FistiCuff Men's Tab Top Cuff

and my Tab Top Key Chains

The voting starts today - September 7th and ends September 24th.
Vote early and share 'viral' ly - thanks!!


Love ya, Liz

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Make your own Rubber Stamp

Also could be sub-titled: Don't throw that away - I can use it!!

I am currently working on 4 different projects  - all a collection of items which will be sent off to the Cane Garden Bay Surf Shop in the British Virgin Islands.  I have a whole stack of surf magazines - where as you can see - it is all about the photo.  These magazines are all eye candy when it comes to waves, ads, etc...  Needless to say - that means these magazine pages make great envelopes and cards.  My first set of surf cards all had the same type of look - so I wanted to change it up a bit for this next order.
I have looked everywhere - for some time now - for a wave stamp.  A stamp that was big enough to cover an A2 sized card. Nothing. So what to do?? If you're me - you make your own!

A fellow paper enthusiast gave me a bunch of rubber pieces that had been trimmed from rubber stamps.  They knocked around here for a while - but it finally got to the point where I had to make the stamp. 
I took the pieces and just followed the edge with my scissors - the lines and curves that were already there.  I mixed up small batches of epoxy - and started to 'lay out' my wave. We are not exactly talking a 'pretty' stamp here - but it is certainly functional.

And as you can see - it almost has a linoleum or wood block print look to it. This will be my background to the next set of surf cards that I make.  They will be more 'collage like' with this inked under layer. 

So the next time you need something - and can't find it out there on the WWW - do what I would do - make it!  

Good Luck  :)  Liz
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