June 30, 2017

Farmhouse Renovation - Past Maximum Capacity...

Farmhouse Fabric Studio
The shelves are full, and yet, I still have fabric to place. The difference between the height of the farmhouse studio walls and those in Florida is what's accounting for the issue. I had enough room on top of the shelves when they were down south to stand all these fabric bolts upright on them. I'm not able to do that in the farmhouse. 

Farmhouse Fabric Studio
That's the bad news. The good news is that I'm going to have to purge fabric equal to the "overflow". Over the next few weeks, I'll be photographing and listing those fabrics. Everything will be five dollars ($5.00!!) per yard (plus flat rate priority postage) for high quality cotton fabrics. (The bolts in the white crate on the left side of this photo are just a start of the fabrics I've pulled to sell at BrynwoodNeedleworks.com.)
The base of my cutting table is made up of four of the cubicle bases, and they're already filled with folded fabrics. I'll sort through those and pull some of the flat folds, too. By the time I'm finished, I'll have "moving around" space...and there will be more than a few happy shoppers. 
You'll be able to check out what I've got listed starting over the weekend.  If you're looking for somethings special, just send me an email and I'll see if I can help you. I'll be listing Christmas, novelty and other themes, so I just might have what you're looking for...at a great price.

June 29, 2017

I've Got Sunshine...

Hickory Hill Farm Bluebird - Male

 ...on a cloudy day.
Hickory Hill Farm Bluebird - Male

When it's cold outside...

Hickory Hill Farm Bluebird - Male

 I've got the month of May.

Hickory Hill Farm Bluebird - Male
I guess you'd say,
What can make me feel this way?
I had to share another glorious gift from our farm. 
This dapper gent was kind enough to pose for me yesterday.
There is a female nesting in the bluebird house, as well as another pair in the house at the other end of our little fence. I love watching them from our home, and I'm looking forward to their babies. They sing the sweetest songs for us (not this song, though).
(Sorry, Shell - and all of you. I couldn't resist, even though I know this song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day!)

June 28, 2017

Farmhouse Renovation - Pantry Racks...

Spice and Mug Racks In Farmhouse Pantry

I promised photos of my installed spice racks and our reproduction bottle rack (which we're using for mugs). They're installed and in use now, and I'm really happy with the way they turned out.

You may remember that I made these same racks for our pantry in Florida, and they worked really well. The only difference was that I added one more section to each set of "shelves". This was the post I shared with you of our Florida pantry. That post explains what I used and how I made them.

Pantry Wall Racks

We were told that this wall was drywall, instead of lathe and plaster, so I could use my favorite wall anchors to install the racks. Once they were installed, I put up my spice bottles. Yes, there are a few lot of spices there, and yes, they're arranged alphabetically. (How else would I find what I'm looking for? lol) What can I say? I love to cook!

The cup rack was purchased from DecorSteals. DecorSteals is a great place to purchase farmhouse or vintage items, but their items aren't always available, stock sells out quickly, and they may not ship for up to fourteen days after you order. When you see something really cool, you might have to wait a while for it to arrive. (Example: I ordered this rack on May 17th, and it didn't arrive until June 13th.) I think that's the only real downside of ordering from them. I do love the rack!

Vintage Scale, Antique Rolling Pins and Wash Boards

There are more than a few other vintage and antique items in our pantry. We purchased the scale in the late 1980s when my Labrador, Bryn had her first litter of puppies. We used this scale four times when Bryn and our golden Retriever, Samantha Rose had their litters. It holds memories of sweet puppies who grew and went to new homes when they got old enough (and two great hunting dogs that were wonderful mamas, too.)

The rolling pins are old, too. One belonged to my mother-in-law, one belonged to another family member, and one I puchased myself. They sit in a lovely, old crock I found at the antique mall in Kewaskum, WI last summer.

The washboards were Ebay purchases decades ago. I'm especially fond of the glass board, and was relieved when it arrived here safely after the move. I'll eventually mount it on the wall near where it stands now.

The Longaberger basket holds the attachments for my KitchenAid mixer. The mixer was a gift from Handsome and our boys in the 1980s. It's served me well all these years, and now it sits full-time on the counter in the pantry. I don't have to lift it to the counter to use it anymore. (It's really heavy!)

The Pantry At Hickory Hill Farm

This is how our pantry looks now that the racks are up. We'll change a few things when the kitchen is built later this year. The sink and base will come out to make room for our refrigerator. We'll put in a new countertop, and we'll put the same flooring in here that we decide on for the kitchen.

