Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I never thought I'd see the day .....

This afternoon, I took the children to 'the shady park' for an hour and a half of fresh air and exercise! The sun was shining, the mercury soared to 48 degrees, the birds were singing and we were swinging high - almost touching the sky with our tip toes! We had the whole park to ourselves and we could be as loud and silly as we wanted - so we were! The kids set up an 'obstacle court race' and there was much laughter and good will. All was joy and happiness - until ..... across the street at the beautiful old cemetery - the yard crew began ..... MOWING!


People, this is December 30th. If you didn't get it done before now, it will wait until spring. I'm quite sure of it! Honestly - I listen to the steady drone of mowers (because we live surrounded by lawn worshipers) from early April until early November - but I thought our ears would have a break for the winter. I was mistaken.

We did not let the loud mowers spoil our fun! Not us! We got louder and sillier still and enjoyed the sunshine! The mud, however was fun for the kids, but just another mess to clean up when we got home.

Can I say here that we are most definitely praying for snow? It's just so much cleaner!


I really don't mind the sound of the snow blower - somehow it is buffeted by the blanket of whiteness it is designed to move. Unless of course, it is my parent's neighbors snow blower which seems to be lacking a muffler and does a great impression of a B-52 bomber coming in for a landing. It's really loud. Back to the point - you expect snow blowers in winter if you live in a part of the world that enjoys snow on a regular basis. Apparently, we don't.

A little warm weather and four glorious days of sunshine (we were giving praise to the Lord!), and my parsley is peeking up and ready to be picked! Right beside it, the perennial bed is cheery green - unfortunately it is because the creeping charlie also enjoyed the spring like weather. Our children were running outside the other day in flip flops! There is just something wrong when the flip flops appear beside the snow boots on the shoe mat! What season is this anyways?

On the bright side, MY FIRST GARDEN CATALOG came yesterday - yeah Burpee! This year, you are the winner! I sighed and drooled, planning and scheming over that catalog all evening! Our children gave me a cool Post-It Flag highlighter set in my stocking to keep track of our school work, but I was very tempted to use it to mark out my dream garden in my Burpee catalog!

Well, I have shown my true Canadian spirit and publicly complained about the weather - you can take the girl out of Canada, but you can't take Canada out of the girl!

I promise to end the year with a more positive post tomorrow.

Especially if, by some miracle, it snows!

Isaiah 55:10

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,


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Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year Fun!

I just love Kelli's creative ideas - and this one is no exception!
I loved this idea last year too, but didn't have the energy to put it together!
This year, I thankfully do - so here is a my 2008 blog review - just the first line from the first blog of each month, and a favorite picture!

Be sure to visit Kelli to see her 'New Year Fun' post and find others who are joining in too!
Thank you Kelli!

January

Yesterday I came upon a quote that suits me well today:

Winter is the time for comfort
- it is the time for home.
-Edith Sitwell


February

We didn't get the chair done last night - Mrs. M was afraid of being caught in an ice storm that began early in the evening and so she left for home before the roads got too bad.

March

Yesterday we experienced a terrible ice storm, but I am thankful that we are safe and well.

April

We are home from our brief time away - and we are all tired, but so happy!

May

Today we are preparing for a party - a farewell for friends who are moving away next week.


June

A friend of ours from our former church family in Ontario, Canada was critically injured in a dirt bike accident ...


July

I hope you had a lovely day with family and friends.


August

I'm getting my family back today - Lord willing!

September

I thought I'd better let you know why I have been MIA on my blog!


October

This is a very special day for our family!

November

Our Dreamer is feeling much much better - thank you all for your kind comments and concern!

December

I enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook as I am able.

Just where did 2008 go?

Well, now you know!

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The Simple Woman's Daybook

I enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, December 29, 2008
My last Daybook entry for 2008!

Outside My Window...
Once again we are blessed by sunshine - bright and cold!
Not a speck of snow on the ground!

I am thinking...
I just love the quiet week between Christmas and the New Year!

From the learning rooms...
Christmas break for the children, sorting, planning and organizing for me!
I am hoping that we can use a day of the Historian's holiday this week to build an organizer for our homeschool to replace the cabinet we have long since outgrown.

I am thankful for...
The joy of the season and a fresh new year to look forward to!

I am praying for ...
Some regular help with my home chores that are getting too tiring to do.

From the kitchen...
Some turkey noodle soup and homemade bread.

I am wearing...
This must be my Monday 'uniform'!
My long denim skirt and warm tights.
Red turtleneck and hoodie for warmth!

I am creating...
A goal list for 2009 - character goals, home school goals, and a honey-do list too!

