soLovely 2.0

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Another year with a new Valentine’s Day Challenge.  Years past we’ve made love bags, candy bags, and wire flowers.  This year I wanted a flat design that could be mailed.

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A brunch pitch-in kept the food prep simple. The heart garland decor was made from inch paper strips.

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The project consisted of a simple braid with embroidery floss knotted at one end and anchored with a clipboard.

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Some girls tried their own variations.  Darcy knotted hers (see the first picture).

Rachel and Charity doubled the length and twisted it for a fatter braid.

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Lindsay used 6 strands instead of 3 so the braids were thicker.

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I used this thicker braiding below for my students’ bracelets.

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This braid  was created to be a bracelet, but can also be a bookmark or zipper pull. Dandee-designs also offers a pdf for the tags. Adjustments and supplies are listed in my instruction guide pdf.

Most of us are not crafters. The focus is not on artistic perfection or even a party. Give something. Your time, words, or a small gift will go a long way to encourage someone who needs it this week.

Why This is the (Almost) Best Time of Year

My tiny speck of planet Earth looks like this:

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To the locals’ dismay I actually like it. I understand the haters – dangerous roads,  health hazards, those who need shelter, crazy heating costs.

Don’t imagine that this winter love comes from a “sunny disposition”. Nope. I fight my own negativity. All. The. Time.

But here are ten reasons why a snowy cold winter is still a rock star:

1.  WHITE, WHITE, WHITE – It could be ugly brown or grey but we get WHITE, fluffy stuff. It reflects and magnifies our little bit of sunlight.

2. NO BUGS. NO WEEDS – Without these temperatures, bugs, plant diseases, and weeds would be a disaster come summer.

3. YEARLY RESET - The land rests and restores. Without it there would not be enough nutrients for green growing things. I need that reset too.

4. REALITY CHECK – I’m not in control. It is good for me to have to change plans. Shovel snow. Manage work, family, and social life that is now whackadoo. Being snowed in and a little cabin crazy reminds me to be grateful for a working body and the availability of transit unavailable to so many others.

5. LIGHT – The sun stays up longer EVERY DAY.

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6. WONDER – Winter is only a wonderland when you are outside. We all once were children who remembered to play in the snow.

7. RHYTHM – A Californian once told me that although she loves her weather,  it is disorienting not to have the four seasons, especially fall and winter. There’s something about the passage of time marked by the seasons that reminds us how short time really is.

8. DISCIPLINE – I used to think that ”if I had time”, I would get A, B, and C done. Nope. I didn’t get it done because it was not a priority. Snow days highlight my undisciplined life and I am tightening up some unraveled habits. 

9. SECRET THINGS - Each blackened tree holds a secret.  It looks dead. Frozen. Dead limbs. But in the fall, new buds have already formed. They are waiting for…

10. SPRING – Bleak is the perfect backdrop to green things. The canvas is cleared, framed and ready for the life miracle that is coming.

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Thanksgrieving

This year’s Black Friday was too literal.

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We got up that morning to wear our blacks and greys to pay tribute to the life of a wonderful woman.

The long line of cars led not to the mall but to the cemetery yard. An invisible thread held together by friendship and blood. Other vehicles paid respect by letting us pass.

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The light that went out when she left forces us to make new fires with old stories and new stories. We huddle together in tears and embraces to keep warm. In meals together. In pictures unearthed in old books.

Death stings. The sharp cut of pain sharpens the focus of the present moment and gives the gift of seeing the people left behind. Seeing our elders as little ones, and sisters and cousins. Young just like us once. And frail, as we know we will have to say goodbye to them too.

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We squeeze each other’s hands a little tighter as we walk back into the sunlight.