Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Gift of Love and an update

One day in April, a package came in the mail for me.
The return address said it was from A Swap For All Seasons.
I couldn't imagine what it could be.
I had dropped out of the year long swap with my beloved swap buddies in March...after we had gotten David's cancer diagnosis and treatment plan.

To give you some back story, I have swapped pretty steadily with this group for a number of years...the Fall of 2008 is when I started. The swapping originated with Linda Smith, a very creative woman, and all around inspirational leader. For a number of years, we had seasonal swaps, four times a year. We would be given the name of a partner and we would create a seasonally themed package for that partner. Handmade cards and tags were the stars and little treats and bits and bobs were added as we wished. Over the course of those initial years, I got to know, through swapping, a wonderful bunch of wildly creative women. Linda took a break from swap organizing for a while and all of us kind of felt adrift. In October of 2013, Linda started the swap rolling again. We were all delighted! Between October 2013 and September 2014, we had a monthly assignment and a new way to be matched up. We would have someone to send our cards and tags to but someone else would be sending to us. This expanded that friendly group even more. Toward the end of July, 2014....right around the time David and I were packing up and moving, Linda sent invitations to some of her initial core group asking if we wanted to do something completely different for 2015. Instead of PAPER CRAFTING, we would each be fabric stitching! Yikes!
 Each month we were to create a 4x6-inch cloth stitched piece using any method we chose. Embroidery, sewing by hand or machine...we just couldn't use glue. At the end of the year, each swapper would have 12 pieces of art to sew together to make a banner. Well, the concept was great and would be a real stretch for me...I hadn't done sewing or hand stitching for years. I wanted to participate so I said, YES, knowing that it would be a challenge for me but a good one  to keep me busy in our new home, not really knowing anyone here. Our first project was in January of this year and I started to formulate a plan for my first panel. I was to send to Sally Hughes, of Sally Annie Magundy blog. I knew Sally a little bit through her blog, but had never been partnered with her. Well, to make my growing story shorter, I completed my sampler for Sally but it took ripping it apart 3 times to do it. I really felt like I was in over my head with this swap challenge so I decided to sit out for the month of February to see if I could get my head together. I gave myself a stern lecture about not giving up and accepting a new challenge and in mid-February I told Linda I would be back in for March. I had just received the name of the person I was to send a sampler to and learned who would be sending to me in March. Within days, we were hearing from doctors at Bebee Medical Center, that David had Stage 3 Esophagogastric Cancer and would require chemotherapy, radiation and surgery down the road. With a heavy heart, I contacted Linda and explained that I needed to step away from the swap. She totally understood that all of my attention needed to be focused on David and his care. She asked if it was OK to ask the other women to pray for us. I told her that we would appreciate those prayers.

One day in April, a package came in the mail for me.
The return address said it was from A Swap For All Seasons.
 I couldn't imagine what it could be.

I opened the big puffy envelope and this sweetly wrapped package was inside


As soon as I felt it and read the tag, I knew what it was and I started to cry.

It took me a while before I could even unwrap the gift that was inside the beautiful tissue. As I unwrapped it and saw every marvelous sampler, hand stitched and sent with love, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't stop crying or speak for a long time.
Wonderful, supportive, loving swapping friends, sending a generous act of kindness to me, a woman, that except for two, Bev and Marie, they didn't know in person. They had all made samplers of encouragement for David and me and sent them to Linda. She sewed them all together to make a banner and sent it on to me. These are the samplers...

from Pam Snow, Sherry Ellison, Elizabeth Quigley

Lorraine Beaumont, Marti McClure and Sally Holmes

Marie Entwistle, Linda Freeman, Linda Smith

Susie Alles, May O'Connor and Bev Breisinger

Becky Fierberg, Debbie Metti and Patty Powell

Heidi Wallace sent her sampler directly to me so I will need to add it to the others...


There were notes from several of the women and Patty (in Oz) sent a packet of sunflower seeds which have been planted and are coming up in our garden.

