The one….

Do you remember what it was like when you knew you found that special one?  Were you drawn to the handsome good looks, the ruggedness or was it perhaps the size and shape of the object of your desire?  Well for me, it was the tree in the front yard…..

 No!  I am not talking about a man, but about the home that my man and I chose to buy and live in (from 1995 until present time).

We chose a house at the end of a street, after browsing many others and even placing a bid on one (that I secretly didn’t want so I convinced my husband to bid way too low).  The house we ultimately chose was in the neighborhood we already lived in, and had beautiful mature trees.  It felt like a real neighborhood, unlike those subdivisions that somehow seem to be erected overnight with absolutely no trees in sight.

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This is the day we brought our new baby (Kenny) home from the hospital. That is our big beautiful tree.

This is a very old picture, so please excuse the quality.

Maybe I have become a true “Marin Tree Hugger”, but I don’t care. A tree is always a true friend.  It’s a  sturdy friend to lean on when you need one.  It can protect you from harsh elements and it can guide friends to your house, by being a marker- “We are the house at the end of the street with that huge tree in the front yard”.

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                                        Our beautiful tree with Kenny (2).

As time went on, it was time for a remodel.  Our family was growing and so must our house.  Our tree was the perfect shade tree.  It protected us from the harsh California afternoon sun.  It kept our house cooler and created privacy.

photo 2-78Time wasn’t our tree’s friend, though.  The years wreaked havoc on him and he started to show wear, losing his bark.  Summers didn’t seem to be his best time of year as it had been in the past.  The foliage was less and what leaves did come about seemed to be dry and unhealthy.

We tried cutting him back, hoping that we could salvage half of our dear friend, but it was no use.

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                 This is a photo from the inside of our 2nd floor bathroom.

 So, it was time to say good-bye.

As you can see, the men are working to remove our tree.  It was always such a nice view to peer out this window and feel like you were in a tree house.

As you can see, the men are working to remove our tree. It was always such a nice view to peer out this window and feel like you were in a tree house.

I don’t handle good-byes well.  I just like to pull that band-aid off fast.  Losing him wasn’t a fast process though….I must admit, I did shed a few tears over our tree, (I cried when our old washer and dryer left too).  I am very sentimental to say the least.

When we realized that we had to cut our tree down, we initially thought about selling our house and moving somewhere new, with a big healthy tree.  Sanity sunk in though and we realized it would be silly to” throw the baby out with the bath water”, so a day did arrive when we finally decided to put in a new tree.  There will never be a replacement for our original friend- but we felt as though our house wasn’t going to be a home again until there was a tree, a substantial tree, in the front yard.

On a cold morning our new tree arrived.   She was all snuggled up under a blanket.

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Before being planted an enormously deep hole was dug for the tree’s roots. This hole took many hours to dig!

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finally she was placed into her new home.

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The landscaping was replaced, so she had a few friends to hang with.

 

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Here she is world!

Welcome to your new home little one!

No pressure, but Grow, Grow Big and  Grow Wide!

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You have big shoes a big hole to fill.

I wonder, what do you get sentimental about?

Good-Bye 13, Hello 14!

It’s been a good year.  Our youngest, Will, successfully started a new school and is happy,  and our oldest Kenny applied and was accepted to his first college choice – Michigan State University!  It just so happens to be both mine and Mr. Swellsewing’s Alma Mater!  Yay – we are both as proud as peacocks!

I had many makes this year. Well, many for me anyway.  If I were to compare my makes with other people, I would pale in comparison.  I would say that I chose what I was going to make quite carefully though.  Some of these makes were made for other people, and some of these were made in multiples.  How about you?  Was there one in particular that you are proudest of?  Do you feel that with each “make” you learn a little bit more?  What about Works In Progress or WIP’s?  I do have many of those and these are first to be finished for the beginning of the new year.

 I have been slowly progressing with my quilt making, challenging myself and learning along the way.  The more quilts I sew, the more skills I acquire, thus learn and create my own style of quilting.  I find myself honing new organization skills and shortcuts.

At this point I feel like I am in a chrysalis stage, there’s a lot of developing happening here behind my sewing room door.  It’s like magic. To me it’s like magic anyway.

With the quilt I made for Heather, I learned a lot.  There were many components to her quilt.  Organization and preparation are the keys.  It is a slow process (for me) and in order to stay efficient, I cannot rush.