I am going...
No where that I know of!

I am reading...
I read 'White Christmas Pie' this week - a light book to breeze through,
perfect for my tired brain!
I am planning to re-read 'The Liver Cleansing Diet' since I think that is
my next course of action to try again.

I am hoping...
For better health, for closer friendships and for a new church family soon.

I am hearing...
Our Dreamer slurping up the juice from her grapefruit,
and a little boy playing cheerfully in his room.

Around the house...
We need to do an in depth cleaning, so I've stripped the beds and begun to tackle it head on!
Homes must be found for all of our new treasures and wrapping paper bits still linger!


One or two of my favorite things...
A crackling fire and cuddling up in front of it with my historian.
The beginning of the 'garden catalog' season - a time of hopes, plans
and dreams for our summer garden.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Continuing to pray for the Lord's guidance with our search for a new church - it has been eye opening and somewhat discouraging so far.
  1. Plan for our New Year's celebration
  2. Clean
  3. Reorganize our homeschool area - hopefully with a new shelving system!
  4. Clean
  5. Rest and relax - try to plan a special surprise for the children!
  6. Clean
  7. Get paperwork ready for our final immigration interview in January.
  8. Clean

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing:

The last reading of 'Tabitha's Travels' - Christmas 2008

Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Greetings!

I just love the day after Christmas, which, as I was growing up in Canada, was always referred to as 'Boxing Day'. Unlike many of our friends who fight the crowds returning unwanted gifts, or spending gift cards on after Christmas sales, it has always been a quiet day for our family.

For those unfamiliar with the tradition, Wikipedia has a good explanation:

Boxing Day is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population. In South Africa, this public holiday is now known as the Day of Goodwill. It is based on the tradition of giving gifts to the less fortunate members of society. Contemporary Boxing Day in many countries is now a "shopping holiday" associated with after-Christmas sales. ~ Wikipedia

This year, our Historian was compelled to go to work, but, we are planning to do our usual tidy up and find a home for our lovely new things. There is always laundry - naturally! We have some planning to do for the coming year as well, and this is always a terrific day to start making our goals for the new year! We'll also get to work on thank-you notes, and I always enjoy sitting down and reading over those wonderful 'Christmas letters' that were in many of our beautiful Christmas cards. I read them as they came of course, but it is just fun to re-read them at a more relaxed pace!

By the way, if you have been on our snail mail Christmas list in past years, you will be getting an update letter and card with a picture from our family! It's in the mail and hopefully on it's way! After 4 years, we just figured it was time to get back to our family tradition of sending cards! We so enjoy the ones sent to us, but there are fewer and fewer each year. We mailed ours out a bit late due to printer problems, but it did go before Christmas! The Historian is wonderful about doing all of the work of organizing and addressing those!


We used a pumpkin Yule Log for our Jesus' Birthday Cake - mmm!

Well, there are lovely wrapping paper bits to be picked up and gift bags to recycle! Turkey bones to be made into soup broth! I slept for 11 hours, so I am very well rested and quite eager to begin - with a hot shower!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Loving Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas everyone!
May your hearts be warmed
with the joy of Emmanuel!


Isaiah 63

7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the LORD has done for us—
yes, the many good things he has done
for the house of Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

8 He said, "Surely they are my people,
sons who will not be false to me";
and so he became their Savior.

9 In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

High Excitement


Every year at Christmas, I forget something important - I forget to plan for our children's 'high excitement'! They are definitely in a high state, vacillating between whispered secrets and loud laughter, and it is a little hard to bear, until I recall my own days of 'high excitement' just before Christmas ... happy days of my own childhood.

I was not nearly as loud nor vocal as our boisterous Storyteller, and I was far too shy to be as punch drunk silly as our sweet Dreamer, but I do recall nights when I just could not bring myself to fall asleep as the excitement of what might be thrilled my heart and mind. I dreamed, not so much of special gifts, but of special times of caring and family. Special treats of Christmas cookies, joyous family time and getting together with friends.

Today, our Dreamer was so excited about her Daddy being home with us for two solid days - she jumped for joy and did a little dance. It made my heart do a little happy dance of joy - our little girl is growing up so quickly, but she is still delighted just to spend extra time with her Daddy.

Their questions are non-stop and rapid fire. I think my ears need a vacation!

"Can we go for a Christmas Light Ride?"

"Will we have Swedish Tea Ring for Christmas breakfast?"

"Can we open one little thing on Christmas Eve?"

"Will Daddy squeeze fresh orange juice for you Mommy?"

"Are you and Daddy going to hug-dance in the kitchen?"

"Are we going to spread out our gifts and make them last all day?"

