Monday, January 28, 2013

A Two Plus Week Progress Report

It has already been two plus weeks since my husband’s lay-off.  As anyone will tell you that has gone through this process, it is a challenge to face one’s fears about securing another job and the concerns that the lay-off perhaps was done in response to something that you did or failed to do.  Younger people seem to come with a knowledge base that it took your whole career to glean. Competition is ever there to tell you that with your years you might be less than what is needed now. Facts tell a different story.  A vibrant company we learned is constantly cutting 10% of their overhead, and this includes positions (i.e. people).

We are facing this as a family. My eldest daughter is still at home with us, and her help has been invaluable.  Resumes are no longer a detailed history of your life, but are short reads now to accommodate the quick world that we live in.

My husband is almost ready to set out the door to seek a job to fit what he is now, a less energetic and less naïve, but wiser business man.  We worked together as a family to fill out his talent sheets for the job counseling service so generously offered by his company.This is not a time when he can generate his accomplishments without some support and encouragement from us who want to brag about him. His talents are many, not least of which is to head this rather complex household.

We put our thoughts into imagined business terms, and sure enough, out flows what he has tucked away and failed to brag about. He lists the ways he has benefited his company over his many years of work. We are impressed and so is he.  This is what he will take with him to move ahead.

Waves of insecurity rise here and there and are all but laughable.  I concern myself with potentially living in China with no Amercan style porcelain toilets, or in a one room apartment, as I mentally leave our beautiful but modest Little House, complete with my sewing studio and wonderful array of collected materials.  My husband has no wish to move elsewhere either, and we are grateful that the expenses of our Little House are so small that even my daughter could afford to stay here and keep our home warm as we entertain moving temporarily to where a job can be found.  We fear that the choices may be limited by his age.

The week brings about another crisis of sorts.  My regular doctor was determined to be a specialist and not allowed to continue seeing me and others with my condition as we are now "consult" patients.  He left this practice but is unable to establish the private practice he had planned, at least for a time, and has left many of his patients wondering how and where to get needed services.  He is a rare doctor indeed at least in our area, and I begin the search for affordable care and medications. I have to laugh that we are in between insurances for the first time in twenty-two plus years.  It never rains but what it pours! It is best that I be positive about how close I have come to the end of my long term treatment, and so I reassure my doubting self that my treatment might be sufficient even if cut short.

It is funny how crisis causes a person to focus on what is essential. We are doing just that and trying to carry on with the day-to-day activities. I quite forgot, I still have taxes to figure, and much sewing to do. I also notice that every few days I must sew for my own good. It feeds my soul. I am realistic that my productivity has been cut a bit short by our current survival process and am glad for my recent reading of Surviving Survival  by L Gonzales. He talks about the attributes found in  people who overcome odds of whatever sort.  I have taken careful notes and check myself and the family.

The author tells that one must start with a strong sense of self.  He defines this as a person with the following characteristics: (I do hope the author will forgive me if my interpretation of his writings are not exactly in line with his.  But this is what I understood him to say.)
1) A healthy balance of rational and emotional thinking, with the rational not letting emotions run away with you and yet trusting what your instinctive reactions and fear might have to tell you. Check. We all seem to have a healthy dose of both sides to our brain functioning.

2) "Continuity of person" from one moment to the next, and year to year,  flowing continuously versus interrupted and unpredictable.  Weak.  I am anything but a continual flow.  Our life filled with much that is unpredictable, like serious health issues and other things beyond our control (lightening, tornado etc.). Through it all we continually struggle on and don’t give up. Perhaps we are better than I thought, despite our challenges. Check.

3) "Embodiment or being at home in my own body".  Weak, but getting stronger with treatment.  Exercise will help this as my treatments effects lessen and my stamina increases.  An area to work on. We are all at home however at Little House.

4) "Privacy", as defined as control over my own space. Check.  I do try hard to take control of what I can and my organization for the life ahead is my strength. Prayer is no small part of this. My family likewise, though my eldest daughter sometimes operates in such fast lane, that she is behind in care of her own space and yet she has some organization midst the clutter.

5) "Social embedding", meaning attaching to relatives and friends for support.  Check.  No matter how isolated my illness has made me, I reach out and stay connected, often by phone and internet these days as opposed to in person.  My family is good on this count as well.

6) "Free will/ autonomous career".  I am autonomous only with the support of my family, but they are there and my independent spirit is fierce.  An area to continue to work on. My family is more autonomous than me, fortunately.

7) "Self-awareness". Double check, a strength of mine.  My family isn't so bad in this area either.

There is much more to being a survivor, but will leave that for my next blog.  My Valentine’s Day Sale sewing is progressing, and there is much to do yet to prepare. We are planning on getting it all posted this next week and so do keep watch.  I am trying out some new items and will be anxious to see what you all think of them.

