Thursday, March 27, 2014


In hopes that spring is really on its way (we are having our doubts in the north east) our Etsy shop is having a sale!  Enter the coupon code EASTER at checkout to save 10% on anything in my shop!

Little House Home Arts Etsy Shop

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring is Here, at least on the inside!

It is the first day of spring and  I looked outside and said, "Really?"

When it doesn't look like spring, and "cabin fever" is setting in, it is important to create spring yourself and so I am....

I hope to have some of my new creations posted early next week at the latest. I also believe that when trying something new it is best to create not one, but at least a few.  That way I "have more skin in the game" and work harder to create what I envision.  We'll see how I d
Do come visit my Etsy shop for I am planning many new items for Easter and then for Mother's Day.  I am also off and running on "Operation-Cut-And-Quilt".  If I can produce fleece socks or pincushions "a plenty", why not challenge myself to create quilts "a plenty" too.

A plenty is what my Great Grandmother Kiechel would reply if anyone asked her if she would like a second helping at dinner.  She would always reply, "I have had a plenty, thank you".

When it comes to creating quilts, I have decided that although I am overwhelmed when I think of completing the seven I have already started, and have in some state of near completion, if I cut out several more, it will make seven seem less rather than more overwhelming?!  This should increase my chances of enjoying the process guilt free and change my attitude about quilts being impossible to finish.  Perhaps I will then complete them and more!
I have been inspired by Teresa Rawson's blog, Fabric Therapy. She creates a plenty of  beautiful hand-appliqued quilts.  I will not challenge myself to do the hand-detailed quilts that she is doing YET. My quilts will be simpler for now as I warm up to greater challenges, like finishing my mother's heirloom candlewicking/lace/heart quilt that I featured in my blog around Valentine's Day.

......and yes, my family is questioning my sanity (and so am I), though in truth I am having a great time planning and cutting fabric.  I am resolved to leave a detailed plan with each quilt I have in process, just in case my children inherit them in an as-is state, though I am resolved to live as long as needed to complete all I start. I may have a bit of magical thinking here, thinking I can extend my life by committing to more, not less in my future days. My plans will let another know just where to pick up where I left off should my days run short and I need not experience any guilt for cutting my fabric, as whatever is cut and planned can be sold as kits in my final estate sale.

Nothing is gained if nothing ventured and so I am stepping up my sewing plans to create more exciting sewing adventures in the days and years ahead! Don't worry, I also have many a pincushion and needle book cut out and ready to stitch as well...and when perhaps I have completed many fleece socks, wool pincushions and assorted other fun projects and quilts perhaps my great grandmother (and God) will look down from heaven, smile and comment that I have certainly done a plenty!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When it Rains, it Pours...or Here Comes Lent!

Fashion Lenten Footwear (booties for surgery)
Have you ever noticed that "when it rains, it pours"...... and I am not speaking of "April Showers"!

It has figuratively "poured" this last week.  I was just getting ready to dive into sewing when I got the sort of phone call that we all dread to get. It was my husband.  "I'm on my way to the hospital by ambulance", he said and his short pause here felt like an eternity before he went on, "I fell at work and broke my wrist pretty badly. Can you come?"

Is there an option? To come or not to come? I was having a pajama-day and enthusiastically ready to sew my Easter items and really on top of my game! Then the air just went out of my tires and I rolled to a complete stop! My schedule just changed.  It would be a day at our local hospital emergency room.  I took care of my mother in her final years, along with raising a family and trips to the ER had become my nemesis. Sitting on a hard chair and being in the way, no matter where I planted myself.

I called my daughter as perhaps she could get there faster than me.  "Hi Hannah, I just got a call from your dad and he is on his way to the ER. I wondered if you could meet him there? I will be there as soon as I can." I went on to fill in the details.

Her response was anything but what I expected as she is also well-seasoned to such calls.  "I think I am going to throw up!", she replied. "What time is it?" she asked, and then calculating, she replied, "Actually I can't as I am due to pick up the kids (that she nannies)." The weight of the situation just grew heavier in an instant, as it became a solo event for me!

