Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

Last weekend Mike and I visited one of our very favorite places in the area. It's a wonderful little consignment shop not far from us, where the people are great (friendly, fun and very knowledgeable), and where you can find the kinds of antiques and "vintage" items that are high quality, but not always high priced. There are so many "junky" places around these days, if you know what I mean. Not so many "nicer" ones like this. Especially where we live now. Being from New England, we really miss the many, many wonderful antiques stores and outdoor flea markets and, of course Brimfield! Ever since Mike and I were dating, we would spend weekends "on the hunt". This was one of the things that first attracted us to one another: the love of wonderful, old treasures packed with history!

Now that we live in Southern CA I think we appreciate what we left behind all the more. It's not easy to find shops like they have in the Northeast: the old barns and roadside stores jam packed with things of yesteryear- most which had once been owned by good ole Yankees!:-)

But here at our favorite local store, we come about as close to it as we can here ... and we always have a lot of fun when we visit. Becky is the owner, and she's been there about 30 years, I believe. She sure knows her stuff- and her clients! It's so great how she and her staff get to know you and your taste and what you gravitate towards; and how helpful they are in trying to find just what you are searching for. Richard and Shirley are among our favorites there, too; they always provide stories or tidbits of interesting information for us that we enjoy and often learn from. Maybe it's the fact that Richard is originally from New York, and that Shirley is from New England (New Hampshire, I believe?) that make us relate to them so well, I don't know. But whatever it is, they are great fun! Going to their shop on a weekend afternoon is among our favorite things to do.

We have purchased many wonderful things here, and a couple of weeks ago I went in and fell in love with a beautiful pearl necklace with the most gorgeous diamond clasp. I have thought about this piece of jewelry often since. So, when we went in again this past Saturday, I decided to look at it once more- even try it on this time. As extravagant a gift as it would be, given that I have a birthday in the not-to distant-future, I could not help but entertain the thought of possibly trying to persuade Mike into considering it. But alas, my dreams of the pearls and diamonds were short lived, as I came to find that the necklace had been sold.

"Oh well", as Mike said when he heard the news, "You snooze, you lose!". Nice, huh? But I guess he's right. Even in this economy, you always run the risk of missing an opportunity when you find one-of-a-kind items in places like this.

Maybe that's why, after we left and were sitting in the car about to pull away, Mike got out of the car and left me in the parking lot only to go back into the store and buy me the beautiful silver bowl that had caught my eye as soon as we walked in that day. I kept going back to it, picking it up and admiring it. He said I should "just buy it", to which I replied "No way- it's too much of a splurge!". I just could not justify it. But Mike's feeling was that I didn't need to justify it. Besides, like the necklace, it might not be there if I decided to go back for it. So, he just bought it for me simply "because". Now how sweet is that?! It's kind of like flowers: they are great to get on a special occasion, but to me, I love receiving them even more if it is for "no reason at all". I think that's the best!

After he brought the bowl out to me, I went back in to the shop myself. When I re-entered the store, they all commented on what a great guy Mike is and called him "A keeper". Yes, he certainly is! I asked them if I could take a few pictures, to which Becky said "Sure, take as many as you wish." I knew that I wanted to share this story here on my blog with you all :-) So, I snapped some and then went right back out. This was one of the few times I wanted to leave the store- because my sweet wonderful man was outside waiting ;-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CASEing Double Credit

I have SO many thank you cards to send out! There has been such an amazing outpouring of love and support for me and my family following the sudden loss of my brother this past Christmas Eve. I have received so many cards, emails, phone calls, flowers and plants, etc... it's just incredible.

It's been so hard to try to make something that's "right". I don't know how to do that. I don't know what that would be, really. I could never come up with anything that would show my appreciation and my gratitude. But I needed to try. I kept thinking of Rich and what kind of card he might like. But something appropriate also for so many people. Something kind of masculine; something "earthy", as he loved nature, plants, trees. Well, I kept getting stuck.

