More On Letting Go

For exactly 322 days, my life was literally turned upside down.  Yes, I counted.  Most of those days were dark, and now that I look back, even in the midst of the happy moments and days, that dark cloud loomed nearby.  It was bad to say the least.  But on the Day 323, I was delivered from that.  And on Day 358 I was blessed with something new.

On Day 358 I was blessed with something new, but the effects of those 322 days were long-lasting.  At some point I realized that I wasn't totally relaxed in the new situation because memories of the old kept creeping in.  I recall a friend of mine who went through her own set of dark days and was blessed with a new situation too and in that new situation she kept rehashing all the bad stuff from the past.  I didn't understand at the time, but when I realized it was happening to me too, all of a sudden I got it.  I realized that the same advice that had been given to her, also applied to me.

At some point, I'm not sure when it happened, I realized that I was beginning to truly let go.  I felt myself smiling more, laughing more, and becoming a little less burdened down with the burden that had really already been lifted.  Isn't it amazing how you can be technically free and yet not free?

In the spirit of continuing to let go, I decided that I must face the thing that I had been avoiding all year - the literal baggage from those 322 days.  Until now, I didn't want to see anything that reminded me of those 322 days so everything that I walked away with on Day 322 was still in the spot where I first placed it.  In the trunk of my car!  Seriously.
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The new year is fast approaching and I'm determined not to tote that baggage from the year before.  Those 322 days were not my fault, but my response to them is what I'm held accountable for.  Just to think of all the extra gas (among other things) I've spent because of carrying this heavy load.  So, I cleaned out the trunk of my car this week, and already I feel so much better.

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We've all got our personal battles, but we still have to learn to let go.  :-)

Crafting Highlights from 2011

Since I don't seriously see myself making anything new before 2011 rolls out, I thought it fitting to take a moment to remember the handmade projects I finished in 2011.  Enjoy!

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by Alessandra of the Just Be Happy Blog!

1. You must post these rules.
2. Each per­son must post 11 things about them­selves on their blog.
3. Answer the ques­tions the tag­ger set for you in their post, and cre­ate 11 new ques­tions for the peo­ple you tag to answer.
4. You have to choose 11 peo­ple to tag and link them on the post.
5. Go to their page and tell them you have linked him or her.
6. No tag backs.
7. No stuff in the tag­ging sec­tion about ‘you are tagged if you are read­ing this.’ You legit­i­mately have to tag 11 people.

11 Things about me

1.  I'm a dreamer.
2.  I love chocolate.
3.  One day I aim to write a book.
4.  I am friendly, but actually have very few friends.
5.  I have one sibling - an older brother.
6.  I love watching dramas.
7.  I don't have any pets and I don't want any either.
8.  I finally got a passport, but haven't used it yet.  One can dream... (see #1)
9.  I've never ridden on a roller coaster that goes upside down.
10.  My cell phone is my alarm clock because I hate that sound alarm clocks make.
11.  I love the smell of black coffee brewing, but cream and sugar is an absolute MUST in my cup.  :-)

Just Be Happy's Questions for me:
1. What's your favorite food.  Pasta dishes with creamy sauces.  yumm
2. Where would you travel to if you could go anywhere.  Spain to visit my dear friend.  I've already imagined it many times.  :-)
3. What's your favorite season.  The fall/winter season.
4. How old are you?  35
5. What genre of music do you like?  Gospel, Instrumental
6. How often do you eat out?  Before this year I would have said rarely, but very often as now I have a longer commute to work so I tend to grab breakfast a lot on the road.
7. What's your favorite color?  I don't have a favorite in particular anymore, but I tend to like the deeper, richer tones of most colors.
8. What kind of vehicle do you drive (brand/color)?  Honda Accord/Heather Mist (but everyone else thinks it's a shade of gold)
9. Do you do any type of craft?  Of course!  Where do I begin - crocheting, knitting, sewing, cooking, and other basic crafts (more to come soon)
10. What's your favorite dish to cook?  I don't really have a favorite dish to cook per say, but I love cooking ethnic/ethnic-inspired dishes.
11. If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what word would that be?  People-person (you like how I hyphenated, huh? lol)