Thank you, my readers for your prayers, support and encouragement. It is much appreciated!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The New Year Brings Unforeseen Challenges

I have been writing lots this past week, but decided that instead of publishing these writings, I would condense my thoughts and share with my readers what has happened at Little House since the Great Common Thread Give-Away only a week ago.  We are still in shock, but are already busy working to repair our life and move on.

I was dreading, but eager to complete my paperwork for the year. It is one of my nemeses. I simply put my  in or out receipts in a basket and sort it all at the beginning of every year to deal with taxes. I seem to forget that this is part of what is needed to close out the old year to prepare for the new one and instead  think only about my upcoming new sewing projects.  Creating is what I live for and acts as "the carrot dangling before my nose" to motivate me through unsavory projects!

I completed what was most urgent, doing coursework and forms to obtain my New York State RN License. I am still inactive and not practicing my nursing except on myself as I continue my very long term treatment for  a chronic illness that was getting the better of me. My parents taught me that becoming a nurse would provide me with a built-in insurance plan for life and indeed they were right. Now that this is done, I figured that only my tax prep stood between me and submerging myself in my creative ventures of preparing for my Valentine's Day Sale on Etsy.

As I prepared to "hold my nose" and complete my tax prep, I got a phone call from my husband with news that quickly put all I had been dreading into perspective.  He was laid off from his job of more than twenty-two years!

Nothing could have prepared us for that day, except previous lay-offs years ago, challenges of various sorts through the years including serious illnesses and deaths of family members.  It is definitely is a huge loss, and has sent us into a whirlwind of thoughts, feelings and new demands.  We are survivors and we will get through this crisis as well!

The term "recession" is tossed about by those in the news media, but when it is your job that is ended, sending you and your family into the category of unemployed, it is not a recession but rather a depression.  Let me be clear, we are not personally depressed, but rather, like others in this state, shocked, saddened and overwhelmed and our paperwork just increased exponentially! State offices are some of the hardest to deal with, as they are notoriously take-a-number-and-wait- institutions whether or not there is a line to wait in. We are certain that the challenges we face will bring new growth that will make us stronger and more creative than we are right now!  It has been only one week on Wednesday that he was sent home half way through the day, and we are already stronger.

Our family has pulled together and we are taking it all day by day.  We are praying people and have hope that a new chapter in our life is starting and that it will catapult my husband into an exciting new job and one that doesn't require the long commute that he has had for years.  He will miss his many friends at his work, and is truly grateful for the many good experiences he has had in this job.  He is not the same person he was when he started it for sure!  He has many skills and talents now ranging from buyer to product developer, and all the dealings that go with a host of different product lines and despite the gloom and doom of the economic issues that our country faces, he still believes that this is a land of opportunity and like our cat Zeldie, he will land on his feet!

You might wonder why I write about this personal crisis on my blog?  When I first developed Little House Home Arts several years ago, I imagined writing about issues that affect our homes today. While most topics I considered blogging about involve making our homes places of comfort and traditions, dealing with the breakdowns that occur demand our creativity as well.  In fact, I have always agreed with the thought that "necessity is the mother of invention".  Unemployment is so prevalent today and being resilient is but another aspect of home-making today.  We are not alone in having to deal with this sort of upheaval, and whether it be unemployment, under-employment, stretching our finances and making do, or overcoming day-to-day challenges, like serious health or family issues, creativity is what keeps our home going through good times and bad.

I had just completed reading a special book recommended to me by a good friend who is dealing with his wife's life-threatening illness.  It is a book by L. Gonzales, entitled Surviving Survival, and deals with the very issue of what makes for healthy resilience in the face of life's traumas.  I must warn you that it is no light reading.  I could not believe the challenges and obstacles that some face! Mine pale in comparison.

This author provides lots of data obtained in studying tough individuals that overcome all odds, but something really struck my heart. He talked about how repetitive tasks like knitting and other handwork have been shown to actually neurologically heal those whose lives are damaged by trauma, documenting what I already knew.  Creating is part of healing, and there are times when I am almost "driven" to create. I am sure others that sew, knit, paint or do other such handwork will agree.  Much peace and solace is found when being in that "creative zone" and our lives are transformed in the process.  I tell people at my shows that "the fun is in the doing".  I typically sell less  of my own creations, though my patterns and kits seem to be purchased by my customers that take me seriously. When our hands are at work, our minds are elevated and our hearts healed.

So you will be hearing more from me in the weeks ahead about our recovery.  I know from experience that we will be wading in some deep waters, but we will stay busy and create in the middle of it all!! We'd appreciate you keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!