Sixteen samplers.
Sixteen acts of kindness.
I thank all of you and send that love right back to you.
You have touched both of us with your thoughtfulness and caring.
The beautiful banner has been proudly shown to every one who has visited with an explanation of how lucky I am to be part of such a terrific group of women.


Update on David
Next week, on Thursday, June 25, David will undergo a 10 hour surgery for the removal of the cancer and lymph nodes. It is a high risk procedure for many reasons but we are confident in the surgeons and in the care and protection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He has been our rock and we will cling to him as we make our way through the next months.

Thank you, from our hearts, for your prayers and concern.

xoxo
Joyce

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Man

 This is David.

He is my loving husband.

He is a Father to Eric, Michelle and Michael.

(l-r Billy, Michelle, Charlie, Jane, Miles, Eric, Michael, Jackie


 He is a special Papa to Charlie and Miles

 He has been an ordained Lutheran Pastor for over 40 years, now retired.

 He is a friend to many people.
He loves to fish.

He loves convertibles

He loves the Steelers and the Penguins

He loves the beach!!


Which is why we moved to Delaware in August, 2014

And now, six months after our move, David has been diagnosed with cancer.
A tumor at the Esophagogastric Junction.
(where the esophagus and stomach meet)
He was diagnosed 2 1/2 weeks ago and our lives have been a blur since then.
We have had scores of Doctor visits, lab testing, procedures and education meetings. As of this moment, he is scheduled to begin chemotherapy and radiation, concurrently, on March 23, but that might be subject to change. The Doctors here have been great. There has been much to coordinate and they want to get started as soon as possible. We have no time to waste. After he completes his course of treatment, they will evaluate to see if he is a good candidate for surgery to remove the tumor and involved lymph nodes, if they have shrunken properly.
This will be the fight of our lives and we getting ourselves armed and ready!
We have family and friends all over the country, praying and cheering.
We are being comforted with the faith and belief that no matter what happens, we are safely in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

I thought that I had finally gotten to the point where I could resume blogging and participating in swaps. It's amazing how your life can change in a moment.
Priorities have been all rearranged.

I am sharing this here today, because my friends in the blogging community have always been the most supportive and loving people I know. 
May I ask you to keep David and me in your prayers?
I will keep you posted on the progress here and while I am spending lots of times waiting while David has his chemo infusions, I will try to get around and visit my favorite blogs. 
Thank you in advance for your understanding and support.

xoxo
Joyce

Monday, February 9, 2015

I'm Back!!

Hello dear friends!
I could write about 50 pages about where I have been and what I have been doing since my last blog post, 5 months ago, but I have lots of fun things to share and it's time to move forward!
I participated in two Swaps this month and I have pictures to sort through and a post to write about them. We had a small trip to Maryland to visit our Grandsons and also to see and old friend from Pittsburgh who now lives in Virginia (more pictures of that) The most exciting thing was meeting a dear blog friend, IN PERSON, for the first time! (pictures about that, too!) 
Right now I'm dealing with some kind of wretched cold...or whatever is going around and my energy level is zero! Give me a few days...oh right, you've already given me 5 months, and I'll be back!
In the meantime...here are a few birthday cards that went out this month...

For my friend, Mimi, who has an Etsy Shop named Dandelion Wishes...


For my best friend, Nancy, who wanted to be a cowgirl when she was little...


and for another blogging friend, Sandy McClay, who I had the pleasure of meeting several years ago in Arizona...


So many birthdays in February! 

I'll be back soon with more pictures and stories! 
I've missed you all!

xoxo
Joyce

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Are Connected! A Swap For All Seasons...September...Halloween