Racing to dress wasn't something that I was used to doing these days. I started throwing some hand-sewing in a plastic bag, planning the day in a flash! Some nuts would stave off hunger. I would skip carrying a purse and I threw everything in a large carry bag. I anticipated that there would be other things of my husband's to care for as well. Now to dress and scoot out the door as my mind whirred. Would I be bringing him home tonight or not? How bad was his break?  Would he need surgery? This wasn't my plan for the day, much less the week...Expletive, expletive!! I envied the luxury of my daughter taking a moment to feel sick!  I didn't have time for that, besides which moms and wives have to be the strong ones in the middle of crisis, though we pay for it later to be sure!

I set my car on automatic and drove right to the Emergency Room, like I had a zillion times before, with just enough gas to get there without stopping!

"I am really sorry" he moaned as I walked into his room.  "It is a bad break--both bones...and I was trying to be really careful!"  It was our worst fear come true.  It seems that that is a pattern with us too; just think the worst and it happens and we can't seem to have things in place like we used to!  My husband is without health insurance for the first time in his life.  He is lying there broken and I instantly think of  our "broken bank account" instead!  Like so many others in today's world, his insurance had been dropped suddenly. We have never been in this position before and are usually over-insured and underpaid, but with his lay-off a year ago all that changed. We instantly signed up for alternative insurances, though some were not replaceable due to pre-existing conditions, and/or not passing the medical tests that were breezed through years earlier. We are simply doing the best we can, a seeming story of our lives!

He read my face and replied, "I was told not to worry.  It will all be covered under Workman's Comp." Hard to believe as he had just started this new job only weeks prior! I breathed a sigh of relief as they gave him more pain medication.

I wanted to yell and scream at him and instead I found the right words, "Accidents happen in a split second," though in my heart I couldn't help thinking that this accident was waiting to happen.  I had just told him that morning that we both really needed a vacation from the on-going stress following his lay-off just over a year now.

Trying to get gainful employment at age 64 had turned his/our life upside down and it felt like it was just taking a turn for the better and would settle-out soon, but even good changes demand energy that is lacking: new jobs to replace the one where the promised salary never materialized, loss of still another doctor after just getting re-established,  newly obtained insurances being suddenly dropped were all adding to longer do-lists, greater costs, higher deductibles, less coverage, our income still way below the one lost, and now a sick dog in the middle of this crisis!

Gratitude has been our response to our ability to absorb one loss after another, but seems to be wearing thin. My husband's pain has been high, and I truly wondered if they could medicate him to a comfort level, for he is indeed having pain  on many levels all surfacing and leaking out his broken wrist! Still all I could think of was that this emergency likely staved off a breakdown of greater magnitude. He had literally needed "a break" and had literally just gotten it.  The orthopedic doctor indicated that he would be at home for seven to ten days minimally! Despite a lack of income, I was relieved. Our savings would be stretched to cover yet another expense, but this one was for a much needed reprieve that would perhaps prevent an even more catastrophic event!

Once again God had saved us.... my husband from stress that was adding up exponentially as well as refocusing me as to what is really important. My sewing would wait a few days! We have no choice but to stop, my husband to get some pain relief, rest and heal! Another dip in our finances was the least of our worries!  We are both exhausted and needed to clear our heads to proceed with the next faze of  "Mission- Rebuild". New jobs ahead for my husband, some new directions with my treatment and sewing and new hope for making it the next fifteen months before my husband reaches full retirement age.

They say that "misery loves company" and I am comforting myself to know that we are not alone in our struggle in this economy. I remain the eternal optimist, likely a sort of denial that is permanently etched in my brain.  When the going gets tough, I seem to look for the benefits. My friend and fellow artist, Maria Wulf wrote that she thinks my thoughts about all this are Zen-like, as she said they were like "the man who broke both legs and thought how lucky he was to be spared from having to go to war" though I couldn't help but wonder if my thinking had been reduced to being totally concrete ..."a break for a break"! My husband finding comfort in my Vacation Chair was more than ironic however, it was providential!