We are meeting many of you through my blog and appreciate your friendship and your business. It is truly our pleasure to get to know you better and share in your struggles as well. Sharing and helping one another is another good survival skill and good for our hearts!!  Do keep watch for the Valentine's Day sale in our ETSY shop coming up soon!

(This blog is dedicated to Cindy C. who is having a scary medical procedure done tomorrow and my high school friend Linda P. who lost her dear mother only days ago.  We are praying for both of you!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And the Winner of the Great Common Thread Give-Away for January 2013 is…

Congratulations to Imagine You will Fly... for being selected as this January’s winner of this penny rug style pincushion!!  I want to thank all of you for entering this drawing and my apologies for leading some of you to believe that it would be an easy statistical win.  I hadn't a clue that so many of you would sign up to win this pincushion and I thank Maria, Kim and Nancy for encouraging your readers to visit my site.

I was touched by your comments of wanting to win this pin cushion to be a special gift for a dear friend or relative; or those of you who would like it for yourself as it would match your sewing room or bedroom; or needing a pincushion after using the same old one for years, or because your's was destroyed or eaten by your dog; or you were simply anxious to win yourself something pretty. I enjoyed hearing that it reminded you of something your mother or grandmother would make and am truly sorry that there was only one give-away. You are all deserving of winning this pennyrug pincushion and your feedback has truly been most inspiring!

Please check my Etsy store in another few weeks.  I plan to do a Valentines Day Sale so that your dreams of gifting yourself or someone special can become a reality.  I will meanwhile sew, sew, sew.

I am excited that on the first Monday of every month there will continue to be a featured artist with a give-away and I assure you that their crafts will delight you as well! My turn comes around again this spring.

Thank you again for your interest in my work and I would like to leave with you Karen L's comment, "One can never be too thin, too rich or have too many pincushions!"

Imagine You Will Fly - Please email me at with your contact information so that I can get your pincushion off to you!  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Register to Win the Great Common-Thread Give Away!

January is my month to be featured as the Artist for the Great Common-Thread Give Away. To win this penny rug pincushion, simply leave a comment at the end of this blog anytime between Monday, Jan 7th and Thursday, Jan 10th.  I will choose a winner at random  Thursday evening after 10 PM EST.

If you have never visited my blog or shop I welcome you!  If you have visited me before than likely you know that I started doing felted wool pincushions after making Penny Rugs.  Some of my most popular styles of pincushions are what I call, Penny Rug Art.  If you don't see what you are looking for or see something that has sold, know that you can contact me to do custom order work.

In regards to penny rugs, my research has found that they were originally made from scraps of dark wool fabric or recycled wool felt from used clothes and hats and were used as doormats to clean mud and dirt off shoes.  They were named penny rugs as they were made of three different sized medallions layered on top of each other.  The top medallion was the size of a penny, and pennies were actually sewn into them to help weight them and make them lie flat.  As the top medallion wore out with use, it would be replaced with another, and so these mats lasted for years.  They were not colorful or pretty, but merely functional.

Penny rugs eventually evolved into a traditional and colorful folk art.  Women used their remnants and scraps of wool from making clothes or “turned” wool from used clothes to make their penny rugs.  They would use bits of material too small to be used for strips for hooked rugs.  Designs evolved from the simple circular medallions into colorful works of art with appliquéd patterns of various animals, stars, hearts and other primitive shapes. People, flowers, homes and scenes told wonderful personal stories and transformed their scraps into wonderful works of art with elaborate stitching.  Decorative edging also became part of the art.  Scalloped edges or tabs cut in the shape of tongues were added and many of these were decorated with appliquéd circles of wool using colorful blanket stitching.

Penny rugs have recently made a “comeback” and are used to cover beds for warmth and decoration or to decorate table and mantel tops, wall hangings and pictures, quilts and pillows or other items, as in my pincushions.

For more pictures of my penny rug art work please check out How I Came to do Penny Rug Art, as well as more on The History of Penny Rugs.

Don't forget to leave a comment on my blog any time from Monday through Thursday and your name will be entered to win. Good luck and thank you for visiting my blog!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year and Don't Miss The Common Thread Give-Away This Monday!

It is New Year’s Eve and I haven’t made any resolutions and just like Christmas, I seem to be pushed into 2013.  It is not that I am clinging to 2012 as the year that was.  I am simply running to keep up these days and will be running right into 2013, ready or not!

Christmas came too quickly.  I was not ready.  I was not Ms. Claus this year…I officially passed the torch to my daughter who was Miss Junior Claus  this year and I am happy to report that she did a fabulous job, right down to Christmas dinner!  I was on the clean up committee and helped to shuffle the paper refuse after the event, and I kept myself well-rested and was on time to dinner.  My package of chocolate-covered Oreos in festive foil wrap of red, green and silver was our dessert.  No one cared that the pie was postponed and planned for the New Year.  It would be here soon enough.

