December 31, 2012

Tuesdays With Tag - Happy New Year...

 Hi, Everybody!
I'm so happy that I get to write to you on New Year's Day!

I know you all saw our Christmas picture (from Mom and Dad's anniversary),
but I want to share some other pictures from the same day. We had great fun!
 Mom set up her tripod and put her camera on top, and then Dad
took a few pictures of her with our friend, Richard and me.
We really like this one. 

Did you know that we're sitting on our waterfall for the pool?
Yup. Rick thought we should turn on the water. He's real funny!
 When it was time for a picture of (almost) all of us, Dad set the timer on
Mom's camera and then ran to get into the shot before the shutter snapped.

I didn't know that I was supposed to look at the camera, so I was always
lookin' somewhere else. Mom just kept on smilin'. She's a photographer's 
wife, you know, so she's had a lot of practice hammin' for the camera.
 When we were finished with our family pictures, Richard asked Mom
to take a picture of him with my buddy, Stout. (Hey, Man. You're getting
a little grey around the muzzle. So are you, Stout! hee hee I crack me up!)

Seriously, though. I really like Stout and he's comin' back over today to
help us celebrate the first day of the new year. I know we'll have a good time.
 I want to show you one more thing before I close to go party...
This is me with a stuffed toy called a "Squishable".  It's a corgi.
Mom and Dad got one to give to Granddaughter #2 for a Christmas gift.
When she got it, she called to tell us that she loved it, and it's new name
is "Donut"...because it looks like it ate too many donuts! She's pretty clever.

Mom actually got a second Squishable, which she auctioned off on her FaceBook
page to raise money for CorgiAid. She also auctioned off some other things
a couple of weeks ago. She raised a total of $135 to help sick and homeless
corgis. She said we're gonna do more auctions in 2013, not only for CorgiAid,
but also to raise money to help the animals at our local no-kill shelter.

I can't wait to see what she's gonna auction, but today we'll welcome in
2013 and wish all of our friends and loved ones a Happy New Year!
May you all have Health, Love and Prosperity in great abundance.

I'm going to wait for Stout now. I'll see you next week. 'til then,
"More Waggin' and Less Barkin'!"

December 30, 2012

Memory Lane Monday - Saving The Best For Last...

Darrel and Grace's wedding photo. circa mid-1940s
This is going to be my last Memory Lane Monday, and believe me, I've save the best for last. I've often written about Grace, but it only seemed appropriate that I should tell you a little more about the one person who has had the greatest effect on the woman I have become.
When I try to explain my relationship to Grace, I've often called her my "almost mother-in-law". I met her son a month after I graduated from high school in 1973. She and Dad had two sons and two daughters...Deb, Damon, Dion and Deirdre...a "Donna" fit right in!

There was even a period of time when I lived with them. It started on a snowy Wisconsin night when her son had come to pick me up from my parents' house. The weather got worse, and Grace called my parents to let them know that I could stay with them that evening so they wouldn't have to worry about my safety. My father told her (and me) that if I didn't come home that night, I didn't have to come home at all. (There was an insult to Grace in there, too, but I won't repeat it.) After she hung up the phone, Grace turned and looked at me. She gave me a hug and said that I could stay with them as long as I needed to. Our safety was more important than the fifteen mile drive back out into the country. I lived there for six weeks until I found a a nice apartment with two of my girlfriends.

Her son and I dated for many years, and we were engaged to marry. I spent a lot of time with his mother through those years and I learned a lot from her. Although I've always loved and respected her, I knew that marrying her son wasn't the right decision for me, and she respected and supported my decision.

When I opened my needlework shop, Grace came and worked for me. In the ensuing years, Grace became "Mom", and she (and Dad) always referred to me as their third daughter. (Although her son and I have been friends all these years, I'm quite sure he thinks of me as an "ex". lol) Sadly, Dad passed a few years ago after a brief stint in a nursing home and Mom has been living on her own since.
A Thursday Night Trio 2009
When we still lived in Wisconsin, every Thursday night was our night together for dinner. We would take turns planning the meal, but Mom, Deb (her elder daugher) and I would always gather at Mom's house. When he was still alive, Dad even enjoyed our dinner nights. We still continue this tradition whenever I'm back to visit.

Over the past forty years, Mom taught me to do embroidery, crochet and knitting. I hadn't knit anything in years when our first grandchild was born, so I went to Mom and we sat down together so that she could show me how to cast on, complete the knitting stitches and read patterns. Thanks to her mentoring, I've created many beautiful and unique sweaters and hats for our three grandchildren.

