Blessings of Peace and Joy be yours ♥

Dear Friends,

Last night was the last night of Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights – and today is the first day of Christmas – for many of us Christians the first day of an entire season.  So many images of light and joy are dancing through my thoughts these last few days as I celebrate these gifts from a loving Creator so I thought I’d pop in here to wish you all joy and peace and the blessing of light in your lives.

For me all holy days (well really all days since most are holy in one way or another)  are about Joy and on Christmas more than most.  One of my favorite blogs (The Velveteen Rabbi) gave me two Christmas gifts today.  One a link to a blog ( Telling Secrets ) I’ve never read before (but will be reading now) and who’s post about Joy and Christmas and life in between confirmed my own thoughts on the subject and reminded me what it is to breathe.

And second a poem that says so much and reminds us to carry Christmas with us throughout the year.   Thought I’d share that with you too.

by Reverend Howard Thurman

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

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I thought I’d also share a bit of creativity with you as an added gift.   My dear friend,  fellow Llama and Wacky Watercooler member Patti Leeke shared her lovely picture of a star wreath with me awhile back and today seems a great day to share that with all of you as well.  Not least of which is because the Many Merry Stars Simply Created Kit that is the foundation of the wreath is on sale until January 5th or while supplies last.

Think of star shine, creativity and love and you have a picture of both Patti and her wonderful wreath.   Thanks Patti for sharing!  Now if only one of Patti’s New Years resolution was to start a blog!

Patti’s Many Merry Stars Wreath

Patti's Star Wreath 1

Patti's Star Wreath 2

Patti’s loving spouse Jim (Hi Jim and Merry Christmas) made the wooden wreath form (fancy name for a circle shaped ring) for Patti.  The rest of the supplies are mostly from the Many Merry  Stars Simply Created Kit with a few extras current and retired that Patti found in her studio.  Here’s the list based on what I can see:

Many Merry Stars Simply Created Kit, Tree Punch (2014 Holiday), Designer Rosette XL Bigz Die, Gift Bow Punch (2015 Occasions), Paper Doily Sizzlit Die (retired), Itty Bitty Accent punch pak (stars), Wonderful Wreath stamps and die set (2014 Holiday), Glimmer Paper (various colors), Snowflake Punch (retired), Small Circle Punch – not sure what size.

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That’s it for the blog today…back to the merry mayhem that is Christmas in the country…good food, good friends to share with, neighbors chickens, dogs, music and celebratory gun shots (theirs not mine and not recommended at all)  and a tangible joy that knows no bounds.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Jean Fitch in pink

 

 

 

 

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Before the first day of the new year slips away…..

Before the first day of the new year slips away let me wish you….

…..   from the country!

One of the many things in my In Box today was a post from my favorite online rabbi.   She reintroduced me to a man whose work I had read and enjoyed in college and I thought I’d share his prayer in a basic MDS page.  My plan for the new year is to print this and post it where I can see and pray it often and add it to the front of a new album for the year ahead.

Here’s the original post with a very cool story added to the prayer – http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2012/01/a-blessing-for-the-new-year-from-reverend-howard-thurman.html

Here’s my page:

Here’s a Word doc with the text of the prayer in case you’d like to do some creating of your own:

Prayer – Through the Coming Year – Howard Thurman

Oops…forgot to mention that this page makes use of the new Sale-a-Bration CD-Rom that will be available January 24th as a freebie when you buy $50 worth of Stampin’ Up product.  That disk is amazing!  It contains all the unique SAB images and papers, ribbons and brads in digital form.  Even includes the Decor Element piece as a brush image!   What a wonderful way to be able to use all the lovely SAB products.   Granted the physical paper Everyday Enchantment that I used digitally is even more fun to work with since I can die cut and punch with it.   In an upcoming blog hop later this week you’ll see more samples of it.  I love the use it makes of our many In Colors.  This page also uses the digital version of All Scallops brush image (the stamp set itself is retired)  and the coordinating In Colors Pool Party and Calypso Coral. 

Hugs and Blessings and may you find joy in the  new year ahead!   – Jean

 

 

And lest you forget…the Holiday Mini and the Clearance Rack Blitz are also about to slip away.     Holiday Mini order period ends January 3rd and the Blitz ends January 5th.    A few items from the Holiday Mini have carried over and you can find those here:

Holiday Mini Carryover Flyer

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be blessed,

And be a blessing

 at this time of Thanksgiving….