"If I wake up at 4 do I still have to wait until 6 to open my stocking?"

As much as possible, my answer is 'YES!' I know that in these uncertain times, our simple family traditions are a comfort for our children. They help them to feel like things are normal and that all is well, at least with Christmas. They know we have scaled back the gifts drastically, simply because they have so few needs, and there are so many others who need so much. They are o.k. with 'just' their stocking, and three gifts ( book, toy, clothes), and they know I have not had the energy to do as much as I would normally in the area of homemade surprises. They also know that we are not having a lot of company. We didn't last year either - too much stress for my liver. Thankfully, we enjoy each other's company and get along well. Hopefully we'll have some friends over for a play date or an evening of finger foods and games - we'll see.

One of the hard things about liver disease is having to say 'no' and 'I'm sorry, but Mama's just not up to it' so often. I feel keenly aware that our children are learning to live with disappointment very early in life, but at the same time I am praying that this will teach us all the blessing of being flexible in this ever changing world. We make plans, but they are always subject to change.

Thankfully, the children remain eager and hopeful. In prayer times, they are often anticipating God's touch of healing for me, and it is precious. Yesterday as we made plans for today, our Storyteller eagerly shared those plans with Daddy, beginning with 'Lord willing and if Mama's feeling good we are hoping to ....'. As it turned out, our plans had to change to accommodate a visit to the orthodontist with a broken Herbst device and a young boy with a 'bouncy' tummy who wasn't too keen on anyplace but his own cozy bed.

I read recently some old wisdom, recycled again for those of us with short memories. These special holiday times are like a magnifying glass, making everything appear larger than life. What is bad seems so much worse and conversely, what is good looks so much better when mixed with the special mystery of the holiday season.

As we ran our few errands today before the ice storm hit, I saw so many serious faces - the grim expressions of those who are scurrying about, striving for a 'perfect' holiday. Rushed and harried, they had no time to smile or stop and chat. The clerks were haggard and cheerless. I wanted to flee - but we needed cat food! The pressure was almost palatable. I lost track of counting how many people asked me if we were 'ready for Christmas?' nor how often I smiled and replied - 'We try to keep things simple so that we can focus on the true meaning of Christmas.'

As I began to feel the pressure of those unreasonably high expectations, I felt glad for the limitations of liver disease and the joy of keep things simple. Making happy memories with our children does not require the perfect gift, the cleanest house, the best meal or the latest decorations.It's a good thing!

I guess I just want to encourage you to enjoy Christmas Eve day and simplify your expectations a bit. If you haven't got it all done, don't pressure yourself to do it now. Adjust. Rest. Enjoy.

Christmas isn't just one day, it's a season of joy and a state of heartfelt celebration of Emmanuel, God with us.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, December 22, 2008

Outside My Window...
Sunshine - bright and cold!
Not a speck of snow on the ground!

I am thinking...
That I've left too much to the last minute!

From the learning rooms...
Christmas break! Yeah!
Dreamer will practice the piano and Storyteller will continue daily reading practice,
but other then that, we are on break!

I am thankful for...
Christmas - a time to focus on God's heart of love for all mankind.

I am praying for ...
Energy and better health.

From the kitchen...
A few Christmas goodies - but in small batches. I wasn't well enough to bake much last week.

I am wearing...
Third week in a row ... I am not this organized, so this is a mystery to me!
My super long denim skirt and warm navy blue tights.
White turtleneck and blue hoodie for warmth!

I am creating...
A to-do list and a few more little things for in the stockings!

I am going...
Shopping for groceries later.

I am reading...
'The Shepherd's Prayer' by Richard M. Barry - excellent!
Our Advent readings are wonderfully enjoyable!
I look forward to them each night almost as much as the children!
We find ourselves talking about Tabitha like she is someone we know and care about!

I am hoping...
To feel better soon and be able to finish the things on my list before the last minute!

I am hearing...
A small boy whistling and a girl giggling over the antics of one Mr. Peppermint, the cat!

Around the house...
We are thinning out the childrens rooms and it is a huge job that we
started much later than I had intended!
I'm hoping it will go faster since Christmas is so close - good motivation!

One or two of my favorite things...
Cuddling with my children.
The feel of good quality fabric as I sew.
The joy of making something special with my own two hands!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Continuing to pray for the Lord's guidance with our search for a new church.
  1. Cookie baking.
  2. Gift wrapping.
  3. Food preparation for a simple Christmas meal.
  4. Rest and enjoy our family.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...