If it weren't for Mom, I never would have learned to make a crocheted granny square. I couldn't (and still can't) read crochet patterns, so she had me stand behind her chair to watch her make one. I wrote the directions as I watched her and that's how I know how to make a granny to this day.
Mom and Deb
Grace is aptly named. Her name means "favor or blessing", and I know that she's been a true blessing in my life. She taught me about patience, forgiveness and unconditional love. She knows everything about me and has always been one of my greatest cheerleaders. She's laughed with me, and we've shared many tears...happy and sad. This woman knows my heart even better than my own mother or father.
Mom with her granddaughter, Katy. Fall 2011.
In the beginning of 2012, Mom had health problems that made it impossible for her to live in her own home any longer. You might remember that I drove to Wisconsin in March. We were worried and I couldn't wait to see her.

I stayed in her home while she was in the hospital, and then her three daughters went out together to interview care facilities for her. Before I went home to Florida, I saw the place that would become her new home. It was a bittersweet visit.

Mom's settled and comfortable now in her new apartment and she has people there to care for her as she needs it. She has her sewing machine and spends hours sewing or crocheting. The kids frequently "spring" her from her digs to make sure she doesn't feel too cooped up. I'm looking forward to our next visit when I can take her out, too.
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I'm so glad that she's doing well and she's being cared for. No one deserves happiness more than Mom. She's lived an unselfish and loving life and I'm blessed that God made sure that she and I were written into each others books. My story is so much richer because she's in it. I love you, Mom.
Thank you for joining me for my last Memory Lane Monday
I'll be planning something new for 2013, but this is the closing 
chapter for our monthly strolls. I'm so happy you joined me!

If you have a memory to share, please link up with me below.
I'll be over to visit and leave a comment on your story, too.

When I last spoke with Mom, she asked me to do a favor for her. Apparently, after all those years of making granny squares, it seems she's forgotten how to start one. (She can't remember how to chain 5, join, triple crochet, two double crochets into the circle, repeat three more times.) She asked me to get some Red Heart yarn (4-ply) in any color and crochet a box of "centers" for her.  She uses a "K" hook. I'd love it if any of you would like to help. Just let me know and you can send them to me. I'll put them all together in a box to send out to her in the next few weeks. Thanks!

UPDATE: Mom passed away on November 25, 2014. You can click here to read my blog post written the day after. Although she has left earth, I know she will watch over me until God decides we should be together again. Until then, Mom...

December 29, 2012

Sunday Scripture...

From Daily Grace (
God has great things planned for us in 2013.
 Happy New Year, dear friends!

December 28, 2012

In My Life...

The Liljegrens - 2012 (est. 1984)
 I met Handsome thirty one years ago. 
You've heard of "love at first sight"? Well, that was us.
This incredible, generous and persistent man chose me.
Three years later, we were married.

Today is our Twenty Eighth Wedding Anniversary.

Each year, we have fun remembering our ceremony
and the party that followed. We were the last two people to 
leave! We had so much fun sharing our special day with our
dear friends and relatives...and much of our celebration focused
on music more than anything else. You're not surprised, are you?

My processional was The Beatles "The Long & Winding Road",
and we chose two other songs that were performed during the 
ceremony. The first one was another Beatles song, "In My Life"
and the last song was "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?".

As we mark our #28, I'd like to leave you with one of the songs 
that mean so much to us. Wishing love and light to all of you.


December 27, 2012

Lovers Alway...

 If you've been a friend of my blog for a while, you may have learned that
symbolism is a huge thing to me. I find great pleasure in creating symbolism
 in my projects, especially in the garments I design for special occasions. 

Knowing that, it should come as no surprise to you that I was sure to
incorporate touches of symbolism (through family history) into 
our wedding ceremony when Handsome and I tied the knot.
 When I walked down the aisle to marry my Prince Charming, I carried 
this beautiful, little book in my hands, under my wedding bouquet of 
red and white roses. I had covered it in white lace to match my gown.
 The book was copyrighted in 1902, and contains verses of love, fealty 
and wedded bliss. There are also vows contained within its covers.
Are you wondering where the symbolism fits into this picture?
 This book was originally carried by Handsome's maternal grandmother,
Daisy when she married Charles in April, 1905. The dedication page was
completed by the "clergyman" (Floyd Eugene Doms) who performed 
their ceremony in Los Angeles, California all those years before ours.

It was as though all the generations before us were there on our wedding day.
It wasn't just a matter of "something old, something new, something borrowed, 
or something blue". We were enveloped in all the love and promise of a 
happy future embodied in the symbol carried by Daisy, and again by me.

I don't know if Handsome's mom, Evelyn also carried this book, but I've
added a note to stay within it's covers to tell future Liljegren brides that
I also held this book in my hands as I repeated my vows to my husband.