 

Thanksgiving, a time of year to pause and reflect and remember the blessings of the year.   This year I’ll be sharing time and a meal with a friend and her family and thanking God for the gift of friendship and so much more.  

Another friend passed along this video of the song ThankfulSeemed appropriate today.

 

 

Here’s the lyrics in case you’d like to sing along:

“Thankful”

 

Somedays we forget
To look around us
Somedays we can’t see
The joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give.So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be.
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see.
It’s up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There’s so much to be thankful for.

Look beyond ourselves
There’s so much sorrow
It’s way too late to say
I’ll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
It’s so long overdue

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And every day we hope for
What we still can’t see
It’s up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There’s so much to be thankful for.

Even with our differences
There is a place we’re all connected
Each of us can find each other’s light

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can’t see
It’s up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more

There’s so much to be thankful for

 

Hugs and blessings today and always – Jean

A Memorial Day Sunday Montage of images and thoughts

 A  Memorial Day Montage

While we visit sales and fire up the BBQ and attend parades or just veg in front of the electronic babysitter here are a few other images to consider on this Memorial Day holiday weekend.

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Memorial Day Severe Weather Threat…..If only that was the only threat to freedom…..and to the memory of those who paid a price.

 

 Something to remember…

the Price continues to be paid and the Cost to be counted

 

In the everyday pressure of battle…

Men give their lives less for freedom than for each other.  

In that lies the glory.

 

Some live only in memory and have no marker to remind us as they await the day of resurrection.

 

They were the candle that held freedom’s beacon in their lives and death…

we are now the mirror that reflects and holds the meaning of that light in trust.

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 Whatever our politics or our religion, we are united in being Americans blessed with freedom on this day of memory.  My grateful thanks to all who sacrificed to make it so.

Hugs and Blessings to you all – Jean

Happy Earth Day everyone!

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

Hi All,

Don’t you love that Earth Day this year falls on Frugal Friday…well Frugal in my blogging world anyway!

Thought I would share a few of my favorite images, some tips and a fun stamp set  I’ve come across and a flyer I created sometime back to share with people the ways in which Stampin’ Up works to protect the Earth and her resources.  BTW…as women…don’t you love that the Earth is generally referred to with the feminine pronoun!   Women have so many opportunities to take the lead in recycling, reusing and…of course…reducing…LOL.    Actually I was thinking of the reducing of what goes into the waste stream since women are the main shoppers for the household.  Though of course reducing our own weight as well as our carbon footprint is probably good for the planet too!

As stampers we have those opportunities as well.  Choosing our products wisely, supporting companies that take their carbon footprint seriously and of course reusing, altering and stamping everything in sight including what comes in your Stampin’ Up boxes!  😀

Awhile back Stampin’ Up ran a contest for new demo’s to encourage them to use whatever came in their starter kit.   Here’s one of my favorites shared on our SU Demo Showcase.  Elisha Johnson literally used the box and on another card she used an order form in place of DSP!  I’ve reused the brown paper and other packing materials but can’t say I ever considered the box itself!

Elisha Johnson's Starter Kit Card Contest Entry

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To see what Stampin’ Up is up to in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle department check out this flyer –

 
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My favorite “Chia Earth” in Stampin’ Up’s Pear Pizzazz!

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Reusable card tip:  When I send out cards to customers and other demo friends I put my own message on a post it note inside the card then they have the option to keep it all together or reuse the card for their own purposes.

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While I didn’t get a card made to share with you today an SU  friend and fellow demo Rainy (Susan Roberts)  in her post here had a brilliant project that showcases Stampin’ Up’s So Green Stamp set (catalog pg. 146).  Ideal for Earth day everyday type cards and more – And oh so frugally priced!  –   http://rainy.blogs.splitcoaststampers.com/2011/04/17/stampin-up-so-green-blog-candy/ 

So Green – order #118728 $14.95 Wood, $11.95 Clear Mount

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On a personal note: 

Earth day has always been a special day for me for a number of reasons.  As a kid I loved to repurpose boxes into imaginary space ships, race cars and of course my very own first apartments for the truly large boxes – so getting permission to do so and be ecologically sound later as an adult just added to the fun.  That and having a good excuse to walk beaches (cleaning up), roadsides (cleaning up) as well as grabbing things to use for my crafts just seemed all that much better too.    