My youngest daughter’s boyfriend came to visit for two days and the dirt was simply swept into the corners and everyone stepped over the clutter and would you believe our dishwasher died in the middle of it all, along with the ice-maker in the refrigerator!  We had a marvelous time and even found time to sit around a jig-saw puzzle as we all got snowed in.

I had forgotten the lost art of washing dishes by hand and the bonding that can occur over the teamwork in doing them. I fondly remembered my dad’s dish washing rule book that was in his head, never written down and changed each time we did dishes together. To make me a faster dishwasher he cited his rule, #102,  that if the dryer caught up to the dishwasher, the dishwasher had to finish the job single-handedly. I was the dryer but didn't want to skip out. I was enjoying this uncommon relating, besides which, I was on my good behavior for my daughter’s boyfriend!

I am finally learning that being a gracious hostess is to focus on the company and not the neatness of the house and no, our guest was excused from dish washing. Being a gracious hostess means that some rules are still followed and rule #1 is that guests are treated like guests!

So regarding the New Year, I have January planned.  First, I am going to be the featured artist this month and provide the Common-Thread-Give-Away.  I haven’t picked the item, but I have decided that it will be one of my Penny Rug Style Felted Wool Pincushions.  So stay tuned this coming  Monday, January 7th, 2013.  I will post a picture of the give-away and all you need to do to enter, is to comment on my blog.  Names will be taken from comments that are left Monday through Thursday and Thursday night a winner will be drawn from among them!  So don’t miss leaving your comment on one of those days and perhaps you will be the winner!

Also in January, I am going to complete two correspondence courses required to meet the requirements for RN Licensure in the state of New York.  I have been in a treatment program that necessitates me being in low lux light and so I haven't worked for the past several years, and instead stayed home and created Little House Home Arts!  It has been my joy and I have no plans to quit sewing, though I may, in the future consider limited part-time work in nursing or would at least like that option if I choose.

Meanwhile, I look forward to another year of serious sewing, starting with my sister’s comforter not finished for Christmas.  It was started by my mother years ago and was done to fit a queen-sized bed and seeing as how it is years later that I am finishing it, it never occurred to me that she now has a different bed.  It was almost completely tied when this discovery was made and so I shall add a wide border to the front, instead of bringing the backing over the edge to form a smaller border. I will post a picture of it when it is completed.  This alteration will not be difficult, but I did realize that it would indeed take more time to complete and decided not to squeeze it in right before Christmas.  It will be nice to complete this long overdue project to start a new year with one less UFO (Un-Finished Object). Don't all sewers have a collection of UFO's with resolutions to finish them?

As a way of relaxing, following a very busy craft show schedule, I turn to cutting.  It is a passion of mine!  I so enjoy sitting down to relax with a stack of materials and cut and cut and cut.  I love working with fleece as well as wool and my fleece sock rack is missing many pairs of socks.  I hope to put these on line soon.  They are  practical, warm and snug.  We discovered them a few years ago when I made them for my children for Christmas.  They weren’t considered a serious gift by my girls who asked if I would be offended if they gave a pair away here and there to friends. When they came back for more, my girls decided to try them on recommendation from their friends, and now we all have a collection of our own.  They make great bed socks to toast your cold toes in the winter and in shoes and boots they are guaranteed to keep your feet warm.  I have stocked up on new materials, but for now I am busy cutting out the baby sized ones from my scraps too small to squeeze out another adult or junior size pair!

Last, but not least, I have planned to do a serious diet in 2013.  This is no resolution though I am resolute about it.  It is overdue and has been done before but not so seriously for some time. I am collaborating with my doctor and it is be a no-nonsense diet, eliminating wheat, milk and sugar, at least initially.  My doctor knows me too well and knows that "the proof is in the pudding" or in this case plain meats, veggies and limited fruit, with NO pudding, milk, sugar and perhaps even no wheat.  Instead of directing me, she will let the diet show me what makes me feel better. I am  The Doubting Thomas of the medical world and still believe Mary Poppins and "that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!"

Th Did I mention that my sister sent me about 10 lbs of fudge  that is safely tucked into the freezer, potentially to reward my efforts by mere slivers?  I think I have enough fudge for a two year supply of slivers to reward my success! What is wrong with this plan?  This is actually a test to see if my doctor reads my blog. It may be an even better reward for my family, as their support in all this is truly appreciated!! My doctor says  I am not to think diet but rather think healthy life-style change. I say if it doesn’t include fudge, it a diet for sure!!

Perhaps I am more ready for 2013, than I realize and I wish all of my readers a wonderful 2013 as well!