I hope that the next bride to carry it will continue the tradition of adding
their name, and perhaps a few reflections of their wedding day for
other generations to read. I hope that the symbolism of the act is not
lost, and perhaps our grandson's bride or our granddaughters will choose
to carry this little book - long in the future! - when they make their promises.
We'd really like that.
Although this is a lovely and happy memory for me, it's not my next post
for Memory Lane Monday. (After all, it's not even Monday yet!)

I will be writing my last Memory Lane Monday post on New Year's Eve. I bet
you have a story just waiting to be shared with your blog friends, and I'd love
it if you'd write about it on your blog and then come back here to link up.
 If you prefer to just stop by, read my post and leave a note, that's cool, too.
 I've been planning a special dedication for my last MLM post and I hope you'll
 spend a few minutes with me before you ring in the new year with your loved ones.

December 26, 2012

By Special Request - Recipe...

 After telling you about our Christmas menu, a few of you asked me to share
the recipe for our holiday dessert - Raspberry Walnut Bread. I'd love to!

This recipe originally came to me from an old girlfriend of my father's.
She made this for me as a Christmas gift in the 1990s and when I asked
for the recipe, she was happy to share it. I'm sure she wouldn't mind
 if I share it with you now. Thank you, Elsie!! It's still a Liljegren favorite.

Raspberry Walnut Bread
D.Liljegren, Brynwood Needleworks via Elsie Weir
350º oven for 1 hour (approx.)
Yield: Two loaves
1 3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. chopped walnuts (or pecans, if preferred)
1 1/2 c. (1 bag) frozen whole raspberries, thawed on
paper towel to absorb excess moisture

Sugar topping:
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. melted butter
Mix together to form a granular topping. See
below for instructions on adding topping.

Combine sugar, oil, egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients,
mixing until well blended. Fold in nuts and raspberries. Pour into 2 greased
and wax paper lined (bottom of pan only) loaf pans. (9" x 4" or 8" x 4").
Bake at 350º for approximately one hour.

About twenty minutes into the baking time, sprinkle with sugar topping.
Continue baking for balance of time until a toothpick tests clean.

When you take the loaves out of the oven, let them cool 20-30 minutes in
the pan before trying to extract them. I usually run a knife around the pan
 prior to tipping it over. Peel the wax paper off the bottom of each loaf 
and then allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Elsie's note to me said, "This recipe can also be baked in a 9" x 13" 
cake pan. Grease and lightly flour the bottom of the pan. Cut into 
squares and serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream."

At our home, I serve this dessert sliced and topped with real 
whipped cream. (Because life's too short for the fake stuff!)
It's great served warm or cold.

 That's it. It's easy and tastes delicious.
If you decide to try it, I'd love to know what you think.

Now that we've enjoyed all the good food during the holidays, it's
time for me to move my attention to finishing a few projects in the studio.
More on that tomorrow...

December 25, 2012

A Little Post-Christmas Cheer...

 Yesterday was everything Christmas is supposed to be...
friendship, love and good food.

This lovely plate was a gift to me years ago by a friend, Beverly.
Her mother painted ceramics and created this serving piece just for me.
I've treasured it and used it every year since receiving it. Oftentimes, it show-
cases cookies or other sweets, but I used it to serve our main course this year.
Our Christmas breakfast included sausage rolls and Florida orange juice.
I chose a favorite snack before dinner. This is my own version of a treat
we used to purchase from one of our favorite delis when we lived in Wisconsin.
Over the years, I've tweaked it until I ended up with something that might even
be just a "tich" better than what I remembered. I'd love to share my recipe with
you and perhaps you'll want to try it for New Year's Eve.

Stuffed Sourdough Appetizer
D. Liljegren, Brynwood Needleworks
350º oven - 30 minutes (approx.)

1 round sourdough bread loaf, unsliced
1 package of baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1-8 ounce package of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 T. poppy seeds
1 stick real butter
1 T. minced garlic

Slice the bread taking care not to slice all the way through.
Turn loaf a 1/4 turn and slice again so that you it looks like my photo.
(It will remind you of what a bloomin' onion looks like.)
Place the bread on a wide sheet of aluminum foil so you can
wrap it after you've finished preparing it to bake. I actually use two
sheets, one lengthwise and then another under the load, widthwise.

Next, take the sliced mushrooms and cheese and stuff it into all
the crevices in the bread. It will push out a bit, but that's ok.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and then add poppy seeds and garlic. Mix well 
and then pour into all the crevices, covering the mushrooms and cheese.
Wrap the loaf in the foil and place on a cookie sheet. 
Bake until the cheese is melted and the bread is a little crusty.

You can pull or cut it apart.
Serve with your favorite white wine (reg. or n/a) and enjoy!
 This is our main course of prime rib and roast potatoes was served on the
poinsettia platter. (It was a four rib roast, but Handsome sliced off some 
of it in the kitchen and we served it sliced at the table. We do have leftovers!) 