Then later I discovered April 22 was the day my late husband was born so that alone made it a pretty special date.   He was always convinced that date for Earth Day was specially chosen with him in mind…hee,hee,hee.  Well he was an early conservationist, Boy Scout and neat freak who prided himself on  being a minimalist (until his computer phase that is!).    Even before we were officially dating we did things together on that day to celebrate the earth and make it a better place – of course in my on head… time spent with a cute guy doing good was fun in itself.  Later after we were married we set up neighborhood recycling stations in our garage and had neighborhood block parties with the funds received which improved the relations throughout the neighborhood as people got to know and care about each other.    Eventually curbside recycling came along but the parties still continued.      And of course we  integrated green living principles as much as possible into our daily lives…most in such small ways it was barely noticeable and rarely uncomfortable.   Choosing recyclable packaging, natural biodegradable fibers and materials, combining errands into a single trip and so on.   

 Making the earth more comfortable can make you comfortable too and save you money into the bargain.  Adding the right green indoor plants can improve your home and office air quality and reduce your medical bills as well as lengthen the time on your various furnace and other filters.  Reducing spending for non essentials can allow you to redirect those dollars into charities, fun time with family, better quality more efficient goods, more stamps of course (those are essential right?) and on and on.    

Stephen may be on to greener Heavenly pastures but the lessons we learned together still improve my life and home, neighborhood and hopefully the planet in some small way.

Lastly I thought I’d share the following I came across when trolling the net.

A fun crossword puzzle I came across to celebrate today –  to download it to print just right-click and save as a picture image then print using any graphics program or insert into a Word document:

Hugs, blessings and have a happy Earth Day.   Oh and even though Earth Day is officially April 22nd….feel free to make everyday….Earth Day!

I you and I the Earth! – Jean

So what size are your panties?????

Hi All,

Really Miss Jean…a title like that…on a Sunday!!??!

Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone with my title…it’s meant to elicit a smile…hopefully…after you read the following.   Oh and I really hope I didn’t just open myself up to a gazillion nasty spammers or other slimy types that infest the internet.  But hey…it was too good a title to pass up..know what I mean…read on and you will.

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Do you ever find yourself in situations, discussion, chats online where you can’t help standing back and thinking…guys…we’re talking about stamps, ink and paper for gosh sakes (or fill in some other general topic)…not the actual end of the world, massive poverty, nuclear reactors melting down and the thousand and one truly bad things happening or seemingly about to?    And oh by the way remember that when you’re only interaction is via the typed word there are no facial clues or voice cues to indicate intent or meaning…..

Yep, life online can get a bit odd at times.  Friends, rivals, perfect strangers –  talking at cross purposes, misunderstandings, etc…Oh wait it happens in real life too sometimes…committee meetings, city council meetings, parish council meetings…

Basically anytime a group of people, each with their own point of view and ears and hearts that could use a bit of opening perhaps, get together. 

On several of the online chat forums I participate in, when things get a bit heated there are often calls for the participants to put on their Big Girl Panties.  Loosely means  stop whining, sniping, flaming – you name it – and  grow up,  get some perspective and don’t take the discussion or yourself too seriously.  Or more simply…lets all be adult about this..okay?  Seems to be happening lately more and more.

Well…my inbox may have provided the solution…or at least a giggle or two.  Not a bad thing at all to come over the electronic transom.

The following pictures hit my inbox as part of these discussions with friends and I just had to share :D:

AND

Check out the teeny tiny blue thong that’s really hard to see at the far right!

So Big Girl Panties have been getting smaller and smaller.
 Explains a few things doesn’t it??  😀
 

What do you think?   Could we use these as icons, in a discussion?  No words required?    And from the second picture I can see where in the olden days there was a little more material to work with when it came to getting your “knickers” in a twist!

Perhaps…meanwhile… since change begins with one person… I think I’ll try to regularly check the state of my heart, the openness of my ears and of course…the size of my panties.

Hugs and Sunday Blessings my friends.  May your week ahead be filled with joy!   – Jean

P.S.  Wicket says hi too!  Her panties are just fine thank you very much!

Silent night…Holy night….and then the cat started in.

Merry Christmas Aftermath my friends!