Here are my “makes” for 2013, I am sure I have left 1 or 2 out.  For the most part though, they are all here.

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Just to highlight a few of my makes…

#1.  Is a quilt that I still have in my procession.  It is my quilt.  I am willing to share with other housemates though, if needed!

#10.  Is from a Heather Bailey tutorial, for a trinket tray.  I made about 8 of these for a wedding.  The bride put together little care packages for those that came into town from far away and stayed at a hotel.  These nautical trays were filled with little goodies waiting for the arrival of their guests.

#21.  This cosmetic bag was sewn from a pattern and tutorial from Creativebug.  The genius behind this bag is Betz White.  I loved this clever bag so much that I made 3 of them.  The other 2 were given to my Sewing Summit roommates and were crafted with just the right fabrics to meet their personalities.

Everything I have sewn really has meant something to me.  I think probably though, The Ellen Quilt has had the biggest impact on me.  It has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions when it comes to that darn quilt.  

Long story short, I have heard from some of Ellen’s people.  I got tickets to her show, and I am going to Burbank to see an Ellen show taping on January 16th.  I cannot confirm if Ellen has actually seen or held the quilt, or (and this is really hard for me to admit) if she even knows about it.  

That’s okay though.  I keep chanting this over and over again while rocking back and forth.  Ha, just kidding.   It is just fine.  I appreciate Ellen, I crafted her a quilt, I sent it to her- and my ultimate goal was met- I got 3 tickets to her show and will be sitting in her audience, hanging with my gal pals, Carol and Patty.  The girls and I will get to spend some much-needed time together, and it will be great!  I will keep you posted on that trip- I am sure I will have something to blog about.  

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In other news though, before I close up this post and take a nice big fat nap –  Jim, Kenny and I headed down to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena California!  We watched our Michigan State Spartans beat the Stanford Cardinal (which I learned is a tree) for the championship of the 100th Rose Bowl!  It was sooooo awesome!  So glad we went, and Kenny?  Well he is over the moon.  He will start at MSU in August of this year- what a way to start his College career.  I know College isn’t a career, but I wasn’t sure how else to state this!

SUCH A GREAT WAY TO START THE NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year everyone and stay crafty my friends!

Silence Is Golden!

Sometimes turning everything off in the house is so freeing.  With television, radio and phone silenced I found myself able to actually think! Hmm imagine that.  Wow! Right?!

I haven’t been blogging, but I have been busying myself with a plethora of holiday projects.

Here is what I have been up to:

1.   I finished a lap quilt for Aunt Helen

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She has been spending time in a wheelchair now and I thought this would keep her legs warm and let her know that we love her and are thinking of her.

2.  I am in the process of trying to decide between these two designs.

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 The first quilt design is by Canoeridgecreations.com that was featured in a quilty magazine, called chevron and on.  The second design is another version that I came up with using the same blocks.  I think I like the second one better, but that means I need to figure out what to do about the middle block.  I am NOT making anymore squares so.. I am probably going with the first version.  If I finish this, it will be given to my Mom-in-law.

3.  I made and brought this little chicken over to my sister-in-law Heather’s home  for a hostess gift on Thanksgiving.

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Pretty funny, huh?  You lift up her wing and she has a hole there with access to dinner rolls!  I downloaded this project from Pellonprojects.com.

It’s a free pattern, in fact there are many free patterns on the website.  The only problem with this chicken is that it was impossible to find a tiny basket for her.  I used a pail that I purchased from the container store.  It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be though!

4.  I baked apple pie for Thanksgiving!

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One went with us the Heather’s house, one went with my friend Patty to her Thanksgiving and this one stayed home with us.  My son Kenny and I devoured it!  Breakfast, lunch and dinner baby, that’s how we do it!

I am happy to report, that I think I am finally starting to get the hang of making my own pie dough.  This is something that I have strived for, for many years.

4.  A little shopping at Target for some essential Orla Kiely!decblogpost5

There was really nothing little about it.  I bought nearly one of each of Orla’s cosmetic bags from Target.  I just couldn’t resist.  “Collect them all!!”

5.  Mr. Swellsewing and I have been cleaning out closets!decblogpost6

This is just one example of one of the closets we cleaned out.  We are donating a ton of things that we just don’t need anymore.  We’re so tired of clutter.  We are seriously going to do this.  Really!

