Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happiness for 2015

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light - Albus Dumbledore

We determine our own happiness, individually I mean. My husband can't make me happy. My children can't make me happy. I need to make me happy. Over the course of this year, I read (and listened to, thanks Audible) Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and Happier at Home. (You can find my review of the first book here and podcast show notes for the second near the bottom of the page.) Rubin uses a straightforward tone, as expected from a former lawyer, to reassure and inspire that her happiness project is feasible to all who wish to partake. She outlines what works for her and gives loads of useful and practical suggestions for accomplishing goals and becoming happier overall. She maintains that this project should be tailored to the individual by understanding what actually makes you happy and unhappy.

My own happiness project for 2015 is going to look a little bit different than Rubin's because I'm tailoring it to me and I'm not Gretchen Rubin. I've been going back and forth between what to share and not to share in this little space of mine, and for now I'll stick to crafting and develop Rose & Toast in that direction. Starting a blog leaves so much open not only for criticism but also for community, and since I am in fact a three-dimensional character (or in other words a human being) I have more likes and dislikes than yarn, fabric, and floss. However, I want to develop this creative area of my life (for my own personal happiness as well as possibly my family's) and hope that I have something to contribute to the crafting world at large. My hope is that you'll join me on this journey as I muddle my way through.

Quick recap of 2014:

I started the blog in September. Woohoo! Since I started quite a bit later in the year a few projects didn't get documented and I don't have photo documentation so you're going to just have to take my word that they did in fact get completed.

- 3 crochet blankets 

Daisy | Baby Ripple | Granny Square 

- 4 quilts 

Car seat cover (using the fabric featured above) 

I also made several hats including Captain America themed, Alabama, Jayne Cobb x 2, Mickey Mouse x 2, and various other knick-knacks. 

Now as we ring in the glorious New Year, I plan on being much more diligent about documenting projects in all their various stages. I hope you all had a fantastic 2014, and here's to an even brighter, happier 2015! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

St. Lucia's

Several generations ago, Husband's family immigrated from Sweden. We are lucky enough to have his fourth Great-grandfather's autobiography/journal that details his trip from the family farm in Sweden to his schooling in Denmark and then onto work in the United States. This year I wanted to focus more on traditions than presents and our Swedish family heritage seemed like a wonderful place to start.

The sentiment of St. Lucia's day is a magical one, filled with goodness, light, and charity, perfect for heralding in the joy of Christmas. Lucia (meaning light) was a Christian woman condemned to death for refusing a Pagan husband, before her martyrdom she also donated all her money to feed the poor, or so the legend says. In Scandinavian culture, St. Lucia's Day is celebrated on the 13th of December, the original Winter Solstice, with the oldest daughter dressing up as Lucia, in a white dress for purity, a red sash for martyrdom, an evergreen crown topped with candles. Typically, she rises before the rest of the family and serves bread and coffee.

We mixed it up a little to fit what we were actually capable of doing but still keeping to the tradition. The girls made paper crowns after the fashion of the evergreen wreath by gluing holly leaves and red berries to a construction paper band. They made star sugar cookies to deliver to our neighbors and sang carols instead of the usually Sanka Lucia hymn, which I'm hoping to learn for next year. For dinner, we ate the traditional Julbord with roast beef, cheese, bread and butter, pickles, and the left over sugar cookies, which aren't exactly traditional but they are delicious.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GREAT grandma

Husband's Grandma passed away last week. It was not at all expected and quite sudden, we had just seen her on Thanksgiving and talked to her a few days before she was taken to the hospital. She was eighty-three and ready to go, but she will be dearly missed by us all.

This feisty "polar bear" (as she endearingly called herself to my kiddos) is the reason I started getting into crafts in the first place. She is the reason I know how to hem and patch pants. She is the reason I became even remotely interested in quilting and later crochet, which then led to embroidery and cross-stitch. All because this amazing woman shared her talent and her time.

For our wedding (actually a few months after, but that's entirely different story for an entirely different day), she gave us our amazing quilt. It is by far my most prized material possession and it has literally traveled over oceans with us. I don't think it has ever left our bed, except when one (or more) of us is sick, then it lives on the couch with us. The colors magically work and it is such the perfect combination of Husband and I with plaid flannel mixed with roses.

The last time we saw her I was terrified that my kids would destroy her living room. She told me in her very matter-of-fact, no-nonsense way, "If a house is not fit for kids, it's not fit for much." I am so grateful that she took the time to make this treasure for us and am even more grateful now for the knowledge, love and wisdom she shared.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ordinary Day

Normal day! Holding it in my hand this one moment, i have come to see it as more than an ordinary rock. it is a gem, a jewel...normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. let me not pass you by in a quest for some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day i shall...want more than all the world your return. And then i will know what I now am guessing: that you are, indeed, a common rock, and not a jewel, but that a common rock made of the very mass substance of the earth in all its strength and plenty puts a gem to shame. 
-Mary Jean Irion

I couldn't sleep last night. I lay down twice but to no avail. The brain would not stop racing. Got up to write down the thoughts that plagued my little computer brain in hopes that having them on paper would soften their voices and allow me to sleep. It worked, sort of.