My Questions for You:
1.   What country do you live in?
2.  If you were given an all-expense paid vacation to anywhere in the world for 1 week, where would you like to go?
3. Have you traveled internationally before?  If so, where have you been?
4.  If you had to choose another occupation besides the one your currently do, what would it be?
5.  What is your favorite dessert?
6.  Do you speak or write in more than one language?  Please tell us.
7.  Do you like movies with subtitles?
8.  What is your favorite sport to play or to watch?
9.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
10.  What was your favorite childhood game?
11.  Are your ears pierced? 

Ok, I'm off to tag 11 blogs!  Hope to hear from you soon.  :-)


The Holiday Crafting Madness is Over (I think)

So, even though I finished this family order on Christmas Eve, I decided to wait until after the holidays to get the images ready.  Well, the other part of this very real truth is that my house was torn down.  You know what it's like sitting in yarn for over a week, crafting like crazy?  Switching colors, clipping woven ends?  Yeah, I know you know.  Then I had those piles of clean laundry still not folded and put away, a cake in the oven, and meanwhile packing for a trip to see my grandma, so needless to say there was a lot going on.

One of my largest "9th hour" orders for this season was a family set of bearded hats.  Bearded earflap hats.  So I made all the beanie parts first, went back and added the ear flaps and the braids/UNC logo, then I crocheted all of the beards and sewed in a pair of buttons inside each hat so that the beards would be detachable.  I could literally feel the heat on my crochet hooks.  lol

Well, the order is done and here they are:

These are without the beards.

 For Momma Bear, Papa Bear, and the two Sister Bears.

..and for when they choose to be all bearded up!

You'll just have to imagine the UNC hat with the beard...That's for Papa Bear.  I think he can grow his own.  lol

Happy Crafting,

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Mission Accomplished

At 7:15 p.m. tonight, I had officially finished all my Christmas orders!  All of them have been delivered, except one that is finished but wasn't for Christmas anyways.  And now I will rest my hand up so I can complete a toddler blanket after the holidays.  In the meantime, just getting ready for Christmas dinner with grandma on tomorrow evening.  The cake's in the oven now.  :-)

Until then,

A Word About OT

So as you know, I finally started OT (Occupational Therapy) the other week.  I have 2 sessions a week and it has been quite interesting.  The therapists do stretching exercises on my hand.  I have my arm strapped into this weird contraption filled with what feels like sand.  Then the "sand" starts blowing around in there and the heat comes on.  It's relaxing and my hand does feel better afterwards.  There's also this ultrasound treatment.  The ultrasound gel is warm and feels like some type of massage.

Sometimes I have to pinch through this tough puddy and pinch out all of the objects embedded in there.  They even have these large clothespins that vary in degree of strength.  It's amazing how difficult it can be just to open clothespins that are wound extra tight. 

I went again this morning and had to squeeze this gel from one bottle to another.  My hand was shaking because it is weak.  That's proof in point.  After that exercise, the doctor gave permission for me to get some kind of steroid patch treatment.  There are little batteries inside that cause this little light to flash.  The medication seeps through your skin in intervals and when the patch knows that it is finished, the lights quit blinking and you can take it off.  It takes anywhere from 2.5 - 4 hours to complete.  No, you don't have to stay in the therapists office for that time; just long enough to get it on.

I'm glad that my hand is getting the necessary  treatment and I hope it's worth my desire not to get the quickie cortisone shot.  Yesterday someone told me to pray that God will give me another way to sleep.  As a side-sleeper, that's how I got into this jam.  I tend to sleep with my hand underneath my face.  My first reply was that it wasn't like I was intentionally sleeping on my hand.  My mom tells me to remember that when I get my bill.  I guess she has a point.  I better start praying now.

Now, back to crafting.  I have a goal that I really want to meet.  Then I can show you all the goodies!  Plus, I have 3 heads of collards waiting on me and a sour cream pound cake to make by tomorrow night.

