Friday, December 31, 2010

A look back at 2010

As I look back on 2010 I see many exciting, fun and sad moments. I know that without all of these experiences I would not be who I am now. Each moment has helped me grow in one way or another. I have grown in my ability to love others. I know have always been a caring person and I strive to be someone that anyone can count on. This year I have been given the ability to stretch my wings and learn to be what I will become in 2011 when Jeff is ordained as a preacher at our church. Several weeks ago when it was announced that he would be ordained I was terrified! While I still do not feel that I am where I should be with God and my faith to be a good preacher’s wife… I feel that this year has given me many opportunities to “learn the ropes” and grow into my new role.

I have been to funerals and visitations (or viewings/wakes) where my being there has calmed the hearts of the families left behind. I have prayed for my family and friends… as well as my friend’s families and our entire nation. I have learned that even though it seems dark… there is always a light and God will be there to see us through. Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have a plan for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I know that God has a plan for each and every one of you… even me… even if we don’t see it now we will surely see it later!

This year has provided me with many blessings. My baby sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on Jan 1, 2010, my step-mom and my dad reunited after a brief separation, Jeff and I bought our first home and I moved to a new position at work that allows me to be mostly stress free. I also met a dear friend, Michelle, who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy the weekend before Thanksgiving. My mom and baby brother came to visit after almost 6 years of me being away from home… that was an awesome vacation.

They came in for the second half of my summer vacation. My first half was spent in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was my first time there and I loved it. Eureka Springs has a passion play every summer, I remember being on the edge of my seat through the whole thing. The play was amazing but my favorite part was the resurrection of Jesus! When he burst out of that tomb and the Glory of God was shining around him I had shivers up my spine! My mom and Jacob flew into Little Rock on a Wednesday and it was a giant whirlwind of activity until the left on Sunday! We enjoyed a trip to my favorite place ever, Petit Jean Mountain, a trip to the Little Rock Zoo (also one of my favorite places) and Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was a pure joy to have them in my home and to spend that valuable time with them!

There are other things that I learned this year as well. I pushed myself to do more and practice better quality steps with my crochet projects; such as properly weaving in ends and learning to work in rounds to avoid seams. It has been a busy and very enjoyable year for me. I have finished approximately 65 projects that include 11 animals, 5 pairs of baby booties, and 4 baby hats, 2 pairs of baby mittens, 2 baby blankets and a baby pillow. I made 5 “Rasta Hats”, 3 “beanie” hats with flower appliqu├ęs, 3 toddler hats with matching scarves, 2 cowls, a scarf, and a slouchy hat, a pair of fingerless gloves, a throw blanket, 2 lap blankets, and a round ripple blanket. I also made 5 snowflake ornaments, 6 dishcloths, 2 snowmen, 3 water bottle cozies and a cupcake pin cushion. These items are not including the projects I have already started for 2011 which include a green ripple blanket, squares for an exchange project I am working on with my sister and I am finally starting the Cocobay Shawl that I bought yarn for in October.

As I look to 2011 I see many exciting projects to complete… some for myself and many for gifts. I am excited to already be making a blanket for the “Be a Santa for a senior” tree at Walgreens for next year and I have purchased enough yarn to make at least two more blankets! I have some gift ideas chosen for next Christmas already too. But most of all I am excited to see my friend Michelle and her beautiful boy in March as well as the trip I am finally making home. On May 1 Jeff and I will be boarding a plane to Washington State for a much needed trip to visit my family… most of which I haven’t seen in more than 6 years. I look forward to making a second trip home in August to attend and participate in my sister’s wedding.

My prayer for you is that you have a safe and joyful New Year. I pray that you learn to lean on God in good times and bad. God has his plans for everyone, be sure not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. I hope that you take each bright and happy moment and store it in your heart. I hope that when you do fall… and you will… that you pick yourself up and praise the Lord, thanking Him for allowing you to pick yourself up.