Even without those updates, this is a great room, and I really love that we have this entire space with all its storage conveniences. By fall, many of these cabinets will have home-canned goods in them, too. Just another thing to love about our farmhouse.

June 27, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Farmhouse Visitors...

Farm Dog

Hi, Everybody!
It's been an excitin' week here at the farm.

The bluebirds are nestin' in the birdhouses Mom put up. The hummin'birds are droppin' in to catch a drink at our nectar bar, and I even had fleas this week! Mom said it's 'cuz I stuck my head in a bush where the bunnies have been livin'. Who knew?

I was sittin' at Mom's feet, listenin' to somethin' she was sayin' to Dad and then next thing you know, she's freakin' out. Almost scared me out of my fur! I'm pretty fast, but she had me in a bath before I could tip my head sideways and say, "Wait. What?" I got a bath in some stinkin' shampoo, and those bugs were dead before you could say "Corgi Abuse"! 

Bella was gonna get a bath for the fleas, too (just in case), but before Mom could bathe her, she managed to find a fabulous pile of nasty goo. I was sooo jealous! Her bath was double purpose...stink and bug removal.


We also had visitors this weekend. Our granddaughters were here with their parents. They told Mom (their Grandma) that they love the farm, which was music to our ears. We love havin' them come to visit - with or without their mom and dad. I'm hopin' we can have a sleepover some time soon!


Of course, they couldn't visit without Mom takin' a bunch of pictures. The ladies ran up the hill to see what was up near the trail into the woods...and apparently, they even made some poses for the trail camera that Shelly and Andy have in there. Silly girls!

I can tell ya for certain...there are two big deer livin' in the woods right now. How do I know? Bella's been growlin' at 'em for the past week. They come down out of the wood lot, nibble on some of the farmer's soy bean sprouts, and then amble on their way east. Did I say they were big? Yup. Humongous!

I wonder what the next week will bring? I'll take notes and tell you all about it when you come back to visit.

I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

June 26, 2017

A Short Story - Part Two...

Pinterest Image
I was asked to speak a little bit more about my "process", from this post last week. Thank you to everyone who commented on that post. I was truly overwhelmed by your responses. I had no idea when I shared those thoughts that I would touch so many kindred hearts. 

Have you heard these words from William Morris before? Since moving to the farmhouse, I'm really trying to embrace these words as I sort through all the things we moved to this home. I don't want to store my clutter anymore. Likewise, for so many reasons, I don't want to store clutter in my head either.

I heard a story once about a group of people who went with their therapist to dip their toes in the sea. When they arrived at the beach, the therapist had a bag waiting with the names of each of the people on the outside. In the bags were rocks of various sizes, but each bag was rather heavy. The therapist told each person to grab a bag, and then go out an enjoy the beach.

Each person grabbed a bag and went for a walk. Soon, the therapist came upon one of the people sitting in the sand and sobbing. The therapist asked what was wrong and the (woman) told her that the bag of rocks was so heavy that she could hardly drag it around as she explored the beach.

The therapist looked at her and asked,  "Then, why are you lugging them around?" The woman looked at her dumbfounded. "You mean, I don't have to keep carrying them?", she asked. The therapist replied, "Well, of course you don't. I told you to take the bag and enjoy the beach. If lugging the contents of the bag are dragging you down, let the rocks go." 
She then proceeded to encourage the woman to take a rock, toss it into the ocean to see how it felt. The woman was giddy. She had so much fun tossing the rocks into the sea that she continued to do it until her bag was empty, and once she no longer had the load, she was free to enjoy the rest of her time at the beach.
This is a story I heard decades ago, but it stuck with me. It made sense to me, and once I internalized the lesson, it was easy to embrace the lesson. Sometimes the simplest solution is the hardest one to think of on our own.

As far as those Committee members and their voices in my head? I've given them value assessments.
Like William Morris' words, are those voices useful? Do I believe them to be beautiful? If the answer is "no", then why would I give them free rent in my "house" (my head)?

I went through a grieving process with some of the Committee members, but in the end, letting them go was for the best. While some of the members still talk about me, I've decided that their opinions of me are none of my business. They don't talk with me, and that devalues them as Committee members. Their words no longer have currency in my life.