Then, as I was looking through the many beautiful sympathy cards I received, two of them jumped out at me and I suddenly had a vision of a combination of two of them.
So, I basically did a double-CASE (and for those who are not card makers, CASE stands for "Copy And Share with Everybody").
Thank you Laura, for your awesome card using the great tree and those wonderful colors! Thank you Jenn for the terrific layout of your beautiful card, and that button with twine over the ribbon! See how this just came together? I could not have made this card on my own. Thank you both so much!

On the inside, I stamped a sentiment that I think is great. For those who knew Rich, you know there could be no bigger Beatles fan. I actually have a stamp that quotes John Lennon: "I get by with a little help from my friends". And that's just what I am doing: getting by with help from my (and my brothers!) friends. Lots of help!

Materials used: SU! Sahara Sand and Chocolate Chip c/s; Enchante dsp; Chocolate Chip ink; Chocolate Chip double stitched grosgrain ribbon; PTI Chocolate button; PTI linen thread; SU! scallop border punch; MS butterfly punch; SU! stamp sets: Small Script (for "grateful"); Sage Advice (for John Lennon quote inside).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Of My Favorites: Damask & Mickey Mouse: Together!

On one of my recent trips to The Happiest Place On Earth I spotted one of the cutest handbags I have ever seen at Disneyland. I just have to show it to you! First of all, I love damask. And I love brown. I mean, it's not that I am attracted to the color alone so much, but I love wearing it and mixing it. Pink and brown, blue and brown, ivory and brown... brown is awesome!
So check out this ivory and brown combo! This is so great! It's a hobo style (my favorite), it's soft and lightweight, yet sturdy enough to hold quite a bit. The design is so stinkin' cute- the Mickey's are recognizable and at the same time, they remind me of "hidden Mickeys" as well. And they are kind of raised in a crushed velvet type material. It also came in black and white, and I am kind of sorry I did not buy that one, too. But I wear so much brown and things that this will match better with.
So, while I am having my Coach bag (that I use all the time) cleaned, I figure this will do. Pretty cute, huh?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Don't Have To Be Jewish....

.... to need Jewish Penicillin!
Last weekend I had one heck of a migraine. Lately, it seems I am getting them much more frequently. Anyway, the only thing that I felt like eating was Mike's wonderful home made chicken soup! It's a lot different from my own mother's recipe, which I absolutely loved, but still, it's terrific. Many years ago (at least 20!), when our oldest kids were little, Mike's mom taught him how to make it. And it does indeed do the trick! It's just one of those things. No matter what ails you, there's nothing like home made Jewish penicillin to speed up your recovery :-)
And thank you, Mike! You know how much we all love it when you make us your delicious soup (and mac & cheese, and burgers, and.....)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Anke & Mike

Last week I made this card for two of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet. This week they celebrated their 49th (!) wedding anniversary. Anke and Mike are members of our wonderful church. They have done and continue to do more than you can begin to imagine for our church. They are amazing people- such a wonderful example of loving, giving, Christ followers. What an inspiration they are! And just the nicest people, too. I often tell my husband that I want to be like Anke when I grow up ;-)
Anke is very, very talented at crafting. She lives in a big, gorgeous old Victorian house, and I wanted to make her something elegant with a bit of a vintage feel to it, as I think that would be her taste. I hope she liked it.

To make this card, I used: River Rock and Very Vanilla c/s; K & Company designer paper; Prima flowers, gold Robin's Nest dew drops, brass findings and lace ribbon. I embossed the sentiment in gold.

Deal Of The Day, Week, Month, Year???