May you have a wonderful 2011!
Sarah

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Hand Made Christmas Gifts

I finished most of my gifts very early this year. With the exception of a scarf and the rabbit I had all of my gifts done by the beginning of September. I have been hoarding these pictures... many of which I just realized were HORRIBLE. So I have a few photos to share...

I made this for my sister, Debbie. 

These are the hat and scarf I made for my nephew, Nathaniel. 

I made a matching set for my other nephew, Taylor.

I made this cowl for my little sister, Tesla... it will look great with her red hair!

I made the rabbit for my little brother, Jacob and the bear for my older brother, Buddy. 

I made these for Buddy's new baby. They didn't find out the gender of the baby and he/she is due Jan 1. I have nicknamed this baby... Baby Doe.

These weren't all the gifts I made, I also made a scarf for my stepmom, a hat and scarf set for my nephew (Xander), a hat for my nephew (Colton), a hat and a turtle for my sister in law, a scarf for my brother, a snowman for my mother in law and a blanket for Jeff.

I am now working on a special project my sister and I are doing together and a blanket for next years "Be a Santa for a Senior". I have purchased enough yarn to make 2 more blankets for that charity and a blanket for my sister. I am trying to keep busy!

I had a great Christmas. My MIL got me a yarn organizer, some storage bowls and some jewelry. My dad sent me some home made banana bread. Jeff bought me some clothing, a new computer (will be here in a week or more), new boots and $35.00 in YARN! My mom is flying me home in August for my sister's wedding. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We had Christmas with my in-laws last night and it was so great to see my MIL open her little snowman. Christmas has been more about what I can give to others each year rather than what I can get myself. I know my family will be opening the gifts that I lovingly made for them this morning... 2000 miles away in their homes. Soon, I will post photos of my gifts! They aren't the best because I am still trying to learn how to use my camera and find the best light.

My greatest joy this year was packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). OCC is a Christmas program put on by Samaritan's Purse; an organization created by Franklin Graham. You pack a shoe box full of toys, candy, school supplies and anything else that fits within regulation and Samaritan's Purse delivers these boxes all over the world to children in need. They also minister to these children by giving them New Testament Bibles in their own language and they put any willing child through their "The Greatest Journey" - an exciting discipleship program that teaches children to become faithful followers of Christ.

This year, like many years, we paid the shipping for our boxes  online so that we could track where they are delivered. We have had boxes go to Zimbabwe and Belarus. This year, our boxes went to Benin, Africa. Here are some facts from the OCC website about Benin:

Forty-five percent of Benin’s 9 million people are 14-years-old or younger. In 2009, 106,150 shoe box gifts were delivered to children in Benin, which first received the gifts in 1999. Since then, 530,043 children have received a shoe box gift.

In 2010, Operation Christmas Child is offering a new, follow-up discipleship program to our ministry partners in conjunction with the shoe box gifts. This year in Benin, these Bible lessons will be offered to 14,000 children who receive a shoe box gift.

The Greatest Journey begins when children are freely offered Gospel storybooks along with their shoe boxes. The Greatest Gift of All booklets—printed in over 70 languages—contain colorful illustrations that explain the Good News of Jesus Christ in a simple, engaging style.

After receiving a shoe box gift, boys and girls are invited to participate in the voluntary Bible study course produced by Samaritan’s Purse. The 12-lesson set guides children through a study of who Jesus Christ is, what it means to follow Him, and how to share this exciting message with others.

To help these boys and girls continue to grow in their faith, we also want to provide them with their own copies of the Greatest Gift of All New Testament. This special edition also includes select Old Testament stories, a dictionary, and a section that encourages the children to memorize Scripture.


This Christmas, I ask that you pray for the volunteers who will be handing out these gifts to the children and also, pray for the children as they are given the gifts. Please pray that God will have them hear and understand.
 
Merry Christmas, everyone!

For more information on Operation Christmas Child, please visit http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet Little Packages

I have been following the blog of my very best friend in 5th grade. Tia and I were separated when the school found out I didn't really live in their district and they kicked me out. 5th grade was the year after my mom left. My dad was a single dad taking care of 4 children. He worked an hour south of our house and decided it would be better for us kids to enroll us in the district where my aunt and uncle lived so that we had someone to watch us while he was at work.