If the words of your Committee members hurt, why hold onto them? If the words of your Committee members instill sad, hurtful, anxious, vengeful, fearful or unhappy thoughts for you, let them go. Like the rocks on the beach, they'll only weigh you down. 

In my case, I decided that my life deserved to be spent doing things I love, with people who love me (and I adore in return), and celebrating the wonderful blessings that God has bestowed on me. I deserve nothing less than His best for me.

Once you can say those words to yourself - "I deserve nothing less than His best for me" - it becomes easier to evict the dead weight in your Committee and embrace those loving and joyful voices that remain. Even if it's only one voice. 

Be well. Be brave. Choose Joy. I know you can do it. I believe in you.

June 25, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

Brynwood Needleworks via Happily Hope Blog

June 24, 2017


Hickory Hill Farm Milkweed Flowers

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my post yesterday. I'll write individual replies to each of you who left comments for me. I admit I'm always apprehensive about writing my "soul-baring" thoughts, but each time (about four over the last eight years), you've been so gracious and kind in your replies.

I know there was a comment or two about going into a bit more depth about how I went through my "process", and I promise I'll revisit this before the end of the month to share a little more about how I arrived at this calmer and happier place in my head. Perhaps it might help someone else who is struggling on their own journey. Thank you again for leaving your notes for me. I'm very grateful.

Hickory Hill Farm Milkweed

When we purchased our farm last fall, I noticed the milkweed plants growing along the roadsides leading to our property. What I didn't see were the myriad plants growing right here on the hillside.

I'm able to see them from our kitchen window, and it's especially wonderful right now as the milkweed plants are blooming. If you've never smelled their blossom, the fragrance is heavenly. It's sweet and strong...a bit like lilacs.


In case you weren't aware of this one fact, monarch butterflies cannot survive without milkweed. Their caterpillars will only eat milkweed plants, and the butterflies require the plant to lay their eggs. Without the milkweed plant, monarch butterflies will disappear from the landscape. They're that critical to the ecosystem.

We have a few patches of milkweed plants in our grassy field to the south of the house, and more to the west, toward Andy and Shelly's woodlot above our home. As I took these photos today, there was a monarch flying from plant to plant, and then further up the hill. I'm going to be out in the field again tomorrow to try to catch one landing on a blossom. It's a truly incredible sight. I'll be doing my best to not only protect the plants we have, but to promote more of them growing here. I can't imagine a summer without the monarchs on our landscape.

We've been busy inside the house, too. I haven't forgotten that I teased you about the spice racks and cup rack in the pantry. I'll show those to you on Monday. I hope you enjoy your weekend. I'll be back tomorrow.

June 23, 2017

A Short Story...

1988 - Bryn and Me
Last night I told Handsome, "Honey. This morning I woke up with a post in my head." In his most deadpan tone he replied, "Donna, you really shouldn't tee them up for me like that." It took me a second, and then I realized another way he could have interpreted my statement...and I laughed out loud. 

I told him that this subject came to mind after we attended the concert in the park the previous night. You see, something happened. Something that reminded me of how my life became joyful. It was a conscious effort, mind you. I woke up with these thoughts running through my head, and I hope you don't mind if I share them with you today.

Many years ago, I listened to a middle-aged public speaker/comedienne who told her audience that we all have a "Committee" inside our heads. You know. Those voices from our past who contribute to who we are today. All those people who are, or were, a part of your life who told you who you're supposed to be; how you're supposed to act; or just said something that stuck with you long-term. It might be a relative, friend or just something said to you in passing. 

Here are a few examples: 
My mother told me when I was a younger woman that my laugh was "too coarse", that I should "tone it down so you sound like a lady". The result was that my laugh - for a time - wasn't my own. It was hers. Of course, one was never allowed to laugh at our family dinner table, and there was a wooden spoon to reinforce that rule. I'm convinced that some parents really have no idea the negative impact they can have on their children. (Still. Put your cell phones down and talk with them!!)
When I entered my 30s, I opened Stitches. I taught needlework classes, and traveled around the country sharing what I had learned with others. My mother liked to "brag me up" to her friends, but would always add, "I have no talent. She stole it all from me." She was the first member of my Committee.

Other members my Committee? Mom Grace told me that I "was too good for her son", when I broke our engagement. Loving her son as I know she did, that must have been incredibly difficult for her to say (even if she was right). 
Grace taught me most of what I learned to begin my journey into needlework. She also taught me to knit and crochet, although I also crocheted with my paternal grandmother. Over the forty two years I knew and loved her, I frequently thanked her for sharing her knowledge with me. Her response? "It's really a case of the student surpassing the teacher, my dear."