Dreamer and I

Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Popcorn Ponderings

Have I mentioned that sometimes I really enjoy creative problem solving? Once upon a time when I was doing all of those aptitude type tests, it was supposed to be one of my strengths - and I suppose I use it more often than I know, but for the most part, I think that part of my brain has possibly atrophied from lack of use! Not tonight though - tonight I am solving BIG problems!

Every year I make a super quick and easy Baked Caramel Corn for gift giving. Since it makes a huge batch - the kids decided it was the perfect treat to share with our HomeSchool Co-op tomorrow for our last day before the Christmas break. So much easier than cupcakes - this Momma was so glad that they came up with the idea!

Here's the recipe I have used for years, just in case you'd like to make some too! I found it in the back of a 'college cookbook' but I've long since lost the cover!

Oven Baked Caramel Corn

1 cup real Butter
2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Corn syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla
6 - 8 quarts Popped Popcorn (air popped works best) in a well greased x-large roasting pan

In a medium saucepan, melt butter; stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then boil, without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over corn, mix well. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered containers. HIDE IT if you want any left by morning, or if you plan to give it away - do it soon!!!

It's quite yummy, but I always have had a small problem with the 'crumbs' left at the bottom of the roasting pan when I scoop the yummy wonderful clusters of caramelly goodness into the gift bags. Unless you are not working with all of your teeth, popcorn is not generally something eaten with a spoon - but some types of popping corn don't stand up as well to all of the stirring during baking and they leave a lot of very tasty, but tiny caramel corn crumbs. Not suitable for gift giving. Only edible by spoon. I told you it was a BIG problem, right?

I'd like to announce that I have now solved the once insurmountable issue of the caramel popcorn crumbs!!!! I must give credit where credit is due and thank MyFriendConnie of the Smockity Frocks fame. She recently posted this cute mice idea - which I just had to try! Too fun and super easy - and mmmmmm!!!


Well, after I made the mice I had dribs and drabs of white chocolate, which I used for the eyes, being to lazy to make a bit of icing and put it in my decorator bag - I just grabbed a few white chocolate chips sealed in a heavy duty plastic bag - tossed it in the hot water until it melted and snipped the corner to pipe cute little eyes! I also had some melted milk chocolate leftover since my cherries were pretty tiny.

Inspiration hit when the caramel corn finally cooled and once again I came face to face with the caramel popcorn crumbs - I could make gourmet caramel popcorn crumbs - and I did!

Caramel corn crumb with all of the unpopped kernels carefully removed, lest a tooth be broken - the base. Drizzled with melted milk and white chocolate and sprinkled with mini M&M's. The crumbs clung together nicely and the taste ..... mmmmm!!! It looks so pretty in a gift bag too! I am taking it TOMORROW to it's intended recipients, lest I fall headlong into temptation! If you are wondering - I did carefully hand select just the red and green mini M&M's - I wanted my gourmet mixture to be festive!

I do hope that you are enjoying the true heart of the Christmas season and keeping your eyes on Jesus! When I think about the wonderfully amazing way that God chose to solve the problem of my sin by sending His Son, it makes me sit back in wonder at His unfailing love!

Let me know if you get a chance to make our favorite caramel corn - or the new gourmet version! I bet you'll come up with even better ideas! I thought about stealing a few of the dried cranberries our Dreamer loves, but the bag was almost empty .... oh! the possibilities! I'll never throw out the crumbs again!


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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I enjoy participating in Peggy's Simple Woman's Daybook when I am able to.
It's a great way to start the week with a positive focus.


For Today
Monday, December 15, 2008

Outside My Window...
Dark, dull and raining to beat the band.
A bunch of cold air is 'on the way' which is supposed to turn this rain to snow, but we'll see!
The good news is that we don't have to shovel rain!

I am thinking...
It sure would be nice to just crawl back into bed and sleep!

From the learning rooms...
Dreamer is at piano, the Storyteller is still doing his morning chores.
We'll start school by and by. It's hard to motivate them to work when I just want to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book myself!

I am thankful for...
16 hours of sleep!
I'm fighting a super sore throat!
I'm thankful for salt water and saline nasal spray to relieve the soreness.

I am praying for ...
Strength to accomplish what needs to be done and wisdom - always wisdom!

From the kitchen...
This week we are planning to do our cookie baking
and make gingerbread houses with some friends!

I didn't get a chance to look over the food fliers because I was sleeping all afternoon yesterday, so the menu isn't made!

Monday - Luscious Leftover Buffet
Tuesday -
Wednesday -
Thursday - fresh pan fried fish
Friday - Homemade Pizza and video night

I am wearing...
My super long denim skirt and warm navy blue tights.
White turtleneck and blue hoodie for warmth!
The exact same outfit I wore two weeks ago! Am I in a rut, or what?