I met Tia in school because we shared class together. I attended my very first sleep over on her birthday that year.  After I had to go back to the district I lived in we tried to keep in touch but we were then long distance... and we were 10 or 11. So recently we have reconnected and I love it. I've been following her blog for more than a year now and I love her little family. I received a surprise in the mail the other day...



She made adorable little ornaments with her daughter to give as gifts. 

















And she took her own photos for the Christmas card... she is inspiring!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Snowman

I've been working on a snowman for my mother in law for Christmas. I worked this as my own pattern and have all my steps written down so I can share the pattern with you later. I think he is very cute and I can't wait to finish him!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flashback Friday: Angeltree Blanket

I finally finished my hexagon blanket last night. This means that I have had two blankets to give to the "Be a Santa for a Senior" tree at Walgreens. I will share photos of these blankets later this weekend. Right now, I want to flash back to last years blanket. This blanket was probably one of the hardest handmade items to give away. Not only is it made in one of my favorite colors (pink) but it was beautiful!

Last Christmas was the year all Christmases changed for me. I realized that it was not about me... now I had always know that it was the time to celebrate the birth of my Lord, Jesus Christ... but last year it really hit me. Christmas is now about what I can give to others. Jeff and I participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritans Purse every year and we always give to the mission offerings at church... but last year when I spotted that tree at Walgreens I knew I could do more. Jeff wasn't so sure... I spotted it awful late and only had about a week to make the blanket. I was still slow at crocheting but I was confident that I would get it finished... and I did!

This blanket was made for Lois. I still pray for her each time I make a new blanket for other seniors on that tree at Walgreens. I plan to start in January on blankets for next year, I will try to make it easy on myself and make only one at a time. I guess I could say that all I want for Christmas is yarn for these blankets! On to photos!




































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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Halfway done!

I have until this Friday to finish this blanket for the "Be a Santa for a Senior" charity project I took on. This picture was taken on 12/3/2010 when I was half way done. I now only have one row to go!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gift Received

We returned from our vacation yesterday and found that I received a gift in the mail! I have known about this gift since the beginning but I am so excited because it is my first pair of knitted socks! My good friend Deana let me choose the pattern she would use.

















Aren't they beautiful?

I love the color!

Knit socks feel very different on your feet... but they are so cozy!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Going on Vacation!

Yeah, you read the title right. Jeff and I are going on vacation. This is going to be our second trip to Hot Springs, AR during the winter. We will be staying in a quiet cabin at a ranch in the middle of no where... with no cell service. We will be going to Garvan Woodland Gardens one night to see the amazing light display. Now that I have had my camera for a year, I think I may get better pictures this year! We will also walk the promenade and "Bath House Row" in downtown Hot Springs. I will be wearing the new hat my sister made me and shipped express just so I could have it for vacation... my sister is the best!

I plan to make good progress on my second "Be a Santa for a Senior" blanket which is my hexagon blanket. I will also be finishing the hat with detachable flower for my boss and a flower for this adorable little purse I made last night. These photos a rough... the lighting is terrible in my office... well was terrible... I got a higher wattage light bulb today!





















The pattern for this purse can be found at Tangled Happy

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Blanket Down

I stopped at Walgreens a week ago and found they had their "Be a Santa to a Senior" tree up. I chose to people who wished for lap blankets; they were both females because none of the men wanted blankets. As you know I have had my "Random Squares" blanket in the works for some time now. I finally finished it... and I'm about half way finished with my hexagon blanket which I will also be giving away. I am super excited for this as I have been planning for it all year. Here are some photos of the finished blanket!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!!!

I was up late last night making a Apple and Pear Crisp and a Chocolate Cream Pie for today! Both of these are waistline friendly and look delicious! The Apple and Pear Crisp had me wanting to eat a slice at midnight! Jeff and I will be leaving soon to his aunt's house for Thanksgiving dinner but I wanted to share my desserts with you!