I was a bad girl, but did soooo well! I think this may end up being my best shopping deal in a long time!
I was on the internet looking to buy, of all things, underwear. And since we get a discount at Federated stores, I was looking at Macy's. Well, I guess they have door buster (block buster?) deals. I can't remember exactly what they call them, but website "specials". I have often thought that "if it sounds too good to be true" then yes, it likely is. But when I saw their online special I really thought it might be worth trying out. After all, I could always return it if I didn't like it, right?
Well, I know it was a splurge, but I just decided "what the heck!" and ordered it. It's a 100" (no- no typo there- I said 100 inch!!!) strand of 7-8 mm cultured pearls. They are beautiful! If I put them on and stand up, they go all the way down to my shin! (And at 5'8", I am not all that short.) So, they look awesome wrapped 3 times. Still nice and long.
Anyway- are you ready for this? Can you see the tag on them? It says $500.00! But, after the discount, they came to just $80.00! So, happy early birthday to ME! :-)
(In one photo they look kind of yellow, but in reality they are like the other pic. Really pretty!)

Coping With A Huge Loss

Okay- so I know what I said... that I was going to be better about posting. But, I guess I just hit a real "life happens" period in my life. And that, unfortunately, made me put my blog on the back burner. Without trying to be a real downer or harping on what I have been going through, I do feel the need to tell you a bit about the few months since I last posted.

Christmas was tough. Really tough. It began with the most horrible phone call I have ever received. On Christmas Eve, of all days. It was the coroner calling to tell me that my brother had been found dead. Totally sudden and unexpected. I just could not believe it. I refused to believe it. I called my husband in a panic, and he hurried home from work. It took us hours (since we were in another state and it was Christmas Eve), to get confirmation from the police that indeed, this horrible phone call was no prank. It was real. My dear brother Rich was gone.

I have had losses in my life. Big ones. In less than 5 years, I had lost my father, my mother, even my beloved dog... and now my brother. As difficult as it was to lose my parents, nothing could compare to this. My parents had become "old", had lived full lives; this was within the natural scheme of things. But Rich... he had so much more ahead of him. So much living yet to do! He was 4 years older than me; I have never known life without him. And no one knew me as long as he did, in a way he did. We shared so much together and had a close bond that is truly irreplaceable. It still seems unreal to me. We had so much planned, and so much to look forward to. As a matter of fact, at the time of his death, by brother was in the process of moving here to live close to me and my family. We were all so excited about it!

So, I guess it's all about finding a "new normal" now. Because no matter how many people claim that with time it "gets easier", I don't believe it. You just have to adjust. And as you do, and the shock wears off, then you begin to cope. But in my opinion it never really gets "easier". Quite honestky, as my husband and I were recently noting, it's actually getting harder. Because it's been too long now since we have picked up the phone only to hear his voice on the other end, shared life's happenings with him, laughed together (oh how we laughed!) and reminisced. We did an awful lot of that over the last year, since our Mom died. And now I have no one to do that with. There is no one who I can talk with about those childhood memories, the people we knew, the places we went, the things we did. It's a really hard place to be. It's a lonely place to be.

But I am trying to do the best I can at what I know Rich would have wanted me to do. To concentrate on my family: my wonderful husband (whom Rich's friends said he thought of as some kind of super hero, lol!), and my beautiful children. And he'd want me to think of all the good times we had together. All the wonderful memories. And to remember how much he loved me. That's easy to do. We talked on the phone nearly every day. It was rare not to talk to him. And every time we talked, he told me he loved me. He also often told me I was the only family he had left. It made me sad for him that he had never married or had any children. But Mike, the kids and I were here for him. And he knew it. He loved us, he adored our kids. It was going to be so great to have him living close to us. Rich also had friends living here, already. And eventually his best friend of 30 years was planning on moving out here, too. This was to be a "new beginning" for him.

So, here we are. Without him. At least without him here on earth. But because he was such a big part of our lives, he is still with us. We hear his voice (quite literally, as many of you know he was a voice actor so we still hear him on the t.v., radio, recorded phone messages for businesses, etc.), and we have so, so many memories. And thankfully- oh so thankfully- I know where he is. Because in the last months of his life, my brother found Christ. He was searching. And he found his way. There is nothing more important. No bigger accomplishment can be made. And so I know he's just on the "other side", and he'll be there to greet me when I join him there, too. I hold on to that. And I carry on as I know he would want me to. Is it hard? Yeah you bet it is. But it's okay. I know in my heart he's okay.