I had originally planned to add sauteed carrots and Italian rolls, but we all agreed that 
we got our bread and veg serving allotment in the stuffed bread appetizer. I like 
that we can make changes on the fly and no one is offended. Nothing like 
being flexible over the holidays! We don't allow party stress in our home, ever.
 After a sufficient wait (spent clearing the table and loading the dishwasher),
it was time for our dessert. This year it as a raspberry walnut bread
 (which is more like cake than bread), topped with whipped cream.

The rest of the evening was spent visiting and resting. A perfect day!

Whether you live where there is snow, or warm sand, I hope your 
Christmas was filled with all the wonder and joy your hearts could handle.

December 24, 2012

Tuesdays With Tag - Merry Christmas...

 Merry Christmas, Everybody!
I'm so lucky that my post falls on Christmas this year.
I get to share a little of my holiday spirit with you!

Mom took a picture of me wearin' Dad's red tie.
She told me that Fezzik wore his red tie once, too and
that only her special boys get to wear it. I'm pretty lucky, huh?
 I helped Mom and Dad decorate the tree this year.
Mom said she wanted to put all the beautiful ornaments she received
from her friends this year on our tree. I think it looks pretty festive.
 Mom's friend, Miss Fay made the gingerbread girl and her friend from
Vermont, Miss Denise sent a whole box of felted acorn ornaments with 
real caps! If you look real close, you can even see a corgi ornament that
Mom bought last year. Isn't it cute? I think it's my favorite one.
Look! Right in the middle of everything is Miss Shelly's
snowman "Sparkle"! Then, more felted acorns and pretty lights.
 Miss Kathy, from the Paneras group made the snowman, 
and Miss Joni handpainted the quilt cottage. Down on the
bottom of the picture you can just see a little bit of Mom's
cute little bunny ornament. (I think I'd like to play with that one!)
 Miss Joni also made this Santa for Mom. It's really a wine bottle
cover. She gave Mom the bottle of wine that makes it stand up, too.
It's called "Lucky Duck". Mom told me that Miss Joni loves ducks.
What a coincidence! I do, too!

The ceramic tree was made by Mom's grandma about thirty years ago.
Mom carefully packs it every year so that it doesn't break.
 There's one other Santa on display. He's got a couple of reindeer
with him, but Mom said that none of them are Rudolph. No red noses!
 I already opened my presents for this year.
Mom got me a new stuffed animal. I love squeaky squirrels!
I'm gonna try my best not to de-stuff this squirrel before New Years.
So far, so good!

Well, I want to wish everyone a Blessed Christmas and I hope you
 were good enough to get every little thing you asked Santa for this year.

I also hope that by next year, all the dogs without homes are adopted
and have a loving, warm place to celebrate with their forever families.

I'll be back to wish you a Happy New Year next week, but 'til then...
"More Waggin' and Less Barkin'!"

December 23, 2012

Jazz At JD's...

 Handsome joined Mike Moran, his wife Kit and Dominic Mancini to perform
at JD's in Port Charlotte, FL on Saturday night. I took a few photos to share
with you, but I sure wish that all of you could have joined us.
It was chilly outside, but inside we all enjoyed an evening of jazz at a fabulous venue. 
Mike Moran on keyboard, his wife Kit is the vocalist, Dominic Mancini on bass and
Handsome sitting in at his drum kit. Dominic is actually related to Henry Mancini,
and he, Mike and Kit moved here from the northeast about eight years ago.
Mike also performs with Handsome for the Port Charlotte Swing Band.
 They finished the evening with their rendition of Michel Legrand's
"What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?". I was in tears.
When Handsome and I were married 28 years ago (this week!),
that was one of the songs performed during our wedding ceremony.
They just don't make music like that anymore.
Web image from Nordic Thoughts blog
 Merry Christmas Eve, my friends. 

December 22, 2012

Sunday Scripture...

Image courtesy of Our Daily

December 21, 2012

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen...

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I didn't spend any time in the studio yesterday, but I sure 
got a lot accomplished! It was a day devoted to cleaning.

I vacuumed, dusted, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms...
all those things that are part of my homekeeping duties.
These are things I actually love to do and there is always
a feeling of satisfaction when our home it "back to normal".

When I move into high gear in the studio, homekeeping takes a back seat.
Now I'm all caught up and ready to enjoy the holidays with Handsome.

I still have a few projects I'm working on, but there's no pressure.
I'll finish them next week, which will be soon enough.

I'm also going to be busy cleaning out cabinets and purging more of 
the clutter that seems to overtake me from time to time. I'll share 
pictures of the "good stuff" that I'll be listing up on eBay, Etsy 
or in my Brynwood Boutique. 

But for today...I rest.