Looks heavenly, doesn't it?

The lighting was so great for the Chocolate Cream Pie... It kind of looks like Pumpkin!


I promise, its Chocolate!

Today, I am thankful for my family and friends. 
I am thankful for the small handful of readers I have on my blog.
I am thankful that God saw fit to call me His.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I would love to hear what you are thankful for. Eat lots of turkey!!



Friday, November 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Milestones

Two years ago I reach the highest weight I had ever been in my life. I was 282lbs and miserable. I joined Weight Watchers in 2009 and lost 35 pounds. I have lived in Arkansas for almost 7 years now and my most favorite place to be here is Petit Jean Mountain. I have walked a few trails there but the one I wanted to walk the most was the Cedar Falls Trail. This trail is 2 miles round trip and you hike down into a canyon to the bottom of a 95 foot waterfall. This is considered a strenuous trail and I haven't been in good enough shape to hike it.

I took this trail head on this summer. I made it in the 2 hours recommended to complete the trail. It was one of my most fulfilling accomplishments so far. 

This is Jeff and I before the hike down
 I was told photos of you there only count if you take photos of you while you are at the bottom...

This would be me at the bottom
 
And this would be Jeff at the bottom

It was so beautiful here... I didn't get the serene shot of the fall that I wanted because of the people breaking the rules by climbing to the back of the fall... but here is what I did get.




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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekend Projects

Just wanted to quickly share a couple things I completed this weekend.

Jeff and I have a cat; her name is Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty has been with Jeff for around 10 years or more and she is a spoiled cat. The minute he plants his behind in a chair or on the couch she is in his lap. Recently I have been coming home to find she has pulled one of my WIPs out of the desk to nap on it during the day. I have this giant oak desk in my office that has an open cupboard on the floor (this where the tower for my PC sits), there is enough room in this cupboard that I have stored some yarn and a baby blanket that I am working on in a walmart bag. Each night last week I came home and she had pulled it out of the cupboard to sleep on it. I would shoo her away and put it back in the cupboard only to find she had pulled it out again the next day. So I said thats it... and I made her a blanket from some of my scrap yarn.

See that bright red thing under her? That is her blanket and that is her bed we bought for her about a year ago that she won't use... I think I've found a solution!

Next is a hat that a girl at work asked me to make. I talked her into the neon green flower... thought it would look cute. She is picking it up tomorrow but has already seen a photo and she loves it. The hat and the inside of the flower are made with Caron One Pound in Black and the green part of the flower is made with I Love This Yarn in Limelight. There is a button for the inside of the flower and also a button on the back of the flower so it is detachable from the hat. I love it!



One of these days I am going to make the hat in a different color that will photograph well. This hat is my own pattern and once I make it in a different color I will publish the pattern here on my blog... it will be after Christmas... I also have some other patterns I came up with for Christmas presents for my family that I will publish here as well.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: First Real Vacation

Jeff and I got married young, I was 19 and he was 23. We were broke... so we didn't have a honeymoon. In fact, he had to work on our wedding day. All of our vacations in the early years consisted of camping trips. We wanted to do something big in the summer of 2008 but I was hospitalized and given a blood transfusion because I had almost bled to death. We used our Vacation in the fall of 2008 when  my dad and stepmom came down for a visit. In the summer of 2009 we had planned to take a trip just the two of us for our first real vacation to Eureka Springs, Arkansas... but again, I was sick. I had my gall bladder removed on vacation.

In December 2009 we finally took our first real vacation... just the two of us. We went to Hot Springs, Arkansas and rented a beautiful cabin at a ranch in the middle of no where with no cell service. It was amazing. We had a wonderful time and will be going back this December. The main reason we I chose Hot Springs was because they have a Christmas light display at Garvan Woodland Gardens each year and I love Christmas lights! This is one of my favorite photos from last year's first real vacation.




