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

June 17, 2017

Time To Play...

Brynwood's Green Sprite ATC
I have grand plans to sew in the studio today! Whether or not I'm finished organizing, I must find a way to create something. 
This is one of my past Artist Trading Cards. I do love making ATCs, as they're small pieces of art. I can use handwork, beadwork, images and more to make them, and I can let my imagination run. I'm looking forward to actually playing again. Perhaps I'll sneak an ATC or two in, as well.

June 16, 2017


Fond du Lac History At Home Series
I did something really fun yesterday afternoon. I went to a lecture at the Fond du Lac Public Library. It was one in a series of History At Home lectures. This one was especially close to my heart, about hickory trees!

Front Yard Hickory Tree (behind the red maple)
It's surprising how much information you can learn in one short hour! Our speaker, Mr. Kevin DeCramer, had a wealth of knowledge about the hickory population in the State of Wisconsin, the history of this legacy tree and even information about the actual nuts. 

These trees live to be three hundred years old, have long taproots (which make transplanting difficult), and if I planted seedlings tomorrow I wouldn't live long enough to see them bear their fruit (nuts). One other thing was that hickory trees also produce a syrup that rivals maple trees, however, you don't tap the trees to get it. The bark is the source for the syrup! Such attributes make these trees even more precious to me. 

We had dinner with Andy and Shelly last night, and they told me that we actually have a few more hickory trees on our property than I originally thought. I'm going to do a little exploring this weekend to locate the other trees so I can keep track of our "crops" through this fall. I'll definitely be making the rounds once the nuts begin to mature.


June 15, 2017

Stormy Weather...

The Storm Approaching From The West

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, prepare for the next six thousand words. The photo captions can help explain the images.

Approaching Storm Over The Barns

The weather was much cooler as the storm approached. The birds got quiet as they sought shelter, and the skies grew darker.

Northwest View Of The Approaching Storm

This line moved quickly as Handsome and I stood on our upstairs airing porch. When the rains started, we almost couldn't see the trees.

After The Storm - Facing East

After about a half hour to forty five minutes, the rains stopped and the storms moved further east, away from us. The birds started to fly around and sing again.

Sunset Over The Barns

Our sunset was glorious. "Red sky at night, sailors delight." Sailors weren't the only ones delighted with this beautiful sky.

Sunset After The Storm
It was a beautiful end to a day of bumpy weather. Thanks to Shelly and Andy who called us and offered storage space in their big barn for the Flying Cloud. (The forecast was for "possible damaging hail". They wanted to help us, and we accepted.) All our vehicles and toys were safely under cover, thanks to our friends.


June 14, 2017

Getting "Spicey"...

Brynwood Needleworks - Florida Pantry Spice Racks

You may remember a post I did quite a few years ago about redoing the pantry in our Florida home. I needed a spice rack and decided to make my own. One weekend when Handsome was traveling, I set about getting that project done. I started by going shopping with one spice bottle so I'd have a size reference. 

I had seen these organizers at Bed, Bath & Beyond but I needed to find the proper size to fit those spice bottles.

Bed Bath & Beyond Web Image

The 6" x 12" boxes were perfect when I placed them horizontally. I purchased ten bamboo boxes and put them together in sets of 5. I mounted them to the wall and loved how convenient they were.

Making New Spice Racks
I didn't want to put the spices into a pantry cabinet here at the farm. I'm just too spoiled having them out where I can see them and just grab what I need. It's a little less convenient to get to a Bed, Bath & Beyond from here, so I "let my fingers do the walking" and ordered what I needed Here on their website. 

I glued them together (Gorilla™ Wood Glue), clamped them and waited for them to dry. Yesterday, the other item I ordered to mount on the pantry wall arrived, so today I'm going to mount everything on the pantry wall.

I'm excited about my plan, and having the spices on racks again. Please, come back tomorrow and I'll show you how everything turned out.

June 13, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - It Ain't Easy Bein' Me...

Farmhouse Security Supervisor

 Just another wonderful week at Hickory Hill Farm. 

Taggart, Reporting For Duty

 Oh, Hi, Everybody!!
You sneaked up on me this week.

Yard Dog

 Maybe you heard that Mom and Dad spent most of last weekend outside?
Bella and I were out there, too. BONUS!

Checkin' The Wind

Boo loves hangin' out wherever Dad is, but I'm a more independent guy. I like to pick a spot in the yard and plant myself in the grass. Gotta face into the wind in case somethin' juicy happens to pass upwind. If it does, I'm outta here as fast as my stubby - er, I mean - muscular legs will carry me.

Are You Still Takin' Pictures, Mom?

Mom or Dad keep close enough watch over me, so they can holler if I follow my nose. I really don't know what the big deal is. I mean, how far do they think I'll go? Truth is, only far enough to find the best stuff to roll in, but not to far that I can't make it back for dinner. 

I'll just lie here for a while and maybe they'll forget about me. Yeah. I'm not countin' on it, either. Mom hovers. Seriously. I get it. She's crazy about me, and doesn't want me carried off by Bigfoot or anythin'. I guess I'll just have to be content to be the major object Corgi of her affection. Life's tough for a cute dog at the farm. (No, I don't mean Bella!) 

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


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