6.  Baby Quilt

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Whew, good thing this is for a baby!  I just don’t know how many more hexies I have in me to finish.  All this fabric is from Heather Ross’ Briar Rose collection.  It is as cute as can be, and totally perfect for a baby girl.  December 15th is my deadline.  I really gotta get my hex on!!!

And the last thing I have been working on:

7.  Is a secret project for someone.

I have been working on this “thing” for a very long time… hopefully it will be done before Christmas and I will have pictures to share with you!  Wish me luck!

Other than those few things, there are plenty of other little things that keep popping up.  Christmas shopping for my boys ( all three of them), wrapping and sending gifts to my parents, X-mas cards that need to be addressed… hmm what else…Oh, I need to deck the halls!  Holy moly! Wow, no more time for blogging.  I have to get going on all of this.

But first, a nice spot of hot Trader Joes, candy cane tea and a fond farewell to all of you until next time!

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Cheers!

For the love of Dave and many others…..

I am writing this post for all of those that I have known that are no longer with us.  My “East coast sister,” Tricia, is walking this Sunday in honor of her brother David whom she and her amazing family lost 15 years ago, to depression and its consequences.

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Tricia is participating in Philadelphia’s Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk.  She will be walking for Dave and a few other people we know and loved/love.  One person in particular, my son Kenny knew and  went to school with. We lost her recently, and Tricia offered to walk in her name as well.

This post has been a hard one to write, because I am going to share something with you that I am very open about, but haven’t shared on-line. It’s not a pretty side of me, but none the less, it is something I struggle with almost daily.

I have depression.

There I said it.  Look, the world is still on its axis and the sky isn’t falling.  I know, I know many of us do. Right? We don’t talk about it all the time and we don’t share those ugly little secrets with everyone, but I think it is high time we do. Let’s talk about “IT”. Okay?

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Me at 12 years of age.

This isn’t a dirty little secret, it is a health issue and it’s real.  It has been scientifically proven that “IT” is a chemical imbalance.  Just like high blood pressure and diabetes, medicines and therapies are prescribed.   Sometimes depression can be brought on from a significant event or trauma in your life… Sometimes, (and I think this one is the hardest), you can’t put your finger on it, you don’t know why you feel crappy. You just do, and it hurts. It is impossible to get out of bed, to eat, to read, to watch television to think about anything in the future, or even to think how the hell am I going to get myself out of this hell? It is HELL, HELL on earth – everything is dark, ugly, scary, things feel bad, even a hug from someone you love feels empty.  You know you will never feel happy again. The only way out (you think at the that very time) is the direction that too many people have taken.

This is where, I have been. Yes, I have been there, where I have tried to “off” myself. When I was in college, I took a whole bottle of Bayer aspirin. It was an easy decision for me at the time, I was young, I didn’t have kids or a husband to look after me and live for. I felt as though I was a burden, not pulling the grades I should be and doing my parents a huge disservice spending their hard-earned money on a loser like me. When my roommate found out I did this, I begged her not to call anybody. It worked out okay, because I paid the price, vomiting my guts out. I learned my lesson, sort-of.

“Burden” seems to be a big word with us that feel very low and depressed. In fact if you are around someone who uses this word as a description of themselves, I would watch them carefully and see if they may need to talk to someone.   Don’t be polite about it either, be forceful, because if you are dealing with a depressed person, a decision is something that can’t be made by them.

As a depressed person you feel like “an extra load of unhappy garbage” to your friends and family. You just want to disappear and you want people to just forget about you, because in your sick mind they will be waaaayyyyyy better off without you.

For those of you out there who haven’t experienced depression, and I hope there are many of you that haven’t, I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy.

I have been in and out of depression for as long as I can remember.  I know I had it when I was in college and I am pretty sure I had it as a youngster.  I can remember as a kid crying and feeling sad, for no apparent reason.

Depression runs in my family and is hereditary.

My mom lost her brother (Tim) to suicide.  I was around 10 when this happened.  I remember it was June 20th, the day before my sister’s birthday.  The story I was told was that my uncle didn’t want to go through another divorce.  Traggic, If only he would have stopped and thought about his kids and my mom (his sister) AND the scars he would leave them with.

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My dad painted the above painting.  It depicts a man with his head in his hands and crazy birds flying around him inside of a house.  My Uncle Tim saw this painting before he left us and said that the painting depicted exactly how he felt.  He just wanted to put his head in his hands and make it all stop.