These days, though filled with Christmas festivities and preparations for festivities including visitors, are still ordinary days. Part of why my mind is racing so much is because of the run up for the new year. I love making resolutions, goals, and planning projects. The idea of a "new me" thrills and excites me. 2015 could bring anything and I see this as the year that I can do any and all the things. However, in my old age (ha!), I'm coming to the realization that I am what I am.

Linda Eyre writes in her book, I didn't plan to be a witch, that children are seeds to be nourished, not clay to be molded. I am still a child, just an older one. Just because I have my own children does not mean that I cease to require nourishment; we all stand in need of nourishment. In order to fully comprehend where I need nourished, I need to find where I lack. This can only be found within the ordinary day. 

Mornings are not my friend, never have been, probably never will be, but this is where the ordinary day starts. Morning. Currently, it's cold and dark, even at 7:30 am, but that little fact does not deter children from waking up whenever they darn well please. Little man is pretty consistent at 6, such a morning lark which is hard for this night owl, and Wookie is not long after. Nins stumbles out whenever she hears parental movement and not a moment sooner (she's been trained well). Lately, sugar cereal has been the poison of choice, partly for convenience and partly because I'm just that lazy. My car pool gets me at 8:30 and the idea of leaving a sink full of dishes for husband to wash makes me feel like a horrible person so three bowls it is.

Then the daily 8 hour work day, 5 days a week. I enjoy my work mostly and think the people are pretty great, but it's a bit of a source of dissatisfaction. You see, I miss my children. (In my humble opinion) I should be home, raising, nurturing, and rearing each one of them. My husband does a fantastic job and truly is an AMAZING father. I cannot shout his praises loud enough, but we both would prefer a situation where our roles were reversed. In our current state, it doesn't seem possible (though I remind myself daily that through God all things are possible AND for those who remember the Brandy version of Cinderella Whitney Houston sings the "Impossible" song, Youtube it, you'll be glad you did). Impossible things happen every day. Every ordinary day.

In my restlessness, I wrote: I cannot wait around for "someday"... someday when my babies are older, someday when they are not whining, someday when we are rich, someday when I'm not working, someday when I'm not pregnant, someday when the weather is nice...because "someday" will NEVER come. Someday must become TOday. Not at the expense of shirking responsibilities, bills need paid and children need fed, but who's stopping us from hiking? camping? (things on my husband's "living list") eating pancakes for breakfast? following our dreams? ME! I am. By pushing things off to "someday," I am responsible for not creating those memories or the unfulfillment (made up word) of my own dreams. Denzel Washington said that "Dreams without goals remain dreams, just dreams, and ultimately fuel disappointment." Achieving goals requires discipline and consistency, two traits I sorely lack.

I don't want my dreams to remain dreams. My marriage and each of my children are dreams come true. They are my greatest blessings, which is easy to forget because they require a lot of work each and every single day. It is my hope to cease my quest for a perfect tomorrow, for the quintessential someday, and revel in the gift that today brings while still actively striving toward my goals and dreams. One ordinary day at a time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

50 State Stitching quilt top

A little while ago, I mentioned (I think I mentioned) that I am working on an embroidery/quilt project. The project is through Wild Olive and if you're interested I think that you can still sign up. You'll be a bit behind, but heck, I am too, so really it's just joining the party!

It's such a fun project and includes hand stitching and English Paper Piecing (EPP), two techniques I'm still pretty new to. Every Tuesday, I get a new state in my email. Mollie (from Wild Olive) is so creative and takes her task of choosing themes very seriously and writes the greatest letters to commemorate each state. My favorite star so far is the Virginia ham (and if you've ever seen The American President, you'll completely understand why).

At first, I was so good about completing each state the day I received it, Tuesday was my weekly stitching night and each star was completed by Wednesday, Thursday at the latest, and then....then I wasn't so good. I was going for a Civil War type theme with the fabric while keeping with the patriotic 50 states. I'm still catching up on the embroidery part BUT I finished the blocks and stripes today!

It's a terrible photograph because the light is wrong and the wind picked up and Little Man's shadow is clearly visible in the left corner but it's finished (sort of). The project is intended to last a while (next July to be precise) so keep an eye out for updates on the stars. 

And because I'm totally proud of this photo, I'm sharing it. Wookie's hair gets lighter every year and though it makes me sad my black haired babe is slowly morphing into a blondie, the highlights are truly spectacular.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Right now, I'm in the midst of several big projects and a few smaller projects that are meant for Christmas so sharing is off limits. Most work is getting done once kiddos are in bed, at that point the sun is long gone, and the heater is purring noisily. The sound of the sewing machine is soothing and the rhythm of my hooks comforting. There's a lot up in the air at the moment, but instead of getting anxious and crazy, as I have a tendency to do, I'm focusing on this season. This wonderful, magical, spiritual season.

I love that Thanksgiving feeds right into Christmas that feeds into the (shiny) new year, and I'm working diligently to remember all the things I am grateful for and all the things I need to work on. We constructed our Thankful tree over the course of November and it continues to hang in the kitchen near the table, serving as a reminder for all the things, temporal and spiritual, we have as we tuck in to our daily meals. Over the years, I've taken the whole resolutions making ritual quite seriously, but I'm thinking of changing things up a bit.

My hope is to have several finished projects to share in the coming weeks, though I can't make any promises. I'm also considering adding a more different venture, still along the same vein, for 2015. There are several things I'd like to leave in 2014 and several more I'd like to pick up in the new year and this would be the place to add and share.