Granddad and Me

I have more...My British granddad who always called me "his beautiful, eldest granddaughter"; or my middle aged co-worker (at the grocery store where I worked my way through high school) who shared her "rules for getting older" and a few jokes I can't repeat here, but will never forget; and always, my husband who always makes me feel loved and cherished. I always remember his words.
Are there other bad examples? Oh, heck yes, and sometimes I have to take a stick to them to drive them away. A comment thrown like a dagger from an unexpected (and unexplained) person; a word in passing from a drunk in a parking lot when I walked with a post-op cane; and of course, there are more, but I don't let them live here anymore.

I could go on with examples (some great, and some not-so-great) from people whose words stuck with me, but I think you get the idea. It took me many of my sixty two years, but I finally drove out the Committee members who brought no joy into my life. They no longer take up space in my head.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering at this point just where I'm going with all this, and how it has the slightest thing to do with our concert night this week. I told you that the conductor was a real cut-up. He had the whole audience in the palm of his hand, and his manner of introducing each new piece, in addition to being clever, was funny. I joined the audience in laughter as he made his way through the program.

At the end of the evening, Handsome and I were folding up our chairs to leave, when the lady who sat in front of me turned around and got my attention. She said, "I have to tell you that your laugh is infectious. I wish I could record it to make me smile every day. I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed sitting in front of you." I was surprised, smiled and said, "Thank you." 

As I went to bed Wednesday night, I reflected on that old Committee member who had managed with one sentence to make me so self-conscious about the simple, joyful act of laughing...and how the woman at the concert made me feel when she commented on my laughter before leaving the park.

This woman and her short interaction with me will stay with me. I'll carry her face and compliment with me to remind me that I chose joy. She will become the newest member of my Committee, and I'm immediately making her a Lifetime Member.

The sub-head for my blog is "...thoughts on a joyful and creative life." That's why I'm sharing this with you today. I decided long ago not to lug the boulders of sadness, frustration or downright despair around with me any longer. I left them behind nearly a decade ago. Please don't waste another moment of your life clinging to that which no longer serves you. Let go of the hurt. Let go of the words that keep you from living a beautiful, wonderful, juicy and joyful life. You deserve it. We all deserve it.
I'm a big fan of the movie "Somewhere In Time". In the movie, Jane Seymour plays the actress, Elise McKenna. She has a rather rotund suitor who pays entirely too much attention to her, and it's most unwelcomed. However, she's expected to return his affection. In a scene with a fellow actor, she's asked, "Surely, there must be something you like about the man." to which she replies, "Yes. His absence." That's how I feel about my evicted Committee members.

Thanks for letting me put this out there today. I appreciate that you stop by to see what I'm doing, and I also appreciate your visits. Be well. Be brave. Choose Joy.


June 22, 2017

A Perfect Evening...

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concert

Before Handsome and I moved to Florida sixteen years ago, we had season tickets to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. We so enjoyed getting dressed up, attending the concert, and then sharing a meal in Milwaukee before heading back home. We looked forward to it.

Performance at Buttermilk Park

Last night, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performed a free concert in Fond du Lac, WI at Buttermilk Park. People briught their lawn chairs, wine, kiddos, and/or blankets to sit on the grass. There was no reserved seating, no Best Seat in the House, not even any getting dressed up. Jeans or shorts are normal attire. One thing hasn't changed, though.

The musicians in the Orchestra are still the top-notch talent they always were. I smiled through the entire performance, and even laughed at the impish sense of humor of the conductor, Yaniv Dinur. He was delightful.

Last Evening's Performance Program
Last night's program was a perfect blend of classical and pops, and the audience loved all of it. We gave the orchestra a rounding applause and standing ovation at the end of the evening, earning us one final performance - an encore of music from The Raiders of the Lost Ark. The perfect end to a wonderful evening of music and family.
Handsome is now under contract to perform with the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band for the summer. His first concert with the band will be the end of June. I can't wait - and neither can he! There will be many more summer nights listening to music in Wisconsin...and I will be in the audience, not missings a single note.


June 21, 2017

Seashells In The Studio...