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One of the last photo’s taken of me and my dog Pebble’s before moving to California

Depression reared its very ugly head, when I moved from Michigan to California.  It was an exciting time.  I had met the man of my dreams and I was moving to be with him.  It was a huge change for me though.  I left the safety and comfort of my parents arms to the arms of  my future husband.  To me, it felt like I was leaving my childhood behind and hopping right over into adulthood.

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I left my parents….

Things were different in Northern California.  I went from a very conservative household to a very liberal area.   The leaves on trees didn’t change much and there wasn’t any snow.  The people were different, things seemed “showy”.  As great as this all seems, when it isn’t something you are accustomed to, it makes you feel different as if you don’t belong.  Like you aren’t settled, you are only visiting and you have nowhere to call home.  I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, let alone my new surroundings.   Also, while this was all going on I was getting acquainted with Jim’s very large gregarious family.  It made me want to withdraw more, because they were all so happy and warm, and I just didn’t feel like that at the time.  I became more introverted.

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The above picture was taken, when I was just about diagnosed with double depression.  Jim put that crazy Rodney Reindeer on my head, hoping that would make me laugh.   You can see it had no effect.

I have been in therapy now, with the same wonderful doctor for… 23 years?  Something like that anyway.  I have taken medication now, for just about as long (cutting the meds during pregnancies and breast-feeding).

My husband and boys have saved my life, more times than I can even count.  When I am in one of my “episodes” of depression, Jim is always there to tell me “you are going to feel better, you just got to hang in there”.  All I need to do is picture the devastation, that I have seen first hand, way too many times to stop me from thinking of a wrong way out.  Families that you left behind, because as a depressed person, you felt you were “burdening” them, are now tormented by thoughts of “why didn’t I know?”, “why did she/he do this?”, “what could I have done differently?” and many, many other thoughts.  The fact of the matter is that now you, trying to unburden your family by doing the unthinkable, ARE NOW REALLY A BURDEN.  For the rest of their living lives, they will be missing you and in pain.

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This picture was taken at Jim’s brother’s wedding in Sonoma.  I remember feeling really bad. My therapy had started at this point.

Even after you get well and you find happiness, depression still can sneak into your life.

Jim and I were married in 1992 in Tiburon, Ca.  We had a reception following that my family attended, but my mom and dad wanted to have another reception at a later date in Michigan for us also, so that other family members could celebrate with us.

A few days after our Michigan reception, there was an incident of sorts, that I thought I could talk through with my sister and parents.  It didn’t regard me, but I was just trying to make peace in our household.   The situation escalated and no one was listening to me, (people not listening to me, I thought was always a problem) so I guess to get their attention  I pounded on the nearest surface and that just happened to be a glass storm door.  I was shouting “can everybody just stop yelling!” and hammered both my forearms through that glass severing 7 tendons and a nerve.

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Here I am a few days later in Michigan after surgery.  I look happy right?  My dad promised that things would change around the household.  It wasn’t his fault.  My sister and I have never been close,  she and I are like oil and water, we just don’t mix.  So to keep the peace we don’t talk or see each other when I visit my folks in Michigan.

Today, I am obviously still here. I struggle with depression as I said before on an almost daily basis.  There are a few things that help me get through.  Plenty of sleep, exercise, psychotherapy, medicine, prayer and surrounding myself with positive people.  If one of these lacks, I know what I need to do to fix it.  Those tools and steps are my sword and they empower me against this unwanted monster.

I hope my little tale, can help those of you out there that need help and those of you out there that just don’t understand depression and want your friend or loved one to “just snap out of it.” Now you know that it is not as easy as that.

Asking for help is easy, just do it.  Someone will listen.

1(800) 273-TALK (8255),

Take care of yourselves and think happy thoughts for Tricia- she and her family are so special to us here on the West coast.  Tomorrow, is another day she will do without her very missed brother David.

Here’s to Tricia and David:

“DAVE’S RUN”

This post is dedicated to my husband Jim, my “Superman“, who’s gotten me through some of my hardest days, has totally seen the bad and the ugly parts of me, but still  manages to love me despite it all.  I love you.

Words and Sounds…

Do you ever stop to think about what a word means to you?  Or what a specific sound can do to your entire being… like “nails on a chalkboard”?  Ugh, just the thought of nails on a chalkboard sends most of us into a hysterical whirling dervish!