I hope your Christmas was filled with family, friends and fun…lots of fun.    Because now its the day after Christmas and the aftermath must be faced…will you leave the tree up until New Years or maybe Valentines?  All depends on your family traditions and grasp on the finer points of procrastination….LOL!     Will you join the shopping crazies in search of more and better deals….either for themselves or to get a jump on next years Christmas…yup I used to be one of those.  No sooner were the gifts unwrapped than I started planning for next year!  Crazy huh?    Are there dishes waiting for you?   Ornaments to clean up?    Wrapping paper to decide…add to the stash for crafting or toss or “shudder” burn (really bad for you, your chimney flue and the environment unless it’s all Stampin’ Up brown wrapping paper).   As I said the Aftermath….hmm…almost sounds like a nuclear attack doesn’t it?   If you have kids chances are there are degrees of similarity.

In case you’re wondering where cats enter into this…let me just say…while its possible that animals really do bow down and worship…I know that they definitely talk on Christmas Eve.   I haven’t heard any English mind you but what a cat can’t express with words they make up for in sounds, tail swishes and most of all yowls…especially of the Niaow…variety that sounds suspiciously like NOW, NOW, NOW!!  😀

I’m grinning now as I type this but let me tell you Christmas Eve at my house was anything but silent!  Not too sure about holy either as my nerves frayed and my language…well…it slipped…lets leave it at that.    Sigh…something else to remember next time I go to confession!  I wonder if I can take Wicket with me so the priest will understand the provocation.  

Little Miss decided she wanted something….Santa  or God and the angels alone only know what.    A quiet evening of listening to carols, surfing the net, chatting with friends on the phone with pauses for petting the cat became….Mommy….I want something…..every few minutes Miss Wicket would announce her presence with yowls of longing and emphatic posturing…nope not the call of nature…nope…not wanting toys and playtime….nope petting didn’t help…couldn’t actually get near her without twisting like a pretzel (those of you with cats and chairs will know what I mean by this)…getting up from said chair ready to obey whatever game was in progress only resulted in a cat diving under the bed.   Pause for me to sit down and the game would begin again….followed by another dive under the bed.   Predictably Momma soon lost it and added to the lack of silence and holiness.   Never did figure out what it was all about though Wicket did eventually get a time out outside in the wider world….which as it turns out…led to more Cats starting in…this time the neighbors…………

Also on the subject of Aftermath…

This year there were missing faces at our families Christmas tables that reflected this year as a year of loss in many ways.  Apart from the separations that come the way of many families, the face missing most was that of my Mother in law who died last January.  She was responsible for so many years in making our family Christmas and in keeping us all in touch with one another as we are now more scattered than ever before.   At my own hearth the missing face (besides my extended family who are mostly in California these days)  was my beloved Sandycat of the mechanical paw and loving heart.  Her ability to share love while maintaining her wild nature was amazing.  Add to that a torn rotator cuff and a small stroke of mine and as I said aftermath seems to have been a theme.   On the other hand the year has had its flashes of joy, periods of inspiration and creativity and additions to my kitchen table and cyber table of friends and fellow crafting comrades from here and  my various online communities.    Friendships that began over blog post comments more than a year ago have blossomed into phone calls, shared packages and letters and plans to meet at SU convention or on vacations that cross paths so we can get to know each other even more.    Grown into lots more hours on the computer too but that is yet again an aftermath…and one I’m happy to live with…though I’m betting it’s going to lead to even more Wicket fits that lead to fewer silent nights…and so the cycle will probably continue.    Loss, pain, joy, growth as the circle continues.    Check back next year to see if Silent and Holy made it back on the agenda…okay?

All of this brought to mind a quote about grace and holiness and growth from a favorite mystery book that I came across as I was hunting through my archives on my drive for something else.   Also put me in mind of a Christmas miracle from the past I shared on a friends blog last year that also, as so much of my life does, involved a cat.

See what you think….

On the subject of Grace:

No one is ever far from grace.  What we’re too often far from is willingness to open our self to grace.  From willingness to let grace come to us.  We keep our minds between it and our hearts.