Until then,

Holiday Crocheting - Phase I (Sneak Peak)

The holidays are almost upon us.  Personally I haven't really done any "holiday" crafting like most.  However, in the last week I have received orders from people locally that have given me an opportunity to craft during this season.  In addition, I finally started OT on my hand so now I can officially get back to crocheting - at least in spurts.  Actually, it seems the crocheting might actually be helping.  :-)

The laundry is in the washing machine; the dishes in the dishwasher; the trash just taken to the dump (yeah, I live outside the city limits, so I have to do this task myself).  Anyhoo, just wanted to give you a quick view into the orders that have been completed.  I didn't have the privilege of using natural light on some because I finished so late in the evening, but it's a photo nonetheless.  :-)

These were pre-made items that sold outside of the Christmas on the Square event: 
To a co-worker (as a set)
To a co-worker (as a set)

To the owner of a seafood restaurant.  Who knew a man could wear a child's sized hat?  I caught this hat being worn while someone was frying fish in the kitchen.  lol
These were custom orders after the Christmas on the Square event:


...still more to do.  Ok, break's over.  :-)

Happy Crafting,

Spreading the Joy of Crochet

Earlier today a co-worker had asked me to show her how to make baby hats.  As my crochet buddies know, it all begins with a circle.  So I was able to show her how to make the circle and how to increase.  Then we discussed crochet terminology and how to read a beginner's hat pattern.

Then, this evening I had a blast hanging out with C showing her how to make crocheted facial scrubbies.  We also practiced reading through dish cloth patterns.  I had so much fun and look forward to the next time.  I love crochet!  And, I love it when other people love it too.  :-)

p.s.  I finally started OT on my hand last week!  Yay!  And I have received an abundance of crochet orders.  Can't wait to fill you in when I'm able to catch my breath.  :-)

Happy Crafting,

Party Sandwiches

Tomorrow we're having a holiday celebration on our hall.  The baked goods were the first to get taken so I ended up with the party sandwiches.  My mom said I should have told her earlier and she would have made some homemade chicken salad, so I opted for what I knew best:  Jalapeño Pimento Cheese sandwiches and Ham and Cheese Sandwiches.  Well, I ended up doing some turkey and some ham.  That way I've covered us all - the vegetarian co-worker who does eat cheese, those that don't do pork, and everyone else.

The Jalapeño Pimento cheese spread that I used is so good.  It's not real spicy, but the peppers gives it a little kick.  Even my mom loves it and uses it as grilled cheese.  At her suggestion, I cut all the ends off of the bread "so the sandwiches will be prettier," she said.  Then, again at her suggestion, I saved all my ends because "you could make homemade croutons," she added.  So into the Ziploc bag the ends went.  I don't have a final picture to show you of these sandwiches because I'll finish them in the morning.  I was afraid the bread would get soggy overnight.

Now onto the other sandwiches - the Turkey or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches.

These are the party sandwiches my mom used to make for every single event she hosted or participated in for my entire childhood.  We even make these as appetizers before holiday meals, except we use the tiny pull-apart rolls instead of these ones I used.

Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches

1 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 onion, grated
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard
2 (12 ounce) packages white party rolls
1/2 pound chopped cooked ham
5 ounces shredded Swiss cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce and prepared Dijon-style mustard.
3. Slice rolls in half horizontally and set aside tops. Spread bottoms with the butter mixture. Top with ham and Swiss cheese. Replace tops.
4. Arrange rolls in a single layer in a medium baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 10 to 12 minutes, until rolls are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

Now tomorrow I will heat them for a few seconds in the microwave just to have them a little warmed.

p.s.  I also have to bring a gift for an exchange on tomorrow.  I'm bringing one of my crocheted scarves.  Sewing my label onto it now... 