Since I jumped on the bandwagon with most of you out there and started “blogging” I have really thought a lot about words.  Words in general and not just what the definition that “Webster’s” dictionary has given them, but what they mean to me, or Tracey’s Definition.

I have LOVED words and I have most HATED words.  Words that make my skin crawl.  Hmmm, should I share them with you?  Oh, what the heck, I will.  I would love to hear some of your words also.

Loved:

Shenanigans, Trousers, Underpinnings, Skivvies, Gams, Pocketbook, Davenport (my grandma would use this word all the time for a sofa), Supper (instead of dinner, so retro).

Hated:

Words to describe the female breast that starts with a T and is 3 letters (I am not even going to put it in print, that’s how much I hate it), Panties…….I have always hated this word, well as far back as I can remember anyway.  I have others, I can’t think of them now, but why dwell on the negative, right?

Please watch this clip , (wait for the whole page to load) and you will see that I was delighted to hear that someone else shared my disdain for this word.  Yes!  James Lipton interviewing The Cast of Modern Family.  Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s response for most hated word was PANTIES!  He also stated that the word MOIST made his list, and I have to agree.  That is a hideous word.

Similar to Julie Bowen from Modern Family, I do say “Dag-nabit”, “Dog-goneit”or “Cheese and Crackers” for a swear word.  Occasionally, more than I would like to admit, I use the F word, especially if I stub my toe!!!!
For some reason, the sound of a bag being crumpled gives me the heebie jeebies.  I am not sure why.  Weird, huh?  Both of our pugs, do this licking thing (Ruby is allergic to grass and it makes her itchy)… That sound makes the whole house go bonkers!!!!!
What about you out there?  What words or sounds make you happy or sad?
Enquiring minds would like to know?!

Then And Now

I don’t know about you, but I love a good “before and after” show and tell.  Shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “Trading Spaces” always intrigue me.

A few years ago when we bought our little house in Cape Cod, we really had to picture what it could be.  The house had dark wood finishes throughout and some very sad worn out furniture that came along with the purchase.  Don’t get me wrong, we were thrilled when we were able to have the house furnished.  It was as if the owners that sold us the house were abducted, they left everything!  The kitchen was fully stocked with everything you would need for cooking and eating, the closets were full of linens that each bed and bath required and I even found a can of Aqua Net under the bathroom sink.  Remember that stuff?

Most everything wasn’t our style, but it would do nicely for now since, running out to buy all the necessities required to spend a summer would have been monumental!  Gradually we are making changes.

Before

After

We put shells down in the driveway and repainted the house, also the shutters were removed.  We couldn’t decide on what color to paint the shutters, so we just took them down.

A special sign was given to our house to reflect our excitement of each summer arrival.

Our last name is Wirth so it is quite fitting and since we arrive from the West Coast, It is certainly a “trip”.

Here is the kitchen Before:

For all of you that love pineapples out there, I am so sorry, but they had to go.  Each stenciled pineapple took about 5 coats of paint!

Kitchen After:

Painting the kitchen a pale blue and adding those bright appliances, really brightened the kitchen up.  It really needed it!

Here is our family room before:

Dark wood made it seem like a cave.

Family room after:

Fresh paint on the walls, windows and beams made all the difference in the world!  The chair seen in the right side of the picture has since been recovered as well.

Dining room before:

Beige walls and beige floors.  We needed a fresh start!  Fresh paint for all the woodwork and walls!

See what I mean?  What a big difference!

Last stop for now is the basement.  Did you know that in California, most houses don’t have basements?  I am not sure why, maybe it is because we have earthquakes? I don’t know, but it is something that we take full advantage of here in the East.

Basement Before:

Basement After:

A different perspective in this photo, but you get the idea.  We ripped up the old rust colored shag and placed gray 20″ x 20″ tile in its place.  All the woodwork was painted a nice Chantilly Lace White and the walls were painted a color called Salt Air.  The old “pleather” couches have stayed for now, but I am thinking that their life here in our home is very limited.  They are pretty fugly!  😦

So in concluding my “Then and Now” I wanted to show you the real reason we purchased this house….

Lily Pond (and the back of our house).

It is such a kick to sit on the deck and watch all the wildlife. There is a show everyday and it’s always good!

Thanks for looking!  Have a great day!