As for our becoming holy…… I don’t think we have to become “holy” to succeed in our life here.  I’m not even certain what “holy” would be for us.  Dame Johane in response – “Dame Thomasine…” Dame Frevisse responds – Yes , but it seems more a gift given to her than something she became.  I haven’t been given it.  I know that.  My hope isn’t for holiness, only that I grow enough–can set my roots of faith and belief and love deep enough–that like a deep rooted plant growing taller than a shallow rooted one, I finally come as near God in my mind and soul and heart as I can, no matter how much in the world my body has to be. 

Dame Frevisse speaking to Dame Johane in Margaret Frazer’s “The Apostate’s Tale” pg 124-125  A medieval mystery tale in a Nun’s Convent at the time of Chaucer.

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My Christmas Miracle shared with Elaine

The first of many…I live my life by miracles or so it often seems.  Some large and indisputably Miraculous… when your husband is dying and you live in a small town wouldn’t you love to end up at the one hospital where the surgeon on duty just returned from a conference with the worlds leading specialists on that specific problem and can make a few phone calls that end up saving your DH’s life!  Add to that all the right techs being in the hospital on a weekend so all tests can be completed in 45 minutes or less (talk about a Golden Hour)!  And that’s the basic story of a big one.  Then again, some days finding a parking spot right in front of where you are going counts as a miracle in my book.

But…you asked for a Christmas Miracle…and those should be special and mysterious and perfect just like the first Christmas itself!

On the first Christmas Eve after my husband Steve and I were married in 1981… we were sad that our Abigail (Abbycat) cat had disappeared and not returned home for quite some time so no little kitty paws to go pitty pat through the house, looking for that stirring creature – a mouse.  Still, we looked forward to Midnight Mass and leading our parish community in worship and song (gotta love that hour of Carols in a darkened Church), so we tuned our guitars and crossed the street (yes we were lucky enough to rent a cottage across the street from our parish – another of those miracles – lol)…and sang out our Christmas Joy at Christ’s birth with our brothers and sisters. 

Halfway through the service I glanced out the open Church door and saw a sweet little cat swaying to the music but looking just a bit unsure of a welcome. She followed the whole service from that doorway hiding only when people started to leave.  As we left the Church, I stopped to pet the sweet little thing (who had popped out of hiding thinking everyone had gone) and wished her a Merry Christmas.  As we started for home, we heard the patter of little paws following us from a distance.  And, every time we stopped to listen the paws stopped too!  Once home, we discovered that we had a friend…so thinking perhaps she was a stray looking for room at the Inn we welcomed her with food and a bed (though she had to be coaxed and convinced it was safe).  So once again, God provided not only our needs but our wants as well and we had a Christmas kitty for life! 

As we found out later she needed us just as much as we needed her…She’d been abandoned on the steps of the rectory some time earlier and crept out to eat leavings from the Scout’s at the Church’s Christmas tree lot until the lot was struck Christmas Eve – with no home left God provided her need and our want.

We also found out later that she had suffered neurological damage (a bit like mine) from early trauma so had a few funny quirks (she couldn’t climb or walk a straight line for years).  She was ever after a Church cat.  We were the unofficial sextons for the Church and would lock up after every event and make sure that all was in order.  We always made that part of an evening walk before bed and our little cat, Juano, followed us everywhere as if she was a dog, even if we went for a mile or more around the block!  She loved to escape into the Church and play hide and seek in the pews kneelers.  We would come back from turning off the lights and find her gazing and swaying (praying?) in the candle light before the side altar or, sitting up straight and tall in the Presider’s chair for all the world as if she was about to begin a prayer service! She also spent every afternoon at the Church’s School during recess and in the library after school until closing.  So many lovely memories and even more miracles but that’s a story for another time.

God loves us enough to give us not only what we need but often what we want –  wrapped up with all the trimmings if we only take the time to look for the miracle.

Whether it’s for years or just for a minute…

May you always have, paw prints on your heart and soul (After all little one’s adore Him too!), and miracles every day of your life!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night – Jean

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Aftermath has so many meanings and consequences doesn’t it?
 Ah well maybe next year Silent Night will return to its traditional meaning and have a chance to become Holy! 

Do you think there were cats in Bethlehem on that first Christmas?  At least the Shepherds only had to deal with sheep and angels….just saying…….

One last thing I wanted to share that I came across in my surfing…a modern day’s take on that first Christmas if social networking had meant then what it does now.   Enjoy!

May your Sunday be blessed and your aftermath one of joy and growth with a little silence and holiness thrown in.

Hugs and blessings – Jean

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