This past weekend, our son Eric, DIL Jane and our two Grandsons came for a visit to see the new house. Eric did so much to help his Dad! He was up and down the ladder, putting things away in high places...carrying heavy items from one place to another, connecting the computer and TVs, and then even mowed the lawn!!! So much was accomplished that would have taken us weeks to do. We have gotten a lot done but there is still much to do. I want to show you some pictures of the house...soon.
For right now, I want to say that the September swap at A Swap For All Seasons is a wrap...for the month, and, actually, for the year. We started last October and every month I have had so much fun with the different themes and color schemes that our fearless leader and Swap Hostess Extraordinaire, Linda Smith, has challenged us with. I have met a bunch of new blog friends and have swapped with some dear old friends as well. Thank you, Linda, for the energy and creativity you have presented us with...I have enjoyed every minute!
This month we had a Halloween theme and the color for the destash was orange. We were given our assignment and our partner's name at the beginning of August and in spite of getting ready for our big move, I was determined to participate. Halloween is such a fun topic to create for and I was happy to have a little creative fun in between sorting and packing. My partner was Marti of 
Artful Curiosities . This was the second time I created for Marti, the first being in February. Marti was my "donor" in May and you might recall this gorgeous piece of art she made for me...

So, for the Halloween tag, I made a small hanging piece...


This image has made the rounds on Pinterest and I just loved this gal's flair for the dramatic! I am not a fan of really scary Halloween things...I like the sweet or the funny...I thought she was kind of funny.
I made a pocket card filled with Halloween Bingo cards.


The destash also fit nicely into the pocket...


Leaves, stickers, more images, vintage seam binding, washi tape and 2 orange polka dot note cards.

I also made the envelope for the card using scrapbook paper that looked rumpled...it's so cute and I know I've had it forever.
I liked the way this turned out.


Now that our computer is back up and running, i hope to be back posting on a more regular basis and of course, visiting my fellow blogging friends!

Until next time...
xoxo
Joyce

Monday, September 1, 2014

What is Normal?

As I've mentioned many times, our summer has been consumed with activities surrounding moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanis to Millsboro, Delaware....8 Miles from Rehoboth Beach. We are happy. We are excited. We are looking forward to decorating and foofifying our new home.  But mostly.....
WE ARE EXHAUSTED!!!!

Since June, we have been working hard to get our PA home ready to sell....did I tell you it sold in 8 hours? Yup! The first couple who saw it, loved it, and offered our full asking price. No one was more shocked than we were. After the house sold, we had to hustle to Delaware to BUY A HOUSE, which we did, in 24 hours. The very hardest part was the actual packing up the house. We had a huge moving sale in May and got rid of a ton of stuff and I was delusional in thinking that the packing of what was left would be easy but it was not! As you might guess, the most difficult packing was my craft room. Soooo many boxes, heavy, heavy boxes of paper. The movers came on Friday, August 22, at 8:30 in the morning. They finished loading the truck at 7:30 that night. We closed on our house on Monday the 25th and closed on our new home on Wednesday, the 27th of August. Our furniture has not arrived and won't until this Friday, September 5th. We needed a new mattress and box spring which we bought immediately and had them delivered the next day so we have a place to rest our heads. We also bought a sofa and love seat from the previous owners so we have a place to sit. There are also a few small lamps, the coffee maker ( of course) and a few dishes to hold us over. We are trying to look at it like an adventure. This time has given us a chance to catch our breath and also do some work at the new house. In the past 2 days David has painted the Master Bedroom and we will also paint my craft room before the furniture comes. We are also having the carpet ripped out of my craft room and solid surface flooring installed. So much to do, but I'm hoping we'll still get a chance to spend some time at the beach in September, our favorite month!
I was hoping to include some pictures on this post but I only have my iPad with me and I don't know when I'll have access to the computer again. I can't figure out how to upload pictures from my iPad to a blog post. If you have any suggestions, I will be happy to hear them.
In the meantime, know that I've missed reading your posts....hopefully I'll be fully operational in the not too distant future!

xoxo
Joyce 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Swap For All Seasons-August-Just My Style!