Fabrics For Brynwood Cork and Seashells Grab & Go Crossbody Clutch
I'm shipping out orders this morning, and then I'll be making this Grab & Go Crossbody Clutch for a client. She selected the seashell fabric on the left for the exterior - along with natural cork. I'll use my gray starfish for the interior. 
I'm looking forward to making this one, and I'm already working on plans for a few others. It's wonderful to be back in the studio. I have so many ideas swirling around that I'll have to start writing them down! 

What are you working on today?


June 20, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - The Drive-In...

Gilles in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

 Hi, Everybody!
Yesterday, Mom, Dad, Boo and I went to our favorite place in Fond du Lac (Wisconsin).

We had all gone to Appleton to pick up Dad's amplifier for his stereo system, but instead of goin' the short way home on the east side of the lake, we headed right down the west shore to go to Gilles. (Mom says it "Gillies")

Pullin' In To Our Parkin' Spot

Gilles is a great drive-in place that's only open durin' the nice weather. Sometimes they would open up to sell custard for one day around Christmas, but usually, they're only open when it's nice.

Tag Knows Where We Are

Dad chose a great parkin' spot, close to the kitchen so I could watch them makin' our lunch. Those guys really scurry around in there. They were busy makin' ice cream cones, burgers and fries. Bella and I could smell 'em from our car.
Gilles Kitchen

There's plenty of space in there for lots of people to work. That's a good thing, 'cuz the parkin' lot is full most of the time. There are cars in the parkin' lot from the time they open until the time they close. Their food is that good - and Mom says they've been in business for a long, long time...like since before she was a teenager. That's like a 100 years in dog years!

Bella's On To Our Plan, Too

Boo was interested in the menu board. She asked Dad if she could have some custard, but he didn't want her to get an upset stomach. We always get a french fry (or two), but ice cream would be pushin' it. Even so, it didn't hurt to ask.
I'll Have One Of Everything Please

I love those french fries, but truthfully, I wouldn't have minded a whole hamburger to myself. Dad said, "Absolutely not! You'll barf." hee hee. He's probably right. I've never had a whole hamburger, and I'm not sure I'd know what to do with one, even if I stole it off a plate! 

Our Cute Carhop

Our carhop was a really nice girl named Monica. She was so friendly when she came to the car. She saw me and said, "He's so cute!" I liked her right away. She knows "cute" when she sees it. Bella stood up when she started talkin' to me, so she talked all sweet to Boo, too.

We'll Be Back!

Of course, I got right in on the action when she brought the food to our truck. After Dad paid her, she handed him a treat for the Black Dog and me. Oh, yeah. Mine was tasty, and Bella must have liked hers, too. She didn't spit it out or anythin'.

I'm lookin' forward to the next time we go there. I hope Monica is there to wait on us. Mom said we won't be back for a while. We don't go to Fond du Lac very often. We mostly head toward Plymouth and Sheboygan, but we decided it's okay to go to Gilles every once in a while. I hope next time, Dad let's me order. I'll make sure there are some pupper-friendly additions to our meals!

Thanks for stoppin' by today. I know. You're hungry now, right? 

I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

June 19, 2017

That's More Like It...

Orchid Print Cork Grab & Go Crossbody Clutches

So much was accomplished this weekend, but the most fun (aside from Father's Day with Handsome) was that I got back into my studio and actually created three new Grab & Go Crossbody Clutches. Two are in my newest fabric - a lovely orchid-color, tropical print cork.

Orchid Print Cork Grab & Go Crossbody Clutches - Purple Cork Backs

The backs of each bag are a lovely purple color, and the crossbody strap (not shown) is natural cork, 48" long. I can adjust the length of the strap, if requested.

Orchid Print Cork Grab & Go Crossbody Bags - Starfish Linings

The bags are lined in a starfish print, linen fabric. I've listed them in my shop HERE, in case you're interested.

Black Cork Grab & Go Traveler's Crossbody Clutch

I also made this black cork Grab & Go Traveler's Crossbody Clutch. This one is already spoken for, and on its way to a new home.

Black Cork Grab & Go Traveler's Crossbody Clutch - Map Fabric Lining

I used the same lining that I use in my Wanderer Traveler's Wallet, and a wristlet addition was requested. It's one of my personal favorites. 

I'm very happy to be back in my studio, and I'm looking forward to adding more items -  handmade and supplies - to my shop in the next week. I hope you'll stop by to check out my latest offerings.

June 18, 2017

Sunday Scripture - Happy Father's Day...

Brynwood Needleworks via quotesgram.com