I am creating...
Over the weekend I made and hung our fresh wreaths.
We cannot have them indoors because of our Dreamer's allergies,
but I love to hang fresh greens on the doors where we enjoy their fragrance as we pass by.
I made 5 wreaths with $6 worth of Christmas tree cuttings - pine, cedar, spruce and Douglas fir.
Simple and enjoyable.
Once again, my hands are a mess!

I am going...
Another home sweet home day!
I've got to try to rest and get rid of this sore throat!

I am reading...
Our Advent readings are wonderfully enjoyable!
I look forward to them each night almost as much as the children!
We find ourselves talking about Tabitha like she is someone we know and care about!

I am hoping...
To feel better soon and be able to finish the things on my list before the last minute!

I am hearing...
The rain on the sky lights, the water on the road as cars pass by,
the washing machine and dryer and one sweet boy making sword fight sounds!

Around the house...
Piles of cards and papers to sort and more dust bunnies to chase!

One of my favorite things...
The flexibility of home schooling and the excitement of watching our children learn and grow!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Continuing to pray for the Lord's guidance with our search for a new church.
  1. Schoolwork! Piano, Ballet, Awana and Co-op!
  2. Send out our Christmas cards.
  3. Cookie baking and a gingerbread house party.
  4. Christmas gift sewing - some new clothes for a certain special doll and a new knight's outfit for the dress up wardrobe.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

Grammy with her Bonnie wee lass and Gerber


Thank you for reading my daybook!

Be sure to visit Peggy to read more Daybooks!
There are many many others participating in The Simple Woman's Daybook
and it is so much fun to read their thoughts!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I have to laugh ...

Or else I just might end up in tears! I don't have time for tears - so I'm choosing the 'live and learn' approach- and having a good chuckle at my own expense too! I think this would qualify for MckMama's 'Not Me! Monday', but it has taken me a few days to work up the nerve to confess my faux pas publicly!

Are you 'just dying' to hear my tale of woe? Of course you aren't, but I'll tell you anyway!

You know I've been up to my eyebrows in wonderful thrifted woolen sweaters - felting to my hearts content and making purses in my spare moments. In my thrifting adventures, I've had my eyes wide open for sweaters in neutral colors, as well as nice reds and true solid black. Those are the 'hard' sweaters to score - or it seems that way when you're looking for them. Anyway - I look at the labels for wool content - not for brand. I've just never been a brand kinda gal. Our kids have never been walking billboards for any designer - it just isn't our cup of tea. I do look at the labels in my search for the 100% wool - and after felting I remove the labels since I am often trying to squeeze the pattern out of what felt I have to work with. Useless information often sticks in my brain - helpful stuff never sticks, but that's another story.


So, a few weeks ago I thrifted a sweater that was still wearing it's dry cleaner tags and on a dry cleaner hanger. It looked a whole lot like the one in the picture above, but it was cream. I threw it in the hot hot water with the old towel and flip flops and my favorite laundry soap! It felted so beautifully. I cut out two purses from it - yeah! Life was good!

Then, one night last week, while looking for more sweaters on e-bay, I saw a picture of a familiar sweater with a label ' St. John'. Where had I seen that before? The auction was about to close - and I saw the price - $299. Gulp! I quickly followed the link - the label was the same! I read about a 'new with tags' wool sweater origionally priced at $699! I had no idea there were such expensive sweaters in this world - let alone at my Goodwill! How could I have felted a $700 sweater???? I cut an expensive sweater to pieces!!! Gulp! Not something I could ever undo. Period.

The sweater was perfect - not New With Tags, but in perfect condition. Oh well! I keep thinking that I wish I was more like Meredith who knows a good thing when she finds it!

Both purses sold today - I made about $60 for the time it took me to sew them.

I've decided that I'll just have to laugh about it ...

Have you ever made such an expensive mistake?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sales are brisk!

I wish I knew how to put a big old SOLD over my purse pictures like the pros do ... I just have to be content with the other skills I have because my computer skills are sorely lacking!

Of the 12 purses I had 'in stock' on Sunday evening,

I have just these 4 left!!!!


What a blessing! I can hardly believe it! I was really hoping that they would sell so that I would begin to recover our cost. The sweaters are not expensive, but the quality metal handles and beautiful printed heavy cotton linings are quite costly. Did I mention that I critically sort of injured our washing machine with this felting project??? Dad was able to put in a new water pump (thanks again Dad!) but parts are never cheap! All in all, I am not entirely sure we are 'in the black' yet, but I do know there are some very happy ladies with some really pretty purses to enjoy and give as gifts! Too much fun!

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