We are heavily into the work of packing up our house to move.
The movers come on August 22nd.
We close on our house here on August 25th.
We move into our new home in Delaware on August 27th....although our belongings may not arrive until the beginning of September, depending on how many stops our truck has to make.
To offset the stress and manual labor of the move, I have continued to participate in the monthly swaps at A Swap For All Seasons. How could I not? This year of themed monthly swaps has been great fun!! Our hostess, Linda, is the Queen of Swapping and has made our lives more creative and fun every month. I have had some partners I've never swapped with before and have, therefore, made new friends. I've also swapped with very treasured women that I've known for years! Next month is our last month in this year-long project and I am hoping that Linda will have something up her sleeve for another year of creative play.
August's theme for our card and tag was, Just My Style. We could create in our own unique way and the destash that we sent was not limited to one particular color. This couldn't be any easier!
Sherry, of Creatology, was my "donor: this month. Sherry is one of the friendliest, generous people on the planet! She is always gracious and kind and I don't think she ever sleeps because the lovely things that come out of her craft room seem to be never-ending! She swaps in several groups, sends surprises to friends and also makes things for charitable organizations. She is a dynamo!
Sherry showered me with a variety of wonderful gifts this month. 
First is the card and tag...

The tag is filled with lots of embellishments and old vintage papers. Kind of an international travel theme.
The card was made using a stamp of one of my favorite artists, D. Morgan.
I love all of the sea and beach themed art pieces she does and we already have one of her prints in our bedroom. I am planning on framing Sherry's card to hang up also. I wanted you to see the detail...


The treasures that Sherry included in my package were many and clever...
little pouches of paper and fabric, a notebook, handmade papers, washi tape, ribbon and lace


 and the prettiest and classiest bubble wand I have ever seen...

Did you know that blowing bubbles is a great stress reliever? I guess it's all that "blowing out" that you do! 

My person to send to this month was Lorraine Beaumont of 
Over the Rainbeau. Lorraine is a very accomplished artist. If you visit her blog, and you should (by clicking on her blog name), you will see some of her creations. It was a tiny bit (OK a Big Bit) intimidating to be creating for her but after all, it was Just My Style. Those who know me, know that I have kind of a quirky sense of humor. I love creating cards to send to friends for no particular reason except to bring a chuckle...a milk-snorting-out-the-nose laugh would be even better but I'll be happy if you chuckle. Anyway, the image for the card I made just begged for the quote...

When I saw the image of this little roller skater, I immediately loved her determination to skate and not get hurt! I thought the bow on the tag mimicked the bow in her hair.


Lorraine loves vintage images so I pulled a bunch out of my stash. along with some lace to play with in her crafting.

Another fabulous and fun month!
Next month is our last in the year long swap and the theme is Halloween...always a fun topic. My fingers are crossed that Linda has some plans for more fun swaps in the near future!

xoxo
Joyce

Sunday, July 13, 2014

About the Mary Engelbreit, Trash To Treasure Chair.

I have been looking through photos stored on my computer, making sure that I have pictures of all of the rooms of our home before it all gets dismantled in preparation of the MOVE.
I came across pictures of a project I have never shared here before and I thought you might like to see it.  The Trash to Treasure Chair. A number of years ago I took a furniture painting class. We were to take a chair found in someone's trash and transform it with paint. As hard as I tried, I could not find a chair curbside, so I resorted to buying a chair, a pair actually, for $10 at a yard sale. I was going to paint one for myself and the other for my sister. It was a super fun class...remember, this was well before the repurposing trend started. I decided to paint my chair in the style of my idol, Mary Engelbreit! Bright colors and a cute theme were my guidelines.I used acrylic paint and stencils to create my chair.


Each rung of the ladderback chair is painted in a different way and you can see that Bugs! were my theme.
Ladybugs winding their way across fried egg flowers...

a jaunty checkerboard pattern...

I cannot explain my attraction to the bug motif but I have one!

A finial on just one side of the chair..

Polka dots, stripes and some bees...

The seat of this chair is an antique white, distressed...hard to see that in this shot. I must confess, while I hate to see real ones in the house, I love stenciled ants. I used to have them stenciled along the baseboard in the kitchen. It gave people quite a start when they saw them!

So, I painted this chair for me and then didn't get around to painting the other one for my sister in time for her birthday so I gave her this one, intending to paint the second one for me. It never got done and in May, I sold the partially painted chair at our moving sale. Maybe I'll find one in the trash somewhere in Delaware to finally paint for me!

xoxo
Joyce

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