Today he goes for surgery.  It  seems that screws and plates are what is needed to get his bones properly aligned for healing.  He has the best hand surgeon in town, and she was on-call the day of his accident. His arm is to be stronger than ever after he heals and I am wondering if I would benefit from some screws and plates in some of my joints or better yet in my head, as all sorts of screws seem to be loose there! His new job is anxious for him to return and couldn't be more supportive. We have been much blessed and my optimism is rising once again. Well wishes and prayers from family and friends along with a bit of sic humor and we are weathering this wrinkle. The dog is feeling better already, for although my daughter's nausea was only momentary, the dog's wasn't! This was likely an omen of my husband's healing to come, I hope!

Lent has started and sacrificing some time to my husband's healing along with my side of the bed for a few days and my Vacation Chair for a few weeks is likely fitting for this Lenten season and my husband's injury, a reminder that we are mere mortals on this bumpy road of life.  Healing will come and likely his arm will be lots better by Easter!  How can I miss the meaning of this Lent/ Easter season!? Some difficult healing days are ahead and then we will hopefully soon be up and running full speed ahead, thanks be to God!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

This Month's Common Thread Give-Away Winner is...

Joan from Wisconsin is the winner of this month's Common Thread Give- Away!  Thank you all for your interest and participation.  There will be another Give-Away the beginning of April!

Rachel's hope that Spring will be here by April is optimistic and I hope she is right! With warmer days we are beginning to see sugar buckets here!  This is definite progress towards spring, though here in Vermont we have a 5th season called Mud Season, when the ground begins to thaw, and the "frost heaves" in the roads level out and it all gets squishy!! It is also a welcome sign that spring is around the corner.  So far our ground is still covered in snow here, though our plow piles seem to be getting a bit shorter!

Thank you all again for participating in our Give-Away.  We appreciate your interest in our work!
Sincerely, jane

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Common Thread Artist for March is...

Rachel Barlow is the Common Thread Artist for March. She is giving away a print of her Ice Pond Barn.  It is beautiful and would be lovely hanging on your wall!

Rachel Barlow is a busy wife and mother of two boys, and  lives on what she calls a homestead instead of a farm in Vermont.  She is "a transplant" to Vermont, though it doesn't take long to know that anyone who lives here has common bonds: a love for maple trees and syrup and some practical knowledge about rural living. Rachel's stories about raising her Thing 1 and Thing 2 bring back the memories of raising our two girls here in Vermont. It is a great place to raise kids. Do check out her writings and art work on her blog, Picking My Battles. Being in Vermont is to be rooted in family and stories.  Rural living is a grounded way of life and you will enjoy Rachel's writings that speak to values of love of family and the beautiful countryside that surrounds us.

I just visited her sight and was intrigued by the picture of her husband's great grandmother, Alice Little Fox a native Vermonter and native American Mohawk Indian.  I was fascinated by the picture and Rachel's story about her! Family stories are precious and like she said, two headstones with names tell so little about the bridges that brought them together.

I too am interested in those that went before me.  I am finding that some of my ancestor's traits have somehow reached me. It is in my gene pool, no doubt, though I always believed that we were more products of our environment.  That is questionable after seeing a grandchild who doesn't like peanuts in his chocolate, just like his grandfather, or a granddaughter who loves sewing just like her grandmother and great grandmother!  There is more than the shape of a nose that gets passed down.

Rachel's writing about Alice Little Fox is so appropriately  entitled, The Way we Are.  How much of who we are is really written in the stories of our ancestors! Read more of Rachel's stories on her blog and to register to win her free give-away drawing by just going to her website and leaving her a message any time from Tuesday through Thursday.  A winner will be selected on Friday and all Common Thread Artists will post the lucky winner at the end of the week.