Curried Lentil Soup

I recently purchased this new cookbook (I know, I know I promised myself that I wouldn't indulge this way, but I couldn't resist) from Ollie's.  It's Better Homes and Gardens' 365 Vegetarian Meals.  It such a wonderful cookbook filled with simple and yet delicious-sounding (I've only cooked one dish so I can't truly confirm from actual cooking experience) vegetarian meals.  If you're vegan, it lists a vegan alternative to that same dish at the bottom of the page.  I'm sure this book can be purchased in many locations and it is listed on Amazon, but I found it at Ollie's discount store for less than $5.  It's definitely worth it.

Breakfasts are the meals that I struggle with.  If you don't want to eat pork at every meal - bacon, sausage, ham or you don't want to load up on sweet stuff - danishes, donuts, muffins, it's kind of hard.  Oatmeal everyday will not work for me.  Let's be real.  But this cookbook has a whole section of breakfast ideas that I can't wait to try out.  And no, they're not all fruit smoothies.  LOL

Ok, back to the post title.  I just made this Curried Lentil Soup dish in the crockpot last night and I'm loving it!  You know I've got to share:

Curried Lentil Soup
1 pound of sweet potatoes (2-3), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 14-oz cans of vegetable broth*
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained (no-salt added)
1 tablespoon curry powder (I used my Blue Mountain Jamaican curry powder)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

In a 4-5 qt slow cooker, combine all ingredients.  Stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  Voila!

* All the vegetable broths I've ever seen are loaded (I mean loaded) with sodium.  Yuck!  Then recently I discovered a sale at Harris Teeter on Pacific Natural Foods Organic Low-Sodium vegetable broth.  I happened to have that when I discovered this recipe.
** Because I used low-sodium broth and no-salt added tomatoes, I had to add a little salt to the dish before the cooking time was up.  But honestly, I'd rather add my own.

This dish is flavorful with a little kick to it.  I will make this again.

Bon Appetit,

Letting Go

It's okay to admit that those clothes you thought you'd be able to wear was just a mere dream.

All washed up, sorted, and packed to go.  Maybe someone else will have a little more fortune.


Monday's Feature: Ndana Matienga

Meet Ndana Matienga of Ndarama Creations.


AE:  Who are you?   
NM:  My name is Ndana Matienga.
AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
NM:  I am a Jewelry designer based out of Chicago, IL. All my creations are handmade African inspired pieces.
AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
NMMy Jewelry line is Called Ndarama Creations ( "Ndarama'" shona African - Zimbabwean word meaning Golden).  My Southern African Heritage Inspires every piece I design.
AE:  What is your website/contact information? 

Ndana, your jewelry is absolutely breathtaking!  

Please give Ndana your support by visiting her at any of her sites.  :-)

Peace & Love,

The IKEA Experience

Going to IKEA, is an experience.  Remember I went once before, in Ohio?  But I couldn't bring anything back since I was riding the bus.  Finally I got to bring home some of what I've been wanting for a while.  Some things are meant to be turned in to small gifts.  Others are meant to help make home life a little better.

These are some of the things I purchased at IKEA:
These magnetic canisters to store small crafting supplies.  I also purchased the magnetic strip a.k.a. the magnetic knife holder.

A chopping board because the one I have been using has fallen completely apart.  I've been chopping on a quarter of the board for too long now.  This one is large (which I love) and was under $10.

Well, because I need to see.

Don't tell my family, but this set was $0.49!  I plan to crochet or knit a dishcloth to complete the set and give them as gifts.
Aren't these picture ledges great?  Now I can put my art prints on these in my craft room until the next chance to display them.  Trying to get more of a studio feel in there.

Not only did I get to visit this wonderful place, but I also had the opportunity to reconnect with a childhood friend and make up for the baby-shower I missed since I was vending at the festival that same weekend.  I also got a chance to hang out with one of her college friends.  We had a great time!


After the IKEA experience, I met with one of my college friends and got to see her new little one who decided to arrive a month early.  He's a bit tiny, but so super cute!  I would have snapped his photo, but he was sleeping so well and I didn't want to disturb him with lighting.

Just sharing,