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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Today is Veterans Day 2010. I know a lot of military men and women... many who are in my own family. I love and respect each and everyone of them for the sacrifice they have made of me and the people of America. We have freedom because of these brave soldiers. 



My father in law served two tours in Vietnam voluntarily. He received a purple heart for the injuries he suffered when he was caught in a napalm blast that almost killed him.

While all of my photos today are of the Vietnam War Memorial "The Wall" in DC, I want to honor all Veterans... those who survived the wars, those who didn't and those still missing. 

I honor all of our Veterans today. Thank you for protecting my freedom!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flashback Friday: Dad

I've posted before about how much I love my dad and what he has been through in the last 10 years being a fighter of Celiac Sprue Disease. I've mentioned about his stuttering, shaking and memory loss. Today I want to share a photo of the last time I was with my dad.

Jeff and I are planning vacation for next spring, we will be going to Washington for a visit with my family. It will be the first time Jeff has met most of my family and it will be the first time I have seen my dad in more than two years. I have been in Arkansas since Jeff and I got married in 2004 (not counting the 5 months we were separated after the wedding) and I haven't seen most of my family since my Poppa passed away in December 2004. Jeff and I flew my dad and step-mom down here to Arkansas in October 2008 and my mom and little brother came down this last June. Both visits were wonderful.

So today's photo is from my dad's visit. I regret that I didn't take more photos than I did... we had a wonderful time. Dad doesn't remember a whole lot about his visit here thanks to his memory loss caused by his disease. When asked about his visit here he remembers one thing... Petit Jean Mountain. Petit Jean is one of my most favorite places to go and while it doesn't compare to the mountains we have back home in Washington... it is still a beautiful place with amazing sunsets and views. Dad remembers Petit Jean as "the place where you can see forever" because you can see for miles and miles when you are on top of the mountain.

We also took Dad and Mare fishing while we were at Petit Jean... it was their first time fishing with crickets as bait and I remember dad chasing the crickets that got out of the tube. We had fun. Dad caught a fish... a brim... He looks so happy!



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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Baby Mittens

It seems that now that Jeff and I are finally talking about planning a family next year... the more baby crochet projects I have going on! I made the pink and red baby blanket and the blue and yellow blanket... Ive made hats and baby booties for family and friends.

Jeff's manager asked me to crochet some mittens for her 5 month old little girl. She wanted them to be cream and she wanted them connected with a string so that they wouldn't get lost. I wanted these mittens to be perfect so I sat up Friday night with a couple different yarns and patterns and made one mitten with each pattern and yarn. I decided on this pattern and some Caron Simply Soft in Off White.




Friday, October 29, 2010

Flashback Friday: Pretty Ballerina

Jeff and I do not participate in Halloween for religious reasons. This year will be our first Halloween in our home and we anticipate having some trick-or-treat-ers for the first time. We have bought some candy to hand out. Even though we do not participate in Halloween I do remember loving the holiday when I was a child and teenager.

I remember one year I had this pink ballerina outfit that I begged my mom to let me wear for Halloween. I won... kind of! I was so mad because she made me wear this pink turtleneck under the outfit.... so I guess she won! I understand her thought process now as it was Halloween in Washington state... its cold there this time of year and she was just trying to keep me warm! I know that we were living in the trailer park at this time and I believe it was when James was a baby... so I ws probably 5 or 6... mom would know better.




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Finshed Project Friday!

I am going to do two posts today... first is the one I am most excited about. I made my first paid of fingerless gloves this week. I mentioned in my WIP Wednesday post that I was working on a pair for my old manager's daughter. I finished them last night and think they are so cute. The pattern I used is "Ravenna Mitts" found in PDF format at Ravelry.

I had to alter the pattern because the stitch counts didn't add up for me. The beginning chain 18 made a loop so small that I could not get my hand through it. So I improvised some multiples and succeeded with a cute pair of gloves. I plan to make them again with a few more changes such as a longer wrist part and using a smaller hook for the shells.




The color isn't quite right in this photo, the purple is too blue but I used the lighter purple that I used in my round ripple blanket.